Sunday, July 1, 2007

Toggle Stance

Have to drop a quick burst of GW information so you get the title reference. In Guild Wars, there's a certain kind of buff or bonus known as a stance. There are a few wrinkles to them, like an instant casting time, but the biggest one is that you can only have one active at a time. The biggest of them is Frenzy. The archetypal IAS. It lets a Warrior crank just about everything they do up to 11. Damage, adrenal gain, special skills, pressure, harassment, disruption, they all become better when you're swinging faster. A Warrior, at least when the game first came out, wanted to keep Frenzy up and swing away constantly – and they become a pain train when they do. Most threatening character on the board. The catch to using Frenzy, though, is that when it's active you take double damage. Just flat-out anything that hits you is doubled. No way around it. So if you Frenzy at the wrong time you can find yourself sucking dirt quickly. But you want to Frenzy as much as you can. And your opponent was looking to catch you hitting Frenzy to punish you for it. What was a good Warrior to do? Well, what happened is that players started slotting another stance on their bars. Typically a run buff like Sprint or Rush but anything with a low cooldown would work. That way you could hit Frenzy when you wanted but if someone started to rage in your face while you were going off on theirs, you could hit that other stance and it would cancel Frenzy. Boom, instant you press that button, you're no longer taking double damage and with a Warrior's heavy armor your enemy was likely wasting a lot of time and effort targeting you. That second stance, then, became known as your toggle stance. It's what you used to switch your Frenzy off and on as needed, like toggling a checkbox in your options.

Right, so, June is over and I'm toggling out of my Frenzy. It's been a blast, I'm glad I took this trip, I'd do it again in a heartbeat, and if it's back next year I'm going to be standing at the head of the line to get back in on it. But I need to switch gears and get some other stuff done. I have, for example, a math test coming up on Tuesday. And aside from taking notes in class – most of which are covered with doodles and plot outlines – I haven't cracked the book at all since my last test. I need to get moving on that. I need to get moving on a lot of things, really.

But, man, did I have fun. I really wish I could have finished off my script. And I'll be kicking myself for not working harder to get it done for some time to come. But now I have the time to do it right. Unlike the end of NaNo, I'm not sick of it at all. I want to keep working on it. And now I can edit and revise it into something even better. You might ask why I'm so keen on the idea and I'll give you a little hint. I wrote it as a screenplay. And I'm probably not likely to get together the ten or so actors, dozens of extras, and about $30~40 million for special effects I'd need to film it right any time soon. But there are plenty of other mediums that call for a script. Mediums with a much lower barrier of entry. With a polished script in my hands and flush with some newly free time...

I'm a little worried, though, that without the driving force of the Frenzy I'll start to flag. I held onto the lingering glow of NaNo for about a month or two. But then I got wrapped up in Guild Wars and other stuff and really tailed off writing. It could easily happen again here. You never know.

As a hedge against that, though, I've downloaded Celtx. At the beginning of the Frenzy, I swore off getting a dedicated script writing program because my harddrive is already cluttered with word processors. Just like a kitchen, you can find all sorts of gadgets and gizmos to write with. And I love trying them out. But I've learned, also like a kitchen, the best ones are the ones that can do a lot. The uni-taskers, the gadgets that only do one thing no matter how well they do it, are just going to wind up taking up space. Maybe, I thought, if I wrote a lot of scripts, I'd find the need for something like FinalDraft but I've never done this before, I'm not sure if I like it, and I'll stick with what I've been using lately (Which is the highly recommend OpenOffice, by the way.).

But, this month, I've learned that I really like writing scripts. I've got not just my current script to finish but ideas for a good four or five others trying to clamor for attention. And I find the focus on dialog and...cinematic storytelling, I guess I'd call it, to come naturally for me. Every time I've switched scripts, whether to write a new one or to revise a current one, I've gotten better at it. I'm going to keep it up.

Celtx is going to be great. I can already tell. Not only is it free, which is nice, but if you use Firefox, like I do, it's pretty intuitive. Comes loaded with a sample script so you can refer to it for formating and the like. But it also lets you keep all your notes and characters and outllines in a neat little box as you're working. Since I tend to suffer from document creep, that innate organization is going to help me out a lot. I've just spent the past couple hours converting the sadly unfinished Unbound from a text document with uneven formating into a pretty snazzy little project file with multiple drafts, character bios, outlines, and more. It's even got a way to pin images to references that makes me want to dig my scanner out of storage so I can play around with all the maps and sketches I've been making.

Sure, I could have been using that time to get a few more scenes salted away but organizing the film like that has helped me spot a lot of places that I wouldn't have just typing away. My creative muscle's shot anyway. To extend my tortured GW metaphor even further, yesterday I toggled out of Frenzy to sprint towards the finish line. But while my script was kiting away my Rush ran out when I was stuck between lines and I couldn't gain any adrenaline. I've been out of it ever since.

Anyhow, it's been a great month. Looking around at the blog, I blew past my previous high water mark for posts in a month. We've also jumped over 500 total for the year, which means my yearly goal of a thousand posts is well within reach. And I've been really happy with the quality of some of the posts I've been writing lately. I want it to last forever. And I'm going to try my best to keep it going. But, you know, all good things must end. And next month's going to be different.

But, hey, this blog is about Evolution. About change. About an iterative process of value neutral decision making. So, you know, it might just be different better. I won't know until I try it and see. But, though the Frenzy might be over. My adrenaline is all charged up.

No comments: