Posted in Fantasy Fiction, Fiction Writing, Writing

April Camp NaNoWriMo 2015 & Writer’s Nerves

Camp-Participant-2015-Web-Banner

Tomorrow is the first of April (beware April Fool’s Day), and also the first day of April’s Camp NaNoWriMo for 2015.

What is NaNoWriMo?

For anyone who hasn’t heard about NaNoWriMo, this stands for National Novel Writing Month. This is held every November, and challenges writers to join a community with the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel within 30 days.

The first time I heard about it, I thought it was nuts and that I was nuts for signing up for it. But not only did I manage to write over 50K words my first NaNoWriMo of 2002, but I went on to win the challenge for 11 years total. During that time, I completed a four-novel fantasy series, Dreigiau, and started on my shorter form loose fiction, Runne.

It took me this many years of 50K to finish all of Dreigiau.
It took me this many years of 50K to finish all of Dreigiau.

I wrote a good deal of that back when I was in college, but once I started working full time, trying to swing a NaNoWriMo, especially during a crazy November month, became more difficult. When I heard about Camp NaNoWriMo, which has much more lax rules, and is held during spring and summer months, I decided to switch to writing during these events instead.

I like that you can set your own word count – I choose to do 25K words, but to do it twice a year for a total of 50K words. You also get assigned to your own little cabin – a group of writers who are also taking the challenge, often put together based on a common writing interest (mine are fantasy writers, for example). During the month, your cabin mates are there to discuss progress, encourage each other, and work as a sounding board through frustrating times.

And while this is geared towards fiction writing, you could take this challenge for any kind of writing, I’m sure. So if you’re interested in taking part and challenging yourself, there’s still time to sign up at the site! If you miss it in April, there’s another in July.

Chances are, since I’m participating, I’ll probably be blogging a good bit less during April. Unless it inspires me to write more about the process, somehow. XD

This Year…

 

Camp-Participant-2015-Square-ButtonI’m a little on the nervous side to be writing fiction again, especially since I haven’t visited my story, Runne, for way over a year. Last year, I skipped writing for Runne because I was stuck at a plot point that I didn’t know how to overcome. Over the past Christmas holiday, Syn and I brainstormed a ton of great ideas. I just have to figure out how to move the stopping point from the last chapter I wrote to mesh with these ideas, and that has me a little frazzled.

But I always get the nerves right before a NaNo event. Then, once I’m in there and writing, things somehow seem to work themselves out in unforeseen ways…

Is anyone else writing this year? If so, good luck! 

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2013 was my last official November NaNoWriMo. I’ve done Camp NaNo since last year.

 

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Practice Dungeons and Face-Melting FATES

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The Floating City of Nym

 

I actually took a little break from FFXIV Sunday afternoon to play and troubleshoot Sims 4, but I still accomplished a whole lot over this weekend. Syn and I finally completed all story content for Patch 2.4 and have made a good bit of progress into patch 2.51. There’s no way we’re going to finish it before tomorrow’s patch drops, but it’s nice to be on relevant content for the first time ever!

I’m going to concentrate on progressing Zuri tonight – she hasn’t even done Snowcloak yet. When I have played her this weekend, it’s for leveling crafting (dinged my first level 40 crafter!) or practicing scholar.

Practice Dungeons FTW

Syn’s been pretty steadfast about leveling Paladin on Zeb, usually in FC-based practice dungeons. Not that I mind, because my Scholar is of similar level, so that’s working out for both of us. FC folks also have DPS in the lower or mid 30s that need leveling experience, so Saturday was a series of learning dungeons for us.

Terminus, Zeb and Tai after a Wanderer's Palace run
Terminus, Zeb and Tai after a Wanderer’s Palace run

I’ve never been much of a dungeon runner, but I admit leveling with FC members in dungeons has been a super-fun time. There’s no pressure to perform perfectly. We can practice and learn mechanics and our own class nuances. And even when my net misbehaved (it dropped me TWICE and always on a BOSS fight!), no one got angry after a wipe no one could control. Get it together Time Warner Cable! |:<

I’m learning a LOT about playing a Scholar… and it’s a bit more complex than Let-The-Fairy-Autoheal. I did some research on whether I should micro-manage Eos (yes, I should), and learned about macros that allow you to mouse-over heal. This has to be the best discovery I made all week… mouse-over healing has officially made my life so much easier. I love it!

Later that night, one FC member wanted to dust off his tank and practice upper level dungeons to get back in the swing of things. This was good because another FC member needed Wanderer’s Palace for a Relic Book, and neither Syn nor I had even unlocked the dungeon, much less run it before.

Yes. We’re ilvl 110+ and have never run Wanderer’s Palace. I told you, I’m not much of a dungeon runner.

However, when a FC member offers to teach the dungeon, and it’s a practice run which has a lot of benefit for us all, it sounded like a good idea. It ended up being a LOT of fun – another no-stress learning experience made great by patient people who were there to teach, learn and help. We downed the King Tonberry and fun was had by all. 🙂

Face-Melting FATES

Amoon, Kett, and Zuri as the FATE-wandering Arcanist Brigade!
Amoon, Kett, and Zuri as the FATE-wandering Arcanist Brigade!

I didn’t get to practice my new mouse-over skills in a dungeon yet, but Sunday saw us running a FATE train around Coerthas. It started out small, until other FC members decided to get in on the action. It helped that there was a HUGE group of people out there running FATES that afternoon. I was really surprised it was that active on a Sunday, as I haven’t seen a FATE party of that size since Ninja was released.

We melted a lot of FATES out there, including wining The Eyes Have It, which I haven’t seen finished in a long time. It was so fast that the group gained a few levels in a short time, leaving my Scholar at level 38 for the afternoon. I love big FATE groups like that, and it’s even more fun when FC folks join in and we can all earn experience, seals and points for the FC.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s patch, which is set to finish up the main scenario story until Heavensward releases. While I may not be able to jump into that instantly, I’m happy for the removal of the loot restriction in World of Darkness, as well as the buff in earning MGPs in the Gold Saucer. I’ve slacked off my activities in the Saucer (aside from the daily Cactpot), so it’s good to know rewards are going to see an increase, especially in chocobo racing.

Every Post Should End with King Tonberry
Every Post Should End with King Tonberry
Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Sims 4

FFXIV: Scholarly Pursuits & Sims 4: Basement Dwelling

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Zuri looking tough with her fairy at her side!

Even though I’ve been playing FFXIV rather casually this week, I’ve manage to make a lot of needed progress.

I’ve been sadly slacking in the crafting department (just not enough time to do Ixali quests), but I still managed to pull all crafting classes to at least level 35 on Zuri. Now, whether I’ve actually done the level 30 crafting quest for most of those classes is in question… XD

Most of the this week has been dedicating to finishing up the cross class skills I need for Zuri’s scholarly pursuits. I finally capped level 34 on White Mage to get the Stoneskin spell, so now it’s back to leveling scholar. Syn is leveling Paladin on Zeb, so we’ve been working on this together. This includes a huge amount of FATE running, a bunch of leves, and dragging fellow FC DPS into random low level dungeon runs.

Overall, I’m really enjoying Scholar. For FATEs, it’s a pretty lax and laid back type of class to play. A huge difference from the crazy pace of Ninja and Paladin, which were the last two FATE leveled classes I undertook. In group play, such as dungeons, however, things ramp up a good bit.

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Tai hanging out with FC folks after a good WoD run

I’m still trying to figure out that balance between sharing healing duties with Eos. Most the time, I can sense her limitations in a dungeon, and I do just fine. I like that time not spent healing allows me to act as a third DPS. I also like the variety of DPS skills I get from the Arcanist line. DOTs aren’t usually my playstyle, but they seem relevant in this case. I feel like I can add a bit to both sides of the party, and enjoy that I have more damage options than White Mage.

Plus, the book is a cool weapon, and the fairy pet is growing on me. Depending on how Scholar feels as I get in higher level dungeons, I may have found a new favorite class! I have lots of end-level armor waiting for Zuri’s scholar at the end of the leveling road, but we’re taking it slow and steady. We’ll get to 50 when we do.

Tai, on the other hand, had a pretty good week in end-game land. My weekly scored the last Sands of Time that I needed, and our first WoD run also earned me a dragoon drop that replaced an unweathered piece of 100 armor. In fact, the last WoD run we had was pretty lucrative for the majority of FC members that ran with us. So, it was a good night.

Sims 4 Free Update

Yesterday saw a pretty huge Sims 4 update as the game sets a foundation for the upcoming expansion pack. I was surprised about the amount of content this free update provided, which included things such as basements, the ability to build one more story upward, and the ability to make and keep relationships at work and school.

Hurrah for basements!
Hurrah for basements!

BTW, Sims 4 has the best patch notes…. and I always find myself reading through the whole thing! As a fellow technical writer, I have a lot of respect for the person who writes these! XD

So, I was cheering for most of the content updates and fixes they released last night. In fact, I was able to remove a few mods from my library because the official fixes took care of annoyances that I modded out.

There must have been some pretty large changes this time around, because the word is, a lot of mods and custom content has broken due to this last patch. The community is making a list of what’s broken – so be careful when you update to remove all mods and test your CC!

I was lucky in that I didn’t use any of the mods effected by this update. I did have one piece of content that caused the game to hang on launch, but I was able to troubleshoot and remove it. Considering just how much custom content I have in my game, I’m amazed that I don’t see more issues!

The Get to Work expansion is just around the corner, and something I’m looking forward to trying when it comes out! I haven’t yet pre-ordered the game, however, as I want to hear what feedback is out there for such a pricey expansion, especially since my time has been pretty dedicated to FFXIV lately. I’m not in a rush, and know these packs go on sale eventually. Plus, my birthday is hanging out just around the corner, so maybe I can nudge a friend or family member into gifting it to me. XD

Posted in Webcomics

Wayrift: Looking Back on 13 Years of Webcomic Creation

wayrift13years

I’m a webcomic artist who works on a comic called Wayrift. Wayrift is turning 13 years old today. It’s actually been around longer than that, but for simplicity’s sake, I just call it 13 years.

13 years and 1,921 comics posted! For any creative project on the Internet to last that long – website, blog, fiction, webcomic – that seems like a lifetime!

Webcomic Longevity

During that 13 years, Wayrift has updated three times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday – come rain or shine. We take a scheduled vacation week off once or twice a year. But I’ve not actually missed an update for anything within my control in all this time. We’ve had no hiatus. We’ve taken no creative breaks.

wayriftcecildrakeI don’t know if that’s good or bad. Or if that’s part of the reason this still exists.

I know I couldn’t do it without my creative partner and best friend, Syn. Together, we forged this strange world and family of figments who remain a very strong creative outlet for us both, even throughout our adult lives. I can’t imagine a life without this creativity and these fictional pieces of myself.

They’re part of me in a very deep and mysterious way – maybe that’s why we can’t stop creating stories for them. We have so much backstory… so much script… I could probably draw Wayrift for a lifetime and never cover everything we’ve written over the past 14-15 years!

How does it get done? We started this project as just a silly foray into comic-dom back when I was still in college, and I had a lot more time on my hands. Producing Wayrift takes many, many hours of my free time, and yes, there are some weeks I just don’t feel like doing it… but I still do. I’ve locked myself into a pretty rigid schedule that I’ve followed for years. I know that if I were to waver just a bit, I’d be tempted towards laziness (my natural state of being), and I’d likely let the project slip… so I never give myself that opportunity.

My motto is always “Wayrift before gaming!” (So hard some days…)

Our readers and friends, who I thank for being part of this for the long run, would also not let me get away with it. Some of our readers have been here ever since I can remember. Old and new, they are just as much a part of Wayrift as us creators are. Some weeks, I’m in a creative mood and create just for the sake of it. Some weeks, I create because I don’t want to disappoint folks who were left on one of our normal Friday cliffhangers. 😉

To Fan or Not to Fan

snes_finalfantasyiiI don’t usually tell people that I’m a webcomic creator. It’s not something I spread around at work or with folks I meet IRL. In fact, it’s not something I usually spread around online, either, even in the various guilds and MMOs I’ve been a part of.

Some of that is because the origins of Wayrift – the history, world and some characters are loosely based on the original SNES version of Final Fantasy IV (which was FFII to us back then). It’s always a little embarrassing to admit that, because then Wayrift sometimes gets the response of being “just fan-girl stuff.” I’ve even once had a reader, who really enjoyed Wayrift initially, tell me they were “very disappointed” when they learned Wayrift was “fanfiction”… despite the fact the stories, lore and characterizations are all 95% original stuff.

However, when I say loosely based upon, I do mean loosely.

Here’s the scenario:

  • Back in 1991-ish, two girls on the opposite sides of the US fell in love with FFII as their first JRPG in their early teens… before JRPG was even a known term.
  • These two girls were inspired to create fan works about FFII… This was back before the internet existed for me and I even knew what “fan fiction” or “fan art” was.
  • Later in life, these two girls met online and realized – Hey, someone else created a really cool version of a fan world based on FFII!
  • These two girls were inspired by each other and began to role play chat, having their characters (which were based loosely off of what we knew about FFII as teens) interact with each other.
  • Blending this together made a whole new sort of world, two different sides of the same coin, with lots of neat original lore, magic and history. Because the FFII world used to be so open-ended, there wasn’t a lot we could do that actually broke canon, and our imaginations soared.
  • These two girls thought it might be funny to take those RP chats, which were already in script-like format, and turn them into a silly online comic…

…which turned into Wayrift, still being created 13 years later.

Zeb in Wayrift
Zeb blasting the annoying changes in original canon.

Our problem is that we walk the line of fandom-yet-not-fandom. Back in the early days of Wayrift, there was only one re-release of FFIV, for Playstation. We thought FFIV was safe as a forgotten entry in the series, what with FFVII being a more lauded gateway for new folks. So, we took for granted that Square would leave our fantasy world alone… which didn’t happen in the end (It got a like a million re-releases and a canon-destroying sequel, FFIV: The After Years).

As years passed, Wayrift moved more and more away from its FFIV origins. The characters we write about are almost exclusively our own, or our own version of how we saw canon characters. In fact, at this point, we could pick up our cast and toss it into a completely different world, rename a few things, and the story would still go on, unhindered.

So now, it’s hard to describe Wayrift. Do I call it a FFIV fan comic… because it’s not. And anyone coming to it may be disappointed at how far we’ve strayed from the FFIV world. But, I also can’t say that it’s 100% original work, because it’s also not, since the origins were based in FFIV! So much confusion!

I tend to just throw it out there as a “Fantasy Webcomic” and call it a day. We don’t usually attract a lot of FFIV fans, but we do seem to attract fantasy lovers. In fact, a poll we did 2 years ago said that 43% of our readers had never played FFIV before reading Wayrift, and went on to play it because they enjoyed our comic so much! Squeenix should hire us as marketers! XD

The nice thing about playing FFXIV now is that we meet a lot of FF fans… some who even remember FFIV as FFII! It makes it easier to admit, “Hey, yeah. I have a webcomic that’s really loosely based on that old game…” to our Free Company members. 🙂

A lot has changed over 13 years. Characters have changed. My art has definitely changed – what started out as a “manga” style, including the black and white screentone attempts, is now a full-colored comic… that still retains a bit of manga influence to it.

Where will Wayrift go from here? I don’t know, but we’re going to keep on creating!

The very first page of Wayrift, from 2001, compared to the newest page posted in 2015.
The very first page of Wayrift, from 2001, compared to the newest page posted in 2015.
Posted in FFXIV, Gaming

FFXIV: Shiva Down, Approaching Patch 2.5

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ffxiv_03202015_222151For the first time since we started playing FFXIV, Syn and I are almost at the point where we’re on the same patch as everyone else! Well, that is until next week when the next new patch is released. XD

Tai’s Update

The last few weekends, we’ve spent a good deal of time really focusing on progressing through the main story line. This weekend, we overcame both the dungeon Snowcloak, and the Primal fight Shiva (Hard). I don’t know if it’s because we’re over geared, if we had great groups, if we’re really proficient at reading guides and watching videos before starting a new dungeon, or if we’ve just got a lot of practice from running Crystal Tower… But we walked into both of these and found them to be far, far easier than we expected them to be.

Tai's new sheild
Tai’s new sheild

The tank even semi speed ran Snowcloak, which used to be a terror for us (especially running something the first time), and neither of us broke a sweat. Perhaps these instances are meant to be a bit easier due to being a part of the required story line. I’m not going to ponder it much, but it was a good thing.

I got my second drop for Tai in the World of Darkness yesterday, as well. This is luckily enough, because I only ran it twice this week, and didn’t expect to actually earn anything. Finally purchasing my first poetic item, and upgrading it to ilvl 130 has put him at an overall ilvl 110.

I also upgraded Tai’s shield for Paladin, and practiced tanking a bit more this week. Our FC team got through both Garuda and Halatali unscathed, so I guess practice (and better gear) is helping.

I bought the first book for the Animus weapon upgrade and worked on that just a little, catching up to what Syn has unlocked on Zeb. So, end game shenanigans are out at full force. I have to do all this over on Zuri eventually, but I’m becoming more and more hopeful that we’ll see the end of the story through before the expansion’s release.

Victory Dance with Al's character after defeating Garuda
Victory Dance with Al’s character after defeating Garuda

Zuri’s Update

I’ve been working hard on completing crafting turn-ins and Ixali quests every day. Zuri is now level 35 in every crafting profession (except one – but only a tiny tick away from hitting 35). I finally pushed through to level 37 on Culinarian in order to unlock Steady Hand II, which is a big help in getting more high quality crafting success. I also unlocked the Respected reputation with the Ixali, which continues to increase daily quest difficulty and rewards.

Syn has decided that she wanted to level Zeb as a Paladin (snicker). We spent time spamming leves in the level 20 area, where I finally got Zuri to level 26 Thaumaturge (a class I can never spell nor pronounce) to unlock the Swiftcast skill for my healers. After rushing up five levels, I was finally getting the hang of the whole fire-ice swap thing, but I still doubt I’d ever play Black Mage as a main class. One more level of White Mage will unlock Stoneskin, and I’ll feel better kitted out to continue leveling my baby Scholar.

Oh, and look at this awesome item my retainer brought back for my personal house – adorable tonberry couch!

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Posted in Gaming, Mobile Gaming

Final Fantasy XI Going Mobile – Are You Ready for MMMORPGs?

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Soon after FFXI first launched in the US, my sister and I were there in the world of Vana’deil. I had grand dreams for my Red Mage, but most of those dreams would never come to pass. While the game was great for people who had lots of time, friends and a solid linkshell, it did not do much to include folks like me.

I was casual, group-shy, and couldn’t fathom the amount of time that went into looking for a group, much less the kind of grinding required (back then) to actually progress anywhere in the game. I think as far as I managed to get was to unlock the ability to switch to a sub-class. Everything else – advanced classes, relic armor, and even getting a chocobo – were far beyond what I could accomplish… mostly due to the fact the game was not solo friendly. And that’s an understatement.

I’m describing my limited experience from back in 2003, so I don’t know much about how the game stands today. Obviously, since I couldn’t get very far in the game, as much as I really wanted to keep playing, I eventually put it aside. And that’s pretty much all my memories of this game that I wanted to love, but couldn’t advance in.

FFXI on Mobile

ffximobileSo when I read today that Square Enix (partnered with Nexon – really? REALLY? :/ ) is bringing FFXI to mobile platforms as a MMMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Mobile RPG), I did a double take.  My idea of smartphone gaming revolves around simple, casual games that you pick up and put down from time to time. I’m thinking about the battery limitations and screen size limitations. I’m pondering things like subscription fees vs. in game transactions. Thinking about these things, I’m wondering how this all will actually work.

Sure, the graphics and interface may be adjusted to fit mobile. But FFXI is a game I consider quite hardcore back in its day, which is the exact opposite of what I usually stereotype as a mobile game. The article did note that:

Final Fantasy Mobile plans to offer things like improved party organizing, solo-play improvements, better battle functionality, enriched community features as well as other tweaked in-game elements.

But unless the foundation of the game has changed significantly from what I remember, they’re going to have a lot to do to improve the non-existent solo-play that casual people are going to expect from a mobile game. I guess I’m just trying to wrap my mind around how they’re going to squish all those complexities into a little smartphone app.

mmmorpg

On the other hand, if they can make it work, go for it. Having more meaningful mobile games would be a step in the right direction. And we’ve already heard that ArcheAge wants to go mobile, too.

Other news sees FFXI releasing its final large content update and shutting down servers for Xbox 360 and PS2 players March of 2016. The PC servers don’t appear to be effected from this news, though it’s unknown if this new mobile version will have any connection to existing PC servers. I’m kinda doubting it, though.

 

So what do you think about trying to squeeze MMO complexity into a mobile app? Are you ready to embrace MMMORPGs, or do you have some reservations about the idea?