If you’ve been following me on social media (and if you’re not, then how the heck did you get here?), you might have caught the initial announcement a couple of weeks ago: the audiobook rights to Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure have been acquired by Tantor Media. Even as I type this, they’re working on it for a late summer 2018 release! [Read more…]
This is just pretty frelling awesome, if you’ll pardon my saying so. I’m just a little bit excited here. Why? (Thank you, imaginary leading-question-person!) After having to keep this under my hat for months, it’s finally official: my comedic fantasy novel, Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure, has been optioned by 5×5 Media, Inc. with an eye to develop it into a TV series!!!(!)
I can’t tell you how good it feels to finally be able to TELL people his! It’s bee a while in coming, with lots of maybes, hypotheticals, and uncertainty. There were a lot of positive indications that something might be happening, but, at last, an actual, official option agreement was drawn up, reviewed, and signed! [Read more…]
It’s been almost a week since I got a Twin Peaks re-watch post up here. They’ll resume shortly. It’s just that since last Thursday I was busy selling books and communing with other geeks at the 40th annual Seattle sci-fi & fantasy con known as Norwescon! I had a great time, sold some books, hung out with fellow authors Tiffany Pitts, Camela Thompson, and Janine Southard, went to a few panels, and almost made it to the final round in a gigantic Cards Against Humanity tournament.
I also took a lot of pictures! While you wait for the next Twin Peaks post, please enjoy a slice of my experience, captured through my less-than-perfect phone camera!
— Michael G. Munz (@TheWriteMunz) April 13, 2017
I had a great time, but after 4 straight days of stepping out of my comfort zone and interacting with so many people, I came home Sunday evening and pretty much collapsed! 😀
Note that I’ve still got a few paperback copies of Zeus Is Dead and The New Aeneid Cycle. Want to buy an autographed copy? Let me know via the contact page!
I’m perhaps eight hours into Torment: Tides of Numenera, and I’m pleased to say it’s still feeling very much like Planescape: Torment. Let me count the ways…
So far, very little combat. That’s not to say that there haven’t been opportunities for combat, but I’m playing a cerebral, semi-persuasive type with only slightly more health than a wet paper bag, so my inclination is to find as many non-violent solutions as possible. Tides of Numenera has allowed me to talk my way through numerous confrontations–or at least given me the chance to do so. An encounter with some corrupted artificial intelligence drones in a long-buried technological enclave (which reminded me delightfully of some elements from A Memory in the Black and A Dragon at the Gate) wound up going sideways on me. I tried to talk and think my way through it, but those insane AI types are touchy folk, and I soon found myself in a running (though turn-based) fight through a technological labyrinth as I tried to reach three interface nodes that would let me turn off the drones that I hadn’t yet spell-blasted to pieces.
I was having a rough time of it until I realized something ToN lets you do that its predecessors (both P:T and Baldur’s Gate, for example) do not: I could interact with the environment to access some terminals during combat. It cost me an action to do it–and at one point I had a character at the right panel but she kept getting blasted away from it, able only to struggle back to it before her turn ended–but once I’d figured out that such a thing was possible, things gradually swung back my way again.
Non-standard NPCs make you view them less as walking skill-packs and more as actual characters. Even with Baldur’s Gate 2, arguably the best old-school, standard D&D computer RPG, I had a tendency to recruit people to my party based on what was needed. (“I’m playing a thief already, so I don’t really need Yoshi, I could take the druid but I’ve already got Jaheira AND Viconia, so they’ve got those spells covered…”) Planescape: Torment was somewhat different. (“I’ve got a walking skull that’s kind of a fighter/thief, but where’s a healer? I can’t find one until halfway into the game?? How’s this walking flame guy fit into things? I don’t really need him, but he’s interesting. …Wait, there’s a rogue Modron character?? I don’t care what he does, I want to talk to him!”)
Same thing here. I think the first two characters I met were spellcaster types (or nanos, since it’s the “significantly advanced technology” sort of magic here), which matched my own class, but I chose between them because of how much I trusted one over the other and booted the other out even though that meant just walking around with only one other NPC for a bit. Later I picked up a little girl that I found hiding in some rubble. She’s charming, and seems to be good at hiding, but I’m keeping her in the party because someone has to take care of her, not because she’s–so far–of any real use. And now I just ran into a glowing guy who seems a bit off his rocker. He’s providing some much-needed fighting ability to the party, but I’m tempted to tell him to take a hike because he honestly seems like a danger to himself and others, and he’s also a problematic person to have around due to a tendency toward borrowing things that don’t belong to him. On the other hand, he’s interesting.
Detailed lore for items, even if they’re not all that important. While only cosmetic, this one is still great to see. You’re walking in a world of amazing technologies, peoples, and concepts that itself is built upon billions of years of lost civilizations. The artifacts and oddities you find should back that up, and it’s heartening to see that things that in other games might simply be called “vendor junk” (items with no real use beyond being sold for money) have some actual lore to them. A lot of games nowadays don’t have this, and it’s sorely missed. It’s the difference between engaging the player and making exploration seem like just another exercise in gold-farming.
Adahn. Okay, so this is a minor one, but I ran into someone who knew my character as “Adahn,” the (fake?) name often used by The Nameless One from P:T. I confess, I laughed out loud when that happened. Add that to the fact that I’m playing someone walking around in a body previously used by a god before he got tired of it (and my consciousness apparently moved to fill it after), and the whole “you’ve done things you don’t remember” vibe from P:T is definitely there still.
There’s a lot more to tell, of course, but I’ll have to include that later. In some ways this game feels very much like an adventure game with regard to figuring out puzzles, speaking to people, and exploring. The world itself is fascinating with its far-future lore. It’s really a joy to explore. Note that I did not mean for that to rhyme. I also hope I’m expressing myself well enough because my brain is currently filled with mucus due to a cold I’m fighting, so forgive me if I sound like a blithering idiot here…
Missed my very first impressions of Tides of Numenera? Have a look here…
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you already know that Planescape: Torment–an incredible story-driven cRPG based on the Dungeons & Dragons Planescape setting, released in 1999 from Black Isle Studios–is among my top 5 PC games of all time. You can therefore imagine how interested I was to get my hands on its spiritual successor, Torment: Tides of Numenera. Funded via Kickstarter, and developed by some of the same folks involved with P:T, it’s not a direct sequel, nor is it even set in the Planescape setting. Nonetheless, from all of the press releases and previews, the game seemed to be cut from the same cloth in terms of artistic direction, general gameplay, and imagination. Today, Tides of Numenera was officially released, and I wasted no time getting my geeky hands on it. What follows are my very first impressions after about an hour of playing…
“But wait, Michael!” says the helpful hypothetical reader, “I haven’t played Planescape: Torment! Hang on one second and tell me just what kind of game this Tides of Numenera is supposed to be!”
The best way to describe it would be to quote ToN’s manual directly, since the game’s makers put in a lot of effort to sum up their game in a nice little quotable capsule (and even ask me to use that very description): Tides of Numenera is a single player, story-driven, sci-fi/fantasy game set on Earth, one billion years in the future. (The makers suggest I emphasized those last words for maximum effect, so, there ya go.) 🙂
Beyond that, I didn’t really know quite what to expect when I started playing. There was a story-related trailer released a little while back, but I intentionally avoided that one. I’d already been sold on the look and feel of the game, and some of the gameplay, so I wanted to come into ToN’s story as fresh as I could. I didn’t even know it was set on Earth until I’d read that description above.
You’re literally plunged into the game from the moment you begin, with your character coming to awareness as he or she plummets out of the stratosphere and smashes–eventually–into the Earth below. Character creation is dealt with hand in hand with a basic tutorial as you find yourself in a mysterious place filled with pools of dripping light, hexagonal stone structures that appear and disappear as you move, and spectral projections of beings that claim to be fragments of– Well, I won’t go into too many spoilers on that front. I can definitely say that the art design immediately succeeds in calling to mind P:T. As I explored, both via moving my character and via the rich descriptions and choices presented in the text box, that reminiscence grew even stronger. Soon I’d escaped the strange place I woke in, ran into a pair of mysterious companions (a man with moving tattoos on his forearms, and a woman that appears to be split into multiple versions of herself), and used a skill specific to my class to get a rather abusively passive-aggressive computer entity to divulge an item that may soon be useful (if it doesn’t kill me first).
One thing that differs a bit from P:T is that you choose at least part of your character’s path in the beginning. With P:T you were able–after playing a while–to switch your character between mage, fighter, and thief classes. With ToN, you choose your class (known in the game as a “type”), as well as an accompanying descriptor. So far the types (nano, glaive, and jack) seem equivalent to the three classes from P:T. The descriptors are a little different. There’s more of those, each with names like “wrathful,” “intelligent,” “clever,” and “mystical.” (There are more as well.) Each grants different bonuses and penalties. I’m playing a “mystical nano.” At some point in the game, I’ll also pick up a “focus,” which unlocks other unique abilities. Focuses, apparently, have names like “Breathes Shadow” or “Brandishes a Silver Tongue.” So perhaps I’ll eventually be a “mystical nano who slices the moon with a single look” or something. We’ll see.
Combat is turn-based, with each character having a movement and attack action to spend. I haven’t had much of a look at this yet. I’ll have to say more in a future blog entry as I progress. Bottom line, I’m enjoying exploring this world. The concept of being a castoff body of an immortal being is intriguing, and I want to know just what this thing called “The Sorrow” is that’s trying to kill me is. Plus my character can read NPCs’ surface thoughts due to a special ability, and that’s just fun to mess around with…
Want to help raise awareness about climate change and help the fight to stop it? Want to get some fun books in the bargain? Starting today, Friday, January 27th, and running through midnight on Friday, February 3rd, I will be donating any and all profits from my book sales to the Environmental Defense Fund.
Why? (Do you really have to ask?) While, as a rule, I don’t post political stuff on this blog–a rule I’m less strict about on my Twitter and Facebook–the fact that there’s a virulent climate change denier in charge of my country right now disturbs me beyond my capacity to articulate. Trump to continues to claim climate change is a hoax–deciding, somehow, that he knows better than the massively overwhelming scientific majority–and now works to ruin the EPA’s efforts to fight it or even to disseminate accepted scientific facts. I care about the planet we live on, about the millions (billions?) of people whose lives will be damaged or even destroyed by unchecked climate change, and about making sure we pass on a cleaner, brighter, healthier future to future generations rather than forcing them to suffer in a world we were too shortsighted, too selfish, or too stubborn to prevent.
Essentially, this kind of thing affects us all, and, as astrophysicist Katherine J. Mack tweeted…
Stating scientific facts about the atmosphere of our planet is not and must not be “politics.” Reality should not be a political stance.
— Katie Mack (@AstroKatie) January 24, 2017
So I guess you could say I’m still not really violating my political posting policy. Ya know, from a certain point of view. (Obi-Wan, working the “alternative facts.”)
I picked the Environmental Defense Fund because it’s a well-established charity with a high rating on CharityNavigator.org. They work on multiple levels via direct action, education, and government partnership, not just for climate change but for developing renewable resources like fishing and crops, and on other fronts as well. (See their website for more information there.)
So, as I said, if you purchase any of my books between now and Friday, February 3rd, I will donate all profits to the EDF. That means every single royalty dollar (and cent) I receive for those sales goes straight on to them.
Now, okay, I’m not anywhere near the highest-selling author in the world, or the U.S., or even my home state or city. (I think I probably sell more books than anyone on my city block, though! Woot?) I’m under no illusions that this will generate a massive donation surge for the EDF–though I’d love for you to prove me wrong, of course. So I’ve already made a donation of my own on top of this, and I plan to pledge a monthly donation out of my own pocket as well.
Below, for your convenience, are links to where you can get my books. Buy a book (via any means, it doesn’t have to be via these links) and you’ve made a donation at no extra cost to you (beyond the cost of the book itself, of course, in exchange for which you’re getting a book). Already have copies? Did you know you can give Kindle books as gifts now? And, of course, if you’d like to give directly to the EDF as well, go for it!
Update: It’s now Saturday, February 4th, so this promotion is over. Royalties for the past week only totaled $90, but I hope that means a lot of people donated directly to the EDF. To those of you who purchased during that time, thank you, and the funds have now been sent on to the EDF. I also plan to make monthly donations from my own pocket going forward.
Missed the promotion? You can still give to the Environmental Defense Fund directly!
Things are about wrapped up (though not quite) and we come to the all-important part of any epic quest story: the part where there is much celebrating, and everyone gets medals. In other words, it’s time for the twentieth chapter in Michael Reads Percy Jackson: The Last Olympian, a.k.a…