Updates: A New Gig, Stargate, Three Worlds, and More

I’m sorry for not posting more lately. I’ve been very busy. There are a lot of things going on at the moment I would have in the past done deep dive posts on, but I don’t have the time or energy these days. I didn’t want to leave this blog to rot, though, so I’ll do a quick rundown of all that’s new.

The official logo for Dungeons and Dragons, fifth editionFirstly, part of the reason I’m so busy is that I’ve picked up another new writing gig. I’m not sure how much I’m contractually allowed to say in public right now, but I can say that it’s writing Fifth Edition adventures. It’s not for Wizards of the Coast; it’s a third party producing adventures under the Open Gaming License. It’s a fairly well-established company, though. I already knew them before I even applied for the job.

It’s also not clear to me if this is a short-term thing or something that will be ongoing for the foreseeable future. I think it depends on how happy they are with my work.

Professional game design is something I’ve always wanted to do, so I’m glad to have the opportunity, but the workload is more than I’m used to, so it’s taking a lot out of me. Someone without my disabilities would probably be fine, but for me it’s taking a lot of energy. To their credit, my new employers have been pretty patient and even made accommodations to work with my unpredictable schedule.

This has delayed work on my own tabletop game, Wyrd Street. I’m unsure if I’ve mentioned it on this blog before, but I do plan to talk about it at some point. For now the short version for those who haven’t already been told about it is that it’s a D20-based RPG about ordinary heroes in a fantastical world. It draws a lot of inspiration from the earlier sections of Dragon Age II.

The idea at the heart of it is that anyone can be the hero, no matter what the rest of the world thinks of you or what struggles you might have in your life. You might not be a hero of legend, but you can be a hero to the people who depend on you. You might not save the world, but you can still save someone’s world.

That’s on the backburner while I focus on the new job, but I hope to get back to it at some point. Early play-tests were going well. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. Several people have said they enjoy combat in Wyrd Street more than in 5E.

The Stormfall palace in Wolcen: Lords of MayhemOn the video game front, those who follow my column on Massively Overpowered may have noticed I got sucked into Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem. I just finished the campaign, and I definitely want to play more, but I also have a lot of other stuff in my backlog I want to get to, and while I think Wolcen’s polish issues have been exaggerated, waiting for a few more patches to smooth out some of the rougher edges doesn’t seem like the worst idea. We’ll see how I feel; the combat and the build system in that game are just so addictive.

I did finally break down and pick up Nier: Automata on a Steam flash sale recently, so I hope to get to that soon, as well. Still a lot left to do in Star Trek Online, too.

Speaking of sci-fi, now that I finally have a library card, I discovered they have the entire series of Stargate: SG-1 on DVD, so I’ve been binge watching through that.

Despite the fact I’ve seen every episode of Atlantis and Universe, I’d only seen bits and pieces of SG-1 prior to now. I got interested in it pretty late in the game, and it was never on TV at times that were convenient to me. Then I didn’t have a TV. DVDs are too expensive, and there’s never been a convenient way to stream it.

But now I’m finally getting to watch it all in order. I just started on season four, and the show finally seems to be find its footing.

I won’t lie; if I didn’t know for a fact the series gets better, I might have given up on SG-1 in the first few seasons. It’s not that it’s terrible or anything, but it’s not enormously compelling either, and some aspects of it really haven’t aged well. It does feel like it’s starting to find more of a voice now, though, and I know the best is yet to come.

I’m also binging Welcome to Night Vale pretty hard right now. I got tickets to a live show in my area for later this month, and while I know it isn’t strictly necessary, I want to be fully caught up before I go. I’ve “only” got about twenty episodes left now, though I also want to listen to the recordings of all the previous live shows, and I haven’t touched those yet.

Official art for the audio drama Welcome to Night ValeI also finally tried one of the other shows by that company, Alice Isn’t Dead. Only listened to a few episodes so far, but my first impression is it’s really damn good. A bit Secret World-esque, and I adore Jasika Nicole’s voice. Wish I could get her to narrate my life.

Finally, when it comes to books, I just got done reading a collection of short fiction set in Ian Irvine’s Three Worlds setting, A Wizard’s War and Other Stories. It was fine and all, but I definitely expected more. None of the stories really jumped out as being super memorable. Don’t regret reading it, but it’s definitely not essential, even if you’re a serious Three Worlds fan.

On the Stargate: Universe Comics

I love Stargate: Universe. If you’re a regular reader, you probably know it’s one of my favourite shows of all time. Its premature cancellation left a hole in my heart that’s never quite been filled.

Cover art for an issue of the Stargate: Universe comicsWhen it was announced the series would continue in a series of canonical comics, my feelings were decidedly mixed. I want to cheer any continuation of Universe, but I’m not a big comics reader, and it’s not the same without the fantastic performances of actors like Robert Carlyle and Louis Ferreira. More worryingly, the comics would not be written by the same people who brought us SG:U, nor would they follow the long-term series plan created by Robert Cooper.

Still, while strolling through Indigo, my eyes landed on a compilation of the first six issues of the comics, and I couldn’t contain my curiosity.

It was a decidedly mixed experience.

The one thing the comics do very well is capture the characters. They’re all immediately recognizable as their old selves. Rush is still a shifty bastard, Eli is still a lovable dork, and Colonel Young is the gruff father figure we all know and love. Even their speech patterns have been captured perfectly. I was constantly hearing the actors’ voices in my head as I was reading.

The good news, sadly, pretty much ends there.

This is basically Deus Ex Machina: The Series. It’s just an endless spree of incredibly lucky breaks for the Destiny and its crew. If that sounds out of character for SG:U, congratulations, you’ve seen at least one episode of the series. The tone is just way off, and the end result is the removal of much of the struggle that made Universe special as a story.

What makes this even more egregious is that the story doesn’t really advance any other way. We learn nothing new about the mysteries of the Destiny or its mission. The eternally rushed comic book medium doesn’t have space to develop the relationships and character arcs that were so memorable on the show. The entire focus is on the festival of deus ex machinas.

These comics are the brainchild of writers who previously worked on Stargate: Atlantis, and honestly, I can’t escape the impression that their main goal was to turn Universe into Atlantis so they’d be back on familiar ground.

I’m a fan of Atlantis, too, but what made Universe special was that it broke new ground. It had its own character that was separate from the other incarnations of Stargate. The writers of these comics either don’t understand or don’t appreciate that, and for that reason I don’t think I can give the comics a recommendation, much as I wish it were otherwise.