Cha-Cha-Cha-CHANGES!

The blog is undergoing a slow, steady set of changes that have already begun. I’ve mentioned it before, but little by little, it is evolving. The “Sample Writing” section has become “Professional Works”, which will be growing in the next three weeks. The “Hip Cats” section of the blogs will no longer be listed by screen names but real names. The “Publishers” list is going to get cleaned and a new site or two will be added shortly.

The art and Warhammer themes of this blog will remain for the moment, but there will be a gradual phasing away. The random art banner will soon mix different pieces of art into it. The people who have been coming to this site have more interested in general entertainment and writing than Warhammer. And that’s fine.

My baby blog is growing up… (Sniffle.)

Pen, Paper, Processing

A lot of the earliest pencil and paper roleplaying games have tended to ease their formulas to provide the right mix of complexity with ease. A lot of basic math is applied to calculate certain values, which are then the basis of desired values for an act of chance, the results of which are reflected for better or worse in the game.

“But many game fans out there enjoy the depth of skill-based adventuring, not just action.”

The appeal of these roleplaying games has always been the sense of legitimate adventure confined more by the scopes of human imagination than the limited scopes of a digitally designed world. Combine this with a sense of social interaction these games require and you have a fun and flexible product to be shared with friends.

The computer and especially the smart phone have opened up new possibilities of complex skill-based calculations, story telling and dungeon creation. This ease of use often comes at a cost, as many of the worlds created in larger titles have been the signature of someone else’s vision.

The ordinary dungeon master in his room often has access to some tools for creating his own world, such as dungeon designers and map building applications. But to apply one’s pure, artistic mark to the creation using these tools is overshadowed by the visions of the artists who created them in the first place.

There’s no real solution to this. The difficulty here is art and science versus engineering. The artists focus on creating something, the sciences on discovery. But the engineer is bound by these visions, working within the confines of what is available. These dungeon builders and systems are tools for game engineering, and they are useful if not necessary. But creating original art is much more challenging, and there is no real way to formulize it.

It requires a vision that the machine isn’t able to provide, at least at the moment.

“Exploring things is a form of very vast, unrealized gambling.”

Going back to my original point, I’ve noticed that people enjoy these complexities of game rules. Forums are awash with break downs of how the math of Diablo II worked. Some fans grumble at the lost RPG elements found in Mass Effect, taken away and replaced with a simplified system combat and no real adventure elements outside of where a conversation can take you. Discussion of the value of skills and stats in the Fallout series is a major consideration.

Simple and accessible is certainly nice. But many game fans out there enjoy the depth of skill-based adventuring, not just action. Fighting and violence is not going anywhere. But the explorative nature of alternatives can breath a lot of addictive elements into a game, as a result of discovery.

Why is this? Probably because exploring things is a form of very vast, unrealized gambling. Maybe hacking that terminal will give you easy access to your goal, or bring security down on your head. Perhaps there’s nothing in that cave, or a mountain of treasure. When you open that door, you have no idea what’s behind it. Maybe it’s an army of guards. Maybe it’s the princess. Maybe it’s One-Eyed Willy’s rich stuff. Maybe it’s a rolling boulder. Who knows? Absolutely no one, until you find out.

For a while, that’s the direction that games were evolving. Sometimes we’re still moving in that direction, or at least toying with the concept. But I have a vision to create a world of infinitely renewable adventures. Where there’s always a story oriented goal, another door to open, a mountain to be climbed. No attempt at it has satisfied me thus far. Call me mad, but I know it can, and will, be done.

Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)

I don’t read much manga. Too much of it goes on about childish things and cutesiness that I don’t have the patience for. So when I find a series that I like, much less catch up on in a single day, it must be a damn good one.

Shingeki no Kyojin

Shingeki no Kyojin

Shingeki no Kyojin, better known as Attack on Titan, is an up and coming manga to watch out for. The series is relatively new. There are only 37 chapters out at the moment (each chapter being the length of one regular comic book). The first volume has been released to the U.S., but fan-lations are available for the recently released volumes Japan-side.

SnK is set in a world where, a century ago, mankind was almost wiped out by giants who eat us. No one knows or understands why, especially since it seems that the Titans draw no nourishment from it. But by building a city encased in a massive wall, our race is protected until the appearance of the “Colossus”, a one-of-a-kind Titan who is 60 meters tall. After kicking down the gate, the Titans enter and take the outermost layer of the city, while two more walls keep the Titans out.

Eren Jaeger and his adopted sister Mikasa are survivors of the attack, who enlist in the military. When the Colossus appears again five years later, Eren is thrust in battle and soon discovers his ability to transform into a Titan himself. However his gift destroys the trust his allies have in him.

Worse yet, they soon discover that their are others who can shift into Titans; suggesting that the Colossus maybe one of these shapeshifters…

Shingeki no Kyojin is dark. It’s bloody. It’s deep. It’s rewarding. And it’s awesome.

Series creator Hajime Isayama does a great job of taking all those tiring anime/manga clichés and somehow crushing them against his forehead like a beer can. Eren is young, but he hates being just a kid in a cruel world. Nor does he cry or whine or go “poor me” like some other protagonists who tire me out. Not when good old revenge motivates him. Puberty has seemingly been skipped. A lot of the doubt that comes from the protagonists tends to be understandable feelings of, “I don’t wanna get eaten.”

Seeing a real life act of vore would probably damage me psychologically as well. Well, more than I already am.

Likewise, Eren is more a component of an ensemble cast of fleshed out characters. While his power is incredible, it has plenty of limits. He’s lost fights in the series, only to get saved by his allies and friends. This isn’t the tiring “get beat up waiting for Goku” teamwork, it’s legitimate “work together” teamwork. I don’t think there’s any guarantee that Eren will survive to the end of the series.

The best thing that Isayama has done thus far is concoct the perfect pace for character development, world building, discovery and intrigue. The world is young, but there’s a lot of depth. There are details about the Titans which are explored and explained, yet there are many questions left. Fights lead to discovery, and victory is rewarding to the reader as they unravel another clue in the mystery. But there are also distant goals to keep us going, such as the unachieved research material in the home of Eren’s father.

Most awesome of all is the fact that SnK is so young that no one can spoil it for you. It’s so fresh and new that no one knows enough to blow the plot. But fear not! Isayama has admitted in interviews that he’s thought hard about the what happens next. So you (probably) won’t have to fear crazy-weird plot alterations just to keep the series fresh.

Angry Marine RAAAAAAGE

Having to fight the Emperor MAKES ME SO ANGRY!

Having to fight the Emperor MAKES ME SO ANGRY!

  1. Boot up Space Marine.
  2. Go to the Customizer.
  3. Select Chaos. Go to the armour selection screen.
  4. Check out the ‘Rage’ helmet. You don’t have to own it, just hover over the option to see what it looks like.

Well done THQ. You made the right helmet for the wrong race. How am I suppose to fight without my mmmngry game face?

Gosh!

Anyway, I’m going one and done for the Black Library September submission window. It has been sent. I poured tremendous work into that one story and I like how it came together.

Had a friend who is a professional editor and proof reader gloss over it and give me the a-ok stamp. Sent it in. So if they don’t like it, then I’m not ready to join them. There’s always next year. The only way a writer can fail is if he gives up.

In the mean time, I made a promise to myself to try and work on submitting to a few fictional magazines. I actually already have a listing available. Later, I’ll put together a spreadsheet to track who gets what stories.

SPEAKING IN CAPS MAKES ME SO ANGRY

CHAOS GETS A RAGE FACE AND WE DO NOT?! HERESY!

I’m also going to consider putting some art, such as either my models or sketches, on the blog. Although DeviantArt is quite cool, I’ve heard (though have not confirmed) unsavory things about the nature of how DeviantArt’s respect for IP works. True or not, I’d rather just do my own thing like Forjador or Jeff Preston.

Normally, I try to stay away from taking art. There are times I’ve considered whether or not to use a picture for my blog (that one time with Forjador’s work was with his permission and for his promotion). And often, I decide not too for that reason.

When I do post art, it’s usually book or movie covers who benefit more from exposure than not. If asked, I’d take it down. But it has not happened yet. Had an idea for an interesting story this morning. Post about it later.

Remembrancer Forjador

Outstanding work by Forjador.

Outstanding work by Forjador.

Check out this amazing piece by Forjador, then check out his blog. Forjador just showed upon the Bolthole’s Shoutbox and absolutely floored us with an amazing piece of work featuring Sergeant Gileas Urten of Sarah Cawkwell‘s upcoming book, Gilder Rift staring the Silver Skulls.