Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Frost Giant

Werthead's page

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


1 to 50 of 1,986 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | next > last >>

BBC America has put the first episode up for free for American viewers. No idea if it works for anyone else, but amusingly it doesn't for UK viewers, but then they can get it on the iPlayer instead.

The Bantam STAR WARS novels (starting with the Thrawn Trilogy and ending just before the New Jedi Orders) got a bad rep for being overly reliant on superweapons: the Sun Crusher, Centrepoint Station, Super Duper Star Destroyers, the Darksabre, the old Prototype Death Star etc.

Chuck Wendig is an author I've had recommended quite a bit for his own fiction, but I have to agree that his response to this situation has been poor.

First off, there have been LGBT characters in STAR WARS before. Not a lot, agreed, but a few, and a fairly prominent one in Paul Kemp's LORDS OF THE SITH, which is another of the "New EU" books. Also, AFTERMATH does indicated that KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC 1 & 2, and THE OLD REPUBLIC all remain in the new canon (backed up by the "Star Wars Story Group" now getting acknowledgements in the OLD REPUBLIC credits after the last update), and Juhani in KotOR is lesbian and the first LGBT character to appear in STAR WARS, thirteen years ago. So Wendig claiming to have introduced such characters to STAR WARS when he didn't is a bit lame.

Secondly, the overwhelming majority of issues with the novel seem to be with the prose first, then complaints about the canon change (not Wendig's fault, I agree) and only a very small number of morons are moaning about about the LGBT issue. It's not the primary complaint at all, and its fairly intellectually dishonest to try to strawman large numbers of people, some of them LGBT themselves, by saying it's because they're all 'phobic. The core problem, instead, is that the novel sucks.

Drejk wrote:
According to their page, the 1.03 update introduces x3 damage mode.

Yeah, for everyone. So bad guys die faster but so do you.

They make the bullet time mode an integral part of the game as well, which is handy.

Been playing this for a few hours. Thoughts:

1) It looks amazing. For a small game (1.5GB install), not to mention a Kickstarted one operating on a small budget, it looks incredible. The attention to detail is impressive and it's great to play a cyberpunk game with vivid colour rather than just grit 'n' neon.

2) It's not just a reboot of SYNDICATE. SYNDICATE was amazing in 1993 but it was also focused on combat and converting people. There was a very primitive stealth system but it was ropey as hell and it was almost impossible to finish any level without killing any enemies. SATELLITE REIGN has a more vigourous stealth system, better AI and gives you multiple ways of completing each objective. You can still run in and kill everyone in sight if you want to, but it's much harder (especially at the start of the game).

3) It's pretty tough, but fair. If you are overwhelmed and die, you know exactly why and how it all went wrong. The game also has a recloning feature to avoid save-scumming your way through the game. It might be a little too generous in that regard and rather unrealistic (especially as you can die 15 times trying to do the same objective and still come back to it and try again), but at least it's trying to help the player a bit.

4) There's not much in the way of a narrative. You have a job to do and a whole city to do it with and complete freedom of how to do it. After a brief and fairly succinct tutorial, you're left to get on with it.

5) Weapons don't seem to have much punch, which was the key problem with SYNDICATE WARS as well. Given in every other respect the game borrows from the (superior) first SYNDICATE, it's a bit odd why they went with the weedy gun firing and sound effects from SYNDICATE WARS. Maybe it improves later on.

6) You can still mind-control people to walk around as bullet sponges for you, but it's harder. You can also send people back to your lab to be pulped for genetic material to help you when you resurrect (as your stats degrade a little every time it happens). This is kind of gruesome and impressive at the same time.

Overall, a very solid and interesting game that feels like a SYNDICATE for the modern age, rather than just being a revamp of the original game. More interesting is what they could do with the engine. Put on a turn-based mode and give it to Harebrained, and they could make their next wave of SHADOWRUN games on this engine and it would be absolutely amazing.

Killing the fantasy world was really weird. WH40K was doing okay until DAWN OF WAR was released, but then sales of the entire range (novels, models, board games etc) took off hugely, especially in the States. If TOTAL WARHAMMER (which is what I'm calling it and damn the actual title) had even a quarter of the impact, it would have probably made the fantasy game much more viable again. Ditching it in 2015 rather than waiting to see the impact of the video game was a dumb move.

Anyway, a new in-engine cinematic featuring dwarves. Dwarves are cool.

And yeah...Goodkind starts out okay.

The mind always boggles at this. WIZARDS' FIRST RULE is easily one of the very worst fantasy novels ever written. The second book, which I dropped halfway through, was even worse. Reading plot summaries of the rest of the series, it was clear that it somehow managed to go even more downhill.

However, it is apparently amusingly effective if you read the books with the viewpoint that Richard and Kahlan are the villains. Read in that light, they seem to make a hell of a lot more sense than they do if read straight.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Novella 4: Winterfair Gifts


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

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

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

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

That's another hole with these awards, they don't include self-published titles.

As said above, they do. Most of the fanzines are certainly self-published, and there are no rules against self-published books.

And as a cynic, I wonder just what the response to Game of Thrones would be if Vox Day wrote it. Let's postulate a world where Martin kicked off about 90 or so from a heart attack; we take all the manuscripts for Game of Thrones to an alternate world and give them to Vox Day to publish through whatever his publishing house is.

Day wrote a GAME OF THRONES rip-off novel. It was terrible.

40 minutes of SWORD COAST LEGENDS. Looking decent so far.

1 person marked this as a favorite.
sunbeam wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 people marked this as a favorite.

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

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

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


Lucas has made it known that he NEVER wants those unaltered original available. And despite selling the franchise to Disney, he still apparently has enough rights to veto this. (The situation is made even more complex because 20th Century Fox has distribution rights for all the films until 2020, and has the full rights for Star Wars in perpetuity.)

So basically, until Lucas's death, there CAN'T be a 1080/24p, 7.1 DTS HD MA Blu-Ray of the ORIGINAL original trilogy (and even then, it will require a deal between 20th Century Fox and Disney).

Lucas sold Lucasfilm and everything it owns, including STAR WARS in its entirety, to Disney. So no, Lucas does not have power of veto over there being a DVD/Blu-Ray release. In fact, it's been pretty widely reported behind the scenes that Lucasfilm/Disney had been trying to get a good deal going with Fox for a Blu-Ray release of the original trilogy out in time for the new film. That's still possible (they could announce it with 2-3 months to go in a couple of weeks) but seems less likely now.

Quote: cover-of-the-latest-issue-of-empire-magazine.html

Actually, the stormtroopers on the cover are from the original trilogy. And the Falcon is still in its original state (with the original dish rather than the one lost in the DS2). Apparently these were deliberate choices on the part of Abrams and Lucasfilm, not mistakes. What it means is anyone's guess (although some believe it's a hint to an OT Blu-Ray announcement, as above :) ).

the empire yes, the sith, no.

In the EU, the Sith originally were aliens, and the humanoid Sith picked up where they left off with their teachings (also, Darth Maul was an alien). Whilst the EU proper has been eliminated from canon, the historical background stuff, especially that related to the ongoing OLD REPUBLIC video game, is in a much hazier state, so this may still apply.

DeathQuaker wrote:
As long as they don't abandon the 3rd person view entirely (I don't believe they are)... if it ever becomes entirely 1st person I won't be able to play their games any more (I'm one of those people who gets sick playing first person games -- sadly it's one of those things that's getting worse with age rather than better, & it's not the kind of thing you can do repeatedly to "get used to it"--I used to be able to play some 1st person games when I was younger and can't now).

Have you tried adjusting the FOV of the games? In fact, I don't know if you could for 3 and NV, but modern games usually offer it as an option.

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Krensky wrote:
Oh, and Lucas is fine with it since he still has creative control of Star Wars.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Final release trailer.

The 1980s-esque synth soundtrack is ace.

What was up with the elves? I thought it was reasonably interesting:

The "elves" are us, and the actual "people" in the trilogy are our - apparently - stunted, post-apocalyptic descendants.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Red Eagle de-escalate the situation.

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

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

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

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

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

Book 11: A Civil Campaign


Gregor Vorbarra, Emperor of Barrayar, is due to wed Laisa, an heiress from the (reluctant) Imperial client-world of Komarr. For the Emperor's diminutive cousin Miles Vorkosigan, the great social event provides the perfect cover for his courtship of the Lady Ekaterin Vorsoisson. Unfortunately, events are complicated by the complicated love life of Miles's clone-brother Mark, two landmark legal disputes in the Barrayaran Court...and a whole ton of butter-producing bugs.

A Civil Campaign (subtitled A Comedy of Biology and Manners) was originally conceived by Lois McMaster Bujold as the second half of Komarr. However, she separated the two books out for reasons of length (A Civil Campaign is the longest novel in the series by itself) and also for tone. Komarr is a serious book but A Civil Campaign is a romantic comedy that at times descends into flat-out farce.

It's hard enough to carry off romance or comedy or science fiction by themselves, so for Bujold to tackle all three genres in the same novel suggests either cast-iron confidence or outright insanity. After completing the book, the key to its success seems to be a bit of both. A Civil Campaign is flat-out crazy, a dramatic change in tone from the rest of the series to date. For starters, the novel has five POV characters, which is unusual given that most books in the series have just one, Miles himself. This novel adds Mark, Ivan, Kareen Koudelka (Mark's own romantic interest) and Ekaterin to the mix. This makes for a busier and more tonally varied novel than any of the preceding ones. Even more interesting is how Bujold mixes up the POV storylines: the normally frivolous Ivan gets the serious, political stuff to deal with whilst the emotionally-scarred, PTSD-suffering Mark gets the farcical butter-bug storyline to handle. Expectations are subverted throughout with great skill.

Most intriguingly, this is a novel about adults, relationships and how damaged people can help (or hurt, if they are not careful) one another or choose their own paths through life. Through comedy, tragedy, horror and humour, Bujold builds up each of her POV characters (and numerous supporting ones) and deconstructs them in a manner that is impressive and enjoyable to read.

That said, a key subplot revolves around a disputed succession between a dead lord's daughter and nephew, with Barrayar's laws of male inheritance favouring his nephew...until his daughter gets a sex-change. The resulting legal maelstrom is the result of a collision between fantasy cliche and common sense (and Barrayar has always felt it had more in common with Westeros than an SF setting) and signals an impending transformation in the planet's social order. It's also - arguably - the novel's sole misstep, with Bujold uncharacteristically more interested in the legal and political ramifications rather than the character-based ones. That isn't to say that Donna/Dono isn't a fascinating character, but it feels like Bujold did not engage with the issues raised by the gender reassignment with as much as depth as she might have done.

There is some action in the book (a single shoot-out, which feels a bit incongruous given the tone of the novel, and a more farcical, Bugsy Malone-esque battle sequence involving tubs of bug-butter) but primarily A Civil Campaign (****½) is a comedy of manners, a grown-up romance and a great big coming-together of almost every major subplot and character in The Vorkosigan Saga to date. It's a terrific read and is available now as part of the Miles in Love omnibus (UK, USA).

Book 3: Half a War


Father Yarvi has brokered an unlikely peace between the formerly warring kingdoms of Gettland and Vansterland, bringing them together to stand against the forces of the High King. Still tremendously outnumbered, Yarvi is forced to rely on an untested young queen to help lead the way to victory and a last stand at the fortress of Bail's Point.

Half a War concludes the Shattered Sea trilogy by Joe Abercrombie, an experiment by the British author to write shorter novels aimed at a more general audience. How successful that experiment has been is quite debatable - the tone and feeling of the trilogy is really not far removed from his First Law universe novels - but it's certainly resulted in the impressive delivering of three very decent novels in less than eighteen months.

As with the previous book, Half a War revolves around three main POV characters: Skara, the young and untested queen of Throvenland; Raith, the bloodthirsty Vansterland warrior made into Skara's reluctant bodyguard; and Koll, the woodcarver turned minister-in-training who finds himself increasingly serving as Yarvi's conscience as Yarvi is forced into more and more desperate acts to try to save his people. Previous POV characters become secondary characters in this novel, which is both clever (showing how others see them) and frustrating, particularly when they don't all survive.

This is a war story, with the great fortress of Bail's Point changing hands as the fortunes of the conflict ebb and flow. Abercrombie has done big war stories and battle narratives before and does a good job of depicting the conflict here, helped by a map of Bail's Point. However, the limited POV structure means that a great deal of the details of the conflict are missing. This is effective in giving us a feel of the fog of war, with confusion and misinformation lurking everywhere, but it does occasionally make the conflict feel murkier than it should.

Abercrombie's razor-sharp characterisation is on top form here, with Skara developing believably into a ruler from humble beginnings and secondary characters like Blue Jenner and King Uthil getting outstanding and memorable moments. However, it's Father Yarvi who develops most fascinatingly in this novel. Yarvi's ruthlessness was on display in the second book, but in this one it pushes him into more and more dangerous decisions that even shock his allies. The development of Koll as his moral weathervane is nicely done; without Koll, it may be that Yarvi would have become another version of Bayaz from the First Law books (i.e. Unrepentant Amoral Bastard Gandalf). As it stands he comes pretty damn close, and it's likely any future Shattered Sea books will have to deal with the fallout from his actions.

Half a War (****) closes the Shattered Sea trilogy in style, with a war story that prioritises the characters over the action and ends well by not pulling a single punch.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

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

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

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

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

3 people marked this as a favorite.

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

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

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

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

That just happened.

4 people marked this as a favorite.

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.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

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.

Just completed X-WING ALLIANCE using the ALLIANCE UPGRADE mod, which updates all the ships and visuals and applies an automatic widescreen update (you have to fiddle with the controls to make sure the cut-scenes stay at original res, otherwise they get stretched out hugely).

Still an excellent game, probably the best in the series. I know TIE FIGHTER gets a lot of love, but it pulls its punches too much (it never makes you do anything really dubious, missing the point of the "playing the bad guy" approach) and it gets ridiculously over-powered later on. Games are generally supposed to get tougher, but in the later missions playing as the TIE Advanced, Defender or Missile Boat (or even just the regular gunboat) you might as well have God Mode on. Nothing can touch you. XWA does get tougher as it goes along and the final assault on the Death Star II is just preposterously difficult. Still doable with some good strategy though. I also find XWA has the best AI, the biggest battles and also requires some deft command strategy as well as doing things yourself solo. The only real oddity is that Star Destroyers seem a lot weaker in XWA. It really shouldn't be possible to destroy them almost at will in a beat up old freighter.

I should pick up REPUBLIC COMMANDO. I only ever played the demo and by all accounts it's a great game.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

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.

The fact it isn't as good as HEIR TO THE EMPIRE we could expect. They knocked it out of the park with that book in a way no-on expected at a time when STAR WARS was dead. The same circumstances are never going to happen again.

However, not being anywhere near as good as even THE TRUCE AT BAKURA?

Owch. Didn't see that coming.

The Expanse #3: Abaddon's Gate


A mysterious alien artifact - a gateway - has been constructed beyond Uranus's orbit. Its purpose is unknown. Representatives from Earth, Mars and the Belt are rushing to investigate, among them, reluctantly, Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante. The artifact holds the key to the future of the human race, an opportunity to spread mankind to the stars...but it is also a weapon that could incinerate the entire Solar system if it falls unto the wrong hands.

Abaddon's Gate is the third novel in The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey (aka Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), which is expected to run to nine novels (and "Will soon be a major television series"). This book picks up after the events of Caliban's War, although unfortunately some of the more notable characters from that book are missing. Instead, we have a number of new POV characters joining the returning figures of Holden and the Rocinante crew.

The book initially opens with the different factions racing to the gate with their own agendas and goals in mind. There's a murderous character plotting vengeance on Holden in a (not very convincing) way of getting him involved in the plot. There's tensions on the Belter command ship between the psychotic captain and his more reasonable executive officer and security chief. There's a religious-but-non-fanatical leader who couples pious morality with hard-headed practicality. And so on. It's all reasonable enough, until the crew arrive at the gate and pass through it into a strange sub-pocket of space where physical rules can be rewritten and an ancient intelligence uses the form of Detective Miller to speak to Holden.

At this point things take a turn for the bizarre and it feels like The Expanse is about to break out into a fully-blown hard SF novel. The "slow zone" of the gateway space feels like a nod to Vernor Vinge, and the limitations of slower-than-light travel when the laws of physics keep changing is the sort of thing that would earn an Alastair Reynolds nod of approval. It's all nicely set up for The Expanse to move away from its MOR space opera roots and turn into something more than explosions and gunfights.

Except that doesn't happen. The novel soon falls back into its comfort zone of explosions and gunfights, with the major characters all forced into choosing sides between the psychotic captain of the Belter command ship and his other senior crew. This would have more resonance if we'd had the mad captain set up a bit better, but he isn't. It just feels like he's there and mad and antagonistic because, well, the book wouldn't have any conflict without him.

The action set-pieces are generally well-handled, there's some very nice zero-gee combat scenes and Abraham and Franck don't let up on the pace until the last page. There is no denying that there's fun to be had here. But it also feels a bit shallow, and it reinforces the feeling that The Expanse is SF with the training wheels left on. Abaddon's Gate feels like it should have been allowed to make a turn into crazy hard SF weirdness, but instead it's shoehorned back into being an action story. A very nicely-done action story, but there is military SF around that does this stuff a lot better.

As it stands, Abaddon's Gate (***½) ends up being just another readable, fast-paced and entertaining instalment of a readable, fast-paced and entertaining series. Which is fine, but there is definitely the prospect here, between the authors' excellent worldbuilding and solid prose skills, of elevating things onto another level. Hopefully later instalments will deliver on the promise of the series, which is so far tantalising but unfulfilled. Abaddon's Gate is available now in the UK and USA.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Release date: 28 August 2015


Behind-the-scenes on THE EXPANSE.

This sells it much better than any of the trailers. Love that shot of New York City.


Even as a young teenager all those years ago I thought Sword of Shannara was terribly terrible. And when I unfortunately read the first Wheel of Time book I thought it was almost exactly like Sword of Shannara. Both were incredibly cheesy, color by numbers, trite and devoid of almost any creativity.

I don't think I got much further than the first book in either series.

Both get a lot better later on. WHEEL OF TIME in particular was a shame because Robert Jordan wanted to write a more autobiographical story about a war veteran who discovers much later in life that he's the "chosen one" and has to deal with that. Publishers convinced him that making everyone young and then a bit more LotR-like was a good idea. He rebelled against that massively after the first book and took a completely different path, fortunately.

Aranna wrote:
It may have been inspired by Lord of the Rings but it certainly isn't the same.

THE SWORD OF SHANNARA is a plot-by-plot, character-by-character knock-off of LORD OF THE RINGS. No-one, certainly not Terry Brooks himself, seriously argues with this and it is clearly the reason that SWORD is not being adapted.

The second book is reasonably different, which is why they've started with it, and they've played up the post-apocalyptic Earth setting (which is much more subtle in the books) to differentiate it from the usual fantasy cheese. I daresay they'll jump on the later books' leanings into proto-steampunk as well.

So to be fair, the complaint that SHANNARA starts off as a rip-off of LotR is completely accurate. However, the defence that it starts off that way but soon finds its own path is also accurate. The later books (or arguably just all of the books after SWORD) are certainly not ripped off from Tolkien or anyone. None of the books are very well written - Brooks is a cheesy, obvious writer a lot of the time - but there's certainly far worse fantasy around (some of it, like Goodkind and Paolini, already adapted for TV or film).

There are other reasons why they've chosen SHANNARA. It's one of the biggest-selling fantasy series of all time: only Middle-earth, Narnia, DISCWORLD, WHEEL OF TIME and A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE have sold more copies, and they're all tied up in rights disputes or have already been made. SHANNARA has sold roughly the same as Raymond E. Feist, David Eddings and R.A. Salvatore, so it's a big deal. It's also historically important, with SWORD being one of the first books to kick off the modern epic fantasy genre.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

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.

How much more is there in the books before we get into the unknown territory in which the producers will need to start relying on Martin's secret outline of the story's conclusion?

Arya: More or less caught up, save a couple of moments.

Bran: The books are a tiny bit further forward.
Jon: Caught up with the books.
Samwell: About a book behind, but I strongly suspect the show will skip most or all of his book story and may pick up with him much later.
Brienne/Pod/Stannis: Unknown, as their story is now totally different.
Jaime/Bronn: Also unknown, their story is totally different as well.
Theon: Almost caught up, but Theon's story is now going to be different due to Stannis's fate.
Yara/Iron Islands: Way, way behind the books. According to rumour, the Iron Islands plot from Books 4/5 will feature in Season 6 instead.
Daenerys: Caught up.
Tyrion: Appears to now be ahead of the books.
Cersei: Caught up.
Kevan/Pycelle: A little bit behind the books.

So. VII remake. I vaguely recall reading somewhere that Square said, way back when, that VII wouldn't get remade until another FF game outsold it. Has that finally happened or did they just change their minds?

No, they said they'd make it when they felt satisfied they could do it justice and a new FF game came out that was better. I suspect they'll claim this for FFXV (regardless of its actual reception).

DeathQuaker wrote:

They have kept the "Van Buren" trademark.

but it could not be a Fallout game. Bethesda's fully got the rights to that. So all this means is they can make a game called "Van Buren." Per the article, Chris Avellone might work with inXile on whatever it is they want to do with it.

He has also, sadly, left Obsidian but I'm not sure, other than him saying he might help with this, if this is necessarily directly related. There's no news I could find that said he left BECAUSE of this, and he had already helped out on other inXile games while still working for Obsidian. (That indeed is really sad news for Obsidian, however.) He could have left for inXile, certainly, but I can't imagine it would have been a better deal given it's a smaller company.

As for Van Buren, I am not sure what they would use the trademark FOR, given they do not have rights to Fallout, and Bethesda has not historically been inclined to share. Wasteland 3, maybe? That would be a weird turn of events/going full circle, given of course the whole reason Fallout exists is because back in the 90s, Interplay didn't have the rights to Wasteland anymore so when they wanted to make a sequel they ended up with Fallout instead.

Chris Avellone leaving for inXile does make some sense. Avellone is one of the best-regarded CRPG writers in the world, but Obsidian's development slate right now includes games where he is doing nothing (such as the new tank MMO) or playing second-fiddle to Josh Sawyer (on PILLARS OF ETERNITY and the forthcoming DLCs and sequel). I get the impression that Avellone and Sawyer get on and work well together, but Avellone would like to head a project for a change. And given that his solo-led projects (FALLOUT 2, PLANESCAPE: TORMENT and MASK OF THE BETRAYER) have gotten way more acclaim than the Sawyer-led ones (ICEWIND DALE 2 and NEVERWINTER NIGHTS 2 basic) or their collaborative ones (ALPHA PROTOCOL, NEW VEGAS and PoE), I can see his frustration.

inXile, on the other hand, are finishing off TORMENT: TIDES OF NUMENERA, are planning WASTELAND 3, are making BARD'S TALE IV and now have VAN BUREN in the planning stage, although I'm of the opinion they are more likely to fold VB into WASTELAND 3. Getting the VB licence I think was only important because of the core idea Avellone developed which he never got a chance to use, the idea of there being "other PC parties", controlled by the AI, going about their business in the world and you run into them and either collaborate or become enemies or rivals. No other game has really done that. With inXile I think Avellone might see more opportunities to do interesting stuff.

Either that or he's finally going to write some novels, as some people have wanted him to do for years. Avellone go-founded Obsidian and funded most of the start-up costs, so if the others have bought him out, he's likely set up for life.

Book 10: Komarr


Komarr, second world of the Barrayaran Empire, is slowly being terraformed over the course of centuries. Key to the terraforming effort is an orbiting soletta, a massive mirror which increases the amount of sunlight being directed onto the surface. When the soletta is damaged by a spacecraft collision, the future viability of the planet is put in jeopardy. Newly-anointed Imperial Adjudicator Miles Vorkosigan is sent to investigate whether this was an accident or deliberate sabotage.

Komarr is the first novel in the series to focus on Miles Vorkosigan in his new role as an Imperial Adjudicator. Bujold wanted to freshen things up by taking Miles away from his support network of thousands of loyal soldiers and a fleet of powerful starships and it's a move that could have been mishandled. The loss of most of Miles's supporting cast from the Dendarii Mercenaries (who only warrant cameo appearances and the occasional mention from now on) is a blow and it was initially unclear if Miles as a (mostly) solo investigator is a compelling enough idea to replace the military SF feel of the earlier novels.

Komarr lays those fears to rest. This a well-written, crisply-paced and masterfully characterised novel. Bujold develops a new POV character in the form of Ekaterin Vorsoisson, a young woman and mother married to a difficult husband involved in the terraforming project. Komarr has the reputation of being a "romance novel", with Ekaterin brought in as a serious love interest for Miles, whose relationships up until now have mostly been more like casual flings and friends-with-benefits arrangements. However, it would be a serious mistake to dismiss Komarr as a light or frivolous book because of this.

Instead, Komarr is a serious book about adult relationships, motivations and fulfilment, and it layers those themes into a thriller storyline involving betrayal, murder and intrigue. Bujold has said she enjoys writing about "grown-ups", and the romance in the novel is between two adults who have been through the wars (literally and figuratively) and find something in each other they like and respect, but have to overcome personal issues before they can turn that mutual attraction into something more tangible. It's an approach rooted in character that works effectively without overshadowing the SF thriller storyline, which has all the required twists and turns of a solid mystery before Miles and Ekaterin can resolve the problem.

Komarr (****) is a solid entry in The Vorkosigan Saga which sets the books on a new course and does so effectively. It is available now as part of the Miles in Love omnibus (UK, USA).

Release date: 8 September, which is pleasingly soon.

Either due to a change in actors or to a faulty memory on my part, I failed to recognize the armored perv that caught Arya's attention this episode. Someone on her List, presumably?

Ser Meryn Trant, one of the Kingsguard. Amongst his claims to fame were beating up Sansa on Joffrey's orders and killing Syrio Forel, Arya's sword-fighting teacher in Season 1 (which is why she's particularly keen to avenge him).

Overall XCOM 2 looks awesome. The only issue is that I would need a new computer for this (and Fallout 4).

I would say probably not. XCOM2 is using the original engine and doesn't look like it's been updated too far. Firaxis's attitude is that they don't see any reason to have hardcore, all-singing and all-dancing graphics and alienate half their player base, so the game will be playable on fairly old systems.

FALLOUT 4 is still using the Creation/GameBryo Engine. It's been updated a little bit with some fancier lighting, but that's about it from the look of it. If your system can handle SKYRIM with the settings fairly high, I suspect it can handle XCOM2 fine.

Three Dog can't be on the radio, because I killed him. Multiple times, even!

They could either simply say that it's pre-recorded stuff from before his death, or canonically rule that he's still alive. Or was rebuilt as an android. Or had a twin brother.

There is a precedent for this, as the previous games all had to rule on what actually happened in FO1 and 2 (which both had many multiple endings), and it'll be hard for them not to confirm whether the water purifier was used or not in FO3 in FO4. The location means that what happened in NV shouldn't be too much of an issue.

As I said upthread: Joystick. Keyboard and mouse is passable, gamepad is solid, but joystick (with HOTAS if possible) is where it's at.

The Sword of the North


The city-state of Dorminia has fallen to the forces of the Lady of Thelassa. Early celebrations at the fall of one tyrant become muted as it becomes clear that the people have merely swapped one yoke for another, to the fury of Eremul the Halfmage. Meanwhile, Davarus Cole labours in a prison camp and dreams of escape, whilst Brodar Kayne, the Sword of the North, must cross a thousand miles of wilderness to reach his homeland in the High Fangs.

The Sword of the North is the follow-up to The Grim Company, one of 2013's more interesting fantasy debuts. It's the middle volume of a trilogy in the Abercrombie mould, with hard and brutal events offset by occasional knowing nods and winks about the silliness of the genre (and the odd Skyrim reference).

On the negative side, it is definitely the middle book of a trilogy and falls prey to many of the classic problems of such a volume. The story doesn't really begin or end, instead just rotating the characters through a series of intermediary plot points, some of which feel vital to the overall story and others feel like they exist solely because they are expected to in a fantasy trilogy. Brodar Kayne's story involves a whole lot of walking, Eremul's involves a whole load of fairly unsatisfying politics and Davarus's involves a whole load of hanging out in a prison camp. As middle books of trilogies go, this is definitely one of the more standard.

The author, at least, recognises this and gives the book a more cohesive shape with the arrival of some new players, some substantial expansion of the backstory and a nice recurring flashback to Kayne's earlier life, which gives the novel a much-needed dramatic spine and sense of direction. There's nothing too excitingly original in these sections, but Scull's solid skills with action scenes and reasonable characterisation keep things ticking over nicely.

The Sword of the North (***½) is a reasonable successor to The Grim Company, although it lacks some of the more compelling storyline and character moments of the original novel. It sets things up nicely for the finale, but it suffers a bit too much from "middle book syndrome" to truly shine. But if you enjoyed The Grim Company, this follow-up should satisfy. The book is available now in the UK and USA.

The new POWERPLAY update in a few weeks will change mining. It adds drones which can recover minerals for you and better scanning options. It'll still be a niche activity, but at least it will be a bit more interesting than now. There will also be more varied missions with the greater focus on factions and sub-factions.

It wouldn't be impossible for them to do it themselves. The existing PILLARS OF ETERNITY worldbook created by Obsidian and published by Dark Horse is okay (if a little bit too deliberately "weirdly" written). The trick would be if they had the time/experience to do a P&P game proper justice.

Teaser trailer.

Not much, but it's nice to see the ships just flying through space. Their definition of the Warp is a bit too standard-FTL-glowy though.

There is a great ASoIaF/GAME OF THRONES mod for MEDIEVAL II: TOTAL WAR (the last game in the series that permitted total conversion mods), as well as the utterly brilliant THIRD AGE: TOTAL WAR (a LORD OF THE RINGS mod) which somehow did a lot of things the engine wasn't designed to do. WARHAMMER already has a great M2 mod (CALL OF WARHAMMER) and I believe CA has (unofficially) acknowledged it as an inspiration. Bizarrely, there's even a ZELDA mod for MEDIEVAL II which is apparently really good as well.

There was a WHEEL OF TIME mod in development for a few years for ROME I (!) and then MEDIEVAL II, but ultimately it was judged that it was too unsatisfying because they couldn't integrate the One Power and flying units like draghkar satisfactorily in the engine, so they avoided it.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

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.

1 to 50 of 1,986 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | next > last >>

©2002–2015 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.