Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Rise of the Beta

So let me pause from the relentless promotion of Star Wars: Scourge to instead promote Guild Wars 2.

As you know, I talk about my day job rarely, and usually only when we've made a big announcement. Well, we are in the throes of our first Beta Weekend, which means that everyone who pre-purchased the game (either online or through particular shops) are being allowed in to sample our wares. And by sample I mean the three of the five races, all of the professions, and the first 30 levels. No small sample, that, but only for the weekend.

Of course, our own selfish reason for this magnificence is we really need to test out how the game works with MASSIVE numbers of MULTIPLAYERS. Test out not only the story flow and the server load but portals and the overflows and all manner of large technical details that may not be a problem if you're playing with only a few hundreds of people but suddenly loom large when huge hoards come streaming through the gates.

And we've had a lot of press in to play the game and show things off. And the results have been amazing. Here's a few of them (which feature me):

Eurogamer came to visit, took a lot of pictures of our new digs, and interviewed a slew of us. I tell my "Tibetian Temple on an Iceberg with Sails" story for what should be the last time (I have other examples - this is just the coolest one). The iceberg ship story also shows up in my talk with Becky at RPGamer.

Forbes (Forbes!) has a great interview with Mike O'Brien, our head honcho. I get a quotable in this follow-up.

I've been doing a lot of work with the Dungeon Team, and our own Will Fairfield gets a chance to show off the instanced adventures over on Gamespy. One cool thing about ArenaNet is that we have a very deep bench of competent people to talk about the game, and no fear about letting them talk about their favorite parts.

And then there's this:

This is what happens when you throw me into an interview cold. More later,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hutts Hit the Street

Scourge streets today. That's publishing lingo to say that it is now available in physical form at your better bookstores and in digital form for your electronic mojo platforms. I've been busy talking to a lot of people about the book, and a lot of people have been busy reviewing the book. Here's a big summary for this, launch day.

Roqoo Station has been incredibly busy, with a full-fledged Hutt Week to celebrate the book. I have an interview here and a review here (spoilers - they liked it). And speaking of spoilers, they did a mildly spoilerish and neatly illustrated reader's guide to the book, which is really cool.

Eric Geller interviewed me, and the results are split between Suvudu and In addition, I was engaging with this young-folks new-media stuff and did a Facebook chat on the Star Wars Books page. The discussion is more neatly summarized in a couple places, include on and Roqoo (and let it be known that, despite the photos - I have more than one Hawai'ian shirt - that's just my favorite).

I talked about the book (and about Hutts, of course), with Erin over at EUCantina. Plus there is another review there (spoilers - they liked it). Linda over at Fan Girl Blog has a nice review (spoilers - OK, I'll stop now). Plus I have an interview with her later in the week. And more reviews from Lightsaber Rattling and Alternative Worlds.

The folks at Guild Wars Insider have a mention of the book. And I have to reassure everyone that no deadlines on the game died to make this book happen.

And if all this isn't enough, here are the first FIFTY PAGES of the book for your consideration. There is more to come, and I will update going forward. In the meantime, go enjoy the book, already.

More later,

Monday, April 23, 2012

Giant Green Carnivorous Bunnies

More Star Wars memories.

The time when the original Star Wars movie came out was a nascent time for marketing and cross-promotion. I'll admit, it had almost a quaint innocence compared to the media-overload today. One of the things that was really, really cool was the fact that Star Wars had an ongoing comic book.

Because eight is better than seven
Movie adaptations had been done before - 2001: a Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes, both from Marvel. For Star Wars they rolled out a big tabloid and the first few issues of the book were the original movie. And in the wake of the original movie adaptation, the question was - what to do next? There was a larger universe out there, and at the same time, you could not radically change that universe since more movies were coming. Since the original film was a paean to the old serials, similarly the series continued with a riff on the Seven Samurai, or as most western fans had encountered the story, The Magnificent Seven.

So Han and Chewy found themselves on a distant planet, teamed up with a bundle of individuals called the Star Hoppers. They included a porcupine man named Hedji, an old guy pseudo-Jedia named Don-Wan Kihotay, a woman named Amaiza Foxtrain, a kid named Jimm Doshun ("The Starkiller Kid"), and a droid named FE-9Q ("Effie"). And a giant green carnivorous rabbit.

The rabbit's named was Jaxxon (he was a "Jaxx-rabbit", keeping with the punning), and he was large, green, and ate meat. The story itself involved the motley band protecting a small village on Aduba-3 for a bandit names Sergi-X Arrogantus, taking the Italian Western vibe of the entire project to its ultimate level.

It was a silly story, taken very seriously, and it was the FIRST comic story out of the box after those initial movies. But what I remember was the giant green rabbit, and how cool that would be to have more stories about him. And while he showed up a couple times at the edge of continuity, he and his species, the Lepi (of course), never got the respect that they deserved. I know, I'm talking about respect for a giant green bunny.

And here's where it turns personal - I read comics as a kid, then stopped in Junior High, and picked it up again when I was in college, primarily because of books like Star Wars and Howard the Duck (but that's another matter). I used to buy these books, then MAIL them to the future Lovely Bride so she could read them. And they became the start of the collection (now more of accumulation) of comics in the basement.

More later,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Huttness in Interviews!

The madness that is Scourge continues, as we see the first interviews for Scourge showing up on the 'net.

I did 20 questions with Cape Rust on Geek-Life, where we talk about Hutts, Mander, and scum-and-villainy novels!

And over at the Fictional Frontiers Podcast, you can here me in the first interview with Sohaib. Sohaib is a great interviewer, but you you can hear me hem and haw, and see why I say I have "A face made for radio, a voice made for mime."

And while we're at it, I came across a review of my LAST book, Ghosts of Ascalon, (written with the mighty Matt Forbeck), over on The Backline. His concern is in moving a game's world to another media and if it suffers in the transition, and in light of that I will take "I was pleasantly surprised at how not crappy it was" as a compliment.

And I've been reminded that not only is Scourge available in classic crushed-plant-material version (with stylish embossed cover), but also as a heaping handful of digital bits for your Kindle.

AND I want to thank everyone for putting up with all of this linkage. After the book makes its street date next Tuesday, I will resume talking about collectible quarters. No, really.

More later,

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hutt Updates - A Giveaway!

The folks at Roqoo Depot are giving away copies of Scourge! Vote for your favorite Hutt and get a chance to win a copy of the book! (AND it continues here!)

And Lightsaber Rattling is doing a book giveaway as well! Check it out.

AND furthermore, is giving copies away as well. Woo!

More later,

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bitts of Hutts

Yes, I have more Star Wars-y things to say, but it is a pleasant Friday the 13th in Seattle, so I'm sending you to some micro-excerpts for Scourge to start the weekend off.

The Star Wars Books Facebook page has been running short excerpts from the book. Roqoo Depot has been collecting them up, and here is the latest, complete with links back to the previous ones.


More later,

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Play: Once More Into the Breaches

Or, by Liz Duffy Adams, directed by Allison Narver, Seattle Repertory through April 22

[Yes, I will return to relentlessly promoting Scourge: Star Wars, but let us take a break here for a little Restoration Comedy.]

I almost feel the need to recuse myself, since I know the lead. Well, I don't KNOW her, but I know her voice, since she's recorded voices for the upcoming Guild Wars 2 game (and I may have been in the booth recording her on a couple sessions, but honestly when we're in recording mode everything becomes a bit of a blur and it is only the professionalism of the actors and the booth crew that keeps us sane). So even with her Brit on, I hear familiar lines and cadences. From the opening declamation (given from the left-hand balcony box), it took me a moment for my brain to readjust. It knocked me a bit off my pins.

And I suppose that readjustment is all well and good, in that the play is all about dualisms. Dualisms in gender. In identity. In life choices. This, or that, and the search for both. All wrapped up in a Restoration farce strained through a fine mesh of Stones-era Mod London.

The Restoration, for those who have a hard time with American history, is the period of the 1660's, when the British Crown was restored.  Charles I had been offed by Cromwell's mob, and the roundheads in turn were beaten by the royalists and Charles II was lofted onto the throne. The Commonwealth forces had closed the theaters, and Charles reopened them. And while I tend to democracy, I favor the side that rewards the artists (and the writers). This new theater is not Shakespeare's - women are allowed on the stage now, and in an interesting turn are now cross-dressing themselves, playing male roles, or "breaches parts".

So Or, (yes, the comma is part of the title) centers around Aphra Behn, who was a remarkable woman of her age. Credited as the first female writer that actually made money at it, she was a former spy (like Defoe was later), who turned to writing, making a mark for herself both as poet and as playwright. Her works went into hiding with later eras seeking to cover them up, and she has had a resurgence in recent year. In short, the play is about her making the transition between spy (imprisoned for debt because the Crown doesn't have the money to pay) and celebrated playwright. It is also about her and her current cerebral lover (Charles himself), her and her former lover (another spy who wants to come in from the cold named William Scott), and her new potential lover (Nell Gwyn, who will become Charles II's eventual paramour).

So yes, this has all the making of a farce, complete with multiple door slams and people hiding in the armoire.  Cranking up the frantic activity is that there are but three actors on boards. Kirsten Potter (who's voice belongs to an eight-foot tall shape-shifting barbarian in our game) commands the stage as Aphra.  Montana von Fliss (Previously in The Three Musketeers a few years back) is primarily Nell with sidetrips into jailers and large-bottomed maidservants. Basil Harris is both Charles and William Scott, as well as Monty-Pythonesque turn in drag as the theater owner who is going to give Aleph her big break, provided she delivers her play by the morning, all while William Scott is in the armoire and Nell and Charles are canoodling in the bedroom.

Wackiness ensues, made all the moreso by a swinging sixties London gloss. Von Fliss as Nell has a predatory sexuality and a Mick Jagger-swagger. Rock chords accompany the changes of action. There is a paen to Arcadia, the idealized pastoral utopia of the age, in which the music sweeps up and you expect the cast to break into Donovan's "Atlantis". And for the King and the actress frolicking offstage, you get a few bars of Bowie's "All the Young Dudes", The spirit of Mick and Keith hang like beneficent gods, even if the good weed they speak of is tobacco from the Colonies.

Similarly, the language is rough and bawdy as well, with bombs of the F variety lobbed with the casual care of Guy Fawkes on his day off. The costuming by Catherine Hunt is opulent and sexy, in particular with the gender-casual styles of both Aphra and Nell. Indeed, with the clothes, doors slamming, gender-swapping, and casual relationships, this is closer to the Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms than the true Britain of the age. 

But it is Kirsten Potter as Aphra that holds the entire proceedings together, as the increasingly frustrated writer with a deadline and all manner of distractions. As the central constant in the piece, she is the touchstone for the rest of her, and her challenges outweigh the concerns of the others. The choices faced, chosen, and merged is the center of the play, expertly and amusingly dispatched, and well worth checking out.

More later,

Monday, April 09, 2012

A long time ago, a galaxy far away

My first exposure to Star Wars was not by name. It was in when I was a sophomore in college (76-77), and was at the Pizza Keg in West Lafayette, Ind, with a group of other D&D players/SCAers/ and SF Fans. One of them was talking about a new movie coming out.

"It's science fiction," he said, "But the guys in the white space armor are the bad guys".

And that's the first I had learned about Star Wars.

It is kind of strange, in our media-savvy universe to see something like this creep up on people. I was aware of a novel (it showed up in the local at the Stewart Center (Purdue's student union)  for two weeks, before being rotated out). I think there was a very excited and long article in TIME that showed up the week of release.

And there were the radio ads. Yes, radio ads. They played all summer. I don't know if they do radio ads for movies anymore, but we had radio ads. I still remember "The Death Breath of the Dark Lord".

And then, the movie itself. It played in ONE LOCATION in Pittsburgh during that first run. And that was a multiplex out near Monroeville, twenty miles away. So our D&D gang gathered together, carpooled in our parents cars, and made the trip out, to a packed weekend theater and a line (a line! for an SF movie!) out front.

Once inside, the lights went down, and the opening drumroll for 20th Cent Fox. The simple tagline on the screen, the John Williams anthem, and the crawl.

And then that first shot, over Tatooine, of the blockade runner pursued by the Star Destroyer. The Star Destroyer that filled the top of the screen, and KEPT ON COMING. And you thought it was done, but no, that was just the cargo bay, there was MORE SHIP to come.

That was the gosh-wow moment for me. I was willing to buy everything else after that moment.

That's what I remember about the first Star Wars movie. I think we made the pilgrimage about a dozen times. Me, the future Lovely Bride, and the members of our D&D group. One time I took my little sister (who would have 13, and was impressed that my friend Frank could do a Wookiee imitation). Once the theater was so full, we had to sit in the front row, and the star destroyer rumbled overhead. And it was really cool.

More later,

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Scourge: The Offer

So of course, part of being a writer these days is not just the ability to string words together, create engaging characters and pose for a decent author's picture (a skill that I have yet to master). In Century 21, you also have to leverage the social media in order to maximize your exposure. Yeah, I had to look that one up.

So, with Scourge coming out on the 24th of this month (as I've mentioned elsewhere), I'm going to try my hand at that with an offer. The guys at Del Rey pretty much have the sites that talk about Star Wars covered, but I get a lot of traffic here from my previous lives in D&D, comic books, fiction, and games, as well as my current alternate life creating stuff for Guild Wars.

So here is the deal - if you have a website or contribute to a larger site or aggregator, and you want to ask some questions about Scourge, my upcoming Star Wars novel, drop me a line at the grubbstreet email address, tucked under the handsome picture of myself at the right. I will pass the information along to Greg, my marketing guy at Del Rey, and he can set things up. I can do podcast interviews as well, though I will note that I am much more charming and witty when I have the time to take several minutes thinking about the question (which makes for good interviews but a lot of dead air).

Yes, I can answer questions about other stuff, but this is primarily about Scourge (OK, I can talk about the old Star Wars game from WotC, I guess. That's probably in-bounds). Any questions about Guild Wars would have to go through a different set of channels (though the answer to the question you have is: "When it's ready"). This is an experiment to see if we can talk about a Star Wars novel in places other than the regular Star Wars sites. And any sites that do interviews have those interviews mentioned in this space. If you're interested, send me a note.

After all, talk is cheap. At least, that's what people tell me.

More later,

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


And so it begins.

I haven't talked much about Scourge, my Star Wars novel, in this space. Part of the reason why is that I hate to talk about things until they are done. And by done, I mean in-your-hands, hey-ma-look-what-I-did done. The modern marketplace is a strange thing, and in order to make sure things "land" properly, often stuff changes. So only when I have a physical book in my physical possession do I feel comfortable talking about it.


Scourge has an official street date - April 24 of this year. That's about three weeks away. And so, you're going to get about three weeks of notes, comments, interviews, and other nonesuch about the book. Material will be promoted. Insights will be made. Links will be had.

Speaking of the last, the good folk at Del Rey have been teasing the heck out of the book. They have released the front matter (the first part of the book that you usually skip over to get to the meat, including the dedication, acknowledgements, timeline, and legal stuff ) AS WELL AS the first pages of the introduction and first twelve pages of the book. Click on the cover in the reader-shaped object to open it up and enjoy. Its the electronic equivalent of flipping through the book at the store and pulling a couple choice paragraphs out, before you decide to buy.

Go check it out.

More later,