The Golden-eyed Child ver 2 – Preview

NB. To be perfectly honest, I think I’ll be using this to open The Golden-eyed Child no matter what people say (if the response is overwhelming, I may reconsider), but I’m curious: do you prefer this more active opening? Or do you prefer the original? Let me know which, and why. 

If you were to look at a map of the world, you might notice an island to the east of Dark Elven lands. If the mapmakers had any sense, the island would also be marked dangerous, do not enter. This island was home to the Forest of Mist, said to swallow whole anyone that entered it. Those who entered wandered for all eternity as twisted spirits. Wanderers’ souls were devoured by demons. If you drank or ate anything while you were in there, you were transformed into the very thing you consumed.  There were countless tales like these, which was why the Forest of Mist was the perfect place to raise a child[1].

            The ursebar cub was hurt. A gash across one of its hind legs meant it wouldn’t be long before one of the many creatures of the Forest decided to make it a snack. It was a good thing then, Shadaeryn thought, she had come across the cub first. She knelt by the cub to get a closer look at its leg, careful to stay out of reach of the creature’s feeble bites. It looked like the work of a pyldad, a leafy-looking creature that liked to pretend to be a tree. They usually stayed in one spot and waited for unsuspecting prey to come near them. Shadaeryn carefully used her spear to flick a leaf-like thing off the ursebar’s fur. Hair, scale, appendage, whatever it was, pyldads used it to track prey they thought was injured enough not to put up a fight. She needed to hurry. Continue reading

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‘Day before yesterday I saw a rabbit, and yesterday a deer, and today, you.’

You probably know the quote already.

But in case you don’t, it’s a line from the short story The Dandelion Girl, by Robert F. Young. If you haven’t read it before, you should. I won’t talk about the story’s plot in detail because the story’s not that long (around 5.6k words, according to Wikipedia), and you should find out for yourself anyway! Suffice to say, it’s a science fiction love story. It’s short and it’s sweet, and it’s delightful.

On re-reading it, I wondered if the story might not hold up to today’s writing standards. There are parts where the author tells us about the protagonist’s backstory that don’t add a whole lot to the story beyond telling us about the character. In the end though, I decided it doesn’t really matter. As the narration says in regards to the eponymous Dandelion Girl, the story is so pleasant it doesn’t matter what the story rambles on about so long as it keeps going. Or at least, that’s how I feel.

The Dandelion Girl also serves as a good reminder to writers in the fantasy/sci-fi genre: you don’t have to write about grand, epic stories; you can just write about a meeting between two people on a hill in the afternoon hill. For myself, I’ve always been planning to write book series, and even after re-reading this story I haven’t changed my mind – but on the other hand, I feel it’d be nice if I could write character interactions like this. I think it’ll be a long time before I can achieve the impact the Dandelion Girl has on people, though.

Short post for a short story – I just felt like talking a little about the Dandelion Girl today.

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Vidya Ghemz – A Digest 09/07/2014

I’ve been playing a bunch of games recently, but I don’t think have a lot to say about each of them so I thought I’d talk about all of them in one post.

Divinity: Original Sin

I believe this was one of the earliest Kickstarted games, and it’s an isometric, turn-based RPG. What’s interesting about this game is you can play the story co-operatively – you and a friend take control of each of the main characters, both of whom are entirely customisable. Both of you can make choices that affect how a quest or event turns out, and in the event of a conflict, you play a rock-paper-scissors minigame to decide which decision to take. If you don’t have anyone to play with, you can flex your roleplaying muscles and give each character a personality of their own. I found it a little awkward at first in my solo campaign, but once I got into it I actually created some interesting situations. 

The combat is pretty good too – you can pick classes for your characters when you customise them, naturally, and although you start off with a handful of pre-determined skills, you can branch off and pick up skills from other classes later. A lot of these skills affect the environment in some way – like the straight up rainstorm skill, which naturally creates rain, putting out fires, making everyone wet and creating puddles. You can then cast a lightning spell on the puddles, electrifying them and stunning everything that steps into the puddles. Be warned, though – friendly fire is present in this game in regards to magic.

Shovel Knight

Another Kickstarter game. I actually backed this one myself, after watching the Game Grumps play it a year or two ago. It’s an old school-style platformer, with plenty of secrets and upgrades scattered in levels and around the world. I’m absolutely garbage at platformers, so I have no idea why I backed Shovel Knight and Mighty no. 9, but Shovel Knight is super fun. The game levels are very well designed, drawing on that old school game trope of teaching mechanics or concepts from level design – as mentioned in this Sequelitis video by Egoraptor of the Game Grumps. The character designs, the music and the silly humour are also great. There’s also parodies of famous platformer characters popping up on the map occasionally – I recently fought a guy who I’m pretty sure is a parody of Simon Belmont (or a Belmont, at least) from Castlevania.

Fun fact: I actually recorded two and a half hours of this game for a potential Let’s Play series, but the audio is garbage. Since doing a Let’s Play channel isn’t high on my priority list, I thiiiiiiink I’ll just let that slide.

Warframe

Uh, space ninjas you guys. I already talked about this game before. Give it a try at least, it’s free!

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

I didn’t buy this game during the Steam Summer Sale because I’m a FOOL. That and I wasn’t at a friend’s place being unwittingly brainwashed at the time. The previous sentence is terrible but I’m leaving it in for humour. Anyway, let me explain: I wasn’t originally planning to buy the game, but I ended up buying it at full price because one of my friends has to be secretly working for Ubisoft. He bought Black Flag for his shiny new Wii U (Mario Kart 8 is great by the way, though it is mandatory to have friends who will still remain your friends after you finish playing) and we ended up putting it in to try it out.

Hot damn the game is a joy to play you guys.

Seeing how it was so fun on Wii sodding U, I concluded it must be 10 out of 10 ghem of teh year material on PC and bought it off Steam. Fun fact: that friend earned Ubisoft around 230NZD after one night of playing Black Flag. Three people went over to hang out, then three people went home and bought Black Flag. Fucking insiduous. Man deserves a prize, Ubisoft. Get on it.

Anyway, I have to first admit that I’ve never been into the Assassin’s Creed franchise. I’d heard good things about Black Flag, which was the only reason I was curious about it in the first place, but otherwise I’d never really looked into it. I don’t know how it compares to the other games, but Black Flag has pretty decent controls, pretty graphics and a lot to do. I’d heard the series’ combat is laughably easy if you just counter every attack, and that certainly seems to remain the case. I can’t say what exactly about Black Flag is so fun – there seems to be occasional FPS drops in cutscenes on PC (let’s not even mention the Wii U) and while freerunning is pretty decent most of the time, your character tends to automatically climb and jump onto anything he runs into while freerunning, which gets obnoxious at times.

However, the game feels…joyous. I’m 14 hours into the game so far, so I don’t know if any serious shit goes down, but right now it just feels like a romp through sunny Caribbean locales, hunting treasure, looking for shanties to teach your crew, assaulting ships foolish enough to cross your path and looting them, sailing across the seas, exploring and hunting…there’s a lot to do, and it all just feels really good. Oh, and occasionally there’s the usual Templar/Assassin stuff. I guess it’s sort of interesting. Oh, and the real world stuff. Hum. Wait, is that a brig on the horizon? COME ON LADS, LET’S SHOW THEM WHAT THIS BLACK FLAG IS ABOUT.

All of these games are pretty fun, so be sure to check them out during the next Steam Sale! You know you’ll be waiting with your wallet ready regardless.

 

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The Crow of Garcustos – Episode 1 Rise of a New Legend HD Remaster

NB. It might be a bit pretentious to call the second draft an ‘HD Remaster’, but 1) I wanted to continue the theme of anime episode titles and 2) this is my blog so I can do what I want. Anyway, I sincerely apologise for any trauma caused from reading the previous version. This one should be a much better read.

It was the 1697th year of the Garcustos Empire’s long history when Emperor Reginhart Garcustos abruptly died in the second month of his fifty-seventh year of rule. Fifty-seven years of conquest, of negotiation, of restructure, of strengthening the Empire. Fifty-seven years of blood and sweat and tears fell to pieces in a mere four months as the Emperor’s children fought to claim their father’s legacy. One half of the Empire knelt to the Emperor’s eldest daughter, Lucia Garcustos, and called themselves New Garcustos. The other half rallied behind the Emperor’s middle son, Norbaer Garcustos, choosing to follow in the late Emperor’s footsteps. Although both Garcustan Empires have to contend with the secession of former allies and eager grabs for territory from rival countries, both sides are determined to see the Empire reunified – by any means necessary – and they are all too aware that the other side is waiting for their guard to drop… Continue reading

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Welp

After reading Episode 1 of The Crow of Garcustos again, I can only come to the conclusion that it is, to put it kindly, subpar. To put it bluntly, it’s a piece of shit. All I can say is that it was 2am in New Zealand when I was putting it up. I also get excited when I finish a piece of writing and want to show everyone and their dog immediately, which may or may not explain a lot of things about this blog. Before I started to blog, I used to send off my stories to friends who might be interested through MSN Messenger, then re-read what I wrote and instantly regret it. Drafting, editing and iterating, kids! It’s how you ensure the stuff you write isn’t a pile of poopy poop.

I will look over Episode 1 closely again, and post the HD REMASTER edited version once that’s done. If you’re worried this is going to be like Heist again, where I posted incomplete pieces of story every so often – don’t worry, the core of the story is already up, I just want to tidy it up.

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The Crow of Garcustos – Episode 1 Rise of a New Legend

NB. I mentioned another setting for my stories in this post, and here’s a story set in it. I don’t think I’ve kept my love of Gundam a secret, and this setting is pretty much my spin on a Gundam-like series. Although this story is titled ‘Episode 1’, don’t expect too much – I will definitely try to write more for this, but right now I want to focus on my other setting (I really need to come up with ‘official names’…right now I’m calling this one ‘Golem World’ and the other one, where Heist and The Golden-eyed Child is set, ‘Asiyah’) as well as The Golden-eyed Child.

It was the 1697th year of the Garcustos Empire’s long history when Emperor Reginhart Garcustos abruptly died in the second month of his fifty-seventh year of rule. Fifty-seven years of conquest, of negotiation, of restructure, of strengthening the Empire. Fifty-seven years of blood and sweat and tears fell to pieces in a mere four months as the Emperor’s children fought to claim their father’s legacy. One half of the Empire knelt to the Emperor’s eldest daughter, Lucia Garcustos, and called themselves New Garcustos. The other half rallied behind the Emperor’s middle son, Norbaer Garcustos, choosing to follow in the late Emperor’s footsteps. Although both Garcustan Empires have to contend with the secession of former allies and eager grabs for territory from rival countries, both sides are determined to see the Empire reunified – by any means necessary – and they are all too aware that the other side is waiting for their guard to drop… Continue reading

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The Golden-eyed Child – Preview

NB. Here’s what I have of The Golden-eyed Child so far, such as it is, to make up for the lack of posts. If you were to look at a map of the world, you might notice an island to the east of Dark Elven lands. If the mapmakers had any sense, the island would also be marked dangerous, do not enter. This island was home to the Forest of Mist, said to swallow whole anyone that entered it. Those who entered wandered for all eternity as twisted spirits. Wanderers’ souls were devoured by demons. If you drank or ate anything while you were in there, you were transformed into the very thing you consumed.  There were countless tales like these, which was why the Forest of Mist was the perfect place to raise a child[1]. Besides being raised in one of the world’s allegedly most hostile places, Shadaeryn was an unusual child in many respects. She had snow-white hair, uncommon in children, let alone a Dark Elven child, and she had one gold eye and one green eye. She had no parents or at least none she knew of, instead being taken care of by a human woman. Shadaeryn had no friends; the Forest’s reputation meant the only civilised beings living there were Shadaeryn and her guardian and teacher Iridia. Occasionally a friend of Iridia, Catrin, came to teach Shadaeryn how to handle weapons, but that was as far as her social interactions went. All she had, mostly, were books and lessons from Iridia. Shadaeryn also happened to be a Demiurge. At ten years of age, Shadaeryn had little concept of what a Demiurge was. All she knew was it made her special, and it was the reason she lived in the Forest of Mists away from the rest of the world. Iridia had explained it once – the Demiurge was a mortal who gained the ability to tap into what was called Thohimel Imakh, ‘God’s Power’[2]. There were factions who wanted to abuse this power, so the Archons, which Iridia and Catrin were both members of, sought to protect the Demiurge from them. The only Demiurge the Archons currently knew of was Shadaeryn. Shadaeryn thought she had the gist of it, but none of it seemed real to her. Beyond physical appearances, nothing seemed to separate her from Iridia or Catrin. Still, she had no reason to doubt them. Shadaeryn watched as Iridia prepared a healing potion. Her guardian had to be the most beautiful woman in the world, though admittedly Shadaeryn had few people to compare to. Iridia absently brushed a strand of her long red hair behind her ear as she stirred the mixture with an iron rod. Her eyes, a strange shade of blue that sometimes looked purple in the right light, turned away from the gently bubbling pot and fixed upon Shadaeryn with a stern stare. ‘Watch carefully, Shadaeryn.’ Iridia’s melodic voice always had a hint of steel in it; a voice that drew your attention and expected you to obey. ‘These herbs may have healing properties of their own, but magic is needed for healing potions to heal as fast as they do.’ Shadaeryn felt the mana around them stir as Iridia began to draw it into herself. Iridia went on, ‘Today we’re making a potion that knits broken bones together faster. The spell we use is the same for all healing potions, but timing is key. Right now, the herbs should have just had everything useful boiled out of them…’ Shadaeryn felt the ripple[3] as Iridia cast her spell into the mixture in the pot. ‘…and my spell has enhanced and strengthened the natural healing properties of the herbs, now boiled into the potion.’ ‘Why can’t you cast the spell on the herb and then boil the herb?’ Shadaeryn asked. Iridia smiled at her. ‘Good question. Let me rephrase that. My spell has enhanced and strengthened the mixture resulting at the moment the nutrients in the herb chemically reacted with the base reagents of the potion. In other words, the spell is designed to enhance the point of reaction and not the properties of the herb itself.’ She paused, studying Shadaeryn. ‘Did you understand that?’ Shadaeryn shifted a little on her seat. ‘I guess.’ Iridia laughed and brushed a hand through Shadaeryn’s hair. ‘Don’t worry, I’ll explain as many times as you want. So long as you understand.’       [1] That is, if you wanted to keep the child hidden from the world. Or if you really hated children. [2] Though it was never specified which of the many gods of Asiyah’s cultures this power belonged to, or if it even belonged to a god of this world. [3] All spells made a ripple or pulse at the moment of casting, which could be detected by any magic user through their magical senses or by spells.

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Writing Process – All Dat Procrastination & Laziness…and So Much Doubt

It’s been pretty quiet around the blog these days, but honestly…the blog name gives it away, doesn’t it. I didn’t call my blog ‘Procrastination and Laziness’ for nothing. It’s pretty much how I’ve handled life since my teen years and it sure as hell looks like it’ll be the way I handle life as an adult(?). So, you say, you gonna do something about it? Doesn’t seem too responsible/healthy. Eh, I say. I’ll do something about it tomorrow. Haha it’s funny because procrastination and it’s the name of the blog get it Having said that, though, the slow but inevitable sands of time make me prone to introspection, and I think I’ve pinpointed an underlying cause of all dat procrastination and laziness (besides, you know…the obvious).

Well, it’s obviously in the title of this post – it’s doubt. Self-doubt, uncertainty, no confidence, however you want to say it. If I do something and it gets complex or hard, I start wondering if I can actually do it, then start doing something else instead – like playing games instead of working on assignments, for example. Stuff like that. Maybe ‘Avoiding the Issue’ is a more appropriate blog name? Anyway, this post is titled Writing Process – that means it’s a post where I talk about, uh, my writing process. In this case, it’s about The Golden-eyed Child, which I’m pretty sure I mentioned would be the next piece of writing I’d be working on.

The problem and source of doubt for The Golden-eyed Child lies primarily in the setting, the lore of the world if you will. It’s a setting that I’ve been adding to and changing for…a long time. It used to be the setting for a hypothetical RPG I would make with my friends, but that didn’t happen for various reasons. I decided to use the setting for my writing instead, and like I said, it’s changed quite a bit over the years. I might still have the original files around somewhere. Here’s the problem though: even after years and years of additions and changes, the setting still isn’t very original. By that, I mean that it’s still pretty standard fantasy fare – you have elves, dwarves, orcs, humans, dragons (sort of) in a vaguely European land. It’s not entirely vanilla fantasy, I’ve put some twists in the standard formula…but I don’t think the twists are particularly new or original, either.

Originality in fiction – or in any form of media like TV, movies, comics and so on – is quite problematic because after a while there’s going to be at least one person who’s done what you’ve done, or something similar. Of course, that’s no reason not to do what you want to do or at least put your own spin on it – I mean, how many different versions of Sherlock Holmes are there by now? It’s also no reason not to be original. You might actually come upon the one thing no one’s done yet. 

Knowing that doesn’t make me any less doubtful, though. I’m quite familiar with the writing adage of ‘killing your babies’ – that is, if the thing you’re really invested in doesn’t fit in the overall story, you’re better off removing it entirely so the quality of the story isn’t derailed by the one thing you wanted to put in. Of course, my problem isn’t with one story. It’s all of them. I don’t want to change the setting of the stories because a) I’ve spent a lot of time on this setting, b) I want to tell these stories and c) these stories are reliant on this specific setting. I do have another setting (with other stories) that’s more original – or at least, I’ve never seen it done in novels – but it’s not as fleshed out, and what would happen to the other stories I wanted to tell in the ‘unoriginal’ setting?

I’ll leave it at that for now. I’ll most likely keep going with the stories in this setting, futile as it may be, until I’m fully convinced it won’t work or be good enough. At the very least, I should have gained more writing experience by then.

 

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Warframe: A Space Ninja Odyssey

After seeing that someone on my Steam friends list was playing Warframe literally everyday, I decided to give it a try since hey, why not? It’s free-to-play (F2P) after all. At this point, if you’re a gamer you might groan and roll your eyes. Free-to-play? Pssh. I have to say, I never understood why so many ‘hardcore’ gamers look down in F2P games. True, there are negative aspects to F2P games, but it’s not like games with a price tag on them are all 10/10 ghem of teh year. Ironically, there are some things I have to say about Warframe’s ‘F2P-ness’ haha p-ness but let’s talk about the game itself first.
Continue reading

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‘The building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault.’

Sure, Dresden. Whatever you say.

The Dresden Files is an ongoing urban fantasy series written by Jim Butcher, about a wizard and private investigator named Harry Dresden living in modern Chicago. You know all those stories you’ve heard, read or seen in movies? The ones about fairies, werewolves, vampires, demons, ghosts…yeah, turns out they’re all real, and Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is here to make sure that none of those supernatural creatures get away with any crimes they commit. The fancy wizard council that monitors all magic users also has it out for him.

The Dresden Files has been going on for a while now, currently with 15 books in the main series and a number of side stories as well as a few graphic novel adaptations. Also a tabletop RPG. And a shortlived TV series. All of the books in the main series are narrated by Harry Dresden, in his signature snarky way, and since he’s a dork as well as a wizard, he makes a not insignificant number of pop culture references as you can see here. The writing and worldbuilding in the first two or three books are a bit rough, as you might imagine, but the series is very engaging, with the aforementioned snarky protagonist (prone to occasional bouts of mass destruction – usually unintentional) as well as a host of equally colourful supporting characters and villains. I mean, Harry’s primary support and source of information is a perverted spirit of intellect trapped in a skull. His name is Bob. Dresden gave him that name. Events in later books make the series darker, and considering Jim Butcher is planning to finish off the series with an ‘apocalyptic trilogy’, I’m guessing it’s only going to get darker. Even still, Harry Dresden remains more or less the same snarky dork of a wizard. A little more scarred, a little more grim perhaps, but the humour and snark of the series never fully goes away.

I don’t mind saying that I was on a serious Dresden binge for a while – I carefully reserved each subsequent book from the library in a way that let me read a Dresden book every week. Every moment I had spare time I would be reading. The beauty of urban fantasy is it coats the fantastic and unfamiliar in something familiar – reading something like A Song of Ice and Fire or even Harry Potter requires the reader to learn and understand a completely different world and/or culture. Urban fantasy, like The Dresden Files, has the setting on Earth, in an Earth city, Chicago in this case, and references that even the casual reader can pick up on – Dresden compares himself to Gandalf on occasion, and I’m pretty sure he’s a gigantic Star Wars nerd. It also helps that Jim Butcher’s writing style is pretty straightforward; you aren’t going to be looking up long or obscure words or trying to decipher what this made-up fantasy word means.

What the above paragraph is saying: The Dresden Files? It’s pretty damn good, it’s pretty easy to read and you’ll most likely get hooked pretty quickly. If not, try reading the first 4 or 5 books – the worldbuilding and writing should stabilise by book 3, I think.

Here’s a last quote from the wizard himself: ‘The world is getting weirder. Darker every single day. Things are spinning around faster and faster, and threatening to go completely awry. Falcons and falconers. The center cannot hold.

But in my corner of the country, I’m trying to nail things down. […] I don’t want to live in a world where the strong rule and the weak cower. I’d rather make a place where things are a little quieter. Where trolls stay the hell under their bridges, and where elves don’t come swooping out to snatch children from their cradles. Where vampires respect the limits, and where the faeries mind their p’s and q’s.

My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. When things get strange, when what goes bump in the night flicks on the lights, when no one else can help you, give me a call. I’m in the book.’

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