29 Nov 2019

Digital Magic - Chapter 5

Chapter 5

It takes over an hour to get back home.  Street lights blaze as I walk to my apartment building.  I can't believe how late it is.  Lance and I talked longer than I expected.  Not a bad way to end the day, really.  It means that I'm off on my assignments, though.  Good thing I give myself an extra day to waste somehow when I do my homework.

I unlock the apartment door and step in.  The place is dark; Trish isn't home yet.  I turn on the main light.  There's a couple of newspapers on the floor that weren't there when I left.  Trish must have bought them on her way home this afternoon.  I pick them up and take them to the dining room table.  She'll find them there eventually.  I set my backpack down in my bedroom then return to the living room.  I think about going back to the game, then decide against it.  I don't feel like getting the gloves to work with my computer tonight.

Instead, I flop on to the easy chair and turn on the TV.  Mindless entertainment sounds good right now.  I flip through the channels, trying to find something decent.  The networks are still trying out their new shows, but nothing interests me tonight.  I set the channel to CBC Newsworld to act as background noise for now.

I get up and go over to the bookcase.  Reading sounds better than watching TV right now.  I scan past Trish's fantasy novels and my murder mysteries.  I settle for a Rita Mae Brown book here.  I've read it enough times that the spine is worn, but it has always worked as a comfort read when I need to unwind.

I return to the easy chair and curl up in it.  The heat comes on, hot air blowing noisily through the vents.  Within a few moments, I'm warmer and engrossed in my novel.

The door rattles.  I look up from my book, waiting for the sound of Trish's key going into the lock.  The rattling continues.  I set down the novel.  The sound of voices comes through the door, but I can't make out what they're saying.  It's two people, though, both men.  I uncurl myself and lean forward in my chair, ready to dash into my bedroom if I have to.  The door handle rattles again, more violently this time.  As soft as I can, I get out of the chair and pad in sock feet to the phone.

28 Nov 2019

Digital Magic - Commentary 4

Private eyes, they're watching you, in Digital Magic chapter 4.

A restless night for Jackie, who may or may not be overreacting.  Ever since she got that game, things have been getting weird.  It's odd that she hasn't made that connection, but technology and magic tend to, at least in fiction, not play well together.  Sure, there are exceptions, but technology is usually treated as the equalizer.  And, really, who suspects a computer game of being nefarious without being a right nutter?

The benefits of using a city I live in as the setting is knowing what's around.  For an American city, I'd have people walking around with Starbucks cups.  At the time of writing, Tim Horton's would've been the most likely cup to see.  There's always a Timmie's around, and there's one on campus.  Today, it's a toss up between Tim's, which has really expanded in downtown Ottawa since 2007, and Bridgehead, a local chain that now outnumbers national chains in town except for Tim Horton's.  And if anyone from a cafĂ© wishes for product placement in a future story, leave a comment below.  It might not work for a fantasy, but if you want the girls from Unruly or even your chain to be available in an interstellar empire, I can work it in.

In 2007, the local weather was starting to fluctuate a bit, but not to the extremes over the past few years.  Jackie was exaggerating about sunbathing in February, but we've seen thirty to forty degree shifts in temperature over the course of a day or two, going from deep freeze to spring-like weather.  We also see it going the other way, from fall to Arctic, is the same amount of time.

Of course, when the weather can follow the city limits, then there is something weird going on.  Not that anyone would notice here unless they actually took a closer look.  During some of the storms from the remnants of hurricanes this past summer and fall, Ottawa somehow had a rain shield.  Rain hit all around, but nothing got into the city.  At a past apartment, I've seen rain hit a part of the city while leaving my area dry.  In the story, though, the weather acting odd is a hint that something is up.

Jackie's hope for the bus is also dated.  Of all the things to have gone pear-shaped in the past twelve years, I wouldn't have expected the bus service to tank.  It was having problems in 2007, and the O-Train, now called Line 2, was a pilot project at the time.  The O-Train was also the first major improvement in transit service to Carleton University in decades.  People were using the bus.  A year after Digital Magic was written, the bus strike of 2008-2009 struck, and things started going downhill from there.  Today, good luck getting anywhere by bus.  Massive service cuts coupled with an LRT not ready for prime time.  I have a full rant to write up post-NaNo on this, but for now?  Jackie shouldn't complain too much about the bus service she's getting.

The eyes in the window came from a lucid moment while either falling asleep or waking up.  It was just too cool to not use, even though I really don't write horror.  Urban fantasy, though, can use the element.  This is a scene that I could easily salvage from the story for use elsewhere.  Right now, that's the fate of Digital Magic, to be taken apart for the good ideas.  The rest can lay quietly in a folder somewhere.  I'm sure that I've used Jackie and Trish, not by those names, in another work as it is.  Professors in Computer Science liked to mention code reuse.  I'm just taking the concept to another field.  It's not plagiarism if I give permission to use my own work.

Lance finally appears in person!  Took him long enough.  I can now try to work on a love triangle.  I've seen enough anime to know how those work.  I've watched Marmalade Boy, which had love polyhedrons.  Of course, the issue isn't just tossing potential points in.  There needs to be chemistry.  Remember this for later chapters.

Tomorrow, I always feel like somebody's watching me, in Digital Magic Chapter 5.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, unexpected hiatus.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, fixing Sonic the Hedgehog.

22 Nov 2019

Digital Magic - Chapter 4

I wake up with a crick in my neck from using couch's arm as a pillow.  It takes me a few moments to realize that I'm in the living room.  I sit up and look at the time on the VCR.  Still early in the morning; I haven't slept in this time.  I stretch, working out the kinks, then look over at my bedroom door.  My clothes, books, laptop, everything I need for the day are still in there.  Maybe I was seeing things last night.  Eyes don't just appear in a mirror.

Taking a deep breath, I walk over to my bedroom door.  I reach for the doorknob.  The handle is cool to the touch.  I'm not sure what I was expecting.  The feel is normal, I think.  Probably.  I open the door, letting it swing in slowly.  Nothing jumps out at me.  I let out my breath and enter.

21 Nov 2019

Digital Magic - Commentary 3

Time to get the weirdness going, in Digital Magic chapter 3.

Opening with a half-remembered dream was my attempt at getting readers prepared for the magic that comes later, plus the dangers of the antagonists.  Jackie still doesn't know she has the capacity to perform magic, here.  Mild spoiler that, yes, but it's in the title, too.  She brushes it off as dehydration, one of the causes of a hangover.

I'm still working on describing surroundings beyond, "It's a 10x10 room with a chest in the middle."  I wanted to give Jackie and Trish's apartment a lived-in look by two young women who really need to find time to clean.  I'm sure they do have time, and they can clean their apartment up when needed, but they've let it go with the semester's crunch time.

With Steve having been the first potential romantic interest introduced in body, it's time for Lance127 to make his proper appearance.  What's a romance without romantic rivalries?  But that only works if there's two men around.  Otherwise, Jackie can romance Steve while sexting Lance127 and there's not much conflict that can be drawn out of that in a narrative.

The in-game invasion was a test by the game admins to see who figured out how to get the effective spells.  The goal the admins have is to see who has the curiosity and who can make the approrpiate gestures to find the hidden menus.  It's not quite a sword in a stone, but the admins aren't looking for just one new mage, they're looking for many.

While Jackie is the main character, she has her own supporting cast.  No one lives in a vacuum.  There's always family, friends, co-workers, classmates, the friendly barista who knows your order better than you do, the surly passenger on the bus, and so on.  Introducing Jackie's family here was more to make sure that Jackie seemed more rounded.  She loves her mother, but she wants to be on her own now that she's an adult.

Time has not been kind to the story.  Amalgamation was pushed through without thought of how it would save money by the Government of Ontario under Mike Harris, who was trying to push off any provincial service he could to munipalities.  While the former Regional Municipality of Ottawa- Carleton had major problems, such as direct accountability to the voters, the merge was done without considering the full effects.  We're still paying for it now.  The other problem is that Mexicali Rosa's no longer exists.  I'm not sure what happened, but the individual restaurants became independants, then also disappeared.  The one at the Dow's Lake Pavilion changes names every few years.  I probably should have just made up a name.

The weather weirdness also didn't survive the twelve years since the story was written.  Thanks to climate change, extreme weather changes in Ottawa are regular.  We've been having record highs, record lows, and record temperature changes.  For at least two winters now, Ottawa has seen highs of -30 for a (frozen) solid week or two, followed by a sudden increase to around freezing for a few days before again dropping back down to -30.  A few years ago, Ottawa had a much greener Christmas than it did a summer, thanks to a drought followed by an unusually warm winter.  So, the bizarre weather Jackie's seeing isn't really an indication of something odd happening around her.

Fortunately, the faceless eyes in the mirror are timeless.

Tomorrow, the new challenger appears, in /Digital Magic/ Chapter 4.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, fixing The Crawling Hand.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, fixing Sonic the Hedgehog.

15 Nov 2019

Digital Magic - Chapter 3

Chapter 3

I wake up with the uneasy feeling of a half remembered nightmare.  Disjointed fragments still race through my mind, images of me running from a woman I don't know and couldn't describe, of Steve shirtless and holding me, and of a vortex of ones and zeroes.  My head throbs a little, in part from the nightmare, in part from waking up, in part probably from dehydration.  I roll out of bed and look at my alarm clock.  Ten-thirty in the morning.  Still slept in, but nothing like yesterday.

Still wearing my night clothes, I pad out on bare feet.  Trish is already awake and eating breakfast.  I join her in what passes as a dining room for us.  We've made it double as a study area, extra storage, bar, and, yes, an eating area.  I sit down at a clear area on the small table we have.  "Morning."

"Morning, Jackie," Trish says between bites of her omelette.  "I've got coffee on."

I get up again and shuffle to the kitchen.  I hear the perculator gurgle as I enter.  Instead of coffee, though, I grab a glass from the cupboard and the orange juice from the fridge.  My throat's still dry and my headache is threatening to become piercing.  I fill the glass and drain it in one shot.  As I refill the glass, I consider what to eat.  Trish's omelette smelled wonderful, but I think I want something more.  Maybe a western sandwich.  I start gathering what I need, eggs, onion, ham, and spices.

As the western is frying on the stove, I finish my second glass of OJ and put the glass in the dishwasher.  My head is starting to clear again.  I put on toast for the sandwich and wait as the different parts of my breakfast cook.

The smell of coffee is too enticing to ignore any longer.  Once my breakfast is ready, I pour a mug of coffee and bring everything back to the dining room.  Trish sets her fork down on her plate with a clatter as I sit down.  "Anything planned for today?" I ask my roommate.

14 Nov 2019

Digital Magic - Commentary 2

Things I regret - writing a romance from the first person point of view.  Welcome to the commentary for Digital Magic Chapter 2.

Chapter 1 established Jackie as a home body, someone more content to stay in than go clubbing.  I also established that her BFF Trish was her opposite in that department.  Naturally, one of them had to win, and for the sake of plot, it was Trish.  Hard to meet the designated romantic interest without going out.

Or is it?  I'm still setting up a few plot points in a somewhat clumsy style.  The video game does come into play, I promise.  It's kind of implied by the title.  Lance179 is already getting a lot of screen time for being an online gamer.  Jackie just hasn't met him in person.  At this point, I had a few ideas going on in my head on where the story was going to go.  It helps to have a direction to go in.  No ending in mind, but I had the core elements started.

To make things easier on me, I'm using Ottawa as Jackie's hometown.  That was one less thing to research.  I've done the same with later works, including LTV Paranormalists, though that has the added bonus of adding weirdness to the city.  Ottawa needs more weird.  However, Shattered doesn't exist.  I placed it in the Byward Market in a location where a restaurant is, so I know the surroundings.  If I can visualize what's happening, I can write it.  Digital Magic is how I learned that trick.  The other locations mentioned do exist, even after twelve years.

Steve is the first potential romantic interest in the flesh.  He and Jackie hit it off, at least for a random encounter.  I have no idea if Steve's approach would work.  What I was trying to do is have him seem like the ideal man, one who can listen to a woman and put her at ease.  One who doesn't push himself on Jackie.  I'm not sure, even now, how he comes across, though.  Feel free to leave a comment below about him.

I mentioned at the start that I regret writing /Digital Magic in the first person.  The big reason is that I am now restricted to Jackie's view point.  I can't show what everyone else is doing and I don't want to info dump by having characters monologue.  It's not a problem here at Chapter 2, when I'm still setting up the threads.  Later, though, I probably could have used an outside view.  Live and learn.

The video game elements gave me a new idea while I was writing this one, an idea that still involved Jackie but also her Jacinda character.  The game takes character emoting to an unusual level.  Extra details that would probably be patched in a few months after release these days.  Jacinda is almost alive at points, showing emotion.  There were points where I found myself wanting to write her story instead.  Again, live and learn.

Tomorrow, sober second thoughts, in Digital Magic Chapter 3.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, fixing The Raven.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, fixing The Crawling Hand.

8 Nov 2019

Digital Magic - Chapter 2

Chapter 2

I wake up with the sun streaming through my window.  The back of my mind is telling me that something is wrong; the sun streams in only in the afternoon.  Crap.  I slept late.  I know it's Saturday, but I had some plans.  I roll out of bed, still in the t-shirt and jeans I had on last night.  Crap.  Crap crap crap.  Okay, time to get moving, salvage the remains of the day, finish the damned assignment, get a life.  First, a shower.  I grab clothes for today; underwear, an oversized plain black t-shirt, and a pair of track pants.  Should do for all my afternoon errand running.  Then I can sit down and figure out what I did to the game.

Clothes under my arm, I leave my bedroom and head towards the shower.  Unfortunately, Trish is in the living room and notices me.  "Finally," she says.

"Morning," I mumble.  If I can just get to the bathroom . . ..

"Jackie, we need to talk."

So much for escaping.  "Trish, I don't --"

"Yes you do.  I was expecting to see you last night.  Instead, I find you here in the apartment looking the same way you did when you left yesterday morning.  You're turning into a hermit, Jackie."

I half-sit on the arm of the couch.  "The assignment took longer than I thought."

Trish arches a perfect red-tinged eyebrow.  "It's not even due this weekend."

"I had a thought I wanted to follow through with before I forgot it.  I lost track of the time, that's all.  By the time I got the program to work, it was too late to bother going out."

"And how long were you online after that?"

I feel my cheeks grow warm.  "I don't know."

Trish shakes her head, disappointed.  "Jackie . . . you need to get out.  It's been too long since you had a date."

"I've been busy."

"Look, if it's because of the guy back in June--"

7 Nov 2019

Digital Magic - Commentary 1

Digital Magic was my second ever NaNoWriMo project back in 2007.  I figured a SF/fantasy/romance mashup should be easy.  Ha!  This is what I will call my glorious mess.  Romance isn't easy.

The idea I had was to mix magic, video games, and romance.  Sounds like it should be at least interesting.  What you'll see is that I got focused on one element at the cost of the other two.  But, there's stuff in the story that I feel I can salvage for use elsewhere.  Not a complete loss, but disappointing in retrospect.

The first scene is on Jackie's favourite game character, one of her own devising.  She's playing a nameless MMO, one not based on any that existed at the time.  To be honest, I don't play MMOs.  If I want to go slay monsters with friends, I'm pulling out D&D or some other RPG.  The MMO is more or less what I want to see in one, not what exists commercially.  And, given that there's a twelve year gap between when I wrote Digital Magic and today, there's a tech gap as well.

Chapter 1, like many of my Chapter 1s, presents the main character, in this case, Jackie, in a typical day in her life.  I realized in later works that I do this to show when things start going weird for the character.  There's dropping a character /in media res/ to get the action going, and that works if weird is normal for the character.  Here, though, Jackie is a student, not a spy or a mystery writer.  Heaven's Rejects can get away with the weird coming up early; that's Nadia and Ian's job.  Digital Magic needs the slow build up.

The not-quite-off screen sex scene just happened.  I tend to pants my way through writing, so if something came about organically from the scene, I went with it.  Trish is the more outgoing of her and Jackie.  There's backstory, and some of that comes out later.  They are friends, but Jackie is well aware of who Trish is, and vice versa.

I may have been asking for trouble writing in the first person.  Thing is, I couldn't figure out how to work a later scene in third person.  While I pants, if I get an idea of something to add, I will work my way up to it, using the idea as a guide post.  The advantage of first person is being in the character's head and knowing what she thinks and feels.  The disadvantage is that you're stuck with that character.  The character has to be interesting.  While Jackie did go digging through the settings, I'm hoping her thought processes help keep things fresh.

Tomorrow, girls' night out in Digital Magic Chapter 2.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Expanse Season 2.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, fixing and remaking The Raven.

1 Nov 2019

Digital Magic - Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Jacinda stopped as the trees thinned to a clearing.  She knew her quarry lurked in the plains ahead.  The dragon had been terrorizing the area for far too long, and the mage remained determined to put an end to it.  It would be easier if the rest of her group had survived with her; one by one, they succumbed to wounds.  The serpent had allies, enough to toss at her and her friends to slow them down.  With a determined look on her face, Jacinda stepped out into the open.  The beast would pay for its ravages.

A lone man came running from the distance.  "Flee!  It's unstoppable!"

Jacinda stopped.  The wind teased her long golden hair and her light robes.  The foul creature had found a new victim.  Jacinda vowed that the man running would not fall to the dragon.  "Over here!" she called.

The sprinting man changed course and ran towards the fair magician.  "Get out of here!  Run while you still can!"  Behind him lumbered an impossibly tall creature Jacinda had never seen before.  "Go!"

Jacinda stood her ground.  She held her hands in front of her, elbows bent outward, fingers taut.  A wisp of flame appeared between her hands.  The fire grew in size and intensity, but never burning the magician's hands.  She released the flame.  The fireball blazed overhead and struck the creature true in the chest.  The beast kept moving, unaffected by the inferno that had hit him.

"It's immune," the man panted as he reached Jacinda.  "I tried the same thing."

"We can't outrun it."  Jacinda held her arms straight out, her palms facing the ground.  The ground rumbled.  Bits of earth erupted from the ground to form a human-like mass.  Jacinda pointed at the approaching creature.  "Delay that!"  The elemental trod towards its target.

"That can stop it?"

"Hell no.  It's buying us time."  The magician held her left arm straight over her head.  A green glow appeared, surrounding her hand.  A similar glow enveloped the monster as the elemental neared it.  "Do you have any spells that can help?"

"Everything I have is fire-based."

Jacinda eyed the fight.  Her elemental traded blow for blow, but looked more battered than the creature.  "Right."  She brought her hands together in front of her.  A pattern of energy zipped around her interlocked fingers before streaking at the beast.  The whirling energy changed from fire to lightning to ice to raw magic, clawing at the monster.  As the maelstrom ravaged the beast, Jacinda cast another spell.  Blades fell from the sky, piercing the monster's hide.  "It's weakening!  Get it before the spells end!"

The man produced a shining sword and leapt at the creature.  He swung his sword in a wide arc.  The blade cut deep into the monster's chest.  The elemental kept pounding its rocky fists on the creature's leg.  Still away from the melee, Jacinda cast another spell, one that sent a stream of swords into the creature, stunning it.  Unable to defend itself, the monster fell and lay unmoving.


I push the keyboard away.  So much for the dragon.  Damned newbies going around a new area and aggravating new monsters.  I should have dropped an area effect spell on both the monster and the newb.  Why I thought this game would relax me is beyond me right now.  I should have played the Sims – no, wait, I wanted to keep track of time.

On screen, my magician, Jacinda, stood waiting for me to do something.  There's times where I think she's annoyed with me for being so slow.  Of course, those are also the times when I've had too much to drink.  I probably should just shut down the game and return to my assignment.

A flash on my monitor catches my eye.  I look closer; someone in the game wants to chat with me.  What's surprising is that the gamer is using proper English.  What the heck, why not see what he wants.  If he wants to cyber, I'll just shut down anyway.

Are you still online?

Okay, not much to judge grammar by, but he did type out "you" in full.  I type back that I am.

Sorry for dragging you into my mess.  I should have been able to handle it without dragging anyone else in.

That's different.  No one's ever been sorry for screwing up another player's plans before.  I type back, That's okay.  I was probably going to be killed tonight anyway.

The way you handled yourself?  Most players I've seen would have kept using their most powerful spell and hope that it's enough.

He's got me there.  Thanks.

Let me make it up to you.  I've got an invite for a new game in development and they're looking for beta testers.  I think you'd give the game a challenge.  Interested?  I can send the links by email.

Beta test?  Oh, why not?  Who knows, maybe I can get a job with the company when I finally get my Computer Science degree.  I type in my throwaway Hotmail address.  So who should I be expecting in my inbox?

Lance179.  And thanks again for saving my bacon.  And with that, he leaves the game.  Not a bad idea, really.  I quit as well.  I stifle a yawn.  Must be later than I thought.  Before I can check the time, I hear the front door unlock.  Probably my roommate, but I better check.

Padding on bare feet out of my room, I see my roommate, Tricia Halliwell, pulling her key out of the lock.  I have no idea how she's remaining steady on her stiletto heels and not show her ass in that barely-there skirt of hers.  Her cheeks are flushed rosy.  "Did it turn cold out?" I ask.

Trish looks over to me, staggering a little, causing her red curls to bounce a little.  She titters at her mis-queue.  "Jacqueline Hart, what are you doing home?  I thought you were going to meet us at the bar."  Her eyes are unfocused as she stares at me.

"What are you doing home so early?"

"What early?"  Trish giggles.  "It's past three."  As I glance at the clock and see she's right, she continues, "You weren't playing online again, were you?"  She shakes her head at me, then adds an admonishment.  "Geez, Jackie."

I feel my cheeks grow warm.  "I was going to, but my assignment took longer than I expected.  Have a good time?"

Trish's laughter trilled.  "Would have been better if you were there.  You should have seen some of the guys there.  Mmm.  Oh, wait."  She stepped out for a moment, then dragged a sandy haired guy into our apartment.  "Jackie, this is Simon.  Simon, my roommate Jackie."

Simon gives me a half-wave.  "Hi."

I try to smile.  "Hi."  So much for getting to sleep right away.  Trish is, how can I put it, enthusiastic in bed.  Ear-piercing levels of enthusiastic.  I head to the kitchen.  "Anyone else want tea?"

"No, thanks."  Trish still has a hold on Simon.  It looks like they're trying to merge into one.  Simon's hand disappears behind Trish, eliciting more giggles from her.  I turn away so I can roll my eyes.  "Don't be that way, Jackie," Trish admonishes.

I make a show of getting out a mug and a teabag.  "What way, Trish?  I just want a tea before I go to bed."  I hope that Simon won't last longer than it takes me to finish drinking.  Without turning to see either Trish or her boy toy, I fill the kettle and put it on to boil.

"We'll talk tomorrow, Jackie."

I hear Trish's bedroom door slam shut.  My shoulders relax a little.  Maybe she's drunk enough that she won't remember wanting the talk.  A shriek of laughter erupts from the bedroom.  Simon isn't wasting anytime.  By the time the kettle boils, Trish is already moaning in rhythm.

All right, I'm being hard on her.  Naturally curly hair, good figure, legs that won't quit, and constantly being hit on by men.  The only thing I have on her is height and cup size, and she even manages to beat me out on the latter by being perkier.  If Trish wasn't my best friend since kindergarten, I'd probably hate her.

Trish's moans have climbed up an octave and have grown louder.  I give up on focusing on my tea.  There's no way I can pretend I don't hear the chorus coming out of her bedroom.  With any luck, Simon won't be able for another go.  I pray that he won't be.  I just want to go to bed.  Trish reaches her loudest, then stops.

I finish the last few drops of my tea and trudge back to my own room.  At last, quiet enough so I can get to dreamland.  Trish starts her moaning again; this time I can hear her louder and clearer through the thin wall between our rooms.  I groan.  Fine, Trish can get her groove on all night.  I've got something else I can do.  Lance179's email.  I can grab his link, download the play test files, and see if the game is decent.  In the meantime, I set my iPod to shuffle and try to isolate myself with music.

The earphones don't completely muffle Trish's cries.  Please, Simon, do give her more so I can get to sleep sometime before the sun rises.  I refrain from hammering the wall.  Never has helped before.  As the download completes, I stare outside.  Fat snowflakes float like autumn leaves, settle on the window, and melt.  Odd, since the forecast called for clear and well above freezing.  I bring up Environment Canada's webpage and check the conditions.  The forecast hasn't changed, but the current weather does say light snow.  Not to mention that Trish didn't complain about the cold, especially in her outfit.  Weird.  Global warming, go fig.

The download finishes and I start the installation.  Nice and smooth, no glitches, no odd questions, registration is painless, and five minutes later, the game is running.  Graphics are impressive, but that's a given these days.  The title screen calls the game "Valor Quest: The Test of Lord Tottenheim".  A nice intro movie explaining the world starts; I watch it to see if anything inspires me.  The back story could use some work.  Right now, it's a Tolkien rip-off, with a great evil threatening to spread throughout the world.  I suppose it's good enough for now, but I'd be disappointed by it if I had, you know, paid money for this.

I'm jarred out of the game when Trish climaxes.  She should have gone into musical theatre; wouldn't even need a microphone.  I turn down the volume on my iPod and wait to see if there's another encore from next door.  With no sounds of love making coming after a minute or two, I leave the iPod's volume down and let a out a sigh.

Back to the game, I check what options I have.  Looks like the usual: warrior, wizard, rogue, priest, and variants of each.  I'll try my favourite character type, the sorceress, like Jacinda, to see how well she can be done.

Navigation is nice; the choices are easy to find and easy to click.  I have several choices of wizard; generalist, summoner (here, Spot!), necromancer (ew, no), invoker (hmmm), and illusionist (maybe if I was fully awake).  Jacinda has always been a generalist, using all sorts of spells, so that's what I'll try.  I can modify her appearance, but the selection of hair styles and robe colours isn't that big.  That's something that the developers can change, though.  It could be that they're trying to test game play and will worry about details later.  Still, something to bring up.  I get Jacinda version nine done.  Yeah, I've played her in many games, including The Sims; she was a little vixen there and now has far too many grandchildren to keep track of in Veronaville.

Off to the virtual world I go!  Jacinda Nine materializes in the middle of a city near an ornate fountain with streams of water coming out of a trio of dolphins.  Nice touch, that.  I'm not overly happy with her grey robe and the plain staff in her hand  I get Jacinda to walk around the the market to see what's there and to see how well she moved.  Her hips have a bit of a wiggle to them.  The boys will enjoy that touch.  Me, not so much, but I've seen worse.  Walking and running animations are flawless, though, wiggling notwithstanding.  Time to see if she can talk to the locals and spend some of the gold in her belt pouches.

As I start to click on a local merchant, my finger slips somehow and an options menu appears on screen.  I read through the list of changeable attributes, looking for something that won't cause a fatal crash before I've saved anything.  Colour looks to be the safest.  I try entering a number in the field then apply it.  Jacinda's bland robe turns pink.  She is so not a pink.  I change the number again, trying to remember my colour codes.  My memory isn't so good at this hour.  Whatever this hour is.  I check the time on my alarm clock.  The glowing numbers are trying to tell me it's 4:07.  Or the secret of the universe.  Way past bedtime, at least.  I type in what I hope is the correct code for light blue and apply the change.  Jacinda's robe is now a deep blue.  Close enough.  I close the attribute screen and think about sending an email to the development team.  Of course, what could I say?  "This screen popped up and I changed my character's outfit colours but I can't say how I did it?"  Tomorrow, I'll try getting the pop up again and make note of how I did it.  For now, though, I exit the game and turn off the monitor.  Without changing, I drop on to my bed.

NaNoWriMo 2019 is Go!

It`s that time of year again.  NaNoWriMo is go!  Fifty thousand words, thirty days, it's dark, and I have no plan.  Should be a fun one.