Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Nitpickery: The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey

Hey y'all. 

Dear Peter Jackson,
There is a word I think you might not be familiar with, so allow me to do you the favor of defining it for you.

Subtle (adj)-
1. fine or delicate in meaning or intent
2. requiring mental acuteness, penetration, or discernment
3. characterized by mental acuteness

Sincerely,
Arc Rose

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Making a Personality Quiz: Environments

Hey y'all.  I'm going to be seeing the Hobbit on Wednesday, so expect my nipickery review soon.  As for now, there's a really cool idea I have for making a personality quiz.  I'm not sure how the quiz will go, but the base idea is pretty interesting for at least the artsy fart types.

I've done a personality quiz before, based on people's favorite Starcraft characters, but that was more of an analysis.   For example, people who like Raynor, Zeratul, and Fenix, are more heroic types.  People who prefer Kerrigan, Duran, and Stukov might like people with two sides to them, and are powerful political people who are intelligent enough to see what's going on around them. 

That, obviously, is limited to the people who have played Starcraft.  That, and Starcraft 2 came out, and since I don't own that game, I haven't sufficiently observed how it changed the normal characters and added in new ones.  That and they obliterated Mengsk and made him too darn typical.

But onto my new idea!  It's based on environments.  See, everybody has an environment they would prefer to be in or find more inspirational.  My favorite is space.  While, naturally, I have never been there, I find the loneliness and color of space very inspirational and strange.  And of course that says something about my personality.  I'm not sure what, but probably something.

Other people like different environments.  My dad likes mountains.  A lot of people prefer forests.  Beaches are always fun.  Undersea environments can be pretty similar to space, as it's very big and full of strange color.  Though there is a difference in that animals live in water but not in space.  There's more life in that sort of place.

So in constructing this personality quiz, I have to figure out what environments are archetypal, and what each means.

Here's a list of things that come to mind.
- Space
- Forests
- Desert
- Under the sea
- Deep sea
- The beach
- Mountains
- Crowded city
- Prairies

I have no clue how all these work out, but maybe over time I can figure it out.  I just have to know what kinds of people prefer what kinds of places.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Write Club -- Writing Prompts

Hey y'all!  I discovered the secret to making yourself write when you don't feel like it: writing prompts.  A prompts is basically an assignment from a teacher or writer pro that gives you a little gimmicky motive to write.  It entails writing in such a unique way that it's interesting and it doesn't take long enough for your inspiration to dry up.

For example, I created a prompt I call drawing a line through two dots.  Several notepad bits have random words on them, names of objects and places.  The writer takes two of these notepads, and then figures out what they have in common.  By making up the reason in a super short story.  The point of this exercise is not necessarily to finish a tale (unless you want to) but to take two different things and write, in one or two pages, a possible connection between the two.  The possibilities are literally endless.

So, here are some things.  Pick two at random and write a connection between the two.  Pick once and go for it; no switching.
- spoons
- Santa
- the British government
- a train station
- an old rifle.
- pianos
- pizza
- a pot of coffee
- Toronto, Canada.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Parenting Tips: Embarrassed Moms

Hey y'all.  Y'know, one of the reasons why it's so important to have a father figure is because fathers seem to understand how to act better in public.  They might not be such good fathers in private, but when I see a parent acting up in public, it's almost never a male.  In fact, I can't directly remember any bad male parents off the top of my head in public.

I feel the need to get ranty today because I saw one of the worst mothers ever at work today.  While she didn't threaten to kill her child like another mom I saw, she just lost it.  Her cute little daughter was being naughty by banging on one of the drums we have at work.  I went to the child and was like, "don't bang on that, Sweetie."  The instant the mom hears me, she runs up and grabs the child, saying something like, "I told you not to do that!"  She then proceeds to yell at the child and go on a long tirade about acting right while the little girl cries and says, "I wanna get down!"

Seriously.  That is not how you talk to a child.  Would yelling work if you made a mistake?  No?  Then don't use it on a child. 

But what should be obvious from my story is that the mom was embarrassed.  She didn't want to be known as a bad parent.  Ironically, her defensive behavior is what caused me to call her a bad parent.  Children are grabby by nature because they don't understand personal property.  I don't think someone is a bad parent because their child is acting like a child.  That's normal, unless the child is around ten and really is old enough to know better (kids can't read your dang mind!). 

However, grabbing a child and yelling at her is the exact way you'll get me to think you're a bad parent.  Surely the bad mothers must realize they look stupid when they yell.  Honestly, it doesn't work and moms look bad when they do it.  So why do they constantly persist in overreacting?

Another time, back when I worked at a cafe, a little child grabbed some lollipops after his mom told him not to.  I saw him and told him to leave them alone, but I really should have prefaced this with "Mommy said".  Unlike the first mother I mentioned, this second one merely pulled the child away and said little.  However, she did call my manager and tell her that I was yelling at her child and that I'm a bad worker.

First of all, I'm a former nursery worker.  I don't yell at children.  Secondly, I'm trying to help YOU out, mothers, when I reinforce what you tell your kids.  Third, I'm responsible for my cafe, and if a kid is messing it up, I'm going to stop them.  I won't hurt them or yell at them, and I won't touch them unless I have to pull their hand from something.  Sure, parents won't know that right off, but it should be a given that employees are responsible for their jobs.  Do you really expect me to just stand there and let your little kid tear up my candies until you notice them?  Do you really want to pay for all that opened candy?

So let's go over a few takeaways here.

1. Don't take it personally when your kid does something rude or insensible.  Children push boundaries by nature, and when they get grabby, all you have to do is let them know this is wrong.  If you don't care about looking bad in public, your child won't care about you looking bad in public either and rebel against you without concern.

2. Children learn by example.  If their parents freak out easily, they'll freak out easily.

3. When children do something that embarrasses you, don't let it.  Okay, so the little child was banging on the drum when she really shouldn't have.  Should the parent feel bad?  No.  The child should feel bad.  Not horribly bad, but just bad enough to realize banging on a drum that doesn't belong to you is rude.  Don't be emotional about it, just let the child know she was in the wrong.  If you yell, your kid will just assume you're a crazy person and continue to rebel.

4. It is okay for other authorities to speak to your child.  If someone says a child was behaving improperly, don't assume that your child is a perfect little angel and the person in question is a jerk for trying to rationally tell your child he is behaving improperly.  Other people can tell you things to help you with your kid, and if you think you're the only one who can tell your child anything, well, then your child is probably going to be hell on wheels to his teachers because he know you'll always take his side.

5. Always remember: you are not a bad parent if your child is less than perfect.  You are a bad parent if your embarrassment turns to anger.  If you feel yourself starting to get mad, calm down and say very little.  I know it's embarrassing when people tell your kid not to do something, but don't feel the need to control your little one to the point where you can't stand them doing the slightest thing wrong. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Three Writer's Books

Hey y'all.  So I finally found the one book I really, really wanted: 77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected.  This is a fabulous book that explains the ins and outs of the writing industry.  True, it's somewhat negative because it focuses a lot on the statistical unlikelyhood of your story getting published, but somehow its realism and up-front honesty makes me feel hopeful about being published.  It clearly defines things that could be obscure or doubtful to a new person trying to get published.

It occured to me then that there are three types of writing books.  Books that help you write, edit, or market.  While all these things are clearly interrelated, the differences between the three become necessary when you want to find a book to help you specifically.  There are so many books out there for a writer that it becomes harder to choose which ones you want.  So you have to pick one that helps you out the most.

77 Reasons is clearly a book on marketing because it talks about how to pitch your story (or nonfiction piece, for that matter) and how to promote yourself so that it sells well.  There are also other books out there on publishing and getting your work out there, and this is the category of people who feel they are ready and have the other two aspects down.

However, it's always good to go back to the basics and get a book on writing or editing.  Writers tend not to like repeating the basics, especially when they've learned a lot about writing simply from writing itself.  However, they still don't know proper formatting, or necessarily how to keep motivated.  That's where the other two come in.  Though, notedly, how I define "writing" and "editing" in this blog is a little more specific than the usual definition, because there are two different needs that two kinds of writers want when they buy a writing book.

Editing is the category for people who are confident in their plot, but not so much their grammar, spelling, and how their plot is arranged.  This is the hardest part for a writer, because it's the nitpickiest and a lot of the time our inspiration runs out of steam once we get the idea down -- we don't want to rehash it over again unless we've learned discipline. 

However, there is a third type of book that is not like the other two.  It's more intuitive and sometimes the authors of them are just weird.  But this category is the one that helps writers develop the writing process itself -- forcing oneself to settle down in front of the computer to write, drawing out inspiration, and building discipline.  This is different from editing in that it is step one; you can't edit if you don't have anything written down in the first place.

The reason this last one has the weirdest authors is that inspiration itself is weird and ill-defined, and at our core everyone is a strange person.  All those normal behaviors are something that people have learned to use to communicate with others.  On the inside, everyone has awkward feelings and ideas that they want to get out, and the writing process books help them learn to use these feelings to communicate universal ideals through the use of story.

So chronologically, writing process books are first, editing is second, and marketing is third.  While some books might hit all three, most generally focus on only one of these, because each writer needs help with a different aspect, or is simply interested in one aspect at a certain point in time. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

INTP and Understanding


Hey y'all.  I'm reading more about my Myers-Briggs personality type, and apparently the dude Richard Dawkins is the same personality as me.  Also, INTP people tend to be task oriented, intellect-worshiping, principle admiring folk.  Sounds about right.

There's little quotes beneath each person, and Richard Dawkins said something that I totally understand: basically, that he doesn't like religion because it encourages people "to be satisfied with not understanding".  I get him.  He wants to know everything, and thinks it's weird not to try to know everything. Trouble is, there are some things we cannot know -- like who killed JFK, for example.

However, he is slightly incorrect.  One, he shouldn't lump all religions together, and two, God likes knowledge.  It says in Proverbs that wisdom is greater than silver and gold, and people should seek knowledge above precious stones.  It also says that it's the glory of God to hide a matter, but the glory of kings to seek a matter out.  Therefore, God wants us to seek knowledge and created within us a desire to know more.  He wants us to be intelligent, and directly tells us to learn, right there in Proverbs.

Y'know, the trouble with Dawkins is that he's looking at God only through logic and thought.  Well, the truth of the matter is that God cannot be reached through intellect alone, though I daresay a few people have grown closer to God through studying his creation.  No, the truth is, getting to God through intellect is like trying to call your neighbor with your intellect.  How do you call someone or meet them simply by thinking about them?  You have to go and meet him, or let him meet you.

It always reminds me of how CS Lewis said he was dragged into the Kingdom of Heaven kicking and screaming.  God's existence is not dependent on logical thought, but through study.  For example, I could, on an intellectual level, create a masterful hypothesis on how the kiwi bird does not exist (hey, if people believe in zombies, they'll believe in anything) and persuade some non-travelling people that kiwi birds are all a scam.  However, the trouble with that theory is that all the logic in the world cannot disprove a kiwi, because you can just go to Australia or a zoo (do zoos have kiwis?) to find them.  Likewise, God is a person, not an intellectual principle.  All you have to do is go to him.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Write Club -- Nonfiction vs Fiction

Hey y'all.  So tonight's meeting was about stirring up the passion of a writer's soul.  There is a logical basis for everything a writer writes; a core of subjects that correlate to an inner principle or topic that a writer goes on.  This is true for both fiction and nonfiction.  The author uses the same core base for both.

What I mean by this is, the stuff you rant about is the stuff you'll write about.

For the first exercise, I wrote down several topics on note papers and allowed the members to choose one, whichever struck them as the most interesting or relevant to themselves.  They would then write a rant based on whatever topic they chose.

Topics:
- Government
- Big Business
- Divorce
- Dating
- Intellectuals
- Country vs City Life
- War

So yeah.  Whatever came to mind as they thought about the topic would be what they wrote.  The thing about it is, the members took each topic in a specific direction.  One member wrote about big business, and how the anonymity there is similar to the anonymity of the internet.  I never thought about it that way, and it was really interesting to read.

And then I took several items out.
- Turtle with bunny ears
- Fairy statue
- A Mega Man 2 cartridge
- A glass globe with color in it
- A glowy shimmering device that spins
- A Chinese fan

The members would take these items and relate them to their topic of choice, and then write up a fiction scene based on the item.  For example, the member who chose big business wrote a little scene involving the making of Mega Man 2.  I chose the fairy statue and wrote about how an intellectual would see a fairy statue in art versus her non-intellectual sister.

You see?  You can always draw a straight line between two points.  Any item can inspire a story from your base motivations -- base as in the foundation, not base as in low class.   The last thing I had the members do was write a short list of the things they could rant about for hours.  The list they compiled could usually be summed up by one or two words.

For example, one list was:
- Theology
- The middle east
- Troubles with democracy
- Moral dilemmas

The obvious tie between these is cultures, meaning that the writer would probably not write war novels or general fiction, but rather about cultures and how a person would live in such a culture when it contradicts their own morality.

So yeah, what are the things that you rant about?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mega Man is Dead

Hey y'all.  Grim title, eh?  Well, it's true.  Not that Mega Man doesn't have a ton of fans, each playing the games, listening to the music, and writing fanfiction.  These all exist, and yet the series is over.  Gone.  More or less finished forever.

The thing about Mega Man is that it's not a continuous storyline.  It has to end sooner than other series.  Take Super Mario Bros for example.  It has almost no plot, and there is almost no relevant connection from one game to the next.  Mega Man and other similar series (Metal Gear Solid, Halo, Assassin's Creed, etc) will all die in the end, because eventually people will run out of plot.  If plot continues from one game to the next, then it one day must end, or people will call the newer games hacks and tell the game developers that they might as well let the series die.

Mega Man is already dead, and not because fans asked for it.  In fact, the fans have protested time and time again for it to come back.  But it can't, for the simple reason that the plot is over.

I'll start with the Classic series.  It was wonderful when it came out, and unlike what many people thought, the series was not intentionally cheesy until 7, and it was only the 8 bit graphics that made it so.  Think of the ending sequence for games 2 and 4.  And what's so cheesy about Mega Man's long lost brother kidnapping their creator?  Only when Mega Man came on the SNES did the developers decide to add in forty bajillion eye-popping colors and flying confetti.

The darkness in the early games, particularly 2 and 4, reveals what Keiji Inafune had in mind all along: a grim, futuristic story of a society that creates robots, and thus their own doom.  However, once the Super Nintendo came along, there was no need for Classic to be serious.  In fact, it was probably made intentionally goofy to contrast with Mega Man X, who first debuted on the SNES.

The X series was more or less like the Classic series, only with more complex gameplay and plots.  There was a lot to like and dislike about it, but what it did do was take a more or less happy series and plunge it into gloom.  Instead of a blue robot merrily destroying goofy baddies, we get a blue emo and his blonde friend pondering all the crappy parts of life.  The story goes down such a bad direction, that thinkers among the gamers will realize a disturbing truth: in no Mega Man X game does the future turn out better in the end.  In fact, many times the world is only marginally better off than it would have been if X and Zero hadn't fought at all.

To make it worse, their main enemy Sigma simply cannot die.  Unlike Dr. Wily, who thought of various silly ways to escape and return for revenge, Sigma is literally killed seven times and comes back afterwards without fail.  Clementj642 likes to say that Sigma died in MMX8 for good, but we really have no way of knowing that, as the game doesn't say directly and it would be easy as ever to retcon Sigma alive.  You almost want to tell X and Zero to just give up before Sigma comes up with an even more nefarious plan and infects more robots.

Starting from the Mega Man Zero series onward, the series just continually drops more of its basic elements and becomes something else entirely -- usually something depressing.  While Zero did have a refreshing gameplay style (a new villain for every game?  Whaaaaa...?), it got even more depressing than the X series, particularly because X is now a floaty orb thing and Zero is far in the future trying to save a band of desperadoes from annihilation.  The world is scorched and devastated, all except for one city.  Which eventually gets destroyed.  X eventually dies, Zero eventually dies, and just like the X series, every single game in the Zero series ends with the world in a worse position than before, as Zero was not able to bring any real peace, no matter how hard he fought.  The last game literally ends with a girl crying on a hill.  Heck, if it hadn't been for saner heads in Capcom, Keiji Inafune would have made Mega Man X the main villain of the Zero series, the only way it could have been any more depressing.

Then there's the Z/X series, which I have not played or seen on youtube.  I saw a bit of the beginning, but couldn't really get into it.  I find it silly, to be honest.  It abandoned even more elements of its predecessors, becoming instead a future where people and robots have merged, and pure robots (reploids) are illegal.  Thus, the reploid virus that emerged during the X series can now infect humans.

Honestly, whoever decided humans and reploids should merge was pretty dumb.  Not only do humans now get the virus, but if you were a robot wanting to negotiate peace with humans, would you agree to merge with them into the same bodies?  No, because that would basically guarantee the extinction of all robots.

This game is just not one fans of the older series can get into that much.  I'm sure new gamers think its fine, but that's only because they don't realize it's a bizarre knock-off of the older games.  There's a reason only two of them came out.  Gamers would much rather play as X or Zero rather than people who have merged with the "souls" of the robots.  Yeah.  Souls.  In metal objects.  That's real cute.  /Sarcasm.

Mega Man Legends is even more wonky than the others.  The worst part of it?  All the humans are dead.  No really.  Those characters you play are not humans, but rather aliens that have come to earth because the humans were gone and they figured they might as well settle here.  There's apparently some gimmicky DNA storyline or something explains that humans can come back, but for the duration of the two Legends games they're dead.  D-E-D redneck dead.

In contrast with that disturbing bit of news, the games are actually pretty happy and colorful.  People seem to like them.  Unlike with the Z/X series, I'm fine with that.  Why not enjoy a fun game?  At least they didn't want to depress you to death.  However, the game is not really very Mega Man, bearing only mild resemblance to the series by a couple of names and some blue armor.  Someone said they'd like the game better if it was an original game rather than tacked on to the Mega Man series.

But, you protest, how does that make Mega Man dead?  People are all the time hankering for a new X, Legends, or Classic game.  Heck, Classic even got two new games on the Wii pretty recently.

Well, let me explain.  Mega Mans 9 and 10 were created for the nostalgia factor of people around my age.  They were not created for new players, and add nothing of significance to the Mega Man plot.  Well, not that Mega Man classic plots were ever that continuous anyway.  They just touch on our childhoods briefly, without any potential for the MM series.  If Capcom made a similarly styled MM11, they would be called hacks for not being original anymore.

Besides, who really wants to play a new Mega Man game when you know in the end that it will only turn into the Mega Man X series?  The happy-go-lucky world of Rockman will turn into a really grim world where the good guys never can seem to kill the guy causing all the world's crap.  Thus, there's nothing that can be added to the Mega Man Classic series that extends the plot, unless they want to make a transitional from Classic to X.  Frankly, they'd be better off just leaving that to the readers' imaginations.  Classic is doomed.

Mega Man X does have some potential for a sequel, but it too is cut short by the fact that Sigma's plans have already succeeded; the backstory for Mega Man Zero is already set out, so X can't do anything that goes against what was already written.   X would end up almost as repetitive as a Classic sequel would, except for gameplay.

As for the Zero series?  What are you going to do?  Zero's dead.  I don't know much about Z/X, but again, people would rather play as robots than people possessed by the souls of robots.  It's just less creepy that way.

At the end of the day, Legends has the most potential for a sequel.  However, it's not really Mega Man.  Only the vaguest references reach back, and you can't really call a Legends game a true sequel unless one of them has a time machine that goes back to kill Dr. Wily or something.

So, as I said, Mega Man is dead and gone.  There's nothing that can ever bring it back, because the whole series is locked into a storyline that forces depression and death on all the characters that we loved so much. It's really difficult to enjoy a series when you know that they'll all fail and die in the end.

So that it's.  RIP Mega Man, 1987-2012.   Wow, only twenty-five years old.  And that's assuming you count this as the official death year.  Maybe I shouldn't complain, though.  It happens to games.  They run out of plot, and the circle of life continues.  It just sucks that the game series that made me so happy as a kid is dead now.





Or is it?

There's actually one idea that never really got off the ground.  I'm not sure why, as to me it's the most obvious thing imaginable.  There was always one guy that they never really used to his full potential, who got the short stick in a lot of ways.  He was introduced, and then promptly forced into becoming a side character who just gets to antagonize a little.  Basing a game on him would create not only a new series with new plot, but also allow new gameplay developments to arise and shake up the Mega Man series.  And what am I talking about?

Mega Man: Bass

No really, I mean it.  I didn't play the later classic games as a kid, but when I would watch the playthroughs on youtube, I wondered why they didn't give him more to do.  It would be a good way to shake up gameplay.  Mega Man's gameplay didn't change much until you get to the Zero series, and by then the doom and gloom plot pretty much assured that all the characters you cared about would be dead.

That's why Bass is so important.  Removing Mega Man as the main protagonist and replacing him with Bass would automatically guarantee different gameplay just due to Bass' shooting abilities and how he flies with Treble.  Bass is most of the time more flexible in gameplay than Mega Man, as cute as the blue bomber is.  Levels would be designed after Bass' style of fighting and end up being way different.

On a plot level, it would be interesting to do this.  Though it would necessitate getting rid of Mega Man somehow, permanently or just for a game or two.

1. Bass actually does kill Mega Man, but afterwards realizes his victory is hollow because "Wily is stealing all my glory" and goes to kill Wily.
2. Bass kills Mega, but is badly injured.  Dr. Light repairs him out of kindness, and Bass feels guilty so he goes after Wily.
3. Mega Man retires and rejoins Dr. Light in his laboratory.
4. Bass has to rescue Mega Man. (Lol!)
5. Mega Man is down for upgrading and can't stop Wily.  Bass goes to prove that he can do it alone.
6. A new villain shows up and destroys both Dr. Wily's and Dr. Light's labs.  Bass goes in revenge.
7. A new villain shows up, but Mega Man is busy dealing with Wily so Bass decides to see if the new baddie has anything worth stealing.  Bass ends up being hailed as a hero, and starts getting addicted to the praise of the public.

These are all possible storylines, and I'm sure you can think of some you'd like as well.  The only trouble is that the robot apocalypse, a concept created by fans to explain all the depressing whatnot of the X series, hasn't been dealt with.  The future is still going to be dark, gloomy X stuff.  And, unfortunately, one of the options available is to have Bass responsible for the apocalypse, because he took over Mega Man's job.  That's just too sad.  Bass has been struggling with significance since he was built, and to have him responsible for the ultimate destruction of the world is too much.

But there's still a solution.  A time change!  Yay!  When I was doing my Mega Man fanfiction, I did such a change.  For a possible game, however, this change would have to be directed by Bass, as he would be the main character.  After a few games with Bass as the hero, there would come a game with two endings.  One would lead to the X series, and the other to freedom, and a new future for Mega Man!  One that isn't depressing as all get out, and is a new blank slate for the series!  That means more games, more fun characters, and a future that can last into a new generation of gaming.

Why not give my Mega Man fanfiction a look while you're here?  It's fun stuff.
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5128867/1/Okkusenman

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Arc Rose Parenting Tips -- Baby Planet

Hey y'all.  I know, I know, I have a blog primarily concerning writing and video games, and here this is, a blog about parenting?  Well, I've been a nursery worker for eight and a half years (with a half year break somewhere in there), and a babysitter before that.  And I am dang pissed off about how people act these days around their kids.  It mystifies me how horrible some parents are.  I see them in public, acting all stupid, and I know for a fact that they're hurting their child, if only with their words.

You will notice, however, that most of the people I mention in this blog are mothers rather than fathers.  This is primarily because I usually see women being stupid parents in public rather than men.  This seems to be due to the privacy of men; if they do something involving bad parenting, it's not usually in public.  Or so I'm going to say.  See if this bears out in your experience, either with your own parents or your friends'.

The number one parenting mistake is this: expecting your children to know everything.  Yes, this is worse than yelling, throwing stuff, hiding toys, or basically anything short of physical abuse.  You see, expecting your child to know everything is precisely where all these other problems come from.  A parent screams at a child because he expects the child to know better than to color on the wall.  A parent rolls her eyes and calls her child stupid because the little girl was playing with the swingy door on a trashcan at a restaurant (this literally happened right in front of me).  A dad will get mad at his two year old son for crying because he was tired.

But you know what?  There's a reason why kids do all these seemingly nonsensical things.  There's a reason they say "bootie booger butt" and run around in circles.  There's a reason they build up blocks and knock them down.  It makes perfect sense for a little one to cram everything in his mouth.  And that reason?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How to Judge a Game

Hey y'all.  So I was thinking, and I decided that if I had to vote for the greatest game of all time, it would be Donkey Kong Country 2.  This game has awesome gameplay, graphics, and music.  The controls are simple and the experience is fun.  It's a game anybody of any age can really enjoy.

But then it occurred to me that this may not be an objective opinion.  After all, I haven't played all the games in existence.  So how do you judge a video game and whether it is good or bad?  Well, the most objective way possible is to go through all the characteristics of a game and judge it by each of them.  Let's start with...

1. Graphics

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Write Club: Inspiration

Hey y'all.  Guh.  I haven't been feeling good today.  I've been forcing myself to drink a lot of liquids: a hot tea, three glasses of hot water, a coffee, a coffee with egg nog (try it!), a creme de menthe latte, and an orange juice.  Probably in the next minute or two I'm going to fix myself some hot egg nog with cinnamon.

But that didn't stop me from having a Write Club meeting tonight!  It would have, if two new people weren't coming.  But oh well.  Things are turning out alright all the same.  I had enough adrenaline to go tonight, and so it was all good.

So for the first part of the meeting, we had a little exercise where I handed out the things that I've collected this past year: stuff people leave in their used books.  I had several items: a Christmas card, a newspaper article, a drawing of a cat, someone's writing of a movie quote, a postcard with german on it, a couple of black and white photos, etc.  Each person picked out what they liked and wrote a little story for the person who left it there.  One member wrote a cute bit about a little girl who drew her own book illustrations.

As you can guess, the meeting was about inspiration.  So for the next exercise, I had them look at a member's drink cup.  Then I told them it wasn't a cup, and they were supposed to say what it was instead.  Here are some of our more interesting substitutions.

- An umbrella (think the straw and lid)
- A mutagenic drink that turns you into a zombie
- A dungeon for little people
- A telephone that looks like a drink cup
- A monster that sucks out your brain if you try to drink it.

The next one we did was about a big metal vent that protruded into the coffee shop where we meet.

- A toilet paper roll
- A baseball bat
- A large cannon
- The mast of a ship
- Stadium seating for small aliens
- A giant inhaler.
- A monument to an incompetent space "hero".

Once this was done, I had them pick their favorite substitution for the vent and do a little background on why it was there.  One member had it so a storm sent a ship crashing into the shop, and it would be too costly to get rid of so they just left it there.  Another said it was there to suck out the scent of coffee.  Yeah, he doesn't drink the stuff.  How dare he blaspheme the name of coffee???

I'm kidding...though seriously, coffee=goodness.

Honestly, it was a real casual meeting tonight.  That's good.  There's just so much stuff that can't come across in a blog that does come across in person.  We need to be a group that likes each other and can nerd it out over each other's stories.  Y'know?

But what does come across is this: you can take inspiration out of absolutely everything.  So, when you're bored, pick something, and decide what really is.  'S fun.  I've never been properly bored in years.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Being Invisible

Hey y'all.  So I was wondering....does anyone else do this?  Become invisible, I mean.  It's not just a matter of raising your hands in class and not getting chosen.  I've literally been two feet away from someone, and she turned in my direction toward someone else and asked where I was.  Similar events have happened many times, where I'd be a few feet from someone and then they suddenly turn to look for me.

It's happened a lot.  I was sitting in the front seat of a car once, and someone who was going to be carpooling with us just suddenly opened the door to get in with me sitting right there.  The biggest invisibility incident I've ever had was a time when I was in Texas, in a living room with some other people.  They were talking amongst themselves, about five feet away.  I added something to their conversation, when one girl turned around and started looking for me, even though I was sitting right in the middle of her line of sight.  She literally asked, "Who said that?"

Seriously, does anyone else do this?  Anyone have any invisibility stories to tell?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Top Ten Top Tens: Video Game Music

Hey y'all.  I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the top ten creepiest characters in people's opinions.  So, I'd like to try it again, but this time with video game music!  I love VGM, especially back in the old days when they didn't put rock music in, but had MIDI sounding bleeps and bloops.  My favorite genre of VGM is Mega Man, as you may have already guessed, and I'll probably do a Mega Man Top Ten in the future.

Now, a few ground rules.  Note that my source for this list is Youtube, and every song that gets a mention in a top ten video gets one point.  It doesn't matter how high or low that song is on the list.  If someone's song list is more than ten videos, then only the top ten will count in my survey.  I'm not going to videos that refer to a specific game; no "top ten Mega Man" or "top ten DBZ" for me.  Also, there's no "top ten creepiest" or "top ten most sad".  I will only be counting, "my top ten favorite", "top ten best", "top ten most epic" or similar titles with open reach and the potential to count all types of songs and games.  While I may do the "top ten best soundtracks" later, that's too big for the scope of this list.

So let's get to it!  How does one define best?  Is it the song that takes the most effort?  The one that entertains the most, or is the most iconic?  How about the one that gets stuck in your head the most?  The ones you'll want to listen to when you're not playing a game?  It's really hard to tell.  But, whatever your definition of best, this is what ranks on youtube.

Let's start this up.  For a while I was worried, because people were just mentioning various games, and I was having a heck of a time just getting two votes for the same song.  However, over time patterns began to form, and finally I have a top ten.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Top Ten Favorite Video Game Songs


Hey y'all!  I finally, finally got done compiling information for my "Top Ten Top Ten: Video Game Music" blog.  I now have all the final votes I need to present a complete and proper list of everyone's top ten favorite game songs.  However, it's gotten really late, and I'm tired and cranky.  Don't worry, it'll be up soon

As for now, here are my ten favorite video game songs!  No, I won't be counting them as a part of my "top ten top ten", because even if my list made sense, that would just be unfair.  So, here we go!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nitpickery: Serenity Movie Review

Hey y'all.  It's about time I actually posted my nitpicky review of the Firefly series movie, Serenity.  For years, before I'd seen hide or hair of Firefly, I'd see the Serenity poster and wonder if it was a good movie.  It appeared really sci fi and cool, other than the chick with the stereotypical movie poster glare on the front.  I kept telling myself that I'd see it eventually, but never did.  Sort of like the Animorphs books.

But eventually I did see it, primarily due to my ex-boyfriend and his man-crush on Nathan Fillion.  And I was disappointed.  Of course, it's easy for me to be disappointed because I nitpick and enjoy it, but honestly, all I expected was an adequate sci-fi story.  Something with a plot and actors that were decent or at least bad in a funny way.  Basically just a regular sci-fi that you might see on TV.  For some reason, none of the characters in Serenity felt very science fiction.  It felt...forced.  But since that's an intuitive observation and can't really be logically explained, let's go into what can be logically explained.

The last episode of Firefly.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Write Club: Week #6 -- Poetic Basis

Hey y'all.  I've been noticing that in my group that while we do a lot of fun exercises, what we don't do is work on our own stuff.  So this week's meeting was pretty casual.  I did do a few beginning exercises, just because it's fun and you get to see how people think.

The exercises this week had to do with poetic basis.  Basically, symbolism.  If you notice, all good poetry is more or less symbolic, and by this I mean saying something without actually saying it.  So we practiced a little with a few subjects.

The first subject was a monkey.  So, we had to say mention a monkey without actually saying the word monkey.  It's really cheap to say something like, "a long armed primate with fur" or something bland like that.  The point of the exercise is to learn to say something unique, so that when you get to a spot in your narrative where you find yourself bored in writing, you go around the boredom by describing it another way.  For example, in the Sherlock Holmes series, Holmes tells someone that he could be hanged.  But does he say "you'll be hanged"?  No, he says that the British people will create a new tavern called "the Dangling Prussian".  Now isn't that unique?

So back to monkies.  How do you describe one this way?  Here's a couple examples.

- The primitive beast looked out at me with almost intelligent eyes, but its covering of furr clearly distinguished it from my brother.

- Darwin's symbol, representing the most eloquent symbol of science, flung its poo at the zoo director.

So yeah.  What I did here was attach the monkey to two different things: the character's brother and Darwin.  This is how you add it to your writing.  You connect seemingly unrelated things, just as Sherlock connected hanging to a bar.

In the second exercise, I had us describe a monastery without saying it, because that's the setting for one of my writer's stories.  Here's what I wrote:

- Oh delightful castle of untouched bachelors! ...All too preoccupied with reading and praying to pay much attention to the lonely single girl.  Caught up in the raptures of ancient, philosophic literature, what could the presence of a woman do but bring them down from those lofty heights?  I kicked at the stone pathway, bitter at each cloaked monk.  Was I really less appealing than Gregorian chants and puttering around in a vegetable garden?  That's what these not particularly eligible singles did all day, in their centuries old house of stone.

You'll notice that I was not just describing a monastery, but how the character felt about it.  Namely, bitter and jealous.  This is a useful technique in spicing up your long narratives: instead of just explaining what the character sees (which is fine from time to time, especially at important settings), you use them to show attitudes or foreshadow the future.

For my third example, I chose an abstract concept, loneliness.  This is of course very difficult, because it exists in several different situations and can look any number of ways.

- Drifting off in space, the battleship spun gently.  Friction was gone in the quiet, worldless expansion.  Bits of shrapnel flew around, the only remnant of the battle squadrons.  Derek stayed near the window, keeping his grasp on one of the bars installed on the wall in just this circumstance: the loss of gravity.  He did not try the communications system.  He didn't look out the window in the hopes of seeing a friendly ship.  And he didn't look behind him to see if any of his crewmates remained; he wanted to retain memories of them as living people, not as bodies floating about.  All Derek did was stare outside, watching the stars his mighty war vessel, now a crippled bucket of metal, drifted into forever.  He said nothing and thought of nothing, especially not the faint, half-powered alarm bell that meant oxygen levels were dropping rapidly.

This is quite a troublesome example, yes?  One member's example was no better.  She described loneliness as being trapped in a field where no one would hear you if you rotted to bones.  Apparently we both associate loneliness with death.  Lovely.  But in any case, if you find yourself getting stuck on a story, you can pick a related emotion and build the setting around that emotion.  For example, drifting shrapnel in space has a lonely feeling, as does bones in a prairie.

So where are you stuck?  Pick an emotion, a metaphor, or your character's attitudes, and spice up your scene.  You can do it!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Top Ten Top Tens: Scary Things in Video Games

Hey y'all.  So I was puttering around on youtube, and I got to thinking about something for a Halloween special.  I wasn't planning on doing something like this, but it just happened.  So what are the top ten scariest characters?  Naturally, this is pretty subjective, but I like to do everything in an objective way, even in subjective matters.  Because I'm just contrary like that.

So how do you figure out a subjective thing objectively?  Certainly not by my opinions.  The things that scared me most in video games were either strange or from more obscure games: the Sequel Policemen from Space Quest  IV, the game over music in Yoshi's Island, and the secret copyright violation screen that's on Donkey Kong Country 2.  These things scared me far more than characters other people mentioned in their videos.

That leads me to how I got to make this top ten list.  I watched a bunch of other top ten lists on youtube.  Even the sucky ones with no vocals and bad rock music playing in the background.  The only one I made an exception for is this one where a guy is literally just sitting and talking into the camera the whole time, with no words, no pictures, and no video clips from the games he talks about.  Now that's just lazy.

But I did go through as many of these videos as I could find, and so here they are, the top ten top ten scary things in video games.  So let's go over the rules for this list.  I picked every mention of every scary thing, moment, or person as a point.  It makes no difference as to whether they were high on the list, or lower down.  Now, some people made lists longer than ten, and a few shorter.  For the purposes of this survey, only the things mentioned from fifteenth to first place get a point.  Whichever has the most points gets ranked higher.  In the case of a tie, the one that seems more frightening objectively, ie, can cause more deadly or sickening consequences, will be placed higher, and sillier ones will be placed lower.

Keep in mind, however, that there is a limit to how objective this can be.  After all, I looked at youtube videos to create this list, and the sort of people who make video game lists might not be a good sample size. It might reflect biased people, or people who are just simply afraid of certain things that normal people aren't concerned with.  Also, a lot of people on youtube don't make scary lists.  But let's just say that this is a youtube survey and be done with it.

So what do people think is scary in video games?  Let's see!  Now, I swear to you, I am not making this first one up.  I literally saw it in five different "top ten" videos on Youtube.  This one ultimately puzzles me, as he doesn't seem scary so much as just generally awesome.  And who is this nefarious mofo?


---- #10 ----
Andross from the Star Fox Series



No really.  I swear that he was in several different videos.  Here I am, sifting through all of this Halo, Silent Hill, Majora's Mask stuff, and I keep running across mentions of Andross.

Bio: Andross is a giant floating monkey head who is a cube, except when he's a giant brain or a robot.  Actually, the Star Fox series never really clarified what exactly Andross is, other than that his general guise is a giant monkey head, sometimes with hands.

Andross first appeared in Star Fox for the Super Nintendo, and admittedly, had a really weird introduction.  He was a flat panel of metal, and then all of a sudden all the metal turns into a face, like the image shown above.  And then he turns into a cube with a monkey face on every side.  In Star Fox 64, he reveals that he is a giant brain, and you must defeat him by shooting out his eyeballs and then his cerebellum.  I guess that's kinda creepy.

Our super scientist monkey villain is motivated by revenge.  He's mad because nobody on the planet of Corneria respected his intelligence, so he's decided he can rule the Lylat system better than anybody and will now conquer it.

To be honest, I'm really happy for Andross.  He's one of my favorite villains, simply for the fact that nobody's really sure what the crap he is, and that he always surprises me.  The first time you play the SNES version, you're stunned by the Tron-like face, and it's funny as crap.  Even better is in the 64 version when you're suddenly fighting a giant brain.  Honestly, none of us saw that coming.

So anyway, congrats, Andross!  Maybe you're not as scary as Silent Hill, but people seem to think you're scarier than the Left 4 Dead witches (I'm not kidding), the Moon from Majora's Mask, and the giant pile of poo that was in Conker's Bad Fur Day.  Personally, I think all those things are scarier than Andross, but that's only because I feel Andross is hilarious and awesome.  Bravo, giant monkey man!  Bravo!


---- #9 ----
Psycho Mantis



The trouble with doing a list like this is that you run into characters from games you've never played.  And I have not played the game with Psycho Mantis.  However, from seeing the clips, he angers me more than he scares me.  But it's easy to see why this guy creeps people out.

Psycho comes from Metal Gear Solid 4, and it really makes me wonder about the Metal Gear series.  I was under the impression it was a moderately realistic game, but I suppose they came up with a scientific reason why Psycho is a telepath.  Not only does he read Snake's mind, but he also "reads" the player's mind by examining their game data on the console.  It doesn't help that he has three creepy portraits of business goons laughing in shrieky voices on the wall behind him.  And he wears a gas mask.

Honestly, this dude is creepy though and through.  He's not as dangerous as some of the other scary people, but if no one spoils his gimmick for you (sorry!), then you're sure to be freaked out when he mentions that you don't save the game as much as you need to.


---- #8 ----
Nightmare from Metroid Fusion



My first reaction to seeing this guy in the scariest character lists was to be confused.  Why is this guy so scary?  I didn't grow up with the Metroid games, so maybe that has something to do with it.  But when I saw the little video clips again and again, I began to get it.  This guy is kinda freaky.  He's a project created by the Galactic Federation to be a monster weapon for them.

Honestly, it's not the background that makes him scary.  He's more or less a mindless monster who doesn't quite know exactly what's going on.  And that makes it worse.  Poor guy is just a monster with long, drooping, mechanical arms and a face shoved in like goo.  As our girl Samus shoots him, his face melts more and more, turning disgusting and frightening the longer the fight goes on.  It doesn't help that the rest of his suit stays intact, so you get the impression of a poor little slug creature being forced to fight against its will in a mech suit given by scientists.  I feel so bad for this guy.  Maybe I'm just saying that because I haven't played Metroid, but poor little dude.  Shame, Samus, what did he ever do to you?



----  #7 ----
The Regenerators from Resident Evil.



It should be noted that I counted votes for the Iron Maidens as votes for the Regenerators.  It's fair because the two are very similar, and probably members of the same species.  Simply put, Regenerators are zombies that grow back.  You shot a leg?  Oh, there it is back again!  You managed to knock of its head?  That'll grow back too!  The Iron Maiden is exactly the same (it doesn't look like a chick, though), except that it tries to grab the player and shove him into the spikes that grow out of its body.  That is friggin' sick.

Honestly, there's no need to know the background of these guys.  They're really a very simplistic enemy that is very easy to understand why they're scary.  Imagine you're stuck in a zombie situation and no matter how hard you smack a monster, he just keeps coming back.  That is pan-ultimate freaky, no explanation required.


---- #6 ----
Alma Wade



Alma Wade is a character from the FEAR series, and who apparently was being tested in a lab for her psychic abilities since she was three years old.  At five, she managed to figure out that she should fail these tests to make everyone stop being interested in her, but that didn't quite work out so well.  She was kept in the project even though she constantly attacked the lab workers, and may have even killed someone before her eighth birthday.  She was forced to birth psychic children when she was old enough, and eventually was able to merge her mind with one of these kids and thus continue to attack her captors.  They pulled the plug on her life support systems and let her die at 26.

So why is this chick creepy instead of just tragic?  Well, let me just quote her wiki here.

"Among Alma's other powers, she is able to kill people with a psychic attack that literally liquefies all their flesh, leaving behind only a charred, blood-drenched skeleton, something she does several times during the course of the games. She can also create a number of different hallucinations and can take the Point Man into her dream world where she is even able to summon malevolent phantoms. Alma also seems to display other powers associated with the mind. It is assumed she can perform pyrokinesis, as seen during one encounter when she sets off fiery explosions through an entire corridor, hurling the Point Man through a window. It can also be inferred that she has some level of telekinesis, as random objects move with her approach, or even in her absence."

Well that's freaky.  Though, to get a little nitpicky, a child who was raised in that sort of environment would come to believe that that environment is somehow normal, or that she in some way deserves that kind of treatment, simply because the child isn't aware that there are better ways to live.  Of course, she's a psychic so maybe she can just find out for herself what the deal is.

The slow revealing of her backstory, the fact she drove a doctor insane, and the fact that her psychic emanations remained after her death combine to make her a truly freaky person.  Yeesh.  I'm never going to play the FEAR games.  There's just no need for that crap.


---- #5 ----
Amnesia: The Dark Descent



Okay, so who's the scariest character from this game?  Apparently no one can decide.  So instead they picked the entire dang game rather than choose a moment, level, or character.  More than one actually said directly in their videos that they couldn't possibly choose, and so just picked the game.  Nobody who mentioned this game even wanted to go into much detail about it.

The basic premise of the game is that a guy named Daniel has no memory and is exploring a creepy castle with all manner of monsters.  And you know what?  He gets no weapons.  He has to hide or escape from monsters rather than fight them.  Even worse, he has a sanity meter, and you have to keep him from going completely nuts.  Even worse, when Daniel gets his memory back, he finds out that he was torturing people and even killed someone, all because he was tricked by an evil being trying to get back to its homeworld.

Uck, this series doesn't sound very good.  Especially since the game designer said that this was a game to be experienced, not won.  That's a bad sign.  In any case, the concept worked, and this entire game has scared the crap out of people and earned its place at number five.  Yeah, pretty dang scary.  You can watch let's plays if you want to, but I'm not going to.



---- #4 ----
Zero 2 from the Kirby series



........You're kidding me, right?  I swear I'm not making this up.  More people are scared by a giant floating eyeball than the entire Amnesia game?  You're serious?  He beats the moon from Majora's Mask and Alma Wade?  Andross was at least funny, but this is just sad.

Zero is a giant eyeball in the Kirby series who controls something called "Dark Matter" that can take over the minds of other creatures.  In the midst of the Dark Matter cloud is Zero, an eyeball that bleeds.  This returns in a later game to become Zero 2, which a giant eyeball that bleeds and has angel wings.  I know technically Kirby is a kid's game and it's innappropriate to have blood, but what the heck?  Why the crap does this get so many votes?

Someone who talked about Zero in his top ten as an honorable mentions (which I did not count as a vote), said that the only reason Zero is scary is that he's in a kids game.  Honestly people, that kind of thing doesn't count.  This is wrong.  I can't believe that I have to put Zero 2 somewhere on this list.  Come on, people, my fear of the Yoshi's Island game over music was more rational than this nonsense.


Alright, let's get to the last three.  Unlike the rest, these three are consistently picked by a larger margin of list makers.  Ordinarily the lists I found on Youtube vary wildly and span a range of games.  These three, however, beat all the lower ranking items by a large margin.  Over time, I began to expect all three of these to appear every time I clicked a video.  You might know what I'm talking about.


---- #3 ----
The Piano from Mario 64



Imagine one day you're just taking a happy little stroll when all of a sudden -- BLAM BLAM BLAM -- you're being chased by....a giant piano with teeth!

Seriously?

Actually, unlike Zero 2, this is pretty dang creepy.  Pianos are supposed to nonliving.  They're supposed to make beautiful songs and make your living room look great.  This piano does none of that.  It sits in a room quietly, just waiting for Mario to come in and say, "Oh, look, a piano!  Let'sa play it!", when it suddenly does the opposite of what every good piano should do.  It snaps to attention and starts opening and shutting its back cover like a jaw with the most hideous banging sound you've ever heard.

You'd think that because you know it's there after the first time, it would stop creeping you out.  Actually, in my case it got worse (and no, I didn't count my own vote).  I found myself sticking as close to the opposite wall as I could every time I went into that room, repeating in my head, "don't come near me...don't come near me..."  What the crap is it with this piano?

The more you think about it logically, the less it makes sense.  This piano has no motivations.  It isn't out to conquer anybody.  It doesn't have a digestive tract, so it doesn't gain anything by eating you.  And crap, do you see the two little doors in that room?  It can't possibly get out of there.  But the thing that really terrifies everyone about it deep down is the fact that the piano's only possible motivation is simply to see you suffer.  And that's pretty dang freaky.


---- #2 ----
Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2



This one was pretty much a given.  I mean, if you're going to pick something from the endlessly freaky Silent Hill games, why not Pyramid Head?  Personally, the only Silent Hill game I ever played was at my neighbor's house, and I never got to finish it because it was stolen by a druggie "friend" of his.  I swear, the people who say drugs don't hurt people aren't right in the head....

But that's another topic.  So anyway, I wasn't really familiar with Pyramid Head, but like most Silent Hill characters, he's a symbol of something bad: guilt.  He's a dude with a giant metal pyramid on his head.   He's naked to the waist, and then he wears a strange skirt-like thing that is apparently made of human skin or something.  He wanders around, doing suggestive things to NPCs while hauling a friggin' huge knife.

This pyramid the dude wears apparently is not naturally a part of him; he staggers around to figure out what's around him, and often acts as if it's uncomfortable.  Similar enemies in later games called the Boogeymen force the main protagonist into a pyramid helmet, so it's possible that Pyramid Head is just a normal guy.  Of course, if he's not simply a manifestation of guilt.  The makers of the game have him obscure on purpose, I'm sure.



Okay, before we get to number one, let's talk about some honorable mentions!  First of all, here are the game things that scored just too low to make it on the top ten list.  Note that these are all tied.

Just Too Lows:
- The Moon from Majora's Mask
- Blizzeta from Twilight Princess
- The giant pile of poo from Conker's Bad Fur Day whose name I forgot but won't look up again because I don't want to.  He's gross.
- The witches from Left 4 Dead
- The nurses from Silent Hill
- The Headcrabs from Half Life

Some people suggested a few weirder characters or some people that I didn't expect.  People are pretty creative, and here are some few that didn't get a lot of votes, but still scared people anyway.  All of these recieved at least two votes.

Surprises:
- The monster Sinistar from his self-titled game.  This is odd because he's from an old arcade game, and yet people know and fear him.
- The Old Chateau from the Pokemon series.  It's pretty surprising that a place in a non-horror game can achieve such horror.  Perhaps Pokemon is just too colorful and silly to have places like the Old Chateau, or something.
- Mad Jack from Donkey Kong 64.  People are really scared of this guy?  He was a really annoying boss when I fought him as a kid, but scary?  Eh...it's scary how long they make you fight this mofo.

Arc Rose Honorable Mention, Character:
- Mimi from Paper Mario
Mimi is pretty freaky.  It's obvious why.  She cracks her own neck, and then spider legs sprout out of it while her body dangles there limply.  That is freaking nasty.  If it weren't for the fact that she was made out of squares, triangles, and lines, then she would be far higher on the list.  She wins Honorable Mention because of the thought of what she would look like if she were done up by the Silent Hill crew.

Arc Rose Honorable Mention, Game:
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Honestly, this competition was pretty unfair for Majora's Mask.  There are just so many things in Majora's Mask that freaked people out, that all the votes got spread out over several characters and things.  Several votes went to the moon, and of all the items in the game that tops the Zelda list.  But that's not the only scary thing.  There are the redead, dead hands, that area with all the ninjas, Majora's wrath, Link's creepy mask transitions, wallmasters, and not to mention Tingle.  Oh, and what about the horrifying moment where a poor little girl gets kidnapped by aliens and has her mind wiped?  There is just so much freaky about this game, supposedly a non-horror title, that it got more mentions in top ten lists than series such as Silent Hill, Resident Evil, FEAR, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent.  Majora's Mask deserves this spot, no question about it.

But what about number one, you ask?  You probably already know.  It's...


---- #1 ----
- Giygas from Earthbound.

This thing is horrible.  This is the worst thing ever.  It's evil.  Note that Earthbound is a really cute game where the protagonist fights things with a yo-yo.  It's colorful, cute, and from the older era of games.  And yet it easily kicks every modern horror character in the teeth with how many votes it gets.  Well, except for Pyramid Head, who it only beats by one.

What is Giygas?  Apparently it's the embodiment of evil.  No really, that's what it was designed to be.  Apparently the creator of this evil freaking abomination witnessed a rape in a movie, and designed this boss after the imagery.  It shows.  Which is why there is no picture of it here.  If you're really curious (curiosity killed more than the cat, by the by), you can look it up for yourself.  Having to record the votes for this was bad enough.  Honestly, Pyramid Head didn't even come close to freaking me out more than this guy.

Thankfully, Giygas dies.  That's the important part and this is the end of my list.  And now, a fuzzy little kitty. I think we all need it.



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Write Club: Week 4 -- Characters

Hey y'all.  I know last week that I was ranty, and didn't really get into activities.  Sorry about that.  We had an influx of new people, and I had to make sure we were all on the same page, as well as get through a particularly ranty topic.  Don't worry.  From now on, I'm going to be doing a lot more activities.  I just had to get that one ranty week over with.

And so it is!  This week, we will be focusing on characters.

For our warm up exercise, we'll be taking the pictures I got from Lowe's and looking at them again.  We won't be making up stories, however, but rather coming up with characteristics of why the person put each item in their room.  Why did they paint the walls green?  What kind of person would want a chimney in the living room?  Exactly what sort of person would have a white chaise lounge?  Think of specific things that directly correlate to specific items in the room.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Number Shrinking

Hey y'all

One of the things I would like Write Club members to do is to give NaNoWriMo a serious attempt.  If they fail, it won't be because they didn't try, I hope.  Time constraints are often a problem, so as long as they put in a good effort, I won't be disappointed.  After all, 50,000 words is a lot, especially for new writers.

The trick is to do number shrinking.

What we are shrinking is not the amount of writing done, but the perception of how much writing you feel you have ahead of you.  I've figured it out.  The first number is of course fifty thousand.  November has 30 days in it, so divide 50,000 by 30 and you get 1,667, rounded up to a whole number.

That's still a bit longer, isn't it?  Can we shrink this further?  Sure.  Now, I'm a simplistic person, and thus I hate Microsoft word.  I don't like all the extra features, and especially not that red line that appears at the bottom of words you misspell (fantasy writers want to misspell some stuff, Word).  And so I use Wordpad until I want to edit a document with special formats.  And when I got a new computer, I even transferred the old Wordpad over so I wouldn't have to use the new, too feature intense Wordpad.

Thus, the area in which I write isn't shaped like a piece of paper.  It's just a wide area almost as wide as the computer screen itself.  Therefore, I counted the number of words per line and got and average of 44.  Also, I counted the number of lines of text that I could could see at one time without scrolling down.  I got thirty six -- you might get more on your screen, because my screen is kind of narrow.

In any case, thirty six lines of forty four words comes out to 1,584 words per screen.  Thus, writing one screen of text gets me almost one full day's worth of writing done.  Doing the math, it takes only 1.1 screens worth of text to get what I need to fulfill a day's quota of text and thus win NaNoWriMo.  See how that works?  50,000 shrunk all the way down to 1.1.  Surely 1.1 screens a day won't kill me.

However, there are two problems with my figure of 1.1.  First of all, not all of you like to use Wordpad, and your monitors are differently shaped from mine.  This problem isn't too bad, however.  There is no reason why your number shouldn't be too different from mine.  Just follow this process:

    1. Count how many words per line for at least five lines of your work that go across the screen.  Add these numbers together, then for however many lines you counted, divide the total by that number.  So if you counted five lines, divide by five.  Round to the nearest whole number.

    2. Count how many lines fit on one of your screens.  The easiest way to do this is to just type a letter, hit enter, type a letter, and enter again repeatedly.  Let your first letter be a capital letter, and then pick another letter and enter it over and over until your capital letter will go off the screen with the very next enter.  Then simply count the number of letters you have on your screen.  It helps with counting if you made every tenth letter a different one.

   3. Multiply the number of words per line by the number of lines you have per screen.  This will give you words per screen.

   4. Divide 1,667 (that is, the number of words per day to beat NaNoWriMo) by the number of words per screen you got.  This will give you the number of screens you have to complete per day to win NaNoWriMo.

I hope all that math didn't confuse you.  It's not as hard as it seems.  It only involves simple math anyway.  Trust me, if it were complicated I wouldn't be able to do it.  I wish I knew physics.  Then again, I wish I knew everything, so let's just move on.


The second problem with the 1.1 figure is that this entails writing 1.1 screens of single-spaced lines that go completely across the screen.  Due to dialogue, double spacing between paragraphs, and lines that just plain don't go all the way across, that 1.1 screens of full text will inflate to two or, if dialogue goes on a long time, possibly three screens in practice.  However, this isn't all that daunting.  Two and three are still smaller numbers than 50,000, so the vastness of writing that many words in a month has still gone down.

Besides, if I get caught up in the heat of the moment of writing, I find myself writing more than my daily quota.  This should cover me up on the days I might not make it.  So therefore, don't count your words during NaNoWriMo.  If you must, do so only once on the 15th or the 16th, and then one final time on the 29th to give yourself energy for a writing sprint.

Don't count early on, and don't count on the last stretch.  It will discourage you if you do it too much, especially early on.  If you count in the middle or almost to the end, you will be able to think to yourself, "Wow, I really did all that!" instead of "Crap...I suck."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Write Club: Week 3

Hey y'all.  How's it going?

Okay, it's about time we kick this into high gear.  I've been telling everyone to think of a story they want to write, and now I've really got to encourage them to think of a distinct idea they think they can generate story for.  So how do you write a novel when you've got only the most sparing inspiration?  You start with the three basics of plot.

So the three basics of writing are plot, world, and characters.  All of these should be fairly obvious.  Note that I say world instead of setting.  A setting is just a place where an action happens.  "World" implies not only the place, but the cultures, how advanced science is, and how much magic or laws of physics can adjust reality.  It's the entirety of the place where your story is set.

Most people might start with plot.  However, unless you've already been inspired for your plot, it's extremely difficult to build your story off of plot, even if it's plot driven.  For example, a disaster story based on what disaster happens next could end up really shallow.  You have to either decide who your characters are and let them determine the plot, or invent in your mind a reason for your disaster that can be explained by your world.  So unless you're already inspired, don't start with plot.  If you are inspired for plot, then by all means, but you'll have to get to world and characters, or else your story will end up as cheap as the movie 2012.

The key is to get the writers in the group to use these to inspire themselves to write a specific story.  For this, we will remind each other of the ideals we wanted to write, like love, wonder, encouragement, loneliness, and that sort of stuff.  Whatever ideal we want to write should come out in our work.  We must all have an idea of what we want to show to the readers.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Just Some Words

Hey y'all.  I was thinking about words, and sometimes I say to myself that there are no exact synonyms.  Sure, words can be similar, but if there wasn't at least a slight difference in meaning between two similar words, then only one word would exist.  Except perhaps where stealing from other languages comes in.  Like snowstorm and blizzard.  These are technically describing the same thing, but they feel different.  There's a different connotation.  "Blizzard" seems, at least to me, to apply only to very serious storms.  A snowstorm has to be really strong to be a blizzard.

Of course, that's all just theory.  Maybe there are two words that mean exactly the same thing, without crossing languages.  It's just something to muse on.  I like musing.  Anyway, I bring all that up because I was thinking of words that are similar but aren't really the same: words that describe people being smart.  There seems to be subtle definitions to each of them that makes them a little different.  Some of these are official, and some are just my guesses from context.  Why am I ranting about this?  Because I can.  Why not?

Two definitions that are official are the meanings of "idiot" and "moron".  Idiot technically means someone who is as smart as or is less smart than a three year old or has an IQ of 25 or less.  A moron is someone whose mental age is around 7 to 12, or has an IQ around 50-69.  There must be some word that goes in between, but I don't remember what it is.  Nobody uses the words in that sense anymore anyway.

These other ones I'm just going to say come from context.  I could technically be wrong about how I narrow them.  In any case, I know you have different meanings for these words too.  You don't consider them to be the same thing, I bet.

Knowledge is the first word.  Knowledge is pure information.  It's trivia, observations, and facts.  It helps to think of knowledge as several different items, and someone's intelligence is their collection of knowledge.  In other words, intelligence is like a library, and knowledge is the stuff on the shelves.

Smarts, cleverness, and wisdom are all pretty similar too.  All of them have one thing in common, and it's that they are a step above intelligence; intelligence is information, whereas these three words pertain to using information to do something.  They're a little different, though.

Being smart is specific.  Like, you can be smart at, say....nuclear physics.  Maybe you know a crap ton about it, and you run a nuclear power facility.  You know with confidence that you could have prevented such disasters as Chernobyl.  However, you're really dumb with animals (remember, this is only an example).  Your neighbor just gave you a rottweiler, and you're scared as crap at the thing.  You don't know that being calm is the smartest thing to do around dogs, and you don't know that you have to exert your superiority to them for them to behave.  So smart is specific.  It means you know how to handle something specific and make it function.

Cleverness, at least to me, implies sneakiness or even manipulation.  To me it goes along with being socially aware and being able to make people feel or believe something they wouldn't ordinarily.  This is the sort of intelligence that deals with people, not items.  In my head anyway.

Wisdom is a bit more grand in anybody's head, and to me it's wholistic.  Where "smart" is specific, wisdom is overwhelming.  Smart knows how to do stuff, but wisdom knows if it should be done or not.  Wisdom takes other people into account when starting a project, and it considers both people and items.  Wisdom cares about other people and isn't into taking advantage of it.

Maybe this is just me, but I like figuring out words.  Sorry if this was terribly boring, but eh, rant accomplished.  Come on, don't you like to nitpick on words too?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Write Club: Week 2 -- 9/19

For this meeting, I thought I would have to do a recap of last week's meeting.  As it turned out, we only had one new person show up.  I was hoping for more, but this thing is to be expected.  People can be enthused about something, but then their excitement wanes.  Besides, I like having a smaller group anyway because we can discuss more.

For starters, we did a two minute forced write on what fruit that person believes they are.  Why don't you do one too?  I picked blueberry because they're not really blue.  They're very different from what their outside implies.

During this meeting I discussed information, and training your brain to make itself be creative.  The thing is, usually the places that inspire us are not the places where we write.  One member of our club was inspired by the lighting section at Lowes, and another was inspired by gas stations.  But nobody ever writes at those places.  We write at home, in our room or on our couches.  So the key is to force ourselves to be creative in the places that we write.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Write Club -- Week 1, 9/12

Hey y'all.  These are the notes for my first Write Club meeting.  Enjoy.

A. Introduction

Welcome to Write Club.  The first thing someone should do as a member of this club is to determine why they want to write.  Notedly, there are no random decisions.  Each of our choices is determined internally either consciously or subconsciously.  Even if a person purposes to be random, then they've chosen to be random because it suits them for whatever reason. 

Thus, there is always a reason why someone wants to write.  Some do it for entertainment, their sake or others.  Some write to make themselves sound smart.  Others do it for money or fame, which honestly isn't as shallow as it sounds.  You go to work for money, which you need to live, and why not earn money writing if you enjoy it?  As for the fame...okay, maybe that's shallow.  But the most unhealthy reason to write is to blab about other people's faults and pretend you're not really blabbing -- it's okay to base fiction off reality, but always watch yourself to make sure that you're not using it as a means to gossip or get revenge on others.  That's evil and manipulative, and turns you into a bitter whiner.  Don't do it.  Unless your name is Solzhenitzen, and you're writing an honest, unbitter account of a tragic time period, and even then the purpose of the writing is to tell the truth, and not to get revenge.

So why do you write?  Obviously if you've joined my group or are reading this blog, you have some interest in writing.  It doesn't have to be for one of the reasons I've written above.  People are dynamic creatures, and it's foolish to be too narrow about these things, despite human nature to categorize everything.  So why are you writing?  Did just just discover it one day and figure out that you liked it?  Did a teacher inspire you?  Did a famous writer inspire you?


Monday, September 10, 2012

Write Club: Announcement!

Hey y'all.  So as it turns out, I'm going to be doing a small group about writing, and naturally, it's going to be called Write Club.  I'm going to be posting all of the things I go over in the group on this blog, both as a way for members to review stuff and to rant in detail the way I really can't when the group itself is going to be meeting.  Other people like to talk too, and that kinda ruins the plans to rant, y'know?  Also, this is for my internet readers to also drill themselves and connect with my group even though they don't live nearby.

There was a Connections Night at my church where I could do a display on my group and show off what the group was about.  For the record, it's about building up one's creative ability so that members of the group will be able to write even when they feel uninspired.  Writing is like a muscle.  You use a muscle a lot, and it gets stronger.  The main focus on these next weeks of the group (we're meeting every Wednesday) is to produce wordcount.  It's less about editing and publishing and more about forcing yourself to sit and type up some words.  It's the same problem with every writer.  To be a novelist, you actually have to sit there and type it all up.  The computer doesn't pick up telepathic thought.

The main attraction of my display was that I was having little mini contests, and the winner would receive a journal.  I was able to put up three such challenges in the time allotted.  I put them here for you to see and to inspire your own creativity.

1. Finish this rhyme: "Roses are red, violets are blue..."

One of the things that annoyed me about this was that a lot of the people who wrote their answers down on the pads I offered was that they kept writing trite, cute little endings.  Just because we were in a church at the time doesn't mean they each have to be sugary sweet.  I know it's a love poem, but love poems can be creative too.

2. Write a sentence with the words "loyal to fudge" in it.

I was really proud of this prompt.  There were a couple of people who said, "I'm loyal to fudge because it's tasty", but people really branched out for this one.  There was even a guy who wrote a little mini story on his notepad for it.

3. Describe a pizza without saying "pizza".

This one could have been a better prompt.  I just wanted to do a more simple prompt for the purpose of the evening.  A lot of people, unfortunately, simply listed a bunch of toppings -- though one girl described tomatoes as "sweaty", and that was funny.  Another girl put lots of attitude into her writing style, so of course she had to win.  As every creative writer knows, it's not so much about describing a thing that counts, but describing it entertainingly.

So yeah.  Put a comment down if you want to exercise your creativity in the prompts.  It's not a contest, but it will stretch you as a writer, so there you go.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Write Club: the Forms of Writing

Hey y'all.  So I was going through things in my head the other day, and it ocurred to me that all forms of writing generally fall under nine different categories.  Six of these are difficult, and three are easy.  The easy ones are generally where people begin to write, because of course there are no writer prodigies, and only very few try something like a novel before having written anything other than school work.  Most people don't even realize that they have writing as a talent unless they just putter around by accident and then figure out that they like it.

So here's a rudimentary diagram.


                Fiction                                                                                                     

Novel     Short Story     Screenplay   

               Difficult       


Poetry     Lyrics     Prose                 

                 Easy  
         

               Nonfiction          

 Biography     Analysis     Report        

                 Difficult    

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nitpickery: Tron

Hey y'all.  I saw Tron again for the first time in years.  Last time I saw it was so many years ago that I barely remembered anything about it before.  It's nice to get a good look at it again and see what so many adults saw in it.

First of all, let me say that I like this movie.  The fact that I'm going to nitpick it does not change the fact that I really do like it.  It had a lot of fun elements, and it has that "retrofuture" look that I like so much.  The digital effects are deliciously dated and colorful, the metaphors were interesting, and it had a nice, slow introduction that most modern movies don't let themselves have time for.  The dudes in today's Hollywood seem to have forgotten that it's perfectly fine to set the scene before making the story go forward.

I do have a nitpick about the graphics, due to them being on the DVD rather than original VHS.  I don't like it when old graphics are "upgraded".  When the old graphics are shown as they are, they merely look like a different, strange art style.  When the old stuff is digitally cleaned up, it looks pretty dumb.  Though for the most part, the Tron cleaner-uppers did a much better job than the people who recently cleaned up the Star Trek episodes on Netflix.  If you watch the Netflix Star Trek episodes, it's very, very easy to see that the Enterprise is merely a toy.  On Tron, however, the only thing that really suffered too much was the solar sailor and a few other bits and pieces.

Quick summary: Kevin Flynn is a game designer whose works were stolen by a man named Dillinger, who then used the games to take over a gaming company.  Alan and Lora, two people who work for Dillinger, are disturbed by Dillinger's defense of a computer system called the Master Control Program, an artificial intelligence that has grown intelligent enough to want to hack into the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, inside the computer itself, the society made of sentient programs is being oppressed by Master Control.  They're forced to play games that usually end with one or more programs "de-rezzing" -- dying.  Kevin Flynn hacks into a company computer to get evidence that his game ideas were stolen, but then is zapped by a laser and sent into the digital side of things.  There, he and various computer programs are forced to play video games, and the loser dies.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Write Club: Things Not to Do

Hey y'all.  This is going to be the first of what I suspect will be an ongoing series of little things -- or not so little things -- writers do that are so dang irritating.  Sometimes it's so bad that I just can't keep reading. 

One of the things a writer can do to alienate the reader is talk to them as if they're children.  Even in children's books, this is unbearably irritating.  Y'know, when writers treat the simplest, most trivial metaphors are all dang clever.  And acting as if they know everything and have to make it much simpler sounding so you'll understand.

This is what Michael Coren, author of J.R.R. Tolkien, the Man who Created Lord of the Rings, has done.  Ugh.  There's nothing that can prove my point better than some quotes.  Here's the quote from the introduction, where Coren is talking about a survey done where Britain is trying to find out what book people feel is the greatest book of the twentieth century for England.  Of course, given the book, the survey obviously shows that LOTR won.  Coren then mentions some people who disagreed with the survey, calling them elites.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nitpickery -- Firefly

Hey y'all.  Do you like sci fi shows?  Then I suppose you've heard about this one show called Firefly, which lasted only one season, and had a movie.  I believe it was the Fox network that cancelled it, if I'm not mistaken.  Now, Fox is notorious for cancelling stuff, but this time, you have to wonder if they did it right.

Of course, you might be one of those fans that can see no wrong in Firefly.  I ask you at this time to set aside your enjoyment of the show and consider what I'm saying for a bit.  After all, it's good to see the other side of things once in a while, and it's always possible to enjoy something that isn't perfect.  For example, there apparently was once a blogger who claimed Captain Picard was a wuss.  Instead of getting offended, I examined some episodes of Star Trek: TNG to see.  He's not a coward, but he did have a hard time getting Deanna Troi's mother to leave the transporter room, and acts as if he's got no spine whenever she's mentioned.

But this isn't about Star Trek.  In fact, it's really unfair to compare Firefly to Star Trek, so I'm not going to do that...for the most part.  There's some storytelling aspects that are acceptable to compare.  However, Trek is generally idealistic and Firefly isn't, so I won't compare a lot.

So anyway, this series is the story of several future people flying around in their spaceship Serenity, doing various jobs legal and illegal, whatever happens to come their way and will earn them money.  They have to stay far away from the central planets, because the big ol' government has taken over and of course cannot be trusted.

Hm.  I wonder if that's a stereotype...