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Jan. 1st, 2020 08:00 am
lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Default)
Drop me a line about anything here.
lea_hazel: I am surrounded by tiny red hearts (Feel: Love)
Haven't done one of these since my Hamsteak days (a.k.a. the fandom that must not be named).

This is literally an HTML table of 7KPP shipping options. That's it. )
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
I have played so much of Seven Kingdoms: The Princess Problem (or "7KPP" as the fandom fondly refers to it) in the last 9-10 days, it is faintly embarrassing. Okay, more than faintly. I've been using the game as a kind of comfort food substitute and I'll admit it's been damaging my productivity (but not, as you'll see, my creativity). The upside to this is, I have a lot more to say on the subject, as I predicted I would in my first proper review. I now even have a special Tumblr tag, black-list-able, for all the spam I post while I'm in the middle of a new playthrough. I have hundreds of savegames. I've unlocked 63 achievements -- not all of them, but a lot.

The game has its ups and downs. Overall, I'd say there are a lot more ups than downs, but I am saying this especially because this is just a demo -- albeit a longer, more complex and fascinating, and far more replayable demo than about half the full games I've played. Part of my positivity relies on the assumption that the full game (or even the alpha, which I will get access to, come hell or high water) will satisfactorily resolve some of the taunting mysteries, confirm some of the suspicions that the fandom has been harboring, deliver a resolution both political and romantic, fix most of the typos, and have a much better interface. So no pressure.

Later, I will write a post about the taunting mysteries. Right now, I want to talk about one of the game's major draws: the characters. I previously did a quick rundown of my overall impressions of the delegates here, on my Tumblr. These are mostly powerfully emotional gut reactions, based more on my observations as a player than on any sort of analysis. So now I want to discuss the characters at more length.

Serious lengthy discussion. )

So there you have it. Avalie is my very favorite and I think I would gladly play and replay the game just for her. Fortunately, there are plenty of other draws, enough to compensate for the literal pain of the temporary interface.
lea_hazel: Don't make me look up from my book (Basic: Reading)
I have been thinking lately on why I have such a great fondness for cold women. When I say cold women, I mean of course fictional characters. Like most people, I'm fascinated by a great many types of characters whom I would never tolerate in reality. By cold women, I mean both women who are socially chilly and reserved, as well as women who operate based on cold numbers logic, and consequently make a lot of ethically questionable choices.

Read more... )
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
Seven Kingdoms: The Princess Problem is a combination diplomatic sim/dating sim, where you get to balance ambition and emotion while angling for a good match. As the title implies, you play a princess from one of seven kingdoms. The backstory explains extensively why you, a young woman, are sent alone to negotiate a marriage for yourself as part of an improbably elaborate peace conference/meat market.

I was so excited when I started this game, I could hardly focus on playing. I haven't even finished the demo and I have so much to say.

First: the game is fiendishly difficult. It has a "story mode" that makes things easier (and less fatal) which I haven't tried yet. It resembles Long Live the Queen in more than one way, in this case, in the fact that you must resign yourself to failing some things. You cannot master all skills, you cannot befriend or seduce all characters. Some people (in the game) are just smarter than you. One way this shows up very clearly is in the matchmaker scene.

I want to talk a little about the matchmaker mechanic, because I think it's brilliant. After delineating her personal history, her virtues and her weaknesses, your princess is assessed by a professional matchmaker. The game makes several skill and personality checks. No matter what choices you make (...I'm almost certain) the matchmaker will dismiss you as a disaster. This can be a little disheartening, but it serves a valuable function. On the face of it, it sets up the gameplay -- where you build up skills, knowledge and connections in an effort of impressing and making a good marriage. More subtly, this scene is here to remind the player that there are no correct choices.

"No correct choices" means that the game, in theory, isn't meant to have a single, successful path that counts as 100% victory. Success is subjective, to some extent. Death, obviously, is not a desirable outcome, but otherwise you forge your princess's goals and skills likewise, and it's up to you, the player, to make them compatible. Once again it resembles LLTQ in that it has a whole set of "princess" type skills and a whole set of "game protagonist" skills. The matchmaker is here to remind you that every choice you make has an upside and a downside.

Are you hoping to fall in love? You are a foolish romantic with your head in the clouds. Are you here to amass power? You have a grasping air about you, dear, and no one likes a cynic. Leadership skills come at the expense of charm and manners. Academic prowess comes at expense of finesse. Everything that makes you desirable to one prospect will also make you repulsive to another. No matter which nation you come from, some of the delegates (and marriage prospects) are your country's sworn enemies, and these rivalries are based on deep philosophical gulfs.

I... still have so many secrets to unlock. But this game makes me so, so happy. I could (and will!) write a critical post about the weaknesses of the writing and the worldbuilding, and I want to note in advance that the game is unfinished and the temporary UI is simply appalling. Despite its shining potential, the poor choices in layout and fonts may well make the demo unplayable for some players.

The full demo for Seven Kingdoms: The Princess Problem can be downloaded from their official site, here. Read [personal profile] alias_sqbr's non-spoilery review (which drew me into the game) here.
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
I've been writing for over fifteen years. I think I mentioned that. It was only this year (last month, actually) that I finally decided to commit to a career as a professional writer.

There are a lot of questions that come along with such a dramatic change. I've grappled with some of these questions for years. Do I have the discipline to write every single day, and the work ethic to keep plugging at it, even when I reach the less pleasant stages of writing? Can I generate an idea compelling enough to draw an audience of readers? Can I create the type of work that can be sold for cash on a professional venue, like a short fiction magazine or an anthology?

Today, the questions I'm dwelling on are less abstract, but no less difficult for me to answer. I'm debating issues of my online presence. Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly attractive option for writers, especially short fiction writers like myself. One of the options I'm considering is opening a Patreon account. Clearly, the critical aspect of crowdfunding is creating an audience, and the only way to create an audience is to publish. So, the main step of creating a successful Patreon presence is still the #1 answer to any writing-related question: write.

In the meantime, I'd like to have somewhere to point people at, in case someone should ask me how they can support my writing career. Patreon seems like a viable option for that, if only in a long-term view. It would also make a handy place to compile links and create a writing portfolio of sorts. Less formal than an official website, which I am also considering creating, but it does create a necessary one-stop destination.

One of the advantages of the social media era of writing is that I feel I have less to worry about the informal nature of some of my writing. This blog, for example, not to mention my Tumblr and Twitter accounts. When I look at the online presence of some contemporary genre writers ('my peers', as I practice saying) I feel there's more latitude given, a less strict standard of what counts as on-topic for a writer's blog. I can imagine someone looking at this blog, or my Tumblr, and not immediately thinking, 'this person is clearly not a professional writer'.

I still have open questions. Should I create a website? Should I include a more restrained author blog, and mirror only the substantial content from my current blog? Should I create a separate Tumblr to include only content relevant to Collar of the Damned and my other original writing? For now, I'm plugging away at my actual writing, and of course this blog as well.
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
When I was a teenager, my dream was to write a novel.

In the army, my dream was to write and publish a novel.

In my early twenties, I was convinced that it was just a matter of time before I wrote a publishable novel.

...I am terrible at writing novels.

Over the past fifteen or so years, I have been writing short fiction of various lengths and descriptions. I flatter myself that I have become quite good at it. I can look back at something I wrote two or three years ago and be largely pleased with it. Farther back than that, things get a little hazier. But no matter what else I've done, I've always struggled with writing longer form works of fiction.

Writing a novel is so easy and automatic an idea, that it took many years and many failed attempts before I considered the idea of not trying to write one. Most of my successful and satisfying works have been short fiction, and when I write in chaptered form I often feel like I'm floundering. Part of the impetus behind the Collar of the Damned project was to try and develop my short original fiction as part of a shared universe.

Then again, writing well-structured short fiction isn't easy, either. Looking back at the past few years of my writing, I feel like I have improved my pacing and structure a lot. Most often, when a story went past a certain length, I would structure it out of snippets clearly divided by sharp scene transitions. It made them read like chained vignettes. More recent stories are better paced and more cohesive in their structure.

Here are some hard numbers, primarily for my own reference: Read more... )
lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Default)
Tomorrow: a retrospective post on the past month (and year) if writing. Pros, cons, room for improvement.
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
25 day streak on 750words.com. I've been using it for almost a year and I've found it to be an immensely useful tool, both creatively and therapeutically. This month I've signed up, yet again, for the one-month challenge -- aspiring to write three pages (or 750 words) every single day in June. My previous attempts at this challenge have been very unsuccessful, but I hold higher hopes this time. Not only because I'm more than halfway through and so far it's been almost easy, but also because for the first time in a while, I'm writing full-time. Ostensibly.

Sunday through Tuesday, I did no writing at all (other than the aforementioned three daily pages). It's my third week being unemployed/self-employed, and my motivation seems to have ebbed more than a little. It didn't help that I was inexplicably sleepy on Sunday and Monday. I spent a lot of time dozing off, half-awake rereading old fanfic, playing hidden object games, drooling over the Steam summer sale and catching up on Sense8 (a truly ridiculous show).

Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon sprawled on my bed, tearing through Naomi Novik's Uprooted like it's my job. I got the sampler booklet at last year's Dragon*Con when I went to see her talk on transitioning from being a fanfic writer to being (also) a pro writer. And proceeded to chicken out of trying to speak to her in person. Lousy move, given that even then I was making plans in the general direction in which I am now more specifically stepping. Of course, if I was aiming to write a novel, my path ahead would be a little bit clearer.

Looking at my June goals, I'm not doing too poorly for being halfway through the month. I completed my [community profile] jukebox_fest assignment, Hail the Hunter, best described as "Florence and the Machine's Girl with One Eye with bonus megalomaniacal dragons", and wrote a whole bunch of Skyrim fanfic. I made good progress on a Collar of the Damned meta essay that's been in the works for about a billion years. I've been blogging steadily.

A little past the halfway mark, June seems to be treating me well.
lea_hazel: Don't make me look up from my book (Basic: Reading)
If you've been reading for a while, you probably know by now that by far my favorite game in the world is the strategic raising sim Long Live the Queen from Hanako Games. This is a fiendishly difficult game which combines a gentle parody of princess tropes, a thoughtful exploration of the skills necessary for leadership, and an unironic enthusiasm for sparkliness. Protagonist Elodie is the recently-orphaned teenaged heir to the throne, trying to survive the weeks until her coming of age and coronation.

Read more... )

I had some things to say regarding the approval of the nobles and why it's so important to maintain it, but this blog post is already far too long as it is. I think for the moment I'll leave things at that, and perhaps return to the subject at a later date.
lea_hazel: Don't make me look up from my book (Basic: Reading)
I started drafting a meta post on the metaphysics of a story I have(n't) been working on for a while. Then I saved it to my essay folder and set it aside. I'm not sure how to draw it out towards a natural conclusion.

Meanwhile [community profile] jukebox_fest went live (archive here) which is the cue for me to see comment and kudos emails in my inbox and be torn between being deliriously happy like a puppy rolling around in mud, versus gnashing my teeth and mumbling, 'oh no they're reading it oh god why'. On a side-note I also became obsessed with listening to Skeleton Key over and over, via JBF I'm pretty sure, although it doesn't appear on the signup summary right now.

Later this week I'll make a post about my TBR list and specifically some recent spec fic offerings I've just added to the teetering top. I wish I could think of a book I'd recently read to review, but my problem is my attention span for reading has suffered immensely the last few years. Now I am scheduling long stretches of reading time as part of my writing agenda.

Blogging

Jun. 4th, 2015 11:37 am
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
I had excellent intentions for this morning and then ended up spending several straight hours reading blogs.

I completed my [community profile] jukebox_fest story and I don't know if I'll ever be happy with it. I feel like it needs to be torn to shreds by an editor and pieced back together over a month. My impulsive writing habits are starting to get me down and I want to spend part of this month working specifically on that.

Monday morning I made a big spreadsheet with writing goals for June. The spreadsheet has a category for blogging, with two specific meta subjects that I want to get around to. One of them is about The 100, which I have been overdue to write about since I glommed the whole series in amok.

Even though my mind is constantly churning with ideas and reactions to things, I feel like I actually bring up almost none of that. I want to change that, but I'm not certain where to start. My own fanfic? Characters that I find myself writing over and over again? How long it's been since I've even remotely kept up with contemporary SFF?

One of the items on my agenda is making a list of recent books to read and (possibly) review.
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
My first proper day of unemployment (actually self-employment, in theory) has been a bit of a whirlwind.

I did some chores and some writing and some slacking off. I made a great big list of my writing goals for June and organized it in a spreadsheet, color-coded. I got some calls about jobs and had to put a fair amount of energy into meeting those demands. Some jobs want to test you before they'll even bother calling you in. I'm used to technical tests being on-site.

Somehow I am trying to balance not hammering the lid on the coffin of my programming career, along with treating the idea of being a full-time writer with the necessary gravity. It's... difficult. The more I talked about the possibility of writing, the less it seemed like an unfortunate fallback for the unemployable dropout, and more like... what I actually want to do. What I've been working towards, knowingly or not, for a decade or more.

But there is always a portion of my brain (and a rather larger portion of my acquaintances) that is pushing for the programming job, because security. Money. Future. Pension. Insurance. Never mind that the weekly schedule of working outside of home leaves me too tired and dispirited to do all the things I love.

*Shrug* For now I am dancing in both weddings as they say. When that starts being compromising, well, I've got more than enough well-wishers ready to lend me advice. And my lease here isn't up, yet, and besides, my apartment in Jerusalem won't be free for a while. Meanwhile it's not like I'm short of unfinished projects to keep me (very) busy.

Such as promising to blog twice a week.
lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Default)
I made a very firm rule yesterday that I am not allowed to spend all of today -- all of the holiday weekend -- waffling on Tumblr and playing games and watching TV and generally wasting time. By the end of the month I'm (probably) going to be unemployed, and I have writing commitments that I'd just as soon rather not put off to the last possible moment (like I normally do). And I want to write, I swear I do!

...It's just so hard to get started doing anything. Especially when I don't even want to put on pants.

:D

May. 11th, 2015 09:09 pm
lea_hazel: The outlook is somewhat dismal (Feel: Crash and Burn)
I had the most amazing migraine today. Just like a nuclear migraine or something.

I swear I will post something fun soon, I have a lot to post about. But this week is only two days old and already killing me.
lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Default)
So, I am flying to a friend's wedding. I did all the arrangements last minute because I was half-convinced I'd be unemployed by now. My flight is late tonight, lands there early Friday morning. Meanwhile I am trying to stick to my lists and focus on the fact that I can live without virtually everything. This is my go-to strategy for situations where forgetting something is virtually guaranteed.
lea_hazel: The outlook is somewhat dismal (Feel: Crash and Burn)
I fly to the US on Thursday night (yes, I know that's the first time I've mentioned it on this blog). I booked what needed booking, described to my mother as "a tour of New York's airports", borrowed a suitcase, planned what clothes to take, started carefully scheduling the laundry cycles... and today I went bra-shopping.

Body talk, I guess )

Anyway, Age of Ultron was frothy but satisfying like a very artificial-tasting milkshake. My brother was naturally more forgiving of it than I was. Some issues I didn't bother bringing up, but I had to mention that the Wanda/Pietro storyline could be lifted right out of the movie with almost no impact. Natasha got an origin, apparently in lieu of actually getting a solo film like the boys. Wanda, though, felt pretty vacant to me.

Whedon's thing with emotionally-damaged brunettes again, I suppose. Or maybe I am being too harsh.
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
Shits about to get real with my [community profile] jukebox_fest assignment. Original fic real.

The 100

Apr. 17th, 2015 08:57 pm
lea_hazel: I am surrounded by tiny red hearts (Feel: Love)
Look, I'm sick and I have therapy and travel plans and money issues and chores, but I just came in here to say that The 100 is officially now the show I didn't think I deserved. Like, I must have done something right in a past life to have gotten this show.

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lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Default)
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