Friday, February 16, 2007

Real World Places in Second Life: Ancient Rome

This sounds like great fun! I also like the learning potential of such a simulation. I had written to the producers of the Caesar III PC game and suggested they incorporate some of the features Mr. Golding has incorporated into his sim like being able to attend a play once you have built a theater in your virtual city, being able to attend a chariot race if you have added a hippodrome, or being able to watch a gladiator match. Mr. Golding has all of these activities included in his sim as well as the ability to drive a chariot or be a gladiator!

The Click Heard Round The World: "Torin Golding's outstanding sim called simply 'Roma' is a feast for the senses and a powerful demonstration of the potential for virtual environments to immerse you in historic places.

Upon arrival at the Roma "customs house", you are presented with a number of orientation materials as well as a free toga to help you fit in better, and get into the spirit of the locale.

Roma is a no-fly zone, so bring your walking sandals and a good map or be prepared to get lost. There are handy "magic fountains" everywhere, which when touched rez fancy litters that transport you to various spots on the sim. You can also wear a free HUD map of the city, that helped me in my meanderings.

The sim is dominated by a giant legion fortress and official structures that rise high atop the Palatine Hill. There's also a wharf area, marketplace, museum, and lush gardens.

Lots of nice accents add to the immersiveness and context of what you are experiencing. Clicking on the red markers on various sites brings up notecards that give you historical background on the structures around you. Legionaires, Roman citizens and gladiators walking around greet you with a hearty "Ave!" as you pass by. I learned more than I thought I would at the museum on Palatine Hill, which features an exhibition on sexual mores in Roman times.

You can do things you only imagined doing in the real life Rome, like climbing Trajan's column! There's a free "play" you can watch in the amphitheater, which is quite cleverly done using text, images and sound. There's action afoot in the chariot races. You can also enter the gladiator pit and duke it out with other would-be warriors. Or sit in the stands and render judgement with a thumbs up or down."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Heart of Empire: Rome release cancelled!

This is a real bummer!

"Paradox Interactive confirmed today the official cancellation of "Heart of Empire: Rome". The strategy title was to be published in Q1 2007 in North America by Paradox Interactive.

"Rome is a very popular era and there is still much ground that can be covered for this time period as far as computer games are concerned, said Fredrik Wester, Executive Vice President for Paradox Interactive. "It's unfortunate that this title will not be released, but we look forward to reveal new projects and new releases for 2007 and 2008".

"300" not just a retelling of Thermopylae

I see excitement is building for the "300" due out next month. Although I had certainly planned to see this latest ancient epic when it opens, I was a little dubious when I saw the trailer and it contained "ork-looking" humans and mounted rhinocerous. But this review points out that there has been a lot of care taken with the development of the characters in the film so I'm becoming more optimistic about the film's potential.

"A feared and revered military king of the Greek city-state of Sparta, Leonidas rules with the guidance and support of his queen, Gorgo. "Gorgo is, by all accounts, brilliant," says Miller. "She and Leonidas watch each other's backs and she is a great contributor to his strategic thinking. There is a great depth of emotion and intellectual partnership between them. Spartan women are Spartan warriors just like the men. They send the men out first, but you'll see in the movie that the women can play pretty tough, too."

Born in the rugged north of England, Lena Headey possessed an innate strength and grace that proved essential to the role of Gorgo. "Lena is so tough and down to earth and strong. And she's beautiful, with such wisdom in her eyes," says Butler. "Lena brought incredible charisma, intelligence and fire to Gorgo."

Calling the film "a story of honor, fearlessness, passion, blood and faith," Headey was ready to portray the Spartan Queen. Gorgo is not a prominent figure in Miller's tale, so Headey had freedom in crafting the character, guided by her conversations with Snyder. "She's a really strong character in the movie, just because of everything she goes through and is prepared to sacrifice," Headey remarks. "She has already lost her husband, but to admit that would be too much, so she fights, with her heart, in the political arena. I see Gorgo as the heart and instinct of Sparta, and instinct usually guides us through to the right decision."