Wednesday, August 29, 2012

FFXI

Anyone else out there ever play Final Fantasy XI? It's the massive multiplayer online version of Final Fantasy, and while I don't think it should have been numbered (call it FF Online or something, since it's not like any of the previous games) I do find it fun. Especially with friends.

It's nice to be able to share your experiences with others and help each other out. One of the best things I've always thought about the game is that the users are nice people. "Here, want a Linkshell? Here, have some gausebit grass; I've got extra. We're training in the dunes, anyone interested?" 

I can tell you how much of a difference it makes when an online group of strangers treats each other kindly and respectfully. The trash-talk I've gotten merely for being a girl in places like Warcraft III (and no, I haven't played WoW. I never will, for this very reason), compared to a random white mage walking by and casting Protect on me, made me love going back to it every day. 

The world is huge, the story is intricate, and the combinations of the familiar spells/classes/actions with the new in battle is great. There's also crafting from cooking to sewing to blacksmithing.... I mean, I could probably waste years on this, if I had no life outside of it. I admit it's a little frustrating to be one of the casuals there--I swear some people must play 24/7--and come back hoping to team up with the same people and discovering they're now level 99 and would rather hunt rare monsters than help me get a subjob. But I liked being part of a world that was full of conflict and war and yet peace between players.

The first time I played was three years ago, and I shared an account with my husband, so we never got to play together. But thanks to the 10th anniversary and super-cheap prices, I ended up playing again--this time with people I know in real life.


And now it's even more awesome. Pretty much the only thing that could make it better would be having more people join us. We could use another Warrior. ;)

-Tsira

***FFXI is a pay-to-play game, but the first month is free, so if you want to join us, you can get the Vana'diel Collection on Amazon for $9. It has most of the expansions and you won't have to hassle with the Steam version like I did. We play on the Shiva server. ;) And if for some reason you don't like it, I mean, it was probably the cheapest RPG you ever bought.***

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Healer - Human

Dungeonball time!

This is a healer, reminiscent of the "white mage" class. She may not look tough, but she's one of the only characters who can restore hearts to your warriors during battle. If you want to keep the monsters from the satisfaction and bonus for killing your heroes, you'll want her on your team. :)


-Tsira

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to Work

No revelations or advice tonight, as I've been pretty pensive for the last few days.

Work for me starts again next week, and it's a bittersweet thing. I'm tired of lounging around the house every day, though being home alone allows my creativity to blossom. It's been a productive summer. Not quite as much as I hoped, I'm afraid, but I still got a lot of stuff done, improved my craft, and had fun. But seeing the awesome people I work with and spending time with those kids is something to look forward to. 

I miss working. Working with children, helping them through their struggles and cheering them when they triumph, is so inspiring. I thought when I started the job that I'd be out in a year, on to bigger and better things, and that I didn't have the patience to continue. And then I fell in love. Every child is unique and beautiful, and watching their journeys has been so fulfilling.

On the other side, I'm actually a bit scared. Last year was physically and emotionally draining. I made it through okay, but walked away with scars. My arms are a physical reminder of how hard it was, my memories a mental one. And I know that this year may be almost as difficult. I have so much respect for those who make teaching their life, but I am not one of those people. I love my job, but my dreams lie elsewhere.

For now, I guess, all I can do is go back to work and hope for the best while creating in the background.

I do have a question to pose, though. Authors, artists, musicians, creators out there, where do you work--assuming you don't make enough money with your creations to pay the bills? Does it interfere with your creativity? And if so, how do you manage?

-Tsira

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Villages: Distant Lands!

Good news! Villages, a rummy-style card game I've had the pleasure of playtesting, has just released its first expansion, Distant Lands!


For those who haven't heard, Villages was developed by my best friend and husband, Fridgecrisis, and published through The Game Crafter. We took it to CONduit earlier this year, and sold out. It catches people's attention with its adorable 8-bit pixel art, and its roots in old-school video games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. But they stay because it's fun, easy for kids to get into, and strategic enough for adults. Play it safe and just build villages, battle for cards you want, or give your last few cards away to get a bonus for going out first--the unique properties of each unit help make the game awesome.

The expansion adds 9 new units, plus new animals and buildings, and a set of locations that change the game every round. We've worked really hard to make the game the best it can be. So do us a favor and check it out here!

Thanks!

-Tsira

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ersjaran Poetry

It's been difficult to make my rewrite into everything I want it to be. There are already some things that I want to fix--mostly to do with the fact that it's autumn at the time it starts; the leaves are changing colors, the air is colder, and farmers are traveling in the opposite direction as Octras and Tsira. Stuff like that.

What I've really liked about the rewrite is harder to pin down. Their interactions, particularly, and the way Tsira has been portrayed. One of her most identifiable habits is quoting stories and poetry. She has a deep love for the written word, and the way that it sounds when spoken aloud. And because she's bilingual, a lot of what she says makes double the work for me. Writing poems in Ersjaran is très difficile. (Or in Ersjaran, tsuk tana.)

But the result is something I find quite beautiful.

oake ni aoke
thelao andao-is
oandaomn fuj snefe
aomn lo ehioris

peria-is a cathela
ni nomaria dejthi
pana ris vit rastmn
lo tetasimn ari

inward and outward
the tides are my breath
inhaling through nostrils
exhaling with depth

my face is the ocean
and eyes are the clouds
but right now it's pouring
with pattering sounds

-Tsira

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Strong Female Character

Recently I've seen a surge of media promoting the strong female character. You know, strong females have to be leaders. They have to be determined. They have to be able to fire a gun, or arrows, or some sort of powerful weapon. This shift is a good thing, because it means we're starting to stray from the stereotypes, right? We're showing women with inner and outer strength.

Well, not exactly.

See, people often confuse "strong female character" for "emotionless kicka** character."

There were a lot of complaints when Metroid: Other M came out. Samus Aran, coolest bounty hunter in the galaxy, and hot blonde babe under the mask, was one of the strongest females in video game history. And then they supposedly ruined her. "She's such a girl." "Too soft, 'Lady'." "She's not gonna use her weapons just because some guy tells her he has to authorize it first? I mean, come on!" (Aside from the fact that this was an excuse for the mechanic of unlocking powers without her losing them again...)

So what changed?

She was shown as feminine.

Heaven forbid she has respect for her former commanding officer, someone who acted as a sort of father figure. Heaven forbid she talk about her feelings as she explores the Bottle Ship, and her underlying fear of her nemesis Ridley. Heaven forbid she has any feelings at all. This, in many people's eyes, made her into a weak character. Emotions, in women, are associated with weakness--and that's a major problem.

The fact that Samus is able to conquer her inner demons and most definitely kick alien trash as she uncovers various mysteries and lives through explosions, gravity shifts, Metroid queens eating her, and watching men around her die proves that she is very strong. So why all the complaining? Again, because emotions are seen intrinsically as a weakness. 

What has happened, I believe, is that in creating a standard for the strong female character, we've taken away the feminine part, and created masculine characters that happen to have girl body parts. This is not the way to remove a stereotype, it is a way to perpetuate it. If Samus was instead a man, and said that he'd feared Ridley, that he respected Adam enough to follow his orders, it would be seen as a military understanding, as strength. But because Samus is a girl, and feminine girls=weak girls, the character was "ruined."

However, there is hope. Just as bad as people complain about Samus losing her awesomeness status, the female Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series is adored and praised. And she shows many times throughout the games just how sentimental she is. How much she's affected by the deaths of those around her. How well she manages a romantic life alongside her duties as a military leader.

And that really is what a strong female character can be.

In my book Tsirash, there are two girls traveling with my strong, yet struggling, POV character Octras: Tsira and Shenra. Both of them have dealt with loss, pain, and fear in serious ways. They're capable of feeling respect, love, empathy, hope, sadness, and longing. There are feelings that drive them, motivate them to push forward even when faced with adversity.

Perhaps people will see Tsira and Shenra as they do Samus in Other M--weak. Every character has weaknesses, you know. But emotion is not inherently bad. If people can see what strength there can be in emotion, perhaps then they'll see the girls as I do.

I strive to create strong female characters with feeling. What about you?

-Tsira

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Summer Sketches

Writing has taken a back-burner to art for the past few weeks. I'm still working on my rewrite, but I admit I'm having a hard time... I don't feel very productive when I write little over a page in four hours. (What am I doing with all that time...?) So, I go through phases of creativity, and art took over last month. I hereby present samples from that shift, Summer Sketches!


Oh, and some finished minis from SDE.



-Tsira