roadrunnertwice: Davesprite from Homestuck, Mr. Orange Creamsicles hisself (Homestuck - Davesprite)
If you didn't already know I was the worst, I made a trilogy of mixtapes as a soundtrack for this video game idea I had! I am actually super proud of these, and I think they're some of the best mixes I've ever put together.

This is sort of an experiment in mixtape-as-short-story. Definitely influenced by This Time I Know It's For Real (Brenna and Chase's epic playlist / comic). It's also an exercise in exorcism. This story works best as a video game, but I really didn't want to make a video game, and trying to do it in pure text would have lost enough in translation to not be worth it. But the plot and main characters congealed really quickly and vividly for me, and I wanted to make something tangible to share how much fun I'd had thinking about it. So! Multimedia funtimes.




The librettos over at the mini-site only talk about the story, but I spent some time thinking about gameplay too, so maybe I'll say a thing about that before I hit post.

I love top-down brawlers, and I love it when combat acts as a story vehicle. I also like when a game's walk-n-talk segments stay in a restricted area so you get to know the NPCs really well over time. (Alundra pretty much did this part the best.) I'm also fascinated by the potential of friendship/relationship sim mechanics; I haven't really liked any of the games I've tried that are built around this, but I loved stuff like deciding who would choose to lead the party after Crono died. (Sorry, spoilers I guess.)

So anyway, S&1000×H would be split between brawler and walk-n-talk segments.

The brawler part is nothing but bosses. Some of the battles have a chase component, and some enemies will throw some mooks at you, but the core is just eight big multi-part setpiece fights. Combat would have a lot of context-sensitive actions; lots of blocking/parrying, and a few different attack types to choose from at any given time.

Each fight is split into multiple parts. In most of them, you're badly outmatched for the first round and have to struggle to stay alive, but you learn a lot about the enemy's tendencies and patterns. At the halfway point you get to use the power you stole from the last enemy to improve your battle transformation, making a choice from a few options. These changes add up, and your battle form gets progressively more inhuman over time, resembling your enemies more and more. Then you fight back on a more even footing for the second half of the battle.

(This totally guided the structure of the mixtapes! I think having several songs per boss let me outline their personalities a bit even if you aren't combing the libretto.)

(Also, I liked the effect of breaking the rhythm in Act 3.)

Cleista fills the "spotter" role, telling you what to watch for during a fight and often talking back to the enemy. He's usually an invisible voice, but can sometimes project as a human figure made of insubstantial flames.

Some of the walk-n-talks are pretty long, but they all limit the amount of stuff you can do before the story moves on. So the player will choose to hang out with the NPCs that are most interesting to them, and that will determine who Jessie's closest to. This is mostly for its own rewards, but I figured whoever turned out to be Jessie's boyfriend or girlfriend or bestie would be the person Melciel the Nail would choose to take control of, and then you'd have a different voice actor reading her lines in the endgame depending on how you played the friendship sim part. Yes, it's totally impractical, BUT ADMIT IT, THAT WOULD RULE.
roadrunnertwice: Rebecca on treadmill. (Text: "She's a ROCKET SCIENTIST from the SOUTH POLE with FIFTY EXES?") (BitterGirl.Rebecca - Rocket scientist)

So the idea of "body horror" as a genre or generic marker is that you are being transformed into something intrinsically and personally monstrous and everything is terrible. Right? So I figure the reverse of body horror is when you are transforming yourself into something (conventionally) monstrous because it's awesome and beautiful.

And the core idea of the magical girl genre is about undergoing a transformation into a prettier and more perfect version of yourself -- becoming more capable and self-actualized, then performing that capability aesthetically (prettier) and through ritual combat against physical embodiments of negative and destructive psychic forces (more perfect).

I figure? After the first time you have to defend your friends' lives by going toe-to-toe against a monster-of-the-week, your idea of "pretty" is going to change pretty damn quick. Fast and strong and efficient and shiny and bulletproof, and taking down a demon before it even gets a WHIFF of your designated love interest; THAT's pretty. And thus, our heroine's mystic-gem-fueled magical girl transformation gradually becomes more and more inhuman, but, and here's the thing, she is totally cool with this, because she A: has a job to do, and B: is in the process of adopting an aesthetic of function. And the monsters of the week are stuck dealing with eight feet of shiny glittering motion-blurred blade-fingered lantern-eyed (ribbon-bedecked, glass-armored, short-skirted, and let's be clear here, you get a super-legit sparkly transformation sequence before each battle) insectile terror.



more thinking about video games and practical genre abuse )
roadrunnertwice: A mermaid singing an unenchanting song. (Beaton - Doop doop)
End-book is occasionally silly:

"Probably about time to be alone for a week or three," he said. "Figure I'll listen to records and stare out the window and smoke a bunch."

"Bold. Ambitious," I said, stroking my chin. "I like it."

Fin

Jan. 10th, 2012 12:45 am
roadrunnertwice: Young Marcie Grosvenor from Finder, asleep in a ward drawn from Finder trails. (Finder.Marcie - Wardings)

Okay. The first draft of Lulu and the Constellations is in the bucket. Deep breath.

That was a non-figurative deep breath. When I went to bed last night, around 1:50 (that is, about five minutes after I put the last word down), I definitely felt like something had unpinched from my lungs. Maybe part of me was worried that I'd never finish this thing, and I had finally let out the half a breath I'd been holding for most of the year. At any rate, it was probably the most satisfying night's sleep I've had in months.

People have actually asked me actual questions on an actually frequent basis, so it's time for the ever-rare and always-treasured AFAQ:

So are you going to get it published now?

In the immortal and ever-applicable words of Q-Tip: Let's focus on appeal / before we get a deal / c'mon. I'm not being modest when I say this manuscript is in a fuck of a state—characters' voices are all over the place, motivations need shoring up, gun/mantelpiece continuity must be established, fat must be trimmed, parts of it are plain boring, there are at least three missing scenes, etc. etc. It's a done book, but it ain't a GOOD book, not yet; there's a lot of work needs doing before it will be.

Once I've rinsed all the suck out... Sure. Probably. After I've got the rest of the series at least mostly done.

Can I read it?

Here's the thing: I really want feedback on this thing, but I don't want to waste the time of the people who'll have the most useful things to say about it. Because I can SEE a lot of things that need fixing, and I won't learn anything if my beloved peeps spend all their time telling me about the really broken shit I'm already aware of. So I think I need to at least revise the most glaring structural and textural issues out of it before I show it to anybody. (Aside: You know the things they say about "technical debt," about how sometimes you have to make things harder for your future self if you want to keep moving when the going gets weird? It holds for book-length prose as well as software, I think.)

On the other hand, I've never done this before, so I might be making a huge mistake and sabotaging myself by holding it so close to my vest for so long. You guys all know things; any thoughts about this?

What's it about?

So, have you ever walked around a corner and had this sudden crawling feeling that you've been there before? Like a déjà vu of urban space?

It's about that. And loneliness, and friendship, and family secrets, and conspiracies, and homesickness, and music, and wanting to live your life amazed. But it all kicks off from that, the feeling that the walls between here and there have somehow suddenly thinned, and if you close your eyes and just jump, you might—

Did you say "series?"

Yeah, it's at a stop point, but it's not actually done. There's at least one and possibly two more books to go.

There's a zoom-out effect I'm looking for, but those thoughts are spoilery and maybe a little grandiose, and it might not work out quite like that anyway. We'll see!

roadrunnertwice: Wrecked bicyclist. Dialogue: "I am fucking broken." (NeverAsBad - Fucking broken)
Okay, so I'm close on the book. Very close. Annoyingly so. I think I'm about 10,000 words deeper than I was when last I posted.

OTHER NEWS:

Item: We're moving across the neighborhood! If you've ever been to Chez Schwagerlund and would like to move into our sweet sweet soon-to-be-erstwhile pad, holler and we'll put you in touch with the landlady.

Item: I got a $150 ticket for not riding in the bike lane. AWESOME. I can get out of it with a $30 traffic school humiliation date, but here's the thing: I stopped riding in that particular bike lane on account of it being a total deathtrap. (I've even got a six-month old draft post sitting around about it. I binned it because it was boring and ranty.) I explained this to the nice officer, and all he had for me was, welp, if I'm in the bike lane and I get hurt, the courts will back me up and say it wasn't my fault! Great, that's helpful. Meanwhile, blameless me will be dead or in traction or something.

Obviously I'm not thrilled about this, and more to the point, I've started to dread and fear the morning commute. Since getting pinched, I've been riding in that bike lane again, just in the interest of good faith. It's been less than a week, and I've already had two car interactions I was seriously not okay with. This versus one or two in the last like nine months.

I'm not sure what to do about this. Obviously I'll be breaking the law if I go back to riding in the lane, but we're talking about my life here. Who do I even talk to about this? Especially if I do suck it up to traffic school; do I lose my standing to challenge the validity of the ticket if I hedge my bets like that. ARGH.

Anyway, yet another thing to fret about in addition to Christmas and book and moving.

The numbers

Dec. 1st, 2011 02:07 am
roadrunnertwice: Davesprite from Homestuck, Mr. Orange Creamsicles hisself (Homestuck - Davesprite)
That. Was a helluva month.

The score came out to 46,305 out of 50,000. That's 3,695 short, or about two days and change behind the (completely arbitrary) ball. I feel fine about that, although if I were doing this again I'd set the daily quota to 1,785 instead so I'd get a pair of slop days for free. (The difference between 1,666 and 2,000 is smaller than it looks, but bigger than I was usually willing to go for.)

Never mind that numbers horseshit, though. Here's the actual score:

Four chapters left, including the one in progress.

So close I can taste it. So... I'm just going to hold steady on course, and ride that momentum like a mechanical bull.
roadrunnertwice: Yoshimori from Kekkaishi, with his beverage of choice. (Kekkaishi.Yoshimori - Coffee milk)
I got some new coffee apparatus! [twitter.com profile] maxmartin at work finally convinced me that pour-over brewing is just totally superior to the French press thing I've been doing since whenever, so I splurged on a completely egregious ceramic funnel while I was at Extracto a week or so ago. By "egregious," I mean "a little less than the volume of my head."

IMG_0314

"Egregious" also means "about $25." At least I didn't spring for Chemex? I realize you can get one of the single-cup ones for $4, but man, I just really really hate plastic. It absorbs rancid oils, it's impossible to get clean, and I really don't think I need more phthalates in my diet. Also, the ginormitude of this guy means I can finally make coffee for more than two people at a time.

ANYWAY, my coffee immediately got like a dozen times better, and it turns out it's not actually that hard to use. Hurray!

In other news, time to get back to work. The thing is going well, although my original estimate of how much was left is looking a little over-optimistic. The score so far:

  • Bonus days spent: 1
  • Bonus days remaining: 0
  • Days where I just didn't make count: 2 (1000 and 750 out of 1666)
  • Days where I sorta cheated by counting plot hash-out and re-outlining toward the quota: 1


I'm nine and a half chapters ahead of where I was on the 1st, but I'm seeing seven more in the outline. Things have diverged and tightened up a bit, though, so I might be able to cut some contrivances out and shrink it by one.

We'll see how I'm feeling on the 30th, but if there's still a ways to go, I might just keep up this pace until I'm done.

Ka-chunk

Nov. 17th, 2011 11:08 am
roadrunnertwice: Davesprite from Homestuck, Mr. Orange Creamsicles hisself (Homestuck - Davesprite)
Welp, that was another week. A more difficult week. Yea verily, kind of a bitch of a week, when you get right down to it, which included some worst-case scenario shit that caused the day job to become the not-strictly-confined-to-day job. Don't get me started.

There was one day where I only made 1000 instead of my 1666. Other than that, I kept the burrito on the plate. That is all I have to say about that. Don't want to call it "all downhill from here," but it should definitely level out a bit.
roadrunnertwice: Rodney the Second Grade T-Ball Jockey displays helpful infographics. (BF.Rodney - Ass increases w/ T-ball^2)

WELL. THAT was definitely a week. Quota on all days, bonus on two. I suppose I could do some math on that, but I am holding to my policy of not taunting the running total.

Things:

  • Don’t hold me to this, but I might try to keep my pace up through the holidays and whatever else and just spend any bonus days to make the month shorter. Andrew Hussie has attributed his insane update pace on the first year or so of Homestuck to pure momentum, and now that this is starting to feel like a routine, I sort of see what he means.
  • Each one of these three-or-so chapters I’ve knocked out this week would have taken weeks to finish at my previous pace. That’s… I’m not sure whether I want to studiously not think about that, or just kind of roll in it like a dog.
  • There is no third thing. Or actually wait, there totally is, I had a thing to say about what is apparently now my writing chair, but I can’t get to that now because I need to pass the fuck out.

NaNoDayGlo

Nov. 5th, 2011 05:24 pm
roadrunnertwice: Yehuda biking in the rain. (YehudaMoon.Yehuda - Rain)

Yeah, I’m doing that damned NaNoWriMo thing. Sort of. Like how a stray dog goes down to the greyhound track for some rabbit hunting. (I am kind of ignoring the rules.) To shorten the long story, I think I have about 50,000 words left on the Real Shitty draft of Lulu and the Constellations, and it would be really nice to just slam that motherfucker in the coffin before the year is out so I can get down to business on the Now With Less Suck draft and then the next book after that.

I’ve never done this kind of banzai charge before, but it’d sure be cool to find out that I can! Too bad about the 9 to 5 being in crunch mode right now, but whatever, I’m going to give it an honest shot. And unlike ever before, I have an actual! outline! that I feel pretty good about, so that may even the odds a bit.

Anyway, point being, I may be scarce for the month, online and in real life. Twitter at work is probably about all I can manage.

My personal rules )

I’ve hit quota every day so far. May as well go get down to business on today’s.

roadrunnertwice: Wrecked bicyclist. Dialogue: "I am fucking broken." (NeverAsBad - Fucking broken)
Apparently it's the National Day on Writing, so there's a #whyiwrite hashtag going around. My first try was something like, I write because the people and places I spend so much time dreaming about deserve to be made real. But then I realized that was just why I write fiction (very little of which has seen the light of day, I know, I know, I'm working on that), and I think even if I were to abandon that and give up on that dream of making something beautiful, I'd still be scrawling reams of this kind of thing, and rambling about the show last night and about fixing my bike, and loosing the occasional volcanic broadside about whatever those assholes did THIS time, etcetera and cetera.

So the more complete answer is more like, I think I write because my brain is incomplete, and there are thoughts that I can't think until the moment I write them down. My thought process is partially external, and I just can't use the whole of it unless I write.

That's more selfish than a lot of the posts I've seen so far, and it makes me sound kind of deranged to boot, but... SHRUG! You go to war with the fabricated justification you've got, not the fabricated justification you wish you had. ...No, wait.




Also. That Mongol 800 album came up on my iPod on the ride in this morning, and then the fall sunlight was really bright and the whole lot of it together just reminded me of Minneapolis so much it made my chest hurt a bit. I mean, in a good way. You know.
roadrunnertwice: Davesprite from Homestuck, Mr. Orange Creamsicles hisself (Homestuck - Davesprite)
I would like to share my joy about having FINALLY finished that fucking unusable backstory scene. It was one of those things where I couldn't continue without knowing what happened, and I couldn't just think my way through it like a competent person -- I literally had to put the whole thing down on paper before I had any idea what all went down. Unfortunately, the results have little or no place in the final manuscript, and will probably get completely cut or rewritten. Yay me.

At least this is another chance to use that iTunes-paster script. That's oddly satisfying! I should make one-graf bitchposts more often.
roadrunnertwice: A mermaid singing an unenchanting song. (Beaton - Doop doop)

So I grabbed a new iPad text editor to play with! It’s called iaWriter, and you might have heard of it, since apparently it’s the one Stephen Fry uses or something. I like it a lot. It can’t replace PlainText, because its syncing and organizing are kind of barely sufficient (verging on crappy); it’s completely unusable for making frequent updates to a blizzard of smallish documents, and appears to be meant for working diligently on four or five large files, which will occasionally be switched out. It’s a text drafter, I think, not a text editor. Anyway, the upshot is that I seem to be able to write fiction with it at speed, which is one hell of a feature and which I always found too frustrating to keep trying for on Simplenote and PlainText.

The two real standout touches are that it uses a big ugly font that’s very readable no matter how I’m holding the device, and it extends the iPad keyboard with a row of extra keys – things like always-on apostrophe and quote keys, and cursor keys that can navigate by letter or word. It sounds trivial, but it ends up making a pretty huge difference, and I’m inclined to attribute its surprising usefulness to the amount of friction that takes away. I realize most iPad apps can’t do that with the keyboard, because it makes it take up like 3/5 of the whole screen, but it’s damn nice if you need to type for an hour.

It also has two standout annoyances: there’s a big old scrolling dead zone on either edge of the page, and it doesn’t switch the keys back after you type an apostrophe with the normal punctuation keyboard. Yes, you have a built-in key for that, but that’s no reason to punish me for picking up a little muscle memory elsewhere, geez.

I think I paid like a buck for it? It’s definitely worth checking out, even if you already have a main text editor.

(Oh, and apropos of nothing, apparently it saves newly created files as Little-Endian UTF-16. Who in the world uses that for ANYTHING? Weird!)

roadrunnertwice: Blowhard analysts speaketh bollocks; cast them aside. (Speaketh Bollocks)
Okay. Look. I like to write while listening to music, a not-insignificant subset of which is an Acquired Taste, by which I mean that by objective standards it is pretty terrible. And I like listening to it on speakers, too, because I find using headphones when I'm alone and not running or on the train to be kind of lonely and alienating, plus it's harder to hear anything going on in the house, and plus it wears my ears out.

When I am writing in a semi-public space, I do not listen to annoying music on speakers, because it's a godawful racket and would be completely fucking rude to everyone around me. I should not need to belabor this point any further and so I'm out.

via BoingBoing.

Epilogue

Dec. 20th, 2009 03:36 pm
roadrunnertwice: Rodney the Second Grade T-Ball Jockey displays helpful infographics. (BF.Rodney - Ass increases w/ T-ball^2)

I played with Scrivener during November, and had decidedly mixed feelings about it. So I decided I should give the other main IDEs-for-prose a shot! My feelings about them were decidedly un-mixed.


Ulysses 2.0: I tried the first version back in '06 or so and loathed it, but my tastes have changed, and I figured its focus on markup-based* formatting might appeal more to me than Scrivener's NSTextView WYSIWYG. Yeah, no. God no. This program runs so counter to the way my brain works that I actually have a hard time imagining the existence of people who find it useful.** It has all the failings of an integrated writing environment, but it consciously rejects all of the benefits. I absolutely remember why I threw it aside last time and just went with BBEdit and a folder fulla text files.

StoryMill: Also no dice; even reading through the tutorial file made my head kind of spin. The dealkiller here was how much fidgeting and toggling and administrative nonsense you have to go through to do anything. Are you typing in the "Notes," or the "Text," or the "Chapter?" It's all the same text field, and you have to constantly fiddle with these controls at the top to make sure you're in the right place, which, NO, I have better things to do with my attention. (Also! It failed at importing some UTF8 text files and spat mojibake throughout. WTF? This is 2009, yo, I should not need to babysit charset conversion.)


In the meantime, it turned out that Scrivener'd made a good enough case for its utility during the trial period that I did, in fact, miss it. I have issues with it, but it's... actually a pretty good implementation of something that will make part of what I do a whole lot easier. And it fits with my current write-in-bits-on-the-train thing really really well. So, I bought it.


* Just for the record, what bugs me most about WYSIWYG composition is modal emphasis with no indicator. As in, you're looking at the screen and there is a blinking cursor: when you type something, is it going to be bold or italic? WHO KNOWS. Drives me bats. (Brief props: MS Word slants the cursor when you're in itals, which is cool. Everyone should do that, and make it blocky when you're in bold. That would solve the problem perfectly. But I seem to be the only person who's infuriated by the current situation, so whatever. Grumph.)

** Obviously they're around, and I am glad they enjoy it. Space aliens deserve good software too!

roadrunnertwice: Crow perched on a trail signpost. (Crow on signposts)
Man, I have been trying to love Scrivener, and just have not found the trick yet. I like the idea of it, I think. I mean, an IDE for prose! Down with file management! What a great idea! But I've been using the extended NaNoWriMo trial edition, and its theoretical charms continue to outweigh its day-to-day appeal.

For one thing, it's WYSIWYG, which I've been kind of down on ever since I discovered HTML; doing formatting inline tends to bite me on the ass later. (Which is to say, I understand why people used to get all het up about WordPerfect's "reveal codes" thingummy and everyone else's lack thereof.) The export functionality is pretty impressive, but still requires a bunch of cleanup before it's ready to hit the web. Also, it seems like there're too many fidgety places to enter text? Which of these am I supposed to treat like I'll ever read them again, and which are write-only?

Well, anyway: I actually really like the texture on the corkboard. And how easy it is to split and re-arrange files. (Like Fission for prose!) And the way it'll do what can only be called a "build." And that it has some metadata about each snippet. (Not sure whether it needs THAT much, but.) Basically, I think I like the idea of editing with it, but that part isn't quite where I want it to be yet, and I can't stand composing in it.

If anyone here uses it, I'd love to hear what you dig about it.

Hi Mom.

Oct. 28th, 2009 08:32 pm
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Kekkaishi - coffee milk)
I still haven't really done a this-is-my-life-now post! I MAY NEVER. Been busy, yeah. What with? Well.

I am Commuting. If you add up the walking and waiting and trainrides both ways, it comes to about three hours a day, which seems kind of mad for only eight hours of work? I think that once I settle in some more, I may gently inquire about working four tens (or nines) a week. Which would entail some Ass-Crack-O-Dawning, but it miiiight be worth it. Certainly it'd be easier to go to bed at an early hour if I had three days to do as I pleased. We'll see whether the workweek will even permit dropping a day; the stream of tasks is fairly steady.

I'm not completely wasting those hours, though. I've been—get this shit—writing. Longhand.* I'm finally putting that notebook Polly and Amanda got me to good use, and am—where doing it man, where MAKING THIS HAPEN—writing Lulu and the Constellations, the first book of Lulu and the Wine-Dark Sea. Slowly, but considering I just finished a chapter today, I may be able to get away with calling it "Shirley." (I've never understood that idiom. Who the hell is Shirley?)

But so yeah, woooo! Next: NaNoWriMo? (JESUS FUCK NO AAUGH.)



What happened to The Cheaters? It's just not ripe. Neither is Lulu, really, but that one's the sort of unripe that reveals itself as you write, and it's a type of story that will react a lot better to some liberal seat-of-pantsing. Cheaters is the sort of unripe that just has to simmer, and forcing the issue hasn't been accomplishing jack shit. I'm a much different person than I was when I started that book, and it's simply not going to come together until I can bring the fundamental underpinnings of it into line with the head and heart as they currently be. And I've finally decided that the conscious brain can't do that, and I need to get out of the unconscious's way for a bit while it does its thing.

It'll be back. The thematic material is killer, and I'm still convinced it'll be an awesome book someday. I absolutely can't write it this year.

* (No, the hand's still not anything better than Vile Scrawl. Haven't yet had the stomach for drilling, and I'm not entirely convinced it would help much. Besides, uh, train?)


And work, right. )
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Hail Eris!!@1)
Dang. I need to learn about dragons.

Specifically, Asian ones. Japanese, Chinese, Southeast Asian, various regions within and around all of the above.

Yes, this is because of a Thing. Anyway, I'm doing my own homework, but if you happen to have a favorite resource about dragons in the places west of here, do please plug.
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Wardings)
Not To Be Confused With.

Hey, let's talk about Howl's Moving Castle. Specifically, let's talk about how bad the Studio Ghibli movie sucks. AND HE'S OFF! )




Haha... all right, sorry about that. This was one of those things where I felt like I was on the verge of grasping something really important, and it was somehow vital to my craft that I spend the time obsessively digging it out. You know how it goes.

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