Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 08:49 on 23-10-2011, valse de la lune
If you need homosexuality to be represented in a video game in order to cope or "escape" as you said, you'd probably be better off getting some counseling irl. I don't want straight characters, I don't want gay characters. I just wanna kill boars and pwn noobs.

Voted no. 2-5% of the population doesn't have the right to force their lifestyles into everyone's faces in every single medium.

Urge to punch rising.
at 01:20 on 23-10-2011, Dan H
Before I go to bed (and possibly pursuant to any thoughts valse may have of renewing her WoW subscription, here is the MMO Champions forum on whether there should be gay lore characters.

The consensus. Obviously it is wrong to be a homophobe therefore sexuality should not matter, therefore there should UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES BY ANY REFERENCES TO HOMOSEXUALITY IN WARCRAFT EVER. Because it doesn't matter if you're gay, unless you're gay around me.
at 19:59 on 22-10-2011, Dan H
I've not played a great deal since Cata, and although I briefly raided on a lock in late Wrath I never really got to grips with the class.

Oh, but if you missed Cata you might not know that Soul Shards are gone, meaning you will actually have *bag space*. I PvPed a bit as Afflic and quite liked it, but in terms of actual endgame I've got no real idea. And everything's going to change in MoP anyway).

If it helps, the warlock tier set for Deathwing has TENTACLES COMING OUT OF ITS FACE. That alone could be worth the price of entry.
at 19:05 on 22-10-2011, valse de la lune
<3 <3 Shimmin

Glaive-glaive-guisarm-glaives sound overpowered though, incoming nerfbat.

Dan, I'm... somewhat tempted to renew my WoW sub, but I don't know what the state of game's like and what they've done to my class. Know anything about warlocks, by any chance?
at 18:37 on 22-10-2011, Shimmin
But Dan, I mean, it's not like they have a domestic computer game industry, so where else would they go to get a MMORPG fix?

In other news, Fantasy Westward Journey is releasing a new expansion for the Western market, set in sunny Ameurope. Consult mystic druids and witches, and sacrifice people in stone circles! Learn new mysterious weapons like the glaive-glaive-guisarme-glaive, zweihänder and shillelagh! Loot exotic gothic cathedrals, topple dolmens and burn breweries! Explore long-lost races and new distinctive classes: Bowler-wearing Bulldogman Businessmen, cigarette-smoking Grenouille Philosophers in their distinctive striped jerseys, or obese, gun-toting Hamburger Zealots! Industry experts express bafflement at the low subscription rate in Western markets.
at 17:09 on 22-10-2011, Dan H
I think I'm the only person here who still plays WoW, but folks might be interested to note that the new WoW expansion has just been announced and its Mists of Pandaria.

This isn't terribly interesting in itself, but what I'm amazed at is that a whole lot of people are (with absolute sincerity) complaining that this is an "obvious attempt to appeal to the Chinese market."

Because obviously, what Chinese people *really want* is a cartoonish, stereotypical portrayal of their country, with the words EXOTIC and MYSTERIOUS and MARTIAL ARTS emblazoned across it.
at 13:21 on 22-10-2011, Arthur B
I believe her boobs are romanceable too.

What, individually? What happens if you max out Lefty's loyalty meter but end up making Righty want to leave?

I don't know how I feel about Bioware's superambitious "let's make DA a massive multimedia franchise" bit. The most successful things of that sort I can think of are Star Wars, Star Trek, The Matrix, D&D and Warhams. All of those started out with a very successful core product and only later branched out. (Well, Lucas was famously eying the toy royalties from Star Wars from the get-go, but I imagine if the film flopped he wouldn't exactly have pushed the boat out on getting the toys into the market.) Bioware seem to have planned to have products on multiple different fronts from the get-go, but I never had the impression that the core product (the original game) was successful enough to sustain all the rest.
at 11:43 on 22-10-2011, Wardog
Apparently there's also a DLC that lets you team up with Felicia's boobs in Dragon Age II as well

I believe her boobs are romanceable too.

I am going to join in Valse on Team DO NOT WAAAAANT.
at 09:25 on 22-10-2011, Orion
Apparently there's also a DLC that lets you team up with Felicia's boobs in Dragon Age II as well. Truly we live in strange times.
at 06:15 on 22-10-2011, valse de la lune
My face is locked into a rictus of secondhand embarrassment and DO NOT WANT. This makes Assassin's Creed: Lineage look like an AAA blockbuster film populated by capable actors.
at 05:04 on 22-10-2011, Guy
OH EMM GEE, the Dragon Ago / Felicia Day thing actually came out.. It's AWFUL. Like I wasn't expecting it to be otherwise but I wasn't quite prepared for just how AWFUL it is capable of being. It seems to primarily be about Felicia's Day's boobs, and their quest for freedom against the tyranny of voice over.

Well, I like boobs, how bad can it be?

<...a few minutes later...>

...apparently, it can be pretty damned bad.
at 02:14 on 22-10-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I've seen some of those criticisms of Atwood, and while a lot of it does come across as a snobbish defense against percieved carpetbaggery, I think some of it has merit. There is something to the complaint that, when mainstream authors delve into genre to write a near-future satire, they ignore conversation SF continually has over how to imagine contemporary/near future issues, and as a result said authors are praised for "innovations" that are either old hat or simply inaccurate. As an example, John Clute took Atwood to task in Oryx and Crake for her depiction of Internet browsing, which, if anything, read far more like flipping through cable TV channels than browsing. (On a related note, the fact that I believe that all service disruptions and unexplained crashes are caused by wasps building nests in the server is part of the reason I am never going to write a near-future satire as long as I live).

On the other hand, I do think it would do the SF critical community a world of good to chill the fuck out once and a while. Too much arguing about srs issues, not enough lizard men, that's what I say.

It's not like traditional fantasy because the Elves are greatly diminished from their former glory, the dragons are dying out, and magic and religion are opposed to each other. Because absolutely *none* of those things are major recurring tropes of the genre.

Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind reading a fantasy novel set in a world where humanity is slowly going extinct and is being quietly displaced from its natural habitat by magical creatures. Sort of like Greybeard, but with dragons.
at 00:24 on 22-10-2011, Ibmiller
I thought it was a lot more fun than The Guild (of idiots)...but then, I've found the ancillary material for Dragon Age more intriguing than the game (well, not the novels). But I admit to being put off by the sheer amount of time I'd need to spend to play the game. And not liking brown that much. :-)
at 13:25 on 21-10-2011, Wardog
And yes Kyra is just rediscovering the internet after a long work-related absence. Look! Cthulhu Meets Dr Seuss! *delights*
at 13:04 on 21-10-2011, Wardog
OH EMM GEE, the Dragon Ago / Felicia Day thing actually came out.. It's AWFUL. Like I wasn't expecting it to be otherwise but I wasn't quite prepared for just how AWFUL it is capable of being. It seems to primarily be about Felicia's Day's boobs, and their quest for freedom against the tyranny of voice over.
at 16:37 on 18-10-2011, Ibmiller
That is indeed kind of mind blowing. I am indeed curious if she has shifted at all - or if it's fandom that's shifted.
at 03:58 on 18-10-2011, Michal
I wrote my last post in a hurry at work. Further clarification:

The Interview with Margaret Atwood. She starts talking about Weird Tales at one point and then plunges in Conan, but the interviewer fights her the entire way and does everything he can to change the subject. Quite droll.

For those not in the know, Margaret Atwood is pretty despised in the Canadian SF community for being one of those "ivory tower lit snob writers". This is a typical reaction to Atwood. Or this. "Man, them literary fiction types, movin' in on our territory! How dare they!"

I'm happy, mostly because it runs up right against the way she, and the "literary establishment", is consistently demonized by the sf community. Because how can a sterotypical lit snob stoop to talking about Conan?
at 23:57 on 17-10-2011, Andy G
@Dan: Isn't there something to be said for games that present you with meaningful decisions, not because it teaches you or challenges you, but because it adds something to the experience? I'm thinking of something like Deus Ex, where I *really care* about saving characters that can die.
at 20:02 on 17-10-2011, Michal
OMG guys, I was listening to an interview with Margaret Atwood on CBC radio this morning and Atwood likes Robert E. Howard's Conan. Mind = blown.
at 20:00 on 17-10-2011, Dan H
Games, however, are at heart amusement parks for the player, so you always have to build your world to suit their interests, so this means you can't really build something that will purposefully alienate them, or they'll just stop playing.

I'm not sure I buy that - after all, surely you can give up reading a book or watching a film just as easily as you can stop playing a game. I think it might be a limitation of the types of stories people are *interested* in telling through the video game medium but in that case they should stop trying to have their cake and eat it.

The thing is I'm not actually massively interested in games presenting me with serious moral questions, and I actually quite *like* most Bioware games, but I like them because they *aren't actually like* the games Gaider describes.

CRPGs aren't fun because they teach you about the human condition and challenge your preconceptions about important social issues. They're fun because you get to be a SPACE WIZARD.
at 19:48 on 17-10-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
What's wrong with me? Why did I start wondering if David Gaider was related to Yegor Gaidar? And why do I keep confusing Sean Williams with Sean McMullen? Why am I so bad at names?

I've very rarely seen a situation in a Bioware game in which the "good" course of action was not *patently obvious*, and in those situations where I *have* felt that there wasn't a good solution, its usually been because the option that was flagged as "good" didn't seem acceptable to me, for reasons the game didn't seem to acknowledge.

I'm wondering if that might point to a limitation of the types of stories games can tell. I mean, if an author wants to make a point about morality, he or she can tailor-make his world to the specific requirements of the story, and the reader is expected to tag along. Games, however, are at heart amusement parks for the player, so you always have to build your world to suit their interests, so this means you can't really build something that will purposefully alienate them, or they'll just stop playing.

"It's also character-driven, and thus concerned more about the human condition than it is about being epic."

To be honest, I wouldn't mind it if some authors put the soap-opera on the back burner and had more fun building awe-inspiring alien environments. I mean, it's fantasy. You're allowed to do that.
at 06:41 on 17-10-2011, Ibmiller
Arg. I love me some Bioware games, but I really, really hate it when their writers jump to novels. Karpyshan's stuff is between dull and outright awful, and I've not touched Gaider after his consistent silliness in interviews. Say what you will about Star Wars fiction, when it comes to their video game tie-ins, they at least don't get the video game writers to do them (except...Karpyshan's finally managed to get himself some of those...and Sean Williams' Force Unleashed novels were complete be fair, those games were also dreck, though. But at least Hayden Blackman didn't get his hands on them...I shudder to think what Batwoman faces now that he's co-writer...). But the X-Wing and Republic Commando series both benefitted from having actual, you know, novel writers take over the tie-in work. Even if Traviss's last two RepCom books were kind of messes.
at 06:26 on 17-10-2011, valse de la lune
And Joe Abercrombie, and Patrick Rothfuss, and and and.

None of those writers ever wrote something like Alistair, Carth or Anomen, at least.
at 04:17 on 17-10-2011, Michal
Gordammit, looks like David Gaider's been taking points from Richard K. Morgan. "See, I'm revolutionizing fantasy by doing what every other hack fantasy author has been doing in the past decade!"