New stories, new gigs!

Hi all! Been a while since I wrote on this blog, and lots of things have happened!

The funniest one has to be Flora’s brief limelight on reddit after I mentioned one of her stories in a discussion involving a certain BDSM fetish. I got flooded with messages from people wanting to read it, and overall a lot more conversation on the topic than I expected. (The story is the nudist colony one I mentioned a while ago btw). Well, some dude messaged me and paid me ½ cent/word to write another one starring his OC Spectra. So, if you wanted to read about a candystripe tigress with mind control powers, “What Happens in Legal…” has you covered! (This marks the third time I’ve been paid for erotic commissions, beginning with “Taming of the Revenue” back in 2015. I wonder what point I need to start considering this a side gig.)

Other exciting news, MasterClass has hired me back onto another upcoming class! I haven’t signed any NDAs, but I’m positive they don’t want me talking about the content so I’m keeping my trap shut. I’m just excited to work for them again, the Will Wright class was a great experience and I’ll be putting a lot of time into them the next few days. So don’t expect this blog to start being updated any faster than it currently is.

VGFAQ is going good, releasing videos at a steady rate. E3 is in a few days, that’s when I’m gonna kick things into high gear on that front. I’ve started publishing articles for the VGFAQ blog, which forced me to learn block-form WordPress, which was weird at first but it grew on me after a while. It gives you a lot less flexibility for your formatting, but it simplifies cookie-cutter article creation quite well, which is pretty much all I make for them anyway.

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Lookit my sexy Twitch channel wallpaper! I update the words/icons after every stream so my viewers know what/when the one will be. 

I have two subscribers on Twitch!!! This means I’ve made 5 whopping dollars as a streamer, which is actually really exciting because I’ve wanted to commit to streaming for years and am only now finally doing it. It’s really fulfilling to know that people enjoy my shoutcasts enough to throw Twitch Prime subs my way, and I’ve been streaming ARK and Overwatch on a semi-regular basis to try and keep my numbers up. (By all metrics I shouldn’t be streaming ARK, the Overwatch streams are the only ones that get any traction, but I enjoy ARK and it feels like a natural continuation of the YouTube series of mine and Asmund’s adventures. Plus it’s not like I’m anywhere close to the 75 viewers average needed to qualify for partnership. I haven’t even broken 30 viewers at any given second, much less for a 30-day average.) When life settles down somewhat, I fully plan to reapply for a job at Twitch. Previously they said no because I had no streaming experience, but next time around it’ll be another story!

Updates on Things

Sorry I haven’t posted recently, I’ve got so many different things I’m doing here and there.

1. New Emilena story! This one was started ages ago, but I finally finished the other 80%. It’s readable here and takes place directly after “Orphanage”, the story where she returned to her childhood orphanage and killed her old warden. In this story, she confesses to the murder and is incarcerated in an all-women’s prison. It explains why she’s no longer a police officer in the follow-up “private investigator” story, and it gives her the chance to butt heads with a bunch of characters she defeated from older stories, most of whom are excited for a chance to even the score.

2. I’ve added a number of categories to the Darwin’s Soldiers Wiki, including Destroyed objects, destroyed locations, books, and family trees. I dunno why, encyclopedic cataloging just relaxes me. Sometimes I wish we had an Into the Black wiki, and other times I thank god we don’t have one because there’s way too much content to even fathom starting now.

3. I’ve shoutcasted a ton of Overwatch matches on Twitch. Most are part of League Zero, but there’s also a fair amount of pick-up scrims I’ve been publishing on VGFAQ. I’ve really enjoyed making videos for that channel, since it gets way better traffic than the SPUF of Legend. Maybe it’s possible I should feel bad for letting my own channel grow stagnant while earning click revenue and a bunch of unearned views on someone else’s site, but the SPUF of Legend has almost completely lost its fanbase since I gave up on Payday videos so I don’t think anyone’s particularly sad. And I might make more videos every now and then, but right now I’m scrambling to keep up with the many videos I want to make for VGFAQ. I need to start on a video for Inside the Magic as well…

4. I have taken out two extensions on the eSports course for the sole reason that I need to finish that darn final essay. It’s not even particularly long but its got a lot of parts and I’ve constantly had more important things to worry about. But I really should button that up one of these days so I can take it off my mental checklist.

5. I haven’t had much time to game for fun, sadly. That kinda happens when its your job to play games for various sources of income. Pretty much my only guilty pleasure is ARK Survival Evolved, which is an awesome survival game and the only one I’ve ever heard of that remains fun whether you’re playing with 0 other people, 100 other people or any number in between. Personally, I don’t have the time or patience to deal with online idiots, so I play on a solo server with Sydney and most of our time is spent taming dinosaurs and creating Miasmata-style outposts throughout the map. You can see our complete idiotic adventures in this playlist, which is finally populated enough I feel okay letting people know about it.

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Look at how cool my bird is! She has ‘FEAR ME’ written across her wings!

Esports and other current events

As you may have noticed, I’m putting the finishing touches on that Esports course! I learned some great things and turned a lot of the content into articles for DailyEsports.gg. I also qualified for E3 and will be attending to make videos for VGFAQ, not to mention I’ve resumed shoutcasting (after a 3 year absense) and now have a number of casts to showcase on this YouTube playlist. I’m hosting the VODs on VGFAQ so I can get some pennies for them!

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The longest was the Kilgore College cast, which was 6.5 hours long and consisted entirely of me covering 1v1s on Xbox! I was downright babbling by the 4th hour of it, but the audience and tournament organizers say they loved it so I can’t complain. Would do again!

Storywise, the Emilena story I mentioned in an earlier post is finally finished and readable here, I incorporated it into the old cycle because it doesn’t break anything, and even covers some ground the other stories didn’t. (This is the first story we see where she lives outside of work). I’m not sure what I’ll write next, might not write anything an instead spend my creative time learning how to animate or make 3D games in Firefly.

Esports Week 8 – Sponsorships (last week of the class!)

Prompt: Create a sponsorship proposal from an endemic sponsor and explain what they are sponsoring, value of the sponsorship, why they are choosing this specific game or event, and what will make it successful. Identify and research an issue in the assigned reading and in your independent reading. Feel free to consult and explore a wide variety of resources! , (200-750 words). Post this summary in SMWW e-Arena in the Week Seven Discussion Board by Friday. Have some fun with the discussion of this week’s theme.


This hypothetical sponsorship is addressed to Backpack.ow, a mobile app for Overwatch players to access and organize their in-game inventory (They’ve previously advertised on a news site I used to write for, and I share a contact with them through previous employment with said site.)

Dear Backpack.ow,

Hello! My name is Nicholas Halsey, and I represent League Zero, a competitive Overwatch tournament that runs once a season. We’re looking for sponsors, and Kyle Wai mentioned you’re looking to expand your esports presence.

Right now, Zero League is seeking a sponsor who will gain credit for replays and “player of the match”. Said sponsor will have their logo appear in the corner of replays, have their name read out by casters before the match, and will audibly be given credit for ‘bringing’ player of the match to the tournament. We’re seeking a donation of $300 per tournament to become this sponsor.

Our tournaments have run successfully every season for the past two years, and enjoy a sizeable community of followers. We have over 200 players in our tournaments, many with Open Division experience, and our streamers received over 12,000 views on Twitch last tournament. That’s a sizeable audience that will witness our chosen sponsor’s branding on an audible and visual basis every single game in our 16-seed bracket. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Our Spring season runs this May, and we encourage you to watch our first game this Saturday at 8pm EST on http://www.twitch.tv/ZeroLeague if you’d like to see what you’re signing up for. Thank you for your time and we look forward to hearing from you!

Esports Week 7 – Casting the Clash for College Competition!

Prompt: Design a preparation worksheet for yourself. The worksheet should include a checklist of things that you need to have done before the actual broadcast; include timelines. It should include scouting reports, previous game analysis, predictions, and hot stats. Identify and research an issue in the assigned reading and in your independent reading. Feel free to consult and explore a wide variety of resources!


This preparation worksheet isn’t hypothetical, I’ve got a real tournament coming up I need to shoutcast! A fellow student has hooked me up with the Kilgore College 1v1 Overwatch Double-Elimination Tournament, which is going to require a number of preparations on my end.

The tournament is in just over a week. Here’s my worksheet checklist for things that need to be done by then:

1. The tournament’s going to be on Xbox, which I have literally never played in my life. In order to connect to the server, I’ll need an Xbox. Nathan says he can loan be his by Monday. There’s a series of sub-items on this bullet:

  • Setup the Xbox
  • Purchase and install Overwatch (currently 60% off!)
  • Hook up my Twitch to my Xbox
  • Hook my microphone/headset to the Xbox
  • Play Xbox Overwatch for a while and practice with the spectator controls.
  • Run a practice stream from the Xbox and ensure Twitch broadcasts are stored and accessible by computer (I’ll want to be able to upload the tournament VOD to Youtube for posterity)

2. I’m also not that familiar with Overwatch 1v1.

  •  See if I can find some other shoutcasts online of the gamemode (I’ve never casted anything but classic 6v6)
  • Watch some tutorial/”How to win” guides for the gamemode
  • Watch some VODs of grandmaster-level 1v1 play so I can intelligently mention high-level strats and (if not forced-class) note the frequency each hero is played.

3. I need to learn some info from the tournament. Preferably what heroes are available, what map pool we’ll be using, and what ruleset (there are 2 official 1v1 game modes, and they may be using something custom). This will help me narrow down what elements I need to learn more about so I can cast intelligently. (For once I don’t need to research teams or players, since these are high-schoolers with no prior Overwatch careers)

4. Once these bits have happened (which essentially means I’m prepared for the tournament) it’s time for marketing.

  • Leave a hole in my YouTube publishing schedule for the VOD to go live
  • Change my Twitch banners to reflect the tournament
  • Inform my Twitter, YouTube, and Daily Esports audiences when and where the event will be happening

 

If I were Mitch McConnell part 2

(part 1)

Sometimes I wonder if I’m making the right call when it comes to how I spend my life. Game writing, game journalism, game development, and vide editing all make me incredibly happy, and I’ve felt more fulfilled than I’ve felt in years. The YouTube channel is taking off, I’m attending conventions and gaining attention from all the right places. My LinkedIn has become a well-oiled machine of connections.

But outside my personal life, and the virtual worlds I’ve immersed myself in, the real world is becoming more and more unhinged. The Mueller report just dropped, we finally get to read the darn thing, and nothing’s changed. Republicans continue to stonewall in the Senate, Trump supporters continue to insist there’s no cause for collusion, and there doesn’t seem to be anything the common folk can do to make their voice heard. Protests are irrelevant. Voting occurs too rarely to make a difference. And I have a sinking suspicion voting isn’t going to matter come 2020.

A particular Republican strategy is worrying me more than the others. The senate, lead by Mitch McConnell, is stripping many of the abilities normally available to the minority party in order to push legislation through despite Democratic opposition. Most people I read are saying things like “this is a foolish strategy that will come to bite them when they’re the minority party next.” The news is painting the Republicans as a party trying to take maximum advantage of a dwindling period of power, a party who knows they’re going to lose the 2020 election in another blue wave. Indeed, the neverending Trump scandals and the blue wave of 2018 suggests that the Democrats are entering the next election period with a massive advantage.

Which is why I’m skeptical people are interpreting the Republican strategy correctly. The Republicans, more than anything, are patient. They developed Fox News in response to the Nixon scandal and waited decades for it to permeate their target audience. They’ve spent multiple presidencies filling the courts with right-leaning judges, a strategy that takes forever to slowly redefine the nation’s legal balance. Even the Trump campaign was supposed to be a stepping stone to a future presidency; I firmly believe the Republican plan had been to lose the election and use fake news to erode public faith in the electoral process. None of this behavior is that of a party that does anything “desperately” or “last-minute.”

So, if that’s the case, why are Republicans stripping the Senate minority party of power? Personally, I suspect they don’t plan on ever being the minority party again. But before I go into that, let me explain Donald Trump’s current predicament.

President Trump is in something of a pickle. While he’s done an admirable job of dodging scandals by flooding the news cycle with too many stories for anything to stick, the fact remains that he faces prison as soon as he relinquishes the presidency. Even if he uses the Ford-Nixon strategy to pardon himself of all federal crimes, he can still be charged on a state level. So, how can Trump remain president indefinitely? He’d have to either (1) repeal the 22nd Amendment (downright impossible) or (2) suspend elections.

And believe it or not, the Republican senators’ behavior makes a lot more sense if they ultimately plan on suspending elections and retaining power indefinitely. Here’s my theory for how they plan to do that:

  1. The Republicans allow the Russians to hack the 2020 election, but have the Russians hack in the Democrat’s favor
  2. “Uncover” the hacking after the Blue wave sweeps the election, use the hacking as an excuse to doubt the results and suspend the elections
  3. Use the fact that Russia hacked for the Democrats to distance themselves and cast doubt on the Republicans and Russians working together

I bet a bookie would give me great odds if I put some money down on that idea. And hopefully my screenwriting background is just letting my imagination get the best of me. But even if the Republicans are planning something less theatrical, I can’t help but feel I could be doing more to fight back. Sydney is living in Portland protesting ICE every day and completing street medic training. Admittedly, protesting in Oregon seems a bit like preaching to a choir, but it’s more than I’m doing. When I was younger, I was positive I’d join the underground railroad or help defend common people if I lived in a more exciting time. Now here I am, witnessing a proto-fascist government stuffing the courts and deporting migrant children, and I’m earning money playing games like a Weimar bougiose.

Sport Stories

I’ve been hitting the esport train pretty hard recently, and that isn’t going to stop for another couple weeks. This course has been awesome; I’ve met some great people and might even shoutcast an Overwatch tournament for one on the 26th. I plan to convert several of these weekly articles into DailyEsports.gg content (like I did this one), and I’ve been cranking out dozens of VGFAQ videos at the same time.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t found time to write a few short stories at the same time. Apparently I’m in something of a retrospective mood, cause they’ve all tied into ancient long-completed cycles:

  1. First I wrote a new Darwin’s Soldiers story,
  2. …then a new Flora story, (which is actually now the longest story in either canon, beating Card of Ten by a margin of 5K words)
  3. …and finally a new Hemlock Gang story of all things.

And coming up next, mostly cause it’s the only untouched cycle left, one more story starring Officer Echo back in her police days. She’ll be investigating a restaurant suspected of being a hub for drug-peddling. Exciting!

(There actually was a different completely-standalone story written somewhere in there too, nominally tied to a different RP universe but I instantly dropped my main characters back on Earth so they could explore the Into the Black and Darwin’s Soldiers universes in a time-traveling non-canon crossover. Was fun to write, and mainly an opportunity to see characters from both universes bouncing off each other.)

Coming up in the professional sphere: Honestly, more esports articles and a few VGFAQ videos. Keeping my nose to the grindstone for probably another week or so.