Year One Officially Over

Hey guys!

I finished my finals about 10 days ago but I just got my grades yesterday (B, A-, A-, A-, pretty good!). I’ve spent the last twoish weeks relaxing and catching up with video games and anime, but it’s pretty much time for me to kick myself back into gear and start working again…

But before I do that, I wanted to recap a bit on the year and what’s been going on.

So I’ve been going to UBCO to study creative writing. Had to take a second language, chose Japanese, am having fun but am also struggling to hell with it (guess which grade was Japanese, hah). I’ve been excelling with the creative writing side of things though, which I’m happy with.

A quick mention of all my classes. I’ve taken three Creative Writing classes (intro to fiction and drama, intro to poetry and creative non-fic, and second year writing popular fiction with an emphasis on writing young adult), an introduction to Anthropology, an English focused on narrative and writing essays, and two first-year Japanese.

I’m only briefly going to mention my endeavours with Anthropology here– I planned on writing a whole post about that but haven’t gotten around to it yet, so maybe if that’s something your interested in hearing about, keep and eye open for that. That said, a bit on anthropology… I decided to take it this last semester and probably will take more classes in the future, not really because I have a distinct interest in anthropology, but because culture is something I really want to ingrain into my novels because it’s important for character and worldbuilding. Plus theorycrafting and all that stuff is lots of fun.

I’ve probably mentioned it before but I really dislike English courses. Unfortunately, they are a heavy requirement for my major, so I’m kind of stuck with taking them. I don’t mind the reading or the discussions, but the essays are brutal. Honestly the writing itself I can handle, research is a bitch but I can do that too, I just really really hate the stupid citation styles that are used. They’re different for literally every class (and reasonably so, but still) and I hate it. Takes whatever bit of joy I have for writing essays and throws it right out the damn window. Ah, well… I’ll probably get used to it.

That said about essays, I was considering taking a minor in history but seeing as that’s my boyfriend’s major and all he does is write essays for those courses, I’m not so sure that’s what I want to do anymore. But my first history course isn’t until this summer, so we’ll see how I fare with that before I jump in either direction. Anyway, with that, I wandered off a little from what I was talking about.

Creative Writing was straight forward; Wrote some baller short stories my first semester (one that I’m going to try and get published this summer), started learning how to write poetry (still got a lot to learn but I’ve improved– I even did a reading in front of the class! I’ll talk about that sometime), tried and failed to write creative non-fiction (it’s fun just not my thing, I enjoy making shit up too much), and made some excellent progress on one of my novel works in progress, Desolace. I’m going to make some more detailed posts for these things individually later, I think, because there’s a lot I want to talk about in regards to that.

Then there’s Japanese. What a bitch. I really love the language, it’s just super hard. I’ve fallen off a bit with my practising and studying since the end of the semester, but I think I needed a break after all the effort I’ve put into it over the last eight months. I intend to continue studying Japanese over the summer and next year so I can still use it as my language credit for my degree, but I’ll talk about my plans in more detail later on since I’ve put a lot of thought into that and I’d love to share a bit.

AND, with all of that, I’ve earned 21 credits, which is 6 short of completing a full first year. I’m not too upset about that because I only took three classes for my first semester, as I was worried about becoming overwhelmed and doing really bad. But because three classes went well first semester I went up to four in the second semester, which also went well and gave me enough free time to not burn out on school. So next year I’ll likely end up taking four classes each semester. That’ll still leave me three credits short of advancing another year, but there are a couple classes I want to take that are offered over the summer, so at least for this year and next year I’ll be set to advance to second and third years with no problem (fourth year is a big fat unknown until I get to that point).

So yeah, summer classes. Those start on May 15th and I’m taking some less academic stuff that’ll keep me busy and still work toward my degree. I really don’t want to work full-time over the summer, so this gives me a perfect opportunity to do half and half. 🙂 But with three classes this summer and at least one next summer, I should be set to advance to second-year by the end of summer, and third-year by the end of next summer, assuming I stick to my plans and take a total of eight classes next winter and fall semesters.

Anyway, I think this turned into a big ramble, but it’s one am and I just felt like writing something. Will be posting regularly again!

~Erynn

 

The Arcade

During my visit to California this November, I actually learnt a lot about myself. I’d gone travelling for plenty of reasons; I wanted to get away, go somewhere warmer than here in British Columbia, to see friends, and to do whatever else was really worth doing on a mini vacation. Learning anything about myself, in some ways, was exactly what I didn’t want to do– but I guess it still happened, so I may as well tell you about it.

I didn’t really have all that much money to spend on my trip. And really, that’s not a huge deal at all, though most people who go to California want to visit all of the theme parks and probably Hollywood and other tourist attractions. Generally speaking, that’s not me at all. I don’t like doing those things, though I did go with my friend to Knott’s because he had free tickets. So, what I went for was to enjoy myself in every other way.

One thing I did quite frequently was go to the arcade. Truthfully it wasn’t really something I was too interested in– I’d only gone to a real arcade once before, with my cousin– but I went because my friend was super into them and wanted to show me a bunch of games. At first it was his interest that prompted me to go.

At the first arcade we went to, we played dance dance revolution for hours (I SUCK) and I watched him play a few fighting games (I believe it was Marvel vs. Capcom or something like that). And really, though we didn’t really do all that much, it was incredibly fun! Though I still sucked at DDR by the end of the night, there was one thing I knew: That I wanted to go again.

Though we did end up going to the same arcade several more times during my stay, there was another that we went to. My friend wanted to take me there for a specific reason, and that was to show me more games that he thought I’d like. I figured at that point I was already in too deep to turn back, so off we went! Long story short, we played a ton of other games; more DDR, Project Diva, and some others that I can’t remember right now.

My friend already told me several times by then that rhythm games were his favourite genre. I’d always knew he was a weird one– so this didn’t really change anything– but I struggled to understand why until I stepped in and tried not only one kind, but multiple from a very large selection. It didn’t take me long to learn that it was not only incredibly fun, but also challenging in a way I hadn’t really experienced before. You see, rhythm games are all about patterns, though more specifically the beat of each different song you can play. Timing is absolutely key when the goal of the game is to press buttons in sync with certain aspects of the song. Because of this, I’ve started to love these games as well. I still suck tremendously, but I’m enjoying myself, and that’s what counts, eh?

The game in particular that I’ve been obsessing over is Project Diva.

Here’s one of my favourite songs from the game:

I’ll probably start playing different ones eventually… but for now I’m quite content with this game. 🙂

See you guys next week!

~Erynn

Okay, okay…

It’s been almost a month since my last post, and honestly I hadn’t even realized it’s been so long until the other day when I got to my mom’s house and was looking for things to do. You might know me by now– sometimes I’ll do whatever it takes NOT to work when I have to.

And yeah, that. Work. Ugh. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my work. Sure I’d much rather be writing my own stories, but having the opportunity to bring other stories to life is still so much more enjoyable than the boring retail or fast food job most people my age are stuck with. Let’s delve a bit deeper into work before we move on, though.

I believe I mentioned some time ago that I signed a contract to write for an indie video game company (yay!!), which is one of my primary projects as of now. I PROMISE I’ll post more information on it when the time comes, but for now that’s all I’m going to say. On top of this I have several novel projects on the go– three to be exact– and two more prospective ones that may be coming within the week, looking to be completed before the new year.

I swear, I’m busy. So busy that I’ve barely been able to find time to read before going to bed each night, so busy that I can hardly enjoy the time I spend playing games because I’m trying to get as much studying out of it as possible before I move on to something else.

There’s even more than that! I’ve registered for several online courses (since I don’t believe myself currently in the proper state of mind to attend real university) that I’ve planned to use to enlighten me on several subjects I’m interested in, such as deeper into the musings of Shakespeare, learning more about the ocean, and even about psychology and how the mind works. One course that I registered for- and I’m quite thankful that I have- even cost me a hefty sum of $600. I know that the skills I’ll gain from completing it will be much more valuable than the money (otherwise I wouldn’t have registered!) but I just feel so terrible that I haven’t been able to work on that so much either…

*sigh*

Then there’s NaNoWriMo. I planned on coming back from California and picking it up at full speed to complete on time. Sure, I did… I completed the 50,000 words within the last 13 days of the month… but only about three hundred of those words were toward my own book. That’s rather depressing to think about, isn’t it? I don’t think I’ve had a busier month before this November, and though I’m only a couple days into December, I’ve got the feeling that it’ll be much worse. Work, work, work, work, work. When will it ever end?

I say oh well. Things’ll sort themselves out sooner rather than later, and if I’m not capable of finishing the second draft of my book this month as planned, then you can bet that I’ll be working on fixing myself a regular working, writing, and being Erynn schedule that’ll hopefully get me doing everything that I need to get done without a worry. It’ll probably be with less sleep, though. 😦

The first thing I’m going to do is to return to updating this blog weekly. I promise you that! I’ve already got posts for the next three weeks sorted out!

~Erynn

Why We Game

Most people have a hobby, be it sports, reading, drawing, or playing video games, like myself. I pride myself in being a gamer, not because it gives me any prestige that being apart of any other ‘hobby community’ doesn’t give you, but more to appeal to others like me who enjoy games as much as I do.

Let me say it again: all ‘hobby communities’ have a level of prestige attached to them within that community; be it based off of skill, experience, or time dedicated to the craft. There are many ways to gauge this prestige factor, and truthfully, many people cannot and will not be recognized in their community as someone important or imperative to the future of that community because there are so many people trying to do the exact same thing. But that doesn’t make any member of that community any less important (unless you are, as we say in some games, ‘toxic’, then you aren’t at all valuable and you can leave. We’ll have a party after you go to celebrate the occasion).

Regardless, let’s get back on track. Why do we game?

Well, like all hobbies, there are a variety of reasons, but not everyone can say they do because of those reasons. Personally, I like gaming because it’s entertaining. It’s challenging. It keeps me thinking, using my brain, and working around obstacles that I wouldn’t be able to experience doing anything else. Though, there’s really a lot more to it than that. I’ve never really been the most social person, so activities that involve other people I’m not all that comfortable with… yeaahh, not happening. But it’s different with video games. There’s no faces but your character, you have absolute control of whether you interact with anyone else, and if you do, how you do it. It may seem like something small, but it’s that aspect of control that’s really valuable.

As I already said, everyone  has their own reasons, as everyone has their own reasons for everything. Some people value the amount of skill requires to play some games well, some people just like being able to distract themselves from life or to collect fancy armour in an MMO.

So again, why do we game?

Because like any other hobby, it’s what we enjoy doing. 🙂

Why do you game? Or if you don’t, what about your hobbies keep you doing them over and over again?

~Erynn

Writing In Video Games

Something I’ve been interested in for a long time is writing for an actual video game. What prompted me to go out and pursue this recently was an opportunity that I saw; not one that I could take advantage of now, but one that maybe I could be lucky enough to grab in the future. That opportunity was seeing a job opening in BioWare, a department picked up by EA Games dedicated to creating brilliant RPGs and the like. If I was maybe 10 years older, it would have been a dream come true… but lacking the age and experience needed to even interest such a company, it’s something I need to pass on for now.

Just to give you a bit more perspective, they were asking for a minimum of 5 years writing experience in a similar environment (writing and developing stories behind video games), in addition to university education. While I believe I write very good for my age (remember guys, I only just graduated high school this year), I’m in no way shape or form ready to take on such a task.

However, it solidified my desire to pursue something other than novel writing, and that’s why starting yesterday, I started seeking work writing for video games. I picked up a gig several months ago where I was supposed to write the story for a fantasy rpg, but it kind of fell apart. Well, fell apart in the sense that after the guy said he wanted me on their team he disappeared. 😥 Today I got in contact with two different people managing two different projects, one very interested in having me write for them. So maybe it something comes of it in the near future, I’ll be taking a step in that direction that I can tell you guys about.

I’d like to talk a bit more about my experience with that fantasy rpg I just mentioned. While I didn’t get too far into any of the work involved in that project, it was the beginning of a whole new era of writing for me. I opened myself up to the world of script writing (something I had little interest in before), and to the world of real world development. When you’re designing a world for a novel, you only have to see it well enough to write your readers into it. You have narrative readily available to throw your readers into the story, but that’s completely gone in video games. Instead of you writing and describing everything that happens around the reader, the reader is instead a player, and is experiencing the world as the artists pictured it, and it’s your job to reflect that world in the characters.

A video game I finished recently is Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. I highly recommend it if you like diverse combat, but that’s not what I’m here to discuss today. I picked up the game because my boyfriend said I should try it, and he reinforced this fact by supplying me with the information that one of my favourite fantasy authors, R.A. Salvatore, wrote the story for the game. Here’s an article with an interview with R.A. Salvatore regarding his involvement in the game.

What I’ve so far learned about writing for video games is that it’s nothing like writing a novel. You need to show the player the world you’ve spent so long building in a completely different way. Each and every character within the game, whether it be a simple farmer or a merchant is significant. Your story affects everyone, everyone the player touches, and everything that you, the writer, have yet to touch on yourself.

What are your thoughts on the stories behind video games, the writing that is involved in it? Have any of you ever written for a video game before (be it dialogue, quests, or developing an actual story)?

~Erynn

 

A Classic, to Me

Of course, I’m talking about Spyro the dragon. The Spyro franchise is one of my all time favourite videogames; a nostalgia goldmine, a fun game, and the challenge of trying to remember how the hell you work a damned PS2 (those controls are damned awful).

A couple of months ago my boyfriend and I were bored and wanted something to do. I suggested we play Spyro! And he was like, “Spyro? What’s that?” you bet I told him what Spyro was all about, went and set up the lonely, dusty PS2 in my basement and threw in a Spyro disc. We ran into a lot of problems (that’s something we just can’t seem to help with when it comes to almost anything).

First off we couldn’t find my favourite game, so we had to settle with one of the sub-par knockoffs. Second, I didn’t have any functional memory cards, so we just played that game for a bit so he could get an idea of what it was about (he loved it!). Then we decided it was time to get set up for some real Spyro. He ordered us a memory card off of Ebay, and I went on a mad hunt to find the right Spyro game (the exact name is escaping me at the moment, but I think it was something like Year of the Dragon).

Two weeks later we were set and ready to go! We popped that sucker in the ancient PS2, plugged in the brand new memory card, and off we went… or, well, not. The disc was broken and couldn’t be used anymore. Long story short, we had to buy ourself a new copy (damn that was expensive).

Annndd…. we’ve yet to play it. I’ve been dying to do so since we went and bought it, but I haven’t been at home much since then so we’ve had no chance to try. I’m hoping that once we finally move out (yeah we’ve had issues with that, too, go figure) we’ll have everything in one spot and nothing left to stop us! Grr…. I doubt it. The likely scenario states that we’ll maybe get to play 5 minutes in the next year, but I suppose 5 minutes is better than none.

Have any of you guys played the original Spyro games before? What were your thoughts on them? If you haven’t considered trying them out but have a functional PS1/PS2, you should totally try them out!

~Erynn