November 11, 2008

meme: 10 things that will tell you I wrote that fiction

I found this meme here, by way of freakonomics, a blog I often read because of their interesting stance on economy and the world in general.

So, 10 things that will tell you that I wrote a piece of fiction:

1. The characters have more depth than the story itself.
I do not know why, really. But I love creating characters. I like to think about who they are, what they like and dislike, the way they talk, their idioms, their habits. And I make a point of showing it here and there. One of my character didn’t care for one bit what happened to his body as long as his clothes were intact. Another had never seen a movie in his life, and could not recognize Sean Connery.
Most of the time, the character that start in my head as simple outlines are the ones with the most depth in the end, while the ones that starts almost complete stay that way.
2. There is a distinct change of pace and style at the middle
That is because I tend to start a story, write without stopping for days on end, then put it on a shelf for months, and suddenly, decide to get back to it. Most of the time, I will finish it around the anniversary date of its start. The problem is that there are some incoherencies in the style that crop up, because I’ll have changed in the meantime. I really should finish them sooner…
3. It’s dark.
Even if it is a fanfiction of My Little Pony, I’ll find a way to show the darkest side of the ponies, their insecurities and put them through the grinder. When they’ll be out of the grinder, they will be better off than how they started. No, not when. If. I find it makes a compelling story to see the characters struggling
4. If it’s not dark, it’s funny and strangely familiar
When I’m not making my characters suffer, I tend to write about everyday hurdles (e.g, having a hiccup) and the way it can really make our life a little personal hell (but it’s aways funny when it’s others)
5. Rooting for the underdog
Most of the time, one side of my story will be grossly underpowered compared to the other side. Most of the time, they will be the characters I, and you, like best.
That doesn’t mean they will win in the end, though…
6. Color coded for your convenience. Not.
There is no clearly defined Bad Guy and Good Guy. Each has a reason for doing what he does, and, in his opinion, does the right thing. Sometimes, one of the good guys is a ruthless bastard, and one of the bad guys is a romantic anomaly…
7. Dynamic point of view
I tend to focus on a character for a chapter, following him around. Then, in the next chapter, I’ll jump to another. It can be the man next to the prior focus, or shift to a different time and space.
8. You can hear them think !
Most of the time, you will have access to the innermost thoughts of the character I’m writing
9. White is the new black
I… Sadly tend to have white characters. Sometimes asian. But rarely black, latinos or oriental characters. I do not know how to write them properly, or fear stringing clichés one after the other. The problem is, I do not know many people of these ethnicity…
10. Male only, sorry
I do have female characters, don’t get me wrong. They are just rarer than male ones. And are rarely the mains. I’ll have to work on this one !

October 13, 2008

Junk Selling in MMOs

Every time I have started a new MMO, I have encountered the same way of giving me some starting coins : emptying my backpack on the table of the local vendor, watching his eyes lit with joy at the prospect of buying my junk : broken scorpion pincers, torn butterfly wings, and so on.

I have never understood their love for junk, but, as I needed cold hard cash, I was happy to provide them with it. And they would always buy them. Or perhaps it was out of pity for the fledging adventurer that I was, far from the god-killer I would one day become ? Or perhaps they were hoping that, since they bought my junk, I would come back to sell them said killed-god-kidney?

But I digress…

The question still remains: WHY would they buy this ?

And I have a second question: they see thousands of adventurers coming, many buying their equipment to improve their efficiency and/or survivability. How can they cope with so much demand?

I have found a modicum of an answer in a single player game. On the DS: Etrian Odyssey. In that game, there’s no crafting. There’s no finding a legendary epic double blade of poisoned fang in the rectum of a killed wolf (at least we know why this wolf was angry). In EO, the only things you find during your encounters are monsters’ parts. Or supplies like wood or plants. And, when you sell them to the vendor in town, it unlocks equipment to be bought.

So, there is a reason behind buying that junk: creating the supplies needed to equip all those starved heroes. And there is a reason for all those supplies: much junk was sold.

But, why not do it like EO does? Why couldn’t players unlock equipment by supplying vendors with supplies, following “recipes” where 2 “butterfly wings” and 3 “wolf’s hide” would unlock a “darkened leather suit”? And why (like in Etrian) should it unlock unlimited supplies? Perhaps it would enable 1 to 3 equipment to be sold next. That way, the economy would enter a crafting cycle somewhat like the original SWG, or so I was told.

Of course, crafters themselves would have access to other recipes, in order to let people choose their path.

What do you think? Would this work?

April 15, 2008

Dead Fantasy

That's partly why I created this blog: for gems like these that I want to keep someplace, but not in my bookmarks.

Here you have some crazy fight between on the one side Two Girls from the Terrible Trio from FFX-2 (Yuna and... dammit), Kairi from Kingdom hearts, Rinoa from FF8, Tifa from FF 7 (goth version from Kingdom Hearts 2, though) and on the other side... uhhhh... Guess I'm not that hot on fighting games. Anybody can identify the four women there, please? Cause I don't.

Anyway, great creation, it's smooth, it's wonderful, it's a great fight, there are even potions to be drinked. My mouth just can't seem to get back into the right position, it's somewhere ont the floor of my room.
Now, if only I could download them to be sure I do not lose these gems...

Here another movie from the same author, or "what would happen if master Chief and Samus Aran met". It's just great too, with some winks to matrix and to Equilibrium:
And the ending will leave you speechless!

To give credits where it's due: Monty Oum, you rock. You just do...

March 6, 2008

Evolution of Water in Video Games

I found this interesting video.

The author compiled images of games through 27 years of gaming showing the evolution of water. It's interesting to see that first, it's just an harmonious blue (which reminds me of the comic #7, here). Then, unmoving pixels of different colors to show a wave effect. Different main colors to show the depth. or the proximity to shore.
Then, a little animation.
Then, interaction between character and water.
Finally, a semi translucent liquid instead of the blue one. With waves. Which reacts to interaction, be it from the character or from other sources (rain, falling logs, crocodile, etc).

There are other games he could have used, but I admit it's impossible to get all the images of all the games where water exists. Still, Titan Quest, Morrowind and Oblivion all show, to my mind, beautiffully animated water (when your computer is upgraded enough to ;)). I thnk Farcry and Crysis aren't bad at this either.

It's difficult to reenact effectively and beautifully the nature around us. It's so random, there are so many possible interactions... But still, as time passes, they manage to do it more and more. Gravity has become a common part of video games nowadays, and I must admit I find some fun in watching it just for the sake of watching it (I like railroading games to do something different than expected, like a tank race in Desert Combat ;) ).
Well, I just hope they'll manage one day to make a really immersing Massively Multiplayer Game where you can interact with everything. But... I fear I would never disconnect, then ;).

March 5, 2008

Mourning for Gygax, D&D style

A plain, where ordinarily the wind blows fiercely, but today strangely quiet.
A plain, normally inhabited only by insects and the restless spirits of those that fell on this bloodthirsty ground, but today black with people.
A plain, whose groune is ordinarily crackled by the sun, today trampled bare by the myriad of feet that have been on it for hours.

In this crowd, numerous and diverse creatures are visible. here an Ankheg near a huge Orc. There, an ebony scaled dragon lifts pixies on its wings, so that they can see. between all of these creatures, Fighters, Priests, Thieves, more than the eye can see.
The skies themselves are black: Devas, Balors, Mages from everywhere float gently, practically motionless.

Not a sound. Not a move. No one hits his neighbour, nor looks at him with envy, hunger. No one visits the pockets of anyone. Far left, even, a Lich gives a Pelor's Priest a piece of her robe to dab his eyes, wet with water.

Everyone's attention is centered on a single point, in the center of the battlefield. A huge Pyre has been set, upon which a human bodyu rests, in a strange multigarbed flower shirt, incongruous among this throng. The atmosphere is solemn...

A Huge Gold Dragon steps forward, dips its head respectfully, before roaring. On its neck, a man, in Archmage robes, better known to anyone as Elminster, speaks, after a little Castvoice (level 2) spell

"Thou... Created us, Gary Gygax. Thou started... Something that went far , more far than you thought it could go. Thou created... A child that will survive you. Thou changed the lives of thousands of childrens. And grown-ups. Thou enabled many to live their dreams. And here you leave us now, and no Resurrection, Raise dead, Miracle or Wish will make you come back."

Sobs are heard from everywhere. A gelatinous cube trembles like jelly. A rust monster chitters sadly. No one can see what the Invisible Stalker does.

"But verily, thou just shifted planes. And we have faith thy will conquer them, with your bag of dices +5/+8 against ignorant, your flowery Shirt of Resistance +4, your Glasses of X-Ray, Infravision, Ultravision, True Seeing and your never-emptying Beard.
May Thy Dices Never Roll 1, my old friend!"

A pause. A long pause, as each and every creature and character on the plain pays its hommage to the creator of Dungeons & Dragons, the first Roleplaying Game, one by one. Various objects are stacked, relics, artefacts, magic items, rare spell components.

Then, the crowd parts from the pyre, and in one move, fiery breathn Melf's meteor (level 9), Fireballs (level 3) are launched on the pyre.

"And now, in his honor, Battle Royale! May the PX flow like water!"

And the crowd roars...

Gary Gygax died today at the age of 69, guys...


Une plaine, normalement balayée par les vents, mais aujourd'hui d'un calme plat.
Une plaine, normalement habitée uniquement par quelques insectes, et par les esprits perdus de ceux tombés au combat sur ce sol assoiffé de leur sang, à présent noire de monde.
Une plaine, au sol normalement craquelé par le soleil, à présent rendu uniforme par les pieds qui la foulent depuis des heures.

Dans cette foule, des créatures éparses et nombreuses sont visibles. Ici, un Ankheg cotoit un gigantesque orc, là, un dragon aux écailles d'ébène porte des pixies sur son aile afin qu'ils puissent mieux voir. Et au milieu, une foule de Guerriers, de Prêtres, de Voleurs.
Les cieux eux mêmes sont noirs de monde, Devas, Balors, Mages de toute sorte flottent, pratiquement immobiles.

Pas un ne bouge. Pas un ne frappe son prochain, pas plus que ne le regarde avec avidité. Pas un ne fait les poches de son voisin. On voit même une liche tendre un morceau de sa robe à un prêtre de Pelor dont les yeux coulent sans s'arrêter.

L'attention est concentrée sur un point, au centre de ce champ de bataille. Un immense bucher a été mis en place, sur lequel repose un humain dans une chemise à fleurs multicolore qui semble incongru dans cet environnement. L'atmosphère est solennel...

Un immense dragon aux écailles dorées s'approche, s'incline lentement, profondément avant de rugir. Sur son cou, un homme en longue robe d'Archimage, au nom d'Elminster, prend la parole après avoir lancé un sort de Portevoix (niv 2).

"Tu nous as créé, ô Gary Gygax. Tu... as lancé un mouvement qui est allé bien au delà de tout ce que tu pouvais espéré. Tu as créé... Un enfant qui te survivra. Tu as... Changé la vie de milliers d'enfants. Et d'adultes. Tu as permis de vivre des rêves. Tu nous quittes à présent, et aucun sort de résurrection, raise dead, miracle, ou même voeu ne pourra te faire revenir"

Des sanglots se font entendre un peu partout. Un cube gélatineux tremble comme de la gelée anglaise. Un monstre de rouille chitter (??). Nul ne peut voir ce que fait le Chasseur Invisible.

"Tu as juste changer de plan, et nous te faisons confiance pour les conquérir, armés de ton sac de dés +5/+8 contre les incroyants, de ta chemise à fleur +4 de résistance, de tes lunettes à rayons X, d'infravision, d'ultravision et de vision véritable, et de barbe de garde manger. Que tes dés ne fassent jamais 1, mon ami!"

Une pause. Une longue pause, pendant laquelle chaque personne sur cette plaine vient rendre hommage au créateur de Donjons & Dragons, le premier jeu de rôle... Des objets divers et variés sont entassés autour du pyre, artefacts, reliques, objets magiques, composants divers.

Puis les gens s'écartent, et d'un seul mouvement, souffles enflammés, météores de Melf (Niv 9), boules de Feu (niv 3) tombent sur le pyre, l'enflammant.

"Et maintenant, en son honneur, Battle Royale! Que les PX coulent à flots!"

Et un profond rugissement emplit la plaine...

Gary Gygax est mort à 69 ans hier, les gars...

March 4, 2008

Link of the Day: Evolution of Villainesses

Thanks to When Fangirls Attack, a site with daily links about womens' image in comics, I found this link

It lists the global evolution of Villainesses from the 30's to the 21th century. Dangerous but Beautiful, to Reluctant Heroine, while passing through the Corrupted Heroine stage.

It's fairly complete.
I just would like to add a small detail: Heroines, it seems, are always beautiful, while villainesses go from Horrible harpies to Beautiful Babes.

But when a villainess goes to the other side, the package seems to include a complete makeover surgery. The two examples that spring to my mind are Rogue and Mystique.

I do not have copies of their first appearances here. i'll try to update that I could. But they were both ugly. I remember that episode of the X men where they go to erase the military files on them and wound up meeting Rogue...

But then, Rogue went to Charles Xavier, fearing for her psychic equilibrium. And lo and behold, she was suddenly cute as a fox.

Mystique never reaaaally became a good girl (but boy was she hot with those guns in X Factor!), she faked it. But still, she became quite the beauteous one (in a dangerous way... There's something about blue skin... Also, is it just me, or is Mother, from Cyberforce, identical? A question for another day, I suppose)

Out of the blue, these are the two that I remember. But I'm sure there are others!

March 2, 2008

There's something about Urinals

I don't like using public urinals, be it in Cinemas, at my workplace or in restaurants. I use them, I can't do without, but I don't like it.
I don't know how it is in the Womens' "playground" (I'd like to say "I don't want to know, but I do, I really do!), but to use succesfully the Mens' Urinals, one needs to bypass quite a few traps.
First, you can choose between what I'll call the Standing Ones and the Classic Ones (usable by both sexes, although I know some women who used the Standing Ones, usually when they were drunk).
My problem with the Standing Ones is that often, you'll feel your hands peppered by little drops of liquid, which is not the most pleasant experience in the world. Not to mention the fact that if you feel it there, then a good part of your clothes are peppered as well... Then, when you flush, the strength of the water is often too strong, and it's not so much a peppering as a cloudkill spell...
I don't use the Standing Ones unless I have too...
But the Classic Ones? We enter, litterally, the horror territory.
Some men seem to think that they have to mark their territory: why piss in the porcelain? No one will smell your odor and know you have been there. Tread carefully, wet floor <__<;;
Others think about the well fare of our planet: some people must live with 1 liter of water per day, so why waste water by flushing? Very kind of them. I'm sure some of you met the horrors that can lurk in those shallow waters...
And, finally, there are some who... should change something in their dietary habits. They think about flushing, which is good, but then forget to scrub while they are at it.
I'm sure I must sound precious to you, but "Do not do unto others what you would not like done unto you", if I remember correctly (and I'm not the most religious one...).
In the same spirit, flushing tends to release that selfsame cloudkill spell. I personnaly close the cover plate before I do it. Honestly, would you kiss someone or shajke his hands if you knew the amount of filth that can be on them? Think of others and of yourself ;)

February 21, 2008

February Movie Review: Juno

I just got out of Juno.

IMDB tells me it is by Jason Reitman, who apparently also did "Thank you for Smoking". Which makes me even sadder I could not watch it...

Juno speaks of...
Oh yeah, sorry, be warned, this will not be SPOILER-free. Possibly far from it, even.

Juno speaks about the unwanted pregnancy of a 16 year old girl, Juno (or Junebug, as her parents affectionately call her) and of how she deals with it.
Well, she deals with it with more maturity than I would, I fear. And I'm 9 years older than she is. She decides to give him/her/it to a couple who do not manage to have their own (its own?).
We accompany her during the 9 months of her pregnancy. The movie is not about the physical aspects of the pregnancy (nausea and all those great things mothers have and will live(d) ), but more on the effects on others: she's seen as a freak at her school, the wannabe mother of the adoptive couple looks at her as a lucky one, the father of the child, a lanky dude rather off-beat, see her as a wizard, as he calls her.

Juno's character is an energetic girl, who lives life without giving up. I... Ihave said I am french, but english is my second language. Well, I was happy to have the french subtitles >___<. I have never heard so many slang terms, and I will get the DVD just to write and learn them :D. Ellen Page is here in the kind of roles she plays to their fullest. She needs characters with a lot of energy: she was great in Hard Candy , chasing pedophiles and giving out Justice, but not so great as the timid Kitty Pryde in the third X Men (I know, I know, "there is no third X Men Movie". I concur; but still...). She needs to talk, more than she moves. Her voice carries many emotions.

But she is not alone in this movie.
To quote her, Juno is "a planet", around who orbit many interesting characters. Her family is disfunctionnaly functional: the father (J. K. Simmons or J Jonah Jameson from Spider Man 3; I knew I knew him from somewhere!!) does not really show any emotions even though he seem to boil with them, and has this kind of dry humor I'm rather fond of. The mother in law (Allison Janney) [Allmighty Zeus?! Prudy from Hairspray?!] is a no-nonsense woman who takes control of the situation after Juno tells them the news. She doesn't take shit from anyone, but has a heart of gold. The little sister is... transparent. So much, in fact, that they start to forget her when Juno finally "dumps her thing".
The father of the child, with who she faults, is played by Michael Cera, whose head tells me something, but I can't quite place my finger on where... He's one of those kids in high school: they do not talk much, they are intelligent, a bit "different", not the ones in the spotlight, and who still shine in some awkward way.
Olivia Thirlby is the cheerleader best friend. Nice smile, not always up to speed with the action, but supportive all the way. I hope my friends would do the same would I need them (and I'm sure some would ;) )
And let's not forget Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner as the wannabe adoptive couple. She plays well the working girl and I'm sorry to say I'm supportive of Jason's character reaction. I have been confined to a cave and part of a room, let me tell you, it is not something you like to live with...

Anyway, this post is already quite long, and I have rather lost what I wanted to say in the first place, but this movie is one I have tremendously enjoyed and thus, I recommend it to you, o readers!

February 18, 2008

Podcast on Webcomics

I have a dream.

That one day, I'll draw and publish my own comics/webcomics. So, I tend to gather everything I can on the subject: books (Scott McCloud for the win!), links, "how to draw" books (handpicked: I know some (most) of them are trash in a can) and so on.

So here's a new one I hadn't tested: podcasts
Particularly this one

I do not have the opportunity to listen right now, being at work and without headphone, but I shall have it.

February 15, 2008

Look as time flies!


Almost FIVE months ago, I created this blog. And this here, is my second post. I guess I have many things to learn from this :p.

It appears I do not have so many things to say about comics after all. But, I browse the Internet, I... I live in the outside world as well.

So I guess this blog will become even more random :D

Let's start, shall we?

Old Video Games

I like them. Who doesn't?
But for many years, I had a Mac at home. The only way for me to play most games was to do so at friends' homes, and it is rare that they let you play for hours on end. I bought my first PC 5 years ago, and have tried to fill the hole of my youth.

But, it seems, I have passed some gemstones.

For exemple, I just found out about System Shock:

I mean, come on! Adventure, FPS and puzzle game all in one? And you can choose how much of each you want? They don't do that no more, no siree...

This makes me really want to install DOSBox, now...

New Video Games

When I see games like this, I realise I really want a Wii...

The graphics makes me drool, and I'm far from a graphics fan.

Just saw the trailer (which can be found at the bottow of the wikipedia page). The characters seem cliche at best (the girl and boy who are best friends, but maybe love interest, the brooding and intelligent older guy, a rival of the first boy, etc), but you do not always need originality. The animation seems fluid. Ah, well, I'll try and see.

This novel just made my day:

Imagine a journalist, used to interview rockstars, that suddenly finds himself interviewing Leather, a super villain, complete with super speed, super strength, and super agility. And quite a personality to boot.

What I liked about this story is that, although she is clearly established as a super human, and a super villain (and she establishes that herself early in the story), she is also very human in terms of feelings, thoughts, etc. Sha has longings, desires, goals, and regrets.

There's also a rationalisation of why Villains always manage to get away to plague humanity again and again (an organisation, much like our insurances, exist just for that)

Not to mention that the style of writing is excellent.

Well, that's all for today, folks!