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About googoogjoob

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  • Birthday 01/20/1992

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  • Favorite Games
    Deus Ex, Anachronox, Machinarium, Geneforge, HoMM 3, Bus Driver
  1. Since my last post, I have read: All three Imperial Radch novels (very good) The Decameron (very filthy) A Specter is Haunting Texas (baffling) Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of the New Yorker (also good) Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War (good, but turned out to be much more about Chinese-Western relations and competing visions for the future of China than about the actual war, which was okay, but I kinda wanted more on the background and course of the rebellion)
  2. I would recommend skipping Geneforge 3 and playing 4-5. GF3 and Avernum 4 are kind of the nadir of the Spiderweb oeuvre (doing six games in five years, then pumping out two in one year, is not good news for the quality of those last two games). Starting with Geneforge 4, though, Jeff put a lot more effort into the writing of the games, and they're a lot more satisfying in terms of dramaturgy as a result: not that the prior Spiderweb games are poorly written by any means, but the games starting with GF4 have much more in the way of stuff like character development, foreshadowing, thematic patterning, etc. The characters in Geneforges 1-3 are generally prototypical representations of certain perspectives on Shaping, while in 4-5 they tend to be more complex and rounded. So, if emotional disconnect with the stories is a problem for you, you should definitely try em out. (Likewise, the characters in Avernums 1-4 are mostly entertaining but inconsequential eccentrics (X) or eager straight-faced questgivers (King Micah) or both (Erika), whereas in 5-6 there's a much greater attempt to develop them (mostly), and 6 in particular tries (with mixed success) to provide satisfying character arc conclusions for established characters (esp Solberg, X).) Avadon is very different from either Avernum or Geneforge, and, though it's written by the same man and is mechanically quite similar, plays out more like a modern Bioware RPG (eg, KOTOR, Dragon Age). I think it's totally possible to love Avernum or Geneforge and dislike Avadon, or vice versa: it's a really different kind of game- more being told what to do, less exploration, more emphasis on plotting your course through the interpersonal politics of the game world. If you didn't really feel connected to Avadon, then that's kind of it.
  3. We can hope. I'm not concerned that the game itself will be bad, of course. I don't think Spiderweb is actually capable of putting out a bad game at this point, given the level of experience Jeff has, and I don't think Spiderweb ever HAS put out a bad game. My concern is that cutting costs and using premade assets might harm the game's prospects. In that blog post Jeff talks about the "discoverability" problem devs have on storefronts like Steam, and it strikes me as ironic that he then talks about using Unity Asset Store stuff, which can only make his game less distinctive and memorable, because for any given asset you get from the Unity store, at least a dozen other games on Steam are gonna be using it. I dunno, it just gives me a creeping bad feeling... I have a friend who released a Unity game on Steam, with 100% original assets, backed by a decent-sized publisher (which had published other games that were hits on Steam), with sexy professional commissioned banner art... and it flopped, likely because it really still didn't stand out very much from the crowd.
  4. long, long sigh
  5. If Frederick Barbarossa was so superhuman how come he was too dumb to take off his armor before fording a minor river in Anatolia? Checkmate, Hohenstaufens
  6. Hot update: recently read: Three Moments of an Explosion by China Mieville: a very uneven collection of short stories. Too many of them lack endings and close on a striking but meaningless image. But when it's good, it's very good. This Census-Taker also by China Mieville: I am not entirely sure I understood this book. It's very short (a novella) and in uncharacteristically sparse prose for Mieville, but very slippery in terms of meaning (the narrator was a child at the time of the events recounted in the book, making him potentially unreliable) and context (the worldbuilding is only ever hinted at very barely). But it was very well-written and tense and unease-inducing, so I liked it. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard: a history of Rome (obviously) from its founding to AD 212, the point Beard identifies as the end of the first phase of the Roman Empire. Good, readable, easy to understand. Unusual for this kind of book in that it's really a social history; she's more interested in discussing the everyday lives and ideas of the ancient Romans than in recounting every war and battle in detail, or moralizing about decadent politicians and emperors. I like this, I like the aspect of history that illuminates the continuity of human experience over time and across the world. Now reading: The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien To read: Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 by Stephen Puleo (a dead-serious narrative history) (from the "Discussion Questions" section of the webpage: "What surprised you most about the story of the molasses flood?") A Specter is Haunting Texas by Fritz Leiber (which I originally wanted to read based exclusively on one of its covers) Still gotta read the Decameron... Important recent work by Ann Leckie
  7. Shrug. This is a debate about the relative importance of an addition to the game, rather than anything factual, and is inherently subjective, so "agree to disagree" etc etc. I wonder if, to people entirely new to the series, the Kyass stuff sticks out as obviously as it does to those more familiar with it. Most of the text in the re-remake is grandfathered in from the older versions, and most of the additions are relatively seamless, but I felt that the Kyass area and writing were pretty different, tonally and thematically, emphasizing its enclaved-off-ness. Maybe noticing this made it stand out in my experience of the game more strongly? I don't know.
  8. I, uh. I meant that you can actually kill Grah-Hoth without having Demonslayer, can't you? It's not a good idea, but it's doable. Reforging Demonslayer is a sidequest, killing Grah-Hoth is a main quest.
  9. What I mean is more like... generally, the games assume that the protagonists have done all the optional sidequests. Every Avernum after 1 assumes that the protagonists reforged Demonslayer and used it to slay Grah-Hoth. Every Avernum after 3 assumes that the protagonists purged the Tower of Magi and dealt with Linda. Whether or not a specific player on a specific playthrough does these things, they're canon insofar as the subsequent games assume them. So, although you don't have to interact with Kyass to win the game (I think? been a while since I played the new remake), "optionality" doesn't really have any bearing on the relevance of events or their importance to canon. Basically, I consider the Kyass stuff an important change in terms of narrative and thematic heft, rather than simply in gameplay terms.
  10. A character in one of the later games mentions having been posted to the Za-Khazi Run IIRC, though this doesn't necessarily mean that all the plot elements of that scenario (many of which are optional) are canon.
  11. I had a friend recommend me Locke Lamora, and I was gonna check it out, but then I discovered that it's the first book in a projected seven-book series, with the four thus-far-unpublished books already titled. And at the current rate, it'll be over a decade before the series is finished. And then there's already a planned sequel series, which also will be seven novels long. So, I didn't read it. I'm sure it's good, but I don't really want to get tangled into the marketing nightmare that is modern fantasy publishing.
  12. In the original A New Hope principal photography, Jabba appears as just a fat dude in a fur coat. They did in fact shoot the scene with Jabba talking to Han outside the Falcon, but did not include the scene in the final cut. 20 years later, they digitally composited a CGI Jabba the Hutt (that is, the big worm thing) into the existing footage, over the fur coat man, overdubbed some alien language stuff to replace the original English Jabba dialogue, and edited the resulting scene into the film. Basically, "Jabba the Hutt" was a name for some sort of crime lord that George Lucas had floating around, and 6 years on he re-applied the name to the giant worm man in Jedi. Then, they re-edited A New Hope to awkwardly insert some foreshadowing by making use of the convenient fact that this already-shot cut scene used the name "Jabba" for a creditor of Han's, despite the fact that this Jabba was just a guy in a coat. (Star Wars history lesson over.) Anyway, the result, as far as the moviegoing public is concerned, is that foreshadowing was awkwardly smooshed into the original film, complete with unconvincing, inappropriate CGI.
  13. The Kyass thing is optional, but then, so is slaying Grah-Hoth, theoretically... the first Avernum is the only one where the player characters aren't actually charged with any task or quest (at first anyway). I think it's a significant change in that it shows a sort of dark underbelly to the governance of Avernum that really isn't at all present in the earlier versions of the game. The changes in characterization don't really materially change the plot- essentially the same events take place in the same order etc- but they retroactively cast the plot of Avernum 2 (and part of the plot of 1) as a giant power-grab by Garzahd, whereas in the originals/first remakes, I don't recall anything implying that Garzahd was anything other than loyal to the throne, and acting in what he believed were the throne's best interests. (He was still horrible and evil, just in a different way.) I actually kind of wonder why this change was made... either somebody pointed out to Jeff that it was weird that this archmage guy didn't show up to protect the Emperor at the end of 1 (in reality, because he probably hadn't been invented at the time the first game was written), or he was altered in an a weird ham-handed attempt to put some foreshadowing in the first game (a la the Star Wars "special edition" rereleases adding Jabba the Hutt into A New Hope), or both. IIRC he makes some ominous foreshadow-y remarks at the end of the re-remake of 2, too. (Too bad the heroes of 1/2 apparently never got around to telling anyone about all this foreshadowing: Avernum would've been a lot better prepared for the events of 2/3 if they had.) Also: I really liked the hydras because 1) they were a unique thing in the river-descent sequence area, which helped give it a different flavor; 2) you could kill them for meat, which mattered a lot more before the re-remake; and 3) there was that one cave where you helped some friendly hydras fight off the despicable, abhorrent, nightmarish chitrachs, which was pretty unique and memorable, despite the relative scarcity of hydras in the rest of the game. The hellhounds/rockhounds (whatever they are) are a lot less interesting, tho maybe I just feel like this cause I've played all the other SW games, and have grown to loathe that big red dog sprite set almost as much as I hate the chitrach one. (Okay, well. It's a distant second, maybe tied with the weird headless buff monster thing, which I never could tell whether it had three or four legs. But still.)
  14. I'd argue that there are some fairly significant plot alterations in the first new remake: (spoilers I guess) the retconned characterizations of Garzahd and Hawthorne are pretty different, and the Kyass subplot casts the Kingdom of Avernum in a different light, in a way that isn't really displayed again until 5. The re-remake of 2 doesn't really change anything except swapping the lovable hydras for the irritating omnipresent hellhounds.
  15. Erika is incapable of breaking the curse, because if she could, the ending of Avernum 3 would be kind of boring. (If she's so smart how come she didn't bring like an umbrella or something to the fight?) (Also, it's possible, though very difficult, to finish the game without Erika's help, in which case I guess she just stays in one of her towers and sulks.) (Alternate timeline fanfic idea: this happens, then Erika dies of intense shame when Manfred becomes emperor.) (The weird disconnect between the plot logic/game mechanics and what's intended to be a big climactic emotional event might usefully be contrasted with Solberg's fate in Avernum 6, which, while not entirely perfect, feels a lot more satisfying in terms of character and plot, and is written better in general.)