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January 21, 2014

The 2-Year Anniversary OF DOOM: Cross-Up Returns!


Truer words have never been spoken.  Also, let’s just pretend that this post isn’t coming a week after the anniversary date, all right?  It’ll be fun.

Also, I sure hope Disqus is working again by the time you reach the end of the post.  It's been iffy, so pardon any mishaps with the comments section.  Hopefully it'll clear up soon.

Now then, let's get to it.

Cross-Up is back, and if my plans all go through, it’s going to be better than ever before.  Then again, you could probably guess that just by having a look around.  The header alone features some updated sprites -- consider them “sort of, but not really HD”, in the sense that the pixel count is significantly higher.  For the record, though, making those took a long time.  A frustratingly-long time, for something that may or may not even be appreciated.  Let the records show through those sprites that, if nothing else, I’m dedicated to moving forward, getting better, and using this curiously-large head of mine to put smiles on readers’ faces.

It’s probably worth talking, however briefly, about the “state of the blog”, since I’m pretty sure I did that last time…and it should go without saying that I’m not satisfied with where the blog is right now.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I’ve made the progress I have; I can guarantee you that I’m a bit wiser thanks to it, and even if I don’t have a massive audience or net-wide accolades, merely the fact that I’ve got a couple of regulars and occasional visitors who enjoy what I ramble on about means that I’ve accomplished something.  But I want to accomplish more.  Much more.  I’ve taken steps, but I want to go even further -- to turn this little corner of the internet into a gathering point for any given lover of fiction.  Which is to say, pretty much any given person on the planet, and anyone who happens to find this blog.  I know I’ve got a long way to go, but I want to at least start moving toward that goal, however lofty.


The one thing I want to bring up specifically is that I’d prefer, with the new-and-improved Cross-Up, to move closer to its ideal form instead of just doing what others have already done.  I’ve been thinking about this for a while, thanks to things like the Transformers posts, the Family Guy posts, and a few others *coughCOUGHfinalfantasyCOUGH*  I didn’t start this blog to rant and whine about stories that make me want to puke, but it seems like time and time again I’m forced to dwell on something that feels like an insult.  Given the nature of the blog (and again, my large head), I know that’s going to be unavoidable.  I know there’s always going to be garbage out there, and I can’t rest until I try to explain just what went wrong.  What doesn’t work…at least for me.  But I vastly prefer focusing on positive things, for obvious reasons -- and again, I want to get things on-track for improvement, not just ranting and raving.  More than enough people do that on the internet.

What’s the solution, then?  There’s no clear-cut answer -- SO I’ve decided to take the scattershot approach and opt to do a number of things instead of just one.  So let’s have a quick run-through of some of the changes to Cross-Up, shall we?

1) NEW FEATURE!  Open-ended posts.
You can consider this a more experimental portion of the blog, since I don’t know how well it’ll work out right now or how long it’ll keep going.  But in light of posts like “What Does Zelda Mean to You” or “What Does Disney Mean to You” I’ve realized that I like getting additional perspectives from others instead of just gabbing on -- and on top of that, it’s a big chance to open the comments section for input and discussion…ideally WITHOUT forcing anyone to sift through thousands of words first, AND without requiring the context or knowledge of hours-long stories beforehand.  There’s not going to be a specific category for the posts, but if you see a question pop up, that’s your cue to jump in.  Oh, and speaking of categories…


2) NEW TAB!  THE CONCEPT LAB!
It’s like the “combo lab” the fighting game community loves…only…without combos.  Or a lab.  And also, I guess that picture’s supposed to have my avatar in a wind tunnel, so the simile breaks down even ANYWAY, this is going to be one of the main new features of the blog.  Rather than creating a new tab, I’ve decided to compartmentalize some of the other ones -- putting things into categories and subcategories for a smoother clicking experience.  So you can consider The Concept Lab as a sort of idea space -- that’s where Spirit Showdown posts will be listed from now on, and miscellaneous posts (likely some of the open-ended ones) that I feel might be worth a second look. 

But the key feature is going to be a new and ongoing miniseries that isn’t at all a bad idea.  I mentioned this before I started the hiatus, but I’ll go ahead and say it again: it’s a little unfair for me to take shots at others without opening myself up for probing, consideration, and ridicule.  Even beyond that, I’m a better writer because of Cross-Up -- but if I’m going to get even better, it’s time to take it to the next level.  And the only way I’m going to do that is to reveal what’s near and dear to me…at least before I burned it all down.

So let’s have a hand for the new miniseries, D.O.X. is Dead!


Ever wanted to know just what kind of story I’ve got up my sleeve?  Well, you’re in luck.  D.O.X. is my creation, but not too long ago I made the (ultimately right, if frustrating) decision to give it such a drastic overhaul that it’s practically a different story.  I’m VERY happy with the new story, even before the inevitable trip to the salt mines that is revising and fine-tuning.  But in order to complete the writing process -- to learn from my mistakes, my successes, and maybe offer up some edutainment for you readers -- I’m going to start talking about what the story was, so I can come closer to what the story should be

Don’t worry; things won’t get too heavy or overwrought with this new miniseries.  If you like reading my Let’s Discuss posts, then you’ll like reading this.  And I’ll try not to let it overwhelm the blog, either.  I’m not going to commit to a schedule just yet, but I hope that I can have one of these posts come out every other Wednesday.  So basically, the (ideal) flow for the next couple of weeks is:

Monday: Main content post -- Let’s Discuss, Manly Songs, Movie Magick, etc.
Wednesday: Open-Ended Post
Friday: Main content post
Monday: Main content
Wednesday: D.O.X. is Dead
Friday: Main content

We’ll see how well that holds for now.  I reserve the right to mix up the schedule as I see fit, however -- so in the event that I have another debacle on my hands like 47 Ronin, you can bet I’ll throw out something else instead.  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to…


3) NEW TAB!  THE SQUEENIX FILES!
Hey, did you guys know I don’t like Final Fantasy 13?  Big shock, right?

If I were to do a list of my favorite posts, I’m pretty sure more than a few of them would be related to this so-called -- and thankfully almost-over -- Lightning Saga.  It’s a topic I’ve drilled into the ground, I know, but try to understand where I’m coming from on this.  If it wasn’t for Final Fantasy, I might never have gotten as into stories and storytelling as I am now; I can think of franchises I like more, but FF will always have a unique place in my heart…which makes its present-day blunders all the more frustrating.  There isn’t a single franchise out there more worthy of examination, nor is there a company quite as curious.

But don’t think I’m just going to rail against FF13.  It’s true that I’ll be moving posts over there over the comings weeks/months, but the new tab will also be the home of my Kingdom Hearts posts, because they ALSO have some fairly nice insights into the house that FF built.  (It looks like there's a space for FF10 under the tab.  Hmmm.)  So consider that an archive -- and soon enough, the home of something very special.  I hope.  Possibly.  Potentially.  Well, we’ll just have to see how it goes.  I’m sure no harm will come to reality as we know it.


4) NEW BRANDING!
If those peepers of yours are in working order, you might have noticed that both the Movie Magick tab and the Manly Song Repository tag are missing.  Don’t worry, those posts are still there, and they’ll still be coming as soon as I come up with something worth writing about.  (I never did do a post about The World’s End, did I?)  But since neither of those come up uber-frequently, I’ve decided that a bit of reorganization is in order.  Therefore, the two tabs have been combined to create Movies X Music -- a two-in one media analysis archive that isn’t at all a reference to Street Fighter X Tekken.  Want to see why Man of Steel is just awful?  Want to rock out to some Kamen Rider music?  I’ve got you covered, and I will for a while yet.  I’ve still got some songs I can/should talk about -- though as a friendly reminder, suggestions are always welcome…

5) MORE HRAETS!  MORE SPIRITS!
…Eventually, that is.

I’m not even close to done with I Hraet You.  Not even close.  I’ve got enough ideas to -- at this pace -- last me for years, and I intend to at least try to bring the story to an end.  To be fair, you probably shouldn’t expect any new chapters for a while; the way things are looking, it’ll probably be March (and probably late in the month, at that) before I even start on new chapters, to say nothing of the fine-tuning I still need to do…along with updating that cast page with new art and profiles.  But obviously, this is a golden opportunity for anyone with a passing interest to start having a look at the current archive, and get caught up through a binge or two.  I can almost guarantee you it’s worth it; there’s gonna be a killer robot popping up pretty soon.

Also?  I found a good theme song for leading man Lloyd.  Ah, you can always count on Queen.


The Spirit Showdown is going to be a bit trickier, though.  I made some stuff for it months ago, so the lion’s share of the work is hopefully done.  It’s just a matter of stringing those together, putting together the new stuff, and making it all unite via some semblance of an inordinately-meta plot.  As I’ve said in the past, I’m not satisfied with the way the Showdown played out in the past, and that’s precisely why I feel like I have to give it a serious revamp to make it worth your time and mine.  How long is that going to take?  I don’t know.  But I’m hoping it’ll all link up in the end, and offer a satisfying conclusion.  Also, I’d very much like to explain who that pink-haired girl in the header is supposed to be -- probably something I should have done months ago.  But hey, why develop a story arc when you can complain about The Last of Us?  Seriously, a fully functional flamethrower?  Were their drugs on drugs?

6) NEW FEATURES!
I’m running out of ways to hype up the relaunch, so let’s go ahead and have a rundown of some of the miscellaneous additions.

--There’s a notification bar at the top of the screen now.  I’ll use that to point you incoming readers in the direction of good content, mine or otherwise.  (Likely mine, for obvious reasons.)  So if you happened to miss an open-ended post and have something weighty to say on a topic, you’ll have a chance to jump in without having to dig through sidebars and such.


--I’m adding tags to the bottom of each post, so you can search for things by subject.  Also, you can see some of the “witty” things I use to label my posts, like “Filler Time”, or “Improbably Buxom”.  Talk about pulling back the veil…

--I hate to be that guy, but it is worth mentioning that Cross-Up is (however half-assed it may be) linked up to some social media junk.  Facebook page, Google+ page, and my Twitterin’ thing are all viable options.  I’ll be the first to admit that I need to get in deeper with those systems, but let the records show that those options are there and I want to use them more effectively.  Beyond that, I can’t think of a better way to get random blurbs that hint at upcoming posts…or just announce that posts are up.

--And on that note, I’ve decided to try something different and see how it works.  From now on -- at least for the time being -- I’ll schedule my posts so that they pop up at 11 AM.  I’ve heard that that’s a prime time for blogs to get noticed/traffic, and if The Escapist’s scheduling is anything to go by, it’s a system that works.  So I’ll give it a shot.  Again, I reserve the right to change the schedule as I see fit, so if I don’t see any marked changes I’ll switch back to the standard “it’ll be there before the sun goes up” time slot.


7) NEW SURPRISES!  NEW POSTS NGHFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF-
It should go without saying that I’ve got some good stuff planned.  Well, potentially good.  Hopefully good.  Possibly good.  They’ll be things that eventually exist, is what I’m trying to say here.

Simply put, I want to make Cross-Up a place to be.  I want to make the content better, I want to bring in more people, and I want to offer up something to people who don’t put inordinate amounts of effort into nitpicking.  Can I do that?  How am I going to do it?  I admit that I don’t have all the answers, but I am willing to put in the effort, both here and elsewhere.  Frankly, one of the reasons I went on hiatus in the first place is to work on something different.  If you’re wondering how that’s coming along, then to paraphrase Matt of the Best Friends Zaibatsu, “more than you’d think, but less than you’d hope.”  But it’s getting there, and I can see the potential.

But enough about that.  It’s a new year -- and right now, I’m committed to making 2014 my year.  Is everything going to go as planned?  Am I going to take the ultimate step toward becoming a true hero?  I don’t know.  Conventional wisdom suggests I’ve still got about a hundred more steps to go.  But if that’s really the case, then that’s fine.  I’m not about to give up now, as long as I’ve got this spark in my heart.  I’m hoping you guys will come along with me on this journey -- or at the very least, see me rant about video games every now and then.  So if you feel like crossing-up with me, then feel free to drop by.  I’ll have you covered.

It’s a new year.  So let’s make it a good one.


10 comments:

  1. Have you ever considered a Fixit Shop entry in which you take a piece of media -- 47 Ronin, say -- and reshape it into something that works? It wouldn't necessarily be positive, but it'd give you the focus and constructive creativity you want. Overall, I think it'd encourage you to be positive too, since you'd get a better appreciation of the problems a concept faces.

    Consider my Man of Steel post (though I hate holding up anything of mine as an exemplar): like you said, I tried to climb inside it and see what made it tick, what narrative problems it was trying to solve, and why those solutions, if well intentioned, backfired. I should or would have used space to go into what I would have done, but, as I said, Superman is insoluble to me.

    I'd be eager to see how you'd revise some of these properties which you've correctly diagnosed as broken. You've admirably (I cannot stress this enough) taken stuff apart with restraint, with a willingness to go into the sausage factory with the writers and see how it's put together, so you're better suited to do this than most critics out there. Critics expect stuff to magically put itself together for them. You don't.

    Play script doctor for a moment. I think you'll be surprised at how fun it is to do and read.

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  2. Also, have you read my post in Bioshock Part 3 yet? I'm dying to hear your thoughts.

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  3. The new look for the site is good. Though I think the white on black might cause some reader fatigue after a while. (It's the reason I changed mine.) I do however love the bells and whistles. I did a random re-skin of Dimanagul.com not too long ago, but you put some back into it.

    Here's to another great year.

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  4. Hey, fulldamage still lurking in the shadows out here - and all of those ideas sound really great! I think digging into a game to highlight the things you like about it is an approach way better suited to your generally upbeat tone. Looking forward to it.

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  5. Thanks. I'm hoping to get some new content -- and new game-based posts -- coming up soon enough. There's one game in particular I've had my eye on recently, but haven't taken the plunge with it yet. Hopefully that'll change soon...and hopefully it'll actually be something worth celebrating. Could go either way, really.

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  6. Reader fatigue, huh? Yeah, I'll have to be mindful of that. There are probably a few more tweaks I'll make over time -- the dashboard was being VERY finicky when I was making the updates -- so we'll just have to see how it goes. Maybe I'll do a poll or something somewhere down the line.


    Or maybe I'll just ask people via that new notification up there. I can totally do that now! Assuming I don't screw up the HTML (again)!

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  7. Fixit Shop, huh? Well, I don't know if I'd call anything I'd put out a "fix", but I've mulled over the idea. And by "mulled over" I mean that's exactly what I plan on doing somewhere down the line. (Hint: "The Squeenix Files" is a tab for a reason.) No telling when it'll pop up, but I hope I can put some time into it soon. Then again, Lightning Returns is lurching ever closer, and I'm preeeeeeeeeeeetty sure I'm going to have to do a post on that.


    For closure's sake, of course. Not because I want to risk death by stupidity.


    Whatever the case, thanks for popping up as often as you do. Good to see I've managed to make at least one person happy with these posts of mine. Also, I have to go see if your comment on the BioShock post is up; the comments section's been iffy recently, and I suspect it's recently eaten a few of your responses in the past and present.


    HnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngTECHNOLOGY!

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  8. Fair point. I may have had a lot of problems with The Last of Us (and by the sound of things, you did too), but I'd still like to think that for all my complaints, maybe -- just maybe -- there's a chance that I missed some of the finer points. Either that, or I expected too much. Who can say, really? If nothing else, I think that TLOU is an important game -- maybe not for its quality, per se, but because it shows that from now on, devs are seriously going to have to do more with their games' stories. TLOU is the first step, and hopefully not the last. Maybe next time, we'll get something with some real heft.


    I just hope that people don't stay in "this game is perfect, and is immune to criticism forever" mode. Because that's really what we need. Low standards. And more chocolate. Or free-flowing ketchup. Or chocolate on ketchup (but not ketchup on chocolate, of course).


    That's an interesting point about the Luteces, though. They are/were scientists, so I guess as long as they can conduct their experiments, they can be happy. And they did get results in one way or another with Booker, so they had to be doubly happy. They get to learn about their world(s) at their leisure, so I guess becoming omni-chronological beings is the best fate they could have ever asked for.

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  9. Can't wait for the stuff that you have got lined up - really liking the new look and posts you've published already. Keep 'em coming, man!

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  10. Thy will be done. You want more content, you'll get it. I'll bring the posts, and you bring the eyes.


    I hear they're quite useful for reading. Though that might just be an urban legend.

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