Crappy Halloween!!

WHA HAPPENRegular visitors of this site (I like to call them Chatterholes) will no doubt have noticed that THIS SITE CEASED TO EXIST.

What happened?

Well, something very good: October saw the most traffic this site has ever had! Unfortunately that traffic exceeded the agreement I had with my webhost, so Noiseless Chatter (I like to call it Chatterhole Central) was taken offline with a cryptic error message that told nobody anything.

This happened while I was in a hotel room in Chicago, unable to deal with it and without any of my billing information. So it was down for a few days…right before I was supposed to launch The Lost Worlds of Power.

I’m back up, now. To save time and heartache, I upgraded my hosting package. That’s more money, which means I may revisit the idea of advertising. Or maybe I’ll just put a PayPal button somewhere and those who feel inclined can donate. But as of right now, I haven’t given it much thought. We’ll see. I’m open to ideas. As much as I love this site — and all y’all — it also consumes time and money that I don’t always have to spare.

That’s not an ultimatum, though. As long as it’s humanly possible, this site will be here. It’s not going anywhere…I’m just thinking out loud, and trying to decide how to avoid something like this happening again in the future.

So, service as usual will pick up again from this point on. Hopefully the downtime will have discouraged some spam bots, so if you need a silver lining, there you go.

Where does that leave The Lost Worlds of Power?

Technically, since it was supposed to launch tomorrow, I can still hit that deadline. But…I’d rather not. It feels disrespectful to the project as a whole — not to mention the authors involved — to just drop the thing and run after an extended period of THE SITE NOT EXISTING.

So, though I hate to do this, I’m going to bump it back. Most likely a Thanksgiving release at this point…but I’ll give that more thought as well before I promise anything. Basically I want to give it a fair and exciting runup.

Anyway, whatever. That’s that. I’m all laggy from traveling so forgive me if it sounds like I’m unfocused and I have to pee.


Lost Worlds of Power Author Spotlight: Theodore Geise

Prior to the release of The Lost Worlds of Power, each author selected for inclusion will be given the floor. I’ve asked them to talk about themselves, their approach to the project, and anything else they’d like to say up front. I’ve also asked them to avoid spoilers, so have no fear of those. Anyway, week eight: Theodore Geise, author of “Double Dragon Warrior.”

Theodore GeiseHello! I’m T. J., the dweeb who wrote “Double Dragon Warrior.” Having been a Nintendo nerd for most of my life, The Lost Worlds of Power is like a dream project for me. Being able to pay homage to the classic NES games that we cut our teeth on while doing it in the silliest way possible sounded like heaven! I’m very honored to be chosen for this compilation of awesome!

Now the reason why people are reading this: is “Double Dragon Warrior” just like it sounds – a mash-up of Double Dragon and Dragon Warrior? The answer is yes, yes it is.

While I was driving home from work and thinking about what to do for The Lost Worlds of Power, the title of “Double Dragon Warrior” suddenly popped into my head. I had no plot outline or anything, just a single scene that I won’t spoil for you all because it still cracks me up to think about it.

The idea popped into my head because I really wanted to write something about the criminally unappreciated Dragon Warrior, but I couldn’t think of a way to turn it into something goofy enough to become a successful novelty novel. That and I couldn’t stand the thought of tearing that game apart for the sake of comedy. I just love that game too much.

"Double Dragon Warrior"Like many kids in the late ’80s, I found out about Dragon Warrior through Nintendo Power. I wasn’t lucky enough to get a copy of the game free, but I still had the magazine with full-page spreads of how cool Dragon Warrior was, along with a player’s guide chock full of artistic interpretations. I still remember the cover of the guide with the Dragon Lord looking eighteen times more menacing than he did in the game. I would read and re-read the guide and the magazine just to soak up the lore, imagining the weapons in action, and fantasizing about fighting the monsters.

I finally got to play the game after renting it from the video store. I was used to platformers, so this slow-paced game where I had to talk to people and plan out my fights was refreshingly weird. Plus, it was amazing the way the game saved your progress without having to input a ridiculous password like you did with Mega Man or Castlevania.

Looking back, I don’t know how I had the patience to play that game. Holy crap was it ever brutally hard! I’d spend hours grinding and fighting just to be able to afford an actual sword. And heaven forbid you forget to hold the reset button in before you power the game off, lest you hear the literal death rattle of your save file being obliterated by the forces of evil.

Despite its harshness, there was always just enough of a reward to make the frustration and grinding worth it – even if that reward was getting to fight a new and colorful monster. The monster design still stands out for its unique takes on classic baddies thanks to Akira Toriyama’s talent.

"Double Dragon Warrior"Dragon Warrior lit the fuse of my obsession with RPGs that continues to this day. Back then, I rented any game that even remotely looked like an RPG. This lead me to playing games as great as Final Fantasy and Crystalis, as well as lukewarm titles like Hydlide and Ultima: Exodus. When the RPG Golden Era was ushered in by the Super NES, I was over the moon all thanks to Dragon Warrior.

On the flipside, Double Dragon was the action game back in the day. Sure, it isn’t as good as its contemporaries and the sequel is vastly superior if only based on getting to kick guys out of a helicopter. Even so, this game holds a special place in my heart as the quintessential side scrolling beat-’em-up. Playing the game would get me all wound up and sweaty from doing little kid karate all over the house and gave me the foresight to know that throwing an oil drum at someone is a totally viable way to knock them over.

For nostalgia’s sake, I thought about maybe writing something about the adventures of Billy and Jimmy Lee. They had the whole “brothers fighting over the same girl” thing going on, but that doesn’t seem ripe for shenanigans.

When the sudden idea hit to combine these two, it seemed like peanut butter and chocolate. Not only could I still play the Dragon Warrior story straight, but I could shenaniganize it by slapping in Billy Lee as a fish-out-of-water protagonist. Sure, that type of story has been done to death, but I could maintain the integrity of Dragon Warrior and use Billy Lee and his ’80s street smarts for situational hilarity. Thus, “Double Dragon Warrior” was born.

"Double Dragon Warrior"The more I started to write this, the more the mash-up started to make sense. In Dragon Warrior, you play a nameless protagonist from another land who has no belongings and can barely hold his own against the cute little squish-pile slimes roaming around. I mean, how did that guy even get there, let alone become the hero? It actually makes more sense to think that the protagonist is from another world instead of being the great-grandson of a legendary champion of good.

While I intended to write “Double Dragon Warrior” without putting too much thought into it, I became engrossed in it. It was all I could think of during the week, and I spent most of my time after work and on the weekend writing and thinking and revising. By the time I was done, I’d written a damn novella. A novella about a kung-fu bro fighting monsters in a medieval fantasy land. Awesome.

"Double Dragon Warrior"Aside from the obvious deviations from the Dragon Warrior story, I kept the story mostly faithful to the original with only a few tweaks. I also wanted to be faithful to the time time where Double Dragon came out in order to avoid anachronisms. Since Double Dragon came out in the summer of 1988, Billy Lee’s pop culture references needed to be from around that time or sooner. While this gave me a hilarious Google search history, it prevented Billy Lee from falling into the Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure rabbit hole of allusions.

So that’s the blabbery tale of why I chose to make “Double Dragon Warrior” a thing. I hope that everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

–Theodore Geise

Update: Good News and Touchy Subjects

Celebrity Zillions

So, first things first. The good news: The Lost Worlds of Power has a release date.

It’s later than I had hoped, but…well, I’ll explain all the lessons I’ve learned in a blog post down the line. Suffice it to say…

The Lost Worlds of Power will be released on Friday, October 31, 2014. That’s Halloween, which seems appropriate to me for many reasons. It also means you’ll have the whole weekend to read novelizations that you can spend the following week wishing you hadn’t.

Again, the ebook will be free to download. Physical copies and other updates to come, but for now, that’s the important thing: the anthology releases on October 31. Be here!

Now…well, not quite bad news. But maybe a touchy subject. And I’d like your honest feedback.

I mentioned it a while ago (back when my Breaking Bad reviews were pulling in daily visits in quadruple digits), but this blog / site / whatever the fuck it is got popular enough that it must have triggered something, somewhere.

Very soon after that I got flooded with offers for product reviews, guest posts, link networks…all kinds of stuff. Most of it, I’m sure, unsavory. So, hey, that’s an easy no.

But I also got a few invitations from ad servers. Some looked like garbage, but one seemed pretty legit. In conversation with the rep, I came to trust her enough that, on my own, I’d be willing to give it a whirl.

Having said that…I kind of want to open it up to discussion. After all, you guys are reading this page. If you suddenly stopped reading, that would make me pretty sad. That’s exactly what I don’t want to happen.

So, full disclosure: I’d be paid to host ads on the site. She told me they’d be entertainment themed, so probably TV and film-related stuff. I won’t know until I see it myself. She assured me that the ads would be non-invasive (ie: no autoplaying videos or crap like that), and I could put them wherever I want. So, probably in the sidebar.

As much as I love this site, it is a lot of work, and it takes a lot of time to keep running. I know we go through dry spells here, but even then I’m still putting out 2-3 pieces per week on average, which is more than it might sound like. And while I don’t need to get paid, I have to admit…it sure would be nice to get paid for writing the things I truly love to write.

Those are the pros.

The cons are in your hands. Let me know, and be honest about it. Personally, I don’t care about ads on the sites I visit, as long as they don’t do anything annoying. But I know others have strong feelings about them, and it’s only fair that I ask before I do anything.

There’s no commitment with the ad server; if I try this for a week and we (or I, or you) decide that it’s not working, it stops the moment I remove the code from my own site. That much is easy.

But if you know up front that this is going to be a deal-breaking, let me know. I’ll leave this open for discussion (at least) until Monday.

My intention is not to piss anybody off, or make this place less pleasant for readers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I absolutely love the collection of commenters this site has accumulated. All of them. Especially the ones who seem like they hate me.

I don’t want you going anywhere. If it comes down to keeping you or making money from the site, I’ll unquestionably choose to keep you. But if I can have both? Well, then I’m one step closer to writing creatively for a living, and if I hit that point, there’d be a hell of a lot more content coming from me.

Anyway, that’s enough outta me. The floor is yours.

Update: Me Time

So, okay. It’s been a little quiet here lately. That’s not due to a lack of interest, or even a lack of time. It’s due more to a shuffling of my priorities…which has caused some other things to fall behind.

The first year of this blog’s existence, I took January off as a kind of “me time.” Nobody — literally, like, fuckin’ nobody — liked that. And I can’t blame them. Some content is better than no content. And since then, I’ve decided I’ll never take a full month off again.

Which means that every so often, I guess, I hit these phases of distraction. I have plenty to write about…but other things demand my time. And when those are done…I kind of want to relax, and enjoy myself.

I’ve also — as many of you who follow me on Facebook probably know — entered into a relationship with a very special lady. For once, I don’t intend to get sappy, but I will say that the spare time that I do have is being spent with her. And happily so.

Additionally, I’m moving in August, so I have a few ducks to line up. All of this is to say that I need a little “me time.”

So, as far as content goes, some updates…and a proposition:

The Lost Worlds of Power is still coming. I’ve taken a break from editing it, because I was beginning to lose focus. I thought it would be much better for everybody if I pushed the release date back a bit, so that the final product could be of the highest possible quality. I apologize to everyone who pre-ordered and gave me their money and OH WAIT THIS THING IS FREE SO YEAH IT IS COMING

– I’ve also held off on posting the last few Author Spotlights for this reason. I will run those in the lead-up to the actual release…which is getting closer all the time. It’s just not here yet. Trust me, though. You’ll love it. I’m seeing to that.

– There will not be an ALF review this week. Why? Well, I’ve got the notes and screencaps together, and while I could write something up before Thursday, the fact is that the next episode (“Night Train”) is one that deserves a truly solid entry. Feel free to watch it yourself in the meantime. I’m not saying whether or not I liked it…but I am saying that it’s earned a respectful writeup that I just won’t have the time to get to by Thursday. Once again, it’s a delay in aid of quality.

– On Independence Day I intend to have something major posted here. Not a huge announcement or anything…just a big piece of content. You can probably guess what it is. (No, seriously. You really could probably guess.)

– I have an idea for a very brief Pop Questions feature that I keep forgetting to actually start. So, maybe if I write it here, I’ll remember. You can probably guess how that will pan out.

– And I’d also like to pose a question to you: would anybody out there be interested in writing a piece regarding social issues, and how they’re dealt with in any aspect of media? Games, news, television, films, music…anything. I ask because I’m always tempted to write a piece exploring, say, body image. Sexuality. Equality. Racism. Hot-button topics that never quite go away, but may or may not evolve into less problematic popular explorations over time. Somebody better-versed in the subject (any subject), who has already paid attention to the kind of representation it gets in popular culture, would be better equipped to write something of substance…so, please, get in touch if you’d be interested.

That’s all for now. I do hope you understand. Certain things are just coming together for me right now…and I want to take some time to savor that.

Good stuff is coming. It’s just coming a week or so later than usual.

Lost Worlds of Power Author Spotlight: Tomm Hulett

Every week until the release of The Lost Worlds of Power, one author selected for inclusion will be given the floor. I’ve asked them to talk about themselves, their approach to the project, and anything else they’d like to say up front. I’ve also asked them to avoid spoilers, so have no fear of those. Anyway, week seven: Tomm Hulett, author of “Monster Party.”

Tomm HulettHi readers! I hope you’re as eager to read Monster Party as I was to write it.

Nintendo has been a large part of my life since I was 7 or 8 and first played it at a friend’s house. I then had a very similar childhood to many my age, eagerly sitting down in front of the TV to play NES whenever possible.

I devoured anything Nintendo-related that I could get my hands on, including the original Worlds of Power books (which I still have and display in my bookshelf at work).

By the time the books were released, my reading ability was far beyond them, but that didn’t matter–I wasn’t there to be encouraged to read. I was there to read about Nintendo, no matter how strange, non-canon, and simplistic the books were. Being able to blow through each story in an hour or two just meant I could read them over, and over, and over again.

Naturally, this desire to read about Nintendo translated into a desire to write about Nintendo.

Monster PartyIn sixth grade we had a writing assignment to create a story starring ourselves and a friend. Most of the kids chose another classmate to fill in the “friend” role. A few of the girls chose older male movie stars they had crushes on. I chose Luigi, and we traveled to Dinosaur Island.

The teacher probably shouldn’t have given me an A, as that only encouraged me.

In a few years’ time, I found myself in the depths of internet fanfiction, my favorite muse being Final Fantasy VI. When the call went out for submissions to a literary magazine at my high school, I jumped at the chance, penning a story detailing the unseen moments leading up to Rachel’s untimely demise.

Locke was easily my favorite character in the game, so I really wanted to write about a pivotal event in his backstory. I did the responsible thing and wrote a huge disclaimer at the top of my submission.

Monster Party“This story is based on Final Fantasy III, all characters copyright Squaresoft.” (Or something similar.)

Unfortunately nobody had taught the copy editors about trademark, and that was removed when my story made the cut for the magazine. Apparently my first published work was unintentionally illegal.

I did get compliments from my English teacher about it though.

In college, I wrote my first actual game script, for an unreleased RPG called Mythri. Shopping that demo around put me in touch with Atlus, where I would later get a job localizing Japanese titles such as Digital Devil Saga and Trauma Center.

From there I jumped to Konami as an Associate Producer. Not only did I get to localize Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (!!!) but I also had the honor of shaping the stories to 3 games in the Silent Hill series!

This was a huge deal, and my survival horror experience is definitely something I lampooned a bit in “Monster Party.”

Monster PartyWhich brings me up to today; as a Director at WayForward I generally design and write all the games I work on. (In fact, I finished up a game script immediately before writing “Monster Party,” and kicked off another one immediately after.)

I’m really thankful to Philip Reed for the opportunity to write so much this year!

So the last question is…why Monster Party? Well, as soon as I heard about Lost Worlds of Power I knew I had to participate. Moments later, I knew it would be Monster Party.

It only made sense–so many of the original books involve the video game protagonist coming into the real world to recruit a young boy for adventure. That was already the basic premise of Monster Party! Plus, the game was chock full of Japanese content that made no sense to American children in 1989. That made it easy to ensure my story would fit into Worlds of Power lore and have plenty of details to misunderstand and dramatically alter from the source material.

I honestly had a blast writing “Monster Party,” and hope I did justice to the idea of inaccurate, questionably written novels about 25-year-old video games.

But what I’m most looking forward to is reading all the “Lost” stories from these other great writers. …I’m growing a little tired of Infiltrator.

–Tomm Hulett

Tomm Hulett

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