Archive for July, 2019

Ranathawn Diary: Nobility

July 31, 2019

We arrived on Alderaan, where I discovered that I was going to have to deal with (shudder) nobles. Risha admitted that she had been enamoured of the nobility at one point but once she had to actually interact with them she completely lost that … so much so that she didn’t even want to leave the ship this time.

That being said, it went surprisingly well. The nobles that I had to make the delivery to — a brother and sister from a weakened house — were generally reasonable, beyond the brother thinking himself a ladies man and constantly flirting with me. There were a few complications — such as needing to get some information and eventually having to fight a duel over that theft — but for the most part the problems were easily handled, they paid easily and willingly, and seemed definitely appreciative.

The other nobles were also generally reasonable. Charle Organa contracted me to help him out against Imperial attacks and attacks from other houses, but when his enemy took hostages and demanded he come or else they would be killed, he did and didn’t hide behind his army or behind me. And his enemy himself, despite being willing to take hostages, lived up to his end of the bargain, letting them go in exchange for, surprisingly, me, and then living up to the end of that bargain by not hurting me in any way in captivity despite me being the biggest thorn in his side. Thus, when we caught up to him and captured him, I advocated that he not be killed. He lived up to the end of his bargain, I lived up to ours and acted honourably. And he even appreciated that.

Even Baron Ulgo, who was trying to usurp the throne, wasn’t without honour. He really did seem to believe that what he was doing was in the best interest of Alderaan. In fact, it was more likely that he was a little mentally disturbed than that he was evil or power-mad, as he bashed House Panteer for abandoning the Republic while he, himself, was taking Imperial aid in his campaign. But I held him over for trial; he deserved to be able to make his case, for all the good it might do him.

House Panteer, on the other had, was not so good. Their leader wanted me to kill Ulgo outright, because even captured he would be “too great a threat”. Generally, when nobles say that they mean that he is too great a threat to their claim to the throne, meaning that he probably has some kind of legitimate claim or grievance that they don’t want to have to deal with. Especially since nobles, after “fair” trials, usually have the option of executing these “threats” themselves. Asking someone else to do it only means that the person has things to say that they don’t want said. Well, to heck with that. If they want to silence someone, let them do it themselves.

Of course, Skavak caused issues, as he traded a fake Sith Lord head for the hyperdrive that he knew we wanted and tried to take off with it. But it didn’t take much work to track him down, and while he wasn’t there it was easy for me to dodge his trap and take the hyperdrive back and install it. Really, at this point it’s clear that he’s sneaky, but ultimately no match for us. So much for having an arch-rival …

Hit By Fridge Brilliance on Soap …

July 30, 2019

I watched the first episode of Soap after watching Enterprise on my weekend evening TV viewing. I didn’t remember much of the show, but did know that it had the character of Benson in it that I really liked. From the very beginning, though, I was annoyed by the character. He seemed to be very disrespectful and even downright mean to his boss — whose name I can’t recall at the moment — while being friendly to Jessica, the wife. But as the episode went along and Benson made some standard jokes — like the boss telling Benson to bring him a cup with nothing in it after Benson put sugar in his coffee, and so Benson brought him … a cup with nothing in it — I was struck by how that was actually Fridge Brilliance in the very first episode: Benson likes Jessica — although part of that I know from references in later episodes that I haven’t seen in a while and from his own show — and likely knows that her husband is cheating on her, and so dislikes and annoys the husband because of that. It also explains why the husband doesn’t fire him for his incredibly insolent behaviour, as Jessica likes him and will put up a fuss if he tries to fire Benson, which would give Benson the chance to reveal the affair to her as well. This is buttressed by the fact that he doesn’t treat any of the others as badly, even though he doesn’t seem to care that much for them.

I don’t know if I’ll like the series. But I have to say that that part of it was kinda impressive.

MCU Phase 4

July 29, 2019

What’s in the MCU Phase 4 has been announced. Now, I’m someone who became someone who pretty much bought the MCU movies as soon as I could find them, rather than waiting until I could get them cheap. This was a huge contrast to how I treated the reboots of the Sony Spider-Man movies — I didn’t buy any of them and watched the first Amazing Spider-Man and Homecoming — and the DC movies where the last one I watched was Dark Knight Returns, I believe (the second one, not the last one) and haven’t watched any of the recent ones. However, that’s changed and looking at the Phase 4 films I don’t think I’m going to be doing that anymore.

The first movie that I’m not just primed to buy is Captain Marvel. In fact, right now I don’t have any interest in buying it. But that’s not really because of that movie itself. Sure, the usual Social Justice controversy didn’t help, but it was more the victim of the other movies in the MCU in Phase 3. I hated Black Panther — and Captain Marvel being spun as a movie like Black Panther for women obviously doesn’t help Captain Marvel — and was disappointed in Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Ant-Man and the Wasp was okay, as was Civil War. I liked Infinity. So out of the movies in that phase, I really liked one, thought two were generally worth watching, and at best didn’t care much for five of them. So that soured me on trying Captain Marvel. On top of that, I was so disappointed by X-Men: Apocalypse that I have no interest in watching the next — and last — movie in that universe, souring me on superhero movies in general. Of course, Endgame is one that I am going to buy and watch as soon as I can find it.

So, what does Phase 4 have to interest me? Well, first, it doesn’t have an Avengers movie, and those were the only ones that I had interest in, so that’s out. It contains a Black Widow prequel which might be mildly interesting but that I’m really going to want to wait and see on, especially since the last similar thing they did was Agent Carter, which I hated. So I’ll probably wait until I can get that one cheap, or on my streaming service. Then there’s Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which are two comic properties that I know little to nothing about, and so am not that interested in them per se. I hesitated to get Guardians of the Galaxy at first because I wasn’t a fan of the comics, so that’s going to repeat itself here because I no longer just trust the MCU. I didn’t care for the last Doctor Strange movie, so will want to wait and see on the second one. I have more interest in Thor movies, but they’re doing the Jane Foster Thor which is not a storyline I’m familiar with and while it could be an interesting storyline and a movie built around Natalie Portman has some interest to me, the storyline in the comics wasn’t that well-received for various reasons. Given that I didn’t care for the previous Thor movie and this is aiming at a more dramatic change I want to at least wait and see. Also, the name is rather stupid, which is not a good sign. I’ve never been a Blade fan, even of the movies. I didn’t care for the previous Guardians of the Galaxy movie and about the only character I still liked after that one was Mantis, who can’t carry a movie herself due to the character, so I’m not really interested in that one. There’s a good chance I won’t have seen the first Captain Marvel movie by the time the second one comes out, and so there’s not much interest there either. That leaves the MCU reboots of Fanatstic Four and X-Men. As those are teams that I liked, there’s some interest there, but having skipped so many MCU movies in Phase 4 doesn’t fill me with confidence that those ones will be good … assuming they get actual movies at all.

So, I don’t buy any of the DC live action movies, despite liking at least some of the characters and having the cartoons and enjoying the earlier Batman and Superman movies. I don’t rush to buy any of the Star Wars movies because I’m disenchanted with them, nor do I buy any of the EU works because of that disenchantment. Now, I don’t even buy the MCU works, or at least don’t rush to buy them anymore. What is it about modern movies that makes it so that I, who can afford to buy them and used to buy them, no longer have any interest in doing so?

Accomplishments …

July 26, 2019

Well, it’s been almost two months and I need a post again today, so let’s check up on how my accomplishment kick is coming along. It’s also a good time to do it because things are about to shift a bit before hopefully settling in until the end of the year.

DVDs and TV shows are working out pretty well. For half-hour shows, a little too well. I’ve finished “The Nanny” and pretty much finished “Mork & Mindy”, leaving only “Soap” on my dedicated list. I’ve also finished “Star Trek: Voyager” and am about to start the last season of “Star Trek: Enterprise”. I even managed to watch some movies during this time, rewatching the prequel and original Star Wars movies and adding a couple others. I haven’t managed to watch any of my huge list of horror movies, but I’m starting to see a path to watching some again. I’ve made steady progress on this throughout this entire kick. Again, so much so that I don’t know what I want to watch for half-hour episodes when I finish “Soap”.

Books slowed a bit during this time. When it’s hot outside I don’t like to have my lights on, and that limits the time I can spend reading. I also ended up buying some graphic novels that I worked and am working my way through, so I only managed to get to about page 400 in “War and Peace”. This was not helped by the fact that “War and Peace” is a dense work, both in terms of content and simple size. I’m not going to get through my reading of classic works by the end of the year.

For games, I never really did get around to playing the Gold Box games. I have started playing Elsinore, and have finished four more planets in The Old Republic for my Smuggler. So better than usual, but I’d still like to think that I could do better in well over a month.

For projects, I’ve started playing around with Twine a bit. I haven’t started doing anything with AI because of how busy I’ve been.

Things were slower this time, with only DVDs and TV shows consistently making progress. Let’s see how things work out as I head towards the end of the year and, hopefully, to times when things are less busy than they are right now.

Very, Very Early Thoughts on “Elsinore”

July 25, 2019

So, Elsinore officially had its public release on July 22. As of writing this, I’ve played it for about an hour and have gotten through one loop. Here on my thoughts on it so far.

The main issue that I’m having with it so far is that I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be doing. Despite playing through the tutorial, it still isn’t clear whether I’m aiming for a specific ending or one of a number of acceptable endings or what would even count as an acceptable ending. My first loop ended with Ophelia being killed by a spy, which seemed so out of place in this run — I wasn’t actually really investigating the spy other than by spreading the rumour — that it might well be a scripted event that happens every first loop. Or it might be that it followed from one of the things I did in an odd way that I can’t see yet. At this point, I’m not really sure what’s going on, although there is at least one character — the player — who hints that he might explain what’s going on in the future.

But this causes a bit of a problem for me for the game. I’m an hour in and through the tutorial and the first loop, and so at this point the game really should be starting to hook me and get me wanting to see more. But outside of the premise itself, it hasn’t done that. As someone who knows Hamlet relatively well — I had to read it once in high school and obviously have picked up other details from cultural osmosis — I knew about things and events that were important and was able, then, to go there to listen in and see what was happening, like the confrontation between Polonius and Hamlet and Claudius’ prayer event. I missed the event where Hamlet kills Polonius, which I would certainly have attended if I had thought that it was going to happen when it did. This gave me some early information — like the fact that Claudius had killed Hamlet’s father — that I could share, which might have changed things and also might have triggered Ophelia’s death. And even then I’m not all that interested in trying to get to a better or good ending. If I didn’t have that background, it’s entirely possible that I would have wandered around and missed those events, and simply saw presumably the default ending (although Ophelia actually drowning would be hard to pull off). Would having that suddenly happen make someone want to keep playing to see what happened and how it all worked out? The premise is interesting, but so far what best brings that out is the description of the game. The game itself really hasn’t done anything to make this seem cool or interesting.

So far, what I’m most interested in are the hints that Ophelia’s looping has some greater purpose, with the introduction of the player character who hints at it. I really, really hope it doesn’t turn out to be disappointing.

Gameplay-wise, the game can be a little tough to navigate, although once you get used to the map and navigating that way it isn’t all that bad. One annoying issue is that sometimes the game will stop you and then take a while to load for a scripted scene, which can make you wonder what’s going on if you aren’t prepared for it and does nothing to help the narrative flow. Also, a minor issue is that there’s only a “Save and quit” option, which doesn’t tell you whether you’ve actually saved or not before asking you to quit. It says that the autosave happened 0 minutes ago, but as there’s no other save than that one it isn’t clear if it saves from you or from some kind of autosave, and what cancel would do (would it cancel that save or just the quit). A separate save and save and quit option should have been doable and would have been a lot clearer. Finally, the game is built more on you sharing information, so that when you talk to people about things you’re always sharing something with them.
This is even the case when you’re really trying to ask them questions. It would have been better to split the interface into “Query” and “Influence” options to keep the two straight and also to avoid you sharing information at times when you really wanted to find out their opinion on something without actually adding the information that might influence them. Still, the gameplay in and of itself isn’t really an issue.

There are some additional backgrounds and potentially characters in the game, whose stories you can find out by talking to them. I started out talking to everyone all the time, but this got kind of boring and triggered an odd event with Guildenstern trying to play a prank that I had no interest in whatsoever, and that after ignoring it the entire loop ended with a scripted event that actually sounded more like it was assuming that I had played along when I didn’t (although it does at least technically work both ways). It was an interesting character note, but one that simply confirmed something that the game had pretty much already made clear anyway.

Also, at the end of the first loop the game triggers a “Game Over” screen with a “Try Again” button. I’m not sure if this only holds for the first loop, but this is a really odd and immersion breaking way to do it, since if it happens all the time we know that we are going to come back in another loop. And even if it’s only for the first time it being a surprise that we loop back will only happen if we didn’t bother to read the description of the game we bought which is … unlikely, to say the least. Yes, it technically applies to the loop as well, but they could literally have simply looped back to the beginning as the screen doesn’t really seem to do anything.

Also, since the game is timed and events seem to happen at specific times it would have been nice if the pause command at least let us look at the map or journal to plan things out rather than locking everything up.

So far, it’s kinda a “Meh” game. Nothing is all that great or that bad. But I am going to make it a goal to play through it without any kind of walkthrough and I’ll have more comments on it then.

Ranathawn Diary: I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name.

July 24, 2019

The next delivery took us to Tatooine. Tatooine, as a planet, is comprised entirely of deserts and rocky crags under the burning heat of twin suns, where water has to be dragged out of the sky and stored somehow just to avoid dying of thirst and having anything that looks even remotely like settlements. Such an inhospitable planet can’t help but become a hive of scum and villainy.

I spent the entire time there wondering why in the world Galen doesn’t let me buy a speeder bike. [Walking through the desert will provide you with the invigoration that comes from testing yourself against the harshest conditions possible – Galen] [That sounds like something that Ji’ark would say – Ranathawn] [You could learn from his dedication, determination and responsibility – Galen] [Hey, he didn’t even finish these reports for you! – Ranathawn] [Neither have you, yet – Galen] [Touche – Ranathawn].

So, while testing myself against the harsh … [You’re going to make me do this when I get to Hoth as well, aren’t you? – Ranathawn] [Well, it will all average out – Galen]

Anyway, while wandering around in the blistering heat trying to avoid heatstroke, I had to try to find a reclusive, shady individual who was totally paranoid and didn’t trust anyone, which meant that there were lots of people who wanted to find him, if for no other reason than to find out why in the world anyone would be important enough to be that paranoid. The most vocal was a Sith who was surprisingly polite, offering a reward if I only brought it up with him when I found him. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with how she kept trying to do an end-run around that deal by trying to follow my path, but she wasn’t threatening and didn’t even use Force Lightning on anyone.

On the other hand, there was a young Jedi who wanted to find the Sith, and kept demanding that I help her. I tried to be neutral on the matter, and while the Sith kept telling me to just consider it or pass her along some information if I felt it appropriate, the Jedi kept demanding that I help and got very upset when I demurred. This all culminated when we finally met the recluse, where all of them followed various other people to the spot. I would have liked to avoid bloodshed, but the recluse was not happy about having that many people near him and decided to kill everyone, and the Jedi decided that not actively trying to kill the Sith meant that I was in league with her and that I, the recluse, and the Sith all had to die, and the Sith … basically wanted to avoid dying and so decided to attack the two who were trying to kill her and not attack me. So I helped her kill the other two. And she proved that that was the right decision because she … kept up her end of the bargain. She offered me a number of things, but the one I accepted was the rather grandiose sounding “spend time with her”. If I was male, this might have meant something sexual, but here it meant getting some time to get information from her. And I’m an agent and working for someone who wants to know everything that can be known. I really couldn’t pass that up. [You’re learning my lessons well – Galen]

This is what also drove me to follow up with the Republic’s mission to investigate some strange thing that Czerka Corporation had been studying ages ago but that people were attempting to dig up again, and the Republic was interested in at least figuring out if it was a threat or not. This is the sort of thing that interests me, and interested me in the treasure hunt. I don’t really need massive wealth, but the information here would probably come in handy at some point, and you can never really know too much. Or when you already know enough secrets that many people would like to kill you except that doing so would only mean that the secrets get out, having more secret information can only be a good thing.

It turns out that one of Czerka’s head flunkies was interested in it as well, as a way to gain personal power. Remember, this is something that forced Czerka to seal up a very expensive lab facility and pointedly ignore for many, many years, but this yahoo thought that the best thing in the world would be for him to try to dig it up while having no idea what it actually was. He also thought it was a good idea to take his rage at having it all destroyed out on the person who not only managed to fight through the cyborg zombies that the thing spawned but also take on and destroy the alien mind controlling all of those things in the first place. So, he ended up dead, as someone too stupid to know that when even a corrupt corporation that has no problem letting their researchers die if they think they can make a profit out of it decides that something is too dangerous to turn a profit from, going after it yourself is probably not going to turn out well.

So, the main theme of my visit to Tatooine was having to kill people that I didn’t want to kill and had no reason to kill only because their own stupidity forced me to.

But, we got the item — after the recluse was dead — and now can move on to Alderaan.

Thoughts on “Star Trek Legion of Superheroes”

July 23, 2019

While looking for “Star Trek vs Transformers” I found a couple of other graphic novels that I was interested in, and one of them was a crossover between Star Trek and the Legion of Superheroes. I liked the old Legion comics but haven’t been as thrilled by the newer incarnations, but this was one that was worth checking out.

The concept isn’t as ludicrous as Star Trek vs Transformers, and the work is much more serious than that work was. Also, there’s really no way to put the two into the same universe, so it requires some kind of dimensional shift to pull off. This ends up producing a dark universe, which is a bit like the Star Trek mirror universe crossed-over with a dysfunctional Legion universe, run by Vandal Savage. The impetus for this change and their presence ends up being a trapped Q with two immortal beings — Savage and one from the Star Trek universe that I don’t recall — driving things.

The work is, again, more serious, but the plot works relatively well. They also seem to try to stick in a number of tropes from the respective works, especially from the Star Trek universe (although part of that would just be me being more familiar with them). Kirk ends up defeating Savage with a Kirk Speech, while in the past Spock and Brainiac 5 use logical reasoning to free Q. About the only misstep is how much Kirk hits on the women in the work; Kirk did indeed like the women, but he was usually smart enough to only do it when they might be interested and at the appropriate times, so it feels more like character assassination than any kind of interesting reference.

Overall, the work is … well, good. It was interesting enough even if it wasn’t, overall, as fun as “Star Trek vs Transformers”. The only thing about it is that I feel it’s too shallow a crossover for fans of the two universes but as a crossover it’d be hard to get anything out of it if you aren’t a fan of at least one of the two universes. So its audience seems limited to more casual fans of the universes like myself. Still, it was entertaining enough and I might read it again at some point.

Where’s the Music Gone?

July 22, 2019

I noticed something odd recently. In general, I’m a big fan of music. It’s about the only art form that I consistently enjoy other than literature. I used to listen to music constantly whenever I was at home as background noise. I’m addicted to video game soundtracks. I have an entire set of channels of music videos to have on in the background while doing other things. I’ve copied my entire CD collection to a USB drive to listen to at work. In general, I’ve had music on pretty much constantly whenever I’m doing pretty much anything.

Except lately.

Lately, I haven’t listened to music much at all. I noticed that I hadn’t listened to any music — all of my CDs are on a USB drive because my CD player broke — for months. I then listened to music for about an hour just because I was reminded that I should. I also noticed that I hadn’t watched that video channel for months and then put it on for a couple of sessions just because I was reminded that I hadn’t, and haven’t done it since. At work, because of my watching Voyager and then wanted to re-watch the SF Debris videos on it I haven’t been listening to music and instead have been watching — or, rather, mostly listening — to his videos. I played the Suikoden III intro a couple of times when I wanted to drown out background noise and didn’t want to start another video. But I hadn’t been listening to music that much at work for months previously anyway. About the only time I still listen to music is while driving, and that pretty much ends up being either Duran Duran’s Greatest Hits or The Cars’ Greatest Hits, where I listen to one of them for months before switching to the other one.

So why am I not listening to music as much anymore? Well, as pointed out above, I’ve substituted video in for that, mostly to give me something to watch when I look up from whatever I’m doing or need to take a short break to wait for something. Music doesn’t work that way. It’s great at — and, to be honest, generally better at — drowning out background noise, but that’s all it does. If I’m reading or playing a game or waiting for a compile all that it’s doing is drowning out the background noise. It doesn’t do anything to keep me occupied or entertained in slow periods. Sure, it also doesn’t distract me from what I’m doing either — this is one reason why videos aren’t as good when I’m merging code, as they distract me from doing that at times while music keeps me for being bored out of my skull without distracting me — but for the most part I can do things while having at least TV shows on in the background (the SF Debris videos are more distracting but do work for the most part).

To be honest, this has been happening more and more over the past few years. It’s just been pretty dramatic lately. And is something I noted because, again, I used to listen to music all the time, and now rarely do it if I’m not driving somewhere. It’s just … odd.

Morality vs Motivation

July 19, 2019

So I’ve been doing some discussion about morality over the past few months, reading along and even commenting in a debate at Richard Carrier’s site and of course my long running debate with Coel over morality. And there’s a common tension that I see that I think drives their view and distinguishes their view from mine.

It seems to be a fundamental attribute of our concept of morality that it is, at a minimum, selfless. At a minimum, we aren’t supposed to make moral decisions with an eye on our own self-interest, but instead with an eye for what is good for others or for everyone. So any morality that asks us or allows us to act on our own self-interest is suspect. However, we also think that acting morally should be something that motivates us, and it’s often hard to come up with a distinct motivation for us to act morally, even if we don’t really want to. If someone asks us “What’s in it for me if I act morally?”, we think that there should be an answer to that question, but have a hard time thinking of what that could be.

That’s why I think so often people return to self-interest to motivate people to act morally, in stronger or weaker ways. At a minimum, some systems at least point out that you won’t be or don’t have to be miserable if you act morally. The Stoics do this by demanding that you redefine what you find important or what makes you happy until it aligns with what is moral, and I think the best interpretation of Kant’s comments that being moral will make you happy is as a defense against the claim that it would make you miserable rather than as a comment that being moral simply is the thing that will make us happy. Others move further into saying that you should act morally because ultimately it will give you the happiest life. The latter have the advantage that we can all see why it would make sense for us to act morally, but always devolve to morality being about personal self-interest which always brings up the question where if treating others badly would work out to be in our self-interest then wouldn’t that end up being the moral thing to do by definition? The former avoid that question but then, again, leave open the question of why we should act morally at all.

Complicating this further is the idea that it also seems to be the case that while we aren’t supposed to be self-interested when it comes to morality, we also reject the idea that we must be completely self-sacrificing. Utilitarianism suffers from this because it is always asking us to sacrifice our own interests for others. That we could end up always having to sacrifice our happiness so that others might be happy and thus end up with a miserable life is intuitively problematic for us. We also have problems being asked to sacrifice our loved ones for a stranger who happens to provide more utility. So while morality should not be self-interested, we do seem to think that our needs and desires have to be considered as well.

Ultimately, I think this is the key benefit of Kant’s view. Whether it’s the same thing as the categorical imperative or not — I tend to think that while it can be universalized it’s not necessarily the only principle that can be — the principle of “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means.” seems to resolve this conflict, at least. Utilitarianism falters because it demands that you treat yourself and others as means to the overall end of increased utility. Self-interested moralities fail — as well as any morality that uses your own personal self-interest as motivation to act morally — because they encourage treating others as the means to the end of your own personal satisfaction. While this may not be the whole of morality, it seems to me that the first thing a morality will have to satisfy is this: treating moral agents as moral agents, and not as means to satisfy your moral system.

And, in a way, this eliminates subjectivist and relativist moralities as well. If we only act on our own moral code that is personal to us or to any particular group, then aren’t we using others as a means to satisfying our own moral code? We aren’t respecting their morals or trying to find one that everyone accepts, but are insisting on acting on our own no matter what anyone else thinks of it. How can we respect them as moral agents if we hold a view that is different from ours? The only counter here is that we respect their moral system and allow them to live by it while we live by ours, but it’s always the case that when we interact with others we will still insist on acting our way no matter how offensive it is to them or how strongly they disagree. If we force them into a choice between their morals or the negative effects that our moral code might have on them, then it does seem like we’re using them as a means to support our end of being moral on our own terms.

Thoughts on “Star Trek vs Transformers”

July 18, 2019

I was poking around online, and came across the IDW trade paperback “Star Trek vs Transformers”. This was such a ridiculous concept that I decided that I simply had to get it when I got the chance. So I was browsing in my favourite comic book/board game store and saw it, and read it.

Essentially, it combines the characters from the Star Trek Animated Series with the classic Transformers, and in fact the art-style mimics the style of the Star Trek Animated Series which really does work, because no matter how hard it might try there is simply no way to make a serious story out of this ridiculous concept. And, to be fair, they don’t really try to make a really serious story out of it. This isn’t to say that the story just is ridiculous, but that they seem to embrace the odder qualities of it and don’t try to make a serious and emotional story.

The crossover is built around the idea that the Transformers and TOS happened in the same universe. The Autobots landed on Earth as they did in their own series, and stuck around until WWIII, at which point they left on Fortress Maximus. The Decepticons followed, they fought, the ship crashed, and they were left unconscious as they were in their original series until something triggered Fortress Maximus and they were awakened, and start fighting over the planet. The planet happens to be one that is in dispute between the Klingons and the Federation, and has a Federation dilithium mining operation there, which gets disrupted by the fight between the Autobots and the Decepticons, which is what draws the Enterprise there.

The nice thing about the work is that it’s clear that the Transformers have stronger weapons than the Federation/Klingons, their weapons still do some damage. Phaser fire injures Optimus Prime earlier, and the Enterprise drives off the Decepticons with a photon torpedo. Later, even the Klingons get into the act with weapons modified to work better against Transformers. So this is a crossover where the human side are in danger but also have some ability to do damage to the Transformers, making it a more even fight than normal. Although the comics have always had the humans more capable in dealing with the Transformers.

One of the more appropriately ludicrous moments in the game is when they have to reconfigure Fortress Maximus into a new form to repair him and make him spaceworthy again. They plug Kirk into the ship through a neural interface and reconfigure the transformation into … the Enterprise. When there’s still an Enterprise available. Which means that they end up with two Enterprises. I think Trypticon gets reconfigured into a Klingon battlecruiser as well. Yeah, it’s that kind of work.

Character-wise, each character pretty much hits their character notes, but there are some disappointments. First, Jazz is added as a completely anti-human character, distrusting and angry, especially after Kirk et al seemingly almost kill Optimus. This was never really explained, but the worst part about it is that the dialogue just doesn’t seem to fit with Jazz’s voice. It’s potentially an interesting callback to the Marvel comic series where if I recall correctly Jazz was the one introducing Spike/Buster to the other Autobots — and that might have been intentional given the other callbacks in the comic — but again the words don’t fit his voice, even if we were willing to buy that he’d adopt the sentiments. And the Klingon captain isn’t one of the more famous ones like Kor or Koloth — the latter who actually was in one of the episodes of the animated series — and so is talking about a history with Kirk that came up … somewhere, I guess. We also have that for the two new Transformers, but they work out better because we don’t really need to know about their history, and so they can play out their roles even if we have no idea who they are.

Overall, though, it’s a pretty good story. Yes, the idea is ludicrous but, again, they make a credible story out of it without trying to hide the fact that, yeah, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. This just makes it an incredibly fun outing and combination that does seem to capture the key aspects of at least the main characters. Except for Jazz, how they act and react is credible, and that, more than anything, makes reading it a lot of fun.