Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Thirty Eight

Previous chapter: Percussive Maintenance.

Chapter Thirty Eight: The Scent of French Perfume.

It was two weeks before Hera felt the rocket was fit for flight. She had put in a dashboard computer, fine tuned the engines, and generally took her time to make sure everything was in place. It was also a day when the four housemates had the day off.

Hera was playing the piano trying to recreate some more game soundtracks, while Isabel was staring in admiration at the various snaps of art on Tumblr through her phone.

Francesca went out to weed the garden, and was picking the wildflowers from the base of the trees. "I hate this chore," she grumbled to herself. "I must scrub my hands after this."
Meanwhile, upstairs in the master bedroom, Attie was dressing to impress her cousin. She pulled on a simple red shirt and loose black trousers. "I'm hot stuff even in pants," she chuckled after seeing herself in the mirror.

With a big smile on her face, Attie sprayed some French perfume on her neck, just under her collar, and a bit on her stomach. She rubbed a bit of the fine scent onto her arms as well. After preening, she went out into the garden to find Francesca.

The brown-haired girl had washed her hands clean of the dirt, and was staring at the brick formations. She looked up and saw Attie. "Oh, hello," she said. "What do you want?"

"I want to know if you'd like to go on a trip with me," said Attie.

"A short one's fine with me," Francesca said. "Where to? Shall we take a bus to the library?"

"I've got a better idea. Shall we see stars, Fran?" Attie asked very politely. "Hera gave me permission to use the rocket ship," she said glibly. Francesca nodded.

"Then we'll go," Attie said and went over to the rocket ship. She opened it and grabbed two space suits from the hold.

When the pair put on spacesuits over their clothes, Attie paused before entering the rocket ship. She hoped that she'd be able to go through with her plan.

Francesca really believed that they were going to see the stars in the sky. "Are we going to see any big ones up there?" she asked, her eyes wide with excitement.

"You'll be seeing stars alright," Attie said. "Very intimate ones," she thought to herself.

They clambered into the rocket, and Attie started its engines. She quickly read the note that Hera had pinned for her own reference. The scrawled note stated that the rocket could only fly up to three kilometers in altitude.

"Three, two, one, liftoff!" Francesca quipped, and the rocket did just that.

Once the rocket got high enough to hover around, Attie set it to autopilot, and paced towards her cousin. Francesca was gazing at the stars. "Lovely view," she said.

"So are you, Fran," Attie said. She took off her space suit as Francesca stared at her.

"What? It's heavy. Would be more comfortable to take it off since we're not actually in space."

"Huh. Alrighty then," Francesca said and slipped out of her space suit. She crossed her arms when she noticed Attie staring at her chest. "Have I gotten plump?" she asked in her funny little British accent.

"Plump in all the right places," Attie said with a smile. Francesca's pale face turned bright red. Attie went right up to her and kissed her on the cheek. "What was that for?" Francesca asked.

"A kiss for a kiss, ma cherie Demoliri," Attie purred, putting a hand on her cousin's chest and reaching for the zipper with the other. "Maybe more."

Next chapter: Smothered in Perfume.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Thirty Seven

Previous chapter: Sinope Macaroon.

Chapter Thirty Seven: Percussive Maintenance.

As Isabel and Francesca watched through Hera's window, the blue-eyed woman in question was working at a steady pace to finish her rocket set. She carefully hammered in the joints and sealed them with solder, making sure each joint was covered before going to the next one.

She had finished the base and body. Now it was time to set up the top from inside the rocket.

Hera climbed up very carefully as she brought the parts up through the rocket's internal ladder. She fixed them in place, haphazardly at first, then carefully after consulting the blueprints.

"It's like a giant vehicle model," Francesca whispered to Isabel. "Can it fly?"

Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Thirty Six

Previous chapter: Exploitation, Me?

Chapter Thirty Six: Sinope Macaroon.

Hera received a prize for winning a gaming contest at work. She brought the box back, with a plan to set it up the next morning. After her morning routine, she opened the box and groaned in disappointment. It was a virtual reality set. At that moment, Francesca entered Hera's room. "Where did you get that? Can I play? Did it cost a lot?" the plump young woman spouted off a lot of questions.

Hera put down the virtual reality mat and sighed as she set it up. "I got it as a contest prize. It's too bad I can't play it for long, unlike a normal computer," she said, as Francesca watched her.

"Can't play it? Is it on a limited trial?"

"I got a headache testing it out," Hera said. "You know why I have to take a nap in the car when the Lions are driving?"

Francesca shrugged. "Why can't you stay awake in the car?" she asked.

"I get motion sickness," Hera whispered. "In your case, I think you were bored of the drive. I've never been able to stay awake for an entire drive unless I'm the driver."

"The Lions won't let you drive, they complained that you drive like a madwoman back in New York."

"I can't help if the cars are just as mad there. How do Isabel and Attie manage to stay cool in the traffic?"

"They've got insurance," Francesca said matter-of-factly. "Their car's insured."

"I've got insurance too," Hera said. "Wish I could stop thinking of driving like a nut." She spread the virtual mat beside her desk and smoothed it down. "If you want to give the VR Mat a spin, be my guest."

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Thirty Five

Previous chapter: Postal Delivery.

Chapter Thirty Five: Exploitation, Me?

Francesca came back from work later that evening, looking annoyed. She grabbed a glass of soya milk and sat down to drink it. Isabel was eating a pepper and cabbage salad while Francesca sat down and drank her soya milk.

"What's bothering you?" Isabel asked. "Work, I take it?"

"Yeah, it's work. I'm not getting any responses to my applications for other editing jobs. People seem to think it's alright as a company not to give a reply even when the server indicates they've seen it," Francesca rambled on. "That French phrase asking to confirm your attendance or reply should be encouraged among companies."

"Reponse-sil-vous-plait," Isabel said. "Yes, it should be."
Francesca complained to Isabel.
"It's so tiresome. Plus another thing," said Francesca, waving her fat little hands around at the dinner table. "Attie acts just like a tar-baby, sticking to me like a big blob of glue, she thinks I'm her soft toy or something. When did I turn that cuddlesome? I'd like to know, seriously."

"Could be because you're a bit too stout," Isabel said. "I think you're just fine, shape-wise."

"I'll run, I'm pretty sure Attie wouldn't want to hug a pile of bones."

Isabel privately thought that Attie wouldn't care that Francesca would turn skinny, and hug her anyway. Her twin was away at a cocktail party, and wore a little black dress, which Isabel felt wouldn't look right on her. Then again, Attie was the sort to put herself on display. All long legs, short body, and a tendency to show a bit too much off.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Thirty Four

Previous chapter: The Kiss.

Chapter Thirty Four: Postal Delivery.

The beeping was the first thing Hera heard in the morning. She rolled over and picked up her phone. There was a message, and it said that her rocket kit would arrive soon. The news caused Hera to hop out of bed and put on her clothes on in a hurry.

A quick wash and brush later, Hera was ready. She sat by the mailbox, hoping for the delivery. It didn't come. Hera looked at her phone, it was six in the morning! She decided to go back in and sleep again, in her day clothes this time.

When she woke up again, it was around ten in the morning. She went out for breakfast and saw her housemate Attie.
Hera chattered about the delivery.
Hera greeted her friend cheerfully. "My rocket kit's coming today," she said, as Attie ate her breakfast thoughtfully. "If it comes in the morning I'm going to unpack it and put it together," Hera went on. Attie made a snort of approval, then got up and put her plate away.

--------

The post arrived in the form of a labeled parcel, which warned Hera to open it outdoors. A crash, a bang, and a thump later, Hera's parcel was finally unpacked. She stared at the resulting pile of metal propped up on the base.
An enormous set.
"I didn't expect a small box to hold a kit this big!" she said. "I thought it was a toy rocket. Don't tell me it's a Whovian bit of technology."

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Thirty Three

Previous chapter: Postal Order.

Chapter Thirty Three: The Kiss.

It was the weekend and the four housemates were having the day off from their work, so Attie dashed out for a run. Her long legs struck the pavement and she went as fast as the wind. "I really like running," the Lion thought. "Gives me time to myself."

After Attie came back from her outdoor run, she went upstairs, where Francesca was reading a book on Isabel's bed. Francesca sat up and put down the book. "How's the run?" she asked.

"Great, as usual," Attie purred.

"Wearing more clothes than usual, are we?"

"Since Isabel told me to put some more clothes on, or I might catch a cold," Attie joked. Francesca got up from the bed and walked over to her cousin.

"Want to hear a secret?" she asked. Attie nodded. Francesca leaned in close and planted a kiss on Attie's cheek.
She kissed Attie on the cheek.
Attie grinned as inappropriate thoughts of her cousin danced in her head. Francesca stepped back after kissing Attie's face. "That's a French kiss, right?" Francesca asked, looking uncertain.

"In one sense," Attie said, still grinning. "There are many others," she said, as she went to the bathroom to change her clothes.

--------

After Isabel came back from shopping for groceries, she put away the goods. She then sat down on the sofa to rest her back. "Case of the cold, now my back hurts, ugh," Isabel grumbled to herself. Attie and Francesca came downstairs.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Thirty Two

Previous chapter: Acting For Sweeps.

Chapter Thirty Two: Postal Order.

Francesca told Hera a very rude joke involving blancmange over breakfast the day after the Sweeps stunt. Hera was grossed out, but tried to keep it down, along with the thin-crust pizza that was her brunch.
Hera was grossed out.
She wondered if she should ban Francesca from her life. On second thought, she pondered, it wasn't a very smart idea. It would just strain a good relationship, Francesca's sudden inappropriateness notwithstanding.
"Let's ban Fran," said Hera's brain.
Unfortunately, the thought "Let's ban Fran," resonated in her brain. She couldn't stop thinking about it, not even when she chattered about the game contest she had signed up for at work the week before. "I'm going for a Team Fortress 2 tournament," she said.

"Who are you playing as?" Francesca asked, giving Hera a curious look. "Soldier, Spy, or what?"

"I'd rather play as a Medic," Hera replied. Attie got up and cleared the plates as Hera ate the last of her pizza. "I can heal myself as well as the others."

"Good luck," said Francesca. "May you and your team win."

"Thanks, Fran. Same about your work at the magazine house today."

Focus and Continuity in AQWorlds.

Note: This was not written by me, but by another user of AQWorlds. I am simply rehosting their opinions with permission. The only changes I have made are spelling and formatting.

Author: Ergotth of Battleon Forums.
This is a little critique I have for AE regarding the direction AQW is going: all over the place and nowhere at the same time (Warning, this is a looooong text).

Introduction
Something I noticed more or less during the Spam Chaos Lord saga is that AE is not keeping the focus of its storyline. They want to keep throwing us so many random plot lines and events clashing with the current plot line that sometimes, between two events of the same plot, we have to wait a whole month to get back to where we stopped.

The Chaos Lord finale was a prime example of this, we kicked Drakath in July, Lore crumbled to dust, and we were about to meet the Loremasters. It took us December to get back with the Mother of all Monsters…and nowhere near where we stopped! What happened inside the Loremaster's temple? How did we get in the frozen wasteland? And why did it take 5 months frolicking in places that shouldn't even exist anymore to get back to the Mother of all Monsters saga, without even proper continuity?

And then we have 3 releases in the frozen wasteland, some nice quests, cutscenes, etc.. We finished it with an interesting note of two powerful villains getting closer than we wish they would... only to follow it in a different place from where we stopped again! Alas, in a place that shouldn't exist.

Lore's Geography
Northpointe shouldn't exist anymore, Lore itself crumbled to pieces, places like Battleon, Shadowfall, Arcangrove, etc are either sinking to the bottom of the ocean, shattered to pieces or isolated islands of destruction. If you guys had to emphasize so much the idea that Lore was literally falling apart (and I'm quoting a cutscene when I say "falling apart"), please give us a new map like you promised.

No need to make a new MAP, but at least make the rooms unrelated to the old Lore, like the Frozen Wasteland, it was a perfect scenario. At the same time, you should also make it very clear that Lore was scattered like a broken egg. Which was a very overwhelming plot device if you ask me, quite a bold move on the story. But you guys also need responsibility with this promise, because it meant a huge change in the map of AQWorlds that is yet to be seen. And speaking of the Frozen Wasteland, I don't think we had to leave that place yet. Don't be afraid to keep us in the same map for more than 3 releases in a row. it also helps the artist who makes the scenarios (J6, I believe) so he can easily keep what he was working on without having to jump from different themes so erratically.

Also, if you guys still can't part with some old areas, make some excuse to fit in, like, the area survived the destruction, or that room is all that's left of the whole area. Make some key points of the map as beacons in that sea of chaos (lower-case c "chaos"). So as much as Lore was destroyed, we get some places that survived somehow, like the places we saw in the Loremaster Temple release, what was left of Dwarfhold, what was left of Arcangrove, and so on...

And now we have yet another remake of the tutorial... Couldn't it just wait a little? The old tutorial was already explaining and introducing us to AQW pretty much fine on its own. Why can't some things wait? Please AE, make an engaging and coherent plot, a storyline that keep us eager to see the end, a continuous saga that wont be interrupted for so much time until we forget what we were doing. I liked how AQW was back a few years, with a whole story in a row, consistent and fluid, no unnecessary interruptions. However, I consider those seasonal events like Friday the 13th, Mogloween, staff birthdays, etc. necessary, they can't wait indeed).

The storyline in AQWorlds takes YEARS to be fulfilled, it's a long, complex story, BUT... it's split into smaller stories that converge in the end. The Chaos Lord saga was split into 13 parts and other related side events. Between the Chaos Lords' sagas, we had free time. Doomwood happened, Xan happened, Etherstorm happened. That is a good flowchart to follow. Try to keep the small parts of the storyline fluent and with short interruptions, so when they are finished, we can rest and enjoy some free time before the next adventure knocks on our door.

I know you guys have A LOT of brilliant ideas, but give it order, or else AQW will fall into literal chaos.

I suggest that every time you fine lads start a saga, consider the time it takes to make each part, try to avoid taking over 2 weeks to continue the story, and, if possible, avoid clashing the events. I would reccommend planning the order of some releases as a whole month plan.

Considering how a month has just 4 releases, 2-3 months sounds reasonable to just place the releases in order, you know, a flowchart, a pipeline. Something to place the releases in a line, take a step back and look at the order they have, and see which ones can change place with others. Sometimes it feels like the releases are planned looking forward but never looking back to analyze the trail they left.

I also have a few reminders of what was promised to us and so far, not a clue where they are going:
-last stone of Battleon: still about to turn into "something".
-Doomwood VS Grimskull: Grimskull was BRILLIANT, the dungeon was fun and the NPC was hilarious, we re all eager to see more of it (and make sure to explain us why Doomwood still exists when *ahem* Lore doesn't anymore).
-Descending into hell to get Dage's soul, promised after his birthday challenge boss fight, which specified that after the Chaos Lord saga finale, we would have this saga.
-The Scorned saga. We are still waiting to enter Dage's court.

I think it sounds a little harsh, but I'm speaking with a very sincere, worried and helpful intention. I see AQW losing some players, I can look at the servers and see how empty they get with time. Some players are quitting AQW, I'm not renewing my membership, because I feel like AQWorlds is becoming a pipe dream and its not captivating me as much as Dragonfable and AQ.

I don't want to see AQWorlds end up empty and deserted. I grew with it, alpha-tested it and saw with a very close eye every bit of development it had. I hold so many precious memories of playing... and this game has POTENTIAL, I tell ya. It is just veering off its direction a bit, so you must put it back on track. It's not a U-turn, just a few steps back to see your path, and keep your eyes on your surroundings. And most important, learn from the past. See what you did so you can plan what you will do, what you promised, what you must fulfill, what can wait, and what must be done immediately.

Battle On

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Thirty One

Previous chapter: Declamation.

Chapter Thirty One: Acting For Sweeps.

The day after Francesca tried to declaim her poem of Attie, the housemates came back from work early. All except for Isabel, who had to stay back to conduct a night-painting session. Hera was playing through her game collection, checking up on VaudeVille, and napping when she felt too tired to continue.

Francesca ate a chicken sandwich for dinner while Attie had a lemon-covered salad. The Lion found her meal much too sour, but scarfed it down anyway. After Francesca washed her hands clean of the sandwich, she turned around and found Attie standing in front of her.

"What do you want?" she asked, a little peevishly. Attie grabbed Francesca's hands in reply. Francesca wasn't amused. "Did you hear me?" she asked again.
Attie took hold of Fran's hands.
Attie suddenly handed out a bright red rose after letting go of Francesca. Francesca took it and stared at her cousin. "It's for you," said the Lion. "You love roses, don't you?"

"A flower! Thank you!"
"I do! Thank you!" Francesca replied. She clutched the rose to her chest and smiled. "How did you know?"