Tabula Rasa is out!

I have had a whirlwind of a September. I got this idea to novelize the long-dead Blanking the Slate roleplay, and while I’d mentally dismissed the notion a few times already over the years, this time it rooted in my head when I realized I could slightly adapt the focus and turn it into the story of Emilena’s drug-running gang first meeting each other and eventually forming their core team.

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Introducing Tabula Rasa! At 66609 words in its first draft, it’s the longest individual work in the Electra City canon. I was originally going to write it for NaNoWriMo 2019, in the same spirit that I wrote the book it’s a sequel to for NaNoWriMo 2015. Unfortunately I couldn’t wait, and ultimately chewed through the whole thing from July 28 to today.

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I guess it ended up being my NaSeptWriMo D:

It needs a lot of revisions, as any work does when speed-written over the course of a month, but I’m really glad it exists in its current form. Blanking the Slate was a good RP and it sucked that it died without wrapping up the final storyline. We were so close to the end too! Also, I never expected to explore the Hemlock Gang’s forming; it was always something I figured just happened without pomp and circumstance between eras. But now that it exists, and incorporates the twists and plots I mapped out in Blanking the Slate, I think it fills a really nice bridge between the era of Electra City and The Hemlock Gang.

Since my editing phases can be a long and never-ending process, I decided to throw Tabula Rasa live in its current form, though I’ll probably be heavily tweaking the document over the next few months. Hope you enjoy it!

 

Job receipt #3

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Action Squad Portland actually sounds pretty cool; I’d be down to organize grassroots esports events. Shame their games of note are Fortnite, Clash Royale and League of Legends.

In other news, wrote another Flora micro-story, this one exploring a noodle incident from the RPs. I don’t have time for the 20k stories I normally write, but it’s been therapeutic to bust out little 1.5k vignettes now and again. Also wrote a blog post for the Daily SPUF, but it won’t go live until the 16th. Never forget the Sticky Jumper ;_;7

Job receipt #1

I applied for a single job. Not great, I know, but baby steps.

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Most of today was spent doing various little things to prep for the move. Schedule times to meet for housing appointments with potential apartment complexes, touch bases with family friends who live in the area. I’ll be visiting Sydney for three days in the near future, which is nice convenient timing for checking things out.

Also I finished Flora++ and realized I had enough random assorted stories to compile them into one document. The Into the Black Codex is getting pretty large, I can’t decide if I should be proud or ashamed. (edit: Wow, after some number-crunching, I’ve written over half-a-million words total in the complete Into the Black and Darwin’s Soldiers canon. I’m planning on doing Nanowrimo this year, which should add a nice 50k chunk to that total. Maybe one day we’ll hit a million!)

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Download link here

Also made my first Minecraft mod, though it wasn’t really my work, I just merged this nude skin with this clothed skin so you can take the clothes off if you want. That’s a pretty nifty mechanic that the player character comes with toggleable clothing, now I don’t have to swap skins whenever playing with friends. I’ve finally gotten into Minecraft as it’s a really relaxing survival game that isn’t too complicated, and after learning how easy it is to make mods I totally plan to release some (actually done by me) texture mods, probably starting with Emilena the cop.

But, um, yeah,  job hunting. It’s going…well?

Electra City character timelines

Emilena and Flora are my two main characters of the cyberpunk Electra City franchise, appearing in significantly more stories and eras than any other character. Since there are so many different sources of content, and most of them were written out of chronological order, it’s basically impossible for new readers (or heck, even old) to follow their journeys coherently. This blog post aims to change that by providing a personal timeline for each character, letting interested readers follow their history from start to finish.

Note: I must admit that these timelines are going to be a bit fractured and hicuppy no matter what, simply due to how long I’ve been writing all this. Also after so many years of stories, lots of them (especially any involving flashbacks to a character’s past) will have plot holes and retcons simply due to personality tweaks and writing evolution. I’ll do my best to leave notes explaining anything unusual. A red asterisk* indicates the piece contains explicit sexual content.

Emilena Echo

Emilena was born in 2030, the second child of moss farmers Emile and Lena Shipper. Her parents named her after themselves and put her up for adoption in Electra’s unpleasant Nature’s Heart orphanage. At the age of 7, she volunteered herself for the Accelerated Growth Program, a controversial government initiative involving using rapid-aging chambers to boost orphans up to “taxable age” (the test subjects were named with the military alphabet, where she got the surname ‘Echo’). She served as a junior officer for the Electra Police Department for three years before burning down her former orphanage and losing her badge. She’s still on probation when the events of Electra City begin.

  • Officer Echo – A series of 11 stories set during her police years. “Orphanage” and “Hapsburg Manor” include extensive flashbacks to her childhood before she was artificially grown into an adult.
  • Redacted Echo Case Files*Several old stories I’ve removed from the series. They relied too much on violence, shock value, and R-rated situations. Honestly recommend skipping them, I wasn’t a great writer back then
  • Electra City* – A full-length novel. Officer Echo races to apprehend a psionic fugitive, a terrified amnesiac named Lily who’s also being pursued by the Purifiers, a radical anti-technology terrorist group. This was the first thing I ever wrote with Emilena, so she’s pretty severely out of character.
  • Tabula Rasa – The sequel to Electra City. Emilena and other survivors attempt to rebuild their lives in the neighboring city of Cornova, but the Purifiers have other plans.
  • The Hemlock Gang – Emilena and the survivors of Tabula Rasa are now running drugs in the alleyways of Cornova. There’s a tone shift to more lighthearted and “zany antics” plots.
  • Electra City Chronicles* – Despite the name, most of these vignettes take place during the gang’s drug-running years in Cornova. Emilena herself stars in “Bare-athon” and appears briefly in “An Aquamarine Phase”.

Flora Hapsburg

Eric Hapsburg was born in 2019 to a rich family in Electra. He attended Ywens Boarding School and transitioned to female after developing very weak changeling powers that turned her skin fuchsia. Fearing her family’s reaction, Flora fled to Cornova of her own volition and first meets Emilena during the events of Tabula Rasa, becoming the designated driver of the newly-formed gang. And buckle up, because her backstory has gone through so many changes over the years that’s about all that stays consistent…

  • Lucid Dreaming” from Echo Chambers features extensive flashbacks to Flora’s childhood at Hapsburg Manor.
  • A Shiny Red Revelle*” from Electra City Chronicles is the only story starring Eric before he transitions to Flora. He’s also in high school instead of boarding school for some reason. I don’t know, this vignette’s really old.
  • Hapsburg Manor“, though told from Emilena’s point of view, includes Flora’s family members and the mansion she grows up in. Flora herself is relevant to the plot but doesn’t appear.
  • Dances With Clowns” from The Hemlock Gang contains repeated flashbacks set during Flora’s journey from Electra to Cornova, though it was written far earlier than almost all these others and she’s way too young to fit the rest of the timeline.
  • Tabula Rasa – Flora encounters the Purifiers and joins Emilena’s team. Also she somehow begins the plot still in school, despite being in Cornova. Maybe she went to college and it was never mentioned again?
  • The Hemlock Gang – Flora appears in every story as the designated driver of Emilena’s drug-running crew.
  • Electra City Chronicles* – Flora appears in every vignette and is the protagonist of “Flora++”, “A Shiny Red Revelle”, and “An Aquamarine Phase”.
  • Echo Chambers* – A series of 13 stories starring Flora as a test subject in an Egyptian psionic research facility, where apparently she fled after the law caught up to her in America. Despite the setup, it’s mostly slice-of-life and romance plots among the staff/subjects who live within the facility.

Also, gotta mention a few stories that don’t fit in the timeline since I never ported them to star humans (most of the early drafts for above stories were anthropomorphic animals because these characters originated from role-plays on the Gang of Five forum.) The below stories were left furry because, honestly, they were just flimsy excuses to string sex scenes together:

  • Breakfast at Yiffany’s* – Flora visits Emilena’s parents on their moss farm. Emilena only appears in the introduction.
  • Weekend at Jessica’s* – Flora visits her sister at a nudist colony. Emilena only appears during the epilogue and Flora’s flashback dream on Saturday night.
  • The Psionic Olympics* – A standalone novella set during Echo Chambers. Flora joins two other test subjects in representing Sartonic Labs at the quadrennial Olympic Games for psions.
  • What Happens in Legal…”* – Set during Echo Chambers. Flora’s surprise party for a new test subject is interrupted by a psion with ulterior motives.
  • The Approaching Light” – This one’s safe-for-work and not really like the others, written as a non-canon crossover between several different franchises. Young Emilena appears, but the time-travel plot causes her to grow up in 20th-century Spain without ever undergoing the Accelerated Growth procedure.

Video Games

Emilena has appeared in two non-canon video games. (She can also appear in yours, she’s part of the sprite pack I released into the public domain!)

  • Electra City – As one of the four playable fighters in a 1v1 pixel brawler.
  • Echo of the Undead – A little in-browser game where she fights a horde of zombies until she dies. Hence the title, geddit?
  • You can also play as her in Minecraft, if you really want to.

RP Continuity

Last but not least, since I’m trying to be thorough here, I should catalog the role-plays Emilena and Flora appeared in when they were still a fox and a folf. This should essentially be considered a completely different iteration of the characters from their human counterparts, not the least of which because those role-plays got pretty bizarre and don’t have much in the way of coherency:

  • Scorched Earth – An ancient role-play I didn’t even participate in, but during Into the Black‘s character creation I decided to make Emilena the daughter of StarfallRaptor’s characters.
  • Into the Black* – The first role-play, mostly tells the same story as Electra City. Emilena was my main character, and also such a dick most of the other authors admitted they were really hoping I’d kill her off and bring in a new character.
  • Racing the Storm* – A weird sci-fi romp where the main characters are traveling the world trying to stop a fleet of psionic gecko warmongers from taking over the planet. Emilena and her gangmates (including Flora in her first-ever appearance) are actually recurring antagonists who make life harder for the heroes. I was originally planning on killing them off one-by-one, but positive reception led to Flora getting an epilogue where she survives the warship’s destruction.
  •  Around the Folf* – Flora, having crash-landed her escape pod in the Sahara, makes her way to a psionic research facility. The original furry version of Echo Chambers was set during this.
    • Bathroom scene* – Halfway through Around the Folf, the Gang of Five updated their rules to ban sex scenes in forum posts. All subsequent ones were RPed in private via Google Docs. This one was between Flora and a test subject named Yurei.
    • Bedroom scene* – This one was between Flora and a nurse named Emma.
    • Folf in a Hot Tin Pool* – This one starred four characters (including Flora) in a jacuzzi.
    • Taming of the Revenue – This one was completely off the Gang of Five, and starred Flora and ‘Life’, the fursona of someone who paid me real money to RP it. More details here.
  • After the Storm – Apparently, Emilena survived the warship destruction too. She’s now rich and famous due to her role in saving the world, but pretty gray around the muzzle, having aged faster than normal due to unexpected side effects of the Growth Acceleration Program. I wanted to try writing her as a more physically-crippled character who had to rely on her wit and smarts to survive the dangerous situations that keep finding her.
  • Blanking the Slate – Some authors weren’t happy with how bizarre Racing the Storm got. They created a separate timeline, set immediately after Into the Black and ignoring all other RPs, which returned to the initial city and told another story starring the Purifiers. I completely reworked Flora’s character for the reboot, now she’s a pop star who keeps mouthing off to everyone and I quickly got sick of her new interpretation. She’s lucky the RP died out before I killed her off. Plot was adapted into Tabula Rasa.
    • Enter Bianca* – A sex scene between pop star Flora and a young woman named Bianca, who’s actually Nick’s character Rose in disguise.
    • Epilogue – Like Racing the Storm, I wrote an epilogue after the RP petered out. Flora and Emilena are both present, and the latter dies because I traditionally kill my main character at the end of an RP series.
  • Ask the Characters– An out-of-universe thread where people could ask questions to characters from the various RPs. Emilena and Flora have answered a huge amount of questions over the years.

(If any of these links ever die, I have archived copies of all these RPs in this blog post.)

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!

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.

Updates on creative projects

Happy Valentine’s Day. It’s been so long and they were a real handful, but I do frequently miss my polyamorous roommates from my Texas days.

I guess there are a few things that have changed since I last gave something of a progress update on various goals, so I’ll just list them all here for completionist’s sake.

  1. As mentioned before, we’ve hit some exciting milestones in several long-running series. As mentioned in “The 2s Have It“, we’ve got a bunch of big viewcounts on different websites, but the only number that really matters is 388; the current subscriber count for The SPUF of Legend. Subs are how you get anywhere on YouTube, especially considering most of my views come from me hyperlinking to the videos on reddit in related conversations. I haven’t had any real luck in translating our increasing viewcounts to a sustained community, though I know why it’s not currently working; I don’t really have a united theme in my videos to motivate anyone to come back.  You need to pick one game and stick with it in this industry; the Daily SPUF‘s viewership ratings were huge until we started covering games other than TF2, and the Spuf of Legend had a small dedicated community of viewers but they justifiably left when I stopped making Payday 2 videos. At the moment, my plan is to survive the next few weeks (more below) and wait for a really good, trendy, modern game to come out that I can leap on and corner the market with the same gusto I covered Payday 2.
  2. MasterClass has finished, and it was a great experience all around. Ended up recording footage from almost two dozen games, and the class turned out great. It was awesome watching the episode and seeing my recordings throughout, especially since many of them had my username aabicus in the HUD when the game needed it. Sadly it doesn’t appear to have translated into a full job with MasterClass, I would have loved to work with them as a fulltime employee. But there’s always the future!
  3. I went through the Darwin’s Soldiers wiki one day and added categories for gender. I mostly wanted to see the breakdown myself, turns out there are 280 males73 females, and 19 unknown/genderless characters in the Darwin’s Soldiers franchise. Guess that makes sense considering the combat/military focus, but I’m hoping we do a better job with the Into the Black franchise.
  4. Speaking of Into the Black, I finally finished an old story I’d started months earlier but abandoned when StarfallRaptor left the forum, since it was being written at his behest. But I hate leaving things unfinished, though I’d have made an exception if I’d known it would become the longest story in the canon. “Weekend at Jessica’s” is a Starfall story, so expect a lot of sex/adult themes, and I’m working on another Emilena story for people who prefer the ‘action noir’ style-storylines. It takes place back when Emilena was a cop, and covers her going undercover as a waitress to discover which employees at a fancy restaurant are using their job to peddle drugs.
  5.  GDC is coming up, and I might or might not be going. I have an opportunity for a free press pass, in exchange for reporting for someone else’s YouTube channel, and I am absolutely taking that opportunity if it happens for the sheer networking potential alone.
  6. Apex Legends surprised everyone by launching onto the public stage and genuinely being a blast to play. I find myself coming back to it even when I normally don’t like Battle Royales, and to my surprise I actually want to make videos on it. Let’s see if I can get a foothold in this brand new community.

 

Exciting YouTube Happenstances

Couple of cool things happening on my other social medias:

1. The SPUF of Legend hit its 100th subscriber, which means I finally qualify for a custom URL: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheSPUFofLegend Turns out they actually don’t let you choose that custom URL, you just hit the ‘Enable custom URL’ button and it turns your channel name into a hyperlink. But it’s still lightyears better than that cavalcade of letters and numbers you get by default!

2. Several videos on there are doing surprisingly well! The most notable of which are two presentations which are literally just recordings of lectures I gave for classes at school: Team Fortress Classic: Its Development, Gameplay, and Legacy, and Procedural Content Generation in Left 4 Dead 2. Both of them got triple-digit viewcounts within their first week, and the tie-in reddit threads quickly hit the top of their related subreddits. r/l4d2 even stickied it ^_^ I actually plan to start doing “lectures turned into videos” that are just me talking with a PowerPoint running in the background. God knows they were easier to make than the gameplay-synced-to-voiceovers I normally make.

3. This one isn’t YouTube, but I also scored a killer custom URL on LinkedIn. This time I actually had to type stuff until I found one available, and it blew my mind that my full first and last name were just available. Those other Nicholas Halseys were really sleeping on the job, I don’t know how we got all the way to 2018 without any of us snatching it up.

4. And, as we stray further and further from the point of this post, have an unfinished story where Flora learns C++. It was a failed attempt by me to approach C++ through another lens, to try and view it objectively instead of from the usual ‘oh god I don’t get any of this I’m doomed‘ purview that tends to prevail. With Destler’s class over, I have literally no motivation to ever touch this story again. But who knows, supposedly Whitehead’s class is putting C++ back on the menu, so Flora might be voiding more functions yet.

Edit 9/9/2019: I literally platinum’d someone on reddit to finish the code, so the story is now officially finished. In my defense, I’m long graduated by the time I posted this update.