Encouragement

If you have a page on FB, there is a section that opens up that can give you an at-a-glance update on your pages. One of the features that gets to me is a Day Counter. After about five days of not posting anything it begins to remind you that “You haven’t posted in X# days. {insert number of page likes} people who like {insert page name} haven’t heard from you in awhile.” On the one hand this is a very handy reminder of ‘Oh, maybe I should let folks know I am alive and still making stuff.’ But on the other there is a part of my brain that gets locked down and panicked.

“Oh no. I need to hurry and complete something. But is this good enough? If I haven’t posted in 20 days shouldn’t what I have been working be more complete?” And this can coil endlessly. If I let it win I’d never share anything again.

I have a schedule that I have slipped up on. Ideally I’d post something major at least once a week with casual entries sprinkled between there. My reason/excuse presently is that “life has been busy”. On one hand this is quite true. At the end of last month I was very busy helping shadow write a couple articles. (I know the phrase is “ghost write”, I just have a visceral response to ghost comparisons.) After that I felt a need to challenge my ability in a way.

As a writer I feel it is important to read. I often don’t because, if I am not careful, I fear mimicking the writers’ style which “contaminates” my work. However, I quickly read approximately 800~1000 pages of text because I wanted to finish the series. And I am picking up on the writers’ rhythms, which isn’t a bad thing. Learning never stops and that is a good thing.

All of the above is to get at this point: Don’t stop creating. It is so easy to give up on it when life is knocking at your door. You need a job to keep a roof over your head and food in your gut. You got the desire to unwind from all that is mundane. Perhaps you have pets or children which demand a noticeable slice of your attention. You have to spend time recovering from all of that with pesky sleep. When will you have the time, and the energy barring that, to sit down and make something?

I get that. I honestly do.

But no matter how long it has been since you last engaged in your craft, you have to pick it back up. This isn’t just contained to the fine arts. I have seen many articles about ‘Following your Passion vs. Being Practical’. I am of a mind the world needs all of us. If you LOVE welding, weld for a living. Work on pipes and that sort of thing. If you enjoy some trade or construction, go for it! With much of the workforce with seniority, well, becoming too senior to keep going those gaps will need to be filled. If you LOVE engineering or being a doctor, DO IT. Civil servants are important. If you’re like me and you’d just like to sit someplace cushy, coalescing mad fantasies into cohesive narratives so folks can escape and maybe learn at the same time, you’re needed too. If it wasn’t so, media would not be as much of a juggernaut as it is.

My table will always have a place for you, and my kitchen open to make something for your mind to gnaw on. Writing is my touted skill, and I will continue to share works of which I am proud in the moment and will continue to be in the future. Even though I don’t have a five star kitchen, gleaming tools and high end flatware, I wholly aim to do what I can with the tools I have at hand. And you should too.

My Friends, and you Fine Folks that support me, it is a big wide world. And there is room enough for us all. There has to be. Otherwise we’ll have to make that world. We need practical people to deal with what is at hand. We need those who can see the big picture. And we need dreamers too, for preparing us for what is unseen beyond the horizon.

And for those thinking that we are certainly in the End Times with all that abounds in the world I share this.

“What do you do when you can’t do nothing, but there’s nothing you can do?”
“You do what you can.”

The above is one of my favorite exchanges from the show The Boondocks (Season 2, Episode 6 if my sources are correct) and occurred between Huey and Granddad. I feel like I am locked in a place in which I can’t do much. I have lived a life in which I haven’t seen “my story” reflected in the media I ingest. I see pockets of meaningful conversation, but so often they are quiet voices. Those that are louder drown them out swiftly. I know how far passion can drive people, and I will listen and learn. But once I have learned, or my ears are bloodied from the sound, I’ll step away and enter into discourse with other quiet people. Hopefully their views are different than mine and we teach each other how to live in the others’ world. From there, maybe the rest of the world can do the same.

Yes, I’m a sap. But I want to be in the last generation that needs to fight. I want the world I leave to be different than the one I grew up in and adapt to.

Bah… I’m rambling now. For most of you, you’ll need to get to sleep at the time this posts. But if when you read this you will be awake for a time, get to work. There is much to be done.

Concerning Terrence Crutcher

Something else from Facebook. Terrence Crutcher is a man who was recently killed in Oklahoma. I responded to a friends’ post with the following.


I admit to being a civilian myself before saying anything else. I am also one to wait for all the facts to come in. Even before the present slew of publicized killings I have worried about what could happen “in a few seconds” while I have interactions with officers. I am alive, but I have not always thought I would make it home in the moment. And that underlying fear has all the potential to twist me into a raging zealot. I remain calm, but I can’t begrudge those that cannot.

I have a genuine question. Are firearms supposed to be the go to implement? I can understand that if there is a threat you want stopping power. However, when I do see officers they have a number of what I would consider “force options” strapped to their waists. While they have remained holstered, I have been approached by officers with hands on their weapons more than once. Keep in mind this is wholly my first person perspective, but the phrase “Dead men tell no tales” comes to mind. If lesser means are used and I wound up injured but cognizant enough to bring a grievance that would be an issue for them. Whereas if I were simply dead that is comparatively one sided to deal with. Additionally, while I assume Hollywood exaggerates, are disabling shots impossible?

This might be morbid, but this is a fear that many have. Not just people of color. I might die over a misunderstanding with police, and it doesn’t feel as though justice is balanced.


This said, the question I had was answered. It was confirmed from a source that I lent validity in that discussion that guns are, essentially and in my words, lethal force options. Tasers are ineffectual, also from this person.

Any thoughts? I am liable to write on this later. This is a topic that I have wanted to cover but I did not want to do so glibly, but every time I stop and research the point another person winds up dead. I am convinced that I will never catch up, thus I will start doing what I can.

The Thought That Flies Overhead

“I have to admit that my sister has grown into a remarkably lovely woman. I just saw a picture of her and was very happy Missouri has relaxed its gun laws. I then chastised myself for my possessive and outdated reactionary thought.”

A friend voiced his appreciation for my using the word “reactionary”. And in response to that, I posted this.

It isn’t the thought that settled. So often one group will blame another for something they can’t control. Some may see my initial thought and think I am wanting to control my sister and who she dates. This is not so. But years in American society, and my biological leaning to aggression, jumped to the front of the line. If we do not fault people for thought, but instead for action, I think we would be better off and that much closer to a world we could all live in happily.

Why then chastise myself? Because I still have to catch that thought myself.”

Another friend came along and felt I should post this to be seen on its own.


My Consciousness and Mind are filtered through my Body. With all my available assets Knowledge, in all its forms, are my weapons of choice. There are never enough facts. There can always be greater understanding. Another viewpoint can grant better insight. Cresting the next plateau can grant enlightenment. As I said, there is a chain, at the end of which is Action.

Before condemning someone for what they express as their thoughts, do you understand why they think the way they do? An openness to more understanding teaches you as much as the other person.

No matter the motivation, does an intended action do no harm? This is always worth reflecting upon for even a few fleeting moments so I have found.

After the act, did good truly come of it? If anyone was diminished, can reconciliation be made?

Many view the world as hard and ruthless. Sadly, I can’t deny this. And I can’t blame anyone for staying on guard through it all. It is my own personal hope that people will always try to be better than the person they were before, and that their new expression can lift up many rather than themselves.

I am one man with two hands, and I will raise who I can.

“When you can’t do nothing, do what you can.”

August Planning

The last several months have been enlightening, mostly upon myself and my habits. And in wanting to write for the future I am looking back on my own past.

I can remember myself in high school always having a spiral notebook with a pen, ready to go at a moments’ notice. While at school when I had down time I could be seen writing something. Many thought that it was about them or the people in the vicinity. But mostly it was just my own thinking on a philosophy, or a saying, or some event that I made a tangent out of. This was back in the days of my keeping a Xanga, Livejournal, and MySpace profile. Yes… I have a solid history of cross-posting. And while I often spoke very vaguely about what was going on, as not to out anyone without regard, it was consistent. And I think this is how I will have to order my life if blogging will be paying the bills.

As of yet I do not have what I consider to be a steady voice. I am not a game writer, or one of fiction, and certainly not a social commentator. I am a person of many facets, so I will express all of them and see how many find it worthwhile.

And while the topic of Xanga is above, I have a plan for those old writings.

“Dance!” Opening

I have an idea in mind for a graphic novel, but like many of my projects I never sat down and worked on them. However, in the vein of sharing some of my more near-and-dear works, this oddly versed poem is what I aimed to be the introduction to the story.

The retreat of suns’ light reveals the stars so bright
Much of mankind flees the dark, huddling in their flimsy arks
The night embraces those she knows, calls out to souls from her dark boughs
Those among the Blessed…
Awaken and rise to greet the evening twilight
Herald of a hidden world
So come, as My Sister and Brother
Stay close, as My Lover and Other
Rise all you children, and let us live as one
The Veil of the Daystar gives way to the truths in the night
Not pain, not suffering, not terror nor blight
The stars reveal their twisted truth
Seeming close to us, far flung across the universe
Each one brilliant, burning high for us to see
Is our power any less? Hardly
I join them in their revelry
Stars bright, moons’ light, fires flame, hidden name
I shine as I can, where I am
The world over, far flung though we are, I am joined by many
Those who endure the sun and wait for the night
Now we rise and burn bright
On one planet, huddled in the dark
We dance our dances far apart
Our light reflecting the lights of heaven
Our power growing, us ever knowing that even in the harshest days we have this time
We are not alone
Throughout the night let the rest of existence regard us as we regard the stars
Blatant, beautiful, brilliant
And as the sun rises we walk fully into it entering into a new day
Upon which the power of light has no sway

Designer Notes – Of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster

     This was originally going to just touch on the new-to-me elements of the game. However, I found myself getting wrapped back into the world of Spira so this will be lengthier than I plotted for.

     I have been clamoring at the bit to get my hands on these titles. I have not played Final Fantasy X or Final Fantasy X-2 since their original US releases on the Playstation 2. I think I was in fact late enough to that console generation that I bought them at the same time. Many of the PC re-releases of Final Fantasy titles have toted “game boosters”. These are minor boons such as fast forwarding the game to world breaking elements such as infinite money, maximum levels, and the like.

     I’ve been chided and harped on many-a-time for my use and interest in them. “This isn’t how the game was meant to be played.” “Where is the challenge?” I’ve played a lot of RPGs. And even now I still hold to a rule: “I will play a game the first time through as the designers intended. After that, it’s all for fun.” Because of this, I love New Game Plus, or any mode where all your progress from a previous play through is not lost. Square rarely does this with the mainline Final Fantasy titles. Final Fantasy X-2 was, to my knowledge, the first time they did this. Before that, Chrono Trigger (and later Chrono Cross) were the only other titles to do this from that company.

     RPGs, whether Eastern or Western, are about building a character or party in some way. I have built many characters from scratch. But even after one solid play through, or racking up more than a hundred hours in a single game, sometimes I want to know what god mode would be like. And if I want that original experience again? The “New Game” option is there.

     This all said, I am going to open up the game and tinker with the additions and chart my thoughts on them.

     FFX – Starting with Expert Sphere Grid and Arranged music, though I balked about the remastered soundtrack I’ll give it a shot. Plus, I can change it back at any time if it starts to bother me too much. (It probably will by the post game.) I have since switched to the Standard Sphere Grid as there are more spaces to push my parties’ evolution further.

     FFX-2 – Going as is, since there were no other options.

     At the time of this posting I am approximately 90% through the main part of FFX (airship attained, ready to build for Dark Aeons, Penance, and the Monster Arena) and about 50% completed with all the content from FFX-2.

The Game Boosters

Fast Forward

     Functioning the same in both games one can either turn up the going speed by two or by four. Cutscenes, with no exceptions I can remember, are unaltered in their rate of play. As such this will only help with traversal and battles. This limitation is more “prohibitive” in FFX because no option was added, originally or later, to skip scenes.

Super Charge

     FFX – Whenever the characters’ turn comes up, the Overdrive (strong special attacks) meter is set to full, as well as their hit points and magic points. No other statistics have been altered. This is useful, rather than purely game breaking as it pretty much acts as a buffer. You will not need to spend turns healing by and large, as long as your whole party gets their turns in before the enemies’. Attacks you make are still based on your stats, so if you haven’t developed the Sphere Grid at all they will be rather weak. In addition the turn based aspect of the game has a layer of strategy: Different moves have different penalties, which can delay your turn past where it would originally be. Later in the game some moves increase your turn alacrity, giving you the option to do more. Overdrives, while powerful, will typically incur the former penalty. So you have to be careful using them every turn or else the enemy will get a lot of free shots. And if you haven’t developed enough to have the MP pool to use moves they are locked off from you. This booster also works on Aeons, almost negating Yuna’s Grand Summon Overdrive.

     FFX-2 – This game goes back to the Active Time Battle used in later installments of the series (Final Fantasy IV-IX coming to mind). A bar will fill up and when it is full the character can select her action, or cycle to the next lady-in-waiting. Again, no stats are altered (the ATB Gauge is not always full for instance) when Super Charge is turned on. All characters receive a Regeneration to hit points, akin to the spell called Regen. For a certainty hit points are recovered overtime. I also think that hit points are restored every time a party member is attacked, but that could just be the regular rate of the booster. MP is also recovered in this fashion.

     In both of these instances, you still have to play the game in a “proper” way. If you don’t fight you won’t level up per the games’ system and you’ll be left with the barest of measures to complete the game. It is still possible to lose be knocked out. Outside of Instant Kill attacks, if enemies gang up on a single character or just hit hard enough to exceed the numerical value of HP it takes just as it would regularly. As such, even with this turned on, one has to be mindful of not fighting out of their depths.

Enemy Frequency

     Functioning the same in both games, this will adjust the random encounter rate. Rather than seeing enemies on the field, occasionally you’ll be pulled into an arena that mimics the present environment. Defeating the enemies here will give you AP and/or EXP (for battle skill growth. X uses AP exclusively while X-2 uses both), gil (currency), and other items. This rate can be set to None, Normal, or a “Frequent” rate, which occurs every few steps. On the original system people would go through challenges where they would not level at all and may run from most battles. This booster takes a lot of the busy work out of such experiences and let one get to the bigger battles more swiftly. This said, scripted battles will still have to be dealt with.

     There are abilities in both the original games to nullify random encounters. But even with these items, some places would still throw you into combat. Namely in the FFX-2 area “Via Infinito”, encounters would still occur even with a “No Encounters” accessory. The Game Booster does not override this, so such areas have maintained the challenge.

Auto Battle

     Functioning the same in both games, characters will automatically have standard attacks selected for them (if available). Once powerful enough, combining this with Fast Forward and Enemy Frequency can make grinding a breeze.

All Skills

     FFX – Gives immediate access to all skills in the game. They are still limited to MP, so in the early game the best skills can’t be spammed due to a lack of One MP gear or even raw MP pools to be honest. Based on the achievements I “earned” when I activated this, all Overdrives became available as well including all of the Blue Magic techniques used by Kihmari.

     FFX-2 – Following the difference in the game, all dressphere skills became immediately accessible. And once again going off achievements, all Gun Mage Blue Bullets (Blue Magic traditionally) skills became accessible as well even though I do not yet have that dress sphere. This has a mixed blessing. You do not need to stop and grind for AP to learn everything, but you will not get the experience points from defeating those avoided foes. However, if you have played a New Game+ version of X-2 previously, just having more powerful dresspheres makes a world of difference, even at lower levels.

All (Consumable) Items

     In both games, items such as Potions and Elixirs are now a button push away. Outside of their pure use they can be sold, and outside of that these items can be used for upgrades in their respective titles.

     FFX – This takes a LOT of leg work out of post game content. Having made it through to the endgame content, I can say that this provides you with a stock of all the items that you will ever need. This has opened up a few unusual opportunities, which I will cover in the FFX: Addendum below.

     FFX-2 – Something that I had not seen is called the “Creature Creator”, and the items can be used similarly to how they were in FFX to improve monster abilities. This can make early runs of some content viable, simply because there are offensive shortcuts for every creature (Ultima+One MP Cost), and some defensive boons. In this case, if a creature has a Total Limit Break trait, you can push their HP to whatever point you would like. Having a Level 9 creature with 30K+ hit points will at least assure a stalemate in some Fiend Arena cups. That said, you can still just not be tough enough to kill them quickly.

Max Gil

     Functioning the same in both games, ticks the gil (world currency) counter up to the maximum.

     FFX – When combined with All Skills, allows for enemies to be bribed WELL ahead of time. When lending O’aka gil early on even the maximum that can be given to him is a drop in the bucket for you. The Spare Change ability becomes a viable regular attack, and working with Yojimbo is a lot less stressful.

     FFX-2 – Can be used to pay off O’aka’s debt quickly, and for buying mass amounts of accessories necessary for the Creature Creator or a personal collection. Many of the items are not needed at the point in the game I am in a traditional sense, due mainly to the Alchemist dressphere.

     I may edit this entry in the near future as I come across more hands on information. Plus, I do want to actually play the games for a bit more. They hold good memories.

Addendums

FFX

     I did not want the sections above to spill out of control. There is this odd feedback loop that has happened with using the game boosters and I wanted to expound on that a bit. The last time I played Final Fantasy X I had worked all my characters to their highest potential. I had long beaten that games’ super boss (an entity which overwhelms even the stories’ end boss in power) and was just grinding for the sake of it. My plan was to collect spheres that would let me bump up statistics even more just for the sake of it. But with these game boosters…

     …now I can do that all at the push of a button.

     …and since I can have all the items for improvement that I could ever need I don’t need gil either.

     …which was maxed out at the push of another button.

     I hadn’t realized it in an earlier section of the story because I was not at a point where customizing my loadout was necessary. Now that I am there, I can have the fun of where I was with some story left ahead of me. In addition, there are tougher super bosses in this version of the game.

     In this game the growth is not only visual, but interactive. To give you an idea if you are not familiar with this game imagine, if you will, a Chinese Checkers board. Several sections, little nodes, played with marbles and the like. The Sphere Grid of FFX looks a lot like this. Each node is either empty, or will give a character a status boost when a corresponding marble is placed in it. If you want to raise your Hit Points (health, life, etc.) you just need to get next to or onto a node that will boost HP and redeem it as it were.

     In the original version of the game there were items that could be used to fill empty nodes with an attribute of your choosing. And there were more that would let you blanch out most node types to replace it with whatever you wished. These items where hard to come by and made up a bulk of the post-game as I played it.

     With the ability to get these items infinitely I realized a bit later I could begin this process right away. It is possible to, as you go along, recreate the sphere grid as you see fit from the very beginning. I took a middle road approach and, rather than filling everything, simply upgrading existing nodes. Any single bump will give you at most +4 per stat, +40 for MP, and +300 for HP. Rather than overpowering myself obviously, I upgraded as I went along. There are plenty of empty nodes that I left, but any that were lower than the aformentioned 4, 40, or 300 got upgraded to that degree. Even though I am speeding through the story with Enemy Frequency (None), my characters are still balanced enough to play out their roles. Except Kimahri. He’s actually further along Rikku’s path than she is.

     I am finding it nice to be able to just play the game and skip the tedious hours of item gathering so I can focus more on getting to the content and trying to conquer it.

FFX-2

Creature Creator

     While I originally meant for this to be a short document about the game boosters, I put off posting it to make sure I wasn’t missing something pertainent. I got to what I call the “Post Game Point” in Final Fantasy X, which is when travel by airship becomes possible. I find it to be unique among games because, rather than needing to beat the final story boss first you can do all the extra stuff before then. To me it feels more realistic from a story setting. Sin, the millenial old force of nature you fight against, would instill enough fear and respect to prepare in every possible way. This said, outside of some super bosses, FFX didn’t offer much in the way of new-to-me content.

     Playing through Final Fantasy X-2 I completed the bulk of the first of five chapters in the game. Before venturing on to the second I chose to see what I could do with differences to the game. The Creature Creator is an odd little segment. Akin to the Monster Arena from FFX, you can capture monsters. But rather than fighting them, they fight for and with you as party members. Final Fantasy XI has a job class called “Beastmaster” and Final Fantasy XIII-2 had a third party member system of monsters that would fight with you, so I am not wholly unfamiliar with the concept in this series.

     But the Creature Creator has seized me. One thing I appreciated in Final Fantasy X was an explanation for the monsters that would attack you, and that you would kill pretty much without question. Not only did it tie into one of the games’ themes, but it was explained that all the monsters in the world were souls of people that had died. The “fiends” were often envious of the living and attacked them. One of the ways for fiends to be negated was for a Sending to be performed in a relatively close proximety to the deceased. This would guide their spirits to the Farplane, FFX’s territory of afterlife.

     What this content adds, for me, is a reflection on the nature of death. The Nature of Death is an important question to answer in whatever world I am in. In stories with magic or where death is not a barrier I like to know its meaning. In a realtistic story, death removes characters from an active role. But when you can talk to the dead and, potentially, cross back into the living world what weight does dying actually have? In this additional content it answers what it means to become a fiend. As you get new fiends and level them up, most of them have stories attatched. These have been wide ranging in their scope detailing laments and aggressions left over from their life. A father concerned about his children, a lover who still wished to meet her match at their appointed place, or a member of a mansion lost to fire who remembers the perfume of the killer. Rather than being purely silly or arbitrarty tales (there are a few), these are the reasons why the residents of Spira hold onto the world. It will show to me, in nearly 185 individual ways, what threads bind people to the world. Or, in that last example, why flowers and “inanimate” objects would hold on.

     A small aside, there is a Japanese belief that any item which remains cherished and relatively intact for 100 years will have the opportunity to gain a soul of its own. This is part of the reason why you may see angry spirits possessing umbrellas. Due to this, unusual objects becoming fiends is acceptable as I understand the culture that made the story. (I am going to attribute this knowledge to Gaijin Goomba as I am fairly certain I gained this information recently.) This is what makes a story of a former rose in a garden as a fiend interesting. It is likely not a story that would have come from America as our mythos rarely includes such elements.

     In so many RPGs my characters have doled out an unfathomable level of death upon the denizens of the world. In this game the bulk of the world is in fact out to get you. But this content returns an element of humanity, and shines further light on the spiral of Spira. Rather than all the fiends being wild and crazed, some have seemed to hang onto pieces of their humanity. Not all the fiends out there are bloodthirsty. Some just died badly. Others had more they wished to do when they passed of old age or illness. In rare cases, so embrace their new forms but it doesn’t make them inherently evil.

     This feels as though it is a whole new game to help enrich this world. I’ll have to look up the credits for it, but I encourage anyone who picks up X-2 and has the time to invest in some of the Creature Creator. Aside from being able to make really unique party line ups, what it adds to the world is worth thinking on.

Virtue and Vice

Thank you is the first thing I want to say to everyone. Support has come in many forms, and I appreciate them all. Since I have had a full week between now and my last big push I have ample perspective, but still retain fire. While I am not going to stop putting my works in front of everyone, I do aim to be less pushy about getting money for it. I believe in what I am doing. I figure, if you feel the same, asking will be enough and I don’t have to twist arms to get there.
I have had a few people who have shared my Patreon page in their own News Feeds and that is always supportive. Facebook is my core network, so any expansion beyond that is welcome. Plus I know that I am not the most compelling as far as algorithms go so I could use all the help I can get. Outside of Patreon, here are a few other sites that I chart metrics on, and would only cost some time for you to support.

1. WordPress (zerohourseraphim)– Outside of just visiting the site and reading, feel free to hop on Google and search for my site. No matter how you get there, give me feedback. I am watching, and the more information I have the better I can focus what people want.

2. Youtube/Google+ (zerohourseraphim) – This site is new to me from a creator standpoint, and more will be added as my understanding grows. While I will watch carefully, I would like help in policing the site. I know I will be opening myself up to the comment community of the internet. I value discussion, but I do not suffer internet trolls at all.

3. LinkedIn – For those that are working on this site genuinely, feel free to add me on there. Little wrong with expanded networks.

4. zerohourseraphim (FB) – A page I generated to gain more visibility on FB. If I have not already said so elsewhere, I’ll soon be routing my cross-posting through this page so it will be THE way to keep an out on the pipeline if you aren’t following me somewhere else.

5. Unorthodox (FB) – While the “company” is just me and has little use now, throwing a like there will let me hit a few markers to make it more detailed.

6. Twitter (0hourseraphim) – Another site I rarely use, but it is also there.

     You can count all of the above as “good news”. As I’ve said, the past week has given me much needed perspective. Now I am back to hawking my words, since they are the wares I’ve got. “If I could donate, I would” has been a phrase I have heard frequently. If you’ve gone through all the ways above and are still willing and able to donate to me, that’s wonderful! In what I am doing is looking to the power of many. Fifty people donating a dollar is of greater import to me than no one donating at all because they can’t hit some reward tier that I’ve set. Do remember, if you’ve read the “My Patreon” article, that “$1=1000 Youtube views”. If I had a way to get one person to pay on my bills I would play to that. Instead I am asking everyone to help me turn my hobby into a trade. If you’re a public media fan, get ready for a bit of deja vu.
What’s your vice? We all have them. Little things that we have in our daily lives to cope. Think of the support that I am asking for in these terms and it may help you come to grips about how to help me.
Do you like candy? Back in my day (written unironically) a bag or a bar that would sate a child would be worth fifty cents. These days it may be more like seventy-five cents. How many times a month do you feed this indulgence? Never? Once a month on a troublesome day? Twice as a treat for sticking to your diet? Even at the price of my memory, two rounds of counter candy would be a noticeable boon for me. A dollar. Seems silly? It all adds up, I assure you.
In the case of vices, I am no different than anyone reading this. I call myself a gamer and it is what has fueled my writing. My vice? When I can I drop about fifteen dollars a month on an MMO subscription. Roughly averages to fifty cents a day. Perhaps a lot of candy bars, but in my mind this is a “small price”. I pay that just so that I can sit down and pick up a game when I have nothing else to do. I will spend less time here as I write more, but I still play to the vice.
“You’re childish,” I imagine some quip. “Sweets and games.” Very well. Are you someone who enjoys a bit of wine? Or perhaps fine scotch, aged for a few years? Sure, the prices for these can vary wildly, but the next tier that I have is twenty dollars. Speaking to this, how often do you need a new bottle? Do you drink out of particular misery? Out of heightened joy? Just because? If you are like the people I know, it is all of these. What you would pay for a solid spirit is a boon that would bolster my spirit.
Maybe your vice is more less indulgent and more practical. Perhaps you just like a solid meal, or enjoy taking out a “special someone”. My twenty-five to thirty-five range can be compared to this. Pretty much any sit down restaurant can reach this bill easily, and hopefully you are tipping your servers respectably.
Anything past this, even once a month, is major for me. The only thing I might spend fifty dollars or more on a month would be a new game or an entire novel collection. I can’t even think of anything healthy that would be in this range, and most of those aren’t even legal. People do indulge, I admit to that. Outside of all the potential legal costs that would come up should one get pulled in, this amount would make a major difference for me. I managed to end last month with one Patron, and they gave me no upper limit. As much as I can write I’ll get in return. And while this outcome is wild, more Patrons would make it better.
I look forward to any additional support as I proceed forward.

My Patreon

My Patreon is live! https://www.patreon.com/Unorthodox Go there and see what I have going so far, and feel free to become one of my first patrons if you are so inclined with all my thanks going forward. I will make myself available in the coming days to answer any questions!

For those that have no idea what the above is about I’ll explain as succinctly as possible. Patreon is a crowd funding service that facilitates creators, both individuals like me and larger groups, to get money monthly by those people that enjoy their content. In that vein, I am asking You to support me as I pick up my digital pen again. I feel that this is a bit cheeky because I feel as though I am taking a shortcut to reach the end that I desire. I figure that if people would be willing to give, it would not hurt to ask. And while I do not have a public library as vast as some other creators this site is one that shows what I have tried to do for my own enjoyment. There is also a deviantArt for zerohourseraphim which has poetry that goes back for years.

When you go to my Patreon site there will be some blurbs that I’ve written detailing my aims and what I’d like to do. There is also a short list of goals that I have. The goals I have set up will be way points to better provide content for everyone. I have sat down and done a little bit of math, and here is my conservative goal for patrons starting out. I would like to get one hundred people to pledge ten to fifteen dollars monthly. Patreon has its fees to keep business going, but a thousand dollars monthly will offer me a solid bit of freedom as many can imagine.

Speaking personally, I have enjoyed writing for a long time. Growing into adulthood I had not seen a viable way to write for a living. Seeing the rise of YouTube and those content creators, and knowing the ones I watch, I held doubts that what I had to say was of any importance. But I am going to take the chance. I have a much larger end game than what I am presenting. For now, starting out, I’d like to ask for your support in a way I rarely do. If you think I can add something to the conversation of our current world, then I humbly entreat you to help me keep going to deliver my insight.

I have done a mock run of pledging on my site and found the process to be rather simple. That said I did not complete it so there may be a pitfall I didn’t hit. The way Patreon works is as such:

      1. You pledge whatever amount you see fit.
      2. During the month, I will produce a “paid post”, which makes me eligible to receive money. At first I plan two posts a month. If this becomes very viable I can dedicate myself in full and produce content weekly if not even more regularly.
      3. At the beginning of the next month, your payment method will be charged. There is a caveat which will be explained below. If I have failed to make a paid post at all, you shouldn’t be charged.
      4. I go forward with money in my wallet, food in my stomach, and a spring in my step to create more posts for you all to read and watch.

Below the aforementioned goals in a lower column, you’ll also see a list of Rewards I offer for donations of differing magnitudes. Anyone who is familiar with public television and radio will remember similar incentives. I spoke of a caveat and this is it: I am presently set up to be paid for every paid post I make. You have the ability to set a cap on how many times a month you are charged, and until I just go to a straight monthly pledge I strongly recommend you do so. For example, if you pledge a dollar per post with no cap and I make fifteen paid posts in that month you’ll be charged fifteen dollars. This can be a carrot for me to write more meaty material if I know there is money for it. In the event of any problems I do have the means to confer refunds, and I will do so. But, about the rewards…

Pledge of $1 – Patron-Only Feed

Just a dollar will give you access to this medium where I will detail any plans I may have regarding content creation. This may seem like a small amount, but allow me to share something with you. In my research for this I went to Patreon page of a Youtuber I enjoy watching. He had a statistic listed there. More or less it said ‘…a dollar donated here equals 1,000 views on YouTube’. While I am not one to fact check in my personal life, this is someone who is detail oriented that I have watched for years. And that is no small tally. How long does it take you to reach a thousand viewings on YouTube? How difficult is that content to produce do you think?

For every one dollar I receive from any of you, it would literally have the weight of a thousand. That fact alone is worth a hearty thank you of recognition.

Pledge of $10

As stated above, this is the low end of my goal. I do not have a specific reward planned at this time for this stage. If you’ve had to sit through a public radio fund drive, you’ve heard them give examples of how much donations equate to, and what they can do with it. What some would spend on a round of fancy coffees I would use towards writing something of worth.

Pledge of $15 – Legacy

This is detailed a bit on my Patreon site, but I aim to keep a list of the everyone who supports me. In the event I hit upon a few minutes of fame and have wealth to share, I will. Also, as I hit personal milestones, the nature of the Legacies will change. If I come back and you’re already a patron you’ll be added to what I can only imagine will be the “Original Legacy” list. Going on a pipe dream, let’s say I have a panel at SDCC and am comped a room and two tickets. I’d open it up to my Legacies to win that spot. In addition, I plan to “scale up” rewards as I get more people signed on. If you are on the Legacy list you’ll be eligible for rewards that were otherwise above your pledged tier.

Pledge of $20 – Digital Date (limit 50)

This may not be as intimate as I am alleging. At this level you’ll be offered a space in a Hangout and/or Skype conference in which I’ll talk to people, field questions, and try to get to know the people who support me. As indicated, I will put a limit of 50 people at a time for this at least until I get a hang of how to manage it.

Pledge of $25 – Small Writing (limit 15)

A poem, haiku, or other brief missive on a topic of your choosing. And I know how silly it is. A hardback collectors’ edition book would be cheaper than this. However, I am producing all my content for now, and I have to be mindful of the time/payout ratios as cruel a mindset that may sound like. However, I am thinking of handwriting these to mail them, and sign them. Perhaps compile them into a book at some point and to sign both the original works and the book. If I every gain clout they could be valuable themselves.

Pledge of $35 – Larger writing (limit 3)

This could be weighty subject matter and I may want the license to use it to spin off paid content later on.

Pledge of $50 – “The Legend of Moksha” (limit 10)

I will say, originally I planned for the pledge rewards to be per month rather than per pledge, so a majority of the rewards were split in half. This was going to be shared for those who aimed to give $100 per month but starting out I have scaled it back. Why is this so worth it to me? This is my nearest and dearest work, the opening excerpt of which you can actually find in a link above. The theft of this would crush me but if people put up the money for it I would work on it and share the fruits. I figure it would be worth it to a superfan to read along as I hammer out my epic. While I had wanted to make the rewards like a pyramid this is one work that I could easily share with many, rather than dedicated and focused works for individuals. But seeing people who believe in me so strongly would spurn me on to do much.

For now, I think that is everything. I am learning all of this and working with you as it comes together. I thank you for giving me the opportunity and I aim to turn it around to really make something of the faith placed in me. There may be a video detailing the same matters shortly, but otherwise I will inundate my time line with reposting this to get the traffic I need.

Truly, thank you for your support, monetary and emotional.

zerohourseraphim

Meditative Focus: The Marsh

Years ago I was given a Tarot deck, specifically the Osho Zen Tarot deck, by a good friend. In one part to learn the meanings of the cards on an intuitive level I would take a solitary card, read the description, and keep that attribute in mind for a little while. Sometimes hours, sometimes weeks. And then when I felt ready, I would draw a new card. I have long made cryptic posts, so I would share on social media what my Meditative Focus was with no context. And, freed from explaining the source, other elements from my life could be used.

Outside of Tarot I have also done some light studying of Bagua and the I Ching for divination as well. There are eight “elements” for the Bagua. As is the way there is some open interpretation that occurs coming over to English. My present focus comes from this. In my original studies I came to identify “trigrams”, simple pictures comprised of a mix three solid and unbroken lines. If read from the top down, one unbroken and two solid lines represents “Marsh”. A mix of Water and Earth, it can be treacherous. Too heavy to swim through, too fluid to walk on. One cannot build on it and one is hard pressed to destroy it. Rushing headlong into it can completely sap your strength to no avail. To make it through one must be diligent and deliberate, but careful as threats can lay unseen.

I have been working hard the past month or so to fashion a key to a new door on my life. A broader hope is to close the door on live I’ve lived for the past ten years or so. I do not regret, but it is possible to live a better life than I have.

I have lusted and lost, loved and lost, and fashioned my life anew many times. But the changes have not stuck. All is well for a little while, then I lose hold of the reigns or my footing disappears and I falter gravely. I have lost good friends, good homes, and a treasure trove of old books and personal writings. I have lived in the world and it has molded me more than the other way around. I might be called cynical. It has not always been easy.

But…

It has been good. There are many bright spots. I have grown up and learned to be self reliant. I have met a great many people and a good segment of them are valued friends. I have grown closer to many that I thought would be forgotten. I have at least one good friend internationally, and plans to go and visit. I have even helped begin a local tradition that continues on without me. I even have Love.

I do not know what life will bring me in the next ten years, whether it will be just a paragraph or an epic series. I do not know what my voice will be going forward in my endeavors. But for the times in which I doubt and find myself in a mire of misery again I will find the good. The water may be brackish but I will not die of thirst. They may be odd to eat, but there may be roots aplenty. I can cover myself in mud to try to beat the heat of the sun.

Meditate. Focus. Even in the Marsh, there is a path. Unseen and muddled, there is a path to your goals. It is my hope you find it easier than I have, and that your path out is shorter. Do not forget to draw in what is unique, and let these experience add richness to you that would come from nowhere else.

Always do what you can.

Achievements – Of Minor Aggravation

No posts recently, but something is in the works. I have been trying to hold true to “don’t talk about it, be about it.” That is not why I am here today.

In the spirit of game development I have picked up a wide variety of games to try out. I like seeing how people make mechanics work and the like. One interesting trend are games crafted to look like 16-bit classics. If you ever had a book you loved in you childhood that you imagined yourself being in these games evoke the same feeling. The problem I come up against are Achievements. If I haven’t ranted about them before Achievements (or Trophies for those someone on the Playstation Network) are external “signposts” of accomplished tasks. They add nothing to the game directly themselves. Find this rare sword, and an achievement will pop up. Most work like this.

I feel these are implemented best when they give you a checklist of goals to accomplish. If you open them when you begin playing a new game I think they should give quick hints at mini-games, items to keep an ear open for from party or NPC chatter, and boons to check nooks and crannies for ideally all without spoilers. Often, there will be “secret achievements” that are not revealed until you clear them. These can be nice so you just play the game but if you’re like me (and most gamers I imagine) that hanging chad will drive you nuts if you don’t just happen across it. For those achievements which are story elements, such as “Beat XXXXXXX, integral story villain and your true brother to retake your crown!”, it is fine and preferred to keep them hidden.

When they are poorly implemented however… oh, I find issue. One is why I am writing now. The achievement is “Beat the game within 10 hours on Hard Mode”. I have cleared the game already and I missed getting an item that I want to get. By the way, this game series has carry over saves so items from the previous title will carry over to the next game if you are diligent which is why missing this particular item is worth a replay. Digressing, I know what to do, where to go, enemy strategies and tactics, and the best way to exploit everything. I figured it would be a cakewalk. And it was. Being an RPG I could escape from combat. This game actually lets you have visible enemies so the lions’ share of them can be avoided in the first place. Yes, boss battles would be grueling, but I am a Final Fantasy veteran. Hours on a boss fight are nothing new.

The problem came from a battle of scripted ambushes. On a bridge outside of a village I am assaulted by four tigers and a lion. Bears are encountered earlier in the game so they’d be too weak to add to this menagerie for those wondering. I cannot go around this bridge since it is the only one crossing a river. Since I am ambushed they have the opening moves every turn. In most cases they kill my characters in one hit. Sometimes I’m not hit full force and some of the attacks miss. However, since they are faster than my characters they still get the opening run in the second turn. And when I manage to survive that I am in too poor shape to try to pull together on the third because, again, they’ll have the opening moves. Good news is that in an RPG I can grind and improve my characters statistics. Bad news is this takes time, which I’m not certain I really have. Knowing some of the later sections of the game I wanted to grind there for more efficiency. But I’m stuck here.

The current mentality is to, borrowing a colloquialism, “get gud”. There is possibly something I have missed. Sometimes in these challenges I have gone TOO fast, and this may be one of those times. But I have no gauge of that. I just know I reached this point inside two hours and it has been two and a half more trying to get past this choke point. I know there is psychological chord achievements strike. I can easily look and see how many other players have completed this so I know it is possible.

I have seen times in which I feel achievements are added arbitrarily to press someone to play the game more, perhaps to make it seem like the game has more content and depth than it really does. “Kill 10,000 Enemies” is a popular one. As timed achievements are normally not aimed at first time players they encourage a replay. Perhaps it is due to my age, or having spent a lifetime pre-achievement doing such things, but I have little interest in stressing myself out over such time sinks.

I am going to continue to play the games because I want to see how the story and mechanics interact, but it is something I’ll keep in mind in my own development. Perhaps I’ll expound further upon this subject later if I have not done so already.