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Frost Giant

Werthead's page

1,962 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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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

Excellent.


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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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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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 :)

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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.

Translation:

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?

Yes.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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?

Yes.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Abyssal Lord wrote:
About Universal Healthcare in other countries like France and Japan. Do the French and Japanese pay higher taxes for universal healthcare?

Frane and Japan have universal healthcare but not single-payer healthcare, which means that people's employers and other bodies are also responsible for paying into the healthcare pot. So the individual does not necessarily pay a lot in direct taxation from their own income.

The UK has a single-payer system based around direct taxation (both from the main tax pot and a secondary tax system called National Insurance, which puts aside some of your tax against future healthcare needs and future bouts of unemployment). But even we don't pay as much as Americans do as a percentage of tax.

This is the point I was making earlier on: we pay less in direct tax and get a pretty good national health system out of it. Americans pay more but then have to pay for health insurance on top of that, and all too often the insurance companies wriggle out of paying so they then have to fork out the full cost of the treatment.

From the outside-the-US perspective, you guys look like you're getting fleeced.


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The TV show is better than the books in a few areas: Robb's relationship was better depicted on-screen than off (even if it was cheesy), the Red Wedding was that bit more brutal on-screen (even if we lost all the fan-favourite supporting characters who bought it as well), some of the pacing is better and there's more focus on existing characters than constantly bringing in new ones. Characters like Margaery, Osha and Shae are also a lot more interesting on-screen than in the books.

However, the books are better than the TV show in the overwhelming majority of cases. Most of the characters are better (Loras is much more interesting and complex than the gay, occasionally effeminite fop the TV show has reduced him to; Sansa has a bit more depth and Littlefinger is vastly subtler and less obviously villainous) and Stannis is vastly superior. It's a tribute to Dillane's acting that he can still get people's sympathy, but the book version of the character is so much richer and more interesting:

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He's an excellent example of a character being defined by POV: Cressen and Davos don't think Stannis has a sense of humour, so the reader also doesn't think he has one. But then as the books progress you realise he does, it's just incredibly dry, laconic and only comes out at certain moments. Jon spots it in an unguarded moment so his assessment of Stannis and subsequent relationship with him is rather different to those other characters'.

It's rather worrying that Benioff and Weiss have said they don't like him very much and see him as more of a villain than the ultra-grey, ruthless but occasionally heroic figure of the books. A shame as 'Blackwater' (not written by them, notably) seemed to get him so much better than any episode since.

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Wait a minute. You're telling me that a given writer can actually use "It's Magic, I don't have to explain s***" as an excuse if people like their book enough?

Nope, the writer has said, "It's magic but there is a logical explanation for it and it will be given in one of the later books in the series." Which I think is fair enough. We can moan about it later if the explanation turns out to be rubbish :)


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The problem is that it's expensive. Fantasy takes place mainly outdoors and outdoors filming compared to a climate-controlled set with reliable weather is VERY expensive, even before you add in any effects or prosthetics work. The reason GAME OF THRONES costs c. $7 million per episode (more than three times the cost of a regular network American TV show) is the mind-boggling amount of location filming required per episode (in 3-5 different countries, depending on the season) on top of the sets, the enormous cast and the effects.

If you look at MERLIN, they were only really able to make that show because they were fortunate to have a huge French castle which let them film it there relatively cheaply (they realised, correctly, they'd get a huge increase in tourism instead) and a controlled number of surrounding forests they could use with impunity. Which sounds great until you realised in Season 5 you could start recognising individual trees because they'd been reused so much. XENA and HERCULES did something similar (substitute bits of New Zealand for France).

If you look at an SF show like BSG or the ST series, they had big standing sets they could use and just let some effects and a couple of guest actors pick up the slack, and every few episodes they could then afford a big blow-out. And of course regular shows can get their costumes and props off-the-peg.


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Now I'm not saying our system is the best in the world, nor am I saying that America sucks, it does many things better than where I am from. But healthcare is not one of them. You pay more for a system that does not cover everybody and generally offers inferior care to most people.

Yup. And what's really ludicrous is that Americans pay more of their taxes towards healthcare than we do. But we get a free health service out of it and they have to go off afterwards and spend huge amounts more on medical insurance. Then, when the insurer wriggles out of paying for an operation because the small print says they don't have to pay for operations on days ending in a 'y', they have to go and find the money to cover the full cost of the procedure.

This is a situation that that is quite blatantly ludicrous, and it's beyond me why anyone - left or right - puts up with it. There are solutions from both sides of the political spectrum which would be preferable to the current one (either full social health care or fully private health care which is not subsidised by taxes).


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One occasionally-mooted suggestion is that Noah two representatives of every animal type on the ark, rather than every single species and subspecies. However, I believe it's been pointed out that this merely reduces the number of animals on the ark from millions to a still-impractical several thousand.


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Then again, we have to consider Robert Jordan as well -- in which case there is no finished product.

Apart from...the finished product?

Sanderson finished the series off, but based closely on Jordan's notes and with a fair bit of Jordan-written material scattered through the conclusion (including the very last chapter). So that's not a terrific comparison.

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you would be waiting a long time. As of now it 17 years since he wrote the first book. It took Tolkien 12 to finish his series and that was during the war.

18 years since the first book came out. 23 years since he started writing the series (in July 1991).

The comparison to Tolkien is a little weak. THE LORD OF THE RINGS, the whole thing, is only slightly longer than A STORM OF SWORDS and A DANCE WITH DRAGONS by themselves. On pages-written-per-year, Martin is way ahead of Tolkien who often took months on end off because he didn't know what to do next with the story. And of course Tolkien took 66 years to write what turned out to be a relatively short 450-page book (THE SILMARILLION), published after his death.

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I truly believe he wont finish the series. He doesnt seem to be in the best of health

GRRM is in pretty good health. Obviously, he's overweight (though he was actually at his biggest around the time AFFC came out, and is down on his weight since then) but that doesn't mean he's going to drop dead tomorrow. GRRM is, obviously, hugely wealthy and has a very good health plan. He and his doctor also monitor his weight (and he points out on his blog that he makes efforts to lose weight, which are hampered by his job, which is not conducive to it).

There certainly isn't a 50% chance he's going to die in the next two years! I have family members who were larger than George who happily made it into their late 80s and passed away from totally unrelated causes. Gene Wolfe is a bit on the rotund side and is now in his early 80s. Jack Vance was fairly big (not as big as GRRM though) and made it to 96. You also had Robert Jordan, who spent quite a few years overweight and then lost most of it on a strict diet, only to almost immediately develop a totally unrelated cardiac condition and pass away at 59. Or Aaron Allston, who appeared to be in good shape before having a series of heart attacks and dying at 53.

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For a trilogy i would think a 5-7 year window wouldnt be unreasonable.

That depends on the size of the books. Three 300-page books are a very different prospect from three 1,000-page ones.

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If i were the publisher i would require updates throughout the year, place limits on other activitys and extend if needed. Sure theres creativity involved but at the same time publisher has deadlines as well.

GRRM sends each chapter, as it is finished, to his editor who edits it and requests changes on the spot before it is finalised. So the process isn't that the whole book is done in one go, edited in one go and then published, but a constant, ongoing back-and-forth between the writer and editor.

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she never promised another novel, and she published a bunch of short stories to appease the hardcore fans like me, so maybe that's a poor analogy.

Clarke did say that she was writing a sequel focusing on less-prominent characters almost as soon as JS&MN came out, and there has been no word on it since.

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In contrast, Jack Vance wrote the Durdane triology in two years, and the third volume was, if anything, infinitely superior to the first. The 4-volume Tschai series took two years, and the 3rd book is the highlight. Lyonesse took him 6 years total, and Cadwal 5. His 5-volume Demon Princes series is the oddball, having been completed on a random basis from 1964-1981.

Well, there's also DYING EARTH, which was written over a period of 40 years, with a fairly substantial cliffanger between Books 2 and 3 that was left hanging for 16 years (and Vance even allowed a desperate other author to resolve it as a stopgap through official and published fanfiction before he continued the series).


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ADWD is an interesting book. It does, contrary to hyperbole, push forwards quite a few storylines substantially. However, because of the timeline issues this is not constant for all characters, and some characters only get 2-3 chapters whilst others get 9-12, but they almost seem to get the same amount of development (i.e. the lesser-appearing characters get very busy chapters and the more frequently-appearing ones get slower or even 'filler' chapters). There's definitely a weakness to ADWD stemming from the split, and that's even more pronounced in AFFC which feels weirdly claustraphobic as a result, as if it's happening in a bubble unconnected to the wider world. ADWD is also odd in that it's very focused on past events and revelations about them. Whilst all the books have expanded on the series backstory, none of them come close to what ADWD does. I did some research for the publishers recently which required rereading all five books and counting statistics, and ADWD has four times as many major backstory/mystery revelations as any other book in the series, a lot of which is important to the present-day storyline as well.

However, almost none of that material is present in the TV series (or, if it is, it's fairly trivial), which gives them quite a lot of material they can shave off.

The best solution is to read AFFC and ADWD as one super-book (there's some great lists online showing how to do this), at which point they both improve immeasurably.


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Quote:
Someone please explain it to me.

The statistic that got me is that Americans pay a slightly higher percentage of their taxes towards government subsidies of the supposedly-private healthcare system than people in the UK do. However, we get a fully-functioning (when not being starved of resources by the Tories so they can claim it's failing and then try to privatise it, as in the 1980s and now) and pretty good national health service out of it, whilst Americans have to go and pay a ton more money in insurance and/or direct hospital fees on top of that.

That seems to be insane. Not paying any money at all towards health care out of taxes - because it's all private - makes sense. Paying taxes and not having to pay more towards healthcare afterwards makes sense. Doing both is crazy.


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QTEs are weak design because most of them are simple one-button prompts. They're as much gameplay as clicking 'START' to start the game. If a QTE gave you four options with different effects, they'd qualify more as gameplay, but they never do. So if a QTE falls mid cut-scene it's about as useful as a prompt coming up saying 'CONTINUE CUT-SCENE Y/N?'.

This is made worse when QTEs use different controls to the rest of the game. IIRC, TOMB RAIDER at least let you use the actual normal controls during cut scenes, which was a bit better.

Even worse are when QTEs only happen once in a game. SPACE MARINE is the worst example of this: there are no QTEs at all in the whole game until the final boss fight, where you have to kill it with QTEs using buttons and controls not normally used for combat in the game (plus it's a rip-off of the Gandalf/Balrog fight, but that's another issue).

There's also the issue of laziness: creating a pre-determined cut scene where the player has to press one button is more straightforward than programming a long, multi-result conversation option scene, or a combat scene where the game designer has a specific result in mind regardless of what the player does.

I think it's possible to do good QTEs - DEUS EX: HR's conversation cut scenes where you can choose different dialogue options with radically different results on how the rest of the cut scene playes out is a good example of the sort of thing they should do more often - but overall they should be treated with scepticism.


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Quote:
A major difference is that Scotland was once an independent nation so why should it not regain that independence - as Ireland did.

True, but there is also a difference there: Ireland was conquered and colonised by us over a perod of many centuries, whilst Scotland was an independent country which chose to join England to form the UK. Scotland wasn't coerced into it.

Quote:
For a socialist federation of the Britishiznoid Isles!

Every time we've gone more socialist, the results have been disastrous. Mind you, every time we've gone more conservative, the results have also been disastrous.

That is why we drink.


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The fan community for Outerra - a graphics engine capable of rendering high-quality terrain images from relatively sparse data - has recreated Tolkien's Middle-earth using the software. This has resulted in some stunning and impressive views, especially considering this is only an alpha version.

You can see more pictures here and here, and a discussion on the Outerra forum here. The dedicated Middle-earth project website can be found here. Plus there's also a tech demo video.

This could be the next big thing for fantasy cartography. Westeros or Faerun or Malaz (or Golarion?) next?

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