SW: Plasma Weapons

Plasma Canon core mechanics:
A plasma canon is almost always smooth bore. Canon cartridges are two layers of cylindrical crystal formed from a mix of readily available quartz and biomass, surrounding a gaseous chemical compound with a base of Xenon or a similar heavy gas. The rear of a cartridge contains a segment of explosive solids used as a propellant.

When a cartridge is loaded it is immediately given a short electrical charge which the crystal naturally maintains and prolongs. As the charge travels through the gases, they are converted to plasma at a rate relative to the amount of charge applied. This reaction causes extreme amounts of heat which the crystal conducts across several layers of varying resistances and surface area, insulating the worst of the reaction from the barrel of the cannon.

The charged cartridge is then fired by the application of a second electrical charge to the propellant. By maintaining the cartridge in the barrel, the user can allow the crystal's inner surface to disintegrate while the reaction builds more heat. This allows for a hotter cartridge that loses less energy in the destruction of the crystal on impact. However, as the crystal breaks down so does the built in heat sink, prolonging it too far too often may result in permanent barrel damage. If the crystal is completely destroyed prior to firing, the plasma is likely to destroy the entire structure of the gun when the propellant inevitably goes off.

Plasma Rifle core mechanics:
A plasma rifle is generally long and thing, with a rifled barrel. The cartridge is usually smaller than cannon cartridges, and uses only a single layer of crystal. Rifle cartridges do not have a propellant component on the back, and also have rounded or sharpened tips.

Rifles do not apply an electrical charge to the plasma cartridge when loaded. Primarily, this means that a rifle cartridge cannot be "overloaded", however it allows for a variety of accuracy enhancing attributes. In order to fire, a brief electrical charge runs down the length of the barrel, charging the cartridge and powering an electromagnet which slings the shot out of the barrel at very high speeds.

Most rounds have an ideal range of roughly two hundred meters, where their chemical reaction is at it's hottest. Beyond that range the chemical reaction is usually in decline and the crystal sheath is beginning to degrade and loose it's aerodynamic qualities.


I love it when setting and game play come together in a happy medium. This provides a good solid explanation for some game play mechanics, and works well with the proposed resource model.

Referrential Scrap

Memetic revolutions are on the rise apparently.

It seems I was just awarded the Honest Scrap award for blogging brilliance from not one, but two of my fellow bloggers. Copra of Bull Copra and Ardua of Echoes of Nonsense.

This meme has a few guidelines to go with it. Namely that if you are going to participate, then you should write a post celebrating you're getting it, including the name of the person who nominated you. From there you need to hand out the award to seven more bloggers who you feel deserve it. Finally, the meat of the meme is that you then have to write 10 honest facts about yourself.

So first the awards ceremony... This is going to be rather difficult, since I'd prefer to find people who haven't already been tagged.

iMMOvation, is a blog maintained by Wiqd in which he details his thoughts on a Harvest Moon inspired MMO. I personally enjoy reading it, especially as he deals with many of the issues that are best faced by looking outside the core combat focused sensibilities.

Raph Koster's Website, honestly, if you don't know who he is, now is a great time to learn.

The Ancient Gaming Noob, Wilhelm is a fellow EVE player, though much richer than I am. He's pretty much always a good read in my opinion.

Construed, it's always good to read about the rest of geekdom that I don't usually spend tons of time reading about.

Kill Ten Rats, Ethic, Zubon, Ravious, Oz if one of them isn't writing something you're interested in, just wait.

Anyway Games, I don't comment enough, but it's so much to think about.

Stylish Corpse, I know she's already been tagged, but I just can't make this list without including her.

On to the meat, the honesty.

1. I drink 6-8 cans of Mountain Dew a day on average. I still have only a few usable hours of energy a day.

2. When I was in sixth grade, I was the alternate for the Math fair and it so happened someone was sick the day of. Wound up taking home 9th in city. That was strange.

3. I've never failed any of my four History classes in college, in fact I got a B in each. Which is strange since I also failed to show up for my final every time. I liked that professor, for his excellent lectures... honest.

4. I'm mortally afraid of heights, job applications, crowds, people talking to me while I'm cooking, and driving on the freeway.

5. I'm ten to fifteen minutes early to every appointment. Only broken when I'm even earlier because I allowed myself more time in case I got lost, and in this case didn't.

6. When it comes to time, I generally have no idea what time it is, or what day it is, which means every appointment rules my life for hours before hand as I have to remind myself to watch the clock.

7. I haven't read a book in a couple months. I don't know why, just haven't been down to the library lately.

8. Despite knowing every trick in the book for self organization and time management, I honestly can't get myself to stick to any of them.

9. I prefer to sleep on the floor.

10. My singing range is from low bass to high alto.

I have no idea if anyone is even going to care, but yeah, that's ten true facts about me.


Q & A: Shattered World

I feel like having another Q & A. Let's take this opportunity then to get on the same page about Shattered World. Ask any questions you may have about it, or relating to it, please. If you don't have any questions about it, then this is the perfect opportunity to go back and read up on it so you can have questions about it. ^.^


Quest Text

I feel like writing right now, so why stop after that last novel, let's write another one.

Lead Blizzard Dev Outlines 9 WoW Quest Problems, Admits to Designing Stranglethorn Quest via Cuppytalk

I think Kaplan hit the nail on the head with point two. The effects of this one point radiate out into the entire rest of the talk, whether he means it to or not. Point nine is another example of actually being one way of looking at the very core of the issue. Personally I like good understandable examples, and I'm kind of sad I don't have a workable prop here for this.

Imagine if you will that I'm standing in front of a white board with ten big A3 (8.5"x11" for Americans) buttons on it. Behind each of those buttons is one page of Coraline by Neil Gaiman. To the left is a scoreboard with a bunch of zeroes showing on it. So here are the rules, I can press the buttons in any order and get one point per press, per button. Once I press all ten, I get ten bonus points and all the pages move forward so that I have the next ten pages. However, I can't get back to talking to you, or take any breaks until I reach 100 points. Additionally, if I can't get back to it tonight, this post never gets written.

Now, I'm kind of tired already, it's been a long night and any more delays and I'm just going to fall asleep. But I really care about this post. I've never gotten to read Coraline so those pages are looking interesting, but I've got this point just banging around inside my head waiting to get out. Take a moment, and given all the information, just try to imagine me pressing those buttons as fast as you think I would press them.

Personally, I imagined myself tearing through them with the occasional pause to read something that caught my eye. Why? Because it's not a book, it's a button pressing machine and I have something really important to me get to. I don't think there are many people who view quest text skippers in this light, not ADD thirteen year olds, just someone who's friends need them at a higher level to play with them, or whose guild needs them at max level, or who can't wait for the raiding game play that they really like. Just because the button has text does not make the button game a novel.

Fixing this requires us to look at something more basic about quest text, it's purpose. When I walk up to someone in a starting zone and they ask me to reduce the overpopulation of the bears in the zone, the text is giving me the reason why I'm doing it. To reduce the overpopulation of bears. I kill eight bears, eight more spawn, the population is the same, I walk back to the quest vendor and find out something funny. They lied to me. I did not kill the bears to fix the overpopulation, I killed the bears so they could give me stuff. If I had done it to repair their ecological situation, it would not have been considered complete until the implied task, thinning their actual numbers, was completed. That is not the case, instead it is simply asking me to push a button a certain way, in this case kill x bears, and collect my prize. It is soon discovered that the faster you push buttons, the more reward you get, and the closer you get to whatever goal you yourself have actually set. And so it is never actually explained why you bothered killing x bears, except in the meta sense of "to advance".

Now imagine that the buttons have been replaced with an adlib sentence. _____(Proper noun) is _____(adverb) _____(verb - present tense) because _____(proper_noun) _____(verb - past tense) the _____(adjective) _____(noun). I press button one, a list of 10 names come up I choose one. I press is and ten choices of possible replacement words come up. And this continues until in short order I've formed the sentence, 'Jay was pretty pissed after Milley lost the good sword.' The points rack up, it rolls over to a new sentence.

Before anyone even suggests it, I'm not saying we need to make them choose your own adventure. I'm saying you need them to be one word. One big bold visible word that the player interacts with as they play. Rather than sending the player to kill the bear overpopulation, set a trigger the first time they enter the woods for a group of bears to spawn in and attack them. A guard runs over, thanks them for helping with the bears that have been overpopulated lately and gives you the quest reward. What you'll see here is what isn't written. No ecological survey in your quest log, no long quest intro. The player instantly understands that the bears are hostile and wonders why, the guard answers why, the player sees the problem is solved, but has a viable reasoning for other people to be having a similar problem in front of him. And they know why they did it, to protect themselves and luckily to assist with the bear population.

Text cannot be your hook. Any number of people will sit down and read the text once they are hooked into a story. However, there is little chance of catching them the first time around if they have to read text to enter the story. On top of that, you want people to enjoy their time spent questing as a non-grind and to get a story with it, if you can encapsulate the story into actions, into showing them what is going on, you will have succeeded. If you try to keep it to telling them, you will fail. I think a truly great novelist or writer-director, if tasked with designing the quest layout for an MMO will probably tell you the same thing. Show your audience, don't just tell them. Don't lean on them to write their next great novel in your game, or to fill your game with their brilliant cinematics, work with the strengths of our own medium to not just tell the player the story they've helped with, but to show it to them.

The move has largely been made in single player games. There isn't that much stopping us now from adding this in MMOs other than getting people trained to do it. I firmly believe that TOR will succeed or fail almost solely on how well they grok this principle.

I'm pretty sure if you noticed a massive jump in quest quality with phasing, it's because they can now show, not just tell the outcome of your actions. It's amazing how powerful this particular jump really is.

News Flash

WoW still at the heart of every major MMO debate that pisses me off to no end.
Could be due to WoW being at the heart of almost every MMO debate outside of a small group I follow religiously.

I read this:
50 Million Dollars Are Bad For You - Tobold
Then this:
A Final Trip Into The Mind of a WoW Tourist - Syncaine
Then this:
Darkfall Final Impressions - Ixobelle

Let me get some things out on the table in a sense of fair play. I do not like WoW. That isn't to say WoW is terrible or that I hate it. It means I do not like it, play it, or have any desire to play it again outside of maybe using it as a colorful chat room to catch up with some people I know and like.
I have played WoW. I have a level 40 Tauren Warrior that has been abandoned for a very long time now. I played a lot of battlegrounds and played the auction house. I was guilded, I did run a freaking lot of pick up group instances, and I when doing so I always played tank to the best of my ability. I quit because I didn't want to make it to 41, in fact I was regretting having even leveled to 40. When faced with either going another 9 levels to get into workable BG form again, or leveling another character to 39, I seriously examined why I played the game, what I wanted from it, and what it would actually give me. These answers were more than unsatisfactory, I found instead the thought of staying in WoW downright painful.
When I sit down to work on my designs, I do ask what I can learn from WoW. I also ask what the fuck was wrong with it, and whether any particular feature was at all useful to the goals of my design. You can examine for yourself my writings from February and March of '08 to see what, if anything, actually made it over though I don't believe it to be very much.
Lastly, I like Syncaine's writing. His bias is a bit more extreme than mine, but he is funny in how he says it and I generally agree with him on most issues. WoW tourists is not one we see exactly eye to eye on, though certainly closer than Tobold or Ixobelle. I also occasionally read Ixobelle, though our basic thought processes are often too far different for me to follow regularly. Disclosure over, on to the post.

One thought at a time. Yes I'd turn down 50 mil for better word of mouth and opening press. You have one shot at a first impression and three hundred thousand players will pay that back in a year. Three hundred thousand players and growing will net you a great deal more and provide you with much better income and a longer product life overall. Three hundred thousand players left from a massive rush and declining with four hundred thousand players worth of bad press can destroy the game and net your company a significantly smaller profit margin over five years. It's 50mil up front, but I'd estimate 150-200mil straight down the toilet.
I don't think Mythic's problem though was that they were unwilling to say this to the board. I think EA, and perhaps Mythic to some extent, actually believed their own hype and seriously thought their retention would be much better. A mistake I myself was guilty of, and am therefore probably biased towards projecting on them, if you look at my response to this post by Tobold.
Back in August and September, when WAR wasn't all released and everyone playing were beta participants, and even that first month or so I went through an up swell of optimism. Optimism for WAR, for the MMO market, even for my own playstyle, "this time..." And then the following months came, it was not different. I think if you looked at most of those blogs then, and now, you would see an impressive hardening of people back to their basic concepts prior to release. All of us walked away with a lesson from it, usually that we were right about what we were saying before the optimism caught hold. I can't tell you for sure who was right on that one, maybe all of us, maybe none of us, probably whoever understands the industry the best, whoever that is.
Back to the "WoW tourists though". I had a model for dealing with 'WoW tourists' before I had ever heard the term, and frankly, I didn't build it off what 'WoW tourists' means. In my model they were called Nomads, people like me who were likely to buy every game that came out but unlikely to stay longer than a month. The way I see it, a vocal segment, minority or majority is hard to say, of that group happens to be people who come from WoW and are simply on tour because they like WoW too much to stay anywhere else. Or rather, they want "better than WoW" but don't have any working definition of better that is also physically possible for anyone else to actually create. Contrary to what many of those who I would term as WoW Tourists are saying, you cannot bring fewer people, less money and significantly less time to the table and walk out with more content, denser content, better content, fewer bugs, and a team with significantly more experience dealing with your final engine and tool set. Well, unless your name is The Doctor.
Content churn has basically no effect on that, since you can still experience the vast majority of the content churned out of standard use if you want to. Also as I hinted before, new content by people inexperienced with the tools that they I've only had finalized for under a year or two will not be able to come close to the polish of people who have spent four to six years working with their tools. Content density will also be higher, which is something that can be seen at a glance and will make people feel more comfortable almost immediately.
I guess I'm saying it isn't the player's fault that there is this flood of users in the first month. But also isn't the developer's fault that those players aren't even looking for anything they can actually provide. To use a more homely analogy, it isn't someone's fault they associate the smell of shit on the air with cows, but it isn't the pig farmer's fault he can't sell you a side beef. It's a blameless situation, but one that must be dealt with all the same. I've theorized how, but I won't go into that here.

As to the undertones of Syncaine v. Ixobelle... Listen, I know if you like WoW you're going to get tired of people bagging on it. Too bad. Unfortunately there comes a point where you have to learn someone's bias and tune them out, most of us on this side have already done it to you. WoW is the big kid on the block, which means the rest of us have to deal with little shitheads bitching at us about WoW this or WoW that. Personally, I think WoW is one example of something that when taken alone is interesting. Outside that small field, MMO dungeon crawlers, it isn't any more applicable than a bolted down electron microscope is applicable to bird watching.
All of this being said... in my own tainted view I rather feel like Ixobelle got a free pass from most of their own readers for flat out stating:
I think this is an unexplored genre in the MMO department that needs to be fully tapped. If you could make a game cheaply enough, with few enough people on the dev team to just implement a character creator and maybe one town and one dungeon, you could probably sell a few hundred thousand copies of the box alone to the 'at least it's not WoW demographic'. You wouldn't even need to set up a billing department, since no one would actually SUBSCRIBE to your game, they'd just buy the box, spend a week with it, then move back to whatever they were playing before.

Darkfall and Age of Conan fit that description perfectly, and Warhammer got maybe one month out of me. LotRO is probably the only other game I really respect out of the 'non-WoW' batch of MMOs I've played (but I never subscribed to LotRO, so there you go), and I have yet to actually even make it to the character creator in Coh/CoV. I signed up for a trial, and the downloader was so fucking slow that my free trial ran out before I ever actually got the game installed. Don't even get me started on EVE. Hoo boy.

People in Darkfall are doing the same thing I saw people doing in AoC, and it won't be the last time I see people do this. They're punishing themselves, and forcing themselves to play a sub par game, BUT AT LEAST THEY AREN'T PLAYING WOW. They repeat this mantra over and over on the game's official forums, in the game's public chat channels, and somehow decide this makes it all worth while.

What kind of putrescent bullshit is this? It's not good in the ways I like so it's all one big scam to sell bullshit to people. And of course all those player's are just poor masochists who hate themselves only slightly less than they hate WoW. And this doesn't sound even slightly... condescending, assholish, flat out stupidly wrong, and impressively myopic to you as you're writing this? I'm not going to give Syncaine a free pass on his response, since he does go overboard a lot in a very asinine way, but when I see what he's responding too... well I can tell you which one seems like the worse offender here and it isn't him.
What can I even say to this. Thank you god master of all things fun, I had no idea that by preferring certain things above others I was so punishing myself. How dare I play EVE and be glad that it isn't WoW! What a terribly masochistic person I could be, think of all the FUN I could be having in WoW if I only listened to you. Perhaps I'm reading your comments strangely, but I actually understand how you can say both that and this "I guess I'm a bitch, because I prefer the WoW ruleset. it's not *better*, just different... and the one I prefer. : /" and not be really contradicting yourself. Since you can say ruleset, and all of a sudden every other thing that is so big, important and terribly done to you, but that so many others may be quite happy to forgive or even enjoy, is right back on the table as somehow more objective.
Quick lesson here, EVE doesn't have WoW's UI for one very basic reason, it doesn't work like WoW. It has a totally different set of information it needs to show. A whole lot of it has intricacies so deep that it needs to fit a ton of information that can be entirely useless or vitally important to your present situation side by side because the designers can't tell which it will be at all times. Some people enjoy this, it may just work well with how their mind solves problems, or they just might honestly prefer the feeling they get from working to learn something more than they do from not having to put in that particular kind of work. You don't prefer those sensations, great, doesn't make them a masochist. I haven't had the chance to play Darkfall, but a lot of what I'm hearing about the UI is stuff where even when it's something you would just as soon need to do in WoW, it can't be done the same way or your own rule set would eat you alive. This is why we use different UIs in the first place, sometimes you just can't do it the other way or the core of your own game will kill you. Instead of ascribing this to designer idiocy or arrogance, you may want to take a few steps back and realize just how brilliant and sublime some of their choices were. Of course this would require recognizing that not only is their core goal different, but worthwhile.

Strange, I've managed to talk bad about WoW all this time and never do it for street cred. Insanely enough I did it to let people know my opinion on it, and how it would effect my views. Perhaps it's because WoW wasn't my first MMO, and in fact my first MMO had peaked at 10k players and had no 3D modeling in it, at all. So not having any honeymoon feeling, not having it as a first love, or even a second love since I played a UO trial for a couple hours before I ever got around to playing WoW hopefully comes across in my post. When I talk about it, it's just because it's the biggest elephant in the room, not because I could give two shits if it's good or if it sucks. I don't see how it could ever give me that feeling of being a soldier sacrificing for something greater like Neveron did, and it did it without scripts, it just gave me the chance to serve under a commanding officer and sacrifice everything protecting him in battle. Was that fun? I wouldn't say so, but it was a thousand times more valuable and a precious memory to me that I have never forgotten and in fact remember in exquisite detail.
But then, what do you care if one jaded misanthrope proves you wrong, you'll just keep generalizing out to everyone because it's easier than being honest and specific. It's easier to say, "well I was only talking to people who think that way," than to say you're sorry and actually challenge your own thoughts on the matter.
Final thoughts, more aimed at Syncaine here. I don't think it's about how WoW something is or isn't to them. It's about their measure of quality, though as you are probably lampooning, it is more than a little warped by what they happen to like about WoW. I'm not sure I blame them though, it took me a long time to unwrap my preferences from my objective examination, and I still don't always succeed though I do try to mark and learn from my failures. It wouldn't surprise me if they are a little new to the game.
We all suffer from some amount of perception distortion, it's a requirement of life. I don't know how to fix that, or even if it's truly that bad of a thing considering what it enables us to do. Unfortunately, this whole pile of shit stinks of terribly distorted perspectives being laid down as some kind of objective factual base. That way lies a few yes men, some bad arguments, and a whole lot of regret. I don't recommend letting it continue, doctor says take some introspection and self cross-examination and let the world know in the morning.



I'm sorry to any of my new readers, haven't exactly been in best foot forward mode lately. This post, probably isn't going to be a great exception, but it's just eating away at me inside. Every post, every comment, everything I write is colored by a certain amount of snark over these same underlying issues.

It's funny, I've been working with clay again lately. When I was a kid I worked with clay to relieve stress, you see I never argued with my parents even though I often disagreed with them. In fact I never argued with anyone. I hadn't started seriously drawing yet, had done some poetry but I didn't like frustration poetry, I still don't like my writing when I'm frustrated. So I molded clay, some air dry, some kiln fire, all mixed together into this sort of blue-gray mess that I'd work around in my hands, never really wanting to fix into any one shape too long.

Lately, I've had drawing to help me along. I always figured it would help me with my work, and be something I could share. For a while I thought about working in art, but I'm not competitive, just plain not that good. So it's been subsumed into a greater pursuit. And it is a great pursuit, there are days that all I wish for is that I could let someone else see inside my mind. Then I realize what a jaded misanthrope I've become. I'm not sure I'd wish this on anybody.

I'd work with the clay at night in bed. In the dark, just seeing with my hands. I liked people, but I hardly had enough for huge amounts of detail. Legs, torso, I liked working out that big shoulder bone on the back, and the ankle was always interesting. I suppose that's how I was able to make the skull I made the other day. Hardly what one might call brutally realistic, but understandable, all the right pieces in pretty much the right places.

I was raised to be a problem solver. See the problem, examine the problem, learn what you could about why something worked to begin with and why it wasn't working now. A broad knowledge base helped, a solution to a problem could come from any number of fields. After coming from Neveron into WoW, I saw my own growing dissatisfaction. Things I didn't like, things I hated, things that just got to me. Problem found, and better yet a problem in an area I like. Information began to coalesce, forming into a new stream of consciousness merging old, sometimes original sometimes not, settings and mechanics into a new form as I plumbed the depths of my knowledge for working answers.

The funny part about clay is that I use a lot of the skills initially developed in it in Maya. There is one particular shape that has always evaded me in Maya. I've only produced even a close facsimile once. The shape of an Angreal's helmet. I can produce it on paper in an instant, perfect in every detail. Voluminous, three dimensional on the paper, but not in Maya. I've been trying for a couple days now to make that helmet in clay. It's just not coming out, even though it should, it simply is not taking form.

It was August or September of 07 when the final setting emerged, perfect in every detail for a virtual world. In world explanations for immortality, for why the players existed, for why they would not understand or have already been part of the existing lore. Trans-dimensional travel at it's very core, allowing for every server to have a forward moving timeline, for them to have events that fundamentally change their very nature. And allow server transfers, hell for a while I was thinking it could be as simple as walking through a portal any time you wanted... now I can't decide yea or nay on that one. One shard, many shards, I'd have a working answer for both, and a working middle ground. Combat made sense, ARMOR made sense instead of being the puddle of half understood garbage that plagues rpgs. It was magic incarnate, and it wasn't until February of 08 that I penned it into existence for others to see. The final problem stood before me, creation.

The great insoluble problem. I threw myself into design projects, knowing I needed more design know how, more skills before anyone would take me seriously. The knowledge from my early prototypes of Birth were fresh in my mind. A character who's conceit allows the minimum friction between player and character, because they are a blank slate and don't have amnesia. I made mercenaries, and it died as nobody play tested it. Too complex, too inaccessible, I could do better.

Of course in the mean time I talked a bit about what I saw in the industry. For instance I stated that anyone who competed with WoW was going to have to handle a max of 500k players. I think Age of Conan and WAR disproved the exact number, but not the idea. They did prove growth in the market though.

So I created a management game. A few bugs, no ending state, but more accessible. It was a toy one could play with, but I never did complete the design... I don't remember why exactly. I began writing more, drawing more, programming more. I could do all to begin with, but not enough for a project of this size. More, and better, all of them, hour after hour, sometimes in states of mania or utter catharsis. My writing improved, my drawing improved but I lost a key element... my scanner. I no longer had a way to display my hand drawn works, my best works, for people to see or critique. Only those I was making in a brand new medium on my pen tablet. Far too small for drawing, it was more like painting and the bad news was, I knew jack shit about painting. Slight tremor in my hand being magnified far beyond what could ever be seen on paper didn't help much either.

I went to school again... I'd consistently failed out of all but five classes my first two years. This time was different, straight As in three classes, and then the money ran out. No job, no school, more time to work, and more time to let depression sink in. It's strange how these days I have so much time, and yet can hardly use any of it because I simply don't have the energy. Part of me thinks I should be out there job hunting for a part time job, it's the right thing to do after all, get work, support myself. But I can't bring myself to do it. Can't bring myself to come out to a new set of people, not knowing if I'll get to keep the job. Having just enough money to start thinking about transitioning and putting everything else in life on hold for the next three or four years. Or worse, trying to do it in my parents house and dealing with that stress every day. Watching myself waste every paycheck staving off depression and spending all my free time recharging so I can face dealing with people I don't know or even like on somebody else's terms. Dealing with the fact that it is just a delay tactic, that I could easily enough end up like my mom, delaying my whole life away.

School has crossed my thought sometimes. Not the one I went to, god I couldn't walk into that building and face those people again unless my life depended on it. But school has a cost I can't ever recoup, the years spent in it. My dream is ahead of the curve now, but I'm already seeing pieces that I put real soul into creating slipping out into the games around me. Chronicles of Spellborn released in Europe last year with only minor differences from my parallel thought based combo system that I finalized last October, but had in rough draft form for several months before. Free Realms took so many of the same questions that founded Shattered World, and simply found different answers for them. Answers for a different target audience. I thought I might still be ahead of the blog-i-verse, but not as certainly anymore. Any more delay and I'm going to have to watch pieces of my dream taunt me from every side for years, maybe decades. I've seen that too, in my dad, and I've seen what it's done to him... what it's doing to me.

And so I have the great dilemma. No route to success, no palatable road to tomorrow. Just a big lump of blue-gray clay all molded up into a lumpy sphere, taunting me with the vision of what it could be... what I should be able to make it. Here I am, though, writing a fucking blog post. Wasting my time pondering how to make an interim project whose prototype was so stunning it spawned complete and utter silence into something that can fund some sort of start up.



The t is not a standard t sound, it's somewhere between t and th. You press the tip of your tongue against your top teeth and the sound quickly and harshly. Don't worry if it's hard to get at fist, I'm still practicing.

For as long as I've been working on Shattered World, Ventrair has been my one great constant. It was born from my frustration with places like Stormwind, Ascalon and well most any MMO capital city I've ever seen. Most recently some thoughts of it's underlying content have been informed by The Inevitable City, though primarily on the lower level as the high level hasn't changed at all.

I could give a dry talk about how Ventrair is big, gothic, and bustling. But that's not what makes Ventrair the dream worth fighting for. Not what brings me back to it again and again. It's so much more than the scale of the city, or the design of the architecture. So much more than the density of content and NPCs.

Ventrair is a society, a living, breathing society that's still unsure of it's identity and it's role in the world. It's people huddled in stadium seating in a massive cathedral to see and pay respects to a woman who has been a vegetable for ten years. And they do this because it was giving them their freedom, their emotions, and the whole of their lives since her appearance that left her in that coma. Their mysticism steeped in duty and sacrifice, in this deification of the role of a parent, the role that has been fundamentally missing from their culture for millions of years.

It's a dozen factions vying to be heard in the council and on the streets. Each with something important to say, each with something important to contribute, but all screaming at the top of their lungs to not get drowned out by the hoard. A fertile political ground, waiting for the rise of it's great leaders.

Thousands of people mulling about the two main streets of the market district, hawking wares in bazaar style and opening disparate shops right next to one another. The deals made and broken up and down this street deciding the future for so many of it's citizens. But also the occasional rickety shop or eccentric salesman, that makes shopping with them more than just a matter of consumerism.

It's the story of a brand new influx of people, full adults who may not have existed the day before. Citizens who may not have had any concept of life before Ventrair, who have no appreciation of what has been built for them. But most terrifying of all is that they are the future; their decisions will shape the entire world that all of them will have to live in for better or for worse. Two generations of beings attempting to coexist as their entire concept of the world and what it means differ by huge extremes.

There is so much to this city. Their four sports teams that regularly compete in front of massive audiences. The Mercenarium training sim centers. Residential housing standing in rows of mismatched buildings, each one representing not only someone's personality, but a serious investment in their own ability to produce and compete. A city should mean many things, to many people, it doesn't belong to just one person or group. Everybody who inhabits it should have their part in writing it's story, line by line, event after event. Those are the stories worth writing, the stories worth remembering.


Not The End.

She leaned against the railing of her summer home near Milan, surveying the lake front expanding out before her. It wasn't a new sight, nor a particularly stirring one to her way of thinking. A view that had been built one molecule, one generation of erosion at a time as she had watched. Fine silk slid comfortably across her skin, but in itself it brought no comfort. No amount of warmth clinging to her lithe form could penetrate to the core of her being.

Behind her the woman cleared her throat. "What are you going to do? Are you just going to lounge around here and let them do this?"

She stretched ever so slightly, unsure as to whether what she was feeling was guilt or simply mild annoyance. It had been so long since she had felt anything at all. "Perhaps. I'm still on holiday after all. Five hundred years of holiday left."

"So what, you're just going to stay here for five hundred years? What will you even do if this entire world is completely destroyed? How will you go on holidaying then?"

She drew herself up, having expected the woman's childish tantrum all along. "I will simply move to another world, another lake, a more beautiful sunset perhaps. You feel sad because this is an end. That is not true though, this is not an end, not even a beginning. Just another in a sequence, the three hundred thousandth failure according to my count. Saddest of all, you're just a pawn in a game that I will be rejoining once this holiday is finished. Your world could be saved at a word from any one of us, but it would destroy plans built over countless eons. Place assets paid for in the blood of entire galaxies out where they will almost certainly be destroyed."

"You mean, we're just not that fucking important. You're telling me that all this sweat, blood and warfare that we've gone through just wasn't enough for you fuckers? The sum total of our existence amounts to a pawn sacrificed for shit all." The woman simply deflated as she spoke the final sentence.

A tear rolled down her cheek. "Well, at least you understand." She looked up at the silent specter of death hanging in the sky, knowing without being told it's odyssey of years of travel and millenia of hand guided innovation. A subtle pop and another, larger, vessel appeared alongside it. The battle was short and ultimately one sided, the larger ship easily decimating the smaller one.

As the larger vessel began to depart a single white streak appeared across the horizon, cutting across it's length. The explosion lit up the entire sky as the ship scattered to pieces burning away in the upper atmosphere.

"They were the last of their species. Once one of the greatest military powers in the galaxy, and to be honest their ship was still one of the finest warships ever constructed. What a pitiful end to such a proud race." The woman's sobs interrupted her. She turned, perfect serenity and composure as the woman broke down in front of her. For hours the two remained exactly the same while the sounds of celebration from the nearby cities filled the air. A few more layers of erosion contributed to the shape of the lake.

Dragon Scales

Everyone who has ever wanted to draw fantasy creatures, has drawn themselves a dragon. Those who fancied themselves something with a pencil, or found themselves very, very bored, have continued on to draw scales. Personally, it was probably one of the first real detail techniques I ever learned.

There are two major methodologies in creating those scales. The first is the long way, render every scale. The second is the short way, figure out the basic texture formed by the scales and then scatter a few hints of that texture about. If you aren't really going to be rendering anything, it's always preferable to just take the second method. You first need a bit of practice drawing scales to figure out the texture, but honestly once you about know the forms you're trying to get across it's pretty simple.

Drawing a full set of scales though, well you can do it pretty easily actually. The difference is, you block out where the scales should be and then go to town. You make a single mark, roughly circular but not truly needing to be. After that you make a second circle touching it, then you create an arc traversing a short angle between the circles. The real key, is just to make one scale at a time. If you try and produce entire rows or sets at once, it'll come out bland and probably too large. One small arc, one small scale at a time and the whole pattern just eventually works out. Personality is immediately apparent as each arc vies for it's place in it's microcosm, sitting next to those that happened to be drawn slightly larger or slightly smaller. Most with their entire shape predetermined by the minor variations in the scales around them, but seen from too far away to appreciate. At the same time, they are seen too close to understand how that one circle so far back in line had it's own secret hand in it's final shape.

An entire complex and deeply detailed structure, made from simple rules and some minor variation. No thought or design into how they would all fit, no thought put into the last scale in line and not made thinking of the next. Just a simple rule and a margin for error.



This should probably go on twitter, but I'm uncertain of the language rules for the medium. On to the micro blog message.

I keep reading about BSG and Dollhouse, and think, "maybe I should plug in my cable..." Then I remember the rest of TV and think, "fuck it".

And the wait continues.

I'm having a hard time coalescing all my thoughts into a single post. Lately, I've been on something of an information overload, but it wound up perfectly timed to coincide with my running out of caffeine. I'm sure in the next few days I'll undergo some sort of mental reboot and be back and ready to talk or something, but fore now I'm just completely sunk.

See you all in a bit.


LFH: Programmer

I've decided that I'm tired of beating my head against the brick wall on programming. So I'm looking for a C# programmer who would be willing to help me out on Ronin Beat.

C# programming skills, obviously.
6-8 hours a week.

Additional Ideal Qualifications:
Rock Band 1 for the 360
Call of Duty 4 for the 360
Genius creative ideas.
Shader programming experience.

So what am I offering you in payment... nothing up front. Sorry I'm broke. If we agree to monetize the game, it's straight up 50/50 split of revenue. Otherwise it's all pretty much interest driven.

Why should you work with me? Well for one because you'll be working with me. For 2, I'm terribly disorganized, have no set schedule, and get side tracked on every interesting thing that crosses my desk... In other words, you'll be the one setting the rhythm of the project. When it comes to programming I'm not a total idiot, for the most part I get it. Finally, because I care. No really, I do.



Was doing some reading and watching of good presentations. I started storyboarding this, and even though it's not even close to being done I thought I'd share it anyways.


Begin Tutorial

Agent Elise says, "Welcome to Dark Queen MUSH. I am agent Elise, this is agent Green, we are here to help you adjust to your first moments here in Dark Queen. As you play the game, you will spend most of your time talking to fellow users, so the first thing you'll need to learn is how to speak. You can speak using the 'say' command, simply type in say then the message you want to speak, e.g. 'say hello'. In order to continue beyond this tutorial, you will need to say 'begin intro' now.

It's not exact, but that is the basic gist of the first part of a tutorial I wrote for a mush I was working on before it got completely wiped out. Without context it may not be so easy to see, but you may have noticed that the move commands are not explained at all. Before I would teach a new player how to move, I would require them to know how to speak. As I remember, the intro began with some quick notes on how to contact me for help as well.

Chatting is a fundamental system to all MMOs. In fact, even for solo players I would posit that you cannot play an MMO for any significant length of time without chatting. This should also be important to producers, since the amount of chatting a player does in their first few hours can be an overriding element in new player stickiness. Of course most players work these things out in-spite of the developers miserly hoarding of the information, but you never want to put yourself in a situation where a player is joining the game in-spite of your best efforts not because of them.

Also this wouldn't be such an issue if the chat interfaces were simple, but in MMOs they tend to be rather complicated. Even more so, unlike MSN or Skype where the added complexity is added in a manner that partitions it away from the act of chatting itself, in an MMO all of the complexity is based around the basic chat line. You'll need to manage tabs in order to view different channels you may be chatting on, which may or may not effect which channel the next message you type will go to. Talking across multiple channels may be a matter of mouse clicking to a different channel, a different tab, or the use of a / command which in turn may be '/[channel]' or '/[channel],' and may or may not be capitalization agnostic. And all of this is required just to learn how to say something to the person you actually meant to say something too rather than the entire zone or even the entire world.


A quick look at some of what I've been working on for Ronin Beat.


Can't wait

This should be interesting when it hits America.



Yesterday a linguist, today a city planner. Tomorrow a programmer. Every day an artist.

God I'm tired.


Ventrair Language Lessons

Brief Translation of a First Year Ventrair Languages Class at Ventrair University's Mokiin School of Law

For today's lesson, we'll delve into a single sentence of Late Isovedian. (Eye-so-ve-D-an) The sentence is the motto that surrounds our city's official seal.

Matre u tch iiy uch kooam ututnua grio.

Literally translated to, Mother's eye kind order maintains. Or more fluidly, "A mother's kind eye maintains order." This is in reference to the third paragraph of the Articles of Foundation in which Mokiin writes, "It is considered a simple truth that those who govern the children of Matre are not to be their rulers. The wisdom of Matre was to bring us the fundamentals of parenthood, and we hold it to be right to follow these principles in governance as well as daily life. Within the walls we have built, let no child stand as ruler over another, instead let the wisdom of the elders be looked upon as a means of guidance."

So let's take this a word at a time.
Matre is a word carried over into our language from Late Isovedian, though only as a proper noun. Nobody knows how it was carried over exactly, but the word seems to have survived primarily in the vocabulary of the Angels. It is in all likely hood from the those first Angel Children that Matre became the proper title that it is today. It's important to remember though, that in Late Isovedian Matre was neither a proper title, nor a proper noun, making it a more general reference to all parents*.
U means eye. In the writing system of the Isovedians it was symbolized by a low line with a slight downwards tilt. Though it's debatable whether this was a new invention of Old Isovedian, or left over from an even older ideographic language, the connection is quite clear.
The tch particle is used to assign a word to the before it. In this case it denotes the fact that the eye belongs to a parent. It's important not to confuse the letter tch with a combination of the letters t, c, and h, though those letters will probably never be used together. Like the letter tre, tch uses a softer tuh sound, made by placing your tongue against your upper teeth rather than the roof your mouth. While tre, nua and gr have been adopted into modern Angel as sound rules, Demon still uses short hand letters for them. TCH and uch however have not survived to either language, as they existed solely in the use of particles which have been either replaced by suffix rules or removed completely.
The adjective iiy means kind and follows the y rule of double i adjectives. The entomology of iiy is still in a great deal of doubt. Unfortunately the section of the library ruins which housed the books on entomology was on the west end, which remained exposed to corrosion for roughly ten thousand years longer than the rest of the library.
The letter uch was used to denote that the word before it was an adjective or adverb. However, with language rules like the i rule, the y rule, for adjectives, it was instead simply wrapped into the u adverb in Angel and the uj suffix in Demon.
Kooam and ututnua can't really be explained independently of each other. The words are only used in the context of governance and kooam is almost exclusively used with ututnua or atnua. Kooam refers to more than just order in the traditional sense, but order as an ideal of behavior in which the individual contributes to the flourishing of society around them. You can have, atnua, kooam, or maintain, ututnua, kooam, but rarely is it ever used as a stand alone subject. Also note that kooam is not a proper noun, it's always considered plural and only exists as on the level of a concept. I'd recommend finding a translation of Ngra Amitte's "Commentaries On Justice and Society" if you can, Oringa's translation is my personal favorite as he'll often explain where the Isovedian mind set differs from our own. Also Mokiin's "Gathered Translations of Isovedian and Onos Philosophy" should have a section entitled "Kooam Atnua es Vern". If you couldn't guess from the Middle Onos in the title, the article focuses on differences in fundamental concepts between Isovedian law and Onos law.
I won't go into kooam ututnua any more here, but as you can tell from it's inclusion on the seal, it is an important concept to Ventrair law. There is a required course on it in the legal philosophy major even and more than a few of your professors are going to be looking for papers on it. Second year it's going to be considered basic knowledge, so if your looking to impress one of those hard grade professors, you might want to fully understand it as soon as possible.
The sentence ends in grio, which means the preceding word was a verb. This was a rare word to use in Late Isovedian, and only came up in highly formal, and impersonal communication. Very much in line though with a governmental seal, or during an official governmental edict. If a city official were to write an open letter to the city's police for instance it might have grio, however, if the empress of Isoved were sending a letter to, say for instance their top general, grio wouldn't make it. Basically it means that the target audience is more important the level of formality, a relatively known audience wouldn't have it, but an audience of unknown size or identity would have it.

Any questions? Yes, in the back.
Student: I've been interested in Isoved for a while now, I know it was named after one of their mythological heroes, Izoval, but I had heard that the names were once identical, is that true?
Yes, actually, we have found some corroborating sources that prove that the name of the country and the hero were exactly the same at one point. It ruffled some feathers among the fans of the united drift theory, that was a fun few months to be a languages professor, believe me. But back on topic, it has been found that in Old Isovedian the name of the country Isobal, is identical to the name of the hero at that point. It's likely that towards the end of Old Isovedian, as the rules were beginning the shift as to what particular sounds implied, the ed sound was at some point considered to be a governmental sound. When exactly the s and z changed is unknown, however by the later end of Middle Isovedian we can see from their entertainment literature and plays that is was completely deprecated for fictional characters and iz was almost universally adopted instead, with only a scattered use of ix to compete with it.
Well, it looks like our time is about up now. If you have any further questions, just visit my office, the hours are in the syllabus.

*Translators note: The Ventrair have no concept of gender permanence, to them the words mother, father and parent are all relatively interchangeable. Also to refer to someone using male, female or neutral pronouns is generally more of an observation of how feminine, masculine or androgynous the person looks.



Well, I just got back from watching the Watchmen. (Yes I watch the watchmen, so that answers that question.)

I'm not sure I can really..... It's going to take some time to articulate my feelings on this. I definitely loved the movie, but I loved it because of having read the book. Also there is some of the opinions of people who haven't read the book going around that kind of give me epilepsy when I try to find the rationale behind them.

Anyways, short review, great movie, and read the fucking comic book.

Hmm, we can't sell that.

Okay so we're trying to a make an RTS-
A computer game.
-Like I said, an RTS. Now what races do we want?
Do we really need different races? Why not just use humans.
Humans are too boring, mate, and besides we like to see our specialties.
But why does that have to be reflected in the race, they'll all have different uniforms and design aesthetics anyways.
It's just a metaphor for different armies right, so why not focus on defining our armies and decide cosmetics later.
Well that's what I meant in the first place.
Yeah, I'm sure.
Anyways, so offense specialists right, got to have the offense specialists.
Like do lots of damage per unit or lots of units.
I think of big units as more defensive, since you can't risk them as easily.
True, so offensive army, lots of units... got it.
Well there should be a mix, maybe have bigger units that carry smaller units.
Like walking troop transports... could be cool.
Yeah but you'd need some way for the other armies to stop that, sounds like a pain to me.
Hey guys, why are we designing an RTS again?
Because we want something that sells.
Why not have like the first person story of one of the soldiers in one of those troop transports.
I don't know, commanding an army from first person is a pain in the ass.
That's not what I meant-
So yeah, maybe like a big wall the walker has to get over, with anti-transport turrets.
Ahh, that's a good idea, but how about we make it so regular troops can just walk through it.
Then what was the point of having a big fucking walking transports in the first place.
Well they should still have more health, maybe they can get troops to the wall in the first place you know.
Hey how about we have some troops with anti-wall weapons. That way the transport walks up, and the player drops troops long enough to pound out the wall, then they all get back in and march through the base.
Hmmm, something doesn't click totally, but sounds on the right track.
That would make an awesome Normandy-esque scene.
Nah the camera is too far back.
I'm still thinking in... oh forget it.
Why not make anti-wall vehicles. That way the troops stay inside all the way, but the player is forced to build a workable attack force.
That's it, perfect.
So anyone think walking buildings would be an awesome hat for the offensive team? Those transports could just be their defensive bunkers you know.
Yeah, but now we know what the offensive team's hat is, what about the defensive team? Don't we need something for them to do about all this?
Ahh, ECM.
What, what about ECM?
Well you know, have them shut down the vehicles and shit.
Electronic warfare all around, we can have them give to-hit penalties as well.
So maybe their story could be their a bunch of commandos, we'll give them a bunch of expensive but powerful infantry and good base defenses.
Works for me.
Commandos vs....
Vs. Corporations!
Eh, sounds about right I guess. Great another game about evil corporations.
Who says they have to be evil, the commandos could be evil.
So evil government, also brilliantly original. Now all we need is the token aliens to unit them until they start discussing salvage rights.
Aliens... not a bad idea.
A very bad idea. No way I'm working on something that overdone.
Okay, no aliens, jeez...
So team three?
Do we need a team three?
Yes we need a team three.
Because it's the magic fucking number in RTS. If you want to succeed you have to have 3 races.
And we're back on races.
Well hats, basic play styles, whatever. Doesn't have to be races. (Though it should)
What are you muttering about now.
So team 3, what's the hat. We've got walking buildings and electronics jamming.
Biological tech?
Nah, that would just be crapping all over the commandos.
Would be a little too convenient for the commandos.
So how did the commandos wind up deciding what our third team would be?
They didn't, but it's not like we can make this in a vacuum.
Mixed forces?
Yeah... standard as all shit, but we may have to go with it. Put it down as the secondary option. We'll use it if we can't come up with something else.
... Elaborate, please.
Well basically, the tech would be based on mobile groups and burrowing tech. Give them some decent mines and make their vehicles cheap and attack oriented.
Could use some refinement, I guess.
Well basically, they would be able to hide from the corporations, but not the commandos. The corps would have the numbers to take them on in head to head fights, while the commandos would have to fight them in almost guerrilla warfare style. Both would have their advantages, and their disadvantages against 'em.
Works for me.
Yeah me too.
Okay guys, that's it for today's meeting. Tomorrow we talk units, let it simmer and hash some stuff in your head. Bring your laptops we may need to excel some figures and formulas.
All right see you around... Wait, whose the evil side again.
Make it the new ones.
Shit, evil terrorists. Man we just get less and less original all the time.
Fine, make em all evil. We can just make them all self-righteous pricks and be done with it.


The Future


Humor, I think

Fanfic - Naruto (why am I doing this again?)

I'm not usually the type to write fan fiction. It doesn't really appeal to me, since I usually have a lot of IPs of my own that I want to dive into. For some reason though, this story has been infesting my brain, and constantly evolving a life of it's own. Admittedly, the majority of the main characters are entirely original, so it's not like I'm writing a typical slash fic. Also this is a first draft, it's gotten long enough now that I'm confident that I'll be allotting time later on to rework portions I'm not happy with. Now without further ado... actually what the fuck am I gonna name this? Aww well, I'll deal with that later.

PS. I try not to add gratuitous Japanese, but I still kept some conventions. The names are introduced last name first, I know it may seem confusing, but bear with me, it's just how the characters would say it. Also, Sensei means master or teacher and is a title. -sama, is an honorific, which generally means something along the lines of my lord, but since it isn't a stand alone word it's something that is attached to someone's name or title to show that they are high above you in rank. (Also if you have a particular crush on someone but aren't close enough to them to use any of the cutesy honorifics, but that isn't how I used it so don't worry about it.) The rest should be fairly obvious to Naruto fans, Jonin = elite ninja, Chunnin = middle rank, but qualified to lead teams, Genin = well you graduated from the academy and that has to count for something... Kekkei Genkei is a blood line trait or in other words an ability that is unique to only certain families. Kunai are knives with knothole handles that allow them to be used in close combat, thrown, or with strings/goodies attached. Kunoichis are female ninja... just ask and I'm sure I can explain anything I missed.


Three kunoichis lounged around an aging Buddha statue by the side of the road. A light breeze wafted over them, tugging at the edges of their clothes, but not leaving a lasting impression. It was obvious the three were agitated by something, one was already pacing while another preferred to leave it at a look of annoyance. The third's face was swathed in bandage, but the slight tapping of her foot gave her emotions away.
A tall, unkempt man approached the group, idly swatting his overlong black bangs away from his eyes. "Hey! Good you're all here!"
"You're late, Sensei! It's the first time we're meeting and you're late. What kind of impression do you think your giving here?" The pacing girl bit out.
"Oh come on, it's only a few minutes... or half an hour, somewhere around there. I think. Anyways, what way is that to talk to your sensei? Not even a week old and already that headband is blocking the flow of chakra to your brain, you little brat." He folded his arms and looked down at the girl haughtily. He could tell she was biting her lip, but silence reigned for a few moments while the other two just watched in growing annoyance. "Well then, let's get on with introductions. I'm Hanaki Noano, that's Hanaki-sensei to you brats. I'll be the leader of this little train-wreck we're calling team eleven. Don't even think of giving me less than an hundred and ten percent on these missions or I might feel tempted to kick you back to the academy forever. Now then let's go in a circle, starting with the loud mouth, just tell me your names and your ambition."
The loud mouth leaned against the wall, readjusting her kunai pouch so it wouldn't interfere with her cargo shorts. "Well I'm Anato Kyoko, and my ambition is... to be more famous than even the legendary Sanin!"
"Glad to see you aim low," Hanaki cut in glibly.
Despite Kyoko's reversion into a dangerous scowl, the second girl took a slight step forward and began her introduction fluidly. "My name is Hyuuga Hanabi, and I simply wish to be one who is considered important to the Hyuuga clan." At the end she shifted slightly, as though her tan chest protector was suddenly uncomfortable.
Well, I have to say she certainly does look like a Hyuuga, Hanaki thought. He turned to the third girl when the silence seemed to be going a moment too long, "and you would be?"
"Renki Erisia, and there is somebody I must find some day. Somebody who I must be strong to find though." The bandages on her face made her mostly unreadable, but her voice was clear and intense.
"What's up with the bandages, you loose a fight with a sunburn or something?" Hanaki asked.
"She's always been like that," Kyoko added out of turn.
Erisia turned to look at Kyoko for a short moment before speaking. "I'm not sick, if that's what you are concerned with. I'm just fine with keeping them on for now, if it's all the same to you."
Hanaki looked her over in more detail, looking for any signs she might be lying about her health. The clothes she wore were generally loose, some baggy cargo pants and a long t-shirt. Her boots and gloves seemed slightly over sized though, almost as though they were padded in some way.
"Well, now that I've got you sorry lot, how about we have a little test."
"A test... aww man, I just got over the last one!" Kyoko complained.
"No whining. Here's the deal, I'm going to give you a test. If you pass the test, we get to start doing missions, if you fail the test, you train for a week before I get you guys an actual mission."
Kyoko seemed visibly perturbed, but the other two just nodded.
"Good, lets meet at training ground seven in an hour!"

The training grounds were deathly still when the last member of the trio, Kyoko, arrived. The other two were sitting with their backs to a large boulder watching a blond haired boy about their age doing warm-ups by a large tree. Kyoko raised an eyebrow at the pair who had already arrived, their shrugs their only response to the unasked question.
"Hey kid, what are you doing here? This training ground was supposed to be reserved today," Kyoko called.
"Oh hey, it's like the three I was told to wait here for," the boy responded. His auburn t-shirt was at least two sizes too big, and his shorts seemed a bit too long to be regular shorts, the overall impression being rather goofy.
"Did Hanaki Sensei send you," Hanabi asked levelly.
"Oh yeah, he said there were some students he wanted me to give a good beating to. He said it would be like a test, and you would all have to beat me in a sparring match to pass."
"Any particular order we should go in," Erisia asked.
"Order? Nah nothing like that, I'm taking all three of you on at once!" The boy dropped into a fighting pose and motioned them to come at him.
Hanabi and Erisia exchanged glances, but Kyoko barged straight forward. "Doesn't sound very fair to me," Kyoko shouted. "I'll give you a go first then."
The boy shrugged, "whatever, your funeral you know."
Kyoko charged forward, not quite in a straight line, bouncing to the side and throwing a kunai at the final moment. The boy jumped back slightly letting the kunai strike and stick in the ground in front of him. Kyoko charged in from the side throwing a punch at the boy's head. He ducked out of the way, grabbing her arm and pulling her into a tight hold. "Not bad you know, but not too good either. Left yourself way open."
Hanabi appeared off to the left of the boy, aiming a blow straight at the exposed section of his chest. He let go of his previous prey and dodged out of the way, taking a quick survey to make sure he wasn't dodging into Erisia. She stood in exactly the same spot she had occupied at the beginning of the fight, but her eyes were intently locked onto him, sizing him up. The two girls who were ready to regroup became his foremost concern again.
Hanabi rushed forward while Kyoko began the hand signs for a jutsu. The Hyuuga style was well known for being deadly with even a single glance, forcing him to keep a constant stream of dodging. Somewhere between her blows came an opening and he struck inward. His fist connected heavily with the substitution, knocking the log backwards slightly. Almost too late he saw the stream of high pressure water being shot at him by Kyoko.
The water tore through the mud clone, leaving only a vague brown shape in it's wake.Kyoko turned to check her back in time to see the kick coming, but not soon enough to dodge it. Erisia intervened this time, physically placing herself between her teammate and the boy, blocking his kick with her shin.
The two exchanged a furious volley of kicks and punches, neither gaining an upper hand in the battle. Slowly the boy was being pushed to his right though, never being given a moment to breathe and assess. Hanabi lept from a bush to his side, ambushing him with a blow aimed to his body. In an instant he shifted balance and jumped to the tree limb above them.
"Not bad. From that beginning speech I thought you'd be a bunch of push overs who wouldn't know a thing about teamwork. Well if this is how it's gonna be, I might even be pushed to treating you guys like average." Erisia didn't wait for the speech to finish, crashing her fist into the branch where he had been standing. All this elicited from him was a laugh as he disappeared backwards into the bushes below.
The three looked after him for a moment. "We need to stick together, if we get separated in there, we'll just make it easier for him," Kyoko said. "Hanabi, can you detect him with your Byakugan?"
The Hyuuga looked at Kyoko with slight unease. "I haven't quite mastered it yet... but I'll try." She made the requisite hand signs slowly and carefully, before screaming "Byakugan!" The veins around her eyes bulged and her iris seemed to crack. "I... can see a few chakra sources, but I can't see well enough to know if it's him. Their all too far away."
"There shouldn't be any animals in here, so the others are probably decoys," Kyoko observed. "Who is this guy?"

Hanaki watched his trainees closely from a fair distance. They were working together so well, and their taijutsu skills were exceptional. He had been right, he knew it now. The question was would that be a good thing or a bad thing.
His memory dredged up his conversation with the Hokage on the issue.
He stood in the Hokage's office, standing with the ease he always showed the outside world.
"There is a fair amount of competition between the Jonin for this position. Team Eleven have all proven themselves to be top class students in the academy. Some are saying those three will be the village's new Sanin. Why should I give a squad like that to a slacker like you?" Tsunade wasn't looking directly at him, but rather out one of the windows as if unconcerned with the answer.
"Yes, they are exceptional Hokage-sama. Anyone can see that, and I'm betting even if they won't admit it to themselves a fair number of Jonin want in on their inevitable fame. But, that's no way to train a squad. The worst thing you can do with geniuses is spend all your time fawning over how good they are, eventually you just spoil them into complacency."
"So, you'll be the guiding rod to keep them in line? You know some magic way to foster both their spirits and their skills?"
"Yes. Give them the worst assignments, work them dogs, train them till they drop and never accept what they give you as their best."
"That's insane! With an attitude like that you'll just break them without every giving them a chance!" Shizune slammed her hands down on the desk. An annoyed look from Tsunade convinced her to hastily retreat them with a blush.
"I'll consider your request Hanaki. I know you're talking from personal experience, and I respect your opinion. If I do give you this squad I will have conditions of my own for you, and you'll need to be ready to accept those. But I haven't decided yet. You'll know the assignment in due time, just like the others."
"Yes, Hokage-sama. I wouldn't want it any other way."

The terms worried him somewhat, but for now he was glad to have the assignment. The three seemed to make up their mind on something and proceeded with some modicum of stealth into the underbrush. He turned his attention back to the test at hand, the first part of his plan coming into play.

The three broke into a small clearing surrounding the chakra source. The chakra points matched that of a crouching human, but the outwards appearance was that of a raggedly cut stump. Just to be sure Hanabi threw a hard punch into the trunk shattering it into splinters of wood. She turned her attention to the final chakra source, which was suddenly moving towards them.
"That's him, here he comes!"
Kyoko and Erisia assumed fighting stances facing the direction of her gaze. A kick suddenly landed on the back of Hanabi's neck, throwing her past the two. Erisia turned first and closed the distance with the boy. All signs of the stumps existence and destruction were gone.
"Genjutsu!" Kyoko began on a series of hand signs, but a few casually thrown kunai from the boy forced her to dodge backwards interrupting her concentration.
The boy disengaged backwards from Erisia, using hand signs at lightning speed. "Earth Tidal Wave!"
Erisia turned and ran as the Earth rose up between them, quickly rising above her head and continuing to grow. Kyoko was already running as well, but Erisia had to pick up Hanabi as she passed due to the girl still being dazed. Erisia held her tightly, and carried her as though she weighed less than a feather. The wave of mud behind them had grown almost thirty feet and now came crashing down at extreme speeds overtaking the runners and carrying them forwards into the receding forest.
Hanabi was thrown away at the last second, skidding across the surface of the now slowing mud. Kyoko and Erisia were both buried at least up to their chests in mud, each began struggling to break free. Hanabi began running out onto the mud to help, but the boy appeared before her. She struck forward almost slicing the air, but he ducked below the blow. A powerful uppercut ripped into her stomach, followed by a heavy kick to her chest throwing her into a nearby tree.
He looked back over at the two trapped in the mud, "looks like you three failed this test. Sorry but that's the life of a ninja. The situation can change on you in an instant." He lifted on hand and muttered a quick canceling jutsu, dispelling the transformation jutsu. Hanaki looked at the three with mild disinterest. "You hot shots look like a bunch of wet socks right now."
"Sensei!? But... you're a Jonin, how could we possibly defeat a Jonin! We're only Genin," Kyoko exclaimed.
"That's right, and don't you forget it. But while we're on the subject, that stunt you pulled early on was plain stupid. In this world of ninja there are people of all shapes and sizes who are powerful and brutally deadly. Just because your opponent looks young doesn't mean they are a lightweight."
Erisia slowly broke free of the mud, and ran over to Hanabi's unconscious form. She quickly checked the major vitals for signs of permanent damage. When it was obvious that Hanabi was coming around she turned to her sensei, "I don't see the point of giving us an impossible test."
"Of course you don't, you've never lost before in your life. Even without the chakra to use complex jutsu, you've been able to beat all your opponents with just your taijutsu. Well out on a real mission that may not be good enough, hell you may not be good enough. If you're lucky an enemy will be as stupid as you three and pass you off as just kids, stupid genin out of their depth. If you're not lucky, they'll quickly make you as dead as possible just in case."
"Sensei... when did you get here?" Hanabi asked, semi-blurrily.
"He was our opponent all along," Kyoko blurted out, finally freeing herself from the mud.
"What, but that kid...?"
"A transformation jutsu. For a while there I was afraid you'd see through it Hanabi, but you didn't use your Byakugan until the very end. And I can tell why from the way that genjutsu so easily fooled you, you still haven't mastered it. You may have pulled a fast one on your instructors at the academy, but not with me. First part of your new training regimen is to perfect your Byakugan, there is no point in having a kekkei genkai if you can't even use the damn thing," he rattled off at her.
"Erisia, you're going to be focusing on chakra control. You may not have tons, but you've got to have a jutsu or two up your sleeve. For now though, it's all gonna be chakra control. If you can't get it down to the point of controlling individual chakra points, you might as well give up your headband and go home. As for you Kyoko, not only is your chakra control sloppy, but so is your taijutsu and kunai aim. What the hell was the point of even going to the academy if you weren't going to learn the basics. Starting tomorrow, you do three hours of taijutsu practice followed by three hours of target practice, and end your day with four hours to perfect that stupid jutsu it takes you three years to use. There's no point in having a jutsu if you can't even use it during a battle."
He looked at the three thoroughly dejected faces for a few moments. "Well that's it, go home and rest up. Contemplate what happened today and how to make it not happen again. Tomorrow the real fun begins."

The sun had set, but three restless souls all gathered inside a small tea shop. Kyoko's mother and father owned the establishment, running it jointly with great enthusiasm. It was customary for Kyoko to do most of her private practicing in the large yard behind the shop, and due to the on again off again rivalry she and Hanabi had shared, Hanabi was well aware of the location. Neither of the two had known Erisia very well, the girl had always seemed apart from everyone in class. Now that she thought about it, she hadn't even realized in the academy that Erisia had never lost a sparring match. The fact that she had always struggled with the ninjutsu had always overshadowed the fact somehow.
For her part Erisia had been watching the other two with a certain amount of admiration for a while now. It was easier to watch Kyoko practice from a back table of the tea shop than to get anywhere near the Hyuuga grounds, so it had become one of her preferred hang out spots without Kyoko ever even realizing it. Tonight though, it wasn't Kyoko's training that brought them together. Instead they sat around nursing various teas and picking at a shared cake in the middle of the table. An air of defeat hung palpably around the table.
"Well... that went just swimmingly, and now we won't even have any missions for the next week," Kyoko bemoaned.
"But what he said is true, we do need the training," Erisia said quietly.
"Still, it's unbelievable to expect a few rank genin to defeat a jonin..." Hanabi didn't sound particularly into her observation.
"Man, this sucks. I mean, I've lost sparring matches before, but never had somebody play around with me like that... It kind of pisses me off," Kyoko observed.
"I am... unaccustomed to failure. It is not the Hyuuga way," Hanabi added.
Erisia just sighed and leaned back, not even needing to add her assent to the mix.
"I think... Hanaki is going to be a pain in the ass sensei. But I also know now, I want to get a whole lot stronger. It's not good enough to just have high grades from the academy. I'll get stronger, and I'll beat Hanaki fair and square someday!" Kyoko stood up as she exclaimed.
"I don't ever want to loose again, either," Hanabi added, Standing more slowly.
"I'm not where I want to be, and I'll get stronger, much stronger. So strong that nothing will be able to stop me from accomplishing my goal!" Erisia stood with the other three looking into the space above at some vision of her final goal.

Erisia and Hanabi left the tea house together, their houses both being in relatively the same direction. For a few moments, they walked in silence, neither breaking the heavy silence between them. Finally Erisia stopped at an odd moment, causing Hanabi to pause and turn to her.
"Hanabi... the Hyuuga are supposed to be famous for their chakra manipulation right?"
Hanabi turned away slightly, but nodded.
"Would you, I mean if you have the time, maybe help me practice my chakra manipulation? You don't have to teach me any family secrets or anything, obviously, I mean it's not like I'm putting up a front or any- aww crap I'm rambling. Mom get's mad at me for that all the time." Erisia began slow but after the initial question she was mostly sputtering the words out in a single long string.
Hanabi blushed slightly, and then nodded again, "maybe after regular practice, I suppose."
Erisia visibly brightened, or at least as visible as the bandages allowed, "oh, thank you! Thank you so much! I won't take advantage of your kindness, I swear!"
Hanabi raised an eyebrow and turned to keep walking. The two finished the walk to where they parted at Erisia's house in silence, though a slightly less oppressive one this time.

As Hanabi walked through the door to the dojo to do some practice before bed she ran directly into her father. Though they didn't literally run into each other, she took a step back anyways, looking up into his unreadable hard eyes. Neiji and Hinata were behind him, looking somewhat ragged as though coming from tough training. The Jonin and the Chuunin turned to regard her, Neiji as unreadable as her father, but Hinata with a shy, but genuine, smile.
"Hinata," her father said sharply, "stay and practice with Hanabi a while." The leader of the Hyuuga main branch didn't need to add that it was not a request.
"Yes father", Hinata said, blushing slightly as she did every time she was given direct attention. Her father left, followed quickly and quietly by Neiji. Hanabi followed the implications her father had left and walked quickly to the center of the room and assumed a fighting stance.
The two sisters faced each other with tense fighting poses. Their relationship had never been that of normal sisters, her father's shunning of Hinata and subsequent favoring of Hanabi had put immense strain on their relationship. Still Hinata gave her a genuine smile before getting serious about the practice match. Each of them brought forth Byakugan to fight in the true Hyuuga fashion.
They circled each other for a few moments before each one went in for their blows. Hanabi's blows were sure and confident, picture perfect from the outside, and without even the slightest quaver in chakra release. Hinata was more graceful, slicing ever slightly around the expected path, and releasing a longer, almost blade like finger of chakra with every blow. The difference in experience between the two was too great for Hanabi to land any blows, but years of their father's personal training allowed her to also avoid every blow, even if just barely.
Hinata moved slightly to one side creating an opening, Hanabi attacked without hesitation striking at the older girl's kidney. The blow landed, but Hinata stood unfazed.
"You can't see as well, can you?" Hinata gave her a level stare.
Hanabi backed away, unable to completely hide the bitter surprise from her face. "That blow should have been right, that's the right location."
"You were about half an inch high, not much, but enough that I wasn't seriously damaged," Hinata said matter-of-factly. She lowered her voice slightly, "does father know about this?"
Hanabi looked at the door their father had just left, then lowered her voice slightly, "not yet."
"Spectacles may help a normal person to see, but I doubt they'll be any use in assisting the Byakugan. You need to tell someone right away, Hanabi. What if your vision gets worse?" Hinata looked at her with concern.
"I'm fine, okay. I'll handle it, nobody else needs to know, at least not yet." Hanabi gave her sister a pleading look.
Hinata looked her younger sister over sternly, obviously trying to decide. Finally she spoke, "Okay, I'll let it go for now, IF you promise to get checked by someone in the medical corp. Also, if you get any worse, and I mean any worse at all, the first thing you do is tell father. It can be dangerous for you to go into combat if you can't accurately hit a target."
Hanabi gave her sister a thankful look and then hastily excused herself before the Chuunin could change her mind. Her dreams that night were strange and frightening, of a world of pure blackness and menacing presences, but partway through she could feel the embrace of a familiar figure. Someone she felt she knew so well, and yet couldn't attach an identity to.

RBeat Sprite Work

One of the things I'm coming to realize is that the difference between pros and amateurs is that professionals tend to iterate a lot when their working on something. Never settle for the first draft as it were. Consider this the first draft, more drafts to come obviously.


Proposition 8 - My Opinion

The more fools we, that when faced with not but a discomfort, would legislate our own right to oppress ourselves. To what end does any state take the reigns of self governance and in it's own bravado declare it's own unalienable right to oppress those who would seek protection from it. Indeed, why had we in so much fervor supported those who bled for our rights, if we would not accept the responsibility of bearing tolerance to others that all who have sought the protection of a state may live in the equality we had hitherto promised.

How quickly we forget, and chart the wisdom of those past as mere words. The rights which were declared unalienable are to, at earliest convenience, be overturned. Not our silence, but our loud approval greets the thought that even the barest majority of voices has the right to silence all others. Were I not already a depressed misanthrope, this would surely push me over that edge.

A foul people by any measure who would take the moniker of one who had reveled in perfect love, and use it as a shield behind which to excuse their bigotry. I should say, the human is a foul creature from the start, and cease to live in such amazement of the insanity and cruelty they display. Unfortunately, I have hope still, though desperately unfounded, primarily due to my inability to bear the conception of a future in which we cannot change these base instincts.

Still... yeah, we're fucked. (I'm not entirely sure who I mean by we.)



I've always wondered how it is, that I live in a country where the firmest show of support for a political position... is to throw more parties for it. Maybe I'm just too serious to deal with the society around me.



I've been wanting to get my arse back into EVE or playing Left4Dead lately. Unfortunately, I just really have no money whatsoever. The thought has occurred to me, that I could probably do 10-12 page comic books about someone's character in exchange for an EVE Game Time Card or a 20 odd page comic book for Left4Dead. But before I put up anything official about it, I was wondering if sounded like the kind of idea people would be interested in...

Part of what concerns me is at present moment I'd be doing it entirely on a 4x6 tablet, which pretty much guarantees some shaky line-art as the natural tremor of my hand prevents me from drawing a straight line with that kind of magnification.

In other news, I'm starting to get down to work on some modeling for a portfolio and demo reel. I figure I'll try and pick up some contracts in that while I wait for things to get from point A to point D in my life. No real surprise here, but faces are still a pain in the ass. >.>