Wednesday, July 15, 2015

All of my books in one place

In an attempt to step up advertising for the works I have for sale, here's a list of all of them. I'll be re-posting this frequently for anyone who happens to find my stuff here as a convenient way to find the rest of it.


Load
First novel in a post-cyberpunk series set a few decades from now in a city built from the ground up by a group of mega-corporations. It follows the adventures of a young man with cybernetic eyes, his bioengineered girlfriend, and their roommate, as they stumble onto a data-smuggling plot that could cost them their lives before they can find a way out. Meanwhile, their daughter and son arrive from the future on a mission to avert a disaster that destroyed the city and killed millions of people.

Downtime 
A novella taking a humorous look at three newly-recruited government agents in a love triangle in their off-duty hours. Set between the novels, Load and Fifteen Minutes"
Jack, Corona, and Taura are ordered to lay low for a few days while waiting for the dust to settle after the events of Load. This story offers a glimpse into their off-duty lives--how they deal with their temporary home (a safe house that might be best described as a "fixer-upper"), what they do to pass the time, and the growing love triangle between the three of them.

Fifteen Minutes
In the sequel to Load, Jack, Corona, and Taura begin their first job for a dodgy government agency which not only opens a can of worms that they may not survive, but also lands them in the weirdest situation they've ever faced--an audience watching their every move. At the same time, their future-daughter tracks a fugitive wanted for a crime he didn't commit, and finds herself facing down an assassin who can't be killed.

Elsewhere
An ongoing serialized story: A space station's maintenance crew and part of its security team are zapped through a space/time rift and stranded somewhere across the stars.
All volumes available on Kindle, beginning with Vol. 1:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B27G0WW

Game Over
Dylan Engstrom awakens in a strange place and finds himself surrounded by aliens. Before he can begin to understand what happened, he and a few others are forced to fight in a series of combat scenarios. They form a strong bond during their traumatic experiences, but still must figure out what's happening and escape before they're all killed ... again ... and again ... and again .…
Available from the following:

GI Joe: Omega Section, Vol. 1 – Reactivated
Several decades from now, the terrorist organization known as Cobra is long gone and GI Joe disbanded. But suddenly, from out of nowhere, former members of GI Joe are targeted for assassination all over the world. The survivors must regroup, prevent assassinations that haven't already gone down, figure out what's happening, and fight back. 
Living legends join with new heroes to rebuild the GI Joe unit, merging into it a new organization called Omega Section and adding its personnel and equipment to the team. Together, they find themselves fighting an old enemy suddenly reborn -- Cobra is rising again, and GI Joe has been reactivated.
Available from Kindle Worlds: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QMTUUQC

Mission to Bellatrix
Kolya Mason, a young adventurer with a badly scarred face, has been hitchhiking on starships for several years. Now, she boards a ship leaving Terran-controlled space for the first time, joining a science team investigating the reappearance of a long-lost spacecraft. She's accompanied by a gorgeous young man who insists on tagging along ... but what's he up to? Is he genuinely attracted to her, or does he have some other agenda?
This story is part of the sci-fi/paranormal romance anthology Lucky Stars:
Seven romantic tales take the reader out of this world and into worlds of sexy heroes and strong feisty heroines. From the stars in futuristic sci fi, to wolf shifters, to Greek gods, to ancient curses and fairy tales, seven of today's hot romance authors take you on journeys of the heart where the only rule is a happily ever after.
Available on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Lucky-Stars-Box-Set-Paranormal-ebook/dp/B00UKLMF0C/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1426132048&sr=1-1&keywords=lucky+stars+box

Wrong Place, Right Time
One hot summer night in the spaceport city of Gos Duronan on the planet Tevsa, populated by the alien mulathi and a handful of other species, Trent Lockwood began a typical night of exploring the city his family had moved into a few months previously. Tonight, however, he had no idea what was in store. Wandering into the wrong part of town at the exact right moment, he found himself presented with an opportunity that he'd be a fool to pass up. So began the adventures of an alien gigolo .…


And if I may make a request of those who have already read any of the above books, if you'd post a review on its purchase page, I'd very much appreciate it. Might help boost sales. Thank you in advance. ^_^ 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Archived

Naturally, the first broadcast I tried just to see if I could get the software to work ... had some problems. Tried keeping the video quality high, but my connection couldn't handle it, so I had to reduce the quality. That lasted for a while, but finally it crapped out, too. Luckily, I was able to wrap it up just before it fizzled out.

And luckily, the video was successfully archived here. I'm planning to edit out the bits where not much is happening, and keep the highlights. There's an especially hilarious moment at around 24 minutes in, if I remember correctly. XD

New CPU cooler and new video

After several years of my computer's processor overheating and shutting down, I finally couldn't stand it anymore, and installed a closed-loop liquid cooling system. A little under a week ago, it did the overheat/shutdown thing and then wouldn't reboot. I had to run a startup repair to get it working, and that freaked me out a little. I figured I should get it over with while I actually had enough money. Cleaned out my savings account to do it (grand total of $59, which is sad in itself). Still kind of feel like I shouldn't have spent the money, but the overheating problem seems to have been solved now, so a little peace of mind is worth the expense.

Now I can start catching up on a few things I haven't been able to do recently for fear of having the computer shut down right in the middle of something. Like this:


More to come soon.

Also, I'm thinking about trying to broadcast on Twitch again, if I can get the software to work. Last time I tried it, I could never get it to work. Going to try different broadcast software this time and see what happens.

For future reference, the link to my stream: http://www.twitch.tv/feel_boss


Friday, July 3, 2015

Some thoughts on bullying

This'll be a bit more off-topic than I usually get here, but I just saw something on YouTube that kind of hit close to home.


I was bullied almost every day in elementary and junior high, just because I wore glasses, was physically weaker than almost everyone else, and didn't care about sports ... and as a result I was never able to fit in no matter how hard I tried. I was much more interested in reading and writing and sci-fi movies and TV shows, so that made me a "nerd" and a target of relentless bullying. It was only occasionally physical, most of the time it was just constant verbal harassment and threats and insults. And when you're only six or seven or eight years old, that hits as hard as any punch. Add to that the fact of the bullies being physically stronger than you, and that leads to constant fear of being pounded into the floor if you try to fight back.

For a while I did what I was always told to do: tell the teacher when someone wouldn't leave me alone. Most of the time, that made no difference at all. The teachers would just shrug and say, "I have to catch them in the act before I can do anything." The problem was, they almost never caught the bullies in the act. Those little fuckers were masters of avoiding being caught. They had that shit down to an art. So they almost never got caught, and my grades suffered because I was too busy being distracted by kids hurling insults at me, or threatening to beat me up or stab me in the back with a pencil, or throwing things at me. All because I wasn't exactly like them. That made me a target, and once they found out that they could get under my skin, they never let up. It would sometimes get to the point where the sheer frustration and rage would make me start crying, and then those evil bastards would zero in on that and step the bullying up a few more notches.

So, telling the teachers what was going on didn't work most of the time. And a few times, the teacher actually accused me of lying. When I tried to follow the rules and do the right thing, one teacher actually said, "Stop telling me things that aren't true." Another time, a girl was picking on me without letup. Nothing I said convinced her to stop, and I'd always been taught that it was wrong to hit a girl. So I walked over to the teacher, told him what was going on, and asked him to make her leave me alone. What did he do? He yelled across the entire classroom at her and told her to stop picking on me. As you can probably guess, this resulted in every other kid in the class pointing at me and laughing their asses off. All it did was make me an even bigger target.

Eventually I realized there was no point in trying to get teachers to stop what was happening. They would either just not believe me, or their actions would make things even worse. After that, I tried to do another thing I was told all the time -- "just ignore them." Which didn't work at all, either. The more I tried to ignore them, the more determined they became to break me.

Another thing I was told fairly often was to just fight back. If some kid won't leave you alone, just knock him onto his ass. In fact, when my family was packing up to move out of that town, one of the reasons we left being the constant bullying I had to endure, one of my parents' neighbors asked me why we were leaving. I started to explain that one of the reasons was most of the school picking on me. He interrupted and told me that was a bunch of bullshit and I should just kick their asses.

Well, on the very rare occasions when I finally snapped and tried to fight back, that was the moment the teachers would finally turn around and look at the kids and see what was happening. They'd see me retaliating against a bully, without seeing the bully's actions that prompted it, and punish me for instigating something or "responding inappropriately." Which would not only show the bullies that they could get away with their constant abuse, but that their victim would be punished for defending himself.

Leaving that aside for a moment, there was a whole other problem. It was usually me against a dozen or more bigger, stronger kids in the class. I knew even when I was a little kid that the only way fighting back against them could've ended was with me being beaten within a quarter-inch of my life. So ... telling the teachers only made it worse. Trying to ignore it only made it worse. And fighting back only made it worse.

I pretty much had a complete breakdown near the end of eighth grade. I shudder to think what might've happened if I'd had access to a gun when I was that age. I certainly spent enough time thinking up extremely violent revenge fantasies. But guess what? Acting on those impulses would've only made things worse. So I was screwed no matter what.

And it never ended until my family moved to a different town, a town which turned out to be a pisshole in its own right, but it was still a step up from the one I grew up in, and I didn't have to put up with bullying from the other kids anymore. There, the bullying came from certain members of the school's staff, so it was kind of like ... I was in a different toilet, but it was still the same old shit.

And it continues into adulthood. Since the pisshole town I lived in is populated mostly by the meanest, most abusive excuses for human beings you could have the misfortune to encounter (they're not all bad; a small handful of the people in that town are very close friends, and there's probably a few dozen out of the whole population who are decent people ... but the rest, I learned over the next twenty years after landing my first job, if they were on fire I wouldn't even piss on 'em to put the fire out), the bullying just took on different forms from different sources. For the most part, it was the customers I had to deal with every day -- rude, condescending, snappy, entitlement-whores who would flip out over the slightest thing no matter how friendly and polite I was, and I didn't dare say anything in my own defense out of fear of losing my job. As much as I hated working in those places, I had to pay my rent and put food on the table. Those bastards knew that -- they knew none of us could push back too much -- and they took advantage of it every chance they got.

There were also a few managers in my previous job who were bullies. A couple of them had a habit of yelling at their employees on the sales floor, right in front of other employees and customers. One of them did that to several employees and they all turned her in to the store management. Nothing was ever done about it. The reason she was eventually fired was someone caught her smoking pot in her truck in the employee parking lot. At least they finally gave her the ol' heave-ho ... but it still angers me that she was tossed because someone caught her sparkin' up a doob, and not because she was a raging asshole who thought it was okay to scream at and berate the people under her where everyone else could see it.

So, once again ... different toilet, same old shit.

I finally got so sick of all the crap barraging me day after day after day there that I snapped and walked out in the middle of a shift. After thinking long and hard about it, I decided to get far, far away from that cesspool of a town, and moved 1,300 miles away to a city where the climate is much dryer and hotter and not severely depression-inducing. This place is the exact opposite in both climate and in population, at least as far as I've experienced so far. The people I've met have mostly been friendly and easygoing, and the rudeness I've encountered has been the exception, not the rule.

After moving, and applying for jobs for eight months, I finally got hired for a job that only pays $5/hour and is destroying my car. Spent two years applying for better jobs, and have never even landed another interview. Still, it's barely paying the rent so far. But I learned recently that one of the company's local higher-ups likes to yell and berate employees right in front of everyone else. And y'know what? If he ever does that to me, I'm out of there, and damn the consequences. After putting up with that shit for almost my entire life, I've had enough. There are some things I simply won't tolerate anymore.

So. Maybe ignoring it works for some people. Maybe fighting back works for some people. I don't know. In my case, nothing worked, and my family had to move to another town to get me away from the kid bullies. And then I finally had to move to a different state to get away from the adult bullies. This many miles away from them, in all likelihood I'll never have to see any of those fucking scumbags ever again. I've finally escaped them. But that doesn't change what I had to endure as I was growing up and, later, trying to make a living. It doesn't change the toll all of that bullying took. It doesn't take away the pain that's still with me to this very day. As much as I manage to "forget" about it, every now and then something comes along and reminds me, and all the misery and frustration and rage comes back full force.

As stated in the video above, bullying has a lasting effect. In some cases, like mine, a permanent effect. Some things you can't just "get over," even when it's something that happened decades ago. Obviously I was never pushed to the point where I decided to take my own life ... but there were moments when (the bullying combined with other things in my life that made me absolutely miserable) it crossed my mind, and sometimes I shudder to think what might've happened if one of those kids had pushed me that one step too far.

The bullying happened over thirty years ago. And then I see a video like the one above, and see that nothing has really changed. Little kids can be so vicious, so ... predatory. And when the adults who are in a position to stop it just shrug it off or punish the victim, it can lead to disaster. And when it does, they say things like, "How could this happen?"

The victims know goddamned well how it happens. And it will continue until those who are in a position to do something about it stop turning a blind eye and actually step in.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Far across the sky

For anyone who hasn't already checked out my serialized story, Elsewhere, I thought I'd post an excerpt to see if it can catch anyone's interest. The scene is from one of the later chapters, but contains a brief recap of the general situation and how it all started.

Elsewhere spun off from a certain event in Chaser, which has been submitted for final proofreading, and features several characters who appeared in that novel.

***

"You've not said much at all." Zuri turned to smile at the medieval kid.

He stared at the table, hunched over with his arms crossed over his chest as if trying to withdraw into his own body, and finally shrugged. "I--I don't...don't know what to say."

"Still adjusting to everything that's happened?" Seth tried to keep his smile in place. He was still having trouble getting used to all this, himself. Especially his and Marissa's separation from Boiler. Having to get through each day without knowing whether she's okay or not, and whether we'll ever see her again....

He pushed those thoughts out of his mind for the thousandth time since that first rift had cut off an entire section of the Io station and zapped it to who knew where.

The kid twitched his shoulders again.

Zuri smiled and touched his shoulder. "Perhaps start with your name?"

"I'm...Graham." His eyes flicked toward her hand, but returned immediately to the table.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Seth, and this is Marissa."

"Hello." Marissa smiled.

"H...hello." Graham took a quick glance around before going back to staring at the table. "I still don't understand what's happening. It's like a nightmare I can't wake up from."

"Well, we're not completely sure, either." Luana sipped her drink and then drummed her fingers on the side of the tumbler. "It's hard to explain, but we've all been pulled from various times and places, and ended up here."

"Sorcery?"

"I don't think so," Roger said. "Probably some sort of natural phenomenon."

"Or," Kamala said, "if someone's causing it to happen, it's a kind of technology beyond anything we've ever seen."

"Which isn't exactly reassuring," Otto said with a chuckle.

"Well," Shakira said, "if it's natural, there's probably nothing we can do to stop it. But if it's something someone is doing intentionally--"

"The device--or whatever they're using--should have an off switch."

"Exactly."

Otto grinned. "Hope we can find out what's going on before another planet blows up and takes us with it."

"Keep on finding those rays of sunshine." She nudged his shoulder.

Graham glanced from one of them to another, and finally hunched farther over the table. "I didn't understand any of that."

"Well, let's take it slowly," Kamala said, and he locked his suddenly wide eyes on her. "Do you know where we are?"

"A while ago someone said we were in the sky." He trembled and shook his head. "How can we be in the sky?"

A large screen on the far wall came to life and Astra's voice spoke from a nearby comm panel. "If you'll focus your attention on the viewscreen, I will attempt to explain."

Graham's eyes opened even wider as he stared at the monitor. An image of a meadow surrounded by trees appeared and Astra continued narrating as the angle changed.

"This is a simulation of Earth's surface. The image will move as if we are rising into the air."

The ground descended slowly and the angle changed to a downward view of the meadow and the treetops surrounding it. The virtual camera continued rising until the curvature of the planet became noticeable. It ascended through the clouds until the whole planet filled the screen, and then the planet began to dwindle.

"This point is above the atmosphere," Astra said.

"Above the air," Seth clarified for Graham. "We call it space. Since there's no air in space, we can't breathe in it. We have to stay inside ships like this one."

The camera continued pulling back until the moon appeared, increased the speed of the zoom-out, and passed Mars.

"That was..." Graham shook his head again. "Was that the moon?"

"Yep." Seth smiled. "And the next one was Mars."

Zuri stared at the video with her head cocked and a smile growing gradually larger. Several others, including the ones who looked like they'd stepped out of the Old West, also stared at it with varying degrees of shock and wonder as the camera passed through the asteroid belt.

"The number and proximity of the asteroids is exaggerated," Astra intoned. "They are far enough apart that they cannot be seen from one another without telescopes. In various media, they are often shown much closer together than they really are."

The pull-back continued past Jupiter.

"That's where a lot of us came from," Seth said, pointing at the gas giant. "We were living on a space station orbiting one of its moons. The station's crew were building a jumpgate and a ship like this one. Well, not nearly as advanced as this one. More like an 'ancestor' to this ship."

"We'll probably have to explain what jumpgates are," Marissa said.

"Oh, right. I didn't think." Seth chuckled and tossed a lopsided grin at her.

"I can cover that later," Astra said. "First things first."

The zoom-out continued past Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, then increased its speed and passed through several nebulae and past other stars until, finally, the Milky Way filled the screen.

"The simulation's speed misrepresents the distances between stars. Do you understand what a mile is?"

Graham nodded twitchily. One of the cowboys muttered, "Yep."

"One light-year equals approximately six trillion miles. The Milky Way galaxy is one hundred thousand light-years across."

"That's..." The cowboy aimed a blank stare at the screen. "Uh, that's a lot."

"Sure is," another drawled.

"So..." Graham pointed at the image of the galaxy. "We're somewhere in that?"

"That is one possibility." The pull-back resumed and the Milky way receded, and then more galaxies appeared. "There are more galaxies in the universe. What you're seeing now is called the Local Group." The zoom-out continued. "And the Local Group is part of what was once called the Virgo Supercluster."

Graham, the cowboys, and several others stared slack-jawed at the images as the zoom-out continued.

"What you're seeing now is called the Laniakea Supercluster. It contains the groups once known as the Virgo, Hydra-Centaurus, and Pavo-Indus Superclusters."

The virtual camera kept zooming out until Seth couldn't count the number of galaxies, and continued even past that point.

"It's possible that we've been transported to another galaxy," Astra continued. "We do not know even approximately where we are in the universe."

Zuri glanced at Graham and rubbed his back slowly. "And how big is the...universe?"

"The observable universe is nearly thirteen-point-seven billion light-years across."

"And we could be anywhere in it? Even on the far side?"

"Correct. I need more information before I can begin to work out our exact location."

Graham slumped forward and moaned softly. Zuri patted his shoulders and glanced over at Seth and the others.

"You said we all came here from different times?"

Kamala nodded. "For those of us on the Io station, the year was 2070."

Graham lifted his head abruptly to stare at her, as did the cowboys.

"And for me and Otto," Shakira said, "it was 2047."

"Early in 2047," Otto added. "First week of February." He glanced at the cowboys and raised an eyebrow.

"1871."

Graham let out another soft moan. "992."

Whoa. Seth looked slowly around the room and found one of the aliens who'd been on the sleeper ship just before it exploded. "And for you?"

"As measured by the human calendar," she said in a lilting tone, "4718."

And now I'm feeling light-headed. Seth shook his head and took a deep breath. "Say, Astra, do your media files contain any historical information? Something that can bring everyone up to speed on things like space travel?"

"Yes. I will select appropriate vids and display them on the screen."

"Thanks. Seems like a productive way to pass the time until we reach our next destination." He wondered for a moment if giving people from the past detailed information on the future was a good idea. Then he shrugged it off. It probably didn't matter by this point.

And if they couldn't find their way back home, it would never matter.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Much better ...

I'm getting addicted to this game. O_o

Finally got the Stargazer variant to "stick" yesterday. Dunno what was going on, but at least it worked. Then I ranked up to Tier 4 and had to choose another ship.

Anyway, here's a shot of the ship, captain, and bridge crew, followed by a few more of the ship.













































Played through the Doomsday Machine mission yesterday, and I just have to say ... fuck that mission. I've never been blown up as many times in any game, ever, as I was during that one.

Anyway. Made it to Tier 4, and ended up choosing a Galaxy class ship despite hating the way it looks. Luckily, one of the variants is at least ... tolerable. Not one of my favorites, but I disliked it less than the others. Still kind of goofy-looking, but ... eh, what can ya do? So here's the USS Normandy.























So ... that happened. Really need to cut down the time I spend on this game so I can get some things done. Especially writing. Need to finish one of my current works in progress and see if I can get it into the Kindle Scout program.

Speaking of writing, Chaser appears to finally be approaching the end of the publication process. After two and a half years, it got an editor who sent me his notes a week or so ago, I did the rewrite and sent it back, and now he's submitting it for the final proofreading. So, looks like it's almost a done deal now. Yay for that, at least.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Posts 24 & 25

Here are the last two posts from my one-hour slot in the Lucky Stars launch party back in March.

Post #24

One more giveaway before I turn things over to the next hour’s host. :D The prize is an ebook compilation of the first twelve volumes of my ongoing serialized story, Elsewhere. This story spun off from an event in one of my previous novels, triggered by the appearance of one of the space-time rifts that have popped up in “Mission” and Game Over and some of my other stories. The maintenance crew of the space station at the Io starship construction yard find themselves flung through a rift to an unknown part of the universe, where they must fight to survive and try to find out where they are and how to get home. Yet more action, humor, and romance among several couples in this ongoing story.


So, the contest. If you had an opportunity to travel to a faraway land, or an alternate reality, or another planet … would you? If a faerie offered to take you to an enchanted forest, or you had a chance at a trip to Mars, or the Doctor appeared and took you onboard the TARDIS and offered to show you “all of time and space, everything that ever happened or ever will” … even if it came with the risk of never seeing home again … would you go?


That’s a tough one for me. Prior to two years ago, when I was trapped in a town where I was miserable, I probably would’ve said yes. But now that I’m living in a place where I actually want to be … I’d like to think I’d go for it, but I’d want to have at least a good chance of coming back to my friends and the city I’ve made my home. Either way, I’d need to think long and hard about it.

Post #25

And now it’s time to step aside and make room for the next host. I’d like to thank Solera Winters for inviting me into this project and giving me all the opportunities that came with getting a story into the Lucky Stars Box Set. And I want to thank everyone for joining in. I hope everyone had a great time.

Places where I can be found:



Thank you all again, and enjoy the rest of the party. :D 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WTF, STO?

So I reached Tier 3 in Star Trek Online this morning and was able to get a new ship. I chose a heavy cruiser and picked the Stargazer variant because it looked pretty badass, despite my feelings about the design aesthetic. Had some sort of bug right off the bat, of course. The new ship didn't show up on the list when I tried to transfer to it. Finally found it in the overflow bag in my inventory. I'm kind of at a loss as to how a starship would fit into a bag, but at least it didn't disappear completely.

I named it the USS Nuclear Wessel, by the way. XD























So that's what it looked like on the customization screen. But here we come to another problem. Dunno if it's a bug or what, but after I boarded the ship, suddenly it had reverted to the default skin, which I think is kind of repulsive.






















I beamed back to the spacedock, returned to the customization screen, and there was the badass variant I'd selected. Returned to my ship, and it was the default again. Spindly-looking fucking thing. Blecch.

At that point I gave up and just continued with the next mission. Maybe I'd find a way to make the customization stick, or maybe it's a bug that'll be fixed.

Then I began the mission, and a dialog box popped up with a report from one of the bridge crew. While I was reading it, a half-dozen enemy ships suddenly started blasting me, and my ship exploded after about twenty seconds of me trying to fight back.

Seriously ... is this game going out of its way to piss me off? I don't want to hate it because for the most part it's fun and I'm a Star Trek fan, so I want to like it. But when there's so much about it that just angers me, I'm not going to subject myself to all that frustration much longer. Sooner or later, I'll have to pull the ripcord just for the sake of my blood pressure.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Posts 21 - 23

Here's several more short posts from the Lucky Stars launch party.

Post #21

Here’s another one of mycurrent works-in-progress, picking up exactly where “Enemy of my Enemy” ended, with Jack and Arcee investigating the reappearance of their old enemy Airachnid and discovering that she might not be who they think she is. More romance, more humor, characters goofing around and having fun while recovering from wounds … and hints of a potentially galaxy-ending evil looming on the horizon.






















Post #22

One question writers get a lot is, “Where do you get your ideas?” The only answer I can think of is, “Anywhere and everywhere.” Anything I see while going about my daily business could spark an idea for a character, a bit of dialogue, or a whole novel. For a specific example, when it comes to writing action, a huge inspiration for me has been the work of the late, great Monty Oum. Among other things, for the last several years he choreographed fight scenes and did a lot of the motion-capture for the animation on the web series Red vs. Blue.

Before I found his work in that series, I tended to gloss over a lot of the action, or not let it play out the way it should. After I saw some of the choreography in the episodes of the last few seasons, it was like a whole new world opened up in front of me. I realized I could make action scenes a lot more dynamic, and some of the moves the characters pulled off inspired me to try similar things with my own characters. There’s a lot of that in the Freelancers one-shot I mentioned earlier, as well as the rest of my writing from the past few years.

Here’s just one example of what I’m talking about.


Addendum: Speaking of Monty Oum ... I'm still bummed out that he's gone. His work was amazing and really did inspire me to step up my game as far as action sequences go. As I mentioned in the post above, seeing his work got me to think in ways I hadn't even considered before, and made me want to try to do something new and creative with those scenes.


Post #23

Real quick, here’s another video partly just for fun and partly inspiration for humorous scenes like the video-game scene in “Mission to Bellatrix.” This one is an off-road race with some absolutely hilarious moments.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Beam me up ...

What with all the distractions of the last couple of weeks, and the depression and periodic meltdowns, I didn't get any writing done aside from working on the edits on Chaser. Piled on top of everything else was my work schedule, which sometimes has me doing a late or closing shift, then doubling back and opening the next morning, so fairly often I'd get home very late, play around on the computer to unwind for an hour or so, then go to bed.

One of the games I'm currently playing is Star Trek Online. For me, the main selling point was that it's free to play, though there are certain add-ons you have to pay for, which just isn't going to happen unless my financial situation changes drastically. But if by some unfathomable, reality-twisting development I suddenly get filthy-rich, I'll probably splurge a bit on the TOS-movie era uniforms and a few other things. Maybe even go all-in and pay the $300 for the lifetime subscription, if I ever have that much money to just throw away on something.

Currently I'm at level 16. Started off with an old Miranda-class ship which I named after the MSV Sulaco in my Freelancers story. I've always thought that was a really cool ship design. In fact, the TOS-movie version of the Enterprise is my favorite out of the entire franchise. The Constitution-class refit is just beautiful.























Once I leveled up to Tier 2, I was able to get a new ship. So which class did I choose? The Constitution-refit, of course. Or maybe it's a retro-fit? The best Trek starship design with 25-century systems, including the modern phaser array in the place of the TOS phaser banks.

I named this one after the EIS Mae Jemison in my book Game Over and the story "Mission to Bellatrix."

























I'd love it if I could just keep upgrading this ship as I continue to level up, but as far as I know, Tier 3 and above are TNG era-only ships. Which kind of bums me out. I really, really dislike the design aesthetic of the ships in TNG and the other Treks. Not sure if I can pin down why, exactly. I just never cared for the way the ships look. Especially the Enterprise-D. Even when I was a little kid watching the show, it bugged the hell out of me.

But I'm already running into enemy ships that just hand me my ass because the Jemison is woefully underpowered in comparison, even with upgraded weapons and consoles and whatnot. So I'll be forced to get a new ship with a hull design that I just find really off-putting, just to get through battles in one piece.

Anyhoo, here's my current player character, named after a character who appeared in Freelancers (and a slightly different version of her, who appeared in Wrong Place, Right Time).




She's seven feet tall, so the way she towers over most of the other characters is kind of amusing.

For me, the uniforms used in The Wrath of Khan onward are the best in the franchise (after TNG, they just kept getting more bland as the years passed). But having said that, I think this particular uniform looks fucking badass.

As for the game itself ... eh, I like the overall storyline so far, but the dialog and voice acting are, in many cases, terrible. And the graphics ... holy shit. The space scenes and the ships are gorgeous, but the graphics and animation with planetside scenes are kind of wretched. I've played games released in 1999 and earlier that had better graphics, and STO is only, what, five years old?

And what I've experienced of ground combat is absolutely infuriating. The character refuses to move where I direct her, or fire her weapon when I try to shoot at an enemy. Most of the time she doesn't even move at all, while an enemy is stabbing her with a gigantic fucking knife. Last night I ended up rage-quitting one of the Forge [Edit: Forge? Foundry. It's the Foundry. Goddamn it. *headdesk*] missions because I kept getting wasted, respawning on the far end of the ship, and having to run back across the ship to fight the same group of enemies only to immediately get whacked again. It'd be great if the ground combat system could be completely revamped, but that's probably too big a change. But seriously ... it's the only thing about the game I'd straight-up call garbage.

Back to graphics for a moment ... recently I started having another problem. When a character pops up on the screen with a dialog box, the character's face is always covered with blank white pixels. O_o And similar glitches happen when I'm running around on a planet's surface. In the away-team selection screen, all the characters' faces disappear completely. And in the space scenes, if there's a lot of stuff on the screen like a planet and an asteroid field, parts of the ship are blotted out by solid black pixels. I've played around with all the graphics settings and it made no difference at all. I don't know what the hell's going on with that, but it's annoying.

But overall, it's not a bad game, so far at least. The positives outweigh the negatives. I'm not sure I'd be willing to pay for it if it were for sale, but as a free-to-play game, it's pretty good. From what I've heard about where the storyline goes, I'm interested in sticking with it, even though I'm just a casual player. I'd like to see where it goes ....