Showing posts with label Fantasy Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fantasy Related. Show all posts

5 July 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling' By Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFantasy

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[Blog Tour] 'Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling' By Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFantasy
Ariadne Unraveled - Blog Tour Banner

The Book:

Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling
By Zenobia Neil
  • Publication Date: 7th July 2021
  • Publisher: Hypatia Books
  • Page Length: 345 Pages
  • Genre: Mythic retelling/ Historical Romance
[Blog Tour] 'Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling' By Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFantasy
Ariadne Unraveled - Front Cover

The Blurb:

Ariadne, high priestess of Crete, grew up duty-bound to the goddess Artemis. If she takes a husband, she must sacrifice him to her goddess after no more than three years of marriage. For this reason, she refuses to love any man, until a mysterious stranger arrives on her island.

The stranger is Dionysus, the new god of wine who empowers women and breaks the rules of the old gods. He came to Crete seeking vengeance against Artemis. He never expected to fall in love.

Furious that Dionysus would dare meddle with her high priestess, Artemis threatens to kill Ariadne if Dionysus doesn’t abandon her. Heartbroken, the new god leaves Crete, vowing to become better than the Olympians.

From the bloody labyrinth and the shadows of Hades to the halls of Olympus, Dionysus must find a way to defy Artemis and unite with his true love. Forced to betray her people, Ariadne discovers her own power to choose between the goddess she pledged herself to and the god she loves.
[Blog Tour] 'Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling' By Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFantasy
Ariadne Unraveled - Teaser

Ariadne Unraveled - Excerpt:

The sacred olive grove, which usually gave Ariadne such peace, was dry and brittle with the heat of the long summer. Leaves and a few neglected olives crunched under her feet as she walked with Thalia. Manko and Talos followed behind at a distance.

“I brought honey and oil if you desire it,” Thalia said.

“Thank you, Little Leopard.” Years ago when Zoe had teased Thalia for her freckles, Ariadne had given Thalia the name to show how much she liked the spots.

Ariadne had told no one that the goddess had ceased speaking to her long before Dionysus had come. The goddess did not always speak to her high priestesses, but this felt different. Sometimes a high priestess could reach the goddess by swinging to epiphany.

They stopped before the sacred swing that Daedalus had built for Pasiphae. In early spring, novice priestesses wove flower braids around the two cedar posts. Musicians would play, and priestesses and novices would sing while Ariadne swung.

But now, at the height of summer, the swing appeared dried out, as if the sacred doorway would yield nothing. Still, Ariadne would try. She smoothed her skirt down and sat on the swing.

This is as close as you will come to flying, her mother had said when she and Phaedra first learned how to pump their legs on the swings designed for children. This one was different. The pillars were wider at the top, so the ropes hung at an angle. She had to work much harder, but that often led to epiphany.

She gripped the hot ropes and kicked off. As a child, she had thought Phaedra would travel this path with her, believing the two daughters of Pasiphae would both become priestesses. Ariadne’s crescent-shaped mark had begun to tingle at her first blood, but the goddess had never spoken to Phaedra.

Ariadne pulled back and pushed. The wind rushed through her hair, whooshing in her ears. She let the rhythm carry her to and fro. Sweat beaded her brow. The sun beat down. Let this be another show of my devotion, Goddess. Please tell me what to do. She pumped her legs, leaned back on the ropes. Had she angered the goddess by marrying Dionysus? Had the offerings Thalia, Melia, and Zoe left not appeased her? Or did the goddess no longer care?

She swung higher, pumped, and extended her legs over and over again, until her mind cleared. Now the goddess could enter and convey what she wanted Ariadne to do.

Fully entranced, Ariadne let her mind search for the goddess as her body continued to swing. She traveled to the cave sanctuaries. First, the one in the hills above Knossos, but the darkened cavern where women left offerings and came to give birth was empty. Her mind’s eye flew high, leaping from one peak to another. An old priestess alone in a cavern, staring out from the rocky crag to the sea below. Two girls who had just started their moon blood climbed up to another, eager to be able to enter the sacred space for the first time.

But the goddess was not there.

Ariadne swung, searching in her mind, calling the goddess by her names.

Mistress of Wild Things, Great Goddess, Our Lady, Artemis.

She searched across the island, from temple to temple to the uninhabited wild lands. She spied mountain goats asleep in the shade, and a griffin vulture circled above a canyon. Ariadne felt herself soar with the bird, the wind on her wings, her vision keen.

Great Goddess, where are you?

This sensation of flying with the bird, of going from cave to cave was a new one. Her power had never been this strong before.

She swung higher and higher, ignoring the pain in her hands and legs. Intense heat enveloped her, and she imagined jumping straight up into the sky, directly into the sun. Bright light and searing heat surrounded her.

Granddaughter.

The Titan Helios stood before her, his bronze skin giving off its own light. His eyes glowed with the sun itself; a crown of flames danced on his pure gold hair.

I have had a vision of you, child. Your fame will be great, but you will be abandoned and remembered as a girl left behind, though you will be far more than that. Your service to Crete is near its end.

Ariadne gasped. What did he mean? She could not speak. The fire of the sun consumed her, blinding her so she lost her connection to her strength. She put her hands up to feel where she was and began to fall, out of the sky, plummeting to the earth below.

She imagined falling into the sea, being extinguished by the water, but no, she fell toward Crete, past the griffin vulture, gliding on the wind, past the sleeping mountain goats and back toward her vacant body in the dried-out grove.

Thalia screamed as Ariadne’s body pitched backwards off the swing. Ariadne opened her eyes to see a flash of blue sky, the crooked olive branches. She had flown, and now she fell. She had reached an epiphany only to be thrown back to earth. Was she to die? Was that the goddess’s message to her?
[Blog Tour] 'Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling' By Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFantasy
Zenobia Neil

Author Bio:

Zenobia Neil was named after an ancient warrior queen who fought against the Romans. She writes historical romance about the mythic past and Greek and Roman gods having too much fun. Visit her at ZenobiaNeil.com

Connect with Zenobia Neil:

[Blog Tour] 'Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling' By Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFantasy
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25 June 2021

China Is Using Mythology & Sci-Fi To Sell Its Space Programme To The World

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China Is Using Mythology & Sci-Fi To Sell Its Space Programme To The World
The Wandering Earth is a Chinese sci-fi film which the government promoted abroad. (Netflix)
On the morning of June 17, China launched its long-awaited Shenzhou-12 spacecraft, carrying three Chinese astronauts – or taikonauts – towards the Tianhe core module. The module itself was launched at the end of April, forming part of the permanent Tiangong space station, which is planned to remain in orbit for the next ten years.

China’s construction of its own space station stems from the nation’s exclusion from the International Space Station, a result of US concerns over technology transfers that could enhance China’s military capabilities. Undeterred by this, China has forged ahead with its own space programmes and alliances. Since, the country has demonstrated that the Chinese “brand” of space technology is reputable and can hold its own in the international arena.

An impressive track record of remarkable space endeavours is not the only thing that distinguishes China’s space brand from other national players. The government and related organisations have made concerted efforts to establish a unique “Chinese space culture” alongside the country’s advances in space technology. While the target audience for many of these cultural creations remains domestic, China’s space ambitions are directed at global audiences in a variety of ways.

Legendary beginnings

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the naming of these programmes after China’s traditional roots.

The name Tiangong translates as “Heavenly Palace”. This was the residence of the deity who holds supreme authority over the universe in Chinese mythology, the Celestial Ruler. The name is particularly fitting for a Chinese space station, which acts as a home in the heavens for the country’s taikonauts. The meaning of Shenzhou, the missions that take taikonauts to space, is “Divine Vessel”, which is also a homophone for an ancient name for China, “Divine Land”.  

China Is Using Mythology & Sci-Fi To Sell Its Space Programme To The World
The Moon Goddess Chang'e. (Wikimeda)
China’s lunar exploration missions, meanwhile, are named after the legendary Moon goddess Chang’e. The tale goes that Chang’e flew from Earth to the Moon after stealing the elixir of immortality from her husband, Hou Yi.

According to Chinese mythology, Chang’e continues to live on the Moon with her rabbit companion, who spends its time pounding the elixir of immortality in a mortar for the goddess. The rabbit is known as Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit”. China’s two lunar rovers, the second of which became the first to land on the far side of the Moon in 2019, are named after it.

A key component of this lunar landing mission was Queqiao, a communication relay satellite. This was named after the myth of the “Magpie Bridge”, which joins the “Cowherd” and the “Weaver Girl” across the stretch of the Milky Way in a romantic folktale. The satellite acted as a vital bridge of communication between the Chang’e mission components and China’s mission control centre.

The linking of China’s traditional past to its forward-looking space activities serves to strengthen the identity of these space programmes as distinctly Chinese.

In connecting these achievements to the country’s cultural heritage, they are presented not as mere copies of their space power predecessors, but as having developed from national talents and progresses. They also serve as a reminder that while the programmes aim for the furthest reaches of space, China’s future will never be disconnected from its national and cultural roots.

Furthermore, these legendary names are a signal to the international community that space is not the exclusive domain of historical western figures such as Apollo or Artemis, but that it also belongs to the lineage of the Chinese people.

China’s future in fiction

Over the last few years, multiple corporations based in China have released space-themed commercial products and promotional campaigns in conjunction with China’s official space organisations, from upmarket fashion brands to KFC. But perhaps the most notable promotion of China’s space ambitions is in films.

In 2019, the blockbuster sci-fi film The Wandering Earth was released. The film was well received, and was publicised by the state’s international media platforms as a must-see.

Director Frant Gwo has spoken about the importance of the message behind the film, claiming that China’s way of thinking about space is vastly different from US ideologies. According to Gwo, while the US dreams of eventually leaving the Earth to move to other planets, the Chinese space dream is to improve life on Earth through the use of space resources. The film promotes the idea that we mustn’t try to flee our planet, but instead, we must strive to protect it. 


While most space-themed commercial products remain aimed at a domestic market, Chinese sci-fi is becoming increasingly popular abroad. Books such as The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin, who wrote the short story which The Wandering Earth was adapted from, Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang, which is also being adapted for the screen, and The Redemption of Time by Baoshu have all succeeded as translations.

Recognised by politicians as a potentially powerful tool for promoting state-approved narratives, government bodies have encouraged China’s sci-fi filmmakers to incorporate narratives that fit with the regime’s wider ideological and technological ambitions.

The fantasy aspect of sci-fi may explain why the genre is being internationally promoted first over other commercial products that feature imagery of actual Chinese space missions. Unlike China’s increasing capabilities in space, which are viewed as a threat by the US, the country’s fictional space developments pose no real-life risk. Able to incorporate the backdrop of a technologically powerful China into entertaining and compelling narratives, such stories allow foreign audiences to engage with the idea of China as a space power without the kind of political discourse that surrounds its real space activities.

Eventually, a foreign audience may begin to grow more comfortable with the notion of China as a technological world leader. And this, in turn, may cultivate an interest in the activities of the Chinese national space programme.

About Today's Contributor:

17 June 2021

Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On

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Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On
Lucy Lawless as the fierce Xena, the warrior princess (AF archive / Alamy)
Xena the warrior princess, played by Lucy Lawless, captivated audiences around the world for six series with her high kicks, sword skills and distinctive war cry. The series followed her as she fought her way through armies, monsters and gods, alongside her soul mate and moral compass, Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor).

Xena travelled across space and time, taking us from ancient Greece to Rome, Egypt, Britain, China, India, Scandinavia and finally to Japan, where it all came to an end 20 years ago on June 18 2001.

Starting life as an antagonist of Hercules in three episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena was so popular as a character that she was given her spin-off series that ran from 1995 to 2001. At the time, Xena: Warrior Princess was considered groundbreaking as it started a strong female action heroine and was the only popular adventure, action, science fiction or fantasy show that featured female leads without male counterparts.

On the 20th anniversary of the final episode, it worth revisiting this great show and exploring why it was loved by a truly broad spectrum of viewers, from young girls drawn in by an active female role model and ancient history buffs to sci-fi fans and the LGBTQ community.

Xena and the Amazons

A reformed warlord from ancient Greece, Xena was not an Amazon but a friend to the tribes of warrior women. To ancient Greek writers, the Amazons were women who fought and behaved like men and were unnatural barbarians. They have since been adopted as positive female role models who break with misogynistic stereotypes of womanhood – they live in a self-sufficient, female-dominated society as warriors and intellects. The term Amazon feminism is now used to describe a branch of feminism that promotes female physical prowess as a way to achieve gender equality.

Before Xena, the Amazons featured in the 1970s Wonder Woman series. Not quite the feminist icons we expect today, these women wore pastel-coloured negligees as they adopted a peaceful life without men on Paradise Island.

In Xena, while the Amazons may also have been attired in revealing costumes made of furs and skins, their separatist society values martial as well as academic skills. An Amazon tells Gabrielle that the Amazon world is based on “truth and an individual woman’s strength”.

The Amazons from Greek mythology lived apart from men, at the edge of the known world, and fought bravely against male heroes such as Hercules, Theseus and Achilles. In Xena, the Amazons also live in a matriarchal society and are skilled fighters who can hold their own against men.

The Amazons in Wonder Woman (2017) can be seen as Xena’s big-screen descendants. The costumes and fighting prowess of Penthesilea (Nina Milner) in the BBC drama Troy: Fall of a City (2018) has tinges of Xena. While the leadership ability of the immortal Amazon Andy (Charlize Theron) in the Netflix film The Old Guard, can also be seen as inspired by Xena.

But while Troy: Fall of a City and The Old Guard are aimed at older audiences, Xena was popular across all age groups. For instance, episodes of Xena were broadcast in the UK on Channel Five’s Milkshake! Saturday morning slot in the 90s and early noughties for young viewers. This led many young girls to adopt Xena as their role model.

Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On
Xena and Gabrielle (Screengrab)

The Xena subtext

Xena was also popular with gay and lesbian viewers. In the 1990s, openly gay relationships were mostly missing from popular US television series. However, Xena’s relationship with Gabrielle was interpreted as much as that of hero and sidekick as it was friends and lovers. Series producers began to play with this idea, for example, putting Xena and Gabrielle together in a sexy bath in season two fan-favourite episode A Day in the Life, so that for many, the subtext became the main text.

Although a lot of fans were dismayed that Xena died in the final episode they were treated to a long goodbye kiss between Gabrielle and Xena’s ghost. Series producers never openly made Xena and Gabrielle a lesbian couple. But LGBTQ+ fans championed their relationship, which is believed to have paved the way for openly gay relationships we see in television series today.

One of the joys of looking back at Xena 20 years on is its playfulness when compared with dark fantasy sci-fi fantasies like Game of Thrones. It features seriously badass female characters, and at times offers a serious message about female solidarity and feminism, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Some of the special effects may now seem dated, but the storylines still ring true and the characters of Xena and Gabrielle can continue to be inspirational for a new generation of young female viewers.

About Today's Contributor:

Amanda Potter, Visiting Research Fellow, The Open University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

3 June 2021

The World's Only Harry Potter Flagship Store Welcomes Fans Through The Doors For The First Time

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The World’s Only Harry Potter Flagship Store Welcomes Customers Through The Doors For The First Time
The World’s Only Harry Potter Flagship Store Welcomes Customers Through The Doors For The First Time
Today, Harry Potter fans from across the world were welcomed into Harry Potter New York as the flagship store opened its doors to the public for the first time. 
Greeted by a 220lb model of Fawkes the Phoenix, fans discovered a host of magical creatures and hand-made props throughout the immersive retail experience including Voldemort's horcrux, Nagini, bursting through the ceiling in an area inspired by the Dark Arts.

With 15 themed areas and thousands of products, every aspiring witch and wizard will find something magical to add to their collection. Fans explored areas inspired by Honeydukes to find Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans and Chocolate Frogs before stopping under the Dirigible Plum tree to find their favourite creature soft toy. Customers were invited to step into Hagrid's boots to see how they measure up and duel other customers at the store's interactive wand table.
''We're delighted to be welcoming fans to Harry Potter New York for a completely new shopping experience," said Sarah Roots, EVP Warner Bros. Worldwide Tours and Retail. "Not only will visitors find the largest range of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts products under one roof, they will also get to discover up-close some of the hand-crafted props that were seen in the films, use our unique photo opportunities and experience the incredible theming throughout the store.''

COVID-19:

  • For the safety of customers and colleagues, masks are required when visiting Harry Potter New York. The store is operating with a reduced capacity to ensure physical distancing is maintained.
The World's Only Harry Potter Flagship Store Welcomes Fans Through The Doors For The First Time
Harry Potter New York Brings Butterbeer To New York City For The First Time

Someone Said "Butterbeer"?

Appearing throughout the stories and loved by Hogwarts students and teachers alike, Butterbeer is a much-requested fan-favorite soft drink.
Fans visiting Harry Potter New York can choose from draft Butterbeer, Butterbeer ice cream and bottled Butterbeer to enjoy in New York's only Butterbeer Bar.

Once inside the Butterbeer Bar, fans are greeted by a giant cascade of glowing Butterbeer bottles, each completed with a collectible MinaLima label. Nearly 1,000 bottles rise from the floor and 'float' over the bar as Butterbeer moves magically across the ceiling through copper pipes. Witches, wizards, Muggles and No-maj's alike are invited to enjoy a frothy cup of Butterbeer served in souvenir tankard, a refreshing Butterbeer ice cream or freshly poured bottled Butterbeer as well as range of wizarding world inspired treats.

  • Made and brewed in the U.K, bottled Butterbeer has a style which is entirely unique and comes in beautifully crafted souvenir glass bottles, each one featuring an exclusive collectible label designed by MinaLima, the design duo behind the graphic props of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films.
Best served chilled and poured straight from the bottle, the delicious soft drink features a new take on the butterscotch flavour fans know and love. The unique blend of top-secret ingredients makes bottled Butterbeer a must try for any aspiring witch or wizard.
The World's Only Harry Potter Flagship Store Welcomes Fans Through The Doors For The First Time
Harry Potter New York Brings Butterbeer To New York City For The First Time
Harry Potter New York has a virtual queueing system in place. When customers visit the store, they will scan a QR code to join a virtual queue and return when notified. Harry Potter New York is open from 10am – 9pm Mon-Sat and 11am-7pm on Sundays.

Fans can keep up to date by following Harry Potter New York's social channels:

Related Stories:

16 March 2021

Wizards of the Coast Announces Launch Date for Dungeons & Dragons Video Game Dark Alliance for PC & Consoles [Trailer Included]

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Wizards of the Coast Announces Launch Date for Dungeons & Dragons Video Game Dark Alliance for PC & Consoles [Trailer Included]
Wizards of the Coast Announces Launch Date for Dungeons & Dragons Video Game Dark Alliance for PC & Consoles (PRNewsfoto/Wizards of the Coast)
Wizards of the Coast proudly announced that Dark Alliance, the explosive action roleplaying game that builds upon the rich lore of the Forgotten Realms in Dungeons & Dragons, launches on June 22, 2021 for PC, PlayStation4, PlayStation5, Xbox One Consoles and Xbox Series X|S.
"Dark Alliance marks an important milestone for us as the first Dungeons & Dragons video game to be published by Wizards of the Coast," said Chris Cocks, President, Wizards of the Coast. "We're excited to expand beyond the tabletop and deliver a brand new type of D&D experience to long-time fans and new audiences when the game launches this June."
Developed by Wizards Studio, Tuque Games, and set in the Forgotten Realms, the game features real-time combat and dynamic co-op gameplay, and pits the infamous Drizzt Do'Urden and his legendary companions – Catti-brie, Bruenor, and Wulfgar – against some of the most iconic monsters from the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Frost Giants, Beholders, and White Dragons roam the frozen tundra of Icewind Dale in search of the Crystal Shard— and it's up to the companions to muster the strength to stop them from claiming and using it to destroy their home.

Wizards of the Coast Announces Launch Date for Dungeons & Dragons Video Game Dark Alliance for PC & Consoles [Trailer Included]
Wizards of the Coast Announces Launch Date for Dungeons & Dragons Video Game Dark Alliance for PC & Consoles (PRNewsfoto/Wizards of the Coast)
Starting today, fans can pre-order the Digital Edition for $39.99 online via DarkAlliance.com or the standard edition and retail-exclusive Steelbook edition for $59.99 at select retailers. 

The Steelbook edition includes: 
  • a Steelbook case
  • a printed art book 
  • a downloadable Dungeons & Dragons soundtrack 
  • a Beholder and Lich weapon set 
  • the forthcoming expansion "Echoes of the Blood War". 
Fans can also opt to pre-order the Digital Deluxe Edition for $59.99 that includes the upcoming expansion "Echoes of the Blood War" and the Lich weapon set. All pre-orders – regardless of edition or platform – will receive an exclusive in-game Beholder weapon set at launch.

"Dungeons & Dragons is the reason I became a game developer; it's a lifelong dream realized to be able to create something that is fun to play over and over again with your friends," said Jeff Hattem, studio head, Tuque Games. "Since announcing the game, we've worked to bring these iconic characters and monsters to life in a stunningly beautiful and fully realized world that makes you feel like you're in the middle of combat encounters in D&D."
Wizards of the Coast is making it easy to assemble your party. Players who purchase Dark Alliance on PlayStation4 will receive a free digital download code so that they can upgrade to the PlayStation5, and vice versa. Players who pre-order on Xbox One Consoles or Xbox Series X|S will only have to buy the game once and receive it on both platforms through Smart Delivery.

Wizards of the Coast Announces Launch Date for Dungeons & Dragons Video Game Dark Alliance for PC & Consoles [Trailer Included]
Wizards of the Coast Announces Launch Date for Dungeons & Dragons Video Game Dark Alliance for PC & Consoles (PRNewsfoto/Wizards of the Coast)
SOURCE: Wizards of the Coast

17 February 2021

The Hero's Journal Team Releases New Journal, Istoria Magic Academy, on Kickstarter [Video Included]

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The Hero's Journal Team Releases New Journal, Istoria Magic Academy, on Kickstarter
The Hero's Journal - A filled out journal
The team behind the popular The Hero's Journal today announced that its newest offering, The Hero's Journal: Istoria Magic Academy, is now live on Kickstarter, where they reached 100% of their funding goal in under 9 minutes.
The Hero's Journal
launched in 2019 via a successful Kickstarter campaign. Over the past two years, a vibrant community of journalers has formed organically on social media to share stories and seek advice.
"Thanks to our first Kickstarter, The Hero's Journal quickly transformed from a simple idea to a community of 25,000 journalers," said Nick Vitellaro, the 27-year-old co-founder.
He added: "During the past year, we learned a lot about what our fans like about the Journal and how it helps them achieve their goals. Today, we're excited to go back to Kickstarter, where it all started, to release a new edition that incorporates feedback and suggestions from our amazing community."
During 2020, the team witnessed firsthand how the Journal is helping people cope during the pandemic. For example, one community member commented: "I've been feeling pretty scatterbrained since quarantine started, but this journal has really helped create more structure in my daily life, in the most fun and thoughtful way."
The Hero's Journal Team Releases New Journal, Istoria Magic Academy, on Kickstarter
Daily Artwork Helps Inspire the Imagination and Make Every Day of Journaling Unique
The Hero's Journal: Istoria Magic Academy is based on a story about magic. The process of learning something new, working through failure, and discovering the ordinary magic of changing the world around you through words and actions.
"We expect that the new edition will resonate with our current community as well as with a new group of journalers who are looking to embark on a new adventure during a uniquely challenging time," said Nick.

The Video:

About The Hero's Journal:

Stories are the oldest form of human communication. From the earliest books ever written to the latest box office hit, humans are hardwired to communicate in the form of narrative. And there is no narrative more important to the core of each of us than the story we tell about ourselves. We set out to create a journal that would combine the power of self-narrative with the psychology of goal setting. The result? The Hero's Journal—now used by thousands of heroes around the world. From brainstorming the journal in 2018 to launching a kickstarter in 2019 to quitting our full-time jobs in the beginning of 2020, we've been blown away by the support of a community that keeps selling out every single one of our production runs. 

SOURCE: The Hero's Journal

16 November 2020

Assassin's Creed TV Series: Why It's So Hard To Adapt Video Games For The Screen

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Assassin's Creed TV Series: Why It's So Hard To Adapt Video Games For The Screen
Michael Fassbender in the Assassin’s Creed film. (20th Century Fox/Youtube)
The Assassin’s Creed franchise is leaping forward (off the top of a building, presumably) with the release of the 12th game in the series – Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – and the recent announcement of an upcoming Netflix show.
While the games are hugely popular, we will have to hope this new show is an improvement on the 2016 film. It had great actors playing bland characters, and perfectly adequate action scenes but no discernible narrative content. Indeed, Assassin’s Creed provides a classic lesson on the difficulties of turning even an expansive, multi-dimensional gaming world into a story that’s suitable for other formats.

The Assassin’s Creed games use the framing device of a present-day conflict and the dramatically recreated memories of the characters’ ancestors in historical periods. These memories form the main action of the game and its main appeal. If anything, the present-day plot elements seem rather odd and superfluous by comparison.

For instance, in the first game (2007), the player controls a 12th-century Levantine assassin named Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad during the Third Crusade. His 21st-century descendant, Desmond Miles, is forced to experience Altaïr’s life so that the present-day Templars can find prehuman artefacts known as Pieces of Eden. If that doesn’t sound like it makes much sense, well, it doesn’t.

This is no Shakespearean play-within-a-play device with two separate narratives that merely reflect and comment on each other. Rather, the stories directly affect one another – you must go into the past to uncover the secret locations of present-day artefacts.

Incoherent narrative

Assassin’s Creed never really attempts the moral depth and world-shaking decisions of, say, the critically-acclaimed Deus Ex videogame franchise. Deus Ex’s background of warring conspiracies is nuanced enough that the player feels that real choices are being made.

The 2016 Assassin’s Creed movie was bad partly because the entire franchise – despite its many genuinely brilliant qualities of gameplay, atmosphere, and graphics – is narratively incoherent. This might be forgivable in a game built around atmosphere, cool weaponry and stylish moves, but it’s not enough for a viable film.

There are great examples of transmedia storytelling across multiple formats, such as the Marvel cinematic universe, Tolkein’s Middle-Earth or, indeed, Deus Ex. In these cases, each new book, film or game builds on the narrative of the previous ones while maintaining a sense of wonder and the unknown. But the Assassin’s Creed franchise doesn’t bother making the effort, as though its creators Ubisoft believe the occasional media studies experts who suggest that videogames should stay in their lane and not even try to tell stories.

It seems snobbish to assume that video games are just no good at narrative, but it’s almost as reductive to believe they should emulate filmic storytelling instead of embracing videogames’ unique strengths. Interactivity, agency, emotional engagement and immersion combine to provide players with experiences that would be impossible to achieve in purely linear stories.
The structure of games is inherently different from that of films, and this is most apparent when it comes to endings. Writing a narratively satisfying ending for a novel or film is notoriously tough – and even tougher if you also have to give your audience the choice of how to finish the story.

Every time you let the player make a significant yes or no decision in gameplay, you double the number of possible endings. No storyteller wants to have to come up with hundreds of satisfactory endings.

Game designers have a variety of tricks available to reduce that number, giving the illusion of choice while gradually steering the player back onto the main plot. Still, most players will be happier if the series of interesting decisions include more than just selecting tactical options to overcome challenges. They need ethically weighty choices that empower them to playfully explore their value systems.

From winging it to fixing it?

The Assassin’s Creed franchise seems to have been winging it with its worldbuilding since the start, each story building haphazardly on the previous ones. I see three ways forward.

They could continue to ignore concerns about coherence, concentrate on cool stunts and environments, and hope that fans will accept new instalments as merely each new creative team’s take. But the narrative threads sprawl so much that it’s going to be a tough sell.

Assassin's Creed TV Series: Why It's So Hard To Adapt Video Games For The Screen
A still from the very first Assassin’s Creed (2007). (Ubisoft/IGDB)
If the new series is going to be any good, it would be better to bring in a good universe runner. Someone who can work out how most of the universe hangs together and cut out the bits that don’t.

Alternatively, they could start again, with a worldbuilding process not just a story idea. Videogames can tell amazing stories, despite what their detractors may think, but they do need a consistent background in which to set those stories. Creating a believable world first, would only make the next franchise stronger.

About Today's Contributor:

Ian Sturrock, Senior Lecturer in Game Design and Games Studies, Teesside University
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

22 July 2020

Mythion Games Introduce New Interactive Fiction Mobile Game Application [Video Included]

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Mythion Games Introduce New Interactive Fiction Mobile Game Application
Illustration of characters featured in Mythion Advenures
Mythion Games, an Arizona-based game development company introduces its first mobile, interactive fiction fantasy game, Mythion Adventures. The game is multiplayer and built to operate on iOS and Android devices. It is officially available now through the App store.

Co-founder and CEO Kyle Aulerich partnered with Brynn Mountain to develop the new game concept that integrates their shared passion for adventure stories with interactive gaming. Mythion Adventures was inspired by a series of original stories set in the fantasy world of Aulain. 


Working with a team of talented illustrators and writers, Aulerich and Mountain created a book and game that invite readers and players to immerse themselves and invite friends to join them.
"Mythion Adventures is more than just a game, it's an interactive fiction experience that allows players to become a part of the story and its characters," explains Aulerich. "Players will choose their own path and navigate their way through the twists and turns of the journey to overcome dangers they encounter in this fantasy world."
Mythion Adventures is a subscription-based game that will feature a new adventure and additional content each month. Players can download the app and experience the first adventure for free. 

  • To gain access to more adventures and associated content there is a monthly subscription for $6.99. 
  • Mythion Adventures can be played solo or with up to two friends that are also subscribers. 
  • The game has no ads or in-app purchases. 
  • The book is available for purchase separately on Kindle and Amazon.
Mythion Games Introduce New Interactive Fiction Mobile Game Application
Mythion Adventures book cover
"I've always loved sci-fi fantasy games and wanted to create something that would inspire adventure and give players a connection to the story and its outcome," says Aulerich. "We are all looking for new ways to connect and Mythion Adventures allows us to escape our everyday lives and connect with others."
Mythion Adventures allows players to choose their own adventure as a rich cast of characters explores the ancient historic land and encounters a variety of events and creatures. The decisions and actions selected will lead players to the discovery of the malevolent force that threatens Aulain.

The Video:


SOURCE: Mythion Games

10 July 2020

Spin Master, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and WayForward Announce 'Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia' [Trailer Included]

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Spin Master, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and WayForward Announce 'Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia'
"Become a Bakugan Brawling Champion in a Brand-New, Role-Playing Adventure Game Coming to Nintendo Switch" (CNW Group/Spin Master)
Spin Master, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and WayForward today announced Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia, an all-new, action role-playing video game that will be coming exclusively to Nintendo Switch on Nov. 3, 2020, expanding on the wildly popular, global Bakugan franchise alongside the exciting anime adventure TV series, innovative toy line, card game and more. 

The game will center around an all-new original story and the franchise's signature Bakugan brawls as players befriend powerful creatures known as Bakugan and customize teams for fiercely strategic head-to-head battles.

"We're pleased to partner with Spin Master and WayForward to bring the brawling action of Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia to Nintendo Switch," said Kevin Kebodeaux, Senior Vice President, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. "The global popularity of Bakugan is undeniable, and this game is sure to excite players everywhere."
"Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia expands the popular brawling franchise with a new exhilarating, interactive game format with customization, competitive action, deep strategy, and anime-style characters and worlds that all gamers and Bakugan fans will love," said Simonetta Lulli, Vice President, Spin Master Studios. "Whether playing solo or against Bakugan brawlers online, the game offers endless hours of play at home or on the go."
"The brand new, action-packed video game and our partnership with Nintendo Switch and WayForward is so important to the Bakugan franchise as it continues expand globally," said James Martin, SVP Brand Marketing and GBU Lead of Bakugan. "Now, a whole new generation of fans can experience the excitement and skill of Bakugan in more ways than ever before."
"Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia brings together the most popular aspects of the TV series and toys in an authentic and inspiring new game," said Voldi Way, President & CEO, WayForward. "We designed it specifically for Nintendo Switch with unique battle gameplay and strategic options to build and battle a Bakugan team."
Published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, produced by Spin Master and developed by WayForward, the Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia video game will take players on a journey through an original story expanding on the hit TV series and toy franchise. They can create and fully customize their Brawler to fight side-by-side with the mysterious alien Bakugan as their human partner in battle. The game features a fully navigable 3D world divided into different districts each with dedicated battle arenas. Players can interact with other characters, go on quests, and explore with their Bakugan friends. They can also test their brawling skills online in head-to-head multiplayer against friends or players from the around the world to become a true Champion of Vestroia.
A physical Deluxe Edition pack, featuring the video game, an exclusive Ultima Dragonoid toy which transforms into a fierce Bakugan, Ultima Dragonoid trading card, Ultima Dragonoid metal gate card, plus two powerful BakuCores will also be available at launch.

The Annoucement Trailer:

SOURCE: Spin Master

18 June 2020

Free Comic Book Day 2020 to Take Place July 15 through September 9

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Free Comic Book Day 2020 to Take Place July 15 through September 9
Free Comic Book Day 2020 to Take Place July 15 through September 9 (image via Free Comic Book Day site)
Free Comic Book Day, the comic book industry's largest annual promotional event, is traditionally scheduled to take place the first Saturday in May each year. However, the impact and spread of COVID-19 prevented the event from being celebrated at its normal time this year. Now, the beloved event has been rescheduled and reworked to take place throughout July and early September in order to accommodate social-distancing and store capacity regulations across the country, effectively making it Free Comic Book Summer!

Scheduled to take place between July 15 and September 9, retailers will receive five to six Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) titles in their weekly shipments during each week of the promotional window. Release of these titles may vary from shop to shop, as retailers are encouraged to release the books as they see fit for their unique circumstances.

Retailers may release one free title a day, make all of that week's free titles available at once, or any other plan that works for them. Free Comic Book Summer is designed to be flexible and customizable so retailers and consumers can get the most out the event.

Free Comic Book Day 2020 to Take Place July 15 through September 9
Available on July 15, FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2020: X-MEN will feature a brand-new X-MEN story by Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz that will lead into the game-changing X OF SWORDS crossover! The second story will also foreshadow an upcoming epic tale by Tom Taylor and Iban Coello. (image via Free Comic Book Day site)
"Every year, Free Comic Book Day is our big event to thank current comics fans, welcome back former fans and invite those new to comics to join the fun," said Joe Field, originator of FCBD, and owner of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, CA. "In this very different year, Free Comic Book Day is more like Free Comic Book Summer... and there's so much fun to discover in this year's FCBD comics! So many cool stories are available for this stretched-out Free Comic Book Day 2020. I'm confident long-time fans and newcomers alike are going to find a story that'll make them want to visit their local comic shop every week! Fans, bring your friends and family and head to your local comic shop every week starting July 15 through September 9 to check out the new, and fantastic, free comics available that week!"
  • Free Comic Book Summer will feature 45 of the previously announced titles from publishers like Marvel Comics, Image Comics, BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, Dynamite Entertainment, DC, and more! 
  • The 45 titles are designed to appeal to a broad range of tastes and run the gamut from superhero stories, to TV and movie tie-ins, to sci-fi adventures, all-ages tales, and beyond. 
  • There will also be two educational support titles from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Gemstone Publishing.
A complete listing of all 45 FCBD titles, including the 10 Gold Sponsor and 35 Silver Sponsor comic books, can be viewed online at freecomicbookday.com

Free Comic Book Day 2020 to Take Place July 15 through September 9
On July 22, FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2020: SPIDER-MAN/VENOM will provide two exciting tales connected to the coming major storylines in VENOM, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and BLACK CAT from top creators Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, Jed MacKay, and Patrick Gleason and more! (image via Free Comic Book Day site)
  • To view the weekly release schedule, click here.

SOURCE: Diamond Comic Distributors

16 June 2020

"Little Tiaras" Became the First Animated Series From Russia With Main Characters Presenting Racial Diversity

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"Little Tiaras" Became the First Animated Series From Russia With Main Characters Presenting Racial Diversity
CTC Media's "Little Tiaras"
"Little Tiaras," animated series produced by Melnitsa Animation Studio, owned and managed by CTC Media and CTB Film, introduced two more exciting characters in the end of Season 2. Little Tiaras welcomed two boys – Li Van and Da Vasko – to their school of Magic in Wondermont. This makes the series the first animated series in Russia presenting racial diversity of the leading characters (Da Vasko is black and Li Van is Asian).
Ksenia Gordienko, Director of animation department, CTC Media: "No doubt that there's an evident lack of authentic characters representing diverse perspectives in children's media. We're thrilled that 'Little Tiaras' will become one of the series that will help create a more diverse on-screen landscape that will let little kids see how diverse our world is. We're very proud to be a first animated series in Russia with racial diverse main characters."
CTC Media, the leading entertainment broadcasting company in Russia, intends to increase the international sales of the project to follow the immense success of their hit series KID-E-CATS (156x5'), aimed at preschoolers.

APC Kids, the children's entertainment division of leading co-production and distribution company APC Studios based in Paris, France, is on board to distribute Little Tiaras Season 3. 
Earlier the exclusive free-to-air rights for season one and two have been picked up by Noga for The Children Channel in Israel, TVP for TVP ABC in Poland and All Media for Kanals 2 in Latvia. Little Tiaras will also be available in Chinese starting this summer on major local VOD platforms in mainland China – Tencent and IQiYi – as well on many others. 
Lionel Marty, Managing Director of APC Kids, says: "'Little Tiaras' recipe of magic and friendship has all the ingredients to charm children in North America and across the globe. We're excited to be continuing our collaboration with CTC Media on the third season and can't wait for audiences to discover the exciting new characters: two boys arriving in Wondermont!"
SOURCE: CTC Media

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