Tag Archives: Word Vomit

Peak Into A Writer’s World Bible – Founding Myth

Hey Everyone, Alexander here.

I’m swinging in for a last minute clutch post because the first post of the month is always the hardest for us to organize. Since our writing section is more than a little anemic, despite me being a writer — and because, I’ve forgotten the post I wanted to do about four separate times in the last two days — I thought it’d be fun to take advantage of this chaos to give you all a little glimpse into my writing notes and pull something out that might not normally see the light of day.

I do so much writing that simply can not make its way into the shorts or novels in anything more than hints but that help me give the world a sense of depth that my readers can sense. Or, more honestly, let me stop obsessing about a particular idea. You might never see the detailed anatomy of a historic country’s geopolitical make up , hell you may only see the country mentioned once or twice ever. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t spell out its entire history from founding to “present” because it has its own natural effects on history.

Where does one start? Why in Myth and Legend, of course! This is how the Universe was Born.

The worlds have always been, The Firstbornes gave them life. For they were great travelers who first crossed worlds. Yet they grew lonely for the worlds they crossed were uniformly barren and lost, separated from each other and lightless. Some among the Firstborne saw the truth of creation, that the worlds they saw were seeds of hope and potential needing light. Those Who Saw convened a great council of the Firstborne to convince them a great sacrifice was necessary. The Firstborne knew it was their duty to creation to give these seeds a chance to blossom so Those Who Became sacrificed themselves by the thousands to give every world its own set of stars to guide creation’s potential. Yet, the Ones Who Set the Stars were of the same people. Thus the life of many worlds can interact with each other and indeed many creatures can thrive on worlds not their own.

But not every Firstborne joined their brethren amongst the heavens. Some were given a harder duty, for the young new species emerging would need the guiding hand of their elder to. Even the Firstborne knew creation could be cruel. Those Who Remained were given the task of protecting the new saplings from predations of that borne in the darkness. For some things only birthed themselves in shadow and lightlessness and they hungered for spark of life they lacked. Those Who Remained split all of creation into two kingdomsL the Praeskensha (Kingdom of the Guardians) and the Etominru (The Kingdom of the Starless). The Praeskensha watched over the worlds of Stars while the Etominru held vigillant in the worlds of darkness, the vanguard of all their brethren had sacrificed. So peace reigned and life blossomed.

That Seemed really clean and ready for publishing didn’t it?

Wanna see the OneNote Page?

OneNote Screen Shot - Glimpse in a Notebook Cropped

It’s Not quite as clean is it?

Oh and Don’t Worry. We’ll get to the Textile and Dye Materials Page. That’ll be Fun.

Well this was fun. Thanks for letting me indulge in parading my world-building around for a few minutes.

Is Basic Really a Bad Thing?

You’re so basic”.  We all hear this from the people around us, and we constantly see it on social media. Most everyone knows exactly what it refers to.  But just incase you don’t, a simple Google search will reveal that a basic white girl is a Starbucks loving, UGG/boot and legging wearing, selfie taking, iPhone using, Instagram posting girl. You can find numerous articles about “things that all basic white girls do” or “signs that you are basic .”

I’ll let you process that one…

Yes, that definition is completely comprised of things that are currently “in style” (for lack of a better word).  The majority of people (at least that I know), men and women, have iPhones. Starbucks is the largest coffee chain worldwide. And being from Seattle, there is one every couple of blocks, so most likely, if I want coffee, I will stop by a Starbucks.

Ultimately, this label that gets put on girls because they like the things that are most common in our society. And the reason that these things are so common is because people genuinely enjoy them.

Personally, I am tired of being called basic each time I want a Starbucks, or wear leggings, boots, and a sweater. I like my style, and if other people have the same taste as me then so be it. It is up to me to decide what I like and I should not be judged for it.

And then if you don’t like the things that comprise the so-called basic identity then you are considered “weird” and “unfashionable.”  It is just a never-ending cycle of judgment and no one can ever win.

In this world of social media there are so many things out there that make people self-conscious. We need to change that and make it ok for everyone to just like what they like, no labels needed.

So think about this, why is it so wrong for a girl to be basic? Is it really so wrong for people to like the same things? In each generation you see these trends happen. And for some reason our generation has decided to make that a bad thing.

What people wear and like should not take away from the fact that each and every person is unique. By calling someone basic you are choosing to ignore that fact. Just because you might not like something that others do, does not give you the right to label them and think less of them.

To all those girls out there reading this, it’s ok to be called basic just as long as the things you buy and do are what you genuinely love. Be who you want to be, it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks.


Podcast Lost in Space Episode 9!

PLIS Episode 9! Join us for a silly, then dark, then serious then silly episode of Podcast Lost in Space! Seriously, we talk real serious about the terror attacks on Paris, Beruit and Baghdad  and then shift over to a fairly serious talk about the Friendzone too.

In a new shift, technical issues held this one up for a few days sorry!

Follow Us: @PLISOfficial on Twitter or on Facebook at Podcast Lost In Space and on Youtube atTPLIS Official

Many thanks to Peter Scott for his awesome Intro/Outro Music! Everyone go check him out! https://soundcloud.com/peterscott-3

And many more thanks to Matthew Jager for his amazing graphics and banners! Check him out at mjagerdesign.com and on Twitter at @TheSeattleOne

Writer’s Corner: Why I don’t like NaNoWriMo

(Intentionally mildly pretentious image of me writing? Check!)

I wasn’t going to do it. You couldn’t have made me. There was no way in hell you were going to get me to throw in my hat into the “Hey guys it’s time for NaNoWriMo!” ring if you held me at gunpoint. But suddenly, here I am. Of course, it’s one of the biggest events for beginning and amateur authors of the year. Confused about what I’m talking about? No worries, it confused me at first. It’s November! Which means that NaNoWriMo is starting up (hey peeps, it already started by the time you’re reading this!). NaNoWriMo stands for National November Writing Month — go here: http://nanowrimo.org/ — The idea behind this event is to give you, the budding author, or the lazy one, a deadline and timeline to force you into writing a 50,000-word ‘novel’. It doesn’t have to be good, it doesn’t have to be trash, it just has to be 50,000-words or greater. What do you get for completing this Herculean task you ask? Why absolutely nothing, aside from the soul-affirming knowledge that you finished a 50,000-word novel in THIRTY DAYS. Oh and you have a 50,000-word novel now, of course. Why wasn’t I going to talk about this great idea some genius put together way back in 1999? Because, I don’t like it.

Now, don’t get me wrong I don’t think there is anything wrong with the program. I’ve ‘tried’ for the last three years. I have a bunch of writer friends who love it, it’s a fun sort of marathon for all us writer nerds, but it’s not for everyone.

I don’t know about any of you, dear readers, but November might be the most hectic and chaotic month of the year for me. It’s midterm season for many of the students in the US, you have Thanksgiving (American) and the whole month always seems to get really damned full. That’s the first reason I don’t like NaNoWriMo (hence forth Nanowrimo because capitals suck). November is an awfully busy month by dint  of not being December, when everyone is home with their families and being far enough from September that school tends to be really crunching down.

My second reason for not liking it? I don’t write in a way that’s conducive to Nanowrimo. I’m a procrastinator by nature –- yes, I’m sorry Sennie but this is not quite late! –- so I need deadlines and Nanowrimo’s fantastic for that, true. Yet while I have proven I can write novel length books at a George RR Martin speed (Seven years from inception to my first ever –- read: crap –- novel is pretty good in my defense) and I know I want to write novel length books, I just don’t like to focus on them. I created a rich and complex world while working on my first book and I love it dearly but it’s big enough, and I was stupid enough, that I have to create languages. Not one, multiple. The number of which will only go up as I explore this wonderful world. World-building is one of my favorite parts of writing, but the words and time I put in to world-building don’t count toward Nanowrimo. The fifteen short stories I run off to record as inspiration hits me don’t count either, sorry me. Part of this is a discipline problem, I should be able to write down the idea for those short stories and move on; I shouldn’t feel the burning desire to write a small essay about the caliber system used by the primary species in my story (because their guns don’t use bullets), or a 100-word history/bio about the pistol my main character loves… or the eight other weapons that manufacturer makes and their fire rates, ranges, accuracy, general methods of use and history. But for me, for a long time, that was fun and sometimes that’s all you need.

I wanted to –- read: want to and am still working on –- write novel length piece because it’ll show off all the wonderful world-building I love to do but Nanowrimo has proved to be an actively discouraging experience. Just because I can’t write 1600-words a day for an entire month because my life is busy or I’d rather spend that hour or two crafting a half-dozen civilian corporations that may matter later, but I’m inspired to do them now; I was starting to feel like I was less of a writer than my dear friends who were doing it with me. Which was ridiculous because if you’re not careful I have a forty-five-minute lecture on caliber (I call it TEOIS, which stands for Total Energy Output and Impact Strength) that comes all off the top of my head.

So this is me talking to all those other writers who struggle with Nanowrimo incredibly but know they can stick to a proper writing schedule. That when they sit down and focus, they can punch out a prodigious amount of words in a very short time and have already finished a writing project of some length before. It’s okay. Don’t feel bad, Nanowrimo is to help light a fire under people’s asses; it’s not a contest or a measuring stick for writers to beat themselves up with, so don’t. Cheer on your friends who really do try it, help them out and all the while keep chipping away at your own. Do what you love, and do what you’re comfortable with. And HAVE FUN (or at least enjoy emotionally torturing your readers) because that’s why we started writing. We wanted to tell stories bubbling inside of us and we found the written word as our medium.

So keep writing 300-word break downs of every star nation’s ship classes and their traditional and non-tradition tactical and strategic roles… oh. That’s just me isn’t it? Very well then. How about we end with, keep writing.

Shameless plugs:

In case you were wondering, my big writing project a 200,000-word, seven-years in the making novel that is very much not for sale and a pair of short stories on Amazon that I self-published because I could.

Check them out:

Jirvaerka Anniversary:


Project Implacable


Lost In: Game Length – Are Games Too Long?

Promo Art for the Tomb Raider reboot

Hey ya’ll, I’m back for another piece and this time we’re going to talk about game length.

We live in an era of unparalleled technological advancement. Video games were born as a by-product of this era and though their origins were humble, they have always been in the forefront edge of technology. For most of it’s history Graphics were the benchmark that the industry held itself against. The most photo-realistic car for someone to drool over [Watch the Video, it’s ridiculous]. Or perhaps the best generic Nazi to shoot. Through it all, we saw rapid forward advances in the fidelity and technology… until now. Sure games still look better but now, graphics aren’t a real benchmark. Art design has become more important and so games found a new benchmark. Now, a game’s true “awesomeoness” can be measured by how much of a “Fully Realized Open World” they can make. These days, that phrase doesn’t just mean map that lets you wander anywhere but a proper simulation where the squirrels plant acorns that grew into saplings that dragons burn down all well you wander the world without load screens, This has led to what I like to think of as the “100-hour minimum”, its the point where you have to hit in order to prove your game pushing the limit. The Witcher 3, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Batman: Arkham Knight, Metal Gear Solid V, just to name a few from this year There are countless other games that hover in-between 40-60 hours, which is just about the industry standard for normal games these days. 100 hours. That’s the 4 Days and change solid of your life, sunk into one game. 40-60 hours is a work week. This is often a considered great deal for the consumer, 60 dollars is a lot of money after all. Especially for us Millennials scrambling between random part-time and retail jobs, one game can last months.

Maybe I’m starting to get old [haha says me at 22] and, gods forbid, growing up but these 100-hour games are starting to become untenable. I have too many other demands on my time these days to feel good about playing through Mass Effect 3 as non-stop as possible [it was finals week] until I burst a minor blood vessel in my eye and finished the game [and aced my finals, cause yyeaaahhhh]. On top of that, most of these open world games demand your time in a fairly significant way. Play sessions seem to be intended to be  in the 3 to 5 hour length and story beats are portioned appropriately but even at regular 5 hour play sessions, you’re chipping at the behemoths 5% at a time. With a more industry standard 30-40 hour game that percentage sky-rockets to 16-12% respectively but even then, its hardly scratching the surface. I don’t have a lot of 5-hour time-blocks free and those I do, I try to wedge social events –board game nights and D&D nights– and chores into. Or writing. Or Homework [ew]. Ninety percent of gamers won’t finish any given game’s campaign but we keep making them longer!

Maybe I’m starting to get old [haha says me at 22] and, gods forbid, growing up but these 100-hour games are starting to become untenable. I have too many other demands on my time these days to feel good about playing through Mass Effect 3 as non-stop as possible [it was finals week] until I burst a minor blood vessel in my eye and finished the game [and aced my finals, cause yyeaaahhhh]. On top of that, most of these open world games demand your time in a fairly significant way. Play sessions seem to be intended to be  in the 3 to 5 hour length and story beats are portioned appropriately but even at regular 5 hour play sessions, you’re chipping at the behemoths 5% at a time. With a more industry standard 30-40 hour game that percentage sky-rockets to 16-12% respectively but even then, its hardly scratching the surface. I don’t have a lot of 5-hour time-blocks free and those I do, I try to wedge social events –board game nights and D&D nights– and chores into. Or writing. Or Homework [ew].

Now, I want to dig into the Witcher 3 realllllyy badly and Metal Gear Solid V sounds like fun game but I know that as my life is right now spending money on them is just going to add them to my pile of shame (my backlog). I also know that when X-Com 2 comes out, I’m going to probably put 20-80 hours into it. The Beauty of large 4X (Expand, Explore, Exploit, Exterminate) Strategy games is their inherent flexibility in play session. Sure, I’m going to play my entire Saturday irresponsibly because JUST ONE MORE TURN but I can make satisfying progress in a 30 min session squeezed between work and school. However, as far as story-based game go, I lament the slow death of the 8-10 hour campaign. The kind of game that takes just one or two sittings to burn through, leaving you with a well-crafted narrative paced completely and deliberately.

Last of Us, the Tomb Raider reboot, the Call of Duty or Halo Campaigns, are all these nice easily digested stories. These campaigns last around 15 hours, 14 hours, 3-6 hours respectively. Their campaign lengths all sit within  two or three steady play sessions and are paced much more naturally because of it. You get to experience the whole emotional arch of the story in a weekend or two of game play rather than stretching it out over two, or three, whole months. We need to respect these smaller campaign lengths because they offer richer, more tightly mapped narratives than their giant cousins in packages we as an industry can reasonably expect to people to complete. Really, I just absolutely loved Tomb Raider. Like irrational loved it for it’s shortness.

Thanks to anyone who made it this far listening to me ramble on about why games are too long these days. I know many people disagree and I love these behemoth games just as much as the next person but we’ve passed the point of reasonable length.

Lessons on Starting the Podcast and the Rest

 My Mic Stand. Professional.

Hey Everyone!

Today we’re going to talk about bit about how starting a website/blog/podcast has gone, a little over a month in from “Launch”. We’re still getting our feet on the ground but we’ve settled into something of a rhythm and we’re about to turn over to our first ‘normal content month’ (hahaha, we’ll see about that).

So what does it take to start doing a podcast/website/blog? Well, very little really. Note: I didn’t not say its a particularly good website, or a particularly Professional Podcast/Blog either, All I said was start it. Professionalism can come later… seriously guys we’re fixing the MS Paint Banner, I promise. All you really need is a techie (me), some boredom/free time, a few friends and someone who can harass them all into doing things (me). Oh and GOOGLE. I google a lot of things. While I”m going to go through my steps about setting up the Podcast a bit at the end of this post, nothing here is meant as a detailed tutorial. I can probably do one of those too if people ask but since I literally just learnt about the settings options in WordPress last night, I’m not sure how good a tutorial it is.

First things first, let’s talk people. We all have those friends who are absolutely gun-ho about any project you want to start but when it comes down to actually doing it, they sort of vanish with complaints about not having enough free time. Or they just sort of just dump it all on you. Yeah, those people are awesome guests but horrible partners. Go find your friends who you know you can depend on to do their shit, even if they probably should really be sleeping instead, and rope them into things. If you aren’t the kind of person to harass people into doing things, go find your friend who is and put them in charge. It might be your idea but you need a project manager or nothing happens. Everyone is going to be doing this in their free time and not getting paid, at least at the start, and you know video games/books/cartoons/football are just so much more interesting than doing Work. So find the people who really are overachievers and who’d be interested in helping you, and use them. It sort of defeated the baseline premise of our own site because 4 out of 5 of us actually have our shit sort of together but the friend’s whose lives are on fire are way too busy to do this exactly because they’re their sort to start and abandon projects. That core group (really aim for 2-5) of people, they become your team.

Now that you’ve got your people, it’s time for a website. Wait, it’s actually time for a name. Find a name, grab it (or a version you like) in every social media platform possible [Twitter, Facebook, YouTube/Google are the big ones, Twitch too if you’re going to do games). While you do that, make sure you can get the URL as well, because unified branding is important. WordPress is a pain in the ass but it’s not an impossible system to use, and you can find tutorials for most things. There are other build-your-own-site GUI programs too and maybe we’ll explore those in Tech at some point but the basic summary is find your favorite one, find a hosting service and use it to centralize all your stuff. It’s easier to monetize when you’re self-hosted or not relying solely on social media companies that don’t owe you a thing (YouTube) and it gives you a nice place to point people back to for them to go find the rest of your work.

Once you’ve set up your basic framework, it becomes time to figure out what you (and your friends) want to do. I don’t mean vague high ideas, I mean the a detailed list of the things people can/will do and brainstorm ideas from all of them… and actually listen to them. People are going to tell you things you disagree with, or don’t really get. You don’t have to everything they tell you too (Dad, not everything needs a blog, even we have one) but really you pulled together these specific people for a reason and you should probably listen to them.

You know what you want, you’ve got a basic site and structure setup and you’ve got people? Great! Scheduling. I don’t mean “Hey we’re doing the podcast on Sunday right?” I mean, Google Calendar emails, reminder texts and a content Schedule. Get people’s posts in a Month early (podcasts are different), set a typical time and day for your content to go up. We’re starting small-ish, 1 recipe on Monday mornings and 1 post on Thursday mornings, plus the podcast on Sundays (and up by Sunday night/Monday morning) but we’re going to stick hard to that schedule until it becomes second nature or we get a lot of content. Another things that helps? Not every post needs to go up immediately. Edit things, review things, and Queue things. You want a bunch of posts sort of sloshing around, giving you a month’s worth of backlog if you can, for those pesky times like Christmas and Thanksgiving, when people are busy with ‘real life’. Timely posts are different, obviously (Halloween Ones shouldn’t go up in Mid November) but try to build a backlog.

By now you’ve noticed that I didn’t mention a lot of little things you need. Like banner art, or a podcast graphic, some podcast intro music, maybe event and understanding of basic website design. You can do these things yourself, but maybe you shouldn’t (MS PAINT FOREVER!) and for those project you should look to those awesomely talented friends you have. If you’ve got friends in graphic design, music, webdesign, etc… who’d be willing to help you out ask them. Maybe bring them into the project but if you can’t/they can’t join the project, they still might make you that thing you need. If you got an artist who can make you something and you can pay them, PAY THEM. They live in this capitalist world too and even they don’t usually sell their art, paying them will ensure you get your piece right away and they’ll love you forever. You’re starting your own crazy project, support your friends who have their own projects. If you can’t pay them, THANK THEM. Put their name everywhere, constantly thank them, send people who might be able to pay them their way. One of the hardest things to find is a place to show off one’s own work outside the usual places drowning in other’s works but: EXPOSURE IS NOT FAIR PAYMENT. IT SHOULD NOT BE THE FIRST METHOD OF PAYMENT YOU OFFER. This is huge. We’re poor college students, or just poor millennials who just finished college. We can’t afford to pay our equally poor, but more talented, artist friends what they deserve for the work they’re doing for us, so we have to offer exposure instead. A bunch of them are just happy to do it for their friend as practice or an excuse to make themselves work on something but I work very hard to make sure we’re not taking advantage of them. If this whole crazy thing starts making us money, guess who is going to get Paid for doing more work? The people who helped us out in the first place. If they’re not your friend, or again if you can, you need to offer them money. Don’t expect ‘exposure’ to be fair payment.

Speaking Of Which Give our two Amazing people all the love:

Graphic Designer/Banner Designer

Matthew Jager



Music Maker

Peter Scott



Last, but not least, if you’re the organizer/central figure. Be prepared to do double the work of anyone else. If someone doesn’t come through with a post, if you forgot to harass everyone early, if something goes crazy, you’re the one filling the gap. We don’t really have an audio engineer type person, so I’m learning that stuff. I’m also one of the best writers on the team, at the moment, so I’m the editor. I’m also the web admin. I’m also the one who answers all the questions the rest of the team has. I don’t mind, I love being in control of project but its a lot of work on top of real life.

And Finally, it’s time for the Podcast ‘tutorial’:

  • Cheapassgamer has a fairly decent tutorial for how to make a really professional sounding podcast, although the tutorials about how to use the programs it asks you to use are a bit lacking (to google!). [ https://www.cheapassgamer.com/topic/138939-cagcast-production-faq-qa-podcasting-tips/ ]

All itreally takes someone with some savvy with Google hangout and a willingness to set up a YouTube/Google Account.

Google Hangouts Live! automatically publishes a YouTube video of the Live broadcast with no need for extra equipment or recording software and it’s own built in controls are fairly useful (except when you mute someone and don’t notice because it doesn’t mute him in the call). If that’s all you want, you can stop there and voila! You have a podcast!

Things get a bit stickier when you want to pull an Audio version but even then, it’s a simple matter of downloading the MP4 from Youtube, running it through Audacity and doing some editing-fiddling to make sure you trim out any bad parts (like the start of every live broadcast), maybe add some music and you’ve got your audio podcast.

Feederburner, a Google software for building RSS’s can pull from a WordPress Category so you set up your podcast(s) in a specific category. Point Feedburner at it and it gives you a RSS link, Search Engine Optimization and some other things to make proper Podcast Feeds easy. And it comes with Tutorials!

It also helps you way in the future, if you setup your WordPress site’s permalinks for the category/post name instead of the date and you number your podcasts 00X. But we’re no where near worrying about that (yet).

Some Useful Tutorials I begged, borrowed and stole information from: [ http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/create-podcasts-with-google-hangouts-on-air/ ][ http://www.nateshivar.com/285/how-to-start-a-podcast-in-5-steps/ ][ https://blog.bufferapp.com/podcasting-for-beginners ] [ https://codex.wordpress.org/Podcasting ] – This one is a bit confusing but to ‘upload a file to the server’, you just “add media” to the post, and it uploads to your host server.

Lost in: Act of Aggression and complex RTS’s

Let’s preface this with: This is not a review. I’m not sure we’re ever going to get into that messy formalized review structure that sites like Polygon and Giant Bomb are dealing with. For two real reasons. One: review scores are messy imperfect things that cause problems. And Two: I don’t expect to have time to play games the proper length needed and this site isn’t just about games. So instead you’re going to get us talking about games and pieces we like or don’t. And sometimes these may sound like reviews.

All of that out of the way, let’s talk about Act of Aggression, Eugen System’s newest Real-Time Strategy, RTS, Game and how it shows a coming problem for the genre. Like so many, Act of Aggression . Eugen System’s, aside from being a Bond villain-worthy name for a company is with a history of RTS under their belt, including one of my personal favorite popcorn RTSs, R.U.S.E. and one my least favorites, the Wargame series. Act of Aggresion is a slight half step between the two series, not remotely as cartoon-like and over the top as R.U.S.E. but not quite the highly detailed war simulation of the Wargame series. With heavy Command & Conquer influences visible, the fact that it is a step back from Wargame — which lacked enough of a tutorial to make it penetrable for me, much less a newcomer to the franchise –is welcomed but the game fails in the same place as Wargame does. They both want the player, the lone single officer with a creative brain (well any brain) to manage complex, evolving military situations down to the micro-level.

Think about it, these games put you in the General’s seat (or at least a Major’s seat) but ask you to do the one thing good officer’s never do. They ask you to micromanage everything, from flying the rescue helicopter to telling a squad to run to the next building for cover when they get flushed. In the real world, it’s tantamount to suicidal and you’re going to get good men and women killed. In Act of Aggression, you have to do it.

This isn’t Act of Aggression’s fault anymore than the lack of peripheral senses in First-Person Shooters is Call of Duty’s fault. They’re inherent limitations of the technology we currently have. But here’s the thing, military from the dawn of antiquity has understood that nothing can get done without good subordinates. The centurions, sergeants and other NCOs of the times could be, and still can be, argued to have far more importance to a military’s success than the generals, majors and other ‘brass’. Sergeants keep the cogs oiled and figure things out.

Act of Aggression has a feature that I absolutely adore, even if its just far too specific for me to worry about in a serious skirmish (which is why I’ve been playing against easy AI). The game lets you take wounded enemy soldiers (its a chance thing) as prisoners who can be used for a steady trickle or burst of rarer resources, depending on the faction of course. Aircraft or vehicles that get shot down/destroyed have a chance of spawning a pilot who is equally capture but will run for home if no enemies are around. Healing injured infantry returns them to the fight, a mostly worthless endeavor given the weight of tanks and artillery that get thrown around. But downed pilots grant you a 200 dollar bonus for being safely returned. More importantly, they’re downed pilots of mine and I’m going to everything I can to pull them out. You get access to helicopters that can carry infantry and the number of times I’ve launched rescue strikes to pull out my downed people borders on silly but I love doing it.

The problem with this mechanic is nothing about it is automated. Sure your pilots will slowly run back to base on their own but that puts them in massive danger. So you order a helio to pull them out and it flys over to pick them up, you go put out three other fires that started while you giving the order and maybe start an attack somewhere else. All this while the helicopter has picked up the pilots and is patiently hovering over the spot, waiting for more orders. Never mind that it should be high-tailing it back to base to get these poor bastards to safety, never mind that enemy anti-air is all over the region. It patiently just sits for you until its shot down or you remember it and order it to race for home. But even then your troubles aren’t over, because while it takes time to fly back home, you’re off doing a dozen other things that a cadre of half competent sergeants could do. One damaged tank siting slightly outside the repair radius while the rest of its squadron is fully repaired? Yeah, managing that is your job. Did a napalm strike just chase a bunch of your infantry occupying a bank out it? Well you’d better be right on top of that cause they’ll just stand outside the building roasting to death (or being shot to death, or blown up or any number of other bad things) until you tell them otherwise. Did they evacuate the building and survive (some of them) the napalm strike? Better tell them to reoccupy the tactically vital building they’d just been inside of because they’ll wait forever. While you’re doing all of this, guess what? That rescue helio that pulled out all the pilots? It’s hovering over base waiting for you to tell it to disembark them and then give them the order to run back into your HQ.

Everything in that last paragraph is a lot of fun, I have some other issues with the urban combat but every individual piece is great. But when you tie them all together and add economy, and combat micromanaging and macro-management of build queues, resources and build zones, it becomes more than one person should ever handle. The military has ranks for a reason. Ranks have jobs and they do their jobs so the ranks above them (or below them) can do their jobs. Games like Civilization strip out the micromanagement and tactical levels as an answer while the Total War series splits them into to separate but integrated pieces, and even its far more limited RTS elements suffer from this requirement that you the players does everything. They’ve answered this with a pause and queue order commands but it disrupts the feeling of being a commanding officer when you have to tell your elite legionnaire century that after they scale the walls they should run the 20 yards further along to engage the enemy guarding the gatehouse. Other games, like R.U.S.E. and Starcraft simplify both until the player can grasp it all.

In the end, I think the RTS genre is going to have push the edges of AI in games if they want to play at being a holistic war simulator instead of war-light like chess and Go. RTS makers need to understand that delegation and specific roles are why/how modern militaries function and not try to throw everything onto the player’s plate. Something as simple as letting two players control the same faction and base, something Starcraft and Halo Wars do, can go a long way to letting all those complicated matters become manageable but the only real solution is to give the players virtual subordinates smarter enough to do their jobs, something we’re not quite too.