Dwarf Fortress new version out

After almost a year of full-time development, the new version is released.

Lots of stuff probably changed. The most notable new features are the multiple z-axis levels and variable environments.

I was a bit worried about the z-axis levels because they could mess too much an already complicated game, especially because it’s simply impossible to present intuitively “height” when you have an ASCII interface. But this new feature doesn’t seem too intrusive and once you figure out how it works you can navigate through it easily without feeling baffled. The new environments instead are *awesome*. Instead of having always the same default outdoor layout (and predictable gameplay development), this time the environments depend on where you pick the location for the settlement. So not always you have a cliff face, or a river. But then you also have increasing possibilities, like digging down. It’s much more a sandbox now. More freedom and variation. New powerful toys to figure out.

I’m still trying to relearn the whole thing, so I can’t comment much more.

Just two short tips:

Shift+< and Shift+> To move through z-axis levels

To dig down: (d)esignate a “downward stairway”, go down one level, (d)esignate an “upward stairway” and a dwarf will then appear in the lower level

Now if only I could figure out why I can’t use any seed on my farm plot…

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Pretty covers

If you never read Glen Cook’s Black Company, then wait another couple weeks.

When you become passionate about certain kinds of books you also get emotional about nice editions and covers.

In this case, a new omnibus edition of the first three books (the three best) is coming out (the 13 November) with a pretty cover:


ADDENDUM: I found a blog post about the artist. Name is Raymond Swanland.

A plea: can we have a new edition of the whole Malazan saga (Steven Erikson, 10 books) with covers done by the same artist? That would be absolutely awesome.

By the way, “Reaper’s Gale” US cover isn’t so bad if you look at it in its original format (browse around for some pretty dragons and a Warcraft’s blood elf). Imho he has a too “clean” style to fit well Erikson.

George Martin on “Song of Ice and Fire” delay

This is the most recent comment (23 October) I was able to find that Martin wrote about the delay of the fifth book in the series, probably the most awaited book in any fantasy series:

I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for writing A DANCE WITH DRAGONS.

I have, however, lost my enthusiasm for answering questions about it.

And I have REALLY lost my enthusiasm for people writing that I am “not a young man” and speculating about my possible death.

I am not working “only sporadically” on DANCE. But it’s not simple equation: x many hours does not necessarily produce X many pages. Oh, sure, some writers can do that. Not me.

For me, especially on this book, there’s a lot of rewriting (and restructuring) involved. I write a chapter, sometimes several, decide later it isn’t working, go back and rewrite and cut it all out.

These are aspects of the creative process that are NOT FOR PUBLIC VIEW. I am wrestling with my story, my characters, and my muse, and that’s one wrestling match you won’t see on Pay Per View.

Someday I will die, and I hope you’re right and it’s thirty years from now. When that happens, maybe my heirs will decide to publish a book of fragments and deleted chapters, and you’ll all get to read about Tyrion’s meeting with the Shrouded Lord. It’s a swell, spooky, evocative chapter, but you won’t read it in DANCE. It took me down a road I decided I did not want to travel, so I went back and ripped it out. So, unless I change my mind again, it’s going the way of the draft of LORD OF THE RINGS where Tolkien has Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin reach the Prancing Pony and meet… a weatherbeaten old hobbit ranger named “Trotter.”

And that’s about as much as I’m going to say on this subject. Which is probably too much. I guarantee you, I will now get a bunch of letters from those who want to read this deleted chapter. (No. Thank you, but no).

I’m working on it.

It will be done when it’s done. When it is, I’ll let you know.

Why isn’t that enough?

I posted it on Q23 and it spawned a discussion. This is my opinion:

I think the problem is the diversion, not that Martin can’t write anymore.

Let me make a lame example, take “Lost” third series when they went to tell the tale of two new castaways. The audience dropped sharply and the writers had to cut that plot entirely.

It’s not because that episode was written badly, it’s because it simply betrayed expectations. When you push a “main” plot, then leave it hanging while you go in a completely different direction, people will be pissed. Especially if a long wait (and anticipation building up) is involved.

People wait and wait for the book to come out, then they discover the plot didn’t budge, or was left hanging while it drifted into another direction/distraction. And it means another wait.

This doesn’t work in any media and pisses off people.

Take for example Marvel’s “House of M” crossover, or Glen Cook’s Black Company for something more in theme, or even the first book of Jordan’s WoT. The main plot is resolved within the novel, but before the end more seeds are planted that keep the story moving.

A reader gets both gratification out of the resolved plots and mysteries, and the curiosity and anticipation to keep going and wanting more.

But if you break those expectations, don’t move the plot onward, or delay it to introduce a completely different one while people were awaiting development of the first, well, the formula fails and readers betray you in the same way you betrayed their expectations.

The MAIN mistake, here, was made by the editor himself, who convinced Martin to split the book. If he had forced Martin to keep it as one book, and cut down the word count and superfluous storylines, AFFC could have been a worthy book, on par with the other three.

Of the whole series I’ve only read the first prologue. Still, my analysis is precise.

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This blog has been hijacked

I’m still wondering what to do with the site. No decision made, so everything will remain uncertain.

For a while I had an idea to open a different, smaller blog site, in my native language, to write about the fantasy books I’m reading. But it went nowhere and sat there.

For now I’ll reopen this site, probably updated sporadically, and when updated only about those fantasy books. So a new theme.

In the last couple of months I almost completely replaced my attention to MMOs with the attention to good ole fantasy book (and there’s a network of blogs comparable to MMOs). I tend to be obsessive with my passions. I quit reading fantasy for almost ten years. Now I’m back and in the meantime so many good things came out. I’m going to ate em all. CHOMP.

On F13 there was a pertinent discussion:

Johny Cee: I think a big issue, in the last 10 or 15 years, is the huge amount of chaff to wade through in fantasy publishing. The scifi chaff (Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.) has mostly died down. TSR/Wizards of the Coast continues to produce huge amounts of marginal quality work that floods the market, not to mention the look-alike books churned out for the same demographic and the former TSR authors who now churn out medoicre non-branded stuff (Salvatore, the Elminster douchebag).

There are shittons of great quality fantasy. It’s just marketed like shit, packaged like shit, and promoted like shit.

HRose: That’s why we have the internet ;)

I stopped reading fantasy for that reason. I couldn’t read through 500 books to find 5 great ones. That’s a problem with books in general because it’s hard to have a decent idea of what you are going to find.

The internet is the reason why I’m now back into fantasy. In about a month I gathered a wish list of quality stuff. I know what to expect and I’m sure that I’ll enjoy it. I can adjust my expectations quite well.

It works. There was a time when I read fantasy along with two other friends. Our entire knowledge was what we aggregated from our experiences, and the books we read were just those we saw in the library and picked randomly (because of a cover, or the name of a series, or the synopsis).

Today you don’t have to read *everything* if you want to find something worthy. The internet is incredibly useful when you need to prune an infinite list of books. Pick the best. There’s not enough time in the world to wade through crap and figure out by yourself it’s crap. While official reviewers aren’t trustable (same way of game reviews) there’s a big network of specialized blogs and forums where there are people who read just everything, for you, and help you avoid that crap and handpick the gems.

I gathered enough knowledge during this month that I can now talk pertinently and competently about some books without having read one line of them. (and I’ll demonstrate this shortly)

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