Sea of Sorrows: Live Blog Part 2

June 27, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Posted in Books, Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 7 Comments
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So I read for about 4 or 5 hours yesterday and only got about 167 pages in. Whether or not I finish the book today I probably won’t do a live blog part 3.

Certainly plenty of interesting things in the live blog yesterday, but I don’t know if I’m attached to any of the characters but Macha who I think is being a bit too nice.

Anyway, on with the show.

4:00 – Isaye and Cobiah sure get chummy fast.

4:04 – Would also like to know where Port Noble is.

4:08 – Now predicting people requesting ackle-denth be added to Guild Wars 2 in some way.

4:13 – Surprised we haven’t heard more about Baede.

4:17 – The wreckage of the ring of fire islands? Why would there be wreckage, or am I overthinking that?

4:28 – Feels like they forgot about the capricorn real fast after that zombie attack.

4:32 – Verahd is a big shout out to the original Guild Wars I feel. What with the tattoos and sigils and what not.

4:40 – Finally, some norn. What took so long.

4:45 – Really liking the introduction of the guardian here. Kind of annoying that Macha is the only one that knows anything of any importance. Oh there’s a new type of magic? Macha knows. Oh there’s a secret transport of gold going on? Macha knows. There’s a way to determine lattitude? Macha knows.

4:52 – Ah Captain Moran, of Moran Memorial fame I presume.

4:52 – Which brings up a thought, are any of the names of these characters on the Moran Memorial?

5:01 – How does one make the sign of dwayna in the air. Should be an emote.

5:02 – Their sacrifice will be remembered in the halls of the Zaishen? That’s a thing apparently. I mean the Zaishen still exist, there are even some Zaishen NPCs in LA but I think the lore needs to be fleshed out around them more.

5:07 – Cobiah has raided the xunlai warehouses on Lake Bounty. Nie job. Wish I knew where any of this stuff was. edit: Genderren Fields.

5:22 – So the Harbinger doesn’t seem completely destroyed yet, I guess that explains why it’s sunk far closer to Malchor’s. Was beginning to wonder.

5:26 – You’d think someone would mention to the norn, members of the Priory researching the undead, something about Cobiah being there when Orr rose. Just saying. SoS is full of convenient silences and miraculous coincidences.

5:30 – Or maybe they did sink Harbinger? I guess I didn’t read closely enough.

5:35 – So Lion’s Arch is built on King Baede’s stolen gold.

5:43 – Interesting having 7 years pass and the town is essentially built, hearing about their problems.

5:45 – Recognized the name Brother Bilshan immediately, he’s in GW1. Can’t be accurate though, that would make him extremely old.

6:02 – I’ve been reading about the internal politics of Lion’s Arch. It has not been completely uninteresting, but there is little to comment on.

6:09 – One of my favourite insults is mouth-breather.

6:21 – Yomm gets a lot of focus here. Yomm’s Merchantile is a point of interest in LA.

6:29 – Cobiah is kind of a dirtbag at times. Pirates.

6:37 – Kind of picturing Verahd using the elementalist tornado skill.

6:40 – The gw2 wiki reminds me why the name blipp sounds familiar.

6:45 – Too many repeated asura names. First blipp, now flax.

6:49 – This isn’t really a criticism, but sometimes I just get a little tired of the unrelenting references to charr viciousness. Of course the charr’s ship name is Brutality.

6:57 – If mesmers can pull off this many illusions it makes me wonder why they don’t have as many stealth skills as thieves.

7:00 – Sonic screwdriver.

7:06 – I didn’t think Grimjaw was a genius or anything but attack Orr? For what purpose? I don’t get it.

7:26 – A fairly compelling, intrigue laden, run of pages. I like how the clues are there for anyone to find them.

7:34 – Cobiah bites charr ears! I was actually waiting for that.

7:41 – Hey everybody! Guess what? I found the bomb!

7:56 – A ranger pricess trained by the Tyrian Explorer’s Society. Glad to see that organization has slightly more to do than stalk me and send me letters.

8:00 – Good to see several mentions of attempts at peace by charr/humans only for those attempts to be squashed in some way. Builds up Ghosts of Ascalon.

8:11 – Always glad to read more about the lineage and get into who these people were. Edair sounds like quite the villain.

Okay I think that’s enough for today, if I choose to make more notes, I’ll add them to the bottom of this post. Thanks for reading.

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Sea of Sorrows: Live Blog

June 26, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Posted in Books, Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | Comments Off on Sea of Sorrows: Live Blog
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soscoverart

Oh for I have heard the clamouring masses. The outcries and pleas for a live blogging of Sea of Sorrows, the 3rd novel in the Guild Wars novel trilogy. And behold! I have come.

Yeah. Nobody is looking for me to do this.

It has been a long wait. Ghosts of Ascalon (which I reviewed here, and live blogged here and here) was released in the summer of 2010, 3 years ago. Edge of Destiny (which I reviewed here, and live blogged here and here) was released a mere 6 months later. We’ve had a bit of Guild Wars 2 lore here and there, what with the release of the game, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been waiting for this for a long time.

GoA was definitely my favourite of the previous two books. The characters were complex, Dougal Keane was actually somewhat of an anti-hero. Edge of Destiny was action packed but lacking in character development. Certainly I didn’t feel the climactic sequence was justified by the characterization.

So Ree Soesbee, Arenanet employee, and fairly well known fantasy writer has her work cut out for her.

A word on what to expect. I obviously won’t finish the book in one sitting, and I typically update every 5 or so minutes with thoughts. I’m on Atlantic Standard Time, 1 hour ahead of EST. Also, you should expect spoilers.

Time to Begin.

Pre notes – Looking through the preview page I begin to have a feeling I’m going to be looking up sailing terminology. Just what is a gunwale? The top edge of a side of a boat folks.

Pre notes – I can’t swim.

Pre notes – A quick look through the timeline to remind me of the era. The book supposedly takes place around the rising of orr, that’s about 1219 AE, Eir forms Destiny’s Edge in 1319, Guild Wars 2 starts 5 years after that. Cool.

4:00pm AST – I guess we’re starting with a little poem, oh wait, a sea shanty.

4:04 – Ah the introduction of the main character, important. Thorough here except that he’s still in adolescence. Suggesting of a years long story, or maybe just a brief visit to his childhood.

4:10 – Well I guess this is where that Polla doll comes in.

4:12 – I don’t think I’ve heard much of the royal descendants aside from Jennah. This era has a king.

4:14 – I’m really hoping that there isn’t some new call for a mermaid race.

4:19 – Gee I wonder if I’m not meant to like the mother.

4:26 – Well that was sad.

4:30 – Still weirds me out to read references to game terminology in a book. Call outs to dwayna or grenth for instance.

4:39 – Ah so they are going to Kaineng. Was wondering what was taking so long to get around to what port they were headed to. Still I would have preferred a port that added to lore instead of some place Guild Wars players have been to a million times.

4:43 – Not that I’m under the impression they’ll actually get there.

4:48 – As a reader I prefer less predictable interactions amongst characters. Some of these situations are a little cliche, but there is still plenty more book, hopefully I’m proven wrong.

4:51 – At least it’s written well. And I do love the idioms in the GW2 novels. By bear’s butt and I swear by Grenth’s knucklebones.

5:00 – You know, big teeth, claws, four ears, fuzzy killing machine.

5:03 – Wait, which war was Cobiah’s father in?

5:14 – So they get to Kaineng and there are only vague descriptions sigh. Now they’re headed to Orr, which will probably lead to the preview page. Maybe I shouldn’t have read it.

5:17 – Great description of looking over the rooftops of Orrian buildings while sailing along. Great to see the book touching on Malchor as well.

5:26 – Months of open ocean to cross to Cantha. Good idea of distance there I guess.

5:29 – Constellation names. The Vizier’s Tower, and Grenth’s Eye has 4 spokes. Reminds me of the telescope in the Jotun Arah path.

5:32 – I may have taken a brief moment to watch a video of a bulldog scared of its own farts.

5:34 – Lots of interesting astronomy tidbits. Dwayna’s Heart seems to be Tyria’s version of the Morning/Evening star. Which is actually Venus to us… a planet in the Tyrian universe?

5:52 – Never felt like I got a good image of the sea monster. Wondering if the battle with it is what awakened Zhaitan. Great imagery of the rise of Orr.

6:00 – Engineer, birth of a profession.

6:05 – Lots of me wondering just how this relationship is going to work out. Charr are still ostensibly at war with humans, or may as well be. At least they’re eating fish and not humans? And why on earth would the charr have a navy?

6:09 – Okay well that paragraph answered those questions.

6:10 – I’ve heard Port Stalwart mentioned before, not sure where.

6:14 – Over a hundred years is too long a time to go from an experimental iron-sides to still having wooden ships in GW2. You’d think the tech would have spread. Then again they do have airships so what do I know.

6:27 – A rotary paddle wheel. Makes sense but it amused me.

6:32 – Macha is my new favourite asura.

6:47 – I guess I expected something to be left of Lion’s Arch. Aside from one pirate ship.

6:58 – I was all set to criticize the logic of putting a bombard on a ship like that. Macha is doing it for me.

7:07 – Most of the time I don’t get how charr are so much more powerful than humans. If that’s true it doesn’t make sense to me that humans could have taken ascalon in the first place, or put up much of a fight even with the great wall. Certainly doesn’t make sense in light of Arenanet’s racial balance.

7:18 – To grenth’s realm of torment, is not the most fluid idiom I’ve ever heard.

7:26 – Reading kind of slowly today. Wonder how much more I’ll read. Into Act 2 now though, time shifted and has aged Cobiah at this point.

7:35 – Hope they explain just where Cobiah conjures his ship from.

7:37 – Ah the Capricorn. Pretty sure I read something about the ship recently in game. One of those new Marriner monuments or something.

7:38 – Freed an Istani djinn that bestowed enchantments on the Capricorn eh. Hoping it’s not Zommoros or whatever his name is.

7:43 – Still wondering where Port Stalwart actually is. I think Forgall Kernsson or maybe Tybalt comments on how the town is destroyed by an undead attack.

7:52 – Sykox shaking water from his fur is pretty cute.

7:56 – Future GW2 skin, the bosun pin.

7:58 – An elementalist standing on the surface of the water. Too bad we can’t do that in game. At least it makes more sense than Jesus doing it.

8:11 – Reading slower than usual. In any case, the whole Capricorn scenario has been pretty amusing so far.

8:26 – Saw the attack on the port coming, should have figured it would be the indomitable.

8:34 – Didn’t take long for recently killed guards to start rising.

8:47 – Harbinger can be found in the seas of Malchor’s Leap. Interesting to see it turn up here.

8:47 – Okay going to have to call it. Only made it 167 pages in. Thanks for reading. Or not reading if you want to avoid spoilers. Will have to finish this tomorrow… maybe. It’s a 400 page novel so we’ll see how far I get.

Sea of Tomorrows

January 7, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Books, Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 5 Comments
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I have not spoken of the upcoming 3rd Guild Wars 2 novel since May of last year. At that point the publication date, a placeholder, was set in February. Since then the placeholder date had moved to August, and at this point Simon & Schuster is listing July as a target, while Amazon lists June 25th. Okay. Not frustrating at all.

Now I haven’t been paying buttloads of attention to the book news for the past few months, other things have been going on, but when I dropped by the books page on Amazon/S&S I noticed the synopsis was available.

The lost kingdom of Orr lies beneath the ocean waves, an entire civilization swallowed by an ancient cataclysm. For centuries, the depths have lain dormant, those ancient secrets lost. Until now. The Elder Dragon Zhaitan has risen. In its wake, the drowned kingdom of Orr is reborn—and another destroyed. The city of Lion’s Arch, for generations a cornerstone of civilization in Tyria, is brutally swept beneath the waves, leaving nothing but ruins. Among the survivors is Cobiah Marriner, a human sailor shipwrecked by the tsunami and stranded at sea. When he is rescued by a ferocious charr, Cobiah knows that he’s been plunged into a world forever changed. Now, Zhaitan’s undead servants dominate the sea, destroying port after port and slaughtering anything in their path. In the midst of ruin, Cobiah vows to see Lion’s Arch rebuilt. Amid the storm of the dragon’s rising, Cobiah must become a hero to his crew and an admiral to the pirate fleet, and face the ghosts of his past. Only then will he master the Sea of Sorrows and crush the armada of Orr.

I suppose there isn’t a whole lot of new information here aside from the identity of our hero. We already know he was the man to unite the pirates and rebuild Lion’s Arch. You can find a couple references to Cobiah in game, his grandson is a commodore in Lion’s Arch in fact.

Aside from that the atmosphere is being set and it should make for quite the book. I can’t wait to live blog it. Yes, I am doing that again. I know it’s pointless. I know nobody gives a crap. Consider it liveblogged!

Lore Nerds Rejoice!

August 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, video | 5 Comments
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Ree Soesbee and Jeff Grubb did a live broadcast on Twitch.tv earlier today. They’re Arenanet’s lore scribes, the demi-gods of continuity.

I didn’t know what to expect when I tuned in but I was treated to a rather in depth discussion of Guild Wars 2 lore, where the game fits in to the fantasy genre, influences, perspectives and all kinds of cool junk.

Anyway I would have loved to have embedded the clip but some types of players don’t work with wordpress.

Scourge By Jeff Grubb

June 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Posted in Books, Guild Wars 2 | 2 Comments
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The cover is actually a bit different from the usual Star Wars novel.

I’ve read a lot of Star Wars novels in my time. You might call me a bit of a fan. So when I heard Guild Wars 2 writer and designer Jeff Grubb was authoring a Star Wars novel I immediately looked forward to it. He’s a well known fantasy author in his own right with a long history in the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms universes, so I was interested to see what he could do with Scourge.

I wasn’t disappointed. Scourge is a solid novel well written with likable characters. There’s a fair amount of humour and mystery. It delves into areas of the Star Wars universe that are often mentioned but rarely visited.

Mander Zuma’s former apprentice is murdered and while searching for a reason why, he’s pulled into the depths of the seedy underworld crossroads between Hutt space and the corporate sector.

Star Wars novels are typically very adventure based. There may be some element of mystery but the emphasis is on swashbuckling and battles. Duels can take the form of dogfighting starfighters and epic battles are complicated naval exercises. You’ll see a lot of novels that are fantasy adventures, spy thrillers, and military action and little else.

That’s where this novel comes in. I think it’s more of a crime noir. Certainly Grubb gets across that Mander isn’t much of the swashbuckling type. He’s not the best swordsman, and he spends most of his time as an archivist. He’s wracked with guilt about the death of his student, driven to know where his student failed and by proxy where he himself failed.

Any nerd can identify with a protagonist who is less an action hero and more a librarian and that makes Mander unique. It leaves me wondering why there aren’t more characters like him.

The mystery is well enough plotted out but there are a few places where I think Grubb telegraphs the eventual villain to the reader. People are presented as suspects but Grubb spends either too little time with them or doesn’t build up their possible motives. In one case in particular he downplays their possible motives and I think he virtually eliminates them as a suspect, which is a mistake.

And a couple of loopholes are left after the book closes out. The very basis for the book, the apprentice’s death, is never really explained to my satisfaction. Why he was set up is easy to understand, but how he let himself be lulled into such a position in the first place, not easy to understand at all.

Overall it’s a fun read. I thought it was superior in style to the Corscandti Nights series of Star Wars books, the other attempt at crime noir in the Star Wars universe. I may have figured out mystery long before the end but I was still compelled to continue reading and see how it all turned out. That’s definitely a good sign in my opinion.

Largos

May 21, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 9 Comments
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An undead Largos 3d model.

I am by no means a lore expert or the first person to see a race of people in the Guild Wars 2 beta called the Largos. But I did happen by an event in Snowden Drifts that involved one and I’m intrigued.

They have (it looks like) wings, are bent on deadly challenges, and disappear without a trace.

This is the only screenshot I was able to take at “The Kodan Claw” event. A “Largos Assassin” is trying to assassinate the military leader of the kodan village. From the dialogue it seems he’s doing it merely for the challenge. Upon helping the Claw and defeating the Largos, it curled itself up into a vortex and blipped seemingly out of existence. An ability I’m assuming is attributed to stealth, but I suppose I can’t rule out some form of teleport.

Yes I know, I feel like I’m the guy who takes blurry pictures of Bigfoot.

What intrigues me about the Largos is essentially that it’s an entirely new race. One we’ve heard nothing about officially. The only information we have comes from that one event in Snowden and a few NPCs commenting about largos nearby.

They actually kind of remind me of sylvari somehow, but seeing one up close you can see hair, knife-ears, and armour that doesn’t appear to be plant based. Initially the wings seem insectile, butterfly like. But somehow I don’t think that will be the case. It rings too much of fairies and elves.

A very enticing mystery for lore fans.

Here is the wiki page, which has little more to offer than the superior screenshot below.

Dual wielding swords.

Quick Note On Sea Of Sorrows

March 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Books, Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 14 Comments
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I was all set to live blog too.

This post is going to be so short it may as well have been tweeted. I was curious as to whether the release date of Sea of Sorrows had changed and went to Simon & Schuster, which own the small publisher that put out Edge of Destiny and Ghosts of Ascalon and couldn’t find anything.

I found the link in the last post I wrote about ‘Sorrows’ and it leads nowhere.

I don’t draw any conclusions from that though since if you’re going to push the release date back to February 1st, 2013, you may as well stop listing it for the time being.

I wonder what’s going on with that.

Sea Of Sorrows

November 20, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Books, Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 13 Comments
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Patchy and Grumpy go to the fair.

In case you missed it a while back, Simon & Schuster had begun listing Ree Soesbee’s Sea of Sorrows, the next book in the Guild Wars 2 novel trilogy.

There has been talk here and there about the book, but aside from a speculative post, I’ve never talked about it.

At one point Steven Savile was pegged to write it, and the story was to involve The Inquest and Elder Dragons. Somewhere along the line Arenanet changed it’s mind and Soesbee stepped in.

Here’s a comment from the linked post above that Cheiron from Guild Wars 2 Forum kindly left.

Someone emailed him about it, and this is what he replied:
“I was indeed contacted about 3 years ago now by Will McDermott at ArenaNet to write the third Guild Wars novel – it was meant to be called The Crucible of Eternity, but about 10 months ago Arena decided they wanted to go a different direction and instead wanted a ‘zombies and pirates’ novel.”

We have since found out from Ree Soesbee herself the book is very much about the sinking of Lion’s Arch and the rise of Orr.

Anyway, I also noticed that the placeholder date is now June 26th, moved from the previous date in March of 2012. Likely, though, that this is still a placeholder, because during gamescom the author also stated she was about half way done with the novel.

I’m sure it could be published by then but we’ll see.

Check out what she has to say about it in this video, towards the end.

The Skyrim Idiosyncrasies

November 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Posted in rpg | 17 Comments
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Valthiem Towers

It’s the little things in Skyrim that make it special. That make all Bathesda type games sepcial. They’ve created the illusion of their own functioning world, and all the hiccups that come with that.

I was sneaking around a tower of a keep. This keep stretched from one tower to another across a river for no discernible reason. I had lured the guards away, killed them outside the range of their friends and snuck inside. Immediately I found a chest, and crouched my way over to open it. Opening it set off a trap I hadn’t noticed but because I was hunched over, the falling mace swung over my head and into the wall. I was surprised but unharmed.

And that’s exactly the type of thing I love to find in Skyrim.

Another example might be what I found while wandering around in the wilderness. I was somewhere near Swindler’s Den, due south, and lovingly lost when I came across some rocks sticking out of the ground. These weren’t on my map, but looked to be a ruin of some type. I approached and discovered a mini-puzzle. A small well-like structure with a gate over it was protecting a treasure chest. Nearby 3 stones with 3 sides stood by, and a 4th stone with an activation device. Turn the stones so that they faced the right direction in the right combination and the gate would open. Fun.

Not a quest, not an important part of the game or even marked on the map. Just a fun thing to do.

Also located within sight of necromancers at work.

I was reading my friend Heatha’s blog and noticed she seems to play the game in a similar manner. She leaves all the primary quests until the very end, taking great note of the books, and paying attention to the details. I too read a lot of the books, but not all, and discovered the same book she takes note of. A choose your own adventure style book. In Skyrim. Awesome.

Unlike Heatha I’ll do some of the main quests to get rolling and then stop midway. Already I’m reaping the benefits of this with learning a new and interesting shout. I’ve got 3 now and I’m still learning to use them in combat.

It’s the idiosyncrasies of the world Bathesda makes. I can discover a person in distress, tell them the way is clear to escape, and if I’m lying, or wrong, they’ll run off to their doom. I can loot their body after they’ve been killed or just murder them myself. Or I can leave them there or by the light of my own altruism truly clear the way for them allowing them to escape.

Skyrim. It’s what most MMOs want to be. An alive experience where anything can happen. I can kill a dragon one day and be taken out by a sabercat the next. It’s just too bad I can’t do this with friends.

Amalur In Estimation

November 12, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Posted in rpg | 14 Comments
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I’ve been semi following the work of 38 studios for years now. The team of talent behind the copernicus project and Kingdoms of Amalur is impressive. Todd McFarlane, R.A. Salvatore, Ken Rolston of Elder Scrolls fame and others are working on an RPG and an MMO.

At first I salivated at that kind of lineup, but when the first trailers came out for KoA I kind of soured. I wasn’t particularly blown away. It was a let down and my interest definitely took a nose dive. It just looked like a low budget attempt at an RPG.

I still think it looks generic in some ways, if mostly beautiful. However I saw the two trailers released last week and the game slowly started to claw their way back up in estimation.

I don’t think it’s so much that anything has changed, but I’m starting to feel like I’m getting a handle on what the game is going for. My anticipation for the game hasn’t skyrocketed. Right now it’s at a steady even pace where I’m sure I’ll play the game but I’ll probably wait for a sale on steam.

The RPG comes out February 7th apparently. Far sooner than I expected. And hey, Claudia Black.

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