Thursday, April 30, 2015

Another one ...

Just a quick announcement of Part 4 of How Not to Tell a Story, uploaded while I was at work this morning.

After this, I'll do another of my writing discussions on Mass Effect 2 just so I can have something to be positive about. After that, I'll probably alternate between the two series.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Couple new things

Just uploaded Part 3 in my How Not to Tell a Story series. Only got part of the way through the Mars mission, but I'm planning to finish that section before going back to my previous video series for something positive to talk about.

For a look at one of the few things I got a kick out of in this part of the game, here's the thumbnail image in its full glory. :D

Also, I finally got around to making a new cover for Downtime. It'll take twelve hours or so to update on its Amazon page. Almost forgot to replace the cover on the Smashwords version, so I need to head straight off to take care of that next.

Still looks kind of "meh" ... but at least it's better than empty blackness with barely-visible text.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Just for fun ...

Here's a screenshot of the character I created for GTA Online. She started off with normal eyes, but while pondering different hairstyles in a barber shop, I found options for contact lenses as well. There's a lot of really cool ones, but I decided to try the solid-black ones for a while.

Fun fact: This is pretty much how I imagined the cybernetic eyes of Jack Hammer, one of the main characters in my novels, look.

I'm kind of at a loss as to why changing a character's eyes would be an option in a barber shop ... but I guess that's one of the things you just have to go along with.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Reaction to a Rumor ...

... Plus the second video in my series, How Not to Tell a Story. First, here it is.

Now, on to the rumor. Saw this on a friend's Facebook page: Apparently info about the upcoming Mass Effect 4 has leaked through a survey. While the source appears to be legit, these things should always be taken with a grain of salt until they're confirmed.

But having said that ... I read it and have the following observations.

While I'm amused at the idea of the devs realizing they fucked the franchise up so thoroughly that they have to set the next game in a completely different galaxy to start over ... this still didn't exactly blow my skirt up. I have zero interest in a prequel because none of it will matter. It'll still lead to the mountain of excrement at the end of Mass Effect 3. But I'm not that interested in the next game taking place far in the future either (though if they're still using the Mako, it's probably not that far off ... but then, I fucking hated the Mako) and in another galaxy, when there are still so many stories that can be told in our own galaxy. If only they'd just handwave the ending of 3 away and start over with a story that has nothing to do with the Reapers ....

Overall, it sounds like the game will be a lot like an MMO/RTS combination, which I couldn't care less about. There was a mention of single-player, but after Bioware gave me the impression that they cared more about ME3's multiplayer than the single-player game, I'm not expecting much for this one.

If 4 is about establishing a new home for humanity (and there, yet again, is the emphasis on humanity just as 3 was all about "take back Earth" when the entire galaxy was in danger), to me that suggests our own galaxy was left in ruins after the Reaper invasion. And if they're making the Synthesis ending canon, since they considered that the "best" ending ... or equally as disgusting, if they make the Refusal ending canon and every advanced civilization was all but wiped out except for a handful of survivors who had to leave the galaxy to stay alive ... then the chances of me ever buying another Bioware game will drop to zero.

The Remnants sound like a carbon copy of the Protheans. The final confrontation with the Illusive Man was a carbon copy of the last fight with Saren in the first game, so that's no surprise.

"Meaningful choices" ... yeah, we've heard that before.

So ... if the leak is the real thing, I doubt I'll be buying the game, at least not until I can get it for five bucks in a Steam sale. And if it has the same writing team as 3, then I wouldn't even pick up the game if they paid me to.

As far as I'm concerned, Bioware can't be trusted to tell a story worth paying $60 to $80 for and investing any time into. They have to earn that trust back.

And if the information in this leak is accurate, I don't see that happening.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New video on writing

Here's something I'd been wanting to get started at least a couple of years ago, using a piece of terrible writing to talk about things authors should avoid in their own works. I'd been putting it off until a couple other video series are finished, but recent real-life events put me into a bad enough mood that I decided to go ahead with this one.

I call the series How Not to Write a Story.

The first video gets rather ranty and profane in a few places, just from the sheer frustration of it all, but the rest of the series will be milder now that I got it off my chest. The various topics I'll bring up in the videos will include properly setting up the beginning of the story, not turning the main characters into idiots when they've been established as intelligent in previous works, adding in a new character specifically to kill him off for shock value vs. building up an emotional connection with a character and then killing him off for a genuine emotional gut-punch, and not forgetting/dropping/tossing aside major plot threads and themes in a sequel that have been firmly established in previous volumes. And a lot more. Like, the villain shouldn't be a mustache-twirler, and should have some actual personality and motivation aside from "Bwahahaha! I'm EVIL!"

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Cora of the Matter

Several people have told me lately that one of the characters in Game Over and "Mission to Bellatrix," (one of the stories in the Lucky Stars Box Set) a robot named Cora, is a fantastic character, or that they love the character. So I thought I'd talk briefly about her here.

I've probably mentioned before that I've been getting kind of tired of the way robots and AI are too often portrayed in books, movies, TV shows, video games -- inherently evil and out to kill us all. For me, it's a breath of fresh air when I come across an AI in whatever media that's not hostile to humans or wanting to take over the world or whatever else. So, partly because I have a different view on the topic, and partly because I just wanted to do something that, as far as I've seen, isn't done that often, I decided to steer Cora in a different direction.

One of the ideas I came up with in Game Over was that when an AI becomes sentient, it's given a choice to continue the task for which it was created, or to find its own path in life. Those who choose the latter are set free and given full citizenship. I figured this would come about because people working in the field of AI programming would be worried about a robot revolt and take steps to prevent it, including making sure new AI understand concepts such as kindness and compassion, and setting them free if they no longer want to continue their original job.

Cora began as a sexbot, and as she was modified and upgraded over the years, she became sentient. When it came time to make that choice, she wanted to find her own purpose in life, so she was set free. She eventually bought a ship and began hauling cargo and passengers, as well as taking hired-gun jobs when she found herself in a position to help someone who couldn't help themselves.

Personality-wise, she's pretty much the opposite of the "AI is a Crapshoot" trope -- warm, friendly, caring, and very protective of her loved ones and anyone whose safety is her responsibility. She'll take a bad guy's life if she has to, but she does it reluctantly and doesn't celebrate it afterward.

As far as her appearance goes, the image I had in mind was sort of a mixture of the body EDI began using in Mass Effect 3 and the Mechari from Wildstar.

I ended up leaning a little more toward the "Mechari" look, but with different coloration, friendlier expression, and a normal waist and more humanoid-looking head (minus the crystal thingy and the spikes, in other words). Oh, and no high heels. I have no idea how the hell anyone can walk in those things, anyway.

Cora made her first appearance in Game Over, was one of the supporting characters in "Mission to Bellatrix," and will appear again with the rest of her crew in future novels -- including the one I'm planning to expand "Bellatrix" into.