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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.
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.
Perhaps Asians would be more interested if the novel and other categories included something by ASIANS (as in, from Asia...you know, that place which has Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, a whole slew of Sci Fi shows and cartoons that Americans have never...
Worldcon 2007 took place in Japan. It was by all accounts a lot of fun, lots of Japanese fans came along and there was some good stuff going on, but almost no Japanese writers or artists made it onto the ballot that year or afterwards and the con lost a ton of money. The lack of impact of Worldcon on Japan or vice versa is one reason why the proposed Beijing Worldcon has only ever gotten a lukewarm response.
There are some more non-American/European writers doing things and getting noticed, like Zen Cho (Malaysian), Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Thai, and very controversial herself), Ramez Naam (Egyptian, raised in the USA) and Ashok Banker (Indian), but the pool should be pushed a lot more in the US and other western markets, and there should be more translations available.
In the UK, "politically correct" was coined in the 1980s and used to refer to the policies and ideology of Thatcher's government: anti-union, anti-worker, pro-bankers, pro-big business. It was later conflated with the rampant corruption and collusion with business that blighted the end of the Conservative Party's two-decade rule of the country. Those on the right started using it to mock Blair and his right-on attitude and there's been an attempt (as in America) to use it to excuse various 'ist' behaviour.
I keep hearing that the combat is awful and your party members stand around doing nothing when they should be helping. Is this true?
No. In fact, the characters are pretty good at automatically engaging the next enemy once an enemy is killed, better than either the original BG games and certainly better than the recent DRAGON AGE ones.
Combat itself is pretty much the same as the Infinity Engine games, except that rather that using the D&D combat rounds, the game is fully in real time and 'turns' are limited by the characters' combat speeds, which vary depending on stats and the size and type of weapon they are using.
The title is GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN and the book is set after CRYOBURN. It will focus on Cordelia as the main character, for the first time since BARRAYAR.
2016 is also the 30th anniversary of the series (SHARDS OF HONOUR, THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE and ETHAN OF ATHOS were all published in 1986) and apparently there'll be some other stuff going on to celebrate it.
They are under an embargo, so it's hard to parse their thoughts so far:
I’m not able to tell you at this point if THE GAME IS REALLY GOOD or not. So you’ll just have to continue not knowing if IT’S DEFINITELY WORTH GETTING for a couple more days.
Divinity: Original sin and Wasteland 2 will not run on an old netbook, though...
WASTELAND 2 really should, its graphics are at least 10 years old. However, it's engine is not very well optimised. It's a bit ridiculous that the game causes my graphics card cooler fan to kick in to overdrive when far better-looking like games like FAR CRY 4 and SHADOWS OF MORDOR don't even cause it to break out in a sweat.
I was going to say that the best thing to do is wait until Thursday and get PILLARS OF ETERNITY. It sounds like the exact thing you've been looking for.
SWORD COAST LEGENDS is out at the end of the year. But in the meantime there's also DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN, SHADOWRUN RETURNS and its two sequel-ish successors (DRAGONFALL, out now, and HONG KONG, out later this year), not to mention WASTELAND 2.
* If you count Falling Free, which is set in the same universe centuries earlier but isn't part of the core saga.
ALIEN: RESURRECTION did do one thing right: the rewrites and mishandled direction annoyed Whedon so much that he decided to revisit the "misfit space pirates in space" concept five years later, resulting in the creation of FIREFLY. So that was one positive outcome :)
ALIEN 3 is a pretty good movie. It's just not a very good ALIENS movie, and was a step backwards when the franchise should have been looking for another way forwards. The "Aliens loose on Earth" concept seems solid, but I've never seen a real way for that story to go that doesn't descend into lots of shoot-outs and then nuking the planet.
Also, Ridley Scott was right when he said that the alien was no longer scary. It's too familiar a force now, we know how dangerous it is and how to kill it. That limits its potential for true horror, although you can still make a good war/suspense film with it.
I agree. One of the big problems with the gender stuff is that Rand, Mat and Perrin are presented as our primary protagonists when, looking at the whole series, it's actually Rand and Egwene who have the most cohesive and contrasting story arcs. In an adaptation, I'd make the story more about those two standing in for the gender stuff and put the other major characters (Mat, Perrin, Elayne, Nynaeve, Aviendha, Min) on a tier just below.
I'd also massively dial back the idea that the genders are at war with one another and show a much greater variety of relationships.
If a book you love is going to be made into a movie, get ready to be disappointed. That's just how it is. With very few exceptions.
This used to be more true than it is now. Things like LotR (but definitely not THE HOBBIT) and GAME OF THRONES show it can be done very well indeed.
I'm not sure about this, but I suspect that the series takes some inspiration from oriental cultures such as Buddhism and Chinese philosophy, so the theme of duality is very prevalent. For example, the symbol that represents the split source of power clearly resembles the Ying and Tang real world symbol. The duality of males and females is somehow related to that (I'm not deep enough in the series to know if it is ever explained or not).
The series is very heavily based on Buddhism and Chinese philosophy, with a massive dash of Hinduism and Japanese mythology as well.
Not so much "transgender" as reincarnated into a body of the other gender. The metaphysical implications are that a person's soul, not their body, determines their connection to saidar or saidin; also that the soul has a gender independent of the body, but in the normal course of things the gender of the body matches the gender of the soul.
Jordan was asked about this and he confirmed it was down to the soul. He was also asked about someone being born male in one life being reincarnated in the next as a woman and said it was something that might happen, but it was a complication he wasn't going to be looking at (IIRC). Fan speculation was that channellers would be much more likely to remain the same sex due to their very connection to the Power.
One of the biggest problems in the whole thing is gender reassignment. Whilst the 'now' of the series is a medieval society, the backstory is set in the Age of Legends, a far-future, post-scarcity SF society (which gets blown up through hubris, returning everyone to the dark ages). This society is far more advanced than our own so things like gender reassignment should be more prevalent than during our time, but it never comes up. They don't spend a huge amount of time on the Age of Legends sequences, but there was missed opportunity there to complicate things.
I very much doubt that the Source gauges access to the types of magic based on how a person dresses, feels, and behaves. So if someone in this story had a female gender, lived, dressed, and in all ways behaved as a woman, but had been born male-bodied, they would be completely unable to access the female type of magic. (Barring apparently the possibility that they have a "female soul"). That brings to mind the accusations transgender people face routinely of "not being real", but with the accusation coming from the universe itself.
Jordan definitely failed to address this point. It's worth noting that not everyone in the setting can use magic as a matter of choice: it's a simple genetic quirk whether you can use the Power or not, and less than 1% of the population even has the potential to use it (and something more like 0.1% are 'inborn', that is will develop the ability to use it whether they want to or not). So my guess that Jordan may have tried to have dodged the issue by saying it never came up.
But it's definitely been discussed many times over the years by fans, especially given the fact that Jordan did nod at the issue through the forced reincarnation of one character in another person's body (of a different sex).
Something that Jordan also left very under-developed is that there is a hint that the One Power is not actually initially a natural ability but the product of genetic engineering in our near future (the series as a whole is set thousands of years in our future, and events from our time period are occasionally mentioned as myths and legends). Exactly how that works is completely left up in the air.
Incidentally, I would recommened Mark Charan Newtorn's four-volume LEGENDS OF THE RED SUN epic fantasy series which has a trans character in the third and fourth volumes that has been received very well.
It's quite possible it works that way in the series. It just doesn't come up because Jordan never brings up trans people - other than the one forcibly reincarnated into a body of the other sex. Which isn't quite the same situation.
There is a fair bit of discussion of other gender roles: Birgitte being a soldier and the later development of a female mercenary force, whilst the Aiel, Seanchan and Sea Folk all have considerably less (or none at all) restrictions on the roles women can pursue in their societies. In fact, the fact that only women can use magic does skew gender roles in the traditional medieval/Renaissance setting away from the norms. That's something Jordan does handle quite well.
What is interesting is that Jordan was very much a feminist (or feminist ally) in his own eyes, but that was from the POV of a middle-aged guy raised in the American South in the 1950s. He was probably seen as a progressive liberal by his contemporaries, but by other standards he did see things through a more traditional lens. Charitably you can say he was trying to present a revisionist take on epic fantasy where women are equal - or even superior in some respects - in society and he occasionally got it right, occasionally got it wrong. Definitely the early books suffer from the juvenile, junior school view of the sexes in constant opposition.
I think the story and concept is very strong, though. In fact, a TV show could improve upon it by having both male and female writers to show a more balanced perspective. And it would be interesting to see if they could bring more complications to the table.
They've done a lot of mobile games, so not much to judge on.
I'm interested that the lead director of DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS (who jumped ship in protest at the direction of DA2) and someone who worked on BioWare during the heyday of their classic era is at the helm for this game. That should be promising. Combat looks solid, graphics look pretty good since I'm guessing this isn't a high-budget project (the projected budget price backs that up) and it looks like a modern BALDUR'S GATE. Clearly inspired by recent KS successes like DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN and PILLARS OF ETERNITY.
I wouldn't expect too much from the game, it looks like it was made under a limited timescale and budget, but I'll certainly check it out. A new, proper, PC-only D&D game set in the Forgotten Realms and with some reasonable talent behind it shouldn't be sniffed at. I'm actually impressed they managed to restrain themselves from calling it BALDUR'S GATE 3 just to get more sales in.
Red Eagle's ability to operate as a legal company was suspended in August 2014, allegedly for tax issues in California. No-one's found any evidence that this status has changed recently, meaning they cannot legally sue anyone because they effectively do not exist. I guess that also means they can't have made this production and that the film rights have reverted automatically to the Jordan Estate.
I'm assuming that this actually isn't the case, otherwise the people behind Red Eagle are very daft indeed.
In addition, the actress who played Ilyena in the episode is Billy Zane's girlfriend, model Candice Neill. Either he's a huge fan of the books or he saw the potential in this going to series and decided to get on the action for the chance of an ongoing role or producer's pay-off later on.
That was Book 10. Even Robert Jordan, who was completely immune to criticism, later said it was 'misjudged', which was the closest he ever got to self-realisation.
To be fair, Book 11, which he wrote alone, was a huge return to form. Books 12-14 were excellent and did wrap almost everything up very well.
Anyway, new developments! Red Eagle are suing Robert Jordan's widow because, hey, there's a couple of fans they haven't alienated yet.
1) Red Eagle made a ton of money on the deal. They bought the rights for $600K and sold them for at least $1 million to Universal (potentially as high as $9.9 million, but that's improbable).
2) The initial purchase was for The Eye of the World by itself. Presumably the later one was for the full series. If so, Robert Jordan got some bad advice as that was peanuts to pay for a series that had sold 40 million copies by that point. If not, Red Eagle can't adapt the whole series (and won't have made that any more likely due to their behaviour this week). This would go some way to explaining why no adaptation of the biggest non-adapted fantasy series on the planet has gotten off the ground whilst far less successful works are getting picked up all over the place.
3) The same studio that made Breaking Bad was interested in a deal, and may still be. That's pretty big news.
The outcome of the initial legal clash between Hasbro and Sweetpea (backed by Universal and Warner Brothers, respectively) was inconclusive. Both sides employed sharp lawyers, arguing that Courney Solomon has had twenty years to turn D&D into a movie franchise and failed and that Hasbro now deserves the rights 'back' (slightly inaccurately, as the movie rights were sold long before Hasbro bought WotC, or indeed before TSR was absorbed into WotC), whilst Solomon's lawyers pointed out they have a script in development with WB as a 'tentpole' project right now. The judge seemed rather annoyed by the whole thing and asked both sides to settle out of court, but that's not happened.
Both Universal and WB can see the big franchise potential here: a franchise that can generate not just big character films like the DC and Marvel things, but a whole universe where you can dramatically switch genres between films. Neither side are going to give up that potential - however remote of actually being successful - easily.
Relax people. It was made for the same reasons (and apparently on the same budget) as the gleefully bad fantastic four movie: to keep the rights and nothing more.
Apparently it was a bit of a fail in that area as well. This was made internally by Red Eagle and aired in an infomercial spot on FXX. They paid FXX a substantial sum of money to show it.
On that basis, this doesn't fulfil the terms of the contract, which required an external studio/producer to fund the series and get it greenlit. Red Eagle doesn't have a legal leg to stand on.
A Japanese company offered Robert Jordan a reasonable sum of money in the early 2000s to make an anime based on the books. However, they only wanted the rights to the first 3 and to turn the battle at the Stone of Tear into the Last Battle and end the story there. Jordan said no. Interest in an animated series ended at that point.
Later on, the money floating around the Universal deal got into seven figures. At that level, the chances of animation being the way forward go out the window. It simply won't make the return necessary.
My take on the sorry mess here. I've been following this story for a long, long time and there's a lot of different players involved. The major legal sticking point is that Red Eagle sold the film rights, with Harriet McDougal's approval, to Universal in 2008. The current project was not made under Universal's auspices and officially they couldn't re-sell the rights again without some sort of involvement from the Jordan Estate. That's likely going to be the sticking point that any possible legal action will hinge on.
Pretty good timing actually, as version 1.1 hits tomorrow. They've done seven minor updates since launch, but this is the first big one that has a load of graphical updates, some important stuff setting things up for later on (the addition of cities to planets, although you still can't land at them...yet), some rebalancing and a few new ships.
The game is playable with keyboard/mouse, certainly against NPCs, but if you're going to go up against other players I would recommend a HOTAS set-up. Gamepad will work in a pinch (the game's main designer actually uses a 360 pad, surprisingly) but I think a good stick set-up is the way to go. The Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS is cheap as dirt and very well made.
The starting difficulty could do with some tweaking. It's nowhere near as bad as EVE ONLINE, but the game doesn't do as great a job as it could of explaining things. However, the tutorials are reasonable, the downloadable manual is actually useful and YouTube pretty much covers everything else. The only thing that could do with an overhaul is trading, which is obtusely baffling, and happily version 1.1 is going some way to fixing that with a better galactic map and route-finding. That said, exploration and combat/bounty-hunting are viable alternatives to trading for making big money. Mining is terrible, but that's going to be fixed later.
Another good piece of advice is to keep an eye on the GalNet news and don't be afraid to fly over to a sector of space where stuff is actually going on. The starting area is cool with lots of interesting systems and some fun missions, but it's also a bit too stable. I took off to the Dulos system, which is in a civil war and is also located along the Federation/Imperial border (such as it is) with lots of intrigue. Today the system blew up in a series of full-scale combat engagements, leading to quite a few good missions.
At the moment I'd say the game is in a pretty good shape and will easily give out about 30-50 hours of solid gameplay before it starts to drag a little. The good news about the iterative releases (especially as it's free) is that if the game does get a little too staid you can play something, come back 2-3 months later and likely find things have changed a fair bit.
Martin's publisher merely said it wasn't on the schedule and people went ape for no reason. If the book was finished tomorrow (unlikely but not impossible), it would then go on the schedule and be out in 3 months, so it doesn't mean anything at all.
And yes, HBO now have a roadmap to the end to the series. GRRM sat down with the producers at his house over a year ago and they mapped out a path from the end of ASoS to the end of the series as a whole. He told them how it ends, what happens to the major characters, who lives and who dies, and they banged out an alternate which will in some respects mirror what happens in Books 4 and 5 (and later) and in others will go differently. According to the producers, there's no way they can tie this up in 6 seasons, but it can be done in either 7 or 8, and HBO seems to favour 7 at the moment. They can't do everything even in just the fourth and fifth books in seven seasons, so they're taking a different, more concise path.
Right now, it's looking like:
The ironborn/Euron/Victarion stuff is going to be cut down or even removed altogether. I suspect Balon lives longer and is succeeded by either Yara or Theon (after Yara rescues him) directly with no further complications relate dto Dany.
It also looks like the Oldtown subplot is going to be cut altogether. Word on the street is that Jaqen H'Ghar will meet Arya in Braavos and tutor her there. With no Jaqen in Oldtown, no casting for Sam's father and with it not looking Sam is going there either, that whole story is looking dead in the water at the moment.
It also looks like Quentyn, the Golden Company, and the Griffs are all gone as well.
On the basis, I think it's more likely that Tyrion (and Varys?) will go straight to Dany in Meereen and light a fire under her to get her back to Westeros in Season 6, possibly with Dorne simply supporting her from the get-go (I suspect Quentyn's death in the books will push Dorne into supporting the Golden Company, which will backfire badly and likely leave Dorne in a bad state when Dany does show up).
It also looks like Stoneheart is also gone, which leaves where Brienne and Pod's story goes next up in the air, along with Sansa and Littlefinger's.
OTOH, the stories of Jon, Stannis (with the addition of Davos), Cersei, Dany, the High Sparrow and his followers and so on are all going to go down at least somewhat similar to the books. The Dornish story is also going to be similar, but with Jaime on hand (so to speak) and the Sand Snakes and Ellaria standing in for Darkstar and Arianne.
Wild Cards would be problematic do to the sheer number of authors you'd have to negotiate with rights from as well as the copyright status of the work itself.
Nope, it's all covered. Martin was working in Hollywood at the time so made sure the series could be adapted if necessary. The WILD CARDS Consortium (which consists of all the 20-odd authors who have written stories) jointly owns the work and the copyrights, and Martin and I believe Melinda Snodgrass have controlling votes in the Consortium.
The main deal is that I think authors' characters can only be used by other authors with their permission. Zelazny gave that before he passed away so his characters can still show up.
The rights to the series have been bought before and are now with SyFy, who I think are only a few months away from losing them. If they go, I fully 100% expect HBO to make a play for them.
Fey'lya's poltical career was essentially built on him saying to anyone who argued with him, "Many Bothan spies died so I could sit my backside here, and I'm not budging".
Not the best bit of the series (that was Ganner Rhysode in TRAITOR) but still a reasonable end to a character who'd been really annoying for about a decade by that point.
a few good spots and an overall plot that was actually fairly decent were not in the end generally enough to counteract all of the bad writing it had.
Yeah, but a good plot and some cool scenes overcoming bad writing is pretty much what the entirety of STAR WARS is :) If superb prose and dialogue was a requirement to enjoying the franchise, the only things that people would like about it would be EMPIRE, KotOR II, maybe some of Zahn's stuff (although that's more good-pulp than actual good writing) and Matt Stover's TRAITOR, the finest piece of prose writing in the franchise. And of course, part of the NJO :)
There's actually an entire prequel-era novel - Greg Bear's ROGUE PLANET - which features information on this. It's not tremendously convincing, being a retcon, but the initial Vong scouting incursion was extremely limited and no-one believed the reports of some extragalactic fleet that was still decades away. For some reason Palpatine took it a bit more seriously and filed it away in his, "Things to look out for 60 years down the line" pile of things to do, firmly low-priority at that point.
The Republic military officer who was actually on hand for that limited encounter was, IIRC, Tarkin, which may explain why he was later able to convince the Emperor to go for the Death Star project. A couple of Death Stars running around when the Vong showed up would have made it a very different (and far shorter) conflict.
It depends on the model they are following. One suggestion I saw was that SyFy was treating this series more like a HBO model, where the whole series is written and filmed and the majority of post is done before they launch, allowing for a big marketing campaign and better writing and editing.
This is the most expensive series ever made, so it's certainly possible SyFy are doing something different with it. But yes, they could launch in the summer if they really decided to go for it.
Leads me to think the copy protection isn't what we'll have to worry about as it may be online only anyways (which is...basically...copy protection for these types of games).
The game will certainly have a singleplayer campaign. It's a TOTAL WAR-style affair with a turn-based campaign before shifting into a real-time battle mode.
Always online or not will be a different debate. Focus are usually not hugely restrictive on that, so I see no reason why it won't be playable in offline mode.
Honestly, this formula is getting old and tired. Why can't we see some of the other races of the universe? there are, like, a dozen, right?
Indeed, but I gather from sales of games based on the other races (particularly FIRE WARRIOR, which was Tau-focused) that the Imperium, Chaos, Eldar and Orks are the most reliably bankable. In addition, the game appears to be retelling the story of the 12th Black Crusade, aka the Gothic War, in which the Imperium and the forces of Chaos were in direct conflict with the Eldar and Orks getting involved on the fringes, so they are limited there by the source material.
Update: X-WING ALLIANCE, X-WING VS. TIE FIGHTER (including the essential BALANCE OF POWER expansion) and KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC II were released earlier this week. EMPIRE AT WAR (including FORCES OF CORRUPTION), ROGUE SQUADRON and SUPREMACY (aka REBELLION) were all released today.
JEDI KNIGHT: DARK FORCES II (probably including MYSTERIES OF THE SITH), STARFIGHTER and REPUBLIC COMMANDO will all be released on 27 January.
So very, very good games in there.
The game will feature the battle for the Gothic system. The Imperium will be defending against Ork, Chaos and Eldar invaders. The game will use a turn-based strategy mode where ships and fleets are built and deployed and a real-time combat mode where fighting takes place.
Captains and crew will have their own AI and grow and become more skilled, and ships can be upgraded. This will lead to situations where fleet commanders may choose to save ship crews (with escape pods) to fight another day and sacrifice the ship instead. On the other hand, badly-treated captains and crews may rebel or mutiny.
Captured/conquered planets in the system can also be cleansed through an exterminatus if necessary.
Sounds pretty promising at the moment.
but the idea that the Vong could get that much intelligence on the rest of the universe without anyone else finding out and moving to counter it is a bit much for me.
The Empire did get wind of the Vong, although not the size of their invasion force or their true objectives. It was enough for the Emperor to prepare contingency plans. Unfortunately, he didn't tell anyone (possibly apart from Vader) so those plans were lost when he died.
there was nothing in story to suggest that the protagonists could do anything but constantly retreat and hope for a miracle before the Vong took over the entire universe.
That's not quite what happened. The Vong had limited military forces. They only succeeded as much as they did because they made use of conquered/allied forces, used blitzkrieg tactics and used diplomacy to keep the Empire and the Hutts out of the war. Once that failed and the Empire and Hutts entered the fight, the Vong became both seriously outnumbered and out-resourced economically. There was also the fact that the Vong were counting on a knockout blow. The heavily centralised Empire half-collapsed when the Emperor was killed and most of the reset followed when Coruscant fell and then Thrawn died. The New Republic, OTOH, was much more decentralised and Coruscant's capture did not have the same impact on the organisation, which the Vong were not expecting.
Ironically, the Vong's major advantage - their invulnerability to the Force - was completely useless because the number of Jedi and other Force-users around opposed to them was so tiny that it mostly fell back on traditional fighting, and in that arena the Vong's lack of numbers was always going to result in their defeat.
There's nothing to get excited or invested in because any solution was obviously going to come out of nowhere and when it did, the invasion would be over in the course of a single book (or at best, a half way decent trilogy) and the rest of the books in the middle had virtually no impact on the storyline whatsoever.
Again, that didn't really happen. STAR BY STAR, in the middle of the series when Coruscant fell, also showed the New Republic and their allies the way of fighting back. It was in that book that the Vong suffered a calamitous defeat and the Republic discovered that the Vong had lost over a third of their forces just getting to Coruscant, and then a hideous number more taking the planet. For much of the second half of the series the Vong are stalled because of their lack of numbers, allowing the new Galactic Federation to gain the initiative and then win. By the final couple of books, it's clear that the Vong are doomed, and Zonama Sekot showing up and convincing them to surrender simply prevents a final Gotterdamerung annihilation of the species (oddly similar to the Dominion's final defeat in DS9, actually).