So it’s been about 10 months since I resurrected the idea of blogging in my mind, and I’ve managed only as many posts as there have been months. Let’s start with some standard statistics, because I love me some actual data:
My average word count has been 475, with a slow trend to more with each post. The last one really helped bring the average up, and it shows that I’m more likely to write a whole lot if I’m somehow invested in the topic emotionally.
January was the biggest month, full of hope and bravado. It helped that we were quarantined in the house in Japan on our vacation of mostly being sick. The biggest block came in April, where I fully lost track of all of this, and while on the one hand it’s ultimately up to me to find time to put finders to the keys to get these things happening, work really threw me for a loop there for awhile. I won’t get into specifics, but good golly the first half of this year was just a miserable time.
Things in that area improved greatly, but my return to the blog has been a rocky one, finally picking back up in October. This is also the first month I’ve gotten back into doing actual writing what is becoming almost daily again. The first draft of my book is 11% complete by word count, and around 5% of that has come in the last week (vs. the first half taking the better part of the summer).
After spending the first half of the year really trying to put the Save the Cat method to work, chatting about plot points and pacing with Chase, and buying silly supplies (“the board” is actually a really good exercise), maybe it’s just that finally now, with everything mapped out, the kinks just keep getting easier to work out, and the words seem to flow through so much more easily.
Other observations in the last ten months:
1. Google Chrome, as much as I’ve loved it, is starting to act up. I haven’t been able to write a blog post within Chrome in some time. Either it or WordPress are broken, or they’re angry at each other and ignoring the need to fix anything on either end of this.
2. Writing on the bus is a good time, but not as easy to exploit as I had hoped. There’s a double-edged sword depending on the time. Commute early and have a shorter travel time? Less time to work. Commute later and have a longer travel time? More time for typing, but a much higher chance of having to sit next to someone, which just awkwardifies the whole thing. That’s not a word. I don’t care. Overall, shorter time with higher chance of actually using it wins out.
3. I still have no idea what the golden publish time is. I tend to just let things fly, but I’m starting to wonder about scheduling these things to go out at specific times. Auto-posting to Facebook being broken sure doesn’t help matters. I’d complain about Google+ shutting down, but it’s been pretty much useless since launch, so that’s not so bad.
So here’s hoping I can keep up the pace and keep finding little moments to jump in and on again.
So this finally happened. Just a simple, one versus(?) one game that we didn’t actually finish. I subjected a friend to this, as he was oddly willing to participate. The rest of the group was caught up in a rousing conversation about anime, which was probably a better time than this.
I pulled out the rule cards and 10 themed decks. My friend picked the “A Team” Dragonball deck, probably the safest choice, though he had no reason to know it. Cards were shuffled, tokens placed, and the game began. It didn’t take long to realize this was a game built more like a task list. You needed to go scavenge things, then get items, rinse and repeat until some conditions were met. Unfortunately the utility of the cards and the basic rules don’t leave a lot of room for randomness, strategy, or decision making. Go to a location, grab a card, and resolve it, but none of the resolutions were particularly exciting.
There were two other times I played Ani-Mayhem on purpose. The first was long ago when I maintained an actual deck, using the rules of the old times, with a 99 card deck full of overpowered (to the point of being fully unnecessary) regular cards and severely under-powered disasters. The solitaire aspect of the game in combination with the freedom to customize the deck is really the core issue. You can make the game as easy on yourself as you want (there are plenty of extremely weak “major” disasters to choose from), and there’s no incentive to make it harder on yourself.
When I moved to Florida the “local” game store told legend of their own tournament of Ani-Mayhem players. I found the winner of that tournament and defeated them with a loop of Rescues and Angels of Mercy that allows an infinite loop of Wrath of the Eye of God destroying all disasters and other players’ things.
The next time was far more fun. I had constructed a number of theme decks of standard size, and the number of players was such that the disasters on the board became overwhelming, and Everyone’s After Me inevitably led to all of us finally losing after two and a half hours of flailing.
That was probably 15 year ago. My most recent interaction with the game and any other player of it was about two years ago, when I found someone in the Seattle area who had piles of Ani-Mayhem cards, and we both had cards the other needed to complete some sort of arbitrary goal.
Today, I pulled out the decks (ten decks, one for each series featured except for Oh My Goddess, which only had like three cards in the whole print run, and an additional “B Team” DBZ deck [warning: sound]), with streamlined rules, and it felt much like watching a reunion concert for a band that was famous years ago, only to realize that they’ve only gotten worse over time, and that in fact you might have mistaken that band for something else in the first place.
There is so very much wrong with this game. It’s wonderful, in a historical sense. Ani-Mayhem, having come out in the mid 90’s in the height of the first wave of companies trying their hand at mimicking the success of Magic: the Gathering, seemed to have very little idea of what it wanted to be.
Game vocabulary is inconsistent. Character stat indicators show up in places they don’t need to be, like Global effects appearing to have movement scores, or flash effects where the wording of the effect has nothing to do with the icon displayed. Words on cards are randomly highlighted for importance, regardless of where they appear. Flavor text may or may not be relevant to the game rules depending on what is written.
My personal favorite is the font. The font is horrible. Recoom is the prime example, as at first glance you might be convinced that his name is “Roooom.” The extremely loud backgrounds for them can make it painful just to read, and the white outline doesn’t do it many favors.
Oh, and health. Of all the character attributes, health is hidden. Imagine if in Magic: the Gathering Llanowar Elves (a 1/1) had 1 power, 1 toughness, and 1 of a hidden stat called “health” that was based on its printed toughness value, and the toughness value reduced the damage from incoming attacks. That’s how the Defense and Health scores interact in Ani-Mayhem, and it’s somehow both simple and frustratingly unnecessary.
Apart from all of the above, what I realize now that the game really suffers from is something I really only realized tonight. Almost the entire library of cards were designed based on the image or event in the series, rather than what would make an interesting card or mechanic. By trying to keep close to the spirit of the shows they were featuring, they made a game that, once you really got into it, was really quite bland. I can’t think of another card game where the art inspired the card rules, rather than the other way around, but it’s the entire basis of the game and why any given deck, even when restricted to single series, end up hitting a power threshold as early as turn one that stops any future decisions from being at all difficult. But at least they didn’t go the Dragon Ball Z card game route of screenshot roulette for their cards.
So why do all this, and what now? I’m likely to sell all of these, save for a few favorites I want to keep around in my little display of old card games from days gone by. As awful as the game was, this was a fun little bit of nostalgia to share in the suffering of. Time to purge this from the house and move on to something new, and like a writer or director, sometimes the best inspiration for making something new is to see just how poorly it’s been done in the past.
Bonus: In digging for images for this post I rediscovered ani-mayhem.com. While this fan site seems to have frozen (I mean, there’s not a lot of actual updates happening), I cannot fully express my horror at a link on that site leading to アニメイヘム.com. Yeah, you’re reading that right. I have no idea how they did that, but they call it “Ani-Mayhem 2010” and it’s apparently still being updated. Someone out there other than me still cares, it seems, but I’m finding that out far too late (and pretty much every other fan-made cards I’ve seen have been kinda horrible. Whatever the case, I’m tossing in my hat. Go on an keep chasing that dream, whoever you are. Surely there’s an Ani-Mayhem 2020 just waiting to get… whatever it is you’re doing to that.
I’ve got cats now, so let’s get that out of the way. Two brothers, both black, that we’ve named Mac & Cheese. They purr pretty much instantly on human contact, and really seem to think my foot is something to attack.
We’ve come to the last quarter of the year, a somehow sudden and impending end. Time is a powerful thing, moving out of our control, but given the right mental state it provides a powerful source of motivation. It’s amusing that we’ve cut it up into arbitrary segments, with titles and names and numbers. Monday of this week was the 1st of a month, and the first work day of a week, which makes some of us perceive it as a more important day than if the 1st fell on, say, a Tuesday. It’s this sort of odd power we have granted our calendars and our clocks over us that creates New Years’ resolutions, and of course The List, which I’ve been tracking, and not paying quite enough attention to for the last many months.
I’ve certainly not done well at keeping up with a number of what seem like the easy ones. I’m still pretty awful at keeping up with the movements of Facebook or Twitter, but I think I attribute that to my just not finding much practical use for them. I don’t know if I particularly need to be even angrier than I already am about politics at any given moment, which seems to be the lion’s share of what I see on either (along with all of the advertising I can do without.) My lack of time spent on these things didn’t, unfortunately, translate into a lot of time spent on anything else particularly productive. For the more important things, it’s easy to look back and see nine months that, from this point, seem mostly wasted. “So much more I could have done,” one might think.
My older, younger self would have thought just as much, but I find myself of a new mind. These three months are easily the best of the year, and a time when I find my energy to be at its highest. While I’ve learned to appreciate the summers here, my need for them doesn’t quite seem to match the native Pacific North Westerner’s craving for it. These next cooler, darker months have always been the sort I’ve preferred. It’s a different sort of appreciation of warmth, where I can huddle into coats and gloves and scarves and get warmth from man-made sources, which might play to some odd survival instinct I’ve never really had the outdoors affinity to put into any sort of practice. What I do have experience with in these colder seasons is that food tastes better, coffee seems more effective, and a drink seems to provide more warmth (albeit not a practically useful sort of warmth).
A fine three months, indeed. If you’re so inclined, go out there and latch on to whatever target you can: A first, a last, a holiday, a solstice, whatever works. For me, next year will be 10 years since my self-declared “Year of the Bear,” and I’ve a feeling it’s about time for another one. There’s time enough to strike a few more things off the list before then.