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Frost Giant

Werthead's page

2,152 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.

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100% confirmed by Bryan Fuller, it's in the original timeline.

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Belle Sorciere wrote:
Literally the only places I've seen this film discussed as a flop are this forum and MRA sites.

Thanks to Hollywood accounting, flops don't exactly mean what they used to anymore. SERENITY was a failure on initial release, but actually turned a profit once foreign sales and media releases were taken into account. PACIFIC RIM was pretty damn close to failing, but then got a lift from abroad and is now getting a sequel (although they had to fight for it). The new STAR TREK movies made, on paper, reasonable profits given their budgets and marketing, but under-performed against Paramount's targets which has caused them issues (and STAR TREK BEYOND is not looking great either at the moment). There's actually a very good chance that BATMAN VS SUPERMAN's profits were nowhere near as good as it first looks, as the film's marketing budget (especially internationally) was considerably higher than the norm.

GB is now passing $90 million, which means it'll certainly make its production budget back, but may struggle to get to marketing as well. It'll certainly recoup the rest on DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming. So the film being a flop isn't realistically on the cards. It isn't a slam dunk for a sequel though, and Sony will have to think hard on that. Sometimes studios will double down on a franchise and deliver new installments as a sign of good faith even if the franchise has not delivered as highly as you'd hoped. But it'd be tricky to do that if the film hasn't recouped on the initial box office run.

What they'd need to do is come back in a couple of months and see where the film stands once the theatrical run is over and then look at where the media release and streaming takes them.

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Every male character was an idiot or a jerk.

Like in the original movie (okay, maybe that was a little harsh).

The villain gets powers out of nowhere.

Like in the original movie.

Stupid fart jokes

Like the original movie had several stupid dick jokes and jokes about how hilarious it was to stalk a woman.

No repercussions for their actions, like being suspects in a murder.

As the movie explained, rather clearly I thought, they were getting cover from the Mayor's office from the start.

Violating their own rules where they end up flat out killing ghosts rather than trapping them.

I don't think you can kill ghosts (there may be a clue in the description there). Their equipment either traps them, disperses them or sends them to Michigan.

They pulled super ghost fighting moves out of nowhere and never missed a single shot. Somehow even had pinpoint accuracy on an arced long range shot.

This isn't true at all. They constantly miss almost the whole time. They shoot up the subway tunnel before finally trapping the ghost and then he escapes anyway. They blast up the theatre (the manager screaming about the art deco getting shot) before managing to land a hit. They also somehow manage to completely miss the giant creature at the end of the film. Their hit ratio is way below that of the original film.

The ghost driving their car to help them for no reason.

Slimer doesn't help them. He steals the car and at the end of the film they trick him into driving into the portal (rather conveniently).

This was no where close to the dry subtle humour of the original.

Original what? Certainly not the original Ghostbusters. The original GB was certainly more restrained and grounded (to a certain degree), but it wasn't exactly a Noel Coward play.

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First trailer.

Nicely done, I thought.

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I feel Paizo should be leveraging the marketing benefits of the final episode guest star :)

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thejeff wrote:
It is still only going to be available on CBS's pay platform, right?

In the USA, yes. Space gets it in Canada and the rest of the world will get it on Netflix.

Given the box office numbers that isn't likely. It is far more likely that they will continue to milk their cash cow in its current form.

The box office numbers for the new TREK films have been well below Paramount's expectations. They wanted to build up to a $1 billion franchise to go up against the Marvel movies and the STAR WARS films, and the fact they've not even gotten to half that took them by surprise. They dialled things up for INTO DARKNESS and that didn't work either, hence a budget cut for BEYOND.

Both of the previous films made profits, but it was a near thing (especially for INTO DARKNESS). BEYOND is opening at a lower ebb than either of the previous movies and has serious blockbuster competition with SUICIDE SQUAD, so it's questionable how successful it's going to be. At the moment it's Abrams's star power and Paramount's lack of an alternative franchise which is keeping talk of a fourth film alive, and if BEYOND is another modest success I can see Paramount either retooling altogether or only doing the fourth film if Abrams returns to direct.


Still waiting for a 'Starfleet Academy' or 'Starfleet Command' series or something, taking up in ye olde continuity after DS9 and Voyager and continuing in the setting with a new cast and crew, and maybe the occasional cameo by an older character. (And ignoring the movie Trek reboot universe entirely.)

Is it too much to ask to see some Cardassians and Andorians and Borg again? And 100% less Beastie Boys?

The new TV series will be set in the Prime Continuity after DS9/VOYAGER/TNG (the anthology thing turned out to be a rumour, as did the idea it'd be set between ST6 and TNG). Bryan Fuller said they have the ability to bring back some of the characters and actors from those shows, which isn't possible if it's a fresh reboot or set in the Abramsverse (and CBS doesn't have the rights to the Abramsverse, unless they bought them behind the scenes which doesn't seem likely).

My take on the new film:

It's a very good film, blowing the other two Abrams pictures out of the water and comparing favourably to many of the older ones. It makes a lot of very clever choices which recall the older, slower-paced films whilst also delivering enough explosions and action beats to satisfy the modern casual cinema-goer. The two styles don't entirely mesh, but they do a pretty good job of it.


The USS Enterprise is three years into its five-year mission exploring deep space. However, Captain James T. Kirk is feeling boredom settling in. The mission consists of a lot more diplomatic work and less boldly exploring the frontier than he was expecting. Whilst docked at the massive Starbase Yorktown, the Enterprise receives a distress call from the heart of a nearby, mysterious nebula. Kirk sets out, eager to see something new...only to get a lot more than he bargained for.

When J.J. Abrams rebooted Star Trek in 2009, he assembled an absolutely killer cast. Replicating the chemistry of the original crew was a tall order, but he somehow achieved it with the likable - if massively flawed - first reboot film. It was also pretty much the only thing holding together the appalling sequel, Into Darkness, in 2013. The diabolical quality of that movie lowered expectations for this third entry in the new series, especially when it was announced that Simon Pegg would be writing the script and Justin Lin would be directing.

To some degree that was counter-intuitive, given Pegg's geek credentials and his strong writing experience (especially on the Spaced TV series and his collaborations with Edgar Wright). But Pegg's recent writing work has been patchy and Justin Lin is best known for the Fast and Furious franchise, not known for its thoughtful exploration of the unknown. Fans may have been a little too quick to judge there: not only is Lin a massive Star Trek fan from his chilldhood but his F&F movies transitioned quite cleverly from just dumb action movies into actions movies with a strong sense of character interplay, family and heart.

These sensibilities come into full force on Star Trek Beyond. Lin delivers explosions, impressive stunts and some great action set-pieces - and unlike the two previous movies, most of these are well-shot and comprehensible - but he also delivers on bringing the characters together and driving them apart and finding out what makes them tick as individuals and as a group. He is well-served by Simon Pegg's script (helped out by Doug Jung), the writer relishing his chance to finally write an all-out science fiction blockbuster and delivering. Pegg, like Abrams, is known to be a Star Wars fan much more than a Star Trek one, but whilst Abrams ill-advisedly set about trying to turn Trek into Wars, Pegg has actually sat down and worked out what makes Star Trek different and brought those elements into the script. For example, fans were bemused by the near-total lack of any decent Spock/McCoy banter in the Abrams movies but here get an entire, fairly substantial subplot focused on the two characters which works extremely well. Zoe Saldana's Uhura also gets a great (if a little brief) storyline as she gets under the skin of main villain Kraal (Idris Elba under heavy makeup) and tries to find out what makes him tick. Anton Yelchin's Chekov gets a fair few action scenes, so of the main cast it's only John Cho's Sulu that gets short shrift. And even he still gets to command the Enterprise, lead a prison break and is given the most personal stakes in the final showdown (nicely underplayed, as well).

Star Trek Beyond in fact tries to do something that is very clever: it goes for the all-out CG blockbuster stuff but then suddenly reins it in and goes for unexpected restraint. A lengthy (and slightly nonsensical) CGI space battle turns into a low-tech, far more relatable struggle on the surface of a planet. A major CG fest of phasers and spaceships in the finale gives way to that greatest of Star Trek staples: Kirk and the villain facing off with just their fists, but done in a near-zero gravity environment against a dizzying backdrop (if you suffer from strong vertigo, I would advise against seeing this film in 3D). The movie also sacrifices the shining Apple-influenced hallways and bridge of the Enterprise for a more primitive NX-class starship (cue the Star Trek: Enterprise fans cheering, although it's not that one) and brings back a genuine sense of wonder to the graphic design. Starbase Yorktown is a jaw-dropping creation, a multi-sided city floating in what is effectively a snowglobe, evoking not just previous Star Trek designs but also the Citadel of the Mass Effect trilogy.

The film also remembers it's the 50th anniversary year and uses the recent death of Leonard Nimoy to pay homage to that: young Spock learning of the passing of his older, other-dimensional self and then discovering a box of his possessions allows the movie to tip its hat at what came before in a surprisingly effective move which informs Spock's excellent character development throughout the rest of the movie. Zachary Quinto has less to do than in either of Beyond's two predecessors but his character arc is considerably more satisfying, emotional and, as some may say, logical.

New characters are surprisingly thin on the ground. The villain Kraal is well-played by Elba, but for most of the film lacks decent motivation. The finale finally explains who he is and what he wants, and it's a great moment, but comes rather late in the day. Still, Elba's villain satisfies far more than either Benedict Cumberbatch-trying-to-be-Ricardo-Montalban or Eric Bana's way too expositionary and over-explained Nero. Also impressive is Sofia Boutella as Jaylah, a native of the new planet who quickly becomes a key ally of Scotty (and later the rest of the gang). Boutella gives Jaylah just the right mix of badass warrior and slightly overwhelmed local girl, and her fascination with science and engineering plays well into the finale. I hope we see her back in the next film (if there is one; Beyond's opening numbers are looking a bit iffy at the moment). Shohreh Aghdashloo also gets a memorable cameo as a Federation commodore, a pick-up shot to help with exposition and sell Kirk's motivations a bit better. Given it was a late addition to the film, I do wonder if Lin and Pegg had seen her in The Expanse (or, more likely, the trailers) and decided to borrow her authoritative space leader charisma for their movie. In that case, good job.

It's not all a glorious bed of roses, though. There's a fairly obvious plot hole in why Kraal decides to stay on his rubbish planet long after he managed to take control of a swarm of warp-capable spacecraft which could have taken him anywhere he wanted in the galaxy. The Beastie Boys return to the soundtrack for a very well-explained (indeed, somewhat oversold) reason but it still feels out of place, and Star Trek Beyond tries to get a lot of mileage out of a joke that was a toss-off in a 1965 episode of Doctor Who (modern rock music is described as "classical music" by people in the future...BECAUSE THEY ARE IN THE FUTURE!). Kirk also gets to ride a motorbike because, hell, why not?.

But ultimately, Star Trek Beyond (****½) brings a surprising amount of heart to proceedings, doesn't entirely neglect the brain, engages in some great characterisation and team interplay, pays homage to its departed castmembers in a genuinely moving way (a toast to "departed friends" gains tremendous pathos during Anton Yelchin's reaction shot) and features Kirk punching an alien in the face, McCoy and Spock bickering like an old married couple, Scotty pulling off an engineering miracle, Sulu pulling off an insane piloting maneuver, Uhura figuring out how to communicate with an alien species (also: best depiction of the universal translator ever), and Chekov explaining how Russia invented everything, including Scotch. It is, inarguably, the best Star Trek movie in twenty years, since First Contact, and may even (much more arguably) be the best in twenty-five, since The Undiscovered Country. The film is on general release now.

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Wait, there's an episode where Aubrey Plaza plays PATHFINDER? And I still can't watch it.


"There's two things I know in life. There's dice...and there's no dice. This is no dice."

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"I call for the militia to form up."

"Three guys show up."

"Wow. Where is the rest of the g++@&%ned militia?"

"They're all on vacation."

"During the Restoration? Who signed off on that?"

"We don't plan our calendar very far ahead."

"We have 99 years from the last Restoration to prepare for this."

"These are all reasonable points."

Every single time a player raises a well-argued and perfectly logical objection to something that's going on, the GM should now just say "These are all reasonable points" and just carry exactly on as before. It's going to be a meme.

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I'd lovelovelove a Tuf Voyaging series, I just can't imagine who'd play the title role. I read all the Wildcards books up to a certain point, but never related to the characters on an emotional level.

Conleth Hill seems like a good choice, but he might be bored of playing bald dudes by that point :)

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Sara Ran wrote:
I am so hoping this does not disappoint. I have liked the other two films so far (not that I had seen a lot of Star Trek before seeing the first film). Isn't there a new TV series coming out soon?

Yes, January 2017.

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Has there been any discussion on this thread about how N.Ireland is affected by this? Ot affects the greater part of my family (militarised border? Good Friday agreements still valid? Etc.) but I'm too drunk to go into it

So far various people in government have looked at the rhetoric in Northern Ireland about what's happened, the risk of a return to violence, and the mind-boggling expense and practical issues involved in putting border checks back in place, and gone for a stiff drink in the bar. Like Gibraltar, it's something that they didn't quite think through before the election and now the very thought of addressing it is causing migraines.

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Rumours from the EU meeting today that Hollande suggested a compromise: giving Britain a free trade deal in return for limits on migration, but that the EU should withdraw the financial passport, removing the ability of the City of London to trade freely in stocks and capital in the EU. Paris, Amsterday, Frankfurt and Dublin would then benefit as they take over various EU finance roles currently handled by London.

Quite clever, since it gives the UK government what the people voted for (an end to EU immigration) and it apparently punishes only "the nasty big banks." Of course, it would completely undermine the economic foundation that Britain is currently built on so it should be laughed out of the building, but I can see it appealing to some.

Steve Geddes wrote:

My understanding is that (amusingly) England have to ask for Scotland's consent and Scotland can refuse to grant it, but that the term "consent" doesn't actually mean anything since it has literally no legal effect, no matter how the Scottish parliament responds. My reading (admittedly cursory) was that some overexcited journalists thought Scotland might have some kind of veto power, but that there weren't any* lawyers who thought so.

* With the usual lawyer caveat that they can argue for or against pretty much anything.

There is some angst over this issue. It very much looks like Scotland has to pass the separation from the EU as law as a devolved issue. It can refuse. Britain can overrule the Scottish decision if it chooses, but the only 100% legal way of doing that is to repeal the Scotland Act which allows devolved power to Scotland. Effectively, it would have to abolish the Scottish Assembly. That would spark an enormous constitutional crisis in the UK. It would also drive the chances of Scottish independence towards probable. Devolution - giving Scotland much more autonomy but not outright independence - took the wind out of the sails of full independence in the 1990s and this would put it right back in.

I saw nothing that indicated the referendum was actually binding and never imagined that with or without a nonbinding referendum the PM could unilaterally withdraw the UK from the EU. Do you think he could do so without the referendum?

The referendum is nonbinding in itself, but Cameron had promised that its results would be respected by the government. That's been taken to mean that the results would be accepted as binding, unless it was supersceded by a second referendum (now off the table) or a general election result where the winning party had campaigned on a platform of remaining part of the EU.

Just completely ignoring the results would be highly controversial. Both Labour and the Tories would think hard about doing that, because they would hand an enormous propaganda coup to UKIP if they tried and would suffer the consequences at the next election.

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Ajaxis wrote:
Questions from an American. How many times has the Supreme Court of the UK and its predecessors been overturned by the EU's Court of Justice? And what does the return of sovereignty do to those decisions?

Rarely. The British Supreme Court was required to "take note" of rulings from the EU Court but was not legally bound to accept them. It did so due to convention. The one thing that got people so enraged - us not being able to deport terror subjects to countries where they would be tortured - was actually down to Britain's own laws prohibiting rendition, and the EU merely reinforced the fact that it'd be illegal under both UK and EU law.

The issue here - another factor not really explained very well during the referendum - is that EU law is decided upon by European nations together. In fact, many of the laws regarding human rights were originated by British legal experts and then adopted in Brussels and replicated in our courts here.

The principle power of the EU was that UK law could not contravene the four pillars of membership of the EU (free movement of goods, people, capital and services). After leaving the EU, we will then be able to adjust those rules and prevent, for example, free immigration to the UK from anywhere in the EU. The problem is that all four factors are interrelated: you can't have one without the others. We've actually spent an enormous time talking about two of the pillars, people and goods (i.e. trade) but not much on the other two which are just as important. The EU over the weekend said that Britain's ability to trade capital and services in the EU (the so-called "financial passport") will also be withdrawn in the result of Brexit, limiting the ability of British banks and financial instituions to operate in Europe. Since Britain's economy rests firmly on the bedrock of financial services and the movement of capital this is an absolutely massive problem and is what has gotten the markets in a furore.

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Fabius Maximus wrote:
This is relevant to my interests, but sounds like young adult fiction, which I'm generally not a fan of (anymore).

It's been marketed at YA, but it's certainly not written like it. It's quite an adult book in a few ways. No graphic sex or anything like that, but it is quite violent. The Battle Royale comparison I think is apt for that: just because most of the cast is teenage kids, that doesn't make it a kid's book.

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Regarding Valyrian steel:

It's widely theorised that forging Valyrian steel requires a human sacrifice. The Westerosi blacksmiths have lost the knack of it forging it because they don't know about it - fire and blood is needed, not just fire itself - and might balk at sacrificing people to forge more blades.

Similar thing with the dragon eggs, they only hatched after Mirri Maz Duur was sacrificed along with them and Dany took her walk of faith into the flames. It does beg the question why the eggs at Summerhall didn't hatch, but that may have been because the deaths were accidental rather than a deliberate sacrifice.

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Never say never ! It will all dépends on how things turns out in a few months time... The EU is nothing but pragmatic, and the last economical crisis led it to construct on the fly new mechanisms ; even the ECB chose to ignore its own rules to do what was needed. If UK goes out of its collective way to wreck other economies for selfish reasons, nobody will object to its forced exclusion : all in the name of democracy and of the collective will of the british people.

Any such move would require the EU to change its fundamental rules to allow it to kick a member state out. Britain itself - which remember is still a member until the process is completed - will simply veto it. I suspect others - maybe Greece or Poland - would be starkly tempted to as well as the precedent would be alarming.

A third way of explaining Mr Cameron refusal to issue a formal declaration (despite having said before the vote that he would do so at once) could be that he refuses to personnally assume the responsability of the referendum he asked. Letting the next PM handle the matter could be a way of getting back at his Iago, BoJo. Of course, it can be argued that a continent-wide economical crisis is a harsh price to pay for personal revenge, but hey, politicians can be as insane, immature and mean as any other guy.

Yes. As Cameron walked back into Number 10 after announcing his resignation, he apparently said "Why should I do all the hard s**t?" He was also under the impression that the Leave camp had a plan all ready and waiting to roll.

Later that day Sky News political editor Faisal Islam asked a prominent Leave campaigner what the plan was for Brexit and they replied, "We haven't got one."

All of this is like a train wreck, all in slow motion.

Yup. We live in interesting times.

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The EU has given the UK more than enough already. And they are still not satisfied. No point in trying to coddle them any further as they will always want more and are not even able to be reasonable about this. Playing with the EU's existence and the risk of yet another grave financial and economical crisis just to advance individuals' political carreers.

I fully agree. Britain got a colossal amount back from the EU for putting not a massive amount in. This message was not even remotely communicated at all by the Remain campaign during the referendum. A lot of British people think we put in less than we got out. Many of those same people have now been told that EU funding for their (often poor and neglected by London) regions will now be pulled and that nice new business centre or sports complex won't be happening and they're confused and angry about that.

All I'm saying is that if UK aims to use the letter of article 50 to hold hostage all EU, it's not completely impossible that other countries agree to go for the spirit of the text and cut it short. Certainly not tomorrow, but maybe in some months time, especially if the Financial crisis goes deeper and drags all of the continent down.

This won't happen. There is no legal mechanism in the EU for forcing a country out against its will, and introducing one quickly and in a knee-jerk reaction to Brexit would ring alarm bells across Europe, not to mention being tremendously out of character for an organisation that prefers a more measured, careful response to issues. They will instead enact pressure through other means (perhaps a hint of a moderately better deal if we invoke Article 50 sooner). This morning, in fact, they seemed to be saying that they'd be - relatively - happy as long as Article 50 is enacted by the end of this year, two months after when it is being proposed.

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Smarnil le couard wrote:
I'a afraid that to derail the Brexit now, your next pro-Leave PM (Boris Johnson ?) would have to renege, admitting that he didn't meant what he said during the campaign (that is, utterly wrecking his political career and taking the bullet for the greater good).

The Leave campaign has reneged on its two primary campaign promises in less than 72 hours, so they're getting there.

Interesting reports suggesting that Boris's thinking was that Britain would vote Remain, he would congratulate Cameron and they'd hug it out, Boris would then dutifully and loyally support Cameron for three years, glowing with praise for him, hinting at a peerage, and then be ushered into office with the EU matter at rest, the economy improving and able to begin the Glorious Golden Age of Boris.

The fact that Leave won and he is now expected to negotiate the UK's departure from the European Union has left him with a rictus grin on his face as he's realised that he has absolutely no clue at all on how to do that. That's why he went off to play cricket yesterday rather than talking to anyone and has spent today apparently in emergency meetings with Gove and other Leave Tories trying to work out WTF they are going to do. Becoming PM and having to negotiate Brexit amidst a suddenly declining economy and the potential breakup of the United Kingdom was not in his script.

I think it's sad that many of the pro-leave are already regretting their vote. In fact quite a few younger people who voted to leave have since been interviewed by various agencies and even stated they voted to leave because they thought their vote wouldn't matter.

Apparently it was not communicated well that the rules for the referendum were different to a general election (where the Tories won majority control of Parliament last year with just a third of the vote) and that some people thought that if their area got a majority their vote wouldn't count, so they protest voted or didn't bother voting at all.

That the same petition that is all over social media and anyone in the world can sign?

Nope. You need a UK address to sign the petition. In theory people can simply use a friend's address, but their vote would then be discounted if too many people use the same address and if they do not appear on the electoral register.

The petition does allow non-UK-born residents of Britain and also 16 and 17 year olds to vote. Both groups were unable to vote during the actual referendum, amidst great controversy.

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Yorkshire now expressing concern that leaving the EU means it will lose its EU funding.

I am at a loss as to why these people think that they are either 1) going to get EU money despite not being part of the EU or 2) going to get the same amount from a British government voted into office on a mandate of reducing spending to all-time record lows.

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Damage Report: Day 2 of the New Order (Hail, Boris)

$2.1 trillion wiped off the world economy. Er, sorry about that.

Britain loses its 5th position in the world GDP rankings to France. India not far behind.

British stock markets collapse by 8%, but recover 2%. Worries of further losses next week, but some suggestion there could be a further recovery. However, the markets overall think there will be two years of volatility due to the Brexit negotiations and then a further period of volatllity as the impact of Brexit is measured.

British currency and economy crashes in the worst one-day decline since Black Monday in 1987. In perspective, this was far worse for the UK economy than any day of the 1990s recession or the late 2000s one.

Britain credit rating downgraded to "Negative" by Moodys. Standards and Poor strip Britain of its AAA credit rating.

Morgan and Stanley reveal they have a contingency plan to shift 2,000 UK jobs to Dublin and Frankfurt and will enact it if we don't get a free trade agreement with the EU. HSBC apparently has a similar plan.

The investment sector will have to stop trading in Euros. This was already annoying the Eurozone. When we're out of the EU altogether, we simply won't be able to do it which will hammer investment banking. Which would be less of a problem if the British economy wasn't overwhelmingly based around services.

The ECB confirms that Britain will lose its EU financial passport if we don't allow free movement of peoples, which will impact Britain's ability to offer financial services to Europe. Since that's the underpinning of our economy (we actually make nothing in this country that others can't do instead) that's "mildly" worrying.

Spain confirm that the c. 800,000-1 million British people (mostly elderly) living in Spain won't have to worry and they probably won't be deported back to the UK. Oh, and by the way can they start having some discussions about the control of Gibraltar? Not that the two are related, at all. Oh, and all those people living in Spain will now have to buy private health insurance because they won't be protected by the NHS any more.

EU funding for the British regions (which basically keeps Cornwall, a large chunk of Wales and parts of Northern Ireland afloat) will be terminated. £1 billion+ EU funding for British scientific projects, including our contributions to the LHC, will be terminated.

But, good news! The government has indicated that it will take over the EU subsidies for private landowners, so the British taxpayer will shortly be paying Iain Duncan Smith £150,000 a year for no readily explicable reason.

Kazuka wrote:
That's what makes me worry about this. How bad are they going to make things for the people?

Very. Cameron and Osborne's policies have inflicted colossal economic and societal damage on the UK, and there's always been the fear that they - coming from the centre-right of the Conservative Party - were actually the least worst option from the party. The likes of Iain Duncan Smith, whose policies at the Department of Work and Pensions drove hundreds of people to suicide, and Michael Gove, who almost destroyed the British education system, are not going to hold back on taking things much further. Boris Johnson is actually much more centrist and liberal than people give him credit for, so if he emerges as PM things may not be quite that bad.

The vote to leave was mainly by the older generation - that is, the people who won't have to live with the long-term consequences of this. On the other hand, the younger people voted overwhelmingly to stay - and they're the ones who will be impacted the most if the UK actually decides to go through with it. (The resolution is non-binding, and Parliament technically could ignore it if they wanted to. They may still choose to do so if they decide it's politically acceptable.)

It's worth noting that 16 and 17-year-olds were barred by voting, which was hugely controversial because they were allowed to vote in the Scottish referendum two years ago. They were overwhelmingly for Remain, and of course this will affect their long-term prospects.

EU citizens who'd been living in the UK for over 5 years - in some cases more than a decade - were barred from voting. A lot of British voters overseas, who were also overwhelmingly for Remain, also found themselves unable to vote due to complications in arranging it. So given the narrowness of the victory, yes, it's more than slightly controversial.

All this talk of the Youth getting shafted - what is the youth unemployment like in the EU again...? Oh right.

That's down to the Euro, which was a hideous mistake and should be abolished, and to the internal policies of each country. Britain was actually highly praised in the EU for how it's handled the economy and weathered the financial storm, even Germany took some inspiration from it and France's current problems stem from being unable to do the same thing.

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So the Leave campaign won by forging an unholy alliance between the hard-right of the Conservative Party and the older, disenfranchised, northern working class citizen who hasn't voted since the Thatcher years, on the basis that the Tories would massively invest in public services and local resources.

In terms of unlikely alliances, this probably isn't quite up there with the Nazi-Soviet Pact but may certainly be in the Sauron-Saruman ballpark.

There is a slight problem here, namely what happens to those disaffected working class voters when the Tories continue to sell off the NHS, continue (if not double down on) austerity and keep shrinking government and public services. Maybe a resurgent Labour under Corbyn, having survived the new leadership challenge and vanquished the last remaining Blairites, sweeps them up and delivers this country to a socialist utopia in 2020. Or UKIP starts hoovering them up at a rate of knots as part of its potential new raison d'etre, "encouraging" immigrants already here to start going home.

Seriously? (1) Could this be true? If so, how widespread is Bregret? (B) When you cast a vote, make it the one you actually want.

Anecdotally, quite widespread. This morning, the people of Cornwall - which voted for Brexit - suddenly asked if leaving the EU meant they'd lose their EU funding (hint: yes). And if so, would the small-government, ultra-capitalist, free market-obsessed Conservative Party step in and replace that funding (hint: no)?

That was far from being the sole argument of the Leave side.

It was the predominant argument once it became clear that they had comprehensively lost the economic one. At one point in the campaign the Brexit camp looked completely beaten because they had tried going toe-to-toe on the economy and were crushed. They had to double down on immigration, immigration and immigration (with a dash of sovereignty, which the Tories didn't want to get into too much because of how they won the last general election but UKIP was happy to) because the second they tried to fight on any other ground they dipped in the polls.

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"It's not all about you, Jon."

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Julian Gollop, the original creator of X-COM (along with LORDS OF CHAOS and LASER SQUAD, and advising on the new Firaxis XCOM games), has announced a new X-COM-esque strategy game called PHOENIX POINT.

The game will play in a similar way to the original X-COM, with a world map from which you can organise research, recruitment and procuring equipment and then a turn-based battle mode where you fight the enemy in procedurally-generated landscapes. In a twist, there will also be procedurally-generated monsters and enemies, assembled on the fly from dozens of body parts and types to form hundreds of potential enemies.

The plot is that the melting permafrost has released a virus known as "the Mist" that mutates both people and creatures into terrible monsters. The Mist has also spread across much of the globe, destroying civilisation and reducing it to pockets surviving in Mist-free enclaves scattered over the globe. There are numerous factions of survivors, some of whom are more interested in fighting each other than the Mist, and you have to guide your faction - the titular Phoenix Point - to victory by arranging strategic alliances or even outright conquering other factions to help gather resources to drive the Mist back.

Gollop has taken inspiration from several sources: the original X-COM (and the third game, APOCALYPSE) for the strategic layer, which will be more involved and dynamic than the Firaxis games. The other factions will be fighting one another, researching and doing other stuff regardless of your actions, so if you kick back too much you might let other factions wipe one another out but you might also end up out-resourced, outnumbered and outflanked. The second inspiration is ALPHA CENTAURI, for the very different factions and their goals and ways to appear them. The third is survival horror: although the game has lots of combat and action, the monsters are disturbing and genuinely monstrous, constantly mutating and evolving to adjust to your tactics. The Mist is also active on the battlefield, capable of warping or mutating your soldiers if you don't find ways of defeating it. Some of the monsters are also absolutely huge. The final inspiration is the modern XCOM, which Gollop has praised for its approachability and accessibility, but thinks there is a way of getting a more complex and malleable game underneath. PHOENIX POINT will have at least 3 wildly different endings (possibly more) depending on how the campaign unfolds.

PHOENIX POINT's release date will apparently be in 2018 on PC, with console versions possible.

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please don't let it become a portal fantasy with a group of gamers being put into the Forgotten Realms....

I can't find the quote now, but I think that someone from Hasbro said this wasn't the case.

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I think the decision not to do novels was down to Hasbro's insistence that the movie has to tie into the current books and help shift some more of them, so it'll probably be set in the "present day" of FR 5th Edition.

Apparently there was one comment from the studio that they saw the tone of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY was something they should aspire to: dramatic and serious (it's not an out-and-out comedy) but with a knowing, even slightly meta sense of humour.

Which is great if it works, but will be terrible if it doesn't.

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...but what exactly is the movie going to be about?

DL? FR? Greyhawk?

Rob Letterman isn't a stellar director but apparently his D&D Movie Franchise pitch swayed the WB execs making this decision.

So many ways this movie can be botched. Is there any real hope?

It's set in the Forgotten Realms and will involve the Yawning Portal Inn, so at least part of the film will be set in Waterdeep.

They're also looking at the shared universe possibilities, so we may see DRAGONLANCE, DARK SUN, PLANESCAPE etc as future ideas. But right now it's going to be FORGOTTEN REALMS.

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So instead of Cersei having CGI nudity, it is Dany having it. Drat no nudity clause.

Nope, that was her.

Emilia Clarke: "But this is all me, all proud, all strong. I’m just feeling genuinely happy I said ‘Yes.’ That ain’t no body double!"

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WILD CARDS was optioned by SyFy, but then all the interested people at SyFy left. The rights are due to revert to GRRM any day now.

When they do, I suspect we could see interest from HBO.

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Kate Griffin/Claire North/Catherine Webb (her real name) is a pretty good writer. I'd be interested in seeing her stuff on screen. It's like a more literary version of Neil Gaiman's NEVERWHERE.

I think THOMAS COVENANT really is unfilmable. You can't not have him carry out the sexual assault he does in the books as that torpedoes the entire story (which is all about his redemption from that act), but it will also revolt and turn off viewers in droves (the same way it puts off enormous numbers of readers).

Tad Williams has indicated that there is renewed interest in MEMORY, SORROW AND THORN, especially since he has revealed that there will befive new novels in that world coming out in the next few years.

I did a list a couple of months back of all the books/series headed to the screen. In brief, it's a good time to be a Neil Gaiman fan:

Filming/In post-production
ANNIHILATION by Jeff VanderMeer (film)
LIKELY STORIES by Neil Gaiman (TV series)
AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman (TV series)
SHE WHO BRINGS GIFTS by Mike Carey (film)
STORY OF YOUR LIFE by Ted Chiang (film)
THE DARK TOWER by Stephen King (film)
MIDNIGHT, TEXAS by Charlaine Harris (TV series)
READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline (film)
LUKE CAGE (TV series)
IRON FIST (TV series)
PREACHER (TV series)

FORTUNATELY, THE MILK by Neil Gaiman (film)
WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams (TV series)

100 BULLETS by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (film)
ALTERED CARBON by Richard Morgan (TV series)
THE CITY AND THE CITY by China Mieville (TV series)
HIS DARK MATERIALS by Philip Pullman (TV series)
RED MARKS by Kim Stanley Robinson (TV series, recently delayed by still going forwards)
THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood (TV series)

ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie (film)
ANANSI BOYS by Neil Gaiman (TV series, possibly cancelled and folded into AMERICAN GODS)
SANDMAN by Neil Gaiman (film)
GOOD OMENS by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (TV series)
DISCWORLD: THE CITY WATCH by Terry Pratchett (TV series)
DARKOVER by Marion Zimmer Bradley (TV series)
THE FOREVER WAR by Joe Haldeman (film)
FOUNDATION by Isaac Asimov (TV series, on the backburner at HBO)
GATEWAY by Frederik Pohl (TV series)
HORRORSTOR by Grady Hendrix (TV series)
THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN THE WALLS by Jonathan Bellairs (film)
HYPERION by Dan Simmons (TV series)
IN THE LOST LANDS by George R.R. Martin (film)
THE SKIN TRADE by George R.R. Martin (TV series)
THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE by Patrick Rothfuss (film and TV series, somehow)
THE LAST POLICEMAN by Ben H. Winters (TV series)
LOCK IN by John Scalzi (TV series)
LUNA by Ian McDonald (TV series)
MADADDAM by Margaret Atwood (TV series)
MAGIC KINGDOM OF LANDOVER by Terry Brooks (film)
THE MORGAINE CYCLE by CJ Cherryh (film)
THE GHOST BRIGADES by John Scalzi (TV series)
OTHERLAND by Tad Williams (film)
RED RISING by Pierce Brown (film)
REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi (TV series)
RIVERS OF LONDON by Ben Aaronovitch (TV series)
ROBOPOCALYPSE by Daniel H. Wilson (film)
SIX MONTHS, THREE DAYS by Charlie Jane Anders (TV series)
SPIN by Robert Charles Wilson (TV series)
THE STAND by Stephen King (film, TV series or some mix of the two)
TEMERAIRE by Naomi Novik (TV series)
UPROOTED by Naomi Novik (film)
TIME SALVAGER by Wesley Chu (film)
VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab (film)
THE WARLORD CHRONICLES by Bernard Cornwell (TV series)
WATCHMEN by Alan Moore (TV series)
Y: THE LAST MAN by Bryan Vaughan (TV series)
THE WHEEL OF TIME by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (TV series)

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Charles Scholz wrote:

Man! First there was "Wizard's First Rule", then "Game of Thrones", and now "Wheel of Time". Three awful book series of which I could only complete reading the first book of one of them.

All of these get made into TV Series, while the "Dragonriders of Pern" series got shelved.

Just goes to show that the public cares more about watching people killing other people than seeing a good story about people struggling to overcome adversity.

Dragonriders of Pern is certainly far superior to fricking Terry Goodkind (one of the worst authors of epic fantasy to ever put pen to paper), but it's a bit of a stretch to say it's so much better than the other two. Dragonflight and maybe the next couple of books were decent, but Anne & Todd did ride that horse into the ground, flog it thoroughly after death, set fire to it and then tried to sell the ashes.

Funny think is that MacCaffrey has a cover blurb on all three of those other books saying how much she enjoyed them.

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THE BANNER SAGA 2 came out last week.

I though it was excellent, a huge improvement on the first game - which was great but had a number of issues throughout. Combat is much better and the way the story unfolds and the characters develop is remarkable.

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Women in the world of the Wheel of Time are superior to men in just about every culture apart from Amadicia and Tear (where they're more equal), based on the notion that since only women can use magic that acts as a more-than-force-equaliser and spills over into the non-magical world as well. It's an interesting approach and I think was handled quite well in the meta, but in the close-up-and-personal execution was flawed. But that's something that can be fixed fairly straightforwardly in an adaptation.

The Age of Legends probably lasted for between ten and twenty thousand years. The Aes Sedai, who came into existence at the end of the First Age (our Age), possibly through genetic engineering, spanned that entire period of time and from the off could live for 700 years, so it had to be quite a few generations for them. War had become a forgotten concept during that time, only existing in history books at best. Non-channellers could still live between 200 and 300 years. So the span of time involved had to be pretty big.

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Donnie Yen?

Exceedingly unlikely, but not a bad idea.

The WHEEL OF TIME is our world in the future. Not just that, but it's in the future of a time when people can travel across the planet in just hours (or instantly, via Aes Sedai gateways). Cultural and ethnic differences became utterly irrelevant during the Age of Legends. During the Breaking of the World that followed people were thrown together, scattered and mixed up all over the place. During the 3,000 years since the Breaking some re-homegenisation has taken place, but along cultural lines rather than skin colour or appearance.

Whilst going strictly by the books the entire main cast would be white and Caucasian until Tuon showed up, there's actually no real or dramatic reason why that needs to be the case. You could quite easily cast Nynaeve (who's always felt an outsider in the Two Rivers anyway) with an actress of colour with no bearing on the narrative at all. Or Lan, with more textual support as the Borderlands do seem to have attracted a lot of people in the WoT world of Asian descent.

The only people who do really need to be distinctive are the Aiel, who were actually the only race of people to retain their own appearance and culture even during the Age of Legends.

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The previous legal difficulties have been resolved, and a major TV studio has optioned the WHEEL OF TIME rights. We should know who in the near future.

Prior to the legal kerfuffle between the Jordan Estate and Red Eagle, Sony TV was interested and based on the short period of time that's elapsed since the legal problem was resolved (last August), it seems unlikely someone else will have had time to have done anything. But never underestimate the ability of Netflix or Amazon to make things happen with mountains of cash. If it is Sony, I would be surprised if they didn't join forces with AMC again (like they did on BREAKING BAD), since their own epic fantasy show would augment AMC's enviable line-up of genre programming (alongside THE WALKING DEAD and PREACHER). But that's all speculation. We know it won't be HBO (they've never double-dipped in the same genre at the same time) but beyond that the field is wide open.

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MannyGoblin wrote:
we just need the Snakes in King's Landing to strip down, grease up and start stabbing people. Maybe have a lesbian-incest angle where they end up straddling each other.

Snakes on an Ilyn Payne?

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I thinks this is more going off the rails and screaming out of control into the side of a nuclear power plant. Which is being attacked by zombies.

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You're right, PC gaming as it was in the past (PC games made and played specifically for and on the PC) for all intents and purposes IS dead overall in the West (US, Canada and Europe).

I suspect Paradox, Firaxis, Roberts Space Industries, Creative Assembly, Larian Studios, Obsidian, Blizzard, Valve and CD Projekt Red, amongst several dozen others, might disagree with you. We've also seen the first few PC-exclusives in a while recently that really got attention from console gamers as well, most notably XCOM 2.

AAA gaming across the board is right down. EA recently pointed out that at the height of the PS2 era they would release maybe 80 games a year, maybe 10-15 of which would be marketed as AAA. Last year they released 12 overall, only a couple of which they marketed as AAA. The economics of making a AAA game no longer make a huge amount of sense, and will not until the workload and expense of making games drops significantly. If it doesn't, then we will likely see even fewer and fewer AAA games in the future. In fact, some recent AAA games have had to seriously sacrifice gameplay, content and options in order to have the expected level of shiny graphics (STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT being a prime example, looking great but having barely any of the same amount of content that BATTLEFRONT 2 had a decade earlier). This is a huge problem for the industry, one that has been solved by the rise of Kickstarter and indie gaming, and of course those things benefit PC more than console.

As for tablets and mobile saving PC gaming, that is actually, bizarrely, having a positive impact on core PC gaming. Stoic ported THE BANNER SAGA to tablet and had a really good impact, which has fed back and allowed them to put more money into THE BANNER SAGA 2 (out this week!) and 3, which benefits PC. The same for other companies. In fact (circling back on-topic) we wouldn't have FINAL FANTASY IX or the upcoming X and X-II ports on PC without the need for a mobile version. That's a win-win for everyone.

The biggest discussion going on right now at Sony and Microsoft is what the hell they are going to do for PS5/XB2. Because the current paradigm of designing ever more expensive systems to throw ever more polygons around is clearly unworkable without games costing over £100 and taking over five years each to develop.

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Being pre-TNG pretty much guarantees no Romulans though, as there had been no contact with the Romulan Star Empire with a Federation Vessel for 50 years before the Season 1 TNG episode The Neutral Zone.

I think ST:TNG did overstate that in the first season. The Battle of Narendra III referenced in "Yesterday's Enterprise" seems to be the last major contact between the Federation and Klingson and the Romulans, and that was 20 years before ST:TNG rather than 50. The fact that the Federation goes from having 0 information on the Romulans in Season 1 to having detailed biographies of the Romulan government in Season 5 also seems rather unlikely. I think the "No contact" thing may have been retconned a bit even before TNG was over.

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Considering that the PC gaming scene has been downright dead these last ten years or so, why suddenly get an interest in porting their games to PC? Because it's easy? Because it's a big market? Why?

Dead? Since when? :P

Ten years ago PC gaming was in decline, sure, but then caught the bounceback from Steam and digital sales going through the roof, and then caught another boost from the last console changeover (when it became clear just how unimpressive the PS4 and XB1 were going to be, technically). Over the last couple of years PC sales have increased impressively, to the point where games like FALLOUT 4 and GTA5 can sell *millions* of copies on PC in their first month on sale, regardless of the console versions. In fact, FALLOUT 4 sold 1.2 million copies on PC alone on its first day on sale. The game sold 12 million total on all platforms in its first month, so assuming more PC copies were sold after the first day, then easily the game could have sold over one-third of its copies on PC. That's a huge market.

Something that's also important is the long tail. Apparently Rockstar (for example) still sell a lot of copies of GTA4 (!) on PC every year thanks to Steam sales and mods, which means that although GTA4 on console outsold the PC massively on release, the PC version has now done as well, if not better. At a lower rate of return, sure, but the game is still selling and still making Rockstar money eight years after release on PC, which it really isn't on consoles.

As for why Square are doing this now, they've kind of eased into it ever since buying out Eidos (and its PC expertise) in 2009. They already had PC versions of FF7 and 8 from when they first came out (I've still got my PC copy of FF7 that I bought in 1998 right here on the shelf) so those were pretty simple to move across and update for Steam. FF4-6 were just the phone/tablet versions ported over as-is, so they were pretty cheap to do as well. They could then look at the sales, see how good they were (and apparently they were very solid) and then justify the higher cost of porting FF13 and its two sequels. Those games had XB360 versions which likely simplified some aspects of porting; if they'd been PS3 only the cost might have been prohibitive.

FF9 has fallen between the two stools: not being in full 3D, it's likely not been as complex as 13, but it's also been more work than the sprite-based pre-PS1 games. And it's a decent port, you can even click the mouse to move characters around on screen like a LucasArts adventure and can click on enemies and commands during battle, which I really wasn't expecting. They've done a thorough job with it and it's very good. As word of that spreads out, they'll sell a lot more copies, the PC market have great word-of-mouth about such things.

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Any word on if they are reconsidering making this available only on thier new prime service?

It'll be available internationally on other services, I imagine, but right now CBS have only confirmed that the opening episode will air on regular CBS and the rest will air on their on-demand service.

If it's a catastrophic failure on that service, I think we'll see the show pretty quickly rerouted to more traditional release services.

I'm starting to wonder if we'll get scenes like those in the Supergirl series, filled with veiled references to a ship called the "Big E" that will never be actually seen on screen.

They could set it in the twenty-year window after the destruction of the Enterprise-C and before the Enterprise-D was launched, when there was no Enterprise around. Or just complete ignore it: the number of references to the Enterprise in DS9 and VOYAGER was almost completely non-existent.

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Better late than never. Sixteen years after the PS1 version, Square Enix released its PC port of FINAL FANTASY IX on Steam today.

It's based on the recent mobile version, but with higher-res models, backgrounds and movies, and with mouse and keyboard support.

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Some pretty interesting information has leaked.

None of this has been 100% confirmed but apparently several sources at CBS have confirmed this information to the original site and to a few others like Den of Geek.

The current points of interest are:

1) Set in the original timeline, not the Abramsverse (as mentioned earlier, CBS don't have the rights to the Abramsverse without doing a new deal with Paramount).


3) The show will not involve a starship called Enterprise.

4) The show will be "tightly serialised".

5) The show will be a "seasonal anthology" series like TRUE DETECTIVE and FARGO. Each season will be set in a different part of the STAR TREK universe and canon, and will be free to use different castmembers (new or old), settings and ideas.

6) The show cannot debut before 22 January 2017, as the CBS/Paramount deal requires six months to elapse between one project and the other (the next STAR TREK film, BEYOND, comes out on 22 July).

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please tell us that Vin Diesel will be the voice of one of the main characters animal companions.

The original article said that the main warrior character was a "Vin Diesel" type. Which is a code phrase for "We want Vin Diesel." Dude is, of course, a massive D&D fan but that doesn't mean he'll sign up if the money and script aren't good enough.

Too much money. Would be funny though.

If SEAN BEAN is too expensive for this movie, I think it's going to be in trouble. Bean is an excellent supporting actor, but he's not a lead for movies and he doesn't really cost that much.

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D&D movie gets its director.

It's Rob Letterman, who directed MONSTERS VS. ALIENS, A SHARK'S TALE, GULLIVER'S TRAVELS and GOOSEBUMPS. He's...okay, I guess? He's had a lot of effects experience, and also worked on the CGI for SHREK.

I'm a lot less hopeful about the script, written by the guy who did WRATH OF THE TITANS.

Hasbro and Warner Brothers aren't exactly bringing top-tier talent to the movie so far.

They have released a blurb though:

"Based on the popular fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson and first published in 1974, the action-adventure tale centers on a warrior and his band of mystical creatures – including a half-dragon and a cunning gnome – as they embark on a dangerous journey to find a mythical treasure."

We know from previous information that the film will be at least partially set in Waterdeep and the Yawning Portal Inn will feature.

I am not entirely disheartened but I'm not seeing too much to get excited about at this time.

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Larian already had great writers, this will be difficult for Obsidian

Even without Avellone, Obsidian have Tim Cain (the creator of FALLOUT and VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE - BLOODLINES), Josh Sawyer (PoE, IWD 1 and 2, FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS), George Ziets (PoE, DS3) and a few others who are pretty good. Avellone was their strongest ace in the hole because of FO2, PLANESCAPE: TORMENT, KotOR 2 and MASK OF THE BETRAYER, but their other guys aren't slouches. Some of the newer writers they brought on board for PoE were also pretty good, like Carrie Patel and Olivia Veras. Along with inXile they have possibly the strongest writing team in CRPGs. Larian are good, but I think D:OS's strength over PoE was much more from the gameplay systems and superior combat. In terms of plot/character/theme/story it was a lot less memorable.

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Obsidian and Paradox are collaborating on a new CRPG called TYRANNY. This game will use the PILLARS OF ETERNITY engine and casts you as a Fatebinder, a servant of the Dark Lord Kyros who has conquered the world (the premise being that the ultimate battle between good and evil has been fought and evil has already won).

Unlike PoE, this game will not be crowdfunded (Paradox are funding it in full) and it's already pretty far down the line, with a release in late 2016 currently being expected.

More interestingly, this will be Obsidian's first-ever RPG that has been made with no input at all from Chris Avellone, who has decamped to Larian to work on DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN II. Obsidian's other writers are pretty good so this isn't a mortal blow, but I'll be interested to see what they come up with.

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Yeah, I'd go much further and say that reading THE FIRST LAW is pretty much mandatory before reading the stand-alones. There are so many nuances, storylines and characters in the stand-alones that appeared or were set up in the trilogy that it adds a lot more to the reading experience.

Also, the stand-alones will form the bridge between the first trilogy and the second trilogy (which Joe has just started writing).

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Warner Brothers close to greenlighting the D&D movie.

They confirm that the movie will be set in the FORGOTTEN REALMS and that the Yawning Portal Inn and the city of Waterdeep will feature. They also confirm that if the film does well they will look at doing other films in other worlds later on.

They also say they want to go for a different tone to things like THE HOBBIT and WARCRAFT, with a style of humour similar to GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Hmm. Could work.

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Book 12: Diplomatic Immunity


Miles Vorkosigan is enjoying his honeymoon...right up to the point that he is diverted to Graf Station in Quaddiespace to sort out a diplomatic mess involving Barrayaran warships, Komarran transports and some missing personnel. What initially appears to be a straightforward mission rapidly escalates into a major incident that threatens to break out into full-scale war.

After several novels in a row concerned primarily with Miles Vorkosigan's character development, Diplomatic Immunity sees Lois McMaster Bujold returning to something of a more "normal" approach for the series. She sets up a series of interconnecting mysteries built around some interesting SF ideas and then sets Miles loose to investigate and resolve the situation with a (relative) minimum of fuss. This time around Miles is accompanied by his wife, Ekaterin, and reunited with one of his old Dendarii compatriots, but for the most part it's Miles doing what Miles does best: fast-talking, quick-thinking and having a lot of fun in the process.

The novel is also a bit of a sequel to one of Bujold's earlier novels, Falling Free, which is set in the Vorkosigan universe but is not part of the core series. That book explored the development of the quaddies, humans genetically engineered to best exploit freefall by being given an extra pair of arms and hands instead of legs. Diplomatic Immunity also catches up with the quaddies and reveals what has become of their society in the intervening two centuries (Falling Free accompanies Diplomatic Immunity in the omnibus edition).

The book is standard fare for Bujold and Miles: well-written, with some clever ideas, some unexpected twists (the escalation of the situation from a minor drama to a massive diplomatic incident is sudden but convincing) and some nice work in terms of both characterisation and plot. It's a smart novel, although it is a little too reliant on coincidences. We are told repeatedly how obscure, bizarre and off the beaten track Graf Station is, so Miles running into two people he's met in previous adventures purely by chance is a little hard to swallow. Once you move past that, it becomes a more interesting story combining mystery, action and politics.

If Diplomatic Immunity does have a major flaw, it's that it feels a little slight in terms of Miles's own character development in the wake of Mirror Dance, Memory, Komarr and A Civil Campaign. But after a whole series of traumas, it is also kind of fun to see Miels not being put through the emotional or physical wringer so much and just getting on with his job.

Diplomatic Immunity (****) is a fun, enjoyable addition to The Vorkosigan Saga. It is available now as part of the Miles, Mutants and Microbes omnibus (UK, USA).

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Great guide here on how to improve game performance. Worth a look.

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