Best SciFi shows I haven’t seen (yet)

With quill18’s Board game playlist running right now I thought I’d share some of the best SciFi shows with you that I never saw. Or just some more or less entertaining ones. Your choice ;)

And as it’s kinda obvious I’ll start with….

Battlestar Galactica

A show which is kinda on my radar for a while now but somehow I never got to it. The biggest problem may be that I’m not sure where to start. Do I have to watch the original series to understand the plot or the little inside stories and jokes? Or is it okay to stay with the reboot (like with Doctor Who)?

And then there are those other seasons/reboots/… things tied to the series but maybe not core to the series? It’s a bit confusing, really. [mid-PS: start with the 2003 'miniseries', aka the two pilot episodes and you're good. Again, thanks quill]

Then again, it seems to be quite entertaining and a long running series with lots of action, intrigue and just stuff. And everyone who knows me will know, that the argument can be made that a show with Grace Park in it can’t be bad enough to not enjoy it at least a bit….(sorry ladies, I swear I’m a nice guy. I just have my weaknesses^^)

Firefly

I know, I’m a terrible person and not just should be embarrassed but humiliated and whatnot to not have watched the mere eleven episodes of the potentially best series that was ever cancelled after just one season (and a movie).
But… I don’t know. There really is no excuse. Well, I don’t own the DVDs/Blurays, but yeah…. I’ll get to it, promise.

Stargate: Atlantis

To be clear: I DID watch the original series – at least until the really confusing death/resurrection/whatever of David. That stuff was just weird. And the whole Atlantis plot and crew? Dunno, never really clicked with me. Just give me the original deal and I’m quite happy and content xD

Star Trek: Enterprise

Yet again some clarification: I watched and liked (at least partially) every other Star Trek series – even the Janeway-infested Voyager. I dealt with the Borg, Q (whom my mother HATES) and species 8472. But Capt. Archer? No, thanks. Just terrible and ugh.

Andromeda

Another one of those ‘tried and failed’ series. For some reason I just couldn’t stand the Captain and was just a bit too irritated by a holographic computer looking like a photo model. Otherwise…. dunno. Didn’t like it enough to watch more. Maybe it IS actually quite good and I missed out? You tell me ;)

So, that’s five SciFi shows and though I actually started Battlestar Galactica since writing this post, I know I have a LOT to catch up to… well, one after the other.

Ankündigung-ception

Wer kennt sie nicht, die Werbetrailer zu kommenden Filmen und Videospielen? Oftmals bereits Jahre zuvor werden sie – am liebsten auf den großen Messen – vorgeführt. Leider hat dieser Trend eine Eigendynamik entwickelt, die beinahe schon lächerlich wird.
Damit man nicht von Beginn an alles zeigt, aber frühstmöglich mit dem Marketing anfangen kann, werden zuerst nur Bilder oder kleinere Trailer (sogenannte Teaser) gezeigt, die das Publikum nur hungrig machen soll. So weit, so gut.

Nun ist unsere Medialandschaft mittlerweile so schnell, dass kleinere Nachrichten zu schnell vergessen werden können oder gar völlig übersehen werden. Abhilfe schafft es da, neue Trailer oder Teaser vorweg anzukündigen. Entweder mit kurzen Beiträgen in Sozialen Netzwerken oder – noch besser – mit Ankündigungstrailern. Die Ankündigung-ception ist geboren und kann nahezu beliebig weitergeführt werden.

Das Ganze mag vielleicht ganz lustig sein, wenn man es sich vorstellt, aber im Gründe zeigt es doch, wie der Medien-Journalismus heutzutage funktioniert. Oder zumindest, wie er seine Leser wahrnimmt. Natürlich, Werbung IST notwendig, zumindest zu einem gewissen Grad, ansonsten erfährt niemand, was man zu verkaufen hat. Aber ein solches Bombardement kann durchaus auch seine negativen Folgen haben.

Entweder man ist bereits durch all das Material, das man im Vornherein bekommt, übersättigt und braucht das Endprodukt dann gar nicht mehr oder die Erwartungshaltung steigt so stark, das selbst ein ausgezeichnetes Produkt nur noch wie Massenware wirkt.

Besonders schlimm ist ein solches Marketing, wenn sich der Verkaufsstart verzögert. Werbung hat einen bestimmten Rhythmus und braucht ein perfektes Zeitfenster, um möglichst wirksam zu sein. Wird dieser Rahmen unterbrochen, muss die Werbetrommel nicht nur unterbrochen werden, sondern startet direkt von Beginn an. Die Zahl der Trailer, Teaser und sonstiger Ankündigungen steigt ins Unermessliche und was man noch zu Beginn gesehen haben mag, muss am Ende nicht dem tatsächlichen Produkt entsprechen.

Das ist schade für den Kunden und schlecht für den Entwickler. Sonys The Last Guardian ist hier ein gutes Beispiel – oder fast noch besser SquareEnix’ Final Fantasy XV, das ursprünglich als Final Fantasy XIII versus angekündigt wurde. Beide Titel werden wohl noch irgendwann erscheinen, doch nicht einmal mehr für die Konsole für die sie anfangs beworben wurden. Beide befinden sich nun bereits seit mehr als acht Jahren in Entwicklung – kein gutes Zeichen. Zumal The Last Guardian bereits während der ersten Präsentation als bester Titel der Konsolengeneration und NOCH besser als Ico / Shadow of The Colossus angesehen wurde.

In diesem Sinne also: So gut Inception auch ist, bitte bleibt bei einer vernünftigen Zahl von Ankündigungen ;)

Currently reading (book review round-up)

After all this talk about video games in the last posts, it’s about time I talk about books again. The problem is, though, that it has been a long time since I last time since I actually FINISHED a book. I started several but apparently every time I pick up something to read it’s a new book so I end up with way too much cross-reading. But then again, it does give me several books to talk about today which is nice.

Promise of Blood (Brian McClellan, Powder Mage #1)

Starting with one book I was curious about since I first saw an ARC (advanced reader’s copy, basically a preprinted books for book sellers and journalist to review and/or just know beforehand what the book is about so you can sell it as soon as it hits the shelves. it’s a common practise in most media industries) at my last store.
Advertised as a mix of fantasy elements and a setting resembling the French Revolution I was quite intrigued about it. Now, having read the first few chapters (of my bought copy), it is probably the best books of the lot I read right now (excluding the last one in the list). The characters and their stories are mysterious enough to keep me reading, the writing style is good and lacks mayor issues and I really like the magical element and want to learn more about its rules.

So, yeah. I will eventually keep on reading and maybe even buy the next books. As far as I know, the third and last novel in the series will debut in February ’15, with several short stories available as ebooks.

Ein Sturm zieht auf (David Hair, Brücken der Gezeiten #1 – Mage’s Blood, Moontide Quartett #1)

As I’m reading this one in German I just mention both the translated and the original title which just shows again the weird discrepancy between the both. But that’s maybe a topic for another post ;)

As…well, both titles suggest, the world this series is set in heavenly centres around a artificial bridge across two continents and the war that breaks out whenever that passage is usable.

Woven into this west against east scenario is a mix of religious supremacy and a magic system which is quite interested albeit not as grasping as the one in Promise of Blood is. What very well be due to my lack of religious interest, though.

The Bone Season (Samantha Shannon, Bone Season #1)

That one’s sitting on my reading shelf for the longest time despite being really, really good. Maybe best described as a mix of Orwell’s 1984 (which is also on this list, funnily enough..) and the Hunger Games series, it tries – and succeeds – to add a complete Fantasy Layer into this distopian story.

Set in London and Oxford in a not to distant future our heroine Paige is one of the gifted and therefore outlawed part of the society, trying to come through in a small gang of criminals. But only until she gets abducted and brought to Oxford where she is trained by and forced to fight for and alongside a seemingly all-powerful race from beyond the aether – the mysterial world from where Paige and her follow gifted got her powers.

What makes this debut so good is not necessarily the setting (while it DOES help ;) ), nor the fantasy elements. It’s entirely the world building, the quite extensive descriptions and explanations. Shannon doesn’t just tells her story and tries to educate her readers, she takes them by her hand and gives them a tour through her world so they really understand the story and not just identify with the protagonists but become their friends and comrades with all the knowledge one needs.

And after all those rather over-hyped distopian YA-novels with close to none immersion and world building, I’m rather happy about this one.

I just have to finish reading it ;)

And now I have to go to work. I hope I add another post to this as there ARE even more books on my list….See ya!

Currently playing (a kinda game review)

So, GamesCom is still around and while  I could post yet another article about future games, I want to talk about a bit about the games I’m currently playing. The list isn’t sorted in any way and while I already finished one or another I still play them ;)

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PS4)

After already playing this MMO on the PS3 last year I took some time of to wait for the PS4 release and me actually having the console to play it again. I still enjoy the game, though I do know the whole story. As I’m streaming the game on twitch.tv I started with a new character on the Cerberus server. The commentary is German, though, so you don’t have to suffer my English ;)
FFXIV is – for me – one of the best games in the series since a long time. Yes, it is a MMO and you have to pay a monthly fee to play it but it’s everything a good RPG needs and has a lot of the things I liked in the older Final Fantasy titles.

Air Conflict: Vietnam (PS4)

I’m currently test playing this for a review and I won’t say too much about it at this time. As the name suggests, it’s an war game focussed solely on flyiing around as an US soldier in the US-Vietnamese war. The game actually is an “ultimate edition”, which means it’s a remastered version of a PS3 game which came out last year. But contrary to remastered titles like The Last of Us and Tomb Raider, this game doesn’t have stunning graphics or gorgeous-looking cut scenes. Both are well……fitting for an okay PS3 game but nothing too fancy.
And then the story which centers around what may be the most controversial war after WWII. I’m not far into the game right now but I have no idea where the game will go. Right now we’re made into a hero from our family and wife through letters we receive. If this will change? I hope so, I guess. I’m neither an pacifist nor a patriot but I can’t think about a scenario which is less heroic than what the US did in Vietnam… Well, wait and see?

Sniper Elite III – Africa (PS4)

Yet another test game which seems like a mix of the stealth-action of Metal Gear Solid and a tactical shooter. Being a sniper means a lot of scouting, looking for cover and making sure no one even knows where you are or that you even exist. But not all maps are made for sniping around fro 500m away. In some you come face-to-face with your enemies and getting rid of them silently as possible is key to survival.
The game’s gore level are high, really high due to the bullet-time cut scenes showing you quit in detail how you killed the soldiers. Oh, the story centers around WWII in Africa where you are deployed as an elite sniper (hence the title) to take out major targets and help to win the war against the Axis.

Watch_Dogs (PS4)

As FFXIV I already played this on the PS3 but I still like the game enough to play it again. The graphics ARE better than on the PS3 but still have some of the same issues which may be down to the fact that the game WAS publish on both plattforms and had to be optimised as far as possible.
Still, the game is far from perfect and more or less only serves as a quick go-to game for me if I don’t want to pay too much attention to what I do. And maybe I’ll even finish the game once more and like it more than I did before?
I still hope, Ubisoft will make a sequel for it and it will be better than the first game.

Crusader Kings II (Mac)

As a fan of fantasy and historic scenarios I really enjoy Paradox’ games quit a bit. The only problem is: my MacBook is waaaaay too old for their latest games and I miss out on a lot of good stuff. Still, CKII runs just fine and I really like it. Playing as a duke or count in the ‘dark middle age’, it really is fun to play the game of thrones ;) Even without George R. R. Martin’s books.
What I would like to play by Paradox, though, would be Europa Universalis IV. Which just looks gorgeous and fantastic and everything ;)

Coming soon II (game previews)

After my preordered game post I bring you some more previews of upcoming games.

Destiny

First up is the MMO shooter by Bungie. I did play the beta a bit and liked the game just fine. But in the end of the day, I’m not super-psyched about shooters in general and I prefer the fantasy style in open world games like a mmo. Still, its a great and a BIG game this year. And as far as pricing is concerned: all you have to pay to play in groups online is having PS Plus, which every PS4 owner should have no matter what. And you can still play it semi-online without PS+!
So, if you like shooters and/or Halo, this is your game this year.

Release Date: Sept 9
Publisher: Bungie
Genre: MMO Shooter

Driveclub

Originally planned as an launch title, Driveclub was pushed back several times now and finally will come out in early October. It calls itself a social driving simulation which sounds…interesting and still will be partially free for Plus subscribers, so I’ll try it out one way or another. If I will enjoy it – I don’t know.
The graphics are great, the weather effects look beautiful and well, if the gameplay is good, why not play it for a while? At least till the next game comes out ;-)

Release Date: Oct. 8
Publisher: Sony
Genre: Driving Simulation

The Crew

Another driving simulation and this time by Ubisoft. The US will be the playground of this game and it will be a huge one. In one of GameSpot’s The Lobby they tried to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles and took about 15mins, which doesn’t sound like much, but if you compare that to a drive from coast to coat, things start to get really crazy. Just as in Driveclub, The Crew will feature online teams and competitions. To earn ‘prestige’ you not necessarily have to win an race but only be good at certain things. Like drifting, safe driving or the highest speed.

As there won’t be a Need for Speed game this year, this will be the two driving games fighting for an audience. I have no real preference one way or another. I’ll have to wait and see ;-)

Release: Nov 11
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Driving Simulation

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Though still a bit away this game will surely rock the charts, even if its coming out way after the holiday season. CD Project Red are world-famous for their action RPG and it not only looks gorgeous but the gameplay and story look equally good. This will be the first game in the series on Sony’s
platforms and I still have to play the first games but I mostly heard great things about the series and when there’s a book series about a video game, it surely can’t be bad, right?
So, I’m looking forward to February mainly because of this game. I do like RPGs and it doesn’t look as open-world as Skyrim (which was too large for me).

Release Date: Feb. 24 2015
Publisher: CD Project Red
Genre: Action RPG

Coming soon (game previews – pre-orders)

With several new pre-orders for myself and the GamesCom in full motion, it’s time for some previews on what will be in store this holiday season and beyond. First up will be actually two games:

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue and Assassin’s Creed: Unity

Announced just recently, AC: Rogue will be the game for the last-gen consoles XBox 360 and PS3. While some may scream ‘milking the franchise’, I actually like the split of generations. AC IV: Black Flag was already way too demanding of the old consoles and it would be ether impossible to make another game for both systems or it would look and play awfully. So, what is AC: Rogue?
It’s the story of Shay Patrick Cormac, an Irish-born and assassin-trained templar who lives in Mid-18th century North-America. So the setting is right between AC IV and AC III and it was already announced that we will meet Edwad Kenway and possibly other characters from former games. As the player controls a templar this time around and the titles suggests, we WILL be hunting assassins. Who those targets will be or why our character’s gone rogue is still unknown but I’m already looking forward to it.

And while the one is of killing hs formers brothers-in-arms, the other tries to unify a whole country. Arno Victor Dorian is the hero of AC: Unity. The current-gen game will be set in revolutionary Paris and will have a full coop mode. This sounds like it will actually be fun to play with other players for a change. Well I’m sure others enjoyed the multiplayer modes of the earlier titles, but I sure didn’t. Most players I encountered played like they just finished a FPS game. Mindless running around, climbing houses and jumping around rooftops as if stealth was just a possible addition instead of a guideline.
But back to the new game. So it will see huge crowds in a city which is now known as the “city of love” but then was more of a melting pot of crime and violence. A full-fletched cover system, new parcour options and probably my most favourite time period – I’m even more excited about this game than  about AC: Rogue.

Release dates: Oct. 28 (AC: Unity) / Nov. 11 (AC: Rogue)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Action-Adventure

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Next up is another fandom I really enjoy: The Lord of the Rings. After a quite good LotR: War in the North, which had it’s strong points but lacked an open-world environment or the simple possibility of jumping. But then again, it was an enjoyable hack’n’slash action-adventure which actually included local multiplayer, though only or two people. Which meant you always had  computer-controlled character in your party.
But now comes Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. A mixture of Assassin’s Creed  parcour and traversing and the lore of THE fantasy story. I do love Tolkien’s work and I’m a huge fan of the gameplay. Shadows of Mordor will be a very dark game with a large potential for replayability, which is another plus for the game. What more is there to say?

Release date: Oct. 7 (current/last gen, PC)
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Genre: Action-Adventure

While this are all the games I currently have pre-oredered, there are – of course – other games coming out soon, but this shall be all for today ;)

Owning a tablet (vs. a laptop)

Disclaimer: This won’t be a review. I won’t post the specific tablet model I own nor will there be photos of the tablet.
This is merely an experience report of someone who just got his first tablet ;)

So, I own a tablet now and apart from it being an Android device and me being otherwise an Apple-only guy I can’t really complain. It does what it’s supposed to and after some (prior) research even the OS problems are solved. Which consisted of two questions: how do I get my files from my MacBook to the tablet and how do I synchronise my iCloud calendar with the built-in calendar by Google.

The first answer was easily answered: Android File Transfer for Mac. Just download and install, nothing else required. The latter was a bit more tricky. First I tried a tablet app solution which just failed miserably. But as ever, Google knows everything and the answer was found in an apple forum.

But enough of all that. Getting started was easy as hell, finding all the initial apps I ‘need’ just a bit harder and getting used to the interface is still a bit weird at times but overall I’m using it every waking and free minute. Which brings me to the next big question:

As said, I do own a MacBook And a pretty old one as that (early 2008). Though it does still run like a kitten, I do eventually want a newer OSX machine. But does it need to be a moveable (i.d. laptop-y) device or should I get an iMac for better hardware or at east a larger screen?

I do love the tablet – though I will be switching to an iPad eventually must for OS-simplification. And with a screen which is large enough to watch videos at, to chat and do other basic internet things, for what would I need a MacBook for?

So, tablets yay, Laptops nay? I’m still not sure. I’d like an OSX system to play the some games at – like Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis – which means I do need something more powerful as I have now but it doesn’t have to be high-end. And if I can hook up my system to my TV, screen size wouldn’t matter as well.

Guess I’ll have to visit an Apple store and see what the real difference is. Because right now all I see is “it’s mobile” vs. “it’s stationary”.