RSS

Tag Archives: wildstar

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!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“…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.

Nothing.

“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.”

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 28, 2016 in Fanfiction, Gaming

 

Tags: ,

Day 17: I Want You to Change My Life

I saw a great quote on Twitter yesterday.

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

– Maya Angelou

That’s what I want from my media experiences. It’s what all of my favorite films, books, games, and musical performances have in common. It’s those moments of breathlessness; the moments of the “Oh-My-God!”s; the moments when your heart fills with intense joy and awe; the moments that make you feel it was worth living just to have that one specific experience.

I believe the goal of an artist should be to inspire those moments in your audience. I want you to change my life. If you do, I will evangelize on your work for the rest of my life.


Gaming Update:

I played some WildStar F2P PTR for a little bit. I have mixed feelings about the flow of the reworked tutorial sequences. I like the addition of a very basic movement tutorial. I didn’t like how they gutted the Arkship tutorial, as there is already a skip tutorial option for more experienced players. It made the Arkship sequence feel very disjointed. I poked my head in the cash shop windows, but didn’t spend too much time with it, so impressions will have to come at a later date.

I also continued on The Longest Journey. And oh boy, does it feel like one. After switching to Windows 10, the save button and the quit button are glitching on me. I can hit enter to confirm the save with the pop-up window, but I’m not able to quit using Enter, or with the mouse. The only way I can do it is to close it through the Task Manager.

Because of this, I ended up doing something where I thought I lost all my save data. Thank the heavens for animation skipping in this game. I got caught up in about half an hour. Seriously, this game is like an audiobook in game form. The dialogue can stretch for minutes at a time. Don’t play this when you’re in a hurry. Maybe have something to do while listening to the conversations. You might fall asleep otherwise. I hope the sequels do a better job of separating dialogue into shorter chunks.

Onward, to Day 18!


Track-a-Day Music Challenge 4:

This one’s got no guitars in it. Just a couple keyboard instruments and drums. I went for simple and cute.

To participate in this month-long blogging challenge, check out the official Blaugust.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 17, 2015 in Gaming, Music

 

Tags: , , ,

It’s Just A Game

I’ve been noticing a lot of Twitter chatter today about differing opinions of WildStar’s upcoming F2P transition, and the not-surprising toxic reaction from the online forum dwellers. I’ve gotten used to this sort of back-and-forth amongst the gaming community, and I didn’t think much of it until today.

Last night, I went to an open mic with an old high school buddy to play a few tunes together. Apparently it was High School Night, as there were several groups of teenagers with their parents excitedly preparing for their turn. There was a punk/metal band, a rock ‘n roll band, and a couple folk acoustic singers that kicked off the evening. One of the bands reminded me of the cassette tapes from Gone Home. It was loud, emotional, and charming in a way. Being such a young group, their skills were not all that polished, but their enthusiasm was genuine.

At that moment, I had an opportunity. I could be the snobby critic and point out every flaw in their performance. Before I could do it though, one of my friends chose to be that critic and spoke what I was going to say. I cringed a little inside. That wasn’t fair. These kids worked hard to do what they did and were pouring their youthful hearts out on stage. I wanted to enjoy and appreciate that; so I did.

I thought to myself: Do I want to be the person who says, “You need to practice more, your singing was off key, and your timing was off. Come back when you’re better,” or do I want to be the person who can say, “Hey, I loved your energy and enthusiasm! Don’t stop what you are doing!”

I felt then that it’s perfectly okay to enjoy something that isn’t perfect. Once I looked past the analytical “I-would-enjoy-this-more-if-it-was-done-this-way” attitude, it opened up a small doorway to my soul which allowed me genuine enjoyment without reservation. Of course, I still live for those moments, so perfectly sublime that they literally bring tears to my eyes; but we all must take the long journey to reach that point in our creative careers. It takes time to become great at something, but when the time comes, the world is changed forever by that greatness.

It’s natural to seek perfection. We may even experience brief moments of them in our lives. In reality though, we are all human beings who try, make mistakes, and try again. The only thing we can do is to keep trying and to encourage others to do the same. Because if we stop, we will miss out on those rare, precious moments we live for – we all lose.

You know, after all this deep thought, I feel something that might be an inkling of a sense of transcendence from the pettiness that makes up these waves of ruthless criticism.

TL;DR: It’s just a game.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on June 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

New Adventures in Writing: Lessons from my First Short Story

This whole writing thing is still new to me. Admittedly, I’ve never had trouble in any of my English classes, and never hated the act itself, but it never occurred to me that I would enjoy it.

It has been about a year now since I started writing actively in various forms, and I finally took the plunge with writing fiction for the very first time.

It was the most difficult thing I’ve written in my life.

If you are a writer and have never written fiction, I would encourage it wholeheartedly. I probably learned more about writing in these last few weeks than in the past year.

It made me question a lot of things that I had taken for granted as a reader: How do I create the right pacing? How do I slow things down or speed things up? When do I need to be detailed, and when do I need to be simple and clean? How often do I need to throw in a character’s name before all the pronouns get confusing? What do I do if I don’t want a character to have a name? How do I structure dialogue? How much back story should I explain – should I tell it all in one go, or spread it out throughout? And how should I tell it?

Every step of the way, I had another question that I had to wrestle with. Ah, the perks of diving in without any preparation. In hindsight, it was probably the best thing to do.

Honestly, the plot was the easy part. Although I did go back to revise it over and over again, editing wasn’t as painful either, since I’ve been doing it so often here for the past year. Vomiting out my thoughts and cleaning them up have become sort of a routine. Wiping away huge chunks of brilliant descriptions and clever sentences? No problem!

I should probably get my stomach checked.

As with all creative mediums, you appreciate the artist’s work all the more after you see what it takes to make it happen. Every word, every sentence, and every punctuation mark has thought put into it. Just as every detail in a film is present for a purpose, so is every letter in a piece of fiction.

I’m not completely satisfied with it, but I know I need to move on – and I’m proud that I got this far.

So here it is.

If you want to read it in a magazine format, with some mood-setting background, you can read it here in Issue 9 of GameOn’s WildStar Community Magazine (it starts at page 24). Otherwise, I have posted it below:

Disclaimer: This takes place in the world of WildStar. Some things may be unclear to those unfamiliar with the backstory of the game. If you are, I hope that you catch some subtle details in the story. Enjoy!

Life Beyond Death

Some say I was lucky — to survive was a miracle.

But that luck came with a heavy price.

Orvel moves quietly behind the bushes, stepping carefully to avoid being heard. The night is warm and pleasant; the air, pungent with the smell of lush wildlife. The moonlight washes over the jungle with a soft, white glow, casting deep pockets of light through the thick branches. It is a surreal scene, as if it was hand-crafted by the gods themselves.

His life-scanner was useless here; there was just too much of it. He had put it away, resorting to the old-fashioned methods he had learned in his youth. Back home, hunting had been his specialty. But, that was a long time ago, and this was far from Grismara.

He watches the thick grass carefully for signs of disturbance, all of his senses alert at peak capacity. His surgically enhanced nasal senses pick up the distinctive, unwashed smell of his prey.

“I swear. Somebody sent me,” said a quivering voice.

Orvel becomes still and listens. He had found his mark, and it was just as he had hoped.

“I can take you to him. Please, don’t hurt me!”

Orvel remains crouched and still, slowing his breathing to minimize his presence. He hears the sound of female laughter. Then abrupt silence.

A scream.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Orvel approaches slowly, visually scanning the surrounding trees and bushes for the source of the mysterious laughter. A man lies on the ground in tattered clothes, eyes shut tight, bloodied and in pain. One hand is held against his open chest wound, and the other is clutched tightly around a crumpled piece of parchment.

It was the map Orvel had given him.

“How unfortunate, human,” Orvel says, stepping closer, fixing his eyes on the wounded man. “She left you to bleed.”

The man’s eyes snap open, startled by the new presence. He looks around frantically until it finds Orvel’s face. His eyes widen in a moment of realization. “You… you Mordesh scum…” he says with ragged breath. “You led me to this…”

Orvel frowns at the remarks. He stops next to the man, speaking down to him. “No, human. I had only suggested.” He crouches down and  looks at him evenly. “It was you who took the bait.”

“You never meant for me to return…” the man whispers softly.

Orvel does not respond, but gently lifts the man’s limp arm from his chest. He quietly and quickly traces his fingers down the wound stretching cleanly from the man’s upper chest to his stomach. “A sword wound…and clean,” he says, lost in his own thoughts.

The man lays his head on the ground, groaning, and closes his eyes. “So, it was all a lie…this water…of life…” His other hand releases his grip on the parchment as if it had lost all of its value.

“No,” Orvel replies quickly as he recovers the map. “It must be true.” He stops for a moment and looks up into the dense canopy of enormous leaves and impossibly thick branches.

“Just look around you, human. Have you seen anything like it in the entire galaxy?” His eyes light up with wonder at the thought of being one of the few living sentients to witness such a sight. “Something must sustain it. Perhaps it can even give you a second chance.” He looks back down to the human, whose eyes have started to glaze over. “Perhaps. If you last long enough.”

Orvel notices something, and pulls on a thin strand stuck to the man’s sticky torso – a strand of long, black hair. He pulls out a tube filled with clear, viscous fluid. “Tell me. Which way did she go?” he asks, carefully lowering the hair into the tube.

The human coughs violently as he regains consciousness. His eyes wander back to Orvel’s face. The man grips Orvel’s forearm weakly. “The people… they will not let you get away with this. Do you think you will stay free forever?”

A sudden expression of rage flashes across Orvel’s face as he grabs the human by the collar, pulling him close. “I am already bound, scavenger! Do you not see?” Orvel growls intensely and forces the man’s face near his own — a face, once flushed with color and life, now dull and grey; his vital functions held together solely by the grace of technology. The human stares, wide-eyed with fear as he struggles violently, clutching at Orvel’s arms.

“I thought I had sensed another,” a voice speaks from behind. Orvel catches a reflection moving in the man’s eyes. “…and it smells of death,” it continues. Quickly, Orvel spins back onto his feet, dropping the human to the ground.

It was the woman. She was tall — nearly as tall as he was. Barely clad in armor or clothing, her well-defined musculature exuded strength and confidence. She takes slow, full, confident steps towards them as if not to startle her prey.

“Why are you here, tall one?” Her eyes stay locked on Orvel’s at all times, an over-sized sword held out to her side. He steps back cautiously as the woman approaches, away from the human and toward the trail he emerged from.

She stops next to the wounded man and looks down at the whimpering figure. “Do you wish to share the same fate as this one?” The man’s eyes widen in sudden fear as she drops the entire weight of her sword, straight through his chest.

“He owed me a debt,” Orvel says cautiously, watching the woman closely as the man’s pained expression slowly changes to one of resignation. “I came to recover it.”

“You are in sacred ground, outsider. None but those who serve Vitara are welcome here.” She raises her blade and settles into a fighting stance.

Orvel continues to step away slowly, until his back meets something sharp. He sees the silhouette of another warrior in the shadows, female as well. The local rumors were true, it seemed — the mysterious “Sisterhood” who guards that which he seeks. He must be close.

“Well played…Sisters,” Orvel speaks slowly, buying time, his mind churning fast. His eyes flicker left to right, quickly scanning his surroundings. With a quick intake of breath, he presses a switch embedded into the side of his gloved finger with his thumb, releasing a disorienting burst of pulsating energy. He rolls out of striking reach as the sisters quickly recover. As he dashes away, he releases a handful of attack probes and sees them being quickly dispatched as he runs out of their sightlines.

Orvel sprints through the jungle, cursing his mixed luck, searching for any signs of the trail back to civilization. He hears a rustle up above. He glances up and is nearly pierced by an arrow, shot by one of the sisters, a good ten meters above. Another arrow grazes his shoulder and he stumbles, losing his footing. As he struggles to find cover, Orvel reaches over to grab the weaponized medical resonators holstered on his back.

A shadow suddenly overtakes him. Glancing over his shoulders, he sees the swordmaiden leaping from the thick branches toward him, sword raised high. He sees a gap in the trees and dives through, landing with a splash. Orvel recovers and rises quickly, knee deep in water. As he stands, a blade is rested upon his chest. The two sisters stand before him, unphased, untired.

“Where do you come from? Why do you bring foreigners to our land?” asked the swordmaiden.

“Stop this! I am not here to–”

“You do not belong here, tall one,” she cuts him off mid-speech.

“We mean you no harm,” Orvel steps backward, the cool water swishing around his feet, “but we need your assistance.” He adjusts his grip on his weapons. The sister flicks her eyes down to his hands, taking notice. She takes a step forward to match Orvel’s movements. She shakes her head slowly, just once. “I have seen your kind,” she says. “You will bring us only death.” The sister pulls back without warning, lifting her blade for a swing.

Sensing a moment of opportunity, Orvel discharges his weapons. A massive, focused electrical charge instantly scorches her arm and torso, burning through her exposed flesh. She screams and reels backward, dropping her sword into the water. The second sister flinches in surprise. She quickly reacts, launching backwards into the air, firing an arrow mid-flip.

Orvel hears a thump, and feels a strange sensation in his gut. “What…”, he glances down and sees the arrow protruding from his stomach. The sister lands gracefully, smoothly nocking another arrow. She lets loose again, this time, piercing his upper chest. His heart.

He loses balance and stumbles to his knees, just as the first sister had done. He sees her, gritting her teeth, bending further, reaching into the water with her unburnt arm.

“No…” Orvel says, slowly realizing the severity of his plight. He looks up at the second sister, who now has another arrow fixed on him. She looks back at him with a curious expression. “I cannot end this way…” He struggles to his feet, his eyes losing focus. Pain surges through his chest, and the world turns white.

Scenes flash by of a life lived long ago; some happy, mostly rough. Memories come and go; of him as a child, hungry and orphaned; as a youth, finally in love with the life he had chosen; as a man, facing the many sorrows brought about by death.

He thought he had seen many horrors in his youth, but it was nothing compared with what came after. What he had seen, what they had become, was worse than death itself.

More visions flash through his mind’s eye.

Billions of faces, screaming in sheer terror. Millions of people, disfigured; losing their minds. A mere handful of survivors, patched up and sustained mechanically.

He sees the scarred remains of his country, thousands roaming mindlessly, diseased, wandering through the wastelands of what was once his home. They stop, and one by one, they turn to look up.

They looked up at him, those thousands of eyes. They looked up at him, with uncertainty and fear.

They looked up at him — with hope…

The visions slowly fade as Orvel feels himself falling backward. Time seems suspended as his body hits the surface of the water with a quiet splash. He does not remember why he is here. He feels a slight twinge in his chest and stomach, but his mind is hazy; his senses dulled.

The sky is clear and the two moons shine gently up above. The stars twinkle softly, speaking to him. “We are waiting for you,” they seemed to say.

Orvel slowly closes his eyes as the water envelops his body. His muddled thoughts dissolve into the calmness that enfold him as he is fully embraced by the pool’s soft caress. He hears them speak to him one final time, a faint whisper in his ear.

“You will save us all.”

And for once in his life, everything becomes still.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

Do the MMO Hop!

My adventures these past few days in gaming involved swapping between several games. I’ve been popping into WildStar more to get some quick adrenaline bursts with Veteran Shiphands, and also to work the markets with my Technologist goods. I’m finding it much more lucrative to invest in lower level crafts than the highest, since everyone seems to be making them at a high cost of materials.

Game #1: I got the trial version of Dragon Quest X, thanks to screenshots by @_Kimimi. Didn’t even know it existed until then! Of course, it’s Japanese only, but good thing I can a good amount. It plays very much like a console Dragon Quest game, even though it’s an MMO.

Game #2: Final Fantasy XIV

I love Belghast’s Free Company. Everybody I know from Twitter is congregating here. Not to mention the fact that almost everyone is happy to run low level dungeons together. I guess having so many classes to level helps with that. Thanks to the peeps who hung out and ran some dungeons with my fledgeling Rogue (soon to be Ninja)!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Gaming

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Verdict: Buy or Sub?

After sampling various MMOs during the last year, my personal conclusion is that buy-to-play is the most optimal choice for MMO development.

The main reason as a player, is that there is less pressure to progress and to keep up. You can play at your own pace. And this means that developers don’t have to create filler content for the sake of having new content to justify the sub fees. When they do produce a substantial content update, they can charge for it, and I will pay for it when I am ready for it.

In my mind, for sub fees to work, there needs to be either: enough casual and/or social activity for all players to participate in beyond grinding; so much content that you can hardly catch up to the pace of development (which is highly unlikely); or players feel like they belong there, and there is a friendly community that is always there for them.

World of Warcraft seems to do pretty well in at least two of these areas. Final Fantasy XIV may even have all three covered. I haven’t touched Elder Scrolls Online, so I can’t comment on them.

WildStar has a great community, but very little “filler” content to do when you just want to relax, and they admittedly failed in their attempt at unleashing an avalanche of constant content.

I still play WildStar because I enjoy the combat that much. My playtime limits me in what I can do, and I usually only get one group instance in at a time, but when I do, it’s extremely satisfying. It is mentally draining, though, and not something I want to do for hours on end. I would really love for some more truly casual content, like in-game board games and such.

I still need to dip my feet deeper into the waters of Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World, since I have them both. I’m still stuck in the early zones, as I only hop on very casually. Alas, that is the downside of buy-to-play games: you can always play them later.

Well, now that I’m contradicting myself, I probably need to redact my earlier statement.

A sub game works. It just needs to be a second home for players, and not just a sports gym to hop into after work.

To tell you the hypocritical truth: what do I really want to play right now?

Triple Triad.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 12, 2015 in Gaming

 

Tags: , , , ,

A Video Game Changed My Life

It may be strange for some of you to hear this, but a video game changed my life.

For those of you who don’t know my online gaming history, I spent a few years of my high school life being addicted to a certain MUD–a text-based online role-playing game. If any of you have watched .hack//Sign or Sword Art Online, this was near the level of immersion I experienced during that time. The people were real, the drama was real, the combat was frantic and with social consequence. I never met the real people behind their aliases, but they were real to me. I felt friendship, sorrow, anger, and even love. This “second-life” experience spoiled me to the advent of 3D graphical “MMORPGs”. All they seemed to me were fancy puppets running around dice-rolling things without any emotional or social context. I have never had success with online gaming since then.

This was true until earlier this year, when I accidentally stumbled upon WildStar. I fell in love within the first five minutes of sifting through the website. I loved everything about it. A game that actually wants to challenge its players. A skill-based game with much PvP potential without being a MOBA. A departure from the oft-depressing fantasy settings with both over-the-top humor and a super-serious storyline. It felt like the game I had been waiting for over a decade to play.

Wait, wait… to be clear, the game in itself didn’t actually change my life. What did, is the chain of events which happened right after it launched.

As I played the game in its infancy, I began watching the live streams from the developers. This led me to creating fan-art (well, fan-music). This prompted me to create a forum account, a Reddit account, and a Twitter account–all of which I’ve never touched in my life–just so I could get my work to the devs. I was new to this section of the online world, and it was eye-opening. All of these people were within arm’s reach. If I spoke to them, they responded back. This was the true magic of the Internet.

When the hype-bubble burst after a relatively smooth launch, I was very upset. I wasn’t mad at the game. I was mad with the “perception” of the game; how everyone seemed to forget that raiding was marketed by the company to be there to please the dedicated players, yet somehow, that became the sole purpose of the game. There was a mad-dash to level-cap and the raid attunement process. The whole game was left behind in the dust, including the “regular”-difficulty adventures and dungeons–the stepping stones to the attunement process.

As a witness to this mob-phenomenon, I was dumbstruck. I felt a strong anger well up, as well as an urge to say something. I began to write. I shared my writings to a few prominent members of the community through Twitter who helped to share my sentiments. As the game ambled on, my anger subsided, but I kept writing. I started a Tumblr blog to write down more of my thoughts outside of the forums, and that was when I saw a tweet recruiting writers for a WildStar Community Magazine. I had never written for the public before, but I had discovered in myself a new passion and I applied for a position. I am still contributing there today. That’s not all. Spurred by a Christmas initiative started by a blogger/podcaster whose works I have come to quickly admire, I felt compelled to start my own proper blog; an avenue to talk about the things I really care about–things I normally wouldn’t or couldn’t say aloud in a casual setting.

What is the result of me purchasing and subscribing to this one game? For one, it is a hobby that I thoroughly enjoy, whenever I can find the time to jump in and have fun. It also helped to uncover a joy and talent that I didn’t realize I had buried inside. I wouldn’t be writing here today if it weren’t for this game and its developers’ involvement with their fans. I have also discovered a wonderful gaming community that I didn’t know I had access to. With this, for the first time in my life, I am starting to get a feeling for what “community” really means–something I will talk more about in my upcoming spot on Syl’s Bloggy Christmas Countdown (Dec 18th). So if any of you devs are reading this, just know that you have, at the very least, affected the life of one person greatly.

Thank you.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 14, 2014 in Gaming

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
Adventures of a Lalafell

A Final Fantasy FFXIV: A Realm Reborn Blog

Mama Druid

Nature loving Mom shares photos, screen shots, stories, games, names, language, and etymology.

Composer Winifred Phillips

Thoughts about music, video games, etc.

A Kirsty Moment

has retired!

Stylish Corpse

MMO musings and commentary

Gamers Decrypted

Musings on Gaming, Music and Life

Ancient Mana

GREAT GOOGLY MOOGELY

Absolution

The Lazy Sniper

MMO Gamer Chick

Just a girl in a MMO world.

Healing the masses

One voxel at a time

Ariellalphabet

Video games. Magical Girls. Glitter.

kam's korner

my love for writing, gaming and blogging manifest

The Curious Cat

All the random things I think about... but mostly video games ^^0

Tales of the Aggronaut

Life and times of Belghast: Blogger, Podcaster, Tank, MMO Gamer, Husband, Cat and Ferret Tender, etc

Games I Made My Girlfriend Play

An avid gamer shares his favorite pastime with the woman he loves.

Moonshine Mansion

The gaming blog that moonshine built

8bit Kitchen

Because you can't save the world on an empty stomach.

Recollections of Play

Gaming, music, life, and more

Gaming Conversations

with Braxwolf Stormchaser

Me Vs. Myself and I

A little bit of everything, a whole lot of nothing.

Sygnus.org - Fantasy Writing Blog

Fantasy Writing, Fantasy Art, & Creative Inspiration

MMO Gypsy

mmorpgs, mmo gaming

Thinking Play

Musings on games and playing

GamingSF

Online gaming blog

%d bloggers like this: