My Life In Neon

Sci Fi / Fantasy writer Autumn Nicole Bradley – Dream in digital, live in neon

Archive for the month “October, 2010”

Fallout: New Vegas Liveblogging – Day 2

9:12 AM

1) I don’t care if it’s a sin to tell a lie.

2) I’ll tell you where you can shove that big iron on that hip.

3) There’s only one Johnny with a guitar, and that’s Johnny B. Goode. And you, madam, are no Chuck Berry (or Marty McFly).

10:03 AM

Holy shit radscropions are tough. Not enough armor piercing ammo at this stage of the game.

The hand-shaking scrap metal statues are awesome. One thing New Vegas did right is their landmarks. That’s what narrative architecture is all about: something to draw you towards, and then something to reveal when you get there. A rollercoaster, giant statues, a big cross. I can’t wait to see what the rest of them are.

10:27 AM


I’ll corrupt your data, assholes!

I just lost everything back to the gunfight in Goodsprings.


10:51 AM

Insult to injury: now my graphics card is acting up.

Fallout: New Vegas Liveblogging – Day 1

I’ve decided to do something a little goofy. I’ll be liveblogging my Fallout: New Vegas experience.

11:01 AM:
[singlepic id=117 w=320 h=240 float=right]

Installing right now. It actually surprised me that this was a Steam-based installer, even on the the disk, which meant had I not been a Steam user, I’d have had to sign up for Steam to verify my game.

Up side: It’s Steam, so even without the disk I can still get it again.

Down side: Eh. I’m not a fan of online DRM. But I can understand the desire for it to delay (not stop) piracy. Also, since it’s Steam, it means I can’t choose an install location. It has to be where Steam puts it.

Feedback so far: Needed a DirectX update and Steam patch. Slowing things down.

11:07 AM:


Even turned all the way down, mouse sensitivity is WAY too high. If anyone has a solution to this, let me know in the comments. The fixes posted for Fallout 3 don’t seem to work.

Found it here

11:19 AM:

For those who got the Mercenary Pack with the game, the instructions leave out one crucial step. After activating it on Steam and downloading it, you need to actually activate it for the game. This takes place before the game is running.

In the launcher, there is an option called Data Files. Select that. Once your Mercenary Pack is finished downloading it should appear in this list.Click the little checkbox next to it. Now hit play and you’ll have it in game.

Also: Hardcore Mode

It’s in the manual, but if you’re flipping through the game options before playing, you might see it here. You can’t turn on Hardcore Mode until after you create your character. Don’t worry, you’ll get to be hardcore soon enough.

[singlepic id=118 w=320 h=240 float=left]

11:39 AM:

Intro was classic cool. The “War. War never changes.” still gets me every time.

New things: You’re not a vault dweller this time. That surprised me. Also, it seems as though Vegas’s vault is Vault 21, which makes sense. (In a tabletop game I had made it the Lucky 7 Vault)

As you can see in the screenshot, the character generation is meta-included by use of one of those goofy novelty machines that tells you everything about your sex drive for the low cost of a dollar.

12:41 PM:

So, I created a luck/intelligence monster as I usually do for Fallout games. We’ll see how that goes now that there’s no Gifted or Bobbleheads. There’s still Intense Training though. I also chose the Wild Wasteland perk which I guess is some sort of weirdness magnet.

The distinction between magazines and books (for temporary and permanent skill gain respectively) is a little annoying, mainly because it becomes a pixel hunt mousing over every single book in the game again.

2:17 PM:

Rounded up a posse to kill some outlaws. I feel like I’ve played this intro storyline before. Still, with a wild west flair, it’s still a lot of fun.

Encountered some strange graphical glitches during the sandstorms, though. We’ll see if it happens again.

Seems like some objects don’t get cleaned up properly when fast traveling. They remain floating nearby or their emitters travel with you.

3:02 PM

Found the prison that’s been taken over by the prisoners. Ever since the original Fallout I’ve wondered why we’ve never seen a prison as a location. They seem like natural places to go in a post-apocalyptic scenario: fortified, stocked, and usually remote.

Good lord the music is annoying. I kept the radio on the whole time while playing Fallout 3. But New Vegas’s music rotation is so short that in 20 minutes you’ll hear all it has. The reason I find it annoying is I like the radio updates from the DJ. Looks like it’s time to find a fan-made patch already.

5:30 PM

Last one for now. Time to take a break for dinner.

I found some red balls on a ridge near Goodsprings. They were next to a body of a guy named Jimmy, and pointing off northeast. I’m wondering if this is tied to my Wild Wasteland trait? Perhaps there will be more and with them one can triangulate a location?

I’d love to post a screenshot of it, but the screenshot is corrupted. Great.

Creativity Without Discipline

There’s a notion I’ve encountered in my time as  both a gamer, a writer, and even as an actor that states that any rules or discipline or direction “stifle creativity.” The reasoning goes something like: “Maximum creativity is achieved when you are allowed to express any idea, no matter what. Anything that constrains that amounts to censorship.” And usually, the use of the word censorship, with all its Big Brother connotations ends the debate almost as quickly as calling the other person a Nazi results in an invocation of Godwin’s Law.

But censorship is an integral part of the creative process. For example, last night, I had a dream about being an FBI agent tracking a child sex trafficking ring. We had traced it to a warehouse, and we were undercover, but the cover was blown when I refused to have sex with an underage kidnapping victim. So the sting gets foiled, and we need to escape, so we pile into the cars and drive off. While trying to get away, we go off the road and the only path to take is through a marina. Rows and rows of boat trailers were in our path, so the guy driving the car drove right over the top of them, and by the magic of Dream Logic, this worked. Around that time, the cat woke me up.

Now, be honest: How many skipped to this paragraph the moment you read the words “Last night, I had a dream. . .?” And how many went back to read it when they noticed the word sex? (And how many just went back to read it because they missed the word sex the first time?)

Point is, dreams are uncensored, undisciplined creativity. Lots of writers (and non-writers) keep a dream journal for all those ideas, but as anyone who has ever experienced someone else telling you their dreams knows: 95% of the time they are boring, uninteresting crap that doesn’t make sense, is not a coherent narrative, and at best can hope to be mildly humorous. (Yet, most people would never share the genuinely funny ones because they’re embarrassing. ) Therefore, we’ve learned to tune it out as soon as someone starts talking about them.

Granted, it can be useful to journal dreams for idea fragments that can later be developed into full-fledged ideas and stories. For instance, the car chase I experienced could make for some pretty interesting cinema if it were ever attempted,  and the “commit statutory rape or your cover is blown” creates a pretty fantastic dramatic intensifier for a real plot, but it isn’t a plot by itself.

Creating a film, a video game, a novel, or anything, really, requires artistic discipline. It requires working on it even on days when you don’t feel inspiration, and it requires self-censorship of some genuinely good ideas that just don’t work for this project. If you’re a dungeon master running a D&D game in a fantasy world, the crazy awesome idea you had for a spaceship encounter modeled after the movie Alien just doesn’t fit no matter how cool it is. I used to run into this a lot with DMs in our Neverwinter Nights server. They’d have a great idea, but refused to accept the flaws in using that idea unaltered in a setting that it was not appropriate for. It was probably the #1 conflict on staff: “Cool idea, but not appropriate,” vs “You’re stifling my creativity.”

Now, for NaNo I’m facing the same conundrum: lots of great ideas that just won’t fit into 50000 words. But they’re all near misses; I’d need to create a setting that is similar but not quite the same in order to use them since they couldn’t be used for a completely different setting. And that’s just not going to happen. I’m keeping a  record of them in my story binder, but I have a feeling some of them just won’t see the light of day.

Steam Engines GO!

A few days ago, I was debating which of two ideas I wanted to pursue for NaNoWriMo. Well, I have decided:

Lewis Mulligan and the Pandemonium Engine

One day, Lewis Mulligan was a scrapper in a textile mill, and the next day he was the cabin boy and apprentice navigator on the TRA Nevermore, a second-hand airship just leeward of ruin. But while transporting a clockwork contraption known as the “Pandemonium Engine,” the crew runs afoul of Church inquisitors, a secret society of alchemists, and a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Now, it’s up to Lewis to steer the Nevermore to freedom, or at least go down with style!

My goal for the crew of the Nevermore is a steampunk Firefly. Granted: different medium, one story arc vs 14 episode arcs + 1 movie, and I’m not Joss Whedon. But still, if I can get halfway there, I’ve achieved all I wanted for NaNo.

I’ll be posting Crew Profiles for the ship in the next few days.

Fallout: New Vegas comes out a week from tomorrow. Now, if I had done it right, I’d have made my planning schedule end on October 18th, and reserved the 19th-31st for Fallout, and called it “story research.” Instead, I still have benchmarks and milestones sprinkled throughout the rest of October.

Liu Xiaobo Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Liu Xiaobo wins the Nobel Peace Prize – BBC

He’s been in and out of prison for the past two decades for advocating democratic reform in China. A well-deserved award, and China’s opposition to him receiving it once again just amplifies the message. They probably would have been better off staying silent, rather than daring the committee to give it to him.

Read Liu Xiaobo’s “Final Statement” from last year

The Impasse – Steampunk vs Contemporary Lit

I have reached an impasse on my NaNoWriMo novel planning, and, as of today, I have no useful advice to offer anyone going through a similar struggle.

I now have two ideas to pursue.

Idea 1: This was my primary idea going into NaNoWriMo this year. It’s a lighthearted, probably YA adventure in a semi-historical alternate history sci-fi setting. Unabashedly steampunk but with its roots in mostly legitimate science.

Idea 2: This one was a 3AM idea that forced me from my bed last night to write it down so I didn’t forget. It’s a near-future contemporary literature piece that asks the question, “Why can’t we dream big things, anymore?” Possibly dark comedy satire.

Idea 1 has the strong merit going for it that I have been burning to write a steampunk piece for a long time and needed an excuse.

Idea 2 is just such a high concept piece that I feel it says more important things to a modern audience. It’s topical, which means there’s a shelf-life for the idea that will exist until China lands on the Moon and America collectively craps its pants in realizing how far behind we’ve fallen.

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