Tags: Books, fantasy, Guild Wars 2, MMO, mmorpg
I have not spoken of the upcoming 3rd Guild Wars 2 novel since May of last year. At that point the publication date, a placeholder, was set in February. Since then the placeholder date had moved to August, and at this point Simon & Schuster is listing July as a target, while Amazon lists June 25th. Okay. Not frustrating at all.
Now I haven’t been paying buttloads of attention to the book news for the past few months, other things have been going on, but when I dropped by the books page on Amazon/S&S I noticed the synopsis was available.
The lost kingdom of Orr lies beneath the ocean waves, an entire civilization swallowed by an ancient cataclysm. For centuries, the depths have lain dormant, those ancient secrets lost. Until now. The Elder Dragon Zhaitan has risen. In its wake, the drowned kingdom of Orr is reborn—and another destroyed. The city of Lion’s Arch, for generations a cornerstone of civilization in Tyria, is brutally swept beneath the waves, leaving nothing but ruins. Among the survivors is Cobiah Marriner, a human sailor shipwrecked by the tsunami and stranded at sea. When he is rescued by a ferocious charr, Cobiah knows that he’s been plunged into a world forever changed. Now, Zhaitan’s undead servants dominate the sea, destroying port after port and slaughtering anything in their path. In the midst of ruin, Cobiah vows to see Lion’s Arch rebuilt. Amid the storm of the dragon’s rising, Cobiah must become a hero to his crew and an admiral to the pirate fleet, and face the ghosts of his past. Only then will he master the Sea of Sorrows and crush the armada of Orr.
I suppose there isn’t a whole lot of new information here aside from the identity of our hero. We already know he was the man to unite the pirates and rebuild Lion’s Arch. You can find a couple references to Cobiah in game, his grandson is a commodore in Lion’s Arch in fact.
Aside from that the atmosphere is being set and it should make for quite the book. I can’t wait to live blog it. Yes, I am doing that again. I know it’s pointless. I know nobody gives a crap. Consider it liveblogged!
Tags: fantasy, Guild Wars 2, lore, MMO, mmorpg
Ree Soesbee and Jeff Grubb did a live broadcast on Twitch.tv earlier today. They’re Arenanet’s lore scribes, the demi-gods of continuity.
I didn’t know what to expect when I tuned in but I was treated to a rather in depth discussion of Guild Wars 2 lore, where the game fits in to the fantasy genre, influences, perspectives and all kinds of cool junk.
Anyway I would have loved to have embedded the clip but some types of players don’t work with wordpress.
Tags: Books, fantasy, Guild Wars 2, star wars
I’ve read a lot of Star Wars novels in my time. You might call me a bit of a fan. So when I heard Guild Wars 2 writer and designer Jeff Grubb was authoring a Star Wars novel I immediately looked forward to it. He’s a well known fantasy author in his own right with a long history in the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms universes, so I was interested to see what he could do with Scourge.
I wasn’t disappointed. Scourge is a solid novel well written with likable characters. There’s a fair amount of humour and mystery. It delves into areas of the Star Wars universe that are often mentioned but rarely visited.
Mander Zuma’s former apprentice is murdered and while searching for a reason why, he’s pulled into the depths of the seedy underworld crossroads between Hutt space and the corporate sector.
Star Wars novels are typically very adventure based. There may be some element of mystery but the emphasis is on swashbuckling and battles. Duels can take the form of dogfighting starfighters and epic battles are complicated naval exercises. You’ll see a lot of novels that are fantasy adventures, spy thrillers, and military action and little else.
That’s where this novel comes in. I think it’s more of a crime noir. Certainly Grubb gets across that Mander isn’t much of the swashbuckling type. He’s not the best swordsman, and he spends most of his time as an archivist. He’s wracked with guilt about the death of his student, driven to know where his student failed and by proxy where he himself failed.
Any nerd can identify with a protagonist who is less an action hero and more a librarian and that makes Mander unique. It leaves me wondering why there aren’t more characters like him.
The mystery is well enough plotted out but there are a few places where I think Grubb telegraphs the eventual villain to the reader. People are presented as suspects but Grubb spends either too little time with them or doesn’t build up their possible motives. In one case in particular he downplays their possible motives and I think he virtually eliminates them as a suspect, which is a mistake.
And a couple of loopholes are left after the book closes out. The very basis for the book, the apprentice’s death, is never really explained to my satisfaction. Why he was set up is easy to understand, but how he let himself be lulled into such a position in the first place, not easy to understand at all.
Overall it’s a fun read. I thought it was superior in style to the Corscandti Nights series of Star Wars books, the other attempt at crime noir in the Star Wars universe. I may have figured out mystery long before the end but I was still compelled to continue reading and see how it all turned out. That’s definitely a good sign in my opinion.
Tags: fantasy, Guild Wars 2, MMO, mmorpg
I am by no means a lore expert or the first person to see a race of people in the Guild Wars 2 beta called the Largos. But I did happen by an event in Snowden Drifts that involved one and I’m intrigued.
They have (it looks like) wings, are bent on deadly challenges, and disappear without a trace.
This is the only screenshot I was able to take at “The Kodan Claw” event. A “Largos Assassin” is trying to assassinate the military leader of the kodan village. From the dialogue it seems he’s doing it merely for the challenge. Upon helping the Claw and defeating the Largos, it curled itself up into a vortex and blipped seemingly out of existence. An ability I’m assuming is attributed to stealth, but I suppose I can’t rule out some form of teleport.
What intrigues me about the Largos is essentially that it’s an entirely new race. One we’ve heard nothing about officially. The only information we have comes from that one event in Snowden and a few NPCs commenting about largos nearby.
They actually kind of remind me of sylvari somehow, but seeing one up close you can see hair, knife-ears, and armour that doesn’t appear to be plant based. Initially the wings seem insectile, butterfly like. But somehow I don’t think that will be the case. It rings too much of fairies and elves.
A very enticing mystery for lore fans.
Here is the wiki page, which has little more to offer than the superior screenshot below.
Tags: Books, fantasy, Guild Wars 2, MMO, mmorpg
This post is going to be so short it may as well have been tweeted. I was curious as to whether the release date of Sea of Sorrows had changed and went to Simon & Schuster, which own the small publisher that put out Edge of Destiny and Ghosts of Ascalon and couldn’t find anything.
I found the link in the last post I wrote about ‘Sorrows’ and it leads nowhere.
I don’t draw any conclusions from that though since if you’re going to push the release date back to February 1st, 2013, you may as well stop listing it for the time being.
I wonder what’s going on with that.
Tags: fantasy, Guild Wars 2, MMO, mmorpg
In case you missed it a while back, Simon & Schuster had begun listing Ree Soesbee’s Sea of Sorrows, the next book in the Guild Wars 2 novel trilogy.
There has been talk here and there about the book, but aside from a speculative post, I’ve never talked about it.
At one point Steven Savile was pegged to write it, and the story was to involve The Inquest and Elder Dragons. Somewhere along the line Arenanet changed it’s mind and Soesbee stepped in.
Someone emailed him about it, and this is what he replied:
“I was indeed contacted about 3 years ago now by Will McDermott at ArenaNet to write the third Guild Wars novel – it was meant to be called The Crucible of Eternity, but about 10 months ago Arena decided they wanted to go a different direction and instead wanted a ‘zombies and pirates’ novel.”
We have since found out from Ree Soesbee herself the book is very much about the sinking of Lion’s Arch and the rise of Orr.
Anyway, I also noticed that the placeholder date is now June 26th, moved from the previous date in March of 2012. Likely, though, that this is still a placeholder, because during gamescom the author also stated she was about half way done with the novel.
I’m sure it could be published by then but we’ll see.
Check out what she has to say about it in this video, towards the end.
Tags: Elder Scrolls, fantasy, games, rpg, video game
It’s the little things in Skyrim that make it special. That make all Bathesda type games sepcial. They’ve created the illusion of their own functioning world, and all the hiccups that come with that.
I was sneaking around a tower of a keep. This keep stretched from one tower to another across a river for no discernible reason. I had lured the guards away, killed them outside the range of their friends and snuck inside. Immediately I found a chest, and crouched my way over to open it. Opening it set off a trap I hadn’t noticed but because I was hunched over, the falling mace swung over my head and into the wall. I was surprised but unharmed.
And that’s exactly the type of thing I love to find in Skyrim.
Another example might be what I found while wandering around in the wilderness. I was somewhere near Swindler’s Den, due south, and lovingly lost when I came across some rocks sticking out of the ground. These weren’t on my map, but looked to be a ruin of some type. I approached and discovered a mini-puzzle. A small well-like structure with a gate over it was protecting a treasure chest. Nearby 3 stones with 3 sides stood by, and a 4th stone with an activation device. Turn the stones so that they faced the right direction in the right combination and the gate would open. Fun.
Not a quest, not an important part of the game or even marked on the map. Just a fun thing to do.
I was reading my friend Heatha’s blog and noticed she seems to play the game in a similar manner. She leaves all the primary quests until the very end, taking great note of the books, and paying attention to the details. I too read a lot of the books, but not all, and discovered the same book she takes note of. A choose your own adventure style book. In Skyrim. Awesome.
Unlike Heatha I’ll do some of the main quests to get rolling and then stop midway. Already I’m reaping the benefits of this with learning a new and interesting shout. I’ve got 3 now and I’m still learning to use them in combat.
It’s the idiosyncrasies of the world Bathesda makes. I can discover a person in distress, tell them the way is clear to escape, and if I’m lying, or wrong, they’ll run off to their doom. I can loot their body after they’ve been killed or just murder them myself. Or I can leave them there or by the light of my own altruism truly clear the way for them allowing them to escape.
Skyrim. It’s what most MMOs want to be. An alive experience where anything can happen. I can kill a dragon one day and be taken out by a sabercat the next. It’s just too bad I can’t do this with friends.
Tags: Elder Scrolls, fantasy, games, rpg
I’ve been semi following the work of 38 studios for years now. The team of talent behind the copernicus project and Kingdoms of Amalur is impressive. Todd McFarlane, R.A. Salvatore, Ken Rolston of Elder Scrolls fame and others are working on an RPG and an MMO.
At first I salivated at that kind of lineup, but when the first trailers came out for KoA I kind of soured. I wasn’t particularly blown away. It was a let down and my interest definitely took a nose dive. It just looked like a low budget attempt at an RPG.
I still think it looks generic in some ways, if mostly beautiful. However I saw the two trailers released last week and the game slowly started to claw their way back up in estimation.
I don’t think it’s so much that anything has changed, but I’m starting to feel like I’m getting a handle on what the game is going for. My anticipation for the game hasn’t skyrocketed. Right now it’s at a steady even pace where I’m sure I’ll play the game but I’ll probably wait for a sale on steam.
The RPG comes out February 7th apparently. Far sooner than I expected. And hey, Claudia Black.
Tags: Concept Art, fantasy, Guild Wars 2, MMO, mmorpg
Guild Wars 2 Guru, the main forums that Arenanet pays attention to and sends their goons (:P) to intimidate, is kind of a mixed bag at times. You really have to sift through the place to find the threads that are gems.
One of those threads for quite some time now has been the GW2 art update thread. Dedicated contributors, monitoring various concept art websites, updating the thread whenever they come across Guild Wars 2 art.
And then I post about it.
Of course I haven’t since January I think, but now is a good time since there is quite a few new images.
For instance check out this pair of sylvari.
Very elegant, and the robes are suggestive of feathers. My first thought was mesmers, but perhaps, as someone suggested in the thread, they are Nightmare Court? Richard Anderson.
Daniel Dociu is one of the most well known concept artists in the business. Here’s one of his latest.
It would be hard to choose amongst Richard Anderson’s art. He has many stunning pieces. Some people prefer the golems above, but I prefer the downpour of arrows below. Tons of relatively new stuff at his website as well.
And then there is Levi Hopkins who I’ve also posted a lot of art from. The below image is titled Abandoned Ogre Again. Perhaps they weren’t satisfied with his first version, or perhaps he did more than one. In any case it seems to be a reference to the Jotun perhaps? We did hear that they had a civilization that has slowly died and made them more tribal.
Anyway, 3 great artists that work for Arenanet. Be sure to check out their sites for more eye candy.
Tags: Books, fantasy, Guild Wars 2, MMO, mmorpg
It must be particularly difficult to write something creative, innovative, and interesting while dogged on all sides by limitations, guidelines, and blocked paths. Nor would I want to follow a strong book like Ghosts of Ascalon. Surely writing in a universe that has been touched by many hands is much more difficult than creating your own.
Those who triumph while writing stories in the worlds of others must have tremendous ability to harness the ideas of others for their own use. After reading Edge Of Destiny, I feel as though I’ve learned a lot about what to do and what not to do.
Spoilers, of course. I mean that too. Huge spoilers, virtually the whole book spoiled. Don’t read if you don’t want spoilers.
One of the things I found I liked that King does immediately is dive into the lore, not stay away from it, not avoid it. I could have used more depth here and there but overall a good use of history. Guild Wars fans immediately know the strength and ferocity of the Destroyers. The sylvari conflict between dream and nightmare comes immediately into play. You get a sense of what sylvari are, their wonderment at the world, and yet their obvious non-humanity. That’s just in the prologue.
Where he integrates and utilizes the lore though, I find he ignores the development and creation of the characters. Eir gets the fairest treatment. Her soulful artistry is portrayed well and the frustration at seeing her people slowly worn down by an adversary they can not comprehend wears on her. The statues she created to glorify the men who go off to fight, only serve to torment her as a constant reminder. Especially the statue of her father.
It’s her drive alone that sets the stage for the story. Without her the two asura, Snaff and Zojja would continue on in their blissful little one note lives. Snaff the wiser than he seems asura, Zojja, the head strong apprentice who doesn’t appreciate her master as much as she should. A cliched dynamic, it does border on heart-warming at times. You can tell Zojja has some affection for her master and that Snaff knows how she truly feels and that she will miss him when he’s gone. However it’s touched upon too little to truly pull the heart strings.
Part of the problem is surely the large cast, of course. 6 sentient beings working in a team, 7 if you count Garm, and all of them have stories to tell. Not everything can be an original masterpiece, but at times I feel the story is simplistic. Perhaps I’m just too old and too experienced a reader to appreciate a straight up adventure.
Take for instance the first time we meet Logan and Rytlock. Logan causes an avalanche that crushes many charr, cuts off the main force from their objective, and a chase ensues. Rytlock and his men catch up with Logan and his, only to have the tables turned on them by a band of ogres who want them both dead. They must unite or die.
Sounds like a good adventure, but to me, it’s done to death. The phrase “oldest one in the book” certainly comes to mind. The banter between them makes the simplicity of the plot less grating, but I always felt throughout the book, that the barbs and wit could have used improvement.
“I suppose we have to kill each other now” Logan said.
“Yeah” Rytlock replied dully.
“You’re going to die like a dog.”
“I’m more like a cat” Rytlock pointed out.
Logan shook his head. “You can’t die like a cat. They have nine lives.”
Rytlock spread clawed arms. “That’s what it’s going to take!”
A new voice – a woman’s voice – broke in and said “You two have the strangest conversations.”
Couldn’t agree more Caithe. There are clever moments in the banter but when interspersed evenly with somewhat awkward conversation like that it, it sullies the rest. Far too stilted for my taste. Who says “you’re going to die like a dog” to a giant cat creature? Talk about leaving the door open.
Overall I didn’t mind the banter too much and things move fairly smoothly up until about halfway through the book when a few things started nagging at me.
For one, the vast majority of the book is fighting. It seems as though the novel is a number of fight sequences interrupted by short and composed entirely of exposition instead of character building. Setting up the next fight instead of setting up emotional investment.
At the same time the arena fights are quite repetitive but when they finally end, they move into fighting dragon champions. Fight after fight after fight. Not a scene can pass without some mention of what they’ll be fighting next. This drags on for the entire middle of the book. There is deep lore and history in this universe and I’ve been sucked into a gladiatorial novel.
The ease with which they defeat their enemies at times is very disappointing. Their first match up against an undefeated team in the arena is a joke. I suppose I could be convinced that that’s the nature of arena combat. Quick, brutal assaults that end matches before they’ve begun. King never really makes the case for it in my mind. They’re just amazing warriors, no further details needed.
You could argue that Eir, Snaff, and Zojja lose out the first time to Jormag’s champion, and another notable loss at one point, but Primordus’ champion goes down with one arrow. Morgus Lethe is struck perhaps 3 or 4 times in total. It just seems like some of their enemies should have been more of a challenge.
The final thing I had a large problem with were some of the relationships. While Garm and Eir are hardly explored but still interesting, and while Zojja and Snaff verge on having a touching relationship, I was confused by most of the other relationships. Why does Faolain poison Caithe only to release her later? What is so bad about Logan’s relationship with his brother that he much prefers Rytlock? Why in the name of Balthazar does Logan run to Jennah at the moment he does?
This last is truly excruciatingly painfully done. There is no justification. Their meetings and letters between them are stiff, and stilted. They make bold proclamations of how they care for one another without any tangible reason. I suppose it’s meant to reflect chivalry and courtly love, but it just comes off as awkward. Even if she has seen his whole life via her mesmer powers, and even if he just fell in love at first sight, it’s still unreasonable for him to run off when he is on the verge of defeating an elder dragon. My god. What an ass.
Another Dragon Champion lay slain at your feet. The Destroyer of Life and his thousand minions. Well done!
Yeah that’s how lovers congratulate each other. Right? Good job on that dragon dude, thanks a lot!
That said, what better reason for the guild to break. It sets the stage for Guild Wars 2 nicely. I expect I’ll have choice words when I finally run into Logan of course.
I’ve been pretty critical of the book but there are plenty of things to like as well. The final action sequences are well done, I couldn’t put the book down. I had been sort of waiting for Snaff to be killed off all along, so knowing it was coming in those last few pages had me on the edge of my seat.
I criticized the banter before but it saves the book in places as well. Rytlock and Logan are fine entertainment but add in Caithe’s plain spoken words and Rytlock, Logan and Caithe turn into the 3 stooges.
I really love Caithe too. She’s got the cat-like moves and reflexes, keen mind, a sense of wonderment. She doesn’t get as much time as I’d like but by the end of the book I empathize heavily with her. She loves someone she can’t save, her friends have cracked and gone their separate ways, she’s left to pick up the pieces (literally) and hope that one day she can fix things.
I completely understand Rytlock’s reaction to Logan’s behaviour. Nothing more to be said there. I just wish his loyalty to his other guild mates meant something more to him.
The world of Tyria is truly further fleshed out in Edge Of Destiny. It definitely gives the sense that this is not just a game world but a living breathing universe with it’s own characters, it’s own villains, things going on outside the periphery of the main characters. I think King is given a directive to accomplish a lot with this book. He has to build characters, build a team, build a legend and then break them up. All in one book. Hard to do by any standard. Overall much of the plot is predictable, the writing a little plain and repetitive, but the world itself is bigger than those two qualities and I think that shines through.