Blizzard testing a real money cash shop in WOW

8 07 2013

Since 2004 World of Warcraft has been the king of the MMO hill.

Challengers have tried to emulate it’s success and have come and gone, many of them have vanished without a trace and those that are left have slipped into the murky realm of Free to Play.

For a mighty nine years now Blizzard have been gorging on the millions of monthly subscriptions that it’s cash cow has generated.

However those days seem to be coming to an end. As the postponement of Project Titan has suggested even the mighty Blizz has to tighten it’s belt on occasion.

Whilst this by itself doesnt imply that the end is nigh for WOW’s subscription model there are other signs that change is afoot in the World of Azeroth.

Sharp eyed dataminers have come across links to real-money items – for instance, a 100 percent XP boost called the Enduring Elixir of Wisdom – while trawling through test server updates.

Rather than crush the rumour or just ignore Blizzard have actually come forward with an explanation on the official forums:

“We are currently exploring the possibility of adding a way for players in certain regions to make purchases directly within the game. As part of this process, elements related to this will be appearing on the PTR. We’ll provide additional updates on our plans as development progresses.”

Does this mean that Blizzard have hit the free to play panic button? Of course not. However it does suggest that this isn’t as ridiculous a suggestion as it would have seemed 12/18 months ago.

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Discworld reading order

11 06 2013

I was having a discussion with a colleague at work this morning about Terry Pratchett’s wonderful Discworld series.

He has only just stumbled upon Discworld and was wondering what order to read the books in.

I was busy drawing up a little flow chart when I realised that someone, somewhere on the internet had probably beaten me to it.

Lo and behold the good people at lspace.org have indeed created such a chart which is really very good.

the-discworld-reading-order-guide-20

Suffice to say I am very, very impressed!

 





HBO Developing Series Based on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods

22 04 2011

The series based on Gaiman’s 2001 novel would showcase his new pantheon of deities based on American culture.

 The details are scarce, but HBO is currently in talks to write and film a pilot for a new fantasy series. Interestingly, the series would be produced by Playtone – the outfit of Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman who made Big Love and Band of Brothers. Gaiman first gained notoriety as a comic book writer with his Sandman series in the late eighties but he’s since branched into writing novels, short stories and movies (Beowulf). Gaiman’s works are no stranger to adaptation as his novella Coraline become the 2009 animated film and his Graveyard Book is also tapped to be a feature film. No one knows who would write the script for American Gods or when production would begin, but it seems that HBO is becoming more interested in genre content with the success of True Blood and the imminent Game of Thrones.

The main character in American Gods is an ex-convict called Shadow, who starts working as a bodyguard for a mysterious con-man named Mr. Wednesday. As Wednesday travels across the United States meeting with strange people, Shadow eventually figures out that his employer is an incarnation of the Norse god Odin and that he is recruiting other mythological figures whose power has diminished to fight a war against new American “deities” such as the Internet, media, and mass transportation.

Typically I don’t watch a lot of telly but I really have to take my hat off to HBO who in recent years have pumped out some absolute crackers;  Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and Six Feet Under to name a few.

Having watched the first episode twice so far it seems that Game of Thrones is set to be another classic and if they do even half as good a job with American Gods it will be outstanding.

Original source Hollywood Reporter




The Magician’s Guild – Trudi Canavan

20 12 2010

The Magicians' Guild (Black Magician Trilogy, #1)The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan

Seeing as the story revolves around a pre-teen child who has no knowledge of her magical abilities but ends up being whisked away to a magicians guild and ends up being pretty much the top of the pile there were always going to be similarities drawn between this book and the Harry Potter series.

I really can understand how on the face of things it all seems a bit of a coincidence. Especially when in the second book of the trilogy we discover that the real enemies were believed defeated years ago but are back in secret and it will take huge sacrifice to defeat them…

Ok so I lied –  the similarities aren’t just on the surface. This really does read in parts like a mild re-write of some of the HP books.

But that didn’t really detract from my overall enjoyment, not just of this book but of the trilogy as a whole. The story is different enough that you don’t feel like you should just be replacing the name Sonea with that of HP himself and for the most part is well written, if a tad simplistic.

The class issues that Canavan brings up are a little bit clumsy and play out much as expected but even so it is a nice touch and helps keeps things fresh when otherwise you could be about to swap the Magicians Guild for Hogwarts.

There are however two big problems for me that keep me from scoring this book higher and unfortunately they carry on pretty much through out the latter installments of the trilogy.

Firstly there is the characterisation which is a little bit lacking on occasion.
The principal characters are surprisingly two-dimensional and formulaic and you never really find yourself building any attachment to them or indeed giving two hoots as to whether they all die in a fire.

This is a real shame as there is plenty of potential to really build some tension between the main protagonists right from the start.

 One prime example of this is the relationship between Sonea and her friends in the slums; it is obvious that Cery, one of the thieves, has strong feelings for Sonea but rather than build this up into anything too deep or emotive Canavan has the character dismiss his own feelings and cast them aside quite casually over the space of two or three paragraphs.

The second big issue that I have with this series is that I never really get a sense of immersion into the world the story is set in.

The slums and the guild are outlined reasonably well but even they are rather thin on detail and everywhere else we venture is so sketchily outlined that you are squinting to see it.

I am not asking for Tolkien like levels of detail about every blade of grass crushed underfoot but I would like to feel some sense of connection.

If I had to give an example of a fantasy writer who manages to pull this off to perfection it would have to be Terry Pratchett; on one hand I haven’t a clue what colour the second daffodil to the left of the buttercup and indeed don’t want to know was but on the other hand I can walk the streets of Ankh Morpork in my head without having to fill in huge chunks of blank canvas.

When I read that Sam Vimes stops and buys a sausage in a bun off of C.M.O.T Dibbler I can not only see Sator Square where they are standing I can smell the sausage.

In contrast to this I can read that some Bolhouse (a pub in Sonea’s world) is about to be destroyed by marauding Sachakan magicians (the bad magicians) and I really couldn’t give two figs. I haven’t a clue about the place in question other than the mere fact that it is a kind of pub and that they better have insurance. 

I am probably coming off sounding more displeased with this series than I mean to; it really isn’t bad but I feel that it lacks depth and a bit of originality and I am hoping that Canavan’s next installments will give me a bit less Potter and a bit more sense of her world and what she wants the reader to see.

View all my reviews





Terry Pratchett joins staff of Trinity College in Dublin

3 11 2010

Fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett has been added to the academic staff of Trinity College University in Dublin.

Pratchett’s first lecture will take place on Thursday 4 November at 7 pm and has been entitled ‘The importance of being absolutely amazed about everything’.

“Professor Sir Terry Pratchett brings a new depth of creative genius to our cohort of distinguished international adjuncts in our School of English,” commented Provost John Hegarty.

“His contribution to the student experience and to the wider Trinity experience will be absolutely unique and we are delighted to have him on our staff.”

Just how awesome is this??

Imagine walking into your lecture and being greeted by arguably one of the greatest fantasy writers of all time!

See the article in full at : http://www.joe.ie/news-politics/current-affairs/terry-pratchett-joins-staff-at-trinity-college-dublin-006625-1





Martin Freeman to play Bilbo Baggins

1 11 2010

I am  a little behind the times on this as I have been up the walls recently and haven’t been looking at the entertainment news as much as I normally would so

But there it was in black and white Martin Freeman (no relation to Morgan) of The Office fame is to play Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming Hoobbit movie!!!.

Personally I think that he will be perfect for the role, not only is he English and I have always visualised Hobbits as being essentially fat little Englishmen, but he looks exactly like a Hobbit!

This is going to be a really big step in the right direction for Freeman, who has come a long, long way from his days as Tim in The Office or as John; the actor who is filming a sex scene with the oh so appealing Joanna Page of Gavin and Stacey fame in Love Actually.

I am now even more excited about these films then I was previously and that was fairly excited let me tell you! As much as I love the Lord of the Rings and have read it far more times then I should probably admit to the Hobbit has always held a special place in my heart.

I had always enjoyed reading, even as a small child but it was Tolkien’s story about a Hobbit that lived in a hole in the ground and the adventures that he had that really started my life long love of fantasy books.








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