A Codex on Plot Bunnies

They come in all shapes and sizes. They're relentless and merciless. They can multiply faster than tribbles. They are the bane of every writer.

They are...the plot bunnies. The ideas that come along to try to draw us away from our works in progress, luring us in with their shiny coats and cute little eyes.

While they can sometimes provide assistance, many times they are the enemy of a writer. But as probably a lot of musicians have said, "know your enemy". One must know their opponent in order to know how best to defeat it, which elements it is weak against and which it absorbs. So I have provided a Codex of some of the breeds of plot bunnies I am knowledgeable about, in the hopes that it may be of some help to others who need to fight off a plot bunny at some point in their lives.

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The Birds and the Bees

There's a lot that goes into effective race-building in fantasy and science-fiction. Culture, biology, history, and how all of those things intertwine. Part of why I love writing fantasy and sci-fi is being able to create races of mystifying and mysterious beings, whether largely original or inspired by mythology.

You can find plenty of guides to building fantasy/sci-fi races online. They contain things like appearance, history, culture, and interactions with other races. Those are all things that I consider when building races in my stories, but...there's another aspect that I think about. One that doesn't show up on a lot of the race-building guides I've found online. I suppose it makes sense, given that said aspect rarely factors into most stories, especially ones aimed towards younger audiences.

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Alright, Everyone Say "Normandy"...

I've been quite emotional the past few days with the announcement of Mass Effect 3's final DLCs, especially Mass Effect 3: Citadel, and the recently-released trailer for Citadel. Billed as "one last adventure with your team", it promises a conspiracy plot, new locales on the Citadel, and new interactions with squadmates both current and past. Citadel is intended as a send-off for the Mass Effect trilogy and the characters who made it such an enjoyable and memorable experience.

It wasn't easy saying goodbye the first time around. And I doubt it will be this time, especially since this is truly the end of an era, the final curtain for Commander Shepard and their squad. With Citadel's release, the trilogy of games will have come to a complete close.

It's a day I wish wouldn't have to come and a day that I'm eagerly awaiting.

I didn't get into the series until after the second game had been released, but I quickly fell in love with the first game for its combat, story, and universe. I fell for the combination of cover-based shooting and power usage. I fell for the epic story of one soldier's quest to stop an ancient threat. And I fell for a certain blue-skinned babe, who has remained one of my favourite heroines and favourite love interests in gaming. (I want to say absolute favourite, but I'm horrible when it comes to favourites.

Then I bought Mass Effect 2, and rejoiced when I saw the revamped and polished new combat and RPG systems. I loved every moment of gathering an elite team to meet—and beat—the odds, especially old friends, and I loved every moment where my actions in Mass Effect 1 came back to reward or haunt me.

Finally came Mass Effect 3, and my high expectations couldn't come close to the experience that awaited me. Further refining and balancing gameplay, along with an epic plot to unite the galaxy in the face of their greatest enemy where previous choices impacted who lives, who dies, who prospers, and who withers. I wouldn't hesistate to call Mass Effect 3 one of the greatest games I've ever played, and not only an incredible conclusion to the series but a love letter to the trilogy—its characters, its plot arcs, its universe, even its memes. (Case in point: almost everything about Garrus Vakarian.)

The Mass Effect trilogy has been not only one of my favourite series of games, but one of my favourite stories. The characters, the worlds, the events; uniting skilled fighters of all races and delving into the secrets of the galaxy. I hope to someday write a story that comes anywhere near Mass Effect and the impression it has left on fans like me, and I've frequently found inspiration while playing the series. (Inspiration, mind you, not "inspiration". ;3) I've laughed, cheered, cried, and gasped while playing the games, and continue to do so from time to time. (The Stargazer dialogue gets me every time.)

The central story of Shepard came to a close in Mass Effect 3, but I was still eager for more stories for Shepard to take part in, more adventures for them and their allies. Now, with the confirmation that Citadel will be the final single-player DLC for Mass Effect 3 and a final send-off to the series, the realization has sunk in that this shall be the final story not just for Shepard but for all of their allies and friends. The end of Liara's story. The end of Garrus's story. The end of Wrex's story. The end of Zaeed's story. The end of Javik's story. The end of Conrad Verner's story. The end of the story of the Mass Effect universe as we know it.

And it makes me sad that the story is coming to a close...yet it also makes me optimistic and cheerful.

There is a new Mass Effect game in development. A new story set in the Mass Effect universe, with a new protagonist and new characters. It may be new worlds, new races, or new looks upon the worlds and races we've seen and decided the fates of in the Mass Effect trilogy. A new adventure to join in on, new characters to fall in love with, and a new look at the Mass Effect universe.

Commander Shepard's story is coming to a close. And as much as BioWare has made me wish that their story would never end, I can accept it and say good-bye to the squad one last time—and look to the future for the next Mass Effect story. I know it won't disappoint. The Mass Effect galaxy has billions of stars. Each of those stars could have many worlds. Every world could be home to a different form of life.

And every life is a special story of its own.

Pleasurable and Tense

As of late, I've been...a little obsessed with a little something called "Pleasure of Tension". To quote from my Twitter:

"Decided on something I need to do next time at the Temple of Athame in #MassEffect3. START PLAYING 'PLEASURE OF TENSION'! XD #Snatcher"

"'PLEASURE OF TENSION' MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER. Need to be motivated to jump out of the bed in the morning? PLEASURE OF TENSION! #Snatcher"

"Sounds like something fell over downstairs but can't be arsed to check on it? PLEASURE OF TENSION!"

"Trying to figure out what to have for supper? PLEASURE OF TENSION. #eatmusicfordinner"

You probably don't know what "Pleasure of Tension" is. You've probably never heard "Pleasure of Tension", and many people haven't. But it is one of the most addictive, catchy, earwormy tunes I've ever heard. And part of that earworminess comes from the origin of "Pleasure of Tension". To properly understand my love of "Pleasure of Tension", I'll have to tell you about a little story called Snatcher.

Snatcher is a visual novel/adventure game that was created in 1988 by Hideo Kojima—best known for the Metal Gear series. Snatcher was made after the first Metal Gear game, and it was where Hideo Kojima put all of his good ideas before he made Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. (DEADLY POISONOUS ZANZIBAR HAMSTERS.) Snatcher only had one Western release, on the ill-fated Sega CD add-on for the Sega Genesis. Add in graphic scenes at a time where Mortal Kombat was causing quite a stir, and you have a recipe for failure.

Despite its poor sales, Snatcher became a cult classic. While Snatcher takes...erm, "inspiration"...from numerous other works such as Blade Runner and The Terminator, it tells a fascinating, intense, and intrigue-filled story. Fifty years after a disaster that wiped out half of the world's population, mechanical creations begin abducting and murdering humans in order to disguise themselves and take the place of their victims. The protagonist, Gillian Seed, was found with his wife Jamie in Siberia, both suffering from amnesia. After the two separate and Gillian undergoes military training, Gillian joins an organization called the "Japanese Underground Neuro-Kinetic Elimination Rangers", known as the Junkers, dedicated to identifying and terminating the mechanical beings known as Snatchers. The story keeps you on your toes, quickly demonstrating the danger of being a Junker in an extremely memorable and chilling scene. (In fact, Fallout 3 contains a reference to the scene I'm talking about.) Snatcher throws numerous puzzles your way, requiring you to use deduction to figure out suspects and find clues. Best of all, the story keeps you guessing all of the way—until the end, it's never clear what the truth is, and what you may suspect to be obvious may turn out to be completely inaccurate.

However, there is one thing that is very predictable about Snatcher. That predictable element is "Pleasure of Tension". Any time the story takes a twist or a revelation is discovered, "Pleasure of Tension" starts going. It's catchy as hell and just feels like a "detective" type of tune; it gets your adrenaline going while keeping you in a keen state of mind. Something's either about to go down or is already going down, and it's your job to investigate it.

The game is certainly my favourite adventure game (suck on that, Walking Dead), and a great experience for sci-fi/cyberpunk/mystery fans. Perhaps the best means to experience the game are the Let's Plays by slowbeef, available in screenshot and video format. While there is a wealth of fascinating and amusing content that slowbeef doesn't explore in the game, it's a great way to get the core experience, along with some truly hilarious commentary. If you're not so picky about emulation though, I would certainly suggest to give it a try for yourself. While the gameplay at times is flawed—you're often required to do every possible action in order to progress the plot regardless of how logical it would be, and the slight delay that makes the shooting sections a bit tricky—Snatcher remains an impressive story throughout and has hours of intrigue to enjoy.

And I suppose it would be just as good of a game without "Pleasure of Tension". Except what tune would I then have to get in the zone and totally obsess about?

Lily's RPG Knowledge +1

I'm a fan of role-playing video games. I would go as far to say that I'm an RPG fanatic. My favourite video games are of the RPG genre, of many types: Mass Effect, Final Fantasy, Knights of the Old Republic, MOTHER, etc. However, the kind of RPGs that I play don't use a term that I've seen in many "old-school"-esque RPGs, a term that I never quite understood the meaning of.

That term being "+1". Or "+2". Or "+[whatever]". Say you have a "Sword" and a "Sword +1". What the hell does the "+1" stand for? +1 length? +1 shininess? +1 killability? +1 style? None of the RPGs I've played have used the term "+1"; the closest I've had was with some of BioWare's games, with the weapon levels in Mass Effect or the material ranks in Dragon Age giving slightly higher stats with higher levels.

Being something that I've wondered about for a long time, I never bothered to actually look up the meaning of "+1". It was only when a friend on Twitter replied to a post of mine wondering what "+1" meant that I learned what the mysterious term meant.

It meant "+1". Literally. +1 to a stat. Damage for a weapon, defense for armour, etc. So if your standard sword does 2-10 a hit, your plus-killability Sword +1 does 3-11 damage, meaning things would die in maybe one less hit! (If there's one thing I really don't care for in RPGs, it's 5%/10% stat boosts without any means to efficiently combine those 5%/10% boosts into a noticable increase in stats.)

Even now, "+1" still seems kind of silly. Would that be what the characters in-universe would call it? "By the glory of the gods, companions, this monstrous beast was carrying a Sword Plus One!" Just from looking at the name, how would anyone know exactly what stat gets the +1? Damage isn't the only possibility; many RPGs have weapons that increase the wielder's defense, such as Final Fantasy's Main Gauche and Ultima VII's Sword of Defense.

Heck, how would you know that the "+1" means one stat, all stats, multiple stats, or not even a stat? I'm sure there's been someone out there who got their hands on a "Sword +1" and interpreted it as meaning that they were wielding a sword, Plus One other sword! What if different games have different rules as to how much that "+1" really means? In the NES version of Ultima IV: Quest for the Avatar, a Sword +1 isn't just a +1 damage upgrade compared to the standard Sword.

I suppose it would come easy once you knew the rules of the RPG or "old-school" RPGs in general. But from someone who plays RPGs where the Short Sword is replaced by a Long Sword or a Stick is replaced by a Good Stick, "+1" isn't very clear.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go appreciate the difference between a "Graal Spike Thrower II" and a "Graal Spike Thrower +1". (And maybe think up a hilarious comedy routine about "+1".)

Shifting gears!

Originally, this Livejournal account was intended for sporkings. However, as of late, I've wanted more of a place to spill my mind, write up stuff. So in the coming days (not now, because I'm feverish and am just holding together in order to write this), I'll be retooling this Livejournal.

The changes you will see:

- First, a name change, from LilyheartsSporkings to Out(side) of my Mind.
- Posts regarding my thoughts on works of fiction, whether my own works in progress or other people's works.
- Less of a focus on sporkings. As my Modelland sporks are now being aired on Impishidea, I will be removing them from here and having links to Impishidea. I will also be removing the Marauder Shields sporks for the time being, as I'm focusing on Modelland and think it might be better to wait until the webcomic is completed to tear it apart.
- And more that I haven't decided upon yet.

I will be working on this in the coming days (but probably not today, see above).
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