[GUEST POST] The Making of Timothy Zahn’s PARALLAX Game


Abram Jablonski is a Senior Software Engineer/Architect that specializes in highly-dynamic data-driven applications. He has been developing software for over 15 years now in the Department of Defense and commercial sectors, and has been involved with numerous projects related to the implementation or support of high-tech systems. As his first full-scale (but still very indie) commercial venture, he is developing a new 4X game in partnership with legendary Star Wars author Timothy Zahn.

Returning to Orion

by Abram Jablonski

I’ve always loved Master of Orion. Even before I started programming, I’ve wanted to do something similar. The original was great, and I’m one of the smaller percentage of people that think it was even better than the sequel (apparently, nobody really liked the third one). I’ve got the original on my laptop right now – a $6 copy I got from GOG.com and that I run on DOSBox – and I’ve still got a dog-eared copy of the instruction booklet from when I first bought the game, too.

Wanting to make that game has been something that I’ve carried with me for more than a decade and a half now. Jotting down notes, tables, sketches, diagrams and lists of things for the game, but for most of that time I didn’t have the right skills and tools to actually complete it. If that had been all I had focused on for a couple of years, I would have been able to do it, but I wouldn’t have actually been ready, because there are a lot of things that just take time to truly understand (as opposed to only learning them). I did write other stuff, though: from little utilities, to highly-dynamic data-handling architectures, to software that was run at different sites all over the world to field test a globe-spanning system. And it’s been fun, and challenging, and rewarding.
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Cover & Synopsis: “Cobra Slave” by Timothy Zahn

Timothy Zahn continues his Cobra series with the start of a brand new trilogy, the Cobra Rebellion trilogy, the first book of which is Cobra Slave.

Here’s the synopsis and book info…
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REVIEW SUMMARY: Zahn channels the spirit and energy of the original trilogy.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The Emperor and Darth Vader may be dead, the Death Star destroyed, but the war has not yet been won. Struggling under the responsibility of politics and diplomatic duties Luke, Han, and Leia now face a new challenge. On the outskirts of the New Republic a brilliant Grand Admiral is gathering the remnants of the Empire in order to strike at the heart of the Rebels.

MY REVIEW
PROS:
Zahn accurately portrays well known characters, the fight against the Empire didn’t end with the Ewoks on Endor, Grand Admiral Thrawn is a superb villain, author’s notes enhance the experience.
CONS:
Luke is sort of a sissy, too many cases of coincidence, Mara Jade isn’t all she’s cracked up to be, Grand Admiral Thrawn might be too smart.
BOTTOM LINE:
Despite some flaws this is still better than anything offered in Episodes I-III and the 20th Anniversary Edition is a great collector’s item.

The news of Disney buying Lucasfilm accomplished something that I never would have thought possible. It got me excited about Star Wars again. I used to be a major fan of the series as I think most kids are. My aunt took me to see the original trilogy when the movies were re-released to theaters in the 90′s. At the time Taco Bell had promotional Star Wars toys and I also got my first battery-powered lightsaber. It was the Golden Age of my childhood. I continued to love the series well into my teenage years. It wasn’t the new trilogy that killed it for me (although that was the start), but the CGI movie, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the Cartoon Network show it spawned. I hadn’t looked back since…that is, until the news of Disney’s acquisition.

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In episode 163 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester and his rag-tag band of panelists, discuss:

Star Wars, Disney, Marvel, Timothy Zahn, The Thrawn Trilogy, Star Wars: Episode 7, the Star Wars Extended Universe, Star Trek, Pathfinder Tales, Tie-In novels, George Lucas, Stargate, The X-Men, the 501st Legion, Lucasfilm, Disneyland, Family Guy, Robot Chicken, Pixar, Disney Princesses, Disneyland’s overhaul / rebranding of the iconic Submarine Ride as the new “Gungan Undersea Extravaganza’, Marvel Comics, Joe Quesada, Terry Brooks, The Sword of Shannara, Triumph over Tragedy, Attack of the Show, Newsroom, Pirates 101, Baldurs Gate, The Jar-Jar Binks Live Action Generic Non-Traditional Holiday Special with guests Tinkerbell, Wolverine and The Incredibles, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Ship Breaker, The City’s Son, and Reboots…

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Here is the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming Star Wars novel Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn.

Here’s the synopsis:
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Welcome to a new column here on SF Signal: …And Another Thing, a weekly commentary on issues and news from the speculative fiction community! We feel that there’s a lot of news that comes flying out from every corner of the internet on a number of issues: the incident at ReaderCon, the extreme popularity of the summertime releases of Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, to the landing of Curiosity on the surface of Mars. This column will feature a roving band of SF Signal Irregulars and their takes on the world around us.

As John and I were getting ready to launch this, a proverbial earthquake happened: Disney announced that they were purchasing LucasFilm Limited for $4.05 billion dollars in cash and stocks. Almost immediately, my Twitter and Facebook feeds exploded with people excited, freaking out and everything in between. The noise is going to continue for a while, I suspect, and while I was initially skeptical, I realized that this isn’t something that’s unexpected.
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Science fiction author Timothy Zahn is known for his Star Wars Expanded Universe novels, which helped revive that imaginary world. In this video, he discusses his early sci-fi work (newly released in eBook format from Open Road Media), comparing intelligent story lines to a game of chess. Villains, heroes, and insurmountable problems are all part of the puzzle.

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