Friday, March 16, 2012

Blog Hopping 3/17/2012

Welcome, fellow bloghoppers! You're looking at my personal blog, home to the rants and ramblings of an aspiring author. I continued to have problems this week trying to get the Bonds of Fenris ARCs ready, but things have finally gotten sorted out. In fact, by the time you read this, the ARCs may well have been sent out. I also offered up my opinion on John Carter, which unfortunately hasn't done as well in theaters as it deserves to. Y'all better not forget about it in all the Hunger Games hoopla, y'hear? Before I forget, there are still ARCs of Bonds of Fenris available for book bloggers, so if you're interested. my e-mail's right there on the sidebar!

This week's ice-breaker for Feature & Follow:

"What is the best book you’ve read in the last month? What is the worst book you’ve read in the last month?"

Ugh, for the second time in two weeks, I've been slacking off my reading this year! I'VE BEEN BUSY, OKAY!

Alright, alright, I get the point, I'll get back to my reading. Sheesh. In the meantime, I'll talk a little about something that wasn't exactly bad, but a definite misfire:

That's The Legion of Shadow (as you may have guessed). It's a gamebook. For those of you who weren't around in the 1980's, gamebooks were kind of like the missing link between D&D and the modern cRPG. Interactive adventure stories consisting of branching narratives under control of the player. If you've heard of the Choose Your Own Adventure series, that's the basic form. More advanced books, such as the Fighting Fantasy series, also incorporated RPG mechanics like character statistics, inventory, and combat.

DestinyQuest is a much newer book, self-published by the author. It's been getting a lot of press in the gamebook community, much of it deserved. It's innovative in a lot of ways. For one, it's a huge frakkin' book, roughly the reading length of three or four normal gamebooks. It's got a detailed yet fairly simple combat system. It smooths over the rough edges of the format by incorporating cRPG-like concepts. It's got an epic, if fairly standard plot, carried off with good writing.

It's also, in my honest opinion, no good.

DestinyQuest completely and utterly misses the point of what gamebooks are supposed to be about: challenging the reader's decision-making skills. The story is essentially a maze that you navigate by choosing the protagonist's next action. Your goal is to reach the end. In some books this is easy, others require you to map them out to find a single "true path". But DestinyQuest isn't about decision-making. It's arranged as a series of quests and side-quests around hub locations, similar to a cRPG. Your goal in any given quest is to avoid dying and pick up treasures that will boost your stats and give you additional skills. But rarely in does a quest require you to make any significant choices. You may choose to go left or right, to take one treasure or another, or face the occasional logic puzzle, but for the most part, you don't progress from choosing paths and actions. You progress by winning combats.

In case you don't know, gamebook combat goes something like this: You have your stats, and your opponent has his. You roll some dice to determine the outcome of a combat round. The combatant with the better stats usually wins, but the dice always have their say. Win enough rounds before your health hits zero, and you win the combat and get to continue. Fail, and you have to start the book over, though nearly everyone cheats on this point if they get frustrated enough. (DestinyQuest legalizes this practice by allowing you to just replay the specific combat instead.) Combat is the spice of gamebooks: the right amount gives it just that extra kick. But just like with a real strong spice, too much sends you to the restroom to vomit.

DestinyQuest is almost entirely combat, from start to finish. And it gets annoying really fast. Yes, it's true, there is a lot of stuff you can do in combat: I had a list of dozens of skills by the time I finished. But it doesn't solve the problem that combat in a gamebook is rolling dice until you win. So DestinyQuest is a trudge: you roll dice again and again and again until you get lucky enough to move on, and then you do the same thing in another combat sequence right around the next corner. When you're not fighting, you're mainly reading long-winded non-interactive passages where you're told what your character and his allies do next. It's both deathly dull and frustrating at the same time.

In short, this isn't a gamebook. It's a very shallow dice-rolling game. I won't be buying the sequel.

This week's ice-breaker for TGIF @ GReads:

"Do you use Twitter or Facebook to promote your blog?  How has it benefited your book blogging experience? If not, how do you promote your blog? Share your twitter handle and/or Facebook link!"

No, not really. I was never too keen on Facebook; I'm of an era of the web where you made sure nobody knew anything about you in real life, so the idea is somewhat anathema to me. Plus, after that personal info scandal a while back, I wasn't terribly keen on them as a company. Twitter is okay, but the problem with it is that people expect you to keep up a steady stream of chatter. I'm of the opinion that a man who has nothing to say should keep his mouth shut. I promote my blogs mainly through these hops, cross-posting my reviews to Goodreads/Shelfari, and just trying to write interesting stuff. I also comment to other people's blogs when I can, but like I said, a man who has nothing to say...

That's all for this week. Have fun, and happy hopping!


  1. Happy Follow Friday! I'm a new follower.

  2. Hopping through. I kind of wish I'd done D&D when I was younger. I wouldn't have liked it as a kid, but now it seems interesting.
    My Hop

  3. Haven't heard of this one, but I love your post! New follower!

    Here's our FF


  4. I'm not much for Facebook or Twitter though I see value in both as a means of promotion. I usually do a few memes and comment on lots of blogs.

  5. I am not too familiar with your blog . But the way it is presented is nice . Thanks for sharing.
    movie trailers

  6. I totally understand about Facebook. I was really hesitate about it until I did it and got hooked. LOL!! I am not a Facebook junkie like I use to be but it has really helped in promoting blogs, books, events and everything!

  7. New follower!

    Yeah, that doesn't sound like the best game book.

  8. Not sure what this blog hopping business is all about; I just saw your post come up in my reader and wanted to comment.

    Anyway, thanks for giving your perspective on Destiny Quest. Gamebooks are such a small community, there's a tendency for activists of it (like me) to want to love and promote everything in the genre, but honestly, not all gamebooks are created equal. I haven't read DQ yet, and I still intend to, but after reading so many rave reviews about it, it's refreshing to see someone voice what sound like some very legitimate criticisms.

  9. Interesting review of DestinyQuest. If you read this news story from the official site, it looks like the author would probably agree with most of your comments:

    Personally I enjoyed the book but act 3 becomes too much of a grind without enough choices. I'm more hopeful for the sequel to add polish to what I think is a interesting system.


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