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Frost Giant

Werthead's page

1,986 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.

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Novella 4: Winterfair Gifts


Winterfair on Barrayar and the unthinkable is happening: Miles Vorkosigan is getting married. For his family this is a time of great happiness and joy. For Armsman Roic, one of Miles's long-suffering security officers, it's a time of paranoia, vigilance and stress. When things start to go wrong, Roic joins forces with one of Miles's old Dendarii comrades to ensure that the wedding goes off without a hitch.

Winterfair Gifts is a short novella set after the events of A Civil Campaign. It centres on Roic, a minor supporting character most notable at this point for engaging in combat with overzealous offworld security officers whilst half-naked and covered in butter (produced by insectoids from another planet, but that's another story). The novella actually feels a bit like an apology from Bujold to her character, giving him a chance to shine in his own story.

It's an enjoyable piece, with some laughs, some drama and some pathos in the relationship between Roic and Taura, the genetically-engineered soldier Miles rescued from Jackson's Whole. The drama part of the novel - including an assassination attempt and a dramatic arrest - feels almost tacked on, with much of the pivotal action happening off-page. Bujold's focus is on the two main characters, their development and their unexpected relationship, which is effective and touching.

A minor interlude in the overall Vorkosigan Saga, then, but one that is enjoyable and worth reading. It is available now as part of the Miles in Love omnibus (UK, USA).

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sunbeam wrote:

In that thread that got closed I made the point that according to historic vote totals you could have apparently won a Hugo by spending 10 to 20 thousand dollars by making up fake people and voting for yourself. Or having a lot of friends or employees who could be persuaded to vote. I think you could have done it for about 5 thousand in a number of years for certain awards as well.

Seems to me that a lot of publishers along the way would have had some kind of interest in putting "Hugo Winner for 19XX" on the dustjacket.

No way this thing wasn't gamed along the way, and fairly frequently at that.

The only other time it was gamed was in 1987, when Scientologists bought up memberships to block-vote for L. Ron Hubbard's novel BLACK GENESIS. It was clear they were doing it, they didn't particularly deny it, but when it came to the awards themselves it got curb-stomped, came in last and the bulk of the winning votes went to Orson Scott Card's SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD (genuinely a good novel, and this was also before Card went off the deep end).

Other attempts to game the award have been minor compared to the number of votes required to actually win anything.

It's also counter-productive to spend $10K on gaming the awards when the likely financial rewards of getting the award are negligible: the Hugos used to result in a minor sales bump in the USA and absolutely nowhere else at all. Now they barely register in the USA either. Some Hugo winners from the last decade or so - most notably SPIN and RAINBOW'S END - couldn't even get a publishing deal in many countries outside of the USA, regardless of their awards.

And he's won three Hugos? He seems remarkably dull to me. Where's the big idea? Do he write like Jack Vance or Gene Wolfe? Plot out stories like Alan Moore?

Scalzi isn't that great a writer, to be honest. He's a good blogger and critic, but REDSHIRTS (his novel that won the Hugo) was extremely mediocre. It's certainly the poorest novel to actually win a Hugo in many years, and actually spurred some of the current issues.

He's also Tolstoy, Proust and Tolkien rolled into one compared to Vox Day's excruciating writing abilities.

I'd love to see sales figures for the books mentioned in this piece.

Scalzi's sold a couple of million. He also made a bit of side-money (and won a lot of new fans) by being an advisor on STARGATE UNIVERSE and had film rights to his books sold a few times.

Time to split things up. Then everyone can be happy.

That's not really the problem. Fandom has splintered before: the David Gemmell Awards were started in 2008 at least in part due to the feeling that other awards (including the Hugos) were not rewarding the field of epic fantasy despite huge sales and tons of readers. The Nebulas, the Arthur C. Clarke and the World Fantasy Awards are all regarded as more prestigious than the Hugo because they are juried.

The issue is that Hugo is still the big one because of momentum, continuity and history. You can start another award tomorrow, but it simply won't have the prestige that 75 years of history gives to the Hugos.

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One of the best arguments against DragonLance I heard was when a friend offered to run a game in that setting (we wanted to play with 2E rules for a while), and another friend said "I don't want to be a side character in someone else's story"

And it struck me as completely correct. You can't really do anything important. It's already been done.

That was the difference between DRAGONLANCE and FORGOTTEN REALMS: DL was really one big narrative (the War of the Lance, with Raistlin's misadventures in the following three books as a major side-story) and attempts to extend the universe beyond that story have been patchy, at best. FORGOTTEN REALMS is one big world with room for absolute tons of stories with the idea of lots of adventurers doing stuff built into the fabric of the setting. The FR started going downhill when WotC decided to keep piling big epic events on top of one another so it made the "normal" adventurers feel small and pointless.

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Krensky wrote:
Oh, and Lucas is fine with it since he still has creative control of Star Wars.

Lucas gave up creative control of Star Wars when he sold Lucasfilm. He gave them outlines for Eps 7-9 but they've pretty much ignored them. He's available as a consultant, but it sounds like they didn't use him much, or at all, based on his comments that he's looking forwards to seeing 7 in the cinema and has no idea what to expect.

iirc, there was some confusion at the end of rotj because the imperial fleet was far, far larger than the rebel one, and a war of attrition would have easily gone to the imperials.

The size of the Imperial Fleet was a problem, as they couldn't fire on the rebels without hitting one another, so the rebels were able to take out Star Destroyers by focusing the full strength of their fleet on small parts of the enemy line at one point (the Roman Battle of Pharsalus, where Caesar defeated a larger enemy force by focusing his strength on the enemy's weakest point, was similar), i.e. knocking out the Executor. Combined with the destruction of the DS2 and the loss of the Executor, Vader, Emperor and most of the command staff for the fleet, it's quite plausible that the Imperials would retreat, especially the senior admirals in the fleet who realised they could build up their own power base.

The novels had it that the Emperor was reinforcing the fleet through the Force (+2 Leadership Bonus, I guess), and his death removed that and left the fleet disoriented. I'm not a massive fan of that idea, but it does sound like the sort of thing the Emperor would do.

I don't really care if they discontinue most of the EU and other things, but I think if the general public starts saying...WTH is going on with this...I think the Star Wars films may have one first really good profits, and then it will die a VERY HARD, QUICK death

Well, we'll get three regardless: 7 is in post, ROGUE ONE is filming now and 8 is in pre-production to start shooting in a couple of months. If 7 and ROGUE ONE absolutely bomb, maybe they'll cancel 9 and the other stand-alones but...they're not going to bomb, clearly.


I'm just amazed at how much people criticize Lucas...but when someone else who isn't even the original creator does worse...they cheer him.

They forget that without Lucas, there wouldn't even be a Star Wars...

Yes and no. Without Lucas we wouldn't have STAR WARS, clearly, but a lot of other people worked on hard on the original movies. Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett wrote THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, Irvin Kershner directed it and Gary Kurtz produced it both EMPIRE and the original film. Lucas had the least to do with it and it's, by a country mile, the most popular and critically-acclaimed STAR WARS movie. Lucas was irked by this and seized back control for JEDI, cancelling his original (and much more interesting) story outline, which so annoyed Kurtz that he walked out on the franchise despite the millions he could have made by staying with it. Kasdan was retained to write JEDI, but Lucas fiddled around with the script a lot more (which is why JEDI seems to alternate being awesome and then irritating with almost every other scene).

The prequels were garbage because Lucas did pretty much everything himself. The plurality of voices and perspectives on the original trilogy were not present and were replaced by a ton of yes-men who never put the brakes on Lucas's crazier ideas.

So yes, without Lucas there wouldn't be STAR WARS. But without a ton of other people, there wouldn't have been any really good STAR WARS.

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Red Eagle de-escalate the situation.

Red Eagle are no longer suing Robert Jordan's widow, but discussions remain "ongoing" about the ownership of the film/TV rights.

My guess is that Red Eagle either 1) deliberately launched the lawsuit so they could withdraw it later on as a pre-emptive bargaining chip, or 2) realised they were on a hiding to nothing and quit whilst they were ahead.

At the moment I'm going to guess that the Jordan Estate technically get the rights back, but the Red Eagle company retains a nominal producer's credit. If the WHEEL OF TIME TV series does end up with Sony, that would at least make sense because Red Eagle set up the deal, even if it falls to the Estate to execute it.

So hopefully a final end to this mess is in sight, because WoT is in danger of missing the boat as other fantasy properties are picked up all over the shop.

One thing that is interesting: Universal may also be back interested since they missed out big time in the recent D&D legal shenanigans. If they want a slice of the fantasy pie, this is their best bet.

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I doubt very much the third D&D movie had $12 million. Even $1.2 million seems high for the production quality they got, especially considering that the third film was almost certainly made for the sole purpose of retaining the film rights for another few years.

If it was $12 million, they must have flushed 90% of it down the toilet. Movies like CENTURION and IRONCLAD had budgets in that region and looked reasonably decent. The most expensive episode of GoT ever made was more like $8-9 million and looked even better.

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They're going to spend money on it. Certainly more than $100 million and probably closer to $200. Maybe not more than that, Hasbro probably learned its lesson from BATTLESHIP and Warner Brothers aren't quite as crazy as Universal (who actually made BATTLESHIP). But OTOH a D&D FR movie is going to have an enormous amount of stories, characters and lore to draw upon and has a lot more franchise/sequel potential.

I can see them going fairly crazy with the money for this film if they really want.

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I think we can safely say this is definitely happening: both sides have spent way too much money in legal fees alone to wimp out now, and Hasbro clearly want (rather unedifyingly in their desperation) a DC/Marvel/Star Wars-style mega-franchise, which D&D rather uniquely fits.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not hopeful of the end product being any good, but we are going to see a big-budget movie based on an RPG hitting the screen, which is kind of crazy. In fact, if Hasbro were bonkers enough to help raise $220 million for the Battleship film, I wonder what they're going to bet on a movie based on something that has actual stories attached to it. It'd be rather insulting if it was much less.

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Tremble mortals, and despair. The mighty armies of Hasbro and Warner Brothers have lined for battle. Their lawyers prepare to unleash litigious fury and, oh, hang on, they've all kissed and made up.

So yeah, Warner Brothers and Hasbro have unexpectedly joined forces with the redoubtable Courtney Solomon and have greenlit an official D&D movie set in the Forgotten Realms, with proper money and (hopefully) a decent director behind it.

That just happened.

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Harebrained Schemes have announced that a new BATTLETECH video game is in the works.

This game will feature turn-based strategy and RPG elements, allowing you to build your own mechs and take part in an open-ended campaign where you choose which mission to take on next (this feature is partially inspired by the MECHWARRIOR MERCENARIES games). There'll be a Kickstarter in the autumn.

The game is being made by the same team behind the SHADOWRUN RETURNS games (the last of which, HONG KONG, arrives on 28 August), including of course Jordan Weisman, co-creator of the BATTLETECH/MECHWARRIOR franchise. Based on the quality of SHADOWRUN RETURNS, this should be good.

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Just a few female SF authors and key works:

Nancy Kress: BEGGARS IN SPAIN and its (increasingly unnecessary) sequels. This book was based around what happens when you genetically engineer people to survive without sleep, and the unexpected consequences of that.

C.J. Cherryh: DOWNBELOW STATION is a political-military SF thriller set on a space station caught between two warring factions. There are many, many prequels and sequels set in a complex shared universe.

Ursula K. LeGuin: THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS is about a planet with gender-changing aliens and challenges gender assumptions. THE DISPOSSESSED is a (slightly) more traditional story about politics and cold wars between two neighbouring planets.

Jaine Fenn: PRINCIPLES OF ANGELS and several sequels are set in a coherent future universe full of bizarre technology and various alien threats. The first book is the best, coming off as China Mieville-lite, but the sequels are a bit more traditional.

Connie Willis: THE DOOMSDAY BOOK is a time travel story in which a research travels back to Medieval England during the Black Death whilst the society she travelled back from is battling its own futuristic plague.

I haven't read them, but Liz Williams and Elizabeth Moon seem to be well-regarded.

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In-engine game trailer. Featuring Karl Franz laying down some pain on the greenskins.

Looks promising so far. Flying units and magic are going to certainly change up the TOTAL WAR gameplay.

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Release date: 28 August 2015


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I think the general idea is that a BG3 would not be a sequel to BG1/2, although there would be scope for characters to show up, but would be a new adventure in a similar vein.

In fact, Black Isle spent some time working on BALDUR'S GATE 3: THE BLACK HOUND (before Black Isle tanked and BG3 was cancelled) and it was a stand-alone, new adventure set in the Dalelands. I think there were hints that Minsc might show up but otherwise the links to the first two games were fairly slender.

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I must admit, the fact that Korhal somehow transformed from a burned-out radioactive desert to a Coruscant/Trantor-style world-girdling megalopolis in four years was rather more concerning to me lore-wise than the character portraits being updated.

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New VORKOSIGAN novel for 2016.

The title is GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN and the book is set after CRYOBURN. It will focus on Cordelia as the main character, for the first time since BARRAYAR.

2016 is also the 30th anniversary of the series (SHARDS OF HONOUR, THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE and ETHAN OF ATHOS were all published in 1986) and apparently there'll be some other stuff going on to celebrate it.

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ALIEN: RESURRECTION did do one thing right: the rewrites and mishandled direction annoyed Whedon so much that he decided to revisit the "misfit space pirates in space" concept five years later, resulting in the creation of FIREFLY. So that was one positive outcome :)

ALIEN 3 is a pretty good movie. It's just not a very good ALIENS movie, and was a step backwards when the franchise should have been looking for another way forwards. The "Aliens loose on Earth" concept seems solid, but I've never seen a real way for that story to go that doesn't descend into lots of shoot-outs and then nuking the planet.

Also, Ridley Scott was right when he said that the alien was no longer scary. It's too familiar a force now, we know how dangerous it is and how to kill it. That limits its potential for true horror, although you can still make a good war/suspense film with it.

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The first legal shots are fired.

The outcome of the initial legal clash between Hasbro and Sweetpea (backed by Universal and Warner Brothers, respectively) was inconclusive. Both sides employed sharp lawyers, arguing that Courney Solomon has had twenty years to turn D&D into a movie franchise and failed and that Hasbro now deserves the rights 'back' (slightly inaccurately, as the movie rights were sold long before Hasbro bought WotC, or indeed before TSR was absorbed into WotC), whilst Solomon's lawyers pointed out they have a script in development with WB as a 'tentpole' project right now. The judge seemed rather annoyed by the whole thing and asked both sides to settle out of court, but that's not happened.

Both Universal and WB can see the big franchise potential here: a franchise that can generate not just big character films like the DC and Marvel things, but a whole universe where you can dramatically switch genres between films. Neither side are going to give up that potential - however remote of actually being successful - easily.

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Fey'lya's poltical career was essentially built on him saying to anyone who argued with him, "Many Bothan spies died so I could sit my backside here, and I'm not budging".

Not the best bit of the series (that was Ganner Rhysode in TRAITOR) but still a reasonable end to a character who'd been really annoying for about a decade by that point.

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but the idea that the Vong could get that much intelligence on the rest of the universe without anyone else finding out and moving to counter it is a bit much for me.

The Empire did get wind of the Vong, although not the size of their invasion force or their true objectives. It was enough for the Emperor to prepare contingency plans. Unfortunately, he didn't tell anyone (possibly apart from Vader) so those plans were lost when he died.

there was nothing in story to suggest that the protagonists could do anything but constantly retreat and hope for a miracle before the Vong took over the entire universe.

That's not quite what happened. The Vong had limited military forces. They only succeeded as much as they did because they made use of conquered/allied forces, used blitzkrieg tactics and used diplomacy to keep the Empire and the Hutts out of the war. Once that failed and the Empire and Hutts entered the fight, the Vong became both seriously outnumbered and out-resourced economically. There was also the fact that the Vong were counting on a knockout blow. The heavily centralised Empire half-collapsed when the Emperor was killed and most of the reset followed when Coruscant fell and then Thrawn died. The New Republic, OTOH, was much more decentralised and Coruscant's capture did not have the same impact on the organisation, which the Vong were not expecting.

Ironically, the Vong's major advantage - their invulnerability to the Force - was completely useless because the number of Jedi and other Force-users around opposed to them was so tiny that it mostly fell back on traditional fighting, and in that arena the Vong's lack of numbers was always going to result in their defeat.

There's nothing to get excited or invested in because any solution was obviously going to come out of nowhere and when it did, the invasion would be over in the course of a single book (or at best, a half way decent trilogy) and the rest of the books in the middle had virtually no impact on the storyline whatsoever.

Again, that didn't really happen. STAR BY STAR, in the middle of the series when Coruscant fell, also showed the New Republic and their allies the way of fighting back. It was in that book that the Vong suffered a calamitous defeat and the Republic discovered that the Vong had lost over a third of their forces just getting to Coruscant, and then a hideous number more taking the planet. For much of the second half of the series the Vong are stalled because of their lack of numbers, allowing the new Galactic Federation to gain the initiative and then win. By the final couple of books, it's clear that the Vong are doomed, and Zonama Sekot showing up and convincing them to surrender simply prevents a final Gotterdamerung annihilation of the species (oddly similar to the Dominion's final defeat in DS9, actually).

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Well, at least a pilot, anyway. Amazon Prime have released it to see the response before going to series.

The good news is that the critical and popular acclaim for it has been universal, so it's quite likely to make it to series.

For those not in the know, THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE is considered one of the greatest SF novels ever written. It's written by Philip K. Dick, who also gave us (by way of movie adaptations) TOTAL RECALL, BLADE RUNNER, A SCANNER DARKLY and MINORITY REPORT and is often said to be his finest novel (although this is disputed). The book is set in an alternate history where Germany and Japan won the Second World War (helped by Germany developing nukes long before the USA) and have occupied the United States, partitioning the country along the Rocky Mountains.

Based on the clips (being in the UK, I can't see the full pilot yet) it looks absolutely excellent. If this makes it to series, I'll be a day one viewer.

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The Creative Assembly have - rather accidentally - confirmed that their next game will be based on the WARHAMMER fantasy licence. It's the first game in the long-running strategy series to be based on a licence, and their first move outside real history.

The game will likely be released in late 2016.

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That the Vong knew the Republic better than the Republic knew itself plus needless infighting in the face of an enemy that really wants to destroy everything (I consider the type of biotechnology the Vong implement to be a form of scorched earth tactics) isn't even barely plausible to me.

Why? The Vong had been scouting the Star Wars galaxy for c. 60 years before the main invasion fleet arrived. The amount of intelligence they had gathered themselves was enormous, and then of course they captured Vergere and extracted a vast amount of info from her, particularly about the psychology of the various races working together.

It's also said, quite a few times in the series, that the Vong got lucky in that the New Republic was undergoing some serious democratic crises when they arrived (although some of them had been instigated by the Vong's agents). If the unified Empire had faced them, especially with a Death Star or two (to one-shot the worldships from millions of miles away, which would have made life a hell of a lot easier), the outcome would have been dramatically different. The Imperial forces smugly point that out a lot.

As for the infighting, that is completely plausible. Even in the face of overwhelming threats, vested interests continue to fight one another. You can see that right now, from nations shying away from dealing with terrorists or rogue states because they don't want to pay the price, or governments and corporations choosing to continue (or even accelerate) wrecking the planet in the interest of short-term monetary gain. Quite a few of the races in the NJO don't believe in the Vong until they're quite far advanced, and then consider themselves out of the firing line as they're too far away, or can barter with the invaders, or benefit whilst the invaders and the Republic fight one another to mutual destruction.

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Sanderson is indeed a great guy. There's a couple of my blurbs floating around on his books and we've swapped emails and tweets a few times.

However, I think the main criticism stands: he comes up with cool magic systems and enjoyable worlds (although his planet-by-planet worldbuilding can be sketchy and variable, his universe-building is superb), but that's the window dressing. The main course has to be the prose, which in Sanderson's case varies from clunky to reasonable, and the characters, which in Sanderson's case rarely venture above the "okay". For lack of a better term, there's a missing link in his work to date which is the ability to pull the excellent settings together with better prose and characters and deliver something incomparably good.

His plotting is also fairly straightforward, he just tends to put in twists resulting from the magic system or from starting his narrative in a different place to where writers normally start, like for example MISTBORN being set on a world where the Dark Lord won and ruined the world. That's clever and to some extent original, but not quite as mindblowing as is sometimes claimed. He does seem to be getting better at it, though: the plotting and structure in the STORMLIGHT books is a lot better than in MISTBORN, even if the characters are less well-realised.

To follow up on the comparison, the Cosmere is indeed a much more fleshed-out and fully realised setting than GRRM's Thousand Worlds (although you'd hope so, with 8 big novels and several novellas compared to 1 short novel and a few short stories). But nothing Sanderson has written compares in terms of lyrical prose or memorably-defined characters to some of those Thousand Worlds stories like A SONG FOR LYA, SANDKINGS or THE WAY OF CROSS AND DRAGON.

It sounds like I'm down on Sanderson, which isn't the case. I think he's one of the stronger fantasy authors around at the moment, certainly a lot better than the likes of Peter Brett or Pat Rothfuss (Rothfuss is a somewhat better prose writer, but his glacial pace and inconsistent characterisation are much bigger weaknesses), and has an extraordinary imagination. But there are better writers around than him who don't get as much coverage.

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It helps to see the NJO in the context of when it came out. For almost decade beforehand, Bantam had run the book franchise into the ground. They got off to a brilliant start with the Thrawn books, but then hired Kevin J. "Franchisekiller" Anderson who dealt a series of blows to the franchise with some beyond-awful novels. Allston and Stackpole did some good work, but the books descended into horrible, repetitive messes with rogue Imperial generals, Force-using bad guys and superweapons tougher than the Death Star showing up on a near-monthly basis.

When Bantam lost the licence, the new guys decided, supported by Lucasfilm and even Lucas himself, that they were going to shake things up. Lucas had decided that Eps 7-9 were never, ever going to happen so he gave the writers permission to really go nuts with the setting and do a really big story and they went for it.

In that context the NJO worked, at least to start with. It was different, it genuinely developed and changed characters and events rather than returning to a status quo at the end of every book, and it had some different and interesting ideas. It eventually went too far into grimdark territory, with the war against the Vong eventually killing dozens of times the combined casualties of the Galactic Civil War and the Clone Wars combined, which was totally insane. Some of the books were also really bad, though quite a few were pretty good.

Also, fun trivia: Mark Hamill's sole appearance as Luke Skywalker post-Ep. 6 and pre-Ep. 7 came in TV spots for the first NJO book coming out.

Also, the senior editor on the NJO was James Luceno, possibly better-known as one half of the writing team Jack McKinney who wrote the ROBOTECH novels. There are some very strongly ROBOTECH-like aspects to the NJO that are quite amusing to ponder, from the massive fleet battles involving thousands of ships to the fact that the Vong feel like being somewhere between the Invid and Zentraedi, and the Force occasionally feels treated like a less corporeal version of protoculture. The parallels are certainly interesting.

Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
Matthew Stover's "Traitor" is worth the entire series all on its own, one of the best SW books written.

TRAITOR is one of the best bits of STAR WARS in existence. The only things batting at the same level IMO are KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and, on a good day, Ep 4. Ganner Rhysode's last stand is jaw-dropping stuff.

In fact, it's so good it even got George Lucas (who is apathetic about most of the EU) to hire Stover to write the Ep. 3 novelisation, which just about everyone seems to agree is vastly superior to the film itself.

That said, it had some great books (both Allston books, the one by Stackpole, and Greg Keyes did one great book and one good one, both featuring the best young character of his generation, Anakin Solo (and Tahiri Veila, also a very good character). Whom then was killed off in the most stupid Star Wars editorial decision since, I guess, the Star Wars Holiday Special.

This was down to Word of Lucas. The original plan was to kill Jacen and keep Anakin. And then Lucas decreed that it was too confusing to have two Anakins running around (the NJO books came out alongside the prequel trilogy) and ordered him killed off. It apparently threw the plans for the series and the following books off-kilter, and it shows.

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Hama wrote:
I'm sure they'll honor their grandfather's wishes.

If anything, JRRT was a lot less maniacal about the books than his son was. Tolkien was up for different adaptations/alternative versions of the books and even fanfiction, as long as no-one tried to make money out of it.

Christopher has a strained reputation in Tolkien fandom because he hasn't done what JRRT said he wanted, the canon opened up for different people to take a look at.

I gotta say not knowing where those goats came from just really ruined the movie for me.

The Extended Edition :) When Dain shows up some dwarven cavalry (!) on war-goats (!) are also supposed to be shown, so later on we know where they've come from. There's also supposed to be a longer sequence with Radagast and Gandalf where Radagast gives Gandalf his staff and there's more on Radagast going to recruit Beorn. Also, a funeral sequence with Thorin, and more of a reflection on what happens at the end.

I haven't been moved to get the EEs of the other two films, but this one sounds like it'll have a lot more stuff in it that's actually important and relevant to the story.

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Ed Reppert wrote:
Jackson may want a different timeline, but screw him. :-)

Different canons. The film canon omits the 17-year-gap between Bilbo leaving and Gandalf returning to kickstart the Ring quest. It all happens in a few weeks. Coupled with the 60-year gap to THE HOBBIT mentioned in FotR (it should be 60 until Bilbo leaves and 77 to the start fo the quest), that bumps Aragorn's age up by 17 years as well.

Apparently Aragorn was even going to have a cameo, but Viggo said no and that he didn't want to continue acting against tennis balls.

For Christopher Tolkien...never going to happen.

For 90-year-old Christopher Tolkien, it's never going to happen. What happens after his time is up remains to be seen. Not to wish ill on him (my own grandfather is actually a lot older and still going strong), but this decision will be in another generation's hands at some point.

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Been playing this a bit so far. The flight model is fantastic (a good blend of fully Newtonian and X-WING/FREESPACE-style space dogfighting), the spacecraft and space station designs are amazing and the game does a good job of updating the take-no-prisoners design of the previous games in the series with something more accessible. It's still not an easy game to get into though. You need to play the tutorials and get a feel for the vagaries of combat (particularly reverse and down-thrusting to get pursuers to overshoot) and supercruise, which takes an hour or so.

With a HOTAS set-up, the game is particularly amazing, although it is playable with a gamepad or even just the keyboard.

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Jackson can probably eke out another trilogy from the story of how Legolas loses weight between the events of THE HOBBIT and LotR.

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"Don't like the ball droid."

* Remembers Jar-Jar *

"Meh, can live with it."

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Could have been worse. How about Michael Bay?

No word of a lie, the person who was working on the project before HBO swooped in and bought the rights was Roland Emmerich (INDEPENDENCE DAY, 2012, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, the 1998 GODZILLA movie etc).

Well, Syfy are on the highway to being an actual SF channel, and if they can pull off even half of the ambitious shows they have lined up for the next few years, no reasonable person will have much to complain about. Of course, this is all a speculation about the future based on the present, which I do find appropriate when discussing SF ;)

Some of those projects seem interestingly weird, like ASCENSION. THE EXPANSE looks really, really good and it helps that it much more readily adapts to TV than other SF book series. And CHILDHOOD'S END and RINGWORLD will work as long as they stick closer to the books and don't try to wreck everything.

Tangentially, I wonder if Foundation is one of those shows that George Martin helped HBO do in his role as a consultant . I mean, they did hire him, and we have yet to hear anything about that in a long time, so it seems to make sense.

It's possible he might take a look at the scripts or something, but Martin is not a huge Asimov fan. Of the Big Three, his favourite was by far Heinlein, and then his next favourite SF author was Zelazny. Actually, his favourite author of all time was Jack Vance. So if Martin was going to throw some classic SF at HBO, it'd be more likely something like DYING EARTH, DEMON PRINCES, THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS, STARSHIP TROOPERS (the rights have to have expired on that by now, right?), THE CHRONICLES OF AMBER or LORD OF LIGHT.

I think what Martin was more involved in discussing with HBO (speculation only, no inside knowledge here) was his own projects. A TUF VOYAGING series was definitely discussed, but my personal guess is that HBO wants the WILD CARDS franchise. SyFy's option on it can't have much longer to run and then I'd be shocked if HBO didn't swoop on WILD CARDS like a bird of prey. Superheroes (remember that HBO's mission is to try something in every single genre), sex, messed-up and morally dubious characters and period piece flashbacks? HBO would be lunatics if they didn't grab it. It's right up their street.

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You can continue to avoid Dragon Age games for no good reason, but you're hurting no one but yourself.

Whilst I agree that it's highly improbable* that DA specifically caused the hard drive to explode, I think this response is overstating things a bit. It's not exactly 'hurting' anyone not to play DRAGON AGE. It's hardly the pinnacle of RPG design and in fact is probably the most overrated modern gaming franchise around.

The first game was above average, fun but cheesy and lacking either storytelling coherence or decent gameplay mechanics (the combat, which for some reason is lauded in some quarters, can go and die in a fire for its hideousness). The characters were fairly weak by BioWare standards and it used almost exactly the same storytelling structure every single BioWare game since BG2 used (only nowhere near as well), making the thing diabolically predictable. The end of game battle was underwhelming to the point of being anticlimactic and BioWare were so desperate to make the game 'long' that they poured in every bit of padding they could think of, resulting in a 50+ hour game that was at least 50% tedious fetch quests and even more tedious pointless combat. The worldbuilding was pretty good, but buried in codexes rather than displayed on screen (if you don't read the codexes and miss Sten, you have zero clue as to what the hell the qunari are which is unforgivably bad storytelling given their importance to the world). The game also did the bizarre thing of giving you a large number of characters to play with, but then only making two of them (Morrigan and Alistair) really important to the plot, making the narrative feel weirdly unbalanced if you played with anyone else.

DRAGON AGE II, on the other hand, had even worse combat, a tiny number of actual gameplay areas that were over-used to death and some story turns that made no sense. However, it had much more interesting characters (even if most of them were total twonks) and it did the worldbuilding a hell of a lot better, which is weird given how it's focused in one city. For a badly rushed, under-funded quickie project designed to help alleviate the crippling costs of the first game, DA2 was reasonably decent. But still hardly a top-tier roleplaying game.

I'll get DA3 eventually and probably enjoy it. But certainly not until I've finished D:OS and WASTELAND 2, and the price drops to something reasonable (£50, EA? I think not).

* Although it is possible for software to affect hardware: STARCRAFT 2 infamously caused certain graphics cards to overheat on release until Blizzard rushed out an emergency fix.

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I own x wing vs tie fighter- should I get this version for my netbook since it's better than my windows box?

If you don't own the original X-WING or TIE FIGHTER, sure :)

Also there was a whole story line in x wing vs tie fighter that I don't think is in these games.

XWvTF is multiplayer only. You might be thinking of its expansion, BALANCE OF POWER, which added a single-player storyline about the squadron trying to take down a rogue Super Star Destroyer (and was inspired by the X-WING books by Michael Stackpole). That's not in this initial wave of releases, but should show up in the rest of the games GoG has the rights to (alongside the underrated X-WING ALLIANCE).

Still waiting for my new joystic as well before diving back into these :)

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X-Wing and TIE Fighter are being re-released later today on GoG with updated modern-PC friendly editions and include both the original versions and the 1998 special editions and all their expansions. Which is nice.

We're also getting updated versions of Sam and Max Hit the Road, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and Knights of the Old Republic today. Apparently this is the start, with GoG bringing a total of 30 LucasArts games to their service in the next few months. Discounting the console-only titles and newer games that still work fine, that has to be almost all of them.

And to cap it all off, Sega are also apparently going to be releasing a PC version of Valkyria Chronicles.

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I would be very interested in Scott's definition of GamerGate at this stage, and an explanation for why GamerGate's first target was a non-profit-making indie game which hadn't actually been reviewed and barely even mentioned by the journalistin question, and not one of the much bigger, much more clearly fraudulent incidents of publisher/journalist collusion that took place in the past.

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GamerGate is focused on addressing corruption in video games journalism, fighting back outside influences (non-gamers) attempting to manipulate gamer culture, defying censorship covering up the two previous concerns, exposing propaganda masquerading as fact, encouraging new video games journalists, and preserving the existence of a relative free market in game development. The Wikipedia article has been censored time and time again so as to present only "acceptable" narratives.

Professional victims, cultural Marxism, and non-gamers have no business dictating how hardcore game development should progress and what topics should be included.


GamerGate is focused on using alleged but unproven corruption in video game journalism coverage of non-profit-making indie games as a smokescreen and diversionary tactic so that a small number of self-identified "hardcore gamers" can fight back against the encroachment of women and minority groups in trying to make gaming more inclusive. They view the social/cultural criticism of gaming as a threat to the games they play (violent and male-dominated, exemplified by militaristic first-person shooters) and that it will expose many alleged "hardcore gamers" as people who behave extremely badly online.

They are utterly opposed to the existence of a free market in game development, as such a market exists right now and the rise of Kickstarter/indie games allows minority voices to be heard more prominently than previously.

Supporters of GamerGate seem gripped by an irrational fear that the games they prefer are in some kind of danger from this expansion of gaming to be a much larger, more varied and more general medium, despite the likes of CALL OF DUTY and GTA still selling tens of millions of copies per game and being the biggest-selling franchises in gaming history.

It should be noted that the self-identified "hardcore gamers" who support GamerGate tend to be young-ish (teens and twenties), heavily invested a small number of genres (console shooters, predominantly) and not very well-versed in the history of the medium (particularly the 1980s/90s adventure and roleplayng games that actually had quite a few major female characters and even developers without the sky collapsing). This makes it more amusing when they dismiss arguments running counter to their own as coming from "non-gamers", given they tend to be as knowledgeable about the wider history and culture of the medium as a box of frogs :)

The previous paragraph may be a strawman, however.

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It's about journalistic integrity, or lack thereof. Quinn was the catalyst in bring an issue that has existed for a long damn time to light.

This is a smokescreen, frankly.

The claim of journalistic ethics in this case is ludicrous. Nathan Grayson never reviewed DEPRESSION QUEST and only mentioned it in passing prior to their relationship starting. When the relationship did start, it was disclosed to the Kotaku team, and any conflict of interest was avoided. DEPRESSION QUEST is also a free game (although at one time you could voluntarily donate to Quinn for it, I belive), so there was no monetary aspect involved.

If we compare this to the incident in 2007 when Jeff Gerstmann was fired from GameSpot after giving KANE & LYNCH a medicore review after the publishers had paid enormous sums of advertising revenue into the site. Four other writers quit in protest. Neither in 2007, when the story first broke, nor in 2012 when the particulars were confirmed, was Eidos or GameSpot DDoSed, doxxed, or anyone involved in either company threatened with rape or had naked pictures of them published.

This was a level of corruption many magnitudes greater than anything in the GamerGate non-scandal, involving millions of dollars of advertising and journalistic ethics compromised on an epic scale, but it was a five-day wonder, over and forgotten about in considerably less time than this current 'scandal' has taken to gestate.

There's also the more recent situation with BATTLEFIELD 4 getting very high and praising reviews despite the game being effectively unplayable for many on release, and taking months to get patched to something acceptable to most players. Again, people have moaned but not made anything like the fuss that has been made about GamerGate.

For something more recent, we have Bethesda's loathsome publishing practices in driving partner companies to the brink of ruin and then buying them up at a bargain cost, something they did to id and Arkane and tried to do to Human Head but were halted in their tracks by legal action. No-one seemed very bothered about that. Or Bethesda's preposterous treatment of Obsidian after they made NEW VEGAS the most successful Bethesda-published game of all time (until SKYRIM).

Controversies in the gaming industry which have destroyed companies and lives and involved corruption to the tune of millions of dollars have been regular occurrences for decades. Yet the fuss made about them was incredibly muted until a female games creator released a free game and then - some time later - had a relationship with a journalist who had absolutely nothing to do with her game.

I have zero doubt that there are many supporters of GamerGate who don't care about Quinn or Sarkeesian, aren't sexist and are concerned about gaming review ethics. But they've attached themselves to a poisoned cause.

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Do you feel that this is an accurate portrayal of people concerned about the GamerGate events?


Where was it enshrined that "Gameplay is king" is a "key complaint" of the movement?

On many recent reviews of a game by many of the 'criticsed' websites (such as RPS and Kotaku) where any criticism of sexism is shot down with, "Who cares? What about the GAMEPLAY? Why won't anyone talk about the GAMEPLAY?" Also see the Wikipedia definition.

Who and where are these people who believe that everything cultural or social about video games should be ignored? Who and where are these people who are "genuinely baffled" by the idea that sexism can make a game less enjoyable?

Many supporters of GamerGate.

I don't want to be associated with people like that, but at the same time I'm having a hard time believing that they even exist in numbers large enough that they can be said to define the movement. It sounds like an absurd, tribalistic strawman created to make opposing it easier to stomach.

They are the movement.

In the absence of a final arbiter of reality let's go with Wikipedia's definition of the controversy, apparently achieved consensually after approximately forty millions edit wars and screaming matches on the talk page:


Gamergate (sometimes referred to as GamerGate or as a Twitter hashtag #gamergate) is a controversy in video game culture concerning long-standing issues of sexism and misogyny in the gamer community and journalistic ethics in the online gaming press, particularly conflicts of interest between video game journalists and developers. The controversy came to wider attention due to harassment that indie game developer Zoe Quinn received after an ex-boyfriend posted allegations on his blog in August 2014 about her personal life that led others to accuse her of professional impropriety to obtain positive media coverage for her game. Those subsequent allegations were shown to be false, but the debate they sparked continued. Other topics of debate have included perceived changes or threats to the "gamer" identity as a result of the maturing and diversifying of the gaming industry.

Cultural changes within the gaming industry, gaming community, and gaming journalism are seen as having formed the situation in which the controversy has arisen. The rising popularity of the medium, and greater emphasis on games as a potential art form, has led to a commensurate focus on social criticism within gaming media and indie works. This shift has prompted opposition from traditional "hardcore" gamers who view games purely as a form of entertainment. This opposition, however, has often been expressed in the form of personal harassment of female figures in the industry rather than constructive cultural conversations. The harassment campaign against Quinn was of such ferocity as to attract significant mainstream media attention which focused on the sexist, misogynistic and trolling elements of the gamer community. Nonetheless allegations of impropriety in gaming media have prompted policy changes at several outlets, and commentators generally agree that the systemic problems in the gaming media need to be discussed. That said, the harassment and misogyny associated with GamerGate is seen as having poisoned the well, and the choice to focus the campaign on a heretofore relatively obscure independent developer rather than AAA publishers has led to questions about its motivations.

tl;dr: GamerGate saw decades-standing question over ethics in video game journalism raised (which is good) but nonsensically over a zero-profit indie video game where all charges of corruption where unequivocally proven false (which is bad) and for some reason the very real corruption of Triple-A publishers and media collusion is completely ignored (which is hypocritical), apparently because no women attempting to write about social issues - however successfully - are involved (which may be sexist) and if there were they would get rape threats (which definitely is sexist, and also illegal).

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Yuugasa wrote:
I've watched the first few videos so far, aside from some very occasional snark here and there and a couple context based errors I've caught I don't understand why this would upset anyone. It's very tame and innocuous.

There is a broader context here. For years - decades, actually - video games have been dismissed from any kind of wider cultural conversation. They're not covered like films and novels are, despite being vastly more popular and making more money than any other media form (bar music, anyway). That's annoyed a lot of gamers for a very long time.

That's changed significantly in the last few years, particularly when the late uber film critic Roger Ebert said that games were not art and later changed his mind after wider exposure to them. This opened up a wider debate and more artistic games (stuff like DEAR ESTHER, JOURNEY) and games less dependent on mass slaughter (PORTAL) or which gave the player more choice and agency (a lot of Bethesda stuff) came to wider attention. Here in the UK we finally got some mainstream, massively popular comedians/critics (Dara O'Briain and Charlie Brooker) who got gaming discussion into the mainstream, and so on.

All of this would be great, but this more widespread acceptance of gaming as a valid modern art form has also led to gaming being dissected from social and cultural perspectives. A key complaint of GamerGate proponents is that "Gameplay is king," and people should be talking about the gameplay as the most important thing and anything social or cultural should be ignored. "It doesn't matter if a game is sexist as long as the game is fun," is a fundamental touchstone of the movement, and the suggestion that sexism makes the game less fun for many players (including male gamers as well as women) seems to genuinely baffle them.

Or, to put it another way, a number of gamers who have argued for years that games should be treated seriously are now rather annoyed that they are being treated seriously and dissected on the same level as other media forms.

but were here very soundly in favor of the argument that sexism in games causes sexism in society

I've never seen this argument put forwards by any of the gaming press. The principal complaints I've seen that sexism in general is unpleasant, that it puts off women from gaming and that retards the broader cultural acceptance of video games as a legitimate art form, and that it provides a 'safe haven' where sexist and misogynistic men/boys can gather without having their assumptions challenged.

The suggestion that sexism in games causes sexism in society is pretty farcical for the reasons you suggest, although it can certainly reinforce existing cultural problems in that area.

I'll also admit my opinion of her is also kind of colored by what I see as her abuse of Kickstarter. You do not need people to fund your series of Youtube videos.

Probably not, but it's also sensible to get people to pre-buy your product before you make it if at all possible. You could make the same argument about a lot of game projects on Kickstarter (Obsidian, in particular, could have come up with an alternate strategy of funding PILLARS OF ETERNITY, and maybe Larian with DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN) as well.

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So is it sexism if a female won't hire a female?


There was a controversy here a few years ago when an older female business-owner declared that she would only be hiring women if they were incapable of bearing children, since as a small business owner she should not have to pay for maternity leave. This was regarded as sexist as it was denying potential employees work on the basis of an underlying fact of their gender they can do absolutely nothing about (i.e. all women can theoretically bear children up until medically they cannot, regardless of religion, sexuality or abstinance).

It's not commonplace, but it does happen that some women themselves perpetuate culture's acceptance of sexism.

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The argument that a minority of women play 'core' games (I presume that's a contraction of hardcore) is pretty well-supported, but the reasons for this are not really engaged with. CALL OF DUTY did not permit female avatars until the last game in the series, the series has featured very few female characters of any note at all (even when it would have been appropriate, such as the Russian levels of the WWII games) and its reputation for online play without resorting to moronic language (especially on X-Box) is not great.

OTOH, far more women play MASS EFFECT, a series where the gameplay also mostly consists of mowing down bad guys with bullets (or lasers) but which has a far more diverse cast, far more prominent female characters, and the ability to play the main character as a woman, with such superior voice acting that a significant number of male players also choose to play with the female avatar.

There is a something of a self-confirming bias here. The issue isn't that women have an inherent aversion to violent games, but an aversion to games that are not inclusive towards them. Fewer women play certain 'core' games (and this appears to be more of a Western issue, with JRPGs and games like MARIO not being quite as gender-split as Western games) because of limitations of the medium, not because women are less interested in 'proper' games at all and so therefore games can continue being "istisms" until the cows come home.

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I mean, in the history of cinema, how many sequels that were only planned after the success of the original movie were actually good (never even mention better)? The Toy Story sequels, for sure. Terminator 2, Captain America 2, X-Men 2... that's about it, right? 95% of sequels are exactly as Nosebiter described them.

ALIENS, THE WRATH OF KHAN, BACK TO THE FUTURE II (kind of; the ending of BTTF1 was certainly a cliffhanger, but they only revisited and planned 2 and 3 after 1 was a huge success).

This is a bit different because Del Toro did plan out at least two (possibly three) films whilst the first was still being written.

del Toro dropped At the Mountains of Madness for this?

The studio passed, apparently after (questionably) deciding that the premise was too similar to PROMETHEUS. Also, when they were talking about it, they wanted it to be PG-13 which Del Toro was not down with (he's since changed his mind, however).

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The court case begins in the next few weeks.

To recap, Warner Brothers want to make a big-budget D&D movie with the name CHAINMAIL. They have joined forces with Sweetpea Entertainment, who made the first three (terrible) live-action films, to do this.

Hasbro have claimed that Sweetpea no longer have the D&D movie rights, because they failed to 1) release a new film every five years as agreed (BOOK OF VILE DARKNESS came out seven years after WRATH OF THE DRAGON GOD) and 2) failed to release films to the cinema; the second and third movies were both DVD/TV films. Both of these clauses were in the original movie deal signed between Sweetpea and TSR way back in 1991 (!). Hasbro have signed a deal with Universal Pictures to develop a D&D film, one that is speculated may also involve pre-existing D&D characters (even if Sweetpea and WB win the fight, they only have the rights to the generic D&D spells and monsters; they don't have the rights to DRAGONLANCE, FORGOTTEN REALMS or any of the characters etc).

A new factor has surfaced, however. The judge has delivered a preliminary warning that WB commissioning and writing a script before getting the film rights may itself constitute a breach of copyright, which would set an enormous legal precedent for all of Hollywood. It would mean that Marvel can't write a SPIDER-MAN script and keep it on file for rapid development should Sony lose their rights, for example. So suddenly this legal tussel has attracted a lot more attention.

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all of their games are buggy as all hell.

Apart from SOUTH PARK: STICK OF TRUTH, DUNGEON SIEGE III and NEVERWINTER NIGHTS II and its multiple expansions (unless I'm missing something).

The bugs on the other games have all been pretty much fixed: ALPHA PROTOCOL is the only one that's still flaky, and even that's perfectly playable and completable.

Like, I thought Bethesda held the record for "Most bugs in a AAA title" until played New Vegas and I was like "WE HAVE A WINNER".

NEW VEGAS was fixed pretty quickly after release, to be fair, and now it's completely fine. Unlike FALLOUT 3, which is temperamental to get to work on Windows 7 and 8, which is ironic, especially given how reviewers didn't mention FALLOUT 3's many bugs on release but went to town on NV's (for reasons more throroughly explored in the other thread).

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Following on from the previous thread:

Obsidian have said that once they release PILLARS OF ETERNITY (by November at the latest, I think) they will be looking at another Kickstarter, potentially a licensed one, for early 2015. PATHFINDER would seem an ideal fit for that.

How is Obsidian's track record with Add-on content? I'm kind of tired of pay-once-then-keep-paying revenue models.

Obsidian's record with after-game support is pretty strong. Their expansions for NWN2 were arguably stronger than the base game and their NEW VEGAS DLC was amazing.

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Fallout New Vegas is generally considered far better than F3, from what I've gathered. Maybe just within the community that liked the older Fallout games though.

NV got worse reviews on release because Bethesda let it be known they wouldn't punish any magazine or website that gave NV negative reviews for bugs by pulling their advertising (whilst with FO3, OBLIVION and SKYRIM, all heavily bugged on release, they made it clear they would). This was because if NV sold a certain number of copies and got a high enough metacritic score, Bethesda would have to give Obsidian a substantial bonus (seven figures, apparently). NV hit the sales target with insane ease - it sold 5 million copies in its first month compared to FO3's 3 million and is Bethesda's second-biggest-selling game behind only SKYRIM - but missed the metacritic score by one point, so Obsidian didn't get their bonus and Bethesda saved a lot of money.

Ironically, NV is now all patched up and works fine whilst age has not been so kind to FO3, which can be very hit and miss on Windows 7 and 8 systems. Certainly in critical reappraisals, there seems to be a strong preference for NV over FO3, for the vastly superior writing, reactivity of the game, freedom of choice, consequences of decisions and the better companion characters (who are actually characters with their own storylines, motivations and goals, not just extra backpacks and guns), not to mention the much stronger DLC. The areas where FO3 is better than NV are very limited: FO3's opening hour or two are a lot better and newcomer-friendly (NV's opening town is dull as hell) and that's really about it.

And don't start with the publisher-excuse. That's old and worn out and it's something I will always, ALWAYS think of when I think Obsidian (Obsidian? The guys who are always blaming their publisher?)

Well, it's a matter of record that Obsidian were screwed over massively by Bethesda, and would have been worse if the studio arm of Bethesda hadn't protected them, and they were badly mistreated by Sega, who released a buggy beta build of ALPHA PROTOCOL after refusing to pay Obsidian to do the final game polish. OTOH, Obsidian's relationship with Atari (PILLARS OF ETERNITY started as an ICEWIND DALE III pitch to Atari which was turned down), Square Enix and Ubisoft appears to have been very good.

The awkward one was LucasArts, which seems to have been a misunderstanding: Obsidian asked for an extra 6-8 months to finish KotOR 2 and make it a bigger and better game and LucasArts said yes but didn't adjust the contract. LucasArts then checked their budget and saw they couldn't do it and said they needed to hit the original date, by which time Obsidian had already reset their production schedule, and had to scramble to cut out the extra stuff again and get the game out on time. Obsidian should really have gotten the deadline extension in writing before doing anything, but they decided to take things on trust instead.

they lost a lot of fans with dragon age 2. why they so radically changed there biggest selling game ever, I will never understand.

DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS was in development for over five years. BioWare have never said how much they spent on it, but it was certainly vastly more than they should have and it was only having other teams making other successful games in the meantime (JADE EMPIRE and the first MASS EFFECT) which prevented it from becoming a major financial drain. When EA took over they were apparently so aghast at what they saw had been spent that they demanded console versions of the game (despite BioWare's promise it would be PC-only) and also ordered a quickie sequel on a minimal budget and less than a year's production time which would help recoup the costs of the first game. This so upset DA:O's lead designer that he quit the company altogether.

Considering the circumstances it was made under, I quite liked DA2. They took a very bad deal and ran with it to make a reasonably entertaining (and, by BioWare's standards, somewhat experimental) game.

I own New Vegas on the PS3, and it damn near crippled the poor machine

That's the GameBryo/Creation engine and the problems it has with PS3 memory. The same thing happens on OBLIVION, FALLOUT 3 and SKYRIM if you play them for long enough. Eventually the PS3 can't cope with keeping track of all the changed states you put in the world (remembering where every fallen arrow and moved book is) and falls over and dies. The X-Box 360 version does the same thing, it just takes a lot longer.

Also, a development studio in my city is working on a digital Pathfinder project? How interesting.

Hey Scott, didn't you go to the Obsidian party for when they got the Kickstarter money for PoE?

The main game wasn't even Fallout anymore. It was 'sometimes after the whole thing',

Er, that is what FALLOUT is about. WASTELAND's vibe is more post-apocalyptic, but FALLOUT is post-post apocalyptic. It's been a long time since the nuclear war, the worst of the fallout and the battle for survival is over and people are starting to rebuild and reconstruct. FALLOUT 2, 3 and NV are all set 200+ years after the war, so an immediate post-apocalyptic society doesn't make any sense (and FO1, set 100 years after, still had society moving on). That's why FO3 is so weird, it looks like the bombs fell just a few weeks earlier and DC is all but still smouldering. 200 years after the fact, it should be pretty much all gone back to nature.

NEW VEGAS does much better with that vibe, with the only really questionable thing being if Hoover Dam should still be standing. But it is said several times that various factions have managed to keep the thing repaired and standing in the interim, which at least addresses the issue.

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Been doing odd jobs in Cyseal, got another level in and recruited my two NPC party members. My current quest is trying to set up the inn's tomcat and the mayor's rare-breed feline who are desperately in love but tragically divided by class inequality.

Also saving the world from a gateway to oblivion that is threatening to destroy the universe, but the cat thing is my top priority at the moment.

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I've printed out this guide from Kotaku (it's 11 A4 pages with the images and comments taken out). It's not quite as hardcore as some of the guides out there and covers the bases without spoiling everything.

The game has that thing that XCOM has of almost encouraging you to mess up first time out to learn more stuff for your 'proper' playthrough. Which is great if you have 200 hours to spare on the game, not so much if you don't. The Kotaku guide is useful for pointing out basic things so you don't completely gimp your party to the point of unplayability before the game even starts (which is quite possible without any advice). For example, you can pick up a tank character and a water/air mage pretty quickly in the game, so the Kotaku writer focused on an earth/fire mage who doubles as the main party spokesperson and trader, and a sneak-oriented bowman and crafter as their primaries.

Crafting seems to be vitally important, as your equipment degrades in the game (bows more than anything else). Being able to fix stuff is vital. It's also a great idea to find a spade ASAP as a lot of loot is buried and the game is ridiculously frugal with spades later on. It's also a good idea to get the invisibility stealth skill for the aforementioned painting thefts and the Pet Pal skill to talk to the animals. This sounds bizarre, but apparently there's a ton of side-quests and potential ways to finish other quests by talking to animals and getting them on your side. It's also hilarious.

It's also worth noting that the game's UI is rather unintuitive. Each character actually has 3 hotbars. There's tiny little arrows to the left of each hotbar which cycles through them. Also, you inventory is bigger than you think and scrollbars will appear when you reach the bottom of the grid. You can also press 'Alt' to highlight usable things on the screen (a bit like Ctrl in the Infinity Engine games) which can be quite useful.

Important safety tip: blood conducts electricity. So if a fight's been going on for a while and everyone's splattered with blood, letting off a lightning bolt is a really bad idea.

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Rynjin wrote:

It's not longer than any of his contemporaries.

Er, they are, by a fair bit. The only fantasy novels published in the last decade to come even close are THE WISE MAN'S FEAR and WORDS OF RADIANCE, and even they are 20-30,000 words shorter.

The only fantasy novels in existence that are longer than the longest ASoIaF books are LotR and Tad Williams' TO GREEN ANGEL TOWER.

I'm of the opinion that if Robert Jordan can put out a novel every 2 years or so, of similar length (if not more!) on his deathbed, GRRM should be able to do it given 3-4 at least.

RJ's longest novel was THE SHADOW RISING, which was still 40,000 words shorter than A STORM OF SWORDS or A DANCE OF DRAGONS, and written a long time before RJ died. RJ was getting up to 2-3 years each for his last four books, each of which was around 250-320,000 words. And, much as I enjoyed TWoT, let's not kid ourselves those books compare even to GRRM's last two books.

Also, RJ never wrote a book on his deathbed. He was diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis after Book 11 - his last one - came out and after some very early work on the next book had been done. He spend time writing notes and outlines, but not much actual fiction.

And I'm quite certain Tolkien wouldn't have taken ten years on LotR if he'd had a computer.

The primary reason for Tolkien taking that long was his infamous procrastination, self-doubt and not touching the manuscript for months (and at one point a year) at a time. He may have written a bit faster with a computer, but that was not the primary cause of the delay.

At least they were COMPLETE, and bad, instead of HALF FINISHED and bad.

Incorrect. Books 8 and 9 were supposed to be one book, and 10 and 11 were supposed to be another. RJ kept splitting them up rather than delete the inconsequential filler chapters (which in the case of Book 10 was pretty much the entire novel).

Also, whilst AFFC and ADWD have issues, they are in no way comparable to the problems Jordan had. Even AFFC's most tepid chapters tower most convicingly over the finest moments from PATH OF DAGGERS or CROSSROADS OF TWILIGHT in terms of characterisation and thematic development (even if plot progress was not as strong as might be wished).

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There could be another one on its way: a LOCKE LAMORA TV show in the works.

This would be based on the GENTLEMAN BASTARD series of novels by Scott Lynch, which are very, very good. They're about a group of rogues and con-men (and women) operating on a world littered with the crystal ruins of a long-vanished alien species. Magic is extremely difficult to make work and there's a larger socio-political crisis unfolding in the background that will lead to civil war.

No word on network or timescale, but Ryan Condal (who recently adapted the weird west comic THE SIXTH GUN for NBC as a pilot, before they passed on it) is writing the script.

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