So Much To Do

I am hard at work.

First off, I am finishing the finer plot points of the future Nameless books. Some of these things need polishing before I actually get around to writing them. So far, so good.

Second, I am still working on A Strange Chemistry. It’s not meant to be particularly long, but I want Rush’s perspective to be an actual thing, as opposed to her just thinking like a female Nameless. I think it’s going pretty well.

Third, I am working on a sort of choose-your-own-adventure game that I am writing for a game studio. It will be a work of high/dark fantasy, and is about 35% done as of this moment. It should see a release somewhere early next year.

That’s about it. I am stretching myself pretty thin, and that’s why I haven’t been updating that much. It will pay off in the long run, I think.

All the best, my friends,
M. T. Miller

Paladins

Paladins, Kinessa, Androxus, Hero Shooter, Game, League, MOBA, Sniper, Flank

Berserk’s Casca seems to have gotten over her autism and taken on sniping, while Totally Not Spawn shows off his gun.

Time is a limited resource.

As someone who’s been into video games for well over two decades, I’ve felt the sting of that fact pretty damn hard. With each new obligation, there comes less time for indulging in what I like.

Now an adult in body (if not in mind), I’m forced to skip titles I’d have otherwise eaten whole. And what I do play, I play terribly late. For instance, it took me five whole years to finally get around to playing the Arkham series. Big mistake. Those games are awesome.

There was one exception to this rule: League of Legends. I’ve played that game since beta. I have lived on the Fields of Justice. But year after year, the game kept changing, becoming more and more polished. More and more competitive. More and more… boring and team-based.

And thus, little by little, I started hating it. Gone were the insane ultimates, the radically powerful effects that let one snowball like crazy and blow everything up. Oh, sure, it’s still doable, but everything’s been done to make the impact of a single loose cannon (i. e. me) as limited as possible. I realize it is a team game. It always was. But it is not the insane thing I fell in love with.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Enter Paladins.

As most everyone, I didn’t even try getting into this game’s closed beta. The ponderous, supposedly strategic tone that Hi-Rez seems to have aimed for was not what I wanted, and the schizophrenic graphics didn’t do it at all for me at all. But this has completely and utterly changed once I’ve tried the open beta.

Wow, is this a different game than I expected.

Things explode, champions fly around and people die. That is the best summary I can give of my experience, and if this sounds exactly like any other shooter ever, that’s because it’s supposed to. This is the essence of adrenaline. Only less mindless.

Just like its evil step-brother Overwatch, Paladins is a team-based shooter with some MOBA elements. One picks a character, gets comfy, and proceeds to murder everyone on the opposing team, or instead be on the receiving end of mass murder. Supposedly there is also a strategic point to capture and a payload to deliver, but don’t believe that. All lies. The whole thing is hectic, colorful, and insanely fun.

Just the way League was back when it was fresh.

Add being free to this, and the fact that its player base is growing immensely (leading to practically no queue time), and I think we’ve got the Next Big Thing.

RIP Battleborn. It’s been fun.

M. T. Miller

Book Review: The Goblin Wars Part One: Siege of Talonrend

So I read a book. Whoop-dee-doo, right? ‘Course. After doing some thinking about it, I decided to write a review to help sort out my thoughts about it. Neat? I sure hope so.

I was conflicted after reading this. My gut told me to just slap it a rating and leave it alone. Perhaps that might actually be for the best.

But I’m not one to shy away from a challenge. There was a lot to both like and dislike here. In pointing those things out, I hope to both give feedback to Mr. Thaman and grow as a writer myself.

Spoiler warning: I will give everything away without a shred of mercy or tact!

Still here? Great! Let’s dive into them tunnels and start digging!

The first part of the Gobllin Wars series offers exactly what it says. In any other case, that’d probably be a very bad thing. Goblins were, are, and will stay an overused fantasy race. A Tolkinistic atavism. Luckily, Mr. Thaman has put his particular twist on these little buggers, giving them  a mistress reminiscent of the good old Overmind. This, in my opinion, worked marvelously. Especially later, when her control over the creatures starts to fizzle out. Different individuals deal with their newfound freedom in their own different ways, which was fascinating to see. To me, this was likely the most interesting part of the book.

On the other hand, we learn of the aforementioned Lady Scrapple through lengthy exposition, which significantly dulls her impact. In fact, I think that if the prologue were to be omitted entirely, the scene of her dramatic rage near the end would have given her at least twice the punch.

I found the city of Talonrend a lovely place. I really liked everything about it. Its backstory is mysterious and tickles the imagination about what might be happening behind the scenes. The architecture is marvelous, its defensive systems are imaginative, and I’d have been saddened to read about its winged spires getting plucked and broken. Great work on the city there.

Mr. Thaman seems to have a knack for the grandiose in general. The war at the end of the book was very, very well described, especially from the perspective of the human prince. It was a pleasure to read.

On the other hand, while I found myself invested in Talonrend itself, I could barely get into most if the book’s characters. Gravlox was good. So was Vorst, most of the time. Why most of the time, you ask? Because pieces…. or rather chunks of her character development just seemed to happen. She falls in love with Gravlox practically offscreen. They kind of win a fight, and the next we see them they are making out as part of some healing magic. Why? I’m not saying this has no sense, but I’d liked to have seen at least a hint of why this was happening. The goblin commander was also very well done, no complaints about him at all. An effectively conceived and executed semi-tragic villain right there.

Speaking about villains, I found them disappointing. Well, not immediately. The scheming lady Keturah was intriguing right from her introduction. She had the air of someone with a plan; someone who was playing with fire yet knew exactly what she was doing… only to die from overcommiting to a proxy battle. I found that not only anticlimactic but damaging to the nature of the character. Jan, the other villain and de facto main antagonist of the book is pretty much a card-carrying bad guy. He seemed competent as well… until the point he pretty much destroyed his own plan in a single fit of rage. The goblin army he and his sister planned on unleashing onto Talonrend? He killed it himself.

And then there was Herod. Herod was a likeable guy through and through. Up to the point where he flat out refuses magical treatment from a goblin after pretty much acknowledging they’ve saved his city. Granted, he might be going delirious from the fever. Or maybe it’s something that would be resolved in the next book. But damn, it is a strange transition for a likeable character, and it occurs literally within a single scene.

Given what I’ve written, one would think that I hate this book. But I don’t. Not at all.

This is a fun, light read that plays with fantasy tropes in a way I’ve never seen before. This, I think, gives it power. And it’s not only that, but there is a lot of soul to be found within these pages. The language might be rough in some places, but the message gets through. The author really seems to enjoy writing this, and that translates to the reader. Or at least it did to me.

So in conclusion, I give this work 3.5 stars, rounded up. And I thank Mr. Thaman for making goblins cool. So the rest of us don’t have to.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

Jeanette Vampire Bloodlines Malkavian Crazy Game Sexy Hot Asylum

Insanely sexy. Or sexily insane.

I love Bloodlines.

There is no other way to phrase this. This game is the love of my life.

If I could somehow father children with Bloodlines, I’d make five. And I can’t stand kids.

There comes a time every year or two… someone else would call it reinstalling. I call it a honeymoon. I don’t give these events numbers. Our love is forever.

The next honeymoon is near. I can tell. The quotes, beats, and scenes from this immaculately written and directed game keep springing out of my subconscious whenever I let my attention slip. It’s been too long. Bloodlines wants me.

And who am I to disappoint her? Why would I even want to? She has given me some of the best moments of my youth. Jeanette, Jack, Velvet, Beckett… these are old friends I’m talking about. Friendships should be nurtured.

Despite my passion for her, however, Bloodlines is a game. And I like to think that games are valued for two kinds of components: the hard and the soft parts. It’s not breaking new ground to say that the hard parts of Bloodlines (i. e. the gameplay) are lackluster.

But this is okay. To love is to love the imperfections.

And I love Bloodlines to (un)death.

M. T. Miller