WildStar Fanfic #2: A New Day

This is my second attempt at writing fiction. It’s more difficult than I’d imagined, but a very fun and rewarding experience nonetheless. If you want to read my first WildStar Fanfiction, you can find it here. Enjoy!

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“…and let’s support our brave soldiers fighting on the front lines to protect us from the soul-less Dominion wretches. Send in your donations and letters of support. It will mean the world to them.”

A deep, raspy voice speaks into a rusty microphone, fighting against the crackling and humming of the radio machinery that fills the room. Scotch McCloud is hunched over the console, thrumming his fingers on the hastily scribbled notes of tonight’s evening program.

Taking a deep breath, he continues.

“And before you rowdy bunch start sending in your usual angry letters, let me preempt you by saying… Yes! All donations will go directly to support our troops fighting on the front lines here on planet Nexus, our new home away from home. Supporters can rest assured that the brave troops are getting the supplies and armaments they need, and you brave soldiers can keep soldiering on, therewillbenobeersorry. So give, with no worry of corporate swindling! We are an independent broadcast and are in no way affiliated with “Protostar, the only brand proven to bring you a lifetime of happiness and entertainment!”

Cue the music. Scotch hits several switches, his face focused intently on the control board in front of him. Upbeat music begins to play. Scotch begins to nod in time to the music, his hand hovering over the next set of switches. Milk the moment, Scotch. A few more seconds…

Aaaand… now!

“Well, that’s gonna be it for tonight’s show, folks. DJ Scotch McCloud, signing out for the night! Stay tuned for our award-winning late night programming. This week, we’re bringing you soothing soundscapes in surround sound, straight from the forests of Celestion. Sleep your worries away in peace and serenity! As always, stay tuned, stay classy, and good night.”

Scotch closes his eyes for a moment as he takes a final deep breath. After a few moments, his eyes pop open, gleaming with purpose. He switches off the microphone, pulls off his headset and tosses it down on the desk.

“Man, I thought this night would never end!” He hits a few more switches and starts up the audio queue. Scotch rocks in his swivel chair and hops onto his feet, sending the chair rolling across the control room floor. “Hey, Lizzy!” Scotch yells out as he works out the kinks in his neck.

Sounds of rustling flora and wildlife gradually seep in from the control room’s speakers, filling the room with the forest’s ambiance.

“Yeah?” A voice replies lazily from a nearby couch.

“Get up, get up. Let’s get movin’! We got work to do!”

Lizzy peeks her head up from the edge of the couch, just high enough for their eyes to meet. “C’mon Scotch… isn’t this job work enough for you? It pays the bills, don’t it?” She yawns and stretches as she sinks back into the cushions.

Scotch turns sharply and points a finger in Lizzy’s face.

“Listen Lizzy, I don’t got plans to waste my life with my butt glued down to this run-down radio tower. This isn’t work.” He walks over and grabs his jacket from the back of his seat, opens a nearby closet and pulls out a long, heavy rifle.

”This little station ain’t never gonna change anything! Right, boys?” Two large arachnoid bots quickly activate and shuffle around, heads bobbing and turning toward Scotch’s voice.

“I know the Dommies are gettin’ close. Their Chua dogs have been sniffin’ around again. Joe and Mac spotted them two nights in a row.” The two bots start bleeping in unison as if in agreement with Scotch.

“I don’t know what those so-called soldiers are up to, but they’re sleepin’ on the job, Lizzy! Who’s gonna stop ‘em?!”

Lizzy yawns. “Well, I feel like stayin’ in tonight. Why don’t you go on by yourself, if you want to. I’ll be here…” she yawns again, “…keepin’ an eye on things.”

“Lizzy… “ Scotch slows down and turns to face her, arms on his hips. His stern eyes soften for a moment as he watches her. Scotch gazes at her soft features, watching her half-closed eyelids flutter for a few more seconds, before finally letting out a resigned sigh. It was nearly impossible for him to be upset at Liz when she was like this — so innocent and vulnerable.

“All right, Liz. I can’t force you to go. I still got my little buddies here to protect me.” He pauses for a moment in thought. “Though they’re no match for your shootin’ skills, and you know that.”

“You’ll be fine, honeybunch,” she says, the edge of her lips turning up in a sleepy smile. ”I trust your judgement.” Lizzy lifts herself up on the couch and throws a casual salute, looking into Scotch’s determined eyes.

Scotch salutes back, nods silently and throws on his jacket.

* * * * *

The city sleeps, hidden within the dark deserts of planet Nexus. Discovered by Exile forces and hounded by the Dominion Empire, the once dormant planet has become a battlefield between the two factions, each desperately racing to uncover ancient secrets hidden within the planet — ancient secrets which could grant them untold power, resources, and some even claim, immortality.

The city sleeps, with its dimly lit signs flickering throughout the main thoroughfares, ramshackle buildings littering the streets as far as the eye can see. The radio tower looms in the distance, overlooking a desert canyon. The wind blows soft, chilled air between the narrow canyon walls leading away from the city gates, quietly stirring up the dry dirt. The horizon begins to glow a soft red, signaling the dawn of another new day.

Scotch McCloud and his companion bots march steadily atop the canyon walls, their gazes continuously scanning the opposite end of the roads winding along the canyon floor. Scotch looks up at the brightening city skyline, then back toward the road. Another crummy day, another crummy morning. I wonder how many more we’ll live through, the way things are going now.

Scotch leans low near the edge of a cliff wall, squinting through the low light of the early morning. He whispers to one of his bots, pointing in the direction opposite the city. “Hey Mac, go set yourself up behind them rocks there and keep alert. Let me know if you see any movement.”

The bot answers with a series of beeps and shuffles off, its eyes scanning left and right as it follows Scotch’s orders.

“And you, Joey. Come with me.” The second bot bloops as it follows Scotch’s footsteps.

Scotch looks back and shouts, “And keep it down. You’re gonna alert the whole bloody Dominion fleet!” The beeps and bloops from the bots drop down to a hush, then disappear.

Scotch flips a switch in his earpiece, and the beeping of the bops resume as if they never stopped.

“That’s better,” he whispers to himself.

Scotch slowly descends down a narrower slope on the cliffside.

They came about this far before they turned back. Yes. I see the tracks there. Scotch scratches his chin in deep thought. Chua feet. Hmm… they got their own bots, too, it seems. He traces the outlines of small caterpillar tracks with his fingers.

A sudden burst of beeps assault his ears. Scotch winces as he searches for the bot’s location.

“What, Mac? You see something?”

More beeps.

“Where?” Scotch skitters back to the cliff wall and listens carefully, squinting into the distance. He brings his voice down to a whisper, “I got nothing here. Sure it’s not some random dust devil or somethin’?”

Mac beeps affirmatively.

“Well, boys, let’s regroup just to be on the safe side.” Scotch climbs back up the cliffside with Joe skittering up the wall beside him, all the while visually scanning the narrow path leading up to the ramshackle city. This road was the one sure way into the Exile stronghold. The radio tower looms in the distance, overlooking the desert canyon. 

Scotch pulls out telescopic visors and puts them on, zooming into the city entrance. The gates are shut tight, make-shift lights flickering above. His gaze stops at the flimsy metal gates protecting the city and shakes his head. “Those good for nothin’, beer guzzlin’ excuses for guards are sittin’ safely behind those walls. It’s disgusting, Joe. We need to do something before things get bad.”

He fiddles with his visors as he tries to get a better focus. I wish we had those fancy night-vision lenses, he thinks to himself. He pans over to other end of canyon path.


“Well boys, they must be takin’ the day off.”

Mac scuttles from beyond some shadowy rocks and rejoins the group, beeping insistently.

Scotch looks over to Mac and shrugs. “Looks like it’s nothing, bud. Too bad. Thought I could get a nice souvenir for our trophy room…” he says to himself. The bots beep silently, their lights flashing in a dance of colors.

Scotch shifts his gaze from the far path, up to the top of the cliffs. “I guess we’ll come back tomorr…”

He sees a flicker of movement in the distance. “What the hell?” Scotch wonders aloud.

Two, no, three small figures.

Are those…?

There is a flash, and one figure instantly closes half the distance between it and Scotch’s party.

Scotch’s eyes slowly widen in realization. “It’s them! Boys, get ready! It’s action time!”

Scotch throws off the visor, and pulls his rifle from his side. “Looks like we got us some spellslingers. Joe, slow ’em down. Mac, gimme some cover!”

Joe’s legs latch firmly onto the ground as the bot shoots a stream of mortars toward the approaching chua. It’s small rodent-like body rushes forward with incredible speed, weaving left and right, dodging the shots with ease as it closes the distance. Two other chua follows closely on its trail, pistols ready in their grips.

“You’re not getting us that easily, filthy jabbers.” Scotch pulls a thick cord from the side of his pack and his suit unfolds itself into an exoskeleton, locking firmly to his body. He digs his heels into the ground, charging up his rifle and aiming straight for the group of chua.

Mac takes aim and shoots a volley of machine-gun fire at the group of chua, glancing the lead spellslinger’s arm. It winces, and a moment later, disappears into thin air.

“Take this!” Scotch unleashes his charged shot on the remaining chua. The shot lands directly at their feet, blowing them to bits. “And he scores!”

The air vibrates and the chua that had disappeared moments ago reappears behind Mac. It fires a volley of pistol shots directly into the bot’s exposed joints. Mac bleeps violently as its legs buckle and it crashes into the ground.

“Damn it, Mac!” Scotch and Joe both turn to face the enemy and they return fire. The chua disappears again into the ether, the bullets zooming harmlessly through air where it stood a moment ago.

Scotch keeps his rifle at the ready, eyes scanning left and right. Mac twitches as sparks scatter from its body. The dust of the battle settles into an eerie silence as the gunshots echo further through the canyon.

His eyes catch the strange shimmering of the air in the distance. The chua pops into existence, running full speed toward the city walls.

“What the… after it, Joe!” The bot locks its sight onto the escaping target and scurries forward. Scotch struggles with his suit as he wrestles with its weight. “Damn this suit…” Scotch unlatches his exosuit and let’s it fall to the ground in a heap. Scotch dashes toward the city, fumbling with his offhand as he reaches for his handheld radio.

“Lizzy, Lizzy, can you hear me?” Scotch shouts into the receiver between heavy breaths.

The sky turns colors from red to orange, from orange to yellow, as the sun begins its steady rise over the city, the looming radio tower casting a long shadow underneath. Steady static flows through the radio–a noisy silence that suddenly fills Scotch’s thoughts with dread.

Scotch shouts into the radio once again, struggling to keep up the pursuit.

“Lizzy? Wake up, wake up!”

The radio emits a soft beep, and Lizzy’s voice cuts through the static. “Yes, Scotch, I hear you. Is everything all right?” she answers, her voice still groggy from sleep.

“Thank the stars, you’re awake! Listen, you got to broadcast an alert.” The chua stops in front of a high section of the city wall. It turns back and sees Scotch in pursuit, grins, and winks out of existence. Scotch grits his teeth and pumps his legs even harder. “Do it, Lizzy. Right now! Somethin’s going down!”

Scotch turns back toward the direction the chua arrived from. Silhouettes of a small army both above and between the cliff walls are now visible in the morning light.

“We were right, Liz. The Dominion. They’re coming for the city… You have to warn them!”

Distant figures start blinking their way toward the city, just like the previous spellslingers. But this time, there were more of them — dozens more.

Scotch hears the sound of metal piercing metal behind him. He turns quickly, leveling his rifle at eye level. Joe lurches to a stop several paces behind as three large holes bore into the bot’s side.

The air shimmers, and a horned, muscular draken materializes from the air. It pulls its claws out from the bot and licks his lips, looking back toward Scotch. “This will be easier than I thought.” He lunges toward Scotch as Joe twitches and explodes.

The draken finds an opening and pierces through Scotch’s chest. Scotch howls in pain and falls backward, grabbing the draken’s clawed arm and dragging it down with him.

As they hit the ground, the impact lodges the claws deeper into Scotch’s chest. Scotch fires his rifle into the draken’s gut, and the draken’s body explodes into two halves. The draken’s face freezes in shock, and his eyes roll back as it loses consciousness.

Scotch lay on the ground, panting, struggling to pull the claw out from his chest. He coughs up blood.

“Damn it. Why do the handsome ones always end up dead…” he grumbles. As his arms tire from wrestling with the draken arm, he sees more spellslingers blink past him toward the city. They pay him no attention.

His breath is heavy, and he looks up at the city before him, still quiet and peaceful in the morning light. “I hope Lizzy…” The radio tower explodes, scattering flame and debris across the city below.

Alarms sound throughout the city, and distant shouting reaches Scotch’s ears.

An army of draken, chua, cassian, and several mechari march steadily past Scotch’s still body.

One larger mechari slows down in front of Scotch. The robotic form leans over and inspects the body. Scotch’s mouth is open, eyes glazed over in shock. His hands are still gripping the dangling draken arm, but he has stopped struggling.

“Zax!” the mechari calls out.

“What, what? Why you call? We not there yet!” Mondo Zax, an old, bearded chua with a crazed grin skitters toward them.

“Here, can you use this one?” The Mechari lifts Scotch easily with one hand, tears the draken remains off of the limp body, and dangles Scotch in front of Zax.

“Yes, yes… Zax can always use more specimen.” he says, then lets out a gleeful cackle.

The mechari nods and tosses Scotch’s body onto a passing truck, adding to the pile of bodies within.

“Good.” He looks toward the city. Explosions begin erupting everywhere, flames roaring up throughout the city. Distant shouting and screaming fill the desert air, amplified by the echoes from the canyon behind them.

“I am…impressed. You prove yourself time and again.” The mechari looks over to Zax and gives a nod of approval. Zax mutters to himself rapidly under his breath and doesn’t seem to hear the mechari.

The mechari looks back at the falling city and stares into the flames. It stands there for several minutes, watching, thinking, analyzing. Black smoke begin to cloud the air around them as the sunlight struggles to find it’s way through.

“I have decided.” It begins to resume its walk in a steady pace toward the smoldering city. “You are right once again, Zax.”

The mechari sees something in the flames and a slow smile spreads across its mechanical face. “Yes. Today will be a good day.”

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Posted by on May 28, 2016 in Fanfiction, Gaming


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The Long Break Up

I am divorced.

What image does that paint of me?

Yesterday, I made my first public announcement of the end of our marriage. It has been over a year since we have been separated, and several months since the divorce.

It was a difficult thing to do, pulling that trigger. Now it’s out in the open, for all of our past friends and acquaintances to see and to make judgement.

It needed to be done, because we need to move on.

How do I come across to those friends who only saw the facade of the happy couple? What image do they conjure in their minds when they finally know the truth?

I am divorced.

There are connotations attached to that phrase, along with questions:

Am I just another statistical casualty?

Are we just another couple who inevitably “bit the dust”?

Are we just another example of the futility of marriage?

Or was it a result of immaturity? An unwillingness to work things out or to compromise?

But most importantly: Who was in the wrong?

-The Long Break Up-

I was in a 9 year relationship with my now ex-wife. We have a four year old son. Our relationship started straining about 3 years ago when she fell in love with someone else. She still cared for me, but we were living apart at the time, lonely and in need of emotional support.

I didn’t mind, as long as we were still close to each other. As long as we had complete trust and was honest with one another, I didn’t care what she did. We talked a lot over the phone during and worked through that time period together and got over the bump.

After he left, she eventually started seeing other people. While she told me of the first, even before it became anything substantial, the ones following were all secret until I eventually found out about them, one after another.

She would start to make excuses about going out to eat with friends, and outright lie when I asked her specific questions. It hurt terribly, but I wasn’t going to stop her. It was her choice, and I’m not a person who tells others what they should or shouldn’t do. Maybe that was part of the problem.

I wanted us to try and work things out, but she didn’t want to. She would always run to something else. Her phone, her work friends, her lovers. The thing is, I can’t completely blame her, because I haven’t done everything I could do to make her feel secure in our relationship.

After we had our child, I was stuck with a dilemma. The job I had was crushing my soul, and was taking me further and further from the career path I put myself into immense debt to pursue. It felt like I either had to stick with the job I hated and abandon my past seven years of education to work in the seafood industry, or act now to steer myself back in the right direction.

We decided to live apart while I tried to go back to school. She stayed with my parents, whom she hardly knew, and with whom I had a strained relationship with. She agreed to go, because it was impossible for me to go back to school without somebody to help look after our son while my wife worked. They insisted on her paying rent, so the end result was probably not much different after all.

In hindsight, we should have stayed together and figured things out another way. I eventually gave up on finishing my classes, and went back home to stay with my family before it was too late.

We had many ups and downs those next three years. There were still fond memories to be made, but by then, it was clear the trust she had for me was gone.

In her eyes, our financial future was impossibly bleak. It became an inescapable burden for her. Our current income couldn’t support the amount of student loan debt I had accrued over the years. I had a low wage job, but in an industry that I cared for. I was working on moving up–which I did eventually–but she didn’t want to suffer any longer. She lost all faith in me and my ability to provide for the family. It came to a point where she would come home from her job and would escape to her phone, staring at it non-stop. She wouldn’t even look up at me or our son.

I became more and more bitter as the months went on. Why couldn’t she even try to work things out? There is always a way to make things work. Why can’t she talk to me about anything anymore? Waves of hopelessness struck me constantly, and there were times I wanted to give up. On my evening commutes, I would entertain thoughts of driving full speed off of the highway, or even getting a firearm license so I could go shoot that mother fucker she’s seeing in front of her face.

She moved out over a year ago, and have been pushing for a divorce for the latter half of the year. We argued and discussed the terms for our separation, which mostly revolved around visitation schedules. We had no significant assets to fight over, but she wanted to return home to Japan with our son.

We met many times throughout the year, discussed, debated, back-tracked, and finally agreed on our son’s future. As much as I want to be with my son, and as much as I felt that I would be a better care-taker for him than this immature, irresponsible mother who put her own desires to be comfortable above her child’s desire to stay with his parents, I could only see the uphill struggle we would have if I took custody. A single father with a mediocre job, debt-laden, living with parents he couldn’t stand to be around, versus both a mother and a future step-father with a sound financial future.

I wasn’t, and still am not, in any state to take care of him on my own. And he will at least have a new father, as well as his mother to lean on.

Of course, I resent this bastard, who also happened to be cheating on his partner who lives overseas. Supposedly, he wasn’t close with her anyway, so they split after he started seeing my wife. Of course, I wanted to find out where he lives and beat his brains in. How could they get away with this? I have ammunition. I have text messages. I have photos. I could take legal action.

But then again, he’s providing her with something she really wants that I can’t offer. He gives her financial stability and a more financially sound future for our son. He also provides her with trust and understanding, which we have clearly lost. The photos she unwittingly left on our shared iCloud account shows me how much she cares for this person. She was happy in those selfies, and showed joyous expressions I haven’t seen in years.

We had a long back and forth with the documents her lawyer provided us, making adjustments until all of my concerns were sorted out. One night, after looking over the adjusted paperwork, with my soon-to-be-ex pleading sincerely, I had one last cry in the bathroom before I signed my son away.

All this time, everyone around us was oblivious to any of this. Mostly because we were so good at hiding it in public. Not even our parents knew anything was seriously wrong until the day my wife packed up and left.

We will still communicate going forward, because our son has us bound for life. She still cares for me, and let’s me see our son whenever I ask. She just can’t see herself happy living with me anymore and wants to move on. She felt incredibly hurt and abandoned while we lived apart, while I was free to pursue my dreams as she suffered in silence away from the person she loved. She felt our trust deteriorate, especially after feeling the guilt of seeing another person in secret after we had worked through the first one together. Sensing her lack of trust, and with a mix of bitter emotions, I found it harder and harder to comfort her and to give her the emotional support she needed. She built wall after wall of emotional defenses, and our rift grew ever larger until it was finally too much for her to handle. And that was the beginning of our end.

Even so, love is not an easy thing to abandon.

I still have occasional thoughts and even dreams of us reuniting, our son jumping up and down with joy that we can live together again. She is still my love, because she completed me. She was the first and only person in my life that I trusted without a doubt. She was the only one whom I could be completely honest with and be vulnerable about my inner demons. I was never lonely, even when we lived apart. Even after the emotional hell she has put me through, I could never intentionally hurt her, because I put her through that hell as well.

It has gotten easier these past few months, but I’m afraid it will become more and more difficult for our son once they move overseas.

-The Aftermath-

I faced a new dilemma after we agreed on our divorce.

How the hell was I going to tell people? Everyone thinks we are a happy young couple, living happily with their son and their parents. My work friends and my school friends, they all think we are still happily married. To make things worse, our family is a part of a religious community which holds marriage and family as the number one priority. To make things even worse, I was in a public leadership position in that church, helping to lead and organize the music for services every week. How was I going to announce this to the world in these circumstances?

It was months before I told even one person. I would meet with an old friend ready to spill everything, open my mouth, then change the subject. He would ask me how my wife and kid was, and I would shrug and say, “They’re doing good. The usual.” It took everything I had to finally tell someone. It took over a year to tell just a handful of people I trust. I had to do it one by one, face to face. I couldn’t take the backlash and scrutiny a public announcement would create.

Last November, when I had an opportunity to switch locations for my job along with a promotion, I took it immediately. I used that as an excuse to relieve myself of my duties as a band leader at our church. I haven’t returned since. I needed to withdraw. I needed to leave enough time and distance so the blow would be minimal, both to my family and the community. Imagine the gossip and scandal that would spread throughout the church if all of this came out while I was still involved.

Soon after, an opportunity came for another promotion. I took this on, and while being extremely challenging, it provided me the means to save up to move out. I found an apartment with a friend who understands my situation. I set up my living space in a way that I could continue to pursue both my skills as a musician and my gaming hobby. I have found a go-to market and a gym that can help support a healthy lifestyle. I have found wonderful friends in the online space who share my passions, and with whom I can show my real self. I have found inspiration and developed great habits in large part to my exposure to this blogging community. I have experienced the zenith and nadir of emotions during the time with my love, and hopefully am a wiser person now because of them.

Were we wrong? Did we choose the wrong path? It’s easy to think of things we could have done differently. It’s easy to look back and find the crucial, pivotal moments where things started turning downhill. But time does not stop, and it does not let us rewind. We were married, and now we are not. What image does that paint of us?

To fall in love is easy, but to maintain that love is another story — and we all have our own stories. Most importantly, dear readers, before you judge, before you criticize, before you assume; please remember this: There are always two sides to every break up.




Posted by on May 4, 2016 in relationships


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A Letter to Myself: On Creative Skill

Have you felt that feeling when you see someone’s creative work and you are absolutely astounded by their skill? 
What if it’s something that you are aspiring for yourself? Is it a musician or composer? A writer, a painter, a digital artist? 

How do you feel? Awed? Overwhelmed? Discouraged?

It is overwhelming because it all seems like magic. The artist’s skillset is so vast and practiced compared to yours, that it seems impossible to reach their level. It’s difficult to connect how they go from point A to point B. How they can weave through so many layers at once. 

These feelings are, of course, natural. But it is only signaling the beginning of your journey. 

Then, you dive in. You practice and develop a certain skill-set. The next time you revisit your artistic idols, your reaction to them is different. You “see” more. You can follow their practiced methods and the reasoning behind the flow of their work. It makes sense. Now, it isn’t impossible. You see where you need to be, you know where you are now, and it is up to you to hone your skills even further. 

At this point, the envy and rivalry you feel toward other artists transform into admiration and curiosity. You want to share in ideas, and find ideas from others in turn. You want to reach the next step, where you can be a colleague to the people you once admired like gods. You realize that they are people, too, who once struggled as you do now. 

Keep going, because you are one step closer to the start line. 

The world awaits. 


Posted by on April 19, 2016 in Creativity


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I Doff My FEZ

I managed to finally play through FEZ yesterday.

My previous attempt had me at 74% completion, but I was so utterly lost, that I just gave up.

I took care to be more systematic in my approach the second time around, and it was much better. I also didn’t understand that the gold borders around an area in the map menu meant that there was nothing else to be found – that I could safely move on without worrying that I missed something.

With all of that out of the way, the more I played through the levels and puzzles, the more I became impressed with how good the game design is — the clever idea of merging the 2D and 3D spaces, working in the music seamlessly as a part of the game environment, the added “difficulty” level when Space starts to shit on you. And it all just happens organically.

The secret puzzles were the most rewarding. I only managed to solve a couple — the first was a mysterious tablet with a QR code on it. I had just deleted the QR reader from my phone the day before because I NEVER used it! I reinstalled it and used it on my computer screen to find a coded message, which yielded me a prize of another full cube for Gomie (I can call him that, right?)

I came upon another mysterious stone which started shaking my controller as I touched it. At the same time, strange sounds started beeping into my ears. The cool thing was, it was only after completing the QR puzzle did I realize that this was code as well. Beep in the right ear, beep in the left, another beep in the left… wait a minute! It’s a puzzle!

That was probably the highlight of the game for me. There are more that I missed, which I’m sure are clever puzzles as well, but I need to move on. I’ve spent too much time here and other games beckon.

My final impression: It’s been a while where I played a game that felt like a real Puzzle Game, and not just a platformer with some puzzle mechanics.  It’s well worth your time.

P.S. The New Game Plus had some cute little end-game surprises as well. 🙂


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Posted by on April 17, 2016 in Gaming



MP Recovered

Being creative is not easy.

Writing a blog or a story, composing music or sketching; these acts all require an intense amount of mental focus. Sometimes, technical limitations get in the way, and it’s very easy to lose “the flow” that we so crave when creating. Sometimes, it’s the ideas themselves that stop flowing. And sometimes, we are simply too mentally exhausted to continue.

I often find myself “taking a break” from my creative task, only to start browsing the Internet – Twitter, YouTube, etc. An important fact I haven’t considered in the past, is that consuming media drains my mental energy just as much as being creative – just in a different way. It may be the passive act of watching a movie or reading a book, or an active one like playing a video game. Still, these activities force the brain to process large amounts of information, whether we like it or not.

The thing is, the brain – as well as the body – needs time and space to recover. Overloading it with information fills the brain to the brim and it will find a way to shut itself down. In my experience, the only true mental break is to not think at all.

So, as an aspiring creator, I must consider my three options. Do I create, consume, or let my mind rest?

Finding the right balance takes self discipline. It’s about being aware of my mental capacity, and when it is at its limit. It’s knowing when to take a break from mental activity and when to let my brain process all it has taken in. It’s knowing when my brain produces its best work, when I need to get back to work, and learning how to get to that state every day.

When I get in my car after work, I stare at my phone’s App icons as they beg for my attention: Podcasts, Audible, Spotify – all tempting options. These days, I often find myself setting it back down as I drive in silence, letting my pent up thoughts scatter to the nether reaches of my brain-space.

So, fellow creators, don’t mistake distractions for real breaks. If you need to take a break, take a walk, or close your eyes to meditate. If you feel the need to watch your favorite TV show or read a book, make sure you manage your expectations and leave enough space for your brain to recover. We only have a limited capacity of mental power each day. Let’s manage it wisely.

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Posted by on January 23, 2016 in General


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In The Beginning, We Were All Strangers

It’s been just over a year since I started this blog. And what a roller-coaster of a year it’s been.

A lot has happened both in my gaming life and my personal life, and I am at a vastly different place now than where I was at the start of this little journey.

As a gamer, I feel I’ve lived through and observed so many hype-cycles through this past year. I’ve dabbled in so many different games, online and off; completed some, left others partially finished in my come-back-later-to-finish pile.

I must have been living a mad scramble, desperately filling the gap that my almost-decade long hiatus from gaming has left in me.

But now, that gap’s been stuffed to the brim. It’s gotten so full that I needed to relax and take a step back. My pace has slowed. The urgency has gone. I can take a day to just watch TV, or just go to bed instead of sitting in front of the computer. It’s a liberating feeling.

I do miss my WildStar family, who got me into this gaming community in the first place. But unfortunately, the strain of the MMO lifestyle is unsuited for me right now. The most I can do, and probably will, is to dabble in story quests in whatever game I feel like, half-hour chunks at a time. It was Guild Wars 2 last month, and it’s WoW and Dragon Nest this month.

I’ve also taken plunges into Fallout: New Vegas, and played through the main campaign of Diablo 3 again. Life is Strange, The Stanley Parable, and even the tedious Risk-like Paradox strategy game, Sengoku, have all given me great and memorable experiences in my recent memories.

The long and short of it is, I’m more comfortable now with what I play and what I choose not to play. I no longer feel remorse for deleting my unfinished games from my Steam library. I no longer feel the need to play so I can “fit in”.

As the dust settles from the game-gorging activities of the past year, I can see more clearly: games can be fun, but what’s more fun are the people.

In the beginning of this journey, I just had the game to cling to; this fresh and struggling MMO called WildStar, which coincidentally blew my dormant social media life wide open. With it came new folks and new connections with shared passions: The WildStar community, the MMO Twitter community, the gaming blog community.

In the beginning, we were all strangers. What a difference a year makes.

After a time, I found myself surrounded by a small, but great group whose shared interests transcended the lifespan of any specific game. The friends I was unable to make in-game, I made in social media. And I didn’t need to be in the same game to enjoy their company. I realized that I had here what I was seeking in an MMO from the start. I no longer needed the game as an excuse.

I know there aren’t many of you, but the handful of you who have chosen to share this journey together with me have truly made a positive impact in my life. I am grateful and happy that you all are a part of my life.

Thank you for making my life a richer and more meaningful one.

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Posted by on November 27, 2015 in Gaming


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The Truth is Complicated

Maybe I need to see a shrink. Maybe I need to reveal my struggles to a friend. For now, my vague online ramblings will have to do. 

2015 has been a year of lies, and I will finally be glad when I can move past it. 

The last few years have been the most difficult ones in my entire life, and none but a few have any clue that anything is wrong. Have I become too good at being vague?

The truth will soon be revealed, and I can choose to stay and face the aftermath, or leave for a chance at a fresh start. 

Now is a good time to start over. It’s a time of change. I am preparing to leave my current situation and withdraw from certain social groups to find new, meaningful ones. It’s been a while, but I want to be open and honest again. 

The remainder of the year will be full of uncertainties as I wrap up this chapter of my story. I hope that I can take charge of my life again, maybe even for the first time.

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Posted by on November 6, 2015 in Life


This Game is the Real Deal

When I obsess over something, it’s usually a big deal. At least that’s what I’d like people to think.

This past week, my life was seriously affected by a video game. I was emotionally impacted, I was sleep deprived, my focus at work and other priorities suffered. I am still digesting and recovering from my experience, and the game isn’t even over yet.

I wrote a review of Life Is Strange: Episode One, months back. Last week, I finally decided to purchase the rest of the season, even though I meant to wait for all five episodes to come out. It was intriguing enough that I knew I was going to buy them, eventually. With just one more episode on its way to release, I decided to jump back into the quaint, fishing town of Arcadia Bay, Oregon.

I thought that Bioshock Infinite blew my mind; I thought that it really made me care for its characters. Life is Strange packs that punch with nearly every episode. With each new episode, this game gets better and better, and in a way that will make you sit there, mouth wide open, eyes watering, punching your thighs repeatedly for the stupid decisions you’ve made.

I desperately want to see how this all wraps up. This series has one more episode to go; its grand finale. If it goes along the same trajectory as the previous episodes, this will be one my favorite and most impactful games I’ve ever played, ever.

If there is only one game you could play for the rest of your life, you should make it this one. If you were born a human being, you should play this game.

Play it, play it, play it.

And don’t watch the trailers! Don’t spoil anything until you play it. Play it blind, then go back and see what others did and thought.

Seriously, this game is worth way more than its measly $20 season bundle.

Please, please, play it.

I’m begging you!


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Posted by on September 16, 2015 in Gaming



Progress Report: Fitness, Gaming, and Design

I finish my workout challenge, and I get sick. Ugh.

I think it’s time to start up another one. Looking through Darebee’s workout library, this one looks the most interesting and fun for me. It’s a martial arts-based 30-day exercise program. Having practiced some martial arts in the past, this would be a great way to bring back the muscle memory in my limbs while staying in shape. I’ll get on it as soon as I finish writing this.

In gaming news. I’ve been switching between a few games since reinstalling Windows 10 on my new SSD. The main one was Psychonauts. It’s a 3D platformer that reminds me of the classic console games from the days of Mario 64. The gameplay is just pure fun. The writing and dialogue is hilarious. It has one of the best (if not the best) expositional intros I’ve ever seen in a video game. I love it. My only gripe is that I’m having a hard time sharing it over Forge. It was crashing left and right, but when I solved the issue by running it under Windows 95 compatibility mode, it no longer streams on Forge. Since my social interactions online have been dwindling these days, I wanted to play a game that I could share with you folks. Oh well.

The other game I’ve been playing, as of two days ago, is Dragon Nest. It’s a F2P Nexon game. Yes, they prod you to spend money every time you blink. But it’s fun. It’s an anime-style action-RPG with dungeons/instances you can clear in 5-10 minutes. Not sure how long I’ll stay, but it’s a very low stress MMO. At least for now. I’m still level 19. Level cap is…70? 80? Not sure.

Anyone want to hop on with me?

As for my music challenge, I may switch over to a writing/design one for a couple weeks. My friends and I have been working on a game. The basic movement mechanics are working out fine so far. The basic story-concept is in place. Now we need to flesh out the mechanics more and work on the level/story designs. Art assets are another issue, but we’re not really at that stage yet. I think I need to spend a little time each day on this project if we want to move it along any further.

I will report as I make progress.

Over and out.

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Posted by on September 16, 2015 in Fitness, Gaming


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Celebrating Small Victories (and a Music Challenge recap)

It’s been a while!

Last night concluded the Hero’s Journey 60-day workout challenge. Along with Blaugust, which ended less than two weeks ago, I now have two challenges under my belt. And I feel happy. Unlike those arbitrary gaming achievements, these are achievements that mean something. I wanted to do better at the things I was challenging and the challenges were the stepping stones.

They also helped to exemplify two things I’ve known, yet have had difficulty acting on:

1. Action is king.

Preparation can be important, but doing is how we learn best. Riding a bike, learning an instrument, learning sports or a video game, cooking, painting, computing; anything we become good at, we become good at because we do them a lot. The fundamental actions become second nature to us, and we can focus on the grander scale of the project at hand.

If I want to become better at writing, I need to write more. If I want to compose great music, I need to compose more. Will I make crap along the way? Yes! But, I won’t get to the goal without getting up and putting one foot in front of the other. So, I just have to pretend that I’m in ARK, and just my crap behind. 😉 Maybe I can compost them to make them into something useful.

2. You can’t have it all.

During these two months, I had to make choices. Do I spend these two hours gaming, or do I spend them blogging, exercising, and writing music? I made a commitment to the latter, and my gaming time suffered. My TV time suffered. My reading time suffered. But I am now at peace with the reality. I can’t do everything I want to do, but I can make a choice on what I will do, and try to do it well. And by doing it a lot, I will do it better. The other things will be there for me for the rest of my life.

To celebrate this victory, I am going to spend tonight logging back into WildStar, a game I’ve sacrificed for the past few months. Will I continue to have time to invest back into an MMO? I don’t know. But tonight, I’m just going to have fun!

I am taking tonight off from my self-imposed Music Composition Challenge as well. I never set an end date, and I may never. It’s a habit I need to keep if I intend to make anything of the skill. I would never have been able to keep this up without the help of these other two challenges, so a big Thank You to Belghast and Chestnut! 🙂

Here are my personal top 5 tracks from the 26 I’ve made so far (in the order they were made):

I thought the interlocking guitar parts were pretty cool on this one.

This one is different, and I love how it creates a specific mood.

Piano, Guitar, Bass and Drums. All the parts compliment one another.

My foray into writing orchestral strings. It sounds pretty legit. I impressed myself.

Compositionally, this one is my favorite. The melody switches over from the cello in the first part to the violins and violas in the second, but the cello line is still flavorful throughout.

Do any of these evoke a certain scene in your mind? What sort of game situations or scenario would these work with, do you think?

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Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Life, Music


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