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@FM

You've still got a window. It's closing, but it's there.

We're still trying to get ML constructing sentences properly in the general case, much less paragraphs, chapters, or whole books. And while we don't fully understand these constructs, we're finding some really interesting ways to break them.

Also, they might spend their time fighting each other anyways.

Re: Scrivener

Can't say I've ever tried it. I'm a Linux guy, so it's not on my platform, and I'm a coder, so I'm most comfortable writing in my monospaced, syntax-highlighted, multi-cursor Sublime Text.

That said, I'm also waiting on a writing tool that can do footnotes, endnotes, and sidenotes, simultaneously. (Yes, I actually have a (currently-stalled) project which requires that.) A boy can dream…

[T]he post-work, always-networked world scares me, even in its most utopian framings. Deprived of want, drive, and struggle, are we also deprived of purpose? Purposeless, and always united in electrosocial networks, does Mouse Utopia set in?

I'm more worried about the behemoth corporate collective intelligences we already have, thankyouverymuch. Long, long way to go before Mouse Utopia is even an option, much less a bad one.

Then again, I'm speaking as one who currently makes their living wrangling toasters, so I'm not exactly first on the firing line, here.

Addendum:

Now I have an itch to go get the latest PyTorch and try out a few LSTM configurations I've had in mind, as a kind of sequel to my first dip into the ML waters. Maybe I'll throw The Sword into the maw and see what it spits out :P

by Delta VDelta V, 17 Sep 2017 04:36

@Delta

Any toaster comes for my words, I'm throwing it out the frakking airlock.1

:p

As for writing tools: I am a Scrivener man, through and through. Couldn't imagine doing it another way, unless it was automatically metadata parsed.2

Perhaps unrelated, but the post-work, always-networked world scares me, even in its most utopian framings. Deprived of want, drive, and struggle, are we also deprived of purpose? Purposeless, and always united in electrosocial networks, does Mouse Utopia set in?3

by Fapmaster5000Fapmaster5000, 13 Sep 2017 20:30

@FM

Let's back up a second.

I haven't read ASoIaF, correct. I do know a fair number of its pieces, including pretty much all the points you listed. To me, though, they're (merely) tales of a foreign land I'll likely never see myself1. "[A]n entire mirrored world…but all darker, more threatening, and mysterious," containing, as you say, reflected versions of its component myths and legends. It remains, however, somewhere else, for me and for other show-natives.

So I think you're arguing past me, here. I'm not talking about the point, nor the methods and machinery, of A Song of Ice and Fire2. I'm talking about the point, methods, and machinery of Game of Thrones, because I see the show through its own lens, not through that of the books. And this, I think, is the root of our disagreement.

This is a series about texture. The richness is, itself, the point. Finding the hidden meanings, the buried gears, and then determining why they turn is the joy of the fandom.

The show lost that. It could never have it, because television doesn't give you the time to expound on it. But it had a passable verisimilitude, when Martin was involved to give the "key points", and D&D could parse down to the 'core story'.

I think it possibly could have, if they'd conceived it not as "Sopranos in Middle Earth", but as "Lost in Middle Earth". If they'd created the show from the beginning to be just the visible tip of all these vast, hidden machines. Did you ever see John from Cincinnati? It was HBO, and it very much like that3. But Game of Thrones, the show, isn't. It doesn't really have any hidden machinery4, and more importantly, it never did.

I would (counter-)assert that with the exception5 of whatever set the White Walkers to motion, the show has never had the basement full of machinery the books have. A couple hidden storage lockers down there67, and little more. It's a modern skyscraper, not an ancient fortress: the load-bearing structure is the outer walls, and its insides hang off them. The texture that you say defines the purpose of the books8 has, in the show, never been more than evocative, like the set and costume design. To the show, the web of history taken from the books — at least in terms of what drives the show, and what steers it — is roughly equivalent in influence to its art direction9.

So I'd argue that the show is its own thing, working its own way, and (subtly) even less related to its source than most close adaptations. Game of Thrones' relation to A Song of Ice and Fire is more like Blade Runner's relation to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? than anyone expected. And there's an ocean between the two lands.

Regarding R+L=J:

Specifically, it's a holdover from Martin's original outline, and given what you describe, I'm really not sure why he kept it in. N+A=J would've been fine, if he wanted a secret parentage aspect (and given the theory Ned and Ashara were secretly wed before Ned and Cat, might've even provided a way for Jon to be secretly legitimate instead of a bastard). It's making Jon a Targaryen that — to me, at least — undermines what Martin has to say elsewhere about legitimacy and birthrights.

Generally, what I meant by "emblematic of Martin's greatest flaw as a writer", I (mostly) meant that for a self-described "gardener" in terms of writing/plotting style, he's actually really bad at weeding. He doesn't seem to want to remove, or even cutail, almost anything, even when it would help his story.

Regarding ASoIaF ever being finished:

GRRM is stuck in the DOS days. It's better to hope some neural net will finish it off. (And mark my words, within 10-15 years this'll be pretty much SOP for publishers. 20-25 tops before "machine-learning-sourced derived works" becomes a standard contract clause.)

by Delta VDelta V, 07 Sep 2017 04:20

Re: GoT in General

I still have a lot of love for the series, even if I disagree with the direction the TV-show took. It brought high fantasy back in from the cultural cold, for a while, at least.

And, it gave us my favorite thing: transformative and interpretive musical works!

Some of my favorites:

Hands of Gold
When the Wolves Cry Out
Little Wolf
A Bear and the Maiden Fair
The Rains of Castamere
Game of Thrones Theme
Light of the Seven

Also, not music, but…
mmnj9aejpg.jpeg?auto=format%2Ccompress&w=700

I HEAR HORNS FROM THE NORTH!

GET ME SOME FUCKING CHICKENS!

by Fapmaster5000Fapmaster5000, 06 Sep 2017 23:14

@Delta, Re: GoT

rm_got.png

But, seriously, I have to disagree with many of your points. I would assert, in fact, that you've missed the point of ASoIaF, having not read the text.

Characters certain to win - don't. Prophecy is real - but it's such a bitch to interpret that it usually goes horrifically wrong. There are wizards - except their actually just live-in-professors… who were secretly wizards, once, but then they killed magic, WTF MIND BLOWN.

The entire series is about texture. It's about rubbing the surface, and peeling back layer upon layer of reveal. It's about characters being far more complex than they have any right to be. It's about the main players in the plot stubbornly refusing to give up viewpoint chapters1, and having to piece together the world by inference and context. It's about a half-dozen competing mythologies, which might all be right, none be right, or anything in between.

It's a series that revels in entire secret subplots, conspiracies, and machinations, many of which may never come into relief, but which inform the world through which the characters - real characters, not tropes - muddle. Dornish conspiracies, decades in the making, threaten a revenge-restoration of Aegon Targaryen2 The Citadel, the home of all learning, is implied to have been the source of an ancient conspiracy to extinguish magic from the world, and is now caught unaware as the old powers slowly return, aided by subtle interventions of the Faceless Men. Littlefinger3 plots from the sidelines, never showing his motivation, never even popping up in that many pages. He always gains, from every twist and turn, of "greater" men, as he slowly rises towards the throne, and his even-more-dastardly debt schemes threaten to force the hand of the Iron Bank. Entire myths lay cloaked in Black Stone, Asshai under the Shadow, Stigai, and an entire mirrored world to the East. This TV-unexplored-world contains reflected versions of the Last Hero, of the Wall, and of the ancient foundations of the world, but all darker, more threatening, and mysterious.

Hell, this is world where the "Night King" does not exist.

That's right.

The show's keystone-army final boss isn't even in the fucking books.4

The White Walkers are implied to be some version of a faerie court, alien and dangerous, but not one-dimensional cutouts. They are a threat in the sense of nuclear proliferation, or global warming56. They are a thing that is, built by the Children, which are now reasserting themselves, with an inexorable force7 They are not the "evil". They are a possible doom.8

This is a universe where complexity is the norm. Where characters, even the smartest, can get buried in hundreds of years of schemes from a thousand actors. This is a world where Old Powers are waking, terrible and horrifying, and threaten to upstage this delicate dance in the most unpredictable of ways.

This is a series where readers get lost in tracing ancestries, debating fact versus myth, hunting down scattered Valyrian swords. This is a world where conspiracies dead, a hundred years before the text starts, are just as vital as the POV-actions. This is a setting that leads to arguments over House Dayne, Starfall, and the Sword of Morning. It has us wonder about Rhaegar, about Summerhall, and what exactly the "Three Heads" mean. This is a living, breathing creation, where the Doom of Valyria may very well hold a key point in the plot of the Old God weaponizing, sailor-sorceror Euron Greyoy's apocalyptic plans.

Everything matters. The context itself becomes the purpose.

The show lost that. It could never have it, because television doesn't give you the time to expound on it. But it had a passable verisimilitude, when Martin was involved to give the "key points", and D&D could parse down to the 'core story'.

But, the more they stood alone, the worse it got.

TV-Stannis was an abomination of the character. Instead of the rigid, inflexible, but righteous military genius without an ounce of political charm, we got… the guy who got beaten by "twenty good men" and then burned his own daughter for keks.910

Even Jon Snow got whittled into something lesser. In the books, he's stabbed in a mutiny, yes… but he earned that stabbing. He pulled the Watch away from their duties, to support Stannis. Never directly. He never broke his oaths. But he bent them. He got the Watch entangled in a (righteous) political fight.

The mutineers had a point.

In the show, they're just evil racists.

In the books, they're desperate, broken men, who go to dangerous means to fight for what they truly believe is just.11 It's still awful, but you see how it got there, and Snow isn't just Ice Jesus.12

This is a series about texture. The richness is, itself, the point. Finding the hidden meanings, the buried gears, and then determining why they turn is the joy of the fandom.

There is a classical story here, but it is built upon this machinery.

The TV show, by this point, is a by-the-books fantasy, with cutouts of good and evil, driven by the built-in empathy from better seasons. Instead of deep context, we get cold reading. Instead of layers of meaning, we get "emoting" at the camera.

It's still decent TV, but it is no longer the king, and the items you've dismissed as "unnecessary", are, in fact, the soul of the series from which the show was translated.13

by Fapmaster5000Fapmaster5000, 06 Sep 2017 14:48

So. Game of Thrones. S7 in the books. No more for up to a year and a half. The Long Night has begun.

I had fun. I liked it12. And I don't think it was as dumb or illogical as claimed. I know that goes against the critical consensus, but fuck it. This season had an impossible job to do, and mostly managed to do it3.

I'm one of those who haven't read the books, though — I know I've previously complained about Martin's prose, and those complaints stand — so I'm not viewing it in the context of adapting something beloved by me. Nor am I expecting it to be the Greatest Thing Ever, despite its position as perhaps the last4 TV show to occupy the coveted watercooler slot. So perhaps it's just the tyranny of middlebrow expectations.

All that said, of course there were problems with the season. There always are. What gets me is that for all the legions of TV critics taking aim, few have (in my view) accurately pinpointed said problems. Most of them have just thrown their hands in the air and said "it's stupid!!1!", which seems to me to be an…abdication of sorts. And at the risk of being That Guy, I've got some bones to pick with the critical universe.

Anyways, it's gonna be a loooooong offseason…

by Delta VDelta V, 06 Sep 2017 06:40

@Delta

I was reading some of those Dev Tricks and I think my favourite has to be coyote time, gotta love the classics. Second up is probably Half Life 2 coding missed enemy shots to hit something interesting "like exploding barrels".

Interesting about the two Alien brains though, I've always suspected that game AI's knew more than they were letting on.

Re: XCOM

New expansion sounds pretty interesting, and I must admit the idea that we soft squishy humans have become the terror hidden in the fog is pretty appealing. Is the expansion worth the almost full game price, or would waiting for a sale be more prudent?


Re:XCOM - Ironman

I think Ironman mode pretty interesting, and the experience of beating XCOM:EU with my plucky band of survivors is definitely a memorable one, but it's not my typical go to experience. My body can only handle so much adrenaline. :-)

And speaking of (a different kind of) Ironman, this mod for ME:A almost seems like it's worth the price of admission on it's own.

Oh and CDPR put out a nifty little epilogue video for the 10th anniversary of The Witcher which is pretty cool.

by edisnooMedisnooM, 06 Sep 2017 00:25

@Seijin

Also, Ironman is still a no-go for me. I've found many infinite turn hangups that would've outright killed an Ironman playthrough…

Did they "fix" the (sorta) workaround where force-killing the game before the turn officially ends would let you start back at the beginning of said turn? I know that kept me out of the bugweeds more than a few times on my Ironman playthroughs.

Also, regarding ironman modes in general: I know I've banged on about time being the true currency of games. Ironman/permadeath modes are, I think, fundamentally about rebalancing the equation, making short-term losses more acceptable by increasing the replay time required — but increasing the cost of untenable long-term positions (and bugs). Nowadays, given how little time I've had for videogames, I'm not sure where exactly I stand on this sort of thing anymore.

@FM

It's the same old design problem that XCOM has always had in the reboot. EW tried to fix it, Long War did a number on it, but the basic design of the game has the break-point far too early before the actual end. And I don't know how to fix that.

It's the same old design problem that XCOM has always had, period. All the way back to the original. It's the same design problem virtually every strategy game has to some extent, at least those with some kind of technology/ability advancement.

The most interesting design approach to lessening that problem I've seen was probably Sword of the Stars, with its semi-randomized tech tree and mostly-randomized outside-context threats. Pity its tactical level was so…meh. And even more pity that nobody else seems to have stolen those ideas.

In the original X-Com, there were a few (small) branches of the tech tree only accessible under very specific circumstances (usually capturing live specimens of rather-deadly and very-rare aliens). The one thing I wish the XCOM series hadn't done is make those into mainline tech gates and semi-story missions. Or rather, I kinda wish they'd made most of the tech tree like that instead.

by Delta VDelta V, 05 Sep 2017 02:58

Re: War of the Chosen

Just to double down on what Seijin said: this is an amazingly fun expansion, that completely negates the already shaky challenge of mid/late-game.

I'll get the TL;DR out of the way, early: this is a great expansion. If you like the modern XCOM, buy it, and you'll love it.

Now, let's get into the reasons this breaks the game balance: too much control.

Every change in the game is great, individually. The game cranks up the challenge, with special mission restrictions1, the addition of fatigue2, and the increased tempo of operations3. All this combined, means that you're constantly reacting outside your optional sets, quite often. With the surprise interventions by the Elite Monsters from the prior expansion, and the appearance of the Chosen boss-mobs, randomly making easy missions into clusterfucks, the early tactical game is an impressive scramble.

This is reflected on the strategic level, with the Chosen constantly harassing you, launching extra "Dark Events", and even imposing special hardships like breaking your power plant, derailing a soldier's healing, or dropping negative-continent-bonuses on your team. You're forced to confront Advent, the Avatar project, and all three of the Chosen randomly dicking you4.

To counter think increase in threat, the game gives you a lot more control. When you do gain resistance factions, they give controllable, alterable continent-bonuses. Your soldiers are nearly completely customizable. Further, the resistance groups as you to gain favor, so you have are able to choose between goodoptions, when you do have initiative.

The enemies adapt and grow in power. But so do do you. You have the tools to survive, if you leverage them.

Which, of course, creates the problem.

Because the game is balanced so intensely during the early game, when all the cylinders are firing, the gongs are ringing, and the trumpets sounding, that once you start putting out the fires, the very control options you've been granted to deal with just this problem, right now, start to be leveraged towards "I can utterly close this negative option loop, if I double down, here".

Quickly, your advantages start to snowball, especially since, as you defeat the Chosen, the Elite Monsters, or win over a resistance faction, you gain tangible rewards, which make the next step easier. Once you down the first Chosen, you're on even footing. Once you take out the second, you're closing on victory.

The midgame wraps fast. Within a handful of missions, you will shift from reacting to controlling the enemy. There are now so many tools to mitigate the Avatar project that I have, without pursuing the main plot, knocked the damn progress bar back to square zero, and can hold it there, passively.

The tactical combat becomes even more lulzy, as Seijin mentioned. Every soldier can become a wrecking machine, with a double-spec'd tree, and four free perks. Chosen weapons and Elite Mob armor give you gamebreaking maneuverability and damage. Most dominating of all, the new factional soldiers possess the ability to utterly command a chunk of the threat economy.

  • The Reaper is a scout/sniper, that possesses multiple tools to maintain vision control, and thereby choose the nature of every engagement. A couple of Reapers can wipe the map clean, while the enemy never gets a turn, because you've properly managed your Concealed status.
  • The Skirmisher is an ultramobile flanker. It can zip across the map in a turn, can interupt every action the enemy takes, and can gain moves from the enemy. While not as powerful as the Reapers in terms of game economy, a properly positioned5 Skirmisher can choose which enemies get turns, which enemies get reaction-fired, and which enemies get hard-countered.
  • The Templars are the most lulzy of all, even if they are the least damaging to the economy. They are an AOE melee class that possesses a hard-counter dodge-tank mechanic. Like the Skirmisher, they have melee-attack-of-opportunity, extreme mobility, and very high damage. Instead of using actions to prevent actions, however, they gain immunity to attacks based on kills, and can be used to force the computer to take bad shots.

So, between these three classes, you have the ability to:

  • Pick the exact fight, at the precise time, on your chosen ground.
  • Control the turn order/maneuver options of both sides.
  • Decide which targets the enemy will get to fire upon.
    • Decide which of those targets will be immune to damage.
  • Punish the actions the enemy must take, based upon your choices.
  • Remove any number of combatants from the fight, upon command, for a length of time of your choosing.

Oh, and your stats are goddamn rediculous.

So, yeah… War of the Chosen late game is XCOM: Power Fantasy6. It's a blast, it's hilarious - but the game is over when you down the first Chosen.7

by Fapmaster5000Fapmaster5000, 04 Sep 2017 21:32

Re: XCOM2 War of the Chosen

Been playing it since release, currently in the stage I always get into where there are many things that supposedly have to be done, but I'm adequately controlling things that I find a sustainable midgame with no pressure to finish.1

Also, Ironman is still a no-go for me. I've found many infinite turn hangups that would've outright killed an Ironman playthrough, and I won't pretend I've even tried not to be a save-scummer in this playthrough.

My simplest explanation is that XCOM Enemy Within remains my favorite iteration of the Firaxis reboot, and War of the Chosen is likely my second favorite. It has added many of the elements that I adored in EW, but has doubled down on them to such a degree that the aliens basically have no chance, even with all the new fancy tricks (of which there are many).

The end-state combat efficacy of the current crop of XCOM soldiers is capable of single-handedly leveling a Sectopod in a single turn without any real risk.2 Whereas EW might give you a character with a single special (non-class) trait that could be built around, WotC offers 43 as well as the ability to take all of the class abilities, and not have to choose between them4. So a previously awesome EW character who had a single extra quirk is now rapidly outclassed and rendered ultimately irrelevant by these superhuman wrecking machines we can now nurture into being. And just in case that wasn't enough, you can also send them on covert side-missions that pop up their base stats, too. No limit to those near as I can tell. I'm trying to construct a Ranger now who can just Reap a battlefield by his lonesome. Almost there, my current max is I think 11 kills in a row in a single action phase (granted, some were zombies).

by Seijin8Seijin8, 04 Sep 2017 06:45

The only thing which could've even tempted me to touch anything ME-related again would've been if they'd made some kind of Mass Effect: Tactics in the style of XCOM or the older Fallout games1.

Speaking of XCOM, this new War of the Chosen thing is apparently some pretty hot shit. I still haven't done much gaming, but my last real binge was XCOM2 during my aborted mod attempt. Might have to get back in (and try really hard not to get consumed again).

Also, a really neat bunch of developer tricks — make sure to read the full Twitter thread linked in the piece — of which my favorite is from Alien: Isolation: the alien has two brains, one which always knows the player's location, and gives hints to the second. Honestly, that sounds like a neat trick, and kinda makes me want to make a strategy game with that principle — instead of just cheating here and there, have an omniscient AI overmind dole out hints to each AI player (and possibly the player too, through some intel mechanic). Someday, when I get around to making another game. Maybe.

by Delta VDelta V, 03 Sep 2017 22:04

@FM5K & Seijin

Duly noted, though my contrarian nature now kind of wants to try it even more. :-)

That statement from Mr. Soderland struck me as very corporate, and somewhat reminiscent of them claiming that people hated them because they were successful when they won the Worst Company in America award.

@Kita

There is a certain feeling of schadenfreude to it. It kind of amuses me that they abandoned an entire galaxy for a fresh start and then somehow mucked that up too.

by edisnooMedisnooM, 31 Aug 2017 23:55

@The Mani Mani

You know what you did. Go sit in the corner.

To be fair, the people of BioWare Montreal were absorbed into other studios, instead of just tossed aside.

I'm going to go continue being a horrible person by revelling in the idea that Mass Effect has become such a shit show.

by KitaSaturnyneKitaSaturnyne, 30 Aug 2017 20:22

^ What he said.

Was a decent game, but I won't play it or support it any further. EA fucked it, as per usual, and they shouldn't be rewarded for it.

by Seijin8Seijin8, 26 Aug 2017 23:22

edisnooM Said:

I had been thinking that maybe down the road I might consider the "complete edition" when it was on sale, but with nothing more coming I may look into it sooner.

Don't.

I know I was really positive on the game when it first came out. That has changed.

My initial positivity was based on this being a first-title from a secondary studio. They overreached, and never hit their ambitions, but they seemed to be responding better to the critique than the corporate-lockdown of ME3's ending.

Then it changed.

Bioware/EA promised to fix it, then didn't. They shut down the studio that made the game1, instead of trying to fix it. Bioware had a mess, and, instead of owning it, they just fired a bunch of secondary people, shuttered the studio, and went radio silence.

They pushed the mess under the bed, and pretended nothing happened.

Then you get statements from EA like this one, from Patrick Soderland, "…if you go in and you buy the game today with everything that's in it today, I believe that that's a game worth buying."

So, Mister EA… the game is worth my money, but not yours?

If the studio was still alive, I'd say, support them. But at this point, the only people who would benefit would be the ones who shat the bed, then blamed the dog.

by Fapmaster5000Fapmaster5000, 26 Aug 2017 17:15

So interesting news1, BioWare has officially ended support for SP of Mass Effect Andromeda. Been something of rumour for a while now but now it's been confirmed.

It also seems like while there is more MP content coming, there will be no more client side content, patches etc. Reading some of the responses from the MP support team I feel kind of bad for them as they continually have to shut down things as requiring a patch, and that they'll see what they can do server side.

I had been thinking that maybe down the road I might consider the "complete edition" when it was on sale, but with nothing more coming I may look into it sooner.

by edisnooMedisnooM, 26 Aug 2017 00:35

@Delta

I think that in the context of the show R+L=J doesn't seem to matter overmuch at all, at least so far, it's possible that the endgame that is being set up will require the Prince that was literally promised for "reasons". In the books there seems to be more significance given to it, "The dragon must have three heads" and all.

The show also seems to be setting up Rhaegar and Lyanna as star crossed lovers which could quite possibly be the case, but in the books there is also the distinct possibility that Rhaegar was being very utilitarian in his belief in prophecy1 and was simply trying the get that third dragon head since Elaria couldn't have any more children.

And although the show has certainly made J the answer to the equation, there is a certain amount of evidence it might not be him in the books. Of course GRRM has gone on record that he tends to improvise and has more than once had to backtrack having written himself into a corner, so until it's actually on bookshelves theorizing is something of a fools errand.

In the show however I think Jon has to find out if not this season, early next season. The question of what he does when he does find out is tricky, technically he is the rightful heir now which messes up Daenarys claims of being so. But Jon has already said he'd bend the knee so I can quite easily see him renouncing his claim in her favour. Unless his sheer bloody-minded Stark blood makes him think it's his duty to claim it.

In the context of Westeros it doesn't seem like their blood ties would be much of an issue, I seem to recall someone pointing out that uncles and nieces have been wed without any societal outcry so I wouldn't imagine that would pose a problem.

Personally what seems the most likely outcome is either he finds out and claims his true name2 and if they both survive end up as co-regents or one ruling the South and the other the North, or Jon as Prince Consort. Or he finds out and tells Daenarys but doesn't want to make it public, keeping the name Snow to save political upheaval3, Daenarys could even legitimize him as a Stark. Either way though I think at this point stopping the good ship Jonerys would probably take a pretty serious iceberg.

by edisnooMedisnooM, 26 Aug 2017 00:23

@Hawk

I have to recant: I rewatched the zombie bear scene, and I see what you mean. It does kinda seem like there were two bears, one off in the distance, and one pouncing on the runner from the side. And then it's not clear which they fought, and which skulked away.

Mea culpa, mea minima culpa. :P

@FM

R+L=J and all its variations were never 'pop off the page'. They would not be seen on a first read. It was only once the first stone was turned, that the 'OMG OBVIOUS!' triggers started firing, and you would flip back through books you'd already read, and realize that this was always there. It's godsdamn genius writing, and Martin's best strength, as a writer.

On the contrary - I would submit that R+L=J is emblematic of Martin's greatest flaw as a writer.

Wait, don't burn me for a heretic until I'm done.

It is indeed a well-constructed textual secret. Visible only on close reading, seemingly brimming with potential consequences, hinting at a much broader hidden history underneath the (already sprawling) one he's created, begging the reader to reevaluate everything they've been told. But1 what purpose - narrative, character, or otherwise - does R+L=J actually serve?

Obviously we don't quite know yet — the books still haven't yet resurrected Jon, nor brought Dany to Westeros, much less anything else the show has extrapolated, and even the show hasn't gotten around to figuring out what it's supposed to mean (despite already depicting it to sufficient degree to make it canon). However, making the (I think reasonable) assumption2 that bringing Jon and Dany together is key to the series, what does Jon's secret Targaryen heritage bring to that convergence? And, if some form of romance3 is as intended by Martin as by D&D, what (useful) character - or perhaps more importantly, archetypal - conflicts and/or resolutions are provided?

1. Jon finds out, decides to squash his nascent romance with Dany, they keep to "good friends"-slash-"partners in saving the world".

That seems like…well, frankly, a waste. This (potential) big Epic Romance, fizzling on the rocks of aunt/nephew incest. Abandons4 the (important!) throughlines of Dany's redirected motherhood, Jon's desire to have children vs his bastard status, and the (kinda sweet) idea of two world-saving heroes managing to meet as equals instead of separately settling for someone smaller than they.

2. Jon finds out, and either doesn't tell Dany or she doesn't care5, and they carry on as if it didn't matter.

That seems like…well, frankly, also a waste. Why build it up, why go to such lengths to hide it just enough to be found, and then have it mean little or nothing? Plus, frankly, adding squick (no matter how blase Martin is about it, both in-text and out) to some non-trivial portion of the audience, and to no gain to story or character. This would make the hidden history into little more than a speed bump for their (long-foreseen, long-expected) convergence, while also undermining Jon's story specifically. It's less valuable a myth, I think, for Jon to be the secret heir instead of the bastard of Winterfell, for (half of) the promised prince to be from a long line of princes.

3. Jon finds out, and challenges Dany's claim to the throne.

This seems to me to be the least likely, least fitting with the characters, and including all the downsides of 1) and 2) besides. This would definitely be a waste — or worse, would piss off (some non-trivial portion of) the audience for making them choose.

4. Jon finds out, and everyone treats it like it's a good thing, like it's the key to the kingdom.

This is the worst possibility — the one where Jon's lineage reigns supreme, where his accomplishments take a backseat to his name. Where his name matters.

Jon Snow. One of, perhaps the key point of his character, is his lack of a name.

Sadly, I have this scratching voice in the back of my head that this is where Martin's going.


ADDENDUM:

Since at this point I'll admit I'm basically Jonerys tumblr trash, I should clarify why I'm seemingly only focusing on that part of the story — and it's not actually because I'm just looking forward to [REDACTED].

Basically, if GRRM's own (admittedly secondhand) comments are to be believed, their "convergence" (Alan Taylor's term) was "sort of the point of the series". Which, given that in the books Jon Snow is currently freshly dead, means that's the only halfway-sure point of comparison between where the show has gone since leaving the books behind, and where Martin intends it to go when (and if) he catches up.

There are plenty of other possible consequences, but who the fuck knows, because the show's gone its own way, and even pretty much all the contexts at the point of divergence are different.

But also, it seems as though Jon's parentage was always supposed to be important. (See also this and this.)

From the first of those see-alsos:

[T]he issue is this: how do you take a series whose momentum is based on sabotaging how stories are supposed to work…and then make the story work? His inability to answer this successfully is, in my opinion, the most likely cause of his later novels taking three times longer to come out than his earlier ones. There isn’t an answer, I suspect, and diminishing returns are inevitable.

by Delta VDelta V, 25 Aug 2017 00:37

Trying to catch up on all the posts1, and I probably won't be nearly as verbose as others, but my thoughts such as they may be:

I think at this point we have to make peace with the fact that the cast have unlocked fast travel or are using console commands. It's been going on for a while now and while this episode's supersonic ravens are certainly eyebrow raising I think we just have to roll with it.

I do kind of wonder why they didn't use Bran a bit here, he told them about the army in the first place so why not have him actively observing the operation, then he relays to Daenarys they need help and that's at least part of the problem solved, not sure how hard set the top speed of dragons is so can't really argue on that one.

Some minor peeves this episode were, the convenient fact that exactly one of the wights in the scouting party did not belong to that White Walker2. Sending Gendry, who has never seen snow let alone been North before running back along their route3 and trusting that he will have no problem getting back to the wall. And of course the Night King not going after the obvious target.

Nothing world breaking, and I still enjoyed it, but it does feel a bit at times that the tropes are shining through the cracks.

Re: Jaime

I'm a bit disappointed this season honestly, last season it kind of seemed like he was on the path back to honour mirroring the books a bit, and the final shot of him looking at Cersei he didn't look too happy with her. But this season has carried on with him going along with her plans, even when she did the very thing he killed Aerys for trying to do. I can't imagine him not getting involved in the fight against the White Walkers so that may be the tipping point.

by edisnooMedisnooM, 22 Aug 2017 00:23

@Delta

I think you're just about spot on.

Like I said, it's not necessarily a bad thing, in the overall sense. The ironclad laws of finance dictated short seasons1, and there is enough of a justification in-universe to pull the triggers.2

It just makes things a bit easier to read, since tropes and plot armor are in far more effect. During Martin's work, he would have character decision trump plot, or even story3. Even people who eat, sleep, and breathe fiction could be caught off guard by the story movements, but unlike a lesser writer, these were never wrong. Once made, every decision held up as the 'natural' place to go, even if we've been conditioned by fiction to expect otherwise. Further, the tropes of the series only emerged in retrospective. R+L=J and all its variations were never 'pop off the page'. They would not be seen on a first read. It was only once the first stone was turned, that the 'OMG OBVIOUS!' triggers started firing, and you would flip back through books you'd already read, and realize that this was always there. It's godsdamn genius writing, and Martin's best strength, as a writer.

This makes his works incredibly rich. It makes his setting a living, breathing world. It's the best-constructed Dungeons and Dragons setting ever composed.

… which is why this is so different.

This is the finale. The end.4 There are no red herrings. No shaggydog plots. No Shandification. Only pure, workmanlike execution of a peaking story.

If we, as viewers, turn off our critical thinking, and appreciate these seasons for what they are - the 15-episode, extended finale - that we can enjoy them.56

My fear, is that the writers will play their tropes too obviously, or that, because of the expectations being pegged so high be legit literature, that the whiz-bang-pow of the climax might come off more as 'well written fanfiction that extrapolates a possible ending to an unfinished series'7. This was the weakest episode so far, writing wise, but it was still good, and still above my aforementioned bar.

I still have hopes that the finale will redeem it, as it seems to have many of the best elements of the late-series in one place.


EDIT:

Somehow I missed @Seijin's post, which contained this gem:

The script/story is definitely different since we left the canonized books, but that's because the books didn't concern themselves with trying to end. The series most definitely does. It is clear where the reins are handed off to the new story writers as they are trying to conclude the overly bloated/non-plot/broken outline of Martin's work. Martin was true to the characters to the detriment of narrative, and the new writers are true to the story to the detriment of characters.

Yeah, that's what I was getting at, but said far more concisely.

I don't know if ASoIaF can be ended, in any reasonable manner, and D&D are trying to arcweld an ending onto this glorious monstrosity, in months, instead of decades, which Martin obviously intends to take8.

I still like the series. It's still my tied-for-favorite show.9

It's just no longer the same style or caliber of show as S1-S4, but that's almost a natural law at this point.

by Fapmaster5000Fapmaster5000, 21 Aug 2017 23:28
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