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The Thing About Lillie

Posted by Ul-Pahrak , Oct 15 2017 · 60 views
Pokemon
You’ve played Pokémon Sun and Moon, you know who Lillie is, she doesn’t need much introduction. It surely comes as little to no surprise that I love Lillie, and while it is due to the main reasons anyone loves her (she’s Totally Adorable and a Well-Developed Character), I’ve recently come to feel that she’s actually rather fascinating when you look at her as a writing technique.

So: player characters in Pokémon. They aren’t characters, really. They’re consistently left totally and completely blank so that whoever’s playing the game can project themselves onto this avatar with as little friction as possible, taken to unnecessarily hilarious ends with Red’s silent reappearances in later games. Naturally, this approach has its fair share of pros and cons. On one hand, this aids immersion tremendously—you’re free to name this character whatever you want, command them to do whatever you want, interpret their behavior and thought processes however you want, and more recently even dress them however you want. Players turn that character into themselves, and are able to see themselves in the Pokémon world, albeit from a top-down perspective. It’s the ultimate extreme of role-playing, giving you a place in this world but then allowing you complete freedom to adjust to it however you like. But on the other hand, this might have some connection to the fact that Pokémon has never really been known for its story. It’s difficult to write a plot centered around an empty shell. The player does things to continue the story, but they’re very much watching it unfold before them, and only stepping in when given the opportunity as opposed to doing much to actively push it forward. Again, Pokémon’s pretty much always done it this way, and it seems to be working for them, so it may not be something you see a lot of people clambering for. But since there’s a boatload of Pokémon media that does feature main characters who are actually characters, I don’t know that we can say people are totally averse to the thought.

It seems to me that Lillie is GameFreak’s attempt to have it both ways. The player character of Sun and Moon remains a void who can be anyone the person holding the 3DS wants them to be, but they have a very close friend who has her own desires and faults, is heavily-entwined in the overarching plot, and develops greatly as a character. Granted, she doesn’t do very much herself in terms of actively driving the plot forward—she spends a lot of time reacting, and not as much time decision-making—but her character is written in a way that that’s actually part of her development. Which is…kind of ingenious, really. Is she meant to be a metaphor for the Pokémon main series games learning to be more active in their storytelling, as opposed to just being an observer? Well, maybe at that point I’m reading a bit too much into it.

For the sake of argument, let’s accept my premise as true: Lillie is an attempt to have a “main character” the plot centers on while still having a totally blank “player character” for absolute immersion. Then the only question becomes: Does it work?

I’d say yes.

People love Lillie. If you looked at a discussion of Sun and Moon prior to their release, you’d see people saying “This Lillie girl is off, we all agree she’s a Nihilego in disguise right?” Check them after its release, and you’ll see dozens of fans shouting about how wonderful she is. Like, I’m sure there are some people who don’t like her, no character can be universally-loved, but…I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone bashing her, and Sun and Moon have been out for close to a year now. When you have to go out of your way to find people who hate a character but get bombarded by people who like them without trying, it’s safe to say they’re pretty darn popular. Has the series had a breakout character like this before? Maybe with N? Certain Hoenn characters certainly had a resurgence when ORAS came out, but even then it seemed to typically be antagonists, plus Steven who just sort of pops in and out on occasion. Even when N does become an ally in B2W2, he’s only in, what…one scene that’s actually plot-relevant?

What I’m getting at is that there’s a novelty to Lillie’s role in Sun and Moon’s story. How big a factor that novelty is in her appeal is something we can only know if this becomes more regular. I do hope to see this technique or something similar employed in future Pokémon games, because while I do like feeling like I’m my own trainer, I enjoy stories as well, and Lillie’s story is one I really enjoyed. I’ve gone on record as saying there are aspects of Alola and its cast I wish we’d seen more of, and perhaps the focus on Lillie has a hand in that, but still: she’s very unique in this franchise, and very interesting. Hopefully, she’s a good sign of what’s to come.


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"Our creators were very rigid beings through and through."

Posted by Ul-Pahrak , Oct 12 2017 · 59 views
writing advert
It is with great pleasure that I announce a new epic, Out of Bounds!

This story takes place roughly 200 years after the Reformation of Spherus Magna. When Turaga Nokama becomes frustrated with the limitations of Noble Kanohi, Vhisola goes looking for a way to work around the strict mechanics of the masks of power. Her best bet comes in a job offer from Nuhrii, and so she and Ehrye set out for the Northern Frost, where rumor has it they’ll find a lab with lost technology that just might be what she needs.

(This story is technically connected to one I wrote a few years ago, A Mind in Darkness, but there aren’t any explicit references to it—I made sure to write this story so that you could read one without needing to read them both. It’s more a spiritual successor than a straightforward sequel. Though, hey, if you enjoy Bounds, you might like Mind as well!)

I rather like how this one turned out. As I went I felt like I was finding more ways to make the story thematically cohesive, which is one of the many things I struggle with, so that’s promising. I’ve tried a few times to write a new Vhisola story but it never quite materialized until now. Of course, it started out involving all the Great Disk Matoran going on a heist of some kind, but I didn’t want to balance so many characters and ended up narrowing the scope. Tehutti almost made the cut, so I’m hoping to find something for him to do soon. I’ll keep you posted.

Speaking of posting, expect new chapters on Tuesday and Thursday, next week and the week after. There are five parts in total with a final word count of about 20k, so it won’t take too long to get through it all, but I wanted to space it out at least a little for dramatic effect. I hope you enjoy!


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802 Already

Posted by Ul-Pahrak , Oct 09 2017 · 56 views
pokemon, event reminder
It still feels like Gen VII just stared, but we’re already getting the last Pokémon in the current National Dex order!

Stop by GameStop between now and the 23rd to get a code to download Marshadow, the very first Fighting/Ghost type! It’ll also come with Marshadium Z, letting Marshadow use its unique Z Move, Soul-Stealing Seven Star Strike. How cool does that sound?

Just about a month until Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon! With the reveal of new Ultra Beasts, I can’t help but wonder if more Mythicals are programmed in as well, meaning we could get another few years of Gen VII. I hope we do, I can’t afford a new console.


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Alola Has a Post-Game Now!

Posted by Ul-Pahrak , Oct 05 2017 · 56 views
Pokemon
Holy wow. So we’ve got two new trailers for USUM, one that’s really dramatic and awesome (and in Japanese), and one that’s highly informative (in English).

Ha…where do I start?

-It looks like Necrozma’s goal is to steal light from the world. There’s a new area you can travel to where apparently it did just that, and it seems to be the gist of what’s going on in the dramatic trailer. Would also explain why it wants to absorb Solgaleo and Lunala.
-So, where is this lightless world, you ask? In Ultra Space. We get footage of the player riding Solgaleo and Lunala through a dimensional tunnel and into portals, ending up in places like the lightless city (which really gives me The World That Never Was vibes, I dig it) and a variety of habitats where the Ultra Beasts appear. I’m 90% sure this means that the post-game for USUM is all about charting Ultra Space and catching the Ultra Beasts there rather than them appearing across Alola one at a time. Which is awesome.
-The city is inhabited by a group calling themselves the Ultra Recon Squad. Two different members appear in each version, and since they don’t seem to do much to stop you from entering their city, I’m led to believe we’re on good terms with them, but we do have to fight them at some point it looks like. Who knows.
-So, the new Ultra Beasts! Burst is Fire Ghost and has a new move called Mind Blown, where it chucks its head at the enemy and it explodes, dealing some recoil. Okay. Assembly is Rock/Steel. There’s also a brand new Ultra Beast known as Adhesive, seen in possession of the Ultra Recon Squad. The design looks a bit different from the others, but I rather like it. It’s a Poison type.

This all looks very promising. I mean, I was already pretty excited for these, and now we’re getting into some real good stuff. I better get a head start on anything I want to get accomplish this year because once I get these games I might not resurface for a while…


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Guest Stars Wanted, Apply Within

Posted by Ul-Pahrak , Oct 02 2017 · 121 views
Olkir
Well, I think it’s time.

If you didn’t know, I’ve been putting together a new idea for an epic, taking place in a new world named Olkir. The full primer can be found here, but essentially the idea was to mash concepts from both generations of Bionicle, as well as Slizers, RoboRiders, and Hero Factory, into one fantasy world. (Though…since G1 has more content to play with than all those others combined, the end result is something that could probably be termed a fanmade Bionicle G3 story.) This world is populated by humanoid villagers made of a special kind of living metal who belong to eight Elemental Tribes, led by Coronets blessed with the power of Elemental Gods known as Slizers. Villagers have learned to mine minerals imbued with Elemental Power to craft special weapons, or they can go to a Rider to be made a proper Toa—though this is far rarer now, since automata known as Hagah have begun keeping peace worldwide.

I’ve begun setting up the plot, but I was curious to see if anyone out there wanted to contribute characters to this story, so before I go any further I’m going to put out the call. If you’re interested, I’d recommend glancing over the primer to get a clearer idea of what’s going on before posting your form in the comments here.

What I Need:
-A name for your character, of course.

-You can be a villager, a Toa, or a Hagah unit. For the first two you will need to pick an Element: Fire, Water, Ice, Metal, Lightning, Rock, Jungle, or Sun. However, for plot reasons, no Toa of Metal or Sun will be accepted. (Hagah can be associated with a particular Element if they wish, but it isn’t required.) Also, before you go jumping at the chance to be a Toa, there’s something specific about how Toa work that you need to know. A Rider turns a villager into a Toa and they are then free to do what they want for the rest of their life. When they die, however, the Rider takes them to an area at the edge of the afterlife where sixteen canisters are stored. Each Rider’s existence is stabilized by harmonizing with the souls of two Toa. When a Toa dies, their soul is put into one of these canisters to provide this effect, and the canister’s previous inhabitant is then sent into the proper afterlife. The stasis is by no means uncomfortable, and again, it is temporary, so maybe it isn’t a dealbreaker—but it still requires a degree of self-sacrifice, especially since the lack of Toa lately means the stasis can last for quite some time. In short, if your character is a Toa they must be someone who would agree to putting off their eternal reward for a while, which is something that should be reflected in their character.

-Appearance. Villagers and Toa are humanoids with metal skin, and can magnetize armor to their bodies. Hagah can have more diverse appearances if they’d like.

-Now’s where we get into powers and weapons! Obviously a Toa will innately have command over their Element. As mentioned previously, the villagers have learned to create weapons imbued with Elemental Power, so anyone can have access to those. Using these weapons also allows anyone, even villagers, to develop unique Element-derived abilities all their own, typically referred to as Plays. I want to be pretty open with weapons and powers, and would encourage you to think up some creative ones! Though, an Elemental Weapon can only power abilities of that one Element, and a villager is typically only proficient in the Element of their Tribe. Examples of weapons and Plays and how they work are detailed further in a read more below if you want to look them over. This section of your form can easily be tweaked as the story progresses, so for now, come up with whatever you want, and I’ll discuss modifications with you if I feel the need.

-Related to that, on the topic of masks. Masks of Power do exist in this world, but they are rare treasures found in hidden temples that can only be obtained by passing various traps and tests. So your character might have a mask, but only one, and said mask must have only one specific ability. Some masks have already been decided on, and those will be listed in a read more below. (Of note, it’s entirely possible for two characters to have the same mask—a new one is forged for the temple each time one is removed.)

-And a bio, for, you know…everything else. Gender, character traits, history, all that good stuff. Naturally, a good chunk of this will probably be used more as a guideline than put in word for word, but I plan to discuss my ideas on adapting your initial information with you in detail as we move forward. So please, give your characters some interesting pasts or quirks, and potential paths of character development! I won’t be accepting any applications for important figures like the Coronets, but that still leaves a lot of other options. Also, I don’t think I’ve mentioned the Priests of the Slizers yet, but that’s a thing if you’re interested. You will have to main disks, though.

-Oh, uh, one last thing…on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most likely, how likely would you say this character is to be a member of a cult dedicated to Shark Demon Pridak? Just a survey, you know, for demographic research and whatnot. Totally not a spoiler.

Weapons, Elemental Facets, and Plays


Masks of Power


That should about cover it. So, anyone interested?


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Fanfic in Progress

Posted by Ul-Pahrak , Sep 29 2017 · 42 views

Someone recruits for a heist, there's a battle between two giant monsters, and then a Glatorian has to try to explain what love is.to two Matoran.

I'm only half-way done.


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Golden Memories

Posted by Ul-Pahrak , Sep 24 2017 · 80 views
pokemon
VC Gold and Silver are out, in case you forgot. I got Gold. I was a little unsure, but in the end, the opportunity presented itself and I just couldn’t resist.

And again, the Pokémon distribution seems odd, though part of it might just be which Pokémon I wanted. Plus there seem to be some limitations on the movesets that I sort of expected coming off of VC Red—it seems like, in later generations, Pokémon get access to (better) STAB moves earlier than they did in the first few generations, because they seem to have a bit of trouble with that here on the Virtual Console.

But…dang. I love it.

The graphics are retro while still showing a massive improvement over the first gen, the music is lovely, so many great system and interface changes are popping up, and while I’m having trouble finding some of them there are a lot of Pokémon here that I really adore. It’s Gold. This was more or less my first real Pokémon game—not one that I shared with my sisters, but one that was really mine—and the nostalgia is wonderful, much more so than was the case with Red.

I started with Cyndaquil, of course, and have named him Blaze V, as in Blaze the Fifth. Blaze was the name of my Cyndaquil in the original Gold, and when I played HeartGold I named my Cyndaquil Blaze Jr in his honor, then when I needed a Cyndaquil and Quilava for my Living Dex we got Blaze III and Blaze IV…I considered going with something else, but again, I just couldn’t resist. The bloodline must continue. Currently a Quilava.

The rest of my team, which I just finished putting together:
-Will the Golbat, because I figured it’s time I use a Crobat. My thought process on the name was “Bat -> Batman -> Lego Batman -> Will Arnett -> Well I don’t have anything better so let’s just do that.”
-Mettaur the Pineco, who took a bit of time to get because Headbutt trees but at least he didn’t use Selfdestruct thank God.
-Lurerre the Chinchou, and now I never want to fish again.
-Tau the Natu, my gosh you know how out of your way you have to go to catch a freaking Natu, when I heard they were at Ruins of Alph I got excited but nope you need SURF to get to the only patch of grass with Natu, and you have to go through Union Cave just to get to it, and some of them know Teleport, GOSH.
-Gori the Mankey, since I liked having one in LeafGreen but never finished LeafGreen so…second chances.

Okay, I’m off to grind. Cianwood is next but it's looking rather far away.


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One Last Prelude

Posted by Ul-Pahrak , Sep 21 2017 · 47 views
game advert, Olkir
I got an itch to start up a new game, and after discarding a bunch of half-ideas, I realized this could actually be a great chance to get more people interested in Olkir.

Hence, Olkir Tournament! Not a very creative name, I know. You’ll use the mechanics detailed in the topic to create your own weapon and ability, and then I’ll start randomly matching you up with other players to fight. You have to PM me a strategy each round, similar to the old Technic Coliseum, and see if you can outwit your opponent. Whoever accumulates a certain number of wins is named the champion!

Come play if you want! These are the same mechanics I’m planning to use in the eventual epic, subject some minor alterations of course, so this would be a great chance to see what you’ll be in for if you were considering guest starring. Sort of an open beta for guest stars, if you will. I plan to open the actual submissions for the epic around the time this game finishes, so please look forward to that!


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To Cap It Off

Posted by Ul-Pahrak , Sep 19 2017 · 67 views
Pokemon
Another Pokémon distribution is kicking off, but this one’s a little more complex than usual.

A code just went up on the Pokémon website (PIKACHU20) that will allow you to download a special Pikachu wearing Ash’s cap. This Pikachu also comes with a unique Z Crystal, Pikashunium Z, letting it use its own super-exclusive Z Move, 10,000,000 Volt Thunderbolt!

But! While you can only enter the code once, when you enter it will determine which cap the Pikachu is wearing. Of course, if you have multiple games you can surely enter the code into each during different windows and get a few variants, but unless you’ve got six Gen VII games you’re gonna need to time this carefully.

I won’t copy-paste the entire schedule, but it looks like each timeframe lasts only about a week, so be sure you don’t miss your chance!

Myself, I definitely want the original hat being distributed now, but since I have both Sun and Moon I suppose I should pick up another variant. Hm, none of the others really have that nostalgia kick for me, but I do love the heck out of Sinnoh so I’ll probably be getting that one?

Oh, yeah, there is a seventh variant wearing the hat Ash wears in the new movie, but in order to get that you need to actually go to the theater and see said movie. Check your local theaters if that interests you.


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Pokemon Ultra News

Posted by Ul-Pahrak , Sep 13 2017 · 103 views
pokemon
New trailer is out for Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon! Key points:

-The mascots are, as theorized, Necrozma having absorbed Solgaleo/Lunala. The forms are referred to as Dusk Mane and Dawn Wings, respectively, and enable usage of Solgaleo and Lunala’s signature moves.
-The special Rockruff has the ability Own Tempo, and knows special moves which differ slightly between US and UM. It evolves into Dusk Lycanroc when hitting level 25 between 5 and 6 PM (that’s such a narrow window argh). There’s also an exclusive Z Move for Lycanroc—all forms too, not just Dusk—called Splintered Stormshards, which looks pretty cool. It also cancels Terrain effects!
-Something that’s both unexpected and sort of expected: two brand new Pokémon were shown! Both are Ultra Beasts, currently codenamed Assembly and Burst, but that’s basically all we know about them. Well, that and that they’re exclusive. Burst is in US, Assembly is in UM. Guess I need both version after all! Hahahahaughh…I mean I was probably going to do it anyway, but it’d be nice to not need to.

In related news, it’s been revealed that if you get VC Gold or Silver you’ll get a special 3DS theme and a Celebi for your Gen VII games! Sort of tempted to put that on the team now…well, actually, I guess I need an Ultra Moon team now so I can just add it to that!

Makes me wonder if any other new Pokémon will be added to USUM—especially Mythicals. Gen VII might last longer than I was fearing, so that’s some good news.






Recent Works and Writing Collections

The Principles of Flame (9/7)
A story meant to give some more details on the Kardata style used in the world of Olkir.

The Twins of Justice (9/12)
A story introducing the Temple of Justice into the world of Olkir.

Out of Bounds: Part II (10/17)
Vhisola and Ehrye trek across Spherus Magna in search of a promising rumor.



Full Library
One big collection of everything.

Okoto 579
A few connected G2 stories.

Divine Strength Collection
An original idea I'm trying to build.

FFFC Collection
Flash fiction from when we had contests for that.

Unsorted Works
What doesn't fit into the above three collections.

I Have Approval Now?!

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