Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Weekend Trip

Last weekend, I went on a little "camping" trip with Jaron and his mom. Their family has a cabin in Wyoming, and it was really nice to get away for a few days. And the scenery was great. The woods are so pretty, and the air is so clean and cool. (Now if only there weren't so many bugs.) The nights were super dark since there was no electricity, which made sleeping a little easier, but I did have to snuggle close after the incidents with spiders so that I didn't have nightmares.

We played lots of card games. I learned how to play SkipBo, and we also played Phase 10, Egyptian Rat Killer, Speed, and Uno (of which Jaron and I have invented Speduno) and while I read Wizard's First Rule (still working on it, by the way), Jaron finished Phoenix Wright.

We also tried going on a walk, and while we did see a rabbit, the mosquitos caused all sorts of problems for us, so the walk was pretty short. If it wasn't for them, I would have loved to keep going.

Anyway... I've been working on the sequel to Tsirash, and after (I think) six attempts at writing my first scene from Shosu's POV, I finally came up with something that flows really well.

So, here are some pretty pictures to look at. :P



 (Yay, look, a bunny! I wish my camera had a better zoom. Oh well.)
(That's not the cabin, by the way. That's the scenery out beyond the woods.)

-Tsira

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gaialite

First order of business: the results of the Guess Whose Mii contest. The winner is... Valerie!

Okay. So... As far as writing and drawing goes, I haven't done much lately. But I've been keeping pretty active, creatively speaking. Like I said in my last post, I've been writing songs for Jaron's game. I've set up two of the pieces on FileFreak, so you can listen to them here and here. Keep in mind that these songs are meant to play in a loop, so the sudden ending is actually where the song would start over.

Jaron's game, called Gaialite, is coming along very nicely. He's basically done with the first two worlds (of eight total). Those are the forest world, Treeterra, and the ice world, which I'm pretty sure is called Chillville. It's a really amazing thing that Jaron is doing and I'm so glad to be a part of it. It's nearly all original stuff, from the scripting (almost all of the RPG-VX stuff has been overwritten with something of Jaron's genius) down to the cute custom graphics. The plan is to use all original music as well, and I've added ten pieces to the game so far. 

I set kind of a high mark of achievement for myself. I decided that each world deserved its own style of music to match the setting, and so I'll not only write themes for the towns, fields, and dungeons, but each world will have its own battle and boss themes using the same overall style of the world. There will be some common elements, though--I'd like to see character themes that play no matter where you are.

Anyway... I'm getting tired. And I've slept so much today... I'm going to go read a book or play one of the games I need to finish.

-Tsira

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Game Music/Guess Whose Mii #7

I miss having a piano. I would never lug one of those giant, heavy things into my apartment, though, even if one was offered to me. I play when I can, usually when I go to my parents' house--that's where all my sheet music is, too. Not that I actually have much of my own. It's just the FFIX Piano Collection and some Debussy and a few random pieces. I haven't learned a new song since... I can't even remember. When I play, it's usually just to remind my fingers of what they already know.

(Oh. My. Heck. Stupid white-trash neighbors.)

Anyway... back to music. So we have a little music creator on our computer, and I've been using it to write down a few pieces as I mean for them to be, with flutes and harps and guitars and music boxes and violins and stuff. I'll probably never get to hear any of my pieces on those instruments in real life, so midi is as close as it gets. Plus I've made a few new songs. Eventually, I'm hoping to amass enough to score Jaron's video game. I wrote four pieces for the forest world and two for the ice world so far.

It's enough to get by. I find myself listening to the pieces over and over again because I can't play them myself.

(Shut up! Geez, it's like this every freaking day.)

--

So this is going to be the last Mii. I have more, but... I'll save those for later. All right. Who is this?
-Tsira

Monday, July 11, 2011

Machine of Death/Guess Whose Mii #6

Even though the machine was on its side, the lights were working, little green arrows beckoning Amber to put money in it. Before she could stop herself, she was putting in her dollar, getting her finger pricked, taking the card that it gave her.

Amber inhaled sharply as she read the five letter word. TRAIN.

So, there's this thing called Machine of Death. It's a story collection, and they're taking submissions for a second one--but only for a couple more days. I've thought about writing a story since the end of May, but I've been caught up in so many other things that I put it off until the last minute. I'm about halfway done... right now the story is about 1500 words. I plan to double that. But it's a race against time. I can't just sit around and not write anything anymore. If I'm serious about this, I need to book it.

--

Anyway... The last picture was definitely Shenra. Fifteen points for those who guessed correctly. :)

Now for a tough one. Who is this?
-Tsira

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Phoenix Wright/Guess Whose Mii #5

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

(If you click on the link, watch out! There's spoilers...)

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars ****

All right. So we got three games in the mail last month, and this was one of them. And I finished late last night, when I probably should have been sleeping. But I have to admit, this game was really addicting.

It doesn't really sound like the sort of thing that should be in video games. I mean, you're an attorney. Most of the game takes place within a courtroom, during trials. When you're not in the courtroom, you're out talking to people, finding clues through dialogue or gathering evidence. 

But there's something fascinating about court mysteries. If your defendant is innocent, then whodunnit? Through listening to testimonies and pointing out contradictions, you dig to the bottom of everything to reveal the truth. And it's actually very active. The music intensifies as you discover pieces of the real story, and the characters dramatically change in appearance, as if you've physically punched them, when their lies are exposed.

There are five episodes, steeply increasing in difficulty as you go. The first case is something of a tutorial, taking only thirty minutes to an hour, and the last case took me over seven hours to solve. When I got to the last case, I wasn't bored by this extra length, since it introduced many new features: spraying for traces of blood, finding fingerprints, examining evidence in a rotational 3D area, and even watching a video tape. And as far as testimonies go, it was always very gratifying when I figured something out and revealed the contradictions in someone's statements.

The characters are complex, having their own set of ideas, motivations, and talents. I was particularly interested in the character Miles Edgeworth, a prosecutor who is involved in almost every case in the game. When you meet him, he's a scary, confident, and somewhat stubborn man, doing "anything to get a guilty verdict." But he's much more than that, as you soon discover.

All right. So here's where it had some trouble. First, there are massive amounts of dialogue, which isn't a bad thing, but it led to some typography errors. It didn't really start until halfway through the game, when I noticed a "too" instead of "to." After that, I noticed a few "your" instead of "you're(s)," and things like "probable" instead of "probably."

That always puts a damper on my mood, but I have to admit it happens a lot with video games that are originally made in Japan. Translating a novel-length script from Japanese into English is undeniably difficult. But they did do a very good job integrating colloquial terms and patterns of dialogue.

The other problem I had while playing this game has to do with getting "stuck." At times I could not progress because I was overlooking a little thing somewhere along the line (outside the courtroom), and I had to present evidence until a person was willing to talk to me about something. Sometimes I was talking to someone, Phoenix would think "maybe she'll talk to us if we show her such-and-such" and so I would show them, but then the option for a new subject didn't come up. I would then present some unrelated photo, etc. and when I got a tiny unrelated reaction, the next dialogue option, about the first thing, would appear. It was a little frustrating.

In the courtroom, I sometimes had the opposite feeling. I knew what the contradiction was, but if I pointed it out too early, I was penalized. I was like, "Phoenix, just figure it out, already, so I can move on!" So I'd say "Hold it!" to something, Phoenix would think about it and say he had an idea, and then I could do exactly what I'd done a minute before and continue with the story. Sigh.

But overall, I really enjoyed this game. It was an unexpected delight as a game, and I'm very glad that we bought it. I think I'll get the next one soon.

--

Mii #4 was: Xisht. So Valerie and Jaron both get fifteen points. Next up...

Who is this?
-Tsira

Monday, July 4, 2011

Voices of Dragons/Guess Whose Mii #4


My rating: 3 of 5 stars ***


Okay. So I basically read this book in a single afternoon. And I sort of expected it to be exactly how it was. I did hope for a little better, but I wasn't really disappointed, either.

One of the strongest points of this novel was the pacing. It started off strong, with our main character, Kay, being saved by a dragon. I was immediately thrown into this world, this... alternate reality, as it were.

See, the pretense of this novel is that after the U.S. nuked Japan at the end of WWII, long-forgotten legends, the dragons, came out from deep underground. There was another war of sorts, ending with a shaky peace between the humans and the dragons. The humans surrendered part of the world (the arctic circle, pretty much) and they've had a truce for the last sixty years.

Sound interesting enough? So no one really knows anything about the dragons anymore. They keep to themselves, far away from the territory borders. And curious people are usually stopped from crossing by local law enforcement. Until Kay is saved by the grey dragon Artegal. They start seeing each other regularly, learning from each other, becoming friends. It's something like Romeo and Juliet with dragons, and in fact, the book draws this parallel itself.

But here's where the story fell flat. Let's start with the military. You know, always the bad guys? Of course there's some sort of conspiracy to start the war again, and with no real reason except to show off fancy new equipment and raise hell for the dragons. Because, let's face it, the people in the military are always corrupt. In fact, there's only one person in the military who seems to be a somewhat 'okay' person, but they end up dropping their niceties over a stunt Kay pulls.

The other thing that bothered me was that, while Kay is a smart, interesting person, her friend Tam is another cliche backdrop to the story. "Let's buy expensive prom dresses." "I have a boyfriend and he's the best." "Sex is the best thing in the world." "Did you do it yet?" "You seriously didn't do it? What's wrong with you?" That's right, she's a shallow sex addict. Actually, in a way, I was reminded of the stupid friend Jessica from Twilight. I found that stuff pretty much equal.

So while there were some things about this that I really liked in the concept, there were others that were just plain lazy writing in execution. So it gets docked a star for military, docked a star for stupid Tam. 

--

All right. Now for the fun part. Let's see... Jaron added his guess to #2, Jake, so he gets five points (since it's already over). #3 was... Octras! So Tyrel, Jaron, and Valerie get fifteen points. All right. Now that that's figured out... 

Next Mii! Who is this?
-Tsira

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Wildthorn/Guess Whose Mii #3


My rating: 2 1/2 of 5 stars **^

*WARNING: Contains spoilers*

While I did find this book very easy to read, from the smooth transitions to the depth of characters, there were a few things that bothered me. I'll start my nitpicking at the actual writing. There were a fair amount of typos, which... if you know me, is frustrating. Things like "Was I good child?" or "took if off" and other such problems sometimes made me remember that I was reading someone's first novel, instead of letting me get sucked into the story.

Okay. So ignoring that fact, I read this book very quickly, trying to figure out who had put Louisa in Wildthorn. The obvious answer was Tom, and although by the end Louisa finds out the treachery goes much deeper than that, it was still right. Basically she ends up hating everybody for what happened, except her parents and her unfortunate cousin Grace.

The reason Louisa was put into the asylum is also not clear from the beginning, but through flashbacks we find that she's a forward-thinking girl who likes doing 'boy' things like doing experiments, and she wants to be a doctor like her father. While Papa is supportive, no one else is. When he dies, her dream is basically crushed, but she's still very defensive about it.

As if this weren't enough, Louisa is also a lesbian. She had some crush on Grace before being put in Wildthorn asylum, but obviously couldn't say anything about it. And Grace got married to a guy named Charles.

What bothers me about this is... it seemed like the book was saying, "Because she's an independent girl, she also must be attracted to other girls." And it really has nothing to do with the main story, or with her being put in the asylum, because no one but her knew about it. Also, as a warning to anyone who still wants to read it, there is a short, nondescript sex scene between Louisa and another female character at the end.

--

Mii #2 was... Jake! So Valerie and Jeremy get 15 points each. :) Here's the next one. (The scar on his face should only be on one side, but... it's a Mii. What can I do?)

Who is this?
-Tsira