Book Progress – Texting

Hello again, Friday. I’ve been keeping up pretty well with my “page a day” rule I’ve given myself (although due to mother’s day activities this past weekend I didn’t get any work done) but yesterday I found myself stuck on a page.

So, my book is about a group of high schoolers. It’s set in modern day. This leads to the good old recipe of texting. Here is where I’ve found myself stuck. I want to represent texting in a unique way, I do not wish to simply make it lines of dialogue or just tell you what the conversation entailed. I want you to see the conversation. So how do I do that? This is what I currently have:

K > So no keycard locks then? Awesome.

 

Yeah, we’re all good to go <

 

K > So when do you want to pull this off? I’m thinking

       this weekend, less students and all

 

That’s probably a good idea. You free saturday night? <

 

K > Yeah works for me

Cool. We can discuss more tomorrow <

The “K” represents the friend Kurt, and as this is a first person story, the one on the right is Garrett and doesn’t have an initial. Now I think this presentation isn’t half bad. None of the characters that will be in the text conversations share a first initial so it’ll be easy to figure out who says what and it looks like a text conversation. But how can I make it better? How can I make it feel like texts and not just look like them?

There are a couple of options I’m considering. First, I can add boxes or bubbles around the texts. This would make it look even more like text messages and could potentially be even more convincing. But a problem arises when you consider the amount of clutter on the page. Would it look too messy? I want you to read a text conversation and think “They’re texting” not “Wow this sure is messy, what’s going on?” This is probably the most minor of problems as I just need to try out different styles and see if it does end up too messy, so I’m not too worried about this aspect.

My biggest worry is how I should present the text messages. The lines themselves. Most people typically throw a lot of grammar and spelling out the window when texting. Abbreviations, lack of punctuation, etc. So do I have all of the characters text like “hey man where r we hanging out” or does this make the book too unprofessional? Do I use perfect grammar and punctuation or would this pull you out of the story and make the texts more unbelievable? I could also just have some characters have perfect grammar and others not in order to give more depth to their characters. There are many options that I’ll have to explore. I could also just use proper grammar for everyone and chock it up to spell check. Then I would only need to worry about abbreviations and the like which could be great ways to give more character to the characters.

If you have any ideas, feel free to let me know. See you next week!

Advertisements

Video Games – Picking a Favorite 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my favorite games of all time. Because it’s something everyone gets asked at one point or another right? “What are your top five games of all time? Top ten?” It’s a pretty common question.

This has made me realize how hard it is to pick. Favorite game of all time is usually pretty easy but once you start adding more it just becomes harder and harder to pick. There are so many good games out there we’ve played that it becomes a real challenge to weed out which ones belong forever etched in our minds and hearts.

One common thing I’ve noticed is that most people tend to keep one game per series on their list. It’s almost like some unspoken rule. But i think it’s a good one. If this silent rule didn’t exist, many people would have their lists flooded with Zelda, Halo, etc. That doesn’t give other great games or series the love and attention they deserve. That’s not to say those games don’t belong on the list, this just gives more flexibility in terms of what to choose from.

 Sure it might make it harder to pick, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s great that it’s so hard to decide. It means we’ve had many great experiences with games. 

Maybe I’ll share my top 10 sometime. Yknow, once I figure it out…

The Diner

chaffin_s“Mornin’ Sheriff.” the waitress greeted the man entering the door.

The Sheriff tipped his hat as the bell on the door jingled. He made his over to his booth, the third one on the right, and sat down. The waitress strolled over to pour him a cup of coffee, on the house.

“The usual again?” She asked as the steam rose up from the cup.

He let out a grunt in acknowledgement and handed her back the menu. She walked over to the counter and hollered out to the kitchen the Sheriff’s order, two eggs and four strips of bacon.

The door’s bell jingled again. A heavy boot stepped through the door. It was the Outlaw, the most wanted man in the county. He made his way over to his booth, the third one on the left, and sat down. The waitress strolled over to pour him a cup of coffee.

“The usual again?” She asked as the steam rose up from the cup.

He let out a grunt in acknowledgement and handed her back the menu. She walked over to the counter and hollered out to the kitchen the Outlaw’s order, three eggs and three strips of bacon.

Both men received their orders around the same time. They ate in utter silence. No one entered. No one left. There was a tension in the air. The highest law enforcer and the most notorious law breaker were seated in the same diner, on the same morning. But there was no violence. No guns were drawn, no words were shouted. There was only the subtle sound of chewing and the occasional scrape of a fork on a plate.

The Sheriff finished first. He dropped his payment on the table, gave the waitress a thanks, then picked his hat up and began to leave.

As the bell let out another jingle, the Outlaw spoke up. “Mighty fine eggs this morning, wouldn’t you say Sheriff?”

The Sheriff stopped. He put his hat on his head. “I’ll have to agree with you on that one.”

“Have a good day, Sheriff.”

The Sheriff walked out the door and the bell let out a parting jingle.

The Outlaw finished his meal and began to walk out the door.

“Ain’t you gonna pay for that?” The waitress put her hands on her hips.

The outlaw chuckled. “My mistake little lady.” He walked back to the booth and set down his payment. He made his way out the door and the bell let out one final jingle.

 

 

Persona 5 – Stylized Art

This analysis is spoiler free

persona-5-wallpaper-15

I’m a huge fan of stylized art. Realistic graphics can be visually stunning but I always enjoy when a game would rather express itself through its art and graphics. Persona 5 is a great recent example to talk about this topic (alsothegamewasreallygood)

Persona 5 is a game all about rebellion and finding your place in the world. Since Persona 3, each Persona game has used a color to highlight itself and show off its style. Persona 5 uses the color red, which shows off the aggression and passion in the characters. The red is frequently complimented by broad, black strokes which makes the red pop and gives clear definitions and borders. This all culminates together to make the art edgy and unique which reflects the game itself.

Now I’m not much of an artist so I apologize if everything I’m saying is a tad… uneducated. But the game itself touches on dark and sensitive subjects that many other games and media shy away from. Just like the story, the art uses dark and passionate colors to get its themes across. The characters are angry at the world and the “shitty” adults that run it, they’re passionate about their cause of inter-dimensional thievery to get people to confess to their crimes against others. Red is the perfect color to highlight these feelings as red is the color of fire, rage, strength, and love. It’s also important to note that despite the wide use of the color, it is not over used. The uniforms and costumes are not all red (beyond Ann’s costume of course) they’re black with other colors highlighted with them (such as Ryuji’s yellow shirt beneath his blazer).

The anime style of the graphic also works really well here. Not only does it give the red and black colors a great plane to exist in, it lets each character in the story have their own style. The average student doesn’t stand out too much; standard school uniforms with brown or black hair. But the main cast and crew all have little compliments to their uniforms. This would look odd in a realistic style as everyone except the main cast would look exactly the same which isn’t at all realistic.

Of course there are drawbacks to stylized art. If you don’t like the anime style or have a weird hatred of the color red (even red is obviously the best color out there) or if you can’t even see the color red (shout out to all my colorblind brothers and sisters out there) then this game’s art is lost on you. It can also be a huge turn off and make people not even want to play your game. But when stylized art works with people, it works really well. It gives your game a memorable art style that sticks with people. So although stylized art can be a risk, it pays off.

 

 

Book Progress – Making It Up As I Go

Second Installment of the hit literary TV show!

…Ok well it’s not on TV and it’s not a show but you get the point.

First off, I decided that starting this week I would write at least one page a day and I’ve been doing great so far! I’m up to 10 pages so the work is still a bit slow but hey I’m working on it (I still need to write my page for today as well).

But what I really want to focus on today is coming up with the timeline for the story, aka story boarding. I believe it was either Sunday or Monday where I decided I needed to sit down and write out the events of the story, in order. What I found out is that I’m really bad at thinking that far into the future. However, around Wednesday, I suddenly had an idea for an event further in the story, that fit my timeline nicely. This made me realize that I’m actually pretty good at making it up as I go.

I don’t mean that in a “I’m winging the story and it’s going to be awful” sort of way, rather, I mean that as a “I can’t think this far into the future so let me run with what I have at the moment and the ideas will come to me” sort of way. So if I hit a bump during story boarding or brainstorming, I know that I can just continue writing and I’ll come up with an idea a couple pages or so down.

Is this the ideal way to write a book? No clue. I haven’t done this before. All I know is, it seems to be working out for me. Kind of short this time but that’s all I have for this week. See you all next week!

Open Worlds – Better When Smaller

horizon_zero_dawn_wordmapIn the past decade or so, open world games have really taken off. It seems like every other game that comes out nowadays has a large open world. It’s gotten to the point where it feels like companies just want to make a world bigger than their competitors and don’t actually care about their worlds.

Massive worlds can be fun to explore but problems arise when the worlds can’t be filled. Most games have large expanses of land where there’s nothing there. Maybe there’s a few enemies or some wildlife there, but nothing with any real substance. Now sure, earth doesn’t have the entirety of its land filled with meaningful things, so you could argue the vast emptiness is realistic, but I’m of the firm belief that even realistic games shouldn’t be entirely realistic.  If they were, you’d die in two sword swings or a single bullet to the face. That wouldn’t be fun.

Some games have certainly taken the “good things come in small packages” motto to heart when it comes to their worlds (Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has a great, small, open world as an example). But there are still tons of games that try to use their boring, repetitive, but large worlds as a selling point. If they tone down the size of their world, they can put that production time towards giving their smaller  worlds even more meaning, or further enhancing other aspects of the game such as gameplay.

Just a few of my thoughts really. I’m not sure if we’ll actually see worlds get smaller (but a man can dream). Oh, and don’t even get me started on side quests.

Under Attack

real-ghost-story-the-abandoned-hospital

beep…beep…beep….

“He’s clean.” the guard put the device away and shoved me forward before I could even get back on my feet.

“Watch the merchandise.” I growled at him.

“You have 10 minutes.” the other guard barked without turning around.

I stepped through the office door and heard it creak shut behind me. I reached behind me and twisted the lock. I coughed through the smoke.

“Hey Doc…” I stepped forward.

The two guards turned to their boss. The old man turned around. His eyes matched his graying hair and were already filled with annoyance. It’s a shame too, looks like there used to be wisdom in them.

“What do you want?” he sneered at me.

“I’m sorry for taking valuable time out of your day, Doc.” I removed my hat as I took another step forward. The guards tightened their grips on their guns. “I was just hoping you could help my colony.”

“Well out with it, boy.” he threw his hand up in my general direction.

“Yeah, sure, Doc. You see, my colony’s been getting harassed by some of them creatures for the past few nights now. I was hoping you could help us get rid of ’em.”

“How the hell am I supposed to help you? I’m just a doctor.” he stamped his cigar out.

“Well I know that Doc. But you got plenty o’ men. Can’t you just send a few our way?”

“No. I can’t afford to give you any of my men.” he locked his eyes with mine.

I turned my gaze to my shoes. “But Doc-”

“I said no!” he shouted slamming his fist on the desk. “Besides, we’ll soon have a cure for the virus and this will all be over.”

The door rattled. “Sir! Is everything okay in there?!” one of the guards outside yelled through the wood.

“Yes everything is fine!” he yelled back. “Which one of you knuckleheads locked the door?” he started making his way around his desk.

I stepped in front of him and locked my eyes into his. Fear now. Good.

My smile grew with my teeth. “Hey Doc… you ever heard of a super-virus?”

He took a cautious step back. “Of course I have! What kind of doctor do you take me for?”

My back began to arch forward as my spine expanded. “Well then you must know super-viruses are extremely difficult to treat correct? What makes you so sure you can cure it?” I grimaced in pain as my fingernails were slowly replaced with talon-like claws. “I’m sure then you know about virus evolution too, correct? Of course you do; you’re a doctor.” Thick saliva began to drip from my fangs. “Did you ever think that after all these years your stupid little scanners could still locate the virus? You’re using ancient technology, old man.” My chuckle turned into a low growl.

The guards in the room aimed there guns at me. Thick hair began to grow all over my body.

My laugh sounded like a howl. “Oh please! You really think I don’t know you’ve been out of silver for months?!” I tossed both of the guards aside. “Oh and just a quick history lesson for you, Doc.” I smiled as I climbed over his desk. “The full moon thing? Total bullshit.”

 

NieR: Automata – Fluid Combat

This analysis contains no spoilers

nier-automata-pc

I just finished my first and second playthroughs of NieR: Automata and it has quickly become one of my all time favorite games. Probably the one of the biggest reasons for that is the combat system.

At its core, NieR’s combat system is a simple duel-wield light and heavy attack system. Which is great, I believe most systems in games should have a simple, easy to understand core, but there are a few things that add a great amount of depth to it.

The first thing is the assortment of weapons you can equip. You have light swords, heavy swords (one of which is an axe), spears, and even your fists. This lets you switch up the combat to your playstyle. You can have two light weapons for a fast paced, hack n’ slash playstyle, two heavy weapons for more of a slow, brute force style, or have one light and one heavy to have a more balanced experience.

Another thing is the aerial combat. NieR lets you double jump and fight in the air. You can easily take on hovering enemies this way and send grounded enemies up into the air. Learning how to mix ground and aerial combat can let you temporarily isolate a single enemy with little worry of getting hit yourself.

Now, these two things are great but they aren’t exactly unique. By far NieR’s most innovated addition to its combat is the use of two weapon sets. At the press of a button you can switch up what weapons you’re using based on two weapon sets you put together. You can switch weapons in combat and sometimes even mid combo. This adds a huge layer of creativity and depth to how you approach combat. If you’re hacking and slashing your way through enemies and decide you  need to hit harder, simply hit up on the d-pad (or whatever else you set it to) and switch to your heavy weapons. Sometimes you have to wait for your combo or animation to finish before the game actually switches the weapons, but it never stops you from attacking so the action is constantly moving and flowing.

A few more things I want to add: combos, dodging, and your pod. As I’ve been mentioning, NieR let’s you combo attacks together so you can constantly attack enemies and get bigger and better hits if you understand the flow of combat (or if you prefer to button mash, that works too). Dodging in this game is fluid and doesn’t break the flow of combat. You can dodge an enemy attack and immediately begin attack again. It also has a sick animation. Finally, the pod. Your pod follows you around and can shoot things. Sounds kinda boring, right? Well, you can attack while shooting because the pod is a separate entity. So if you have to back off or chase down and enemy, you can keep shooting to get some extra chip damage in there. You can also constantly shoot an enemy  while beating them to death to speed up the process.

All in all, NieR has one of the most fluid combat systems in any game I’ve played (Platinum games always does a great job with combat). It lets you choose how you want to play and doesn’t restrict you in any way. There’s so many other things I didn’t go in depth about here because I have yet to fully understand it. If you haven’t already, check the game out if you’re a fan of action RPGs, hack n’ slash games, or just great stories and characters.

Book Progress – Main Ideas (+ Quick Schedule Update)

I’m going to start this book update off with a quick note about my schedule. I was unhappy with the way The Island turned out as it felt rushed and I was unable to come up with anything satisfactory yesterday. Due to this, I will be removing short stories on Thursdays and instead leave those days to working on my book; as I believe coming up with two short stories a week and working on a novel was the cause of my inability to produce a quality story.

With that out of the way, let’s get started with the book update. As this is the first update, I’m simply going to talk about the content of the book. The story takes place in sunny San Diego. It focuses on Garrett Payne, a high school student, who turns to a life of crime along with friends he makes along the way.

However, they are not just some petty thieves. They are “Gentlemen Thieves” (or “Phantom Thieves” as they’re known in Eastern countries), so they’re essentially Robin Hood. But rather than stealing the riches of the rich, they steal valuable objects from them in order to force them to confess to their crimes if they don’t want their prized possessions destroyed and lost forever. Of course while this doesn’t make much sense, as if they go to prison they won’t be able to see these objects, their twisted views of the world make them believe these objects of self worth are far more valuable then their free lives.

If  you’re wondering, yes I was inspired by Persona 5. I assure you however, beyond the high schoolers stealing objects in order to get criminals to confess, the story is very different. Their are no fantasy settings, talking animals, or anything else of that matter. The characters have different personalities and goals.

Anyway, at this point I’m not entirely sure how long it will take me to finish the book. I’m still working on the overall story and pacing. I have a good chunk of chapter 1 finished although I’m not sure how I want to have chapters spaced out quite yet.

That’s all for today. See you all next week!