Tag Archives: video games

News: Ten’s Future, Feedback, and Fair!

Hey everyone, I promise you’ll get some RP shenanigan-type posts this weekend, with fair rehearsal over with, I should be able to start posting then again, when it’s easier for me to post something without being completely brain dead. Speaking of fair, I survived! There are like no decent pictures (at least that I have found yet), but I’ll try to post a couple when I can. It was hard, because this year was butt-ugly cold. We made chessboard history of the unpleasant kind, our stage froze solid Friday night/Saturday morning! Thankfully, we still managed to put on a good show when fair was open.

Sun’s Guard: Ten is still being queried. I’ve got about 25 still outstanding queries, though some of those are about to hit their four-to-six-week, you  haven’t heard from us it’s a rejection, notice. Of course, some of those have please follow up at four-to-six-weeks, so I may be poking people, wee! I’ve also got a bunch of open tabs right this second in my browser to screen for more queries. I’m on page 4 of 12 lists in Query Tracker, so hopefully I’ll hit the end of possible people to query by the end of this month or next, so then I’ll finally either have rejection from all possible sources or an agent.

What happened with the full manuscript offer? Well, after six months of nudging, I finally got a response. It was just a feedback letter, no notes on my manuscript and obviously no request for a revise and resubmit. That right there makes me…leery, considering how long she had the full book. The things inside the letter also confused me, but I won’t debate them in-depth here. I did double-check my readability levels (which are at 9th-10th grade per the Dale-Chell readability scale, at least the first chapter and the last which tells me the middle will be about the same), and considering none of my professors ever said anything sounded too young, I’m going to ignore that critique for right now. I also think the market is over-saturated in first-person POV, which is causing some perception issues of third-person. So at this point, I’m not going to do a bunch of edits. I might change my mind if I get more critiques in the same theme.

…and I feel better having written that all out, huh.

Anywho, like I said, I’m going to continue to query. If I run out of agents, I do have a very tentative self-publishing plan in place, or at least the basic framework. I don’t think I’d go down that road until I have a buffer in place though, so I’d write the second and third books and then start it. Maybe my friend Melissa Storm and I could share  booth space at SoonerCon, she’s an artist and I’d be pushing the books. Hell, maybe I’ll push Ginny’s too, maybe that will just be my thing. (I’m joking, please don’t let this become a thing, oh please…)

In the meantime, I’m still working on the game between me and Ginny. Right now I’m getting the story-script written for the demo week in different starting areas, which is also forcing us to make some final character decisions, yay, and we are always finalizing little details in mechanics. Once those are done, I need to do some town-lay-out mapping and plotting. I’m also getting rough drafts for potential blog posts scribbled down, since we’ve got the idea to stir up interest with a blog, have a tip-jar for funds to commission artwork for the pitch while I’m finishing up story, probably after I get the initial version done and am working on the alternate versions.

As for the blog, I’m going to do something exciting. I’m going to go buy three or four traditionally published books, and grab some indie published things, and those will be what I review, alternating around. I’ll probably honestly get everything on my Kindle unless I fall in love with it and want a physical copy to lug around. So you know, indie writers, if you want a review, let me know! I will be cross posting to both here and Amazon to make sure it’s fair with those, since I know indie books really could use the reviews. (I’m also working on making my reviews nicer.)

Update: Oh look, someone managed to snag a good photo on Friday before it became so cold I had to huddle under my cloak or wear a turtleneck and the smoke irritated my eyes to where glasses were required! BEHOLD THE MAGNIFICENT MOON HAT!

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Character Study: Evangeline

Name: Evangeline (I know, repetitive)

Evangeline Headshot

Artwork courtesy Kynim

Nickname: ???
Age: 16
Home Region: Kanto/Johto
Family: Aya (Great-Aunt)
Father
Mother
Starter Pokemon: ???
Hair Color: Purple
Eye Color: Teal-blue
Build: Slightly short, slim and athletic, graceful
Personality: Quietly stubborn, likes reading outside
Favorite Colors: Aqua blue and pale pink

Not native to the Kalos region, Evangeline begged to travel last year, and was given permission by her parents…with some stipulations. It took some time for her to pick where she was going, finally picking the place as far from her home region as possible, and helping with the arrangements. She left home with her great-aunt, Aya, for a chance at a trainer-journey away from watchful eyes and expectations that she didn’t know if she could live up to.

She has learned French, though her skills leave her a little rusty and preferring not to speak at all unless she absolutely has to. She also has an Antidote kit that she is capable of using, not a normal skill for most trainers to have. Similarly, she has the ability to understand what Pokemon are saying, though at least that’s something that one in five trainers are capable of, so it stands out less. Perhaps to balance it out, she has a phobia of Bug-Types.

 

I feel like if I update this profile much more, I’ll give everything away, and I want at least some things to be a surprise. Figuring out what I was going to do for the main character of the game was tricky. I knew I didn’t want to just do the character X provides you with, since the backstory and legacy of her history that they provided doesn’t fit with anything else in the game (or if there is Rhyhorn racing, I haven’t gotten to it yet! Just riding the one around to get to the caves). Hopefully as more is revealed, you all will like her. It’s hard to take the hero-protagonist that is a silent lead in any game and make them real and relatable…

I’m going to come up with some sort of display thing showing her Pokemon within the text of the story, not sure what. I’ll update this with her starter once it gets started, but the rest of the team will be found in the actual story. Other info that is kept blank will probably be kept that way on purpose to avoid spoilers for anyone who reads the characters first and then the story.


Review: Barbie Movies

Specifically, I am talking about what are referred to as Season 2 through 4 of Barbie movies on Wikipedia (I wasn’t born when Season 1 happened).

This may seem like something ridiculous for me to be watching as an adult, but believe it or not there are a lot of us who grew up with Barbie who enjoy watching the films if only to see what they’ve gone done did now. And to be honest, the evolution itself is pretty entertaining, and I like where it is going. For direct-to-home movies, the animation is never that bad for the time periods it is being produced in, and honestly I feel like while some of the story elements are goofy, the movies show how the brand is continuing to grow and try to not only appeal to girls, but help them find their voices and confidence.

The second “season” of films show their age the most–these films started coming out in 2001, when CGI animation was still figuring itself out. It did however set the tone as different from the prior two films by being in a different style. Most of these early movies, done from 2001-2009, were based either off of fairy tales or ballets, with a few originals thrown in that matched the theming of the mystical and fantasy elements. Even if the stories themselves are familiar, the writers didn’t approach them the same way and really worked to give the Barbie character agency rather than being the end goal like most fairy tale heroines are.

Examples include Rapunzel, where rather than always staying in the castle, she finds her way in and out of the tower on her own. One of the original stories, The Magic of Pegasus, has a princess go out to rescue her sister, herself, and other princesses. If anything the boy who comes along serves the role girls usually are relegated to–the practical one who only serves to help the hero. Even the rendition of The Three Musketeers works hard to show that these girls can be feminine and powerful at the same time. (Okay, I am a sucker for war fans, what can I say?)

The third season (2010-2015) is where they started reaching out to modern stories as well, almost entirely original with some being in fairy tale settings but with modern elements. This is where they really had fun with what they could come up with. While some sort of irked me for being rather shallow, such as A Fairy Secret, I did like this idea of there being a greater world that they were playing with in some of the films and others I thought really played around with traditional roles and made them fresher. The Pearl Princess was amusing with the fact that the main character used her love of dress up to find a good job that would suit her, and the traditional dork character was a hero in his own right.

There was also more variation in Barbie’s personality depending on the movie. She had definitive flaws, skills, and overall wasn’t nearly as grating as normal. For example, Kristen from The Pink Shoes was a talented dancer…she just couldn’t stick to the choreography, a flightiness to her personality rather than there being something necessarily wrong with other people’s opinions. While the end result is Kristen still getting to be a star ballerina, it isn’t for a traditional role with traditional choreography she would have to learn, but rather an original production that she would have a voice in. Similarly, Alexa in The Secret Door is shy and lacks confidence in herself. The movie is about helping her find out that she can do what her duties require of her as a princess, without calling her wrong for feeling shy sometimes.

The new fourth season (2016-Present) hasn’t had much going on so far, but it’s showing that they are going even farther out of their comfort zone (to my approval) and into some elements that really need more girl representation. It’s a fact that when it comes to things like space adventures, spy thrillers, and even video games, that male characters are usually the hero, and the girls are either the goal or they are the damsel in distress still. Even Bond Girls aren’t considered as good at their job as the male leads. But the Barbie movies are taking what they did with season two and applying them to these genres. In particular, I loved Starlight Adventures for what it was–middle-aged power hungry man had to get smacked down by a young woman who had this thing called environmental conscientiousness and morals. One of the upcoming movies is also centered around video games, which I am all for.

If you think Barbie movies are for little girls only, you are sadly mistaken. They aren’t too bad to watch on a lark on your own, nothing worse than a Disney movie, except these have the emphasis on girl-power where it belongs. The animation is increasing in quality as they go, and the stories are amusing. Give them a shot before you completely write them off, since there are plenty to choose from.


News: Recovering from NaNo

I sort of crashed, creatively, after my failed attempt at NaNoWriMo. Well, I say failed, if only because I didn’t finish the novel or reach 50k words. But what I did get done is some major progress. I got the first bit that I’d written redone (minus some added fluff that needs added to the first chapter), and can finally start plotting the last bit that needs it.

Why haven’t I been on it? Why didn’t I finish? Well, I started a new job at the end of October, and it’s been taking me time to adjust to it. There’s a lot of elements to it that I’m familiar with, there’s a lot of it I’m not. I’ve gotten to where I’m at least quasi-comfortable with the new computer system, but figuring everything else out…yeah, it’s still hard on my poor brain. And we’re supposed to be getting a new system here in the next year or so, wee.

In addition, Ginny and I are working on and off on a video game pitch together, and I sort of want to focus on getting my half of it done for good, which is getting the documents all put together and shiny, and being the liaison with our trailer artist (I finished the character side of it, mostly, got a few more left to do).

Overall, there is a plan. I’m probably going to sit down at lunches with a notepad and try to get the third act (which is commonly referred to as the second half of the second act) plotted. I’m not going to try writing it until February anyway, I need the extra time to get used to my job at this point. But we’re in the heart of medfair season, so I’ve got plenty of projects to tackle. Pitch, medfair costume, my Sly Cooper fanfics that have been dying for attention… I’ll update you all in February if I’m ready to start writing again.

I leave you with this today, and then reviews will start next weekish. I’ve been in the Ginny-Box plus watching some movies, so I’ve got material! 🙂


Writing: Cliffhanger vs Hook and Responsibility

I had vague plans of talking about something else this week. And then Ginny went poking around and discovered that Sly Cooper 5 wasn’t even being worked on and…nerd rage happened, and this post suddenly became a whole lot more necessary for my sanity.

Most readers, movie and anime watchers, and video gamers know what the universal consensus of a cliffhanger is. It’s where there is a completely unresolved ending to a chapter/episode/game, usually a very obvious sequel plug. Readers/watchers/players hate them, because they are driven to move on to the next whatever it may be, even if they may not have the time to put down the book/watch another episode/play another hour. Fanfiction readers in particular hate them because, unless the fic is completed, you may be waiting months for the next chapter. And everyone hates them at the ending, because then you have to cross your fingers and pray the developers/writer get to do the sequel or else you have unresolved questions.

But there is actually a tool that writers use called a hook that is commonly misconstrued as being a cliffhanger. The difference is where exactly the two are placed. If it’s at the end of a chapter or an episode that is not the last one, it is actually a hook, meant to keep you reading or watching. This is an important tool, actually, because writers are dependent on getting you through the entire book/movie/TV series without growing bored. If you get bored, you won’t have anything better than “eh” feelings about it, and then you may not read/watch another. Game developers have less of this problem because most gamers are A-personalities who will want to get all of it anyway unless it’s a really bad game, but it’s still a factor.

Hooks are necessary. If you don’t have a hook after almost every chapter/episode, you aren’t going to keep your reader/watcher interested, and you are sunk. But cliffhangers, which are the unresolved endings, are another story. I had a professor who said she always ended her books with an unresolved question, which made me just cringe. It was sequel bait, she admitted to it being sequel bait, but unless I had the contract for the next book, I would not be doing it. It isn’t fair to those who love the book if you never think up enough ideas for a sequel or can’t get it to sell. There’s also the factor that at minimum, a new book in a series will come out once a year, sometimes more, especially if you weren’t contracted for it to begin with. That’s a hard wait on fans.

I’m not saying cliffhangers don’t have their places or uses. If you have the contract and you know the book will be out in a year, I say go for it. It will jack up your sales as fans are desperate to know what happened. This worked for Garth Nix and John Flanagan, who got me to rather hurriedly buy the next books in The Seventh Tower and Ranger’s Apprentice series (respectively) as soon as they came out. It makes churning up publicity for the next book bigger, which means more sales. Sadly, publishing houses have gotten savvy and actually check to see how your last book sold before they will buy your next book or decide how big of an advance to give you. The first month or so will be your biggest sales on a new release, and then they will go down fast, meaning you need to sell as many as possible that first month for the sake of future books. Also, you don’t make royalties until you pay back that advance (which, given the percentage you get of sales, can take a while).

This is a double-edged sword. It won’t take long for word to get out that the book/movie ends on a cliffhanger in this day and age (unless you are like me, I tend to pick up books and forget to fact check). However, if I do fact check and know there’s a cliffhanger, I will wait until the next book or until the series is finished before I will touch it, since I don’t want to waste my emotional investment in something that might not see completion. (Which is why I have not read or watched Game of Thrones, btw.) So you cut some of your sales off at the knee until the next book comes out and resolves the cliffhanger, when you’ll probably see a higher spike in sales of both books. It’s a long-term game rather than a short-term, which some publishers can’t see.

Now, why am I nerd-raging over the Sly Cooper games? Because they have become the perfect example of how not to do a cliffhanger ending. When Sucker Punch finished the first three, they were fairly resolved and self-contained. While there were openings that could be fun to play with, fans could also be fairly content with where it had left off, so if nothing else ever happened, we’d be okay. Then Sony and Sanzaru Games got a hold of the property. It took eight years (I think) for Sly Cooper 4: Thieves in Time to come out. And it seemed to be worth the wait. Cut scenes were now animated, there was a lot more depth to the 3-D renderings. Story-wise, it was sort of lacking and when it came to game play, a lot of old moves/gadgets had gotten left behind, but it was a good first start for a series.

(Okay, I was disappointed that all the ancestors were basically skins for Sly, and had all the same moves with a specialty one or two. Because chronologically, some of the characters shouldn’t have had access to moves that had been invented by other ancestors yet! Okay, and they can’t decide which eye Henrietta “One-Eye” Cooper lost. That’s annoying.)

The problem was, there was a “secret” ending that showed that Sly had gotten lost in Ancient Egypt when the time machine exploded. Which is where the original enemy of the series, Clockwerk, and the Cooper line’s rivalry started, and the Cooper line started period. One of the villains, Penelope, had escaped from prison in the epilogue. And even if you hadn’t unlocked the secret ending, Sly was lost in time and space! It’s a giant, giant sequel hook…and they aren’t going to do a thing with it, supposedly at this time, which means it might be another eight years and another developer switch before we see it. If we see it, since they are set on rehashing the first games in movies now (with awful character designs, don’t get me started).

If you use cliffhangers, please understand the responsibility that you are getting into with your readers/watchers/players. You are leaving them with huge unresolved questions and feelings. It can help your sales considerably…until you fail to follow through. And then it ruins your credibility with them, and you will never get that back. They will start waiting until something is completely finished before investing their time and energy, which means while you’ll see huge spikes at the end of a project, you’re early sales will be bad and this will make your publisher/developer be leery of giving you green lights on new projects in the future. So be careful with your evilness. It could be your career’s downfall.