overworldtheme: (Default)
Thursday, September 12th, 2013 04:06 pm
Cross-posted from the Vision Riders Blog.

Today I learned that my sister's wedding is taking place this October, not next October the way I had originally understood. In fact, it's taking place the same week as Another Star's scheduled release date. Even though it's not like I'm planning the wedding or undertaking its execution, considering the stressful amount of post-release bug-hunting and publicity I expect to have to keep on top of, 21 October is just not going to work—especially if I'm on the road that particular day driving my grandparents up here!

This leaves me with two options.

1. Move the Release Date Back

While this gives me more time to polish and promote the game, it also presents all-new problems. It's looking like I'm going to be moving sometime before the end of the year, probably in November, and there's no way I'm going to do a move and a game release at the same time. Not to mention moving the release even closer to the end of the year puts it in conflict with year-end sales at places like Steam and GoG.com. I'm not sure how a low-profile release like mine would fare when people are busy saving their money for snagging titles bigger than mine at 80% off.

So, early next year then? That'd give me time to do additional cool stuff like a Nintendo Power style strategy guide in PDF format, akin to the kind they put out for Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior on the NES back in the day. But that's also really postponing a project I'm ready to be finished with. The fate of Another Star and what comes soon after—if anything—is seriously going to determine whether Vision Riders continues to exist in any form. I'd rather get that over with sooner than later.

Which leads me directly to the next option.

2. Move the Release Date Up

It's a possibility, but it's a slim one. I could move the release date forward by a week or two. I'm not particularly fond of this option. 21 October is already a close shave as it is. September is nearing its halfway point, and I still have the last dungeon, final boss, and ending to design and code. I would have precious little time left to refine the script, get playtesting feedback, fix bugs and typos, and do all the promotion a title like this needs to get noticed.

Still, it is a real possibility, and one I'm seriously considering. Once the fate of the game's release is known for sure, I'll post about it here. Until then, assume the game is coming out later rather than sooner.

I'm really sorry about this. If the game gets delayed, I'll try to find some way to make up for it.
overworldtheme: (writing)
Monday, September 2nd, 2013 02:07 pm
[Cross-posted from the Vision Riders blog.]

Anybody who has seen any of my artwork or read many of the stories I've written over the years probably realizes that my preferred subjects are teenagers. This may seem like a strange choice to some, perhaps, but I simply find them to be the most interesting characters.

There's something fascinating to me about the teenage years that give them such a dynamic range of topics, struggles, and characterization. When you're a teenager there's still a bit of “magic” to the world, locked into that delicate balance between becoming a full-fledged adult and still being a child and having fun. You have your whole life ahead of you, and you're getting your first tastes of responsibility, independence, and individuality. Teenagers are still finding their place in this world and working to form lasting opinions on its many issues, while at the same time trying to make sense of everything, not to mention trying to make sense of themselves and who they are as a person. This age of discovery is such a ripe bed of story and character ideas, and teenagers will naturally have some sort of character arc to them just by existing in the world of a story. Not to mention children and teenagers are always so expressive, moving in wide motions that waste energy and display their raw emotions bare for the whole world to see, not caring who else sees or hears them other than their immediate friends.

Adults, on the other hand, tend to have things figured out--even if only in their own head. They're stiffer, less pliable, more reserved. Every action is subconsciously thought out, even things so simple as a basic walk cycle or standing in place. They've already been through the trying fires of adolescence and, having mastered mastered the many trials of puberty, their personalities and emotions are far more stable and static. That's not to say I don't find adults fascinating. It's just that their character arcs tend to be very different in nature, and stem more from the circumstances of what's going on around them instead of welling up from within themselves.

Sometimes I feel like I should grow up and write more “mature” characters, or start filling my sketch book with more “grown-ups”. But I never seem to stick with it for very long. The fluidity of youth is more fun to write or doodle than the subtleties of adulthood. And it's not like I'm alone. The majority of young adult literature is written by actual adults, after all.

There's also the difficulties of perspective. A decade ago I was a teenager. While clarity fades with time, I do still remember what it was like and how it felt. On the other hand, I'm single and don't have any children. That makes writing from the perspective of a parent, for example, more difficult. It's not that I can't put myself in the place of a parent when writing a character--I do so all the time. But it takes a lot more research to craft and understand, because I can't rely on my own experiences to the degree I can when writing about, say, young siblings interacting.

Looking back, I realize this is nothing new in my life. It seems I've always favored characters that are younger than myself. When I was nine, I wrote a story wherein the hero is a four year old. When I was a teenager, most of my characters where either very young teenagers, or more often preteen. Perhaps there's more than a bit of longing to it?

Now that I'm less than a year away from thirty I've noticed I've been slipping ever more twenty-something protagonists into my work. Tachi and Eva, the main characters in Another Star, are in their early twenties, and the player character Serenity in Junction is roughly twenty-eight. Perhaps when I'm ninety I'll be writing stories about all those spy young whippersnappers in their seventies.
overworldtheme: (animation)
Sunday, August 18th, 2013 08:30 pm
The second episode of Mako and Bolin's backstory is up. I don't like how "human" they made Pabu in this, and the reused music is a little distracting, but otherwise it's pretty cute, especially how the brothers interact. I'm not sure I ever really thought too much about how Mako is the big brother before seeing these.
overworldtheme: (animation)
Friday, August 16th, 2013 09:28 am

September 13th.

7pm Eastern.

That is all.
overworldtheme: (animation)
Saturday, August 10th, 2013 09:18 am
They're running Mako and Bolin's backstory on Nick.com. It's going to take awhile to get used to that art style, though...
overworldtheme: (tales of veigue)
Friday, August 2nd, 2013 09:30 am
Why is it that replies to my comments on other people's journals can only be sent to my email, and not my Dreamwidth inbox? I don't WANT more crap in my email, I get enough already. >:(
overworldtheme: (bunnies)
Sunday, July 28th, 2013 08:23 am
A few weeks ago I was looking for something to watch and noticed that Netflix has the entirety of the reimagined version of Battlestar Galactica. With nothing better to do I decided to check out the miniseries pilot and ended up enjoying it, so I continued on.

I'm usually hesitant to get into a series with hour-long episodes because it's harder to budget my time around. This was certainly the case here, and my work schedule probably suffered because of it. Regardless, last night I finally finished off the series finale.

Having done so, I can't help but feel that I wasted many, many hours of my life. And I'm not just talking about the finale itself, which was pretty bad, or even their inability to resolve even the most basic plot points in anything resembling a satisfying way.

Throughout the whole series the characters don't have development arcs so much as intermittent shifts in logic depending on the needs of the episode. It's one thing to write complex characters, but the vast majority of these characters are not complex so much as "random". The most central character to the narrative, William Adama, is by far the worst offender in this regard. I can't help but imagine that the writers spun a little wheel to determine "what will Adama's random personality be this episode?"

In this way, by the end of it they'd done a pretty good job of making me hate the majority of the characters, both those alive and dead, regardless of how much I initially liked or did not like them. And that's quite an accomplishment. I want my lost time back. Maybe they'd have done a better job if they weren't trying to contrive ways to get every single character into every other character's pants.

And seriously, frak that ending.
overworldtheme: (comics)
Saturday, July 27th, 2013 12:21 pm
I don't regularly read xkcd, so I wasn't aware of a little gem that Randall Munroe recently cooked up called Time until it was pointed out to me. It's an experimental comic that doesn't seem like much at first, but keep with it. I haven't finished it, but thus far the story is very cute.
overworldtheme: (writing)
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 07:25 pm
What is a story? You can give all sorts of answers to this question, and a great many of them would be “correct”. I think of a story as a narrative imparting some sort of tale in order to communicate an idea, an emotion, a moral, or a sense of enjoyment and delight (id est, art for art's sake).

But often times when I'm writing, I think of a story as a series of questions and answers. I'm not talking about deep philosophical navel-gazing questions such as “what does it mean to be human” or “does free will exist” or “what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow”. No, the questions can be as simple and bland as “what will this character do if they're late to work?” Or the questions can be more emotional and personal, like “what would this kid feel if they broke up with their first love?” No matter how simple or complex, it is the job of the story—and thus, the author imparting it—to answer the questions that it raises.

Many storytellers use their stories as a soap box. Not just the Ayn Rands of the world, mind you, but a great number of writers focus on inserting their own thoughts and feelings into the answers to their story's questions. There is nothing wrong with this. I do it to, even if to a lesser degree than some. In some ways, it can't be helped because the characters we write tend to be a sort of extension of ourselves.

But when I'm crafting my narratives I don't necessarily see the answers as my own. I like the think that a story's questions belong to their author, while a story's answers belong to the characters within the story. Thus the answers don't always have to be right, and they don't always have to be the only answers to the questions. They simply give us ways to view the problem from many different angles and give us insight into the questions themselves, whether simple or complex.

More importantly, though, is that exploring these answers gives us an opportunity carry on further and explore the consequences of the answers. Take, for example, a post-apocalyptic story about a large group of people struggling to survive. In such a scenario, the question will write itself soon enough: what does the group do when supplies such as food and medicine start running dangerously low. The characters' answer may be to sacrifice some for the good of all. This quickly spawns consequences, which in turn are questions of their own. What are the criteria for deciding who goes and who stays? Who makes the call? Will the group be rid of those people by killing them off directly or indirectly, or by sending them off with a bit of food and some hope of survival elsewhere? How do the survivors cope with their guilt? Do they even feel guilt? How do they deal with the dissenters who objected to culling their ranks in the first place? Would pruning their numbers actually hurt them in the long run? These questions will need answers of their own, driving the plot forward.

Being able to direct a story in such a way and explore the impact of our choices is not only a great exercise in creativity and keeping an audience entertained, it's a way for us to rationalize and contemplate ourselves and the way we think and act. Whether we agree with the choices of the characters, we get to imagine what the positives and negatives are and how a person might deal with them in turn.

This can even be a way to communicate a point, whether subtle or anvilicious. If the character's answer to the story's initial question is “wrong” in the eyes of the writer, then the story can be a way to explore why they think it's wrong, especially if the characters have to start finding answers for ever more difficult questions because of the consequences of their initial answer.

Likewise, this method allows the author to pose and explore answers that they themselves don't have an answer to. The story I described in my last big entry is an excellent example of this. How should the upcoming generation view, deal with, and come to terms with the issue of race and the problems the proceeding generations caused because of their own views and actions? It's a difficult question, and not one I think I'm even talented enough to answer. But that's exactly why I began writing the story. I wanted to explore possible answers that I think might be right, but also explain and discuss and explore the parts I'm less certain about through these characters and their experiences. Sometimes this makes the characters my mouthpiece in the story, while other times it makes them my antithesis. Either way, it allows me to put all the more thought and feeling into the worlds and scenarios I create.

Or just ignore everything I said and focus simply on having fun while I write. Yeah, I do that sometimes too.
overworldtheme: (Default)
Sunday, July 21st, 2013 10:10 pm
I haven't had a lot of entries over the past couple years, but I've been writing a lot more lately (as you've probably noticed). Because of that it's hard to keep track of when I get new comments.

What's the easiest way to keep on top of them? The LJ/Dreamwidth interface isn't smart enough to provide me with a convenient "New Replies" icon like a sane person would include, and new comments aren't listed on the main page like LiveJournal used to do. Yeah, they've got a sort of "activity list" but it's a pain to get to directly from my journal. I don't want to get emails every time someone posts just so that I don't miss anything.
overworldtheme: (animation)
Saturday, July 20th, 2013 09:46 pm
Nick has posted the first three minutes of the first episode of season two.

Their eyes don't look quite right to me.

Also, hopefully it doesn't feel quite as jumbled when it airs. There's not much of a segue from bit to bit.

That said, I can't wait for them to get this season going already.
overworldtheme: (bunnies)
Friday, July 19th, 2013 08:18 pm
That that I finished my "race" related rantings, I need to think of a new subject to put off writing about.
overworldtheme: (writing)
Thursday, July 18th, 2013 05:12 pm
This entry is somewhat personal in nature, so you'll have to forgive me for feeling a little bit silly sharing it. I feel like I'm both over thinking it and under thinking it at the same time.

About little over a year ago now I wrote an entry discussing writing characters of another gender. The entry was a part of a loosely-connected series of entries about writing and gender, but at the end of that particular article I promised that I'd do another entry about writing characters of another “race”.

After putting it off for a long time, and even considering shelving it, at long last this is that entry.

If you don't know who I am, it should be made known that I'm white and male. Maybe you are too, or maybe you're not. It doesn't matter, because I think this discussion is important to every writer to at least some degree. I cover a lot my personal background concerning race in this entry. You don't have to have read it, but it does give a bit of background to where I'm going with this so feel free to skim through it and then come back.

Wherein I discuss writing about people that are not like me. )

(Credit to Crystal for the witty title.)
overworldtheme: (video games)
Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 05:51 pm
One of the most common questions I get about Another Star now that it's getting noticed is whether or not I'm going to put it up on Steam Greenlight. The easy answer is: I don't know.

On one hand, it's all the more publicity for the game even if it doesn't get through.

On the other, Steam Greenlight sucks for all the reasons I've previously pointed out, and I hate it.

Actually, hate is a weak work.

I despise it.

I don't feel like coughing up $100 for "publicity" when I could put that money to better things like hosting and tools and computer parts, especially now that the bigger dogs are buying their Steam lottery tickets and grabbing that much more attention from the smaller guys.

I hate what Steam has done with the service, I hate how they treat indies while patting themselves on the back and thinking they've done a good job, I hate how opaque the service is after they played up how "transparent" it would be, and I hate how arbitrary their ideas are of who can and cannot use the service.

I also hate the fact that Valve--the supposed champion of indies--requires you to sign an NDA once you've been greenlit. The very idea of it irks me, in part because I hate the whole concept of an NDA for something as simple as a freak'n online storefront. Yes, I know they required an NDA prior to Greenlight, but it's not the transparency and openness they promised when they pitched this thing.

Truth be told, I'm not sure I care that Another Star has a tiny chance of getting through. I'm not sure I care that I'm losing sales by not putting the game there. Out of principle, I simply cannot stand the very idea of submitting it. I may yet give in, but the whole thing ticks me off and I'd rather just say "screw it".

Life would be a heck of a lot easier if I wasn't such a stupid idealist.

I may actually be making the right choice.

On that same note, can you believe it's come to the point where it's easier to get on to a Sony console than it is on to Steam? Wow. Way to go Valve.
overworldtheme: (video games)
Thursday, July 4th, 2013 11:34 am
At what point does one say "the hell with this" and just emulate the damn game? I got a Best Buy gift card for my birthday and wanted to use it on some DS games, but whether used or new everything I want is unavailable from them.

Dragon Quest V and Radiant Historia are at the top of my list right now, and even on Amazon.com both of those go for almost $40 a pop. GameStop's prices are much more reasonable for most of the titles I'm looking for, but the only copies they have are used and I'd have to drive to at least Louisville to find them (with the exception of a select few that are available online, but especially expensive). A couple, like Dragon Quest IV, even go for $100 on Amazon.

I don't like money being the reason to fall back on emulation of newer-ish games, and all the performance and overblown ethical issues and involved with it, but it's not like I have an easy way to get around right now and my budget is especially tight. Where is the line?

And, a month later, I still haven't decided what to use my birthday gift card on. :(
overworldtheme: (bunnies)
Sunday, June 30th, 2013 09:51 pm
So, I just wrote six pages (and growing) worth of text about how my political views have changed over the years. What a waste of time.

Might post it later, though, if only to validate all the wasted time.
overworldtheme: (bunnies)
Sunday, June 30th, 2013 12:49 pm
The drawback to having a long-running blog with a great number of entries spanning the years is that you can actually go back to read some of them and think, "wow, did I really think that?" There's some embarrassing stuff back there--and some of it isn't even a year old!
overworldtheme: (bunnies)
Thursday, June 27th, 2013 07:36 pm
I'm so ticked off. Who would leak my game that I so cleverly hid at this link:


I don't know how they found it, but I'm totally going to take the file down by tomorrow afternoon, just you wait and see!
overworldtheme: (vision riders)
Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 06:09 pm

A demonstration of the gameplay and world of Another Star, an 8-bit style RPG packed into a single 128x128 pixel tile sheet. In this video I demonstrate exploration, battles, visiting towns, and some basic party management.