Farewell GTX, Hello GTX

Saturday night I sat down at my gaming desktop to check in on some MMOs that I hadn’t logged into in months, namely LotRO, Rift, and Defiance.

I spent about 15 minutes in Rift moving all my inventory over to my Vault and then redeeming all of the patronage rewards that had been stacking up before canceling my subscription. I haven’t touched the game since before it went free-to-play, it’s just too much work to get back up to speed with all of the soul changes, and had been waiting on my last renewal to run out.

Then I hopped into LotRO just intending to pay my housing upkeep, but I ended up fiddling around and discovered that the inventory system changed. I was able to merge all my individual bags into a single window! Maybe I’m easily amused, but it makes thing so much easier when only one large window pops open instead of six little windows. I imagine people running mods have been enjoying something similar for a while, but I really dislike messing with mods for MMO clients.

Anyway, I ended up playing with my Hunter a bit and figuring out the big class changes from a few months back. I had just finished and ported back to where I’d left off questing when the game crashed. I chalked it up to LotRO being old, after all it is still slow to load and still doesn’t support full-screen windowed mode, and decided to move on to Defiance.

Watching the Season 2 premiere got me curious about what state the game was in. When I logged in, I found that I had more than a dozen items to claim in the shop. Once I got my inventory squared away, I got on my ATV and headed out only to have the game crash. Again, not thinking anything of it, I relaunched and noticed a button to update appearance on the login screen, and decided to have a makeover. While tweaking my character’s appearance I had the screen go black and then a Windows message popped up that my graphics kernel has crashed and restarted.

I had recently update my drivers and wondered if that had been a mistake, but went ahead and went back to fiddling with my character’s appearance. Then red lines started to appear on the screen, followed by my machine rebooting.

Crap.

When my machine came back up in safe mode and there were still red lines on the screen, I knew it wasn’t the drivers. Or at least wasn’t only the drivers.

I’ve never had a video card die on me before, especially one that’s only a coupe of years old. I’m not sure when but sometime in the last five years I’d upgrades the original GTX 275 that I’d used in the build with a GTX 580, so it’s no older than that. It has seen pretty constant use though.

Regardless, I took a trip to Fry’s on Sunday and picked up a new GTX 760, which isn’t quite top of the line, but is still better than the 580 without being ludicrously expensive. Plus my motherboard is old enough to be PCI-express 2.0 not 3.0 so I’m already capping my performance with the 760 as it is.

Bye Riv

I’ve been pretty obsessed with Space Engineers lately and hadn’t been paying much attention to anything else, but I happened to bring up Twitter last night and caught a blog post tweet from @Girl_grey. Since Feedly’s been down I clicked through and couldn’t believe it. River, the guy behind A High Latency Life, had died suddenly.

My brain’s still not really processing the news. We weren’t super close, but he was great fun to chat/joke with on Twitter and is one of the few bloggers that I read who could write a rant and be both funny and abrasive. I’m going to miss you, Riv.

Roll 20s

Skin Game Trailer

The next Dresden Files book is due out near the end of this month and I’m excited!

I’ve been following a group on Youtube for a while now that’s been working on a fan film. While it’s hard to tell from the snippets I’ve seen, overall it looks really well done. Even cooler is they’ve made a trailer for Skin Game, check it out.

Editing, Revising, or Rewriting

Scrivener outlineFirst off, many thanks to my friend Todd who offered to give me a deadline and read what I had! I wanted to take him up on it and that was enough to break my inertia, but now that I have spent some time looking at what I have, I’m not sure the term editing really covers the magnitude of the work that my NaNo draft needs.

Editing implies to me, that a draft is more than 75% done. It needs the rough edges sanded, possibly some few scenes reordered, and maybe a few additional scenes added, but the foundations of the structure are sound. This doesn’t describe what I have. Revising doesn’t sound strong enough to me either. What I need to do is take the whole thing and rebuild it. I need a writing term more akin to gutting a house as opposed to remodeling a kitchen.

It seems daunting but it’s also become an opportunity. I’ve been interested in learning Scrivener for a while now and this seemed like the perfect use for it. So I imported my NaNo draft and split it into it’s original chapters and then skimmed each chapter and split it into rough scenes. So far, Scrivener looks like an excellent tool for organizing and rearranging text. I’m working now on adding one to two sentence summaries of each scene as well as tagging what parts are really story and what parts are the original framing narrative that I used. This has been helpful in giving me a clearer picture of what I have and what the problems are. Of course fixing them is a whole different story, but at least now I’m able to work more easily on smaller pieces.

Write music.

I ran across this piece of advice on the Writing Reddit and had to go hunt down the original quote by Gary Provost.

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

So write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader’s ear. Don’t just write words. Write music.

 

Editing Is Hard

NaNoWriMo 2013 Draft 0The Plan™ was to edit my NaNoWriMo draft in March. I got as far as printing it out and putting it in a binder along with red and black pens for notes. I expected to have problems editing, which is why I printed the draft. I figured it would be easier to get done if there was a physical reminder on my desk. The binder did a great job reminding me I should be editing whenever I was at my desk, but what I didn’t realize was how much emotional inertia I had.

Finishing NaNo last year is something I’m super proud of. I start a lot of creative projects and rarely finish any of them. So hitting the 50,000 word goal and finishing a story felt really good. So good that I’m finding myself reluctant to pick it up and read through. I know it needs a lot of work, I remember thinking that while writing, but somehow it feels as though sitting down and reading it will make the work more real and will also diminish the accomplishment from November. Which is a stupid way to feel, but that doesn’t make it an easier to shake.

All that said I’m not giving up on this particular story yet, but I do need to figure out a better way of scheduling editing time and motivating myself.

Transmetropolitan

transmet1Transmetropolitan is a comic series written by Warren Ellis that ran sixty issues from 1997 to 2002. I own the complete run but had never finished reading it, I’d stopped at issue 45. No idea why really except that I’m easily distracted, and yes that means I have twelve year old comics in my reading backlog.

Anyway, given my habit of acquiring stuff, it’s ironic that I found I was missing issue 58 when I was putting my comic list together for my resolution project. I’ve no idea if I just never bought it and maybe I misplaced it. Nevertheless, I can’t have a one issue hole in the series, so I headed off to Ebay to see if I could find a copy. Surprisingly I found three copies, all of them for under $5 plus shipping. More irony that my resolution to consume more and buy less turned into an excuse to buy something.

It took me a few days of leaving the stack of comics on my deck before I finally picked the series back up, but once I did I was immediately hooked again and read through all fifteen issues in two nights. Even after all this time the conflict and characters came back to me quickly. If you haven’t read it I recommend picking up the trade paperbacks, its themes of government corruption and the duties of journalism are even more applicable now than they were twelve years ago.

Books and Board Games

Books

I’m up to 10 books read for the year so far, which puts me 3 ahead of schedule for my GoodReads goal of 50 and leaves me with 152 (I moved a few books from the wishlist over and added a few shorts, so the math doesn’t match up with my last progress post). Looking at a big number like that, 10 books read doesn’t seem like a big deal except I’ve finished two series in those ten, Lindsay Buroker’s excellent Emperor’s Edge series and Glen Cook’s wonderful Garrett P.I. series, which actually makes it feel like a lot of progress.

Board Games

I bought Pathfinder ACG last October and wasn’t really impressed with my first two plays. My first game I made the mistake of playing solo using only one character, which really limits game play. I also made the mistake of using Ezren (a human wizard) and one of the first cards he encountered was a barrier requiring a strength check which was impossible for him. My second game was with a buddy where we each ran one character, and that was quite a bit more fun, but it wasn’t until I recently got the game out again and played with four characters that it was really fun.

The other game that’s been sitting on my shelf for a long time which I finally got out is Thunderstone Advance. This was fun but very difficult at least for the card draws I was getting. I need to play some more but right now Pathfinder is keeping my interest much more.

Before my recent resurgence of interest in Pathfinder, I’d been playing either Marvel Legendary for the Online League I’ve been participating in on BoardGameGeek or Sentinels of the Multiverse.

Other Stuff

I’ve unfortunately done very little with my comics or movies lists, I’m still working on training myself to switch back and forth between my different goals for the year. Multitasking like that is not something I’ve ever been good at. I’m much more of a serial obsessive, where I go on a month-long kick of just reading or just playing games.

I have been playing some MMOs a bit more regularly though. Star Trek Online has been a nearly daily thing. I’ve been making sure to at least hop in long enough to do the daily for the Anniversary ship. While I prefer the old way where you just have to finish a mission, I do understand that it makes more sense for Cryptic to entice people to logon more regularly. At least the Q daily missions are quick so it’s a pretty painless grind.

I’ve also picked Neverwinter back up, it was surprisingly easy to pick back up where I left off.  This is one of those games that I don’t think I stopped playing for any particular reason other than I got distracted by something else. I started back up both because of that and because the Multiplaying group is having a weekly Wednesday night game. In typical fashion though I’ve not actually joined in on a Wednesday night yet.

Despite getting back into two MMOs, I still don’t feel like I’m really back into the genre and I’m ambivalent at best about the new games that are supposed to release this year.

List Resolution Progress

Over the last ten days I’ve been working on my lists resolution, so far I have lists of books, comics, movies, gamebooks, and video games. My goal is to complete each of these lists, except the book list, by the end of December. That one’s just too big to finish, but if I can get through the first 50 to 75 titles I’ll be happy. I’m going to have a busy year. 

Books

The book list is far and away the biggest one. I’ve got everything from my to read shelves in my office, my to read list on GoodReads, unread stuff from my Kindle, and a few ebooks that were in my Dropbox which I’d forgotten about. I ended up with 233 titles to read.

That’s a ridiculous number and I was having trouble prioritizing it, so I ended up moving 62 books off of the to read list to a wishlist. These were books I’d put on my to read list but hadn’t bought in either paper or bits form. This helped reduce the amount of books to sort through and even better it’s given me a place to put books that Mogsy reviews which I’m interested in without expanding my to read list any further.  Still, 171 is a lot of books. I removed a couple of titles that I’d already read before and bought because I’d originally read a library copy. A few more were removed because they were reference and self-help books that I don’t need. That only got me down to 156 unfortunately, which is a lot but it’s better than 233.

For prioritizing, I put any series that I haven’t caught up at the top.  Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. series, Lindsay Buroker’s Emperor’s Edge series, and Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books. There’s a few books from C.J. Cherryh’s Invader series I haven’t read yet and probably should be higher, but I tried to mix in graphics novels and one shot books between all of the series to keep from getting burnt out. I’m still not completely happy with the order for the list, but I decided I needed to stop fiddling with it since I can always adjust it as I go.

Comics

My comics list is far less crazy, although technically there’s overlap with the book list since that’s where I put the graphic novels. I have 51- and while typing that I realized I forgot about my Comixology and Dark Horse accounts. So actually I have 84 unread comics. There’s about two dozen trades included in that number which I should probably move over to my book list but for now I’ve settled with sorting them to the bottom of my comics list.

Gamebooks

I have 39 unread gamebooks, with Tin Man Games’ Gamebook Adventures and Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf accounting for more than half of the list. I have two that I recently got from Kickstarter projects that I’ve put at the top, since I’d like to do reviews of them: Maelorum and Holdfast. After those two, I need to finish Trial of the Clone and Judge Dredd: Countdown Sec 106, then the Destiny Quest series (before Michael Ward get’s the third one out), then I’m going to focus on the GA series followed by LW, then Fighting Fantasy, Fabled Lands, and some Tunnels and Trolls solitaire RPG modules.

Like my book list, I don’t think I’ll get through all of my game books this year, but if I can get through the Kickstarters, Destiny Quests, and Gamebook Adventures then I’ll be happy.

Movies and TV

Compared to the others, well everything is small compared to my book list, this is a tiny one. This list is kind of hard to count because of the TV series on it. Should the first two seasons of the remastered Star Trek: The Next Generation count as one entry or two or should I count each episode?

Regardless, I have six movies I need to catch up on first: Amazing Spider-Man, The Wolverine, Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, and X-men First Class. After that will be the last episode of Eureka, Batman: Gotham Knight, and then I’m going to start my Blu Ray TV rewatches. I’m planning to watch the entire Farscape series plus the Peacekeeper Wars, then the remastered Next Gen seasons, then Enterprise, and lastly Firefly.

Video Games

I tried to keep my video game list as short as possible since my primary goal is to get through more books this year, so this list of mostly of games to finish. On my Xbox 360 that means finishing up Batman Arkham Origins which I got for Christmas and am about 40% done with and then going back Mass Effect 3 and finally finishing the last three DLC’s. For PC, I need to finish Shadowrun Returns (hopefully before the Berlin expansion comes out) and then the two recent Kickstarter games Banner Saga and Broken Age. After that I want to finish Game of Dwarves and then start XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

For 2014

Games

Of the MMO releases planned for 2014, Elder Scrolls Online is the only one that I’m planning to buy and play at launch. I expect to have fun for a few months before moving on to something else. I’ll be extremely surprised if I’m still playing by December. I’ve had very little interest in Wild Star so far and don’t plan to get it, although I can’t guarantee I won’t get swept up in the excitement when it releases.

Outside of MMOs, it’s looking like a crowdfunding year for me. Star Citizen, Shadowrun Online, the expansion for Shadowrun Returns, Broken Age, Banner Saga, Massive Chalice, and Planetary Annihilation. I’ve backed all of these games some of which are releasing and others are still being developed, but it’s been fun watching the process for each of these games.

Resolutions

Unlike the last two years, I’m not making any resolutions or setting any goals related to blogging. I’m sure when I have something to say or share that I’ll get the itch to post, and I’d rather approach it that way than trying to set it up as a second job. The only writing goals I’m setting for myself this year are my plans to do an outline and first pass edit of A Wizard’s Life in March. I want to see how that goes before I decide anything else.

Besides from MarchEditingMonth, my resolution for 2014 is to make lists. 

I read nine books last year. Nine. That’s embarrassing to me. I have thought of myself a reader since I was eight years old, so it was a shock when that email arrived from GoodReads congratulating me on finishing nine books. This made me realize that I’m very good at acquiring content but not at actually consuming it.

I have a set of bookshelves that is full of books to read, and I have two more stacks on the floor plus stuff on my Kindle. I have movies I got for Christmas in 2012 that I still haven’t watched, not to mention the ones I got this year. I have backlogs of comic books, game books, Xbox games, and Steam games. I have half a dozen starship models that need to be assembled and painted. I still haven’t watched the series finale of Eureka or the Farscape Peacekeeper Wars movie.

So I’ve started making lists so that I can see just how much stuff I have and more importantly I can start to prioritize it. Unless I learn to speed read or stop time, there’s no way I’ll be able to read everything sitting on my shelves, but I can pick fifty books and make a dent in it. I can certainly catch up on a dozen TV shows and movies. My video game backlog doesn’t bother me nearly as much, but I’m going to make a list anyway and make sure that finally finishing the Mass Effect 3 DLC is near the top.

While looking up last year’s resolutions post, I was surprised that I made a similar lists resolution in relation to finishing games and writing projects. So apparently I had zero follow through on that. Still, I think this year will be different because of the habits and tricks I picked up during November’s successful NaNoWriMo run. I’m using my phone to block out time daily and set nagging reminders to stay on track. It’s not exactly the same as having the social pressure, but making lists of books to read and movies to watch isn’t as difficult either.