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

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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!