Monday, July 31, 2017

The Near Horizon: August 2017

I admittedly don't have a whole lot to report, although I have one cool thing to say.

First, apologies, for not having finished Episode One of DOOM yet. On top of being extremely busy, I'm having some pretty serious sleep-related problems. I think it's because I'm so fucking stressed and anxiety-riddled from all the work I've been having to do. I never thought I'd be at the point where I was *happy* to get just seven hours of sleep a night, but if I could reliably count on that, I'd be fucking thrilled.

If anyone cares, my main problem is that I can't *get* to sleep. I'm a night owl. I know the fact that I stay up very late isn't the problem, because it's been working for years now. Something's changed in the past few weeks. At first, it was that I couldn't get to sleep at my normal bedtime (4AM). I'd lay there, go into a kind of half-doze for about 20 minutes, and...then I was awake again. For like, fucking hours. I'd lay in bed for fucking HOURS trying to sleep, eventually passing out at like 7 or 8 in the morning.

A temporary solution was adjusting my schedule slightly. I found that if I went to bed after the sun came up, at around 6AM, I was so tired that I was thrilled to be laying down, and I'd go to sleep almost right away.

Then that stopped working. No idea why.

I'm doing things to try and fix this, (avoiding anything stimulating later in the day food/drink wise, stopping doing anything involving a screen before going to bed, reading), but honestly it's a total shot in the dark whether or not it'll work. Last Sunday night, tried and failed to get to sleep at a regular time, and I was so pissed off that I said FUCK IT, and decided that if my fucking brain and body was so fucking convinced that it didn't need to sleep, then I wouldn't give it ANY goddamned sleep.

If you can't tell, this is really bringing out my rage side.

I stayed up for 36 hours. Finally caved and fell asleep at 2AM Tuesday morning, slept til 1PM and felt a whole lot better. Tuesday night going into Wednesday, couldn't fucking sleep again. I was up until 9AM, had to get back up at 1PM. Thursday night went better, although it was a close call. Laid down to sleep at 5:30AM, woke up some short time later confused, exhausted and incoherent as hell. I'd been having a sort of half-dream about Fire Warrior (I'm reading it again right now), and found that I was having a bit of trouble differentiating between reality and my dream. But I could tell that I was waking back up. While I was laying there, exhausted out of my fucking mind, trying to figure this out, I apparently fell back asleep, cause next thing I knew, I was waking up to my alarm.

Since Friday it's been going...okay. I've at least fallen asleep when I've tried, but I've been staying up until 6:30AM or so because I'm so paranoid of it happening again. I'm...trying to deal with it in my own way, as I'm reluctant to put anymore pills in my body. It's not that I have a problem with pills at all, it's more that I'm just fucking paranoid. I've heard too many stories of people accidentally ODing on stuff, having lethal allergic reactions to basic stuff. I mean fuck, that's how Monty Oum from RoosterTeeth died. Then there's stuff like Serotonin Storm that can come up out of fucking nowhere from a basic psych med and KILL you. I'm aware that the chances of something like that happening are very low, but it only takes once, you know?

If it persists and I exhaust all other options, though, I'm sure I'll get there eventually.

So...yeah. I'm sure you're so thrilled that you got to read all that.

Anyway, about the story stuff.

The DOOM Chronicles has one more chapter and an epilogue, then it's going on hiatus. Then Gone Home will start posting. After that, I'm genuinely uncertain if I'll be able to return to fan fiction for several months. I really want to get The Shadow Wars wrapped up, republished, and put into paperback as soon as possible. I'm having a difficult enough time finding time to do so as it is, so I really think fan fiction needs to go on the back burner for a little bit. So that sucks.

Speaking of the Shadow Wars...Dead Ice has begun posting! It and Dead Skies should go up pretty quickly. Then the first stumbling block will hit: Dead Rain. I've got it planned out, but as for when I'll find time to actually write it? I can't say. I've begun working on it, but haven't made a great deal of progress yet. I'll make a real effort, but I can't promise anything. After that, though, lots more regular publishing. Then again I've gotta stop for Quarantine. Then smooth sailing all the way up to Into the Void, which is a total rewrite. Then, once Saturate is finished, six brand new shorts!

After that, paperbacks!

If I'm VERY lucky, and work VERY hard, I *might* be able to get paperbacks out before the end of the year, but I would absolutely not count on it.

So...sorry about all that. 2017 doesn't really seem to be my year. Partly because I'm working my ass off in an attempt to enter 2018 from a much better starting point.

Thanks for the support.

-Obsidian

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Game Talk #20: Call of Duty - Infinite Warfare


So, why has it been so long since I've done one of these?

I'm so fucking busy that I don't even know how to describe it.

So anyway, I've been obsessed with Infinite Warfare. This game is one of those like underdog, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat at the absolute last moment kind of games for me. Why? A little history.

I first became introduced to Call of Duty with Modern Warfare. It blew me the fuck away. MW2 only blew me away even more. It remains, I think, the best Call of Duty game, (although now Infinite Warfare is my favorite). Modern Warfare 3 I loved as well and that's actually where I got into the multiplayer. In fact, it was the only time I've ever gotten into CoD multiplayer.

I didn't care about anything that came before Modern Warfare, nor World at War, nor Black Ops 1 & 2. But when Ghosts came out in 2013, I was excited, because it sounded interesting. I got it, fully intending to get back into multiplayer, but it just didn't work out that way, mainly because I found the game lackluster. I didn't even beat the campaign first time through, but going through it a second time, I actually enjoyed and beat it. And then haven't played it since. Extinction was a great idea, too. I really wish that would have taken off.

Also, on a side note, while I gladly would sacrifice Ghosts 2 for IW, I am kind of disappointed that they just left that cliffhanger ending.

When Advanced Warfare came out, I really liked that one. Fantastic campaign and gameplay. I thought it managed to feel different while still also feeling like a CoD game. Not to mention, good lord, those cut-scenes still look cutting edge.

Then Black Ops 3 happened, and I grabbed a copy, brand new, full price, launch day, and played through the campaign. I was less enthralled with this one. I mean, at first, I really liked where it was going, especially with some light horror aspects, and later some psychological thriller aspects. Unfortunately, it didn't build to a satisfying conclusion. (Seriously, I was so confused by the ending, I had to go look it up, and even then it still seemed weird.) So it was a great idea with a bad finale. And I still didn't like the damned multiplayer.

It was after finishing up Black Ops 3 that I decided...you know what? I need to stop buying these games brand new, full price. I mean, I'm only playing the campaign through once, maybe twice, and that's it. I just don't care about the multiplayer, and I don't even care about the zombie mode anymore. (Advanced Warfare didn't even ship with it!!!)

Then Infinite Warfare started getting teased, and I was fucking amped. I have been waiting for Call of Duty in space, and I mean ACTUALLY in space, not just like in Earth orbit for like one level, but fighting on Mars and the moon and all over the solar system, for like eight years now, back when I first got the idea. And of course we all know how the IW launch trailer became the most disliked video on YouTube ever. Or close to it, anyway.

Let's talk about that for a second. Why are/were people bitching SO much about that? Like, listen, WWII has been done TO. FUCKING. DEATH. There are so many fucking books and games and movies about it, and it's all CoD even was before Modern Warfare came along and finally made the series actually interesting. And I know people are going to say the same thing about 'future' CoD now, but I honestly think that while, yeah, I was actually getting tired of fighting robots in the nearish future, Infinite Warfare broke through the ceiling and catapulted into an entirely new realm of storytelling. This wasn't just Earth in 2050 or 2080, with some high-tech stuff and robots. This was fucking actual, real outer space, for almost the whole game.

Ironically, I did not purchase Infinite Warfare in 2016. In fact, I kind of forgot about it, since I've got so much else going on in my life, and so many other games on my to-play list. In May of this year, I decided to take a quick look at the price, and saw that it was half-off, down to 25$ on Amazon, and figured, 'Okay, yeah, a good a time as any.' And I bought it. Started playing it, got pissed off in the prologue because of one poorly designed area, and...stopped playing for about a month and a half, since that whole busyness thing doesn't really go away.

Fast forward to this month, July, where I look at the game case and think, 'Okay, CoD campaigns aren't THAT long, and I started it, I've at least got to beat it once.' So I put it back in, started a fresh campaign, and got to work.

And then I fell immediately in love.

Currently, I'm on my like...fifth playthrough of the campaign. It's rare I do that anymore, especially when I'm playing it for the sheer sake of experiencing the game and I'm not going for any achievements or challenges or anything. I'm simply enjoying the story and the environment.

So why is that? Well, let's start with a quick plot synopsis to make sure we're all on the same page.

It's the future. The game doesn't specify the year, but we've got FTL flight and colonies all over the solar system and the Earth is basically unified. There's mining colonies on moons and asteroids, orbital shipyards, and research outposts and full colonies on several planets and larger moons. Now, some time ago, during the 'gold rush' era of space colonization, the Settlement Defense Front was a military force created to instill some law and order out there on the frontier. Eventually, they decided they could do it better all by themselves and went rogue, launching the Secession Wars and attempting to seize control of the whole system. Ultimately, it culminated in peace accords and the divvying up of the system.

Apparently, though, they never stopped thinking they could do it better, and were really just biding their time. The game opens with the SDF launching an all-out surprise attack on Earth and, in the process of driving them off, the Earth loses all but two of its space-worthy destroyer ships. In the chaos, the main character, Nick Reyes, a veteran combat pilot, gets put in charge of one of these ships. And now it's up to you and your crew to stop the SDF from finishing the job by kicking their ass all over the system.

So, pretty cool premise. Gameplay wise, the game has a little over a half dozen primary story missions. That sounds like not a lot, but not only are these fairly lengthy levels, often divided up into multiple parts, but the game is supplemented by an additional nine side missions that are either areal combat or more traditional FPS style.

It's a pretty solid campaign.

So why do I like it so much?

For the sake of transparency, I think that it's really more of a coincidence that I love this game. I don't love it because it's Call of Duty, or even because it has a truly stellar campaign or story or characters, but mainly because I finally, finally have a game where I can play in the solar system. I've never really had that before. I've always had a love of astronomy and the planets and their moons. I obsessed over it all when I was much younger, and today that translates into a passing interest that, if properly stimulated, becomes intense.

Like with this game.

All that being said, Infinite Warfare is still a great campaign. It has a simple but well-executed story, a very good cast of characters that aren't 'Generic Marine #7' or 'Typical Technician #28'. When you are onboard your ship, the Retribution, even the background characters feel pretty real and diverse. That's another thing, diversity. Most of the gaming industry just got its ass handed to it in terms of having an inclusive cast by a fucking Call of Duty game. That's kind of unreal, and awesome.

So what's wrong with the game then?

Right off the bat, I didn't try the multiplayer even once. Although I glanced at it a little, and I liked what I saw in that there's a bit more of a story to the MP, I'm still not interested. The wall-running and jump-jetting and gadgets and crap, it's too much for me. I'm boring in that I just want more old school, Halo 3 and MW3 era gameplay in my multiplayer. Also, again with that busy thing, I don't really have time for multiplayer.

To be honest, not much is really wrong with the game, per say. If anything, the complaints I had were really just me wishing there were more things.

The side missions. Although they did get a bit repetitive, (every single one of them where you get out of your space jet takes place on an enemy cruiser, I wanted to go onto more planets and moons!), they're still good missions in and of themselves. And furthermore, why didn't they DLC in more of these side missions!? It'd have been absolutely perfect for such an opportunity.

The ship itself that you occupy between missions. What there was, was pretty cool. But you were confined to a very small portion of the ship. I wanted to explore! I wanted more areas to see, more features, more conversations, maybe even mini-games? It was a hugely wasted opportunity.

The zombies. Okay, this is really my biggest gripe. The zombie mode in this was just fucking stupid. The story was so out there, so over the top, so unnecessary that I didn't even see the point. I mean, it has nothing to do with the universe or the campaign, as far as I can tell. Maybe I'm wrong and I missed something, but I don't even care. In a universe of gritty military sci-fi, I don't want to play a sub-game where I'm trapped in a carnival on the moon because an '80s horror director made a deal with the Devil to be immortal and...needs to feed people to zombies to keep it going? I don't fucking know.

All I know is that they wasted a perfectly good opportunity. Why not have it be part of the universe?! It'd be so easy to have like, a research station on Venus go dark, and you are part of a four-person squad sent in to investigate, and find zombies! That'd be so fucking awesome!

Actually, you know what? Fuck it, I'll do it myself.

 
The other real criticism I have of the story is the bad guys. The SDF. Their intentions are really kind of basic and as an enemy, they're a little lame. I mean, they have this asshole boss who is just a lunatic. At one point, he literally tells you all to 'surrender for execution'. Like, why even bother? Is this guy really so fucking stupid that he thinks that would work? If death is a certainty following surrender, what person wouldn't keep fighting?

Really, they just kind of came off as space Nazis. They basically think that they have the right to rule over the solar system because they're tougher. Seriously, that's their argument. We are tougher than you are, so you don't deserve your stuff. We do. I mean, that makes for a quick and easy bad guy army, I guess, but it would have been nice if there was some more thought put into this.

That's all I can really think of in terms of complaints.

Oh wait, one more thing. A lot of people have complained about the name of the game, and...yeah, I mean, I can see. Infinite Warfare. What does that even mean? It sounds like a really high-concept sci-fi, but this is decidedly not high concept.

What was wrong with Solar Warfare? Spacial Warfare? Interstellar Warfare?

On the good side, there's a few cool things worked into the game. Like your 'Most Wanted Board'. Basically, it's the command structure of the SDF, and they let you know every time you kill someone on the board, and they get crossed off the list. In most cases, you actually have to fight them. Typically in dogfights. Honestly, it doesn't amount to much functionally speaking, you don't get perks for doing it or anything, but it adds to the atmosphere.

And then there are Armories you can find scattered throughout the game. Finding these will give you tangible perks in the game like faster reloading, better equipment, increased accuracy, etc.

To be honest, the game is a little basic, and I feel like that was intentional. Either they left it basic so that there was a good and easy foundation to build off of, (they say they want to make it a series within CoD, ((PLEASE)), so that would make sense), or they were spreading their resources between campaign, zombies, and multiplayer, and this was as much as they could do. Either way, despite being a bit simple, the campaign is great and well-crafted.

So if you've got a love of the solar system, or really just First Person Shooters in general, give the campaign a shot! This is a solid game. (Again, just the campaign, no idea about MP.)

My only genuine concern now is that due to the bitching and the comparatively less sales of IW, they'll cancel their plans to do sequels. Please don't, Infinity Ward! Make more! Make many more! There's so much left to explore, so much potential for expansion.

Here's hoping.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Near Horizon: July 2017

Hello everyone!

So...this isn't going to be a happy update. I mean, well, it kind of is, but...okay, there's some good news and some bad news.

Here's the good news: I have finally unlocked the ability to reliably create print-on-demand paperbacks! This is something I've been trying to figure out for years now. I'm also in the process of getting The Shadow Wars up on other sales platforms. Or, I mean, I will once I have gone through the process of editing and adjusting the whole series.

Side Note: If you have missed out on it, I'm editing, touching up, or otherwise revising the entire Shadow Wars series, AND releasing everything on my S. A. Lusher WattPad account starting 08.01.2017. For the most part, everything will remained untouched, but the pertinent facts are that I'm going to expand Quarantine into a full-blown novel and The Blind War and Into the Void are being boiled down into a single novel, to be titled Into the Void, and I'll be adding a third novella to the prequels called Dead Rain. I'm also going to be releasing six brand new short stories that each feature one of the surviving main characters, taking place after Saturate, as well as a six novel sequel series to The Shadow Wars that takes place ten years later and features a brand new protagonist. If you want more details, check out the first post on my new blog for S. A. Lusher. Web Address: salusher.blogspot.com.

The other good news is that I'm still making slow but steady progress on my new original Post-Apocalyptic Survival/Horror novel, although it is going slower and less steady than I would have hoped, as June, particularly the last half of it, was insanely busy. I'm looking for to, starting Monday, a huge segment of time where I just work on writing stuff with few interruptions.

So that's the good news. I'm basically going to be dedicating the rest of the year to writing my new novel, and editing, touching up, and expanding upon The Shadow Wars, and turning them into paperbacks.

The bad news is that this is going to cut into my fan fiction writing even more than before. Here's what I'll say: I'm going to keep writing fan fiction in whatever spare time I can find, but I won't be able to promise any kind of upload schedule.

So...sorry about that. I'm hoping that the return of The Shadow Wars, with new content, will make up for that.

Also, either to help make up for that or to make myself feel better, (because please believe me, I feel the pain, I want to write all the fan fiction, but I just don't have the time, and I have to sacrifice something), I'm going to talk about other fan fic projects I have planned in the future.

First of all, let's get the immediate stuff out of the way.

Gathering Darkness is finished. In case anyone is interested, I do actually have a couple more ideas for potential entries in that series, but it will be awhile before I even think about getting to them. All I can say is that the sequel will be REALLY weird and different and a fan fiction crossover of a game I don't think basically anyone ever has written about.

The DOOM Chronicles: Episode One is really close to being done. I'm going to try and finish it as soon as I can, and then I am putting that series on hiatus for awhile because holy crap, that was a LOT of writing. And the series isn't even close to finished.

As I mentioned earlier, I'll be posting my novelization of Gone Home as soon as The DOOM Chronicles Episode One is finished.

I've been blathering on about my secret project for awhile now, and although I've made some good progress on planning it, I've also been feeling a slow, subtle shift in my desire to write it right now. I honestly hate to say something vague and stupid like that, because it sounds like such a useless, wishy-washy thing to say. But that's really as well as I can put it.

Let me try to articulate it a little better.

I think the problem is that as time gone on, and will continue to go on, my desire to work on this project has diminished and my desire to work on other projects has gotten more powerful. The obvious answer to get over it and work on the project. And that's what I do when working on original fiction. But with fan fiction, I do it more for pleasure than anything else, as a kind of stress relief, and it's harder to do so if I'm working on fan fiction I don't want to. Now, obviously I don't abandon any fan fic as soon as I start to get tired of writing it. Once I start, I try really hard to commit to the end, and I've gone pretty well so far, I think.

So anyway, I'm not even sure what I'm going to do next and it doesn't even matter all that much right now since I just explained how little time I have. I'm hoping that, after a few weeks of consistency, I'll start figuring out how to manage my time better.

Right now, I think I'll probably tackle Unreal 2: The Awakening, but honestly, I've been fairly consistently fighting the urge to write some Halo fan fiction for a long time now. Like, since the beginning of the year. Technically longer, I guess. Gathering Darkness did a little bit to help, but it was kind of narrow in terms of getting to write in that universe. So...I dunno, maybe I'll start working on both of them? We'll see.

Now let's talk about everything else.

I do still plan on novelizing both of The Suffering games. Those are a pair of third person shooter horror-action games released back on the original Xbox back in the day. They are awesome. Lots of crazy monsters. I am going to try and also created a third story, closure, as there was never a third game.

Red Faction. I plan on doing a full novelization of Red Faction, Red Faction: Guerrilla, and Red Faction: Armageddon. Red Faction will be a pretty straight novelization. I'm going to expand a great deal on Guerrilla, since the story was extremely threadbare. I also plan to make a big tweak to Armageddon's story as it had a massive plothole and it was a little weak, and I thought of an absolutely awesome way to make it more in keeping with Red Faction tradition.

Split Second. This one is an obscure, strange as hell buddy cop comedy/horror/action B-movie staring freaking Rutger Hauer of all people. I think you can find the whole thing on YouTube. It is so worth watching. I want to novelize it, and possibly even make a series of it. If the power is ever available to me, I want to purchase the rights to the film so that I can do it officially. A pipe dream, I know, but it's nice to dream.

Half-Life. I have an epic series planned. Much in the same vein as DOOM, it will feature a few different protagonists and span the breadth of the Half Life series...and extend beyond it, since Valve has officially fucked us over and abandoned the series because 'they just don't really feel like it right now' and 'the time just isn't right to make a new Half-Life' game. Seriously, fuck Valve. This one will admittedly be more difficult, as my stories take their cues from the games. So I guess I'll just have to continue the franchise in my own way. But I can at least say it's going to be a lot of fun.

Halo. I plan on writing a sequel trilogy to Halo 3. Halo 4 sucked. Halo 5...I didn't even fucking bother. And it seems like I was right not to. The franchise is dead to me now. But I suddenly got a pretty cool idea for my own version of Halo 4, 5, & 6 last year. I want to get to this, you know, someday. Eventually.

Before I get started on that, however, I plan on writing an epic Halo serial. If anyone here is familiar with any of my old Halo content like Through the Eyes of Another, To Be A Marine, or, more recently The Rookie Chronicles, it's basically a hard reboot of almost all of my Halo-related ideas I've ever had, put into one epic length series. It's going to be so long that it will put The DOOM Chronicles to shame by comparison. I fully expect to still be writing this particular fan fiction for five years at least. Probably longer.

See You at the Bottom. I haven't forgotten about this! It's still a secret. Sorry. But I'm going to actually try and get this one out of the way in the relatively near future.

Knights of the Old Republic 3. Yes. In 2004, 2005, and 2006, I wrote a 187,000 word epic called Heroes of the Old Republic, and it served as a sequel to KOTOR 2, and it was only the first story in a trilogy that never manifested. Now, granted it was overly wordy, and I could do a way better job, but I do plan on writing this one at some point. I've been thinking about KOTOR 3 for over ten years now and I've got a really, REALLY cool idea for how to end that particular trilogy.

Those are the most certain ones. I have a handful of other stories that I'm kind of certain about, ones that interest me, but I haven't really had any time to think about. I'll briefly touch on those.

StarFox 64. A little under ten years ago, I wrote what I felt, at the time, was the StarFox 64 fan fiction I had been trying to write for years by then. It was called Hero and it was my own idea for a sequel to that game. I ended up writing a sequel to Hero, and had intended to finish it off as a trilogy. However, by the time I could even think about writing that final story, so much time had passed that I realized I should probably rewrite the first two stories, because I had come a long way, writing wise. I actually still want to do this.

Dead Space. I was fairly disappointed with Dead Space 3. Not necessarily for the story, (interesting story/atmosphere), but for the execution and gameplay. God the gameplay sucked. But at one point I had an idea for my own version of Dead Space 3 before there even was a DS3. It was long and epic and I still might write it someday.

Friday the 13th. I've been a fan of this series for awhile, and I've incorporated Jason Voorhees into my fan fiction before, but I've never actually written a Friday the 13th fanfic. Well, after learning that, after years and YEARS of being in development, the new Jason movie has officially been canceled, I just said, "You know what, fuck it. I'll do it myself." I've got an idea for not just one story, but a sequel series to the original series. Again, someday I want to do this.

Star Trek. I've talked about novelizing certain Star Trek episodes. Horror ones, obviously. But those ideas faded...all except for one. One episode I keep coming back to is TNG: Schisms. Although I lament the ultimate payoff of the episode, (and so do the producers, according to some interviews), I think that the episode had a fantastic build-up. I'd like to expand on that with a novelization/adaptation.

StarCraft. I've toyed around with writing StarCraft fan fiction only a handful of times over the past fifteen years. I love the games, (though I have yet to play the sequel trilogy, someday!). But with the news of StarCraft: Remastered, I realized how much I missed that series, and how much I actually really do want to write fan fiction for it. At the moment, I have a tentative idea, and it'd be fairly standard fare for what you've normally seen me write, just StarCraft flavored. This is definitely another one that'll be a ways off, unless, of course, when I get StarCraft: Remastered (we finally have a release date!), and I not only get super amped and into the idea of a fanfic (that's going to happen, I'm sure), but I stay super amped for a month or more, then it might end up getting prioritized. I dunno, we'll see.

Right now, that's all I have written down in my database. I have a few other ideas floating around, but they're all pretty distant. A few more novelizations of obscure (and not so obscure but mainly forgotten) horror games. But to be totally honest, I really need to whittle down my current list before I can even think of adding anything new, and given how my primary focus right now is original fiction, that may be awhile.

Honestly, I'm hoping that by the time this year is winding down, I might be actually on the road to having a more viable and stable income. Is this is true, then I should be able to actually start posting more fan fiction more reliable. Also, I've been thinking a lot about machinima for some reason a lot recently. Someday, I really do plan to get back to it. I really want to finish the Not Alone Trilogy and continued beyond it.

But anyway, that's it. Thanks for the support everyone, I really appreciate it.

-Obsidian