Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Last weekend, in a living room not very far away...

So I got to play a bit of Star Wars: The Old Republic over the weekend. I'm a big fan of the original Knights of the Old Republic games so I had high hopes for this game even though my MMORPG experience is limited to a few months of DDO, a shambolic trial of the Lord of the Rings MMO and a stint as a Rodian droid builder on Star Wars Galaxies which saw me make nothing more complex than a mouse droid. What I got was a great RPG that was hamstrung by the MMO elements.

Even though I was among the first batch of weekend testers, by the time I logged on the UK server was full so I had to opt for an East Coast server - lag ahoy! Ever since the game was announced I'd had my heart playing on a Sith Inquisitor though at the last moment I opted against playing a true Sith and chose Zabrak as my species. I'm glad I did as this seemed to enrich the role-playing element as my character's backstory was now that of a freed slave who is vying to become the apprentice of a Dark Lord - though in the first big twist we discover that Lord Vash is in fact female. She's also slightly hot in a MILFy kind of way.

After grinding through the first couple of levels - killing slugs YAWN - the storyline starts to open up and in addition to the apprenticeship adventure thread, you start to become immersed in the politics of the Sith Academy and begin doing little favours for some of the other Dark Lords. I got pretty close to level 8 by the time the beta test closed but should have got a little further and that's where my first criticism of the game arises. Some of the quests open up too early and, with no suggested level flagging, means you can easily waste time trying to complete quests that are several levels beyond you. Some of the quests also require you to join a group to complete them and, while I understand that the overwhelming majority of people play these games to form questing groups, why can't they cater for miserable bastards like me who want access to the full story without having to rely on somebody else having a decent rig and stable broadband connection?

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the game were the many times I forgot I was playing a Star Wars game and thought I was playing a 40K game. And I don't just mean the shared tropes between Sith and Imperial inquisitors. One quest in particular had me thinking that the outcome would be summoning a Bloodthirster and some of the NPC names are shared with characters from Horus Heresy novels. Not a bad thing, just unexpected...

Regardless of any of the above, the game is worth its RRP for the intro movie alone. Better than a lot of full length, big budget movies I've seen this year.

Other than swinging my training saber over the weekend, I've broken ground on my super sekrit novella and have got further down the line with Shadow Captain, my SMB Raven Guard novella, and another super sekrit project, this time of an audio bent and featuring a cast made up entirely of dreadnoughts... As always, more details as I'm allowed to release them. I've also been playing a lot of Innistrad draft on MTGO and while I've yet to settle on a favourite archetype - both BR rush and UW control seem to get me 3-0 records - I did manage to kill an opponent during his own combat phase yesterday! Never underestimate the power of the Rage Thrower!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Yeah, yeah - another month goes by without me blogging. It was a pretty good month though.

Hive of the Dead launched and, despite a few hiccups it's been flying off the virtual shelf. I did my first signing in Warhammer World and I'm pleased to report that I ran out of dice which means I signed at least 21 copies. I'll be there again this Saturday, with a fresh supply of dice, as the warm-up act for Sarah Cawkwell who will be scribbling on copies of The Gildar Rift. I hear it's pretty good ;-)

Malediction was recorded along with a couple of other audio dramas and I handed in the first draft of Bloodspire - oooh, wonder what that's about... Super Sekrit Project has stalled but Project Dicky Bird and Mister Toad has been put on the front burner, which reminds me - must stop wasting time blogging and finish the synopsis.

But before I go, it would be remiss of me not to mention Innistrad. I went to the pre-release and have played a casual sealed luck tournament but I'm already in love with the set! I'm brewing a zombie deck at the moment (surprise, surprise) but not the flavour you might think. Put it this way, Trepanation Blade may be my favourite M:TG card ever printed. It's already wrecked opponents in sealed and I think with the right build, this could be a viable card in Standard. Guess I'll find out when the Innistrad Games Day rolls around.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

No, I haven't gone mad and started to think that December follows August, it's just that September is my favourite month of the year.

It always was my favourite month growing up as it meant going back to school (yes, I liked school - but I much preferred sixth form and uni) but it now has the extra razzle dazzle that it's my daughter's birth month too. This September is shaping up to be the best ever though.

The action kicks off on the 5th when Hive of the Dead is unleashed on the world. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about that in the coming weeks... There will be copies on sale at Games Day and I'll be doing a signing in Warhammer World on 10th September. I'm sure it'll be a case of '...and puppet show' as the mighty Graham McNeill will be signing copies of The Outcast Dead at the same time but anybody who buys one of the 20 copies of HotD on sale on the day will be rewarded with a small free gift that will aid you greatly in playing through the book.

As excited as I am by the release of my first gamebook there are other pop culture items I can't wait to get my hands on in September. A mere four days after Hive of the Dead is unleashed, there's a pretty big video game release, one that allows you to kill stuff with a variety of exotic weapons. That's right - Dead Island is coming out! And if that wasn't a good enough reason for me to invest in a PS3, hot on its heels comes the long-awaited blu-ray release of the greatest movie ever made. That's right, Point Break will finally be available in full HD glory. My movie insiders assure me that the only reason Bigelow won the Oscar for The Hurt Locker is to make up for the fact that she was criminally overlooked for Point Break. OK, so my movie insider works at my local Blockbuster but it makes perfect sense to me!

Later on in the month comes the release of the first set in the next Magic block - Innistrad - and as if it being horror themed wasn't enough to float my boat, the mechanics and cards spoiled so far have raised my anticipation levels to 11. As I said to the Boy Lyon earlier, the only way I could be more excited about this set is if they printed it on bacon!

It's not all shiny and bright in September though. I've been a DC fanboy for years, almost to the total exclusion of titles from other publishers, but, in an effort to reclaim market share from Marvel, their Distinguished Competition have seen fit to reboot their universe and restart all DCU titles with fresh first issues. Many see this as a jumping-on point but I see it as a jumping-off point. The reboot itself was bad enough but retconning the JSA so they weren't the first superhero team and taking Barbara Gordon out of the wheelchair WHILE STILL KEEPING THE KILLING JOKE AS PART OF THE CONTINUITY is at best insulting, at worst offensive. The most galling thing about it is that I've really enjoyed the Flashpoint series and associated mini-series but its legacy will be shaping the universe I've been so faithful to for so long into something I no longer feel comfortable with.

But, in the spirit of September being THE BEST month, what are you looking forward to this (next) month?

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

July update

Just a quicky as blog posting is apparently anathema to me.

Hive of the Dead is currently at the proofreading stage and, as the vast majority of feedback relates to the complexity of the rules, it now looks likely that the BL Gamebooks will come with both a basic and advanced set of rules. Proposals have been accepted for the third and fourth gamebooks and an announcement should be forthcoming shortly after HOTD's release.

In other news, I've just had my first audio drama accepted so you can all look forward to some aural Dark Angels - along with a special guest - goodness about a year from now. I've also made some progress on the 'other' project and it's now just a case of getting the plot that's bouncing around in my head onto the page. Don't expect any more info than that for a loooong time though...

And I may have settled on my Standard deck for Nationals. Really need to get in a lot of M12 drafting once it launches online which gives me the perfect excuse for not updating the blog for the next few weeks!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Quick look everybody - it's an update!

I shall pretend that it hasn't been over 18 months since I started this blog and then forgot about it and instead just get on with the business of telling you (yes, both of you) that Hive of the Dead is due for release this September as a web-exclusive product from blacklibrary.com - there may even be copies for sale at UK Games Day but don't quote me on that.

If you look a few inches above this line of text you'll notice a rather nifty new banner for this blog. It's by the rather talented Mr Karl Richardson who has also provided a series of etchings to accompany the text of Hive of the Dead (No, I have no idea why I slipped into faux-Victorian there either). Lone Wolves - the Warhammer 40K graphic novel he collaborated on with Dan Abnett - is coming back into print next year as another BL web-exclusive but in the meantime you'll find him making the pages of 2000AD a more exciting place to visit on a semi-regular basis.

In other news, I'm just putting the finishing touches to Warhammer 40K audio drama due for release sometime next year and I'm about to start writing a short piece of Cthulhu Mythos fiction that I'm pitching for a forthcoming small press anthology. I also have a super sekrit project that I'm doing some preliminary work on but that'll have to stay under wraps until nearer the time.

Oh, and I've qualified for the Magic: The Gathering UK Nationals for the first time in over 10 years. Which is nice.

See you in another 18 months, internets. Don't be a stranger.