State of the Game

Since I was asked, I'll mention it in some detail here:
I'm currently on the third draft of a game called Cloak and Dagger, which is my spy-genre game.

I'm currently putting together the first draft of the Advanced Fox Magic game, which will go into a lot of detail concerning the kitsune, but also deals with coyotes in North America, foxes in Europe, shape shifters in China, and foxes in Korea.  I'll be touching on the shin in China, the faie in Europe, and the manitou in North America as well.  If things go well, I'll also be dealing with magic in these different regions as well.  The book will also allow yokai of various sorts as PCs - including the okami, bakeneko, tanuki, and tengu.  The tanuki are going to be... fun... to write.  >.<

I'm working on the second draft of Obake, a game inspired by Pokemon - where I decided to do some serious world building to look at the implications of having almost everything be 'alive' in a sense, and what happens when these creatures react to human activity.  When you wage war, and thousands die, how does the world itself react to that?  Answer?  By almost wiping out all of humanity across two continents.  >.>

I'm sitting on a game called Trionfi, and deciding how to tackle it.  I wrote a lot of mechanics for it, then decided that the mechanics don't work.  I'll need to rip them out, remove any indication that these mechanics exist, and start fresh.

I'm sitting on a game called Titanomachy, and trying to decide how to deal with that.  This is going to need a bit more world building to get done, I've got the basic concept, but really need to get some outside help to expand on it.  I'm also sitting on a similar game that I tried to do for Pathfinder, but it looks like it won't work.  I might have to move that to the same engine as well.

I'm working on a setting for a friend of mine, and considering how to expand on the concepts there as well.

Finally, tying this all together, I'm modifying the Story Point System.  I've looked it over, and removed the parts which don't work, while tweaking other parts.  Play style is exactly the same, but the use of attributes and modifiers has changed, to make the game faster and much smoother.  Playtesting on it has gone very well, so I'm happy.  I've written some about it on my Fool's Moon blog over on the company web site.

I still exist!

For those wondering, yes,I still exist.  I'm still following LJ every day.  I just tend to post everything over on FaceBook these days.  I also have a gamer blog over on Fool's Moon, where I talk about the work I'm doing, and my siblings still have their blog which they use infrequently.  I've been doing a lot of gaming lately, running a Gossamer and Shadow game on Fridays, a Red Box D&D game on Mondays, and playing Pathfinder on Wednesdays.  I'm playtesting some new games I'm writing off and on as well.

If you want to get in touch with me, please do - I enjoy talking with people, and don't mind chatting.  You can snag me on FB, or you can hit me up on Google Hangouts.  My sister's dominating Skype - though I do have a Skype account - and if you want to talk to us on Skype, it's easily possible.

In other news, I'm also now registered with the Shinto shrine outside of Seattle, and even have a personal shrine in my house.  I had art made for it, and the pictures look lovely - I had them framed professionally, with hinges so the three pieces of art can fold like a screen to surround the art itself.

Hmm.  Let's make this interesting.  I'll do an "ask me anything", and if you drop me a question, I'll do my best to answer it.  :)

My personal shrine to Ame no Uzume no Mikoto

Ame no Uzume no Mikoto
I hired an artist last year to begin work on some art for me.  Now that it's done, I've had it framed and made it a part of my personal shrine.  The pictures involve Ame no Uzume no Mikoto, dancing before the cave of Amaterasu Omikami.  The three pictures represent night, dawn, and day, and her various states of dress.  In the story, she winds up undressing as part of the dance, to get the other kami riled up, drawing Amaterasu Okami's attention and getting her to come out of her cave, allowing the sun to shine down once more.  The artwork is lovely, and done by Anticia (link is to her Etsy page).  She's been a joy to interact with, and went far beyond the call of duty in making these pictures.

From FB: Zombies and Bad Ends.

I recently read an article on io9, which discussed a few movies whose endings were changed for the worst. Two of the movies had sort of downer endings, and I thought about this some, and wondered what kind of movie I could make which had a real gut-wrenching ending, but would still be a good movie - and whether or not it would sell.

So, the one that came to mind was a zombie apocalypse movie. Through the movie, a group of survivors struggle against the zombie hordes. It is presumed humanity is pretty screwed, and the number of survivors is actually really low. As the movie goes on, person after person is killed or turned, and we eventually get to the final two - a couple who we've been rooting for the entire film. They're caught in a really bad place, and are gunning down the hordes in a desperate act of survival. Once the last zombie is killed, and they have a moment's peace, they notice one of them has been bit, and the infection is spreading.

I came up with two ending scenarios...
1) The one who wasn't bit has a final farewell, kills the other, and realizing they're all alone now, decides to kill themselves. The movie ends there.

2) The one who isn't bit doesn't want to be alone, and doesn't want to kill the other. They hold the infected partner through their final moments of transformation - then lets the partner bite them, turning them into a zombie as well. The movie ends there.

So... if you had the choice, which ending would you be willing to sit through?

Personally, I wonder - if the movie was designed really well, with solid acting, good special effects, and a moving soundtrack... would it sell?

Superman and Captain America

Cat heard my post over on io9, and said I should post this here.  Here I go:

I think Superman and Captain America are mirrors, but I think that the best stories that involve Superman aren't the ones where he's isolated. I think the best ones are when he is around those he cares about, and when he is a part of society. The "FOREVER ALONE" Superman just... isn't that interesting.

A good Superman story is one where he's got Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, his parents, and his job, where you can take a look at the people who support his human side, and help to keep his moral compass strong. He knows these people, he cares for these people, and by extension, he cares about the human race as a whole. They're his touchstones, and it is the interplay between Clark Kent and these people that we see how he observes the human race.

You can put in a contrast - and that is good - there are some things he simply cannot do, and cannot be a part of, and he can feel that bit of isolation there, and the story can show us this - the 'he is one of them... but not quite." That's where you introduce that little bit of the alien side of things, showing that, in some ways, there's a glass ceiling, and he'll never be able to push through it and be fully "human".

It can remind us that he's, in essence, a warden of humanity, he protects the human race, and has that degree of separation from the human race, but is still a part of the human race and has empathy with it.

People say the story of Superman is hard to write, and I call bull on that. The fact is, the crisis of Superman is never will he win - he's going to win, that's never the issue, and trying to make it the issue makes for a lame story. The point is can he save us, and at what cost?

The Story of Superman is about self-sacrifice. He has all these abilities, but he holds back on using them, because they are dangerous to those around him. He has to be careful, he has to always be aware of his environment, and of the damage he might do if he lets his focus slip. When he's battling a threat, he has to measure his powers against that threat, so he doesn't go too far. If the bad guy's too powerful, he has to ensure that he measures what he can do, and what the enemy can do, against the world around him.

And, I think, that was the failing of Man of Steel. The Superman of that movie did not measure his powers against his environment, and did not measure the threat of his opponent against the environment. Nothing in that movie really shows how much he cares for the human race, and did not show us the sacrifice he has to make to ensure the peace and safety of humanity.

The classic Superman films (1 and 2), and Superman Returns shows explicitly how much he cares about humanity, and how much he's willing to take that extra effort to protect people from harm. Man of Steel failed to do this, and that was the failing of that movie.


Captain America tells a different story. In Captain America, we have a character who was born and raised to have always been the 'small guy', but who had the courage and the drive to be greater than what he was. The Supersoldier Serum changed him - it made his body match his will. His story is the 'person out of time' - he's got all these abilities, and he has all these ideals, but the world falls short, and he has to cope with it. Everything is a combination of familiar and strange, and it is a world where he feels he doesn't quite fit. Every time he gets comfortable, something happens to remind him that it is not the world he remembers.

Marvel Comics has always been about the personal story, and it is at its best when it plays to that strength. Captain America is awesome, no question, but in spite of this, he will never be able to fit in - there's too many ghosts of his past there - his entire history has been swept away, but it still lingers, and he will remember that always. He remembers a simpler time, and this world is so complex. He remembers a more black and white morality, and this world has so many shades of gray.

I've not seen Winter Soldier yet, but from what I've seen of The First Avenger, and of The Avengers, I think they've got Captain America down cold.


The Rights of the Poor

A discussion about the poor (people on Welfare or Social Assistance).  I've seen people complain about these people living 'above their means', and I have to wonder - what does this mean?  For example, if you're on welfare, is it considered 'living above your means' if you have the following?
1)  A flatscreen TV.
2)  1 or more computers.
3)  1 or more home entertainment systems.
4)  Internet.
5)  A car.
6)  A smartphone.
7) A tablet computer.
8)  The means to eat steak more than once a week.
9)  The means to get good vegetables more than once a week.
10)  A bookshelf full of books.
11)  A music library of CDs.
12)  A video library of DVDs / Blu Rays.
The thing is, I don't see this as 'living above your means' necessarily.  There are all manner of methods of getting any of these things, even if you're poor.  You'll get presents, some companies offer deferred payments for goods, and there's always loaning / exchanging of goods.  To me, being 'poor' doesn't mean you have to live like you're homeless.  You don't need to 'look poor', even if you are poor.  Being 'poor' doesn't mean you're banned from having nice things.
Being poor means being careful with how much you spend.  It means that the first thing you consider is weighing between paying bills and eating.  It means looking ahead at how much you'll have after meeting financial obligations and then deciding between saving ahead for a crisis or actually *enjoying* yourself for a day, knowing you'll have to pay for that later.
Being poor means having to choose between being happy, and being secure, and sometimes that line shifts back and forth.  But when you choose 'happy', sometimes the choice you make lasts longer.  Want a laptop?  You'll need to pay for it over the year, sometimes more, but at least you have your laptop.  People may condemn you for having something 'for people that can afford it', but that "luxury" is a means of getting into contact with people and being a part of society.  The price you pay for it is worth the rewards, even if people think that's "above your means".
It made me angry at one point when someone on Fox News treated having a microwave and a fridge as a 'luxury', and that poor people should be glad they even HAVE those things.  Seriously - a microwave and a fridge is almost a life NECESSITY.  That is NOT a luxury.
Just because you're poor, doesn't mean you shouldn't have things to give your life meaning.  In fact, it is MORE important that the poor have things to give their life definition outside of raw survival.  It is these things which make your life worth living.  If being poor meant 1) work, 2) eat, 3) sleep, 4) repeat, what is the point of living then?  The poor are not cogs in the machines of the rich, nor SHOULD they be.  They are people, and have every right to be happy as anyone else is.  If this means spending a bit of money to see a movie, or to get junk food, or to get REAL food, or to enjoy the internet, so be it.  They're spending security to do it, but the alternative is much worse.
That's my rant for today.
Voodoo Dolly

CanGames 2014

I'll be running two games at CanGames this year.  I'll be using the Cloak and Dagger RPG I've been developing, and the Fox Magic RPG.  This year, I decided I'd make the two games interact to some extent, in a sort of cross-over.

Cloak and Dagger - The Kyoshi Incident I - Intersection
The town of Kyoshi has been abandoned for over thirty years.  Nobody knows why the once-thriving town was left to rot, or what terrible event happened in 1984.  You are a member of the National Police Agency, one of Japan's finest agents, and you have been sent to uncover the mystery of the Kyoshi Incident.  And what's with the damn foxes?

Fox Magic - The Kyoshi Incident II - Intersession
The town of Kyoshi has been abandoned for over thirty years.  Nobody knows why the once-thriving town was left to rot, or what terrible event happened in 1984.  You are a kitsune, one of Japan's guardian spirits, and you have been sent with your den to uncover the mystery of the Kyoshi Incident.  And what's with the government agents?