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.

- 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.

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.