It’s become fairly clear to me that creating a complete adventure in a week is not easily doable in the way that creating a short hex adventure often takes me only a couple of hours. I can still stay on schedule if I finish up the three and a half remaining adventures sometime within the four Sundays left in January, but I’m looking at a reasonably high probability that I will have to push this back to Ostara. I’m not super concerned about that because no one is awaiting the conclusion of this series with baited breath, but it does leave me without anything to post this Sunday. So you get this instead.

The Last Jedi’s Fatal Flaw

So I saw the Last Jedi the day before the writing of this article (December 26th – the holidays have obliterated a decent chunk of my buffer, so this will go live only a few days after). I mostly liked it, especially since unlike the Force Awakens it didn’t have such interminable unoriginality (I am deeply afraid of how Episode IX is going to play out with Abrams at the helm again) but it does have a single fatal flaw that undermines pretty much all of its plot, which is spoilery and will therefore be discussed below the break.

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The Three Statues

Getting some love today in Vestitas: Riddles and tech heresy. Tech heresy was originally planned to be as big a feature as the regular kind so that people who play as hereteks or Mechanicus adepts don’t feel like they’ve got nothing to do, but I’ve wound up not really offering any techno toys even though I’ve had occasional techno villains or death traps. We’re fixing that today. Fresh from the Dark Age of Technology, a logic puzzle and the three Men of Iron who kill the people who fail it.

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The Invisible Daemon

I feel like the rate of production is impacting the quality somewhat, however 1) Hopefully I’ll get better and back up to old standards with practice, and 2) I think 80% of the quality in 20% of the production time is a pretty good deal, especially when, at the old rate of production, it would plausibly take me until fall or even winter 2018 just to finish the hex encounters.

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Why Can Your Own Characters Surprise You?

Fictional characters aren’t real. So it seems weird that they can be uncooperative or surprising to their writers. How can it be difficult to write about a character doing anything, anything at all, when no matter what you do it’s always just words on a page, fingers on a keyboard? Sure, some options might be more compelling than others, but why can it be difficult to write in the first place? How can characters possibly rebel against their writers and take over the story?

Here’s a question that will provide an answer: What is the answer to x+y=z? Well, it can be anything. All of the variables are undefined. So let’s put in 2,588 for x and say that z is 7,986. Off the top of your head, what’s y? I can’t tell, even though I was the one in charge of the variables from beginning to end. By filling in x and z, I’ve already determined what y is, but I can only make a vague guess that it’s in the neighborhood of 5,000-6,000 before I actually bust out a calculator and solve the problem (turns out: 5,398). Or I could’ve done it by hand, if I wanted to be masochistic about it.

The important thing is, characters can be the same way. Sometimes you’ll be writing a character having planned on them doing one thing, and then when you get there you’ll realize that doesn’t fit the character you’ve established at all. When a character “rebels,” what’s really happening is the literary equivalent of needing y to be over 5,500 and realizing when you actually punch the numbers in that it’s not, and that while you are physically capable of writing down “2,588+5,501=7,986,” that’s wrong and you know it and that’s uncomfortable. You can go back and change x so that it actually will equal z when you add it up with y. You can change y so that you reach your original intended ending of z through a new method. Or you can stick with the x and y you have and just figure out what z you end up with at the end. What you can’t do is write down the wrong answer. Unless, I guess, you’re a hack. Then it probably won’t bother you as much.

The Lady Mayor’s Brother

After completing this one, I went to name it, and realized that “the Lord Mayor’s Brother” made it sound almost identical to the existing Lord Mayor’s Son encounter, which is completely different in content. So I made the mayor a woman. Honestly, I’m not super keen on this encounter, even though I like the potential roleplay scenes during the mayor’s interviews, everything around it feels kind of meh.

Merry Christmas, I guess.

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December Words

Normally I set aside Sundays for releases of Thar adventures. As anticipated, however, I haven’t been able to get one ready the week before Christmas but I’m still committed to my “post a day for a year” thing, so instead we’re going to talk about my word count in December.

To catch up anyone who isn’t a regular reader of the blog (this category includes all people), my current goal in writing is to reach one million words, and to that end I’m trying to write at least 25,000 words a month every month. As of my successful NaNoWriMo this year I had 825,000 lifetime words, so at that rate I’ll hit one million on June 30th of next year.

I’m currently at 14,270 out of 16,935, though in my defense I’m also writing this early in the morning, so the real number to compare to is December 20th’s goal of 16,129. Those of you who are good at math will have noticed that this number is still bigger than 14,270, though, which means I still have a problem. I had this kind of problem multiple times in NaNoWriMo, though, and I was consistently able to overcome it just as soon as I had an outline sorted. Most of December’s writing has been discovery writing random plot bunnies as they occur to me, usually for 2k-5k at a stretch before tying up the story (often only one or two scenes long) and moving on to something else. I’ve also been building an outline in the back of my head, but I’ve been consistently dissatisfied with that outline, which is why it took me three weeks to settle on one that I liked. I’m now about 70% confident that I’ll follow my current outline through to the end of December and be able to finish on time using it, and hopefully continue relying on it into January.

Either way, my immediate plan is for sure to follow that outline to the tune of 2k words per day until I catch up, and maybe even build a bit of a buffer. That approach worked out for me pretty well in November, and that’s when my word quota per day was 1,667 rather than 806.

I’m beginning to fear I may have bitten off more than I can chew for my Imbolc goals (like I do), but I’m nothing if not stubborn. You’ll read this a few days from now, but for me, it’s Yule. The deepest night of the year. As per tradition, it is here, in the iciest grip of winter, that I defy the darkness.

Brief Update On Ace Combat: Zero

So, playing Ace Combat, particularly Ace Combat Zero, has become part of my daily writing routine, in that I’ll hammer out usually two missions of it before I get started. I’ve written before about how I dislike the game’s final boss quite a bit. I stand by that, but I’ve also discovered something: Pixy’s third phase is easier to defeat the further away from Hard difficulty you get. Now, Hard is the highest difficulty level available at first, but you can unlock two more: Expert and Ace. On Expert and Ace level, Pixy is easier because he is more aggressive, which makes him easier to line up a shot on during the third phase. On Hard difficulty, enemies seem to prioritize self-preservation a lot more than on Expert or Ace, where they’ll gladly suicide rush you if they think they have decent odds of taking you down with them (indeed, probably about two-thirds of my Expert or Ace deaths were caused by enemies who died immediately before or after their missile connected and downed me).

This means that during that third phase, the one where you have to joust with Pixy by flying at him head on, firing missiles, and breaking away before his own missiles could hit you, is much, much harder, because Pixy is most averse to coming at you head on while on Hard difficulty. On Normal (and, I presume, Easy) his reflexes kinda suck and it’ll take him several seconds to realize you’ve locked a missile onto him and he should move – more than long enough to get the lock, fire, and break away. On Expert and Ace, he’s as gung-ho about murdering you as you are him, and will gladly face towards you long enough to get a missile lock and fire at you, which means the joust works as intended: It’s dangerous and can kill you a lot, but it’s not tedious.

The jousting thing also works really well in regular missions on Expert difficulty, provided you can dodge the missiles the enemies fire at you. If you’ve got an enemy on your tail, you can use afterburners to get a bit of distance, turn yourself around, fly back at him, fire missiles straight into his cockpit, and break away before he returns the favor.