Since I have become a bit more serious about making an actual game I might as well explain a bit about what I intend to do with it. So, here are my current plans about what I am doing.
First what I have already done:
I have a pretty okay random dungeon generator script and several existing dungeon 'themes' which all look a fair bit distinct and decorative.
I have a basic roguelike combat system in place. The kinks need to be worked out, but it works. For a one actor party anyway.
I have a inventory system with features such as equipment enchantment and roguelike style item identification.
A fair bit of different monsters, skills, and items.
Here is some stuff I am going to need to do:
Right now the only thing the player can really do is roguelike-style bump attacks. I need to redesign the menus/interface to allow for skills and items to be selected and targeted.
Monsters chose skills from an enemy moves list, but I may need to think more about how I choose skills and how range works. Perhaps I should use visible projectiles even?
Rebalance the hell out of everything.
Here is some stuff I may or may not do:
Add support for multiple party members. I have been trying to write stuff in a manner so this is possible, but I may need to totally rewrite how I handle inputs if I want to allow the ability to take full control of the party (which if I am adding party members at all, I absolutely do).
You might notice I haven't mentioned much about the story/setting yet. Partly because I want to get the full gameplay system worked out before I bother that much, but also party because I am still not sure about some of the details yet. That it will be heavily based on lots of the things I have said about fairies over the years here is not in question. The setting will definitely be fairyland... or a fairyland anyway. Perhaps more then one.
The simplest basic plot outline I have in mind probobly is that the player character is a human who was abducted by fairies and perhaps transformed into a fairy. I might want to allow the player to create a character, but that might be tricky to do in way I am happy with. If I can get one of those visual equip script things working, perhaps I will use that to let you choose what the player looks like. Perhaps I could even have transformations and stuff. It might be fun to make it a bit like Corruption of Champions actually. <3 I mean not necessarily the naughty stuff (though I would be tempted), but the way items can change your body parts. And hey, mutation is a thing in some roguelikes anyway.
But it would probobly be a lot easier if I just used a set character, at least for now. Right now the one delving in those dwimmery dungeons is me! Kayzee the fairy! Hehe... I am not sure I want to be the main character though. I think if I show up I am much more suited to be a sort of trickster mentor who helps guide the main character. Though I could also tell my own story, it might be interesting to tell how I became a fairy in the first place, if a bit embarrassing.
One thing that I haven't been very shy about admitting is even at my most active I have never been that serious about game development here. I like to code neat scripts sometimes yes, and I do like to experiment, and I love to discuss and theorize, but sitting down and actually trying to make a real game by myself always struck me as kind of too much work for me. Mostly probobly just cause I am lazy, but even so when it comes right down to it I am not sure I ever had a really good solid idea for one. Oh don't get me wrong, I have plenty of ideas that I think are neat, but most of them are either random mishmashes of ideas that don't fit together in any real way or are just too overly ambitious to really get anywhere on. Every once and a while I have this 'big project' I want to work on but don;t end up really doing much with. The one time I tried to team up with some other people didn't turn out that well and I am not sure I am cut out for teamwork.
That being said, I still have been ever so slowly chipping away at my own little block of stone. For all the years I have been on this site I have maintained a RPG Maker VX Ace project that I occasionally fiddle with, adding more and more experiments and random ideas to. It's more of my own personal script testing bed then anything else. I know I probobly should have moved on to MV ages ago but... there is just so much I have done with VX Ace! And bit by bit I think it's starting to pay off. It's still a mess of experiments without much underlying theme or idea behind it, but I am slowly seeing more and more a shape emerge that I might be able to refine.
One might remember my old dungeon demo thing. I have added a ton to the scripts there since I bothered to update it, and it seems like I added another ton jut with in the lat few months. I just more or less managed to finally get a roguelike-style battle system (or as I like to call it a 'one-step tactical battle system', since it's basically like a tactical RPG battle system only things can only move one step per turn, or one could think of it as a 'turn-based ABS' perhaps if that idea doesn't make your head explode) working properly. Now I have wanted to do a proper roguelike for a while, and I basically have all the major parts needed to make one from the random dungeons to even the item identification thing. I have a number of interesting tweaks to the generator to produce what may be some of the most pretty dungeons I have seen from similar style dungeon generators, and a number of dungeon types already done. I have a fair variety of different critters too that move and behave in different ways. Imps that can fly over gaps, Sea creatures that can swim, Bats that can fly and move quickly but erratically, Spiders which are slow but can suddenly jump at their target, Ghosts which phase through walls, and so on.
But if that were all I would still probobly end up with a bit of a disconnected mess of ideas. As much as I think gameplay is more important then story or presentation in games, I can't really deny the importance of theming at the very least. Just blindly programing in whatever idea I can think of without some overall hook to the design to tie it all together probobly will just leave me with what I have been doing for the last few years: Just throwing stuff into a pile and poking it to see what it does. Ah, but fortunately I do have the perfect thing to tie it all together I think, and I didn't even really have to go far to find it! Just look at all the stuff I have been telling people about fairies over the time I have been here. A lot of the details could fit right in with a roguelike actually. Even my older abandoned team game had a big focus on that kind of thing.
I even have a name picked out! How about "Dwimmerdelve: Adventures in a Phantasmagorical Fairyland"? What do you think?
When it comes to matters of faith everyone has their own beliefs and fairies are no different. What does tend to be different for fairies is the way faith is treated. In general the fairy approach to religion can be summarized as 'that which is worshiped or revered gains power'. It is in someways the opposite of the common human approach, which can be sometimes be thought of as 'that which is powerful is worshiped or revered'. Of course it's not that cut an dry on either side, but it works as a good general starting point for the difference between common fairy and common human beliefs. For a fairy, religious devotion isn't thought of as much as about 'belief' as it is about 'choice'. To choose to hold something sacred or holy is to invest power into that thing, the more of one's own energy one chooses to devote to something the more power it gains in their eyes. The more power and renown something has, the more it can do and therefor the more useful it is to worship, but this is often a secondary concern and many fairies believe that worship for purely pragmatic reasons is less potent then devoting one's self to something just because they genuinely want to. Fairies do often hold that such purely pragmatic belief is done in 'bad faith'.
Fairies tend to also similarly look down on the idea of religion being some sort of 'duty' or 'obligation'. To most fairies any religious belief that demands worship or devotion is at best poisonous to the ones who follow it and at worse poisonous to everything around them as well. They also tend to be opposed to organized religious institutions (of significant scale at least) and especially opposed to anything they even suspect to be any kind of religious indoctrination by one. In fact fairies tend to shy away from the idea of having any kind of fixed 'canon' of teachings or beliefs, and instead prefer syncretically following whatever they feel fit. Most religious practices are often thought best carried out in private, and mass public displays of worship are often seen as disruptive or suspicious. This doesn't mean religious gatherings or places of worship don't exist, just that fairies rarely are that overt about prayer or other such rituals and preaching is usually kept to a minimum. Fairies tend to find most common human religions and religious practices to be repugnant, dangerous, or at least very very silly (especially Christianity, on witch there are also many historical reasons to bare a grudge), although most will grudgingly accept a person's choice in following one if they show 'true faith' as a fairy recognizes it.
While fairies do often worship many gods and other spirits (as personalized representatives of abstract concepts and as beings in their own right), they aren't necessarily thought of in the general sense as much more then a human might think of famous celebrities. In other words, often awe inspiring and worthy of respect for their power and fame, but not beings beyond understanding or reproach. To a fairy, gods and other spirits are just like any other being, at least in that regard. A fairy might just as well worship another fairy they are a fan of, or even a human in rare cases, living or dead. A fairy wouldn't necessarily see much difference between a fan convention and a temple, a cosplayer or a priest. What matters to a fairy is the devotion and energy put into something, not the exact form that devotion takes. That doesn't mean that that's all fairies worship however. To fairies anything and everything can be a target of worship, from directly worshiping abstract concepts to revering inanimate objects and everything in between. The wonders of nature are a common choice. Fairies often make little shrines of a sort out of things like a refreshing spring or well, a waterfall, a neat cave, a particularly large tree or pleasant grove, a small hill, anywhere that seems like a nice meeting place. Sometimes fairies may put up some altars made from a pile of stones or standing stones marked with runes. There might be entryways marked by Stonehenge-like gates. Sometimes it's just decoration, but sometimes it means a fairy felt the need to protect a place with magic and a barrier will keep out any who don't go through the gate. Sometimes these gates act as portals to other places.
Well loved objects are thought to be in some sense holy as well. Objects with sentimental value are prized and said to hold lots of power. Indeed, magically a well loved object can be very powerful, and can hold many blessings or sometimes powerful curses. An object's history and it's connection to the history of others is very important to many fairies. Though they don't truly exist in the fairy world, museums are also places a fairy might think of like a temple of a sort. One not only holding precious objects for display, but also in charge of understanding and explaining their history. Many fairies tend to be hoarders of artifacts that they personally find important, even if no one else does. It is even not that uncommon for fairies to, rather then revering or worshiping any particular thing, devote one's self to a concept or ideal. To a fairy someone who devote themselves to something like 'justice', 'love', 'science', 'power', or 'pleasure' are simply putting their faith into something like any other personal belief. And of course, many fairies choose to put their faith in only in themselves or sometimes in nothing at all.
Ritual can also be very important to fairies, both magically and spiritually (in fact magic and spirituality are often seen as deeply connected, but not always truly synonymous). Fairy rituals are often personalized or are part of a large collection of haphazard folk beliefs and practices. The form rituals take often doesn't matter as much as the function they serve and the feeling behind them, and fairies mostly encourage experimentation and improvisation over strict traditionalism or sticking to any one set of rules too strictly. This often extends to 'social rituals' such as manners or protocol, especially for solitary fairies (to a point anyway, there are still basic guidelines to follow if one doesn't want to be seen as rude). The exceptions where traditionalism and/or following a set of strict rules is expected are mostly for those within the Seelie courts and occasionally when fairies need to have a formal meeting, trial, or duel.
Since fairies are practically immortal they don't tend to care much about the idea of an afterlife. Many fairies find the idea silly or disdainful, but often acknowledge it's possibility. Most fairies who care to think about such things might say that things can create echos that might linger long after they are gone and leave it at that. Fairies also don't tend to care all that much about the origin or meaning of existence as a whole. There are speculations about it and a few scattered legends, but many fairies would say that how things came to be doesn't really matter, and what things mean is up to every person to decide. If fairies have any generally agreed upon explanation about existence as a whole, it's that existence is about, if anything, existing. That everyone and everything that exists, real or unreal, is fulfilling whatever role it may have for it's own sake and not for the sake of some higher purpose or god. Often fairies believe that happiness is truly found in loving one's own existence for it's own sake. Loving one's own existence doesn't necessarily mean only loving one's self, but also can include the world around them and everything in it. It also doesn't necessarily mean one can never be unsatisfied or upset, just that maybe one shouldn't let negative feelings ruin their passion for existing. And it certainly doesn't necessarily mean one shouldn't ever strive to change themselves or the world around them, just that maybe they should remember and appreciate where they are and what they are doing. Of course most fairies wouldn't say that in so many words, but it's really kind of important to us. After all, when a fairy doesn't care about existing anymore they die for good.
So in the end, to a fairy wonder and passion can be found in all things great and small. All you have to do is look!
(Been thinking of this for a while, ever since I saw what Flowey says if you start the game after a true pacifist ending, but I felt like writing it out. Really just using Undertale to explore a concept here though.)
Look, I know what the flower said. Everyone is got their happy ending. To go back on that, to rip them out of the timeline and take them back would ruin that. You should know by now, the other possibilities? They aren't so happy. And somethings taint you, somethings are inescapable. Even if you cheat, you still would know you did it. Maybe you don't care. So yeah, taking away that happy ending seems more then a little cruel.
But... Something's bugging you isn't it? Maybe more then one something. Maybe not least of all that happy or not this is still a ending. Yeah, you could leave everyone to their happy life. Except... Can you? What happens to the characters when the story is over? How do you even know if they are really happy? Or heck are even still really there? This is the end of the timeline for you... what if it's the end for everyone else too? Just frozen visions of moments and... nothing after. And really, not everyone is happy, The Empty Vessel, The Jester of Sorrow, The Scion of Hatred, The Forgotten, where is their happiness?
The future isn't written yet, maybe it never will. This is where time stops. Maybe all stories must end. You can go back, to try and rip through reality, find secrets that may not exist. I wouldn't really blame you, even if others might. Isn't that better then a frozen future even if it causes pain? Maybe. Or...
Or... You could look at another path in the void of possibilities, maybe even write a future yourself. Go beyond the timeline you knew, You aren't the only one looking. Maybe, just maybe, if all of you keep a light burning, someday a new path will open forward. All stories must end. Or so they say. But for every ending maybe a seed for a new beginning is planted.
So here is a kind of weird and probably impractical idea I thought of a while ago while thinking of how fighting game characters tend to break down into tiers (warning tvtropes, yadda yadda yadda): What if the player could select between differently balanced versions of the characters? Not really even in terms of stats like speed and defense, but in terms of tweaking the moves. I won't necessarily say this would make all competitive balance stuff a non-issue, far from it. But it does allow for a bit more experimentation and shuffling nerfs and stuff around. Plus it could be a great way to make arcade-mode bosses and other stuff.
I have been thinking it off and on, and recently I was jokingly thinking about how my cute fairysona would work in a fighting game (come to think of it they might fit in with the Darkstalkers cast at least, that series could use a fairy character), and how a tier select would work out. Not getting into exact movesets or anything, but...
Name: Kayzee Lalee'lay Lalilulelo
True name: A lady has got to have her secrets. And no it's not 'KilloZapit'. Feel free to guess! :3
Fighting skills: Wind magic, nature magic, basic hand to hand fighting skills.
Low to High Tiers (Normal character tiers):
Quote: "No need to be violent but if you insist, let's play for a while!"
Stage backdrop: Nighttime pond under a full moon with flowering lily pads in a forest with glowing lights and fairies playing or watching... very much like a RPG Maker VX Ace title screen actually. Or maybe a ring of mushrooms.
Stage music: Something like
.Special Moves: Wind cutter, Tornado, Fairy dust
Super moves: Gale, Forest friends, All Seasons At Once (ex)
Other features: Glides or stays in the air when up is held after a jump.
Combos usually involve weaker but fast moves, good anti-air.
Low tier may have more child-like sprites, less reach/priority/damage, but short enough so a lot of attacks go over her
Mid is made to be the most balanced.
High may add teleport dashes, gliding kicks/punches with better priority, but is slower and harder to combo.
God Tier: Nature Goddess (Boss character, Such as M.Bison or Rugal which may have gimmicks that break normal gameplay)
Quote: "Ah, so is ever the tale. Children such as you, ever curious, seek themselves in power, for it is the only language they truly understand. To seek, to gain, or to lose, the game is all they know. Still the curious child is an amusement to us, so let us enjoy a spirited conversation in our first language!"
Stage backdrop: Same with a golden moon, moonbeams glowing from above, more flowers, animals and fairies respectfully and excitedly watching.
Stage music: Something like
.Sprite changes: More adult, closed eyes, glowing light trailing after her, a wreath of flowers, serene smile, may open one eye and smirk a bit when using specials and supers.
Has much of the stronger attacks of high tier while retaining most of the speed of mid tier, can teleport behind opponent when parring.
Eldritch Tier: True Fae (Final Boss, such as Onslaught/Abbys/Galactus which totally break normal fighting game conventions and logic)
Quote: "Tsk, tsk, tsk... You really went to a lot of trouble to get here you know? It's quite rude snubbing me like that. But don't worry, I understand! You just really wanted to see my punishment! Hehehehe,,, Okay. You win! I will make sure it's extra special."
Stage Background: Same forest pond, but shrouded in darkness except for the distorted light of a blood red moon. The fight is watched by shadowy figures with too wide smiles and red glowing eyes. Shadowy insects and creatures shuffle in the dark.
Stage Music: Something like
Sprite changes: A bit more childish, eyes turn red when attacking, has a psychotic smile, otherwise perfectly clean, almost doll-like, animations more artificial.
Can fly around very quickly in the air and teleport when it feels like it, doesn't flinch, teleports when hit enough (often behind opponent). Attacks are quick melee combos and wind projectiles.
Super Attacks: Ill Wind, Dark Miasma, Moonshatter (Ex)
Sprite changes: Causes a wooden tree throne to raise form the ground, sits on it and dark tentacles-like vines sprout from it creating a monster that opens dozens of eyes, all looking at their opponent.
Slow, attacks mostly though the ground with poison vines and miasma.
Super attacks: Falling star, Shadow rush,
Hehe, I know this was silly, just was thinking and I wanted to write something down.
This may be a weird to bring up a kinda serious topic late at night on Christmas, but some things have been rolling around in my head and I kinda want to talk about it. But first, for a moment, let's assume what most of you probably assume. That behind the mask of a cute fairy, there is actually a normal human who just likes to roleplay. If so, what I am about to say is going to 'break character' and talk from the perspective of a human talking to other humans. Because sometimes the outsider perspective of a creature like a fairy is helpful to talk about human issues, sometimes it is not.
I am not going to tell you if that assumption is correct. Maybe I really am a magical fairy and I am just roleplaying a human sometimes. I want to be able to preserve the magic if I can. The magical idea that maybe, just maybe, crazy things like fairies do exist. Or maybe I could be some kind of radical otherkin who completely submerged my human identity and may end up like Tingle, or come up with some kind of coy argument about how my real identity is a construct and that 'human' and 'fairy' are just roles that can be used regardless of my real body or some other possibly vaguely SJW thing. I could talk about the subject of personal identity for pages and pages.
But talking about personal identity is not really what this blog post is supposed to be about. Though it is tangentially related. What I really want to talk about is more about the way people perceive and communicate with each other. Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine if you will, that I was human. That I am even now laying in the bed of the guest room of my parent's house somewhere in North Carolina (and no, this isn't about the bathroom thing either). That right now I am on vacation, and most of my family is here. That means I would naturally want to, or at least be expected to, interact with them.
Now in this possible fictional account we are all originally from the most liberal of liberal towns in New York state (and I still live there) so this isn't going to be a tale involving an icy awkward dinner where no one talks because we have vastly different political views or anything like that. We would naturally agree on many things. But I think it's pretty clear by a lot of the things that I have said in the past, that I would have a radical streak. I have big ideas and tend to talk in overblown ways and do tend to argue a lot. Naturally I would would find it frustrating when most of my family would be totally uninterested in engaging in that type of talk most of the time, and they would find it frustrating that I often refuse to drop arguments. I also am probably impatient and clumsy about it, budding in at the wrong time, not being able to handle more then a one on one conversation very well, being very controlling and selfish, and ultimately liking too much the sound of my own voice.
I would wonder why I bother communicating my ideas to them in the first place sometimes. I would wonder if I really wanted to have a real conversation or if I rather have a soapbox like this blog to shout out my opinions into the aether. Maybe I would more just want an audience. But I don't think I really want that either. I have been thinking for a while about the odd obsession people have with fame. Why do they want it so much? Doesn't it just make everything more complicated? Plus today I found myself watching some videos relevant to the topic. For example, anyone remember Phil Fish? Not to drag up old wounds, but watching
recount how he self destructed under the spot light made me wonder why people seek fame in the first place. Also there was that game, The Beginner's Guide. And watching
about it also made me think about if we should really need validation or try and share a message. And then there is
about gamergate (and oddly applicable to a lot of today's political issues I feel).
I am not saying all those videos are necessarily unbiased or accurate about the people and things they are about, nor am I trying to make some sort of stupid comment on human nature or the dangers of technology. I am just saying, it's kinda the same thing as well I talk to my family. Most people aren't interested in what I have to say, and it makes me wonder if it's worth it to try and get my ideas out there. And honestly? I have to wonder why I want to. Because again, I am not really good at it, and I often feel I just want a mindless audience. That's not how this works though. I either say almost nothing or I become an asshole to someone.
And honestly? I can deal with that. I don't think I really need validation one way or another. I am not sure if I really am interested in having conversations with people or if I just rather self-aggrandize myself and hear my own voice and I just enjoy writing things. In some ways I feel like Coda in The Beginner's Guide in that way. Like I am writing these blogs for me, not anyone else. But it's nice when others read them too, I am just not sure if I would be happy if I suddenly got famous. I would probably end up as either disengaging with the public or being an ass if that happened. Or both at once.
Generally speaking fairies have very different ideas about some things then humans do, mostly because fairies have very different and often incompatible sets of ideals for how people are supposed to act compared to normal human ones. Humans that become fairies are mostly either already preconditioned to reject normal human ideals anyway, end up slowly accepting fairy ideals, or end up isolating themselves from other fairies.
One of the big differences relates to sexuality and gender. Most fairies do not really have a strong interest in ideas about gender, both in sense of identity or orientation. Of those that do identify as a particular gender, most think of themselves as female. Their is a real advantage to fairies in the female form because of the utility of being able to lay their own eggs, and so many fairies stay in a female-ish state most of the time. Fairies that prefer a male-ish state are not exceptionally rare, but still not as common. Many even prefer a state that mixes genders.
To a fairy, a person is a person, for the most part. Sure, a number of fairies are more or less attracted to, or more or less inclined to identify as, a particular gender, but most don't end up thinking in quite that way. Because many fairies can alter their bodies and become whatever they feel like at any given moment, gender is more a kind of fashion. That is to say, a fairy will often treat gender as a human treats the type of clothing someone wares, as a sort of statement about who a person is sure, but not a defining part of it.
Another big thing that is different is the fairy idea of romance. Romance is for fairies purely defined by how much someone in a relationship actually feels something special for another. Anything could be romantic, and it tends to be that to a fairy almost all of their interpersonal relationships are thought of as in some way romantic. Other times fairies can attach very little importance to any interpersonal relationships at all.
The most basic relationship that is often thought by fairies as romantic is friendship. Fairies don't always have tons of very close friends, but many of them can be very friendly. Fairies are naturally polyamorous and there is not often a lot of distinction between 'friend' and 'lover'. Even casual friends can often do things that to humans may seem shocking, such as going out as a couple, kissing, and engaging in sexual activity. Even so, many fairy friendships do not and lots of fairies do only do that kind of thing as part of a deeper relationship, either deep and lasting friendships or something a little bit more.
Fairies value honestly and mutual openness about each other's romantic expectations when it comes to friendship. Being dishonest or hiding activities with others tends to strain or break friendships. Sometimes fairies can take friendships very seriously and when friendships break it can get messy. Other times fairies don't take it nearly as bad and will simply move on without much fuss. It's not always easy to see how a fairy will react to such a break up.
Beyond friendship, fairies do have a loose sense of 'family' as such. Since fairies do not have normal offspring, they don't tend to have the same concept of 'family' as humans do. Often fairies will have those that they refer to in similar ways, such as thinking of another as a sibling, child, or parent. Sometimes this is just a way to show deep friendship or respect, but it can go far beyond that.
Often fairies who want to be bonded as 'family' will preform particular magical rituals. These rituals can be involved, are often sexual, and tend to alter the fairies who participate in subtle ways to become more alike. A 'family' formed this way is often called a 'brood'. Fairies of course have no incest taboo whatsoever, and in fact being bonded in this way is often motivated by becoming closer both in body and soul with another. A brood could have many members, but usually it is most stable for around three to five members to live together per steading.
It's possible to undergo another ritual to become part of a new brood, but most fairies tend to think becoming part of one overwrites any others. Without such a ritual, it's still possible for fairies to form what is often called a 'kinship'. Kinships are much more informal and such relationships can be formed and broken on the fly. A kind of mutual adoptive sibling kinship can sometimes be thought of almost as a kind of marriage (which outside of the higher social levels of the Seelie court is not a tradition fairies often practice), and the adoption of a child by a parent can have it's own social implications.
Often fairies, especially the Unseelie court, will also play games of domination and submission and a common relationship is that of the master/mistress and their playthings. This is an especially attractive option for those fairies who are too jealous and controlling or otherwise selfish to deal well with other kind of relationships. In such a relationship, the plaything is totally at the mercy of the master/mistress and will have to obey or else just be used to sate any desire the master/mistress has. Despite this, it is still often very romantic and a good number of them are mutually loving and caring relationships. They are also not always sexual.
The Unseelie court engange in this as part of their game too. An Unseelie may capture another to make into a plaything, but failing to make an Unseelie your plaything usually means the fairy ends up one themselves and the Unseelie gains all the playthings that fairy had collected. Seelie on the other hand only allow this sort of thing with permission and attempting to force a solitary fairy is likely to get the offender banished. Sometimes though selfish fairies will attempt to capture humans who are sometimes seen as fair game. But I would never to do that to you! Honest!
Aren't you glad you learned about fairy culture?
Like humans, fairies have their own racial and factional issues, and like humans it can be important to keep these divisions in mind when interacting with them. First thing to note is that the word 'fairy' can refer both to the whole class of being to which we belong and to our particular racial group. In general many beings may possibly identify as a type of fairy, such as gnomes, brownies, leprechauns, even pixies (much to many fairies' annoyance). I am going to use fairy here to refer to my particular racial group. Alternatively I could use the word 'fae', but that's usually reserved for a particular class in my racial group.
Speaking of pixies, one big thing to avoid is to make sure to never refer to a fairy as a pixie. Fairies and pixies are two related but different racial groups, and they don't always get along. A good analogy can be found in humans as the difference between the English and the Irish. This is probably the number one most important rule. It's often the most surefire way to really get yourself in some very hot water, even with fairies that are otherwise very friendly with pixies.
Therefor it's important to be able to tell the difference, but this can be tricky because even if they don't always get along, there is enough interbreeding and some cultural crossover to make it hard to tell. In general, pixies tend to be smaller, look more childish, often don't have wings, and often have pointed ears, while fairies tend to be bigger, look more adult, usually have wings, and often have rounded ears. But you can't always tell the difference just by looking. Especially since a good number of both are shapeshifters.
Culturally, we both can probably trace our roots mainly to elves and aos sÃ. Fairies tend to be closer to elves and pixies tend to be closer to aos sÃ. While fairies make homes in trees and such, pixies are more at home under or near the ground. Pixies often practice a slightly different kind of magic which usually is more earthy while fairy magic is more airy, though humans without magic sense might not be able to tell. Maybe these races intermingled to form the predecessors of fairies and pixies, and maybe not. Since we are practically immortal and don't have children in the normal way, it's not like we can really trace our genealogy. Plus any fairy still old to remember isn't likely going to tell anyone.
As for being called something else, not many people are going to mistake a fairy for a gnome, brownie, or leprechaun. Most likely reaction you will get if you call a fairy one of them is to be thought of as an uninformed idiot. Of course being thought of as an uninformed idiot often means some fairies will feel they can toy with you however they want, but every smart fairy also knows that seemingly uninformed idiots are people you have to keep a very very close eye on. Also, a fairy who is called an elf, aos sÃ, angel, or demon will probably think it's amusing and try and trick you into thinking they are one, maybe even shapeshifting to match.
Beyond that, fairies are divided into different factions. First of all there is the division between solitary fairies and trooping fairies. Solitary fairies (like me) tend to be very anarchistic and live in small groups or on our own. We are totally awesome and have fun all day, and are so much better then the stuck up trooping fairies. Okay maybe I am a biiiit bias. Trooping fairies on the other hand really dig their games of politics and prestige and form grand stuffy governmental courts that build and live together in cities, hold government, and make war on one another as part of their silly games.
Of course being immortal, they never really are at risk of dying like humans do (morals that join often become fairies themselves if they die), and any of them can just decide to leave and become a solitary fairy if they get board of it. There are some advantages to joining the courts though, namely they often provide a bit more training and education, they often have a much more developed economy and so have a variety of interesting goods and services for sale, plus many just find the game thrilling. Both courts are ruled by a king and/or queen, though who the rulers are frequently change as well as the exact political system depending on the whims of the rulers or their supporters.
Trooping fairies are the ones, particularly the high ranking ones, that usually are referred to as 'fae' rather then 'fairy'. This is a consequence of the fact that their courts are the main reason the word 'fairy' often refers to a whole bunch of different races, because technically the courts can include almost any kind of being, occasionally they will even invite humans to join in their games. Those that join are thought of as 'honorary fairies' and sooner or later various races that commonly join the courts began thinking of themselves as such regardless of if they personally joined.
The two most prominent and successful of these courts are the Seelie and Unseelie. In general, the Seelie court play the 'good guys' and are all about being pretty and keeping up appearances. Their political game is usually about face, looking good in public, upholding honor, those sorts of things. It's not that they aren't all scheming and looking for ways to get one up on each other, they just want to make sure they don't get caught. It strikes me as a very human game to play, and I don't for the life of me understand the appeal, but to each their own!
The Unseelie on the other hand mostly play the 'bad guy' and are all about showing off power and skill. Might makes right and the ones that have the most useful skills thrive. Those that don't have the raw power to succeed better have skills that make themselves invaluable or they won't get very far in this game. They don't put most stock in appearances or pretty speeches, but they still need some kind of politics and leadership or else they focus so much on fighting each other to oppose the Seelie. As for myself, I just don't have that kind of competitive spirit. I rather laze around and enjoy myself.
Other courts come and go as well, but they never really get the attention or success of the Seelie and Unseelie and often end up collapsing form lack of interest or joining one or the other. The vast majority of fairies though are solitary fairies like me who just don't care about the game. Though we are anarchistic, that doesn't mean that we never interact with each other or don't have our disputes, but for the most part we can kind of take care of ourselves (magic can provide for a lot), don't really need to worry about dying anyway (if we are that bored of living we can close to, but that rarely happens), and have plenty of space (due to fairyland being a extra dimensional self-expanding bubble of sorts).
When disputes get big enough they can't be solved through the parties involved settling their differences on their own, they are often settled though informal civil justice systems. One example is the tattle system. Solitary fairies tend to live in small communities or singularly populated areas called 'steadings'. Because lot of them will know each other quite well (when they don't ignore each other completely), there will often be particularly well connected fairies called 'tattles'. A tattle will seek support from the people who live in nearby steadings to become part of their 'throng'. Fairies can chose what tattle they support at any time. During a dispute the tattle(s) chosen by the parties involved will attempt to provide an impartial trial, usually by selecting judges (or often acting as one themselves) and a jury from their throng(s).
Throngs also are tasked with enforcing the decisions made by their tattle and can act like police when needed. In general if there are bigger decisions to be made, all the tattles involved in the area will get together and decide the best course of action. This type of decision is usually done by consensus, or at least 75%-80% majority. In a rare emergency they may collectively decide to just go with the majority in the sake of getting things done, but that isn't really that common. Tattles also tend to organize group projects and events, such as public works projects or holiday celebrations and other festivals. These are done on a strictly volunteer basis of course, with any needed materials and/or funding (if you can call it that, most solitary fairies use stored magic power for money) being pulled strictly from donations.
If that doesn't work, there is always the option of going to a trooping fairy court, but a lot of us despise the idea, and the courts don't like to get involved in solitary fairy matters aside from the occasional attempt at recruitment. For the record, the Seelie usually settles disputes with law and legal fanangling the way most humans do, with lawyer speak and pandering nonsense so that it ends up being more about what argument sounds better then anything else. And the Unseelie? Well they just let each party find a champion that supports them, make sure they have a fair fight, and let them go at it. Simple and efficient sure, but most of the really strong champions are picky about who they choose so you better appeal to their sensibilities (yeah right), convince them you are useful, or find a way to pay them.
And there! I hope I could educate you once again, and show how much better us solitary fairies are then those silly trooping fairies!
Because I randomly started writing it, here is something about fairy holidays I wrote up:
Fairies very rarely work or have that much real religious reverence (many fairies are religious in some sense, but tend to treat it more like informal fanclub then organized institutions, in fact many fairies would count human fandoms as a type of religion), but none the less often enjoy having the excuse to party or indulge more then normal. There are eight major holidays and many more minor ones. The eight major ones include the two solstices, the two equinoxes, and four seasonal transitions. It also should be noted that lots of fairies don't always agree on what to celebrate on these days or what they should be called, but most of them generally feel there should be some kind of special event on these days. There are some genuinely accepted versions of the eight holidays.
The first and most important is the winter solstice, which starts the 12-ish day festival known as Yuletide. This festival also marks the end of the year and the start of a new one. Often it is celebrated in ways that are similar but distinct from the human celebration of Christmas which is it's Christianized counterpart. In particular decorating trees, giving gifts, singing, burning a yule log, and eating feasts of ham are all traditional Yuletide traditions. The day of the solstice is often called Yule and can be a time where friends gather to share a meal and give gifts. The night before often starts the celebration with The Festival of Stars where fairies will often stay up and stargaze with friends. Near the end, on what is our new year's eve, there is what we call The Festival of Lights where we use magic and fireworks to put on a show. It's also the time of year when the Wild Hunt takes place, a tradition started by Odin in the form of the Yule Father who is kind of our version of Santa Claus. During the hunt we traditionally hunt and kill a wild boar for our feasts, though the hunters don't always hunt boars or kill their prey. After the hunt comes the Yuletide feasts which can continue into next morning. There are often lots of fun activities that change from year to year, but those are the big ones.
Our next major holiday is Cleansing Day which is the traditional first day of spring midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. It is similar in ways to Imbolc. It is celebrated manly by doing some spring cleaning, bathing in special springs, and lighting candles in the evening. It is often a day for coming together to overcome old grudges and has also acquired some traditions similar to Valentine's Day as a day for lovers to get together and spiritually cleanse themselves with each other's love. Though since fairies are not exclusively monogamist or always have a clearly defined separation between 'friend' and 'lover' this is can be a bit chaotic.
After that, on the spring equinox we celebrate Laying Day. It is often celebrated with traditions that vaguely resemble some of the more non-Christian elements of Easter, namely the symbology of rabbits and a tradition of hiding eggs. Though rather then a rabbit hiding chicken eggs, fairies lay and hide their own eggs. Since they are immortal fairies cannot have children, but their eggs still serve an important function. When a fairy is 'killed' their spirit returns to an egg which hatches into a new body. Though there are large public stashes of eggs, many fairies like to keep their own secret stashes close by so they don't have to travel as far. Laying Day is a great way to get fairies to remember to check on their stashes and to gather egg collections for the public ones. Plus it's lots of fun! In order to lay lots of eggs we have to... well I am sure you know why rabbits are such a great symbol.
Next is May Day, celebrated on what is traditionally the first day of summer between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, which is one of the few holidays that humans and fairies both celebrate in a lot of the same ways. A lot of the dancing around the maypoll, the Morris Dance, the choosing of a May Queen. A May Queen of the celebration is often traditionally a human who has been chosen to become a fairy. Because fairies cannot have children normally we often adopt humans we like and turn them into fairies. The gender of the human doesn't matter, most May Queens end up as female fairies anyway. The Morris Dance is a very important tradition to welcome the summer.
Next we have Midsummer on the summer solstice. On this day we often light bonfires and just kinda have a fun festival. It's kinda much more of a loose thing, with lots of different food, games, music, and dancing that mixes lots of different traditions and styles. It's not that different from a lot of the summer festivals humans throw to be honest. One interesting thing is that while fairies tend to hate crowds and on other holidays we all tend to celebrate in smaller groups (even the Wind Hunt tends to be done with smallish hunting groups outside of one or two big ones), this day is the most likely that lots and lots of fairies will try and meet up in massive fairs with big crowds.
Next is Lammas, the traditional first day of fall and midway between the summer solstice and the fall Equinox. Often called or associated with Lughnasadh. It is celebrated most often with feasts primarily of bread and honey served with berries and fruits. It marks the start of the 'harvest season'. Fairies are not agricultural in the traditional sense in that they create and grow most of their food with magic, or by hunting and gathering in their magically rich world. Even so we still do venerate the cycles of nature and the harvest.
Next is Harvestfest which is celebrated on the fall equinox. We often celebrate with a big feast of some kind. American-style turkey dinners have actually become a popular choice since fairies started paying attention to human culture. It is also partly related to various Thanksgiving traditions though it descending from older harvest festivals, but in general fairies do not show public displays of gratitude unless they need to. Private shows of thankfulness to the earth or others isn't uncommon on this day though. It's the one day out of the year that some fairies show their gratitude.
Last of the eight but not least is Samhain which is celebrated on the traditional first day of winter midway between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. Known to by it's Christian name as Halloween, this is the day where the gap between worlds is smallest, and fairies often come to the human world to play pranks or trick-or-treat in for candy. Often both. It's a time when many creatures from lots of different worlds can meet up and play in the human world. We can all go out in public and the silly humans don't suspect a thing! It's also the time to preform what is know as the Dark Morris to welcome the winter. It is preformed like the Morris Dance on May Day only in secret and in silence, without spectators or music.
There are other minor holidays that are often observed. One is Trickster's Day. It is often equated to what humans call April Fools, and it also honors the great tricksters of lore (such as Loki, Eris, The Coyote, Kitsune, Tanuki, even Bugs Bunny). Another is Witch's Night which is often celebrated on the eve before May Day. It is a night in remembrance and appreciation for human magic users who used to be so friendly with fairies and other supernatural beings, and a night of showing off magical skill. Trying to list them all might be impossible. Fairies tend to celebrate anything they feel is worth celebrating anyway, and can just make up holidays on the spot sometimes too. They love holidays like International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Having some sort of special day is always fun, but a lot of them can become popular and then fade and vanish pretty quickly.
So there you go! I hope that educated you about fairy culture!
I was having a discussion in the comments of the last blog I made and about how my comments regarding AI controlled corporations would end up with a system where the 1% that owned those corporations would benefit. Really I was more talking about a situation where the AIs them selves 'owned' the corporations and made programed decisions set in place for the good of human beings, and would naturally take over most human-run corporations by being better at the stock market. However, AI or not, the central criticism is more about capitalism as a whole really. That is, the rich 1% that own most of the means of production will never give up control of that means of production because they want to hold on to the maximum profits. But this isn't necessarily applicable anymore. The world closer to embracing a economic model where specialized skills and big ideas are much more valuable then industry and manufacturing and there are real tangible benefits to giving up total control.
This is why, for example, we have organizations like the IEEE which work to hammer out standards and protocols. It has been shown time and time again that when companies like Microsoft and Apple attempt to enforce their own propitiatory way of doing things or when formats are constrained by use of patents like GIF or MP3 there is always backlash witch births a major open competitor (Such as Linux, Android, PNG, OGG). Of those only OGG hasn't seen that wide adoption even if it is well supported, though most of MP3's patents are kinda expiring anyway.
Of course things still need to be made, but I think it's becoming much harder for people to matter in that field. The endless quest for efficiency in factories and mining operations have always marginalized the human element, and now with technology like 3D printers, small computers like the Raspberry Pi, and modular electronics like Modulo, the economy is moving more and more I think to one that favors individual creators and small flexible companies that can act without much of the large bureaucracy of a giant corporate system. We still have a long way to go of course before a total lack of dependence on operations, but it's becoming more and more feasible to just do stuff ourselves either online or in real life.
Corporations still have a role of course, as do factories and industry, but it's not unfeasible that it won't last forever. Eventually everything will be automated, interconnected and decentralized, maybe one day we will all employ lots of cheep easy to make mining drones on asteroids, have self-replicating reprogrammable nanofactories, and so on. If we get into space, let alone the shaky possibility of warp travel, it's not far fetched to assume that instead of a grand unified empire, it will be a scattered collection of people homesteading with high technology. That future may be far off, but we are making slow steady steps in that direction.
In the meantime, it's understandable to not trust capitalism, or at least not the kind of 'crony capitalism' so often seen in the world today. Even in the best case there are still many many people who can not meaningfully contribute to this new kind of economy for various reasons and will get left behind. The backlash over globalism is as much a reaction to that as it is anything else. But I honestly don't think those jobs are coming back. The middle-class blue collar worker just isn't as relevant anymore, and I doubt it will be again.
But I still feel leaning to socialism isn't the answer either, or if it is it needs to be a drastically different kind of socialism then most people are used to. The idea of 'collective ownership' is a dubious one, but then again the idea of 'ownership' is pretty dubious to begin with. Socialism to me means that everything has to be centrally managed and controlled, and that involves some sort of state (which is often easily corrupted) running around deciding how to redistribute everything. Really my idea of AI owning corporations and most means of production is actually kinda socialist, but the only reason I even suggested it is because AI isn't human and doesn't necessarily have to have a concept of self interest and it's not actually simply taking and redistributing resources from humans.
Still some socialism may be okay I guess. I was kinda a fan of Sanders, and I wish he was president instead of the clown we have now. But no use dwelling on what could have been, the more pressing question is what do we do now? I don't think the government is going to make things better any time soon, so maybe people outside it will? A lot of time and money has been invested in developing new technology to do all sorts of things, maybe we should all think about how to use it to make the world better for ourselves and everyone else instead of waiting for policy from above.
So, yeah. Taxes. No one really likes paying them, but that's the price you have to pay for living in society right? People need government programs funded with tax money of some sort don't they? Some would say we need to keep the roads paved and the bridges maintained, others would say we need to fund the military and police to protect ourselves and our interests, some would agree we need some kind of welfare system. So yeah, governments and taxes are pretty damn important right?
Except it's not that clear cut. First of all there is very little accountability or real choice in what exactly happens with their money and who ends up benefiting from it. Regardless of who pays and who benefits, taxes are not the best way of funding programs or systems. For every good thing government programs do, and they do tons of good things, there is at least one thing they do. The endless maze of bureaucracy and red tape involved insures they waste more and more resources and are subject to the whims of the powerful. Remember how all around the world (except Iceland) governments spent huge amounts of tax money to bail out irresponsible banks? Does the phrase 'too big to fail' ring any bells? How exactly will abuses on wall street stop or bad social programs reform if there is no accountability?
Secondly no one likes the idea of someone demanding money by force in the first place. This isn't simply a matter of the 1% vs the 99%, this is true for everyone regardless of how rich they are or how big of a burden they have to shoulder. Taking about people needing to paying their 'fair share' is a flawed argument. The old maxim of 'the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few' sounds great if you are one of the many, often not so much if you are one of the few. Ethically I tend to think the best course is one that maximizes freedom of choice for all. I understand that that is harder then it sounds because of how some people can choose to block choice for others, but I am still pretty sure the tax system is not that.
The thing is, I basically live off taxes. I don't work, and honestly not only am I not sure if I really can at this point, but I am not even sure if I am really inclined to try. But I don't think of myself as 'entitled' exactly I think. I may ask for money but I won't demand it or get angry if it's not given to me. I much rather if people did it was because they cared about me and wanted to, not because they were forced to. I am not I could survive without a welfare system, but that's no one's problem but mine. Well, okay, if I died in a ditch somewhere I am sure you would all regret interacting with such a charming and intelligent wonderful person like me, but I am sure you could say that about anyone.
I wonder though. If people weren't forced all the time to buy in to this huge crazy system, would there be any soup kitchens and homeless shelters? Would there be programs to help people like me who just don't, by choice or otherwise, fit in to the normal job market? I think there might be. Because people care, and also more possible workers or thinkers is good for everybody. Could organizations that do this be crowd funded with all the money people save on taxes? Would more people be more willing to give if they don't have taxes hanging over them? I am not sure. But getting social programs out of government's bankroll is probably going to be more and more necessary if Trump's tax cuts go through anyway.
Another thing to think about is corporations. So far I have mostly been talking about individual people, should just corporations and businesses be taxed instead? They aren't people, legal status or not. What if they were run by AI instead of humans someday? Not that far fetched. AI tech is getting bigger and bigger while more and more machines replace humans in most jobs. Factory and manufacturing jobs are not coming back no matter what middle America and Trump hopes, and soon more cognitive jobs may vanish. Could the world evolve into a place where all the businesses are run by computers? If humans set up the protocol and laws right could that mean a future where most humans live off universal basic income provided by machine-run organizations? some people have implied as much. But if that was the case, would we need money at all?
I think it's kind of obvious that even if Hillary ends up winning somehow, the democratic party failed. They failed when they turned their back on Sanders. They failed when they didn't understand the issues. They failed when they sided with wallstreet. They failed when Obama bailed out the banks way back when. They failed. and maybe America has too. No not just America. The whole left spectrum everywhere in the world (except maaaaybe Iceland, and even then they didn't get ahead).
I know why they failed to. Because yeah, they got too greedy. They fed into a broken financial system, tried to tie everything up into a big global market. But globalization failed too. So did wall street. It was obvious it would really. Republicans got greedy too of course. They fed more and more anger and frustration until from out of nowhere they got exactly what they asked for and realized they made a mistake.
To everyone who supported Trump, I get it. Your angry. You want to smash the systems. You know what? I kinda wanted to also. But not by giving into insane bigoted reactionary rhetoric. Well congratulations. Now you are going to have to deal with what happens next. You could have waited to next election when I guarantee this election is going to make some waves. Though if Hillary somehow juuuuts manages to win, that is probably the best case scenario to me. But if Trump wins?
Well we might manage to be okay. I don't hate all Trump's policies. No I am more nervous about his ego and the message it would send to hateful reactionary people. If your going to be mad, be mad. But why Trump? It's just such a horrible idea.
It occurs to me that, putting aside cryptocurrency and it's many potential benefits and problems, the benefit of 'blockchain' technology or something similar could have another really important use in finance (and doubtless it is one of the reasons why banks are getting more interested in the tech). I am sure most people by now have heard of the necessity of checking your 'credit report' (and all the shady sites who are trying to sell you what you should be able to get for free form the government somewhere), how it could have mistakes and how you need to make sure you get a good 'score'. There are lots of complected ways your credit history is kept and used, and most people aren't quite able to keep track of it all. It's no secret that a vast number of people are in debt up to their eyeballs, but some of them might not even realize it until it's too late.
So here is the question that popped into my head: Can we make a better system of handling, or at least communicating, people's debt? I am not sure using blockchains are the only or even best way of doing it, but one of the advantages of it is that it basically keeps a list of all transactions and their details. It might be a lot easier to make a program that tabulates and easily displays up to date information about someone's debts and available credit with such technology. Imagine having an app on your smartphone or on your PC which people can look at and see all their due bills and debts and lines of credit. It could even be programed to help you manage them and pay them off automatically. Would this be prone to abuse? Maybe, I am not sure. It might be worth a try though.
It also made me thing a little about, if the theory that money is just another form of credit is accepted and a system for tabulating debts were to be commonly agreed upon, would it lead to a whole new sort of paradigm shift in how economics works for most people? Could a whole economic system be based purely on shuffling debt around rather then acquiring capital? Who would benefit in such a system and who would suffer? Is it really any different then the system we use today? After all, one of the biggest ways banks and governments make money is by trading debt. Maybe debt and money really are two sides of the same thing.
Though I have to admit, I personally never use 'credit' anyway. I pay for most everything with cash and that cash comes pretty much entirely from social programs. I do kinda advocate for a basic flat living wage to be payed to everyone. Maybe that will just be the equivalent of simply slowly clearing a value of debt. Maybe as technology and AI take over and more and more people are displaced it will be more practical to do so then using big bureaucratic programs. I am not sure. I guess I will see.
I think it's becoming increasingly clear to anyone who has actually been paying attention that almost everyone is pretty much screwed at this point when it comes to money. Or maybe that's just the impression I get from what I have read. The banking system has more or less rotten from the inside, the government is increasingly revealed as corrupt, more and more rich people are putting more and more money into offshore tax havens, the gap between the wealthy 1% and the rest of the population is getting larger and larger, and yet at the same time the money that the 1% has is becoming increasingly worthless.
The current banking system cannot hold, and fortunately an alternative seems to have presented it's self from nowhere to save all the world's money, at least theoretically. Cyrptocurrency. It's actually pretty amazing that an unknown hacker came in from nowhere and introduced this whole new idea of money and pretty much vanished. Right now a single Bitcoin for example is worth about $700 and more and more individuals and companies are trading it and using it. Even traditional banks are increasingly interested in the idea of using the 'blockchain' for their own distributed ledgers.
But I am not going to sit here and say their aren't problems that need to be fixed. Cyrptocurrency is still to volatile, there are concerns of new quantum computers ruining the encryption scheme it relies on, it often can be used to make tracing the flow of money difficult and possibly could make tax avoidance even worse, regulation could crack down on it, 'forking' and other community disagreements could split the base too much... And yet it seems this underground economy is becoming more and more mainstream and I have heard some people say it may take the place of traditional government controlled fiat currency someday.
Overblown hype? Maybe. Maybe not. The idea that cash would one day totally be replaced by credit sticks was a really common trope in sci-fi and futurist ponderings and that never really ended up being true. This isn't quite the same thing though. Cyrptocurrency isn't simply an account being managed by a bank or central service somewhere, it's a system of distributed encrypted ledgers where everyone is always double checking everyone else's copy. It's harder to trace and some of the new Cyrptocurrencies offer complete anonymity to make it nearly impossible. It's probably perfectly possible to even print out paper versions of bitcoins with unique keys that can serve the same function as cash.
Could this really replace old forms of money? Maybe. But if it does we will have to think about what that means and how that would change things. If we remove the government's control of currency, do we also remove their ability to collect taxes? If not, how will they be calculated and collected? If so, is there a better way to fund public projects then taxation? If banks are either gone or decentralized to the point of not mattering much anymore, how will lones such be done? Could 'smart contracts' help any of these problems?
If you hear
, then the world is going to be changing very so to something very different. The old institutions will fall and so on and so forth. I can't help but be more then a little skeptical. I think it's more likely that it will continue as a sort of small part of a larger economy which is more centralized. But I do want to see what happens next and if I had extra money I might try seeing if I can get into it.
Yes it's time for that discussion. Now I know me talking about politics in some form or another is probably not going to surprise anyone, but this is different. I am not going to talk about abstract pie in the sky theories or narrow issues (or at least I will try to tone that down). I am not going to be spewing radical solutions that involve the total reformation of society. I am going to talk about what is going on right now in the USA. Yes, yes, I know, the world is bigger then just the USA, but that's where I live right now and that's mostly what I know. I have also been following events in Iceland quite a bit and may have things to talk about a few other things happening in the world, but mostly this is going to be about dumb American stuff.
Okay first of all, I think a majority of those who are following the US election for the past however long will probably be asking the same question: What the hell happened? How did it come to this? And I am sure everyone is going to give a different answer to that question. But this is my blog so I get to answer right now. So there. Anyway here is my answer.
On the Republican side, what happened was years and years of catering more and more to outrageous reactionary rhetoric and outrage. Let's face it, whatever the merits and values of conservatism should ultimately be, Trump is the ultimate expression of outrageous reactionary rhetoric and outrage. The Republican Party created their own monster with Trump. They whipped up more and more anger at the 'liberal elites' (not all of it unjustified) and everything they stood for, becoming more and more reactionary and belligerent. And they got the candidate just perfect for that, and some of them are just now maybe realizing maaaaybe there was a line crossed somewhere. *Slow claps.* Good job for figuring out what most sane people realized decades ago.
On the Democrat side, Hillary has been in politics a long long time. She has many enemies, but also many many allies in various places. Whether you choose to see that as proof of some sort of insider conspiracy or just proof of someone who knows how to play the game (if you even see a difference between those things) is up to you. Fact is, Hillary has been pushing hard on this for years and years. She will politely cater too all sorts of agendas and positions if it means getting ahead politically. She will plan everything she can out and push as hard a she can to get ahead. She works hard and is probably not above even bending ethical principles if she thinks it's for the best. In short, she is a politician, for better or for worst. And a skilled one too if nothing else.
I don't think I need to spend a lot of time detailing the flaws of each candidate, since that topic has been reiterated over and over again in the media and online. I will say though that I believe both of them have sort of gotten a bad rap.
Trump seems like a childish brat who doesn't know how to control himself or be the least bit self aware (as well as possibly being mentally ill), but doesn't strike me as actively trying to be malicious as such. I also think he does occasionally raise some good points, he just doesn't think his plans through at all. Also I am sorta skeptical about all of the accusations made against him I have to say, but I am sure at least some of them are true. But even so, I think it all adds up to more of a spoiled brat who because he was rich and famous never learned that actions have consequences, even ones like groping. Keep in mind I am not forgiving him for his actions or ignoring them. Yes it's despicable if he really did grope woman and thought he could get away with it, and I am inclined to believe he may have. But I am also willing to believe if he did, that he really genuinely can't help himself. Still would be an awful president either way.
Okay, quick aside, and I really hope this doesn't skirt the line into victim-blaming or anything because that's that last thing I want to do, but if someone gropes you like that or worse, go to the police right away. Seriously. It doesn't matter if you are afraid they won't believe you. It doesn't matter if you are intimidated by them. Heck it doesn't even matter if you end up enjoying it. If this shit is going on an no one reports it, it's going to keep going on. They are going to think they can get away with it and molest you or other people again. Bringing it up years later when circumstances are convenient does nothing to help any other potential victims in the meantime and just casts doubt on your story. Always always ALWAYS report sexual assault as soon as possible to the proper authorities. Period. If that doesn't work, at least raise a stink about it right away. I know it's not that easy. But silence just allows things like this to happen more.
Phew, anyway. Hillary on the other hand has been basically constantly smeared and attacked by her political enemies basically since she started in politics. It's gotten to the point where frankly I am not sure if I should take any accusation against her seriously. Oh sure, I am pretty convinced that she is not completely innocent or blameless, but it's kinda no wonder she is so... constructed is a good word for it. Everything about her is a mask, a shell. The real Hillary found that she needed to retreat more and more into the mask, that she needed to force her way because the world set it's self to oppose her.
She wasn't always this way. Used to be she was an outspoken feminist who made very loud and controversial (at the time anyway) statements about how she 'could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was fulfill my profession' and how she wasn't 'sitting here some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette'. Now most of that edge has been ground away or deeply hidden by a constructed cynical mask. Does that make her a good person? Probably not. But I don't think she is a bad person. Maybe a bit paranoid and with a bit of a temper though, but I am not sure I blame her.
So let's talk about what is at stake. Right now Russia does seem to be really pushing the US, trying it's hardest to destabilize and discredit where ever it can through hacking, bombing civilians, moving nukes around, possibly breaking treaties on nukes and so on. If Trump wins, there is a fair bit of talk that he would be in Putin's pocket and he has questioned if we should really be committed to helping out our NATO allies... or at least not with them paying a bigger share. And honestly? I sort of almost agree with him on this point. Should we really be so involved in wars, alliances, and deals on the other side of the planet for little direct benefit to us? But then again can we really afford to leave Russia, North Korea, or ISIS alone? I have been told Hillary is a 'war hawk' and is pushing too much for a fight. I am not sure I really believe it, nor am I sure that even if she was for using the threat of military action to push her agenda with other nations that that really means she would want the kind of apocalyptic confrontation some people are worried about.
I kind of doubt Russia is going to start WW3 if it can help it, North Korea doesn't quite have the capability to nuke us yet, and ISIS is kind of falling apart as everyone pretty much want them stomped out. It's possible that the USA caused most or all of these problems in the first place and that maybe the best thing we can do for everyone is go back to it's pre-WW2 level of self isolation and limited with world politics. If there IS a WW3, I don't want to be living somewhere that may end up being a part of it. I am pretty sure that's not going to be possible now. Even if Trump would tried to avoid the conflict better then Hillary, he isn't winning at this point anyway. I don't think Hillary will do anything that gets us all nuked, but who knows what Russia is going to do next.
Best course of action I can think of? Maybe moving to Iceland. The political situation over there is getting very very interesting, and more a little exciting. Okay so the story goes something like this, as far as I understand it. Back in 2008 the would wide financial crisis happened and the banks in Iceland were in trouble. There was a huge shake up about it but things ended up settling down to normal. Unlike over here in the USA where the government (foolishly) bailed them out, Iceland decided to let them hang. I believe the people blamed greedy bankers and investors and made clear they were not going to take any of their crap. Then the Panama Papers came out, implicating high ranking government officials in having offshore tax havens. And everyone in Iceland went completely ballistic. A huge storm of protests and such sweeped the nation, and eventually a early election was decided to be held. The current government parties in power were seen more and more as despicable and the radical Pirate Party which called for radical government change started sweeping in the polls, as well as a few new parties. On October 29 the decisive election will take place. If the Pirate Party win, they have lots of very interesting reforms, a new constitution, maybe direct democracy, and promise to turn Iceland into a 'Sweden for data'. It seems like if any real change is going to happen to the world, it might start here. We will have to see.
Other then that, what do I think is the most practical way forward for the USA is? Well, Hillary is going to win most likely, and I am sure Trump will throw a hissy fit and accuse the election of being rigged but I am not sure if he can really do much. I don't think he has quite enough followers that are going to be committed to starting some sort of civil war, though their might be some violence. Hillary is probably going to have a rough time as president, and unless she really makes some real change is probably going to be kicked out next election (or even assassinated maybe). I think we badly need to take a new approach with Russia, either to back off a bit or find a way to get even more forceful without risking too much of their ire. Honestly I think Putin is mostly just a troll who is poking at for weaknesses and will back off as soon as he is actually threatened, but I wouldn't bet on it. And anyway, it's possible he has a point. North Korea probably just plain needs to be stopped at this point. There is nothing good about North Korea. ISIS is, as I said, pretty much going to be taken care of because everyone can't stand them. There are other concerns and problems I know, but those are the ones I know most about. I have no idea about what's really going on in Syria or anywhere else.
I guess that's it for now.
All this mess surrounding YouTube and it's rules lately makes me want to exposit about my feelings on rules in general. Rules are tricky things. Not very many people like them very much in truth but most are still comforted and grateful for their existence in a way. Now I have many times called myself an anarchist, but what that actually means is a bit complicated. I am pretty sure at one point in my life I believed rules did nothing but hold people back, and for some of it I thought that some rules were okay to follow and some of them were just dumb and I should ignore.
Nowadays though, I generally hold that following rules is more or less a good thing (I am still skeptical if rules being codified as laws for everyone is as good, but that's besides the point). Rules help create precedent, tell people what they should expect. They tell you that if x happens then y is the result, that you should do x in y situation, that x is not acceptable and y is, and generally make it easier for everyone to get along without testing everyone's limits and figuring out their whole brain. It isn't always about punishing people, it's about protocol, it's about making sure everything goes smoothly and everyone can work on an equal footing.
The problem is, a lot of rules don't really do that, or exist to propagate a system where some people can benefit off the system at the expense of others. Some are so vague that the people who enforce the rules can basically pick and choose and wiggle out any interpretation they want, which defeats the whole point of rules. Some are so complicated that most people have no hope of understanding them. Some are arbitrary or meaningless and don't serve anyone. A set of rules is a social contract, one that all parties should understand and agree to, but that's often not how it seems to work.
Here is the thing though. Trying to break the rules without getting caught or working around them with loopholes or technicalities isn't going to solve anything. It's just going to make the rules more strict and probably more confusing. If there is a rule that you really don't like that much that you need to follow to use a service, the best thing to do is to do the hard thing and refuse to use that service, Find one (or make one if you can) that you can feel comfortable using instead. It's harder and harder in today's world where more and more of the web people use is gobbled up by a few big corporations, but it's the only course of action that has any real long term impact.
If the rules offend you in some way but really aren't bad enough to make you quit, well there is nothing wrong with complaining about them and hoping your voice will be heard, but in the end you have to decide if the rule is offensive enough to quit if it isn't changed and if it is, you should quit. I think most rules for a lot things are pretty reasonable personally, but then again I don't post a lot of content everywhere.
So apparently a big fan project that has been in development for years was released... rrriiight in time for it to be slapped with A DMCA claim and shut down. This is nothing new. Fanworks are often hit by this stuff. There are too many examples to really even list, nor am I really going to. Heck there are a few examples of fanworks by members of this very forum that I fear may spark this type of reaction in the future.
To be honest, discussing the problem is kinda making me nervous so soon after I was banned for comments that could be seen to encourage piracy and/or plagiarism even though that wasn't the point I was trying to make. I think I will avoid talking or mentioning any particular project names for now, and try hard to avoid doing anything that would be seen to encourage breaking any laws. But I feel this is a problem that I think does need to be talked about.
Fans work hard on fanworks because of a passion they have for the material. They do their best to make sure to share that passion. They most often do their best to make sure to recognize and support the original creators. They often act as free advertising for the original creator's project. Most of them are fairly humble and see themselves as nothing more then fans engaging in a hobby. And yet none of that matters in the eyes of the law. Thing is, fanworks, especially ones that use actual copyrighted materials, are always in a legal gray area at best and downright infringing at worst. They are always going to be stomped down when they get big enough. And really for a lot of fans, they grin and bare it, because they love the work. Because they "understand".
But the really screwed up part? The companies that stomp them down in the mud still benefits from them having made the work. They still get their name in the lights. They still get to show how much their fans love them. They still get the publicity. Everyone will grumble and still "circulate the tapes". Heck, sometimes they don't even want to shut them down, but due to how copyright law works they basically have to.
And that's why I think, unless copyright is abolished or majorly reformed, most fanworks are a bad idea. And I feel bad saying that, I really do. Because I do like a lot of them and there are many franchises I think the fans can do a good job expanding on and making better, even if it's not "canon". Because quite frankly, if someone tells you that you aren't allowed to take something and remix it into something you like better, they don't deserve for you to make it better. If someone tells you something old and forgotten isn't allowed to be polished up and remade for a new generation then maybe it should just be left to be forgotten. You might as well just take inspiration from it and make something new.
And the fact is, as long as people cling on to franchises and the past for their imagination, the more they will be seen as more valuable then quality and the more corporations will seek to tighten their hold on names rather then the spirit they represent. If we are to break the hold of these corporations on things we love, maybe we will have to learn to let many of them go, and make new more open things that everyone can feel happy to be a fan of.
People might have noticed that I was suspended not to long ago, mostly because I was running of my mouth and said something that I don't really mean that basically was encouraging people to ignore terms of service on scripts. I have already started this in a status message but let me be clear: I do NOT think that simply because you might not agree with a law/rule/common practice that you should simply be a rebel and ignore it. There is a time and place for that certainly, humanity would not have gotten this far without a bit of rebellion, and I do count myself as an anarchist. But actions have consequences, and you better be damn sure it's worth it before you start breaking rules willy nilly.
This was a case of me not thinking about what I was actually saying. The point I was trying to make was more about how arbitrary peoples idea of what counts as "fair use" and what doesn't can be, not a call for people to actually break or even test the rules. It was a stupid point anyway, because it basically assumed the hypocrisy of a straw-man and took two examples in different context and tried to compare them. And it was a pretty trolly thing to say anyway. Not my smartest idea of a thing to say all around. I think I was in a particularly bad mood that day, as my mood really has kinda been going down hill lately, not that that is an excuse.
My suspension is not really what I wanted to talk about though. As far as I am concerned it's over and done with. I served my time, and I hopefully won't be repeating the same mistake twice. It did make me want to examine my position on copyright though, and talk a little about some of the doubts and concerns I have with my way of thinking. Because I realize it's often quite radical, even for most people who are for serious copyright reform, and I always find myself going back and forth on some issues:
I often want to push for getting rid of copyright altogether, but I sometimes want to hold back from insisting people go that far, mostly because I can see the argument that it isn't always practical for most people to make a living that way, at least not yet. I have often insisted that donation and croudfunding are both still a viable way of making money in a post-copyright world, and I still think that's true. It's a big economic shift though, and one that is likely to take a long long time.
Honestly even a basic reform that gets rid of most or all of the huge unnecessary extensions that lobbyists like Disney put in place so they could continue making money off their old stuff and a crackdown on copyright trolls would probably be enough for me to be more or less happy, if not completely satisfied. There are lots of ways to reform copyright that will make it better for everyone without completely abandoning the concept.
But I continue to wonder if it would be better to do so or if it would be better to do the hard thing and abandon the concept while rebuilding a whole new economic model. In the extreme long term I tend to think that any system that relies on people simply following the rules is going to fail. This may be too far away to worry about, but what happens when people start going into space and just vanishing and doing their own thing? How will you enforce the rules then? Even now in today's world there is trouble enough and more and more game companies are turning to micro-transactions and the free to play model out of fears of piracy. For each government crackdown, more and more pirates seem to slip through the cracks. Perhaps that is a sign that the rules of the game needs to be changed?
On the other hand, I don't look at my scripts as that important, and mostly think of them as small hobby projects. If I ever did a large/serious project, I definitely think I would have to think more carefully about if I would want it to really be in the public domain or not, especially if anyone else wanted to contribute. It's just more practical and lets me not worry about things as much. But wouldn't it be hypocritical for me to do so? I am not really sure if my weird brand of ethics is really comparable with copyleft, but practical concerts may end up winning out in this case. I will cross that bridge when I come to it anyway. Heck if it's public domain and someone wants to contribute, they could GPL it without my permission anyway so it might not matter.
Also also, in the end maybe I shouldn't worry quite as much about it more then I have to anyway. I don't produce much, and the rest of world is the way the rest of the world is. Truth is, I am very rarely personally effected by copyright. I really don't pirate things at all, even though I used to when is was much younger I guess. Nowadays it's just easier to buy games on steam then to get them any other way, and I think it's a pretty good way to fund developers actually. Donation is a hassle because I really don't use credit cards at all. Buying a steam gift card though is pretty easy. Heck I almost wish steam had a donation system built in so I could use my steam wallet to fund games I like. I don't even buy or play games all that often, and most of my time is spent reading free fanfiction or free youtube videos.
Copyright annoys me, but is it really THAT big of a deal? Probably not. Still think it should be reformed or be abolished though, and I still have very strong feelings about it. Probably more then most other political issues, even some of the real important ones. At least it's one of the few issues I feel strongly about that I think most humans are likely to understand my position on.
Okay, this is a topic I am not sure I should really say anything about, because I am pretty sure a lot of what I have to say might offend people. This is an issue that most everyone in America probably new about for a long long while, and it finally really starting to boil out of control faster then anyone thought possible. So I have a few things to say about different aspects of the culture.
Here is the thing about cops: Cops are just people doing a job. A dangerous job, yes. An ultimately necessary job, most probably. But it is a job. They knew from the moment they agreed to become a cop that it would be dangerous, that they might die. Putting their life on the line doesn't mean they should a free pass. They aren't above the law. They aren't all automatically heroes. They aren't a mob family that needs to protect each other and be loyal to each other no matter what. They do have rules, they do have bosses, they should have accountability. They shouldn't get away with things just because they are cops. And right now, they are.That is unacceptable, period.
On "Crime Culture":
That being said, thing is, and as much as I hate to say anything that may be seen as defending racism, a lot of the racial profiling of black people may be partly their own fault. Because it seems to me like an unfortunate number of black people have completely allowed themselves to fall into a culture filled with violence, filled with crime, and filled with hate. I am not saying all black people do this or that all black culture is negative. And yes, I know black culture is probably the way it is in large part because of backlash from racist authorities, and that racism is still a problem. But still, is it any wonder when cops see more amount of people with a easily identifying mark like skin color rallying around mottos like "fuck the police" that it might make the problem worse not better? I do wonder why there is not a stronger movement to encourage people to disassociate themselves form violent media and culture. I am not saying violent media is the cause of this problem, just that the fascination people have with crime and violence and the cultural trappings that get interwoven into it are taken as bad signs.
Of course, one of the reasons this happens is because so many black people are born in poor families or bad neighborhoods, and it certainly is not only black people who fall into this culture or cultures. But black people are the ones that seem to me most in the public eye for this, and if that's because of racism, it's because of racism. Point is, racism is a really big hurtle to overcome, and that kind of public images isn't helping.
On Gun Control:
Frankly I kinda hate guns, and despite having a strong bent in the direction of anarchy when politics is involved, at this point I have to admit it's clear to me and just about everyone else (except the NRA and the politicians in their pocket) that gun control is A Good Thingâ„¢. Thing is? I am not sure it will work in America, because there are just too many guns floating around in the shadows. Maybe I am wrong, and I hope so. But I think it's going to take a long time before a good amount of guns leave circulation, and I can understand the frustration of people who think the only way to protect themselves from a gun is with a gun. But still, I think it is probably worth trying. Ideally I would rather it not be necessary and rather the government not have to regulate everything, but unless gun shops just universally decide to do it on their own or something what can ya do?
I, like so many other people, have had a strange fascination with Judeo-Christian mythological figures such as "Angels" and "Demons" in fiction. I mean on the one hand It's incredibly irritating to see them in fiction because "Angels vs. Demons" stories have almost become "babby's first fantasy story" at this point, and often don't try to really do anything that hasn't been done a billions times before. It's like the new trend in fantasy everyone is jumping on after everyone got sick of ripping of Tolkien's dwarves and elves and orcs and such. Like "Hey everyone, let's stop ripping off one fantasy author, and instead rip off religion!" "Great idea guyz! That is totally more original!" At least they tend to make demons more sympathetic, which is interesting.
And yet, I found myself doing it too. One day after playing Disgaea years ago and being fascinated by it's worlds and characters I was really struck with the desire to try and do something with the "Angels vs Demons" setup, but wanted to make it my own. One of the first ideas I came up with is that there needs to be a third power in the dynamic that is just as powerful and above lowly humans as angels and demons while being either opposed to or neutral to both sides. Of course, you all already know what third power I came up with right? Fairies of course!
But that's not particularly important. The important thing is that idea got this ball rolling in my mind and like a katamari it started picking up stuff and getting larger and larger and suddenly, whoops! I got this whole fantasy setting sitting in my head I didn't really ask for, have much of a use for, or even am really sure I care for all that much to be honest, that is begging to be expressed. This shit happens in my head if I am not paying attention. Remember the wizard fic thing I posed on this blog? It was dumb but that also gave me all sorts of weird ideas I am too lazy to do most anything with. As for the angels/demons/faeries setting? Well, my RPG Maker VX Ace test game I used to play with scripts kinda started as a half joke and slowly evolved to be connected with that setting, but I kinda stopped making maps and things and just focused on scripts after a while. That's the furthest I have taken the idea beyond random ideas and details.
It's still growing all the time though. Just today I was thinking about it and came up with something I thought was interesting. See in in this settings a massive (mostly propaganda based, because both sides are mostly stuck in their respective realms) conflict is being waged between the Angels (actually closer to Archons and/or Devas really) and Demons (really more like Asuras) over 'recruiting' human souls after their body dies. Angels want to convince humans to be disciplined, orderly, and "pure" (because their realm is very psychically sensitive, so disruptive thoughts can really spiral out of control) and Demons naturally want to convince humans to be more true to their desires (partly to spite the Angels, but also because their realm is kind of a chaotic mess anyway, and people with strong desires are more powerful there and they have more need of powerful people). Also Fairies don't really play the same game, and because the fairy world and the human world tend to be more connected instead go for spiriting away old people, the homeless, unwanted children, and basically anyone else they feel like they feel they can get away with snatching to fairyland, often for no other reason then they because they feel like it. Or at least that's the rumor.
So background out of the way here is the idea I had today. Angels of course preach about the Seven Deadly Sins... Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride. You all know them I am sure. Demons take a different view of course. and have the Seven Sacred Desires: Passion, Appetite, Acquisition, Conservation, Ferocity, Competitiveness, and Ambition.
Passion is the desire for activity and feeling, sexual and romantic activity and felling yes, but any desire to do or feel count. Appetite is the desire for the subsistence needed to live and live well, the desire for the fulfillment of the bodies basic needs. Acquisition is the desire to obtain and safeguard resources that can be used later on other things, money included. Conservation is the desire to do the minimum about possible to obtain one's other desire, and the wisdom to know when somethings just aren't worth it. Ferocity is the desire to throw yourself into something fully and not back down, and the wisdom to know when you need to risk it all. Competitiveness is the desire to compete with one's peers, using ones standing compared to others to push one's self further. Ambition is the desire to to great things for the sake of one's own desires, and to control one's own destiny first and for most.
Maybe these demons should believe all these desires must be balanced for one to be healthy and probably many believe it is wrong to try and interfere with the desires of others simply for the sake of your own. Or maybe they should not... it might be too much of a fairy-like perspective to be fit for demons, though fairies I think really shouldn't have any well defined belief structure at all, except for "do what you want and play". It was an interesting Idea anyway I thought!
This isn't related to RPG Maker and I am not sure it is really applicable in the same way to 2D pixel art, but I thought I would talk about it anyway.
The other day I was watching footage of Underworld Ascendant (a project that I am extremely skeptical about regardless of the credentials of it's creators, having a lot of neat ideas, and being a "sequel" to one of my favorite games, but that's besides the point), and I noticed a sort of unfortunate trend in it's presentation. Granted it's a very very early alpha, but I think it's basic art direction is one of the things that will probably stay more or less the same. Besides I have noticed the same trend in other modern 3D games too, especially first person ones, compared to earlier examples of the same type of game. The most notable example is what I have seen of the new doom game compared to the original.
See, the thing about the original Ultima Underworld games, or indeed the original Doom games, is that the levels were very abstract and had juuuuust enough detail that you realized what they were supposed to be even if they didn't exactly look like real places. There were a lot of restrictions on what kind of things 3D games could do. Now though, I feel we have the opposite problem with a lot of modern 3D games, the problem of having way way too much detail to deal with to the point where levels get cluttered with random stuff that just serves to make everything look busy. The continuing trend (despite much outcry) of having games have a more muted color palette dominated by a single tone doesn't help.
See, in an abstract level the bare minimum of detail means game objects stand out, such as items or monsters or even walls. It's very clear where everything is, and with a bit of experimentation what everything is for. Having random cluttered details everywhere doesn't serve the gameplay very well. This is also why the immersion-breaking practice of highlighting interactable objects in bright colors or giving them particle effects is more and more necessary. Because you can no longer reasonably parse the world in a lot of games to figure out what is a meaningful game object and what isn't.
I am not going to be like a lot of other people and say that the root of the problem is that the restrictions like those imposed on early game devs forced them to be more creative and make better games and that's why with the restrictions removed games are so much more generic and boring. Because that's dumb. No seriously, it is. Maybe it is kinda true that restrictions help creativity and tightness in design, but what they mostly do is annoy and frustrate those who have ideas and want to play with them. And no not all ideas are good, but the more different ideas that can be expressed, the better it is for everybody. Some people may work better with limitations sure, but some just want to get things done.
No, I think the root problem is the old "
" (tee-hee) problem. Or to be more specific, too many artists in a pipeline pumping out more and more art assets to build levels. Huge teams, or even overly art focused small teams, can often build environments based only on what looks nice with no regard to how well it plays. The problem is that when you focus so much on catering to the artists whims, you make gameplay elements less important, and you make the game design less focused.
And it wouldn't even be so bad if 99.999% of it were not completely pointless static objects that had no function, or if it did had so many extra details and busy visual design that it would be hard to figure out what that function was. Not to mention how difficult it is to solve the problem of funky hitboxes and getting stuck in terrain that is just there for decoration in the first place. I am not saying extra aesthetic details are automatically bad, but if the whole gamespace is built with them you have a problem.
I have talked before about how I hate current copyright laws and how I think they will one day change, maybe even to the extreme of abolishing copyright all together. I did not however speculate that much on what kind of legal systems will be put in place in the future, with the exception of my belief in the eventual domination in the economic systems of crowd funding, open source, free software, and creative commons.
But not to long ago I got to watching
, which is mostly about 3D printing and the vaguer legal situations behind some of the practices. In it a lawyer for a 3D printing company has some very interesting things to say about copyright, even if he uses my oh so despised buzzword of "intellectual property". The points he makes, in brief, are that any attempt to come up with either a hardline legal system to sue everyone who redistributes things without permission or come with a complicated DRM scheme that locks people out of doing what they want are both going to do nothing but drive away customers. However, he goes on to insist that basic verification of where something comes from and how it was made is of paramount importance. It's important, as per the example he used, to verify exactly who designed a replacement part for a plane and who manufactured it.
This got me thinking. It was similar to something I always insisted was true when it came to "intellectual property". Copyright and patents can go screw themselves as far as I am concerned, but trademarks are important. No not just important, important. It's vital that when you buy a product or service you know exactly what you are dealing with and that who you buy it from can be trusted. Without this, all commerce completely falls apart. And it also made me wonder if the attempt at combining copyright, patents, and trademarks into one thing like my oh so hated propaganda term "intellectual property" implies might not be so far from the mark. Of course it still needs to be approached form a completely different angle, and "intellectual property" is still a dumb, backwards, and rather scary concept, but still, credit where credit is due.
So, here is my not so modest proposal about some principles that a new system of laws should hold to:
Information isn't property. First of all this ridiculous fiction of "intellectual property" needs to stop now. If businesses and livelihoods dedicated to creating art or technologies need to be protected, and I agree they do, this isn't the way to do it. It simply isn't. No more talk about "stealing" information. No more propaganda about "ownership" of abstract things. No. This is another issue altogether. This has no more to do with ownership then free speech or privacy does (except to the degree that you own yourself), and in fact has a lot more to do with those two things. Information is something entirely different.
Brand and reputation are important, not content. Let's face it... if, for example, Disney did lose Mickey Mouse's copyright to the public domain (like they should have decades ago)? They would still have trademarks to fall back on. You might be tempted to say that kind of thing is an abuse of trademark law, and maybe it kind of is... but at the same time it kind of is not. A trademark is supposed to protect buyers from making fraudulent purchases. If you buy a movie that has Mickey Mouse splashed on the cover and featured in a staring role, you expect it to come form Disney, and you expect that to mean a particular type of content or level of quality or authenticity. The content hardly matters, you are being sold the brand. That's how basic trademark law works, and it can support a lot of businesses just on it's own.
Remixing content is not the same thing as ripping people off. Lets look at something that sorta exists on the edge of copyright. The good old
. We could talk about a lot of stuff here, like fanfiction, fanart, and good old Rule 34, but I am choosing abridged series because it is closely derived from the original material. Is it legal that you can cut up a bunch of footage form a show and make your own thing from it? Apparently yes because it's a "parody". But, a reasonable objection might be that label of "parody" is rather subjective. Heck, if I had a dime for every video on youtube that was called a "parody" without really being a parody at all... So why not allow all sorts of uses? Telling new stories, creating new fan episodes... and the answer is mostly context. Fair use exists to allow content to be shown in different contexts. You will also notice many later abridged series works, and a hell of a lot of fan fiction, show a little disclaimer at the start like the one at the start of
. Thing is? This type of "I don't own this" disclaimer I am pretty sure is completely without legal function. But if it does have one it is to insure that the watcher/reader understands that the work is made in a different context, and that this work should not reflect on the original brand. As far as fair use is concerned, in many situations this shift in context is implied with particular works, but not all, and anything outside of these particular works there is no shift in context and therefor they are unprotected. I say all works that are made in a different context and which do not try to deceive and cannot be taken to be an official product should be.
Creators should be compensated for their labor, but that's it. The original intent of the copyright law was to encourage creators to create, not for them to sit back and reap the rewards for past works, and certainly not to have the rights to all their old works hoarded by huge corporations for decades and decades past their death. The fact is that copyright law has had almost the exact opposite effect: It's stifled innovation and just created a culture filled with parasitic middle men and money grubbing suits. Okay you think a creator should make a living off creating? Fine. You think they should maybe have some exclusive time to distribute works? Okay maybe. If it's no more then ten years. Tops. Maybe it made more sense to have longer terms before but in today's rapidly evolving world there is no point in it. You want more money after that? Be someone worth paying money to!
Redistribution is a matter of trust, respect, and good service, not entitlement. Let's face it, piracy is not going away. Yet it hardly matters as much as it once did. Digital download services are booming, largely because the companies involved learned the most important lesson: Offer a trusted way with good service that lets they pay creators they respect, and most people will do it. Try to enforce your self-entitled belief that you deserve to make money on x thing because you happened to make it and people will ignore you or actively push back. To have trust, the users must be sure they are getting what they think they are getting and paying the people they think they are paying. To have respect, the users must know and understand the reputation of the people they are paying. To have good service the people that they are paying must work for the uses, not opposed to them. It's really that simple. Without trust, the users will find someone they do trust more. Without respect, the users have no reason not to try and get everything they can for free and wouldn't likely by it anyway, and without good service the users will be frustrated trying to buy form you at all. Now does that mean the legal pressure on pirates should just vanish? Eh... maybe not. But on the other hand, I see no reason why people should be protected from them for not having enough of any of those three things.
That's all for now. Maybe some of these don't match up together perfectly... But I think it's a good start to think about at least.
So... Anime and/or Manga. There are so many people who are are absolutely obsessed with them, and after finding myself on yet another YouTube channel dedicated to reviewing and discussing it it made me want to talk about some of my feelings too the mediums.
Or are they genres? Honestly I kind of think they are something that is somewhere in between, perhaps "supergenre" or "metagenre" would be more appropriate. And honestly as much as the animation of Anime and sequential art of Manga are two different mediums, they do sort of share a common visual language and common tropes more then most any other. This is not even including visual novels and light novels and how they influence things, or the collection of video games that use a lot of the same elements.
Perhaps it would be better to define the whole thing more in terms of an art movement or a culture then any thing else. Perhaps not. Regardless of how you define it, I think of it as a set of art within a distinct aesthetic spectrum. It's a common mistake to think of it as more or less a single thing or a single genre. It isn't. All sort sorts of different types of stories and different types of art styles fit into the same general category. Cowboy Bebop is a much different kind of thing then Doraemon.
As much as I hate thinking in terms of national or racial divisions of culture, the most common and easiest to understand way of defining this sort of nebulous thing is simply to use the would "Japanese", but there are still a few edge cases that may or may not be included simply based on a whim. Should Avatar: The Last Airbender be included? Should Crayon Shin-chan not be included? It's really up to how people define it.
But all of this I think is kind of commonly understood at this point I think, because people have argued back and forth about what is or is not included in this category and why for decades. It should be noted that in Japan, "anime" and "manga" basically mean "animation" and "comics" in general. I think it's interesting that, in the USA at least, we think of "anime" and "manga" as distinct things independent of "animation" and "comics" even if they really sort of aren't.
And yet at the same time, they sort of are. Here is the thing... though I have mixed feelings about a lot of the stuff that can get lumped in the same nebulous category, I have to admit the style and imagination of most of it far outshines a vast majority of the stuff I see from what can be thought of as "The West". Most of this is just my personal sense of aesthetics. I hate how a lot of "western" style art looks. I hate "western" comic book style. I hate the over exaggeration of lips, I hate the smaller less expressive eyes, I hate the square jaws, I hate the proportions, ect, ect. And "western" cartoons seem to have evolved to vastly exaggerated and weird nonsensical lumps of shapes that look more like abstract art then anything recognizable. The common Japanese "Manga" style though? I like the simpler, more expressive art compared to comic books while being much less abstract and inhuman then "cartoon" style. Also Moe is cute. There I said it.
But... Even if I like the art style most of Anime/Manga style works and like a lot of the basic character archetypes and story elements, well... I don't want to be racist or anything, but there is so much about the Japanese cultural sensibilities that sneak into these works that frankly bug the hell out of me. And yeah, examining Japanese culture form the lens of Anime and Manga is often kind of like examining American culture form the lens of Hollywood. Which the Japanese totally do by the way, but that's besides the point.
Thing is, it's actually in my mind a totally fair thing to do, as long as it is done with the understanding that: 1. The perceived flaws in the popular culture of a race or nation does not imply that all or even most of the people of that race or nation share those flaws, 2. An outsider who has not grown up in that culture is more then likely not going to have all the contextual background needed to understand it, and 3. Culture is a nebulous thing that people may or may not prescribe too, and not all examples of trends in works equate to deeper cultural trends.
So, if people do happen to look at American popular culture and see a unfortunate implications pointing to Americans being bunch of gun happy, imperialist, xenophobic, racist, and sexist assholes who care about nothing but militarily, economically, or culturally dominating all other peoples, then, well, yes. Yes their are a lot of unfortunate implications to that effect. Believe me, there are a lot of us who are very very much aware of how screwed up our culture is.
Japanese popular culture though? Well... they have a different problem. And no, I am not talking about otaku culture or hikikomoris or NEETs. Those are just symptoms. I am talking about something much more fundamental to the "Japanese mindset". I am talking about shame culture and social pressure. Maybe it's just me who was raised in something closer to a guilt culture (and has formally rejected both, and every other, form of social control), but I find that sort of social manipulation of the individual absolutely appalling. Yet if you look at anime, it happens all the time, and is treated as a good thing.
What do you think all those "friendship speeches" are really about? In a nation where so much pressure is put on individuals to succeed in school and conform to a traditional lifestyle, it just really gets under my skin. And maybe that's not fair of me to say. But then again, if my interpretation of a particular anime is correct, at least someone agrees with me. This isn't of course the only problem. I can see a lot of undercurrents of sexism and xenophobia in anime as well, a lot of trivialization of social problems, a lot of collectively looking the other way whenever having to deal with things. The degree of how much this stems form shame culture, I am not sure. And it's not like it is any worse then any other problem that people have. I don't know.
Anyway, I am not going to judge a whole people for a few niggling moral concerns about the entertainment they produce. Just... a lot of anime really bugs me. I guess it's the same way Hollywood often bugs me. It's corporate produced and mindless a lot of the time and it often pushes a status quo which, if you really think about it, isn't exactly most people's ideal society. Oh well.
Bah... why do I get the feeling I am going to half to defend myself later? Oh well... That's just my gut reaction.
Pew... Okay. I have talked about this kind of stuff before in various places, but it's a topic that keeps getting brought up over and over in gaming circles and I don't know if I ever really sat down and made a blog about the subject. Partly because I suspect 90% of people really really do not care, or if they do, are completely sick of hearing about it or talking about it. The other 10%? Well probably 90% of them have already made up their minds no matter what I say. So likely only 1% of people will actually care about and pay attention to anything I have to say about the subject. But I feel like blabbing about it anyway so here we go.
First of all, lets ask an important question:
What exactly is feminism anyway?
Feminism is, as far as I am concerned, a number of movements which concerns it's self with a subset of the larger subject of Identity Politics and is in particular focused on the liberation and promotion of the "female" identity. It is not, as some people would insist, simply the promotion of gender equality. For many if not most feminists solving the problem of gender inequality is, has been, and always will be, the primary goal of feminism, true. But feminism is not a goal, it is a rhetorical method. The method can be and has been used for different ends, even up to and including the promotion of the domination of the "female" identity over the "male" identity. This however is again a goal and not one a vast majority of feminists share.
Therefor, one thing that is incredibly important to realize is the goals and ideals of particular groups of people who use feminist rhetoric are not necessarily the same. Making blanket statements about all feminists or anyone who uses similar ideas and methods is incredibly misguided. If you have a particular objection to a particular recurring argument or a foundational criticism of feminist theory, then those kind of debates and criticism are far more valuable then just blatantly attacking a goal that someone may not share. On the flipside, if someone is using feminist rhetoric to argue for a goal or position that you disagree with, then arguing directly to oppose that goal or position is far more valuable then attacking the theory behind the rhetorical devices they use to push for it.
In short, feminism is a tool. If you oppose the tool's usefulness, debate the tool. If you oppose the people's use of the tool, debate the individuals who use it.
I have my own objection to feminist theory and to the whole field of identity politics, but on the other hand I also share the same goal as most of the people who are into it do: The ever murky idea of "equality". I just don't think identity politics as it exists is the best way to go about accomplishing that goal.
So, what, exactly, is the problem we should be trying to solve?
They say life isn't fair. Maybe that is true, but I don't think of it that way. Life is very fair. People are born in the same way as basically everyone else, and everyone's life has the same kind of random factor to it. Are you born as a particular race or gender? Roll a dice. Are you born with some genetic disease? Roll a dice. Are you born in a particular area of the world? Roll a dice. No it's not truly random, but from a personal perspective it might as well be. Everyone starts out pretty much the same, as a helpless baby. Everyone has pretty much the same odds of being born in any particular position starting out as any other.
No, it's society that's unfair. It's society that judges you for your birth, not life. Life just doesn't care. It drops you in the middle of things at some random point and leaves you to sort it out. Society wants to sort you, to put you in a nice box. Sure society protects people, but only for it's own interest. Unlike life, it cares about you, but only in how best to use you. The uncaring wilds may chew you up and spit you out but they won't judge you. Except if you count in retrospect by how many babies you managed to pop out and genes you manage to spread, but that's coincidence not intent. To life society is just complex tricks to increase the amount of wiggling things that can be wiggling together at any one time. To society, life is just a source of things to put into different boxes and judge according to what boxes things were put in.
So people are put into boxes like "male" and "female", and much more then just biological traits are put in these boxes. Ideas, behaviors, rules, everything is divided up into these boxes. There are boxes for gender, boxes for race, and boxes for other things. Some boxes are put inside other boxes to make a neat tree so everything gets cleaned up and organized. People are expected to take what box they are put in and use it to model their entire life around it. If they can't be put in a box or refuse to be put in one they are just thrown into the "other" box and distrusted and scorned. Once a group of people in the other box with some arbitrary number of traits the same emerges they can be given their own box. And so the cycle continues.
People of one box can find it easy to hate and scorn people from another box. People who identify as a box with fight furiously to defend and promote their box over other people's box. And boxes who gain some sort of "power" will try and dominate other boxes. Some boxes will be put other others. It has happened time and time again, and will continue to happen. Life doesn't care as long as that means more wiggly things everywhere. Society delights in it's happy little boxes without caring about the contents of the boxes at all. So what fights for us? Well we do of course. Nothing else will.
So what then is the solution to this problem?
I can tell you for sure what is not the solution. Playing society's little games with boxes. And that's exactly what identity politics is. If you insist to define yourself as "male" or "female" or "gay" or "straight" or "black" or "white" all you are doing is putting yourself in another little box. It doesn't matter how much you fight for the cause of your box, because your still fighting for the broken system that causes you to be oppressed in the first place. The only way to free humanity from this system therefor is to systematically tear down the system of boxes that people are placed into.
And yeah, that's really really hard to do. But maybe not impossible. Maybe as technology advances and humanity can change their bodies more and more in ways that they see fit, the need for these types of classifications will vanish. If people can change their gender whenever they want or even be in between, what need is there for gender identity? When people can change their skin or appearance what need will their be for racial identity? When people finally develop a post scarcity economic system what need will their be for class identity? But until that day comes, and maybe it never will, it will be hard to simply refuse to put ourselves in little boxes. Buit I think it's still something we should look to as an ideal if nothing else.