Monday, October 14, 2013

The Pipe


A friend of mine saw this shirt, and commented that it needed a fiction based on it. I wanted a short diversion, so I obliged. Enjoy. ;P
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  It has been three years since the Princess vanished for the last time. Nobody thought it could actually happen. For countless years Bowser had come to kidnap the Princess, and the Brothers would rescue her. It was a strange routine, but it was life in the Mushroom Kingdom. Why argue against what worked. Besides, she’d long ago ceased to be anything more than a figurehead. It’s not like she ever participated in any of the Castle Courts… Tennis and Basketball aside.

  At first, the toad were afraid. What would become of them? Sure, she was only an icon, but her presence had kept the Koopa King from launching an actual attack against them. With the Princess to distract him, the toad could more or less go about their lives as they wished. Bowser very rarely came beyond the Mid-Lands, and the people there were used to the constant struggle for possession of their lands. But now…

  Eventually the fear gave way to apprehension, which then became unease, before finally settling into a nice light discomfort. At least, for a little while. It turned out that the Princess wasn’t the only one to disappear. Reports came in from the Mid-Lands that King Koopa hadn’t been seen in quite some time. This wouldn’t have been too remarkable on its own, as he occasionally launched off to set up some elaborate scheme that would distract him and the Princess for a blissful few months. But with the princess already gone, no word from the Brothers, and rumor coming out of the Badlands saying things were quiet over there as well… Unease began to creep back in.

  And then the horrors began. Koopa’s Kids were found strangled by piranha plants. The whole lot of them, as if someone had just shown up and began stringing them up over the walls of Bowser’s Keep like some sort of sick decoration. Shortly after that Kammy and Kamek bobbed up from the bottom of the Great Lakes in Mid-Land. Nobody had seen them for some time, but the word was… they were going on about Peach coming back for them when they disappeared.

  King Koopa eventually turned up. He and Mario were found lying together in his chambers looking as if they’d just fallen asleep there. No marks on either one of them, but their faces were frozen in mirror masks of terror. It was then that the Badlands began clearing out. A mass exodus, and all the while people carrying on about the lady of the pipes, or something like that. The stories were unclear. All anyone knew for sure was, there was something dark in the Badlands, and nobody knew what to do about it.

  Then just as things seemed to be at their worst, Luigi turned up, alive. The story he brought was unbelievable.  Princess Peach had been hidden in Pipe Land this time…. Only the Mario Brothers caught up with Bowser in the Badlands, and thoroughly trounced him there. After that they went to the Pipe Lands hoping to find the Princess… but eventually had to return to Bowser’s Keep to drag him out there to help them. Nobody could find her… and then both the Koopa King and Mario went missing. One morning Luigi woke up and they just weren’t there.

  He’d heard the stories about the Koopa Kids, and of Kammy and Kamek, but he didn’t know what was happening. When he learned that his brother and Bowser had turned up he was distraught, but set out to figure out what was causing all this. That was the last anyone heard from him.

  Time passed without any further horrors. Life began settling down, and people had even begun to move back to the Badlands. The going story was that Luigi had succeeded in stopping whatever it was that was happening, but had either been killed in the process, or had left to mourn in peace. Nobody knew what to make of the crazy ‘Lady of the Pipes’ story, but in the end, it didn’t really matter.

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  The Chancellor was tired. It had been another long day in the courts, and again the people were talking about choosing another ruler… as if that would help anything. No matter how they tried to explain the minimal impact the Princess’s disappearance actually had on the political system, Every little hiccup was blamed on her departure.

  Coming into his chambers, he was surprised to find a rather gaunt looking toad standing in the center of his room staring down at the floor. In his hand he held a dirty looking letter closed in the pink stationary that Peach had been fond of. Who would bring my mail here? he wondered before asking, “What is the meaning of this?”

  Looking up with a hallow expression that caused the Chancellor to take a step back, the toad intoned, “Here is a letter… from the Princess,” as he raised the envelope towards him.

  Uncomfortable as the young toad made him, the Chancellor stepped forward to take the letter, “Ummm… thank you for this. You can leave now,” he wasn’t sure what it was, but the starved looking toad gave him the chills.

  Waiting until the interloper had walked down the hall, he locked his door and looked at the envelope. It hadn’t been sealed, so even if it somehow had in fact been written by the Princess, which he doubted, there was no telling whether or not it had been tampered with. He almost didn’t open it, but he’d never been accused of a lack of curiosity, so he flipped the letter open and pulled the grimy sheet out.

Greetings,
  If you see any ghosts, be careful. They will give chase using Goomba’s shoe. The White Block contains magic powers. Be careful, the thief escaped. The creatures trapped in the ice will come to life. Please come to the castle, I baked a cake for you. I am well, hidden in the darkness at the end of the world.
                Princess Toadstool

  Standing there in horror, he let the letter fall from his hand. The Archives… Nobody had access to those… the boy! He ran into the hall, and down the corridor he’d seen him take. At the other end of the hall, he stumbled into one of the guard.

“Where did he go?!” he shouted without preamble.

“Who?”

“The boy! He just came this way, where is he now?” he snapped back.

“Sir, there hasn’t been anyone besides you and the watch in these halls for hours. Is everything okay?”

“I…” he didn’t know what to say, somehow the kid had snuck by, “I’m fine. Just keep your eyes open, and let me know if someone turns up who shouldn’t be here.”

“But of course sir,” the guard saluted, wearing a confused expression.

  Turning, he walked back to his room and stopped in the doorway. Sitting there in the center of his room was a warp pipe. He’d heard they could be summoned, that apparently the Koopa had the secret… but no toad had ever managed it. If this was here….

  Seven Moons… a voice he almost recognized came floating out from the pipe. Low, and whispered, with an edge that carried the promise of death as plainly as if it had spoken the threat aloud. Too scared to move, he could no more than watch as the pipe slowly lowered itself into the floor leaving no trace that it had ever been there. The words hung, if not in the air, then heavily on his psyche. This… this cannot be…

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  The chancellor was found one morning hanging out the window of the keep’s highest tower. Days before his death he’d been heard mumbling apologies to the Princess, and going on about a secret archive that should have never been opened. The only thing out of place in his belongings was a strange grubby looking letter in the Princess’s stationary. In respect of his privacy, the letter was stored away with the rest of his personal artifacts to be delivered to his next of kin.

Friday, September 13, 2013

This post brought to you by.... The Music of 'Two Brothers' (OST)

  Two Brothers? What kind of orchestra can you possibly hope to have with only two brothers? Let's just say that the title may be a little misleading. 'Two Brothers' is the title of an upcoming love song to classic gaming (Specifically of, the 'Isometric Action Adventure' variety) in the shape of what looks to be a rather awesome 'Retro Inspired' 'Modern Game'. Mouthful? That's my fault. Let's just say that 'Two Brothers' is a new game, based on old games, that looks like an older game, until it gets newer looking. Better? No? Fine.

Two Brothers is an Action Adventure game that features a classic Gameboy aesthetic


  And THAT's official Ad Copy that I totally stole directly from the Official Site (Font and All). So if you want better, you'll just have to write it yourself. In all seriousness though, I'd love to give you more about the game, but sadly I do not have a copy of it to give you my impressions from. So you'll have to experience it yourself when it releases soonish. (I was slated to 'Beta Test' this little gem, but unfortunately life and luck prevented that from happening. So I'll just enjoy it in it's polished state once it releases formally. Perhaps I'll even write about it after that as well ;P). You can also of course learn more about it from the link to the site just above.

  Why tease you about this title here then? Speaking of titles, what is the meaning behind this post's title? More important than either of those though, why am I asking so many questions today? The answer to the first two is simple. A one 'Brian Allison' (For I assume there is only one... >.>) posted on the 'Ackk Studios' Twitter that he was looking for people to listen to and write about the Official Soundtrack. I warned that I was no penman, but that I would gladly take the excuse to bring words to pixels... and shortly thereafter found myself saddled with "About 4 hours..." of finely crafted, classical (Gaming) inspired music.

  Let me be upfront here and mention that I am no aural connoisseur. If you were to snatch a sample from beneath my earbuds (In the rare occasion I am in fact listening to music) you would likely scour your ears after the horrors found within. Let's just say, this song was... for an undisclosable amount of time... my favorite song (Not the video, just the song... and I know that's bad enough...). On top of that, the Pandora station that gets the most mileage out of me is this one. So this is less a dissertation on how this soundtrack fits into the spectrum of musical accomplishments, and more a few words from the dark recesses of my consciousness while the music finishes playing in the background.

  What do I think then? Well it goes without saying that I love it. Not because I have such a limited musical vocabulary that synthesized bleeps and bloops (In the occasions that such sounds are present in this music) are enough to gain my love, but because this soundtrack dances through everything that was ever right in classical gaming music. It plays, sometimes overt, tribute to the music of games long past while maintaining an energy and overall presence that is truly it's own. You can believe, listening to this music, that the soundtrack itself is a reimagining of music from a well loved classic, and that fits perfectly the overall 'vision' for the game. The only negative thing I could say at this point is that listening to the soundtrack has now made me even more eager to dive in and experience this currently unreleased title. And that's not really a bad thing at all... (For them. For me it's terrible. ;P)

  I close this as the Credits tune plays, which is not only quite an awesome coincidence, but provides a fitting backdrop to this entry. What did they do with the last song? Beat the game, pre-order the deluxe edition and listen for yourself, or imagine if you will a slow stroll through nostalgia as expressed musically on a piano, and you'll be at least part way there. In the off chance that you aren't yet interested in this title (And if you're reading this blog and fall into this category, I... don't even know you...), here's the most recently posted Trailer to remedy that (As I've not really talked about the game itself. This was, after all, a post about the Soundtrack).



Friday, May 24, 2013

Rust

  Sooo... Maybe I shouldn't write when I'm in excruciating pain... >.> Anywho, this is a piece inspired by the prompt "Rust" on this dA Member's Contest. Enjoy? ;P

(This is a Repost... as I don't know what kind of craziness was going on the first time I posted it. O.o!)

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  What sounded like an explosion rocked the ship, and what had moments before been a pleasant exercise session turned into a panicked scramble for the bars lining the rooms walls. As the rocking grew more severe, if felt like the entire ship was tearing itself apart, and the grinding squealing sounds it was making as it did were enough to liquidize what little courage the men and women of the crew had.

"What's happening?" Soo the re-entry pilot shouted at nobody in particular as she reached the navigation bar fastened to the wall.

"How the heck should I know?" Jerek, the nutritionist, reaching the bar next hollered back assuming, as was his usual, everyone was talking to him. A habit that he obviously didn't drop even during a crisis such as this one.

"Where is that coming from?" Zaile, research lead, screamed as she reached the bar almost on top of Greg, physical therapist, who yelled, "What's going on?" at the same time.

"Everyone to the suits!" Barney, the maintenance guy, ordered, taking charge in a bad situation. This would have likely surprised everyone had they not just recently become aware of how short their lives were likely to be.

  With direction now, everyone began pulling themselves towards the door leading towards the suits.

* * * * *

  Yawning, Brett couldn't care less what the instructors were saying. His father had worked ship construction his whole life, and Brett came to it naturally. There wasn't anything more complicated to be found in this warehouse than he's already encountered at his previous job. Drumming his fingers silently on the table at the back of the room, he let his mind wander, dreaming of one day maybe piloting one of the ships himself. He knew that wasn't likely. You had to be rich to afford all the pilot training courses you needed... but it was nice to dream sometimes...

* * * * *

  As Barney was pulling the door to the exercise room too, a second explosion threw them all into the wall opposite the door and a scraping, crashing sound accompanied what was supposed to be a stationary bike as it lodged itself into the corridor, tearing through Barney and contorting him into a gruesome mockery of a human form between the bike and the wall.

"Don't stop!" Soo sobbed out, hurrying behind the rest of them as they climbed the ladder in the access corridor. Their only hope was to make it to the suits and from there straight into the emergency life pods... They had to make it... what was happening to the rest of the crew... what was happening to the ship...

* * * * *

  Lifting the panel into place, Brett couldn't believe how lucky he'd been. Coming out of the last warehouse with a less than stellar work history, he had assumed his future in ship assembly was over. His father had of course been livid... but it wasn't his fault they fired him. Just because he didn't brown nose the boss like all the other guys did during training, he'd been constantly harassed since he started. Every time he made even the tiniest mistake, the shift lead would jump down his throat like he'd done it on purpose.

  Now he was working for an even larger assembly house, and sure... he'd had to move to get the job, but he was 'way' over qualified for this work, and the money was great.

"What are you doing!" the boss's voice shouted out from right behind him.

Jumping and dropping the panel as he did, Brett whirled around angry at being surprised.

"If I have to tell you again not to use the external housing inside the ship, you're going to spend the next year sorting through the used materials! Do I make myself clear!"

"Yes sir..." he muttered looking down at the ground as he did.

* * * * *

  There weren't enough suits... this wasn't the way it was supposed to be. Safety regulations specifically required that every ship carried enough suits to protect every crew member in every station. There was one too few suits for all of them, and they couldn't go out in the safety pod without a suit.

"What are we going to do?" Greg shouted as soon as they realized there weren't enough suits for all of them, "Someone's going to have to go out without a suit! Someone's going to die! What are we going to... Oh my God!"

  Soo turned to see what he was pointing at and the sudden panic that snared her had nothing to do with the increasingly violent sounds the rest of the ship was making around them. Zaile was thrashing, aimlessly with a screwdriver sticking out of one of her eyes as Jerek took the suit she'd been holding and pushed it towards her.

"We didn't need her," he said in a voice too calm for the chaos of their current situation, and not at all balanced with what he'd just done.

"What did you do!?" she screamed, "What's wrong with you!?" she continued not taking the suit drifting towards her.

  As he was putting his suit on Jerek responded, still in the too calm voice, "Somebody was going to die, we don't have time to talk about it, if we don't get out of her right now we're all going to die, would you rather we all died, I did what I had to do."

  Pulling her suit on as her stomach violently threatened to empty itself, Zaile's blood had been sent drifting across the room by her thrashing, Soo knew they didn't have time to discuss this... but what was wrong with Jerek?

* * * * *

  These last few years had been rough for him. Brett learned the hard way that after being fired from two of the largest ship manufacturers in the country, it was a little harder to get another assembly job. Even the autocraft manufacturers wouldn't hire him, and working in food processing didn't pay nearly as well.

  He'd heard some rumors though. Supposedly one of the primary assembly shops was getting bought out by their competitors... and his father used to have quite a bit of sway with this particular shop. Maybe if he talked to the right people...

  Only two months later he was manufacturing lead of a crew of about 20 guys, and all the nightmare problems his lead had dealt with in him was repaid in spades. Lazy workers, incompetent workers, workers that just stopped showing up altogether... they were lucky to get anything built. Next year they were going to bid on a rather important contract, and if he could show them how amazing a lead he was... Going back down to the floor, he knew he had an uphill battle ahead of him.

* * * * *

  Pulling the launch lever, the shuttle began separating from the ship. As the seal broke and the stabilization gel filled the pod, Jerek began thrashing in his straps. He could feel the gel oozing along his back. It shouldn't be getting into the suit! I sealed the suit! Oh God it Burns! Tearing confusedly at the releases for the suit, his vision was quickly swallowed by the gel as it seared the flesh of his eyes.

  Soo stared aghast towards where she knew Jerek was thrashing as his screams faded from the com. Something was wrong... did she really care? Too many people had died.. did anyone else even make it out? As the environment in the pod stabilized, and the gel became transparent, she looked over to see if Greg was okay. He was staring at Jerek with a sick expression on his face.

"I... had to do it..." Greg's voice came through the com, "He... he killed Zaile... we couldn't trust him Soo... we don't know who he'd have killed next..."

She didn't understand, and said as much, "What did you do?"

"I cut his suit. When we were sealing the pod, I took a torch to the back of his suit... We couldn't trust him Soo..." he stammered.

  She didn't know what to feel anymore. Too much had happened in too short a time. It seemed like forever ago they had all just begun their daily workout... and now... only she and Greg were still alive, drifting off in a life pod... with Jerek's dead body... dead because Greg killed him... It was all just too...

The sharp sound of something metal straining as if against a incredible force cut through the shuttle.

* * * * *

  This new kid reminded him a lot of himself when he'd been younger. All attitude, and constantly in a hurry. He refused to fire him though. Not only would that make things more difficult as he was about to retire, but he would prove that if you just worked with someone, you could help them grow. Look how far he'd come. Taking a deep breath, Brett spoke in only a low yell.

"Okay, one more time kid, and if I have to repeat myself again... I'm sending you down to used parts," a slight tingle at that niggled the back of his mind, but he shook it off, "I need you to put together these last few consoles for the navigator. Remember, this ship is heading out further than any ship they've sent before. The only reason you get to work on this project is because your dad spoke highly of your attention to detail. So tell me then, why are you using the old bolts for these casings?"

"Sir," the kid responded, almost sincere sounding... but he knew that most kids were just waiting till you turned around to say what they really thought, "all the newer bolts were left outside. The containers were full of water and some of the bolts had already begun to rust."

"Are you freaking kidding me!" he shouted back. They had to get this project finished before he could claim his full retirement sum, and he wasn't about to let something stupid like a few rusty bolts stop that.

* * * * *

It took less than a minute for the life pod to tear itself apart.



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hush-a-by Baby...

  Heh, there was another competition on dA (By an individual group this time) and this one (The "Tales of Time" Competition) asked for a creative work based on a "Classic Story" of the past. I chose the Nursery Ryme Rock a By Baby (Suggested by my Roomie) and used the 'Original' iteration of it to inspire this tale...

* * * * * * * * * *


Hush-a-by baby…

  Running through the woods he could still hear its voice… or whatever it was… whispering through the trees. Daylight had left long ago and this thing… it seemed content to stay just out of sight, whispering at him all the while.

  And worse, the things it whispered, while sounding innocent enough, had some kind of… power… to them. With these newest words, the screaming he’d been doing, in the desperate hope that someone… anyone… would hear him, had stopped in his throat, and he could no more scream than he could fly. Even trying made it harder to breathe, which running as he was, was not an option.

On the tree top…

  The rustling of the leaves above him caused his stomach to drop. It was no longer behind him. Stopping where he was he looked about desperately trying to find it. If he was prepared when it tried to drop on him he could… what? Die prepared? He had no weapons, not that he would know what to do with one. He had nothing to fight it off with. He had been playing in the forest behind his home against his mother’s rules… rules he wished now that he had followed.

  There were things in the forest the adults had all said. Men would go out at night and never return. Some said the injuns had taken them… but the stories of nightmare creatures filtered down anyway. He thought they were just stories… stories to frighten children into listening to their parents, but this didn’t feel like the kind of story he wanted a part of…

When the wind blows…

  No longer was it just a rustling above him. The trees seemed to sway with those last words, as if a forest itself had begun to dance in tune with this thing’s desire. He had no doubt what the thing wanted, him. He’d wandered into the woods at night, and now he was through. He’d never again see his mother’s stern but loving smile, his little sister’s annoying, but somehow endearing gurgling, or his father’s disappointed frown.

  They’d only moved to the new lands the year before. He’d been excited by the opportunity to see a new world. Something completely different than the boring life he’d lived up until that point. He was sick of his schooling, and the thought of living in a new world full of adventure had excited him to beyond bearing. When they’d landed, he wanted to do it all, explore, fight injuns, find gold, but life on this side of the water turned out to be far less exciting than he’d hoped.

The cradle will rock…

  The ground felt as if it moved beneath his feet, throwing his balance and sending him tumbling through the underbrush. The sharp thorns of whatever it was he had been standing next to tore into him, and his face was smashed unceremoniously into a nearby tree. Grabbing the wood as one would hold log floating down the stream in a flood, he felt as if it were somehow sturdier than the ground he was failing to stand on.

  No longer able to keep his balance on the forest floor he tried his luck pulling himself up into the lower branches of the tree… which somehow seemed unaffected by the rocking and roiling of the earth below. The swaying of the trees seemed to have moved to the ground below somehow, so he made his way further up into the branches above, his thoughts of making it out alive now almost gone entirely, his thirst for adventure no longer seeming so inspired.

When the bough breaks…

  Between one branch and the next, the entire tree let out a sound as if something inside it, something important to keeping the whole thing together, had just been torn out of it by force. With a shudder the tree began falling apart, almost in slow motion, that breaking sound echoed in all the trees surrounding him as the entire forest now sounded as if it were tearing itself apart.

  Desperately trying to find a grip on something that wouldn’t just drop him to the ground below, he managed to hold tight to a particularly large branch that was angled across a nearby tree, and as such it was falling far slower than the rest. As the branch itself snapped he dropped the remaining few feet to the forest floor and curled into a ball covering his head as if his arms would do anything to protect him from the trees collapsing all around.

The cradle will fall…

  Silence. The sound of the breaking falling trees, the low rumbling that had accompanied the roiling of the earth, even the wind and other more natural sounds of the forest had quieted. Daring to uncover his head, he looked around at the carnage around him, and was stunned at what he saw. The trees standing tall as if they’d never moved. The ground as flat and undisturbed as if no one had been this way in years, and certainly not as if it had just be rolling like a stream beneath his feet. It all looked perfectly normal…

  Standing, his legs unsteady as they expected the earth at any moment to toss and turn once more, he looked around in disbelief. Looking down at himself, the tearing of his clothing had not vanished, it was as if ‘he’ were the only thing in the forest that had been affected by… whatever it was that had just happened. Shaking in fear, he began to wonder if it was possible that he had…

And down will fall baby…

  A scream, his mother’s scream, pierced the night, and all the blood felt as if it had drained from him with that sound. His little sister. He didn’t know how he knew, but in that moment he knew that something had happened to his little sister. All this time it hadn’t been him in danger, it had been her. All of this was a distraction, or something worse. His sister…

  Running back toward the house, towards the sounds of his mother’s wailing, now punctuated by a sound from his father that was nothing like he'd ever heard from a man he'd seen as invincible. Screaming out at the night, the things power over his voice now lifted, “Take me!" he tried to bargain, helplessness flooding him, "Don’t hurt my sister! She doesn’t deserve this! I disobeyed my mom, not her! She’s just a baby!” Screaming into the night, his voice was swallowed by the darkness, and the only answer he received was its final words…

Cradle and all.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Be Healed

  Okay, so there are Weekly Contests for "Premium Members" at deviantART, and they typically make for interesting prompts. Last week's prompt was simply the word "Heal",  and this is the story that came out of me from that.

* * * * * * * * * *

Looking up at the counter, “The Child” was on a mission. She knew that the town Roose had what she was looking for. She knew that there had to be something here that would make her mother better. Using a chair that looked less like something you would sit on, and more like the kind of worn out furniture you found outside behind someone’s house. That ‘project’ that never got worked on, and whether it rotted as fertilizer, or held the tomatoes, it generally found its way to the garden. Using that to climb up where she could reach the counter, she began digging through the papers, vials, boxes, and more that littered the surface.

“The Child”, it may as well have been her name ever since her father had passed away. She was told that he’d gone on to a better place, that he was folded in the land’s final embrace, but when she asked if she could visit him there, they told her that it wasn’t her time to go. Ever since then it had been “Who will help provide for ‘the child’, you have no other family here”, and “What will you do with ‘the child’” asked of her mother by the neighbors when they didn’t think she was still listening. Opening a small intricately worked metal box, she frowned at the loose paper, and dried leaves inside. She’d seen some of the older folk sit around putting these together and smoking them on the porches. Finding them on the Roose’s counter caused her to wonder at the good effect they must have on people. But this wasn’t what she had come for, so she closed the box and continued her search.

Ever since that day, her mother had become more and more distant, her trips outside the home fewer and fewer, until finally they only ever saw company when it came calling. During that time she had become noticeably weaker, and had lost a considerable amount of weight. At first the Roose had refused to come to see her, insisting that it was normal for a woman who had lost her husband to mourn. But after the season’s had passed a full cycle, and her mother had not been seen for half of it, the Roose came to her. Standing beside the bed and never once opening her satchel, the Roose examined her mother, asking her questions about her diet, and about how she felt. She waited for the moment that the Roose would make her mother better, waiting for the satchel to come open and the Magic Words to be said. But after what seemed like far too short a time, she picked up her satchel and left the room. No herbs, no smoke, no tonics, and No Magic Words.

After the shock of what had just happened, she ran to her mother’s side and promised her, she would make her better. Getting no response from her mother, who had once again nodded off, ‘the child’ set off to find what she would need to help. And here she was, rifling through the many things on the Roose’s counter, not seeing the pouches or tonics that she’d watched the older woman use when people were ill. Frustrated, she looked once more around the room. Barrels that were held together by rusted hoops, and luck, holding tools and whatever was tossed into them in passing sat at the end of the counters she had just finished searching. Cabinets, that may have at one point had doors, lined the walls higher than she would be comfortable pulling the glass containers, holding all manner of things, from. The older wooden floor didn’t look like it’d been swept in years and the closet at the far end of the room with one of the barrels holding its door open was the only place she could safely reach, but hadn’t looked yet.

As she climbed down and made her way to the closet, a sound at the front of the building let her know she was no longer alone. Rushing in and crawling behind a convenient stack of books, she balled herself up as small as she could and hardly dared to breath. She didn’t want to get caught, didn’t want the Roose to stop her from making her mother better. She couldn’t imagine why the woman would want to stop her, but she would take no chances. She could hear the Roose come into her workroom and stop just inside the entrance.

“What in the lands…”

She could hear the woman moving about the room, and heard too, the sound of something being set on the floor rather soundly. The Satchel. Moving slowly, and as silently as she could manage, she attempted to peek around the books. To both see where it had be set, and also, to maybe see what the older woman was looking at now that the sound of movement had subsided.

“I don’t have time to… who would… the child… oh no…”

The Roose rushed from the room, not stopping to take her bag. As soon as the child heard the front door come too, she quickly rushed over to the satchel. It was far too large for her to carry the entire thing, but opening it up, she found the jars and herbs she was looking for. Using her dress to carry what she could, the child went back out the rear of the building and made her way home, careful to keep out of sight.

As she reached her house she waited in the trees until the Roose left, she had suspected the woman would have rushed here, and only then went back inside. Coming up to her mother’s bed, she couldn’t hear the heavy breathing that had been with her for the last few phases of the moon. Perhaps the Roose had done something this time. Sitting on the floor, the child began mixing the ingredients together. She had seen all of these things used to help people who were even worse off than her mother was, and every one of them had recovered to full health. So if she mixed them all for her mother, then there was no way that whatever she had wouldn’t’ be cured. Besides that, she knew the Magic Words.

As she sat stirring the thick concoction with a spoon from the kitchen that hadn’t seen a real cleaning in quite some time, the child considered how to get her mother to drink this… or if she ‘should’ drink it. Sometimes the Roose would apply her remedies to the bodies of the sick… but no, her mother would have to drink it. That way she’d get the full effect. Pulling the stool up to the bed, the child climbed up and shook her mother.

“Momma!” she called, “Momma, I got you a medicine. You can be better now Momma,” shaking her as she did she was frustrated that her mother wasn’t waking. “Momma!” she shouted, “Momma, get up! You have to drink so you can be better!”

The child jumped down from the stool and grabbed the mixture. Climbing back up to where she could see he mother, the child set the concoction at the head of the bed and began shaking her mother more vigorously. “Momma! I got you a cure, and I got the Magic Words! Momma, Wake, Up!”

She didn’t know if the person had to be awake for the words to work, so she decided to try. Standing as straight as she could, the child tried to do it the way she’d watched the Roose do it when she made someone better. Holding the mixture in her two hands, as she wasn’t big enough to hold it with one, the child reached out with it and taking care not to mix up the words she said, “Take this tonight, and you should feel better tomorrow. Drink this, and Be Healed.”

Nothing happened. There was no light, no sound, and no wind. The room was silent enough that one could almost hear the tears as they hit the stool the child was standing on. A firm hand on the child’s shoulder received no response, and some time passed in silence before she heard, “You did what you could child. She is beyond your help now.”

Turning in a rage, the child lashed out with her little fists, and shouted, “You didn’t make her better! You didn’t even try!” chest wrenching sobs beginning to form within her, “Why didn’t you help my Momma!”

Doing nothing to stop the blows, the Roose tried to put a hand on the child’s head in a comforting manner. She had never been the best at comforting children, “Your mother had a malady of the Soul Child. There was nothing my tinctures and tonics could have done.”

Glaring up at the old woman, the child spat, “And why can’t you cure the soul!?”

“The soul is beyond my reach little one. The Wise Men, that is their domain. My cures are cures for the body.”

“Then I will learn to cure the soul!” the child exclaimed, “If I learn to cure the body, and the soul, nobody will ever have to lose their momma!” For she knew, she had seen her father when he had passed, and her mother had the same stillness. She had gone to the final embrace of the land… and she would never hold her again.

“That is a noble desire child,” the Roose said, pulling the child into an embrace, which was enough to loose the torrent of pain that the little one had just barely kept at bay, “and I will do whatever I can to make it so.” And though nobody had wanted to take this child’s care in their hands as the little one’s noble intents were commonly seen as mischief, the Roose knew that her future had changed, and that the child would be her responsibility from here forward.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Human Suffering, and Downtime at Woot...

So... last night I was hit by a "Creative Spark"... or perhaps it was the heavy handed slap of madness that follows all who would dance beneath the light of the moon. Either way, Woot put up a page to cover their shady "Shopping Cart" 'Upgrade' (Why they would do this shortly after, and not a dose before they revealed the Woots for the day... the world will never know...), and on it they asked for an essay... wait, I saved the prompt:
Write a short essay on the nature of human suffering as it relates to the outage of your favorite website. Seriously. Make it any length you like. WE'RE NOT MAKING THIS UP. Email your essay to lamentations@woot.com and we'll read them to each other and offer constructive criticism as we are able. If you choose this option, award yourself an extra 150,000 Quiz Points for purposes of the status list below. And nothing else. Seriously, nothing else.
  So of course, my head ringing with the blow I'd just received, I had share my 'Suffering', and because I 'love' you guys... I'll share it with you as well. ;P

-------------------


  To understand human suffering, we first have to understand what it is to be human. For without a baseline, there is no way to run home, and the ball will forever be in play. This is why you never pinch hit for someone you love, as the only force stronger than love is the wail of Wooters waiting for What. Though he has, and forever will be on second, Who doesn’t care and his wife has grown fat on his earnings and loose in her play. I Don’t Know, Because, I Don’t Care, it’s like a hit list and Who would strike them out were he to know that none of them needed to make it to third before reaching the scoring position.

  Suffering is not the kind of subject one should write of lightly. Like a garden grown in place of the grass that is never greener regardless of the colour of your thumbs, the pain that embraces mankind cannot be kissed away. It’s like a growing addiction that cannot be denied, and no matter what you say, it cannot be healthy. Seeking a light for the dark side of man will inevitably lead to the prick of a rose on the gray. But if the thorns are removed, would it still be a rose? What would you call such beauty, such pleasure, no pain? Do you think… could it still smell so sweet?

  But enough with the maunder, and let’s dispatch with the eaves of March. April has come, and with it a spring of fools too new to know to beware. Like the theatre of Pompey, in which grief closed the doors as often as glee, we must strive to remember the pillars of our passions, and though it’s Crap that we seek, it’s the diem we carpe instead. Let us chase father time with the might of our Carrots! Bandoliers loaded, there is little that stands before us, and with Attis suspended from our wood, we shall march upon the Magna Mater… no matter where she ‘ides

  When I first began this journey in the darkest pits of man’s eternal struggle, I was reminded of the toad. Was he alive when he chose to juggle the vase, or had his life already come to an end. Without toilet seats, or tube socks, it’s difficult to imagine a world where it could be so, but perhaps we should look deeper. Death waits on no man, and as any woman could tell you, there are no bones stopping you from reaching the heart… provided you know where to begin. It is a tribute to the endurance of the soul that even after hours of patient reflection, he is still comatose… and as I am not a doctor, I’ll keep holding this mirror in hopes that removing the punctuation from his feet was enough to wake him.

  It is here that my journey with you ends. Through desert I wrote, and though I beat around the bush, it’s been a fun run. It’s gonna be hard for me to top tonight’s piece, and though you’re never sure down what rabbit hole the words will take you, let this be a warning, it’s gonna be a long time before never say never comes up in the hallowed halls of Woot again. You know… if I didn’t give myself this time to reflect, I’d likely have written something drab. I’m gonna learn from this, as they say, the adventure is always worth the write. And never would I have thought I could say so little with so many words… Why, reading back from here… It’s almost like I’m reading about the Love of a Stranger

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  You know... reading back through this... and "Labeling It" (Tagging)... I wonder 'what' was in the water last night... ;P (And holy snap! I had to trim my Labels down to 200 Characters... and this thing goes too many places for that. O.o!)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Minioning at the Emerald City Comic Con

  Now... there's something wrong with the fact that I'm going to be writing a "Full" Blog post in about a show I've only 'sort of' done once before I've written 'Fully' about PAX. Be that as it may, that's what's going on. ;P So this weekend was supposed to be a 'resting' weekend, as I work often times 7 Days a week and I've been running even harder these last two weekends due to things that needed done (Family visiting, and etc.). That was the case up until about... 2130 Friday night.

  I saw a post about how one of my friends could use extra bodies at the ECCC and as I was 'technically' available (I did work, but not until evening...) I texted him to let him know I was available, and in short order it was arranged for me to come in the next day and work the show. (This is on the strength of our having worked PAX together for a few years now. So it wasn't like I was just a random dude wandering in with no clue what to do. ;P) So the next morning, I wandered in, with no clue what to do... >.>

  On a slightly more serious note, while I knew 'how' to work a show, I obviously didn't know 'how' to work 'this' show. So the obvious Customer / Exhibitor Service Overlaps were easy, but the 'technical' operational differences needed some clarification. Good thing I catch on pretty quick. ;P Though, at a certain operational level, you kind of have to. For anyone who's ever worked a show of any kind knows... things change... and sometimes you don't get any appreciable warning before they do. Of course, it's 'generally' not 'core' things that change, but the little processes... and as the 'majority' of what you'll be doing come doors open is 'little processes'... that can sometimes be a headache.

  Anywho, I showed up to be a 'Minion' (PAX has Enforcers, ECCC has Minions), got my shirt, badge, and welcoming smile from 'The Lair', and made my over to the "Gaming" section of the show. On the way over I started to get that familiar show feel. People rushing to and fro, doors open imminent, and the last minute touches being made by the exhibitors. I will say, that having only done PAX in the past, I was a little surprised by the scale of the exhibitor booths... but I reminded myself that the entire focus of the Expo Hall here is different.

  While PAX's Expo hall is the "Big Guys" coming in to show off their latest and greatest to the public, and interact with Gamers, mixed with a wonderfully healthy dose of the smaller guys showing off their work... Emerald City is primarily the smaller guys showing off their work, with the "Big Guys" being the glaze. Now there's nothing wrong with that (Especially since, while they cater to an 'Overlapping' audience... it is in fact a different demographic that the shows are targeting), it was just a different feeling walking through the ECCC Expo Hall for me. (For one, I could see over the booths to the walls, and the show floor is nowhere near as dark, or noisy with games and videos blaring at you from every booth. ;P)

  Now before I continue, I must confess that there has been some... irritation between Enforcers and Minions in the past. No hate, but certainly tummies being rubbed the wrong way, and that is a problem with the individuals causing it, that has been attributed to the groups as a whole. We are not apples, and a bad, or even just sour, individual does not spoil the rest. Apparently, someone(s?) "Representing Themself(ves?)" as an Enforcer(s) [That's a headache to read... ;P] came to ECCC and basically communicated that "You're doing it all wrong". I want to make it clear that no Enforcer I know would approach another organization in that way, and I am ashamed that someone seemingly did (Of course, that's just one side of the story... but the take away is that this is a poor approach, and not something I would like to see happen in the future. ;?) So once I made it to my department for the show, it was time to see what they were doing wrong... ;P (Okay... I've run that 'joke' twice now... I think I need some new material. >.>)

  After a brief orientation (Again, I've done a 'few' shows) and some instruction, it was time to hit the floor. Being a minion is at it's core a Customer Service position. Our 'Customers' are the Attendees, and in some cases the Exhibitors, attending the show. Each minion (This department, I won't assume operations for the others) is assigned an area where they are to monitor crowd flow, answer questions, and otherwise make themselves available for the odd jobs that pop up during a show. As I have some experience working with Exhibitors, I was primarily focused on taking care of their needs, while making myself useful wherever I was able.

  The actual "Mechanical" part of the job is less interesting to write about (As much as I may love doing it. :P). Answering procedure questions for Exhibitors (How Load Out is handled, who to contact for X,Y, and Z, How late they're allowed to stay... etc.), pointing things out on the map to Attendees (The Sixth Floor... and the fact that as there are two buildings... Floors 1-4 can refer to either. ;P), and even escorting and Exhibitor from an Panel, and Running for Coffee for a Management Level Minion (Something that absolutely tickled me. I know I'm silly, but I can recall asking someone to do so for me on a number of occasions, as I knew I wouldn't be able to wait through the lines, so it was fun to be on the 'other' side of that. ^.^). But these are the little things that keep a show going while making the experience enjoyable to all parties involved, so I was happy to contribute my bit.

  After my shift (Which is an entirely new experience for me as well. During PAX, my 'Shift' is Wednesday/Tuesday to Monday/Tuesday... with a few hours to nap each night. ;P) I was lucky enough that my friend had taken a room at the hotel nearby, and I had the opportunity to take a shower before running to work "IRL". I will confess... working a show and then going to work is a bad idea. I was exhausted... but I made it, with barely enough time to get home, pass out, and do it all again the next day. O.O

  I did manage to rack up a few golden stars during the weekend. I was confused when they were placed onto my badge, and upon check-out I was informed that someone had 'busted' me doing a good job... so that was cool. (As I said in my dA Post, I was first teased that they represented Waffles... and the Waffles were a lie! D:)

  So at the end of this "Mad Impulse", I was exhausted (The Nights leading up to the show were spent getting exceptionally little sleep, as there were a number of things that 'needed' to be done, and I was 'originally' planning to relax and re-energize over the weekend. O.o), pleased at how the weekend had gone, and lightly educated in the differences between shows. Have I the time, I can see no reason why I wouldn't enjoy "Minioning" it up again. ;P

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Writing Again. ^.^

  And since this is my "Creative Blog" one would assume that I'd have updated it with that information... right? Well, I'm not that "On the Ball" yet... but I'm getting there. ;P

  Sooooo... that Advent of Indies thing... yeah... December was a crazy month filled not only with the usual hustle and bustle of the "Holidays", but also a large sum of "Extra" hours at work, and even the joys of looking for, and changing jobs... So I kind of dropped the ball there. Alas, it seems that there is no surer way for me to fail at a project than to announce it in writing... All except for one, which I am proud to say I have kept to for the entirety of the year thus far.

  Right on the First of the year, one of my friends had mentioned that she was going to take a photo a day for the year. Now... I'm no photographer. I mean, my Dad was, and I've had a childhood filled with "Family Photos" being set up, "Just So"... so I'm a little more in tune with it than some, but it's certainly not something I've ever felt "Called to".

  That said, for some reason, when I read about her project, I was 'Inspired' and decided to take on the challenge as well. I am aware that 'Part' of it was the fact that for the last couple months I 'have' kind of wanted to take pictures 'On the Side', and another 'Part' would be the fact that this Christmas the "Household Gift" was a new DSLR, but that alone wouldn't have drawn out the crazy in me.

  A "Larger" part of this project, for me, is that along with each shot, I'm making myself write 2+ Paragraphs... about the shot, about what's going on in my life, sometimes just 'Off the Cuff' ramblings from my thoughts. This has been amazingly inspiring for me. Typically, I try to make myself write, but then 'Real Life' gets in the way, and whatever project I'm trying to work on peters off. But this time.. there are even more variables that have been working in my favor.

  First, I've been working on a Fan Fiction (Yes, another one. ;P) for awhile now. It's been on and off for the last year, and I'm ecstatic at the fact that I've been able to keep myself working on it when I get the chance. So, my writing has been pseudo consistent for a little bit anywho.

  Second, One of the things that has killed my "I'm going to start writing" urges has been the lack of 'Inspiration'. I'm a workaholic, and not a lot happens in my day to day that's worth writing about. Sure I think sometimes 'Interesting' things, sure I have sometimes 'Interesting' experiences... but neither of these is predictable, and 'Most' of the time my schedule is / was... "Wake up and Rush to Work -> Work for 12+ Hours sometimes split across Jobs -> Come Home and eat my meal for the day -> "Maybe" spend some time trying to get things done around the house OR attempt some entertainment -> Sleep -> Rinse, Reuse, Ad Nauseum.

  So having to first come up with (Though that happens "Last Second due to late nights at work most of the time. :?) a photo idea, but then to take it and post it gives me 'At Least' that to write about if nothing else. And thanks to this shift in Daily Planning, I've actually gotten accustomed to looking around me with a more 'Visually Inquisitive' Eye. I've always been able to pull stories out of the air, and likely always will (Not that all of them are 'Interesting' ;P), but I will admit that until recently the 'Natural Beauty' of the world around me has mostly gone by unnoticed. So in a little way, that helps to inspire me too.

  All that said, There is one additional element that has helped this transition. Even as I type this, I am 'At Work'. I realized long ago that my "Workaholic" nature was killing my Creative Output. Now... I've tried in small ways to counter that.. but it always ends up boiling down to time / energy running out before I can get home and actually "Create". So I made a decision that 'This Year' I would either cut my work schedule to the bone (Work 'Just Enough' that I could pay my bills and not a moment more), so that I would have more time / energy, or that I would move into a job that allowed me the opportunity to "Create" even as I worked. I managed to luck into the latter... and this has been the best choice I've made in a long time. ^.^

  Anywho, the long winded point here is that yes, I am writing again, yes, I am 'Creating Again' and I have the unusually good feeling that 'This Time' it will stick. In previous attempts I've never felt compelled to 'Write Even More' than I'd intended... and now, I can't help it. ;P

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Advent of Indies

  I’ve heard of “Advent Calendars” in the past, but I’ve never really looked into them, or paid them any heed. This however, an “Advent of Indies” is the kind of tradition I can get behind. For purely selfish reasons of course. A slow buffet of free indie games, and an introduction to a new purchasable / winnable one each day? Sign me up!… Or don’t, as thankfully this site doesn’t require that silliness. ^.^ It does however provide a free game (From each day until Christmas, and an opportunity to win a copy of a purchasable game (Though that’s of less interest to me, I just like the overall idea. ;P )

  I was introduced to this (Follow me down the Rabbit Hole) through a PC Gamer RSS Feed Item, read through Game News Now an RSS Reader (Tailored “Shockingly” to games. ;P ) on my HD7. Apparently it was dreamed up by Indie Developer Jana Reinhardt of Rat King Entertainment (Who I’ve admittedly never heard of until now).

  What I am going to try though, is to peek in each day, and briefly review/introduce (Depending on my interest, time, length/quality of the game, platforms the game is on, etc.) the bite sized game on offer for the day. This works on two fronts for me. 1) I get to try out new and potentially interesting indie games each day. 2) I now have a motivation to write, even if just a little bit, each day. Win-Win I think. =^.^= As an aside, I’ll mention the “For Sale / Gift” title, and provide whatever information I may or may not have about it.

  Since I’m a bit late to the party, the first post will be covering the first 4 Days. I’ll also note that as I live –8 UTC and they who are hosting this live at +1 UTC, the “New Day” happens at 1500 for me, so I may occasionally be talking “About the Future”… ;P

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sooo… NaNoWriMo Eh?

  I’ve come, I’ve Failed, I’ve Given Up. But that was the past. That was “Old Me”. This year, I think I can do it. There’s no particular reason other than it really shouldn’t be as difficult as I’ve let it be in the past to “Make” time for myself to just sit and write. So here I go for another year of “Literary Abandon”. Join me?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Game +

    Okay, so now that I’ve beaten Chrono Trigger for the DS, I figure it’s time for a Review. Did I like it? Of course, it’s Chrono Trigger. Main Game wise, nothing’s been changed. That was never a concern. Did I like the Extra Content? Not so much. By the by, this is a review for people who have played the original game to completion. There are points that won’t make as much sense to you, and a few spoilers if you haven’t. You have been warned. (I also “Ruin” the extra content, but there’s not much there to “Ruin”. Again, just warning you.)

    First the DS interface. The bottom screen provides a world map when you’re on the field, and an area map that fills itself in as you explore the different zones. On top of this they provide the ability to move using the Touch Screen. You move by touching a point on the bottom screen away from the Center. Close to the center and you walk, further and you run. Also, the “Action Button” (Talking to people, searching, opening a chest, etc.) is activated by tapping the screen, and whenever there are dialog choices they appear as buttons on the Bottom Screen. I don’t like this method of movement and have yet to meet anyone who does. Unless a game has been designed around this movement system, I don’t think it should be shoehorned in (It’s not “Bad”, just not something I like. It works fine.) . I will admit that I did find myself using it while “Grinding” a few times, as I could play the game one handed while doing something else (Using the Mouse/remote/etc.) with the other. There’s an entire post that could discuss grinding in games, but Chrono Trigger’s not that bad about it, so we’ll skip it for now. ;P

    On both sides of the Map are customizable menu buttons. Direct access to your Item/Equip/Swap/Tech/Etc. screens, and even the Menu Screen itself are available via these buttons and they give you the ability to arrange them however you like. Like the movement I initially didn’t like them, though the fact that you can go directly to these screens without having to go through the Menu Screen, and the ease with which you can reach them (As they are along the sides of the Screen) kind of grew on me. With one tap access to screen that would normally be Menu –> Screen, it wasn’t a bad thing, and I found myself using them on and off as I remembered them.

    Your actual “Menu Screen” has also been reworked. When you hit the Menu Button, your Character’s Base Stats (Name, Level, HP/MP), Time Played, and Gold are displayed on the Top Screen. On the bottom you have the Sub-Menus as larger buttons filling the screen. You can still navigate the Menu via the control pad, but everything has been reworked into Buttons/Tiles to make navigating via the touch screen easy. I found myself using the touch screen over the control pad occasionally as they really did a good job with it.

    Finally, you also have the option of the Battle Menus and Character Status (Remaining Health/MP) appearing as they did before (On the Game Screen) or showing up on the bottom screen to keep the top screen uncluttered. I must say I enjoyed that, as it was just as easy to use as if it’d been up top, and it gave the whole top screen to the actual combat. Of course them Menus were redone in the Button/Tile Fashion of the Game Menu, in case you wanted to use the Touch Screen to navigate them. I just used the Controls for the most part though.

 

    Now onto the Extra Content. The first one I’ll mention is the Arena Mode. As that’s the first one you can access. If you wait to use the Arena of the Ages until it’s “Reachable” in the Game Proper, you won’t have access to them until you reach the End of Time. There’s another little light column that shows up in the corner up the Hub room with the Lamppost that leads to it. They have however given you the option of going into the Arena directly from the Title Screen. You just choose which file you’re entering it from, and make sure to save before you exit it. It has no effect on your current position in the game, save that you suddenly have whatever items you’ve won in the Arena. (There is a point in the game where you’re stripped of your equipment and during that point the Arena is “Down for Maintenance”. ;P I thought that was a nice touch.)

    The arena is pretty much what I’d feared it would be. You choose a character from four identical monsters with different elemental attributes, and you let them bash away at whatever other monster shows up in the Arena. You do not directly control the monster, so it’s very dry. There is the option to “Assist” it by handing it an item that Heals/Boosts/Makes it Cast a Spell, but it’s generally unnecessary. You can also train it (Which you need to do to raise it’s Stats so it can bash away at stronger monsters) by “Sending it out” into an Era that you’ve visited. Each of which upgrades different stats. You can even hand it the same limited items you can use on it during it’s battles to assist it in increasing it’s stats while it’s out. Sometimes, after in game criteria have been met, you’re monster will come back as a “Bigger Better” Monster.

    That said, the reason you’d even waste your time there is because through this little Arena you can win items that you’d generally not have at that point in the game. The higher the tier you choose to fight in (The tiers unlock as your monster gets more powerful, and you advance enough in the game), the higher the entry fee, and the better the items you can win. There’s also the ability to get multiples of items that are limited in the Game, and even a few things that do not exist outside of the Arena. Though truth be told the “Arena Only” Items are rather lame. Accessories that are Character Specific which allow your characters to counter attacks of elements not their own 25% of the time. Seriously. And an item that “Might” reduce the enemies HP to 1 when you hit it… Maybe. I did spend enough time there to get enough of the End Game Equipment to fully equip my entire party. Something you can’t do in one play through of the Original Game. I guess you can also send your monster off to fight someone else’s… but I cannot imagine this adds too much to the interest as you do not directly control them.

    I would have liked it a bit more if it either had more depth, or at least let you interact with your monster through items you could find in game. That way it felt like it was a part of something more than just it’s own little corner of the world. Maybe let you give it your old equipment/accessories when it went out to train or something. (Which would have in turn allowed you to recycle a lot of the things you were winning in the Arena, but not needing. Win/Win. :P )

 

    The next extra comes in the form of a set of portals that open up in both the Prehistoric Era and the Middle Ages once the Black Omen rises. You need to enter the one in Prehistory first, and it leads to a village of Reptites from an Alternate Time Line or something in both times. (It’s very poorly explained.) In this new zone, known as the Lost Sanctum, you do a series of self contained quests that net you very powerful new equipment not available in the original game, and some of which is not even winnable in the Arena. It’s kind of neat at first, to get this extra content… but when you realize that it’s COMPLETELY self contained, and has not only no impact on the game proper, but also isn’t an offshoot of something that occurs in the game… it really comes off as “Tacked On”. It would have been neat had they worked it if not “In” to the story, at least “Around” it. That way it felt like it belonged. (Say that they descended from Azala’s people, and were scraping by in this new world they found after Lavos squished their home or something.) Also, the “Story” being told through this area was poorly written. It was hard to see anything more than “I have a Fetch/Kill Quest that I need you to do for me. Please do it and come back for your present.” So even in it’s own little world, it wasn’t well put together.

    After that, there are these “Dimensional Vortex’s” that appear in Antiquity, Present, and Future once you’ve beaten Lavos at least once. Again little portals that this time lead to a series of randomly generated dungeons pulled from a stock of areas from the game with a new area or two mixed in that climaxes in a new “Dungeon” with a Doppelganger of Marle/Crono/Lucca respectively to fight at it’s end. These dungeons also have new equipment not attainable in the original game nor winnable through the Arena, and once you beat a Character’s Doppleganger, that Character gets a little Stats Boost. There is absolutely no story to them whatsoever… outside of a Completely pulled from the air fight with Dalton which not only makes no sense story wise, but is quite literally just dropped in there at the end of the Future Dungeon. (There is a little bit of dialog there… but it’s so out of place that I didn’t care.)

    Finally, after you’ve beaten all three Vorti, the Bucket at the End of Time “Acts up” and you are suddenly able to access a new boss. It’s the Final Boss from Chrono Cross (I’ve already made clear how I feel about “that” gem). You get a little bit of Dialog from a Magus from this “Alternate Time Stream” explaining it, and then you bash away at it until Schala sends you home since you “Can’t defeat it at this point”. After that battle you get another Exceptionally short animation, a mini Magus Ending, and Crono’s Ultimate, no “Really this time” Ultimate Weapon. There’s no other reason to do it, and the ending isn’t all that hot. It, like the Vorti, feels tacked on. (Though it’s obvious from the content that both Dalton, and this ending are supposed to help “Set the Stage” for Chrono Cross…. ;? )

 

    In Summary, I liked having the Extra Content. Even as bad as it was, as it gave me something I didn’t have before. I would have just liked it more, had they put a little more work into it. Overalll, I preferred the Arena, and the Dimensional Vortex’s over the the “Lost Sanctum” and Dream Devourer Boss, as they didn’t even try to pretend to be more than “Here you go, Extra Shat. Have fun”. It would have been completely the opposite had more work gone into making them a part of the game proper. Heck, I’d have liked the Reptite Village better had it just been better written. Seriously, a few scenes, and some better dialog to tie it all together, even with it being self contained, and I would have liked it better. As it stands, I would have preferred the “Lost Sanctum” had just been a long dungeon with possibly interesting connections across time, and the Dream Devourer to have just been another “Uber Boss” no questions asked or answered over what was delivered.

    Do I still feel the game is worth picking up? Heck yeah, it’s Chrono Trigger. And while the Extras may not add considerable incentive, they certainly don’t detract from what was unquestionably an amazing game. Just don’t expect much from the Extra Content.

 

    Oh, I almost forgot to mention. There’s also an “Extras” option on the Main Menu. This let’s you choose a File and then presents an “Encyclopedia Chrono” for you of all the Songs/Artwork/Techs/Items/Movies/Beasties/Endings/Treasures you’ve obtained for that Save categorized into smart little submenus… as if the OCD “Completionists” didn’t have it bad enough. ;P (As and OCD Completionist, I happen to like this feature, though I wish it was accessible through the In Game Menu. The Bestiary is, but not the rest of it.)

    It would have been nice had they fleshed this out a little more as well. Let you watch the Characters execute the Techs. (Possibly on the Arena only Smidges for the Lols. ;P ) Watch the Endings. (Since you’d have to beat the Game again at that particular point to watch it again) And see the Beasties execute their attack animations. Nothing crucial, it’s fine the way it is, but those little touches would have been nice.

 

Not Related: While browsing for images/videos to link in  my review, I realized that I really just need to find a way to capture image/video directly from my DS myself, as it’s hard to find “Just” what I’m looking for. ;P On the positive side of searching though, I found this, which is rather awesome. ^.^

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My D&D Character

  Okay, so I went quite a while without ever playing D&D. Not that I didn’t “Role Play”. I’d actually tried D&D out when I was younger, and just didn’t like the system. By then, I’d already been playing a game of my own device, one that I’d already created “Some” Documentation for, and I couldn’t see a good reason to change over. So while I have Run RP Campaigns for 15+ Years (Started as a child, and never really stopped. ;P ) I’ve never “Really” played D&D. Until about a year ago. So now, I’m a complete package geek, D&D and all. I can even almost make D&D related jokes. Almost.

  Anywho, one of the New Enforcers made a post asking people to describe their most recent character, and I figured I’d share my little monster here as well. ;P (He’s huggable.)

"Bekker" Trollkin from the Backwoods, 3rd Level Berserker (3.5, Iron Kingdoms) Chaotic Neutral

  An Ugly, Sexist, and Sadistic Sociopath who's only redeeming value is that he's "likely" to get himself killed before the rest of the party... "Likely". Grew up hating his family and tribe for being larger than him, and was banished from his kriel after being caught torturing one of the younger trollkins. (They would have killed him if not for the intervention of his older brother) Originally started "Adventuring" to avoid being followed by those in his tribe that may have followed him to kill him. Prefers Blunt Weaponry, as things tend to live longer, and thus suffer more if they're not cut open.

“Specialties”: Causing Pain to others, and Killing things. Has fed Baby Bats to Alligators, and attacked the entombed body of a Past Ruler. (The last of which blinded him long enough for him to learn a new word. Chasm.)

Has a short attention span, and impatience that only tends to get himself and those around him into trouble. Can focus on something if it catches his fancy (As was proven when he and the party thief went to work breaking open the glass between his party and a view of unknown stars, to see where it led while exploring a Seerist Temple, almost losing the entire party to the vacuum of some kind of subspace.)

"Accomplishments": Once crushed a man's skull for looking at him (He may have said something insulting as well. It didn't matter, he was in a bad mood) and almost got himself and the party thief hung as a result.

Considered using a little girl found during a zombie invasion as a distraction/bait for zombies. This idea was shot down by the rest of the party.

Greatest "Achievement": Has survived this far into his life (As Trollkin heal rather rapidly, his logic follows that if he’s okay when he wakes up. It must not have been that bad.)

Most "Tragic" Moment: Lost his original WarHammer after attacking the "WitchFire" in an attempt to destroy it. Went through a period of mourning, in which he finally understood the concept of loss. Until he replaced it with a better hammer. ;P

Found in his Inventory: A Chattering Skull found in an abandoned castle full of undead things, and a necklace made from the teeth and foot of an Alligator he “rode” in the Marshes

Random Character Notes: Had never come near to death in his miserable little life. Since he’s been with this party, he’s been truly faced with his mortality, and has begun to rethink some of his life choices… slowly…

Friday, April 3, 2009

E-Mail Storylett

  Okay, so I warned that occasionally I may decide to syphon some of my terrible writing through here, so you cannot claim you’ve not had fair chance to evacuate. ;P

  One of my Co-Workers was fixing to leave for a Week’s vacation, and I generally send him some Oddball quip in my Nightly Numbers E-Mail to him, for amusements sake. Well, I warned him that when he left, I’d have time to flood his Inbox with an “Epic” that he’d then have to wade through upon his return. He thought that was funny… until I made good on my threat.

  This isn’t meant to be a “Complete” writing, nor was it well Proofread/Edited/Etc. I literally rattled each Chapter out at the end of the night right before I went home. So that’s the level of Quality present here. I’d originally meant it to be longer, but I missed a couple of days of work while he was out, and thus I shortened, and “Abruptly” ended it. Here it is, in all it’s “Glory”. ;P

 

*****

Peering into the darkness, he was once again accosted with his fears.

What am I doing here? he thought to himself.

For three days he’d been tracking her, and why? Because she’d stolen from his home? He knew it was more than that. But what. It’s almost like he knew her… though that was impossible. Wasn’t it? Moving forward, he lit a torch and decided that the why wasn’t important. He’d come too far to start having second thoughts about this. There was nothing for it but to continue.

Looking at the walls of the decrepit cathedral he was reminded how poor things were outside the Sanitization zones. People out here didn’t have access to the luxury’s he was accustomed to, and thus things were generally left in a worn state. It’s like their buildings reflected the state of their minds. What kind of person opted to live in an uncontrolled environment? Animals mostly. And the Mentally ill… though occasionally someone would willingly choose to leave the Safety of the City… That’s why he was here. To find out why. She was just an excuse. He knew that, but to have really made the choice, to actually be here… there was no turning back, and that’s what really scared him.

Coming to the back of the Cathedral, he heard noises. Sounds of people talking, yelling even, though it was muffled, like it was coming through a padded wall. As he reached the wall he started looking for a door of some kind.

*Snap*

He’d stepped on something, a loose board or something, and the sound of it was loud in the empty building. The noises stopped. He slowly turned to leave, and noticed figures moving near the doorway. He’d been caught.

*****

Climbing through the Broken Window, she couldn’t believe he’d tailed her this far. First he surprises her by leaving the Sanitation Zone. Something she’d never seen a Zonie do before. And then he managed to keep up with her through the wastes. It just didn’t make sense. But now she was pretty sure she’d lost him. Sure he was in town, but it’s not like he’d find her amongst all the ruins.

“You’re late.” her sender stated as a way of greeting, from his seat at the only table in the room.

“Thanks for you’re concern.” she replied, letting the sarcasm drip from her words, “I’m fine really. Don’t worry about it. I was just taking my time, you know, to see the sights.” she finished, throwing the carrier bag at him.

Peering inside, he asked, “Did you manage to get out unnoticed?”

She paused. She didn’t have to tell him she’d slipped up. It’s not like you expect to run into someone home during the work shift at a Zonie House. Though then she’d actually have to explain her tardiness…

“There was someone home.” she answered finally.

“So?” he stated, “What does that have to do with anything? You should have killed them and moved on.” he ended, narrowing his eyes at her. “Why didn’t you?”

How was she to explain to him how she’d felt when she saw his face. She knew she’d seen that face before. She had a knack for remembering people, but it didn’t make any sense. Sure she’d made a few runs into the Zones. But never Zone B. So why would he look familiar to her? She’d not bothered to worry about it at the time, needing to hurry and get out with her target, but still…

“I asked you a question!” he shouted, standing now, the bag laying on the table.

“Listen!” she shouted back, “I was in a hurry, and I didn’t want to make my escape any more difficult than it already was. You know how they respond to death in the Sanitation Zones. I figured I could…”

“Excuses!” he cut her off, “You always have an excuse for not killing people, and I’m tired of listening to them. If you think that..”

*Snap*

They both moved for the entrance to the front of the Cathedral. She had a sick feeling that it was him…

*****

This job sucked. He’d been “Pre Selected” at Eight to be a Protectorate. This was supposed to be some kind of honor or something. He must have missed the good part while he was sleeping through his four year training regime, and following 4 years of Public Service.

Sure they trumpeted it up. Making a big deal around the Zone for the populace, so that the people came to know, and even envy his position… but what they didn’t see was the grueling 16 hour days and seemingly endless amount of physical training they had to endure. From the moment he’d graduated ,not at the bottom of his class but not too high either, at 12, he’d not had a real nights sleep. At least that’s what it felt like. Getting to bed when he could hardly move, and up before his muscles had really loosened up. It was craziness… but he was supposed to honored by being there.

It sickened him to see the other Protectorates in Training (PiT’s he liked to call them) trying to outdo each other for some meager praise from the Teachers. He was just as content to let them ignore him, and though he never quite managed to stay completely off the radar, he certainly did a good job of keeping low. So it was a surprise when they graduated him early, and sent him right out into the De-Zones. The looks of jealousy his classmates gave him when the High Protectorate himself came and pulled him from classes a full month before he should have been finished was priceless.

They didn’t really give him a reason though. Which kinda bothered him. Just suited him up, issued him a roamer, and told him to patrol the outskirts of B-Zone. When he asked why he’d been pulled, they only told him that he was done, and they saw no reason in delaying him further. There were rumors that the last Protectorate had disappeared, roamer and all… so he was suspicious of their intent. Mayhaps they felt that he was expendable.

Coming into the ruins of old B, he was startled from his thoughts when his Life form Sensor started to blip. Pulling up the scan information, he could see that there were 4 humans in what looked like the ruins of a church, and two of them were armed with energy weaponry. Well, this was great. Now he was going to be shot at. Having trained for an encounter with rouge’s he wasn’t too concerned, but this would be the first time he’d actually run into anyone. Parking the roamer a block away, he activated his phasing gear, and pulled his stun rifle out. Locking the vehicle, he slowly made his way towards the door…

*****

He was tired of waiting for her. Tired of her excuses, and tired of trying to shape into the weapon that her father had been. Sure she was quick. That’s the only reason she was still alive. He’d tried to kill her the night he’d wiped her father, but she’d managed to get away. It had taken him several hours to finally catch her, and he was impressed enough that he took her on instead of finishing her off. Of course he’d had to wipe her as well. This was to be her final test. His way of making sure that she was ready to take the next step… and she was late.

Sitting at the Table, he thought about it… He’d known it was risky sending her to her father’s house, but that was the only way he could be sure. If she killed him, he knew she’d be ready. If not… well, no one would miss her now. He heard her before  he saw her crawl in through the window.

“You’re late” he informed her. Not because she needed the reminder, but because he was curious as to how she’d respond.

“Thanks for you’re concern.” she replied, in such a way that he knew she was stalling, “I’m fine really. Don’t worry about it. I was just taking my time, you know, to see the sights.” she finished, throwing the carrier bag at him.

He caught it, and peered in. It was there. Not that he cared, that hadn’t been the reason he’d sent her, “Did you manage to get out unnoticed?” he asked, already knowing the answer.

She didn’t answer right away. He knew she’d run into her father. He’d planned this run during a time he was sure to be home, workday or not. What bothered him was her reluctance to admit it right out.

“There was someone home.” She finally answered him. At least she wasn’t going to try and hide it but…

“So?” he stated, “What does that have to do with anything? You should have killed them and moved on.” he ended, narrowing his eyes at her. “Why didn’t you?”

This was a problem. Did he evade her, stop her, talk to her… Why was she taking so long to answer, was she considering lying to him!? He stood, discarding the bag onto the table, and yelled at her, “I asked you a question!”

“Listen!” she shouted back, “I was in a hurry, and I didn’t want to make my escape any more difficult than it already was. You know how they respond to death in the Sanitation Zones. I figured I could…”

“Excuses!” he cut her off, he knew there was more to it than that, “You always have an excuse for not killing people, and I’m tired of listening to them. If you think that..”

*Snap*

Someone had entered the building. They both moved with practiced ease toward the passages that would let them out near the front doors. First they’d take care of this intruder, and then he’d take care of her. He wasn’t going to take any chances.

*****

It awoke with a start. It had never been given a formal name. It didn’t really need one. Most people avoided it from a distance, and anyone close enough was too busy screaming to call it anything. It had been comfortable though, and being woken up made it grumpy.

Looking down from the beams of the building it’d been sleeping in, it noticed a manthing standing in the back of the building. He was looking across at the manthing and womanthing standing in front of the doorway. They were yelling at the manthing, but it was hiding behind some benches. That was silly of him. They couldn’t seem him there. It didn’t understand why the womanthing looked nervous, didn’t know why the manthing hiding looked scared. What it did know was that they were being noisy, and it knew how to take care of noisy things.

It dropped from the ceiling, and everything was thrown into chaos. It was used to that.

*****

  The Cathedral hadn't been lived in for several years. Once there'd been a small family residing in the back. The Husband was the Pastor, and the Mother and children helped keep up the building. This was before the world moved on. Since then, maybe it was the spirit of kindness that had inhabited the building, but for whatever reason, it had been left more or less alone for quite some time.

  Then the Unliving Thing moved in. The result of experimentation, it was a fusion of an Embryo, and a Mechanical Monster. To call it alive was too much, but it wasn't quite dead either. They grew... though not in the way of normal things, and they consumed everything around them. After which they would rest... indefinitely if left alone. So it seemed that once again this building would be at peace, even though it now housed a monster.

  Some time passed, and a couple of Humans, Man and Woman moved into the back. Sure they ventured to the front, but they were always quiet, this was their quiet place, and thus they never woke the thing. Again, it seemed the building would continue at peace.

  More time passed... and now, too many people were here at once. Too many sounds, too many problems, and too much activity. It awoke.

  Given the situation, it's a miracle that any of them lived. The two who had moved in turned on each other at the sight of an intruder. They were so intent on each other, that the man didn't see the thing as it came down on him. That's not fair. He saw it, but he was so convinced that "She" was behind it, that he went to take her out. That's why he died.

  The young officer didn't see this happen. What he did see was the man's head come rolling out of the door. He'd never expected things to elevate before he'd gotten there. He ran in to stop the commotion. His sensor told him that there were two humans right in the door. A young one, and an older one. The young one wasn't a threat. His sensors couldn't tell what "It" really was. So he came in ready to deal with the older one. That's why he died.

  The intruder wasn't sure what was going on. He didn't know what this thing was, and he didn't know what they'd been talking about. But he did know something. He didn't know why he knew, but he knew that her life was more valuable to him than his own. When the officer came running into the room, and pointed a weapon at her, he tried to get to them, before something happened to her. That's why he died.

  She was paralyzed. She'd just watched this, thing Kill four people... and none of them had stood a chance. Not even the officer. The officer however had been equipped with phasing armor. This particular suit was an experimental model. It was meant to take someone else along when it moved the officer. "It" was still holding the officer's body when the suit went off. That's why "It" died.

  She sat there... too shocked to move. Too scared to breathe almost. When they came, to collect her, where they knew they'd find her. They didn't ask questions. Their computer had never been wrong. It told them where to go. It let them know what to expect. And when they were told to come here by drop, and that they'd have a young woman sitting alone in a blood splattered ruin, with a charged rover sitting nearby, they hadn't even considered the oddity of the situation. Sometimes, it wasn't worth it to ask questions.

  After they left, the building was once again empty. And it was once again left alone... until the next time it would be needed.

*****

 

Okay, so that’s it. Please forgive me. ;P