A fabulous single-player experience in a massively multiplayer online game
STAR WARS: The Old Republic (TOR) comes with a buffet of a story for an MMO, but you only get to fill your plate once. From decisions as significant as choosing your character’s class specialization to events as trivial as responding to key dialog options, everything you do has a lasting and permanent effect on your gameplay. We like the feast: BioWare’s masterful use of instanced environments creates more captivating gameplay for the solo quester than most any other MMO.
But this is BioWare’s first foray into the massively multiplayer world, and it shows. TOR is more a role-playing game you play alongside 999,999 friends than a true MMO. BioWare either poorly integrates or completely misses the mark on many of the elements that define an MMO. On the upside, the beautiful blend of voice acting and dialogue options in each of TOR’s many quests should earn the game a celebratory parade through the Yavin 4 throne room. And while the scripted quests (occasionally punctuated by John Williams’s familiar score) are immersive, they make the rest of the game’s environments seem stale by comparison. TOR’s non-instanced “generic” areas just aren’t very player-interactive. The Nar Shadda casino, a cold and lifeless location that cries out for mini-games and interactivity, is just one example. And don’t get us started on TOR’s cantina music.
Strange things happen on the Internet all the time. The art of RickRolling was -- and for some, still is -- one of them, whereby for a short period of time it became vogue to trick people into visiting Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" video on YouTube. Even more strange than RickRolling becoming a thing is the fact that AVG Technologies managed to convince YouTube to pull the popular video yesterday.
One of the problems with our accelerating technological progress is that the evolutionary path is strewn with dead formats. Remember cassettes? VHS? Betamax? Laserdiscs? I was reminded of this again when I got involved in some serious de-cluttering. I found multiple boxes of SVHS-C cassettes left over from ten and twenty years ago. Many of them are treasured memories so I decided to dub these to DVD with the eventual goal of importing into Avid to edit them.
For dubbing purposes, I picked up a Sony VRD-MC6, which Sony calls a “multi-function DVD recorder.” It’s a convenient little box for burning DVDs from various other sources. It has a small screen to show you what’s being burned to the DVD and it can write to single and double-layer discs. Perfect for my needs.
Working my way through ten years of recorded videos was both joyous and frustrating. Read on for some of the lessons I’ve learned from several decades of shooting personal videos and candid stills.
At some point or another, everyone fantasizes about being able to fly, soaring through the air like a bird high above the ground, over buildings and wherever your fancy takes you. A man named Jarno Smeets took that dream and seemingly made it a reality by concocting a sort of winged apparatus that allowed him to flap his arms and soar like an eagle. He uploaded a short YouTube video that quickly went viral, and just like that, over a million viewers were able to live out their fantasy of flight vicariously through some guy on the Internet. The only problem is Jarno Smeets doesn't appear to exist and it now appears that the video is a fake. Hello bug, meet windshield.
Consumers downloaded the Windows 8 Consumer Preview over a million times in less than 24 hours, but we're willing to bet that the majority of those downloads came from the technically inclined rather than, say, your parents. The tech world has already proclaimed what it likes and doesn't like in Windows 8 -- but do everyday people really care if W8 has an enhanced contact app? Can everyday people even locate the contact app in W8? Lockergnome's Chris Pirillo decided to put the W8 interface to the test by plopping his elderly father down in front of the new OS with no introduction.
Not to be beaten at its own game, TV streaming service Hulu has started airing its first original series to compete with Netflix. The show is called Battleground, and it centers around a Senate campaign in Wisconsin. Netflix just debuted it’s first series Lilyhammer, but the two companies are going about things quite differently.
Time Warner has rolled out a new TV viewing option for its customers to enjoy from the safety of home (and only from home). Live TV streams are now flowing to compatible web browsers for those with Time Warner TV and internet services. The TWC TV web app is in beta, but supports Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Although, the service does have a number of catches.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota and Wellesley College recently got together to answer one simple question: does BitTorrent hurt U.S. box office numbers? According to this study, the answer is a resounding ‘no,’ much to the chagrin of the movie industry. The study did find a correlation in the data, but it amounts to Hollywood throwing away money.
Amazon announced a deal with Viacom today that brings it one step closer to truly competing with Netflix as a streaming video service. Amazon Prime Video will soon be streaming TV shows from MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central to Prime subscribers. The 2,000 new titles will push Amazon’s Prime offerings to roughly 15,000.
Hulu CEO Jason Kilar has posted on the Hulu blog a rundown of how the video streaming service did in 2011. Despite the general annoyance many users express about its content restrictions and ads, Hulu had quite a good 2011. Revenue was up 60% last year to $420 million, which exceeds the company’s expectations.