Short Steampunk Subjects

Positively steamy!

I like things that are short.  Quite a few of my favorite types of media are short: theatrical cartoons, Three Stooges shorts, Aesop’s fables, and Isaac Asimov’s short stories, to name a few.  Curiously enough, my own writing consists mainly of short stories.

I initially kept my short stories to just one side of a page out of sheer habit, but as I write more I am finding myself becoming more comfortable with going beyond that self-imposed arbitrary limit.  Curiously enough, my very first short story came in at 12 pages, which I felt was way too long, so there’s that, too.

There’s just something about quickly getting to the point.  Sure, a one-page story doesn’t leave much room for character development, but it also means that a message can be delivered effectively without getting lost in the rest of the story.  It also leaves armchair psychologists with little room to to find deeper meaning in between the lines.

It may also explain why I enjoy comic books.  In addition to enjoying the exploits of Superman, the Green Lantern Corps and Mega Man each month, I have also taken a liking to the various Steampunk titles currently being printed by Antarctic Press.  In addition to artwork relating to the book’s theme featuring comely lasses, each one has also featured two or three short comic stories featuring the works of Rod Espinosa, Fred Perry, and other creators.

I really enjoy those short comics.  I read them, have a quick laugh or smile, and move on to other things.  But unlike the one-issue comic stories I discussed previously, which are ‘fire and forget,’ those short comics (especially Perry’s) have me wondering about just what happened before and after the story.  How did that Bad Guy end up as a pony?  Who ended up winning the Fairyland Steampocalypse? Just why did Dr. Frankensteam create her Monster?

I also wonder if I am being given glimpses of a bigger tale that has been untold, or are these the scattered pages of a work that is not yet done even in the creator’s mind?  Or perhaps, like myself, all they want to do is make a quick joke or point and move on without having to write a whole book.  I can certainly relate to that!

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An Editor’s Tail

You MUST play this game.

I am the Editor/Voice Guy of Original-Gamer.com and I all but handed in my resignation two weeks ago.  I had become burned out having spent the last two years and change reviewing games, editing and writing articles about games, voicing over videos about games, going to game-related events, and actually having to PLAY a bunch of games.  Video games had become work, and I had become sick of them to the point where even the Wii U announcement during E3 had failed to excite me.  What little joy I could muster from videogames came from playing 3DS titles.  Mighty Switch Force and Final Fantasy Theatrhythm were two recent titles that I had actually enjoyed.

I wanted videogames to be fun again, and so I told OG that I was done.  That was it. Game Over.  No mas.  Bueno, bye.  I would wrap up the games that were currently on my plate and be completely done with the site.  I reconsidered it over the San Japan weekend and decided that I would stick around, but would no longer review games.  This is part of a greater desire to cut back on ‘side projects’ so that I could concentrate on my writing.

I was happy to be getting a break from videogames.  I only had one or two more to finish before clearing my plate of everything that I ‘had’ to play and then I could get back to playing games that I wanted to play.  One evening while chatting, OG mentioned Dust: An Elysian Tail (or simply Dust).  He said that he was enjoying it and that I probably would like it, too.

At first, I wasn’t sure that he was being serious.  OG and I know each other well enough to mess with each other and I thought he was being all “you’ll like it because ITS FURRY LIKE YOU HURR HURR.”  But no, he said: “it is pretty damn good, and it looks amazing,” which is pretty high praise, especially coming from him.  I read up on the game, got excited, went to Ye Olde Electronics Store for a Microsoft-moon-money card and downloaded it the next day.  I was curious to see if it was really as good as he had made it out to be.

It was.  My socks were completely knocked off.  I cannot remember the last time I have been blown away by a game like this, but I should mention that yeah, I have missed out on a lot of excellent games these past two years.  Nearly every moment of Dust has been a joy to play so far: I have been laughing at the dialogue, gritting my teeth as I fight my way through enemies, marveling at the game’s beautiful world as I explore it and enjoying the story.

I think Dust has restored some of my faith in gaming.  Its not that I’ve been playing nothing but bad games as part of my role at Original-Gamer.  Far from it,. I have played games that were fun and that earned high scores for being fun, but they haven’t crossed that line from ‘this is fun’ to ‘this is AMAZING’ the way that Dust has.

Except for being (as far as I know) one of the few mainstream ‘furry’ games to emphasize its story, Dust really isn’t anything new.    It is a 2D hack-and-slash ‘Metroid-vania’ game with RPG elements.  That said, everything in Dust that I have seen so far has been executed very well: the art, animation and music combine to make a beautiful game to see and hear, the voiceovers have been very well done, the gameplay makes me feel like the mighty warrior that Dust is supposed to be, and the story is starting to suck me in.

At a time when everything seems to be recycled, rehashed or rebooted, it makes me feel good to know that a game can still come out of nowhere and move me the way Dust has.  I haven’t finished it yet, but from what I have played so far, I can only hope that Dust ends up being only the first of many Elysian tales that I get to enjoy.

Camping Journal #7 – …And Home Again

Suspect is fuzzy and likes bread and eggs

July 14, 2012, 816 am, at McDonald’s in Spring Branch

-a little sunburned-

What a night.

As if sleeping in the humidity wasn’t difficult enough, I had some visitors at about 2am.  A raccoon came to camp looking for a bite and got  into my food container.  I got up and shooed him away, but not before he got a loaf of bread.  I put the container in my vehicle and resumed trying to sleep.

Not even 15 minutes later, he was back for the cooler.  I didn’t have the presence of mind to get one with a latch, and sure enough, the next thing I know, I’m putting that away and thinking I could forget about breakfast; the fuzzy bastard had eaten the eggs I had packed.

I got up at 7, and started to break camp, a task made slightly easier because I had already put up half my stuff.

And so I here I sit, drinking a cup of coffee at Mickey D’s before heading back home.

It was a fun time, and I learned a few things for next time.  Hopefully my brother or one of my friends can join me next time.

I’ll just be sure to get a cooler with latches this time…and some flip flops.

-ES

Camping Journal #6 – Lights Out

July 14, 2012, just past midnight, in the tent

-sleepy-

It’s time for bed now, and I think that my ‘beta test’ was a success.  Except for a slight sunburn, everything went well.

I don’t know how well the tent will be able to withstand Oklacon, but for South Texas, it seems to do just fine.

Mostly everything was able to fit into the Excelsior without dropping the back seats, and I can leave the table at home next time.

I might need to get a bigger ice chest, but other than that I think I’m ready to go for a 2-night stay.

I’ll just have to remember to get some flip-flops.

-ES

Camping Journal #5 – Rain, Rain, Make Up Your Mind, Already!

July 13, 2012, 708pm, at camp

-perturbed-

About an hour and a half ago, the sky went grey, the wind picked up, the animals went silent…and nothing.

I had planned on going for another swim but instead, I battened down the hatches, put everything in my tent or in my vehicle, and waited for the skies to open up and unleash a torrent of water.

Nothing.

I’m not 100% certain that the threat is over, so I’m on a hair trigger, ready to dash into my tent and zip up the windows at the first sign of water.

Maybe going camping on Friday the 13th wasn’t the best idea in the world.

-ES

26 Things I Noticed During San Japan Mach 5

What strange planet and time is this?

Another year, another San Japan.  I’ve been going since the beginning and its been getting bigger and better ever since.  This year, I helped out at the Original-Gamer.com table handing out flyers and helping out with Video Game Jeopardy, which was another rousing success.  Of course, I noticed a few things along the way:

  1. The Valero on I-37 near the Beeville exit makes bacon and egg breakfast tacos with the bacon MIXED IN…I think I just found my new place to stop for a bite when traveling to and from  Corpus Christi.
  2. The convention center is FREAKING HUGE…and they’re using less than 20% of it.  Wow.
  3. This is probably the first time I’ve ever felt COLD at a convention, and that is AWESOME.
  4. Those complaining about having to go back and forth between the hotel and convention center don’t remember the 1-block walk between the Municipal Auditorium and El Tropicana hotel the first 2 years.
  5. After a two-year layoff, Water Ninjas are now re-employed.
  6. Idea that sounded good on paper that didn’t quite work out as well as it could have: “Late Night Artist’s Alley”
  7. Found it hilarious that the “Mu Epsilon Kappa” table was next to the “Ushicon” table.  The Ushicon mascot is an anthropomorphic cow girl.  Mu, indeed.
  8. I don’t know if it was the Alamo Drafthouse or the Doctor Who Fans Unite group that bought the TARDIS along, but whomever it was, YOU ROCK.  UPDATE: It was the Doctor Who fan group.
  9. Wacky Japanese thing I saw there: Nekomimi ears or “mood ears” as I like to call them.
  10. Sign that people have too much money: Nekomimi ears.
  11. You knew how important you were based on how ‘finished’ the art on your badge was; I’m sure the art on my Con Alley badge looks awesome once its inked and colored.
  12. You can never have too many flyers.  Unfortunately, we didn’t.
  13. Raffling off videogames is a good way to get people to come to your videogame website table.
  14. If you’ve been advertising the fact that you’re also giving away videogames at Video Game Jeopardy, expect a packed panel room.
  15. Is it wrong that I take evil delight when people don’t know the questions to our Video Game Jeopardy answers?
  16. Surprisingly, the site’s review copy of the latest Naruto game was NOT the first one to go when we let the winner pick her prizes.
  17. The main area was fairly spaced out, which is a good thing because it means they have room to grow.
  18. Okay, maybe a little too spaced out, it looked a little empty initially.
  19. Next time I should NOT take the camera out of the camera bag…I bought the bag with me on Sunday but left the camera on my desk.
  20. Bought a pair of Chinese iron balls in the dealer’s area, I’ve always wanted some.
  21. I found it hard to resist saying “I’ve got balls of steel” in Duke Nukem’s voice to several friends after acquiring them.
  22. Does Egoraptor have a street team? I was randomly asked by someone, “Do you like Egoraptor? He’s over there.”  Unfortunately, I had to be somewhere at the time.
  23. For the record, I said “He’s okay.”  I’ve never met him but I do find his work entertaining and insightful at times.
  24. The parking lot behind the Rivercenter Mall sucks and I am never parking there again.
  25. Even though I missed the first day of SJ due to a family gathering, I am still tired as all heck after the fact.
  26. The attendance was over 9,400 so we can expect to hear lots of lame jokes for the next year.

Camping Journal #4: Their Turf

You can’t see me!

July 13, 2012, sometime before 5, at camp

-a little tired-

I should have bought a pair of flip-flops, because walking in or near the river was murder on my bare feet.  I eventually put my tennis shoes on, and while that did make things easier, I now get to schlep my soggy shoes everywhere now.

As much as I’d like to take a nap, there is no breeze right now, and that means the inside of the tent is actually hotter than sitting on the picnic table.

I’ve seen a few animals today; two deer while driving back from the river, and a few lizards scurrying about the campsite upon my return.  One lizard was perfectly camouflaged, I did a double-take when I realized I was looking at one that was masquerading as part of a tree.  I then went for my camera and got a few shots before it scurried away.

The hustle and bustle of the city has been replaced by a cacophony of creatures.  Birds, chicadas, and an army of flying bugs are constantly providing a steady stream of sound.

Its unnerving on a certain level, I find myself occasionally turning to find the source of some sound or noise.  Sometimes there is something there, often, there isn’t, but I think its the thought that I am infringing on their domain instead of the other way around.

Like it or not, I’m on their turf.

-ES