27 November 2012

Cheats, Hacks, and Walkthroughs

Ever wonder how some people seem to breeze through a game with little to no frustrations? One day the gaming industry will wise up and stop creating difficult games and then providing solutions to "get around" the difficult obstacles. I mean, what's the point, right?

I work all day long analyzing, creating, problem solving, and debugging technical glitches. My mind is literally exhausted when I get off work. The last thing I want to do is sit down and play an online RPG and struggle with the logic of the story and the technical mechanics of the game play. Forget that it sucks when you die. It’s worse when some kid reaches level 100, dons a cape of invisibility and kills you with one thrust of his triple action bullwhip all the while screaming, "Die old lady!" This is the society we've created.

Well, I'm fighting back! I'm going to educate all those people like me who want to get back at these little cheaters, fight them at their own game. We need to take back our pride, show them we can do it too! Grab your walking canes, ladies and gents. So here goes.

First, you need to know the difference between 3 universal terms you'll find almost everywhere in the gaming world. Do not use them lightly. They are each very specific.


Cheats are special instruction codes shared amongst an elite group of players who, by way of leaks, receive them from those designers "in the know".

Scenario #1

I'm a software developer and I create a game called Diane's Dungeon, and I decide I'm going to create a special command or a group of commands which do special things. It could be anything from creating a crap load of gold or doubling your experience points so you can level up faster. On release day, I whisper to my friends who are aching to exact revenge on the kid down the road for kicking their asses in Diablanco III, a game created by my arch nemesis (who also made cheats for his game).

My friends tell their friends, who in turn tell their friends. Before you know it, everyone is a millionaire level 100 who beat the game already. It's not the end for the designer though, no worries. The gamers who really enjoy figuring things out on their own will take a leisurely stroll through the game world and request some assistance along the way until they are about 90 years old and still haven't beat the game, but we'll learn about walkthroughs shortly. I want to talk a little about hacks.


Hacks are designed by third party people who are not responsible for the game itself. These persons may have an awareness of unique features of a game and they utilize those features to enhance the user experience (I like the sound of that).

This is all client side stuff, so if you connect to a multi-user server and expect to keep your new enhancements, think again. Not all is lost though. You can seek out any number of hacker havens, places where you and other "enhancement seeking" players can log in and duke it out with your new hacked uber powers.

Scenario #2

If I’m lucky, I might get to level 100 by the time I'm 90 years old. Gaming is unbelievably time-consuming! But being the true hacker that I am, I want to see just how skilled I would be using my magic at level 100. I log into one of my hacker havens, perform the hack steps and increase my levels, TA DA! Uber fighter dude does the same thing.

Now we battle it out, a level 100 mage and a level 100 fighter. The fighter wins because he took additional steps in hacking room C, which got him unlimited amounts of healing potion. Silly me! I'll be ready next time. Just have to remember the healing hack.

Neither one of those scenarios ever got me too excited. I got bored too easily. Once you hit the maximum level, there’s nothing left to do! Cheat codes to get the most powerful weapons are no good when you’re in the newbie area. What are you going to do? Maul a tiny rat with a 3-skull, flaming flail? When you get to be my age, all that desire for the fancy stuff sort of dies, but you don’t want to stop discovering the fun, cool things by doing it the right way, the way game experience is intended. That’s why when I get stuck anymore, I use a walkthrough, or better yet, the Universal Hint System.


A walkthrough is the simplest form of cheating which does not harm the integrity of the game code or your PC. It is nothing more than a step by step instruction on what actions to take in order to beat a foe, clear an area, find a stone, or enter a secret passage. You name it and it will be covered in a walkthrough.

Scenario #3

Up until a point in the game, everything had been easy. You’re a level 10 warrior, but every time you try to enter the “Cave of Untouchables” a giant tarantula comes crushing through the wall and eats you. You’re at your wit’s end, it’s 2:00 a.m. and you have to go to work in the morning.

Google: Planet of Aros Cave of Untouchables tarantula walkthrough

VoilĂ ! The step by step instructions lead you to the entrance, but before you enter the cave, you must click on the ninth point of the chandelier hanging above a pile of stones. Really. Isn’t it enough to make you want to strangle the programmer who came up with that logic? I’m not making this up either. No wonder kids need cheats and hacks!

And there you have it, in simplest terms and no techie talk, just good old fashioned English. Now, let’s go find us a game to play.  My favorite of all time was Baldur’s Gate. Do you have a favorite game? Multiplayer or single player?

21 November 2012

Four Levels of Showing and Telling

I loved participating at the Florida Writers Conference this past October. There were so many sessions I wanted to attend, but only one of me!

I would like to share with you one session conducted by Author and Editor, Chris Roerden. This was an amazing session, not because it dealt with showing and telling, but she describes what happens at each of the four levels of showing and telling while describing your characters’ emotions.

In your writing, you can share your character emotions in four ways or what she refers to as four levels. Here they are as described by Ms. Roerden:

1. Telling about emotion

Ms. Roerden didn't actually say this, but I will. This is the most boring way in communicating to your reader the emotions of your characters. You would only do this if you want your story to read like a sports commentator giving you the rundown on how a team responds to losing a game. The coach is not happy! The defensive coordinator is apparently displeased. Tebow is crying now. Wow, what a game!

Really? Can you get any more detached than this? I am not fully serious here. There are times when this is okay, especially when you want to pick up the pace.

2. Telling via description

This is better. At least it's much more refined than the first level. This is where you use the eight senses to tell how your character is feeling by way of describing what they see, hear, taste, smell...etc. Little details help build the description and put your reader where they want to be, "in the scene". Consider this, from Dean Koonzt's From The Corner of His Eye.

Junior shoved Naomi so hard that she was almost lifted off her feet. Her eyes flared wide, and a half-chewed wad of apricot fell from her gaping mouth. She crashed backward into the weak section of railing. 
For an instant, Junior thought the railing might hold, but the pickets splintered, the handrail cracked, and Naomi pitched backward off the view deck, in a clatter of rotting wood. She was so surprised that she didn’t begin to scream until she must have been a third of the way through her long fall. 
Junior didn’t hear her hit bottom, but the abrupt cessation of the scream confirmed impact.

It's as if you are standing there watching this happen, isn't it? I like this a lot. It's not that I want an entire story told in such a manner. We all need a break from the excitement, so we turn the page and listen to the commentator again. Wow, our guy there must have been really mad at Naomi to have shoved her off the deck like that, huh? And did you see that? She looked surprised.

3. Showing via character perception

You can show your character perceptions with the use of metaphors and symbolisms.

Her voice made me cringe like the sound of a cat sliding down a chalkboard. 
Her mouth vacuumed up the last morsels on her plate. 

Now, her mouth isn't a vacuum, but with the use of her mouth in this manner, you can actually see her slumped over the plate, moving along the flat surface, and sucking up the crumbs as if it were a vacuum cleaner. That's descriptive considering you've only used a few words. Be careful with this as you may start to see your writing become somewhat animated, and that's not good, unless you're writing for the sake of comedy.

4. Showing via visceral feelings

According to Roerden, you don't want to do this very often. Too much of a good thing can wear your readers down. This is a technique where you convey the feelings of your characters through their primal responses to survival.

Her stomach froze and the sweat poured from her temples. The pounding of her heart reached her ears and pulsed like an air pump.

These are internal observations of your characters and are not things they witness externally. The feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize your child has gone missing is called a visceral response.

Don't do too much of this to your readers. They'll start to think you're a sadistic psycho.

Anyway, this hour-long session with Ms. Roerden was superb. I enjoyed her passion for what she does and I hope to attend more of her sessions in the future.

17 November 2012

Son's Graduation Associate's of Science

I couldn't think of a better blog entry today than this one, being my blog theme really is about making progress with journeys of all kinds, and not just my own journey.

Today, I would like to dedicate a blog entry to my son, Cameron Carlisle. He received his Associate of Science Degree in Information Technology from Keiser University. I can't tell you how proud we are of him.

Congratulations, Cameron!  :D

16 November 2012

My 10 Newbie Writing Experiences

I remember in my first creative writing class, my instructor told me I started my story in the wrong place. I was like, "No I didn't. It starts on page one."

Having movement on the first page means a rock skipping across the lake, a motorcycle slamming into a semi, or a cockroach skittering along the wall. Unless you're looking to attract some disturbed readers, this movement does not include a turd dropping into the toilet. 

The first time my creative writing instructor red-penned Really? on one of my papers next to something fantastical and completely unbelievable, I commented back with Yes, really! and turned it back in hoping for a better grade. I never got the paper back. 

Don't just tell me it was painful; show me how painful. This doesn't mean, "It was extremely painful."

If grammatical mistakes make you cringe when you read them in a novel, imagine how they'd make you feel when discovered during mud sex. If you don't know what that is, you are missing the key element to the reader/writer bonding experience.

I once had an instructor tell us that readers like emotional characters, so I ended up with a wimpy, whiney protagonist. I discovered much later, in this context, emotional does not mean readers want your characters to cry, moan, or shamelessly grovel. They want your characters to use their emotions to empower. Their lust will conquer the mistress, their anger will break the antagonist, and their fear will force them to face the evils which threaten to harm them or their loved ones. 

I spent years writing and hiding my work so that nobody could copy what would become my masterpieces which would earn me millions. Then I realized writers are supposed to have readers!

I found out the hard way that stream of consciousness writing exercises are not good for a person with a mind like mine and that it is always a good thing to delete your exercises when done.

There's nothing that disturbs me more than when I read my own poetry. That's why I stopped writing poetry.

"Can I send you my manuscript?" in the body of an email is not a query letter.

Those are some of my more embarrassing learning moments in my young writing career. Do you have some to share, even if they are the same and can help me feel better about my faux pas? 

13 November 2012

Mock Review of Lethal Injection, The Seed

This month's prompt at Absolute Write:
NaMoReMo (National Mock Review Month)

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, write a mock review of a writing project that you have done or would like to do. Make sure to either give a brief, one-sentence description of what the project is or work it into the review somehow. You can review anything (poetry, prose, collected blog posts) and in any way you like (funny, serious, Dadaist). Each post should be less than 1000 words if possible.

Lethal Injection, The Seed

Lethal Injection, The Seed by Diane Carlisle is a tale so disturbing it makes one wonder if the author has had some experience with the subject matter at hand. Who can make up such things as what it feels like to come to terms with molestation and the mortality of its perpetrators? How does an author weave such a tale without disgust for her own words?

This story resonates with the haunting voice of a young man coming to grips with his demons and confronting the past before it is too late to repair the path to his own future. I have a feeling we will be seeing this character again as the ending seemed open to more of the same disturbing reflections, peeling the onion petals further and further away from the middle and exposing a core to this dark secret, one for which we never have the opportunity to render a closure.

It is an unorthodox weaving of what appears to be an attempt at literary work by an amateur writer. I was unable to stomach this short piece of work. Likewise, I was unable to stop reading for the horror of it.

I would recommend it only because I think Diane Carlisle is a great person and would like to see her make some profit off this one, even though it is her first published fiction and she has not earned herself recognition in the literary circles of such elite and prominent authors as J.D. Salinger and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Participants and posts:
Ralph Pines 
dolores haze 
SRHowen -  (link to post)
pyrosama -  (You Are HERE)
Angyl78 -  (link to post)
wonderactivist -  (link to post)

09 November 2012

Character of the Day, My Crazy Neighbors

Today I read a Facebook status of an ole high school friend. It was something along the lines of being grateful that she has wonderful neighbors. This got me thinking about my own neighbors whom I’ve had the displeasure to endure for several years. I started writing a comment, which turned into an epic rant, and so I decided rather than clutter her beautiful status with my obvious discourse, I would instead create this post on my blog.

Many years ago, when our neighbors moved in, there was the occasional chitchat across our respective lawns when leaving for work, arriving home from work, and checking the mail. That all changed when we put up our privacy fence.

The privacy fence is a required structure by the City of Tallahassee for any resident owner of a pool. Of course, we are law-abiding citizens and since we were having a pool installed, we erected the 6-foot standard privacy fence. That’s when things turned ugly.

It was as if the neighbors felt jaded, the privacy fence being our statement of drawing boundaries. Why does this happen? I don’t know, but it does. It doesn’t matter. Now we experience the full onslaught of Boundary Wars. I should pitch a reality show on this one.

First, there was the surveyor. I guess they wanted to ensure we hadn’t erected a portion of the fence on their property. We acknowledge and shrug it off. However, that wasn’t enough for them. A conciliatory nod and we figure things will be fine. Nope.

The next thing we realize, our neighbors are mowing their lawn twice as often as they used to, almost three times per week. The husband, like clockwork, moves back and forth across their lawn, a look of disdain upon his face, laboriously pushing the mower in order to get a quarter inch trim on their grass. One thing I notice is the caution he takes when pushing the mower down the property line, which separates our lawn from theirs.

How peculiar! Why were they so worried about getting it perfectly cut, right on the property line? After all, there was no fence in the front. We decide it’s just a quirk and when our grass is ready to mow, we mow our lawn up to the point where they distinctly, and with much effort, marked their property. It gets worse.

At some point, Tim was rolling up our garden hose and when it got a kink in it, he yanked and twirled it and about two feet of the hose plopped over onto our neighbor's lawn. You'd have thought we cast a spell of fireball explosion on their property from the looks on their faces.

A week later, we arrived home from work and the crew chief for the group we hired to rebuild our back deck approached my husband and profusely apologized for having stepped in our neighbor’s yard. After he explained the frenzy with which the female of the house, our illustrious neighbor, spiraled into when he’d attempted to carry a load of 2 x 4s into our backyard, I realized we were dealing with more than just bruised egos here.

The crew chief explained that an hour later she came out with sandwiches and iced tea for all of them and apologized for her outburst. She used this poor guy as a sounding board and went on about how me and my husband are inconsiderate, evil beings. This woman is badmouthing us to the people we hired to work on our home. WTF??!

Similar incidents have happened since, with the man we hired to paint our home, and with the lawn maintenance guy who parks his equipment trailer on the curbside. The best way to deal with this issue is to ignore our neighbors and their behavior.

They’re not hurting us, but it’s so obvious they are in some sort of distress about boundaries. I don’t want to approach either one because I believe it would only make things worse. Instead, I just tell people who visit us that our neighbors are a bit finicky about their lawn so please steer clear!

This picture tells me they are still hung up on boundaries. You can’t make this stuff up. This is why I write fiction. Because therein lies the truth!

What quirkiness do you deal with in your daily life? I'd love to hear from you. It would make me feel better about this dilemma.

06 November 2012

Writer and Muse are not Cooperating

Let's talk about productivity, just briefly. When my writer self wants to write, it tells my muse to do something, get me started...I need you! I liken my writer self to Wally and my muse to the pointy-haired boss.

When the muse is finally ready to do its thing, it seeks from the writer what the writer is unwilling to give, which is the time needed for this magic to happen.

I really do wish I could be more productive with my writing, especially with making progress on my novel. I just need some fresh ideas and something to get me excited again. I should probably re-address where I'm spending all my time, which keeps me away from the thing I enjoy most, writing. Maybe this post should be about procrastination.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. How do I get my writer self and muse to cooperate with each other?

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