Post by thealmightymudworm on Dec 17, 2013 12:48:02 GMT
From TUFFF (2012)...
I am 29 years old. When I was a boy, from 8 to 14 years old my favourite was Steve Jackson.. I loved his puzzles and secrets and my favourite book was a book that I loved so much because I identify myself a lot with it : "HOUSE OF HELL". but since then, about 15 years ago I changed, and my favourite begins to be Ian Livingstone. I really love his fantastically realistic books.. Caverns of Snow Witch was amazing, Island of the Lizard King was almost so amazing as Caverns... Deathtrap Dungeon was unbelievably good and I think I liked even more of Trial of Champions... and finally my two favourite of Ian's books: City of Thieves with the awesome Nicodemus and the most realistic environment of all of Port Blacksand... and my number one Ian's book... Crypt of the Sorcerer of the fantastic Razzak. Today I still hesitate in saying if my favourite book is House of Hell, City of Thieves or Crypt of the Sorcerer.. but returning to the initial point... Whom do you think is better: Ian Livingstone or Steve Jackson?
Personally, I prefer Steve. He was more willing to experiment and push boundaries. All right, it didn't always work so well (Starship Traveller, mainly), but his successes far outweighed his failures. Ian produced some good stuff too, but as he went on, he got too formulaic for my liking.
Both authors were pretty 'one true path' on the whole, but after a while Ian seemed to lose interest in the false trails, so a wrong turning not only guaranteed failure but made for a less interesting adventure. Steve made the dead ends as interesting and inventive as the correct routes.
As a youngster, Ian Livingstone was my best. I hated to have to look for hidden stuff, being tested left and right, which was kind of Steve Jackson's motto. I loved the simple straight forward adventure of Ian, and all the monsters and bashing that resulted from his imagination. I had a good time back then, and still do with a gem like Deathtrap Dungeon.
But in my adult years my taste have shifted and I have to give the upper hand to Jackson. His stories are far more imaginative, not just in terms of adventuring but in terms of what he was trying to achieve as a greater experience in the world of FF. Well, Greenspine explained it pretty well above so I'll just have to agree with him.
For me, Ian achieved his peak with DD and then slowly started down the hill. Not too steep at first, plenty of his books are still enjoyable after that - minus Freeway Fighter I guess - I even got good things to say about Crypt of the Sorcerer - a few - but you could feel the interest, the passion, the inspiration, fade away from him. At Armies of Death it was completely gone.
Let's hope that a few long years of rest and perhaps new interests have sparked a fresh flame at the heart of Ian and that we'll see some of that in Blood of the Zombies. The illustrations looks inspired enough; can the storytelling and playing be? We'll see, and hope!
Post by thealmightymudworm on Dec 17, 2013 12:54:20 GMT
I always identify myself more with Steve Jackson, his secrets, his apparent endings without any number to go on, his supreme difficulty level, but with time I started to like more of Ian Livinstone and now he is my favourite due to these facts: His books are always epics, I feel the fights, the cold, the hot, the efforts, the places, and after winning, the book is always interesting to read again in the future, because it is an epic feeling of adventure and the success is never guaranteed. Instead, in Steve Jackson books, it appears always to be very hard, very difficult, but once solved the enigmas and won the book, future readings practically have all the easy guarantee of success.
I pretty much agree with hynreck. I preferred Ian when I was younger but I appreciate the complexity of Steve's efforts far more these days. Having said that, there is a nostalgia I feel playing a Livingstonian gamebook that always ups their appeal. Probably why I'm one of the very few who actually enjoyed Eye of the Dragon.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Dec 17, 2013 12:56:58 GMT
This is all very interesting, not least because I expected everyone to just shout "Jackson! Jackson! Jackson!"
I like that it's an even split. I swear to myself that one of these days I'm going to make it out of the dungeon in Creature of Havoc or legitimately find the correct route through House of Hell. I only try them once every couple of years, which isn't great because of course I go straight back in and make the same mistakes again. I WILL do it though.
So anyway... You all make good points above. I particular like what Vagsancho says about Steve's adventures - once you DO figure out where you are going wrong, there's little replayability. For example, when you get the correct co-ordinates in Starship Traveller, a recent next play through will be fairly identical. In contrast to this, it works better in CoH because after learning to understand language you can replay the book and translate parts otherwise impossible, sort of a "new game+" if you like. But I'm sure that once I stop going around in an endless loop in the mines and fighting an infinite supply of Chaos Warriors I'll never forget how to get outside again.
With Ian, the difficulty comes with the combat, insta-deaths and items. Now the items and path can be figured out with multiple play-throughs but the brutal combat will ALWAYS be hard. I love Steve's boundary pushing, always trying to take the genre to a different level, but the harsh quasi-medieval world of Titan is really laid down in Ian's books. And let's not forget that the one time he did push the boundaries, we didn't particularly rate it - Freeway Fighter.
So to summarise, Steve writes amazing experiences that are great to figure out with tremendous puzzling. Ian writes atmospheric brutal dungeon crawlers that cement the roots of the Fighting Fantasy experience. Without the influence of either author, the series wouldn't be the same as it is today, as they laid the foundations of what can be done with the gamebook format within FF rules. That makes it impossible to pick a favourite, so I will have to try something else..
When I found out a new FF was on the horizon, I was excited. When I knew it was Ian writing it, I was overwhelmed; The co-founder of the series and an incredibly successful business man coming back to his roots to please the few thousand active fans left (because he certainly didn't do it for the money) is simply amazing. BUT... Would I have been even more excited if it had been Steve returning? Yes. Yes I would. And on that basis I will say that Steve is my favourite. ~MC~
Post by thealmightymudworm on Dec 17, 2013 12:59:06 GMT
Maybe you're right. I hit a book 2 or 3 times in a row to try and beat it, then move on to something else and sometimes it can be a couple of years before I get back to it. I can't remember which idol eye releases gas in DD at the moment!
I'd be very geekily happy if Jackson would write another book. Of course I'm happy Livingstone did, but it's been far longer since Jackson did anything at all. And at this point I don't think anybody believes seriously that he ever will again. Meanwhile, Livingstone's taken long pauses, but always came back in one shape or another: Armies of Death (undead shape), Return to Firetop Mountain (classic (if somewhat tired) shape), Legend of Zagor (Keith Martin shape), Eye of the Dragon (quick fix shape) and now Blood of the Zombies (true shape?).
Or a Starship Traveller sequel too. I know Steve wouldn't rehash, not quite his style, but I would love some kind of follow up on House of Hell, or in a similar realistic horror vein. Perhaps Steve could do his own take on Zombies... But he'd have to avoid the Resident Evil trappings...
I had the pleasure of chatting to Ian at the Forbidden Planet signing on Saturday, and he told me that he was trying to get Steve on board with another gamebook project. He then said "perhaps for the 40th anniversary!" which may or may not have meant he was joking...
I know Steve wouldn't rehash, not quite his style, but I would love some kind of follow up on House of Hell, or in a similar realistic horror vein.
Returning to previously covered territory isn't really a Steve sort of thing, though. Mind you, that means that having another go at something he's done before is something he hasn't done before, so maybe...
Post by deadshadowrunner on Dec 17, 2013 14:53:17 GMT
What about Ian Livingstone vs Steve Jackson(US)?Who do you prefer?I'm not really sure about that one,though.
1 You are in a dark corridor. You can go forwards (go to 2) or backwards (go to 3). 2 You walk forwards. After a while, you pause. Go to 1. 3 You turn around and walk forwards. After a while, you rest. When you finish resting, go to 1. 400 Eh? How did you get to this section? No matter, for the Deadshadowrunner has found you. The last things you see are a pair of sly eyes and a grinning mouth with sharp teeth floating in the darkness.
Early Livingstone vs US - Jackson is difficult to answer (Ian probably winning due to his gems City of Thieves and Deathtrap Dungeon), but if we include Ian's later works, I prefer the latter on the whole. Really liked DotD and found Robot Commando quite entertaining, same for Swamp.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Dec 19, 2013 2:36:21 GMT
As is often the case, gaps in my knowledge re Steve (UK) and Ian's work prevent a fair answer to this question. I have mentioned though that I encountered a trio of books as my introduction to FF: ST, CoT and BW - so the credit for getting me interested in FF certainly goes to Ian rather than Steve!
I do think Steve Jackson (USA) made a valuable contribution to the series though. Demons of the Deep is a big favourite of mine and Scorpion Swamp was inventive if lacking something in the execution (it should have a sequel or just get revised by someone some day). I don't think I've ever played Robot Commando, but from what I've read of it I think I'd find it easy enough to forgive its flaws and enjoy it. There is a lot to be said for avoiding One True Path-ism: I'd much rather have a book which is a little too easy but which you know will reward re-reading with either a different win or a very different route to that win.
Livingstone is horrible to me. His gamebooks have no meaningful plots, his characters are dull and the tremendous amount of right choices one must make in order to have a chance to succeed in his books only manages to be frustrating. But difficulty is cool as long as the story is intriguing and one wants to know how it ends. I mean, Spellbreaker was tremendously difficult, but the setting and atmosphere were so great that I didn't give up. Same was with Bloodbones. Not to speak of Creature of Havoc. I so wanted to know who I really am and what is really behind all that long prologue... and when I discovered it it blew my mind. Ian Livingstone has none of this. He was lucky with Deathtrap Dungeon (and repeated the formula in Trial of Champion). But his Freeway Fighter, Caverns of the Snow Witch, Forest of Doom, not to speak his recent Blood of the Zombies do not give me any incentive in continuing whatsoever.