Why You Should Play … Subnautica

So, before I get started on today’s post, I have something to say regarding WordPress, the company that I pay to provide hosting and my site’s toolset for writing.


The new block editor is not good. No, it’s worse than that. No intelligent company should have forced this on their users. Block editor follows the “recent” trend of “take functional tools for a user and destroy them in favor of the one user who thinks they’re too complicated or not pretty enough.” Then they hand you something colored in pretty colors and designed for someone who wants to take pictures for instagram rather than use it.

It’s not a good alternative. It’s slower to load, lacks basic functionality, and is all around terrible. Oh, and as a cherry on top, when I accidentally contacted customer support to complain about being unable to go back to the old version as a default, they shoved some “trademarked” level canned responses at me and then closed the channel.

And to top it all off, you can set the old editor as a default with a plugin that has—already—over 5 million downloads. However, you can’t use this plugin unless you pay WordPress for the exclusive ability to use plugins. Which is $300 a year. EDIT: And just clicking the button to see what that premium thing was added it to my cart and put me one click away from accidentally billing myself. That’d be alike any Amazon product adding itself to your cart because you looked at it. Not cool.

Which seems like a case of deliberately hobbling the product people are already paying you for in order to try and “coerce” them into giving up more money.

I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising to me that several of these new “blocks” in the block editor are dedicated to money.

Anyway, sorry to interrupt what would have started off as simply a post on Subnautica, but upon loading my site today, I discovered that I no longer had a choice between the functional “classic” editor and this new garbage the company is determined to shove down everyone’s throats because why would any of their customers know what they wanted or needed to do? They’re just semi-ambulatory money sources, right? It’s not like they use the tools or anything? Right?

Look, I get that there may have been improvements on the backend or new tools that someone wanted to introduce, but right now, in order to do something that used to be a single click of the mouse, I have to click a “block ediotr” (or whatever it’s called) open, then do a seach, an actual text-based search, for the same thing, find it in the search results, and then click it. That’s four steps instead of the old one step.

Or as people with intelligence call it: steps back.


Now, my rant on this new editor will now be put on hold until the next post, at which point I shall mock and ridicule WordPress once more (because this is seriously bad). Because I want to talk about Subnautica, and why you should play it.

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Updates and News!

Hey folks! How’ve you been?

I know, I know, I’ve been quiet this week. There’s a good reason for that, actually. and it has to do with out first bit of news here. Basically, I’ve been away from my keyboard and desktop a lot this week. At least, during my working hours.

Sounds odd, right? After all, shouldn’t I be at the keyboard? Normally, yes (and don’t worry, the lack of writing bugs me too). But there’s a good reason: Starforge is coming. And so I’ve been reading through Colony and Jungle all week, getting myself  caught up on every little detail and nuance before I start work on the big finale. I’ve finished Colony already, and I’m blistering my way through Jungle at the moment.

By the way, I’ve been doing this with a new ereader (the absolutely awfully named, but otherwise fine, “Boox Poke2) which means I’ve been using the Kindle App rather than my old Kindle (both are still e-ink, however). Anyway, this newer reader has a feature for Kindle that’s quite nice: Estimated reading time. When you start a book, it shows you the average reader time to completion, and then adjusts it to match whatever pace you set.

Jungle? The average was something like 29-35 hours. The thing is a titan of words.

Actually, that’s only one of the amusing things I learned reading through Colony and Jungle this week. The other was … Well, for those of you who don’t read ebooks often, Kindle has a neat feature where readers can highlight passages from books, and if enough people highlight the same passage, a small dotted, light-grey line will show up in everyone else’s copy (if the feature is turned on) to show that people have marked the passage. Originally this was created with the intent of helping folks perusing non-fiction texts find relevant sections (like students searching for a date) but has since become a staple for a lot of fiction readers for favorite quotes, insightful lines, etc.

Anyway, I was both surprised and elated to find Colony now bearing such markers! A milestone I didn’t even realize was there until it arrived, but it did make me feel a nice inner glow to see a number of people marking moments in my work as insightful and worth referencing. Time to see how many I find (if any yet) in Jungle!

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How Marvel’s Movies (and Others’ Products) Have Changed Storytelling

Pop quiz for you. Don’t worry, it’ll be easy to answer. Have you ever read any licensed literature? Like Star Wars books, or Star Trek, or Warhammer, or … Sands, really any licensed property? Or maybe seen a tie-in TV show to a movie? Played a game of a movie or a book?

Basically, anything that could be considered “secondary canon?”

Right. I can already tell I’ve lost some of you. So let’s back up. Let’s say you are a movie producer. Better yet, you’re one of those producers like James Cameron who often writes, produces, and directs your own movies. And you’ve just made a hit.

Now, with this hit on your hands, someone has come to you and asked for a chance to expand on the universe! They want to write a trilogy of books that tie into the movie and extrapolate a bit after it! Awesome!

But … you don’t want to write a trilogy of books. You want to keep making movies.

“No problem!” says the publisher with the contract. “We’ve got an author lined up! They’ll write all three. We just need some notes on the movie, for you to answer some questions, and that’ll be all we need!”

So you sign the paper, and the trilogy comes out. You collect a small licensing fee, and a bunch of fans of your movie go on to read the book and form excited theories and ideas.

Except … a year or two later, when you sit down to write the sequel, you’ve got a bunch of ideas that don’t quite mesh with the world and liberties the author of the book trilogy took to flesh out their story. Not that you know this: You probably haven’t read them. Or, if you did read them, you’d know the score as being thus—

The movie came first, therefore the movie is the final word.

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Advent Faces a New Foe: The Forces of Indrim Join X-Com!

And here I thought bandits were bad. Oh well.

 

It’s that time again. With Shadow of an Empire on the horizon (eight days out, actually; have you pre-ordered your copy yet?), it would only make sense that the stars would get their own chance to shine in X-Com 2 at last!

That’s right, if you own X-Com 2 (or its expansion, War of the Chosen), you can now experience the thrill of having Adjudicator Salitore Amazd and Imperial Inquisitor Meelo Karn clean alien house alongside the rest of your crack squad! What could be better?

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Shadow of an Empire Releases in Two Weeks!

Shadow of an Empire

I mean, do I really need to say anything else? It’s almost here! Two weeks from today, you’ll finally be able to get your hands on this sweeping Fantasy-Western adventure! If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet so that you can have it in your hands for the first weekend of June, click the cover there to get cracking!

In the meantime, look forward to some related events coming up next week! In addition to the usual Being a Better Writer post, you’ll get the unveiling another X-Com 2 character pack! Starring—Who else?—Salitore Amazd and Meelo Karn from Shadow of an Empire. Fun side note, these two were actually the first custom characters I made in X-Com 2. I’ve had them in my roster for a long time … and now it’s your turn.

Next week will also see me doing an AMA on Reddit! That’s right, Friday, May 25th, at 1 PM Mountain Time, I’ll be doing a Reddit AMA for several hours to promote—naturally—Shadow and just answer any wild questions you guys might have about writing, Shadow, my other books, or really anything else.

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The Tabletop Report – Gears of War: Session 8

It’s time for Tabletop Report! For the uninitiated, Tabletop Report is a new series chronicling the adventures of my DnD group as I run them through a custom campaign and ruleset based off of Microsoft’s Gears of War universe.

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gears of War, and I’m totally not claiming otherwise. I just really love the universe, and have wanted to run a campaign set in it for the longest time. The system I built is entirely my own, and this game is a test-run of its viability as a full tabletop system.

This is the report summary for session 8! Prior sessions will be listed before the break if you need to catch up. Some knowledge of Gears of War‘s greater universe may be helpful. Now, let’s see what happened to our players after last week!


Session Eight – Act 1, Chapter 4 Part 1

This session was pretty much all roleplaying … but that’s not boring at all, as this group proved. In fact, there was so much laughter that not only did I nearly paint my GM supplies with my drink, but today my sides are sore and I’m pretty sure that feeling is shared across a good chunk of the group. Players were laughing so hard they couldn’t breath.

What happened? Well, we’ll start at the beginning. It was a shorter session because after last week’s combat, it was time for the players to level, plus we needed to wait for a late player running late to show up, since their character (the obssessively clean stranded) was the navigator and the group wanted to be sure he got the map copied down.

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The Tabletop Report – Gears of War: Session 7

It’s time for Tabletop Report! For the uninitiated, Tabletop Report is a new series chronicling the adventures of my DnD group as I run them through a custom campaign and ruleset based off of Microsoft’s Gears of War universe.

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gears of War, and I’m totally not claiming otherwise. I just really love the universe, and have wanted to run a campaign set in it for the longest time. The system I built is entirely my own, and this game is a test-run of its viability as a full tabletop system.

This is the report summary for session 6! Prior sessions will be listed before the break if you need to catch up. Some knowledge of Gears of War‘s greater universe may be helpful. Now, let’s see what happened to our players after last week!


Session Seven – Act 1, Chapter 3 Part 3

This session was pretty much all combat, with a little roleplaying at the end. But the group came out alive, thanks to some lucky rolls on their part, clever roleplaying, and some absolutely horrid rolls on behalf of the Locust (which really was just dumb luck, all part of the game).

So, when we’d last left the group, they’d made their way through the woods to a downed King Raven chopper in a gully and found themselves ambushed. When this session opened, we picked up right where we’d left off, with the group making reflex rolls for turn order and caught right out in the open.

Their ambusher, a Locust drone, rolled a perfect 1, and thus got to go first, which made things all the more panic-striken for the group.

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The Tabletop Report – Gears of War: Session 6

It’s time for Tabletop Report! For the uninitiated, Tabletop Report is a new series chronicling the adventures of my DnD group as I run them through a custom campaign and ruleset based off of Microsoft’s Gears of War universe.

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gears of War, and I’m totally not claiming otherwise. I just really love the universe, and have wanted to run a campaign set in it for the longest time. The system I built is entirely my own, and this game is a test-run of its viability as a full tabletop system.

This is the report summary for session 6! Prior sessions will be listed before the break if you need to catch up. Some knowledge of Gears of War‘s greater universe may be helpful. Now, let’s see what happened to our players after last week!


Session Six – Act 1, Chapter 3 Part 2

When we’d last left our players, they’d decided to head out the following morning for a remote weather station out to the east, with the goal of installing a relay into it so that Ray—and the team—would have radio coverage over a larger area, as well as weather reports. However, the team didn’t want to leave the moment the sun rose. Instead, after camping out in Ray’s shop (he didn’t let them into the heavily fortified house above it) they decided to spend a little time first acquiring some more stuff from his scrapyard—mostly odds and ends to make sure that their own equipment would stay in good shape. They also hunted down a few more bike frames in order to make travel easier. Of course, they were missing tires and gears, but it was a start. They added the bike frames to the wagon and trailers they’d put together. Unfortunately, due to some poor rolls, this took them several hours.

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The Tabletop Report – Session 5

It’s time for Tabletop Report! For the uninitiated, Tabletop Report is a new series chronicling the adventures of my DnD group as I run them through a custom campaign and ruleset based off of Microsoft’s Gears of War universe.

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gears of War, and I’m totally not claiming otherwise. I just really love the universe, and have wanted to run a campaign set in it for the longest time. The system I built is entirely my own, and this game is a test-run of its viability as a full tabletop system.

This is the report summary for session 5. Prior sessions will be listed before the break if you need to catch up. Some knowledge of Gears of War‘s greater universe may be required. Now, let’s see what happened to our players after last week!


Session Four – Act 1, Chapter 3 Part 1

When we’d last left our players, they’d just finished helping Ray of Ray’s Scrapyard clear out a particularly bothersome infestation of Wild Tickers, and in return collected some weapons better than the Civil Defense stuff they were using. They’d also leveled, and the first near hour of the session simply became the group leveling and then figuring out exactly how to divvy up the loot they’d collected (along with a bit of confusion, as we’d somehow lost a piece of paper detailing part of their inventory).

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The Tabletop Report – Session 4

It’s time for Tabletop Report! For the uninitiated, Tabletop Report is a new series chronicling the adventures of my DnD group as I run them through a custom campaign and ruleset based off of Microsoft’s Gears of War universe.

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gears of War, and I’m totally not claiming otherwise. I just really love the universe, and have wanted to run a campaign set in it for the longest time. The system I built is entirely my own, and this game is a test-run of its viability as a full tabletop system.

This is the report summary for session 4. Prior sessions will be listed before the break if you need to catch up. Some knowledge of Gears of War‘s greater universe may be required. Now, let’s see what happened to our players after last week!


Session Four – Act 2, Chapter 2 Part 2

When we last left our players, they had just finished deciding to leave for Ray’s Scrap Yard, about fifteen miles north of Bedel, in search of better weapons than their starting gear—though in all fairness, the better-armed of the players had missed the first big fight as they’d been guarding the entrance when things went sideways.

That’s all in session report 3. We’re all here for session 4.

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