Mech Retriever

Gaming, Update | Posted by davidludwig
Aug 05 2016

I know I’ve been gone for a long time at this point–and I’m still not really back yet. But if anyone coming by here wants to know what I’ve been up to part of the answer to that is the latest App venture by Llux Studios, Mech Retriever, for which I am a play tester and a writer. Frankly I wouldn’t say my part is very large, mostly auxiliary, but the project is VERY cool and worth a look if you enjoy giant robots, good game design and/or retro sensibilities with modern implementation.


You can find more details on the project over at Mech and the actual fundraising campaign to make it a full app on Kickstarter.


My hope is anyone reading this will at least give Mech Retriever a look, and I promise someday I will return to this site more properly once I get my personal affairs more in order. (Also apologies if anyone’s comment has been buried in the spam filter during my long absence, there’s a good chance it’s lost now.)

Mobile Collectible Genre

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Apr 21 2014

[Mobile Mondays were previously My Phone Mondays, but I expanded the term now that most of my mobile gaming is on my iPad tablet]

There are a few prominent genres that currently dominate the landscape of mobile gaming, so with my breadth of experimentation I have some familiarity with several of them. Today I’d like to look at what I call the Mobile Collectible Genre, I’ve also seen it referred to as the Card Battle Genre but given a few use more like figurines than cards and most have terrible battle mechanics I think my label is more informative. Eventually I’ll segue into Square-Enix’s Deadman’s Cross and Guardian Cross games more specifically.

From my perspective the genre sort of started with Rage of Bahamut, previously reviewed on this site, which was for a long time the high point of the genre–which REALLY isn’t saying much. Eventually I swore off the mobile collectible genre entirely because I’d spent enough time in the “good” ones to establish the entire genre was total garbage–though of course that can benefit from the “one man’s trash” principle, and as all free games the overall risk involved in trying them out and forming your own opinion is appropriately low.

Pretty much all of these games boil down to;

  • Spend energy to advance in a single player mode. This energy replenishes over time, but effectively limits the amount of time that can be spent in the game at once. Generally possible to pay real money for immediate energy restoration.
  • Collect cards/figurines/warriors to assemble into a deck/battle-group to use against other players and sometimes the computer. Biggest number wins, and the rarest collectibles have the biggest numbers. The collectibles that aren’t at least rare are virtually worthless, and that’s what you’ll get the most of. Generally possible to pay real money for better odds at getting better cards–which in some cases means the chance to get them at all.

The good apps in the genre (and even those don’t deserve to be called games, because the user basically just watches the app, there isn’t much ‘play’ to speak of) offer amazing artwork that can make them worth the free price of admission if the experience of suffering through the app isn’t too off-putting. And the biggest problem with all of them is that they aren’t games. Collecting is great, lots of people–myself included–love collecting things and the generally high art quality makes the collection fun to enjoy. But it ends up being hollow and without value if there’s nothing to do with that collection–and I personally believe it’ll be easier to get people to continue to invest money if your app has value. As the physical Collectible Card Game, Magic the Gathering, showed and continues to show, a really solid game to play with the collectibles is perfect for ensuring consumer engagement–promoting them from collectors to players.

Eventually I came to the realization that my odds of collecting the art I wanted from these apps were too low to justify the time invested when they so quickly become boring to just sit there and watch–or worse, frustrating to sit and watch when the game decides that you lose instead of win. I swore I’d never play another one again.

My vow of abstinence held up through Square-Enix‘s entry to the field with Guardian Cross–as interested as I was in what such a legendary company might have done with the genre, that interest was not enough to break my vow of ‘never again’. But then came Square-Enix’s second entry in the field, Deadman’s Cross, which caught my attention just enough that I decided it wouldn’t hurt to give the genre another shot–though my expectations remained low.

The very first thing that happens in most of these collectible games is the game asks for the Invite Code of the player who invited you to the game–and whether you were invited or not it’s worth finding and entering a code to get the associated bonus, plus it really helps the person whose code you used. My code for Deadman’s Cross is UFV2RGC should anyone decide to give Deadman’s Cross a try–use it and get to level 5 in the game and you get a limited edition Rare card, and help me toward more limited edition cards of my own, which I really want.

Now, what sets Guardian Cross and Deadman’s Cross apart from the other Mobile Collectible apps is their Hunts. Both allow you to “hunt” for new cards using a sniper scope and rifle, introducing an element of skill to new card acquisition that adds considerable interest to the game and rewards players who develop their skill in that regard.


In the case of Guardian Cross the scope pans much more slowly than the player’s own finger movements and monsters easily outrun the blasts from the rifle making it obnoxiously difficult to hit anything–this does set Guardian Cross apart from other mobile collectible games, but unfortunately it sets it far below the rest of the field.
I know I said I didn’t fall for Guardian Cross, but after enjoying Deadman’s Cross I went back and tried Guardian Cross as well. Both are free, so nothing really lost there except for some respect for Square-Enix.

Deadman’s Cross really polished the hunt system though–and in its case the hunt mechanics set it apart and above the rest of the field. The speed you move your finger at is now the speed your scope moves at, and the zombies are not faster than the bullets–though they are generally still faster than your trigger finger. There’s a real sense of reward for skill, and I’ve been very happy overall with the number of cards I’ve been able to get per hunt in Deadman’s Cross.
The only things I’d say need fixing is bullets should consistently come out of the gun when the player taps the Shoot button and the gun’s loaded–because right now the bullets currently come out when you take your finger off of the Shoot button, most of the time. Also, any time the bullet visually passes through a zombie that should count as a hit–even if to balance things out the times the bullet doesn’t visually pass through the zombie never counted as hits.

Now, my initial impression of Deadman’s Cross as the height of the genre and actually worth playing turned out to be a little too rosy. See, I got some very good cards very early in my play experience–and I thought, “Hey, Square-Enix is such an experienced developer, they probably realized purely random drops were bad game design and have a complex algorithm going on here to guarantee the ability of all players to reasonably compete in the game.” The reason I thought that is because most in Mobile Collectible apps what you get from card packs–or however you get new collectibles–is more purely random, and randomness is not my friend. If there’s an element of luck involved in anything I do, I can pretty consistently count on not having any luck myself. Don’t know why, I just have bad luck when luck is given too much weight in the equation.

So, having a couple weeks of good luck in Deadman’s Cross–over two accounts no less–led me to believe it wasn’t really luck and rather clever game design on Square-Enix’s part. The 1 in 100 chance of getting a Legendary card must have been implemented so that after 100 attempts every player would have a Legendary and the random element was which one in the hundred it was–or whatever, the numbers are just to illustrate the concept. Turns out, I actually was having good luck–as improbable as that seems–and Square-Enix had similarly banked on lucking into a decent game rather than putting in the design work to ensure one.
Was very disappointing when my luck returned to zero, and I read the online accounts of others with no luck in Deadman’s Cross. I’d thought Square-Enix could deliver better than that, but even that hefty blow only dropped them even with the rest of the field–which coupled with their hunt mechanic remained a net advantage for Deadman’s Cross.

Now, I’ve got plenty of ideas how the hunt system in Deadman’s Cross could be improved–but given their console record I’m pretty confident that if Square-Enix had wanted to make a game out of Deadman’s Cross they would have done so. A few things like the 60 second time limit seem arbitrary, and the whole thing could use a little more polish–even improved as it is from Guardian Cross. But ultimately the Hunt for new cards is one thing in favor of Deadman’s Cross that I think does put it ahead of the rest of the field–which isn’t saying much, but is worth mentioning.

It doesn’t take long to get to the point in the game where if you’re using anything less than Epic cards (the progression being Common->Uncommon->Rare->Epic->Legendary) then you cannot win against other players–and anything less than Rare will leave you losing to the computer as well. This isn’t any different from other apps in the genre, but is unfortunate because new Commons, Uncommons and Rares continue to become available well after there is no reason (other than their artwork) to want them. Some rarity limited brackets would help players find matches they could compete in according to the cards they actually possessed–and make a lot more sense than the current level limited brackets that have far less bearing on the actual strength of the hordes the player can field, not to mention it would provide an application for getting and developing the lower rarity cards instead of just raging about not being able to find any of the highest rarity cards.

Now, one thing that Square-Enix has continued to do well on the mobile market that I always respected them for on the consoles is write. The writing in Deadman’s Cross is far beyond anything else in the collectible genre, and pretty well positioned for mobile games in general. I really enjoy the story and the characters, and wish I could get the whole thing–unfortunately it seems unlikely Square-Enix will wrap up the major plot-line any time soon, since they still want to milk the in-app purchases for years if they can.
Aside from the interactions with townspeople, Guardian Cross also featured similarly strong writing–though in that case most of the townspeople were painfully badly written, which I can’t explain. Nor can I explain why every single towns-person in Guardian Cross had a stable of Guardians they wanted to pit against the player’s. Deadman’s Cross takes a much more reasonable approach of a lot of people having deadman–aka zombie–hordes, but a lot of people don’t have them too.

Still, both Guardian Cross and Deadman’s Cross offer just a little more in the card to card contests that define the player-versus-player element as well as much of the player-versus-computer experience. The standard for the genre is “Which number is bigger?” Which as you may be able to guess, doesn’t amount to much of a game and doesn’t leave the player with anything to do but watch the computer figure out whether 500 is bigger than 900 or not. Once you’ve got the biggest number (which also happens to be the most rare) card you can, there’s not much else for you to do.
Square-Enix added on to the biggest number contest–though I wish they’d replaced it–so that when the numbers are close there’s actually more the player can do to swing things in their own favor. It falls short of being a matter of skill, the player does still just watch during the actual battles, but adds a few granules more strategy to the deck construction preparation part of the app. But I highly respect Square-Enix’s decision not to include evolutions based on multiple copies of the same card, as that quickly became the most tedious part of the rest of the field–especially as the rarity of the card in question increased. There’s no reason not to strengthen a card you want to strengthen as soon as you are able to do so and while some methods are more efficient than others all can get to the same end point, and that is much more user friendly.

Furthermore, the deadman cards have 3 ability slots that fill as they gain levels–but each deadman has more than 3 abilities they can learn. Choosing which ability to keep and which to lose allows players to customize how their deadmen play and adds a little more strategy to the game. Ultimately it’s still the biggest number comparison, but the accents put on top of that provide some consolation and that’s not nothing.

I really wish I could recommend Deadman’s Cross, because it is in my experience the best Mobile Collectible game on the market, because it’s Square-Enix, and because it would really help me to have 6 more devices use my Invite Code of UFV2RGC and then get to level 5. Unfortunately, my actual recommendation is to stay away from Deadman’s Cross. I’m probably giving up on the game myself if I don’t get those 6 more Invites by April 30–the cutoff for getting the Cleopatra card I would very much like in my collection.

Now, if I could go back and reevaluate the other Mobile Collectible games I’ve rated on this site I’d probably give them much lower marks now that I’ve seen the full ugliness of the genre, but I feel it would be unfair to punish them too severely for my distaste for the genre without giving them more play time for the reevaluation–which I have no intention of doing. So keep that in mind when I say my final rating for Deadman’s Cross is 3 out of 5 stars and it is the best mobile collectible game I’m aware of.

A lot of apps get higher marks from me for being free, because I’m not going to hold a free handout to the same standard as an expensive purchase. That said, be wary of the in-app purchases offered by most free apps and intended to be the developer’s source of profit. I’m in favor of making in-app purchases from free apps that prove themselves, because I want to see good developers succeed, but I’m not nearly as interested in supporting developers’ attempts to bleed their consumers without offering any kind of reasonable return for that capital–not even developers with long histories including good titles like EA Games or Square-Enix.
If you choose to purchase from Deadman’s Cross it’s worth noting that the $13.99 Coin Pack offers the best in-game return for real-world investment–otherwise your best bet is investing in increments of $0.99. But do note that as satisfied as I was with my $13.99 investment at the time, I am coming to regret it as I see the app rapidly dead-ending with my art collection still woefully far from completion.

If you’re willing to help me out, or if a free Square-Enix game with zombies sounds worth checking out even if it isn’t their best work then do try Deadman’s Cross with my invite code of UFV2RGC and get to level 5 to give the app a good go. But I advise stinginess when it comes to spending money on the game, and maybe wait until level 10 to have a better grasp of what the game really offers.

Or if you’re just looking to learn a little more–or find the artwork posted online–there’s always the Deadman’s Cross Wiki as a pretty good repository of the cards from the game with their pictures, statistics and even some more general game information. If you’re already in the game or just looking to go deeper then the Deadman’s Cross Forum seems to be a good place to go for more in depth information and to arrange trades, since the in-game trading feature is very nearly unusable.


Finally, I was thinking of mentioning Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft in this review–but I think it’s gone on long enough as is, so I’ll save that for another post.

Finally Back!

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Mar 30 2014

Well… Someday I’ll be back on top of updating the site. Seriously, I’m making good progress on my other obligations that have kept me away and the end of a couple of them is in sight. Though, for now, no breath holding. Updates will remain rare for a while yet.

This one should have come in January, commemorating the success of the Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Kickstarter by WayForward–which also reached the Costume Swap Stretch Goal I was personally excited about. Not a lot more to say on that topic that hasn’t already been said in previous posts–though for anyone interested in a compelling platforming/exploration experience with cute characters, humor, attitude, magic and belly dancing WayForward is still accepting donations over at their website.

The cool thing about the Paypal option over at WayForward, is that it still counts toward reaching Stretch Goals for the completed Kickstarter campaign. You can basically pre-order the game for $15 on the platform of your choice (and there are a lot of options, enough to make good odds if you play video games you can get this one) and have that investment count toward getting even more content into the game for you and everyone! As of writing this we’re really close to the Hero Modes–which will add a whopping 3 additional playable characters to a series previously known for having 1. With enough investment we could even still see additional game chapters, full voice acting or way at the outside TV quality animated cutscenes!

The Harem and Pirate outfits were clear winners in the vote for which additional costumes the Lost Girls Society should try on–I made an executive tie-break to get Horera in Shantae’s pajamas though, because I thought it would be cute. Thanks to everyone who helped make the Costume Swap a reality!


My other news at this time concerns a lot of mobile gaming I’ve been doing in my free moments. Since last I wrote I’ve gone through some good like Royal Revolt 2 and Castle Doombad, some bad like Bloodmasque, and some ugly like Supreme Heroes and Guardian Cross. Mobile gaming has really changed the landscape of games, but at this point it seems like developers should be embarrassed they haven’t gotten their acts together yet for the most part. There are some brilliant gems out there (like Angry Birds before the addition of in-App purchases), and an overwhelming number that if they just got their pricing remotely under control could be games instead of garbage, but all of that will likely require its own post to discuss.

Given the opportunity I’d love to make a mobile game and show the market how it’s done, because as hard as it is, it really isn’t as impossible as the market currently makes it look.

One specific one I do want to call attention to now though is Square-Enix’s Deadman’s Cross. Yeah, the makers of such legendary role-playing games as Final Fantasy have a significant presence in the mobile market, and disappointingly they aren’t handling it any better than their competition from giants like Electronic Arts to random single person developers in their parents’ basement.

Deadman’s Cross is noteworthy in my opinion though, because it’s a mobile collectible game–or as I generally call them a Rage of Bahamut clone–and I swore I’d never play another one because I’d played enough to feel confident that there isn’t nor would there be a single good game in the entire genre. Deadman’s Cross looked intriguing enough to get me to revisit that position and actually give it a shot.

Square-Enix delivers on the quality of the writing throughout, and the art is fantastic as is the trend with the genre. What sets Deadman’s Cross (and its predecessor, Guardian Cross) apart from the field though are their hunt mechanics that introduce a real element of skill to getting new cards–which means that you can get better at the game and get increased benefits accordingly. On top of that there is actually an element of strategy to deck composition and card development, and no sign of the frustrating evolution system the rest of the field uses to hold players back.

Don’t get me wrong, they still fall short of being games–too much is out of the player’s control to really legitimately say that one ‘played’ these games so much as admired the artwork, but the hunt mechanics and compelling story do put Deadman’s Cross head and shoulders above the entire rest of the field and for now I am continuing to play it–or, admire the artwork anyway.

So if anyone with an iOS device or an Android one wants to see what Square-Enix can do in the mobile collectible market, I am currently recommending giving Deadman’s Cross a try (though stay away from Guardian Cross, Square-Enix had no idea what they were doing with that one, and polished the formula a lot for Deadman’s Cross).


If you do try Deadman’s Cross, please help me fill out my card/art collection and use my invite code when starting the game, UFV2RGC.

After using the code UFV2RGC you’ll need to get to level 5 in the game–which shouldn’t take much time or effort, and is a good way to develop your own opinion of the game–at which point you’ll get a limited Rare Card for using my code, and I’ll get to count the invite toward getting additional cards of my own.

If you’re willing to do it on multiple devices you can do so and have them count separately, though if you decide you like the game you may want to use your own invite code to help yourself along. Though I will advise against spending any money for Deadman Coins in the game until about level 10 or so, to be sure you really want to invest in the game. Once you are sure, the $13.99 Coin Pack is actually the first good deal after the initial $0.99 Coin Pack–so spend in increments of $0.99 or if you’re inclined $13.99 for best return, I didn’t do the math on the $49.99 Coin Pack, but the rest are actually poor deals.

And for good measure, my invite code again is UFV2RGC

Costume Voting!!

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Oct 31 2013

An unexpected bout of sickness right at the end of the Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Kickstarter prevented me from informing you in a more timely manner;

Shantae is funded AND the Costume Swap Stretch Goal was met!!

This is awesome news that I am more than excited about–and now you can be as well because it means that I will be doing another Lost Girls/Shantae drawing before Christmas (I want to say before Thanksgiving, but don’t want to over promise in case of bizarre delays like the aforementioned sickness). It will be in the style of the one I did in the previous Shantae: Half-Genie Hero post on this site. Not the quick sketch style I’ve thrown together for this one–though more quick sketches may also be forthcoming, we’ll see.

This additional image will, as promised, feature the Lost Girls in variant Shantae costumes that came up over the course of the Kickstarter campaign–though if I missed any or you have any opinions on which girl should wear which costume please say so in the comments section of this post. It wouldn’t be much of a celebration without other people involved.

It seems worth reiterating that the TOP 3 costumes from the poll will be used with each girl in a different costume–and that each voter may select 3 costumes before submitting their vote. There appears to have been an early hitch where multiple votes were registered for the Harem Outfit–and I may not count all of them since I can tell which ones came from a single voter. It’s good to see some excitement for at least one of the costumes though.

Though if you’re the person who posted all those votes for the Harem Outfit, it also looks like the poll may have prevented you from selecting additional costumes–so let me know in the comments here what your other two picks are if you have any.

If somehow you missed out on the amazing Kickstarter you can still swing by and see what it was about at the Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Kickstarter page, as well as dig through for what the costumes in the poll actually look like if the name I came up with isn’t descriptive enough. Or you can ask clarifying questions in the comments here.

And if you’re kicking yourself for not pledging to get in on this amazing project, for an as yet unknown amount of time you can still get in on it through Paypal over at Way Forward’s website. The game’s funded, so if you ‘donate’ $15 or more it’s basically like pre-ordering what will be an amazing game for cheap, and any donations at all can still count toward the unmet stretch goals (more story chapters, more playable characters, full voice acting, sweet animated cutscenes) and make the game even better for everyone.

Don’t worry if your comments don’t appear right away, I have to manually approve posters who haven’t been approved before and there are some days I don’t manage to get online. They will be seen, appreciated and as appropriate responded to.

Legend of Luth!

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Oct 01 2013

As promised, I have another game to promote this week–though don’t forget to read about Shantae: Half-Genie Hero in the previous post! This time it’s a smaller, more personal, and at present totally free text-based game. Also it’s a game that I’ve personally contributed content to.

Legend of Luth is my friend Andy’s creation, a virtual board-game with a strong RPG vibe based on an actual board game he made in his youth! You can find more information and some relevant links concerning Legend of Luth on Andy’s Facebook Page.

My personal contributions to the computer incarnation of the game include a lot of the monsters, some events and items, and even one of the starting characters! Above you can see my rendering of the character, though I recommend heading over to the aforementioned Facebook page or Lambda Creations, which serves as a repository for Andy’s various arts and I anticipate will be the long-term home for all things Legend of Luth.

Bear in mind the game is in a highly unfinished state at this time, but fully playable. This is a great time to get in early and watch the game develop, and it could be a fun diversion even in its current state. Eventually it’s going to be one of those games you get geek cred for being able to say you played the initial text version back when there were only 3 characters.

Also note that the game is intended to be a difficult single sitting game–there is no saving, and there’s a pretty good chance of things going wrong for you. Once you figure out the ins-and-outs of the game the current version is pretty easy, but there’s still a lot more to come and learning those ins-and-outs definitely has a curve to it.

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to buy and use consumable items from the Shop. They aren’t necessary, but they help A LOT.


–regarding this site itself, I’m getting it cleaned up and dusted out, but with the months of neglect this is a long process, but there’s actually a pretty good chance of another post or two this year before the return to regular posts come January–

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Sep 25 2013

I don’t think I’ll be able to get back to regular updates this year, but this week at least I’m going to drive a couple shout-outs for worthy games through the built up digital dust so as to share them with people who hopefully will find the new posts–and possibly consider coming back in January by when I hope to be back to a regular update schedule. Bring your own digital dust mask in case of allergies.

Today’s game is actually in the process of raising money on Kickstarter right now! WayForward‘s “Shantae: Half-Genie Hero”!

I personally discovered the Shantae series through fan art in various corners of the internet, and the characters looked so awesome and lovable that I had to track down what they were from–as it turned out Shantae. Probably the quickest way to get up to speed on Shantae is this recent video from E-Heroes.

There are (sort of) three Shantae games to date. The original Shantae was for the Gameboy Color, which I never owned, and so I never got to play it. Though I did watch Brickroad’s Let’s Play series and am glad I did.

Eventually the charming and original series was graced with a sequel, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, for the Nintendo DS–which I also never owned–but then later ported to the iPad so that I could finally play a Shantae game! Granted, simulating a physical controller and buttons on a touch screen will always suck. Badly. Even if you’re as amazing and meticulous a company as WayForward. They did a good job of re-balancing the game to account for that problem, but who wouldn’t rather play the game as it was intended? Sadly, that just isn’t an option for me.
Still, I have greatly enjoyed being able to play the game at all–and for anyone interested it’s a free download in the App store as part of their promotion for the upcoming Half-Genie Hero.

The sort-of third game is Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse–which isn’t actually out yet. But it’s coming soon for the Nintendo 3DS, which I also do not have… I’m thinking I may have to finally get a real handheld system again to get a proper Shantae fix (and catch up on some missed Zelda titles while I’m at it).

But the game that’s prompting this post is the, thankfully funded, 4th Shantae game which would be for such home consoles as the PS3, WiiU, PS4, Xbox 360 and more! Thanks to PS3 on that list I’ll actually be able to play Shantae: Half-Genie Hero when it comes out without having to purchase a new system or settle for touch screen controls!

So here’s the part where I implore you to head over the WayForward’s Kickstarter campaign for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero and at least watch their cool video. If you like awesome stories with a little tongue in cheek, a lot of humor and original and endearing characters then I think you should pledge at least a little to their campaign just to be a part of something amazing. If you like gorgeous hand drawn animation and exquisitely executed classic video games then I really think you should pledge what you can to their campaign and get your hands on what is sure to be a real gem.

If you like both of those things like me and can spare $5 or more, then I don’t think there’s any excuse not to back Shantae: Half-Genie Hero.

After some dance lessons from half-genie, Shantae, the Lost Girls’ Society is Ret 2 Go!


So here’s the state of things;

With over $400,000 raised already, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is happening. Pledge now and you’re guaranteed the reward for the level you pledge at.

There is still a little over a week left in the campaign, and with so many unmet Stretch Goals more pledges will still be able to make this project even better for everyone in very appreciable ways.

In particular I feel like we need to reach the $700,000 to get the Costume Swap stretch goal implemented!

So here’s my particular plea for reaching this goal; if the Shantae Kickstarter reaches the Costume Swap Stretch Goal then I will do another drawing of the Lost Girls’ Society belly-dancing in alternate costumes. I know my art isn’t that great, but there have got to be a few people who would like to see that–plus it’s another post this year.

There are plenty more costumes to choose from than just the Bikini, Ninja, and Switch Force, and I’ll take comments regarding which costumes people most want to see the Lost Girls in–which are free to include other Shantae costumes from the Kickstarter or its updates.

Now to clean through my backlog of comments from while I’ve been offline.

Motivation Monday Mixer

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Apr 08 2013

Please forgive the digital dust–things have been busy and I actually still don’t have time to bring the site back up to date as I’ve been meaning to. Eventually things will be cleaned up and a regular update schedule will resume, but for now I can’t even hazard a guess when that will be.

However, while I have a Monday free I will take advantage of it to submit an entry to Monday Mixer & Motivation Monday–hopefully they don’t mind the double submission, but even if they do it was a good exercise and fit in the time I had available.



If I could erase one memory it would be the caldera battle—a story carved clearly into my flesh. They say we glorious few stemmed the tide of destruction and saved the world, at terrible personal cost. I didn’t just lose my hand, my eye, or my friends. What you actually lose in a sweltering hopeless slaughter like that is an esoteric essence known only to old heroes.

Coming to the brasserie for frosty ale was a mistake. I put in public appearances when I can. I’m a symbol to the people—I remind them of those things they cherish in themselves, even though most days I have none for myself.

The raging burn of my right stump makes me truculent and ill inclined toward pleasantries. It’s time to return to my demesne, soak my keloids and imagine asking the smith to forge a sheath that didn’t rub so much.


150 words


12 Masque

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Jan 11 2013

Alright, I’ve signed on to the lovely Meg McNulty’s 12 Masque blog challenge. I’ll be around to read the others as soon as time permits.



“Do you see anyone you know yet, my dear?”

She looked up at the tall man crooning through the beak fixed below his dark goggles. All in black and smartly dressed he seemed some sort of lord in spite of his bizarre mask. Her hand drifted self-consciously to the white lace affixed around her own eyes, though she sensed everyone would disapprove if she removed it.

“I-I don’t see how I could… All these masks.”

“Ah,” the gentleman practically laughed. “You’re not still trying to look any deeper than that, are you?”

The din of the surrounding revelry was much too loud to think, and yet disturbingly not as loud as it should be for so many people. She felt stifled and isolated at the same time and it was driving her mad. Worst of all, she absolutely could not remember where she was or how she came to be there. Her hands made nervous fists around her practically bridal dress before politely smoothing it back out.

“Well, how could I recognize them without looking beneath the mask?”

“It’s easy! Here, start with that rogue by the punch bowl! What do you see?”

Reflexively her eyes wound their way through the horns, fangs and other facial facsimiles to the tiger-faced man sloshing the contents of the punch bowl over himself. A flock of bird faced women hung from him and seemed to absorb his inebriation.

“A tiger mas—“

“No.” the gentleman interrupted. “You already got it. No more than that.”

It was much too hot. She couldn’t breathe. Looking around she was relieved to discover she was already sitting, as she felt quite faint. Clutching at her chest she peered pathetically up at the tall stranger who hadn’t left her side in all the chaos of the masquerade.

“I’m so sorry, but where are we? How did I get here?”

He practically laughed again, “Can’t you tell?”

She clutched her stomach to keep it from expelling its emptiness. Unable to speak, she simply shook her head as tears damped her mask.

Kneeling to her side the beaked gentleman gently ran a leather gloved finger down her cheek.

“I’m sorry, my lady. I’ve drugged you and dragged you to hell. But do not worry, for it is but a dream, and come morning all will be as it should once more.”

Staring into her own face reflected in impenetrable black goggles the name of a kitchen boy she’d never paid any real mind bubbled from her throat.


Effortlessly he lifted her from her stupor and into his dark arms.

“Dance with me? Until dawn?”

She nodded and was swept away into the night.

New Artwork!

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Jan 07 2013

The big news is that the marvelous Marshintire has returned with fresh Lost Girls’ Society artwork for pages N5 and N6.

I’ll keep you posted as to when more comes, but for now have had a surprisingly busy Monday and require the sleeping.

I will say before signing off that with a record 19 votes in the last poll, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that collectively the votes for it being better to be “a hero” or “The Hero” actually surpassed “On the Evil side of the spectrum”–though not individually. I’ll be interested to see if the data holds up or even if as many votes can be attained a second time looking at the question from the other side.

Also, while I have begun my strategy guide for Arel Wars 2, don’t hold your breathes for it. Looks like this one is going to take a while.

Goodbye for This Year

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Dec 17 2012

So… I missed two updates last week. I didn’t think given my current circumstances the holidays would keep me from being able to post regularly, but turns out they will. So don’t expect regular posts from me again until January.

My focus through what’s left of December will be updating the site (the Gallery and Links pages need particular help) but I can now see that even someone as unimportant as myself has things to do around the holidays. Hope you all have good holidays, vote in the polls–which being automated will update even if I’m not able to get on–and see you in January.