Monday, February 28, 2011

Status Update

I am now the Philadelphia Anime Examiner. I like calling it a job. It really does look like it should be a job. But I'm being paid by the hit on the website, and it feels like Peanuts doesn't even begin to describe the paycheck. But its a job. I count as being published. My work is out there, damn it.

I haven't been writing for a while. I've been working with my buddy Sam on an RPG system, which is coming along nicely, but I haven't been REALLY writing. That needs to change. I feel like I'm letting something down by being as bloody stupid and lazy as I've been the last few months.

Something's gotta change. But hey, that's the point of being young and out of college: I could go anywhere right now. Time to work myself silly, write an epic ton, and find my place.

Monday, November 1, 2010

YARGH! e_e Back to work!

-Training Status: Standstill. Too much work to do, no time to train. This is lame.
-Midterm Status: Completed. Anyone who says you can't kick this much ass in one week needs to look at what I managed. I am awesome.
-Postgraduate plans: ...

Postgraduate plans are now in the works. I have opportunities, and it's time to make use of them. This will require herculean efforts and a lot of caffeine. Onward to victory!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Odd Moment of Clarity

Today was out of the ordinary, if only because I ended up taking part in the "Returning Students Reading." This was the part where all of us old guys and girls came to the performance space and did a 3 minute reading of our work for everyone to hear, including all the newbie freshmen and otherwise less experienced writers.

I ended up reading an excerpt from my piece "The Debunking", which I threw together last year. It's a story about a drug dealer who runs afoul of a Quantum Physicist who can warp and change objects and situations through a detailed explanation of why they should be the way he thinks they are. I've known plenty of stoners, and I knew of a Flea Market where this kind of story COULD take place, so it came together pretty quickly. Suffice to say, I look at it now and I *know* it needs another draft. That said though, the first two pages are strong work worthy of such a reading.

I got some laughs, we all had a good time, which was the point after all. But there was a moment when the reading ended. Everyone started talking to each other, just like always, and I found that there was this stunning moment of silence on my part.

You see, Most of the people I knew in the department graduated last semester. The ones that remained were a few people I'd met over the years, and a few more that I almost never saw. I didn't belong there, after a moment or so. This was not my party, or my scene, not anymore. I'm pretty good with most groups, but at this exact moment I realized just how many people who I knew before were gone. And after this semester, I'll be gone as well.

It was depressing. Extremely depressing. After all, it's got me thinking about what I'll do after I graduate. My "Writer in the Universe" instructor told me about a Summer thing at a Writer's group...basically, I give them a piece of my work, and an application, and if they think I've got chops they house me and cover my meals for the summer while I work. It's not a bad sounding deal, but I'm going to get better details in the next week or so.

One thing that I know for certain: I'm writing more this semester than I ever have in my life, and I'm wondering which of it might help me after I'm done.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Few Facts

Fact: Blogging is harder than it looks. Now that I'm sitting here at my computer trying to write, I have no idea what I want to say.

Fact: The TV tropes wiki (Home Page - Television Tropes & Idioms) Is goddamn amazing and useful to anyone who wants to write for a living.

Fact: I can refer to all kinds of fun things by the generally accepted names on the wiki, and it is awesome.

Fact: Calling something a "Big Lipped Alligator Moment" is fantastic, especially since if anybody else GETS it, you'll have a moment of joy and pride.

Fact: I'll have to actually write something a bit more impressive when I can.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Regarding my current job.

Being a member of the Santa Fe College of Martial Arts and Crafts University of Epic Fail, I've had some of the best instruction by writers possible in the nation. I've been taught by such notables as Matt Donovan, Ryan Leone, Greg Glazner, Mark Behr, and Robin Romm. Sadly, though Dana Levin regularly taught at the College of Santa Fe, with CSF's metamorphosis into the College of the University of Santa Fe Institution for Artistic Designs and Epic Fail, I never got got the chance to learn from her.

The point is, that I know a thing or two about writing. I'm working on my first novel, and doing my little "pray it doesn't suck" routine. Nothing thirty drafts won't cure. That said, when I went looking for work that I could do out in Santa Fe, the school had the "Writing Tutor" option. This seemed up my alley. I know people who've done the Writing Tutor job, and it mostly ends with them sitting in an empty room for 5 hours, waiting for someone to show up and get tutored. People are prideful I guess, because usually nobody wants to get tutored. I will note however, I have gone to the Writing Tutor (my friend Erin at the time) once or twice to get a draft of one of my stories read through before class. My fragile ego requires this so that I might get early praise. Either way, it's $9.85 an hour, and that's pretty damn good spending money. The other job I have, of course, is as the official tutor for English Lit II. Of course, if nobody calls me and says "I need help", I don't get paid for it. So far, nobody's called to ask for help.

I went through my first shift last week. I couldn't get my Campus Wireless set up beforehand, so I was stuck in the library without effective internet. It was boring, I spent the whole time playing Etrian Odyssey 3. Here's hoping that when my boss puts out the fliers for the damn tutor section that I'll get some business. Beats sitting around doing nothing for 5 hours. With any luck, I'll get the IT department to set my computer up for the campus wireless, which ought to make this whole thing a lot easier.

Not to mention, that finally getting a paycheck will be pretty sweet. Here's hoping, right?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Etrian Odyssey 3

So I picked up Etrian Odyssey 3 the other day. I pre-ordered it, so it came out with a fantastic artbook detailing the artwork for games one, two, and three. I knew what I was getting into, after all, I played games one and two. Then I found out that it had all new classes and craziness.

My initial reaction: "Holy Crap, what is all this???"
My second reaction: "Holy Crap, they fixed it! That's awesome!"

The thing about Etrian Odyssey 3, is that they did something that every gamer who played Etrian Odyssey 2 dreamed of: They recreated all the classes in new forms, streamlined them, got them to sing opera, and then took them on stage.

Take the old Protector class. Now, the protector was pretty simple. He was a big, shiny character in the heaviest armor possible. The entire shtick was this. Protector keeps things protected. You do not damage something the Protector protects. The Protector is hard as balls to kill. Needless to say, that was all the Protector could do.

Meanwhile, Etrian Odyssey 3: The Drowned City has "The Hoplite." As in the traditional term for a greek soldier who wielded his spear and his shield and stood in a line with other Hoplites to form a phalanx and create a vicious line of death. It works. The Hoplite has all the things the old Protector had, with some slight rebalancing. The All-Guard skill is gone, replaced by the Line Guard skill. A Hoplite can choose to give defensive megabonuses to everyone in the line he stands in for a turn. If he is in the line he's protecting, he grants even bigger bonuses. Since there are only two lines for your party in the game, and the back row automatically takes less damage anyway, you effectively have a 1 character defensive bulwark that just doesn't die. Furthermore, unlike the old Protector, you actually gain a weapon enhancement skill and attack techniques. High Level Protectors had no offense, but could defend anything. High Level Hoplites can defend anything and then stab it to death with a spear. And whatever gets stabbed has high odds of dying, not to mention the ridiculously awesome new attack techniques.

And it's like this with every class. Remember the Bard class? Nice idea, megabuffs for everyone...except that that was about all the bard was good for. Fat chance using it to fight, there were just so many better options than playing a bard. The only real advantage at the end of the day was the fact that a high level bard could give megabonuses to EXP granted by all characters in his/her party, and as sweet as that is... it's just not worth it.

Meanwhile, with the Prince(ess) class, you do everything that Old Bard used to do...but when THEY buff a character, they are healed a bit of HP. When the Prince(ess) has full HP at the end of the turn, they heal themselves and everyone in the group a little. They have the same ridiculous TP costs (technique power), but every time they get buffed, they regain TP. Every time a buff they cast on someone goes away, they regain TP. They no longer give EXP bonuses, but the Prince(ess) is now a mainstay of my adventuring party.

And then...there is a class that has become a surprising and lethal member of any good money making operation in Etrian Odyssey 3. A class that will live forever in our hearts and minds, a class that makes monsters everywhere cower in fear:


Now, I know what you're thinking: a farmer. This is the absolute most weaksauce sounding class ever brought into Etrian Odyssey. What the hell is a farmer going to do in a bloody endless labyrinth?

For starters, Farmers can Mine/chop/take resources better than any other class in the game. Farmers grant bonus EXP if you take the right skills for the entire party. Farmers have a number of ridiculous sounding, but extremely useful skills that make any party working the long haul in the labyrinth that much more effective. Farmers have godlike potential when it comes time to plan out and equip your expedition.

With all of this said, I put Etrian Odyssey 3 pretty high up there on my favorite games list. If it has low points, I'd say that they're stated up front: this is a hard game. You will need to carefully plan your strategies, level up inside the labyrinth consistently, and make careful use of camping points. Once you choose your characters, you will need to figure out your party combination's strengths and weaknesses, and how you're going to make use of it all. But as hard as it is, when you get things right, the game is so much damn fun.

That said, I've been playing for far too long. It's 4:50 in the morning, and I've got class at 9:30. Hooray.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our Initial Setting: The College of Santa Fe

The College of Santa Fe, currently under new management, with an indeterminate name of inconceivable origin that we will refer to as the University of Santa Fe for Martial Arts and Crafts College of Epic Fail. Frankly, They should have stuck with "The College of Santa Fe." Simple. Dignified. Elegant. Exactly what it says on the tin, with one of the finest creative writing programs in the country.

The USFMCCEF which has replaced it however, Is a small, frail little thing. Santa Fe has strong winds, and I'm kind of afraid that it's going to get thrown off the damn mountain on a bad day. From 800 students to about 200. The faculty has shrunk. The world has changed. Blame the financial crisis, but most important of all blame that college president from ten years prior who totally boned the school with his Epic Fail.

Henceforth, we will refer to the USFMCCEF (University of Santa Fe for Martial Arts and Crafts College of Epic Fail) as CEF. (College of Epic Fail.) Do not get me wrong, I love my school. I'm sorry to see what's happened to it. Love the school, hate the administration that's gutted it. For all of you playing the home game, let me give you the rundown of what transpired on our side of the mountain.

About two years ago, when the Financial Crisis was really picking up steam, shit hit the fan. The College had been in trouble for some time now, and had been very quiet about this fact. It could have ridden out the storm under normal circumstances, but with the Crisis hitting full steam the school's creditors all called in its debts at the same time. No more waiting: the college needed to pay up, in full, or get repossessed.

Rather than have someone send in the world's largest repo-army, the school started using every option at it's disposal. They attempted to make a deal with the Laureate Group, which would make them a Laureate school, which would give the Laureate group the debt. The catch of course, being that the College of Santa Fe would be under new management. This deal fell through in record time, which lead to the College of Santa Fe seeking help from the State of New Mexico. The governor did his part, but the money just wasn't there on the state level. Finally, at the end of the Spring Semester, the college announced that it was going to have to shut down. This was it friends, our final farewell. They started to set up deals with other schools that would allow the people transferring from CSF to get their degrees honored and their credits transferred.

At the eleventh hour, the people of Santa Fe got involved and CSF managed to bring Laureate back to the table. The city of Santa Fe agreed to take a portion of CSF's debt, and Laureate would buy out the rest. The College of Santa Fe would become a subsidiary of the Laureate group and all would be well. The school would be gutted on all levels, but it would continue to survive.

I'm bitter. Then again, I'm still going to my school. I guess it's a blessing and a curse. I actually left for Chicago for a semester (big mistake) because I just didn't think it'd be the same as it was. The truth is, it isn't. On the other hand, it beats the crap out not getting my degree. And the people here still have that same quirky charm that they've always had. I kind of hope I do too.

And that is where we stand at this moment in time.