Posts Tagged ‘writing’

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America, America

July 14, 2010

Just felt like posting the introductory story to Wildfire Industries while I’m getting ready for this weekend’s second play test with the newly modified rules from Xavier Fox Shandi.  Should be interesting.

Of course, feedback on my writing is always welcome, and I hope you guys enjoy the short story.

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America, America

For an election night, Burning Forest was quiet.  The perfectly spaced trees along the downtown street were covered in midnight blue as the lone biker pedaled along the concrete river.  The red strobe light on the front of her bike turned the road into a patriotic disco, and the sound of the flag taped to her helmet laid down a tempo that matched only the beat of her heart.

She felt as if she could fly her bike right off the street and towards the stars.  The long, grueling election was over, and the nation had a new president — Blake Asgard.  The Warrior himself.  No longer did she have to worry about government regulating the corporation she worked for.  No longer did she have to worry about government tangling her workplace in red tape.  She was free.

She was the lead accountant at The Rainman Group, and the last thing she wanted to see in her office was the man from Washington looking over her books.  There were projects the government didn’t have to be concerned with hidden within those dollar values.  Projects that were better left as ink on the page, rather than as a man trapped in a testimony box.

The smile on her face was the brightest thing on the street on that cold night.

“O beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,” she sang to the stars.

Her bicycle passed by the dilapidated store fronts, her voice resounding off of the foreclosure signs and tightly fastened wooden boards.  The downtown was a shell of what it once was, as many of the workers had been hired by the five mega corporations that now resided in the city.  Small business could not hope to compete against the signing bonuses that the new corporations were providing, nor could they ever hope to offer the benefits packages the corporations held out on fishing hooks.

“For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!”

She turned left on the corner of Main and Shady, passing the old Mayor Wisenberg Memorial Park.  The space had been sold by the city to Industrialized Industrial, where they quickly set up a briar patch of brass and steel that kept the steam mains of the city pressurized against their corporation’s heavy steam usage.  The corporation had given back to the community, however, by making sure that only 80% of the park space was used for their control station.  The remaining 20% housed a children’s playground, complete with requisite slide, sandbox, and merry-go-round.  All brass, of course.

“America!  America!
God shed His grace on thee,”

Two police officers were standing on the corner of Shady and Third Street, turning around as she drew nearer.  She reached inside her black blazer and produced two white envelopes, handing them out to the officers as she passed.  The burly officer on the curb grabbed them from her hand as she passed and gave her a friendly wave.  She turned around and nodded, smile still spread across her face as the officer’s partner lit the Molotov cocktail in his hand.  The flaming bottle smashed through the window of the Green Dragon owned building.  Light flickered on their faces as they opened their bounty, eyeing the checks inside of the envelopes. The sound of melting server architecture mixed with the air.

“And crown thy good, with brotherhood”

She turned onto Fourth, heading towards McClintock as her voice began to reach a crescendo.  She closed her eyes and took a long breath of the damp air.  Sirens began to break the quiet of the night, but she didn’t mind.  Everything was perfect.

She didn’t notice the silhouette woman on the roof, idly standing next to a darkened billboard.

“From sea to shining…”

The loud groaning of metal from above her snapped her from her trance.  She hit the brakes on her bike and looked upwards, towards the billboard.  It bent and snapped from its metal stand, the thick advertisement blotting out the stars, only leaving an empty, depthless rectangle in the night sky.

“…sea.”

The billboard marched towards her, shadow paired with the outline of a woman holding the huge object above her head.  She hurled the whole thing towards the biker on the road, her astonished face and dilated pupils explained why her legs weren’t moving.

As the billboard careened downwards, it slowly flipped in the air, briefly catching the light of the moon.  The painting depicted a happy, nuclear family having a picnic in the city’s main park.  Emblazoned across the beautiful, painted blue sky were the words “Burning Forest: An exceptional place to live!”

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On leaving The Border House

December 18, 2009

Today was my last post on The Border House, for those of you who have read my few posts over there.  I know it’s a sudden departure, but I think it’s for the best for both The Border House and for myself.

I want to take the time to thank Cuppycake, Alex, Brinstar, and the rest of the staff for taking me on the site and explaining feminist ideals to me.  They’ve been really good and nice in dealing with my non-existent knowledge on the feminist perspective, and I’ve learned a lot from my short time on the site.  It’s really important that we have a site that looks at things from another perspective different from our own, and I wish them all the best of luck with the blog.  It has the potential to do a lot of good for many people.

I don’t want to dwell on my reasons for leaving.  To put it simply: I’m just not a feminist.  I’m a female transgendered person who identifies with pretty much everyone out there in one way or another, but I’m just not a feminist.

But, as I want to reiterate, I’m very thankful for the time I got to write there, I’m thankful for what I’ve learned and read, and I hope they continue to kick ass and do good.

~Sera

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Coca-Cola: My Drug of Choice?

December 6, 2009

Want cooooke!!! Want Coooke naaaoooooo!!

I ❤ Coca-Cola.  I don’t think anyone really understands how much I love Coke.  It’s both an addiction and a passion of mine that includes collecting bottles, participating in the Coke rewards program, and drinking it pretty much everywhere I go.  One of my friends once joked with me that he couldn’t recognize me without a can or bottle of Coke in my hands.  Yeah, that’s just how bad it is.

Lately though, I’ve been away from my drink of choice.  Let’s just say that my bank account isn’t overflowing with gaming industry bribe money (unlike the commenters tell you) and my house is still full of Sprite from Thanksgiving, when one of our friends brought over 8 2-liters of the stuff.  With both of those under my consideration, it seemed like a bad choice to go out and buy Coke.  Why waste money when I already have copious amounts of soda I like, right?

So, for the past few weeks I’ve been slowly killing our Sprite supply.  Simultaneously, my productivity has dropped significantly.   It’s not that I’ve lost my will to work — it’s that I’ve been hit by these disgustingly large writer’s blocks.  When I can’t write, it hurts.  Like, it really is painful to sit in front of my computer and stare at a blank page.  It’s intimidating.

I’ve tried lots of stuff.  I’ve tried walking away from the PC, I’ve tried playing a game for a half-an-hour before trying to write again, I’ve tried taking a short nap, I’ve tried free writing (only to find that even my free writing is failing, which is pretty much extremely bad news), and I’ve tried word association where you just start writing words on the paper.

I’ve also gotten tired, I’ve started to hold bad hours of sleep again, I’m hungry more, I have more headaches, and I’ve begun to lose a passion for doing what I love.  Yes, that’s right, video games weren’t even fun.  Of course, my first instincts are to deny that it’s a depression.  I know depression all too well, and it’s certainly a place I’d rather not be again.  So, whenever I feel kinda depressed, I just start telling myself that I’m really not depressed, I’m just having a mood swing.  I actually have the drive to attempt to combat those depressed feelings.

But, sadly, it wasn’t going away.  And what does all of this have to do with Coke?  Well, that’s exactly it.  Today, while considering my depression, I realize that I’m productive.  I’m doing things, I feel active, I feel happy, I’m enjoying writing… and I have a Mt. Dew sitting next to me from a party yesterday.  Yes, that’s right, I’ve been going through caffeine withdrawal without really putting two and two together.

Coke isn’t riddled with caffeine, but it certainly does have enough when you’re like me and drink lots of it each day.  It’s not that I’m addicted to Coke, it’s just that I drink alot.  If you want evidence of that, you should see how I killed off the Sprite stock, or how I can destroy a gallon of orange juice.  I like to drink things while sitting down and writing — it’s all part of my work habits.

But finally figuring out that my mood was shit because I wasn’t getting any caffeine is… well… interesting.  I really never noticed it before, but it’s become glaringly apparent now.  Of course, it’s all going to come down to me sitting here and getting back on my caffeine track and seeing if that improves my general mood and writing abilities back to where they usually are, which is going to take about a week, but my initial guess is that I’m going to be feeling a whole lot better when I crack into a brand new case of my drug of choice.

~Sera

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I don’t want to drink the Aion Kool-Aid

September 11, 2009

aionscreen

Recently many of my blogging brethren have talking about Aion, the new title from NCsoft.  Even the commenters on Massively have been saying the game has stunning gameplay, immersive storytelling, bountiful PvP.  Honestly, I don’t see it.  I really don’t.  All I see is a pretty game that has World of Warcraft and Lineage II shoved into it.

That last sentence probably offended some people in the audience, so let me clarify — YOUR GRINDING YOURSELF RETARDED.  CAN YOU HEAR ME?  DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?

Ok, ok, so offensive jokes and nasty tones aside, Aion‘s not that bad.  It’s just not that good, and that’s where my problem lies.  I’m afraid too many people are booting the game up, staring at the graphics (which are gorgeous, btw, don’t get me wrong) and immediately heaping all sorts of praise upon the game simply because it has some glitter and glam.  I’m one of those people who insists that graphics never make the game, and I’d like to keep those thoughts alive.

Before I go any further, let me say what I like about the game so everyone here knows I’m not just an insane Aion hater.  I like the graphics, they are very pretty and the CryEngine stands out wonderfully.  The customization options on the game are really great, and I feel like I have my own personal daeva, not a simple “choose what avatar may or may not represent you” list.  Also, third, the dialogue in the quest and NPC speech boxes.  This game has lots of writing and the translations are not half-assed.  Major props to the localization teams because they deserve them.  The storyline, for the most part when it’s presented, is interesting.

So, with all of the nice things now said, let’s go to the not so nice things.  Be prepared to grind yourself retarded on this game.  The experience does come slowly, and the quests, while they have great writing, just don’t provide that much incentive.  Take, for example, one of the Elyos starting missions.  You have to destroy these little furry creatures that are ripping apart this guy’s farm.  Why are they ripping apart his farm?  Who knows, they just are.  Now you get to deal with it.  Kill 5 of them and that will make it all better.  For all of this good lore and nice writing, sometimes the incentive just isn’t provided, and that sucks.

It makes things feel grindier when other games use this formula and can escape it.  Champions Online does this nicely via evidence collection, doing favors for public officials, or just stopping bad guys from doing something bad.  Why do I have to take out 10 of these prison guys?  Well because they just broke out of prison and they’re destroying local property.  Why do I have to take 5 pieces of rubble off of citizens in this hotel?  Because rubble KILLS PEOPLE.  So… Aion… Why should I kill 5 of these creatures to save this guy’s farm?  How about because he’s growing food for the local village?  How about because these furry animals are being driven insane by an Asmodian plot to destroy the Elyos food supplies?  How about that?  Just give me something.

Furthermore, at low levels, the game relies heavily on the auto-attack and doesn’t let you get through battles easily.  Even by my 10th level, battles were still being sustained for a while and just not going anywhere.  Granted I was playing a warrior, so my attack power wasn’t the best, but battles dragged.  Even when I was using my abilities, their cooldowns were so long I’d use them once per battle.  This slowly begins to change later, but it doesn’t do it as quick as you’d like it to.

So, my final beef — my biggest beef — comes from grouping with my roommate.  He’s a mage, I’m a warrior.  Together, we finally solved that whole issue of “slow battles.”  We started wailing through content left and right, destroying enemies while barely taking damage.  And even together, for all of our awesome, it still took us 4 hours to get to level 10 and reach our ascension.  Afterwards, what changed?  Nothing, really.  Now we had wings and we went back to doing the exact same crap we were just doing.

Now picture doing all of the stuff we did alone.  By yourself.  Without the benefit of the damage boost from the mage or the taunts from the warrior.  It would be painful… and, trust us, we killed lots of mobs to get to where we were with very little questing fun.

I guess that’s my problem with Aion.  It’s slow.  It’s Lineage.  You can see it pretty clearly in the design.  It’s Lineage II with World of Warcraft sprinkled atop.  It’s not new, it’s not amazing.  It’s the same old stuff we’ve been getting, just with a shiny coating and half-assed flight.  Oh, I guess it’s also worth mentioning that flight is not the game changer I thought it would be.  You get to fly for a minute at start (this goes up later when you get better pairs of wings) and you can use flight potions to stay up in the air.  They wanted to make flight tactical, but in doing so they killed it for PvE use.  Also, many areas disallow flight, so it kinda negates out the whole idea of flying combat to change up the game.

In short, this isn’t a bad game.  It’s just not the amazing superawesome engine that people are making it out to be.  Just like Champions Online isn’t the superdevil people were making that out to be.  Perhaps this is because I’m not in the Abyss yet, where Aion‘s focus lies, but I just don’t see this shocking change coming to the game.  It’s just nothing new here.  At least Champions brings some innovation to the table.

(Also, before the fanboi whining starts that Aion‘s innovation lies in the “new” PvPvE content in the Abyss, let me point you to the fallen Matrix Online, which included raid bosses in PvP areas.  Whoops.)