Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 1, 2013 23:25:19 GMT
hynreck: _________________________________________ Yikes, Starship Traveller, the black sheep of the FF books, well this side of Sky Lord I guess. But aren't all the Sci-Fi FF books black sheep unto themselves?
Well, having played it recently, it's not as bad as I remembered - or dreaded - certainly not excellent, far from it, but not as boringly bad as I remembered. Of course, the last time I played that book was a long time ago when I was just a kid. I had borrowed the book from the public library, the French edition (La galaxie tragique, which would roughly translate to: The Tragic Galaxy... yea I'm not sure I get it either), and so only had a few days to try it out, and I remember it bored me to tears. The illustrations were bad, the story was slightly confusing and uninteresting and worst for me at the time, I couldn't cheat through it. That bastard Steve Jackson had made it so. Where was Ian Livingstone gone to? Him of the simple if you possess this item, turn to this or that number? Him of the I don't need you to prove me that you're not cheating, I believe you. Well I missed that guy...
But here we are now lots of years later and I've bought the brand new Wizard edition and decided to give it another chance. After all, years of knowledge later, I know what a Steve Jackson book is, and I told myself, can a Steve Jackson book really be that bad?
Well the answer lies in a grey area. I am still cheating, so that eases the pain, but even with some cheating involve this book is still a pain. Now for the basics: the illustrations are still mostly atrocious. Some are nice or ok, while others seems to have been scribbled by some young kid who shows promise. The kind you put on your fridge, as a proud parent, and tell others hey look! My son can draw a sun! And that thing there is a starship! Isn't he great? He's only 4 years old!
Okay, perhaps a bit harsh, but still... The new cover by Chris Moore is okay, not the prettiest thing out there, but it actually depict some event in the book in a somehow acurate way, less confusing then some of the interior illustrations...
It's been said before, but it's true, the main problem with the book is the less than engaging writing. It's done in such a cold, detached way that you'd be hard pressed to feel any connection to what's happening whatsoever, most of the time. Plus if you don't like Star Trek? Tough luck, cause most of the sci-fi setting's been copied from the TV show.
Plus this is one hard book. Sure, you might be able to do it all without going through a fight, but good luck doing so. Finding the right coordinates to go back to Earth is a bitch, and if you ever manage to do it on your first try, I suggest you go out and buy yourself a lottery ticket, as you are sure to win. I mean, bloody hell, there's even a required mini-maze of Zagor in there for your displeasure. Sharpen that pencil as you gonna need it for that map!
So, even if I did cheat, I ended up having to read the book in it's entirety to finally end up with the right information. That hard. If this was a good book, it wouldn't be so bad. But you read it once, it's not so bad. Twice, the trip starts to be long but there's still enough new stuff to do to pass the time. Third and beyond: you'll start to go mad and you'll be double checking everything you do in the book to make sure you haven't miss anything. The story - and writing - is not engaging enough to warrant going through it that many times.
It's not as bad as I remembered, sure. But is it a good book? Let's just say I had more enchanting adventures before and after. A book I would only suggest for the hardcore FF fans.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 1, 2013 23:26:01 GMT
greenspine: _________________________________________ Drawing a map won't help much in the maze, because this one keeps looping back on itself. You can spot when you're being led round in circles if you keep a note of the section numbers, but that won't help much with the search for the actual exit.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 1, 2013 23:27:31 GMT
hynreck: _________________________________________ Well, you got me there, by map, I meant exactly what you said, I kept track of the numbers and used a pen to link all the numbers together, so I ended up knowing pretty well where to go, but it's a devious maze indeed. Steve Jackson just loves screwing with people's mind...
... Illustrations are still mostly atrocious The kind you put on your fridge, as a proud parent, and tell others hey look! My son can draw a sun! Isn't he great? He's only 4 years old!
And let's be honest, some aren't even that good. The ones opposite paragraphs 52, 76, 248 and 340. Compared to the ones by sections 65, 118 and 236 it doesn't even look like the same artist. Well, I mean it does, but you know what I'm getting at.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 1, 2013 23:31:56 GMT
hynreck: _________________________________________ 1 and 340 are cringe worthy. Next to 27 is a... what? Maybe you get a moment when it's like a revelation: Oh, there's a beast in there! I think I get what the artist was striving for... subtlety. Yeah right. And 76? What the hell?
Drawing a map won't help much in the maze, because this one keeps looping back on itself. You can spot when you're being led round in circles if you keep a note of the section numbers, but that won't help much with the search for the actual exit.
Connected numbers are how I tend to map the books anyway. I used to try to come up with topographically accurate maps but always ended up making a right muddle. Outspaced's SVG flowcharts are very similar, but I tend to stick to paper & pen - old skool roolz .
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 1, 2013 23:36:54 GMT
kieran: _________________________________________ I've been playing this book quite a lot recently and it's grown on me quite a bit - yeah it's still lazy but it's actually quite fun in places and many of the ideas aren't bad they're just underdeveloped. What does bug me though is how little your own decisions affect what happens on each planet - you're constantly railroaded into doing what Steve-O wants you to do.
It seems a bit weird that you can learn what speed you need to enter the black hole at, yet this information isn't used - an idea Steve abandoned perhaps?
Also I think Steve should sue the writers of Star Trek Voyager - they clearly ripped off his idea. I found a good way to give your colourless crew a bit more substance was to think of them as Voyager characters but then it's too tempting to send the Kim/Torres/Chakotay/Neelix/Paris equivalents to their dooms.
It seems a bit weird that you can learn what speed you need to enter the black hole at, yet this information isn't used - an idea Steve abandoned perhaps?
I thought it was a bit weird myself. Perhaps the original plan was supposed to involve a combination of three specific number at the end but was ditch when it became too complicated. The speed ended up a leftover, or red herring...
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 1, 2013 23:41:19 GMT
greenspine: _________________________________________ I suspect that, as in TWoFM, the original plan was that three numbers were required. Judging by the underdeveloped state of the book, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that Steve lost interest in it, decided to make do with what he'd already written, and took out the climactic references to speed, but missed the one given by Bran-Sel.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 1, 2013 23:45:18 GMT
oakdweller: _________________________________________ In an interview with Steve Jackson that I read last month he cited Starship Traveller as the FF book that he was least satisfied with. I agree with Greenspine in that it all feels like something which may have started off with a huge burst of enthusiasm, but that he lost interest in before he was able to finish it properly.
Other fans have been disappointed with books such as Freeway Fighter and Midnight Rogue, which have truly inspirational premises, but are let down by their execution. I'm not so sure that this is the case for Starship Traveller however. The idea of having a Star Trek crew to command, each with their own stats, sounds as cool as cool can be - especially to child readers. The problem is that there just isn't the space to flesh this many characters out into interesting characters in a gamebook. Result? Cardboard ciphers who are just there to fulfil their job functions and consequently deliver dialogue which is just cold reportage.
The artwork has been stamped on mercilessly in this thread and I'm not about to suggest that it is unjustified. On the whole it is rather scrappy and lacking in genuine subtlety. However, just because I always worry about creators reading bad reviews of their work and getting upset... I'll point out that I really like the mis-matched aliens in the rain (13), the bar creatures (65) and the view for 209 would've been worthy if some attention had been paid to rendering it a bit more. But the scribbling on the final paragraph is unforgivable and the thing on 157 looks like the machine that our school caretaker uses to seal the hall floor with. (Something else I've noticed whilst flicking through is that the ship on 248 looks quite similar to Ensor Jr.'s ship in the Blake's 7 episode Deliverance).
Despite the obvious shortcomings of the book, there are some really neat ideas used. The body-swapping with the Dar-Villian is pleasing, although involvement beyond SKILL rolling would've been better. I also quite enjoyed exploring that rainy planet that I mentioned before.
I was interested to read the mapping comments on this thread. I started to map the FF books only about two years ago (and still have quite a way to go). I was rather stumped when I got around to Starship Traveller as it wasn't a case of left/right or east/west as it was in the fantasy books. My method was to draw circles (to roughly suggest planets)around information for each separate location. It worked reasonably well, but it needs a second draft as so much of it somehow got a bit cramped on the lefthand side. The SF books always seem to be harder to map - Star Strider was a particular nightmare for me.
Just a quick final note about one of my pupil's queries of this book. They were all asking me about different titles in the FF series and I told them the basic idea behind Starship Traveller, explaining that it's "just like Star Trek, but you're the captain". One boy asked, "What's Star Trek?" Ah... Times have moved on I see.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 1, 2013 23:50:52 GMT
vastariner: _________________________________________ There are two things that would have made ST much better: 1. cut down on the number of planets - maybe four visits tops - so that each one can be a proper mini-adventure; 2. why wasn't it 400 references long?
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 1, 2013 23:52:00 GMT
oakdweller: _________________________________________ I fully agree that a smaller number of planets would've improved this book. As you say, each would then be able to stand as mini-adventures, allowing for a lot more complexity within the reference options. On the down-side, the limiting of planets would erode the feeling of zipping freely through a varied universe.
The meagre number of references is a key player in the book's failings, so... What if it had the same number of planets, space stations, etc. that it was originally published with, but expand the reference count to Sorcery! proportions? That way we could have our mini-adventures and the open universe feeling too. That could potentially make Starship Traveller the best sci-fi FF title ever. Ah, what if, what if, what if....
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 1, 2013 23:54:37 GMT
kieran: _________________________________________ Great review - your most amusing so far. I especially liked the bit with the asteroids (WHAM). You were very fortunate to beat it on your third attempt, the two correct planets are quite well-hidden. This is a book that's grown on me over the years. I used to think it was unremittingly awful but it has a certain quirky charm that I like. Probably still in the bottom 10 FFs, but still I'd rather have it than not.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 1, 2013 23:55:20 GMT
hynreck: _________________________________________ Yes, those are great reviews - totally entertaining. I think it took me like 6 tries to get through the book, and by then I was flipping through the pages to check my choices, to find out which sections kept on tricking me.
Post by thealmightymudworm on Oct 1, 2013 23:55:56 GMT
greenspine: _________________________________________ Bizarrely, I succeeded on only my second attempt. And I'd failed my first at a very early stage (didn't take the right crew with me on Culematter, and got euthanised), so I effectively hit the right planets first time round.
Oddly enough Starship Traveller had a very Forest of Doom vibe to it. Sure the theme is vastly different as is the author, but it had the random choice of paths and very short encounters that unfortunately again had little depth to them. That's the problem i had with Forest, the lack of involvement, and it's a similar story here. This meant you didn't care one bit about how you left things with any encounters as you're not going to be around for them to bite you in the ass later or reward you for your efforts. The problem with Traveller is more severe however. The addition of crew members, while a neat idea itself, makes things a bit complicated for such a short book, as is the extra rules for 3 different types of combat.
I can appreciate that Steve always endeavors to try something new in his adventures but here it comes across as unfinished and untested. I lot of the planets and peoples are certainly interesting but you never learn much about them. Add a number of amateurish illustrations by the usually brilliant Peter Andrew Jones and the result is a very halfhearted attempt at something different but ultimately leaves viewers feeling short changed (the 340 paragraphs certainly say so). A downward spiral into the Seltsian Void.
Post by johnbrawn1972 on Jun 29, 2017 21:26:03 GMT
I have wondered whether to do a solution with as many encounters as possible and still return successfully. Yet it seems superfluous somehow as why over complicate matters. The uneventful direct route just screams at you.
Post by dragonwarrior8 on Dec 17, 2018 0:55:01 GMT
I felt this book was truly awful. And not because of the sci-fi setting either. I was actually looking forward to the genre change to mix things up. However, this book seems like it was abandoned halfway through and if I had paid full price for this back in the day I would really want a refund. Can you imagine buying a novel that was missing chapters?
The fact that you can spend 15 minutes rolling up all your crew and ship stats and then the optimal path has NO combats in it? I mean, I just don't know what to say to that. I felt like I was playing a book in the "Be An Interplanetary Spy" series as opposed to Fighting Fantasy.
Yeah it does feel pretty unfinished. Some of the planets are good concepts but it's rare that much of interest is done with them. As you say, it feels like Steve started something then couldn't really be bothered finishing it. There were definitely better sci-fi books in the series.
Can someone do a guide where you see as much, do as much, encounter as much and learn as much about the universe you end up in as possible whilst still winning?. Kind of like to gather information that may help other humans and/or allies of humans that may find themselves stuck in this alternate universe
Post by dragonwarrior8 on Feb 8, 2019 13:33:22 GMT
I read somewhere that Steve Jackson was unsatisifed with this book (rightfully so!). If thats the case, why doesnt he go back and finish/fix it? Seems like a great opportunity to go back and maybe even expand it to 600 sections and incorporate more exploration and ship to ship combat. If you did something you werent happy with wouldnt you want to go back and make sure it was done right? If not him then I would love to see somebody step up and fix this travesty.