Friday, July 21, 2017

Final week of preliminary voting for meaningless awards that I nonetheless really want your vote for

Recap: This is about annual Kim Possible fanfic awards.

This year there are a lot of nominations, to the point that it makes sense to cut them down before holding a final vote.  As such, right now there are polls set up where you can vote for up to five things you think belong in the final five.

Then the finalists will eventually be in a more standard "one person one vote" election where the most votes wins.

Links to all of the polls can be found here.  If you're wondering what all of the not-my-stuff stuff is, I rounded up every work or author that has been nominated, which covers all but three categories, in this thread.  The "Find"/"Search this Page" function is your friend.

Here are direct links (not accidental "Do you really want to leave Deviant Art?" links) to the polls in which my work or myself is a nominee.  Please vote for my work/me if you deem it/me worthy.

2) Best Original Character: Leela Place Possible - Being More Than a Simulacrum
3) Best Minor Character: Joss Possible - Being more than a Simulacrum
6) Best Alternate Universe: Life After
14) Best Action/Adventure: Being More than A Simulacrum
18) Best Unlikely/Unique Story: Life After
19) Best Novel-Sized Story: Being More Than Simulacrum
25) Best Reviewer: I strongly recommend GerbilHunter and HopefulHuskey, they're far from the only good ones, but they're the only ones that make me want to go out of my way to recommend them.
27) Kimmunity Achievement Award: chris the cynic
28) Best Story Overall: Forgotten Seeds by chris the cynic
29) Best Writer: chris the cynic

If best series were also being winnowed I'd have a recommendation for that too.  Those three are the only ones I feel strongly enough about to be promoting someone else.

To avoid a wall of blue I decided not to link to the stories above, but here are the ones in contention:
* * *
I only thought to do this post, in spite of actually intending to do a one week notice post, because it was pointed out by the person in charge that there's one week left and thus the polls linked to above "will close on July 27th at midnight."  (I'm not entirely sure which time zone.)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Monthly Financial Update

Ok, so, things are bad.

Explanation of how they got that way in the next section, if you want numbers skip to the section after, if you want just numbers skip to the last section.

* * *

I think it's like this, six months ago I was planning on trying to turn things around in a number of ways and some of that involved buying stuff for home improvement, food storage, and other things.

Five months ago, before any of the stuff had even arrived (I ordered online), I broke my ankle in three places while taking the first real steps toward cleaning up the house as part of the whole "turn things around" initiative.

As in, after much thought over the optimal order to do things in, I figured out that "move these flattened cardboard boxes downstairs for storage" was the best thing to start with, and it was while doing that that I fell down the stairs and great injury and agony ensued.  While other people might fall halfway down the stairs, I went all the way from the landing (flat area at the top of the stairs, ground floor level) right down to the basement stairs.

So that fucked up all plans, including the ones involved in paying for the stuff I'd bought for the "turn things around" initiative.  Interest deferred for six months and all that.

From there, for three months or so, I languished and everything was terrible and I couldn't do much of anything but lay on the floor with my ankle elevated and play video games on a console.  (First time in my life owning a console, by the way.)

I . . . kind of got financially reckless in the name of preserving my sanity (by buying things with which to preserve my sanity.)  There might have also been some purchases related to being able to survive physically, I don't really remember though.  Again, interest deferred for six months.

And there are the usual non-monthlies, and also when my computer was replaced (it's been repaired at least once since then, but this is definitely the replacement) the warranty didn't give me enough money to buy the replacement (the perils of buying something on sale when the warranty is for purchase price) so I had to pay the difference, and I had to pay to back it up, and I had to pay for an external hard drive on which to put the back up, and I think there was other stuff too.  That also had deferred interest, but for way longer than six months.  It, however, happens to run out exactly when all the other stuff is.


* * *


Right now I'm agonizing over whether or not to buy new glasses because I really want to but if I do I'll fall short on the regular monthly expenses that I'm supposed to be able to cover, God damn it.

I don't even know what fucking happened there.  The SSA cutting me back to a level I can't live on only accounts for the non-monthly expenses being nice little disasters.

Speaking of, $288 is over due for one of those.

Put together that past due thing, the regular expenses I can't afford, and the stuff that I need to pay off by the end of the month to avoid retroactive interest, and it comes out to $663.55 I need this month.

Next month taxes are due and I really fucking need to pay them on time this time.  Taxes in themselves are less than $20 shy of the entire total I just listed for this month.  Put everything together and it's $986.30

The month after things go down to $465.97, and then everything goes to shit, but not quite as badly as I expected because for some reason I got months swapped when making my chart of all this and thought taxes were due then.

Anyway, that's six month stuff, computer stuff, and . . . I thought there was something else.  Probably my putting taxes in the wrong month or something.  Comes out to $1815.54

And then, just when all of the deferred time bomb shit winds down, that's when taxes and insurance are due in the same month: $954.23.

It's all Hell and I don't see any viable way through.


* * *

Just numbers.

Need but do not have:
This month -  $663.55
August         -  $986.30
September  -  $465.97
October       - $1815.54
November   - $954.23

Total: $4,885.59

Conclusion: I'm completely and utterly fucked.

Do recall that you can donate to me via Paypal, upper right hand corner.  Unless you have a Paypal account and are using money from that account (i.e. not a credit card), in that case it's actually a lot better for me if you log into Paypal then use the "Send Money" feature with my email address: cpw [at] maine [dot] rr [dot] com (that way Paypal gives me the full amount.)

Friday, July 14, 2017

I'm alive

Not much to report beyond the fact that I am, indeed, alive.

I kind of wanted some sort of lighter post before the monthly finance post tomorrow, but that was not to be.  That's going to have a fair amount on why I'm too god damned stressed out to function properly.

If it weren't for money, everything would be wonderful, ankle's mostly mended, new shoes are still being broken in but I think I've made the necessary adjustments to get them to fit my non-shoe-shaped feet without giving me blisters or rubbing anything raw.  A lot more support than the old ones, not falling apart, no holes through the soles, some of the support is ankle support, so on, so forth.

I've got the materials to fabricate a fair amount of the stuff I've wanted to make.  I've got the time to write.

I'm just so money-stressed I can barely function enough to do much of anything.

So, like I said, the lighter post didn't happen, but I am alive and most things aren't horrible.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I'm sorry.

I've been distracted and stressed the fuck out and tired and just . . . out of it.  I don't even know when the last time was I actually wrote something.  I mean, easy to check when I moved something over here, but that doesn't tell the real story.  What I posted yesterday was actually written a month ago.

I'm not making content.  Whatever brought you here, I'm not providing it.

Sometimes I just want to give up on everything.

I'm likely going to go a bit dark at least through the coming weekend, and even after the reason for that passes I have no idea when, if ever, I'll be content-making again.

I'm sorry.

I want to share stories that are fun, or funny, or heartwarming, or scathing critiques of the meeting of bad writing and bad theology, or nice, or good, or . . . existing.

I want to write things you'll want to read.  And I'm not.  And I'm sorry.

Part of me wants to turn this post on its ear and beg for money again, and I'm sorry about that too.

Lately I've had more posts about not having money than I have about anything I actually fucking want to have posts about.  And I know that most everyone here is broke too.  And I feel like a sleazy asshole.  Yet I do it anyway.

I'm sorry about that too.

I'm sorry about everything.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A bow that will not easily miss

This will only make sense if you read Ana Mardoll's Rabadash's Ride and realize that I'll be reworking that into one of the varied stories bashed into The Horse and His Boy but rewritten so that it doesn't use the canon characters.  Thus I have a pre-Jadis human queen of Narnia in the role filled by Susan in that version.  Thus I made up the name Ravenwit.

-

The following winter Queen Ravenwit met with Father Christmas, to give up the bow she'd used since her teenage years.

"Are you sure?" he asked her.

"Whenever I try to use it, in spite of all the positive memories it was a part of, I just think about the day when--"

"I understand," he said, and took the offered bow.

"Thank you for not making me explain," Raven said.

"To have been with you so long, in such magical places," Father Christmas said, as he examined the bow, "it has picked up much from your skill. It will not easily miss."

"And so should be given to one who can be trusted to use it responsibly and is in dire need that is too immediate to allow for proper training," she said. "I trust you will make sure it eventually finds its way into hands into such a person."

"I will, my queen," he said, then bowed, boarded his sleigh, and rode off.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

I want to be able to recommend Starlight Vega, but . . .

So a while ago I was really, really in the mood to play a game with a lesbian protagonist and apparently:
Badass [space marine]/[normal marine]/[secret agent]/[person in over their head but rising to the challenge]/[whatever] shoots/slices/whatever's monsters/bad-guys [while still making time to go out with her girlfriend]/[so she can go home to her girlfriend]/[alongside her girlfriend]/[to save her girlfriend]/[while her girlfriend talks her through things from mission control].
is something no one's ever tried because . . . bwha?

I note that by a cunning use of "/" I have suggested, not including the "[whatever]"s, 80 basic formulas which could each be used to make hundreds of distinct mainstream games that go out on precisely zero limbs.

The closest we have is the first game, and first game only, of the Tomb Raider reboot.  It's ambiguous, but it's so very close to being definite.  Too close, apparently, for the publishers, since they made a tie-in comic with the explicit purpose of sinking that ship and then are emphatic in their lack of acknowledging Lara's love interest in the sequel.  As in, the one and only mention is along the lines of
"What about Sam?"
"We're not going there!"
And so, being in this mood to play a game but finding little, I looked at stuff not in my genres.  I looked for anything.  Which pointed me to visual novels, and thus I encountered Starlight Vega.

If you have Steam, it's at 40% off because of the Fourth of July Sale.  And like I said, I want to recommend it.  It has great art, there are parts that are cute, heartwarming, so forth, it's emphatically not just having f/f relations just to show boobs, nor is it something that throws in just a token female romance option, while there are things that are superficially similar the story is different from pretty much anything else I've seen, and . . . I want to be able to recommend it:

BUT

A list won't do, let's take things in order.

The names that matter are all music based, but I don't think there's anything to read into that, I only mention because I'm about to introduce Aria and Melody.

At the start of the game you, Aria, show up at your dead grandfather's house and move in with your mom, while your best friend Melody helps with the moving and spends the night.

Apparently you're a skittish while Melody is into ghosts and the occult and magic and so forth but so far has yet to encounter any such things so she's been limited to mundane books on the matter and fiction.

We first see the lack of editing in how the story starts or doesn't start, depending on your choices.

You hear a feminine laugh three times which wouldn't be a problem with only women in the house except for the fact that it's definitely not coming from either Melody or your mom.

You decide once is imagination, twice is paranoia, three times is enemy action.  And jump into--wait, where the hell did that giant tome Melody is hugging in her sleep come from?

So the two of you investigate and there's a stone on a podium in a room that wasn't there before.  Don't touch the stone and the story ends, the mysterious stuff disappears, Melody is mind whammied into not remembering any of it, done.

Which seems ok if that's all you've done but playing the game more will reveal:
  • The only one with cause to laugh wasn't female and certainly wasn't sultry.
  • The sultry female was emphatically not laughing.
  • The one who has power to do stuff would prefer that you don't touch the stone while Melody does keep the book so this really should have no fucking chance of short circuiting the story
  • No part of this makes sense in context.
Do touch the stone and you get to meet Lyria.  She's been smacked by retrograde amnesia that, honestly, probably does does make sense in context.  In all likelihood the bad guy used some magic or other to suppress her pertinent memories, but it's never really explained.

This will set up the two primary paths.

Melody is your best friend who is secretly in love with you, romance option 1.
Lyria is a --

* * *

Ok, back to the lack of editing.  Lyria says that only ignorant humans refer to her home planet of Vega as "The Demon Realm".  You'll eventually meet the "Queen of the Demon Realm" who is neither human nor ignorant.  And as the story progresses it'll be "demon this" and "demon that" we'll find out that the inhabitants of Vega self identify as demon because by the time the writer got to that point in the story the fact that they're not demons, just demonized, had apparently been tossed out entirely and the writer couldn't be bothered to go back and make the early parts fit.

So when you meet her Lyria is not a demon, just an alien with horns and a tail who's species was mislabeled as demons in order to stir up hate against them and eventually drive them from earth and cut off communications between the two planets.

By the end she's a demon.  Demon, demon, demon.

* * *

Melody is your best friend who is secretly in love with you.  Romance option 1.
Lyria is a demon you freed from a 50 year imprisonment in a stone, but in so doing magically bonded to you.  Romance option 2.

Each of them will instantly be mistrustful and painfully jealous of the other.

The most benign manifestation is that Melody would be interested in studying a magical tome regardless, but she'll push herself to the point that she's not doing the much in the way of sleeping or eating in hopes of finding a way to break the magical bond and thus eliminating any reason for Lyria to be near you.

Melody is too shy to tell you that she's in love with you.  Lyria is making it impossible to miss that she's romantically attracted.  Melody wears modest clothes.  Lyria does not.

You have your options.  How do you decide?

Well, kindness coins.

As in, you can pursue Melody, spending time with her over Lyria when given the chance, and end up irrevocably with Lyria just on the strength of not being an asshole.  (Melody, to her credit, will take it well.)  Insert enough kindness coins, sexual relationship pops out.

This is all manner of fucked up, but still, such is life: fiction falls back on the old established ways no matter how toxic and unrealistic they may be.  Especially in relationship sims.

There's also the idea that poly relationships can't exist, that love means being horrifically jealous of anyone the object of your affection spends time with, the idea that one could possibly like two people simultaneously provokes a response of "Wow! What a sl-" and . . . wait, let's stick with that last one.

You can only even say you like two people if you've unlocked the "Harem route" which is a joke ending that pushes harder on the no-poly front before ending on a triumphant: "If there are ever more than two people in a relationship, it's because there's a competition going on to see who will finally win and advance to the 'two person relationship' stage while leaving the others behind."

* * *

And . . . fucking editing.

So many examples, but here's one:

The story attempts a "not what it looks like" and you hear these lines:
unknown: "...Do what you came here for..."
Lyria: "...What do you expect? We're never..."
unknown: "...Then you'd rather..."
Lyria: "Hmph! I couldn't care less about her... she doesn't..."
unknown: "We have to do it now!"
Lyria: "The humans... I don't care about them anymore. Aria..."
unknown: "Just glamour her into submission."
Later on, if you pick the right path, you'll get to hear the whole conversation, and it very definitely is the exact same conversation, except somehow you've slid into a parallel universe where almost none of what you heard was said at all, nor was anything close to it.

Instead of filling in the blanks to place the nine fragments you heard into their real context, it throws out everything but the last line and so you're left with no fucking clue what to do with the rest of it.

Well, that's not quite right.  The second and third lines are indecipherable.  There's just not enough there.  The rest can be worked with.  And you can figure out enough to learn that not only do the words themselves not appear in what's supposed to be the full conversation, neither do any of the concepts they're referring to.

The first line, for example, "Do what you came here for . . ." is pretty easy to work out.

Mind you it brings us to another moment of "Couldn't you fucking edit this?"

Anyway, at this point in the game Lyria's memory has been returning but she has yet to remember how she got to earth.  Her sister has contacted her via an intermediary and told her a story.  The story is wrong, but Lyria believes it.

Trouble is, even though there was only ever one story from one source with one version, the game never decided what the fuck that story was.  Maybe it would have been better if sixty different people had contacted her and each told her their own personal theory because then it would explain how what Lyria was told ended up being so all over the place and inconsistent.

Anyway, in certain scenes it is indicated or stated outright that Lyria was told she came to earth on a mission to get the magical tome and a human to read/translate/transliterate it.  (Magical beings can't read it, nor can they touch it without harm.)

In other scenes she was told nothing of the sort, and the game seems to prefer those other versions, but that's pretty much the only thing that that the first line could be referring to.

Nothing even remotely related to that comes up in the full conversation.

Ditto for the other stuff you can work out.

Honestly, they'd have been better off if they'd dropped the whole "not what it looks like" "here have context" and had the two things be completely unrelated.  Instead they kept the last overheard line and what happened after so that there could be no doubt that these two bits of text are meant to refer to the same exact conversation.


* * *

Scherza, Lyria's sister, was a stretch goal for the project that funded the whole thing and it . . . well it's probably not a coincidence that it's the thing that finally manages to collapse the flaming wreckage making up what would usually be world-building into complete incomprehensibility.

And yet . . . I want to be able to recommend this game.

I think it gave me an even bigger dose of "What the fuck?" when I looked into the code and saw:
(Paraphrasing) We need an if-statement here, because otherwise --more often than not-- this won't make sense more often

Which was completely true.  The trouble was that that comment had not been acted upon in any way, not only was there no if-statement, what followed was not revised in such a way it would make sense.  The result was that for that part of the script if it made sense it was more a result of you having randomly selected the only path (which was also the most unlikely path) than any kind of craft on the part of the game designers.

Usually, though, things didn't make sense regardless of what led up to them because everything was at odds with everything else.

And yet, I want to be able to recommend this game.

It has so much potential, but it's all fucked over.

But the modders can fix it, right?

Well, no.  There's no mod community or mod support, the engine packages all assets into a single file meaning the simplest way to fix things would involve replacing that file which would have you distributing everything that makes the game the game, which is indistinguishable from piracy.

There are more complex solutions imaginable, and alluring considering that the engine is actually very straightforward and fixing fucking everything would be a breeze.

A breeze that required some artistic licence, though.

It's easy enough to tweak here and there to remove or work around problematic elements when the underlying structure is there, and there there's definitely enough there to see the structure that should exist most of the time, but Scherza's route is truly mangled.

It's broken into 15 sections, two are missing entirely, and in the rest there are several references to content that was either cut out or never written in the first place.

Throughout there's a mechanic that keeps a tally so if, at the end, the tally is under or equal to a certain number you get one ending and if it is over you get another.  Trouble is, the stripped/[never inserted in the first place] content was where the deciding additions to the tally would be.  It's impossible to go over.

There was very clearly a last minute change from making a degree of sense to making no sense at all, but the the indication of the original sense making is the internal code equivalent of a dead link.

So on, so forth.

So choices would have to be made beyond just easy ones like, "Do I want to be virulently anti-poly or not?" but it's totally salvageable if you just rewrite a bunch of it, notably the shit parts.

And yet . . .