Saturday, 12 March 2011

Tom Lehrer

Before I get around to writing about the weeks nerdnews, these videos have to be watched and enjoyed by anyone with more than a ten-year-old's knowledge of maths and science.
Oh, and enjoy National Science Week.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles follow Thundercats to the reboot launcher

This doesn't look quite as cool as the Thundercats reboot, but I'll follow and give it a chance. I'm part of the generation that first knew Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (BBFC considered 'ninja' to be too violent) at Infant school. I remember seeing the second live action movie at the cinema. Am I showing my age yet?
I really want this to be good after watching the franchise limp around for the last 15 years.

Yes, that’s right — there’s another Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series in the works, over at Nickelodeon. As you may recall, the cable network purchased the rights to the turtles from Mirage Group and 4Kids Entertainment for $60 million back in 2009. Rumors at the time suggested that Nickelodeon was planning a new CG-animated series and a feature film for their recently acquired brand, and today we got our first look at the new show. See the first image after the jump.

Here’s the image that came with the press release (via Topless Robot):

And a larger scan of the same image from the Wall Street Journal (via Flickr):

The Wall Street Journal quotes executive producer Ciro Nieli as saying that the newly revamped turtles will have “more individual attributes” than they did before. From the image, I’m not really seeing it — they still look pretty similar to me, aside from their eye shapes — but of course, it’s tough to tell from a single picture what the characters will look like once they’re animated.

Their expressions, at least, seem to fit what we’ve come to recognize as their personalities: Michaelangelo looks like a one-man party, Leonardo looks serious and intense, Raphael looks like he has anger issues, and Donatello… well, I’m not really sure about Donatello. He’s got a weird crazy-eyes thing going on, and as I recall the character was generally sane. At least he looks like he’s having fun.

The show will debut in 2012 on Nickelodeon. While I’m generally a bit cranky about reboots and remakes, I’m actually tentatively optimistic about this new series — Nickelodeon’s done good work before, and knowing a whole new generation of kids will have their own version of the Turtles to obsess over kinda warms my heart.

Also currently in the works for our favorite heroes in a half-shell is a live-action movie adaptation. Paramount announced last summer that Iron Man writers Art Marcum and Matt Holloway had been tapped to write the script, but little else about the project has been revealed at this point.

Discuss: Are you looking forward to the new series? Also, ‘fess up – who was your favorite Turtle? As a kid, I liked Donatello, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate Raphael’s sarcasm and Michaelangelo’s humor quite a bit as well. The only one I’ve never cared for is Leonardo. What a stick in the mud.
Source: Geekology

Star Wars: The Old Republic mini-series

I'm very pleased to announce that my 100th post is about Star Wars! I've been in a big Star Wars kick of late. I've listened to audiobooks, I've been playing Force Unleashed II, I've watched the movies and begun the Clone Wars whilst I do work and have recently been retracing the Knights of the Old Republic ongoing from Dark Horse Comics. I haven't really been into any of the Star Wars titles since Knights and Legacy ended. I haven't really looked into Legacy War, but this new mini-series looks interesting. I'm interested to see if there is any link between the protagonist and KotOR's sidekick sentinel, Bastilla Shan. Hopefully we'll get some exciting reveals.

So, with my current Star Wars fever, it is entirely apt that my 100th post brings you:

MARCH 9, 2011, Milwaukie, OR—Dark Horse Comics, in collaboration with LucasArts and BioWare, is proud to announce a new chapter in Star Wars: The Old Republic, the comic series that acts as an invaluable companion to the upcoming massively multiplayer online role-playing game of the same name. Featuring a story by BioWare’s senior creative writer, Alexander Freed, that runs concurrent to the game’s plot, The Lost Suns comes straight to you with new twists, a new mission, and a new hero!

“The Lost Suns is our chance to craft an Old Republic story we could never tell in a video game,” Freed relayed. “For readers familiar with the setting, the comic starts when the game starts and showcases events and mysteries key to the battle between Republic and Empire. For readers who’ve never heard of the game, we want to recapture the Star Wars® sense of adventure in a strange universe, where the stakes are impossibly high and treacherously personal.”

Featuring art from George Freeman (IDW’s Angel) and Dave Ross (Star Wars: The Old Republic—Blood of the Empire, Star Wars: Dark Times), with covers by Benjamin CarrĂ© (Star Wars: The Old Republic—Blood of the Empire), the five-issue miniseries focuses on a time of tense peace. Thousands of years before Darth Vader and the events of the Star Wars films, the Republic fears a second war with the Sith Empire, and only Theron Shan, son of legendary Jedi Master Satele Shan, will keep both sides at bay. He’s a spy, not a Jedi, and his newest assignment will be a true test of his skills! Find out in The Lost Suns if Theron Shan can discover the dark secrets behind the treaty that brought peace to the galaxy as he searches for Jedi Master Ngani Zho—thought lost in Sith space—while dealing with a troublesome thief, as a crew of Sith Knights begin to tighten the noose in their pursuit of Zho!

Providing key plot development for the soon-to-be-released online game Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Lost Suns from Dark Horse Comics premieres in June with an all-new story that helps unfold the actual events in the game! This unique tie-in series also marks the debut of the Sith Knights!

Source: GeekTyrant

New Green Lantern Movie Image

The UK version of Green Lantern's offcial facebook page has launched (I don't know why, because we can access the regular one fine), but it brought with it a new close up of Ryan Renolds as Hal Jordan.

The mask looks MUCH better; always suspected that the CG in the trailer was work-in-progress.

Source: Facebook

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Secret history of Star Wars

A very interesting article that I found via GeekTyrant. I haven't had a chance to read the full article, but this highlights some of Marcia Lucas' contributions to George's best movies.

There is a great article that's been written on the website The Secret History of Star Wars, which focuses on Marcia Lucas the ex-wife of Star Wars creator George Lucas. But without his wife Star Wars may have been a completely different experience had Marcia not stepped in and made the suggestions that led to big some big changes. In all honesty she may have been the reason the movies didn't suck. George actually listened to her, and she told him when something didn't work. It was after her and George split up that his Star Wars films went down hill. You can actually see the difference in Lucas' work when Marcia wasn't around. She was truely a strong influence on the films that Lucas had made.

Marcia, along with many of George's friends, critiqued which characters worked, which ones didn't, which scenes were good, and Lucas composed the script in this way. Marcia was always critical of Star Wars, but she was one of the few people Lucas listened to carefully, knowing she had a skill for carving out strong characters. Often, she was a voice of reason, giving him the bad news he secretly suspected--"I'm real hard," she says, "but I only tell him what he already knows." [l] Pollock notes, "Marcia's faith never waivered--she was at once George's most severe critic and most ardent supporter. She wasn't afraid to say she didn't understand something inStar Wars or to point out the sections that bored her." [li] She kept her husband down to earth and reminded him of the need to have an emotional through-line in the film. Mark Hamill remembers: "She was really the warmth and heart of those films, a good person he could talk to, bounce ideas off of."

Only Marcia is brave enough to take Lucas on in a head-to-head dispute and occasionally emerge victorious." [liii] Marcia explains: "I don't think George is real close and intimate with anyone but me. I've always felt that when you're married, you have to be wife, mother, confidant, and lover, and that I've been all those things to George. I'm the only person he talks to about certain things." [liv] Walter Murch comments further: "Marcia was very opinionated, and had very good opinions about things, and would not put up if she thought George was going in the wrong direction. There were heated creative arguments between them--for the good." [lv] When Lucas was having difficulty coming up with ideas or ways of solving scenes and characters, he would talk about it with her

Here are three contributions that she made to the story of Star Wars, besides keeping the story and characters in check.

She came up with the idea of killin Obi-Wan Kenobi. Lucas told the Rolling Stone,

I was rewriting, I was struggling with that plot problem when my wife suggested that I kill off Ben, which she thought was a pretty outrageous idea, and I said, 'Well, that is an interesting idea, and I had been thinking about it.' Her first idea was to have Threepio get shot, and I said impossible because I wanted to start and end the film with the robots, I wanted the film to really be about the robots and have the theme be the framework for the rest of the movie. But then the more I thought about Ben getting killed the more I liked the idea.

She came up with the" kiss of luck". Hamill had this to say a few years ago,

I know for a fact that Marcia Lucas was responsible for convincing him to keep that little 'kiss for luck' before Carrie [Fisher] and I swing across the chasm in the first film: 'Oh, I don't like it, people laugh in the previews,' and she said, 'George, they're laughing because it's so sweet and unexpected'—and her influence was such that if she wanted to keep it, it was in.

She also helped develop the Death Star Trench Warfare.

The Death Star trench run was originally scripted entirely different, with Luke having two runs at the exhaust port; Marcia had re-ordered the shots almost from the ground up, trying to build tension lacking in the original scripted sequence, which was why this one was the most complicated. (Here's a faithful reproduction of the original assembly, which is surprisingly unsatisfying; start at 4:30.) She warned George, 'If the audience doesn't cheer when Han Solo comes in at the last second in the Millennium Falcon to help Luke when he's being chased by Darth Vader, the picture doesn't work.'

Not only did she help out with star wars but she worked with Lucas on Raider of the Lost Ark as well.

[Marcia] was instrumental in changing the ending of Raiders, in which Indiana delivers the ark to Washington. Marion is nowhere to be seen, presumably stranded on an island with a submarine and a lot of melted Nazis. Marcia watched the rough cut in silence and then leveled the boom. She said there was no emotional resolution to the ending, because the girl disappears. ... Spielberg reshot the scene in downtown San Francisco, having Marion wait for Indiana on the steps on the government building. Marcia, once again, had come to the rescue.

I strongley suggest that you read the full article, it's a very interesting look into Marcia's contribution to film, and her relationship with George Lucas. 

Uncharted 3 villian and extra locations revealed

PlayStation blog have revealed the main antagonist and some of the story for Uncharted 3. It looks pretty cool and seems to confirm that Nate is in fact coming to England.
The secret society bit seems quite cool. I think that they're picking up all the unused elements of the Indiana Jones trilogy (I refuse to acknowledge Indy IV) and rolling them together. Desert? Check. Mystic forces? Check. Hunted by an aggresive organisation? Check. Going to be awesome? Check!

Character renders and screens (copyrighted):
Check it out:
Last week, Naughty Dog and SCEA held a packed-to-the-rafters press event at the PlayStation.Blog lounge at GDC 2011 focusing on UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception. The anticipation from the invited press was palpable as they all filtered into the PlayStation.Blog Lounge – afterwards, word on the street was that we delivered.
Evan Wells, Christophe Balestra, Richard Lemarchand and yours truly were to give the demo and speak with the press – the embargo just lifted this morning, so be sure to visit your favorite gaming media outlet for their take on the event and the reveals.
We kicked off the press event with the first-ever demo outside of Naughty Dog halls of UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception in stereoscopic 3D. We chose to present a portion of the burning chateau sequence we premiered in late December. Since most people would already be familiar with the way the sequence looked and played, we thought it would make all the more evident the stellar work the Naughty Dog team has put into making the 3D presentation part of the core Naughty Dog Engine. In my opinion, with this small snippet of gameplay we’ve proven that we’re able to perfectly retain all of the spectacular visuals and effects that you’ve come to expect from an UNCHARTED game into the 3D presentation. Playing in 3D gives you some added benefits to gameplay as well, such as improved aiming around corners and an excellent read on depth for all traversal sequences, no matter how tricky. Unfortunately, until you get to see UNCHARTED 3 running in 3D at an event or in your home this November, you’ll have to rely on impressions from our attending media for how good it looked and played.
The real meat of the press event was the unveiling of the central antagonist that will try to foil Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan at every opportunity – meet Katherine Marlowe in the video above.
Marlowe is definitely not one you want to get in the way of, or worse, double cross! To give you some background, Katherine Marlowe is the coldly calculating leader of a secret society whose roots date back over four hundred years to the court of Queen Elizabeth I. She has a long-standing rivalry with Nathan Drake over Sir Francis Drake’s ring – something they both contend is rightfully theirs and is also the key to an ancient mystery. As you can tell from the cutscene above, Marlowe is a much more cerebral enemy than Drake has confronted in the past, using both psychological and physical tactics to get what she is after. Marlowe also has the assistance of her team of highly trained agents in this secret society – they are far more elusive and dangerous than the hired guns Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan have faced in the past.
Additionally, we’ve uploaded a set of stills from the cutscene, a high-resolution render of Katherine Marlowe and concept art of the agents and thugs Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan will face in UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception.
We hope you’ve all enjoyed meeting Katherine Marlowe in our GDC 2011 reveal. Stay tuned as we still have a ton of information we want to reveal – with little to no spoilers! – over the next eight months leading up to UNCHARTED 3’s PS3 release on 11-1-11.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Uncharted 3 speculation

CVG have posted some interesting speculation on Uncharted 3, no news I'm afraid. Could Drake be heading to the UK?

The original Uncharted was a genuine hit out of leftfield, a rollicking old school adventure that took the Indiana Jones template and blasted it into the new millennium.

Uncharted 2 took the genius of that idea and proceeded to rewrite the rulebook when it came to production values and rollercoaster action - becoming arguably the finest videogame adventure of all.

Just when we're thinking there's nowhere left to go (or, rather, climb or shoot), along comes Drake's Deception... Deception, if you'll excuse the disambiguation in chronology, might be Nate's Temple of Doom.

See, this is the Uncharted where our oh-so-slick hero encounters 'occult treachery' and is forced to 'confront his deepest fears' as he searches out a fabled lost city deep in the Arabian Desert.

We were banging our heads together to work out where devs Naughty Dog could possibly take us this time round and got to thinking: what if there were some Arkham Asylum-style hallucinogenic bits - especially since a chunk of the adventure is set in the fever-inducing sands? Food for thought.

Let's concentrate on hard factage for the moment, though. Naughty Dog have put their tails on the line by promising 'bigger' set-pieces - and we've already watched as Drake and erstwhile buddy Sully negotiated their way through an ancient French chateau that's combusted into a towering inferno.

As debris falls and flames roar, Nate showed off some new stealth takedowns, like a flying headlock! His already-unrivalled animation set has patently been expanded even further, with cheeky little idiosyncrasies like altering grip or swinging from chandeliers (now with their own individual physics) looking ultra, ultra real.

There's also markedly more interaction between buds now - which has unsurprisingly gotten everybody cooing about potential co-op. Nothing confirmed as yet, though. Uncharted 2 was damn near perfect, so Drake's Deception is going to need a darn sight more up its torn sleeves than simply a dexterous grasp of contextual actions.

One aspect that has us purring are the hints that Team Nate will be dropping in on Blighty during their latest jaunt, with the recent teaser trailer dropping all manner of clues - from £20 notes through to 020 dialling codes.

Drake scaling the face of Big Ben while pursued by hordes of clandestine killers? Yes please. If not, we'll settle for a chase over the Tyne Bridge...

Multiplayer fans will be stoked to hear that Uncharted 3 will be 'bringing the cinematic elements of the campaign into multiplayer,' which sounds thrilling. Finally, Naughty Dog also ventured that Drake's Deception might well be using Move - though only if the context fits - as well as announcing stereoscopic 3D support.

Source: CVG

Batman: Arkham City

Arkham Asylum was excellent and the sequel, Arkham City, looks even better. It's been a long time since I was this excited about, well, anything coming out. So why haven't I covered it much on the blog?
Quite simply because Luke, Elliott and Khris have been doing such a great job of covering news over at, that I feel anything that I post about it is redundant.
I'll put the trailers up and the screenshots find their way to their own page (link on the right), but if you want up-to-date news and rumours, that really is the site to join. Any news that I find, I'll probably post there before I post it here.
When the official Arkham City community pages went live on Monday, I signed up and had a look around, but I still find myself floating back to the community that has existed since last August at If you want an easy, streamlined way of checking out the latest news, then look no further than the Gotham Times. I don't want to sound like an advert for the place, but it's the only board that I've visited where arguements don't break out about petty things and you can actually hold decent discussions with people.
Go along and see what you think.

p.s. If you register, let Luke know that I sent you.

It's a different medium, you idiot! - Videogame movies.

This is the first in a short series of articles called It's a different medium, you idiot! The point of which is to point out to people why they are idiot for saying things like "It's not as good as the book." Of course, it's not as good as the book! *Reasons for this in the next article. This installment will look at the dreaded, but ever popular genre of videogame movies, as well as looking at what happens when we get the reverse (videogames based on movies).

Early days and the early 1990s
The dawn of the videogame console was, without a doubt, a glorious moment. Throughout the Western world (and Japan), kids and adults were playing on ZX Spectrums, Commodore 64s and the ol' BBC tape deck thingymahoozit. Videogame popularity went through the roof, however, with the advent of the Sega MasterSystem and the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The big star? Mario.

A blight on cinema and gaming.
The Super Mario Bros movie was an unmitigated disaster. I'm not saying that it was the first videogame movie, but it was certainly the earliest that I'll focus on. First of all, let's take a surface look at Super Mario Bros. as a concept. There are these Italian brothers called Mario and Luigi, they are plumbers in a world were pipes take you to other places, oh, and there is a princess. These three are the ONLY HUMANS IN THE WORLD, the rest of existence is populated by both tyrannical and benign dinosaurs, talking mushrooms, floating fireballs with faces etc. Super Mario Bros. was a great game and I remember fondly the time I spent playing it, but it makes no sense other than: get to the end of the screen, don't get hit, turn big, turn small, get firebolts, beat the obsticles. Who in their right mind would commission a movie that is based upon a world that doesn't make sense? Why not a Cool Spot movie? Why not an Ecco the Dolphin movie? Why not a Duck Hunt movie? I was going to say 'Why not an Earthworm Jim movie?' and then I remembered the vaguely entertaining TV series. Other 'successes' of the era include Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat which also took no plot properties and tried to make a story out of them, whilst retaining the 1-on-1 fights from the games.