Recent posts by petesahooligan on Kongregate

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Topic: The Arts / Pete's art dump

I post about a third of the stuff I work on. I’m involved with a few different online artist communities and find that the feedback is generally lackluster… so it’s usually not worth the trouble. I used to work in the games industry and those drawings—mostly concept sketches—would be more appropriate for this crowd. But I’m not doing much of that anymore. That’s the simplest explanation.

I don’t draw much digitally anymore. It lacks life, I think. I reserve the computer for technical illustrations, typically.

 
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Topic: The Arts / How I can improve this image?

How to improve it? Depends on what you’re looking for or how it will be used.

• Redraw the head contour in a vector program so that it’s even. If you don’t have a vector program, count pixels so that the left and right sides are symmetrical.

• Redraw the reflections so that they are rounder and emphasize the contour. If you want a wet look, consider underlight reflections that you might find in a droplet. Look at examples online.

• The mouth and nose (!) should be larger so that it reads at smaller sizes.

• The reds should be a single red color.

• The gray is so subtle that it doesn’t read. Plus, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

 
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Topic: The Arts / Critique My Art

I see it now.

It’s clearly an allegory for post-colonial Vietnam’s hybrid modernity. I feel like I have a renewed comprehension of the unitary Vietnamese narrative. How bold! How refreshing! How now brown cow!

 
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Topic: The Arts / Listen to my music :)

So ambient and non-melodic that I couldn’t really “listen” to it from a critical standpoint. Does it seem completely appropriate for a light RPG or mature puzzle game? Absolutely.

 
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Topic: The Arts / Artwork for an MMORPG / TCG

This is an interesting screen shot. I feel like it introduces some hazards. There are lots of layers that don’t entirely support each other. There’s a parity issue going on between the backdrop (painterly), the filigree (uniform tan strokes), the playmat frames (color-coded player identifiers), the portraits (whimsical full-color vectors), and the play stage (monochromatic vector with color-coded keys of some sort on monochromatic uniform tan strokes). In other words, all of the styles come together in a somewhat haphazard fashion.

Color is used in two ways; as a player designator and presumably in the location-based allowances for card placement. There are plenty of ways to create parity… color is just one of them… there is size, luminosity/saturation, iconography, and so on. When you use color for two unrelated aspects of gameplay it may be easy to explain but it ultimately uses one code for two separate definitions and that can hamper learnability.

The playmat itself has a subtle challenge, I think. The ovals linking the grid’s cells are super meaningful and immediately suggest how the game is played. This is where great design can really support game mechanics. However, the card backs (in the columns) and the card faces (in the cells) are very different… one has corners, the other doesn’t… one is tan swords, the other is a gray kaleidoscopic design. This severs the relationship between the two containers and that could be a concern.

Finally, I feel like there’s just something inherently distasteful about having a portrait overlap and eclipse any portion of my cards. This puts “ornament” in front of “mechanic” and that seems disruptive.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Do You Need Feminism?

VikaTae, I like where you’re going with this.

If we consider the core tenets of advocacy, we see that the intent is to persuade your audience toward a particular way of thinking. (Advanced advocacy would probably come with some specific call-to-action… “sign this petition”… “intervene when you encounter bullshit”… “like this page”.)

So your goal—as an advocate—is to build support and raise awareness (and not necessarily in that order). To accomplish this you need a few skills…

• You need to communicate. Your audience needs to be able to relate to you and empathize with your situation. You need to have command of language that resonates with your audience. The bond between the advocate and the audience must be personal. Confrontational or accusatory language is in direct opposition to this concept and will stop an advocate’s progress in their tracks.

• You need to be likeable. Effective advocates guide their audience through the tension carefully so that the audience can vicariously “feel” the injustice being committed. Some advocates do this by drawing on sympathetic feelings of protection and guardianship. For example, “who will save these starving children?” These stories need a victim and position the audience as the protector. It’s effective.

• You need to have a problem and a solution. This is where a lot of advocates fail. They have one or the other. They either have a vision that doesn’t solve a problem that anyone can relate to, or they have a problem (and plenty of blame to go around) without a solution. This simply raises anxiety and doesn’t provide an outlet. Thanks Captain Jerkface for getting everyone so upset!

Fresh advocates usually have just enough language to incite but lack the persuasion to gather support.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Do You Need Feminism?

A vagina doesn’t qualify someone to represent feminist ideals, Kasic… you know it, I know it, and most feminists know it. There are loads of people with vaginas that are not feminists and loads of feminists that lack vaginas. The two have very little to do with each other…

EXCEPT

… when it comes to speaking directly to the experience of being a woman. Being able to intrinsically understand what it means to be a woman, (with all of its contradictions and nuanced experiences), is something that you (as a man) will NEVER EVER be able to do. You are simply not qualified. Nor are they qualified to speak directly from the framework of being a man (unless they are one). They can speak about patriarchal power systems and you can speak about the constructs of feminism. That’s it.

I suspect that that’s how you are interpreting their criticism of your viewpoint. Were they saying “we don’t agree with you” or were they saying “we think you need to shut up”? There’s a big difference.

If I were to give you the benefit of the doubt and agree that the “multiple feminists” that you have talked to were being hypocritical, I would essentially be implying that “feminists are hypocrites.” And I simply don’t believe that.

I DO believe that radical feminism ideas appeal to young would-be advocates and that it’s a very accessible platform to learn your voice. For that, I suspect that there are more inexperienced (and inarticulate) feminists than there are, say, healthcare reform advocates. The bar to entry is set pretty low… and that’s fine. It’s good, actually… it’s diverse.

Jantonaitis: Damn, I’m impressed with the whole post! Couldn’t agree more, and the thickness of those ideas may take a while to digest.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Do You Need Feminism?

Some terrific observations, karmakool.

You’re certainly right that we cannot rely on any singular narrative to describe all of the members of any group. There really is no “Black Experience.” That certainly does NOT dismiss that there are patterns and tendencies, though. If there weren’t, we’d have conversations like this:

“What’s it like to grow up to be black?”
“The very same as it is to be white.”

Nobody in this day and age would dispute that growing up black or white will have a significant impact on your life. That’s not to say that if you are black, you will have a particular set of experiences, or vice versa.

I see a lot of communication-breakdown with the introduction of passionate adherents to a particular platform that they feel is under-represented.

When these spokespeople are good, these people are terrific… they are articulate champions that succinctly convey the passion and vision (or frustration and angst) of their people poetically, humorously, emotionally… they communicate. They are heroes.

Lots of us aspire to be heroes, and what better opportunity than to be a self-elected representative to someone or something you feel passionate about. Lots of people aren’t very good at it and they’ll rely on hyperbole and easy tropes to “puncture” the arguments of the opposition. It’s not about communicating. This is about the representative finding their own voice… it’s about individual empowerment and is (by and large) irrelevant to the social issue, political event, or whatever.

A friend of mine used to complain excessively about the Occupy Movement’s lack of demands. It drove him crazy… not because he was some kind of right-wing conservative (hardly), but rather because it offended his sense of civilized order. He eventually was able to articulate that source of anxiety but it took a WHOLE LOT of bitching about stuff that was irrelevant to his problem.

That’s just the nature of the beast.

Oh yeah, that and the desire to always have the last word. There’s probably a French word for that.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Do You Need Feminism?

No, Kasic, you and I are going to disagree on this.

Just because someone describes something to you doesn’t mean you can really internalize what that means, especially over a lifetime.

If I were to extend your logic into other areas, I think it quickly becomes clear that you (as a man) and myself (as a man) cannot fully understand. Note that I said “fully understand” in both of my posts while you simply said “understand.” I think what we’re talking about is really being able to internalize the sensation of being the victim of harassment and verbal abuse.

So… let’s say I’m a black man from the projects and you’re a suburban white and I tell you what it feels like to grow up black. You may be able to “understand” my perspective but you cannot really internalize it… and just because you understand it doesn’t mean you can immediately adopt “my” perspective as a black guy. See what I mean?

You can have opinions on race and gender issues all you want, of course. The expectation is that if they are unpleasant to the person you are sharing them with, THEY have a right to criticize you.

However, that’s not how mutual ground is discovered.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Do You Need Feminism?

I agree, Superhero… there are some reactions to perceived threats that are so presumptuous that they end up discrediting the other more important ideas in the viewer’s perspective. It’s a shame in a way.

I often get lambasted by my feminist friends for taking a moderate approach to feminist activism. They claim that their tolerance is informed by their experience and that I could never fully understand. I agree with them, but that if I am ultimately their audience—or the type of person they would like to relate to—then those types of impulses need to be more moderate.

But it’s also important to acknowledge that the difference between an imagined threat and a real one is subjective. There are lots of people that don’t fear walking in certain areas at night and some of them probably can’t understand why anyone would be afraid. So… it’s relative.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Communism Vs. Capitalism

Russia, because it is the historical model of a global communist power.

Originally posted by Jantonaitis:

As to your Russia example , I don’t see what communism has to do with it. It was a powerful country under the tsar, it’s a powerful country now under Putin.
 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Communism Vs. Capitalism

I’m not sure how you are measuring success.

Russia is very powerful and exerts a significant influence on the world. That’s success, in a way.
Cuba has contributed some significant artists (and works of art). That’s success, I would think.
China is basically the world’s manufacturing plant. That could be considered success.
Vietnam has an emerging manufacturing and arts industry that people are wise to pay attention to. That will shortly be considered a form of success.

Unless you’re being facetious… then I don’t understand what you’re saying.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Do You Need Feminism?

That’s an incredibly unfair generalization, CROW. Feminists do not “always try” to do anything.

You are correct in that SOME feminists may try to silence anyone who disagrees with them, and there are SOME misogynists who do the same.

One of the biggest threats to any issue-driven discussion is to make sweeping generalizations about a group of people. It’s clumsy and destructive.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Communism Vs. Capitalism

Kasic seems to talking about the inherent conflict of nationalism… in that a “country” is not a thing but rather a collection of people. It’s an interesting concept, I think.

A country has identity, but that identity is largely formed by human imagination. As a geographical area it certainly has unique characteristics, but there is no reason why human beings should be proud of them. It’s like being proud of the Grand Canyon… like, what did YOU have to do with it?

So a country is a geographical area. People identify strongly with two things; race and place. Neither of which do we have any control over (at least not at first). It’s ironic, and maybe Kasic shares this view, that people take such personal pride in something that is inherently not in their control.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Communism Vs. Capitalism

This country is celebrated in many ways… currently and in history. But we’re also shitty in a lot of ways, too. Belgium makes delicious beer (hooray!) and King Leopold II (booo!).

The way I see it, and I admit to having a somewhat juvenile view of politics, is that the problem isn’t in lack of regulation or a “big gov. versus small gov.” issue (as the tea-party likes to claim), but rather in corporate influence in Washington D.C.

If you’re not a big corporate lawyer, you’re in a public position, and vice versa, and sometimes at the same time. Even academic professors are indebted to corporate donors. Elections are won and lost by how much money is spent, and we’re so cynical as a people that we celebrate our politician’s fundraising abilities. We’re not electing them to have fundraising dinners! We’re electing them to represent us, not the corporations that line their pockets.

And the appreciation of that big fat campaign check isn’t shown in the high-profile court decisions. (Well, sometimes it does.) But rather in the small perfunctory decisions… how you talk about things to your peers, who you have time for and who you don’t, and how vigorously you will represent particular ideas and suggestions. THAT’S where corporate interests are manifest.

That’s the problem. Lots of things get fixed with campaign finance reform. Until then, we’re gonna keep top-loading this bus with bales of stolen middle-class money.

That’s why I’m a social democrat.

 
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Topic: The Arts / Artwork for an MMORPG / TCG

Nice work! How much creative control did you have on this project? The illustrations are good but the overlying design aesthetic is gorgeous.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Communism Vs. Capitalism

jhco50, I understand your question was directed at Lucas but I thought I’d chime in.

The USA has a long history with corporate and governmental abuses. When Lucas talks about terrible camps, he might be referring to…

• 4-million “legal” slaves…lived and kept in camps
• 50-million eradicated or displaced indigenous people… contained on reservations
• 110-thousand American citizens of Japanese descent… kept in internment camps

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of cases where the American government and companies treated people terribly. Migrant workers in the 1930s, people seeking safety during Katrina, the treatment of Chinese laborers by the rail barons in the 1800s, the murder of black activists (or people who were just in the wrong place) in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s that never faced trial.

Corruption is everywhere but it’s especially common when money is a factor. Capitalism is driven by market forces and profits, not be ethics or quality of life, so capitalism is (in my opinion) inherently corrupt.

I do NOT see Capitalism as the “best” form of government.

 
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Topic: The Arts / Critique My Art

Where’s the artwork?

 
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Topic: The Arts / Pete's art dump

$50 plus shipping and tube ($60 total)

 
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Topic: The Arts / Pete's art dump

Few more done within the last few weeks…

Amelia Earhart

Manfred von Richtofen, aka The Red Baron

 
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Topic: The Arts / Writers block

Writer’s block is not the result of a lack of ideas. It is the result of poor discipline. The best (and I believe ONLY) way to “cure” writer’s block is to sit down and write.

It may sound facetious to say that the best way to write is to write, but it’s true. If you can take the time to write about writer’s block on Kongregate, you can write about writer’s block to yourself. You have infinite topics to write about, so that’s not the problem.

If you assign blame for your block on a “lack of inspiration,” you might consider why you require inspiration to write. Inspiration is a product of creativity, and creativity (by some) can be described as the act of combining two or more disparate ideas in a unique juxtaposition… cowboys in space, talking rabbits, a school for young wizards. Wherever you start is up to you, of course… you might even employ some artificial constraint to make things more compelling… say, two disparate ideas that start with the letter “A”… a tribe of arctic apes, the discover of alien antiques (Artifacts from Antarra), an ambidextrous ambulance driver, an anti-bible called the Agnostic Answer.

Your catalyst for writing is the easy part. The difficult part is allocating the time to sit down. Don’t avoid it… put it on your calendar that you will write for some specific amount of time (10 minutes or 2 hours… but be realistic) every day, or every other day, or only on Tuesdays. Then STICK WITH IT even if it means pounding out 4 words a minute.

Also, don’t edit while you write. It’s tempting, but don’t do it. Write as quickly as you can and when the thread dries up, describe a shirt or come up with a list of names for a pet turtle… just keep writing. You WILL produce some good stuff and find ideas that you can be proud of.

But not if you stew in your own frustration at not being able to write.

 
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Topic: The Arts / Non Finite - Original Fiction - Feedback Recquested

It’s a great start. In the broadest strokes I feel like it needs a more immediate voice. Because the entire story is written in past tense… as a historical narrative… it undermines the suspense and drama that it should have.

Like, compare these two sentences:

“I was standing on the tracks when the train came around the corner.”
“I am standing on the tracks as the train comes around the corner.”

The first sentence is a recollection of something that had happened and, because the narrator is here to tell the story, the reader implicitly understands that the threat was resolved.

The second sentence is in the moment and the reader is facing the existential threat with the narrator. This, I feel, is much more intimate and engaging.

There are several instances where you can improve the expediency of the story. One thing you can do is remove those explanations that simply don’t propel the story. For each passage you can ask yourself, “what am I trying to say?” Then review the passage and remove those parts that don’t explicitly build on that intention. It will help the story.

Lots of writers are unwilling to remove clever sentences and passages that they’ve written. The writer becomes emotionally attached to the writing. You should remember that this story is not for you but for your readers.

I do all of my writing using an inexpensive piece of software called Scrivener. It allows you to write passages of your story on index cards and arrange them in the order that makes sense. It makes editing and revising much easier. You can also attach notes or bang out passages that may or may not fit in the story without fear of screwing up the whole arc.

You can also play with the narrator’s voice. Who is telling the story? It might be fun to create a version using present tense, first-person voice. “I am nothing but a fragment surrounded by existential threats.” Or perhaps it’s the voice of a mage. Or a brigadier general. Or even the Void itself. Or a combination of them… switching from voice to voice in each passage. There are lots of options.

Keep writing. It’s good. Don’t edit while you write, just bang out words (misspellings and all) as fast as the ideas come into your head. Edit and arrange later.

 
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Topic: The Arts / Non Finite - Original Fiction - Feedback Recquested

My notes in bold

It had been happening for all of recorded history. Stars vanishing, one by one, from the night sky. Nobody paid it much attention. If it truly was some disaster, it wouldn’t reach them within their lifetime. And most of those people were correct. It was their descendants who would face this disaster.

I'm not a big fan of starting a story in past tense, as a recollection or a look back. I think this first paragraph would be stronger in the present tense. "Stars vanish, one by one..." It may feel more immediate and personal. As a reflection, you know our narrator is a survivor, that the threat is not imminent.

Also, splitting hairs, I stuck on "stars in the night sky." I think you can save yourself a word because that's when stars are out.


A few astronomers noted that stars vanished closer and closer to their star system. Noted that it would be less than a century before Sol would be reached. Even more funding was poured into analysis of this phenomenon. What results they received were worrying, however. The most prominent theory was an ever-expanding cloud of darkness.
When space programs started up, a very real goal, albeit rarely discussed, was escape. Escape from the growing darkness, from the Void. Of course, they still had decades before even the most pessimistic estimates showed the darkness reaching them. Still, tensions rose. Wars became more common, weapons development accelerated, an aura of fear slowly grew.

There may be room to trim words like "however," and the like. The sentences read fine without them and feel more deliberate. Again, I think this paragraph could be cast in the present tense to make it more tense and engaging... as it is it still feels like a prologue to the stuff to come.

By this point, the darkness was less than a decade away from their star. Colony ships were being built at this point, inefficient, crude shuttles built in fear. Resources were stockpiled by governments and private factions alike. Recreational drug use increased significantly as stress rose, and even more legal intoxicating substances found themselves abused.

"By this point..." is probably unnecessary. I like the idea of colony ships being designed and built in a panic and feel like, (if I were writing this story), I would want to explore that idea a little bit more... were there accidents? What does it mean to "build something in fear?"

By best estimate, they had less than a year. The colony ships had been launched, though they knew the ships could never accelerate fast enough to escape. People ended up spending more time with their families, quitting jobs they hated, acting like their was no tommorrow. Most social structures decayed significantly, while others strengthened. The Void was only weeks away.

Each sentence has a few words that could be trimmed for speed. For example, "people ended up spending more time with their families..." could be "people spent more time with families..." It conveys the same idea but is more efficient. Same story in less space, or more story in the same space. I think you write well enough to trust your reader to follow you through some stylistic challenges.

From the Void, creatures came. Eventually, they would be widely known as demons, but for now none knew what to make of them. Diplomacy was attempted, though no response was received. The Void’s advance seemed slowed by their star, and for that they were grateful, but they soon realized why they had not noticed this behavior earlier. The demons drained power from the star, even as smaller swarms from many light years around coallesced.

Wait, what Void? Space, you mean? What is this Void? Coalesced only has one L. Don't misspell words.

It had been decided quite rapidly that they would fight back. Nuclear weapons were launched directly towards the sun. Sadly, there were far too many demons for this to put the slightest dent in their numberless hordes. Weaponry production was increased greatly even as militaries around the world recruited and trained mercilessly.

"Quite" is one of those words that just doesn't seem to do anything. It was decided rapidly. (Got it.) It was decided quite rapidly. (Same thing.) Sadly, there were far too many demons... (Got it.) There were far too many demons... (Same thing.) Also, you're describing how conventional weapons do nothing against the hordes of Demons. Hordes means a whole lot... so "numberless" is not necessary. "...even as the world's militaries trained..." is probably faster than what you have. Here's my train of thought when it comes to writing; you better have a damn good reason to use any word that ends in "ly" (adverbs).

Eventually, despite the best efforts of humanity, the star was consumed by the demons. The Void began to encroach once more even as the swarm of demons began to move towards Earth. Countless bullets and bombs, every concievable measure with which to stop the demons, were attempted, but in the end it was futile. The waves of demons seemed endless.

There's an "ly" word. It isn't necessary (IMO). Is "the" star actually "our" star? This may be an opportunity to make this more relevant... relate the events to the reader. Conceivable is misspelled. The last sentence should swap with the second-to-last sentence fragment. "In the end it was futile." is an awesome sentence all on its own... loaded with meaning.

Every person slain by the demons lost their soul to the beasts, further demoralizing them all. Many chose suicide rather than face this fate, though a few instead learned from watching the soul be consumed. Earth’s human population dwindled, until all that remained were the mages, those who had learned to draw power from their souls. They did what they could to drive the demons back by channeling energy from massive generators into destructive attacks, but they were unable to stop the demons.
The demons seemed to come to a conclusion that the remaining humans were too tough to be worth eating, and left to claw down the walls around another universe. A few remained, building strongholds of heavy stone that burned endlessly with demonic flames. The mages took some time to realize why, but as the Void descended upon the planet it seemed obvious.

Parts of this paragraph are wonky. First, the beasts are like carnivores or something? I thought they ate solar systems. Why would they bother with humans? Anyway, each person slain (slain? Is that a word anyone would use? Sounds so flamboyant.) lost their soul to the Demon. I'm not sure if you're going for religious allegory, but losing souls and using antiquated words like slain, especially with demons, feels like it's charged for some biblical encounters. And after they were slain they were further demoralized? Really? I can imagine. You may want to rethink this sentence. The paragraph introduces some freaky metaphysical shit that could probably stand a little more logistical support. What are these generators... soul generators? Sounds funky. They could drive them back but they couldn't stop the attacks? Which is it?

The mages themselves, already gathered into groups by and large, built their own fortresses. Deep underground, with what resources they could scavenge, they purified the air, heated their home, and recycled waste into food via magic. When they had enough power to spare or needed something they could not create, they went to the surface, shrouded in barriers of magic to protect themselves from the cold and vacuum.
And this continued for quite some time. Life continued, as it tended too. The mages grew in power and dwindled in number. The demons squabbled amongst each other over trinkets and tracts of wasteland. The world was slowly eaten away at by the Void. And, in the distant depths of the Void, a mind formed.

"Gathered into groups by and large..." They gathered into groups by (the lake) and were large (people)? By and large sticks in my head in a bad way. I suggest writing what you mean to say here. Say it simply. Weren't the mages the only ones left at this point? When you say they built their own fortresses, well... of course. Who else was there? "Life continued, as it tended to..." Wait, no. Life is NOT continuing. That is the very point of the story. You are disrupting the story arc by suggesting life has a tendency to prevail. I think the story is better off with a sensation that all is lost and it's the very end of humanity. Why do the number of mages shrink? Sounds like they got survival figured out. Explain that somehow or leave it out if it's not relevant.

The Void melted away from it in a tiny area, even as warmth and light was drained away. But this was largely irrelevant to the young mind. The entity was more than able to generate its own power. It was composed of soulmass, able to generate power from nothing. Countless worlds had long come to the conclusion that only soulmass could truly create. This spark was tiny- a lingering fragment of a mortal soul, slowly fraying in the low-magic environment. This fraying just so happened to cause it to begin releasing energy.

The Void melted away from what? What is "it?" Is the young mind the satellite growth from the Void? I found this a little confusing. You're writing about metaphysical topics that follow rules that nobody knows but you, so you need to be very deliberate in what's going on and what rules govern it. Is a young mind detaching from a larger Void common? Who knows!? Maybe. If it's rare, explain why... or restructure the language so that it FEELS rare. This whole paragraph introduces so many surreal constraints and allowances that I just don't get it.

Of course, environments rich in magic are also dangerous to souls. The ambient magical energy tended to bond to souls and cause degradation. Under normal circumstances, this destroyed the soul just as an environment low in magic would- simply slower. However, trillion to one chances must happen eventually, and as it turned out a simple sapience happened to form within the fragment. This new mind would likely have been lost just as quickly as it was gained, if not for the residual data from it’s late host. The fragment was well aware that it was still unstable, and risked losing it’s new mind. That, of course, was something it could not permit.

Of course nothing. I see the desire to be colloquial with the reader, but the best way is to lead them through the ideas carefully rather than sprinkling in casual phrases. I would recast in some way... example, "the mages found that environments rich in magic were corrosive to soulmass (or souls, or whatever)..." Trillion-to-one chances actually DON'T have to happen eventually... the odds always remain flat at a trillion-to-one. I have a bigger beef with this phrase, though. At this point in the story you are relying on your reader to follow you through some crazy metaphysical shit and then you pop them with a phrase that basically says, "of course natural law applies and this trillion-to-one thing eventually will happen." Well... which is it? A magical world where we must learn a new natural law, or a world governed by a natural law that closely mimics our real world?

Basic manipulation of energy was attempted first. Of course, practicing on one’s very being was not the best of ideas. It instead worked with the energy it constantly radiated, and more importantly figured out how to radiate more or less energy. Some time later, the fragment decided it was skilled enough to attempt this and began its urgent work. Most of the patterns of magical energy were unrecognizable to the untrained senses of the fragment, but it had enough of a grasp already to simply knit the edges together and prevent further degredation. Once the most urgent issue had been settled, the fragment looked inwards, examining the remnants of its host’s mind. Once the lingering data had been catalogued, the fragment deemed what basic maintenance it could perform complete.

I can see that you're personifying the soul fragment and you introduce the very important idea that it is self-aware and has consciousness. I think this warrants deeper exploration and explanation. Most of the stuff about the fragment learning and growing its power feels irrelevant. Let's just get on with it, shall we? Also, "degradation" and "cataloged" for American audiences.

Of course, there is quite a difference between necessary maintenance and the various upgrades it already had in mind. The issue of the moment seemed to be processing power. The fragment was well aware that it was rather sluggish performance-wise, due to the admittedly crude and chaotic nature of its mind. A brief examination allowed the fragment to tweak a few things, optimize what features it could recognize, and most importantly move it’s mind into a more stable section. Unfortunately, the fragment was not so skilled as of yet to modify its mind with anything that aproached safety.

I think it's a mistake here to start using terms that are often used for mechanical topics. This is "soul stuff" and cataloging items for maintenance, processing power and upgrades, these components don't seem to reinforce or support the idea of this free-floating cosmic entity made of ethereal consciousness. Also, "approached."

Sadly, the vast majority of the fragment’s soulmass was devoted to some function, and even those it could recognize were too critical to remove. Yes, the fragment was stable, but it most certainly did not enjoy being so small. It needed to harvest soulmass from some source, and to do that it needed to find a source.

I thought the fragment was made entirely of Soulmass®. Was I wrong? Why does the fragment need to remove stuff? (What's the fragment's motivation?) The fact that it has an innate desire to grow should be established like two paragraphs ago. It's important!

A moment was taken to layer a simple magical constructs around it’s self. The barrier was brittle and took energy to maintain, but would both protect it against reasonable quantities of damage and shield it from ambient magic. Shell in place, self stable, and plan in mind, the fragment began moving in a roughly straight line perpendicular to the gravity well it occupied.

I don't understand the first sentence and feel like you're trying to baffle me with bullshit. Why does it need a layer? (Does that help protect it?) Can it just build stuff? Using what? A mental hammer? Why does it need protection? Is there an existential threat? Ambient magic? What the hell is that? Plan!? There's a plan? What plan? It created gravity, too!? See where I'm going here? There's a LOT that needs to be better grounded.

An indeterminate amount of time later, the spark stumbled upon it’s meal quite randomly. Bearing in it’s hand a small, flickering fire, a lone demon shuffled past the desolate landscape. A gash was apparent in the flesh of it’s leg, and it appeared to be leaking magical energy into the environment.

Either it was later or it was not. Saying something is indeterminate is like saying "later, but I can't say by how much, the candle went out." "It's" is a conjunction of "it is" while "Its" is the possessive you're looking for in three instances above. It found its meal randomly... but what was "quite" about it? (Quite is quite unnecessary.) One of the very few things I an certain about in this fantastical story is that magic hurts soulmass, yet here is this soulmass being that is leaking magical energy from a cut in its leg. Wait!? It has legs? When did that happen? I fully expect this to be explained soon because it is the first mystery or conflict in the story that you've presented to your reader... here is a soulmass entity leaking magical blood. Crazy, right!?

Reaching out with it’s senses, the spark examined the demon. The body of the beast appeared to be a large magical construct, resembling an animal of Earth to some extent. Of course, no organs were present. A hollow containing significant quantities of magical energy sat in it’s torso, conduits moving power from it to the demon’s extremities. Most importantly, a chunk of soulmass was in use powering the demon- if harvested, this would more than double the fragment’s self.

What demon? A demon, or a particular demon? Is there a demon present? I thought demons came in hordes and only the Void was singular. Again, you've used "of course" when it's counter to what you're actually trying to do. You're explaining the supernatural and so there's no "of course" about it. I'd revise.

The demon glimpsed the fragment from the corner of it’s eye(apparently, they rely on the shell for more than just physical action and stability), but the fragment darted behind a mound of rubble and dimmed its lights before the demon could fully see it. Seemingly disregarding the brief sighting, the demon continued on its way unbothered.

Apparently is one of those words that makes it feel like you're discovering stuff about these creatures with us. That kind of undermines your authority to talk about them. Conjunction problems again. Seemingly is unnecessary.

The obvious question was how to destroy the demon. Breaching its shell was obviously the answer, but how would it do that? A projectile? An emenation of raw force? Dropping a heavy chunk of rubble on it? The fragment did not have as much time as it would like to consider this- the gash was slowly but surely sealing up, and this opportunity would be lost if it did not act.

Why does the fragment want to destroy the demon? Emanation, or emission. Why doesn't the fragment have time? What's the rush? What does "slowly" mean for a cosmic, sun-eating Void spawn?

It was decided. Power was woven together into a dense spherical construct. Patterns of energy were woven into a spell, kept stable by a secondary array. As the least demon stepped in front of the array, the pellet was launched. It pierced through both sides of the demon’s head, magical energy gushing rapidly from the holes.

I like this first sentence a lot! "It was decided." It's short, absolute, and compelling. It creates interest! And finally, some action!

The sudden loss of energy, coupled with the damage to an important structure of the physical shell, destabilized the demon enough that its shell disintegrated into raw magical energy. All that remained was the soulmass, even now fraying. Darting over, the fragment absorbed the soulmass, taking the opportunity to replace damaged sections.
Additional mental processors were formed within the new soulmass, as well as a copy of the pellet creation and launching spell so as to allow much faster activation. What remained was devoted to generating and manipulating power.

I kind of get the shell thing a little better now, but now I don't really need the information. The shell disappears? Is that relevant to the story? Pellets? That's new. Explain it.

With a significantly larger self and more powerful mind, the fragment came to notice that it should have a name. Granted, it would be quite a while before it came to interact with non-hostile sapients, but names were useful. An almost dismissive pulse of energy instantly burned a name into a tiny wisp of the fragment’s soulmass. It’s name was Visperpetua. And any being that had a disparaging remark for Visperpetua’s awesome new name would be met with pain.

Sapients is not a word but it feels like it could be. If you are going to introduce a fictional word, I'd do it early in the story (not in the last paragraph) and use it often. Also, in this last paragraph, you establish that the fragment is hostile and confrontational. I think the seed of hostility could be introduced earlier.

And what about the mages? Our heroes in the story are humans. This story doesn't really have a satisfactory conclusion.

I think you have a terrific voice and I can clearly see your knack for writing. You're on the right track without a doubt. It's great to write according to your interests but you're tackling some challenging story arcs here and have a lot to reconcile... defying natural law, explaining the utterly alien, existential threat to humanity, survivor magicians... there's a LOT going on. You could riff on any of these things alone and have plenty to write about. Great stuff!
 
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Topic: KingsRoad / Set Collecting and Dungeon Rewards

Awesome. That’s a lot of help, actually.

I think the new system that you describe is less intuitive. I’d like to see the in-game interface reinforce the logic so that players can make more informed decisions about whether to pursue sets or not.

I haven’t been attracted to the event content because it seems like I never have the tokens to enter, and I don’t know where to earn them… so I just skip it. (Plus, they seem way more difficult than the other two types of levels.)

Good advice. I guess I’ll just start farming that last level over and over.

 
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Topic: KingsRoad / Set Collecting and Dungeon Rewards

Perhaps someone can help clarify this for me.

The dungeon groups yield set pieces—armor, weapons—that have cumulative effects. The more pieces of a set you equip, the more effects those pieces imbue your character with.

My first character spent very little time collecting sets. My new character, however, has been very diligent and the rewards for complete sets are phenomenal. I frequently have better stats than characters six, seven levels higher than me. So… I’m convinced that set collecting is worth it. I have spent a lot of time pursuing elusive set pieces in the dungeon levels.

In my quest to fill out my missing pieces I would necessarily play the same dungeons again and again… whichever dungeon had the chance to drop the desired piece. It’s a bit of a numbers game… you might get the piece, or you might get coins, XP, or something else. If you got the set piece, you could quit playing that level and move on to the other pieces.

There appears to be a change in how dungeon rewards (the set pieces) are doled out.

NOW it appears that the set rewards for the dungeon levels are structured a bit differently. All of the dungeons in a group have the potential to drop any one piece of the set, instead of each level potentially yielding only one of the pieces… now any level can drop any piece.

Question: Is my understanding of the new structure accurate?

Second question: How does this fundamentally change how I approach set collecting?

Any constructive responses welcome.