Tag: Fantasy

Roaming the Mad God’s Realm

Roaming the Mad God’s Realm

Time to pull my head out of Stardew Valley and make good on the potential of my new laptop.

Let’s talk about Realm of the Mad God.

RotMG is a browser-based MMORPG of sorts developed by the independent Wild Shadow Studios and bought by Deca Games in 2016.

It has the multiple servers, raid battles and virtual economy you would expect out of titles like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV.

But in terms of gameplay it’s a free-roaming bullet hell similar to Enter the Gungeon.

Just more stylistically and mechanically simple.

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It’s a game that has been around since 2010.

Patches and balance updates have been constant throughout the game’s nine years, as recent as May 9, 2019. But looking through RotMG’s update history on its curated RealmEye forum shows a particularly interesting early life.

Around 2011 you can see the game launch servers for different regions worldwide, and in February 2012 a stand-alone client was released on Steam that can be used in conjunction with the browser version.

Plus some cool moments like a charity event for Hurricane Sandy relief in late 2012.

I can’t tell you exactly when I first played RotMG but it was undoubtedly early on in the game’s lifecycle. Probably around the same time as I was playing tower defense flash games on Addicting Games — which is honestly a post for another day.

Recently I had a craving to pick up the game again, and found that many things were the same despite its scope growing wildly.

Now I’m sure you must be asking, “how exactly does RotMG work?”

After you make an account, first you pick a class.

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And by that I mean you start with Wizard and have to unlock everyone else. More classes are unlocked as you reach level milestones, such as the Priest coming when Wizard reaches level 5.

With a character in tow you choose a realm to explore out of the Nexus hub world.

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Within each realm you encounter hordes of monsters based on fantasy creatures and tropes led by a larger boss variant.

Or… Not so fantasy creatures. Like this Sumo Master and his minions.

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Though they are the exception to the rule.

Sometimes a boss monster has multiple phases when damaged.

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In case you couldn’t tell, I really like the Sumo Master. He stands out in the best way.

Occasionally a monster will drop the entrance to a stand-alone dungeon on top of their typical loot.

These little mazes have a major boss at the end that will usually drop a couple pieces of loot.

Now would probably be a good time to discuss gameplay specifics so you can understand the loot system.

RotMG is simple to play. You move with WASD, aim and shoot with the mouse and use a special attack with spacebar.

That’s it.

Every class uses different weapons, special items and armor alongside a few overlapping items like rings with universal effects like raising health.

Characters are balanced for different play styles. Archers can shoot up to three arrows at once, making them more offensive than the Priest with one slow shot. However, the Priest’s special attack is a local heal that can buff allies.

Yet none of them have armor that compares to the Warrior.

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My slightly more open character roster.

Loot drops are the only way to improve your character’s weapon and armor without resorting to microtransactions, but enemies are just as likely to drop goods for a different class.

Killing monsters will level your character up to 20, at which point you start accruing “fame.” Whenever they die (because there is Permadeath in RotMG), fame is tallied up for a system where each class can earn up to five achievement stars.

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RIP Wizard…

As far as I’m aware the stars are purely a status symbol, though fame can be leveraged to do things like start a guild.

That’s about all there is. You fight hordes to level up and gain loot to survive until you can defeat bigger boss enemies on each map, all the while collecting pets and making friends.

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Once all of the Mad God’s “Heroes” are killed, all players in a realm are teleported to the Mad God’s Castle… But so much happens that my game lags until I get kicked out.

So I’ve never personally seen Oryx.

But the game is still incredibly fun in how simple and immediately goal-oriented it is. The art style is charming and design philosophy appeals to my fantasy leanings.

That said, my main problem with RotMG besides its tendency to lag (on browser at least — I’ve never the steam version) is microtransactions.

There are an obnoxious amount of quality of life benefits locked behind currency you need to buy with real money.

If you could purchase these things with fame or obtain coins through grinding, I wouldn’t be so annoyed at the system.

But to be fair, nothing is behind a paywall that impedes gameplay. Even if in-game purchases are more prevalent than I remember.

At least additions like daily log-in bonuses have improved the experience over time.

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Now if only they could add more than one looping music track over every part of the game.

You’ll want to play on mute. Perhaps catch up on GDQ runs in the background.

Music aside, if you’ve never heard of Realm of the Mad God before, I’d recommend checking it out. It’s a free game with a big history on the Internet that’s simple to pick up and try.

If you have heard of it before, let me know! I’d be cool to get some confirmation I’m not the only person in my small sphere of influence that has challenged Oryx.

My children come to life

My children come to life

Next week I will be presenting my Senior Project at the Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference.

Literally, next week. Friday, May 3 at 11:10 a.m. in room 1307 of the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics.  Just in case any of you are interested in going!

It’s a whole panel on creative writing that includes my novel, a children’s book about a character with Down Syndrome and a collection of essays about learning English.

I’ll talk about that more, but it’s worth a plug now.

Mostly because it gives me an excuse to talk about one of my most exciting pieces of presentation preparation:

The character sketches.

For the last couple months I’ve been working with the wonderful Elizabeth Person to draw my four main characters. Having tangible ways to see them was a perfect way to spice up the PowerPoint.

It just so happened that my Mom knew Elizabeth from her work with Edward Branley (whom she does book edits for), and her art style meshed well with the fantasy aesthetic.

As you can see in my Featured Image, the drawings came out really well!

But of course… You didn’t think I would show off my babies and not talk about them, did you?

Nah. We talking all about these good folks!

I need to practice for my presentation, after all.


Warrior

Eliott Aviknard

Eli is a human knight who leads the adventuring party into raids, looking for treasure and glory so they can leave their small trading town in the Western Badlands and see the Bresegon Empire’s capital.

He proudly uses his father’s white armor and blade, both staples of the paladins who serve as royal guards. For the most part he is stoic and cool-headed in combat.

However, that cool facade often gives way to a defeatist, lamenting rant into a mug of ale as he blames himself for the party’s frequent inability to secure the treasure they need. Which, as a result imposes upon Romeri for funding, keeps Julianna from going abroad and impedes Sovann’s desire to prove himself as a thief.

He is also deathly afraid of horses, which comes up often as he tries to overcome that roadblock preventing him from truly becoming the paladin he claims to be (to the jest of his friends).


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Julianna Rhuiviel

Julianna is a quiet, well-studied elven mage, an up-and-coming expert in both tome- and scroll-based magics. She carries around enough encyclopedias to be a jack-of-all-trades in lore around the continent.

In the world of Isenvid and the Four Orbs (my novel’s current title), the elvish people have a tragic backstory. Their village in the Gnarled Forest was invaded by Bresegon soldiers and razed, with most of the children being taken away to reeducation schools.

Julianna was one such child, and to this day retains both a desire to find acceptance (only used to racist rejection), a drive to learn her people’s history and a fear of fire.

An element that tends to being important for a mage.

Her personal feelings of being unaccepted leave the girl self-conscious about her 7′ height, glowing porcelain skin and somewhat gangly figure. She covers herself up (under the guise of avoiding sunburns) and prefers to go by “Julie.”

Though Sovann and Romeri will frequently get on her nerves with the affectionate “Ju-Ju.”


Archer

Romeri Russev

Romeri is a human archer and the oldest member of the party. She is business-savvy and worldly, having traveled before settling down to run a tavern, and she’s matriarchal; offering all of her friends an ear.

She tends to be the most fashion-forward when not in battle-ready armor — but even then tends to go for style over substance. Her desire to look good is matched only by her desire for wealth and fiscal security.

In combat Romeri is indispensable, though she has a tendency to arrive late to the party. Her long-ranged attacks almost never miss, as she has a long history of training with some of the best soldiers on the continent.

In fact, her ex was a royal soldier who now runs her own traveling mercenary troupe. A connection that may or may not become relevant in the story. Wink wink, plug plug.

She terrifies the elf who tends bar while she is away, and her hair is dyed by flowers.


Cleric

Sovann Krei

Sovann is a human thief with a skin condition called vitiligo.

From an early age he was trained to be a cleric in the Furbism tradition, a religion that was nearly wiped out as its capital was sacked to leave the Bresegon Empire in control.

He’s an effective healer, but got bored of that mundane life and decided to become a thief. There he could find action and fight with his preferred weapon: Daggers. That transformation is symbolized by his old priest’s vestment, which has been modified to serve as a cloak.

However… He’s a klutz, and more often than not people will defeat enemies before he has the chance, which leaves Sovann relegated to healing duty.

He bemoans the job but eagerly helps his friends, and carries his old staff tied to his back with the unused sleeves of his cloak.

Sovann is also known to be a tease (especially fond of poking fun at the budding romance between Eli and Julianna that only they do not realize is happening), and will hit on just about anything that moves.


They’re wonderful, aren’t they?

I’m planning on finishing my novel over the summer once I have the stress of finals and graduation out of the way, which means hopefully you’ll all be able to read their story sometime soon!

In the meantime, I definitely recommend checking out Elizabeth’s work. It was hard to give away my babies and let someone else try to visualize how I’ve imagined them, but she did a wonderful job and was really communicative throughout the process.

Even traded rough sketches here and there for my feedback:

It’s been awesome, something I’m absolutely considering doing again.

I can’t wait to show these guys off alongside the preplanning of my plot and map next week!

The dungeons saga: Bedknobs and sheep schticks

The dungeons saga: Bedknobs and sheep schticks

After a week of unbridled anticipation, today was finally Dungeons and Dragons day.

Since the beginning of the semester, we were promised a three-hour class period of just playing the fantasy tabletop role-playing game in my Gaming in American Culture class.

Finally the day has arrived, and it was glorious.

Though it did begin with a bit of a time crunch.

I gathered with my friend Mimi in the Honors Center before class, as she is far more of an expert than I. Was looking to get her opinion on which pre-made character I should play for our campaign.

Instead we wound up making a brand new character in the hour. An experience I’m fairly new at, which combined wonderfully with computer troubles.

But we persevered, and on the other end came up with my amazing boy: Thokk.

Thokk is a half-orc war cleric. He wears scale armor, carries a warhammer and a light crossbow, is generally uncharismatic and speaks four languages: Common, Orc and… Two I totally decided on.

He is chaotic good with an acolyte background and serves as a member of the Eye of Justice, a religious sect following a deity named Torm who were considered heretics.

So he’s adventuring to stop evil as his divine righteousness demands, but he ain’t above causing some havoc to get the job done.

Also he’s a very good boy and I love him. Might even drop him into my novel.

However, today he was played by the denizen of death and mayhem:

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Fear the cloth.

Yeah, I used Mimikyu as my character’s stand-in miniature.

He stood alongside the other six members of my party quite well:

There was Teflonto, a wood elf ranger; Celia, a wood elf monk; Jeff, a half-orc fighter; Phil, a gnome bard; Rein, a half-elf cleric; and Silver, a human paladin.

Our Dungeon Master was the Professor, wielding an unending spring of knowledge, a set of golden dice and a lot of monsters.

Thus the adventure began.

We started in a tavern, where Jeff nearly got beheaded trying to steal from the bartender and Phil spat Mario-style fireballs from a potent whiskey.

The quest kicked off when a sheep arrived. But he was not a sheep, he was a wizard transformed by a dastardly ex-assistant with a grudge.

Mr. Evil Wizard’s mercenaries arrived in search of the former mentor-turned-livestock, and our first battle began.

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An eight-foot bear in a robe mauled Jeff as the animal-loving Teflonto was horrified by Thokk nailing a wolf to a barrel using a crossbow bolt.

That is, until he learned the animals were humanoids turned beast.

After a handy beating, the mercenary leader gave in and conferred his great sword to Silver. He escaped with a lie that the remaining wolf was his unfortunate wife.

A night’s rest later, the party made their way to the hollowed-tree tower where Mr. Evil Wizard hid.

Celia was able to use a mass sneaking fog to get the party past a gang of dice game-playing wolves, then get inside by climbing the bark and hanging a rope out.

Suspicious at the sudden fog filling his tower, Mr. Evil Wizard used his transmogrifying wand to turn his bed into a bed dragon that absolutely exists.

While hiding in the fog, Phil cast blindness on the wizard before running out, climbing the dragon, stealing the wand, climbing down and THEN escaping out the rope-strung window.

You should have seen the DM’s face when he kept failing rolls to prevent all of that.

After getting back to the ground, Silver attempted to use the wand to turn our sheep companion back into a man. Yet, even Thokk’s guidance spell could not help his luck as the poor NPC turned into a Cronenberg monster before exploding.

That drew the attention of Mr. Evil Wizard, who approached riding his bed dragon with an army of wolves and a bear.

The final battle for our lives began:

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We were fucked.

But… We were fucked with 10 minutes left. Because three hours goes by fast when you have to account for seven players.

Rein and Thokk conjured magic, ethereal weapons to strike Mr. Evil Wizard as the rest of the party threw darts and shot crossbows.

Teflonto was mauled by a pack of wolves. Silver attempted to persuade the wolves to play a dice game with him, but to no avail. The wolves kept at it and Silver just watched.

Luckily, the almighty power of Deus Ex Machina was applied by the DM — who wanted the bell to end our one-shot campaign.

The wolves and bear turned against their master with the promise of being turned back to humanoid form. As Celia, Phil (now changed into a sheep) and Rein suffered splinters from the dragon’s breath, Teflonto stood up and shot an arrow into Mr. Evil Wizard’s face.

Once he and his dragon fell, we gained access to a convenient number of transmogrifying spells. Everyone was turned back to normal.

The end.

It may have been “cheap” that we were helped out of a bottomless hole by the DM because of time constraints, but it was justified by the journey.

All of our luck from the initial tavern fight and stealth mission came crashing down in the most spectacular of ways, and we undoubtedly would have all died without the handicap.

So in my personal headcanon, I like to imagine our party fell in the search for treasure and conquering evil.

However… In reality, none of our party fell.

Which means that Thokk lives to one day return, perhaps enlightened by his experience fighting the tyrannical Mr. Evil Wizard man.

All-and-all, I would say it was a very successful class.

Definitely worth a semester’s worth of anticipation, and definitely more than encouraging for me to go back and play more D&D in the future.

The dungeons prequel

The dungeons prequel

We are officially one week away from Dungeons and Dragons day in my Gaming in American Culture class.

Toward the beginning of the semester I listed D&D day as one of the enticing course elements, so being on the cusp makes me salivate with anticipation.

Considering I barely have any experience outside of one character building session in high school, I’ve gotten a little practice. We played D&D at the party I brought my Redondo Beach friends to in Fullerton over Spring Break.

I kicked ass as my pre-built elf sorcerer Elfson.

But in-class today we prepared for our upcoming escapades in a different way: Talking about the moral panics caused by D&D.

Because you know. If something is fun and leaning in a pagan direction, parents are going to freak out about it.

Looking at you, Pokémon. And also Pokémon.

… Okay, it’s not entirely fair to simplify that into a joke. We actually discussed interesting aspects behind the 1980’s D&D panic, including the perceived loss of self-identity to multiple, fractured fantasy identities steeped in olde mythological traditions of witchcraft and monsters.

It just so happens that you can only showcase the moral panic by laying out all of the over-the-top examples of role-playing game hysteria.

Most notably: Dark Dungeons.

This amazing comic created by Jack T. Chick in 1984 seems to be the perfect embodiment of Big Brother wiping out imagination and personal expression in exchange for the conformity of true-blue American Catholicism.

Or that’s how my boy Mitchell perceived it, at least.

There are arguably kernels of truth in Chick’s fear of fantasy overwhelming reality. It’s hard to take the guy seriously when you write such lines as:

“Lord Jesus … you guide me through life. I want You to be in charge of everything…not that lousy D&D manual.”

Following the deus ex machina of random friend appearing to save the damsel in distress — having apparently prayed and fasted for her off-screen.

Or at least… I find it hard to take this comic seriously.

Apparently others do not, as a short film adaptation came out in 2014.

Something I only know about because my friend Jonathan reminded me that JonTron put out a video about the movie in 2016.

Isn’t the internet just a god damn beautiful mess?

But wait, that’s not all!

On top of Dark Dungeons, we spent part of our class period watching and discussing Mazes and Monsters.

The 1982 Tom Hanks flick where then-unknown sentient toy cowboy / crazy stranded FedEx employee / historic figure with a pension for chocolate almost kills himself after getting so invested in a parody of D&D that he can no longer distinguish fantasy from real life.

It’s amazing that Hanks went on to have one of the most successful actor careers of all time with a start as wild as Mazes and Monsters.

With all of that said, it only makes sense that we get to risk our lives playing the tabletop role-playing game for our entire next class period.

By God am I looking forward to it.


P.S. — There was another cool part of my day that I wanted to talk about, but could not think of an organic way to include it. Outside of there being vaguely related fantasy elements.

So I’ll just pin it down here.

During the break between my classes, Dr. Sandra Perez (the Director of the University Honors Program) brought over an underclassman while I was working in the Honors Center because she wants to write a fiction novel for her senior project.

Apparently I was the expert in that department, as Dr. Perez said she was very impressed with all of the pre-planning she’d seen me do for my novel.

It was nice to be considered an expert in something like that!

Or at least the most readily available spring of knowledge.


Featured Image courtesy of Philip Mitchell via Wikimedia Commons

The magic of maps

The magic of maps

A good, old-fashioned map can add a whole lot of character to a place.

Sure, the colorful country-accurate map of the Earth on a globe is an impressive sight especially fully animated online:

But that view of the planet is a bit too modernist and clinical for my tastes.

I’m more of a fan of classic, stylized pieces such as the 1643 depiction of Europe by Dutch mapmaker Cornelis Danckaerts that I used for my Featured Image. It’s just the sort of rugged, swarthy style you’d expect to see in some kind of fantasy novel.

Replace that boat off the port of Spain with some kind of serpentine sea creature and it may as well be the map of a fantasy world. Like something you’d expect to see from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

Speaking of, did you know that there’s an interactive Middle-Earth map available online? It is full of complex names and points of time for different important events.

That’s the kind of stuff I love.

As I’ve made more progress in my Senior Honors Project novel, I’ve found it necessary to start keeping track of all the locations I’m name dropping to give the world a little more history and life.

To remember places I might want to bring up later and also lay everything out on a more cohesive latitude and longitude for when I explain travel across the content — as my book will include plenty of travel.

During class yesterday, I started to draw out a rudimentary sketch of my world map on a sheet of paper:

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Results not final.

I used to draw things like this all the time, inspired by the maps I’ve seen in the front of books like Lord of the Rings and Eragon.

But never before have I put one together that might actually be useful.

So it was serendipity that, while sitting in my Honors 400B class last night, my friend Mimi noticed my drawing and offered to point out some free campaign map making software she knew about for Dungeons and Dragons.

How was I supposed to say no to that?

Of the software I got pointed to, my favorite was a website called HexTML, which as the name implies lets you create a world of your own using hexagonal signifiers like the board game Settlers of Catan.

Many hours were spent last night screwing around to translate that hand-drawn map into something that could reasonably be shown off to the world.

It’s still open to adjustments down the line and I’d like to put names on all of the areas and towns through the site, but for now I’m really proud of where I’d gotten:

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The left side.

While the continent proper does not yet have a name, but a lot of the structures within it do.

The town on the lower left is Fehrn, where my main characters live.

The singular structures around Fehrn are ruins of the old western empire that have been used as treasure hunting locales. To the north, that black cavern, is an underground chamber where my story begins — just below the Redbark Woods.

To the lower right is the Gnarled Forest, a large mesh of roots, branches and bark that was nigh impenetrable for eons. The old elven tribe was able to thrive there before being attacked.

Just above that in the mountain range hides a small structure signifying the capital of the Sparrine Empire. The Sparrine being the bird people who are basically France, taking over the region under bird Napoleon. Talked about that recently.

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The right side.

Moving onto the other side of the map, a few new main areas stand out.

Hidden in another mountain to the right of the Sparrine empire is the Prophet’s Sanctuary, where my main characters must travel.

Below it is a yet unnamed lake with an equally unnamed port town to its right side where the player character of my story’s game world will have to take on bird Napoleon in a thinly veiled allegory to the Battle of Waterloo.

Spoilers, I guess. If you know historical stuff.

The walled city to the right of that lake is the capital of the Bresegon Empire, where the lordly prince character hails from. Just above it is the ruins of an older nation’s capital.

Essentially the ruins of Rome beside the now prospering Byzantine Empire.

All of those ruins to the leftmost side of the region being the desolate remains of the Holy Roman Empire’s holdings.

Those are some of my world’s major locations, as far as I’ve planned things out up to this point. With all of the plot beats generally worked out for my story, I’m especially excited to start using a bunch of them now that I have a spatial awareness of how everything fits together.

Hope you’re interested in seeing some more cool little behind-the-scenes details on my writing like this from here on out.

Now that I’m getting into the book, I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to share.


Featured Image courtesy of Cornelis Danckerts via Wikimedia Commons

Fantastical Creatures

/me hopes that title is different enough to avoid any sort of legal action from Warner Bros. or J.K. Rowling

With Dad at work and Mom + Aly off in Disneyland where the youngin’ was marching in a parade (which would be a much more exciting story if it was mine to tell), I had the house to myself today.

So obviously I partied hard with some friends, got messed up on drugs, died and am now writing this from the grave.

Boo.

In all seriousness, I didn’t party too hard and become a spooky, scripting spirit. As cool as that would be.

I actually had a chill afternoon all on my lonesome. I didn’t even leave the house outside of going to the gym.

After two weekends of running around doing things with relatives, it was nice to take it slow and focus on my own stuff. Mostly because all of the running around made me fall behind on my novel-writing schedule.

20 pages a week doesn’t seem like too much until you get hit with the roadblock of a death in the family.

But luckily, I was able to rectify that setback with a nice, quiet day on the couch.

At this point I’ve made it to ~35 pages, with my goal being at least 40 before tomorrow.

So far everything is shaping up far nicer than in my original 12-page attempt at a draft. I’ve actually made it past the first major set piece of the story: An underground cavern with a single room at the end of it.

… Exciting, I know. I promise it sounds better with in-depth descriptions!

One of the more interesting bits of research I’ve done recently to push my writing forward was, as the title suggests, finding the right mythical Tolkien-esque creature to fit the slot of an antagonistic race for my main characters.

Luckily my friend Sam is a bit of a Dungeons and Dragons savant and came up with a whole bunch of possibilities when I asked if there were any good avian-themed monsters I could use.

Why avian specifically? It was a jokey idea when I was writing that early draft that started when I described a helmet as beak-like, and stuck so I could make one of my characters call them “birdbrains.”

So… Bird people. Seemed legit.

I didn’t quite expect there to be so many different kinds of bird people, however. There really is a ton to unpack when you delve into the inner-machinations of an experience like D&D.

Probably the most obvious and well-known example is the Harpy.

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Courtesy of DnD Beyond

Pretty famous representative from Greek mythology. Not a bad choice, but a little too much of a monster-monster for my tastes.

The kind of creature you can see mindlessly attacking, but not necessarily forming an advanced society.

So next came the Kenku.

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Courtesy of Giger’s 5E D&D

Definitely a closer match, given their clear propensity for humanoid dress and a variety of roles in warfare.

However, the crow look is a bit too inherently evil-looking, and they are quite a sinister race apparently. Was looking for more of a neutral appearance.

Plus they cannot fly in the lore, which is something I wanted to include.

So Kenku were a no.

Luckily the third choice, Aarakorca, was perfect.

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Courtesy of DnD Beyond

Check out these majestic bastards.

Not only are they a perfect blend of humanoid and avian features to make for a fairly human-like sensibility in my story, but the extra lore features from D&D — their obsession with self-grooming, bilingualism, status as traveling explorers and the fact that they look like giant birds while flying — make great tie-ins to my story’s purpose for them.

Namely… To be a surrogate for Napoleonic-era French society.

Yeah, that’s right.

It’ll be even weirder when I write about their leader riding around on a horse despite being a literal birdman. And I love it.

Being able to gather all sorts of new knowledge on interesting fantasy creatures has been a great pleasure of mine over the course of this project. It’s essentially an amalgamate of some of my favorite video games, movies and books in the fantasy genre, so the more I can include the better.

Wargroove is the big contributor of new ideas to my concoction at the moment, but that game deserves its own story another day.

In the meantime, I’m going to get back to writing so I can finish this section I’m in the middle of. Who knows, perhaps I’ll start to trickle out passages and chapters for advice in the near future.

All I know now is that this line kind of defines my brain.

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Distractions

Is it ironic to spend time making a whole blog post about all of the things that are distracting me from the things I have to do?

Or is it just stupid?

Well either way I don’t exactly have a lot to talk about until Legendary Eirika drops in Fire Emblem Heroes tomorrow so this is what you’re stuck with. By the way, I know nobody cares but I’m very excited to see her get some more love so prepare for that.

For now, however, that entire train of thought just serves as yet another distraction mucking up my productivity tonight.

Normally I work pretty well with some distractions going off in the background. Some music, a YouTube video, a group chat, whatever it may be. Unless I get really invested in the content, audio tends to help me focus more often than not.

But right now every little possible activity and thought is getting in the way of the one thing I actually need to do: Reading another article for my Evolution and Creation class tomorrow.

Some of those things are the general senses of dread and/or inspiration in the back of my mind. Including, but not limited to:

  • That exam I have next week.
  • Remembering a study date(?) I have for that exam before next week.
  • All of the work I’ve done running around to schedule my classes for next semester.
  • That armor set I want to build in Monster Hunter.
  • The fact that Shantae Half-Genie Hero is still on sale but I haven’t bought it yet.
  • An interesting idea I have for my novel where I might try to incorporate mirror reflection bs into the reveal of a character actually being a dragon? But that’s a whole other story.

So on and so forth.

As you can tell the ideas are fairly eclectic, but they’re also competing for space alongside other things like making sure dinner came out okay after Mom left it halfway through the process. Or catching up on a YouTube series.

Oh and let’s not forget about that nagging feeling in the back of my head that I should allocate some time to go to the gym tonight. Except it’s already close to 8:30 p.m. and I don’t know that I want to go to the gym this late, especially when I still have some homework to finish by tomorrow.

Also, if I went to the gym it would push off my window to write a blog post for the day further, and I’d really rather not avoid that if I can choose not to. Even if that means the idea I’m writing about might be hackneyed and silly.

But what hackneyed and silly blog post idea should I write about? I don’t know, how about I scroll through Twitter a little while I mull it over.

Sorry, what was that? I’ve been on Twitter for 15 minutes? How is that possible I don’t even enjoy that service that much, where did the time go?

In case it wasn’t obvious, yes, that tirade evolved into me actually just describing the process of how I came about this blog post idea stream-of-consciousness style.

Because obviously here I am writing instead of going to the gym or working on this homework assignment.

Yet even this distraction has distractions. Like my dad coming home, meaning I had to put my phone down to go move my car and let him in. Which then turned into sitting back and watching Bill Maher, as we are now.

So by virtue of T.V. time with dad and the fact that it’s 8:30 p.m., I might just skip the gym entirely until tomorrow.

I’ll just finish writing this and jump onto my assignment, try to focus on that hardcore.

With potential Monster Hunter time after. But that won’t be so much of a priority that it keeps me pulled away from my work more.

All that being said, I hope you enjoyed this distraction from a distraction that’s allowed me to realize what distraction I should move onto next. If it was a good distraction for you too, please feel free to let me know.

I’d like to believe I’m performing some sort of service with my hackneyed musings.

(Also be sure to come back tomorrow when I distract everyone further with more Fire Emblem stuff, okay? Okay. Cool.)

What’s in a name?

While I can think of very few distractions better suited to the title than a video game where I’m able to kill a gun-themed dragon with bees, Enter the Gungeon cannot keep me from doing some work I need to do forever.

Mostly because the Switch battery doesn’t last forever. Otherwise it most definitely could keep me from my work for forever.

But that being said it doesn’t, and thus I have broken away from the addiction of roguelikes to work some more on my Senior Honors Project.

I’ve taken a bit of a turn in my approach to the project as the summer starts to wind down. Originally I had been simply starting to write the novel I’m working on while using a separate outline to keep track of things (as I pointed out in a previous blog post). However, I’ve found that hasn’t worked out phenomenally well.

It mostly left me in a place where I had a basic idea of some key plot points and the main characters, but no real sense of progression to build upon. Just figuring out things as I went along.

So I’ve decided to step back from the actual physical writing and focus more on the finer details of outlining this puppy.

Notably:

  • Fleshing out a more complete plot line
  • Coming up with the characters I want my heroes to encounter in their journey, with all the relationships those entail
  • Actually imagining more of the world they’re in, different names for locations included

With those in place I think writing a novel should actually be a sensible pursuit.

The thing that I’ve found most difficult about all this is naming everything. Who would have guessed that when you’re building a world from scratch you have to name all of the things?

All the characters, all the locales, all of the lore bits. So on and so forth.

Luckily I’ve made the task easier for myself by not establishing my world as one that has very strict hard-and-fast rules. I’m not Tolkien creating a crazy immersive, new fantasy world full of completely novel interactions amongst different races.

If anything… I’m kind of piggybacking off of the work he already did years ago.

See, for those who aren’t aware, my novel is a parody of sorts. It started as something meant to emulate the ideas of a book called ‘Redshirts’ but in the fantasy genre rather than science fiction.

Then I decided to narrow my focus even further. While I don’t necessarily read a ton of fantasy novels, I do play a lot of fantasy-themed video games. Zelda, Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy. So on and so forth.

This my novel evolved into one where the focus is on NPCs in a video game who gain some semblance of sentience, realizing they are caught up in the tropes of a world created by game developers who, like me, love fantasy themes.

As well as tropes of the video game medium as a whole, of course.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m hoping not to create a boring environment seeped in tropes for the sake of it. Hopefully by the end I’ll have an interesting world inspired by and utilizing said tropes.

Because of this I’ve felt free to come up with names for things in a number of ways without having to worry about standardizing too heavily.

Looking up name generators is a good general practice for character names especially, an idea bestowed by my friend Sam who does similar things for her Dungeons and Dragons campaigns.

However, I’m also trying to look to some real life inspirations. For example, the holy order of royal guards in the kingdom which presides over the land (currently unnamed since, like I said, names are hard) is based on my mom’s name.

Or in a more fun example, one character I have is named after this glorious little thing I found at Ikea the other day.

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Seriously how could I not make Eldig Black a semi-significant character in my story.

It’s just too perfect.

In fact, just perfect for the grizzled, Old veteran in charge of watching over the prince of the kingdom. The Gunter to my Corrin in Fire Emblem Fates, or the Jagen to my Marth in the original Fire Emblem.

Because at least one faction of characters in my story is not-so-vaguely inspired by the archetypical group of traveling adventurers in the early stages of a Fire Emblem game.

Those are just a few of the ideas I’m juggling right now, trying to create a cohesive world with a web of relationships among its inhabitants.

If you’re a creative-type, I’d love to hear what kind of means you tend to use for inspiration when it comes to things like character creation. Let me know somewhere on the Internet.