Friday, July 18, 2008

What I'm Up To

I'm still playing World of Warcraft. I've got my main character up to level 60, and have started an alt. Whenever I get addicted to a MMOG my other hobbies get ignored. In this case I haven't been doing any other gaming. I have been doing some reading, but only some of it game related.

What I've been reading the most is The Complete Hammer's Slammers by David Drake, volumes 1 to 3. As a kid I loved these stories, having picked up the first book (a compilation of short stories) when it came out just based on the cover art. Very gritty military sci fi from a Viet Nam veteran. As a kid I thought they were pro-military books, but I realize now that I was reading into them some stuff that just wasn't there. A lot of military fiction comes across with the attitude that only soldiers know how to get things done, and that if the civilians would just get out of the way and let them do their jobs then everything would be a lot better.

I used to read that attitude into the Slammers, but it's not really there. What's there is the attitude that good soldiers know how to do their job, and their job is to kill and destroy. What's also there, although mostly implied rather than stated, is that unless you specifically want people killed and things destroyed, then maybe you should come up with a way of doing things that doesn't involve soldiers. In other words, war is a last resort, and will either not get you what you wanted, or get it with consequences that aren't acceptable to you.

Overall it's good war fiction from a trooper's point of view, by a combat veteran who also has a very good knowledge of history.

The other stuff I've been reading is mostly 4th Edition D&D. I finally got my DMG and MM a couple of weeks ago. Overall I'm favorably impressed. I'm still reading the DMG, and when I'm done I'll probably post a review. I've also got the first two adventures. I've already commented on the first one, and I plan on commenting on the second once I've finished reading it.

The only thing I'll say now is that they need to rethink the art direction. The covers are just terrible. I've got nothing particular against the artists, but with lots of dark brown in both the art and the layout the covers are incredibly "muddy". I'm not sure what they're going for here, but it doesn't work. They don't catch the eye. I've seen them on the shelf next to a bunch of 3rd edition product, and they fade into the background.


BlackDiamond said...

Notice that the D&D 4 covers don't have a number or version on them. Granted, 3.5 stuff will be long gone in another 6-12 months, but the lack of versioning on the covers confuses those less aware of the edition changes.

Fulminata said...

At one point they made a big deal about changing the logo and how much effort went into the process. Ironic considering that only someone with a background in graphic design is likely to even notice the difference. Most of the same basic elements are still there, just slightly tweaked.

If they'd been a little more radical with the logo change, say by changing the color, then it would be a lot more likely to stand out next to older product.

As you say, that probably won't be a problem in a few months at stores like yours, but a lot of stores will still have that old 3rd edition stuff on the shelf years from now. The refusal to clearly differentiate between editions, something that was done with the other edition changes (by clearly stating 2nd Edition the first time, and by dropping "Advanced" the second), could end up coming back to bite them as new players buy stuff they think is compatible and which turns out not to be.

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