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All together now

Spent the last several days fighting with stuff in an effort to consolidate the updates for all of my projects in one place, and finally managed to get it working. From now on, whenever 649, the Phoenixdex or Insubstantiality updates, you should see it here as well as any updates to AO itself. It may take a little while for the feed to refresh itself and so updates may not appear here right away, but they should show up quickly enough. The feeds for the non-AO sites are truncated so as not to take up a whole lot of space if you don't care about them (well, they're supposed to be... still need to work on getting the Phoenixdex updates to do that), and they're also prefixed with tags so you can identify which update came from where at a glance. All you need to do to see the full text of the update in question in its proper context is click on one of the title links. Full update archives for each of those can obviously be found on their respective sites.

I also added a new "Site Updates" page that holds only the updates for Altered Origin and is effectively exactly the same as the home page was before. There's a handy link to it right up at the top there so you can "filter" out just the AO-related updates if that's all you want to see. (You'll also have to use that page, or else the direct links to the individual update articles, if you want to get to the comment form. I'll work on that when I get the chance.)

There are still a few kinks to work out, predictably, but this should be perfectly functional for now and will hopefully make the other sites a little easier to keep up with than they were with just the little "last updated" bar that was at the top before. As with anything else, let me know if something suddenly breaks horribly.

>GET POKÉDEX: Thoughts on Interactive Fanfiction

Long, long ago (the precise date is unclear, but as far as much of my audience is concerned "back in the days when Jesus battled the dinosaurs" is a fair estimate), a man named William Crowther wrote a little program called Adventure. Adventure wasn't much by today's high standards of gaming. It ran on computers that had little to no graphical capabilities and was rendered entirely in text descriptions, and the only way to accomplish anything was to type simple, imperative commands like "GO WEST" or "TAKE AXE" at a prompt and hope that it understood what you were trying to do. The object of the game was to explore a textual simulation of a massive Kentucky cave system—a slightly embellished simulation, unless it was in fact possible to find angry dwarves and giant snakes in Kentucky in the '70's—and collect as much treasure as you could get your hands on without falling into a pit and smashing your head open. Navigation was confusing, puzzles could be tricky, there were two sprawling mazes to get lost in and the aforementioned pits were distressingly commonplace. But people played it, and they loved it, and the genre of games known as "text adventures" was born.

For a while, text adventures were predominantly commercial affairs, made by companies like Infocom and Level 9 that produced stories and adventures in all sorts of genres–the best known, even to those unfamiliar with this genre, are probably Infocom's Zork games, the ones responsible for introducing the world to the man-eating, light-fearing grues and a few other things that have slipped into common fantasy parody parlance. They dominated the gaming market, people spent hours staring at command prompts and trying to guess what to type to open a locker or catch a Babel fish, and a good time was had by all. But then graphical adventures (like LucasArts's or Sierra's point and click games) found their way into the limelight, followed by games that focused less on complex puzzle-solving and more on other aspects of gaming. Computers got better and better and became relatively inexpensive, and people were no longer satisfied with simple text when the aforementioned graphical games looked more and more inviting and sparkly by the minute. The market for text adventures dwindled, most of the companies that produced it were bought out or went out of business, and the text adventure genre faded into obscurity.

But text adventures didn't just die. Many of the players who loved them so continued to play them, continued to enjoy them because they still exercised a few gaming muscles that the graphics-dependent games of the day never seemed to bother with. There was still something exciting about trying to stumble one's way out of the dark before being eaten by a grue. Gaming companies weren't making text adventures any longer, but its original fans still wanted more–and if they couldn't purchase them, they'd just have to make them themselves.

Nowadays there are online repositories and archives full of amateur-made text adventures, or "interactive fiction" as it's generally called today, and a wide variety of IF authoring systems that make it possible to create IF of your own without having to reinvent the wheel, all available for free download (though there are some commercial works available, and at least one well-known member of the IF community recently quit his dayjob to make commercial IF full-time). Playing IF also usually requires downloading an interpreter, the virtual machine software necessary to play games made in a specific format, though you only need one interpreter to play any and all games in the corresponding format. The interpreter loads the game and displays that infamous, intimidating ">" command prompt, just waiting for you to type your first command and take your first foray into the author's world. It all seems deceptively simple, but a quick look behind the scenes at any decent authoring system will reveal a pretty powerful engine, and taking a few games for a test run can show you some complex, involved games that, when made well, require quite a bit of creative thought to solve–or, in the case of some "non-game" titles, perform feats you wouldn't expect from programs the likes of Adventure. I've only just started dabbling in these sorts of things, and let me tell you, man, mind blown.

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Hello world!

Tried the whole blogging thing before maybe one or twelve times; didn't quite pan out. Figured hell, it's a new year, might as well try again anyway. Here we are. Have fun. (Would've used my old LiveJournal for this—it is just kind of sitting there and rotting, after all—but WordPress is shinier. LJ will just have to be for stalking other people's journals, then.)

Why the nth attempt at a blog, you ask? Not sure, really. It's not so much that I feel like I have anything earth-shatteringly interesting to share as it is that I have a whole bunch of fanwork ideas and such that I want to get off my chest somehow, and I guess this is how I've decided to do it. I doubt that this will attract a huge following, and I don't really care whether it does or not; I'm running under the assumption that actually writing about this crap will make me feel better about being Captain Never Start/Finish Anything, and hey, maybe someone will have some interesting input or something. Bah.

So! The forecast calls for fancrap, and lots of it. Fanfic ideas/plot bunnies/brainstorming primarily, maybe the occasional picture or ramble about fakemon, maybe some discussion about fandom itself. Probably lots and lots of stupid memes I happen to steal from whomever, with the excuse that "it's going to help me think about/organize my fic, totally." I also have some other, uh, ideas and things I want to talk about; not going into detail because it's four in the morning, but I will say "Zork" and "audience participation" and leave you to ponder those (hint: they're two separate things) for however long it takes me to remember to ramble about all that. A good deal of this will probably be Pokémon-related, but I've also got nagging ideas for stuff like Tales of Symphonia, Golden Sun, Fire Emblem, maybe some Ace Attorney... pretty much anything involving anything else I like is fair game here. (This would probably be a good time to warn those of you who chance upon this blog from Pokémon-related places—most of you, I imagine, since pokeymans fans are the only fans I bother associating with atm—that, yeah, those other fandoms may actually be pretty prevalent here, as opposed to Altered Origin where I say it's "not a Pokémon fansite" but then never do anything else ever anyway.) Can't promise regular updates, but now that I have something resembling a direction for this blog it is at least likely that they will appear more often than "lol never". For a while, anyway. Check back often! Or don't! That's cool too!

I am extraordinarily fickle and so the blog title, tagline, theme and more are subject to change without warning and whenever the hell I feel like it. You have been... warned. (four in the mooorniiiing)

I will try my hardest to keep real life as far away from this as humanly possible, aside from the occasional "school happened and that's why blah is late" or whatever. It's not like there's any actual loldrama or major accomplishments goin' on there anyway; wouldn't want to bore you! Will also attempt to avoid original fiction/art/sfdhhfda stuff, if only for the sake of order. (One of these days I will get all of my original-work websites/blogs/etc./atsdhf done aaaaaaa) That's all primarily seekrut anyway. So yes. Fancrap. That is all.

In closing, it is four in the morning and I've already broken my new year's resolution to stop staying up so damn late. Whoops. Your irregularly-scheduled rambling will begin when it isn't fllhdghljbnadg-o'-clock. Probably it will also contain a much lower concentration of sentence fragments. Posts made at keyboardsmash-o'-clock are notorious for those.

December 3rd

If you've kept an eye on my past few news posts, or perhaps taken a casual stroll over to the to-do list, you might have noticed that the date "December 3rd" has been popping up a lot; no further explanation has been given, however. So what exactly is so special about December 3rd? Why did I make that a deadline for all these site updates, and why was I rushing to get it all done at the last minute thanks to NaNoWriMo and school eating up the entirety of my November?

Why, it's dcNET's third birthday, that's why! Hooray, confetti, song and dance, et cetera!

"What's that?" you ask? "Since when? What ever happened to birthdays one and two?" Well, actually, it's a funny story...

...okay, no it isn't. The truth is, I completely forgot when the site's birthday was. (I'm sorry, baby, I'm a terrible person... you know I love you, though, right? D: ) I only checked this stuff on a whim a few months ago; at first I actually thought that it was October 4th, which is when I purchased the webspace and a domain name. Turns out that that domain name was actually a different one, though, one I eventually plan to use for non-fandom, original stuff. dcNET's domain name was purchased in late November/early December—not quite clear on the exact date—and as far as searching through my old website files can tell me, dcNET itself went live on the internet for the first time on December 3rd, 2007. I felt bad for completely forgetting about it for two years, so I decided that I'd start celebrating it this year. And there you go! Birthdaytiem.

The following updates would have appeared sooner in the day, by the way, but I was still rushing to finish some of them and then my mom took the family out to see Cirque du Soleil in the middle of the afternoon. It was a great show and all, and I really enjoyed it, but way to cut into my website's birthdaytiem, Mom. >|

BUT it is not yet 12:00AM where I am, so there is still time! Let the updates begin!

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Good news and bad news

Aaand we're back to updating in the wee hours of the morning. Yay?

Let's get the unpleasant stuff out of the way first. After spending some time really thinking about it, I've decided that it'd be for the best if I closed my forum, DexGenesis. I'm not going to get into the gory details here–if you want to know more, you can see the post I made on the forum itself (note: link now broken, sorry). In a nutshell, it just wasn't something I felt I could honestly devote my time to, ADD as I am with most of my obligations, and therefore it wasn't fair to everyone else for me to just leave them there and more or less ignore the place as I have been. I still think that the basic idea is sound, and I would like to see some community-generated regions and similar projects get off the ground; they should just be run by someone who's a better admin than I am. Ah, well. You live, you learn, and now I can do a better job of keeping on top of the other things I need to do (or trying to, anyway) without feeling guilty. Note that I will be deleting DG eventually; I'll leave it up for a little while so that any interested members can save any posts or other information they need to, but I'd rather like to be able to reclaim that server space and subdomain slot. If you think there's anything you want to back up, please do so as soon as possible.

On a lighter note, I've finished that game I mentioned last update. If you look in the Inane Nonsense section of the menu, you'll see a little thing called porygonfindsskitty. It's a very simple game that doesn't take long to play, but it should be good for a few chuckles (especially if you're bored or need to be cheered up, but even if you're just curious about it). Perhaps the best part about it is that the list of items in the game is extensible, and apparently I'm terrible at coming up with them because I only have 100 when I'd intended to release the game with more. If you think you can be more entertaining than I am, I welcome your item submissions; see the bottom of the porygonfindsskitty page for more info on that.

The rest of the update is really just minor stuff. I'm sending off another affiliate application or two; I've fixed the ASB calculator page so that you don't have to click an additional link to get to the calc any more; I'm trying to get the written version of my reffing scale up before my woefully short summer break ends in mid-July; I'm probably going to be drumming up a better layout in the near future. I also have plans for a few updates to the Phoenixdex, and I'm hoping against hope that another project I've actually been working on on-and-off since 2007 will be able to get off the ground.

That's all for now, folks. Phoenix out.

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