Posted in Blaugust, Blogging

Coming to a Close ~ #Blaugust Day 31

This is part of the Blaugust series!

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Today is the final day of August, which coincides with the last post of Blaugust. Congrats to everyone who undertook the challenge! Now give yourself some much-deserved rest!

Continue reading “Coming to a Close ~ #Blaugust Day 31”

Posted in Blaugust, Gaming

#Blaugust Day 9 — Monetizing Sims 4

This is part of the Blaugust series!

sims4gettogetherThough this post came hot on the heels of the newly announced expansion pack, Sims 4: Get Together, it’s actually been on my mind for a while. I’ve been a Simmer since the original Sims 1 hit the shelf back in 2000. I’ve been a pretty loyal Simmer, too.

I own every Sim game and every major expansion for each Sim game, most of them bought on release day. I remember back when the Sims website would give away a fun little downloadable game item for free once a week – was it every Tuesday? This included everything from decor to that awful little guinea pig that could bite your Sim and cause them to die.

But, then things started to change, especially when Sims 3 started throwing their online store in our face. It got as far as them actually patching store items into your inventory, which I found as distasteful as any MMO cash shop move I’ve ever seen.

The Sims 4 hasn’t slapped us with a cash shop yet. However, they are pumping out stuff packs and game packs like there’s no tomorrow. Seriously, like once a month, we’re seeing either a stuff pack or game pack. And while I can generally ignore stuff packs (as I always did in Sims 3), it’s hard when normally expected game items, like a hot tub, are locked behind a $10 tag.

Now, that’s not to say that Sims 4 hasn’t given us a lot of stuff for free in patches since the release. I acknowledge that and appreciate it. Ghosts, pool, outfits, and just this past week, dishwashers. Finally dishwashers.

So why were hot tubs locked behind a stuff pack and dishwashers in a free patch for everyone? Maybe there would be a much larger uproar about dishwashers being behind a paywall when they’ve always been a part of the normal game. In fact, I noticed quite early on they were missing and wondered why.

I’m ambivalent about how Sims 4 is approaching DLC. On one hand, I can’t complain too much because free stuff! On the other hand, man, they are releasing this content fast and furious.

You could argue they’re providing content on the basis it’s something you are interested in picking up, so you don’t have to buy it all. And I agree, I’ve only purchased one game pack out of the four (going on five) packs they’ve released. Well, plus the first expansion. So the upcoming expansion will make the second expansion for the game this year.

At $39 for each expansion, $10 for stuff packs, and $20 for game packs, this is not a cheap game series to follow.

Man. That’s a lot of DLC in such a short time. I just don’t know.

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging

#Blaugust Day 8 — TGTCML: Blogging at Sygnus.org

This is part of the Blaugust series!

Sygnus.org back when it was a hub site and not a blog.
Sygnus.org back when it was a hub site and not a blog.

This short series of The Game That Changed My Life (TGTCML) leads from the discovery of my first JRPG and traces all the way up to my current blog, Sygnus.org. Sygnus.org is a domain I registered in 2001, back when I bought my first website hosting package and moved away from free-hosted sites.

It was such an exciting time to own your own domain! The prices of domains were just starting to drop (they used to be super expensive), and I wanted a place to connect my forums, play by email community, FFIV fan site, personal web projects and anything else that I created. Sygnus.org, named after a fantasy element in my writing, became that hub page, but rarely served as much more than that.

Over the years, I’ve tried to break into blogging over and over again. I’ve made creative blogs, writing blogs, webcomic blogs, random blogs. I even tried blogging around the ebooks I published. But none of it seemed to stick, gain much traction or attention and I ended up letting the blogs fall by the wayside.

This is not the first time I installed WordPress on Sygnus.org. I don’t even remember the name of the blog, but it was another fail, and I quit blogging on WordPress for a while. I gravitated to Tumblr a bit, and found some success in blogging at my White Charr and Snaff Savant Guild Wars 2 fan Tumblrs. Though I fell out of the GW2 fandom, I learned a bit about what it takes to connect to a fan community from that experience.

I have no idea what nudged me back into blogging at Sygnus.org, or why it stuck this time, but I re-launched the WordPress blog on January 16, 2014. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to focus on, so I just left it wide open as a gaming and geek blog. As it started to gravitate more toward gaming than other topics, I decided to give it a new name: Clean Casuals.

At first, I considered moving the blog to a new domain (I do own cleancasuals.com), but I saw that would take a lot of work, and Google search results seem to favor my 14-year-old Sygnus.org domain. So, even though the domain does not match the blog name, I’ve left it as it is. It’s funny, though, that in letting the blog remain on Sygnus.org, it is by extension connecting it back to that first JRPG discovery and all the artistic legacy that came before it.

So maybe, in the end, that’s just fine.

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging, Gaming

#Blaugust Day 7 — TGTCML: Best Friends, Roleplay and Webcomics

This is part of the Blaugust series!

In the previous post, I talked about how I posted my FFIV fan fiction online back in 1998, and created a small web community through forums and play by email. The interesting thing is that I’m still in touch with some of the people who wrote and RPed with us from that old community, even if the base of the community has long went its own way. In fact, it was through the email list that I met my long-time best friend, Syntyche.

She was first to email me – but that’s not unusual seeing she’s an extrovert with the ability to much  more easily make friends. We discovered we both had a long-time love of the SNES version FFII/FFIV, and we both actually wrote our own versions of fanfiction for the game in the past. We started to RP together on the email list, having our characters meet, and eventually becoming friends through the game.

Then we started IMing outside of the email list and forums. Then IMing turned to creative idea sharing. Then it turned to full-out RP sessions.

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Celebrating Wayrift’s 10th Anniversary in 2012!

Syn is a darn good world builder and DM. She knows how to set the stage and how to juggle not just many interesting characters, but also many NPCs that have the potential for growth. She also writes bad guys, which is something I can’t do well. We started RPing about 14-15 years ago. We still RP in the same world with many of the same characters (when she doesn’t kill them off) even today.

She’s also probably going to complain that I blogged this about her. >:)

Of course, me being a creative type, I used to joke that our RPs would make a good webcomic, since they were already in a script format. Then jokes became an actual webcomic with a domain name and everything: Wayrift. I also began working on several other creative web projects, such as Dreigiau (NaNoWriMo) and Shimmer (currently discontinued). In order to keep all these organized, I picked up the domain Sygnus.org and it acted as a hub site to all my projects.

During this time, blogs were just starting to appear – I remember my first one being a LiveJournal. I didn’t blog a whole lot because I didn’t really feel I had a lot to share. But when WordPress started popping up, I was curious and dabbled in that a bit, too. This, of course, led to other things.

To Be Continued…

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging, Gaming, Writing

#Blaugust Day 6 — TGTCML: Discovering the Internet

This is part of the Blaugust series!

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Obviously not drawn in 1998.

In my previous post, I talked about how, as a teen, I began writing a fan fiction of my favorite game, Final Fantasy II/IV, before I even knew what the Internet was. Once I discovered the Internet, a whole new, wild world opened up before me. For starters, I had access to information I never had before, such as the fact that the characters in FFIV had last names! Wow! (No, seriously, we didn’t get that information in the US version…)

But the most important thing the Internet provided me with was a platform to share my writing, back before there were blogs or content management systems or anything like we use now. I taught myself to code rudimentary HTML, enough to create those oldskool pages with the midi music, animated images, and scrolling text. You know the kind, right?

Okay, so maybe my sites weren’t so garish. I hope?

I had a number of Geocities accounts, which allowed me to design and post webpages for free on the Internet. I soon realized the potential in this as a writer, and in 1998, I created a site that housed my FFIV fanfic, Coming of the Darkstar (warning: old writing needs editing). I took the old hand-written pages and painstakingly began to type them into HTML format using the WebTV we had at the time (still no computer in my house, but at least we had Internet!). The original story wasn’t finished, however, and I pushed to get it done over winter vacation in 2000.

Note, this story has been edited and re-written several times, so it’s not the exact original hand-written fanfic of old. I still need to give it another good editing now that it’s been several years not having read through it.

During the early years of online fan fiction writing, there weren’t a massive number of fan pieces out there for FFIV (or in general). This was due to the fact that you almost had to know HTML to put together your own site back then. So, anyone who did this kind of thing ended up getting quite a bit of attention. It was even more rare to find an online fantasy web novel at the time, so Darkstar drew a bit of a crowd. And as a young adult writer, it was great!

I tapped into my audience by creating forums and a role play email list (don’t see these much anymore). This was the foundation for what eventually became Sygnus.org.

-To Be Continued-

Posted in Blaugust, Gaming

#Blaugust Day 5 — TGTCML: Writing Fanfic Before it Existed

This is part of the Blaugust series!

nintendopowerIn yesterday’s post, I wrote about my teenage discovery of JRPGs through the SNES version of Final Fantasy II/IV. So, what’s a creative kid-turned-FFIV-fan to do back at a time when there were no smartphones, no tablets, not a single computer in the house, before Windows 95 existed, and the Internet wasn’t even something I could have imagined?

Well, write fan fiction before I ever knew that something called “fanfic” existed!

I was caught up on the ending of FFIV, really torn at the thought that these two brothers who had fought against each other, and found each other, were now going to be separated for good.

No! I thought, like so many future fanfiction writers of any fandom. This was not the way the story should end! 

So, I sat down and put my pencil to many loose-leaf pieces of wide rule notebook paper and started writing a sequel! Yes. I wrote my first fan fiction long-hand, and I actually still have that draft in a folder in a box under my bed.

There was no Internet to look up game information, fan art, other stories… or blogs to share this creation in. I was just a silly kid who collected what little I could get my hands on about my favorite game, the pictured Nintendo Power Magazine issue included.

There was also no outside influence on the story and the characters I began to develop, some who I began to expand upon from what little I saw of them in the game. While FFIV was awesome for its time, it has nothing on newer JRPGs in the way of deep character development. However, it was this very thing that provided a canvas for young fans like myself to come in and make our own explorations of:  What happened next? Who exactly is this character when they take off their armor? How do they fit into the world of the Blue Planet? And what happened to those Lunars and their flying whales anyhow?

It wasn’t until many years later, when I went to college and discovered the Internet for the first time (1997?) that I realized there was something called “fanfic” and I wasn’t the only one who wrote such things. However, during that time, there was no Fanfiction.net or Archive of Our Own. But there was a thing called Geocities

-To Be Continued-

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging, Gaming

#Blaugust Day 4 — The Game That Changed My Life (TGTCML)

snesffii

This is part of the Blaugust series!

This has been such an integral part of my creative life, but I realized that I have never once put this all down in writing nor told this full story. So I’ve decided to use Blaugust as a time to talk about The Game That Changed My Life (furthermore known as TGTCML).

The game that changed my life happened the summer of 1992, when my younger sister and I first rented a game called Final Fantasy II for the SNES. This is now better known as Final Fantasy IV, but at the time, we knew nothing of Japanese game development, etc. etc. etc.

The summer of 1992 was a good summer. I was 14 years old, and had landed an almost full-time summer job babysitting neighbor kids just down the road. Yeah, looking back on it, I was way too young for that kind of job. But the kids were behaved, the pay was good, and it only lasted a few weeks overall.

What it did give me was the financial freedom to buy the coolest new game system at the time, the Super Nintendo. I grew up a Nintendo fan-kid. I fell in love with Super Mario Bros. the first time I picked up a controller at my cousin’s house. While I had dabbled with RPG games like the original Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior, it was really Super Mario World that I wanted on the SNES.

Back then, my parents would go to the local rental shop at our Pharmor and pick up the cheapie movie rentals. They always let us rent one video game for 99 cents, and the very first one we chose for the SNES happened to be Final Fantasy II.

We’d never played a real JRPG with a full storyline and characters we could care about. We never even knew that kind of thing existed in video games. What proceeded to happen was love at first sight and a lot of this:

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I mean, we went from a cool story about a Dark Knight who went up on a mystical mountain, turned into a Paladin, and ended up riding a whale to the moon to meet an alien race! Heck yeah!

Sadly, buying the system took all the money I had saved, and buying games for us was not something my parents did very often, so my sister and I worked tirelessly to save up recycle money and our tiny bit of allowance for months before buying FFII in November that year. I remember we bought it for over $60 – no joke – brand new at Lowes of all places!

My sister and I played that game over and over and over again. Like the good books and movies of our childhood, this became a part of my young-teen years. Only a few years before that, I’d discovered the world of fantasy fiction through accidentally reading The Hobbit and then devouring The Lord of the Rings. Also, just a note, 1992 was years before the Internet existed for me! So, FFII was just the right game to not just introduce me to JRPG gaming, but into a new sort of fandom I never expected to find.

To Be Continued! 

Impromptu Writing Prompt: Do you have a game you feel changed your life? Blaugust about it! 

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging

#Blaugust Day 3 — A Writing Prompt: What Do I Get Out of This?

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This is part of the Blaugust series!

Prompt:

What are you hoping to get out of Blaugust this year?

I feel that writing consistently every day really has its own intrinsic rewards. I’ve learned from years of NaNoWriMo that the more you push yourself to write habitually, even on days when you feel you’re only spewing words at the screen, the easier it is to write and the faster writing comes. It’s not something that happens over night… it’s something that comes with time and practice.

Yes! You can practice writing/blogging! It’s honestly just like any other skill. I’ve seen the effects it can have in novel writing, so I know that it can do some good for the average (and above average) bloggers, too.

The other thing I hoped to get out of Blaugust is a bit more exposure for this side blog. It is my “micro blog,” but it’s a bit of an experiment for me as well. I wanted to see if a WordPress based micro blog could be just as “successful” as a Tumblr-based micro blog. The verdict is still out on this, but posting more content here never hurts!

So far, I’ve certainly seen an uptick in folks stopping by and commenting. It’s always a pleasant thing to hear feedback on my blog rambling! 🙂

Hope you’re having a good Blaugust so far, too.

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging

#Blaugust Day 2 — I Built a Desk

This is part of the Blaugust series!

Last week, I finally broke down and decided to buy a new computer desk for my front room. I went through all the different desks, reading reviews on Amazon, and decided on this desk in particular. I had no idea that it was so large it needed to be delivered in two parts!

The UPS man was nice enough to bring things in for me. Then he asked if I would be putting this together on my own. When I told him I would, he looked at me, then he looked at the box (which is nearly as tall as me) and kinda laughed out a “Good Luck!”

Well, earlier this week, I decided to tackle the project! I’ve put plenty of stuff together over the years. How difficult could it be, right?

Well… It took me about 4 hours between putting up new blinds and curtains and building the desk. But I got it done!

Continue reading “#Blaugust Day 2 — I Built a Desk”

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging

#Blaugust Day 1 – Blogging Blaugust

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My very first post for Blaugust 2015.

Last year, I didn’t know about Blaugust until it was well under way. Sad times! But I also wasn’t as involved with the blogging community as I am this year. Good times!

The idea behind Blaugust feels a lot like NaNoWriMo, except there’s not a word count and the goal is to write one post every day of the month of August.

It’s similar to NaNoWriMo because it challenges you to write consistently every day. I’m also going to approach it in an on-the-fly style, much like I do my NaNos. Gonna try to queue up blog posts when ideas come to me… because I know it’s the weekends I’ll have the most trouble with. Just tend to ignore blogging on the weekends for the most part. 🙂

So here’s the first post, wishing everyone blogging along with me good luck!