That Time of the Year... · 4:20pm
So what are your plans for today?
On The Subject Of Motivation · 11:10pm
So today is the last day of Spring Break for me. Guess what I've accomplished during this course of 10 days?
Nothing. Glorious, undisputed nothing. And that really concerns me.
I had initially planned to hammer out the next installment of Novelty during the break, and maybe even start up something else during that time. The problem is that every time I opened up a document to start putting down some words, I ended up closing it without writing anything. The only time I can manage to do anything even remotely productive when it comes to fics is when I'm collaborating with someone else, namely Whirring Gears. Of course, a team effort is far easier than doing anything alone, so working with him is an incredible help to my drive to work. But when it comes to my personal works, I can't seem to generate anything noteworthy as of late.
It's not a lack of ideas either. I have virtually everything for the 4th chapter of Novelty planned out, as well as a lot of other fics on my mind. I've got one massive project that's been simmering in my head for a while now too. It just seems that any time I try to actually get something written down for all of my works that nothing seems to happen, and it's been bugging me for so long. My output for all of my works has hit the crapper and I'm becoming increasingly concerned. I worry that I'm losing motivation to write.
Why is that?
I'm eager to write out all of the ideas that I've got, but the moment I open a page up to write, the lint floating in the air suddenly seems more interesting than does writing out what I've got in my head. It's not that I don't want to write. I do, very much so. But when I can't get anything onto paper each and every time I try, it gets a little disheartening for me. Seriously, the next part of Novelty has less than 2,000 words right now and is nowhere near done. On top of that, I'm not even happy with what I do have at the moment.
The worst part of it for me is, well, you. Yes, you. All of you. I don't mean that maliciously. I know that you all have said that you don't mind if I take a lot of time to write. All of the hiatuses I've taken in the last few months have proven that to me. It warms my heart knowing that you all understand and are okay with my constant leaves (well, most of you, I hope.). Even then, it still makes me feel bad that I can't pump anything out. There isn't any crisis or situation that I'm in that is holding me from writing. I'm in good health, life is fine, the situation with my father a few months back is over and done with, school is going good, so on so forth. There really isn't some serious thing inhibiting my from writing. On top of that, I've got all the reasons to write. Reasons that include all of you, as well as my own desire to see my ideas come forth.
So, even with all of that in mind, I'm still stuck. My output for anything is still next to nothing. Perhaps this isn't even an issue of motivation, but I'd still like to ask. Perhaps I can find some more of my own if I hear about yours.
For all of you out there who writes/has written fanfiction, what is it that drives you to write? I'm pretty curious to see why people write. Is it to please someone specific? Is it to see your ideas blossom? Is it to fill a gap that no one else has filled yet? Or is it just because you felt like it?
What is your motivation and/or inspiration?
P.S. Or for those who don't care, have some bittersweet chiptune music, courtesy of OCRemix.
P.S.S. Why the Hell is Alleycat Blues on the top of my fics list on the side over there. Seriously. Someone is gonna have to explain that to me.
Step Up, Don't Suck Chapter 2! · 5:54am
I'm on Twitter · 12:19am
So yeah. Everyone else has one, so I thought I should make one too so you can all hear me spout nonsense everytime I tweet something. I have no clue how to use the damn thing, but hey...I've got one now.
And hey, because I suck at everything relating to art, I gotta request for you all. Someone should create a header for me on Twitter. Something involving this guy:
And this guy:
And this pony:
If you do, make it flashy. I'll pay you back. Somehow. I swear.
So yeah...uh...I'm working on Novelty right now. It's super slow, but this next chapter is really damn important. I'm trying to get everything about it just perfect, so it'll take some time.
...I got nothing.
Answers! · 7:22am
Yep. Finally got around to finishing it. Hope you all enjoy hearing me ramble nonsense for twenty minutes! Also, sorry about the static. My mic is garbage.
In Regards to my Works · 8:12am
It seems like just yesterday I had put up a post with a positive attitude...actually, that technically was yesterday, but that isn't the point
I'm afraid I have a bit of bad news. My production rate is going to slow down quite a bit. Recent developments in real life are pushing more of my time to be eaten away by things other than writing fics. Things have suddenly gotten much more tense within my family, and I'm afraid that I'm the only one who can tend to them with the utmost care at this point.
As such, I'm halting production on most of my unpublished works. On top of that, I'm also going to set Something About Her on the hiatus-backburner for awhile. I just can't find it in myself to work on it right now for many reasons. I'm putting Novelty and Step Up, Don't Suck (The collab fic I'm doing with Whirring Gears. See previous blog post for more details.) at the top of my priorities when it comes to my writing. But even then, the production on these two will be a bit slower than normal. I apologize to those who were and are looking forward to more Milky Way nonsense, but I'm afraid that it simply cannot be dealt with at this time.
In closing: While I'm not going on a full hiatus again, my production rate is still going to slow down a bit for all of my works. I apologize once again for the inconvenience, but reality has come a-knocking for my family once more and I'm gonna be the one to answer the door this time.
Collaboration! (READ THIS) · 6:33pm
Hey you! So, unless your name is iloveportalz0r, I assume you are subscribed to me because you like my writing. Well, have I got good news for you!
Me and that fantastic fellow known as Whirring Gears are writing a story together! The story in question is called Step Up, Don't Suck. 2nd Person, just like our traditional style of writing.
But that's not all! We've also created a new account for the occasion! Seeing as this won't be the only of collabs we do, we've created the account KodyGears for our works! It won't be updated too often with blogposts or anything, and most announcements we might need to make will be on our own channels.
That's about all I've got to say. This post is kinda brief, since I didn't have much time to prepare it. Sorry about that!
Now go! Charge!
For those of you who were expecting my Q&A video as the next blogpost and are all like "dude, wtf!?" It's coming, I swear. I just felt like doing something a little different.
I used to write game reviews every now and then. It was mostly just for fun and I never really put much thought into them. In short, they kind of sucked. However, I always wanted to get back into doing them. Like I said, they were fun and I liked writing them. Now that I'm a bit more astute with words, I wanted to take another crack at it. And what better title to review as my first then the one I've been playing the most recently?
So, let's get down to business! (Disclaimer: There will be swears.)
Paper Mario: Sticker Star
To start off, let's go with the story. It's pretty basic and follows the general Mario formula: Bowser kidnaps Peach, Mario has to save her. The only thing deviating from that arc is Bowser's means of doing so. At the beginning of the game, the Mushroom Kingdom is in the midst of the Sticker Festival, which is a big celebration of the arrival of the Sticker Comet. The overseer of the comet is a little crown by the name of Kersti, who serves as Mario's "Navi" for this title. While the comet is in the town of Decalburg (which serves as your general stock-up and hub area), Bowser crashes the party. By touching the comet, it explodes into six Royal Stickers. Each of these stickers find their way onto some big baddie, including Bowser, granting them unique powers and extreme strength. And, surprise, it's up to Mario to retrieve them all.
It's nothing spectacular and it's about what you expect out of a Mario game. However, this is exactly my issue with this. For a standard Mario game, this plot is nothing out of the ordinary. For a Paper Mario title on the other hand, this irks me a bit. The two most recent predecessors to this game have very deep and intricate plots. Why did they shift back to this very basic premise? The story behind Super Paper Mario is one of the darkest tales we've had yet out of a Mario game. I mean, come on, Count Bleck from SPM wanted to erase the entire universe. It just baffles me that they would dumb down the storytelling so much for this next entry into the series.
And by dumbing it down, I mean dumbing it down. This is where gameplay elements come in. This game plays a lot like the Mario World games with its multiple worlds you can visit. Each stage is divided up into segments that you visit by moving around on a map. After you finish up the first level, which is the destroyed Decalburg after the comet explodes, you find that you can tackle the first three worlds of the game in any order you wish.
The first thing that this should tell you is that this game has no story. It's impossible to make a deep storyline when the player can visit the worlds in whatever order they choose, even more so in a relatively short game like this. This is one of the most disappointing aspects of the game. Paper Mario is known for its plotlines. Now that the game has no true linear fashion, there is no plotline. None of the worlds really have their own unique plotlines either. It's just about getting through the levels to get to the boss and win a Royal Sticker. The only level where any real story was to be had was World 3, where you are helping a Wiggler reunite with his missing body segments.
Other than that, there isn't much to say. There isn't anything to make you really hate Bowser and nothing that happens to really engage you in the story. You can say it's not really made for its storyline. It is a Mario game after all. But taking a look at the previous Paper Mario titles, it's incredibly disappointing that there was little to no attempt to make me at least try to care about it. The original Paper Mario followed much the same formula of having Bowser kidnap Peach through the use of a powerful item (that being the Star Rod). It made you hate Bowser though, since we often got segments of his antics during the Peach gameplay scenes and the Star Spirits each gave you a little backstory to what happened after you rescue them from one of Bowser's cronies. You really started to get pissed off at Bowser as the game progressed, and each of his baddies helped amplify that.
This game just doesn't have that effect. I'm not made to care about Peach being kidnapped or the fact that Bowser has a Royal Sticker. I don't care that all these bosses have Royal Stickers since none of them make their power truly known with them. I'm not made to be pissed off at them by mere gameplay, since they never show their face until the boss fight comes. Heck, even Bowser's two main cronies, Bowser Jr. and Kamek, don't help at all. They appear like, what, twice or thrice each throughout the whole game? I don't really despise either of them, and it only makes it feel like more of a chore when they do appear. That seems to be a growing problem in games. Developers give the player no incentive to care about their main foe. It's just about having to kill them and not really longing to kill them. The best kinds of villains make you like them and make you want them dead. This game doesn't make me care about Bowser and his shenanigans in any way, shape, or form.
By the way, the theme of "not caring" is a big one in this game. I'll explain in a bit.
One thing I have to give the game credit for is the artstyle. It really takes the whole paper thing and brings it out full form, more so than its predecessors. Everything is very heavily stylized with paper and cardboard creations. Many of the animations really display a sense of originality and cunning. Each cutscene has a unique flair to it, whether it be crumpling up the screen to make change to the field or by cutting up certain parts of the foundation like paper-mâché. It seems like the developers had a lot of fun coming up with some of the scenes this game has in it and it really shows.
However, this is where another issue I have with the game comes in. The game knows that it is made of paper. Almost every character you talk to in the game talks about being crumpled, wrinkled, folded, or what have you. It really sort of drags on about it and it really wants to make you understand that "I'M MADE OF PAPER." None of the other games in the series really addressed the fact that they are paper. I guess this title is making up for that lack of attention to that fact, as almost every damn character has something to say about it.
When it comes to the characters, I have to admit. They all have a bit of personality in them. Yes, I just ranted about how the personalities of the bosses and what not could have been better explored, but many of the minor characters you meet are genuinely endearing. Heck, even the Toads all have a unique personality about them. One Toad in particular that I remember acts as the wise sage of the forest, who gives you some tips on what to do. His speech patterns are so convoluted and proper that I chuckled while I was reading his dialogue. It seems all the attention to dialogue went into the minor characters and Kersti.
Speaking of Kersti, she is that little crown girl who acts as your "guide." I put that in quotes for the sole fact that she isn't too helpful. You can call her out by pressing the L button to talk with her, but she never says anything of value. Oftentimes she'll just utter one, bland sentence that means nothing. Yes Kersti, I know that the ocean is nearby. I'm standing on a fucking dock staring at it. I stopped calling her out entirely at some point, simply because she wasn't helpful. It's only during the cutscenes where she actually says anything of remote value.
Now for the gameplay. When exploring the overworld, you have several abilities. The most basic ones are jump and your trusty hammer. Simple enough, so I can't say much more on those. However, you also have the new, unique ability called Paperize. When activated, the screen goes down into a two-dimensional plane, and you are able to manipulate certain objects, place stickers, and more. It's often used for puzzle-solving and to place certain objects you need to advance. There really isn't much to say about it though. It's almost always obvious as to what you have to do. Place a certain sticker here, pick up this object to flip it around, so on so forth. It also gets a little tedious to do so. Sometimes there will be an object you have to pick up to rotate, then place back down (such as a door that's been placed onto a wall sideways).
Here is the process for doing it: Activate Paperize, wait for the animation to play out, pick up the door, wait for the item to be placed in your inventory, the game automatically leaves the Paperize mode for no reason, reactivate it, wait for the animation to play, select the door, place it back down, smooth it out (you actually have to smooth it out onto the surface for it to work), let another animation play, and only THEN you can go into the door. It gets pretty monotonous. Paperizing is supposed to be one of the game's selling points, allowing you to manipulate certain objects in a three-dimensional environment on a two-dimensional plane. However, it is still incredibly limited in what it can do. Only certain objects can be manipulated and those that can are brain-dead obvious as to what you need to do with them. You quickly grow tired of doing it.
Another element that has been introduced are the Things. Seriously, they are just called Things. Things can be just about any real world object. Scissors, a soda can, a radiator, a sponge, just about anything. There are sixty-four Things total, and they all have different properties. They can either be used in battle to deal big damage to enemies or they are used in the overworld to solve certain puzzles. For example, there is a room that is near pitch-black that you need to use a Light Bulb to illuminate.
Now, this is where a certain issue comes in. If you don't find the Thing you need on your first runthrough of a level, you have to waste your time going back to find it. Many of the necessary Things you need are not simply given to you. I ended up passing the Light Bulb on my run through the level it was in. When I got to the part I needed it at, what do you think I had to do? I'm not gonna have any idea where that bulb is, as the game gives no hints about it. It's not like it was obvious where it was either. Inside the Yoshi Sphinx in the desert world, which has next to nothing to do with the world where the Light Bulb is needed. There is no way of knowing where an object you might have missed could be, so inevitably, you'll end up having to backtrack through all the levels to find it.
Another item I missed was a Vacuum Cleaner, which is necessary to beat a level in the desert. Much like the Light Bulb, it is located in a level which has nothing to do with the desert area. When I first passed the Vacuum on my run through of the particular area where it is located, I thought it was just part of the backdrop. I walked right by it and wasn't given the prompt to pick it up, so naturally I didn't think it was important and didn't give it a second thought. Only when I revisited every damn level again did I find it was in fact an item I could use. If the Things stood out a little more, then perhaps this wouldn't be such a chore, or if the ones that are necessary are better conveyed to the player to use, then I wouldn't mind this so much. But when I have to revisit every level just because I missed a dinky little light bulb, I get a little pissed off.
As far as overworld mechanics go, that's about all there is to it. It has the same basic puzzle structure that the other Paper Mario games have, so no complaint there. Now we get to the battle mechanics of the game. Sticker Star returns to the RPG battle structure of Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. You take turns hitting enemies to reduce their health to zero while preventing them from doing the same to you, leaving behind the platforming battle system of Super Paper Mario (which I didn't mind, but it feels off for a Paper Mario game).
Okay, let me level with you for a second.
The battle system of Paper Mario? Pretty good.
The battle system of The Thousand Year Door? Really damn good.
The battle system of Sticker Star?
This is where the game absolutely drops the ball. In order to fight enemies, you use stickers. These stickers generally consist of varying Jump attacks, varying Hammer attacks, throwable items, healing items, and Things that you have turned into stickers. Once you use a sticker, it's gone. You can increase the effectiveness of the sticker with timed button presses. There are certain stickers that deal more damage and whatnot, but that's not the issue.
You might ask "is the issue getting the stickers?" Well, the answer to that is a resounding no. In fact, stickers are like a virus. There is never a time where you don't have them. You find them in the overworld all over the place. Take about two seconds to peel a few stickers off the walls or knock them out of floating ? Boxes and you've got yourself some ammunition to use. Sure, you can buy some more powerful stickers at the shops, but there is almost no need to ever do this. Stock up on some Hopslippers (which allow you to stomp an enemy for a good twenty damage or so) and you're good to go. So running out of ammunition is pretty much a nonexistant issue. You don't care about it at all, since you can stock up on stickers so easily.
So if it isn't the stickers, what is the problem? In an RPG, what do you expect from your enemies? You expect them to A. grow stronger as the game progresses and B. reward you with a balanced amount of experience in correspondence with their strength. Well, Sticker Star has neither of those things. Throughout the entire game, enemies generally have about 10-15 HP. They can usually be dispatched in about a sticker or two each, sometimes one sticker for an entire squadron of three or four enemies! The enemies change throughout the game, forcing you to learn how they all attack (which is usually just taking one hit to figure out how they attack, then being able to successfully block their attack for the rest of the game), but that doesn't really make a difference. The challenge is all the same, so you don't care about encountering new enemies. Since none of them are overly difficult to overcome at any point in the game, you are never worried when you find a new kind of enemy in a level.
Now for the killing point of the game. Unlike its predecessors, Sticker Star has no experience system. The only way to power up Mario is to find +5 HP hearts throughout the overworld, which just increase Mario's max health. This means you are always dealing the same amount of damage throughout the game to your enemies. So, with no experience, no need to increase your strength, and having weaponry at any time, what does this all mean?
Fighting enemies in this game is abso-fucking-lutely pointless.
Seriously. There is no reason to. At all. They offer no benefits whatsoever for killing. The only thing they give is coins and stickers that you don't even need. As for the coins? What are you going to spend those on, more stickers that you don't need? Honestly, coins are near pointless in this game. At one point, I had saved up over 2,000 coins. There is just no reason to spend them on stickers I could get in the overworld. And in the overworld, I'm spending most of my time just dodging enemies so that I can get to the next part of the game. They offer nothing of value. It's not even fun to fight them! It's just spending more of your ammunition and health that you could be saving for mandatory fights like the bosses.
Speaking of the bosses, this is another serious flaw in the game. Each boss has a specific weakness. If you exploit this weakness, the fight can be won with virtually no effort. For example, the World 2 boss. This boss fight takes place in an area that is strangely similar to a baseball field. Now, if you happen to have the Baseball Bat with you, you can take the boss's gargantuan three hundred HP down to a measly fifty or so with a single attack. I'll admit, it's a little cryptic, and you might not exactly know to have this weapon with you, but if you do, there is pretty much no boss fight here. The World 3 boss basically hands himself over to you. If you use the Sponge sticker against a specific attack (which you will always know when it's coming), the boss will be guaranteed to miss for three turns, take thirty damage each turn, and have his defense lowered considerably. You could potentially kill a three hundred HP boss with only three turns worth of attacks. This specific boss also makes no sense whatsoever. The gimmick is that you utilize the music to fight him, timing your blocks along with the beat of the song. Once you blind him using the Sponge, however, the gimmick is completely forgotten. What's the point if it makes no difference in the end? And heck, the World 4 boss is made of ice. What do you possibly think would be his weakness?
Another thing I feel I should address about the battle system is the Run Away function. When in battle, you can choose to run from basic enemies. I don't know if the same can be done for bosses, seeing as I've never had to do so. When you select it, it does just what you think; you leave the battle. In the previous titles, running from a battle would cost you some coins. Now, in this game, seeing as coins are not valuable whatsoever, it's not a big issue. But what makes this even less of an issue? The fact that you are not punished in any way for running from a fight. Nope. No repercussions whatsoever. You don't lose money, you don't drop stickers, nothing. In fact, the enemy you ran from will be gone from the overworld if you run.
So what does this all mean? Fighting enemies is pointless, tedious, and a waste of your goddamn time.
For the fact that this is supposed to be an RPG, it baffles me that they could so royally screw up the most basic of principles of RPGs: Making the player want and need to fight enemies. Gaining experience to prepare for later battles with the toughest of enemies is a necessity in a game like this. Don't you feel a great sense of accomplishment being able to defeat a tough foe that you couldn't beat before, all because you took some time to power yourself up for the fight? That feeling is entirely absent in Sticker Star. It's not like the enemies provide unique challenge in this game, seeing as they are all so similar. So with all of these cookie-cutter enemies, what is the point of even having an RPG battle system in the first place? It makes no sense. This issue detracts from the game so heavily that it makes it boring to play beyond measure. You never care about enemies and will be dodging them left and right. And believe me, enemies are everywhere in this game, so you're going to spend a lot of your time playing Keep Away with Goombas. And let me tell you, that gets pretty damn tedious after the first five minutes.
This battle system is such a huge letdown with the game, that it really makes the entire experience feel like a chore. You don't care about enemies, bosses, the storyline, everything. Nothing gives you the incentive to want to do anything in this game. You don't care about your coins, your stickers, nothing. The only thing you care about is getting through the damn game.
Despite it's flaws, not everything about the game is godawful. The music is arguably the best part of it. Many of the tunes are catchy and, despite it being overshadowed by the boss' weakness, the theme of the World 3 boss is one of my favorites from the game, along with many of the other boss themes. And as I said earlier, the game's art is quite appealing, and it makes full use of the 3D effect without being straining on the eyes as most 3DS titles seem to be. The game also has a sense of humor and many of the characters have some pretty witty dialogue, much like the predecessors.
Overall, this game is a mediocre entry into the Paper Mario series. Having a lackluster story arc, horrendous battle structure, and a generally unfavorable overworld system, the game is just so heavily plagued with problems that it feels like a chore to even play it. The aesthetics and acoustics, while impressive, can't make up for the poor structure of the overall game. It's not the worst RPG I've ever played, but it's far from the best...if you can even call it an RPG, anyway.
At the end of the day, I would rate this title with a...
And that's all I've got to say on that. Wow...this is a lot longer than I expected it to be.
So, what do ya think? Agree? Disagree? Did you enjoy reading this, or was I too boring? Any suggestions in case I decide to make another one of these reviews? Let me know! I'd be glad to hear what you have to say!
In other news, the Q&A Answer Video is in the works! I'll have it up soon enough!
I'm Bored. Let's do a Q&A! · 4:46am
I figure I've gotten a more substantial number of followers to warrant another one of these goofy things.
I'm doing this one a tad differently. I'm gonna answer this one through actual speech rather than just a wall of text! Leave some comments asking some questions. However, I would like to ask that you limit the number of questions you ask to about three or four per user at most. I can't be giving a half hour speech for each person who asks me things! I'd also like to ask that you refrain from asking anything that someone else has already asked. I don't want it to end up being too repetitive. I may not answer your question if it gets a bit too personal, though.
Other than that, feel free to start asking! I'll give it about, oh...two weeks. After that, I'll stop accepting questions and begin making the video with my answers.
Happy asking and auf Wiedersehen!