Monday, 29 August 2016

Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles - Look Back, Look Ahead Part 2 [Network]

The written fiction of the series, as said in the previous part, started at the beginning of February 2012 - the 7th to be exact. It started at the same time TV and Film Residential Camp did, though the two did split from the same posting dates after the first few uploads. Both stories do share similarities in production. For instance, the starting few parts had very little planning, and only after those few parts did any sense of a longer plan - in other words the main of the story - come from that.
The first two parts of the audio series did give me something to work on, and since Doctor Who is in the name, I knew I wanted to start this series with The Doctor. I started it out with the Daleks and Cybermen fighting on some planet with the intention that The Doctor stops the fight. Having him be the one to send the Daleks to the Star Wars universe came from the fact The Doctor has caused problems to be made - sometimes unintentionally - and then having to fix them. I wanted to try a twist of the leaders of a group of Daleks being more human-like in mind, so created the Dalez Corporation. This group could implant a living brain into the shell of a Dalek, as well as alter said brain to be more like the Daleks. When it came to the leaders doing the same process, they left their brains intact from any alteration. Naturally they still imitated the Dalek mindset from time to time so as to blend in with real Daleks. This process of implanting a brain into a machine would be mirrored later in the series in the Star Wars universe. Of course, I'll be mentioning that later on.

The second written episode introduced General Kronis and Max Golden - aka DarkRula - to the scene. With a battle against the Daleks, no less. It might not have been much, but I wanted to show straight away the threat the Daleks are within the Star Wars universe. So they blast through Coruscant and get into a transport only to meet the Mandalorian who owns it. This transport is the Scimitar - the ship Darth Maul owned. I had the idea of using this thing right from the start as Darth Maul being one of my favourite characters, I took an interest in that spaceship he used. Reading up on it, it did look as though it was a one-of-a-kind ship. So what if throughout the many years that separate The Phantom Menace with this timeline the Scimitar changed hands many times only for it to then end up in the hands of a Mandalorian? And then what if DarkRula took that ship after its previous owner had been defeated in battle?

The last episode of Act 1 would detail the third leader of Dalez awaking. This would end the period of no forward planning, though that only extended to the end of each act. It would also start to tie into the audio series more with The Ark making its way into the written series. It wouldn't be in the hands of Kronis until Act 4.

Act 2 was continuing the battle at hand. The Mandalorian the Daleks had run into was now dead, and the Daleks themselves were thought to be as well. The planet Fresia was once a Mandalorian base, and still had its defences. Multiple turret emplacements were set up around the outside of what once had been a small camp, and with one of those destroyed, the Daleks simply moved to the next. So by the time the rest of the Mandalorians come along, that turret is already active and firing. The Daleks wouldn't know friend from foe yet, and are rejecting any calls coming in, so they fire upon the Mandalorians without knowing they are the rescue team. But get rescued they do. The first episode within Act 2 shows the Mandalorians create a warp from the Federation cruiser. The idea of creating the warp came from black holes in space. A black hole is created either through a loss of energy or the gain of unused energy. I simply put those two things together. Extra power is inserted into what is going to be the warp point. That energy then gets near instantly drained to create the warp. Unlike a natural black hole though, this warp can be stopped by returning power to the point it was drained from. This idea becomes much bigger come audio episode four, in which the technology is used on Endor to get rid of The Doctor. The Mandalorians show that they are the Star Wars equivalent to the Daleks by evading capture and destroying one of their own cruisers as a ploy. Tir LeRane also makes short work of both Kronis and DarkRula, though leaves their fate in the hands of the crumbling cruiser. The two are fine and ready to get back in the action though, with the next act allowing them to stop a Dalek trap. Act 2 also introduced the teleports that get used in the first two audio episodes.

Act 3 starts with the Daleks planning on setting traps, though they run into an old foe. The Cybermen had been deposited on Byss, and a battle takes place between both Cybermen and Daleks. The Daleks overcome the Cybermen and finish the task of setting the trap. Kronis and DarkRula arrive on Byss while the Daleks and Mandalorians are still there and set off the trap before escaping. This would be the point where the Mandalorians, along with the Daleks go silent until they re-emerge during the first two audio episodes. It needed to be done like that so Kronis and DarkRula are still pretty much in the dark about their capabilities. Of course, the Daleks want to destroy those who get in their way, so the hunt was behind the scenes. As we find out later, they decide to draw Kronis out by staging an assault, but making it look like only the Daleks are involved. Within Act 3, I decided that it would be interesting to explore unique ways of building droids. And of other creatures that had the Force. So the planet of Forsaad, and the Forsariun bird, were created with the idea of gaining an egg to extract the materials needed for use. The Polar-Axel 2-22 was also created for this specific reason. There is a chance for it to return, however. With a much more interesting use.

The Agility droids do well on their first test, and get sent to the Reverb-class cruisers. A battle is taking place above another Federation base, and Valon gets called to action. DarkRula has visions of something happening, though only after he refuses and gets stunned twice do they resolve to any meaning. Valon will die in this battle. Since Kronis was the commander of The Ark during audio episodes one and two, the current commander of the written fiction needed to be offed. He could simply have been offered a place elsewhere, but this thread was building up to something. It needed to look as though DarkRula could have been the one to kill Valon. And so in the space battle, DarkRula heads out with Valon with a squad of his own. Their adversaries are strong, and all three Reverb cruisers get taken out. DarkRula senses Valon in trouble during the retreat and helps, thus setting up the Neimoidian's distrust of him. Well, less setting it up and more giving them even more reasons to distrust him. Even so, upon the meeting on Neimoidia with the Federation High Council in Act 4, DarkRula is at least able to keep his squad, while Kronis gets command of The Ark.
Episode three of the audio series had been published by the time Act 4 started, and so now was the time for a bit of set up. The third member of Dalez - Dalek Rizon - had found his way to Tatooine. Upon taking command of Tosche Station to get a message out to his fellows, Rizon starts with all-out conquest of the planet. Meanwhile, Thalos is using his command of Stormtroopers to try and keep the situation under control. Rizon's conquest looks as though it ends at the Mos Eisley cantina. This starts the plot thread of Rizon taking command of Thalos for his own ends. Which of course ends with the death of Thalos in audio episode three.

The middle of Act 4 delves into DarkRula's past. Focusing on the battle where he acquired his name of DarkRula. His real name was Max Golden, but since the event of the battle at the Thunder Strike Delta base, he hated the name - and in a way hated himself. Since the event he lived on self-doubt, preferring action to thought lest it stop him from acting. This sets up what happens on Naboo during the battle with the padawan of Jek Nori, and later the guilt at losing yet another team through actions he feels are his own. It would also set up things to happen later on.

The end of Act 4 starts up a small side plot on Naboo, with Act 5 being the start of the Cyrillian arc. In Legends canon, Cyrillia is the world where the DUM Pit Droids are made, so it already had a hand in building droids. Introducing an enterprise to the planet where massive amounts of various droids get made paved the way for the Star Wars equivalent of how Dalez Daleks are made. Implanting the brain of a flesh being into a machine so they keep all their own characteristics. There was also allowance for me to get a few parts of history inserted into this timeline. So the Crime Wars became a thing. It doesn't get expanded on when mentioned within the arc, but the idea behind it was many of the crime syndicates start to catch on to the fact the Republic was crushing them from the galaxy. With the first few entirely wiped out, it pushed them over the edge and they started to retaliate. It took a few months to break out fully, and even less time to be finished. The crime syndicates realised they couldn't match the power of the Republic and even the Jedi, and after two major battles and a few small skirmishes, they retreated to the shadows. Most thought them wiped out. Until a group sporting the name of the New Alliances Rebellion took over a stormtrooper barracks. That name was mentioned in Act 3 by the pirates who were scouting Hoth. As shown, they were captured and let free, and the reason being is hardly anyone knows of the New Alliances Rebellion. The Republic have been trying to cover them up. Neither Federation nor Jedi know of their roots.

So with the tour of Cyrillia over and Nori's padawan taken care of, that was about all I had until The Doctor gets brought to the universe. There was still a few things that needed taking care of. Yes, Kronis and DarkRula were split currently, but there was no way twelve days would pass without the two having contact. And it needed to be twelve days, as I'd planned for the Daleks to have been in the Star Wars universe for a month before The Doctor arrives. Between audio episodes one and three there is a month, then between audio episodes three and four there is a month as well. This was done to keep things simple, but since that was one of the first things ever planned - and three audio episodes already out - there was no way it could be retconned. And so Act 6 was nothing but set up for the start of the audio episodes. DarkRula is kept away from Kronis after escaping Naboo by extensive damage to the Scimitar. Kronis is on patrol duty in a sector far from DarkRula. Almost two weeks pass before DarkRula can get underway again, and Kronis is called as reinforcements for a supply transport that is getting attacked. Though this is the second wave of reinforcements after the Stormtroopers fail in acting their reinforcement request for the transport.

That's the end of part two, and this is starting to get a bit bigger than I had planned. We'll see when it comes to part three of this series, but there might be a part four. In any case, part three will be looking at how I adapted audio episodes one and two into the written fiction, what happened after that point, and at least up to audio episode three, if not four.

Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles Look Back, Look Ahead Series
Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Summer of Sonic 2016 [Events]

It's been just over a week since the event, and I can say it was great to be there. I arrived on the Friday in London, staying just round the corner at the Holiday Inn. I had my best friend Hayden with me, and we were looking forward to such an exciting event the next day. We still had the rest of Friday to get through first.
We took to an exploring of the immediate area, looping around the block opposite to where we were staying. We took in the numerous shops around, and popped into a CEX for a look at the things they had for sale. While we didn't buy anything, we saw Simpsons Hit and Run was on sale for PS2, and I'm pretty sure I spotted most of the seasons for Family Guy. There was also a Power Rangers Ninja Storm DVD, which I found very odd as I've never even seen Power Rangers sold anywhere before. Well, the DVD's at least. Around 17:15 we headed to Chelsea Peri Peri Grill, which was right next to the Holiday Inn. The food was nice, and after some spicy chicken and fries we returned to our room. There was still at least a quarter of the day left though, and our drinks supply was low. So we headed back out. First to Argos, where we picked up Cluedo. Then to Poundland where I picked up four drinks, as did my friend. Thank the stars there was a two for one pound offer going in all the shops along that road for cooled drinks, as I lost count of how many we picked up over the three days. Returning to our room, we start up an incredibly simple game of Cluedo - thanks to me reading the instructions wrong and thinking you had to announce all the cards you had that the other person was questioning about. Needless to say, we passed a bit of time before calling it a day. Thanks to the free Wi-Fi, we were able to get on our mobile devices to watch whatever we pleased while lying in our beds before going to sleep. Despite being a Power Rangers fan, I've never seen the original series, so that's what I was watching.

Saturday arrived, and we were up at 08:00. Fully ready an hour later - breakfast being included with our stay - we queued up for the event. The person who joined behind us had a phone hooked up to a radio-like loudspeaker, and was playing SEGA:Sonic Radio. There was a bit of a wait, but with the music and the cameras running up and down the line, it went quick enough. Once inside we headed straight for the merchandise stall. The main thing I wanted was a poster, so a poster I bought. I had planned on going back sometime, but the rest of the day came and went without another visit there from me. The event opened at just over 11:00 with the usual Boozerman animation, minute countdown video - this year featuring members of the Sonic community - and greetings from the founders Svend Joscelyne and Adam "T-Bird" Tuff. Once that was over, there was a small gap until Mike Pollock came on stage for his Q&A. We decided to stay for that, so while sat we looked over at everything else. The queue for Sonic Mania was already going strong. Once the Mike Pollock Q&A started it was getting interesting. Not least because he was asked about how he got the role of Ella from Sonic X.
Never Mind The Buzzbombers was next up, and as that's always an entertaining event, we stayed where we were. And it was an entertaining event. Johnny Gioeli was the guest star for one side, and Mike Pollock for the other. Both sides were backed up by a member from the audience. Team Svend and Team T-Bird battled it out over a very entertaining mask round and a fired up quick fire round, where Adam brought in Matt from Tails' Channel to secure another victory for the team. Which they did. There was a break before Jam With Jun! so we decided it was time to try Mania. The queue was quite long, though not as long as the signing queues got, and we passed the time with Hayden having The Logo Quiz on his phone and both of us trying to guess the logos. This is something we did during most of the downtime. During the queueing, the animation showcase started up. First up was Sonic the Hedgehog in Brief by Frobman. I enjoyed this one as it gave me a feeling of The Magic Roundabout in the way it was narrated. The next one up was from Sonic Paradox. The Vector's Knickers Collab is roughly the same as Knuckles' Briefs was, in that the jokes are formed on a singular main character other than Sonic. It was another great show by Sonic Paradox, and while not fully finished with all the content, it still provided plenty of laughs.

Now, no recording of footage was allowed to allow the line to run smoothly, and I didn't think to even snap a picture of the game from within the line. Needless to say, I enjoyed my time with it. I played the new stage Studiopolis, though couldn't properly enjoy it as there was a bit of an audio problem. That being I was hearing Green Hill Zone's theme over the top of everything else. I've heard many a tale of a demo station glitching out somehow, so I wasn't too concerned. The game itself ran smooth. I got the hang of all the controls very easily, and my limited knowledge of playing the classics transferred to this game as well. I can't fully compare physics and things like that, but the level felt large without actually being so, which is something I've always admired about the classics. Starting out went well, though my timing in certain areas was off and I soon ended up on the lowest path. It was a good time to test the drop dash then... Except I didn't. The move is very easy to pull off in the game, but I just kept letting go of the button too early. All except one time. It felt a good move, sort of like the bounce from Adventure 2 except hitting the ground propelled you forward and not back up in the air. I managed to pull off a few neat jump cuts with the spin dash, and managed to get through the level without losing a life. When it came to near the end of the level, I found a fire shield. Needless to say I didn't use it. Except as a shield. I know the fire shield comes with the ability of a forward charge, but I felt I didn't need to use it. The level design itself is great. Multiple routes within routes, though never complicated. A good number of ramps and loops and other set pieces to get through the levels, and I already knew about the references within the level so was looking out for them. This game is great from what I have experienced from that one level, and I'm hoping we see more levels in the future through more trailers. Which we more than likely will. Now I was going to try Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice, but Jam With Jun was so close and I wanted to be near the front. So when Hayden had finished with his gameplay [he played through Green Hill and said his experience was great as well] we got to the front and sat down. In fact, we stayed sat down throughout the entire Jam With Jun, even when nearly everyone else was stood up. It was great to listen to the guitar riffs of Jun, and Escape From The City at the end with everyone singing was just great. Before Jam With Jun was another animation showcase. First with another showing of Frobman's Sonic the Hedgehog in Brief. The new animation was Sonic CD in 4 Minutes by Roger van der Weide. It had some creative moments in it, with Sonic using the Past sign to get around various obstacles and stopping Eggman before he manages to build his machines during bosses.

Deciding on a spur of the moment to get in the line for the Crush 40 signings, it was a long queue before we got to it. It had already reached the end of the hall and curved around and headed straight back for the signing area. And even more people joined after us, which meant it had started making its way back to the other end of the hall. During the wait, the Q&A with Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka took place. There was a few interesting things said, though no hints of the future. Sonic Mania's trailer was shown before this, with the announcement of a CRT mode that makes the game appear as though it was on an old TV. Also during the wait in line was the Happy Birthday Sonic segment, where Naka and Iizuka were brought back on stage with the Sonic mascot to be presented a cake in honour of the 25th anniversary. Straight after the Sonic Jump event started, where people had to play Jump Fever by actually jumping, and the people who contributed most to the total score won prizes. Once that had finished, despite only getting halfway through the line for the signings, we felt it would be much better to get a good space ready for the final event of Crush 40's live performance. To me, getting a signature is just a bonus. Seeing them perform live is the real experience. Even if just seeing someone live. It was easy to duck out of the queue since we'd reached the top half of the hall, and after circling right the way around the venue we got to roughly the same place as we were when watching Jam With Jun.
The art contest winners were announced, then the finalists of the cosplay contest were brought on stage. There were some great costumes, and even a Star Wars-Sonic crossover cosplay. The Perfect Chaos cosplay won, which I felt was fair. It looked great, and had moving appendages as well. Last up was the Summer of Sonic Signoff before the finale event. The founders received some signed artwork for their hard work over the years after a video that had been put together of fans saying what Summer of Sonic meant to them. A big thank you went out to everyone, all the special guests - past and present - and everyone who attended with a credits-like video playing out. It also featured all the Kickstarter backers who made this year's event happen. Then was the finale.
Club Sonic gave various tunes to clap along to, and near the end Team Chaotix and Endless Possibility to sing. And those two songs got a lot of people ready for Crush 40. Upon each "Team Chaotix!" the crowd just pumped it out, and the same could be said for "Endless Possibility" every time that came up near the end. Club Sonic got a huge cheer to finish on, and Crush 40 got an even louder cheer when announced they'd be up next. And when they eventually came on after a pause in between, the atmosphere went into overload. Opening with Open Your Heart, the crowd were just continually enjoying it - cheering and singing along. Jun even swapped guitars from his Sonic to his Shadow for those songs related to Shadow. Some of their non-Sonic related songs such as One Of Those Days even featured in the set list. On Live and Learn - the second to last song - the Sonic Twins, two females [think they were sisters] cosplaying Jet and Wave were allowed on stage to sing with Johnny. Any fans dream, I'm sure. The last song was What I'm Made Of. One of their best songs, and one they always seem to end on.

After the event closed with the last song, it was back to Holiday Inn. And there we stayed, except for the few minutes in the Co-op to pick up more drinks. While that picture above was taken back at home a week after the event, that is the shirt I had on throughout the day. The little time remaining of Saturday was spent planning an adventure for tomorrow.
Sunday opened with a walk to Hammersmith, where we hung around for a while before checking out GAME in King's Mall. After a while, we caught a bus over to Hyde Park, where we walked from the west to the east of it and into the main London city. Checking out Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, we called it a day and headed down into the underground. After a drink and a bit to eat in a pub, we headed back to Holiday Inn where we spent the rest of the day watching The Simpsons and the Patagonia Special of Top Gear on the TV. Getting back on the Monday went smoother than getting to London, not least because we managed to catch earlier trains than planned [except our pre-booked hour long journey between Watford Junction and Birmingham New Street].
The weekend as a whole was great, though the highlight was definitely Summer of Sonic. The event is great, and there's always a lot to do and see. While I didn't get talking to anyone while there, I could see that everyone around was enjoying themselves. If another Summer of Sonic was to happen, I would definitely go again. And despite the fact that I said getting signatures was just a bonus, I would definitely try to get some. Perhaps even just getting to meet them. That's one thing I really should have done this time. There were loads of other special guests, and while I'm not following any of the Sonic comics, it would have been good to meet some of them. And if the event does happen again next year, Mania will already be out and Project 2017 will more than likely have its full name revealed and demo pods out in the open for events. And it'd be good to hear more live performances.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Agent Ultimata Grant [Network]

I covered the Star Wars Celebration event last month, but despite also mentioning the Sonic 25th party, I didn't cover it. Of course I'm happy we're getting two new games - even if both won't be released until next year. Sonic Mania looks to be an evolution of the classic games, and Project 2017 seems to be channelling Generations while still going its own way. However, the bigger reason why I didn't cover it was because I'll be at Summer of Sonic. I'll be able to give impressions of Sonic Mania from my own experience playing. I can also cover Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice, and give my experience on the event as a whole, but I'm sure the main focus will be on Mania.
The Past, Present and Future post for Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles was cut in half - and possibly might even go into three parts - owing to the massive amount of things to get through. So for part 1 I put the focus into the audio project to keep all of that in one section. The past and present of the written fiction will be in the second part, and the future will fit in if I feel like there isn't enough to get its own part. As for the the next part of the fiction itself, that will be next week after returning from Summer of Sonic.
As for how I'm presenting the Summer of Sonic stuff... I'll be sure to capture what I can from the event and compile it, but I'm still wondering whether I could or should narrate over it. See, I'm sure I've said it before but my voice isn't exactly presentable on an audio format. I'm sure if you watch Jaz's vlogs of TheJazNetwork you might have seen me on one or two of them. I've been working on improving that, so you'll just have to wait and see. It could also be that I'll proceed with a narration anyway and see what you all think.
As for anything else, I'll let you all know when it comes up. That's all for now, so bye for now.