A new Wing Commander game? It's happening!

UPDATE: The creator of Wing Commander, Chris Roberts, is unveiling a new game.

The murmurs are getting louder that a new full blown Wing Commander game is in the works! It’s 2012. We probably won’t see much until 2013 at least, if the project is as big as it sounds. But you don’t get much more confirmation than this filing at the US Patent Office.

The posting clearly indicates that one Electronic Arts, Inc. of Redwood City, California has requested an extension of intent to use the words “Wing Commander” in a project which includes “Recorded and downloadable video and audio files featuring information and instructions regarding computer and video games; computer game software; computer game software and manuals sold as a unit; computer video game software; computer video game software and manuals sold as a unit…”

This filing with the patent office was updated as recently as September 6th, 2011. Other recent documents and rumors have turned up legal filings involving a Chris Roberts (original writer and director of Wing Commander) film project in Detroit. It’s looking pretty straight forward, folks. I’ll be seeing you in the cockpit soon!

How Games can make you cry: Emotional Momentum

SPOILER ALERT!

This article discusses plot developments in games over the last 20 years, INCLUDING recent titles!


A few weeks ago I was engaged in a discussion that I wanted to bring here. Emotional ties to characters, with particular regard to mortality, in video games.

Full disclosure, I’m not much of an RPG player. Combining this with that, comparing the stats of the 200 items in my inventory and equipping the right armor for the boss I’m about to fight, keeping in mind that I’ll get a mana buff if I wear that gauntlet, but it will reduce my character’s charisma… I just don’t give a crap. I’m sorry. But what draws me to games like those in the Elder Scrolls or Ultima series, or even Final Fantasy, are the story lines. I absolutely love a story I can get lost in. Characters I can relate to or at least feel for are key. After playing through games like Crackdown, or even the B-game game MorphX I have no remorse for some characters, no matter where the story takes them.

Enter Gears of War 3. While playing the latest chapter in the Gears of War saga, I met a moment that turned my discussion just a few weeks ago into something tangible for me that I haven’t experienced in over a decade. True emotional connection to a video game. We’ll get to that in a moment.

I’m not kidding, we’re about to get spoiler-rific!

My discussion a few weeks ago began with Wing Commander. The saga that defined the space opera, and not only affected the space-sim genre, but several Sci-Fi TV shows and movies. Wing Commander forced you to get to know the characters. You sat down and talked with them. You had a drink at the bar with them. You got to know their personalities, their flying styles. And, like almost no other game to date, you had to watch your wingmen die at an extraordinary rate. You speak at their funeral, you send them off in to space with a final salute. It is a sincere moment. It’s not just another man down or some kind of game over screen. It’s war. You have to carry on, but only after you pay proper tribute to your fallen comrade.

Wing Commander may have impacted me for several reasons. I was young, I hadn’t yet experienced “death” the way I would later in life (a surreal few years in college had me attending annual funerals for friends, family, and acquaintences). In addition to my youth, I had time to grow and connect with these characters. Some may have died right away in Wing Commander, some in Wing Commander II. Entire carriers and transports are lost, filled with characters you know, love, or maybe just met (or in the case of some civilian transports, haven’t met). Although it can be vague, sometimes it’s someone you’ve flown with for a long time, perhaps for multiple games in the series. Then one day they don’t come back. Wing Commander even made this personal touch part of their introduction for Wing Commander II, stating in their promotional materials:For years, your lightning-quick reflexes and instinctive dogfighting tactics went to waste while the Kilrathi killed your closest friends on the front lines.

Several “indie” games, like Limbo or or Braid try to tug at your heart strings. The end of Braid has that “ah-ha!” moment, where the developers pull a “got’cha!” and you realize you haven’t been the good guy all along. It twists you perception, it may even shock you from a story-telling perspective. But I didn’t really feel any different. The same goes for Bioshock and Bioshock 2 – take the first, for example. The “would you kindly” twist was unexpected. It was an explaination for why you followed a linear story line. It was unlike anything I had experienced before, mind blowing! But killing Andrew Ryan did not impact me in the least.

I was never concerned when I found out that the princess was in another castle. I wasn’t moved at the end of Heavenly Sword when Kai set Nariko out to sea. In Red Dead Redemption your main character is killed off, leaving you to complete the game as your own son. In the Halo trilogy you’re forced to carry on while Cortana torments you from a distance. But I never care. I just trudge along, waiting for the story to resolve itself.

Back to Gears of War 3. I was highly detached from the second game in the series. Kim and Carmine died in the first game. I barely knew any characters in the second (the entire game was built as fluff and filler and centered around it’s multi-player offerings, it did nothing for me and barely moved the story along apart from some predictable and cliche moments, in my opinion). But in Gears 3, which I haven’t even completely finished, my world was rocked. It was predictable, I agree. But it was executed with perfection and precision. Harkening back to the commercials used for Gears of War 2, soft music plays as vibrant imagery fulfills what Cliff Bleszinski has called “destroyed beauty” from the very beginnings of Gears of War.

I could actually feel something. To save his team, Dominic Santiago will scuttle a truck into a tanker of fuel. As soon as everything started building up to this, I could feel myself beginning the five stages of grief. Denial. Then anger. Then bargaining, with myself – mostly, because the cutscene had already begun – but wishing Dom could hear me. Then depression hit me like a rock. I’m waiting for the acceptance part. I’ve stopped playing the game for a few days to really soak in what has happened. Marcus doesn’t get to, in the game. But I do.

During my hiatus, I’ve had time to think. Why does this affect me so much? And I’ve realized a few things. The first is what I call “emotional momentum.” To see if this was a real thing, I searched the term online quickly and came up with tips for texting your way into some hot and heavy conversation, so I highly doubt that it is. Perhaps I’m coining the term, at least in this context. Regardless, emotional momentum is the pace and substantiality on which a relationship is formed. With most video games, you are supposed to bond with and care for characters you are just meeting. Then, somewhere in your six hour adventure, they are taken away and it supposed to shatter you, emotionally. I haven’t played Heavy Rain, but I heard more people cheered when an annoying child was mowed down by traffic, than people who genuinely fealt remorse. There wasn’t a real relationship built, and that which was there was thrown at you with the sole function at trying to make you teary-eyed later. You saw it coming. You haven’t had time to build a relationship, or situations which allowed you to get to know the characters. At least one or the other, if not both, is required – chatter during battle, or a cutscene where you learn your partner’s wife’s name? That’s just not enough.

Wing Commander was different because I had sat down and had drinks with the characters, had conversations with them. Then I looked at that chair they had always sat in, and they weren’t there anymore. Gears of War 3 has made me take pause becase I know Dom. I’ve been with him through his struggles, but we’ve come out stronger after each and every mission. Sure, I mocked him in Gears 2 – I even expected him to die in combat if he couldn’t get his act together. But he always came through for me. We’ve literally defeated hoards of Locust enemies together. I’ve known Dom for the last five years of my life. Yet there he was, one last time, selflessly making sure his squad mates were going to get out of the city of Mercy and carry on toward Azura. He will be sorely missed.

I’m very interested in this topic and may research it further. I would be interested in fleshing this idea out, and perhaps creating a panel to discuss similar events in gaming. What memories do you have? Was there a moment in another game that actually gave you enough time to develop a relationship with a character, only to have it taken away? Final Fantasy VII, I’ve heard, may have had a moment that hit some players. What about you? Please discuss. And if you’ve actually read this far, thank you, genuinely.

Importing all of WinBreak.com

Late last night I imported the entire contents, not just the Better Know a Gamer articles. They don’t necessarily stick to the same categories and classifications as the current site, and some of their attached media won’t necessarily work (at one point we had forums, a photoblog, live blogging software, and video storage). Although the majority of the content has been brought over from WinBreak.com, not all of it has. I was in the process of uploading several of the video files when I encountered a series of problems, most likely linked to my internet provider, but I’m a little handcuffed right now. Still, an absoultey massive amount of data has been brought over to NuAngel.net’s website for archival purposes, and soon WinBreak.com will be shut down and will forward here. Thanks for making the transition with us. Now go back and read some of the oldies but goodies!

NuAngel is officially a teenager!

No, not me. I’m closer to thirty than twenty. Rather, my identity on the internet, “NuAngel” is 13 today, officially. I know I used the name other places, like on ICQ (for a few weeks, or maybe even months), but on February 8th, 1999, I officially registered the email address NuAngel@hotmail.com.

I recall using the name on services like ICQ, where you could change your name at will; but the first place where it was registered? As far as I can recall, it was Hotmail. I don’t have any good record, now, but I believe I first registered NuAngel.net somewhere around October of 2000, then let it expire in 2004 or 2005? I can’t go back and check my email for receipts because the email account I had originally registered with has long-since been deleted.

The history of the name was pretty straight forward… I went thorugh that same strange phase every young ‘net user does – trying to develop my identity. Temporary names were Bungeta (don’t ask), Silver DayStar, Silver Scorpion, Silver Stinger – and then Angel came my way. Guardian_Angel lasted for a short run, but at one point I finally settled on being the “New Angel,” as I was replacing someone on a team who had gone by the name “Angel.” But New Angel was too wordy, and I didn’t want to use an underscore in my email address, because nobody knew what it was back then. NuAngel was born. No, at the time, I had no idea another company named NuAngel existed. Still, when it came time to buy a domain, I elected for the .net because it had a nice ring to it – anything else I wanted was available, but I went with this one.

For this “birthday” of sorts, I think I’ll celebrate by going over what I’ve done with this identity. From the original NuAngel’s Helping Hand (which can be seen by looking up NuAngel.net on Archive.org), to 3dfx drivers, to WinBreak.com (stay tuned tonight and tomorrow for updates on that).

Thanks to all of you for your support, and for keeping in contact with me, all these years. It’s becauses of genuine friendships forged in the ether that I still maintain this same identity and use it as often as possible, wherever I can.

You can find me at:

And I’m sure there are many more places I forget about. So look me up, and let’s talk – I always love meeting more and more people, and after 13 years, I hope it’ll only keep getting easier to find me!

Home Switcher for Froyo

Home Switcher for Froyo is a free app for your Android phone running Frozen Yogurt (Android 2.2) or above. It is an app that makes switching between two different Launcher programs very simple.

Launchers are the main interface for the Android operating system. It’s how you interact with your device. While most people will never switch away from the factory default launcher their phone comes with, there are still many people who love to play with different launchers. Some can make your phone look more like an iPhone, or Windows Phone 7. Some offer more customizability and themse, like ADW.Launcher, and some offer better performance, like LauncherPro. But sometimes when you’re just playing with a new launcher, or you’re trying to find out the best launcher for you, you need to switch back and forth between them. Home Switcher makes it very simple to do that, and I encourage anyone using multiple launchers to make sure they have this installed.

Even though “for Froyo” is in the name of the application, I have confirmed that it works up to Gingerbread 2.3.3. It most likely works with even newer versions of the Android Operating System, but I can personally confirm FroYo and Gingerbread are compatible with this application.

Cannot sign or encrypt this message certificate error when sending from Outlook solved!

Ever see this when trying to send messages form your outlook?

encryptedemailerror

The error reads: “Microsoft Office Outlook cannot sign or encrypt the message because you have no certificate which can be used to send from the email address…”  Some people have even reported seeing the “Welcome to E-Mail Security” screen, which keeps asking them to “Get Digital ID.”

First thing, if you haven’t made any changes to your Outlook Settings, you should report this to your IT department or tech consultant. It likely means that your email server’s SSL certificate has expired! But if you might have done some tinkering, you’re in luck, because this is a very simple fix. 

It’s just a checkbox that you may have checked because you wanted your email to be safe. Unfortunately, you can’t just check the box (as easy as it looks) – it requires set up on the server to actually encrypt your mail, and for that to work, it needs a valid SSL security certificate. It could be that you do normally encrypt your messages, but your certificate has expired! In the mean time, here’s your workaround:

The setting is called “Encrypt Contents and attachments for outgoing messages” and I have instructions below on how you find it.

 

In Outlook 2007 and 2010:

  1. Click Tools.
  2. Click Trust Center.
  3. Click E-mail Security on the left.
  4. Uncheck the top box that says “Encrypt Contents and attachments for outgoing messages.”
  5. Click OK.

You’re all set!  Now try sending another email, and the error should leave you alone.

2008 – The Grammar Club – Bremelanotide

cover_front_tape_childsplay

 

It’s a supergroup of geeks.  With their 2008 debut, The Grammar Club started a new era of collaboration among bit-pop, nerdcore artists.  With the backbone of the group being Shael Riley and Beefy, I knew I was in for something unique.  When I began listening to it, my mind was instantly blown.  The album begins with one of the best opening tracks I had heard in years, Balloon Flight.

It sounds like a live recording in an empty hall, which sadly isn’t uncommon for a lot of our nerdcore heroes.  But moments later in explodes in to a positive and fun album of upbeat and energetic audible fun.  It just makes you feel good.  And the album goes on to make you laugh, smile, and even feel painfully serious or sorrow filled with more tracks like My Gayest Shirt or Alternate Ending.  The song Bank Holiday holds special meaning to me because of my childhood – and I’m guessing the childhood of virtually everyone who is going to listen to this album.  It’s about a professional wrestler, making the circuit, trying to make a living working nearly every day of his life, barely scraping by.  You may remember a similar plot from the 2008 movie The Wrestler with Micky Rourke.

Best of all for you, Bremelanotide is a free album.  Not only that, but the Grammar Club has since put out a second album, MC Horse Rides Again.  Both albums are free, and both are available at TheGrammarClub.com – you can easily find the album I talk about here on the Bremelanotide section of the site.  Just click on Media to begin the download.

And for those who must know where the name of the album comes from, Bremelanotide was a drug that was being developed to enhance sex but was stopped in 2008.  I’m guessing the folks in The Grammar Club were hoping to work as a nice substitute!

Clear the Cache on your Xbox 360

This Xbox Tip of the Week time, and this one is one you hear all the time, but may not know what it does. Clearing the cache is a simple “step one” for troubleshooting many different issues with games or apps on your Xbox 360.

Clearing the cache does not wipe your console back to the factory default settings, it does not remove your gamertag, delete downloaded themes, demos, games, etc… and does not remove your saved games. What it does is simply delete title updates for various games or apps. Then, when you re-launch a game, it will re-downloaded the latest available update from Xbox Live. Sort of like uninstalling and reinstalling software on your PC – it may not always resolve your issue, but it’s quick, simple, and worth a shot!

To clear your cache, turn on your Xbox 360 to the dashboard. Then, navigate to the right (in the current Xbox dashboard (the first one with the Metro style interface, it’s under the header Settings). Then select the System tile. Select Storage, then press the “Y” button for Device Options (when you have the primary hard drive selected). Then select Clear System Cache and says Yes.

Xbox.com Support has the full details, but the process is fairly straight forward – you probably won’t even have to visit their site for this one!

Mortal Kombat on PS Vita – does touch hurt or help?

The video embedded above, courtesy of GamesRadar, showcases a new mode for Mortal Kombat on the PS Vita, called the Bonus Challenge Tower. This tower lets you play through what are essentially a series of mini-games all designed to take advantage of the mobile platform’s capabilities. Some require you to tap or swipe the screen, some use the accelerometer. My questions for you are, do you think these help or hinder the game play? How would you feel if they were part of the primary game play? Would you be more or less apt to play the game if it were like this throughout? Would you play the challenge tower, even if it is just as a novelty, or will you avoid it completely? Discuss below, if you’re so inclined, and if you do, I’ll join in! 🙂

Got that Retro Gaming Itch

Another time for a walk down memory lane. Join me. Today’s topic, as every Friday, is gaming.

Sometimes there’s nothing like a classic. There’s just no substitute for reliving the good old days. And while I love the Wii’s virtual console as much as the next guy, the fact remains that I don’t have an NES controller in my hand and I just feel like something is just a bit off. Still, I make due… my NES is safely tucked away, but some day I’m not going to be able to resist it’s calls and I will have to blow the cratridges out just to show them I still care.

Just like this week. When I realized I had a balance sitting in my PayPal account that I had nearly forgotten about. It was like surprise money! Money I hadn’t worked in to my budget, therefore, it was easy to spend. I know. People like me are what’s wrong with the American banking system. But we’re great for the economy! So spend I did!

When I was a kid, I had a Gameboy. I only ever had five games for it. I don’t remember for sure what they all were, but I know there were five, because that’s how many fit in the clear plastic case that came with all of the Gameboy’s in Nintendo’s Play It Loud! series. I had a clear Gameboy, just like the one pictured above. And I had to give in and buy exactly what I had before.

It’s a new era. I could’ve picked up an Advance, a Gameboy Pocket, or even a Gameboy color. But no – I had to relive my childhood, just as it was. Metroid II: Return of Samus, and a Clear “Play It Loud!” big, fat Gameboy. It’s in the mail.

I go through these phases. A few years ago I recalled what rediculous fun the Virtual Boy had been. I now have TWO of the consoles and a substantial collection which may exceed 75% of all of the games ever released on the console in both the United States and Japan.

I often wonder if I’m going to stick with “emulation” and things like the Virtual Console (I like to “go legit” whenever possible, and trying to play ROMs on the PC never had the right feel, to me). But then I get this urge to be a completionist, and I miss the feeling of sliding the power button up on the Nintendo 64, or pressing the Eject button of the Super Nintendo. I even remember buying the “revised” NES console when I was a kid, because I had heard it would have less trouble playing games (the Super Nintendo would play anything you threw at it, almost 100% of the time, why wouldn’t this!?).

I didn’t get very far with my experiments. After a few minutes of trying, the worth-while efforts of blowing imaginary dust off of copper pins were worth every effort, so long as it meant I would be able to use my Game Genie from Galoob! Nothing else mattered to me more – when I realized that the extra width of the Game Genie wouldn’t be accomodated by the new smaller Nintendo Entertainment System, back in the box it went, and I returned it to the store. I wouldn’t do without my unlimited turbo in Excitebike.

I remember all of those things I had throughout the years: the Super Scope Six that I borrowed from a friend, the Game Genies, the Super Gameboy, when my “soon to be ex friend” erased my Super Metroid save files… and the fact that the NES in my parents’ attic (waiting for me to have a more permanent residence) is the same one I’ve had since I was 7, and my dad brought it home from a yard sale after finding it for thirty five dollars. I remember it so clearly – the car was parked on the street out front of our house. I still can’t recall any reason why it wasn’t in the drive way, we only had one car at the time. But he popped the trunk of that Ford Tempo, and there it was. A Nintendo. Two controllers. A gray Zapper. The power brick and RF Switch. And Mario Brothers with Duck Hunt. Throughout the years it had stickers applied to it (stickers from my Dentist Office visits, of Mario and Yoshi holding Tooth Brushes, of course), and removed – but it was never tarnished with a marker, or a name written on it, or manufacturer’s stickers peeled off of it. I’ve always been a bit picky. Games I bought new I kept in pristine condition, boxes, manuals, and any other inserts. Games I bought used I was always a little sad if they didn’t have all of the goods included. I remember my first “other” game was Mega Man III – not even a dust cover for it. I remember the weird line under Top Man’s portrait on the level select screen. I still find it the best in the series, and this strong connection is undoubtedly why.

As you know by reading the about me page, I sold most of my gaming history off at one point. And as I slowly regain it, I wonder if it’s an homage to my nerd past, or just an early mid-life crisis? But either way, I’m glad to be taking part in it. And I’m glad you’re all along for the ride.