Angry Thoughts On Jay Kristoff’s Novel Stormdancer

stormdancerI finished Stormdancer, a novel by Jay Kristoff, over the weekend. It tells the story of Yukiko, daughter to a huntmaster in not-really Japan, though with plenty of steampunk laid over the top of Japanese myth. I picked it up for the same reason listed on the cover by Patrick Rothfuss:

“What’s this? A Japanese Steampunk novel with mythical creatures and a strong female protagonist? Yeah, I’m all over that. Though honestly, you had me at ‘Japanese Steampunk.’”

I’m not a very good critic. There’s a lot I don’t notice when I’m reading a book. Was the Japanese proper? I have no idea, my knowledge of the language comes from games like Persona 4. How was the writing? It seemed okay, I guess — the opening of the book was a bit of a slog, with a lot of world detail getting in the way of actual characters. But there were three things about Stormdancer that I didn’t like, and as someone who’s trying to write himself, I wanted to get them down in words.

There are spoilers here for Stormdancer, so the two people that read this never-updated blog can be warned.

Violence In Steampunk

I love the aesthetic appeal of steampunk. Buckles and goggles and airships and age of exploration with the industrial age laid on top of it. I like that a lot. I’ve played plenty of videogames that use that design idea. I’ve read a decent number of books that explore steampunk as well — Stormdancer, The Court of the Air, and The Falling Machine come to mind right now — and I picked up a few short story anthologies, creatively named Steampunk and Steampunk 2.

I’ve come to expect a few things in steampunk literature. Class conflicts, absolutely — the rise of technology makes life terrible for the lower classes, and that plays into the Victorian era, as I very badly understand it. Aerial feats of derring-do, yes. Airships, certainly. Goggles, of course, you can’t not have the goggles.

The violence.

Stormdancer doesn’t drink deep of the blood of its enemies, but it goes into some body horror territory with the Guardsmen, and Yukiko is very often elbow deep in the blood and guts of her enemies. The book ends with a tremendous body count, with her father, her father’s love, and Yukiko’s ill-advised love interest dying within maybe ten pages of each other.

The Falling Machine went overboard in its violence. I understand that it’s steampunk superheroes, but the scene with one character on a chair being forcibly transformed into a mechanical creature is the kind of thing I’d be hammering on the start button to skip, were I playing it as a game. It stopped being descriptive and started just being cruel.

The Court of the Air gets downright nasty at times, though I admit my memory of it isn’t very sharp. I remember some incredibly horrible things being mentioned in the setting, like ripping off some child’s arms so he would be a king or something. I don’t know. I just remember thinking, “What the hell, author.”

Maybe this is just me talking, and maybe I’m not reading the right books, but this just seems unnecessary. You don’t need to swear hundreds of times to make your work edgy, and you don’t need to take glory in the torture of your protagonists and supporting characters to make them troubled, or make your work stand out, or whatever.

Character Death

This one is very particular to me, very much a personal taste, so I’ll keep it short.

There are ways to challenge characters without killing people. You can still hurt a character, make them suffer, make them grow and overcome, without killing people.

By the time Stormdancer ends it has killed every single member of Yukiko’s family — three in flashback if you count her dog, and one and a half in the story proper — Kasumi (father’s lover) and Masaru (father). Masaru has a touching final moment with Kasumi, giving him motivation and loss, and then he goes and dies inside of three pages saying Yukiko from getting killed by Yoritomo.

It’s lazy.

Character dies. Other character mourns. There’s nowhere else you can go with that now. There’s no resolution, there’s no payoff, it’s just a dead end. It ties it up neat and easy, removes any chance for that character to have happiness in that aspect of her life, and then you move onto the next bit of suffering.

I’m not against character death, but I feel like every character death needs to happen for a reason, an actual reason, and really serve the story. That’s my personal take on character death. I understand that not everyone agrees with me, and it’s a matter of personal taste. Perfectly fine with that.

Misogyny

This one is very particular to me, and I will not keep this short.

Patrick Rothfuss said “strong female protagonist” in his recommendation on the front cover of the book. Yukiko is a pretty strong protagonist, I’m not going to rant about her here. I think she did pretty well, and he did a good job writing her as a warrior and a girl, and how those aren’t mutually exclusive, nor do they overwrite each other. She remained a character, not a tool.

Too bad all the other women in the story were fucking victims.

Why is the emperor a bad man? Because he’s a terrible abusive rapist. Oh, and he desires his sister sexually because why not, let’s make sure everyone dislikes him so when he gets his mind crushed by Yukiko at the end everyone is cheering. There’s a throwaway line with the second-in-command where he says that the consort for the emperor will be sent home once the signs of his… eager attentions fade. Because of course that line’s there.

What happened to Yukiko’s mother? Oh, she was killed, while pregnant, by the emperor, so he could continue chewing cardboard scenery and give Masaru some motivation. Because of course she does.

Yukiko runs into another woman in the Kage village. She has been horribly disfigured by the emperor because, I don’t remember, the emperor is a Bad Man. Because of course he is.

Kasumi dies because of course she dies, she’s the woman. She is there only to provide motivation to Masaru. The last guy in that group, whose name I don’t recall right now and I apologize, he lives. Because of course he does.

The emperor’s sister, a strong ally in the plan to take down her brother, dies offscreen at the end. Killed by her brother. I don’t remember if he said he enjoyed her death, or how, or if I just filled that part in because of course he did.

When it’s time for someone to yell at Yukiko, what do they call her? Slut, whore, filth, bitch, because of course they do. Of course they do.

That undoes — that more that undoes any success your protagonist had. You can’t say that you’re writing a strong female protagonist if she’s the only one who doesn’t get horribly murdered or raped for the crime of being a woman in your story.

It’s lazy at best. It’s hateful at worst.

Regardless, it has no place in contemporary writing.

Final verdict — sorely disappointed, vaguely disgusted.

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And Now For Something Completely Different — Final Fantasy Puns

So they’re apparently going to make Final Fantasy XIII-3, which is surprising since that specific game is terrible. Apparently no one told Square.

I vented about this to a coworker, and things got a bit weird.

Matt: I think this franchise has definitely jumped the moogle.
Richard: I think that the series’ airship left the port a while back.
Matt: I think that series never got the tonberry out of the gate.
Richard: Square is really getting esperate.
Matt: It’s definitely not the behemoth it once was.
Richard: Is their ultima goal to drive away the fanbase?
Matt: It sure seems that way. The designers can’t get their heads out of the clouds.
Richard: I’m with you in that XIII-3 will definitely be a bomb.
Matt: But what difference can we make? Just fighting the tide, us.
Richard: These strange decisions are making dedicated fans like yourself wakka way from these games.
Matt: I certainly don’t want to seymour of where this franchise is headed.
Richard: They need to come up with a new strategy esuna rather than later.
Matt: This has become a Holy terror. They need to Fire everyone involved with XIII, and stop trying to compete with the games made by Activision-Blizzard. Monster corridors aren’t going to Protect them against the betrayed fans, so they need to Restore their design with all Haste and Heal this series before all that’s left is the Death of Final Fantasy.
Richard: *applause*

I feel that was a good use of my time.

The Future of Final Fantasy

At E3 2012, Square Enix unveiled a rather impressive video showcasing the new Luminous Engine. They called it Agni’s Philosophy, though they didn’t say that there was an actual game in the works. This could just be a tech demo, like the fanboy-baiting Final Fantasy VII PS3 demo at the beginning of this generation. It could be a sly preview for a game we’ll see sometime in 2019, with Square’s current development timelines.

What it isn’t, though, is pretty clear — it isn’t Final Fantasy XV, it isn’t Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and it isn’t Final Fantasy Type-0. And that’s bad.

Final Fantasy Type-0 is already out in Japan, and has been for a while. Square Enix has promised that the PSP RPG will make it to the West eventually, but E3 came and went without a single mention of it or the rumored Vita HD version. Not getting a Final Fantasy in the States seems almost impossible in this day and age of releasing Final Fantasy IV on everything this side of the Colecovision, but I’m starting to worry that Type-0 is vaporware.

And speaking of vaporware, Final Fantasy Versus XIII will almost certainly miss any theoretical 2012 release date, meaning we are on year six since its announcement with only a few minutes of what might have been gameplay to show for it. I remain intrigued for it — what they have shown looks incredible, with a Kingdom Hearts HD feel to the combat, good character designs, and an interesting tie to the mythology of Final Fantasy XIII. But it’s moved engines once already in its development, and Nomura stated in mid-2011 that they hadn’t even begun full development on it yet. I’m concerned that the first two hours of Versus XIII will be incredible, and the remaining 78 pedestrian.

Final Fantasy XV doesn’t even exist yet, but I’m already anxious for its announcement. We’ve had multiple missteps, the JRPG is in decline, and the Final Fantasy name has come to mean spin-offs and re-releases versus high quality RPGs. Whatever Square does here is going to be huge, less for the game and more for what it means for the future of the genre and the future of the franchise. The game itself also needs to be good, but that shouldn’t be too hard; hire the Ivalice team back, lock the director of XIII in a closet for four years, and just let them make the spiritual successor to Final Fantasy XII. Cast Troy Baker as the male lead. Put a moogle in a musketeer hat and have him join the party. Nolan North voices the moogle. There, I’ve saved Final Fantasy. Wasn’t that hard, was it?

Press B To Innovate – Asura’s Wrath

Asura’s Wrath very well may be the oddest game I’ve ever played. Calling it a game almost seems to be stretching the definition a bit too far for my liking, but it also uses its status as a game in some of the most intelligent and amazing ways that I’ve ever seen.

Asura’s Wrath is the story of the demigod Asura and his prodigious wrath. His story is told across three seasons of six episodes each, with most every episode ending on a rather dramatic cliffhanger. The game is structured like an anime, and this goes beyond just the episodic style — there are commercial bumpers in every episode, and when you return from commercial sometimes you see the same scene you saw before you went to commercial, to better set the moment. Credits play over the top of every opening, with longer credits rolling after the end of each season. The action is framed beautifully with incredible camerawork that really understands what the game is trying to do. There are multiple moments where I was reminded of Darksiders and its comic-book-panel-ready cutscenes, where a game was used to tell a story that would have fit just as well in another medium. Each episode took about twenty minutes to play out.

Asura’s Wrath is the video game version of Simon Says, where the player is asked to do little more than match the button appearing onscreen and occasionally engage in some rudimentary arena combat. It can, and has, been called Quick-Time-Event: The Game.

Both of those are accurate descriptions of the game, and both of those leave far too much out.

The rest of this post will be full of interface spoilers as well as a few story spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

Asura’s Wrath uses some damn fine QTEs to tell an utterly ridiculous story. The first boss battle of the game is against a man named Wyzen, chewing scenery like a starving man, who starts out an equal foe to Asura. After being punched off a cliff, Wyzen grows to roughly five hundred feet high, and the battle continues. During this fight missiles are launched from a ship orbiting the planet, but many of these missiles are caught by Asura and punched back into the ship until it explodes and crashes. The game then turns into Space Harrier for a little bit as Asura and Wyzen race each other before leaping into the air and trying to punch each other. Asura wins and Wyzen is shot into space.

Once in space, Wyzen grows until he can hold the planet like a basketball, and decides to squash Asura by poking the planet with his finger. Asura catches his finger with all six arms (Asura gets so angry he grows more arms — I should have mentioned that), and then punches that finger so much so that Wyzen explodes.

It bears repeating that this is the first boss in the game, and it only goes up from there.

Asura’s Wrath is barely a videogame, yet it uses the fact that it IS a videogame to do some incredible things.

The achievements are perfectly timed and placed — pressing B when prompted to “shut Wyzen up” has Asura punch Wyzen into a wall, and the second Wyzen impacts the stone the achivement pops. “15G – Shut Up, Wyzen!”

The arena battles exist primarily to get you to the next ridiculous display; enemies do not have health bars. Asura has a Rage meter, and once you fill that rage meter you press RT to Burst, and whenever you hit Burst something insane is going to take place. The game knows how that bar works, and it uses it incredibly well. During one villain’s monologue, the bar steadily fills, and when Asura’s dead wife or kidnapped daughter is mentioned, the bar jerks forward, filling up faster at the sound of their names. When Asura sees a concerned girl following after him, this bar empties when he stops and shows compassion and worry for her. When Asura activates a later form in battle, the type of gauge he’s using changes to match that form.

The QTEs themselves follow the rules QTEs must follow to not be awful. If you’re going to punch someone really freaking yard, the prompt is Y, the heavy attack. Analog stick movements match the direction the character is going, all the bare minimum needed for me to keep my hair in my head. I didn’t come across a QTE with a fail-state, and at no point are you chaining together four buttons to jump up a hill, you’re pressing one button to punch a guy into the moon and another button to punch the moon into the guy. As soon as you are familiar with how the QTEs work, though, Asura’s Wrath starts doing some really interesting and satisfying things with them.

Early in the game, you have to press the B button a whole lot to fill up Asura’s Wrath and Burst into the enemies. Later in the game, the screen is FULL of the B button, with every press knocking out one of those buttons. Asura’s usual battle stance, activated by press the left stick left and the right stick right, changes to have at least ten icons on each side, and Asura unleashes a dozen arms from his back as he prepares for battle. One battle features the QTE “timing circle,” for lack of a better word, going in slow motion, and then in reverse.

The last battle does the most interesting thing I saw, though. The villain has its own QTEs, with white button prompts, and you see every press it makes. As Asura gains the upper hand, the enemy starts failing, just like the player has undoubtedly done over the course of the game, and at the end of the battle the Burst trigger takes up the entire screen. I very nearly jumped out of my chair like the Redskins scored a game-winning touchdown. I did shout “Burst!” and throw up the horns.

Asura’s Wrath uses its knowledge of its status as a game so well that it stumped me. One villain electrocuted another one and threw her into a wall, and the instant she hit the wall I got the “disconnected from Xbox Live” message on my 360. Does my 360 often knock itself offline? Yes. Was that a thematically appropriate moment for that kind of fourth-wall breakage? Absolutely. Do I know if it was on purpose or a happy accident? Not in the slightest.

Asura’s Wrath will probably never happen again, and that might be a good thing; these kinds of tricks could get really old, really fast, and as a full $60 product plus DLC for the “true” ending is really too much to ask. All that said, though, it’s one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in 2012 by far.

BURST

Tuesday Morning Roundup

Virtual Monday is the best kind of Monday; I’ve got a head start on the weekend. What did I do with a three-day weekend free of obligations?

I played Asura’s Wrath to completion. I had no desire to play Asura’s Wrath from reading previews; it was only when I watched the Giant Bomb Quick Look that I realized this was a game I desperately wanted. I plan on talking more about this later on today if time allows.

I finished Hajime Saito’s route in Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom. That remains a fantastic game, and of the four routes I have heard about or played myself, I think the ending of Saito’s path is the most satisfying.

I also finished Theft of Swords, the first book out by Michael J. Sullivan. I also plan on talking more about this, but I liked this a great deal and think it’s worth continuing. Keeping a handle on my spending is the only reason why I didn’t pick up the rest of the series.

I spent a lot of time indoors this weekend on account of it being 94 degrees out. This upcoming weekend is supposed to be much nicer, so I’ll need to think of a good excuse to keep playing a ton of games.

The Perils of Celebrity Game Writing

As most everyone following the games industry knows by now, 38 Studios, the developer behind this February’s Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, laid off all of its employees after failing to make a single loan payment to the state of Rhode Island, after borrowing $75 million and asking to borrow more to pay back the first loan.

The first post I didn’t finish on Loading Screen was a non-review of Amalur, because I lost interest in writing it after I lost interest in playing it. I still don’t have much interest in writing an Amalur review, because frankly the game’s not very good. It’s not very bad, either. It’s flat, uninspired, and after the first few hours you’ve seen everything you’re going to see. It’s a set of very pretty hallways with fun and energetic combat that never grows or changes. I lost interest in it before I even got to the second area tileset.

I still adore Big Huge Games, though; Rise of Nations and Rise of Legends are among the best real-time strategy games I’ve ever played, and their work on Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties gave that game life it had long since lost in my library. There’s a lot of talent and promise in that team, and I hope the spirit of BHG lives on in whatever studio snaps up their people. I hope everyone hurt by this mismanagement lands on their feet quickly, and this is just a nightmarish situation that depresses me greatly. My ire is aimed solely at the celebrities involved with this game.

I don’t have any insight or valuable input into what happened with 38 Studios. I’m no insider, just a pretender. But I do think this article has something that I can comment on, as a gamer and a writer.

The passage of note is this:  “R.A. Salvatore, a fantasy writer who helped develop the games, is slated to receive $1.46 million from 38 Studios in October under the terms of a consulting agreement he signed with the company in 2007. He is also eligible to earn up to $5 million in royalties from sales of “Reckoning” and other 38 Studios products.”

That strikes me as a terrible waste of money, and for once in my life I’m not disparaging R.A. Salvatore’s writing. (Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s awful. Not Richard Knaak awful, but awful.) Salvatore added absolutely nothing positive to Amalur, and instead did a lot to bring the quality of the game down through his work.

Most NPCs in Amalur have anywhere from 5-10 bits of interest in their dialogue options, all with names like “Well of Souls,” “Tuatha,” “Darrenville,” “Elves,” what-have-you. Clicking on any one of those gives you fully-voiced unique dialogue about that specific item, specific to that one character. None of it’s any interesting or any good, except once. The one sidequest I did that felt worth my time was helping a man who accosted me in the forest. He turned out to be a wolf turned into a man by a prankster fairy, and he needed me to help him get back to his lupine state. His dialogue had some actual energy and humor behind it, and while I wasn’t blown away like this was the best thing in the history of videogames, I was sufficiently charmed enough to tackle this rather annoying fetch quest.

Every person in Amalur is an encyclopedia of useless knowledge, reciting facts about a history that’s completely irrelevant to your current adventure. You are run down in the street by names with no fewer than nine consonants every time you ask somebody if they know where the blacksmith is. With each person having their own dialogue, set up in two different UIs (some characters have a Mass Effect-style radial menu, some characters have an Elder Scrolls-style vertical menu, and even worse, some characters switch back and forth between them depending on their last line), the player is left wondering what lines are important and what lines are just background flavor. Salvatore said in an interview that he wrote over ten thousand years of backstory for Amalur to get the game world just right. It shows. And it’s all terrible.

I do want a rich and storied world in my video games. I play games primarily for the story — even the Warriors franchise has a great story appeal to me, thanks to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the Sengoku era. But this is a game. Writing a game is almost nothing like writing a book.

I am not a great writer. I think I’m pretty good, but I’m not great. I hate to use an example from my own book — a book that’s not even out because I’m taking forever on the rewrite — but I want to use a passage from it to illustrate what NOT to do in gaming.

The Ember Forest, just south of Delenn, earned its name in the aftermath of the worst fire in the city’s recorded history. For four weeks the forest burned, with flames consuming miles and miles of the thick forest, from the western shore all the way to the eastern mountains that made up part of the pass in which Delenn sat. The fire survived the best of the city guard’s efforts, a group of magi from the capital, Kasilos, and a week’s worth of prayer during the height of its damage. It took a steady week of torrential rains to finally extinguish the fire, an act that the druids of Arcell were quick to claim credit for. It was through Arcell the Lifegiver, the God of Nature, that the city itself was spared, they said. Regardless of what saved the city, the forest was ravaged by the weeks of destruction. Even after the rain had fallen, the forest smoldered, with so many patches of red mixed with the ash that, from the mountain pass, it looked like the plains ran thick with lava.

The druids worked to restore the forest, and their rituals met with early success. The first plant life to grow after the fire had flowers that bloomed the same color as the flames. Either the emberbloom flowers took their name from the forest or the Ember Forest took its name from the flowers, and scholars argued both sides for years.

“Huh.”

Scholars also disputed the cause of the blaze. Some pointed to other instances in Khazair’s history, claiming that forest fires are a common occurrence, and to have one of this magnitude was just an unfortunate coincidence. Others pointed to the reports that metal was found near the southern end of the forest, melted almost beyond recognition. They argued that the metal matched the stock used for the holy symbols for Scinterra, the Goddess of Fire, and that this must have been the work of a violent sub-sect devoted to one of the lesser gods. They backed up their assertions with cultist propoganda found in Delenn that spoke of “Cleansing by Fire” and other loaded statements. The sect never claimed credit for the fire, and the investigations never led to a suspect. Delenn authorities closed the case with the cause listed as natural.

“Well, well.”

The Ember Forest’s recovery from a decimated wasteland into its current, thriving state is a testament to the power inherent in both the magic and the people of Quintana. Before the disaster, worshippers of Arcella and Narkend regularly clashed over theological issues. The druids argued that worship of the Goddess of Death placed too much importance on just one aspect of the natural cycle of life. The mages of Narkend felt that the druids focused too heavily on the big picture, foregoing individual concerns for the “circle of life” they so often referenced in their research papers. Yet, after the fire, both groups worked hand in hand to return the Ember Forest to its previous splendor. The works the druids accomplished could not have been done without the rituals Narkend’s mages cast over the land, using the forest’s own death to bring about new life. Descendants of that group, both in lineage and in philosophy, still travel Khazair and the rest of Quintana helping with disaster recovery, calling themselves Eternal Life. They serve as a testament to what is possible when the people of Quintana embrace their differences, instead of stand rigidly by their doctrine.

“Hmm.”

Chamber sighed, and lowered his book. “That’s the third time, Dante.”

The redhead riding beside him shifted in her saddle and looked at Chamber, eyebrows raised in a good impression of surprise. “Third time for what, Chamber?” she asked him.

“Third time you’ve made some little noise like that.”

“I can’t say I have any idea what you’re talking about,” came her innocent reply.

“Oh yes you do,” he retorted, riding closer to her. “You do this all the time.”

“You’re probably just hearing some noise in the woods,” Dante said, indicating the forest around them. “It really could be anything. Maybe you should be more alert when we’re traveling through an area this dense.”

“I don’t know what you have against me reading when we’re riding somewhere. What is it?”

That’s not bad. That style works very well in writing, because it lets me present something interesting — the area in which the next few chapters will be taking place — in a way that tells you more about the characters in those chapters, namely that Chamber is a reader and Dante likes to annoy him to pass the time. That’s a scene I can build from, and introduces character traits that will be important later on, and failing that just add more to the characters themselves. It also means that if the trees start throwing fireballs at people later on it’s not completely insane. (They don’t.)

If I were to try and establish this kind of history in a videogame, I wouldn’t. I straight up would not even try. I may have all that written down in a world-design document, it may be important for the history of the world and how everything evolved, and it may mean a lot to me. But I would show a forest, perhaps have a character mention its name and fire off one line, maybe two, and then I would keep going. It’s writing for a game, not a novel. In a novel, I, the writer, am important. In a game, you, the player, are important. I need to stay the hell out of your way while working to heighten your playing experience.

Games writing is not novel writing. I cannot emphasize that enough. Every time I hear that a novelist is working on a game story, I cringe and prepare myself for the worst, because games writing and novel writing have made for some terrible bedfellows. Amalur is one of those. Salvatore’s philosophy for using that 10,000-year history was to make sure he crammed it in everywhere in the world, because he’s R.A. Salvatore, he wrote the Drizzt novels, let’s make sure everyone knows just how great a writer he is.

Obelisks cover the game world, each one telling you some story about the world as you play, like the audio logs in Bioshock. But there is no lead-in or explanation of why this is important, and the first area’s obelisks are a rather twee song by a would-be folk singer about a lost love of the gods. There are either eight or ten obelisks per area, and each area takes hours to explore if you are chasing down all 150 sidequests per area (and I do not recommend doing this). You may come across Obelisk Six days after you found Five, and have completely forgotten why an old man is singing to you in his Children’s TV Show voice. But since each obelisk gives you XP, you’ll be loathe to pass it up. Since R.A. Salvatore wrote it, he was loathe to cut it, so it’s in.

The Elder Scrolls hides its historian goals inside books, books that are entirely optional to read and do not offer any serious game advantage to those who elect to read The Lusty Argonian Maid versus those who decide that slaying dragons sounds like a better use of their time. The worldbuilding is done in such a way that you learn about the world by finding things in it. When you walk into a dungeon and find bandits painting the walls in body parts with one dead troll between them, but streaks of blood leading further into the dungeon, you know exactly what happened there. You also know what you’re going to do about it — you’re going to go kill that surviving troll and hope that he’s sitting on treasure, and not something else far worse hidden far below.

In Amalur, there is one surviving guy who is willing to tell you his life story and every detail in his day that led to him coming down the path to this cave with his friends, where they were suddenly set upon by a troll — trolls, incidentally, have a terrible fear of fire stemming from how they were cursed ten thousand years ago by Agartha, when she came down from Old Murkenville — that’s the village where two of the gods were born, Agartha and Morwen — sisters, they — fair as a summer’s day, pretty as a lark, ’til one day they went a-dancing right outside the Hillside Park…

Monday Morning Roundup

What did I do this past weekend? I got into the Torchlight 2 beta and downloaded the demo for Civilization V, but didn’t play either of them. Instead, I troubleshot my computer after a BSOD and then watched about eight videos of the Giant Bomb Endurance Run of Deadly Premonition.

While price-checking computers, though, I did find this beauty. I think if you spend $4000 on a PC you’re put on some kind of list, “dramatic lighting effect” notwithstanding.

I have actual thoughts on the 38 Studios hootenanny, but it needs to not be so busy for me to share them.