Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Great Root Beer Heist

Last summer I spent some quantity time with my brother's friends and ended up with the plot for an actual NEW online Choose Your Own Adventure by the end of the day.  Yes, that's right, it's a Choose Your Own Adventure that I did not write when I was eleven!  You play the part of a blue ninja of unspecified gender on a mission to rob a charity walk-a-thon of its root beer.  I'd originally intended for it to be very straightforward, but then I wound up accidentally throwing in this weapon system.  That clogged the pipeline for quite a bit.

After working on this off again and on again over the summer, I've finally finished writing the story and mapping out the flowchart for The Great Root Beer Heist.  You can expect to see 17 unquestionably bad endings and 6 endings that range from dubious at best to very good for the player.  You can also expect to see the ninjas depicted below.

In light of this accomplishment, I've decided to share the process I've been using to create these things.  It all starts with a red composition book.
It has to be a red marble composition book.  I hoard the things like it's nobody's business and that helps keep them straight.  Of course, back when I started doing this I didn't have much of a choice.  They didn't really sell composition books in anything but marble style, and the red color was actually a huge novelty when I was in the fifth grade.  Now that I have them in polka-dot, taupe, European-style, glitter, unruled, and holographic with built in strobe light effects, the red marble's really just to state that yes, this notebook contains Choose Your Own Adventures and their accompanying logistical flowcharts.

To put it bluntly, I just wrote the story out in a notebook.  This was also the step where I closed the project and called it a day back in the 90s.  I still like writing my first draft in a real notebook on a stoop or bench or someplace weird, because there's less Internet there to distract me.
The second step is the one I just finished now.  I created a flowchart so I know exactly what pages need to be done.  As I finish them I fill in the little bubbles with a colored pencil or something.

I definitely do not actually perform this step on a large white board set up in public.  This is probably the worst way to make a flowchart, actually.  People around here have an overwhelming tendency to see important things written on erasable surfaces and erase them.  I use regular paper instead, because filling in the bubbles with a real colored pencil is a lot more satisfying than filling it in with the paint bucket tool in a separate tab.
 I don't even start doing anything on the computer until this is done.  I make the images first because there is a 100% chance of the image above not actually happening with that.  I set up the page in Dream Weaver and keep it simple.  Image, block of text, links at the bottom.  Boom.  Done.

And this is why there hasn't been a Lu Encounter update in over a month.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why aren't pineapple Twizzlers a thing?

I found myself awake in the middle of the night again last night, as many creative sorts do.  Probably out of habit. Why is it that all the best ideas wait to show up until the middle of the night?  Why don't they cooperate with their host and pop up at more convenient times, when you're not trying to get some sleep?

I digress.  I found myself lying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling for at least thirty minutes wondering if Twizzlers came in pineapple flavor or not, for no real apparent reason, trying in vain to resist the urge to get up and google it (probably costing me an additional hour or so of sleep in the process).  Resistance was futile.  Turns out that Twizzlers do not come in pineapple flavor.  BUT THEY SHOULD, DARN IT.  THEY REALLY, REALLY SHOULD.

I then took it upon myself to draw some sketches of Minor 6th from the Amazing Harmonizing Police Force as a boy about to embark on a noble quest to save his homeland from invading forces.  He's one of those spry roguish sorts.  Because, you know, blog entries are always better with pictures.  It makes people more apt to read the text, after all.

He looks oddly like the demon spawn of Raz from Psychonauts, Norman from ParaNorman, Timmy from the Fairly Oddparents, and Hub from Mega Man Battle Network.  As an adult he looks less like those guys and more like one of my old choir directors.  

I need to get my head back in the game.  And Hershey's needs to get on that pineapple Twizzler idea, stat.  Seriously, pineapple Twizzlers would be nothing short of awesome. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might...

Hey guys!  Hey!  HEEEY!  Guess what?  My website has an arcade filled with all the random crap I've done!

I was a really prolific little kid when it came to writing.  Just this past week I finished drawing and coding another Choose Your Own Adventure entitled "Wish Upon a Nintendo 64."  If you didn't get enough death scenes and questionable fifth-grade-me-logic with the Prototype Lu Encounter, it's definitely worth a look.  Despite the wimpy-sounding title, this one boasts almost twice as many deaths as Protolu.  In fact, only two of the ten endings aren't awful, and they both have strings attached as opposed to flat-out getting to game happily ever after.

As far as plot goes, your evil and nerdy Uncle Bill decides to steal your Nintendo 64, and you need to go to absurd odds just to get it back.  Including risking lots and lots of gratuitous death.  It could practically function as a very intense Nintendo 64 ad.  "The Nintendo 64 is so great that most kids are willing to risk their lives to get it back from their evil uncles!  Buy one today!"

Fun fact: I took that opportunity to showcase my two favorite N64 games of all time.

Even more fun and factual: Neither of them were Ocarina of Time.  Even as a kid I still thought OOT was overrated.  Some things never change.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Everything's better with stickers

About a month ago I bought a day planner so I'd be more on top of things, such as finishing my projects and remembering to blog about them.  Whenever the daily quota is reached, I give myself a sticker.  When I exceed it, I get a shiny sticker.  And whenever something out of my control comes up and completely uproots my plans I get to draw a little icon depicting what went horribly, horribly wrong.

Something went horribly, horribly wrong for the last five days in a row, starting with Tonio's AC adapter deciding that it no longer wanted to power the laptop about a nanosecond from me finishing the second of my late 90s Choose Your Own Adventure extravaganzas and an added bonus I'm tacking onto my website for the fun of things.  I actually meant to get this done weeks ago, but that's when my dad decided I was going to stain the entire deck.

So yeah.  Stay tuned and expect imminent awesome in the near future.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Blast from the Past

          When I was about ten or eleven years old, I hoarded composition books and filled them to the brim with about every type of creative endeavor you can possibly imagine.  Screenplays.  Game design.  Documentaries. Musicals.  Books.  Interpretive Dance  You name it, I probably dabbled in it during my childhood, and chances are the story had something to do with a holiday.
          I specifically had a notebook designed just for Choose Your Own Adventure stories.  Most of them were short and pretty odd, but looking at them they just seemed like something you'd have an easier time following through a website.  My web design skills could definitely use some improvement, so I figured, hey!  Why not practice using some original material I've already written?
          So The Proto Lu Encounter came to fruition.  The Lu Encounter is a plot I've been working with for ages.  This particular version is probably one of its earliest iterations and involves surviving the 4th of July with your evil aunt Lu.  The current Lu Encounter is nothing like this at all and involves robots, a global domination plot, product placement and sandwiches.  Consider this a very early prototype, complete with a very, very old-school graphic style.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What the Truck!?!

The Gasellschaft and I have a love-hate relationship.

The Gasellschaft is my truck. Actually, scratch that, it isn't my truck. It is my dad's truck. It is obscenely large, has custom, fixed side view mirrors designed for seeing around a horse trailer, an extra long bed, and an extra wide cab. It is quite possibly the most unwieldy vehicle short of a tractor-trailer and guzzles gas like no tomorrow, hence the name. It also completely dwarfs me to the point where, if you're not me, it's actually really funny.

For now I'm stuck in New Jersey, where people pump your gas for you. These gas station attendants almost all think it's the funniest thing in the universe to see someone like me behind the wheel of something like that. Every. Single. Time. Once in Maryland I tried to park at a Panera with it and took so long to get it right that my friends had enough time to go in, see that the line was too long, and decide to just split up and get food elsewhere before I could get it in the space.

Half the time it doesn't even fit all the way into a parking space. If it were actually my vehicle it would definitely be a lot smaller and more sensible on gas. I am probably going to write a serious children's book about being relatively short and driving an obscenely large truck. Worse comes to worse I can sell it to gas station attendants in all two states that have them.

Anyway, about a week ago my dad actually used his own truck to take some garbage out to the dumpster on his other property. That's when a freak accident occurred! Here's what went down in the art style of Bruno Bozzetto:

It was a classic example of normal human drives truck on empty road, crazy idiot swerves normal human into only parked car on entire shoulder, crazy idiot does not stop at all and just drives off like a jerk. You know how these things go. The truck sustained internal damage that we thought was just a cracked steering column, so he got his friend the mechanic to tow it down to his shop and fix it up.

We thought it would only be like a week tops. They'd put in a new steering column and fix up the dents and badda-bing, here's your absurdly large vehicle back. I mean, I had places to go. Jobs to bag. Chums to see.

Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. A week turned into a week and a half and My Dad's Friend The Mechanic found he was having trouble aligning the truck to finish the job. He had to call in a specialist, who incidentally, happened to also be a friend of my dad's. This is just one of those towns where everyone's all in everyone else's business. Heck, I'm sure if I ever cared enough to get a boyfriend in this state, my dad would know who it was before I would, so many people know my dad.

So for now I am stranded here--stranded here moreso than I was up until this point--for 2 to 3 weeks. That means the Christmas decorations will be up until about Valentine's Day. Typically, my dad uses whatever truck he has at the time to take them to storage after the holiday season. That's the Gasellschaft for you. Can't live with it, can't live without it.

The good news?


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

CTNX, Part Trois

Okay. I didn't expect to forget to post until the new year. Oops? Thanks for kicking the sense back into me, Matt. Not the Matt who's marrying Lauren. I've started a Matt collection since I last posted here regularly.

But you don't want to hear about any sort of Matt collection, do you? Of course not! You're probably here to hear about how CTNX2011 ended. Nobody likes a cliffhanger ending!

So before I left for Burbank, my mom came to me with one request that she insisted I fulfill during my stay there. No, not "get a full-time job doing that thing you love" or anything. She wanted me to buy myself a coffee mug and gave me money specifically to do that. I suppose using just any mug in her house is aggravating her OCD.

Now, this wasn't like one of those conventions where you can just walk up to the coffee mug table and buy a coffee mug. I'm actually not sure if those sort of conventions exist. I'm not exactly the most knowledgeable on the conventions of conventions. I did, however, spot a gift shop in the hotel. Unfortunately, that gift shop always seemed to be closed whenever I approached it, but there were DEFINITELY coffee mugs in there.

Thankfully, on Sunday morning, I managed to catch it during the hour it was actually open. And I did find a coffee mug that I really liked, too. They put the wrong price tag on it, but it was still in the allocated Coffee Mug Budget, so I snapped one up before the store closed on me.

As with all two of the conventions I've attended in my lifetime, the last day was abbreviated. I did run into Bobby Chiu again. I picked up his book after I caught an inspirational speech he was giving someone else that pretty much validated my decision to opt with Ellen's book instead of the sandwich. It's nice to have a lot of heroes you can mentally interview for inspiration. Maybe one day I'll hold the record for having the most!

I picked up as much free stuff as I could before the floor closed, and reconnected with Twi after finding his business card lying around. It was actually pretty lucky I'd noticed it, because he changed his contact info since the last time he gave me his card.

When I got back to the room, I finally met Jordan, with whom I'd been sharing the space this entire time.

She turned out to be really awesome, and we watched YouTube videos and read Twilight sporks for a few hours before turning in for the night. Unfortunately she doesn't seem to have a portfolio site or blog anywhere yet, though.

I flew back uneventfully the next morning at noon, stopped once in Phoenix again, and did not purchase cactus seeds. I doubt I'll live long enough for cacti grown from seed to make a very effective privacy fence and child-deterrent anyway.

To end this CTNX wrap-up, I will leave you all, or at least those of you who know Paige's mom, with disturbing mental imagery of Paige's mom as Ursula from The Little Mermaid. You're welcome. Brain bleach is on the counter to your right.