Realise that I have been negligent of late, so here’s a little bundle of updates. The Ascendant Stars continues on its trajectory towards the supreme paperyness of transcendant bookhood! – ie, I just completed my side of the copy-edit stage, after which comes the reading of the proofs, which will come in the form of a stack of pages which I have to examine with my eagle eye. Then the book in its final form takes its place in the queue, with the publication still slated for early November. I am informed that Audible want to bring out the audiobook at the same time, and if all is right and sane with the cosmos the narrator shall once again be David Thorpe.
And earlier this week I received a copy of The Orphaned Worlds paperback and a note letting me know that TOW had gone into reprint. Brilliant! And while all this is going on I am working on the outline for the next BIG project, which is all a bit hush hush, just for now….shhh…
Music listened to recently includes Capricorn by Orchid, Call Of Avernus by Alunha, Rites At Dawn by Wobbler, Journey Through The Hidden Gardens by Disperse, The Final Frontier by Iron Maiden (I got my ticket, never fear!), and Lightning On The Strings, Thunder On The Mic by Gangstagrass. And as far as live gigs go, was off with buddy Graeme to see Rush at the SECC, and Devin Townsend at the Glasgow Garage. I’ve also satisfied my games craving in the last few weeks, with The Witcher 2 (great story, but the combat mechanics had been changed to what one commentator called a frantic twitch-a-thon, further distracted by the aggravating inclusion of on-screen button prompts, the kind of thing that ruined Jericho for me). Also played Bioshock 2, enjoyed it immensely (and the Minervas Den addon), Dead Space 2 (really great apart from the inclusion of an unkillable monster – what da hell?) and Singularity which was enjoyable to play with a good story and possibly the best multiple ending I have ever seen in a game.
Upcoming events include (ahem) the Maiden gig at the SECC, Hawklords in October, and Dweezil Zappa in Edinburgh in November, not long after the triumphant appearance of – The Ascendant Stars…of course.
Oh, and I’ll be down in London on June 21st for the New Worlds event at the British Library, along with me old mucker, Dave Wingrove. Should be a blast.
And as for politics – well, I wasn’t exactly a fan of Nick Clegg before; now I stand in awe of the sheer ruin that he’s visited upon the Libdems. How much longer can he stay as leader?
Slightly after the fact, having just picked up on it via my agents’ website, Zeno, this review at the NextRead site, saying some nice things -
Also, just to remind all of you good people that the competition to win a copy of the paperback of Seeds Of Earth will end tomorrow night at midnight. To get the hot poop on this dynamite giveaway (requiring only that you answer a straightforward question via the magic of Google!), scroll down this page, or click on this link -
Not only but also, I note that the sequel to one of the greatest vid games ever, Bioshock 2, will be released to a salivating public on February 9th, a Tuesday for some reason. Sadly, I will be unable to actually buy one for myself straight away since yours truly has a book to finish and a deadline to somehow meet. But I will be watching and waiting for the gamers of the world to make their judgement, well, that and waiting to see if the game needs patching once its out there in the wild. And even though Ken Levine (the man behind the original game) isn’t involved, the advance teasers etc look very intriguing. Of course, the premise and narrative thus far revealed bear no resemblance to the notions I came up with for the Bioshock sequel…which I might post here. In a few weeks. Maybe.
Oh yeah, and next time out I’m going to tell you a little about a personal, near-lifelong obsession with the band the Blue Oyster Cult.
(Music – Invisigoth; Politics – Mr Angry; Health – raging headcold, AKA Man-Flu!)
After my previous ramblings about Bioshock, another key aspect (of this game and First Person Shooters in general) came to mind, namely that involving characterisation, specifically that of the POV character him/herself. There`s a curious divergence here. On the one hand you have games like No-One Lives Forever, Far Cry, Jedi Knight, and Call Of Juarez, where it`s clear to the gameplayer that they are directing a definite character, shown through cut-scenes and/or dialogue. Jedi Knight had some terrific digitised footage cut-scenes and a great plot – it was the Star Wars movie that should have been; No-One Lives Forever 1’s player viewpoint was Cate Archer who had a strong character, same with Jack in Far Cry, while in Call Of Juarez you get to play 2 characters, Ray, a grizzled preacher and ex-gunfighter, and Billy, a half-Indian youth framed for a murder, and in the game the former is pursuing the latter!
Other games hardly attempt any characterisation at all. The Medal Of Honour and Call of Duty games place a lot of emphasis on the strength of the characters you fight alongside (although the POV characters have names and the mission intro screens usually have a page from a journal or diary written by that character). In Halflife and Halflife 2, Gordon Freeman is completely silent, likewise Jack in Bioshock. True, you do hear a brief monologue from Jack at the very start of the game, on the plane, but that seems to emphasise his Trappist-like reticence throughout the rest of the game. Basically, Gordon and Jack (and those MOH/COD heroes) come across as cyphers. More than once I found myself wishing that, rather than opening fire, I could walk up to one of Rapture’s denizens and ask a few questions. And I cast my mind back to graphic adventures and their extensive dialogue trees. Sure, I realise that the last thing a lot of Bioshock fans want is Bio-Morrow-Shock-Wind, but when it comes to Bioshock 2 I hope that the developers will attempt something a little different characterwise rather than reiterating B1.
Don`t get me wrong – I still think Bioshock is a brilliant game; these niggles stem from my own personal quest for The Perfect Game. To my mind TPG would allow you to shift between 1st and 3rd person with ease (I think of no more than a couple that have offered that), and would permit you to turn off/on or up/down certain aspects like storyline density. Where, for example, you could emphasise mystery and discovery methods rather than heavy gunplay, or vise versa, and this could apply to interaction and dialogue as well, varying between plain scripted speech and plentiful dialogue options. And a choice of different start locations or start conditions (as in MOH: Airborne) which would increase replayability.
Don`t ask for much, do I!
In the meantime, I’m pushing on with the 2nd Humanity’s Fire novel, The Orphaned Worlds, while keeping a weather-eye on the next crop of games, like STALKER: Clear Sky, which might be tasty.
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