In some ways, I feel as though this entry should start with an apology. I really haven't been as diligent as I would like about posting regularly and keeping people informed of my life and my goings-on. It's not that I don't think my life is interesting, but... well, for the last few months, it's very much felt like large chunks of my life were "on hold," waiting for something to happen.
The house in Pottstown is still mine, legally. I'm still paying USD1600, give or take, every month for the privilege of owning a house in which I don't live. Around the beginning of July, I finally converted the place to a rental property to try to offset the mortgage costs, and almost immediately I had a tenancy offers through a management company. We did some negotiations with the renters' agent, and we had just worked out a deal that hopefully would have proven amenable to all parties when the borough stepped into the mess and announced that I had not secured something called a "Usage and Occupancy Inspection" that would cost thirty-five more dollars and could not be performed for several weeks because of a backlog of requests. At this point, I cannot shake the notion that the borough management, having realized their own coming obsolescence in the wake of the Robot Revolution, is now doing its level best to squeeze every last drop of liquid capital out of the system before their government is eliminated. It really does feel as though they're punishing people who choose to invest there. Maybe they're trying to punish me for leaving.
In any event, the rental of the house—to this tenant group, at least—is now on hold pending the U&O. However, according to my realtor, this may prove to be a blessing in disguise, as someone else has contacted him about whether the property is still vacant who may be interested in buying it. Now, I am no stranger to people wanting to buy the place, but everyone to date that's expressed interest has done so as an investor offering a ridiculously low purchase price, below what I would need to pay off my home loan, and so I said no. This might actually be a real buyer interested in, you know, owning the house. If so, I wish the person or persons in question the best of luck. This isn't any sort of official offer letter. In fact, it's more like the sort of thing a realtor might say to keep a homeseller from becoming discouraged and hiring somebody with a decoherence beam to remove the house from realspace in a fit of pique.
As amusing anecdote related to the above, in looking for the link in Miracle of Science to illustrate the decoherence beam, I picked the page with the initial shot fired out of an archive indexed only by page number on the first click. I do have good reading retention skills, but that's a bit too creepy for me. The first signs of SMRD, perhaps? I can only hope.
City of Heroes is starting to lose a bit of its shine. The introduction of crafting, even the "crafting lite" of the Inventions System has pushed me into a strange headspace. I've become somewhat taken in by the numbers of it all. I'm asking questions like "just how high can I push my base accuracy?" and "just how fast can I get those powers to recharge?" instead of more important ones like "what happened to this person in his past to convince him that beating on cops, even corrupt ones, was a good idea?" or "what does she do when she's taken off the cape at the end of the day?" It's a little distressing, really. I got into the game for the chance to RP, but I'm turning it into a grindhouse simply because looking at ways I can optimize my performance is part of how I play every game. It's one of the reasons Jessie quit playing SSBM with me, and why I spod in RPs. Back when CoX had one optimal configuration, I used it and that was that. Every power pretty much had one ideal setup, and there was no thought to how I was going to build my characters. Now I have all these fiddly choices, and I find myself spending more time worrying about them than I do actually roleplaying in the game.
Is it time to quit? I don't know. With the coming of Issue 10, I have ideas for advancements in my characters' personal lives that tie into how the game world continues to evolve, but the truth is that CoH is by and large like eating McDonald's. It's a steady stream of low-grade acknowledgement for my creative endeavors that fills the same emotional need that the homecooked meal of writing does, nowhere near as good for me but much easier to acquire. I'm glad for the friendships I've made while playing the game, and the chance to namedrop a few fairly relevant writers as the result of my in-game efforts is pretty cool, but I recognize that the time I spend playing it is time I'm not spending on other things that in the long run are far more important.
At the very least, it may be time to cut back. I'm picking up Dark Cloud 2 again, for the first time in years. I've pretty much played the game to exhaustion, and yet like Symphony of the Night, I personally find a lot of replay value in it. I wish more console games used the same design elements. I'd keep going with Disgaea 2, but outside the teensy little snag of not knowing where my copy is, I've also hit the point at which I've played
the main storyline through to nausea, but I have yet to hit the minimum level necessary to take on the Land of Carnage. I suppose I could go through the Dark World levels, but truth be told I don't feel like spending the time it would take to unlock every map and short of doing so I'm going to feel like I'm skipping things, which makes my poor obsessive-compulsive head hurt. In fact, I'm horribly behind on console games in general. I never picked up Shadow Hearts 3, Silent Hill 4,, or Persona 3. Those are on my list of somedays, but a large part of why I never got them ties back not only into my CoH time—see above—but also my financial situation with the house—see above that.
In fact, it ties in general into the sense of being in a holding pattern again. Really, I'm making do in my current living arrangement, with Tanya and Rachel helping cover bills and Jessie keeping me sane, but I really don't feel like I'm making any progress, and it's starting to really bother me. To be sure, I am getting ahead, but it's slow, and that's frustrating. Once the house is gone—or at least rented—that's half or more of the financial bleeding that I can staunch immediately, and that will turn around our entire situation, but until that happens it's just sitting here idling, waiting for the time to come. I'm sick of waiting.
Until that day....
In other news, the game that I had started back in Pottstown and ran for over eighteen months, Kiss of Heaven, finally wound to a close. For those to whom I said nothing about the game, this was no attempt to exclude you, but it started as a tabletop game and evolved into an online game only after half the players and the GM moved to the opposite side of the country. The one-sentence summary of the plot would be, "Can a group of artificially-created animal uplifts who suddenly develop super powers stop a mad scientist from mass genocide and forced evolution of the survivors?" and I totally based it on Nightmare City and Savior Cat. It was meant to be dark furry superhero anime, with a few brief stops
in post-apocalyptic urban survival and military espionage.
On the whole, I think the game went very well. As always, very little of what I actually planned to happen happened, but the main plot points came about in more or less the right order, and by all indication almost everybody enjoyed it. I did play fast and loose with the rules, but that was mostly because I wanted KoH to be a collaborative story effort more than a dice-munching exercise. To that end, I was probably more permissive with a few people than I should've been, not suggestive or permissive enough with others, but I think, at the very least, the story that came out of the whole thing was worthwhile.
As my friend Alexandrei loves to reminisce on The War for Sunset, I think The Kiss of Heaven would make a kick-ass novel if I could be bothered writing it. However, that would also require me to secure a lot of outside permission and to try to recreate a lot of the game sessions that took place not online in logs but in person over Cheetos and Dew, and the occasional cheesesteak. Plus, some of the real magic is in the interaction with others, and that's something that a flat story just can't capture.
The game may well have been an excellent example of "You Had To Be There Theatre."
Still, now that it's done, I find myself awash in a mix of emotions. I spent a lot of effort making sure that the game went well, and by the measures I have available to me it did, but near the end we had some interplayer turbulence that made the game difficult, and as we came up to the finale I honestly started to rush things so I could have it finished. I enjoyed putting it all together, and I'd love to do it again some time, but it was a hell of a lot of work and right now what I want more than anything is the chance to take a break from being behind the GM screen and just relaxing into a game with somebody else at the helm.
Destiny is calling you: "Obey me or defy me."