Sci-Fi vs. Fantasy

I'm a sci-fi geek. If you want to be lewd about it, space ships and giant mechs make me wet. Strange thing is... so do swords and hot elven chicks. Someone once said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I'd like to one up them, "Any sufficiently well explained magic is indistinguishable from technology."

During "The Prestige" they explain how a magician can make a bird disappear from a cage. Now at this point, has it become a technological feat, or is it still magic? What about concentrating cosmic forces into fireballs? Is there any functional difference between shooting laser beams out of a rifle and shooting them out of your palms?

The vast majority of stories that make it big in any real sense are the actually very, very old and formulaic. Certain things excite people, certain characters especially. Tell me if you've heard this before, "backwoods farm boy discovers great destiny/power too late to avert tragedy on the home front, vows to avenge tragedy on evil organization, surrounds themselves in a cast of quirky characters, a sage, a thief, a strongman, and a woman of courage and conviction." Yeah I was thinking of The first few wheel of time books too.

Point is your setting should not define the shape and flow of your story, that would be the writers job. Whenever one particular genre comes to the fore, it's just because someone in that genre hit the perfect storm of writing, publicity and timing. Considering how fickle and fleeting those tend to be, there isn't reason to be intimidated by it.


New Question

So yeah, getting the chance to read some Marvel comic books. This fills my mind with a single all-powerful question.

Is it really a requirement that in order to be a superhero, you must be completely asinine and so convinced of your sheer rightness in all things that it does not at any point occur to you that there can be another way out of the present situation besides engaging in some sort of superhero slugfest? I mean, yeah obviously we all can't get along, but isn't violence as a first resort a bad thing?

I get to sound smert, yay!

Jennifer cruise speaking to assembled generals on the results of the autopsy of unknown biological agent 02. (Thank god for wikipedia allowing me to sound like I have some clue what biologists and microbiologists might talk about.)

First slide please, thank you. All right gentlemen, the illustration you are seeing right now is to help you understand how the basic cellular structure of this creature functions. It's actually more useful to study the cells in blocks of five, as they seem to work together in units. One of the cells is photosensitive, while three of them are very generic capable of flexibly taking on structure required, it's the fifth that is most interesting though. The fifth unit in this structure, the Turin cell we're calling it, is rather complex for a cell and actually contains a limited set of logic.

I believe that this allows each set of five cells to function almost as a sub-organism. Of course cut off from the whole for any significant length of time, they will starve to death. While connected however they may automatically move into nearby areas of damage to repair the creature, or change the function of the connected cells to intelligently correct local deficiencies in the current form. Each small piece of the creature, then, is a simple part working together to automatically create most of the complex whole.

This is a close up the spinal column, the only area of the creature to show any pre-mortem trauma. I'm sure you recognize most of this next slide, as the figure you were just looking at, with a minor exception, a sixth cell. This sixth cell appears to be an Ependymal cell, these cells belong to the membrane, Ependyma, responsible for producing cerebrospinal fluid. The function of the other three cells is incredibly varied within my sample sets, making it a high probability that this area is responsible for the more complex functions such as thought and reasoning.

Why it cannot repair this area is still a mystery for the most part. Perhaps it requires the Ependymal cells to function and has access to a very limited set, perhaps it's individual pieces simply aren't intelligent enough to repair these areas. Now, any questions gentlemen?

I wouldn't rule that out, no. The likelihood of their developing from small spores is very low given their size and complexity. However due to their structural flexibility it can't be entirely discounted.

A symbiotic relationship would be very likely in my opinion, yes. A human body would provide ample nourishment and all the elements required for it's conception. At worst it would probably be confused with a tumor, but it's also entirely possible for it to slowly phase out the host's cells with it's own. This would be characterized by feeling paradoxically more healthy, while also seeming to loose control of your own body. Of course, this is all just theory at this point.

Ah, yes well it's entirely understandable in evolutionary terms. Although the organism would be truly immortal if it could repair this one small area of itself as well, that isn't what evolution does. Evolution has no design behind it, it has no goals, no agenda, it simply mutates existing organisms into something different. The organism is then forced to survive in a harsh environment, success means it's continuation as a species. If it succeeds so well as to forcibly consume enough resources to starve out another species, or gains so much advantage as to hunt them to extinction, it will cause the extinction of the "weaker" strains. So simply put, while this species is not immortal or perfect, it doesn't have to be, it simply needs to be better than us to prevent extinction.


rabble rabble rabble

For whatever reason I find myself in the mood to ramble on today.

It would seem that today is the day for holiday cheer and good tidings. Unfortunately you'll have to settle for the crushing weight of my ambivalence. Part of it is that I would classify myself as "spiritual but not religious" or something along those lines. Most of that is that I just don't spend my time worrying about deity. A loving deity will understand my drive to do good and reward me for it, and an unloving deity doesn't deserve my praise or attention. Instead I allocate my focus to actions and deeds, the part of any religion that should weigh most heavily on the thoughts of it's adherents.

What I see disturbs me. The religion of peace is locked in war with the religion of love, who in turn revels in fear and hate mongering. Major Christian religions support legislation against love, and our whole society still lacks any real devotion to unconditional love. This isn't the fault of any particular religion, or even religion in general, this is simply a fault in people. Every religion is purported to be founded on the principle of correcting that fault, yet most are caught up in tireless hubris, so convinced of their great purpose in changing the world outside them, they forget that their only role is to help this inside them.

I suppose I see no reason to celebrate the midwinter festival. I'm not a farmer whose life is in some way based around the seasons, nor do I worship the movements of celestial bodies. Perhaps, someday, when I feel that I'm with someone that I want to celebrate being with I may change my mind. I still won't ascribe it to the fake birth date, he was born in spring, of someone who tried to teach the world how to live a better life. If I feel the need to celebrate that, I'll do it by teaching people how to live better lives.

Something that has been on my mind lately is that if you're trying to help people you need to maintain focus on the message. A major problem with religious conversations is that people devolve into personal experiences and tend to approach the uncomfort zone of the person they are speaking to. The problem with that is that it's easy to attribute something to being "god's hand" in the situation, when to an outside observer, there are plenty of other just as plausible reasons for it to have happened the way it did. The message, though, is universal, do good to others, don't judge others, burn the heretics.


I wonder

There are times I wonder how I come across on this blog. I write so much that never actually makes it to the publish button. To me that says that those are probably things I feel particularly strong about. So I can't help but wonder how well that conveys my personality.

Do I come across as the kind of person who would reply to, "is the sky blue" with "probably..."? In real life I don't often make affirmative statements, or paint myself into an opinionated corner. Here, I'm not so sure.



Isobel knelt on the hard packed soil of the terrace, pulling out one of the weeds growing there. Keiro knelt next to her, a quizzical look on his face as he pulled one up himself. She sighed to herself, knowing that another silly question was coming.

"Highness, why are you out here pulling up weeds? The troops can easily handle such a task themselves," Kiero asks.

"And why shouldn't I" she replies.

"Well, it seems... undignified for someone of such a high position," he says.

"Kiero, do you know why we soldiers and knights wear veils?"

"That the we not taint the world with words born in blood."

"Up this mountain are people, good people, who would not kill anyone, not even if their lives depended on it. Many could not even fathom it, it is not something they have the heart for. We who fight are not members of that society, though we may bear their ranks, and eat at their tables, it is not our lot to be counted amongst them. We bear the burden of being their wall from those who would destroy them. Thus I am the equal of any soldier here in that, and no less responsible for taking part in the preparations for battle."

"But what about strategy meetings and planning, isn't that also preparation for battle?"

"But this is a strategy meeting. I am informing my troops that we are to fight on this terrace, and not give a single inch of ground. Besides, this is a perfect opportunity to survey the battleground."

Keiro gave her a hard look for a long moment before finally looking away.

"I heard that after this campaign you are planning to go up the mountain. Do you think I'll recognize you when you come back down?" She asked, changing the subject.

"Of course you will, it's not that great a change. Though I'm sure it'll take some getting used to." He replied, his mood noticeably lighter.

The two continued their happier discussion as they worked, and for a few hours the darkness of circumstance was settled in the back of their minds.


just stuff

Just some ideas that might take too long to work into anything real, but I feel like getting written down. If there is particular interest in the exploration of any given subject, leave some comments.

Person wakes up in a hospital, unable to remember their past, but with a perfect memory of everything that is about to happen.

A view from the inside of a severely autistic young girl, interpreting the real world around her through a fantasy world in her mind. (Would require more research, and may not be viable while still being applicable to the real world.)

Post Idea: Exploration of my main sci-fi plot, which revolves around the character Karen Tingan, in terms of how the plot has evolved from the initial ideas and concepts that founded it.

Off the wall romantic comedy about the queen of a small European country populated entirely by mimes, escaping her duties to be herself somewhere else and stumbling into the love of her life.

An over curious archaeological expedition accidentally closes, ironically, the door to hell. Various iconic avatars of death must band together with the agents of hell to re-open the door before the world is broken under the backlog of angry and tormented souls.

A map generator capable of procedurally producing sensible world sized environments, without concern for processing time. Output should be formatted such that it can be imported into future projects independent of platform or engine.


New color scheme.

Complaints, comments, concerns?


Dueling in WAR

Ardua wound up pointing me at a post on Wizards & Wenches pertaining to a comment by Magnus(GOA) on GOA's take on pre-arranged duels.

I don't play WAR anymore, but I still feel pretty safe calling bullshit on this one. Dueling is a very social thing. While I'm so sorry that Mythic and GOA actually have to deal with people playing their game not a bunch of mindless robots who live only for the thrill of battle, society and MMOs kind of go together. No Mythic, not making a dance command does not somehow prevent your players from displaying humanity while playing the game.

But back to GOA, for whom I have one question... Really!? I mean people having duels is somehow going to break everyone's precious illusion of WAR being about warfare? Gee, I think if they can get past major strategic landmarks being defended by a handful of troops and conquerable by under one hundred of the worst soldiers in history, engaging purely in skirmish warfare without the benefit of formations, supply lines or fucking army leadership, maybe, just maybe, they'll get past a few people fighting by themselves off in a corner! Or am I the only one who thought it was strange that the great and terrible armies of destruction and the majestic defenders of light are pretty much off duty outside of prime time, and when their on duty they run around like chickens with their heads cut off without the barest hint of discipline or leadership. But then, I also find it strange that we're fighting in cordoned off areas for the ownership of three bedroom apartments keeps, with weapons and armor that our enemies not only don't steal from us, but that are spiritually welded to the core of our being such that even in death they don't come off.

All of this shouldn't ruin the fun of most people, it sucks mine away like a fucking chest wound but then I take the time to ponder military tactics and grand strategy. In and of itself it's all fine, but when you start telling people trying to have fun that they should fuck off because "it doesn’t go well with the WAR setting" you should be more than willing to eat your own god damn medicine. Not that anyone at GOA or Mythic is ever going to read this.


With some time to think about it, the tone of this post is probably too strong... but I think that improves the writing and I don't feel like pussifying it. Suffice it to say, I do realize Magnus wasn't being terribly absolute and was trying to be diplomatic. That does not, however, make the argument any more sane in my mind.


A Fundamental Difference in Starting Point

I've written more than my fair share here in the past about various MMO designs. Unfortunately, as I've bent my mind to the issue and kept an ear to the ground I become increasingly concerned. Chiefly, I'm concerned that the audience to which I can market, is not the audience for which I design.

At various times I may have mentioned that my background in online multi-user worlds is from MUSHes. A MUSH is a fundamentally social thing, and I've only even connected to a handful that had combat mechanics. I was simply never interested in MUD style game play, running around collecting gear and killing monsters. In the offline realm, sure I enjoy spending an hour or two on Diablo II every once in a blue moon, but for the most part rouge-likes and dungeon crawls simply aren't where my heart is.

For many people, their first great MMO would be Evercrack, Ultima Online, Second Life, or World of Warcraft. But for me the first brush was Neveron, an empire management game based in the Battletech universe. The featured a primarily player driven economy, players fought for land which had the chance of granting them resources, they would research the ability to build better weapons and units, and above all players formed their own political landscape. I think it's fairly easy to see why my current go to game is EVE Online.

But as I've designed, theorized and listened, I've consistently found certain detriments. I for one want an ever changing world, but by and large most people don't. They would like change on their schedule, they would like to experience all the events and all the content at their leisure. So far, I've found it impossible to reconcile change that matters, with change people want. Oh, I could probably take the teeth and the meat out of change and give the players "I can't believe it's not change" and I'm sure some arbitrarily large number of people would be happy, but I won't make that game. That game doesn't interest me in the slightest, and the player's reactions to that game are equally uninteresting. (Unless they uniformly hate it, then I might be interested.)

Secondly, I'm not in the mood to play to everyone's masturbatory instincts. No, I'm not talking about titillation, I'm talking about instant gratification. I'm all for relatively high rates of feedback, but not this silly structure of 'ding' you're better. Rewards should be commensurate with effort, talent and time. A patient and intelligent investment of one of those three should always reap greater rewards than simply bashing your head against the wall until someone gives you a gold star for effort. This is one of my main problems with the MUD style, the concept of Mobs that aren't actually trying to win.

But most of all, societal interactions being important seems to be the rift that simply shouldn't be. What is it that makes people think banning Goonswarm and the like for being assholes is a "wrong way" of dealing with them. Griefers are as bad, if not worse, of a problem as gold farmers, but our rules for dealing with them are practically non-existent. But in a greater sense, why are the social realities of an MMO the very last on the list of priorities. Guild management tools, chat tools, social environments, these all come out as the red headed step children of the MMO world. Even starting areas are completely ludicrous. Rather than beginning players in major population centers where they are guaranteed to see, meet, and interact with other players, they are instead positioned in the middle of fuckallistan. Anyone joining after the initial rush will be lucky to see another living soul after hours of wandering.

All of this has got me thinking about making games with significantly more limited multiplayer options. After all, a Thursday night group of 4-8 people can certainly have fun playing a persistent world game without the need for a thousand other assholes. But then, there is the alone together factor that tells me they also wouldn't be interested in investing regular time into something without having those other thousand assholes around to pointedly ignore. Perhaps someday I'll find my perfect answer, but for now, I'm more just frustrated than anything.

EVE doesn't work because it's open PvP. EVE works because it has a complex socioeconomic simulation to offset that PvP, creating a world with a balanced variety of activities along the bartle types. Just thought I'd share.


Biomass source/sinks

I need some critic on this, since it's supposed to be fairly representative of the biomass economic model. Blue is source, black is non-liquid and not self repaying biomass investment, red is sinks where the resource is removed entirely.


Page A


Side Project:

I've decided to re-open my platformer project. This time though, I'm going to tone down my aim. Rather than coming at it trying to find something revolutionary, I'm just going to focus on finishing it and polishing it. I've also scaled back the story concept, reduced the number of characters especially so I could focus in on stylizing and expressing each one.

Some early concept sprites



Karen turned the page of the old style comic book, picking up the lit cigarette off the night stand next to her. Out of the corner of her eye she could see the pale skinned woman looking over her shoulder. Studiously ignoring her she kept reading the ancient text, taking in the arcane art style.

"What's that about?" The woman asked. She had leaned in close, the softness of her alien breasts pressing against the muscles of her back.

"An alien, who looked human. His planet was destroyed by the folly of their race, his father sent him to Earth. He then devoted his life to protecting humanity and to showing a better way." She pressed out the butt into the nightstand ashtray.

"What a beautiful story." Karen was getting used to reading her lover's voice, the lack of major facial muscles made the Kelvic woman's face eternally serene and closed. A pang of guilt stabbed at her heart hearing the undertone of honest sorrow.

"It was a beautiful dream," she says setting the book down on the nightstand next to the ashtray. "We had that luxury back then... besides, what would he protect now?"

"Humans. The people left. He would help you find a way to be great."

"Hmm. How exciting, if we counted him in the census we might break a hundred thousand." She tried to cover up the small glimmer of juvenile dream with sarcasm.

The alien woman ran a finger down her spine, it was her way of calling bullshit on her.

"I'm just an old soldier, Shi. I gave up on my dreams of 'greatness' a long time ago." Another stroke down her spine.

"I know you hate my pep talks so I won't bother. But I still believe that humanity can be a great race... We alliance members simply have a bad definition of great." The two giggled at her bad joke, maybe she was getting used to their humor. Soon the conversation was lost to other things. But as she lay, sleepless in the night's warmth, the smallest seed of a plan was beginning to take root.


Minor note, the kelvic word for irony is a homonym of definition. Also, those from the Northern continent of their third colony tend to find humor in mimicry of the word order and style difference seen on their home planet. She would usually have worded it, literally, 'honorific members in alliance*', but is making a joke by saying it 'we alliance members'. Additionally she is saying members in a significantly informal manner, again a parody of the more laid back home world dialect.

* when using honorifics while referring to alliance members they are always members of your own alliance. It's a bit more gray when not using honorifics, but usually members of an outside alliance will be referred to directly with the alliance name followed by their own name or indirectly with simply the alliances name.

Game Design - General Views

I've been meaning to make a more general post about some of my more general views and concepts with games since before I started the Q&As. For one reason or another, I'd not start it or get part way through then abandon it displeased with how it wasn't communicating it. Since that is the case, this post is going to contain an amalgam of the various concepts that may have gotten their own whole posts if I felt I could properly express them like that.

So lets start with some of the basics, how I view what I set out to create. I call what I want to make games, some would call them simulations, some toys, some sandboxes, I'm content to refer to them as games. MMOs fascinate me greatly, and either work very well with I like to design, or may not work at all simply because of the scale, I haven't seriously discovered which yet. But to really understand what I'm making you may have to see it through the jargon I use within my own mind. I work primarily with two things, physics and experiences.

Physics, as I use it, means much more than how a rag doll falls. Game Physics is a set of consistent rules which the game must always follow when working within the game world. Personally, I dislike breaking those physical laws, but considering the popularity of scripted events, I am probably very alone on that front. To put it into a good example, lets say that a player has five statistics, and they can have a maximum of twenty points spread across those statistics, in a game not trying to work in Game Physics, you could give this players NPC opponents 40 or 50 point pools to work from, but when working with Game Physics the NPCs are also limited to 20 points. In a game with game physics, if the computer seems to be wearing armor, that armor is made of items, handled exactly the same as they are for a player. Those are rather RPG mindset examples, but you can just as easily expand it to FPS, a fall that is fatal without the equipment to break it/fly, is fatal for everyone, weaponry is consistent and if the player can use anything they can pick up, they should be able to pick up all guns. All this is probably a little oversimplified, but in it's most basic form, it's about consistency especially of the rules which make the world function.

The second half is experiences, or as I like to think of it, experience crafting. Just as the frame and color of a wall behind a picture can be important in how it's viewed, presentation is every bit as important in games, if not more. It becomes incumbent on the designers to try and craft an overall experience for the gamers, even more than just a game to play. This could be small things like interface colors, but also in the art style and especially in the emotions evoked within the player. Left4Dead's great claim to fame is the sheer excellence they've poured into their experience crafting, making sure you really feel certain ways about certain things, and that the game's AI assists in creating a great experience rather than hinders it.

Using those two things, I then design another two things, the first toy and the room. I tend to prefer the "room full of toys" approach to gaming, you can see this almost perfectly presented in The Force Unleashed. I usually begin with the toy and then build the room such as to make the most sense, and provide the best play experience. But that toy, for Shattered World it was the character development, for Jabberwocky it was the activism, Birth it was your space ship, every design I've ever made has one. The most important aspect of a toy is that it be deep and interesting. Hopefully those will combine to make it fun, but fun is a fickle beast.

Over time more toys can be added, to compliment the first toy and bring out the interest of the room. But then, this is where I find MMOs so interesting, we can even introduce other players, other people playing with the toys and effecting our own understanding and interaction with the toys.

There's more to go into, but I'll leave it at this for now.


Philosophy of a Space Hippy

I've been wanting to make more posts about EVE online. It's one of the few MMOs in existence that I feel any great passion for. One of the reasons for that passion is that it captures, in my opinion, better than any other game on the market the concept of a space for players to be in. What I mean by this is that while there are certain iconic overarching goals in the game, you can just as easily choose not to follow any of those goals. On top of that, your interactions with other players are varied and powerful, how you deal with people, and how you present yourself in-game can have long lasting effects on your ability to accomplish goals later. And even beyond that, you can just get on and chat with people you know while mining some veld and still call it a good play session.

When it comes to "How I EVE", I'm a very undirected person. I know there are people who swear by EVEmon, but I try and avoid it wherever possible. I prefer to find a suitable short term goal and spend my points there, then I'll find things I want to do better and train up the related skills. Not necessary in sequence. Because of this, I advance through skills much slower than many other people, some might say I'm at a disadvantage. But a disadvantage against what, or whom?

The simple fact is that right now I can pilot a BC, on my main, to an acceptable skill level, and am working on getting both of my characters into mining barges. Once that is done, I'll have enough steady ISK income to more than subsist on, and I can focus on getting both their skills up to snuff in the myriad of areas that I see them needing to get shored up in.

Anyways, expect more posts from this space hippy at a later date. Oh and by the way, I'm working on a comic. It's been a long time since the last time I could say that, but I think I've really grown to an acceptable level of skill to take it on.


Dog Shoots Man In the Butt


"A 23-year-old man accidentally shot with his 12-gauge shotgun Saturday on the Tillamook Bay isn't upset with the culprit -- his dog.

The bizarre incident sent Matthew Marcum to Portland's Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center, where he was recovering Sunday with injuries to his legs and buttocks.

Really... you just can't make up stuff this hilarious.

A Gaming Life Soundtrack

I don't know about anyone else, but I like music. I like it a lot, actually. Of course, I'm no great musician, and I couldn't tell you what makes one band great and another just so so. Still, I'm listening to music more often than not, and I'm probably not alone in that.

When I play games, there are quite a few times when I'll listen to the packaged soundtrack, but then switch to my own music for further playthroughs. For MMOs I may even just switch over immediately. I've found that my mood, and in-game activity are very closely related to what I queue up. Some zen-like mining in EVE is accompanied by ambient and meditation, while intense combat in Crysis would warrant some nice hard rock.

Of course, music tends to tie itself strongly to memories. For instance, I can't hear the music from the movie "Thousands Cheer" without thinking of the Garuda camp in Zelda 64, which I beat while my family was watching the movie in the other room. And other times a particular song will come on and I'll be right back in Starlancer during an intense dogfight.

To me, those songs make up a soundtrack of my gaming life. Funny thing though, if I were to go back through and find them all and compile them into an album... it would seem unfocused and confused. Show tunes next to System of a Down, next to SR71, madness! But to me it would be a pleasant walk down memory lane.

How about you all, do you have any tracks that put you right back in a game?


The Wintertime Soldier

Karen Tingan leaned back into the shuttle's comfortably upholstered seat. With single deft movement she popped the avi card that had been hanging around her wrist into the reader. The screen on the back of the seat in front of her lit up, the sound transmitting directly to her communications implant. The outward silence wasn't really necessary though, as the passengers around her had already moved away to other seats.
"I now convene the High Senate Foreign Affairs Subcommittee. The committee would like to recognize High Chairman Reiy Jilk's presence at this meeting, as well as the honorable ambassadors, Krin Tesway of the Toyyan Confederation, and Aolin Gramk of the Reitskrei Federation. We will be forgoing the usual reading of the minutes, and old business for the purposes of this special session. Instead we will immediately proceed to the matter at hand, the so called Human Empire, Terra Imperialis. To start of with, the chairman will cede the floor to Ambassador Tesway who is prepared to speak to the council on behalf of the Toyyan Confederation, "
The translator in her communications implant kept the original language under the translation, though comparatively quiet. Even if she couldn't understand the series of clicks and short grunts, it always set her on edge to have the person speaking soundlessly. The following speech was flowery enough, unwarranted human aggression, the terrible atrocities perpetrated against them, same bullshit propaganda all the other races wound up being taught out of the history books. Only one race besides the humans actually showed their students the footage taken from the Toyyan torture chambers, though only the humans would show their children. The ambassador sat down and the chairman called up an admiral. The admiral reminded her of a horse almost, leathery fur hide and a build that seemed made for heavy lifting.
"The humans have been making steady progress in their advance through Toyyan space. As you are aware, the Toyyan forces won most of their early battles with the help of superior numbers and technically superior weaponry. However, over the last three months human weaponry has begun to close the gap in terms of damage output. Even more importantly though, human tactics have advanced by leaps and bounds. Fleets are forced into situations that require them to break formation or fight without the benefits of communications or with limited sensors. These tactics have pervaded the battlefield, effecting both large and small engagements. As of this moment, the Terra Navy along the Toyyan front has an average kill death ratio of seven point two to one.
Along the Reitskrei front we have a different story, despite early setbacks the Reitskrei Navy has managed to slow the human advance to a near stand still. The surface battles are especially fierce, with enormous casualties on both sides. However, the fact remains that this is the result with almost half again as many men and ships. If the Humans were able to redistribute their forces, it is most likely they would be able to resume the quick pace they set early in the war.
It is our estimate, that of the naval intelligence office as well as among the admiralty, that if this continues, we will see a total human victory within four years on both fronts. If, at that time, humanity were to turn it's attention to the Alliance, well it would be a long war that we would most likely loose."
The general stood in the silence of his final statement. The moment ended with half the senators in the room shouting questions at once. Karen felt her stomach tie to knots as she watched the remainder of the meeting play out. Transcripts were required reading in primary and secondary schools, and even at the academy, so it wasn't that it surprised her, but seeing it in context was somehow much more emotional.
"Please prepare for orbital re-entry. Attention, please prepare for orbital re-entry."


The myriad of aliens around her formed a bubble as she walked into the building. Red of her suit jacket seemed to serve as a warning, despite her wearing it open so it seemed almost casual. Some security personal watched her out of the corner of their eyes, but didn't challenge her as she walked out of the public area. She stopped and looked at the guard standing to her right.
"Were you told to expect me?"
"No ma'am. Who the hell are you?"
"My name is Karen Tingan, and you should have stopped me and asked that earlier. You should also be having me wait here in the care of your partner while you go check that I really am expected, and you should probably be getting me an ident card so that you can track my movements through the building." The guard gave her a defiant look, but then nodded to his partner and walked off towards the reception desk. A few moments later he returned with a badge and handed it over without saying a word.
The elevator ride was uneventful. Low sonorous tones and ambient white noise played in the background, meant to relax. For her it was an utter failure. With a quiet echo of escaping air the doors in front of her opened. In front of her was a room lit purely by natural light which flowed in from the glass ceiling and glass walls. To her left was the only opaque wall, which the secretary at the far end of the room faced out away from. Seeing her, the secretary stood up and opened a door in the black wall, motioning for her to come in.
Karen walked past the vaguely fishy woman with only a slight nod, walking into a room with glass walls on her right and left and a glass ceiling. She could look up and see that half the building continued for another four stories, the living quarters for the company president and his family. On the opposite wall a video was being projected, it was a little hard to make out at first, but soon enough she had it figured out. It was the helmet cams of a group of private military contractors working for the Darvek Corporation, mixed together such as to get the best view of the actions being taken by an opponent.
"Doing your research?"
The company president looked at her with unreadable black eyes. The Kelvic were probably the closest species in build to humans, a couple meters tall on average, bipedal, usually with skin some variation of peach or blue. Still their faces seemed unnaturally serene to human eyes, and their whole eye was black making it hard to even read eye movements.
"I suppose you could say that." A loud gurgling noise came from the wall, signifying that another of the mercenaries had been killed. "I find this video rather morbidly fascinating. The first time through, I would try to predict where they were going to be attacked from, most of the time I was wrong. Even after multiple playthroughs, knowing how or why they were attacked from certain angles eludes me."
"Well, one way or another, that's why I'm here," Karen said watching as the last of the mercenary group fell off a building to his certain death. "I assume you have a particular job in mind for me."
"Oh, yes. Yes I do. Do you know of Zerencar Armory?"
"I haven't been a battle without their logo somewhere on me. Same for everyone I've ever worked with."
"A certain competitor of mine has been entering some kind of negotiation with them. I am... concerned, as to what precisely they are negotiating over. I'm not int he habit of being blind-sided by my enemies, and I will not get into that habit now. All I need is someone to get in and see what the precise nature of their negotiations is."
Karen sat down on one of the large and overly padded chairs that faced the company President's desk. "I was hoping to get out of the business very soon, Mr. President. I'm not sure making enemies with the big Z is very healthy for my job prospects."
"I'll guarantee you a post as head of my family's personal security, if that is your main concern. As to Zerencar, I have even less desire to make an enemy of them. If it comes to it, I'd rather scrub the mission than do anything to warrant their Ire. That is why you'll be tasked with acquiring my competitor's files on these negotiations, so long as they have not yet allied, you will still only be dealing with the one entity and not the other."
Karen chewed it over in her mind for several long minutes. Finally she made up her mind and sighed. "All right, I'll do it. Just send the details down the line tomorrow, they'll know to get them to me. Also if you wouldn't mind sending me a copy of that footage, I would like to add it to my collection."
He smiled, his taught skin making it creepy rather than reassuring. "Of course. I wouldn't dream of withholding a memento of a former victory from you."


Space Dashboard Confessional

My name is Sara, and I am addict.

I had my first encounter with the rocks back in 2007. It began with a bantam and some veld... that grew to jaspet and heimophrite. Before I knew it I was strung out on triclinic bistot, jonesing for a fix of zydrine.

My Osprey wound up tricked out, special mining enhancing spinners, and cpu enhancing rims. I couldn't help myself, investing in a clone to take care of my trafficking. Before long it was getting dangerous, and I'd already found myself on the wrong side of a few poddings. I knew I had to get out, so I took a deep breathe and walked away. It worked for a while, I could keep myself out of the game, tell myself what I was doing was just as good, just as worth it. But a few days ago I crumbled, and there I am, sucking in some veld while I haul for myself.

But hey, a retriever is only about a week off...

I'm playing EVE again, and even reactivated my second account.

Sorry, sorry

I'm falling a bit behind on posting here. My internet has been terribly spotty the last couple days, preventing me from catching up. I'll do my best to resolve the situation.


A meeting of heroes

"I still don't understand, why you?"

"I wish I knew why it was me."

"When did you even meet?"

"Ah... that was a long time ago now, three years almost. Just give me a second and I'll tell you."


The villain stood at the center of the bank, almost archetypal in the way he roared and goaded on his underlings. The cliche is everyone being on the floor, but we all stood to one side. There were three armed men between us and freedom, it was enough. Someone behind me was praying, but I was just concerned with keeping myself between my sister and those gunmen.

Next thing I knew, the guys running into the vault were flying out of the vault. There was watchword, even back then she had such a penchant for leather, a black leather trench coat over her black and red leather corset and pants. I latter found out the mask was made of silk, with a plastic piece inside it to maintain the shape. Of course she got in the first shot against the big bad, but soon enough they were exchanging blows.

Two of the guys, the ones with big magazines thankfully, got spooked and made a run for it. The third though, you could see it in his eyes, he wasn't leaving without his share of blood. I knew he had a wasted a few bullets into the ceiling, and I was pretty sure he'd shot one of the guards, so no way he had full clip. But how many shots left, I couldn't tell. No time to rush him, he just started firing. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. I caught em, I had enough speed for that and he was telegraphing his shots pretty well. Problem was number eight, that fraction of a second too soon after seven, at just the wrong arc.

My hand came up and my eyes followed it passing over my fingers. Bam, straight into Watchword's grip. It was so fast I don't think anyone else noticed, but she whispered in my ear, "good job, hun." I saw her eyes at that moment, it was just... it was like we were looking into each other's soul, you know. So she zipped past me to clear out the scumbag, at which point the whole lot of hostages fell over themselves trying to get out. I stayed behind, didn't really know why at the time, but I think now it's because I'd already figured her out a bit.

She stood for a long time over the bodies of the guards, I don't know if she was praying or saying sorry but her lips were moving without any sound coming out. I acted on impulse, embraced her from behind to try and comfort her a bit. We stood there for what felt like a long time, she and I, me holding and her being held. Then she turned and picked me up and carried me out the way she'd come, before the police could waylay us.

Her hideout was... incredible. I'd never been one to dream of seeing the inside, but after being in it I've certainly dreamed of it since. We cooked together, even though we still hadn't said a word, but every so often our eyes would meet and we'd smile. It's hard to say in words, we just... fit. I finally got my courage up to talking during the meal, of course she wasn't wearing the mask at this point so it felt more like a regular conversation.

After dinner we talked for a while longer, sitting on this great big soft couch she had. Of course talking led to cuddling, cuddling led to kissing, kissing led to... other things. I left in the morning, not even blindfolded or anything, but in the end I never did go back, it all seemed so surreal. But I never forgot, and after a while I started to regret leaving. When I tried to go back she'd totally moved out, the place was just a big empty dust bin at that point.

Well, you know how our next meeting went. I can't really stand to think about it at this point. Anyways I'm heading back in to get some sleep. You can use the couch if you want, I'll even grab you some blankets. Just... let's not talk about this anymore for a while.


What I've played/been playing

So just to remind people I do play games...

I've relatively recently played:
Fable 2
Atlantica Online
Fallout 3
Left4Dead demo
Mirror's Edge
And recently revisited:
Space Empires V
Call of Duty 4

Short reviews:
Fable 2
Fun, especially the first play through, and a fair bit of content. I loved the final choice, mainly because there were more than 2, but hanging around after the main storyline is done fairly boring. I did finish it twice, and wound up seeing several of the different world styles that came from it. I enjoyed that those changes were based on my actions. Sadly I wasn't so hooked on the content to continue playing it just to experience more, so your mileage may vary depending on how much you enjoy combat and how quickly you finish games.

Atlantica Online
If you can stand grindy games and Korean aesthetics you may find this an enjoyable change of pace from standard MMOs. The tactical combat is relatively fun, and it's rather liberating to never have to worry about aggroing mobs. The story isn't particularly inspired, and the translations are... not too polished. Overall, I think it would take a lot more polish on it to keep my attention, but it does deliver something different and approachable in case you need a side MMO.

Fallout 3
Haven't finished it... in fact I haven't gotten very far at all. This may sound silly, but I find it kind of annoying that all my faces seem to come out rather babyish. The gunplay mechanics are really good, and the choices you can make are superb. I like that although Megaton is so close it's almost guaranteed to be your first stop, you really do get thrown out into the wilderness without any direction to begin with. Moira was fun the first time you meet her, after that she can be kind of creepy though... I didn't appreciate the armor designs as much, but then as you can probably tell, I'm overly fixated on my character's style.

Left4Dead Demo
Not quite liquid crack, since I don't feel the burning need to play it, but seriously fun as all shit. The AI director works perfectly, and so far I've just PUGed it and not met hardly any assholes. The only times anyone has really been overbearing was when they were ready for a much higher difficulty than the group. I know I can beat it on normal, but it's still fun on expert even when I'm dieing every five minutes. Don't play it solo though. The bots are designed very specifically, they are made to take care of themselves perfectly. Problem is, that ruins half the fun of having those 'oh shit' moments, and you never get the satisfaction of shooting that hunter off someone, or the quick thank you for being johnny on the spot against that smoker.

Mirror's Edge
I haven't had it very long, but it has the same liquid crack quality that Force Unleashed had. It's just so much freaking fun to play. If I have any complaint, it would be simply that they need more maps. Something that might be fun would be to make a "Tony Hawk" style game out of it's gameplay, where you could free roam some rooftops and get points for doing the really cool stuff. The story was not the most surprising in the world, but the city was well characterized. Still I have to wonder about police officers that give you one warning, and then turn a helicopter's machine gun on you.

It's IF, you'll need glulx or something analogous to play it. It's a very well designed game experience overall, and Eric Eve deserves a great deal of credit for creating such an interesting scenario. While it's significantly less rare in IF, it's rare in the gaming world to see a good human story. I find it kind of inspirational on that front. I won't spoil anything for you, but he did use some interesting tricks to allow players to feel as though they can free roam in a world that is actually pretty directed.

I'm not going to review the last two, since they aren't new experiences to me.

Right now I'm downloading SWG to play the 14 day trial. Even if it isn't the pre-cu experience, I still feel like I should get in-game at some point and see what there is to see these days.

One at a time

Three innocuously dressed people walked together down a back alley. The February chill could be blamed for the fact that only their faces are exposed, but that wouldn't convey the whole truth. Two walk in front, while a third hangs back, maintaining perfect distance from each other as they walk. It's an uneventful march as they approach the lifeless body in the snow in front of them.

"It's possible the cold is inhibiting the cell transfer." One of the leaders says. Neither of his companions looks at him, they all simply watch the corpse in front of them. "I wonder who she was to be left naked in the snow like this."

"It doesn't matter, she won't be that person anymore," the woman in the back says. On queue the show begins. The dead woman's spine darkens to pitch black, the tissue around it following suit quickly. She rose to her knees quickly, screaming from the burning pain that must have been invading every nerve. Finally her whole body was black except for her face and she fell forward catching herself with her arms. "Here comes the hard part."

The woman stood as her arms melted into pairs of tendrils writhing around her. Faster than a human eye could track they struck out, cutting at the two figures in front of her. The figures easily caught the offending tendrils, holding on tight while the woman struggled. The person in back walked forward to place a hand on her shoulder.

"You're confused, scared, uncertain, that's okay. My name is Maxine, we don't intend to harm you. We're going to take you back to our home, get you some clothes, make sure you've feed. We'll tell you everything you want to know about living, now that you control this body. From there you'll be free to do what you want."

"Free...?" the woman says. "Promise...?"

"I'm a woman of my word."

The tendrils reformed into arms, the ones holding them simply letting go. One takes off her coat and offers it to the naked woman. Four figures exit the alley and get into a waiting car.

'One at a time our family grows,' Maxine thinks as they drive away.


Q & A : Philosophy

I'm rather enjoying these Q & A posts. It's rather nice to be participating in a discussion of sorts.

Anyways, it's a little early perhaps, but here is another one. This time the theme is philosophy. It can be game philosophy, design philosophy, personal philosophy, the sky is the limit, so long as it relates to philosophy.


And another one goes down

Well, my sub for WAR is officially canceled and the game itself is off my hdd.

Still, it didn't make my list of "I wish I'd never bought that in the first place". The Witcher and Neverwinter Nights 2 are the sole heirs to that particular throne.


The Moon

I was just thinking... no matter how long you raise your hand to touch the moon, you never could. Even if you were to stand on the moon, you'd have to reach down to touch it.


Q & A 3: Game Design

Welp, lets get the ball rolling on another stirring round of question and answer. I suppose the theme this time can be game design.

Remember no kittens or other small animals were harmed in the creation of these answers. ~.^


Painful Relations

It was the tang of cold steel that hung in the air. For a Human or an Angreal the blood would have tainted the air with the taste of iron and brass, but never hers. Isobel could only survey the devastated state room and the blood spattered across the walls and pooled on the ground. The milky blue substance was still draining from the furrows running up Tsenara's arms forming a frozen puddle at her feet.

"I'm sorry," Isobel said.

"It didn't work," Tsenara said.

"I'm sorry," Isobel repeated.

Isobel walked slowly across the room, simply walking through any puddles that got in her way. For a second she considered hugging her consort, but finally she just raised a hand to lay on her shoulder.

"Don't touch me." She just let the hand fall to her side.

I'm sorry," Isobel repeated the mantra.

"Is that all you can say?" Tsenara finally looked up at her.

She couldn't speak, she didn't have a reply.

"Why? I never wanted anyone but you! I never even looked at anyone but you! Why can't you see me!? Why can't you be with me, and hold onto me!? Why couldn't you bring back my baby!? You promised me! YOU PROMISED!"

Isobel weathered the storm of screams and tears. She could only watch her consorts rage. There were no defenses that came to mind, nothing to excuse her, only more recriminations of her own part in the pain.

"I'll send them home."

"And there will be others! You think I don't see you watching them! Such an empty promise-"

Isobel removed the knife from her belt sheath in a single clean motion, and made the cut with the other. The pain was terrible and she couldn't help but fall to her knees screaming. In an instant the world went red and then black, her ears overloading with sounds of other screams from the hallway. Tsenara's hand rested on her eyelids, cold as ice, but comforting, numbing, taking away the pain.

"Fr-from now on, I have no eyes for any other. You will be my last sight in this world. I shall not stray from your side, or wander without you ever again." After a short pause she finally added, "I'm so sorry."

In her world of blackness Tsenara enveloped her, the freezing tendrils of blood still flowing half-heartedly from her arms.

Slowly the servants came to their senses, the Empresses were guided back to the royal quarters and an army of staff set about cleaning the ruined room. The room was set to rights by morning, with no sign of there ever having been a problem. Those involved, though, were changed forever.


Just wanted to further explore the relationship between Isobel and Tsenara. I always feel like there is so much left unsaid every time I visit this pair. Even know there is so much more to say that I doubt I could make fit quite right.

Lies in advertisement.

I just saw a WotLK advertisement that said, and I quote, "You're definition of epic will be shattered."

My definition of epic is a clash of armies spanning an entire continent, while fighting in the shadow of hundreds of colossal war machines twelve stories tall. Playing out a feud older than human history while their leaders fight in a valley scorched bare by warfare. Decimating the ground beneath them with the weight of their blows and reshaping the landscape with every missed attack. It's the watchful eyes of an immortal being as she decides whether to lock the world into an ice age ending the conflict once and for all, or to spare the last vestige of her long dead line. It's the destruction of entire cities in the blink of an eye and the construction of cosmopolitan cities in a decade.

Compared to someone raising yet another army of undead so that a veritable army of computer geeks can take turns striking him down, after killing some more boars of course... Well, I guess I'll just have to wait and see what comes down the blogging grapevine.


What was it I wonder, about the stars that night. They were distracting, alluring, and more radiant than they had ever been. It was the kind of night that was built for making memories, and experiencing happy times. The kind of night where lovers embraced and the world would seem just a little less terrible. It was such a shame, to die under such beautiful stars.
I don't think about my death that often anymore. I suppose at some point I just got used to it. Sometimes, though, it haunts me with implacable fury and I can remember all the terrifying little details. Figures barely seen in the dark, a fear that grabbed my stomach with unyielding force and paralyzed my legs transforming them into granite, and even the sucking pop of the wound actually opening.
Of course, I'd rather go through that a thousand times than stay here in hell. I always imagined hell would be a place of boiling furnaces and scary monsters torturing me constantly. What a waste of imagination, hell is living in the same world dyed white and desaturated without another soul to be seen despite an eternity of walking. Hell is this fucking highway I've been walking down for three days now.
Ahead there isn't much, just some shacks and more endless tracts of desert. Once I would have bothered to search the shacks for people. I just keep on walking, following the road to some unknown destination. No glimmer of hope dared to enter my heart these days, they were all too afraid to get crushed.
I'm not sure how I could have missed her in the time between seconds. The woman in the red dress standing barefoot in the middle of the road ahead. Her pale complexion blending her skin with the surroundings, but the red almost painful to my desensitized eyes. Who was she could have crossed my mind, but instead the word 'beautiful' just kept replaying like a broken vinyl.
Before I could regain thought she was inches away, and in those inches I could feel something more. It was as if it wasn't space, but liquid tension that occupied the space between us. Her hand grazed my leg and the tension broke in an instant, forcing my hand as I grasped at her and wept. I was ashamed, so ashamed, but so relieved to finally touch a living being again.
She cooed to me, kind words in a kind tone. The past melted away, burned off by the brilliance of the woman in the red dress, freeing my mind to see the world anew. My mind was always two steps ahead of my heart, my mind had already identified this woman, this kind and beautiful stranger in the red dress. But my heart persevered, with the help of my arms it just kept embracing the succubus in the red dress.
When finally she pulled away, she took my hand with her. We began to walk as she leaned on me, the two of us pressing forward earnestly. Finally I understood the truest cruelty of hell. This succubus would surely eat my soul, but in truth, I'll be giving it to her bit by bit just to keep her by my side.


Out There

Out There
By: Sara Pickell (2008)

Out there.
Out there.
Out there.
Waiting for me out there.
Waiting for me.

I can't just say this outright,
'Cause I don't really know what I want to say.
I'm so sure you're out there,
And I'm waiting for you every day.
Even though I've never met you!
Even though you've never seen me!
I'm always looking at you,
And your shadow on the ceiling!

You're out there,
Somewhere I can't reach,
In the starry sky or somewhere underneath!
In all my days of life,
I can't say I've ever lived,
Because even though I needed you,
Close to you is where I've never been!

I can almost hear it in the wind,
Screaming out the words I've never said.
If only I could see you,
And know where you have been.
We could spend our nights unsleeping,
Sharing words or something more!
Be always looking at you,
Not a shadow of you anymore!

You're out there,
Somewhere I can't reach,
In the starry sky or somewhere underneath!
In all my days of life,
I can't say I've ever lived,
Because even though I needed you,
Close to you is where I've never been!

Just in time to see you missing,
A little late for your lifelong show again!
One step closer I thought maybe,
But losing chances to say when!
Even now I've never met you!
Still now you've never seen me!
Can't keep looking at you,
Only your shadow on the ceiling!

I know you're out there!
I know you're,
Out there!
Just keep on waiting!
Just keep on,


Feel Fine

Feel Fine
By: Sara Pickell (2008)

Can you feel it now,
Coming in the wind and in the autumn sounds,
Calling for your surrender,
Calling out for every ounce of being.

Can you hear it now,
Your heart beating so fast that you can barely breathe,
All I can do is surrender,
Giving up the things that I believed.

And there we go!
Off on some adventure,
Losing ourselves in this dangerous night!
Wondering when!
When did I believe her,
And lose this cripling burden of self doubt!

Can you scream it now,
Scream all your fear of how you're never good 'nough,
Crying about surrender,
Wondering what it is they really see.

And there we go!
Off on some adventure,
Losing ourselves in this fucked up night!
Wondering when!
When did I believe her,
And drop this awful burden of my old self!

And there we go!
Forgetting misadventure,
Losing ourselves for just one fucking night!
Wondering when!
When did I consider,
And why so long to feel so god damn fine!

Feel fine!
Feel fine!
I feel fine!
With you!


The Intro

There are many paths through life. What is to one man an inconceivable burden, is to another a way of life. Each must choose their path, and it is through obedience to their chosen path that they may find fulfillment. As the ancient sages have said, it is not ours to tell others how they may find happiness, only to tell them that they can.
- Renmi the Enlightened.

It is a time of wonders and magic, the very first arbelesque has been produced by the genius inventor De Sanse. Great magicians roam the land, some serve the kingdom or a feudal lord, while others simply wander for the sake of it, a few though have turned their great power to the purpose of burning down the world around them. They often have no heart for the results of their magics, no feeling for those left destroyed.

You have been called to take up the reigns of the life of a young woman in this world. I know not by the power of what divine, or otherwise, being you were given this task. I can only ask you serve her well. She was born as human as I, in every way normal and healthy. However in a duel between roaming magicians her fate was cruelly scarred. Her family was murdered, and her right half transfigured with parts of an avian. The one winged girl, hated by her society and cast out onto the streets, has great potential, potential that has been entrusted to you.

Life has thus far been difficult on her, as I've said, but today is a chance for that to change. Guide her well.


I was thinking about this a lot after I got it all written down and did a couple revisions. A good intro is the key to a good piece. You have to grab the reader from the word go, and, like a thesis statement, it needs to be strong enough to propel the story.

I don't quite think I'm there. Anyone have any suggestions?

It's November which means...

That's right everybody it's NaNoWriMo! Of course, I won't be writing a novel so I'm not so sure why it excites me this much, but any excuse to write prodigious amounts of content is a good excuse. I'm going to be channeling that into an interactive fiction game for a bit. Also I'm planning on hanging out at the library as much as possible for the next little bit.

I just want to tack this on.
Dear internet people,
if you are going to call someone retarded, stupid, or ignorant, make sure everything in your post, including the word retarded, is spelled correctly and uses proper grammar. I'm not generally that bad of a spelling/grammar nazi, but for god's sake if you're going act smart... act smart.


Q & A 2: Writing

I feel like running another Q & A post. This time around, I'd like to direct it a little more, with a theme on writing. I'm still not terribly concerned with how it ties into writing, writing in games, my writing, whatever it's all the same to me. Just so long as it fits within the theme of writing.



I think that some people who complain about rewards for scenarios, also underestimate the simple desire to brawl.

Open RvR takes a loooong time. There is a lot of orchestration, especially for the keep lord, and at the end of the day your guild leaders are going to be critiquing you and coaching you... And all in all, it's a good long bout of managed chaos. What would a brawler say to that? "Fuck the management, give me chaos!"

A short and dirty fight, someone walks out calling themselves the winner, the other walks out pretending their not the looser. Both have stuff to boast about, neither much gave a damn who was on their team unless they were obviously pulling their weight. The more the merrier, but the only thing better than even teams, is a win against a bigger team. And at the end of the day, it ain't about whether you win or loose, it's that you cracked enough skulls in the process to keep a hospital open for a few months.

PQs? A bunch of people taking on the sure win against a bunch of little guys, then ganging up on the first guy to actually put up a fight. Brawlers would much rather take on a situation where they could loose, whats the point in fighting if you already know you're gonna win.

Of course you don't have to be a stereotypical brawler to enjoy brawling, WAR just makes easier since you don't loose anything, like teeth for example, for your effort.

I'm not saying that's the whole reason, but it seems to me like a whole lot of bloggers have just ignored the possibility that some people might honestly enjoy scenarios much more than everything else. And not just because it's an easy way to grind out that next level.


By the way

I didn't think to say this before, but I had a really interesting experience the other day.

For a few moments... just a few moments, I was completely at peace and secure. For a few moments, the abyss looked back and I saw... that this life doesn't matter. Not in a nihilistic sense, but in the sense that, everything is going to be fine. I saw life, and death, and how beautiful it all was.

People are basically good, we've always progressed, we've grown less violent over time, our weapons though terrible and impersonal have thinned our barriers. Our communication is better, and people are more empathetic on average. Of course, it's not guaranteed to continue, but so long as our race remains, we will strive to improve. It's who we are. And the day we stop striving, well that will be fine too because then enough people will have learned that it's okay to just be... or not be.

I saw the possibility... that even if there is life after this one, that we may not be judged. And I was happy with that. If all the hurting and broken people in the world could go on to another life free of all the pain, anger, and hate, especially their own, what a beautiful thing that would be. I've long since come to terms with the possibility of nothing, all the more reason to be good in this life. But with this... that we can shed all those bad things and be free of it... even if that's not the afterlife, it's so worthy of working towards in this life.

For those few moments I wasn't afraid. Why should I fear terrorists when I can feel no terror, why should I fear death when it's so beautiful, all harm is temporary, all wrong doings eventually forgotten. Why worry about what people think of my work, or my lifestyle, what people try and pass into law around me. No person on Earth can take away hope, no person can take my integrity or make the world less beautiful, only someone I give that power to, and I refuse it. And I was alive.

Now I'm afraid of my own shadow again, worrying about money and how to live. But you know, it's not so bad today. And you know, I think I want to find a way to live in that moment forever.

What any new place needs

I just realized what it is that any new place, and MMOs count as places in my mind, needs. Traditions! That's right, get in and make lots of traditions and make sure they filter into the community. After all, what better way to celebrate coming somewhere free of all those useless old traditions than to make a brand new set. It's brilliant, I mean now you can ensure your legacy by making damn sure that generations of newcomers do things for no other reason than you said to loud and early!

I wonder what stops people. Stops them from talking in WAR, stops them from not building alliances with severe SP limits in EVE, stops them from being fun people to be around in the Barrens. Is it really all the player's fault? Is it the designers? Could the scale simply be so large that one or two people stops making a difference? I've found that as games progress their communities become more and more focused on "the good old days", can't say I'm out of that fire myself. But this isn't anything new, the question that keeps me up at night is, how do we fix it? Much like raising a child, I don't think it's as easy as saying it's "party the first part's" or "party the second part's" fault, mainly because by blaming one you abdicate the other when each bares some part of the blame.

Of course, I'm not a blame oriented person. Blame requires a judgment, an assessment of fault, I usually don't care. I never say to myself, "damn Goonswarm, it's all their fault we have bad communities!". Their part is significant within their sphere, and I can hardly ignore them, but the well ordered and malignant agents of chaotic benevolence, while more hypocritical than anyone I've ever known, can't really excuse a poor design. I've had to revise many designs of my own, and I'm still struggling with certain areas and parts, but that is just dealing with reality. Eventually players will have to build their communities, but I'm not really at liberty to say whether those communities are right or wrong. I can merely lay a foundation, but then if I lay a cracked foundation what is the point of complaining of the weight of the house.

But even if I lay a fine foundation, someone has to take responsibility for building the house. Even if the work is diffused to many and varied people, the house remains in need of building and thoughtful building at that. But then how do you balance that responsibility, is it the job of a few people to build it and many to add fine details? Or is it too much to ask of the few, are we breaking them with our rush to get it built? And how can we help them build, when by and large only the minority can even talk to each other, only the minority even sees the discussions that will profoundly impact the lives of all players? What if they have too much sense of entitlement and you can't convince them to have some solidarity and reason? What if they have no sense of entitlement and let bad changes go unmarked and loud minorities to run roughshod on top of them?

I'm sure these questions have answers, but for so many, I'll be damned if I can think of them.


Q and A

I want to test out something new here for a bit. As I rummage through the internet I find myself with a lot of different thoughts and so forth. Problem is, when I most feel like blogging about something, other than writing, it's because my emotions are starting to run high on the subject. So most of the time I refrain from posting, instead letting myself run off on a tear.

This time, how about we have a question and answer on pretty much whatever anyone wants to ask. Of course, I can only give opinions, but hey free reign to get my opinion on anything you want. I figure this isn't anywhere near enough direction, but this is a test afterall.


Do you know where we are?

Do you know where we are?

The words wake her from her restless sleep. The room around her is light, with bright sunlight filtering in through sheer purple drapes. Pulling the drapes aside she looked out over a quiet garden area, with a running river and a strange pagoda like gazebo. She almost forgot to breath when she saw the woman standing in the center of the pagoda looking out into the unfathomably deep bamboo forest the garden ran into.

She pulled on a silken gown to cover her nakedness and walked out the nearby door into the sunny day. A glimmer of trepidation took her heart as she approached the woman, some part of her mind telling her it can't be true. In the time between seconds, Jane turned to smile her coy smile, the one she'd only seen the morning after that night so long ago. Emotions as powerful as the Potomac raged inside her, gushing out as a stream of tears while her legs gave out.

"There, there now," Jane says as she strokes Shandra's hair. "It's all right, shhh, it's all going to be alright."

"But you're... you're.."

"I know, I can only assume this means you are too. Not what I thought it would be, being dead... it's so... peaceful."

"I don't understand, why? Why am I here... I don't... I don't deserve..."

Jane's laughter was... perfect, infectious, and somehow almost powerful. "You can imagine how I felt. All this, I don't deserve any of it... especially not you. I knew you were coming though, Shandra, I could feel it for so long."

The two held each other for a long time. The began to reacquaint themselves, first with words, then with tender affection and even more tender kisses, continuing on through the night to the inevitable climax. And then they held each other, content in each others' care as they drifted into a blissful sleep.

And then she awoke, still in the predawn hours. It was strange that she could focus on the third woman so easily, but could not bring herself to feel alarm. The svelt young woman simply sat, unconcerned with her nudity, across the room starring.

"Who are you?"

"Do you know where we are?"

The phrase tugged at something... something terrible. Something she didn't want to know. "Who are you? Why are you here?"

"Do you know where we are?"

The memory clicked, and she cried out in rage. Her sleeping lover awoke and stared up at her, transfixed by the anger in her face. "Is something wrong, Shandra? What's going on? Who is this?"

"Not enough time! It isn't fair, it isn't right! Why!? Why must it be me!?" Shandra's cries were futile though no less pained, she knew already what she needed to do.

Finally in a voice barely above a whisper she asked, "will I ever be back?"

"That is a decision you will make on your own. Now, do you know where we are?"

"Shandra, look at me, what do you mean 'ever be back'? Where are you going?"

Her only answer was a kiss, not the passionate kind that had ruled the night before or the tenderness of the afternoon. It was a heavy kiss, a kiss of promises.

"Yes, I know where we are." Shandra said. The other woman nodded.

Shandra's world erupted into pain.

* * *

It was a long time before Shandra stood again, her broken arm making it difficult to pull herself up while injuries made breathing or moving difficult. The room around her looked almost completely destroyed, with a pair of dead bodies not to far from her. She didn't bother with the enemy, he had been cruel in his life, but she found herself kneeling again next to the other. The third woman, the former side kick, the hero who had dragged her this far. The tears wouldn't come, the despair in her heart crystallizing into resolve.

She wouldn't cry. Not until they were all defeated, until nobody else would have to cry because of them again. Maybe then she could return to paradise.


Even for those born in endless caverns, with but a single glimpse of boundless light the candle begins to seem too dim.

Rather than, or maybe

I was reading Ysh's most recent post, just one of a long line that has been causing this to boil over for me.
I was thinking about giving a long lecture on persistence in MMOs, the three approaches to persistence there are, how most current games (and all the really popular ones) have almost no trace of them. But I'm trying to be positive, and I know that would devolve into a diatribe.

I've been mentally toying with the possibility of a DMO lately, a multiplayer/cooperative experience designed to be consumed by relatively small, 6-24 player, groups. The worlds would be dynamic, so new groups could enter semi-randomized worlds and make completely different choices. Of course the point would be to keep them on the small side and instead expand variety. Strong networking tools and drop in/drop out functionality would be key.
A few ideas for magic systems, one would be to have a system based on ancient words which the player must learn to spell and basically speak in. Of course you can take the easy road out with players being able to simply learn it then cast it at the touch of a button, but mics could be taken advantage of for voice activation. The basic point more simply being having the language have correct syntax so that the player builds the spells effects, size, duration, targeting and so forth by simply saying it right. Of course the longer the sentence the longer the cast.
Another, which I had a few months ago but actually showed up in Fable II, is for players to gain levels in spells individually, but as they gain more, and more powerful spells the power of all their spells increases.
These two ideas were to be the basis of a non-combat magic system, where the players would be effecting weather, creating illusions, summoning familiars, or traveling faster most of the time. The ideal, of course, would be that of very powerful and knowledgeable magi being able to perform veritable miracles within the game world. Growing forests overnight, teleporting massive groups across vast distances, summoning towering familiars that function as buildings in their own right, illusory powers to create and maintain an entire scene indefinitely, or even some mix of powers, like an illusory gypsy caravan where it's always raining that teleports outside a new town every five minutes, and lasts for about an hour.

I have the same problem in WAR as I have in WoW, and really in most MMOs I play. I do not feel like a badass/hero, hell the longer I play the more pussified I feel. I have no problem with solidarity, I ran missions, mined and ratted in EVE without ever doing PvP for a long time... but I knew I had the chance to set myself apart, to become part of the living thriving shared history of EVE. WoW has no history, no future, and WAR feels very much the same, it'll be basically forever locked in time at the exact moment of opening, until a new expansion allows you to start somewhere else. Perhaps it's just me, but I find that, more than any PvE wierdness, to be simply depressing.


The Story

It was back in 1945, the spring had just begun and blossoms were all around us. My parents were from Koblenz, Germany, and even after father was stationed at the Riechstag my mother stayed in Koblenz. There was this old mineshaft near the town, the kind you're told not to play in as a child, but as the allies were coming ever closer some of the more loyal Nazi members had the idea to hide away deep in the shaft until after the war to start anew. It was a silly idea, even as a child it seemed silly to me, but my mother believed in her party very much so we couldn't talk her out of it.
I'll never forget that day, the shaft had been expanded so that heavy equipment such as vehicles could get in, though we still went in on foot. There was even a tank, well it seemed like a tank to me, it was more of a half track on review, held together with string and a prayer at that. But none the less, into the shaft it, and we, went. My mother was talking to one of the SS officers about some sort of glorious return that we would have. I was already thinking it would be glorious to return to light and trees and open spaces.
For how long we walked into the mine, I'm not sure I'll ever know. At one point there began to be rumors that someone was following us, a dark figure staying mostly out of sight. Talk began of British or Soviet spies, trying to ruin our great plan. I wasn't too partial to that theory, since we would need a great plan to ruin in the first place. Still I wondered for a long time about the dark figure, why would they follow us, and what did they want? The answer was unexpected, and I still have trouble believing it myself sometimes.
It started with distant sounds, but recognizable, gunfire and screaming. Then some very loud shots that must have been the half track firing, that stopped soon, but the gunfire and screams didn't- They just got closer. My mother tried to protect us, made me huddle with my brother while she stood with her back to us, I just stared at the frill of my dress and wondered if we'd actually make it out of this. Mother started yelling at something, and then cussing while backing up to my brother and I. Finally she screamed as I watched this massive blade rip into her, and when she finally fell to the ground and my sight was unobstructed I could see the terror so clearly. It was a woman, a tall woman wearing some sort of grey armor and carrying a spear with a massive tip.
She stared at us for what felt like ages. Just looked and looked, with those strang yellow eyes, like she was trying to make up her mind about something, then she just turned and went deeper into the tunnel. The gunfire and screams returned, and then after a while it was just screams, which also died out eventually. We waited a long time, brother and I, before we finally stood up and wandered back out of the tunnels, running into some of our friends along the way. I was told later that all the children had been spared.
What most stays with me though was the image of that half track, since we passed on through it on the way out. You see, it had been cut clean in half, with each half compressed against one of the walls, and the whole area just sort of stank of dead people.

"I told you it was a weird story," Lanie said. Resting against the side of the couch her grandmother was sitting on. The modern living room, with contemporary furniture around them seemed to form a strange counterpoint to the tale of yesteryear. The twenty year old had heard the story many times over, but no 'meet the parents' was complete without getting 'the story' out of the way.
"Lanie, don't call your grandmother's stories weird," her mother, Elise, chided her from out of sight in the kitchen. The two rooms were seperated by wall, but her mother heard everything, she could probably hear a pin drop from two blocks away.
"It's actually pretty cool, can't say I've ever heard anyrhing like it!" Desirea was, as always, fitting right in and playing peace keeper. Definitely trying for girlfriend of the year award, Lanie thought to herself.
"These days I only tell it if someone asks, after a while I just got tired of the strange looks." Lanie's grandmother looked wistfully out the window as she spoke. Ursala Gothe had aged well over her long life, keeping the general figure of a tall, imposing woman, though lately she had seemed to soften somewhat. "As we grew up, I left the Reich, the Nazis, and even Germany behind me. But not Gerald, no, he just couldn't see the nonsensical dreams of a murderous madman for what they are."
The room was real quiet for a few moments, just the sounds from the kitchen to keep it from being unbearable. "Ahh, but now I'm spoiling the mood! So tell me about yourself, Desirea, what do you do?"
"Well, I'm a production sound designer, which just means..." The conversation buzzed back and forth for a while until dinner came. Her mother got in on the questioning then, the two women drilling her on family, education, politics, and finally trailing off into philosophy where the questions disappeared into debate. Evening became night, and energetic debate turned to playful banter, finally breaking into quiet excuses and long goodbyes. Then it was just two young women, driving home on a warm summer's night. The strange breeze in the air still so subtle that anyone could be forgiven for missing it.



Just read a post by Raph Koster and some of the responses...

Fun is the practice of learning skills to mastery.
We know this because learning skills to mastery is fun.
Therefore, any fun not had through learning skills is false fun.
All fun must be through learning skills to mastery, and there can be no other forms of fun, since we already know:
Fun is the practice of learning skills to mastery.
We know this because learning skills to mastery is fun.


Any Suggestions?

As much as I love good action sci-fi, Star Wars, Starship Troopers, Chronicles of Riddick, I have a special place in my heart for good speculative or character driven science fiction, Bladerunner, Solaris, Sunshine or Godheads for example. So I was wondering, does anyone had any good suggestions for movies or books that I could look up within that vein?


An Industry within a Nation

There is something deeply humbling about looking up from a book about people dealing with an impending doomsday and using a slip of paper smaller than a folded napkin that contains a brief history of my working life as a bookmark. Of course, I'm writing this while tired with a whole day of classes stretching out in front of me, so I doubt I'll be particularly coherent from here on out, but I'll try.

Recently I got the chance to listen to Chris Martenson's Crash Course on the American economy and where we stand overall. Of course I haven't done further research to verify, so I'm not willing to call it gospel, but the underlying prediction isn't so different from what I've been thinking for years. Quite simply, what's coming is not going to be as big as what came before... and that means bad things if the underlying presumption of the business is constant growth. Which means especially bad things for corporations, since growth, read profit, is essential to sustain a corporation of any size. They need profit the same way a fish needs water or a person needs air, and unless we start rethinking what we get and how... well it's not going to work out too well.

This effects my thinking on the industry and current business models a great deal. Right now I rather feel we need to focus on two areas, making the content creation process cheaper and more accessible, and increasing the artistic quality of our works such that they can stand on their own as great works. Frankly, I don't think I'm entirely alone in those priorities, though I may be more unique in my reasoning.

Spore was a good, if gamey, step towards the first section. Lots of tools for the creation of content and sharing of said content, but unfortunately a bit... strict on the rule sets governing that content for my tastes. I'm trying to have high hopes for MetaPlace, but I find my hope to be somewhat thin on the ground these days. Who knows, maybe I should have been an avid Second Life player/activist, but I find it significantly hard to form any amount of excitement over SL.

The second has been a much touchier issue lately, at least in the MMO space. Single player games have been doing better on some fronts, we're seeing some serious play with physics and world environments along side some very focused story telling.

I want to get the controversy out of the way early here. As many of you already know, I was quite firmly on the WAR too close to WoW side of that debate, more recently a Blue commented on everything they plan on taking from WAR. I'm pretty derisive of it, but contrary to at least one commenter's opinion I'm not some shit stupid cynic who bitched without any thought for the sole purpose of bitching. What it all comes back to is homogeneity, that is my great problem with the current MMO sphere. We have a few budding sub genres, but so far it's a battle between dungeon crawlers and sandboxes, of course I'm sure if you compared the sub base between WoW, WAR, LOTRO, AoC, EQ1/2, DaoC, AC1/2, AO, Neocron and TR, with that of EVE, SW:G, Ryzom, MystO, and Second Life the concept of a battle begins to seem patently absurd. You can talk yourself blue about there being no great innovations in RTSes, but the simple fact is they exist and evolve alongside FPSes, RPGs, 4x, Racing, Sports, and a number of other genres. MMOs on the other hand tend to patently ignore the best features of single player games, meaning either the they simply aren't evolving alongside or they can't evolve alongside. This begins to paint a rather grim picture as we find ourselves in a state of stagnation where the surrounding genres have failed to evolve in the parallel state needed to retain evolution in the primary genre. From this perspective, WoW stealing things that do set WAR apart rather than focusing their development dollars on the aspects of gameplay that make them unique is just another step towards homogenization in a dangerously homogenized market.

But the question in my mind is how many magna opera do my generation have left in us? Have we really hit the kinds of peaks that can grant us the respect to last through at least of a century of cultural starvation? If I honestly felt we had a century or two to perfect the art I'm not sure I'd be so vocal about it, at least to the offline people who have to listen to me. Problem is, I'm not sure we have forty years; it's certainly probable the industry will last that long, but inevitable... hardly. So have we built games that will still inspire people even after centuries... actually, better put, if worse came to worse, would future generations of game designers achieve greatness because of us, or in spite of us?

I guess meanwhile, I'll keep working on the business theory I never actually outlined in this post. Keep working with what I've got towards where I thought I was going. All though, I am curious if anyone heard that initial 500k number for WAR and immediately thought, "that's it?"



It's been around the blogosphere lately. Someone very important and gifted in my particular industry has chosen to take their own life, and that makes me very sad. Well, it makes me sad, confused, frightened and more than a little pissed off.

Tobold is allowed his opinion I guess, but I'm allowed to disagree with it. In fact I'm allowed to disagree with it a shit ton.

I didn't know Mr. Freeman, not personally, not professionally, not even blogospherically, so I don't really have anything to say about him. What I do have something to talk about though is what all this has brought right to the forefront, the urge to kill oneself.

A. Killing yourself is a bad thing.
B. Suicide is not the result of having too much fun and happiness in your life.
C. What the fuck people?

Lets get that first point out of the way, killing yourself is bad. If you want I can give you all the line graphs and charts to prove it. For a data point we could hand out questionnaires to the family to chart their grief from 1 to 11, and then just keep a tally of the number that come back with "fuck you" written on them and the ones that don't come back at all since they probably get shredded and tossed. Suicide is painful, for everyone, and like people tend to say, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Which brings us to the problem. Best quote I've ever heard about suicide is that "suicide is simply the final result of when the pain in your life exceeds your coping mechanisms". Life sucks, and not everyone handles it the same, some just can't handle it at all. The worst part is when your coping mechanisms are all just stop gaps, and nothing ever gets fixed because the only thing that gets you to wake up tomorrow is pretending it doesn't exist. Hell, I can guarantee that it's past the point where you have given up hope that tomorrow will be better in some small way. Why? Because I've been there.

Now, you see, since you can't ever expect tomorrow to be better than today, and you're stuck watching the good things in life slip away bit by bit because you can't do anything, your self esteem is officially in the shitter. You're good for nothing, you tell yourself, everything you touch breaks, and all you can hear is how badly you failed at this or that. All your flaws are thrown into harsh light and nothing you do is good enough anymore, hell you wonder if it was ever good enough in the first place... which brings us to point C, what the fuck people? All this pent up good will for the guy and nobody gets to hear about it until he hates himself to death.

Yeah it's unfair of me, yeah this is just adding to your pain and guilt, but you know what, fuck it. Honestly you couldn't have made him happy all of the sudden, but who knows, maybe just knowing that someone was real frickin' happy with the stuff he created would have helped him get through to tomorrow. Maybe we should make writing a eulogy for everyone you know a yearly event, god knows Halloween could use some soul, so that people can see how someone else perceives them and how much they mean to everyone.

Of course, I'm only writing this because I'm scared. I've been there, that point where you stop believing tomorrow will be a better day... it's debatable whether I've ever left. All the good shit stops being good, and you can't find joy in doing the "fun" things because all they are now is an excuse to avoid the pain. The shit on your doorstep is piling up and the only way anyone else seems to deal with it is to get mad at you... snap you out of it, yeah 'cause thinking I've pissed you off with my inability to fix this is going to make me feel so much better.

I wish I could say this isn't about me, but, well, it's my blog and I'm too damn honest to pretend I'd write this much about someone I never knew. Although, there is one thing that really scares the ever loving shit out of me, how many other people are afraid of the exact same thing I am... afraid that when all is said and done, you're in the ground fertilizing daisies or floating on the winds as a bunch of soot, what if nobody says word one? What if you pass in silence, unmarked, unnoticed, and never really were all that important to anyone anyways?

And would you really want to know?


Isobel's Armor

I downloaded a free tutorial model to use as a sizing guide, had to modify it alot to make it muscular enough. Still, here is what I have so far of Isobel's armor. Still missing the boots and bracers.


The Arkenath Lordling stood, shaking the dust from his long coat. That last lash of Soul Energy had almost connected, forcing him into the dust like a dog. His mind was already assessing the situation, the dark figure behind the Disciple that was probably that pathetic witch, hiding in the skirts of the better fighter.

"You can't guard your friend forever, Uthorin dog." He didn't expect the taunt to work, but her response may provide more information.

"But I'm not." The Disciple's belt of skulls shook soundlessly as she withdrew the sword holding up the dead guard behind her. The sight barely registered though, before a pair of daggers erupted from his chest.


Levels or Levels?

(Reposted from VWTheory's themepark section.)

I was thinking about this tonight, why do we create systems of "levels" in MMOs, then restrict those levels to "zones" in the meager hope that people will play through our content in the correct order? Why not just make Levels in the traditional sense, and as players progress through levels they get additional gear(think Zelda's Boomerang, not Shaman's boots) and so forth. Players then have to complete a level to move on, but would be rewarded for coming back to old levels with stuff that might be either universally useful, or useful on whatever level they were currently on.

Granted there are problems with replayability, but since we are already talking about themeparks, why not focus on making better rides? You would need to focus on your social elements, avatar customization, houses and leaderboards for example, but if you can get them to feel some meaning in the their persistence it could very well take off.