star_ocean_fan: (Immoral Feather)
And, once upon a time, Mondays were for conversation topics, fanfiction writing tips, and convention talk. Of course, naturally, everything started to fizzle because of the following:

1 - I haven't played First Departure, Second Story/Second Evolution, or Blue Sphere. I'd have a wealth of more ideas if I'd played those games already. Sadly, I do not have the following to make any of this happen:
a convertor for the SNES - I own the original Japanese version of Star Ocean, but the cartridge doesn't fit my console. I also don't speak or read Japanese just yet;
a copy of Second Story - you might think I need the PS1 or a PS3 (if the game can be downloaded from the Sony website) but I don't. I'm pretty sure I could play the game on my PS2 as long as I have a PS1 memory card (which I do have) so all I need is a copy;
a copy of Blue Sphere - I could play this on my sister's Nintendo 3DS. Alas, like with the original copy of Star Ocean, I do not speak or read Japanese;
a PSP - I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I own the PSP versions of the first two Star Ocean games. I just need a PSP to play, and I'm not required to speak or read Japanese to play.

2 - There are only so many fanfiction writing tips that I can write without me sounding like an overbearing, bossy brat on how to write an excellent fanfic. At some point, those who want to write fanfiction need to just start writing. Star Ocean fanfiction, as a whole, is only going to be moderately received, even with the release of a new game, if there is a release of a new game.

3 - There's only so much that can be written about conventions as well. I've not been an avid con-goer for the last several years so I'm pretty much new to the whole thing once again. I'll be learning as I go once more.

Now, with all of that said, time to resume everything once more.

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Fanfiction Writing Tip #6 - Trust Yourself and Your Instincts

Recently, through a different account, I had someone contact me about idea and character sharing (which I'm not necessarily interested in doing - I'll turn on my diva side here in a little bit). Some time passed, and the same person contacted me again about reading over the initial fanfiction idea to see if it passes whatever because I happened to be something of a Star Ocean something. (I forget the exact phrasing. It was a compliment, I'm sure, but I'm already wary of this person as it is.)

I am going to take this moment to reiterate another tip from last October: Do not compare yourself to someone who is already established as a fanfiction author, more than especially if you're going to run on the self-deprecating side instead of the more positive side of writing. I cannot press upon the importance of this enough. Yes, this author may have a great following of readers. Yes, that author may produce wonderfully written pieces that stir great emotion within your heart and inspire you to do the same thing. But this author and that author have done ONE thing that you, as a new writer, may not have done: they started to write. They trusted their abilities well enough to open that word document and start an outline, start the first chapter, or whatever approach s/he finds best. At some point, all of the best advice in the world is going to screw with your head, and you're going to doubt yourself and your abilities.

Just start writing.

If you're a review whore, here are some things to take note of: The Star Ocean fandom is small. You're not going to receive a crapload of reviews, no matter which fanfiction site you post your stories to, be it FFN, AO3, deviantArt, adultfanfiction, or your own website. There are also no guarantees that if you chose to write in a larger fandom - Hetalia, Final Fantasy VII, Inuyasha, Gundam Wing, etc . . . - that you will receive a crapload of reviews because of the volume of stories either being updated or added on a daily basis. You might get lucky and gain five reviews and two followers. You might not gain anything at all. That's just how fanfiction works.

That said, just keep writing. No one else is going to tell your story the way that you want it told.

Trust yourself and trust your instincts.

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The Diva In Me

Now for my diva side when it comes to fanfiction: Yes, I am something of a snob from time to time. I do not like being approached by others with things and characters they think will enhance my stories. I used to listen to others and politely reject their ideas because said ideas just didn't jive with what I was doing. Heck, I really don't even like people asking me to read their stuff because I often have a feeling I know what they're after from me: reviews of praise and glory and not necessarily the constructive criticism I tend to hand out if I review at all.

Read more... )
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Conversation Topic - Why Did It Take Symbological Genetics So Long to Become a Field of Study?

I'm not sure I've touched on this before (I really need to go through and compile a list of all the conversation topics I've done since 2012) so if I have, I apologize. But has anyone wondered why it took a little over seven hundred years for Symbological Genetics to become a field of study? Not just for humans but for the entire universe? Remember, Robert Leingod is the leading authority on the subject and the pioneer of the field. They establish as much in the game with the Vendeeni taking him (and Sophia) hostage and hunting Fayt from one end of the universe to another.

I bring this up (again, possibly) because symbology does appear in The Last Hope. The first human to (allegedly) use symbology is Edge. Now I understand why symbological genetics may not have taken off in the new calender year (by this, I mean the year ending in S.D. instead of A.D.) - with Edge as the only human capable of using symbology, he may not have told anyone about it. I don't think he'd relish the idea of being a guinea pig once more (though the injection of alien D.N.A. explains how he's able to use and learn Symbology). Not helping this is Lemuris being declared an underdeveloped planet along with Roak, the Eldarians forsaking their technology to live there, and the Morphus disappearing into space once more. It isn't for another three hundred years, when the stone sickness returns on Roak, that symbology even becomes an issue once more. (Ronyx apparently learned it when he's tossed back into the past to defeat Asmodeus - that's according to the Star Ocean wikia so if that's incorrect, someone please let me know.) The first three hundred years are covered, providing Edge and Reimi after their nuptials (yes - that's apparently canon if you get Reimi's ending) never have any children (and I have my doubts about her ability to conceive) and providing the human race doesn't encounter any more symbologically-inclined alien races.

But what about after those three hundred years? Yes, it is mentioned in Till the End of Time about books on symbology - if you talk with the flirt on the beach and either claim to not know Sophia or say she's like your little sister, you find out the title of at least one well renowned book because it's something Sophia is "lusting" after because Fayt offers to give his dad's copy to her - but still Robert Leingod (along with his wife) is the leading and only authority on symbological genetics.

Till the End of Time's in-game dictionary does give some insight as to why no one else has touched the subject of symbological genetics - religious and ethical groups. These are also the same people who are responsible for why Robert's experiments on Fayt, Maria, and Sophia are forbidden: They don't want "super" humans to be created and thus perhaps bring down the wrath of God/the Creator/what-have-you upon them. (The reason for their reasons, I'm inclined to believe, have nothing to do with the experiments done on Crowe, Edge, and Reimi as only a select few seemed to know about that. Those experiments were such closely guarded secrets, I'm surprised Reimi's parents had the courage to tell her when they did and under those circumstances.)

This isn't to say symbology wasn't studied over four centuries. The more space is explored, new races encountered, and new tech developed, the exposure symbology gets. All Robert really did was combine the study of symbology with genetic-engineering, which took a lot of years of studying, I'm sure. It just amazes me no one does it sooner.

Thoughts on how come this took so long?

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Convention Talk - Going it Alone

If you've never gone to a convention before but would like to, you may want to make your first venture to one a solo one. There are some good reasons behind this:

1 - You won't feel obligated to hang around the people you may end up carpooling with. This gives you the opportunity to explore the hotel/convention center where the event is being held without influence from others.

2 - You can talk to other people without feeling rushed.

3 - You can attend the panels you want.

4 - You get that newbie's first time experience without influene from others.

Now, this isn't to say you can't do that if you carpool with people you've known for a very long time or have just met over the internet. Because, really, you can. But traveling by yourself can free things up for you if you're unsure of what to do. Yes, there are risks to traveling alone, the least of which is incurring all of your travel and hotel costs. In this day and age, though, most people who are traveling tend to have cellphones.

Of course, how you travel to a convention is entirely up to you, the new con attendee. The size of the convention also makes a difference. Over the course of the next few weeks, I'll weigh the pros and cons of traveling with others for first time attendees as well as the larger vs. smaller conventions for first timers.

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The PS4 Release

One of the last times I mentioned a new release for Star Ocean, which is currently a mobile phone game for Japanese residents, I commented on how the release of the PS4 could mean a new Star Ocean game. This is something we've looking forward for since the last game's release. I know I am, but, at the same time, I'm experiencing some trepidation about the new system's release. Here's why:

According to what my brother has heard (and he's not heard any differently as of yet), it will cost players $5 a month to play the games for the new PS4 console. From the sounds of it, Sony is going to require all players to connect to their server in order to play any games, be they downloaded or an actual hard copy. This is in addition to paying for the console itself.

This isn't striking me as necessarily a good thing because gamers are already paying close to $400 for the console. This doesn't include the average price of $40-$60 of brand new games. (New consoles don't have used games out until a few months or so into sales.) If a player only earns X dollars per month, the cost of the console and the games are nothing to sneeze at. Add onto that another $60 per year just to play however many games a player decides to buy on top of the cost of the games? It does add up, and, for me, that $60 could go for something else - like a brand new game, the registration cost of a convention, etc . . . To me, it feels like gouging the customer, and no console is worth an additional $60 a year just for the privilege of playing.

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The Thirty-one Days of Halloween

This is very tentative on my part. As of right now, I would love to do something I'm calling the 31 Days of Halloween. What does this mean, you might ask? It means that, starting on October 1, I will post a Halloween-themed one-shot all the way through to the end of the month. I am not taking requests, and if I gift-fic a piece for someone, it will be posted as to who it's for in the author's notes. This is tentative and all dependent upon how much time I have to focus on writing as well as inspiration. Sometimes it's real easy to knock out a one-shot, sometimes it isn't. It really can be a hit or miss.

And that concludes today's entry! Have a wonderful Monday evening!
star_ocean_fan: (Default)
Fanfic Writing Tip #10 - Writing Effective Songfic and Using Lyrics in Your Stories

I want to start by saying that I am not against someone writing a songfic, a story with the same name and with the lyrics throughout the story, or using song lyrics in a story. One of my first stories is a songfic, and it's one that I consider to be among my best stories. I still like to write songfic and to use lyrics in my stories, all because it's an added effect to the story I'm writing. Get the right song for the right mood and the right theme for the story you're writing, and you will have a very powerful piece that will move the reader on levels they didn't even realize existed.

There is some etiquette involved with writing songfics and using song lyrics in a story, some dos and don'ts that can either make or break your story for the reader. Some can also get your account deleted.

In order to keep your account from being deleted on a particular website, read the site's Terms of Service very carefully. Some fanfiction sites do not allow song lyrics in stories, unless they are your own. Period. It doesn't stop people from posting their stories, however, so, if you choose to violate the site's ToS on song lyrics, do so at your own risk.

Some sites don't follow the "No Song Lyrics" allowed rule. They do, however, restrict the amount of lyrics used. There has to be a certain amount of story for each line of lyric in it. Because of this, I advise that the writer read the Terms of Service for each site s/he uses for posting fanfiction.

Now with the site restrictions out of the way, there are a few other things authors should keep in mind when using song lyrics in a story.

1 - Disclaimer and Credit!!! Not all songs are in the public domain, i.e., they can be posted anywhere at any given time (think of the many Christmas songs you used to sing in elementary school for Christmas programs). Most of the songs I've seen used (and have used myself) are copyrighted. If you've ever looked in a CD liner with lyrics, you might see "reprinted with permission" somewhere. Because of this, make sure your readers know that you don't own the song lyrics you're using and credit the band or singer, along with the album it can be found on, performed the song.

2 - There are a few different ways to utilize a song for a story, especially if the story is based around it. Watch how you use the song in question. Beginning authors might not realize it, but there is a correct and incorrect way to use a song.

For example, I love this song called "Invisible Boyfriend" by a band out of New Orleans called the Continental Drifters. It's a very sad and haunting song. To utilize the lyrics for the story, to title the story after the song itself, I would do this:

Line 1 of a verse
Line 2 of the same verse
Line 3 of the same verse
Line 4 of the same verse
--- Invisible Boyfriend, Continental Drifters, Continental Drifters (1995)

(Story section based on the verse)

That gets the song out there, gives the reader an idea of what the segment is about before I repeat the process for the next segment (or what would be a PoV change if you're using more than one PoV)

Now, if the character is listening to a song, and there's a current mood about that character in that tender, happy, or sad moment, a snippet of lyrics isn't a bad way to go. A line here, a line there are more than sufficient to add to the mood, to create the effect. To make sure people know who sang what, I write in an author's note, often at the end of the story (or at the beginning - depends on where I'm trying to convey mood or indicate what I'm listening to when I write a segment or a chapter) so the reader can then find the song. (When I started writing fanfiction in 2000, I uploaded CDs to my computer. This was before iTunes and youtube.)

The biggest mistake I've seen when people try to use song lyrics is that they overload the story with an entire song. This is a big no-no. One, it takes up more space than it needs to and that can be dedicated to story. Two, it overwhelms the reader who isn't reading the piece for the song but for the story itself. It's cool to share a song that you love. After all, there are plenty of good songs out there that deserve more love than what they may or may not receive. It isn't cool to overwhelm your readers with your favorite songs. As an author, your ultimate goal should be to tell a story effectively without taking up space for song lyrics. If someone points that out to you, it is for good reason. If you've ever felt cheated on a story because an author has done that, then please keep that in mind when writing songfic and using song lyrics yourself. Readers don't like to be cheated out of story.

Next week's writing tip: Asking for Critiques Before Posting - Writer to Writer Etiquette

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Conversation Topic - Power Hungry Characters of Till the End of Time

As with any game, there is always one or two characters that want more than what they already have. They're always grasping, reaching, and doing whatever they can to have more - more land, more money, more weapons, more power - and it's often without regard for who gets trampled along the way.

In Till the End of Time, there are three characters that I would classify as power hungry. No. Luther Lansfeld is not on this list. He probably should be on it, but he has his reasons for doing what he's done. I don't see him so much as power hungry as I do extreme OCD and control freak. He's already at the highest level of power in the game. He's the Creator. He's God.

First on this list, naturally, is Norton. Yes. Norton. Remember him? He was the first boss players fought on Vanguard III, the one who if you were leveled up high enough, didn't last five minutes. He didn't get much air time and you don't see him again until after you've defeated Luther and start wandering through the locked levels of Sphere 211.

Norton is definitely a power hungry character. He wants to turn his little area of Vanguard III into a kingdom. Anyone who stands up to him, who doesn't do as he wishes, dies. His mistreatment of the villages of Whipple leads them to mistrust Fayt when he first arrives.

Second on this list is Duke Vox, Captain of the Dragon Brigade. He, too, is a power hungry character who might not have stopped at his current rank if he had not died an untimely death. There isn't much of a backstory for his ascent to power unless the player recruits Albel before the fight with Crosell instead of the default of Nel. Upon recruiting Albel over Nel, taking him to the four dimensional realm opens up the ability to obtain a legendary sword called the Crimson Scourge.

Vox tried to wield the sword after he set up Albel for the Flame of Ascension when he was too young. Albel fans know that it was his father, Glou Nox, who saved him from certain death, but the right of passage left Albel physically and emotionally scarred. Vox himself is driven to the point of madness because he tried to claim the Crimson Scourge for himself.

He knew no bounds in his quest for power, either. Vox helped to start the war between Aquaria and Airyglyph by spreading the lie that the followers of Apris wanted to assassinate the king. Innocent people were tortured and killed because of that lie.

Finally, I come to the third person on this list, and that honor goes to Belzeber, of the four dimensional realm. Born into a powerful family and the son of the original owner of Sphere 211, Belzeber has a very strong sense of entitlement. He is not happy that, upon his father's retirement/handing over power of the company to Luther. While he doesn't care about the company itself or the gaming world of the Eternal Sphere, Belzeber thinks and feels that all of it should be his and his alone.

Belzeber is also the kind who doesn't care who he hurts along the way in order to get what he wants. He's willing to kill Blair, someone he's known for a very long time, because the Owner has decreed it. If he's willing to go that far on someone else's order, just how far would he go to try and usurp Luther from his position of power?

I'm sure that there are other characters in Till the End of Time that others think are power hungry. I encourage everyone to give me their thoughts on them. (For this entry, please keep the power hungry character comments to Till the End of Time. I will write on the other games for power hungry characters so comments for them.)

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Convention/Cosplay Talk - To Go Alone or Join a Group?

When it comes to convention and cosplay, some people may find themselves asking whether or not if they should go alone, fly solo as it were, or if they should meet up with others for a cosplay group. This isn't exactly an easy question to answer when it comes to conventions and cosplay. Traveling in a group to the convention site is actually quite economical - the people in the car, truck, or van help pay for gas and thus save on gas - but it isn't always possible. If you can arrange a travel group, by all means, do it.

As for cosplay, this is where I say do both. Gather a group for one day, fly solo for another . . . have fun with it. If none of your friends are going to the conventions, find other people to hook up with for cosplay groups. There are many clubs on this site, deviantart, and, of course, one can always use facebook.

star_ocean_fan: (Edge Maverick)
The Thing That Struck Reimi as Strange and Exciting When It Shouldn't Have

Saturday was the first time in quite a while that I'd been able to play The Last Hope. It wasn't because I misplaced the game (I make sure to know where it's located at all times . . . it was because the TV remote disappeared and I didn't have much of a desire to play until recently. Anyway, as I was roaming around Woodley yesterday on my fifth or sixth game start, I was reminded of something I'd done in another play-through when wandering around Triom and Woodley both. 

I don't know how many people have done this, but, if you enter various homes and shops, you can find interaction points. Not the ones with the bright magenta/violet exclamation point but one where the "examine" option appears when wandering around the room. It's actually quite fun, especially when you check the well in Woodley. (If you haven't tried examining the homes and shops on Lemuris, I highly recommend it! It doesn't do anything to progress the game or give away affinity points, but it's still entertaining.)

In one such home/shop - I'm not remembering which at this moment - Edge, Reimi, and Faize discover a table with food, a knife, and a cutting board on it.  The moment Reimi "sees" these very similar items, she's excited.  "They cook like we do!" 

Those might not be her exact words when you find the right area to examine, but it's pretty close. I do get her excitement to an extent - she does like to cook and bake, after all, and her main inventing talent is cooking. I, too, like to cook and bake when I can get the chance - but at the same time, I ask myself, "Really? You expect other civilizations to not prepare meals in a similar manner? How can this really be that surprising? It isn't like they're the bugs from Aeos!"

The Lemurians aren't too far off from human in appearance. They're not human, but they look human. Logically speaking, it's natural for them to prepare food in a manner that's similar to humans. 

At least . . . that's my opinion on the matter.

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Fanfiction Writing Tip #8 - Comparing Yourself, the Beginning Author, to Established Fanfiction Authors

In a phrase - don't do this. Whatever you do, do not compare yourself to someone who has written fanfiction for years. I recently had someone do this to me, and I had to gently "scold" her for it. Why? Well, one, I didn't find it very flattering because I've been writing for years and she was also, at the time, throwing a temper tantrum over a critique I'd left her (long story - I'm not getting into it). Two, she was driving herself nuts comparing her writing style and her ability to write period to mine. As a beginning author, if you're comparing yourself to someone who's been writing for a year or more, that's all you're going to do is frustrate and defeat yourself.

I've been writing fanfiction steadily since the beginning of 2000 (my first forays were when I was in the sixth grade, and they were class assignments - something to do while the majority of the class was in band; I've been writing off and on since I was nine). It's taken me years to get as far as I have with my writing. During this time, I've encountered a wide variety of people, and a few of them have said, "I could never write as well as you do" to me, despite my encouraging them to actually write their own works, and I personally find that particular attitude rather annoying because I've been writing fanfiction for so long. I'm not the sadistic kind of writer who lets such talk get to my head. If anything, it worries me when a beginning author is so frustrated that they're not at the same level as a favorite fanfiction author, that they feel like they can't write and they won't ever be good at it. Those of you who've written fanfiction for a while now know it's something we do as often as we can. Yes, many of us are born with the ability to write, but we're also always writing and therefore always improving. I'll admit that I'm conceited about my works, too. If I'm bored and can't find something good to read, I'll read my own stories, but I also know that there are other authors who are just as good, if not better, than what I am. I just don't compare myself to them for the sake of my own sanity and desire to write.

So don't defeat yourself before you can truly begin. Don't compare your writing skills to other authors. The only one who can truly write the stories in your head is you.

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Ask the Star Ocean Character Reminder

This is everyone's reminder for Ask the Star Ocean Character. I'm taking questions for Deputy Director Shimada, Bacchus D-79, and Peppita Rosetti. Limit three questions per character per person, and keep it clean!

The deadline for submitting questions is midnight, October 31, 2012. 

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Convention Talk - Specialized Conventions vs. General Conventions

This will probably fall into the same area as Smaller Conventions vs. Larger Conventions so please bear with me on this.

In the Smaller Conventions vs. Larger Conventions discussion, I wrote about how to decide which convention would be better for the first time convention attendee. Smaller conventions tend to be more local whereas the larger conventions are in major cities. The same holds true for the specialized convention, i.e. the convention dedicated to a specific series, when compared to attending a general convention. Which one would be better?

This, while finances play a huge part in what a person can attend, has more to do with what the individual fan wants from a convention experience. Also, what a fan is looking for in terms of merchandise and exclusives factors into this particular equation. For example, if one attends Anime Expo, Otakon, ShutoCon, YoumaCon, or even ComiCon, one will find a larger selection of merchandise in the dealer rooms and artists alleys. Convention exclusives will range from a variety of fandoms, and many of the cosplayers won't strictly be in anime, manga, or comic book characters. The guests will come from different series, be it the voice actors or the writers or anyone else involved in the creation process. (Some of my friends cosplayed Spaceballs characters at the 2011 Otakon event. Just an FYI.) On the other hand, a more specialized convention (like BotCon) will cater more to the fans of that particular series. Convention exclusives are tailored for the fan base. The dealer room and artist alley will be marginally smaller (depends on the convention) and feature items also geared towards the fan base. A more specialized convention may also be more expensive in terms of registration, which is something to consider as well. Also, another factor that plays into whether or not anyone attends is location, location, location. At both, the chances of meeting and making friends with like-minded people are extremely great (so you won't ever be lonely).

In the end, it's entirely up to the person as to what kind of a convention s/he wants to attend. As for me, I rather like both so I won't hesitate in recommending that people attend at least one fan-based convention in his/her life.

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This week, I'll be celebrating the assigned birthday of Robert Leingod, Fayt Leingod's dad. I'll also be posting Halloween-related stories. If you wish to write something impromptu for Robert's birthday, I will accept it and post it. I'll be celebrating Albel (October 30) and Stephen D. Kenny (October 27) as well.

Have a good Monday everyone!
star_ocean_fan: (Immoral Feather)
I apologize for that. I've had a lot on my mind lately, most of it centering on writing original material, some health issues, and searching for work. I don't like being limited to talking about two games for Star Ocean when there are four major games and one side game (Blue Sphere for the Gameboy). Oddly enough, for me to be able to talk about the first two games (and possibly Blue Sphere), to start on the cosplay, ball-joined doll, and crafts I want to do, collect the merchandise and doujinshi . . .  all of this requires money, of which I have very little right now.

So some updates on me:

1 - I'm obviously still broke so that takes YoumaCon out of the picture for me this year and possibly Anime Apocalypse in December. Anime Apocalypse is going to be on a "maybe" list - it depends on what happens between now and the first of December in terms of a cash flow. I really do want to get back into the convention circuits so I can meet new people and catch up with friends. However, the lack of cash coming in is hindering that, and there are some other things taking priority over heading out to conventions. That could be changing soon. I received a phone call for a job interview today so I'm crossing my fingers!

2 - Health status: I'm still alive, still relatively healthy. I just now have to watch my caffeine intake and take a water pill due to my blood pressure running on the high side. I really should start taking my healthy living cues from Fayt. He's such a healthy, albeit fictional character. I think we could learn a thing or two from some of our favorite characters . . .

3 - There has been some tragedy in my family. I'm not going into details about it. Just know it was a sad time for one of my family members, and it's the kind of thing I don't ever wish on anyone.

4 - Writing progress is questionable. It depends on the story. That could change, depending on how the job interview for tomorrow goes. Yes. I am crossing my fingers that this pans out for me. The heavens above know I could use something to keep myself going. (Not working sucks. I realize I'm looking at a minimum wage job, but I don't care. Work is work.)

Beyond that, not much is new. I have no other reasons for not updating this journal regularly.

So onward with the entry! 

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Writing Conversation - What Would Everyone Dress Up as For Halloween? Part One

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday of Halloween, I'll be writing a four-part series on what I think the humans of the Star Ocean universe would dress up as to go trick-or-treating. Some of it will be guesswork, since I still haven't played First Departure and Second Story/Second Evolution, but I will pose the question to Kojika, who has played the games. If you have thoughts, please feel free to leave me a comment on what you think and why.

First of all, I'd like to say that, on the subject of Halloween, it is a holiday I think would survive in a post-apocalyptic world. It's something that, by this point in time, people will have celebrated for at least a century and more than a few decades. It would bring about a sense of normalcy after such a great deal of catastrophic destruction. Whether people would remember why the holiday is celebrated is another subject entirely.

To start, I'll be writing in the series' timeline chronological order, not in publishing chronological order. (This gives me something to actually start with since I'm familiar with the characters of The Last Hope.)

Halloween would be, in the future, like it is now - a fun time of the year that signifies change and is one of the few times where it's socially acceptable to dress up as something else. (Conventions are excluded because not all people believe it's okay to dress up for such a thing. I know a couple of people who are like that. Only the dedicated dress up year-round.) It would also be the one time of the year where people could forget about their troubles.

Since they grew up together, it isn't hard to imagine Crowe, Edge, and Reimi along with her brother trick-or-treating as a group. What would be interesting to see is if they would be coordinated in their costumes. Would Reimi insist upon a theme or would they be random? I can't see Crowe and Edge (mostly Edge) always agreeing to be what Reimi wants them to be for Halloween.

And just what do I think Reimi would want to dress up as for Halloween? A couple of costumes come to mind. If any of the Disney movies are still available, I can see Reimi wanting to be one of the many princesses, from Snow White to Ariel, from Aurora to Belle, and everyone else who she would see as beautiful, strong, independent, and pure. (Remember fellow fans, she thinks she's a monster because she knows what she is.) If not a Disney princess, then a fairy tale princess of some kind. Anything that would make her feel beautiful about herself, albeit if only temporarily.

Heading down the non-princess route, there are also the bride, bridesmaid, flower girl, housewife, chef, and maybe a delicate fairy or a ballerina. Reimi is quite the girl - feminine, pink, frilly, cute - and, as I said before, it would come down to her wanting to feel beautiful about herself. Costumes at Halloween would reflect that.

Between Edge and Crowe, I feel like Crowe would be the one more likely to accommodate Reimi in her requests for themed trick-or-treating. In my mind, it would depend on how soon he knows about being a Seed of Hope and if he knows. That's the one thing, for me, that remains up in the air, only because Crowe remained as an NPC throughout the whole game. I'm leaning towards "yes" because he's got such an excellent poker face, but it'll be unclear  and up to the player in that regard. However, I think he'd only accommodate Reimi so far based upon what he knows. Crowe is very much a leader-type character, and it would most definitely reflect in his Halloween costumes. With dreams of heading into space, that, too, would play a factor in the kinds of costumes Crowe (and Edge). Crowe definitely sees himself as some kind of a hero, but he's also quite modest about it.

Both Edge and Crowe would be Reimi's knights in the times they accommodate her for themed Halloween costumes. I can also imagine both of them dressing up as ninjas, samurai, archeologists, adventurers, pirates (what little boy doesn't want to be a pirate for Halloween? What little girl, for that matter, too?), and any kind of modern military soldier (including rank). There might be some of the cutesy stuff in there because of their parents - pumpkins, ghosts . . . typical Halloween fare - but, of the two, I think the only one who would want to dress up as something "evil", for the fun of it, would be Crowe. He's got vampire written all over him!

So what would our intrepid heroes and heroine receive as Halloween treats? Companies like Hershey's, Nestle', M&M/Mars, and Brach's are no longer in business. What would people hand out for the youngsters out and about on Halloween night? Well, if the building in Antarctica survives (it contains the seeds for all fruits and vegetables as well as herbs, grasses, and the like), I can see people giving out fruits like apples, oranges, bananas, pears, and plums. There would also be homemade caramel corn, popcorn, popcorn balls in a variety of flavors, cookies, cupcakes, and homemade candies.

As for the non-human characters, if they were to visit Earth, they wouldn't need to dress up for Halloween because everyone would think they were already in costume. The discussion for how Edge and Reimi would explain the concept of Halloween will be another entry.

Kinds of costumes and treats are definitely open to discussion. Feel free to leave me a comment on what you think.

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Writing Fanfiction Tip #7 - Write in a Logical Order And Use Logic

I recently wrote a review on a story where certain events didn't follow in a logical order. In the story, a new parent, a recently divorced dad, has moved, with his two-year-old son, to a new town. While the dad is trying to cook Ragu and pasta, the son goes outside to play, and he finds a kitten. Like a two-year-old, the boy takes the kitten back into the house, and the dad wonders where his son found the critter. This, naturally, leads to the dad asking the boy where the kitten was found and to the discovery of a dead mother cat with the rest of the litter still alive. Concerned over the kittens, the dad takes them to a local vet to find out what he needs to do in order to keep them alive. Cue the dad heading home, finishing dinner, giving his son a bath, putting the child to bed, and then heading to the pet store with the two-year-old left home alone.

This isn't a logical procession in events. Everything is okay until the dad returns home, finishes preparing dinner, and gives his child a bath so he can go to bed. It's after the child is in bed that he realizes he needs supplies for the cats in his care. Of course, my biggest problem with the procession of events is the fact a two-year-old is left unattended for at least twenty minutes as the parent rushes to the pet store with one of the kittens in tow. For someone who is a parent or who has helped to take care of young children, this is a major no-no and likely to offend and anger the person reading. It's also going to have the reader scratching his/her head, saying, "This doesn't make sense. No parent would leave a two-year-old, even sleeping, home alone. Too much can go wrong in a short amount of time". It doesn't matter if a person can be scatter-brained at times. People in real life have those moments, but I can speak with authority that a "new" parent or a single parent isn't going to leave any child under the age of 12 home alone.

And that's something a writer, any writer, must always be aware of whenever starting a story. What kind of a logical order will events take place? In the story I reviewed, for me, the logical order of events, after the trip to the vet, the dad should have gone to the pet store to get the necessary supplies, with his son in tow, after the trip to the vet or at least take his sleeping son with him when he left to get the supplies. What this tells me, as a reader and as someone who's lived with a two-year-old, that the writer of the story doesn't know what she's talking about when it comes to children and the various things that can go wrong if a parent takes his eyes off his son for a scant minute. (Note: a two-year-old can drown in a bucket of water only a quarter filled in under two minutes.)

Now, it might seem mundane and more than a little nitpicky on a logical procession of events, especially over something as simple as heading to the store. Sometimes authors will try to do something that will create a conflict or add to a conflict, but it comes at the wrong point in the story or it isn't exactly true to how a person in a similar, real life situation might behave.

Here are two examples.

Character A is an experienced bank robber and is planning his next heist. Like anyone who's attempting or has attempted the same thing, he doesn't want to get caught, and he takes the necessary precautions he's always taken before. The character in question isn't going to walk into the bank, guns ablazing and then remember to put the mask on his face to conceal his identity in the middle of the crime. Yes, doing such a thing would create a problem for him, but it would be more interesting if he happened to walk into the bank for some other reason than robbery and be caught in the middle of another robbery.

Character B is a firefighter and needs to check her equipment to be sure it's functioning properly. She isn't going to gear up, run into a place that's on fire, and then stop to ask herself if she's got enough oxygen in her tank onceshe's entered a burning building.

If you've never been in a particular situation before but want to write about it, start asking questions. If you're writing about a man who's married, a parent, but is going through a divorce, ask someone who's gone through a divorce what it was like. If you're curious about police procedures, ask your local cops or utilize a search engine. Fanfiction is something that's free for anyone who has internet access to read. If you're not getting it right, you're going to lose a reader and end up with the kind of review that I left for the author of the story with the dad and the son and the new acquisition of kittens - not a very nice one.

It's just something to think about when you start writing.

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Halloween

I'm looking for Halloween photos, artwork, fanfiction, and fan poetry for display. Photos can be of Star Ocean carved pumpkins, figures with Halloween decorations, and the like. Cosplay is definitely welcome. The only requirements are the works must be themed for Halloween and must be related to Star Ocean (obviously). Fanfiction should be limited to one-shots and vignettes, but I will accept multi-chaptered stories so long as they're complete. They can be submitted to me at luthersfayt@gmail.com and I'll accept submissions until October 30th.

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Doujinshi Call Out

Looking for doujinshi titles. Pairings doesn't matter. Rating doesn't matter. I'm trying to compile a list of all Star Ocean doujinshi. Any and all help is appreciated. You can PM me, leave me a comment, or email me what you've got.

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Convention Talk - Creating Your Cosplay

Finally! The long-awaited topic of how to create your cosplay is finally here! I know. It took me long enough, didn't it?

First of all and foremost, to start with, the most obvious thing to do if you're going to create your own cosplay is pick your character. The type of character you choose, from what I've been able to discern from others, will determine the the type and costs of materials you'll need in order to create the costume. Are you choosing Sophia? Albel? Nel? Reimi? Claude? Crowe? Arumat? Bacchus?

Once you've answered that question (and, chances are, you already know this in advance), then you can answer the question of what kinds of materials do I need to buy or will I need to buy? Will I need to find a sewing pattern? Naturally, if you're going to be sewing, you'll need fabric and thread to match the color. Other materials include vinyl (or leather, though it was recommended to me to avoid leather), plastic canvas, craft foam, paint, paint brushes, sewing needles, yarn, knitting needles or a knitting loom, embroidery thread, and maybe an empty two-liter bottle. This last item is completely dependent upon which character you intend to cosplay, and everything listed is just for the outfits of the characters. If you plan on creating the weapons to go with your cosplay, you'll definitely need additional materials, i.e. wood, sand paper, maybe cardboard, and additional paint, perhaps even craft foam and plastic canvas. (Wood and cardboard are tricky to work with because, once you screw up, you have to buy more and start from scratch.)

Please remember to take caution when you're buying the materials to craft your cosplay. The overall idea is to make something that you can wear more than once and maybe outside of conventions, too. When it comes to materials, you get what you pay for in terms of quality, and I'm not talking about the vinyl or the plastic canvas. I'm talking about the fabric and thread used to create the base of the outfit. Keep an eye out for sales at your local fabrics store. Yes, for many Americans, it's cheaper to go to Wal-Mart than to some place that actually sells a larger (and decidedly more expensive) selection of fabric, but your local fabric stores do have sales. They do also offer up coupons and additional percentages off. Be smart about buying your materials. Go for quality but get it as cheaply as you can, when you can. If you plan on creating more than just one cosplay, it isn't a bad idea to stock up on materials

Now there are some things you may not or just won't be able to make. For example, let's say you're creating Albel Nox (once again). You've bought the wig and the right kind of foot wear, have the materials to sew his outfit, it's done, but you don't have the materials for his gauntlet (nor the time, the money, or maybe even the know-how to fashion them before the convention). How do you come up with that one crucial element that separates Albel from the rest of the Star Ocean gang?

You can start by checking your local boutiques for arm-length gloves either white or violet. If you can find a white pair that covers as much of your arm as needed, you can find the right color dye so that it looks appropriate. And don't forget that, for Albel and Sophia, thigh-length stockings are in order, too. Kojika, for her Claude cosplay, found moon shoes to fit her for an appropriate look.

All of this, of course, is only necessary if you plan making your own cosplay for your next convention and is what I've learned in talking with the experienced cosplayers I know (whom I'm also very proud to call my friends). If you're buying the materials so someone else can create the costume for you, talk to that person and find out what they need and how much of it so they can do just that for you. If you plan on heading to one of the many cosplay costume sights on the web, then the best advice I can give to you is to do your research on customer satisfaction. How well did the company craft the cosplay for others? Would the customers recommend the site again? Remember, it's your money that you're spending, and I guarantee that you'll have a ball at your next convention.

Next convention talk . . . to be determined.

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Ask the Star Ocean Character Call Out, Triple the Fun: Deputy Director Shimada, Bacchus D-79, and Peppita Rosetti

Taking questions for the following characters: Deputy Director Shimada, Bacchus D-79, and Peppita Rosetti. Questions can be submitted via PM, comment or email. The only rules are a limit of three questions per character, keep it clean and "polite", and the questions must be submitted by PM, comment, or email. I'll be taking questions until midnight of October 31, 2012.

star_ocean_fan: (Default)
Ask the Star Ocean Character: Deputy Director Shimada - FINAL CALL

Today is the final call for Ask the Star Ocean Character for Deputy Director Shimada. Everyone who's interested has until midnight tomorrow night to submit three questions.

I really don't have very many rules for Ask the Star Ocean Character . . . aside from keep your language clean, limit three questions per person, and that they be submitted before the deadline. If you want to remain "anonymous" or have specific user name you'd like for me to use, please let me know, or I will simply create a user ID for you.

Again, today is the final call for Ask the Star Ocean Character for Deputy Director Shimada. All questions must be submitted by midnight tomorrow night. Limit three questions per person.

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Convention Talk - The Art  and Costs of Cosplay

I pushed Convention Talk from yesterday to today because I wanted to delve into cosplaying, but I was running out of time at the computer.  I like having time to write. :)

First of all, I want to start out by saying it isn't mandatory to cosplay at a convention. I think that the decision to cosplay on the part of the attendee should also be up to the person in question. Cosplaying isn't exactly super expensive, but it also isn't super cheap, either, depending on the type of character the person has chosen. It can also be time consuming, again, depending upon the time of character chosen for the event and number of characters.

For example, if a Star Ocean fan has chosen to cosplay at an event, such as Otakon, there's the question of whether or not s/he wants to even choose a Star Ocean character. For the sake of the blog, I'll say that the person has chosen Star Ocean and has also chosen to cosplay as Albel Nox, not for the sake of simplicity but for the love of the character. After all, Albel Nox isn't going to be an easy character to create nor will he be cheap. An Albel Nox wig on eBay runs around $170.00 alone, if you're not fortunate enough to have hair long enough or similar in color to Albel's to pull it off. I'm sure there are other ways to get the hair situated for Albel Nox, such as buying two separate wigs and combining them. It might be cheaper to buy two or three separate wigs and the bindings used to give Albel those long tails.

After figuring out how to get the hair done, there is the rest of the costume and the question of how the cosplayer is going to proceed. There are companies and people that can be found who will put the costume together for the cosplayer. It can be done relatively cheaply, depending on the person/company contacted, and all the cosplayer needs to do is send in the measurements. This can actually be quite beneficial for the person who can't sew or is perhaps pressed for time when it comes to sewing. If you know someone in your immediate area or in your life who can sew, you might be able to get out of a little cheaper than finding a company through eBay or a google search, but remember, it will still cost, if only for the materials used. Also, Albel has that gauntlet that extends over his hand and fingers up to his shoulder. While the man skirt and crop top style shirt Albel wears won't be too much of a hassle to put together, I can only imagine what it would be like to assemble that gauntlet. (If this has sparked an interest to actually create an Albel costume, please find Kojika and Charryblossom on dA . . . they've created their own Albel costumes, and can tell a person better than what I could on how to create Albel Nox.)

Finally, to complete Albel is to create his twin katana blades. Getting them can be accomplished a couple of different ways. One - buy actual katanas and tie a white ribbon around the hilts and sheaths when at a convention. If the convention doesn't allow for real weapons (because you never really know), the other way is to make the blades one's self or commission someone to make them. While I've only seen the swords made from craft foam and plastic canvas, one can also use wood if s/he has a lot of patience, time, and determination. The craft foam and plastic canvas might be more forgiving than wood, but not by much, in my estimation. Like with the outfit and gauntlet for Albel, if you know someone who can craft the item better than what you can, don't hesitate to ask that person if s/he can do that for you.

When it comes to asking family and friends to help in the creation of a cosplay, be sure you know for sure if the person is capable at either sewing, accessory creation, or both. I have friends who can do both. I have friends who can't sew worth a smeg to save their lives, but they still come up with really cool cosplays.

Of course, there are other characters who won't necessarily be as time consuming in creating the outfits and weapons the way that Albel is. There are others who are more time consuming and perhaps more costly than what Albel is as well. Fayt Leingod won't ever be an easy one, due to his leg armor. Same goes for Edge Maverick, Bacchus D-79, Crowe, Arumat P. Thanatos, or anyone else who has a great deal of bulk to their outfits, unless you're going for a slight reinventing of the character, which, as long as you've got some of the necessities, shouldn't be too much of an issue. (But if you've chosen Albel, and Albel doesn't look like Albel, you've got a big problem.)

Along the same lines of difficulty, in my estimation, as Albel, I'd say Faize Sheifa Beleth, Luther Lansfeld*, Nel Zelpher, Reimi Saionji, Myuria Tionysus, Sarah Jerand**, Ioshua Jerand**, Eleyna Farrence, Meracle Chamlotte**, and, from what I've seen on dA for First Departure and Second Story/Second Evolution cosplay, Rena Lanford, Celine Jules, Precis, Ashton, and Ratix (Roddick) Farrence, Millie, and any other Lesser Fellpool.

For simpler costumes, Cliff, Mirage, Adray, Lymle, Illia, Ronyx, the Sphere 211 employees . . . basically anyone who doesn't have wings, tails, overly large ears, bulky armor, or any kind of bulk. Period.

* - Luther is here due to the amount of panels to his outfit. If it weren't more elaborate than the other Sphere 211 employees, I'd say it's simple but it isn't. Also, if you intend to do his hand-shaped wings . . . put him in the same group as Edge and Fayt. Those wings are insane!

** - These are characters that can easily bounce from time, cost, and difficulty in creating for one reason and one reason only - wings, tails, and ears. If you can buy them pre-made, they fall into the same category as Albel when it comes to creation. If you're making the wings and the tails, I'd bump them up into the same category as Fayt and Edge.

Naturally, if none of this truly interests you, that's quite all right. Not everyone is interested in cosplaying. Not everyone likes cosplaying. It's a personal preference. However, if you are interested in creating a cosplay, next week, I'll write about the kinds of materials you'll need to do so. This is from my own inquiries on the subject, and I'll be sure to ask my friends who've cosplayed for a good number of years about all of the kinds of materials needed.

Until next week!

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Tolerance for Others on Earth in the Future

At some point in the Star Ocean universe, there comes a certain amount of tolerance for those who are different from us. We see it in the characters as they interact with one another and with the various alien races they meet along the way. From the time we first meet Faize up to the moment we battle it out with Luther, we, as the players of Star Ocean, come across a wide variety of alien races, and the human race evolves along the journey.

But what does that mean for the human race? With the monumental knowledge that there is life beyond our planet, that there are exotic alien lifeforms on other planets, how does that change perceptions for the human race?

Based on what I've seen in the games, I believe civil rights have taken a very, very huge stride forward instead of backwards. In the efforts to rebuild after World War III, there might have been some throw-backs to the societal construct. How bad, I can't say. It's never really touched upon, but, given that the human race is moving forward in terms of technology and knowledge, I'd say the set-backs in the way people think and treat others is something that doesn't last.

So what do I think happens in this proverbial future of which Star Ocean offers us a potential glimpse? I definitely see more religious freedoms and the right to practice in the ways that bring us comfort and strength or to be atheists. I think that the human race comes to understand that, just because our religious practices are different, doesn't mean we need to try and kill each other in order to prove which one is the "right path". The introduction of any alien species might severely rattle the religious mindset of thousands of people anyway.

Civil rights would certainly become a thing of the past. I think about how, in twenty years, things will not be the same as they are now . . . and how those who are living in that time will look back to the current political trends and say, "What the heck was wrong with those people?" I believe that, in this future of Star Ocean, a person will be able to marry the love of his/her life. Everyone will be on the same footing as the other. Because if we can't learn to tolerate ourselves and our differences, we're going to become pungent to an alien race and become a pariah society to that race.
star_ocean_fan: (Star Ocean 3 game cover)
The Eternal Sphere - Game or Reality?

This is quite possibly going to be another briefly written topic. However, despite its potential brevity, I find the subject to be quite fascinating.

Of course, most players of the Star Ocean series don't know they're playing a video game set inside a video game until they're engrossed in Till the End of Time. It is the third game that lets everyone know, hey, the universe is created by these other entities who live on a higher plane of existence than in what the characters enduring their trials exist. The shocker for this information isn't that these four-dimensional beings created the universe, it's that the universe was created for the sole purpose of entertaining them. It's a simple program called the Eternal Sphere, and anyone in the four-dimensional realm can enter and play. It's a game, a toy, something to be discarded when the four-dimensional beings are bored and want something new.

But is that really the case? Is the Eternal Sphere a creation of Luther's brilliant mind or was it a happy accidental discovery on his part? This is something that's more fan speculation than in-game speculation, as a few of the key players - Robert Leingod, Blair Lansfeld, and Luther Lansfeld - seem convinced that Luther and his team programmers created the Eternal Sphere rather than discovered it. But if that's more the truth than what anyone realizes? That Luther discovered this alternate reality on accident and found a way to manipulate the lifeforms living in it? I don't think it's very likely . . . as much as the idea does intrigue me. While Luther is a manipulating control-freak, the last thing he is is dishonest. He has no reason to lie about anything.

So what does it mean then that the Eternal Sphere has taken on a life of its own? I personally believe that, while the Eternal Sphere started out as a program, it has somehow gained something, thanks to Luther. There's something within Luther to be able to create life. It doesn't make him God since there are other potential candidates in the four-dimensional realms who could contain the same symbological skills, but, in Luther, they're especially strong. Because of this, it means I believe that the Eternal Sphere is one of the greatest things Luther has created. He's done something no one else in the four-dimensional realm has ever done or could ever do after he's passed on.

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Fanfic Writing Tip #5 - Crossovers

Like most fanfiction authors, those who write for Star Ocean aren't just fans of this particular series of games. We're fans for other things: manga, cartoons, anime, books, movies, TV shows . . . other video games. One thing many fanfiction authors like to do is cross our favorite fandoms with each other.

There is a trick to writing crossovers, a trick that I've noticed some authors can't seem to pick up on is the ability to effectively explain how two or more particular fandoms can coalesce. Some fandoms don't need an explanation of how it is they're able to come together. For example, if I wanted to crossover Star Ocean with Final Fantasy, one of the best ways I can write that is to offer up the explanation of an alternate reality gaming program created by Sphere 211 that's as equally popular as the Eternal Sphere gaming system. Heck, giving that the entire concept of the Eternal Sphere is that of massive, multi-timeline MMORPG, any fandom can fit into the entire scenario.

However, for writing in other fandoms to cross them, finding the common thread to unite them can be quite difficult, and I know that there are some authors who simply won't care about taking the time to find that thread of believability. I've seen it when browsing for fanfiction to read, especially in fandoms that have nothing in common. Creating a common bond to cross the fandoms will actually go a long way and will help to bring about a creativity in the author that s/he might not have known existed.
 
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Convention Talk - Larger Conventions vs. Smaller Conventions

Now we've come to the point in our convention talk on how to decide which convention is the best one to attend. Naturally, this is up to the convention attendee and can often be determined by a number of factors, the biggest one of all being cost.

Factor #1 into Costs - Location

The location of the convention is perhaps one of the biggest things a person should take into consideration. How far is it from where you live? If you live in Northern Michigan, like I do, and the convention you wish to attend is in California, like Comic-Con or Anime Expo, you can expect to pay a good amount for pre-registration, hotel, travel, and food. When it comes to travel, how will you travel? Will you take the bus? Go by train? Fly? Drive with friends? Traveling a large distance will never be cheap, and it's often determined by how much time you're able to take from work. If you've earned vacation time, you won't be too hard-pressed to keep your finances in a relative  healthy situation.

However, if you don't have a lot of time to take off from work and you can't travel too far, a smaller, local convention will be more suited to your convention needs. You won't have to travel too far or take too much time off from work.

Also, if you don't like the larger cities such as Los Angeles or New York City, the conventions in smaller cities, like Traverse City or wherever you happen to live, will be your best bet.

Factor #2 into Costs - Travel

Getting to the convention location, as has been mentioned in the previous Convention Talk, is perhaps one of the biggest costs when it comes to attending. How you get there is just as important as getting there. Traveling to the larger conventions will not only require a healthy amount of cash but advanced planning on the part of the attendee. If you have vacation time, get it in early. Summertime is a popular time for conventions. It's also a popular time for family vacations, and many parents will be planning ahead. Be sure you do the same, especially if you're driving or taking the bus to your destination.

Of course, there's always flying, which also requires some advanced planning. I have friends who will fly to the convention location, and I'm sure that they buy their tickets as soon as they're able. The further out you book your flight, the cheaper you can fly.

If you're not fond of overly long road trips or flying or even taking the bus,  then the smaller, local conventions are just for you. They're within a reasonable driving distance and will definitely be cheaper overall  when it comes to pre-registration, food and lodging, and fuel costs.

Factor #3 into Costs - Hotels/Lodging

Naturally, if you're considering traveling to the larger conventions,  you're going to need a place to sleep. Hotels are often the most popular place for staying when traveling abroad. Booking a room in the convention center hotel in advanced will save you money because they are offering a specific rate for that particular event. BE SURE TO MENTION YOU'RE ATTENDING THAT CONVENTION WHEN BOOKING YOUR ROOM(S). Otherwise, you will be charged the normal rates, which are at least $20 or more per night. Also, be sure to book in advance, the way you would for a bus or plane ticket. The hotels for the larger, more popular conventions fill up fast. Also, check the convention's website for other hotels participating and how far they are from the convention site.

There are two ways to save when it comes to traveling to a larger convention. One is to use social media networks like facebook and myspace to help you find a friend who lives in the city and will allow you to stay with them for the duration of the weekend.  A word of caution for this: Be sure you're staying with someone at a legitimate address and have a phone number available just in case, and leave those pieces of information with family members. Find a way to save money but be smart about your own safety as well. The second way to save on hotel costs is travel to the site by RV. It sounds a bit cheesy, but it's how one friend of mine saved some money when attending BotCon in 2004. We rode with him to Pasadena, in his grandparents' RV, and he stayed in the RV while the rest of us stayed in the hotel. Just be sure to compensate for fuel because most RVs, to my knowledge, aren't necessarily fuel-efficient.

Smaller, local conventions won't necessarily run up a high lodging bill. If you live within a certain distance away from where the convention is being held, paying for a hotel actually wouldn't be very cost effective whereas driving every day to the convention would be more economical. For example, I live in a rural part of northern Michigan. Conventions like Cherry Capital Comic-Con and the Northern Michigan Anime Convention are both located in Traverse City, which is about fifty miles to the north of where I live. To stay in a hotel would run me about $100-$150 for the weekend. To drive from my house each day would cost me around $60 for the whole weekend. For a convention that's sixty miles or less away, I'd say simply drive and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Factor #4 into Costs - Food

No matter what, a person is always going to need to eat. The type of restaurant you want to eat will either increase how much you spend on food. Despite how much you might love McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Arby's, or Subway, a steady diet of them will become quite boring, especially if you're traveling a great distance. Local, sit-down restaurants won't always be as cheap as a major fast food chain, but it will offer an insight to the local cuisine. Even what's offered at the convention - if they have a concessions stand - will be on the costly side and they don't offer, generally speaking, a large variety.

Factor # 5 - Crowds and the Dealer Rooms

The upside and downside to the larger conventions is how crowded places like the Dealer's Room/s can become as well as the guest panels, cosplay events, and Artists' Alleys. You get to see more people in costume, but you also may feel like you're suffocating. Not everyone can handle the large crowds. Smaller conventions don't bring in nearly as many people. Personally, I recommend a convention attendee to go to both kinds of conventions. The popular conventions, like Otakon, Anime Expo, and Comic-Con, while they can be quite costly and quite crowded, as has been mentioned repeatedly, have larger, sometimes multiple dealer rooms and artists' alleys. They simply have more and are often able to get guests the smaller ones simply can't afford because they are small and often times low budget. The smaller conventions happen to be more on the local level, and, while they're not exactly the biggest show around, they can sometimes do things that the larger ones often can't due to time constraints - fan panels. I won't say that the larger conventions aren't run by fans . . . because they do start out as small conventions at some point. Each convention is for the fans. While there may be some big names from the industries at the conventions, know that the organizers are trying to find what they think the fans want to see, and they do this based on feedback.

And there is one more reason to support both the large and smaller conventions: the economy. Whether you're traveling a great distance or just fifty miles, many local businesses will benefit from convention attendance.

There's always a reason to attend. :)

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Personal Update #2

I have more time now. I can't believe I crashed and burned for a job after one day, but such is the way of life. No, I don't know why they terminated my assignment after one day. I don't care, either. Not going to go into too many details, but it wasn't the job for me, despite my excitement at finally starting work again.

Rest assured, I'm not going to give up in seeking work and making other things work out for me, either. I firmly believe there are jobs and careers out there that are perfect fixes for people. I just haven't found mine as of yet.

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Atmospheric Changes - Exactly How Did Luther Change the Environment at the Eternal Sphere?

On one of my more recent play-throughs, I've gone back to Arkives a couple of different times, trying to see what's changed in the dialogue and to basically just goof around a little. Not for the first time, I spoke to a character named Folstar Rood. He mentions that he's a programmer and he's no longer at Sphere 211. Ultimately, he's glad of it because he claims the environment changed once Luther took over as the Owner. Simply put, he doesn't like it anymore, and thus decided to was glad to be let go. This has me wondering about the exact changes Luther implemented when he first took over Sphere 211 for a couple of different reasons and whether or not they were actually bad changes.

I question whether the changes were bad for a few different reasons. One reason is that he (Luther) is a programming genius. The Eternal Sphere, despite the number of people working on it, is still his brain child. Given that he's such a control freak, I don't think that there's a line of code or programming that slips by him.

The second reason is that, because of him, Sphere 211 has become an industry juggernaut. The competition is fierce in the Lost City, and Luther is by no means afraid of a challenge. It's like that old saying - take life by the horns, and Luther's personality gives me reason to believe he's one such person.

The third and final reason I question whether or not all of the changes are bad is by reading Folstar's bio in the in-game dictionary. If I recall correctly, he's a bit lazy when it comes to his work. In fact, he believes his job description is to simply show up for eight hours and call it a day afterwards. His programming skills are questionable, and what work he has accomplished is filled with bugs. Folstar is lazy, and Luther, up until the very end, isn't a lazy person. He doesn't always seek the easy way out when it comes to a situation, and he'll do whatever he thinks is right in order to protect what he believes belongs to him. (Stop and think about it - would he have really gone to such lengths over the Eternal Sphere if he didn't care about it all?)

Personally, I don't think Luther is as evil as he's made out to be in the course of conversing with people after he's entered the Eternal Sphere. I do think he's accustomed to behaving in a certain way, using fear and intimidation to get what he wants, but I don't believe he's pure evil. Yes, I feel he loses a grip on his sanity, but I also feel that it was something slowly worked towards, unintentionally, on his part due to his crazy work ethic (and the fact that he does, in part, stop relying on his senses, too).

What changes do you think Luther brought with him?

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Fanfiction Writing Tip #4 - Be True to the Established Characters

I bring this up because it's actually one of the trickiest things go do when writing established characters in a fanfiction piece because it's something I've noticed many fanfiction authors struggling with, myself included at times. It's also something that bugs me when I find a story that has an interesting premise, the spelling and grammar are more than tolerable, but the characterization for a particular character is off. And I'm not talking about being slightly off, either. I'm talking about the "I'm reading this and the guy looks like Albel, he moves like Albel, he even talks like Albel, but he isn't acting like Albel at all" story notion where said character almost instantly becomes a new person because of a romantic involvement, specifically with someone like Fayt or Sophia.

I choose Albel over Luther for this, even though both are tricky to keep into character. Both have major control issues. Both have a dark streak ten miles wide. Each. However, more people tend to gravitate towards Albel over Luther when it comes to fanfiction writing, and I've seen very few authors get Albel right when writing him. He's called Albel the Wicked for a reason. I love it when I see character growth in a story, even in fanfiction, but I also hate to see certain characteristics abandoned for the sake of the story.

Established characters in a fandom aren't always the easiest to write, especially when they possess certain personality traits that stink. If I were to describe Albel's attitude, I'd say he's part male chauvinist pig. He fought for his country, which is male dominated in terms of political government and military practices, against a country that was female-dominated in terms of political government and military practices. He has his reasons for being the biggest jerk around, and it annoys me when I see fanfiction writers decide that his attitude needs to be "cured" through "love". (Hence, what I feel is the biggest reason for many of the Albel x Sophia stories floating around on sites like fanfiction.net and deviantArt.) Enter the complete 180 degree attitude change from @$$-hole to Prince Albel Charming with no rhyme or reason for it except for that's how the writer wants Albel to be and a WTF? from the Albel fans who fell in love with him for the way that he is in the game.

So how can we writers be true to the established characters yet show a little character growth in our stories? One thing that we need to remember is that the characters are the way that they are for a reason or a number of reasons. In the case of Albel Nox, he was born and raised in an area with harsh climate and terrain conditions - mountains, snowfall, both of which contribute to farming difficulties as well as importing foods from other countries. Such conditions create famine for those without the means to either grow their own food or to buy their own food. Such cases, the rich eat and drink the finest of food and drink while the poor eat each other. (Analogy borrowed from a book I own, and it's a rough translation as well - I read said book in my mid to late teens, early twenties.) He was also the son of the Dragon Brigade Captain, Glou Nox. Glou died to save Albel from a fiery death most certain. At what age, I'm not entirely sure - I figure mid teens - and that's had an impact on him as well. Plus there are other things he's endured that we, as fans, aren't made aware of as we play the game. We have to remember that, just because we write them as experiencing growth, they're not always going to change their ways. Albel's word usage - scum, fool, worm, maggot - even after the defeat of Luther should indicate something.

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Convention Talk, Part Two - The Costs of Attending Only

I'm a little crunched for time so the conventions list for the summer, from the beginning of August through the end of December, will be posted on Wednesday.

Read more... )To conclude this part of Convention Talk, I'd like to point out that, while the smaller, local conventions are more personable, unless it's been running for three years or longer, won't necessarily have a large dealer room space or very many vendors as a result. However, the pros and cons of large and small conventions is for another time.

Until the next time . . .

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