Dear Numantian Games: About Lords of Xulima on Mac, and Mac Gamer Treatment

http://cliqist.com/2014/12/04/letter-numantian-games-regarding-lords-xulima-mac/

In my review of Lords of Xulima, I left out a major part of my experience due to a lack of immediate relevance. Were the PC and Mac versions stable at the time of my review? Yes, and I stand by my positive verdict of the game. But at the game’s official release, I was horrified to discover that the Mac version was, in my opinion, borderline unplayable! Now I wouldn’t ordinarily think this an issue—many developers release Mac versions after their games’ PC release, but that wasn’t quite the case here. You presented Lords of Xulima as if it were a finished game to Mac players, only including a small note about persistent bugs in the update section of the game’s Steam store page. Personally? I don’t know anyone who makes a habit of expanding the update logs for a game that isn’t early access when they are considering buying it. The assumption is, of course, that if the game is finished, then it should just work.

Want to read the rest? Click the link above to read the article on Cliqist.com!

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Review: Dragon Age – Asunder

Asunder

David Gaider is the lead writer for the fantasy game franchise, Dragon Age. Up until Asunder I had been unaware that there were any books published for the game series, but as I understand it, none of the other novels were as directly important to the main storyline as this one. Not only does it feature several characters from the first game, Dragon Age: Origins, it sets up the events of the latest installment in the franchise, Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Since Asunder was written by Gaider, the novel maintains an authentic “Dragon Age” feel to its writing. The setting, the characters, the plot–all feel like something you might encounter if you were playing the actual video games. But the game series has been lauded for its writing, and this strength carries over well in prose-form. In this tale, we hop between characters as a mystery and mission are laid out in parallel: Wynne, one of the companions from the first game, has gone to the White Spire in in the Orlesian city of Val Royeaux to retrieve her son, Rhys, for a mission to rescue a mage friend who was researching something of great importance elsewhere. Rhys, meanwhile, is wrongfully accused of murder. The actual perpetrator is a lonely, misguided young man named Cole, whom no one seems able to see or remember aside from Rhys. Evangeline, a templar under the orders of the strict Lord Seeker Lambert, accompanies Wynne and Rhys on their mission. What they discover has the potential to throw the balance of the world upside down.

The beginning was slow for me, and I remember skimming pages as I ground my teeth in frustration. Much time was spent introducing the large cast of characters and the various circumstances that both cast them together and complicate their relationships. It wasn’t until halfway through the book that I started to feel more invested. It was quite an uphill battle to get to that point, taking nearly a year to hit over %50 completion. But once I made it over all the exposition and dramatic set up, Gaider started dropping bombs. They came one after the other, and while I found myself trying to wrap my head around the implications of one thing, he would sling another at my face at high speed. It was exhilarating, and just the kind of stuff I’d wished he’d opened with, but for a story of this complexity, I know Gaider was taking his time with things, and I’m glad I had the patience to let him work his magic. The thing about Asunder is that it’s as much about the politics as it is the action. None of the stakes make any sense until you understand why, for instance, the Rite of Tranquility is such a disturbing practice, or why the Lord Seeker might seek to act directly in opposition to the will of his religion’s leader (the Divine), or why a mage might still feel the need to support the Circle of Magi.

The stakes are high, the world an unforgiving place, and the plot twists delicious. I enjoyed this book, and I might even try and read the rest of the book series now.

If you’re a die-hard fan of the Dragon Age franchise, you may as well read this. It’s fairly interesting, and as I mentioned earlier, this book acts as the prequel to Dragon Age: Inquisition.

If you like this review, please check out my other reviews on Goodreads!

And while you’re at it, why not give my own fantasy romance novel a try? It’s available on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes!

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Because today is that day

birthdayAnd I had a great birthday today too! My family surprised me with a giant poster of the Tributaries cover, and I got so emotional I actually cried. Good times. I <3 my fam. :)

 

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Cyber Monday Weekend – Tributaries E-book sale!

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This weekend only, get my LGBTQ fantasy romance novel, TRIBUTARIES, for just $1 when you use the coupon code GS67N at Smashwords! Offer ends December 2nd!

Click here to buy the book for yourself and a loved one!

What readers had to say about the book:
“This is a wonderful tale, and I really struggled to put it down. the characters are well-crafted and very likeable. Elmyrin is a strong warrior, and Nyx a shy shapeshifter. They interact in such a unique and easy way that you almost feel they’ve known each other all their lives. The relationship develops organically. I really felt in their world with them. I understood the motivations behind everything they did, and how they felt.” - Phoenix Grey

“Tributaries: Eikasia Book One is an epic, intelligent, and original work that leads its reader into an emotional, mental and physical adventure. Montoya creates a lush mythical landscape that surrounds the reader in striking visuals and provides a delicious feast for the mind that satisfies one’s literary appetite from beginning to end. Tributaries will captivate hard core fantasy enthusiasts and action & adventure fiction lovers alike. The storytelling is smart and witty with a razor-edged humor that remains tongue-in–cheek all the while conveying deep thought. There is also a certain level of sexual and intellectual tension between the two main characters that will surely intrigue and excite. Best suited for the more avid reader, multiple plot levels, narratives and inner dialogue take you on a cerebral roller coaster ride filled with great passages and catchy quotes. Unlike many clichéd works which get lost in the shuffle, and gather dust in an occasionally tired genre, Tributaries offers a fresh and exciting boost that will not only capture its reader’s attention, but also their emotions.” – Victoria Janik

The plot summary:

Nyx is a feline shape shifter, lost and alone, host to a fierce and ferocious being that lies deep inside her. She harbors a deadly secret and is running for her life when she is saved by Elmiryn, a cursed warrior on a quest for revenge. The pair quickly become unlikely allies and embark upon a perilous physical and mental journey that will put both their skills and sanity to the test. Ultimately, they form a unique and powerful bond through their shared trials and tribulations. Together they continue onward and follow a path that leads to new and remarkable discoveries of both the worlds around, and within them.

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I’M A WINNER! – NaNoWriMo 2014

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I’m happy to announce that I completed my first NaNoWriMo EVER! My manuscript, Awaiting the Eclipse, is obviously going to need a lot of work, but the foundation is there! For now you can read a teeny tiny sample of it on my NaNoWriMo page! Now I just need to edit it, and submit to the publishers I chose at the start of the month! But for now, can I just say…?

I’M SO PROUD OF MYSELF! :)

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Game Review: Lords of Xulima (Cliqist Preview)

So many games try to bank on nostalgia these days, and so many have failed or misrepresented themselves, that it’s understandable to be wary of any new title that promises you the pixelated moon and stars with a healthy helping of hype and some impressive coattail acrobatics. The question is: are Numantian Games, the Madrid based studio, doing just that? Their latest game, Lords of Xulima (don’t worry, the name threw me off too) is billed as a 2D isometric turn-based RPG that tips its plumed hat to such titles as Ultima, and Might & Magic. It also promises challenging gameplay, over a hundred hours of content, and a broad range of customization for your party of six. After over nine hours into the game, I felt I had pretty good idea of what the answer was to my question.

At character creation, the player can choose to jump into things with a pre-generated set of heroes, but being the control freak that I am, I chose to generate my own team of adventurers. I found myself disappointed by the level of choice I had. Character creation consists of three simple steps: pick one of the ten classes (of which all stats and starting spells are predetermined and unchangeable), pick a deity (who provides a small bonus without there being any explanation what some of the stats even do in the game), and pick a portrait (all of which varied in quality from photo-realistic, to ugly deviantART level anatomy). When a game boasts 100 skills to choose from, I want to…you know…choose from them!

Want to read the full review? Visit Cliqist.com and get the final verdict for this indie crowdfunded game!

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TRIBUTARIES NOW ON SALE!

My LGBTQ fantasy novel, Tributaries, is now on sale! Regular price is $3.99, but  Amazon seems to want to keep it at 2.99–perhaps due to price matching as I wait for the other retailers to update the price. So get it while that lasts! And please leave a review if you do get it. Reviews are the life blood of a writer’s career.

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NaNoWriMo 2014

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Or at least I’m going to try this year! I’ve tried twice in the past, but never won. Feel free to add me on NaNoWriMo.org! I’ll also be doing updates on my Twitter.

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Review: The Eternity Cure

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This book picks up about four months after the first. If I recall correctly, I think it takes a bit for things to pick up as Allison reminds us of the importance of her current mission: Save Kanin, her vampire sire. She also muses for a bit about the fact that she left her dubious human love, Zeke Crosse, back at the human settlement known as Eden. As she goes, she closes in on the vampire holding her creator captive, a bat crazy vamp (pun intended) known as Sarren, who is apparently so powerful even Master vampires are wary of him.

Allison’s search brings her to the remains of D.C. where she suspects (without knowing the significance of her surroundings) that Sarren is being held in the White House. But when she manages to get there, she finds instead her blood brother, Jackal, the former raider king and antagonist of the first book. Naturally she isn’t happy about this, but Jackal explains that he had called Allison to him on purpose (using a sort of psychic blood link she had been using to track Kanin) because he wants her help to investigate a lab underground. She refuses at first until he persuades her by reminding her of just how dangerous Sarren is. Since he’s going after the psychotic vampire too, they should work together, he reasons. Reluctantly, Allison agrees.

And that’s how things start, essentially. Eventually we see some familiar faces, including the dreamy Zeke Crosse. (That isn’t really a huge surprise, but I’ll refrain on saying how he makes his return anyway.) The stakes are raised in this book when a new mutation of the Red Lung virus that had wiped out millions is released, thus threatening to wipe out what’s left of the world’s population. What at first was a race to save Kanin becomes so much more, and it’s such a riveting read.

In the first book, the major question of the story seemed to be, “How can Allison maintain her humanity when she has become a monster?” That question still hums through The Eternity Cure, but it takes a back seat to the new theme: Loss. More specifically, coming to terms with it. Allison finds herself fighting to save two of the most important people in her new undead life, but she stands to lose them both in a tragic fashion that threatens to completely demolish her spirit. Can she let them go without losing what little grip she still maintains on her hope, sanity, and humanity?

Since Allison finds herself in the company of a number of vampires in this book, we get to see more of what vampires are like. I remarked in my review for The Immortal Rules how Kagawa’s vampires, while very much traditional in style, are very satisfying. They are violent and ruthless. They remind me a lot of Anne Rice’s idea of vampires, though I’ve never read any of Rice’s books (only seen the movies). Some might not be too impressed by that, but given the saturation of vampires in the reading world today, I think Kagawa was smart to take the tried and true approach, and do it well.

In my reading updates on Goodreads, I talk about how Julie Kagawa manages an efficient and focused plot by wasting no time with unnecessary details. Just about everything, from her world building, to her scene setting, to even her character descriptions, serve a greater purpose. I admire a story with such a tight and focused narrative, and I take my hat off to Kagawa for her accomplishment. The Eternity Cure is certainly a bigger and better book than The Immortal Rules, but it it’s bigger in the way of a massive tank–solid and powerful–and less like a giant squid–slippery and confusingly branching.

So do I recommend this installment of the Blood of Eden series? Yes! A thousand times, yes! It’s got so much going for it, including a hot romance, a wise cracking vampire, and a fantastically evil antagonist. You really have no reason to skip out on this book if you liked The Immortal Rules. Even if you didn’t like the first book somehow, the second book is an improvement of the first by leaps and bounds.

Bottom line: get this book. I don’t give out five stars all that often, but this was certainly a five star book!

If you like this review, please check out my other reviews on Goodreads!

And while you’re at it, why not give my own fantasy romance novel a try? It’s available on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes!

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