Sunday, June 26, 2011

Alternate Ending, or Different Dimension

This comes from a background story I had written back around 2008.  I had heard of a place called Naraka that I decided to try RPing in for a time.  So here's an old story that is an alternative future for Ioh compared to the one that actually happened to be the end of his term in Midian.

*Ahem*  Please forgive any editing mistakes, as this is fairly roughly being typed from the paper itself in as authentic to the original writing as I can tolerate.

Ioh RP In Naraka

Once a long time resident of Midian for nearly four centuries, Ioh came to be in exile in this prison called Naraka.  His first life in Midian, being his second of nine lives, he had gained prominence in the gang called the Catwalkers. Throughout his time in Midian, Ioh had witnessed the rise and fall of many factions, and many movements.  He had seen several Matrons come and go as well.  As time went on, Ioh would help the CWs to rise to become a strong political and militant force that would persuade the validity of hybrid rights, as well as drive out the opponents, such as Humans First, that wanted to cleanse society of hybrids.  As three centuries went on, success came in the hybrid movement as CW Matrons were being elected to office, and a strong political and victorious military campaign by the CWs led to nearly wiping out the human prejudices and discrimination.  The empire of hybrids that Ioh had dreamt of was nearly established.  However, an underground cell of human terrorists captured Ioh and, by their political backers in the Solar, they exiled him to Naraka in hopes of being rid of their greatest opponent for good.

Will Ioh gain prominence in the prison and attempt a rebellion to break out?  Or will he succumb to apathy and live among the criminals, becoming more and more like them, and live out his remaining three lives in this prison?  Who knows what forces will push him one way or the other?  Only time will tell.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Have A Voice

Because this was a little less about Ioh, but about 'me', that is to say the person 'behind the mask', I wrote this post in my LiveJournal.

Feel free to check it out there.

Monday, June 20, 2011

IC and OOC - does this standard really work?

I've thought about this for some time.  General concepts I've heard for RP on IC and OOC is that they discern from that which is in character and what is out of character.  You are supposed to dull your emotions to what may happen to your character, or others around you and only play as your character would react.  Being somewhat method in my approach to RP and acting in general, I find this basic concept disingenuous.  How can you immerse into your character without having certain emotions?  Those emotions can be both what arises in character and out, as we relate to both the characters around us and to their players that are the authors of their words, thoughts, and actions - words and actions being the most readily available aspects that a person can react and interact to.  And while I can agree that it would be nice if everyone was at least OOC friends, and should just let the drama only unfold IC, that is just plain not going to happen.  This isn't a perfect world, and not everyone you meet is going to be your friend and have your best interests - IC, OOC, or otherwise - in mind when they do things.  Thus is why, first and foremost YOU have to be in control of your character, and YOU have to decide what is best, and what you want to do with your character in any given scene.

Let's take a step back and put this more into acting.  The whole drama  between Michael Bay and Megan Fox is a prime example of how the utopic concept of 'let's just be friends' OOC just  doesn't work.  It also shows the consequences of such a belief.  OOC, Fox called Bay's style of directing as being like Napoleon or Hitler.  At the same time, she also says,  "[W]hen you get him away from the set, and he's not in director mode, I kind of really enjoy his personality because he's so awkward, so hopelessly awkward. He has no social skills at all. And it's endearing to watch him."

Granted, what is said is not very tactful, but I think it is in earnest to her comparison of the director and the person (another similar aspect to IC and OOC, IC being the director on set, and OOC being the person the director is off set and away from work).  I don't think Fox's comments were anything worse than, say the Seinfeld joke about the 'Soup Nazi' or the common way in which many of us in college used to joke about campus police being parking Nazis for their near relentless duty to giving out parking tickets to students who had let their time expire on their meter, or had to park in the wrong place due to all other spots being taken already.  Most of us would distinguish calling such things as being Nazi-like as something said in jest, and not meant to harm or damage a reputation.  But apparently Spielberg, according to Bay, anyways, decided the Hitler quip was foul play enough to fire Fox.

In this instance, whether what is being told is true or not, the changing of Fox out of her role had nothing to do with her acting, but that her words outside of the set were in bad taste.  The OOC completely changed the IC.  No more Fox means her character is written out and a new leading lady steps in.  And that's how the 'professionals' in this whole playing of roles deals with things.   The reality of it is, and as La Beouf so aptly put it, if you start "Shit talking the captain," IC and OOC have no boundaries.  You take the OOC and you edit out the undesired IC.  And that's the way the 'professionals' play this game.  You don't like it?  Then don't play in the big leagues.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cat People

No question what the theme for this post is.  Cat people.  This has been the pulse of my RP in SL for a long time, and likely will remain a pulse within me even after SL.  Neko seems so confined, and werecat is such a small niche, but it's one that I think can be just as interesting, if not more so than the werewolves.  My characters have had the ability to change, even if it wasn't particularly allowed in Midian.  Regardless, people still RPed with my feral neko and four legged leopard, and it was fun.  If I could find a sim that would allow such, I would try to RP it out in some manner to be sure.

But more so, and going more general, cat people can come in various species, such as the neko and werecat mentioned.  And they sometimes blend, depending how a person RPs their cat character.  For me, there are three potentials of the types I've played.  These, I'd call neko, werecat, and hybrid.

Neko is a catch all name for cat people in SL.  It wasn't the first name, but it was the one that stuck.  The old cats, from what I have read, often just called themselves cat persons, and had a general belief in the cat persona being a part of them, and not just merely something they put on for fashion or just a RP character.  It was their way and what felt natural for them in SL.  Some nekos have this or a similar belief, but not all.  After all, neko also originates from a Japanese style of playing 'cute'. And because this style is primarily female, some nekos originating from this trend consider that 'neko' should only refer to cat girls.  However, Japanese animation has had a few references to cat boys, or guys with features of a cat in some manner.  Black Cat's main character is one example, as Train Heartnet's eyes are often perceived as being like a cat's eyes, and his persona as a stray cat.  But, for the most part, the primarily human features given to most nekos gives the impression that what makes neko is mainly having cat ears and tail - and sometimes just down to being human with a cat-like style or some type of attitude, or 'cattitude', as some call it.  Yet, there are some nekos that are a bit more furry, for fuzzy, having short haired skins patterned in both the ways that house cats and the big cats of the wild have, such as tabby, calico, leopard, and tiger skins.

Werecat is much a mixed form as neko.  How to explain it, I would say has some dependence on the idea of shape shifting, or maybe having two parts to the persona of a neko or cat person of the more 'human' style and the 'feral'.  That is to be able to switch between such shapes and personalities considered human and something more animal or beast-like.  Werewolves are a common character, to which werecat has partial origins in, because they are so similar.  Not to mention the cat and dog play that goes on between the concept of werecats and werewolves being within the same environment.  The similarities, as I see it, and besides the shapeshifting ability, potential of being 'moon called' (that is, the moon or 'luna' having a particular power over the animal side, or the play on the 'madness' and concept of lunacy originating from the moon), the one important aspect that is shared is that of the human/animal nature.  In theological terms, the make up of 'human' has been envisioned in various ways as being of three parts - an 'angelic' or spiritual nature, the human cognitive creature, and the beastly/animal creature.  Sometimes, the idea has been mainly summed up that humanness is some in between, or part divine and part animal.  Thus, beliefs, and the more origin of the horrific aspect of were creatures is the idea of a human being overcome by the beast.  For the beast to be conjured up, not just in terms of mental state, but even that graphical state of being formed into an animal. Of course, not all looked at such as a curse, but the concept of being 'lowered' to the level of pure animal was one way in which people looked at this idea as a curse.  Some of the characters changed in various were-stories, such as the classic Wolfman, or the particular one highlighted above, Cat People, would agree that the change was a curse, and often ended in tagedy.  However, a more modern concept that gives were's and 'preternaturals' more leeway to be seen in a societal way is Patricia Briggs' novels about werewolves who's American leader is called the Marrok, and lives in Montana.  They have a sort of underworld feel, and the life is practically like mafia or gangs in general, but you still want to see the main characters as having strength, resilience and desire to live within human society and somehow co-exist.  However, controlling the beast can be hard, and those that can't have to be 'taken care of' and led to a tragic end.  In many ways, it's a play on social Darwinism as much as it is on theological concepts of what makes a human.  Science, philosophy, and theology all have a particular range within this particular form of cat people species, which is probably why were-creatures are prominent in much fantasy and science fiction (particularly the steampunk genre, in consideration to it's Victorian emphasis), and is becoming part of the more mainstream 'urban' fiction being published today.  Cat people of this nature tend to sway towards the big cats (leopard, tiger, jaguar, panther, lion, etc.)  and have a four legged counterpart to them.  They may have a primary form of human or neko in every day appearance.

The hybrid is just that.  As neko is such a generic term for cat people, both werecats and nekos can be called hybrids.  Hybrids in general encompass more than just nekos and werecats as well.  Werewolves, even if the 'purists' of this species of human-wolf concept don't want to admit it, the fact that they do have a human part, and either a wolf part and/or bestial bipedal mixture of both - , such features make them a hybrid by their very nature.  In my RP, I have seen fox (kitsune), coyote, snake/reptile, mouse and rat, and even just general dog (inu) hybrids.  The diversity of hybrids is incredible, and the types of stories that can develop from them is only limited to the imagination and creativity of those who RP or the authors that may choose to tell the stories of them.

At any rate, these are three general definitions that make up, or are used by cat people to describe themselves.  It's not an extensive, nor end all, be all definition, but these give some basics on the concept.  And being able to be immersed in the concept, and letting out the cattitude in my persona were a few of the reasons I have enjoyed playing and being a cat person on SL.  It is one reason I strive to find places where I can RP and, essentially, just 'be' in one of my various feline characters and forms.  A place open to accept this, I am open to accept them.  A place that doesn't, then, as the old phrase goes, I'll excutere pulverem de pedibus meis (Matt. 10: 14, see English text).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Midian City to Close

Theme: A 'Dark' Farewell To Midian
Song: The Wrong side - Abney Park

I run on the wrong side of life...
I run where the darker crowds run
On the rain-swept streets where black rain runs

I play where the darker kids play...
I dance where the darker crowds dance
In the pitch black clubs in a clove stained trance

I see things the darker kids see
Though you wouldn’t believe all that’s happened to me
I’ve been to the backside of Hell
And I've played with your fear and enjoyed it well

This our time, the night's our day
We'll dance this fading life away

Through a source to remain unnamed, I have heard a rumor that Midian is likely to close soon. This is not really all that surprising to me.

As far as I see it, RP needs to come out of the dark.  It's not sustainable, especially with more dark themed sims needing an adult rating just to operate in seedy, deviant ways that are near, if not completely pornographic in nature.  It was my argument back before I was banned from Midian that if they wanted sustainability, they would need to consider quality of general storytelling, rather than try to go with the gimmick of sex sells.  Sure, sex sells, but if you want to just have an orgy fest, then quit calling it an RP sim and open it up as a free sex sim.  However, even those come and go (pardon the pun <.<) like all the other trendy things in SL. For instance, the numerous clubs and raves that get discarded once another newer and shinier club opens.  There are only a few clubs that have held sustainability, and that's mainly been because they've been true to the genre they play and fan base of that genre.  Midian could have learned from that, but no, they chose to screw over their fan base virtually from the beginning.  It's why they imploded before, and it's why they imploded now.

What was Midian's fan base?  That's a good question.  From how I saw it, the general term would have been cyberpunk.  This is a catch all phrase, much like it's younger sister steampunk.  They both have similar aspects and origins in the novels of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.  Both of these also were influenced by Edgar Allan Poe.  The difference, as I see it, is that cyberpunk looks at a cybernetic future while steampunk considers an alternative present (or future) that tries to picture what the world might be under a British Empire with Victorian styled clothing, and a sort of progressive science still centered around steam and clockwork gears.  In a way, Watchmen (the Graphic novel, anyways) merged the two paths in the one character of Dr. Manhattan, who's father wanted him to go into watchmaking type machinery until learning about Einstein's work.  After that, the father told his son that the atom was the way of the future now.  Yet, Dr. Manhattan still had a mind that ran like a clock, both in the matter of continuous and unstoppable grinding gears, as well as seeing the multi-dimensions of time and space in the quanta of things and events.  

But Midian was supposed to be of the post apocalyptic sort of cyberpunk.  And this worked quite well for a good many years, especially when people were allowed a good amount of freedom to write and RP within the environment in a manner that allowed room for interpretation.  Not everyone agreed about what exactly made up Midian, and that was completely fine.  You could have the Hounds being that rowdy, low-life thug gang that went around abducting people for all sorts of seedy purposes, and have the MPD at least attempt to be useful in trying to 'serve and protect', even though they were more about serving the needs of the corporation funding them, and protecting their own asses.  The Catwalkers could roam about the rooftops with both seeking to keep their territory protected, as well as to plot and pull off various pranks and cat and mouse play, seeing all who come up on roofs as prey for such ends.  The Pack likewise could hold together as that hybrid family that attempts to keep together, fighting those that would try to take them from their place in the ruins, or reshape the ruins, and effectively destroy their home.  

The possibilities for the various factions and groups mentioned and unmentioned were endless.  So the problem for Midian wasn't in lack of creative possibility, but more in the growing frustrations by lack of creative vision by those in charge.  Bottom line is a fine thing to worry about. Though, honestly, bottom line is a needless worry for those that are willing to let the creative possibilities flow.  But that is hard when people tug and pull in so many ways and become narrow minded to what they could do if they put away their greed and narcissism.  So much jockeying for positions of power, and so much denial of things being wrong, to the point that anyone that pointed out these problems was destined to be shunned and eventually banned from the RP community.  That is, if they didn't quit before then.  That the forums have been put in lock down, as I have also heard, only shows the end result and that indeed Midian is on its last legs as a sim and RP community in SL.  

Am I sad for what is happening? Yes and no. 

Yes, because I remember a time when Midian had so much potential as a sim and RP community.  I had spent nearly three years of my time in SL and RP in Midian, immersed in two main characters within that city - both nekos, one a Catwalker, the other in the Pack.  Even though I had some part in the one of the initial treaties between the Pack and CW, it was not by metagaming, nor specific intention.  If anything, I had been hearing various things on both sides, both IC and OOC to which sounded like both were willing to join forced, and part of the common cause was in both groups being hybrids, the other was the common enemy of the UAC.  But it was never explicitly my idea for them to make an alliance.  Mainly, it was from suggesting the Pack Alpha to talk with one or both of the Matrons at the time, and it eventually happened.  It was never a perfect deal, but who said RP in an apocalyptic, dystopic future would make for a utopia?  But, it was in this period, around the time when the artifact RP was about to unlock its secret that I saw as one of the great moments in Midian RP history, because of the collaboration that was going on.  

No, I'm not sad to see the destruction of Midian.  I am not sad because I see it as burning away the vile things that Midian has become.  Sure, those things were there in the beginning, and were reason for the first implosion. However, all communities live within vices that living communities try to put out of scene.  It is by their nature that they are off the main stage and called obscene.  They are not celebrated, but things to fear and be wary of - the things that are dark and should fly in the face of light.  A bump in the night no longer has much the same effect if it happens every night and becomes known, rather than unknown.  And the things of Midian became just that - so common place to no longer be feared, but jeered at as cliche.  And I don't mean the use of over-sized guns, as Midian banned those just because people lacked imagination to figure out how to play out such a conflict.  No, they kept with things that went from the frightening vampire stalking the night to the gratuitous vampire feed, fuck and snuff scene.  Sure, the story has a beginning, middle and end.  All pornos have that, usually.  But it really isn't something that gives much leeway or leverage.  In short, it's not RP that flows and goes on.  And thus is now the fate of Midian, to be fed, fucked, and snuffed.

And all I can say is, "C'est la vie, c'est un pute!"

Monday, June 13, 2011

To RP Or Not To RP...

That has been my question for a while now.  I'm not really sure, and therefore, my basic answer right now is no.

Reasons I would want to?

When I used to RP regularly, it seemed a good creative outlet to help me play out story ideas in real time.  It pushed me to improvisation, so I couldn't say, like I can with writing a story, "Oh, I'll just sleep on it and see what comes to mind later."  In other words, I can't just procrastinate when a particular scene or conflict got messy.  I had to deal with it right then and there, minus unless RL issues came up during the time.  And it forced me to consider alternative realities when things didn't work out.  In writing, you might have to pose other possible ideas, but you are not imposed to the belief that one or the other concept you were considering would be impossible because you don't have to hold to the actualities of how a story progresses unless you the author wishes to play it out.  In other words, you can revise a story you write to play out as you (or your publisher) likes, but you have to forfeit alternative revisions in RP when others take that control away.

Reasons I would not want to?

Let's face it, loss of control of a situation can be both a positive and negative for RP.  Procrastination aside, being forced to deal with other people controlling things, especially if it seems inequity and unbalance are in play can just make it frustrating to RP.  And as much as RP can be a creative outlet, it can be mentally taxing and morally draining.  At least I can stand only so much 'dark' (ie. fetish fantasies about being abused, raped, butchered, drinking blood, killing my character(s) or killing off everyone else's, and other moral and society depravities that you can think of and can be excused as being fine to play out as long as it derives under the banner of 'dark') RP before it gets old.  And it gets old because there is no balance in it.  Many of those sims play the 'no heroes' card, and that all things done in RP are consensual.  And yet, they commercialize the aspects of 'dark' as being forced.  So there is a conflict right at the core of these RPs on just what exactly is consensual and how to define forced, but yet the need for permission to make something forced.  This leads to a lot of problems eventually, and I don't see many ways around it.

But, I think ultimately, I am feeling like maybe I"m maturing beyond the nonsense of such RP.  While the real time of RP can give a certain genuineness and realism to a story, the fact that most RP found is 'dark' and, for the most part, immature deviancy with little or no power or ability (or maybe just plain want) for quality of story beyond just making something filled with gore and other such pornography and profanity, there isn't much incentive to remain.  There isn't any balance in such RP.  To find balance, where you can deal with things more realistically - where not everyone is trying to be evil, and you can actually have good people trying to better themselves, regardless of having a seedy past or not - is something that you can't find very often in RP sims.  People are more obsessed over the gor, the violence, and the sexually explicit to really delve deep enough to find something 'real.'

When I speak of real, I don't mean that fantasy cannot exist.  In SL, I play cat characters.  I find fantasy a great outlet for the imagination and overall creation.  I'm also working on a story that has cat characters in them that form one society in a world alternative to ours on earth.  And I think that I can play a realistic character, even as that character is a cat.  Ioh is a testament to that, and his story covers a wide variety of dimensions, and various planes of existence in the SL world, such as RP and general SL personae.  While Ioh's story in Midian is 'dead' to the current RP, it still lives on and can branch out in different aspects, if I so chose to do so.  The Dreamwalker sets (Beginnings of a Dreamwalker, Wanderings of a Lost Soul, and A New Dream for a Dreamwalker), as well as Chamber City, all convey a particular evolution of Ioh from out of Midian.  On the other hand, while the sets of The Covenant RealmForgotten City, and the concept of Project Ziggurat can be said to have a certain kernel of development from Ioh in Midian, they have components that are much more independent of the events that happened in Midian and ultimately spewed forth the need for departure from that forsaken sim.

Funny, it may seem, though, that in speaking about Midian, even in the negative, it will likely draw people's curiosity to go there and see for themselves if that place is really as bad off as I may make it seem.  Publicity is publicity, even if it may be good or bad, no?  However it be,  and the further I grow away from those events, the less I care one way or the other.  I still feel that I was ill-treated, and that there are still some there that would consider me an enemy, even though we once were (supposedly) friends, or at least well-wishing associates.  And sure, my public protests of the wrongs that happened to me may have not been well thought out at the time.  I can excuse that as being hurt if I want to, and as true as it might be, it's still an excuse.  What I've learned since then is to not be so trusting.  That is a valuable life lesson, regardless the cost of it.

To be quite honest, the reason I'm not RPing, or at least not so regularly as I used to comes on many levels of being busy.  I work 10 hour days of 4 out of 7 days in a week.  When I do have time to be online, or otherwise have free time, I have to consider what is of most value for me to do.  RP is at the bottom of that list, and for a variety of reasons.  For starters, it's becoming more and more impossible to do it, and to do it in the nature and quality that I personally demand and require to make it worthwhile.  I'm not a 'dark' RPer.  I may have RPed within 'dark' or 'adult' themes, but, consistently, the main thing I looked for was quality of story.  I may have lapsed a few times into some things for the ridiculous vanity of pride and wanting to display that I could play my characters on a variety of levels and in dark situations, but ultimately, I want to make a good, timeless story.  Something that people step back from and say, "Whoa, that was epic!" and not mean it in the trendy fashion of the phrase as it is used today. But that it was truly something epic, that flowed throughout the journey of the story.  Something with an impact beyond the mundane of gore/violence/pornography/etc. for the sake of doing it.

I'm not alone in this vision.  In one of my writers magazines, there was talk about the origin and nature of using 'obscene' when it came to the use of violence as one form of conflict within a story.  To put it basically, obscene was that which was 'off the scene', or 'not on the stage.' Some RP sims have used fade to black (FTB) to this nature, mainly when consent is not given to follow through with playing out the scene.  The purpose in writing is that, while the explicit visuals (or description, as it is) are not used, the off scene engages the imagination of the reader.  There is something far worse in knowing, but not showing the fate of a character.  In some ways, I feel that is fitting for Ioh's ending in Midian.  Being banned just cut Ioh's fate out of the place completely, thus making it more severe than tar and feathering (among whatever perverse imaginings my enemies might have for my character).  It's funny, now, to think that I have truly become obscene in the truest sense by way of the nature of how I came to no longer be in that city.  Even though I may not be a dark RPer at heart, my ending from that city was truly dark in its abrupt and permanent FTB.  I'm not dark, but I do love a good twist of irony.  But anyways, the point is that you can have dark elements thrown in with shades of gray, and the inevitable struggle to try and seek out light in the most bleakest of times and events, and not have to always go for needless or overuse of explicit and gratuitous violence/pornography/etc.  This is what is truly 'real' and multidimensional. But this is what is disregarded in most RP any more.  Self gratuity is the name of the game for most, and it is, in my opinion, the most pathetic aspect of RP as it is in many RP sims still going today.

My hope, for a much more progressive and better future of RP is that places that are truly Steampunk in their origin will become a prevalent force to drive change in vision of RP.  I don't mean the poseur sorts that are just in it for fashion and machination, but that seek to push a vital and creative force, and that the spirit of that force permeates into other aspects of SLRP.  Steampunk, or at least the 'punk' aspect, that is truly interested in pushing a social dialogue, fighting to revolt against status quo in recent generations that has washed much of our lives into irrelevancy and just trying to stay sane in an otherwise insane world that, frankly, does not give a damn for anything but the bottom line ($$$).  To see our generation strive for something better than the bullshit offered to us, and to finally see real change in our world that seeks out for that better future, even while playing with the past to help envision it.  Maybe Steampunk will not pave that way, but what spirit for such things comes from it, and how it develops, I find more excitement in that than I do in the bitter past that remains the legacy of Midian in my SL experience.

But for now, I am trying to focus on different projects that are not so SL related.  I still come on from time to time, but often do not have time to RP.  So I hang out with someone that I am very fond of, and who has allowed me to relax and start to try and love and live again in this second life.  What will come of it?  Only time will tell.  But for now, no more RP for a while, maybe longer.  At least nothing serious and demanding.  Feh, we'll see...