Coffee Talk #368: LulzSec — Internet Heroes or Anarchists?

Renowned hacker group LulzSec caused quite a stir when it announced its “Chinga La Migra” initiative on Twitter yesterday. Protesting Arizona Senate Bill 1070 — an anti-illegal immigration measure…

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, your 2011 NBA draft analysis, Jim Riggleman’s job prospects, or receiving mystical jewelry from dying aliens, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Renowned hacker group LulzSec caused quite a stir when it announced its “Chinga La Migra” initiative on Twitter yesterday. Protesting Arizona Senate Bill 1070 — an anti-illegal immigration measure that encourages racial profiling — LulzSec is fighting the power by releasing classified documents on the Internet. Here’s an excerpt from the text accompanying the torrent:

We are releasing hundreds of private intelligence bulletins, training manuals, personal email correspondence, names, phone numbers, addresses and passwords belonging to Arizona law enforcement. We are targeting AZDPS specifically because we are against SB1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona.

Every week we plan on releasing more classified documents and embarassing personal details of military and law enforcement in an effort not just to reveal their racist and corrupt nature but to purposefully sabotage their efforts to terrorize communities fighting an unjust “war on drugs”.

Opinions on the group’s actions are split. Some are hailing LulzSec for using technology to protest a government that devotes too much attention to big-money issues and too little to social reform issues that impact citizens with little power. Others believe that this is a reckless act masquerading as a non-violent protest; the argument is that these leaked documents will lead to innocent law enforcers being harmed or killed.

I’ve been thinking about the issue for the last day and I’m still torn. On one hand, I love that these guys are using technology to make their voice heard. It’s easy to get the government’s attention when you have millions of lobbying dollars to pay off the right politicians (I’m looking at you Comcast, AT&T, etc.). Politicians are slow to act on issues that lack glamour and money like immigration reform.

On the other hand, I’d hate to see a low-ranking officer get killed because of a leaked document. I can’t imagine that everyone that works for the Arizona Department of Public Safety supports SB 1070.

I’d love to get your thoughts on the matter. What do you think of LulzSec’s actions? Are they Internet Robin Hoods or Internet anarchists? Are they fighting for people that can’t fight for themselves? Or are they misguided troublemakers?

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What Are You Playing This Weekend?

I’m super tempted to start The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D this weekend, but I should save it for an upcoming trip to Hawaii. If I can fend off temptation for another week, I’ll be spending most of this weekend playing Dungeon Siege III. As noted in my review, the game is full of flaws — especially the crap multiplayer — but I’m still having fun with the solo campaign.

How about you? What’s on your weekend playlist?

Read My Dungeon Siege III Review (Please)!

My review of Dungeon Siege III is up at Machinima.com. Please check it out and leave a comment if you have a moment. I enjoyed the single-player mode; it’s a fun, by-the-books action-RPG similar to Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. The graphics are dated, but I still enjoyed hacking, slashing, and looting. Unfortunately, the game’s multiplayer is a wreck. It uses a limited system that doesn’t allow character importing and exporting. What the hell?!?

Anyway, here’s a clip from the review:

As a single-player game, Dungeon Siege III succeeds as a fun action-RPG. It doesn’t offer anything particularly new, but gamers that enjoy hacking and looting by themselves should have fun. As a multiplayer game, Dungeon Siege III is disappointing. Its inability to import and export characters limits the amount of fun, and the likely level of enthusiasm anyone will want to commit to the mode. Obsidian Entertainment did an acceptable job at advancing the Dungeon Siege franchise, but like the company’s other sequels, it did not take the franchise to new heights.

It’s a good game, but it could have been great.

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Windows Phone Mango’s Xbox Live Features Detailed

Microsoft has released several details on the next major Windows Phone update (Mango) and how it works with Xbox Live. The question is, “Can you handle the Mango?!?” Just kidding. Moving on from that dated SNL reference, Microsoft’s Shirlene Lim posted a lengthy blog entry on how Xbox Live works with Mango. Here’s an excerpt:

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Games Hub in Mango is its new look: A cleaner and lighter design that emphasizes your game collection and Xbox Live info — the heart of the hub. Responding to your feedback, we also made tweaks to improve the overall performance and speed.

Finally, the Games Hub in Mango now comes with many of the features previously found in the popular Xbox Live Extras app, such as 3D avatars with fun animations, a new Collection view, and more.

If you’re interested in bringing more Xbox Live connectivity to your phone and/or you want to see gaming features on Windows Phone then I highly recommend reading the entire post. It has plenty of new information and lots of UI pictures.

I know that RPadholic smartguy is waiting to see Nokia hardware running Mango. Anyone else interested in Windows Phone? Is Xbox Live connectivity an important feature to you?

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Flashpoint Will Lead to DC Universe Reboot in August 2011

I was visiting Meltdown Comics earlier this week and the clerk noticed that I picked up the first two issues of Flashpoint. He asked, “Are you ready for all the changes coming to DC?” I replied, “I’m out of the loop. What’s going on?” He then explained it to me…and I’m still not sure I grasp it all.

Let’s start with Flashpoint. As you’ve probably discerned from the title, it’s a Flash story. It has Eobard Thawne (Professor Zoom, The Reverse Flash) mucking with time. Barry Allen finds himself in a world where he’s no longer The Flash, no longer married to Iris West, and Batman is a vigilante / casino owner (that’s not a typo). There are only three more issues of Flashpoint to go and I’m curious to see how it will wrap up. There seems like there’s too much to clean up. Unless…

…the entire DC Universe is just blown up! Yup, that’s what’s going to happen. At the end of August, all DC Universe titles will start over from issue #1. The clerk at Meltdown told me that some books — he used the Batman books as an example — won’t change too much, while others will change drastically. He mentioned that major changes are on the way for Superman. Flashpoint will conveniently make it so that Supes is younger, single, and only five years into his superhero career.

The general idea is to give characters a fresh start and modernize them. Adding to the freshness is renowned artist Jim Lee, who was tasked with redesigning more than 50 DC characters. The changes I’ve seen so far are mostly subtle. All the iconic symbols and colors are still there, but with an updated look. For example, it looks like the rebooted Wonder Woman understands that it’s much easier to fight crime in pants than in panties.

Other tidbits include Dick Grayson going back to being Nightwing and getting his own book. This made me happy. Unfortunately, Red Robin will be cancelled outright. This made me sad. I loved the issues of Red Robin that I read. It looks like I’ll have to stick with reading Teen Titans to keep up with Tim Drake’s adventures.

I’m sure there will be moments where the rebooted versions of the characters I’ve known decades make me sad. I’m also sure there will be moments where I’ll find characters more interesting than ever before. All of that pales into comparison to the relaunch of Justice League International! That book was my favorite of all time and I can’t wait for more “Bwahahahahahaha!!!” adventures!

JK Rowling Announces Pottermore, Coming October 2011

JK Rowling has announced her plans for the web site Pottermore. The site will expand on the world of her Harry Potter books by offering new information, e-books, and interactive contests. The Leaky Cauldron has a long list of the site’s features. Here are a few:

  • Pottermore is an interactive new Web site and reading experience with more than 18,000 new words from J.K. Rowling: Much more to come.
  • JKR behind the scenes filming the video picture.
  • An online experience to read, interact with and share the Harry Potter stories. Exclusive writing from J.K. Rowling and more.
  • Pottermore will feature infromation J.K. Rowling has been “hoarding” for years about Harry Potter.
  • Pottermore will be the exclusive place to purchase the digital audio books and, at last, eBooks of the Harry Potter series.

I’m interested in Rowling’s additional stories and finally being able to purchase digital versions of the Harry Potter books, but a lot of the site’s other features aren’t my thing. And you? Are you interested in Pottermore? What features of the site excite you?

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Coffee Talk #367: Hidden Coins and Smashing Barrels

I’ve been having lots of fun playing Dungeon Siege III for the last week, but some of its old-school RPG conventions are…comical. For example, I smashed hundreds of barrels and pots looking for…

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the congressional bill that looks to battle bogus 4G claims, Mark Cuban buying a baseball team, or the 2011 NBA draft, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

I’ve been having lots of fun playing Dungeon Siege III for the last week, but some of its old-school RPG conventions are…comical. For example, I smashed hundreds of barrels and pots looking for treasure. Why do people leave weapons and coins in barrels? Why do heroes think it’s okay to smash every barrel they see? Are you given a license to smash every barrel you choose when you’re issued a sword and shield? Hell, at several points in the game I was thinking, “You know, if I lived in the kingdom of Ehb, I’d make barrels and pots. With all these a-hole heroes smashing them, there would always be a demand. I’d be frickin’ loaded!!!”

Then there’s the matter of monsters dropping coins. Whether it’s poisonous slug creatures or a giant spiders, all the monsters in Dungeon Siege III drop coins (and sometimes weapons). This was understandable in 1996. In 2011, it seems silly. Why are monsters carrying around loose change? Where do they put the coins? Do they hide them in their rectum or silk glands? Do monsters think they can walk up to local merchants and buy things with their gold?

In 2004, InXile made fun of several RPG conventions with the awesomely tongue-in-cheek The Bard’s Tale. Seven years later, developers are still using these design techniques. I wonder what year it will be when RPGs are free or barrel smashing and hidden coins in monsters? Will I live to see the day?

Are there any old game design techniques that irk you because they should have stopped being used a long time ago? Or are you content to smash barrels and pots in games for the rest of your life?