Short Story: “Into the White”

This is the short story I wrote for my last college semester’s Short Story literature course. It got an A for a grade, and I figured I should share it with more than just the Professor of that course. Leave a comment, and enjoy!


Into The White

For days they had been traveling through the dark tunnels. Miles and miles of cold, hard passageways covered in slime, grime, and a damp, pervasive odor. Hour after hour, minute after minute, the group of explorers had fought to get ahead. They were hardy, strong-willed, and had an iron-set goal that kept them moving. They must explore, must discover things of value and bring them back. The survival of their community depended on the sometimes-suicidal exploration by teams of brave scouts, units linked together by a mental connection.

After what felt like an eternity, one of the younger scouts turned back to the leader and spoke up eagerly. “Boss, I smell something! I think it’s fresh air!” Behind him, Boss and the rest of the group immediately started sniffing the air in front of them. Faintly, they could taste the currents of fresh scent making its way down the enormous vertical shaft they had been climbing for what felt like hours. It cut like a knife through the grimy musk of the tunnel and their hopes spiked. Continue reading


New Game+: Brilliant Idea that Requires Proper Execution

I’ve been mulling over New Game+ for a long time now. It’s a feature I enjoy seeing in video games, especially RPGs, but it’s been painful for me to see it used in bad or flimsy ways. If a game has New Game + as a feature, it shouldn’t be thrown in haphazardly but rather integrated well into the whole experience. If New Game+ isn’t done well in a game, it can serve to bring the game’s experience down if/when you wish to return to it. And when it is used well, I find the game a better experience as a whole.

There’s a number of core design principles I’ve concluded on that I feel should be a guideline for New Game+. First and foremost is that New Game+ should be a benefit, not a detriment, for the player to use. You have just made your way through a game that is potentially long, or incredibly hard. You have done the work, conquered the plethora of challenges the game throws at you. New Game+ should be a properly-built reward for your efforts.

Second is that it should be designed to enrich any subsequent playthroughs the player will do in the game. Some players like to merely plow through a game in its entirety with end-game levels of power, and this is fine! Sometimes we all might want to go around with our Infinity +1 Swords, smashing everything that gave us trouble before. But this should not be the only option for all players to do when playing a game in New Game+. This only serves as a detriment, and restricts its usage to only certain players.

Third,  is that what you’ve accomplished, earned, and done during the course of a playthrough should be carried over to the next playthrough. There’s some instances where restricting certain things from being carried over is actually a benefit, and thus functions more as a case-by-case concept than a blanket concept. Continue reading

RPG Length: Why Longer isn’t Necessarily Better and Pacing is Important

After the explosion today on Twitter that resulted from Robert Boyd talking about Chrono Trigger’s pacing, and the comment about Final Fantasy 7, RPGs, and long game length that resulted in a less-than-charitable Twitter user’s outburst, it got me thinking once more about my preferences when it comes to RPGs.

Ever since I was a wee lad, eagerly placing a cartridge of Final Fantasy IV into his SNES, I have adored RPGs. When I wasn’t rocking out with Mario, Sonic, and all the other platformers of the early to mid 90s, I was ravenously looking for any new RPG I could get my hands on. I used to hound the local pawn shop every week, meticulously looking over the new games the owner had acquired, searching for more of that role-playing goodness to sate the appetite Cecil’s adventure created.

Now I find myself distant from the genre, despite the incredible abundance of games it contains that are all easily obtainable. No longer am I a young lad restrained by money and locked to the used games friends traded or pawn shops and thrift stores sold. Between any of the stores I could visit and the entire Internet accessible at the slightest touch, I could gorge myself on RPGs of any kind.

And, for a time, this change left me lost and confused, wondering “why?” Continue reading

Suikoden Character Analysis: The Importance of Character Worth and Value

[Do note, there are spoilers present in this post, so readers beware!]

First and foremost: Why does this all matter?

Suikoden I is a game that gives you 108 recruitable characters, 76 of which are usable in battle. Yet so many of them serve purposes that are already filled, relegating them to carbon copy roles. As the formula for developing a game like Suikoden was being attempted for the first time here, it nevertheless runs high with glaring flaws that later games have somewhat remedied. If nothing else, it comes down to this basic principle:

Every usable character in a  game must have a solid amount of worth and value to them.

This worth can come from several different sources: having plot importance of some kind, being a character one can use in combat, providing something of importance or a service (to the home base), and being a character one can use in war battles. (Do note the last of these is universal for every SI character).

The more worth a character has, the better they are. If not every character in a game has enough worth, then the end effect is falling flat and needs to be reworked. Even though it’s the first in the series, Suikoden’s end effect falls rather flat.

Continue reading

Writing Project #6 Revision: “Mr. Posheu”

For our midterm, we were to take one of the prior projects or craft questions we had written and try to revise it in some way. I chose to lengthen, adjust, restructure, and generally refine Writing Project #6. This is the end result.

MR. POSHEU – 1672 words

Continue reading

Writing Project #6 – First Draft

A few people asked to see this, and I figured it’d be appropriate to put this up where everyone can read at their leisure. Plus, it knocks some of the dust off of this ol’ blog.

[250 500 word short story based on 24 – specifically insomnia]

Continue reading

Super Sobou Land: A 19 Week Journey

When the Summer of Beatsome was in its final days, I got the idea to mark my progress with another banner. The act itself is simple to update, easy to deal with, and is good for motivation. Plus, I’m a statistics-loving guy and being able to look at my progress since a certain time on a daily basis is motivating and inspiring for me. Plus, I don’t need to stress about either trying to change my theme because I’m sick of it for how long I’ve had it around or looking for more material to use for a banner.

That’s where Super Sobou Land was born. Looking through The Spriter’s Resource for maps and map tile sets brought me to the Game Boy Color version of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. Essentially an upgraded port, they added a little map for each of the eight worlds contained within the game. The person who ripped the sprite sheet also added a tile set into it, and this tile set was so easy to work with that I built my banner out of it.

Super Sobou Land at the start (click for bigger image).

The plan was to have Luigi go through six worlds, each with a various number of stages within. Each stage was an Unfinished game, and at the time I had 98 of them. With a world designed to have 98 red stages – including the castles – I thought it’d be fun to watch Luigi make progress as he took out World 1’s Castle, or took down World 2-4 through 2-7 in a single day. Cheeky nonsensical fun, and it made progressing through unfinished games into a game. I’d mark what happened to every game, regardless of whether I’d nulled it, removed it, beaten, completed, mastered… you get the idea.

As for new games, that’s what I had that little red pipe next to the final castle represent. It was clear I wouldn’t only have 98 unfinished games to take down during all this, so I plotted to have another banner afterwards. It made the map less “THE” 98 Unfinished, and more “the first 98 Unfinished on the pile”.

33 updates later, we're at the end of the road.

If my plan was to get back to having no Unfinished games left, that plan kinda failed. Between sales, gifts, Christmas, personal purchases, the desire to ruin someone not being a minion and so on, I actually ended up with six more Unfinished games at the end of this journey than when I began. If nothing else, I kept myself from becoming a Double Minion (Minion being having at least 100 Unfinished titles in your collection)!

But, the biggest failing of this map is that it never showed just what I had changed. If a person was attentive to my update history, they’d know, but for everyone else they’d only see that I had beaten a game, not what game I had beaten. I kept a log written down of everything I had done, and this post is mainly to remedy this problem.

[Note: CCC stands for Capcom Classics Collection]

 Games Beaten (29/96) 

  1. Portal 2 (Steam)
  2. Jamestown (Steam)
  3. Mega Man Powered Up (PSP)
  4. Genma Onimusha (Xbox)
  5. The Binding of Isaac (Steam)
  6. Dynasty Warriors Advance (GBA)
  7. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition (DSiWare)
  8. River City Ransom (VC)
  9. Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (PSP)
  10. Monster Tale (NDS)
  11. Dynasty Warriors 5 (PS2)
  12. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Steam)
  13. Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions (PSP)
  14. Eufloria (Steam)
  15. Dead Rising 2 (Steam)
  16. Really Big Sky (Steam)
  17. Minecraft (PC)
  18. Limbo (Steam)
  19. Ys I & II Chronicles: Ys II (PSP)
  20. Guilty Gear Judgment (PSP)
  21. Astro Tripper (Steam)
  22. Zeit² (Steam)
  23. Mega Man Maverick Hunter X (PSP)
  24. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (360)
  25. Rock of Ages (Steam)
  26. ActRaiser (VC)
  27. Dungeon Defenders (Steam)
  28. Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins (PSP)
  29. de Blob (Wii)

 Games Completed (37/96)

  1. Half-Life: Opposing Force (Steam)
  2. Lunar: Dragon Song (NDS)
  3. Capcom Classics Mini Mix: Bionic Commando (GBA)
  4. Castlevania Chronicles (PS1 Classics)
  5. Your Doodles Are Bugged! (Steam)
  6. Zombie Shooter (Steam)
  7. Super Mario Kart (VC)
  8. Sequence (Steam)
  9. Ben There, Dan That! (Steam)
  10. Granny in Paradise (Steam)
  11. Trino (Steam)
  12. CCC Remixed: Bionic Commando (PSP)
  13. CCC Remixed: Black Tiger (PSP)
  14. CCC Remixed: Last Duel (PSP)
  15. CCC Reloaded: 1943 (PSP)
  16. CCC Reloaded: Eco Fighters (PSP)
  17. CCC Reloaded: SonSon (PSP)
  18. CCC Reloaded: Pirate Ship Higemaru (PSP)
  19. Rampart (GBC)
  20. CCC Reloaded: Exed Exes (PSP)
  21. CCC Reloaded: Commando (PSP)
  22. CCC Reloaded: Knights of the Round (PSP)
  23. CCC Reloaded: 1943 Kai (PSP)
  24. CCC Reloaded: Mercs
  25. CCC Reloaded: The King of Dragons (PSP)
  26. CCC Remixed: 1941: Counter Attack (PSP)
  27. CCC Remixed: Three Wonders (PSP)
  28. CCC Remixed: Quiz & Dragons (PSP)
  29. CCC Remixed: Avengers (PSP)
  30. CCC Remixed: Block Block (PSP)
  31. CCC Remixed: Captain Commando (PSP)
  32. CCC Remixed: Final Fight (PSP)
  33. CCC Remixed: Forgotten Worlds (PSP)
  34. CCC Remixed: Magic Sword: Heroic Fantasy (PSP)
  35. CCC Remixed: Mega Twins (PSP)
  36. CCC Remixed: Section Z (PSP)
  37. CCC Remixed: Side Arms: Hyper Dyne (PSP)

 Games Beaten & Completed (2/96) 

  1. Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls: Final Fantasy II (GBA)
  2. Contra III: The Alien Wars (VC)

 Games Nulled (6/96)

  1. Game & Watch Gallery 2 (GB)
  2. Game & Watch Gallery 3 (GBC)
  3. StarCraft 64 (N64)
  4. Age of Empires (PC)
  5. Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome (PC)
  6. Inside a Starry-Filled Sky (Steam)

 Games Removed (22/96)

  1. X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (PS2)
  2. Trauma Center: Under the Knife (NDS)
  3. Freedom Force (Steam)
  4. Freedom Force vs The Third Reich (Steam)
  5. Maximo: Ghosts to Glory (PS2)
  6. AaAaAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity (Steam)
  7. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (Steam)
  8. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (NDS)
  9. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (GBA)
  10. Fire Emblem (GBA)
  11. Bit.Trip Beat (Steam)
  12. Stacking (XBLA)
  13. Capcom Classics Mini Mix: Strider (GBA)
  14. Crash Bandicoot (PS1 Classics)
  15. Alien vs. Predator Classic 2000 (Steam)
  16. Delve Deeper (Steam)
  17. Toki Tori (Steam)
  18. Knights in the Nightmare (PSP)
  19. Bit.Trip Runner (Steam)
  20. Fate of the World (Steam)
  21. Gratuitous Space Battles (Steam)
  22. Night Sky (Steam)

The reason it is 96 and not 98 is due to a few errors. Contra III: The Alien Wars was mistakenly recorded twice on the map, and Fire Emblem was never an Unfinished game for this map. It works out well in the end though, as that makes the big final castle not a world at all. Fuse this with my new banner, and it is as if Luigi has entered Castlevania where he now must assemble a 104-piece password to save the day from the Evil Lord Bak’Laag. Onward, to more progress!

Summer of Beatsome 2011

Back in 2009, my friend and fellow Backloggery Kariohki did a “Summer of Beatmore” to motivate her to get to a handful of games she had sitting around that hadn’t really been beaten or played much prior. She succeeded in the list she wanted to tackle, too! Fast forward to this June, where she tells me she wants to attempt a “Summer of Beatsome”, a less-intense version of Beatmore. Make it a goal to get a few games down, motivate oneself to get to that which hadn’t been accomplished yet. I decided that this was a great idea myself, since having a plan makes me get a good 80% of whatever is on that plan done within the time frame allotted. Of the five games on Kari’s list this Summer of Beatsome, she took down three.

Myself, on the other hand? With more free time and a ton more games around to faff off with, I managed to Beat three listed games, Completed 10 listed games, and went above and beyond by Beating an additional 8 and Completing an additional 19. I also removed 88 games. All the stats will be in a list below, as I want to explain why I removed that many games.

With the help of some friends this summer, I reevaluated my priorities and the very reason why I was backlogging. I’ve been known to be stubborn, rage-infused, and almost violently-motivated to finish games no matter how bad they are. Then, through the conversations with and by others, did I realize that one should play games to enjoy them. They’re not an obligation, they’re a hobby. Something to enjoy, to use in your leisure time, and to have fun with. With my impulse buying giving me a ton of stuff I didn’t want to play but owning for the sake of buying cheap games, I had a paradigm shift and began removing anything I didn’t want to play.

I also finally changed my stance on duplicate games. Prior, if I had multiple copies of the same game, I’d list them and mark them beaten or completed so long as they were on different systems. Yet I was also against copies of games, duplicates, and the like. I changed my paradigm on this as well, making it so that if I had multiple copies of a game that were exactly the same I would null all but one favored copy. Games that were changed, ported and updated, or remade, I would keep all of them with the UBCM statuses. Exact copies became a one-medal-per deal, but to change the game in some structural way caused a difference in an experience and thus was worth giving it its own Beaten, Completed, or Mastered medal.

Overall, I’d say that The Summer of Beatsome 2011 was a great success, and I’m looking forward to doing something like this again! Thanks to Kari for the idea and the motivational support. And now, the complete list of games I beat, completed, and removed in the past 3 months.

Offical Summer of Beatsome Games Beaten (3):
Brutal Legend (360)
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
Ys I&II Chronicles: Ys I (PSP)

Official Summer of Beatsome Games Completed (10):
Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs (PC)
Pikmin (GCN)
Banjo-Kazooie (XBLA)
Fallout (PC)
Phantasy Star IV (360 collection)
Gauntlet Legends (N64)
Harvest Moon (VC)
Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge (GBA)
Golden Axe Warrior (360 collection)
Phantasy Star II (360 collection)

Official Summer of Beatsome Games Left Unfinished (3):
Final Fantasy Tactics: TWoTL (PSP)
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA)

Official Summer of Beatsome Games Removed (3)
Heroes of Might & Magic III + 2 expansions (GOG)

Additional Games Beaten (8):
Qix (GB)
Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time (Steam)
Breath of Death IV (Steam)
Cthulhu Saves the World (Steam)
NodNation Racers (PSP)
Fallout 3 (Steam)
Bastion (Steam)
HOARD (Steam)

Additional Games Completed (19):
Mega Man Xtreme (GBC)
Classic NES Series: Super Mario Bros. (GBA)
Back to the Future: The Game (Steam, all five episodes)
Swords & Soldiers HD (Steam)
Dwarfs!? (Steam)
Ecco Jr. (Steam collection)
Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi (Steam collection)
Space Harrier II (Steam collection)
Galaxy Force II (Steam collection)
Alien Soldier (Steam collection)
Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties (PC)
Half-Life: Blue Shift (Steam)
On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 1 (Steam)
RUSH (Steam)
Half-Life: Opposing Force (Steam)

Removed (EIGHTY EIGHT games):
Braid (Steam)
Cogs (Steam)
Droplitz (Steam)
Europa Universalis III Complete (Steam)
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (Steam)
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (XBLA)
Psychonauts (Steam)
Super Laser Racer (Steam)
Cortex Command (Steam)
Auditorium (PSP)
Vertigo (PSP)
Super Mario 64 (N64)
Apple Jack (XBLIG)
The Impossible Game (XBLIG)
Ecco the Dolphin (360 collection)
Ecco: The Tides of Time (360 Collection)
Phantasy Star III (360 collection)
1943: Battle for Midway (NES)
Air Fortress (NES)
Double Dragon II: The Revenge (NES)
Ghostbusters (NES)
Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II (NES)
Legacy of the Wizard (NES)
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (NES)
Tetris (NES)
Tiger-Heli (NES)
Sky Shark (NES)
Borderlands: Mad Mxxi's Underdome Riot (Steam)
Golden Sun (GBA)
Golden Sun: The Lost Age (GBA)
Wave Race 64 (N64)
Yggdra Union (PSP)
Prinny 2 (PSP)
Monster Rancher Explorer (GBC)
Xenosaga Episode 1 (PS2)
Riviera: The Promised Land (GBA)
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom (Steam)
LittleBigPlanet (PSP)
Madballs in Babo: Invasion (Steam)
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox)
Columns III (Steam collection)
Puzzle Dimension (Steam)
Alien Breed 2: Assault (Steam)
DOOM II: Hell on Earth (GBA)
Gish (Steam)
Heroes of Might and Magic III Complete (GOG)
Bejeweled 2 Deluxe (PC)
Breath of Death VII (XBLIG)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (360)
Borderlands + 2 DLC (360)
Tidalis (Steam)
Jam City Rollergirls (Wiiware)
Final Fantasy 4: The After Years (Wiiware, 4 tales)
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (360, collector's ed)
Bullet Candy (Steam)
A Game with a Kitty (PC D/L)
1213: The Series (PC D/L)
The Chzo Mythos Quadrilogy (PC D/L)
Gamma Bros. (PC D/L)
Streets of Rage Remake (PC D/L)
Nezumiman (PC D/L)
Soul of Dracula (PC D/L)
Spiral Knights (Steam)
The Orange Box (360)
Ridge Racer 6 (360)
Jurassic: The Hunted (PS2)
Guitar Hero II (360)
Guitar Hero III (360)
God of War (PS2)
Jeopardy (N64)
GT 64: Championship Edition (N64)
South Park (N64)

A Week in Gaming 2nd Quest: Weeks 21, 22, and 23

You know you’ve been lax on writing in a blog when a bar graph shows high values for views with decimal points in those views. Not 30 and 40, but more 3.0 and 4.0. Truth be told, I’ve been incredibly lazy in posting on Impressions of a Lump. Albeit it doesn’t seem like I lost much in doing so; I can never tell if the 3o to 40 views a week I get are people or just spambots who sense activity and decide to attack me here.

I could go on an enormous stream of consciousness rant, but my memory is terrible and I’ve already forgotten half of what I’ve done over the past three weeks. The long and short of it? I’ve completed four games, beaten one, and sunk around 75 hours into Terraria on Steam. In detail? Read below. Continue reading

A Week in Gaming 2nd Quest #19 & 20: 5/8 – 5/14 & 5/15 – 5/21

Oh hey look, the Rapture apparently passed and I’m still here! Either it didn’t happen or every last person on the planet was unworthy, go figure. That nonsense aside, I’ve been incredibly sparse and lacking in my updates lately. Week 19 was my final week of classes, things were wrapping up education-wise, and that Sunday my mind completely veg’d out. Week 20? More vegging, laziness, trying to get adjusted to not having classwork to do, and sudden apathy as a result of lack of structure to my daily routine.

Over Week 19, we had more of the same in Borderlands. I played that game obsessively, to the point where my Siren hit max level and farming Crawmerax became a dull task instead of the intense fight it had been the first time. Every quest was finished, and I completed the main game, the Knoxx DLC, and the Claptrap DLC. That left the matter of the Moxxi’s Underdome DLC… Continue reading