Posts Tagged ‘Art’

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

Artless Halloween

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Oct 31 2012

So I’d like to open by saying that I’d intended to include art with this entry, but it appears that the bizarre failure of my laptop over a month ago now is going to plague me for the rest of the life of the computer. Had to get a new user profile because the old one will no longer log in, and apparently my tablet doesn’t work with the new profile. So no drawings from me anymore.

It’s probably fixable, but I’ve already exhausted the options I know how to do and have other things to spend my time on–which is where this update was going after the art anyway.

Two of my stories have been published in Super Flash Fiction, and I encourage you to head on over and check that out if you haven’t already. Subscribe for future issues or even submit your own dynamic stories or artwork.

The bigger news is that I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month starting tomorrow (November 1)! I’m officially in this year, and I’m going to finally finish a novel! Sign up if it interests you, or just cheer me on/pester me about my progress! The goal is 50,000 words by the end of the month.

It’s likely to consume my free time in November, though I’ll try to keep updating this site–though you can expect most if not all of my posts to be NaNoWriMo related.

And that’s it from me for now! Happy Halloween, and sorry about the lack of artwork… Wait… Maybe I can fake something even without my tablet…

Haha! How’s that for drawing with a mouse in Paint?

 

Happy Halloween!

Blog Seasons

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Aug 07 2012

Well… I’m trying to write a novel this month on top of my normal load–but first I intend to finish the short-story in the setting I failed to finish in time for the Fantasy Anthology, may post it in pieces here while I’m working on the novel since I don’t know how or if I could find anywhere else to submit it with such a generous word count.

But I’m finding with the Olympics on in Prime Time I can’t get any work done in the evenings–I don’t even get to bed on time. So all that has led to a lack of updates here on the site–so I’m just going to go ahead and make if official that by.davidaludwig.com will not have regular updates again until a week after the Olympics–if you have time to check the site out it’s a good opportunity to catch up on old stories like Lost Girls’ Society, Niar Saga, or use the search bar to the right to dig for other things of potential interest.

Also note the orange RSS button next to the search bar. You can use that to sign up for notifications of when the site updates if being notified appeals to you.

I know, I’m no good at drawing volleyball–but as my sister observed Nadine and Horera could make a pretty good duo. Hope you’re all enjoying the Olympics as much as I am, and see you back soon.

Melody’s Diary 08

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Jun 29 2012

Dear Diary,

I, I’m not sure I like it at TASK… Maybe Nova and Terra can do the same job as Jack, but it just doesn’t feel right for me. Also it seems like maybe TASK knows way too much, across too broad a spectrum–like maybe they should be several separate organizations? They certainly seem to share information internally like a bunch of separate organizations.

I don’t know, it’s just all so confusing I guess. Oh, I’m also keeping a Journal for TASK now that I’m a Researcher–I think I’ll just give them the facts-only-version of what I tell you, without the analysis of myself and others. Maybe the stuff about myself is important to learning Song Magic, but I don’t really want to volunteer it.

The night before our first day Nova, Terra and I all had this terrible nightmare. We were in a field with lights like in Taragosh’s clearing, then this man on the horizon with one glowing red eye lifted a shepherd’s staff and summoned three of the gargoyles and a whole lot of gargites like we fought in Taragosh’s clearing… Like, way too many of them. I put all but one of the gargoyles to sleep with the Lost Lullaby, but even that one was too powerful for Nova and Terra to defeat, and then he did that thing where they destroy all their friends and bring them back fresh, and next this big vile red dragon came out of a portal in the sky and swooped down to eat us and we woke up!

I didn’t like that dream. But I especially don’t like that I think it was probably more of a vision or prophetic dream or something. I think the guy with the red eye is Alishtor’s Researcher, and now I’m worried he might have the same issues his Sage had.

In the hallway on our way to breakfast we met another new-recruit of TASK whose name turned out to be Tiffany–though she didn’t tell us that at the time. She’s got a headband and wild hair that sort of matches her personality. She was pretty insistent that we try the waffles at breakfast, but I really wasn’t hungry enough for waffles–those are sort of a once-a-week thing for me. If that.

The hogling chef in the kitchen is nice and reminds me a little of Cooky back at the Temple. I was a little surprised with how impressive the building looked to learn that their kitchen was fairly average. Terra had a big mouse the chef had caught in the strawberry jam, Nova had some chocolate bread that smelled wonderful, and the chef did his best to make a mixed berry parfait for me–though they didn’t have much in the way of fruit and the jam was sort of weird. Not weird like I got the same container as the mouse, just, not very normal for a parfait… Still, it was a good breakfast.

Orientation was in a large auditorium, and Dr. Zjavont was the one giving it! I guess he’s our Sage for now because he knows us best. So, Yay Science! He told us about how we’d have three days of tests to establish what our course in TASK would look like, and told us a lot about what the organization is–basically a reaction against any limited definition of humanity, or people-ness since they also help hoglings, scarecrows and even simians… I don’t like simians, I mean, I guess… Well, they’re pretty scary.

With the size of the auditorium I thought there might be a lot of new Researchers, but I guess it’s just Terra, Nova, Tiffany and I. Also, apparently Tiffany and Dr. Zjavont don’t get along–and not just because she doesn’t have patience for science. Then because I’m capable of Song Magic I guess I’m going to have special sessions with the Sage researching Song Magic.

Charlie went to find Gokasan to confer with him about the current situation–I really hope he has a good answer that will minimize any suffering caused by Alishtor’s actions. Jack is away on a mission to find Alishtor’s Researcher. I missed him a lot already, but after our dream I was actually really worried to imagine Jack looking for the Researcher by himself. Jack promised he wouldn’t die again, but Alishtor’s Researcher should actually be more dangerous than Alishtor was himself. I don’t know where that puts him in relation to the Man in the Red Robes, but after our dream I’m really worried about it.

Also, why doesn’t anyone even know what Alishtor’s Researcher looks like? I know TASK is a big organization, but given the kind of knowledge they deal with that just seems irresponsible to have such a loose grasp of who’s in the organization and who isn’t. It seems TASK is led by a Council of Five Sages, and apparently Barrister is the sixth Sage!

They’ve positioned themselves as Arbiters of knowledge, with a lot of checks and balances on that knowledge. I understand that the wrong information in the wrong hands is extremely dangerous–case in point being Alishtor. But he WAS a member of TASK. In fact he was a Sage! I feel like a more open system would work better. Who really has the right to decide what other people are or are not allowed to know anyway? I think that if everyone had access to all information, even the dangerous knowledge, then we could all keep each other in check as a community.

Would Alishtor have been as costly to stop if we’d all known what he knew from the start? I don’t think so.

Oh, and I guess Terra, Nova and I are specialized in exorcism, so our first mission is an excavation of ancient ruins with a mild ghost infestation. Nova wasn’t too happy about that, but I guess it is sort of what I joined TASK for… Kind of. Though I don’t think this is one of the breaches Alishtor made.

I know I have my doubts about my place in TASK, and I’m not sure Terra or Nova are particularly committed to it either. Tiffany on the other hand seems really excited, when she isn’t sleeping on her feet. I guess she escaped what she considered a dull farm life and is really excited about mastering special powers. I think it would be nice to live on a farm, getting to be outside and enjoy all the fresh air, and the company of the animals, and just living freely and simply. Nurturing life.

After the orientation Nova, Terra and I went to the gym to work out. On the way we met a Sage with brown hair and big glasses named Argentino! He’s the Song Magic Sage! He talked a lot about how amazing Song Magic is, and the sorts of amazing things I’ll be able to do with it if I continue on the current path. Raising the dead, reversing the degradation of age, regenerating lost limbs, all the sorts of things I heard the priests whisper about back at the Temple of the Consecrated Choir. I think he was talking about The Song of Life–only, I’m starting to get the feeling there’s another Song… One I don’t think I want to know.

The Hymn of Healing and Dynamic De Capo Aria are different from The Lost Lullaby in a way I can’t really explain. The priests and in particular Maester Forte taught me the Hymn of Healing, I just sort of made up the Lost Lullaby. There’s this thing in my chest that feels both tempting and wrong at the same time, and it feels more closely related to the Lost Lullaby than the Hymn of Healing or Dynamic De Capo Aria. It’s been there since sometime after our battle with Alishtor and the Man in the Red Robes.

Why did the Simians attack our temple?

Anyway, Argentino is capable of Song Magic himself! So I’m not the only one who can use it! I wonder if Maester Forte could use it too? Though if he could, why wouldn’t he ever demonstrate it to me? Argentino taught me some cool sub-vocalization techniques and showed me how to manipulate water with multi-tonal singing. He says it’s staggeringly amazing that I can use Song Magic, so I guess we’re still really rare even if I’m not the only one.
Terra doesn’t seem to like Argentino for some reason–but I’m really excited to meet someone else who can use Song Magic.

We learned a little more about our first mission. We’re apparently retrieving an ancient magic from the ruins used by an advanced civilization to launch projectiles from a metal barrel sort of like a crossbow. It was used to conquer much of the world, and a rather nasty tribe of lizard people in the area mean to reclaim the method when the ghostly activity subsides during the equinox. Since we’re not as superstitious as the lizard folk we’ll go in before the equinox and get the magic before them.

Then we heard that Barrister is currently away on a diplomatic mission to deal with some disgruntled royalty that TASK has to buy off with knowledge from time to time.

Our training in TASK began with a simple Will application. Dr. Zjavont shot us with cushioned cross-bow bolts, and we were supposed to manipulate reality with our Will to cause the bolt to miss. We opened with meditation, so I used the meditation hum I learned at the temple to help everyone get into it–Tiffany in particular seemed unfamiliar with meditation, or wound too tight to do it just then anyway.
It turns out we were learning in the Spiritual Practice Room! A whole room with an Energy restoring circle in the floor! The Spiritual Practice Room is now my favorite room in TASK! What would have been a draining meditation elsewhere was a breeze in the Spiritual Practice Room!

Then it was time to actually test the technique. I volunteered to go first, and was able to force the bolt off course with my Will… Only, the technique spends spiritual energy, and I do more than enough of that already. I don’t think this technique will be very helpful for me. I need ways to generate more Energy, not more ways to spend it! If only I could get some sort of reserve of additional energy or something!

Dr. Zjavont then proceeded to shoot Tiffany repeatedly, which didn’t seem very nice. She was really struggling with the technique, but I guess it was worth it because she was really excited when she finally got it.

Then it came time for Terra and Nova to try the technique–only their combat reflexes were so good it was really hard for Dr. Zjavont to hit them in general. By the time he fitted a scope to the crossbow and they were actively trying NOT to dodge he started shooting them like he’d been shooting Tiffany, though eventually they were able to cause the bolt to miss instead of dodging themselves… I’m not sure how useful a technique it is for them either though, because with their level of combat skill it doesn’t seem like the degree of spiritual influence the technique provides is very likely to be significant.

After that it was time for our testing to determine our areas of focus in TASK. I went first and did a bunch of vocal exercises just like back at the Temple. I guess I still need to work on volume… Though I’m not sure why? I can be heard just fine even over long distances. I hope they’re not hoping for me to sing so loud it hurts people…

Terra went next and they worked on escalating her already impressive jumping ability toward outright flight! That would be so amazing if Terra learned to fly! I’ve never seen a flying fox before! Nova worked on her super strength, lifting weights that even some of the people at TASK hadn’t realized were actually for use!

Then we finally got to see what Tiffany’s power was! She can generate pink lightning and crystalize it into a blade! Only, when she tries to split the blade–which looks possible–she has trouble controlling it and I guess the spare tends to go flying and stick in Dr. Zjavont’s arm. So that’s why they didn’t get along so well… What’re the odds on hitting his other arm like that? Especially after he taught us the technique to make things miss us?

Dr. Zjavont had other business to attend to after that, so he put on a bat mask and left. We got underway ourselves, with Rose providing transportation again. Tiffany and Rose seem to get along really well–I think they think sort of alike.

When we got to the town it was pretty heavily battle damaged. I guess they never bothered to name their town, though some of the youth refer to it as the Middle of Nowhere–even though it’s really close to the coast. The ruins are North East of the town past some awkward trees resembling a werewolf, unmentionables, and an Indian head respectively. The battle damage on the town is apparently a result of an ancestral feud that had been bred into the neighboring lizardfolk with no clear indicator of what started it.

Wait… Near the coast… Are we near the ocean?! Ooo! I have to go see it when we’re done! We’re close!

Apparently I reminded the old man who greeted us of his daughter and he was very friendly and helpful… Then I saw the blacksmith! He was fairly nondescript with brown hair and an eye-patch over the eye that glowed red on the figure in our dream! That seemed very suspicious to me, so I did some digging.

I guess his name is Jack, though he isn’t as cool as the real Jack. He’s lived in town for thirty-three years, which admittedly doesn’t sound like it would describe a Researcher for TASK. He pooped on the Indian Head Tree as a boy, and tried repeatedly to sleep with the old man’s daughter–and got caned just as many times. The old man says his daughter is loose, but not that loose… I’m not sure I’m as flattered about reminding him of her anymore. I’m not loose!

Then blacksmith Jack developed a fascination with staves–like the figure in our dream had! He married a hot red head, and has been the village weapon smith for ten years. Then the old man’s daughter showed up after he got off on a tangent about his wife and politely escorted him away.

I decided to spy on the blacksmith while Nova and Terra were buying weapons from him to see if I could learn anything. If he’s the figure from our dream I’d really like to figure that out before he hurts anyone. A slow witted and inept hogling who called everyone Larry entered the weapon shop to buy some gauntlets for punching out ‘Larry’. He returned home with the gauntlets in tow to apparently inflict injury on himself…

That’s when John arrived! He was an elegantly dressed but similarly nondescript brunette to blacksmith Jack, who also covered the eye that glowed red on the figure in our dream! If the figure had been closer I’d know what he looked like, but as is he really could be almost anyone!

John’s a traveler, which lines up more with being a Researcher for TASK… Are we allowed to talk about TASK? I wish I’d thought to ask that before we left. It would have made checking John out much easier if I could have just asked him if he was a member of TASK. Maybe I can? Secrets are so confusing. I’m not supposed to tell anyone I’m the Songstress, but if others are capable of Song Magic then I’m still allowed to use mine, right?

Anyway, John told us the armorer is a bit of an enchanter if we want nicer equipment–though I left my gold from Alishtor’s castle back at TASK. It’s so heavy! John doesn’t stop by the town often but seems well ingratiated with the community. He let us know not to take the cheapest deal at the Inn, but to favor the middle option. Also he was able to guess what Nova and I wanted to drink! I’d never even had the Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri Charlie recommended before! How did John know to about it? If it’s that obvious I’m less happy about the Pink Lotus Rose got me.

John shared that he was named for his uncle, who was a doctor. He also told us about the town’s feud with the lizards–and how a couple villagers recently disappeared to be experimented on! Apparently Psion and Golem came from this village! So then, Emperor Regal was one of the lizard folk! The lizard folk believe they were wronged, and have the philosophy to “Leave no trace of your enemies.” There has to be some way to make peace here, but it doesn’t sound easy.

Just as John was leaving, screaming lizard raiders with scythes attacked the town! I tried to talk them down, but they were very crude and both they and Terra and Nova seemed bristling for a fight… As a last ditch attempt at deescalation I used the Lost Lullaby to put all but one of them to sleep–not doing bad on my effectiveness there, but I’d like to get all of my targets one of these times. Terra rushed into battle with the last one, and John crushed the lizard man with some sort of air distorting force effect! So he’s got the power to possibly be a TASK Researcher too.

That didn’t really line up with my idea of disarming them and trying again to talk things out–but John says their scythes are forged and enchanted to kill in a single blow–and I would rather the lizard die than Terra. It’s so frustrating! They didn’t want to listen to me at all!

I guess a towns person named Jimmy tried begging the lizard folk to stop their hostilities, and they ate him! Is that what’s going to happen when I ask them? Blacksmith Jack is a survivor of the counter raid on the lizards after that. Even the old man says that we can’t make peace with the lizard folk… So I left the lizards to the townspeople… Blacksmith Jack slit their throats then burned the bodies. Apparently the funeral pyre is considered an honorable warrior’s death, and so there won’t be reprisals from the lizard folk for the loss of the raiding party.

I basically murdered those lizard men! They were completely helpless because of my song, and because I thought it was easier to let them die than work to find a solution that benefited everyone! I’m such a horrible person! And then we just went to the bar like it was nothing but mindless monsters we’d disposed of, or tormented ghosts we’d freed from suffering!

Turns out Tiffany is only 15, and she went to the bar to get drunk! I guess that’s her choice… But it seems like a really bad idea. I could tell it tasted just as bad to her as it did to me, and then after the third one she seemed really off balance, and then was finally sick… Why would anyone do that to themselves intentionally? I looks terrible! But, I guess it’s not really my business what other people do to themselves…

John opened up a little more, telling us how a friend of his died recently. His friend used to get an Old Fashioned to drink at this bar, and Beef Wellington is apparently John’s drink there–though it doesn’t look anything like the Beef Wellington the High Priest liked to eat. John says his friend died in construction, and he just wanted to make things right. I wanted to ask him if his friend was Alishtor, but construction does seem like a bit of a stretch… Though maybe from Alishtor’s perspective his business wasn’t really destruction–only I think he knew it was because he mostly talked about what he was taking out of the picture, hell and the gods.

Then John had to leave. I was too dispirited to really dig any further into my suspicions that he might be Alishtor’s Researcher… The way I failed those lizard men, just feels so inexcusable. I hate myself right now. It’s so strange, I’ve never, EVER, felt hate before… But this whole stupid feud and intolerance and violence… My heart is full of hate, and it’s making me sick! But I can’t afford to let it out, because if I were to actually direct the hate at someone or something else that’s the only thing I could imagine being worse than feeling it in the first place… So I hate myself.

In the past whenever I’ve felt bad I’ve been able to cheer myself up by singing. So I went to the town center and sang with all my heart. Most of the village came to listen, so I wove the Hymn of Healing in under the song to cure their hurts. I sang of faith, and hope and all the things that used to comfort me. Please, gods, don’t let me lose my way like Alishtor or the Man in the Red Robes.

The villagers figured out I was the one healing them, I was kind of hoping they’d chalk it up to the power of positive thinking and good attitude… It turns out that Jimmy was their pastor. Faith and spirituality have been low in the village since his death, and they don’t have a doctor so some of the injuries get pretty serious with no one to treat them.

Then an old woman started calling for me to kill the lizard folk with my songs. She wants a killing song… And the worst of it is, I think I… I think that… I can. Why are there songs that can hurt people? It just seems so wrong! Even the other townspeople wanted me to stay with them forever, and I can’t do that… I’ve got too many other responsibilities around the world, plus I’d hate to put them in greater danger like I apparently did the Temple of the Consecrated Choir.

I have to stop this feud with the lizard people. I’m going to go to the lizard village and find some way to stop this before we go… I wonder if we can send the relic back with Rose? We should probably take care of it first, and we can’t risk it falling into the lizard folks’ hands… But I don’t think Nova and Terra would let me go alone, and I’m so confused right now I don’t know if I’d want them to or not.

Then as the sun was setting Jack arrived! I feel so much better knowing Jack’s okay, but I’m also ashamed for him to see me like this, and embarrassed about what I said the last time I saw him. We did tell Jack about our dream though, and he told us it was a shamanic dream–which is very significant. I also gave him detailed descriptions of blacksmith Jack and John, and the reasons I had to suspect each of them of being the man in our dream and/or Alishtor’s Researcher.

I don’t know what’s going to happen, or what exactly I should be doing here, but I know I’ve got to try my hardest. I can’t give up!

 

-M

Lost Girls Society, Assemble!

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
May 11 2012

So I saw “The Avengers” today–definitely lived up to my expectations. All the build up and so large a cast, it was an incredibly ambitious project and with that in mind I can’t imagine a significantly better end product than what they got. So instead of a Forecast this Friday, I figured it’d be worth revisiting Friday Sketches with the girls of Lost Girls’ Society suiting up as their favorite Avengers.

I don’t think my sketch contains spoilers for the movie, but odds are people familiar with both the movie and the Lost Girls Society (linked at the top of the site or under Pages on the navigation bar) will most enjoy the sketch.

Audrey, Horera and Nadine all have a couple Avengers they identify with, and no perfect matches. That said, Audrey would ultimately settle on Iron Man, Horera on Hulk and Nadine on Captain America. Hawkeye seems like the obvious choice for Nadine, and she loves his style and equipment, but ultimately their roles in the movie and Nadine’s team-spirit make Cap the better fit.

Arel Wars Review

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Apr 30 2012

And now I’m finally going to review Gamevil‘s “Arel Wars“, the original reason I thought reviewing the applications on my iPhone would be a good thing to do for this site. I really want to like Arel Wars. I want to love it.

A tower defense fantasy strategy game, there is a lot to love about Arel Wars. Three totally distinct factions, each with their own play-styles, strengths and weaknesses that I think balance out beautifully. Juno and her elves excel in the late game thanks to powerful units and a focus on resource building and ranged combat, Vincent and his humans play the mid-game by building quick and having respectable units, and finally Helba and his Busters play the early game by rushing out of the gate and try to win before their opponent has even gotten started.

There are even three developed story-lines through the three campaigns in the game, with 40 stages to each campaign. These stories intersect at various points, and playing all three gives you a much more complete picture. So why don’t I actually love this game? Because for a free game it displays a level of avarice, incongruous with its status as a free game, that is absolutely nauseating.

Here’s a little lesson on the world of Drusilla, where Arel Wars is set. There are two major currencies. Gold is the first, and is obtained in the usual way for such games–by accomplishing goals and defeating enemies. Cash is the other currency, and while available as a rare prize in-game (and a free bonus for your first file) is primarily obtained by paying real money to Gamevil.

Everything Gold can do Cash can do better, Cash can do things Gold can’t do, and to top it all off Gold has a tendency to fail at its most critical function (upgrading your units). Throw on top of that challenges that by mid game expect either flawless strategy or else heavy expenditure of currency to even advance. I wouldn’t object to Cash adding value to the game, but it feels like the developers were so hung up on how to leech more money from their customers that the fact that they actually made a good game is mostly a happy coincidence. Instead of making a game people wanted to pay money to see more of or show support for, the approach was instead to make a game that claimed to be free and then demanded unsubtly named “Cash” to continue enjoying the game.

This critical decision–in my opinion error–on Gamevil’s part has ensured that the game won’t see a penny from me so long as it remains a money-drain first and a game second. That said, many frustrated hours have resulted in my discovery of ways to play and enjoy the free game without paying for it. So anyone interested in enjoying a solid fantasy-strategy game without being cheated out of your money should be happy to know that I will be posting my own strategy guide for Arel Wars on this site, which should get you through both Normal and Hard Modes without having to pay any money.

We of course miss out on the awesome Hero Units and Permanent Items among other things that I think would be good places to spend real money if it weren’t for the amount of real money being asked… But no matter how powerful the unit is, I don’t think a single digital unit is worth $5 of real money–especially when there are 6 such units and I’m a completionist and could never be happy with a partial set.

Fights like Helba, Handles Mana like Juno

Specialized in production of soldiers. Has high Attack Strength and a fast Movement Speed. A Powerful Melee Unit.

So this should be a Great Game, and because it’s free that should mean a five star rating… Unfortunately they shot themselves in the foot. Repeatedly. With a shotgun.

My final rating for Arel Wars is 3 of 5 Stars. It’s an okay game, and because it’s free there’s no real risk in trying it out and coming to your own conclusion. I’ll just be forever irked that it’s little things keeping it from living up to its amazing potential.

I find the variety of typos and grammatical difficulties in the game endearing. They could be fixed, but wouldn’t change my opinion of the game. The following items could actually change my star rating though;

Guaranteed Gold Upgrades: If Unit Upgrades paid for with Gold, the legitimately “in-game” currency, did not have the failure chance they currently have that would be worth a whole extra star all by itself. I wouldn’t mind level caps based on your Hero’s level, or what stage you’re on (which seem to be factors anyway), or if Cash could bypass those limitations. I just don’t want to spend over 3,000 Gold Pieces (average Gold reward for a mission ranges from 30 to 400 depending on what stage it is) and get nothing but a message saying “the upgrade failed”.

Reduced Cash Costs: I think Cash is involved in way too much, and should maybe get out of Unit Upgrades altogether, but either way I think a 50% reduction in Cash Costs would go a long way toward generating appropriate return for investment. With a 50% reduction I could get all 6 Hero units for $15 instead of $30, still a bit steep but I’m pretty sure I’d pay it (partially because Arel Wars is a good game and I’d like to give it money). Alone not worth a star though.

Cash Sharing: Right now you can have 3 save files on a single phone, which matches nicely with the 3 factions/heroes/stories. But each file has its own separate finances, both Gold and Cash. Also alone not worth a star, but implemented with the reduced costs and the Guaranteed Gold Upgrades could get Arel Wars back to the five stars it should have had.

 

Feel free to check the game out and form your own opinions though. I’ve beat it with all three heroes, so if you need help feel free to contact me or check out my Arel Wars Strategy Guide.

Novel Forecast

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Apr 20 2012

Okay, so the poll came out tied between Scripts to the site or a Novel–so I’m making an executive tie-break in favor of the novel. The next question is what should the novel be about–I’ve got two ideas I think are about ready to be developed and so today I give you some info on them and a new poll for which you would most like to see (or think has the best market potential). It’s funny, I think they both would end up being classified as “Young Adult” Novels–which is funny because I’ve got some personal beef with that term that I won’t go into now but will surely come up again another of these Forecast Friday.

You can use the search bar at the top of the right hand column to find more information about the first Novel concept; Kerri’s Creatures. She’s received some flash-fiction attention over the last year but isn’t satisfied with that and is demanding a larger work dedicated to her and her struggles.

Kerri Wynter

Age: 13
Race: Human
Class: Sorceress

Kerri is a sorceress in training who was left to fend for herself after the untimely disappearance of her mother. Of course, before she vanished Kerri’s mother left her daughter with a considerable inheritance that includes a creepy old mansion and a menagerie of monsters no sane person would be jealous of.

Torn between desires for a normal teenage life and to be the most powerful sorceress the world has ever known, Kerri’s life is a balancing act made more complicated by her unconventional inheritance. Her best friends end up being similarly distanced from society as herself, but together they help each other toward their goals.

Appropriately to Kerri’s desires, the story is an Urban Fantasy with a balance between the magical and the mundane–though set in an alternate world and erring pretty strongly toward magical.

 

The other Novel possibility I’m considering would actually expand on the events of the next generation in the world of Niar–with of course appearances from some of the cast of this site’s original serial, Niar Saga. Though the story really is about the next generation and will stand alone just fine.

Leona Banisher

Age: 16
Race: Human
Class: Demon Hunter

Leona Banisher is the daughter of the legendary Andrew Banisher, the Last Demon Hunter. Trained from birth to take over her father’s legacy, she goes into battle wielding his sacred implements–the fullblade Banisher from which the family takes its name, and the amulet Oracle. Her demeanor is serious and her dedication to Demon Hunting is single-minded like her father–but unlike him it was never a path she chose for herself.

No sooner had Leona’s training been completed than she was sent to travel the world, eradicating the evil that had risen since her father’s death. She works alone and frequently surprises those she meets with her ability to wield her massive sword, and unflinching battle-readiness. Her world is turned on end after meeting the teenage bard, Lysander Devonwilde, as she begins to discover the joy of friendship and risks opening her heart to another person for the first time.

Leona’s story is a classic Fantasy Adventure set in the world of Niar, and spanning much of the world (though not always the same locations as Niar Saga).

 

So, which story are YOU interested in? Feel free to ask clarifying questions in order to figure it out, and of course if you know someone who might read either story once its finished tell them to swing by too.

Melody’s Diary 05

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Apr 09 2012

Dear Diary,

What is destiny anyway? How do we know if we’re doing the right thing?

On the day we were to leave, Charlie went off to find Jack and left Terra, Nova and myself at the bar. Then this lizardy-amphibi-ish shifter arrived in the square with a pair of constructs and said he was going to conquer the world–starting with the eradication of the village!

He said our two options were to either lay down and die (which didn’t sound good) or to infamously go down in history for opposing the most famous man in the world (which sounded more like a perspective thing). His name was The Great Emperor Regal–unless some of that was a title, which I’m sort of confused about now. He shot fire from his staff, which was REALLY bad for Nova, though his constructs (Psion and Golem) didn’t actually appear to do much at first.

I used the Hymn of Healing to keep Nova alive, though another fire-blast knocked her out. Terra fought Regal, Golem vibrated and eventually Psion joined Terra in attacking Regal. I guess Psion was technically the one who won the fight, then he ran off into the woods shrieking. Golem just fell apart.

Charlie and Jack showed up after that. Since Bill is taking Nerev back to TASK head-quarters, and we’re going into danger, they decided to send us a more combat-worthy cabbie named Rose. Her Sage apparently died, and since her specialty is transportation that’s what they have her doing until she gets assigned a new Sage.

Regal said he was destined to conquer the world and therefore couldn’t fail… But then he died so easily. Rose says that destiny doesn’t always happen… But what about my destiny?

Also it turns out that gargoyle we fought in the forest was more than likely created by Alishtor, using a variety of Earth–specifically dust–magic to form it from sand. It was a long carriage ride, so there was time to learn a whole lot! Rose explained travel to us–both through time and space! She also let us know that Alishtor was always a dick, which is another word for a penis… I’ve never seen a penis, though I guess Alishtor isn’t really a penis? He’s just not very nice, and I’m not sure what that has to do with being a penis…

Charlie gave an amazing Ghost Lecture on the Body, Mind and Soul. How all three are interconnected, but the Body and Mind are weakened by an artificial concept of separation. The Soul is the most powerful because it recognizes the interconnectedness of everything. It was all things I’d sort of suspected anyway, I’ve always felt like my spirit was my real driving force, but Charlie explained it so well. Though Rose fell asleep during the lecture. Fortunately we were on a straight road.
He also talked about how the soul creates things, like my Song Magic or the chocolate Nova makes with her necklace. I tried creating an image of a flower just using my spirit, but I guess it takes twenty years to learn how to do that. Charlie made his ghost-busting fire and let me shape that into a flower though, it was so pretty!

While Rose was asleep Terra decided to eat in the carriage even though Rose told her not to. When Terra accidentally spilled blood on the floor of the carriage Nova helped her clean it up. I don’t think Rose ever found out.

Then we got to the town we were going to stay at before reaching Alishtor’s coliseum the next day. Rose insisted we have a Girls’ Night out on the town, so Jack and Charlie weren’t allowed to come. She made me drink something called a Pink Lotus… Actually she made me drink two, and they made me really sleepy! Though I guess they didn’t taste as bad as Nova’s chocolate bourbon. Then Rose said I wasn’t allowed to fall asleep on Girls’ Night Out and made me drink something called a Copper Moonrise that was terrible and spicy and bad! It woke me up… But why? Why did she make me drink all of those things?

I don’t like alcohol at all. Even when you can’t taste it it’s so bad! And… I don’t want to think about it anymore. I just hope I never have to drink alcohol again.

Then Rose took us out into the alley behind the bar and taught me how to punch! She says it’s something all girls should know how to do. I wasn’t very good at it, and Rose said I needed to do it with emotion. So I thought of the happiest things I could, like kittens and rainbows and flowers, and it really helped me punch harder! I’m still pretty sure if I weren’t punching a pillow I’d be the one who got hurt though…

Next Rose took us to a weapon merchant standing on a bridge to buy me a weapon! She says all girls should have one. Rose has boot daggers that come out of the toes of her boots! He had a really curvy blade he called a kris that he said made your enemy bleed a lot–which sounded mean. He also had a really ugly warhammer. Then I saw the pretty ball in his inventory!

The weapon merchant said that his seven year old daughter prefers the ball. When you throw it it helps you hit your target and delivers a gypsy curse that makes them easier to hit with other attacks, and then returns to the thrower! So something that I can use, looks pretty and can help my friends who are actually capable of fighting. It seemed perfect! The price was pretty high at two hundred dollars, but Rose said I need a weapon and I did like the idea of being able to do something when I didn’t have the energy to sing. I got Regal’s fire-spouting staff, but the more I examined it the more I didn’t think I’d be very good with it.
Eventually we were able to haggle the ball down to something I could afford if I spent my five dollars plus everything Charlie was still holding for me. Part of that was Nova giving the merchant some chocolate to take home to his wife.

I think all that made Rose happy. But the next part was definitely the best! We all went to a hot spring and got to relax and soak! I’d always wanted to go to a hot spring, it’s so much nicer than a regular bath! The heat really relaxes you. It makes your muscles feel like melting butter and gets rid of any aches from the day. Terra, Rose and I soaked in the hot spring. Nova got an ice bath next to us. I might have to try that next time. I think I remember Maester Forte telling one of the priests that an ice bath followed immediately with a hot spring is one of the five best experiences in this world.

Oh! And Rose taught me all about sex! I had no idea! Why didn’t Maester Forte or one of the priests ever tell me any of that stuff? Some of it would’ve been nice to know sooner, but there’s way too much to go into now. I’ll let you know if I get to use any of it though.

When we got back we found Jack and Charlie playing cards. Jack won.

The next day when we got to the coliseum it was completely shrouded in ominous black mist! Rose waited outside with the carriage, and we all went in! I was SO scared. Even Charlie was scared when we got to the spot where he’d been killed. And we saw the indent in the sand from which the gargoyle had been made. Then we crossed the bridge up to Alishtor’s castle, and the bridge collapsed behind us! I was so scared, I really didn’t want to be there!

That’s when I saw Alishtor for the first time! He is SO creepy! It’s unreasonable how creepy he is! He’s got this weird constant smile and I think he wears black lipstick… He had his ghost archers open fire on us and I got hit in the shoulder! It hurt so much! I don’t know how everybody else is able to keep going into battle when they keep getting injured like that!

Nova carried me to safety and the others ran alongside to reach the covered area under the portcullis. Nova hefted the portcullis up and let us all in. There we were faced with a ghostly knight named Ludwig. We talked with him for a while, but as it turned out we didn’t have an audience with the king and didn’t know the password (though we all tried our best to guess) the only other way into the castle was for each of us to individually defeat him in combat!

I really didn’t want to, wasn’t even really sure I could, but it was the only way–so what choice did I have? Ludwig duplicated himself so we all fought him at the same time, though we could each only affect our copy. Jack won quickly, and Nova mauled the original about as fast. Charlie opened with a powerful fire blast since Ludwig is a ghost, but had to fight harder after Ludwig got close enough to force Charlie to use his fists. Terra exchanged sword strikes with her copy for a while, but ultimately won out with reasonable efficiency.

As for me… Well, I couldn’t hit him with the ball and couldn’t risk singing. He couldn’t penetrate the force field from the amulet Charlie gave me–unlike the arrows from the archer. So we just sort of talked some more and failed to hurt each other repeatedly. After the others all won their fights and couldn’t do anything to help me with mine, I decided I had to risk the Lost Lullaby. It almost worked, but taking my attention off defense to sing let him smash my force field and cut me really bad!

I took another blow after that–and I told Ludwig I couldn’t yield because I had a duty too. I think we understood each other, but it was so sad we had to fight–and I was especially sad that I thought I was going to die. Finally Lost Lullaby worked.

We’d won, but I was so tired and I hurt so much! I can’t let the others know how much it hurts, because I know they take wounds like this all the time. My dress is ruined. But I guess now I understand better what my Hymn of Healing fixes. I’m really looking forward to singing it again–though Nova gave me some of the healing chocolate she makes and that helped so much. I won’t sing again until the others need it though. I can’t waste my energy selfishly when so much is at stake.

Maester Forte, I still don’t know how to fulfill my destiny. But at least now I finally believe it’s possible. If I’m willing to give my life I can do anything. I will achieve my destiny. I swear it. I have to stop being so selfish and think about what’s really important.

Thank you, Ludwig. I understand what I have to do now.

-M

Melody’s Diary 04

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Apr 02 2012

Dear Diary,

Oh, I like the town so much more than that terrible forest! Everyone is so nice here, and there are so many interesting things to do and see, and it’s pretty peaceful I think.

To thank us for saving his life, and help us prepare to go to Alishtor’s castle, Charlie gave us all two hundred and fifty dollars! I think that’s a whole lot of money, though the dollar Nova gave me last night is my only real frame of reference. It was really exciting having money, I don’t even think I know everything you can do with money! I know you can buy things like clothes and food and items, and you can pay for services and places to stay for the night.

Oh, but apparently some people aren’t very honest when it comes to money and ask for too much! That’s really sad, but because of that Charlie said he’d hang on to my money and I should ask him if I want something.

We all split up for the day to prepare for our journey next Moonbloom. Charlie went with me and Nova and Terra both went off on their own. I’m not really sure what Jack did, I saw him in town briefly but didn’t get to talk to him at all. Charlie’s uncle, Virgil, said that the merchant caravans came through town at Moonbloom–the extra light is believed to prevent, or at least reduce, dishonesty! The merchants in the caravan apparently have the really nice items, plus the other merchants in town restock from them!

I tried to find something to help with the fact that I keep running out of energy from singing so much. One of the traveling merchants had five vials of condensed spirit energy collected from the souls of plants! I don’t really know how I feel about drinking souls, but it’s probably okay if they’re plant souls. Right? Charlie said that he’d seen them before and they worked, so he let me buy them. They cost twenty dollars each! Isn’t that a lot? The vials don’t seem like they contain that much spirit energy to me…

Oh, and I got this really cool messenger bag to carry my items in–plus the five dollars Charlie let me carry myself! I wish it matched my outfit a little better, but at least it looks nice, and it’s sturdy and water-proof! Nova and Terra came and shopped around a bit too–I didn’t pay as much attention to what they were doing, I was distracted by my own shopping!

One of the other traveling merchants had a little golden pyramid that helped restore energy when used during meditation, but it didn’t sound like what I was looking for. If I have time to meditate I can just get my energy back that way–I’m more worried about running out of energy while fighting. I think Nova ended up buying the pyramid to go with some necklace that makes chocolate using the wearer’s energy.

They also had a bunch of weird clothing items that disappeared when you put them on! Is it supposed to be some sort of joke? The Kitten’s Mittens apparently give you claws, but no one could explain why that was useful. Something about scary things popping out, but the claws don’t stop them from popping out in the first place.

One that didn’t disappear was a ring of warding, the merchant demonstrated that his knife didn’t hurt him while he was wearing it… Though I think I’d still rather not get hit at all. Nova ended up testing the ring out by putting it on and asking Terra to hit her–it was hard to watch, but Nova said it was for science. The first hit didn’t do anything, but then Nova told Terra to hit harder and Terra wounded her pretty seriously! Turns out the ring doesn’t stop much damage at all! I used the Hymn of Healing to patch Nova up while she made more chocolate.

Then Nova and Terra went armor shopping. Turns out the smith who made Terra’s armor lives in this town and Terra’s his muse! I had no idea Terra was a muse, but it makes a lot of sense how good her armor looks now. Very elegant but also, as I saw plenty of in the forest, very effective.

Once we were done shopping Nerev, the blind girl, came running back into town in a big hurry! She said she was sorry and it had gotten stronger, which isn’t good to hear from someone who’s possessed by a demon! I thought Charlie took care of her problem, but I guess it isn’t that easy. Her demon had raised a bunch of zombies and they were after her.

Bill helped Nerev while Nova, Terra, Charlie and I prepared to face the zombies. I tried using the Lost Lullaby, though it turns out zombies don’t sleep! Do ghosts sleep? I might like Alishtor’s castle even less than the forest if nothing in there is susceptible to my lullaby.

Nova gave Nerev some of the chocolate she made with her necklace and I switched to the Hymn of Healing while Nova and Terra were in combat–and tried to soothe Nerev with it too. Charlie threw fire at the zombies and completely destroyed them. Maybe it’s because he’s an exorcist and they were undead, but he seemed as powerful as Jack! Though, I still like Jack best.

In the end the zombies weren’t any trouble at all! We’re actually pretty powerful now, I guess… Well, my friends are. I guess I’m doing pretty good too, a lot stronger than I used to be. But after two Hymns of Healing and a Lost Lullaby my energy was already severely depleted and we hadn’t even faced any serious challenges. Anyway, I used the Dynamic De Capo Aria to restore some of Nova and my energy so we had something to work with for the rest of the day.

Once the zombies were taken care of we found Bill on top of Nerev on a table in the bar! I guess the wraith (not a demon, but a very, very bad sort of ghost) in Nerev was getting more out of hand and Charlie said there was only so much even he could do about wraiths. He got the wraith quiet again, but Nerev needs long-term care and going to a ghost castle without the exorcist would be a terrible idea!

Bill suggested he take Nerev to Dr. Zjavont at TASK Headquarters since there aren’t any bodies for the wraith to raise there and Dr. Zjavont could help control the wraith and study Nerev. Since we needed Charlie at the castle that seemed like our best option.

I really hope things go okay at the castle and that Nerev is okay… I’m kinda nervous now.

-M

Elise 2nd

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Mar 15 2012

Elise 2nd – Fantasia

The force cage provided firm support for Elise’s head, totally without temperature. Its hum numbed her mind, causing her to smile subconsciously. The sorceress’s actions came from her heart, so it really was just pleasant to have less on her mind. She’d been beaten. Decisively.

Audrey Prince, the young girl from another world, definitely deserved the Mantle of the Silver Moon. In a single season she had reached the level of arcane power casters like Andromalus or Elise herself. In a way it was nice to have things back out of her hands, though Elise hoped Audrey had a plan for what she was going to do with Fantasia now that she had the power.

Elise discovered she was able to reverse her transformation curse, and was glad to have her mother back. That had easily been the hardest part of her vision for Fantasia, being forced to battle her own mother in order to realize it. Andromalus was less exciting to have back among the speaking and spell-casting. He put a little too much emphasis on how it was HIS apprentice who had bested Elise. The fool even put the same abjurations on Elise’s prison as he’d used to guard his tower. Had he forgotten that Elise had penetrated the tower? Or did he think she was so weakened by the battle?

Running her hands over her arms, Elise felt her sorcerous blood burn away the last of her bruises and aches from the battle. Opening her eyes, Elise breathed out slowly. Audrey’s party would all be resting from their ordeal now. It was time for the denouement.

Her shadow split into the classical elements, creating four duplicates of Elise outside her prison. A few gestures and words of power later and her shadows had freed Elise from Andromalus’ cage.

 

 

 

 

 

LGS