Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Reset: Achaena

Achaena looked up from her work, mixing a healing potion, and staring into the mirror that sat behind her workstation.

The woman who stared back was not her own face.

She'd seen the specter around the manor a few times now - a high elf, if she was any judge.

The others didn't see the woman. She only appeared to Akkie.

"Why me?"

She asked it quietly - she didn't need her training master to hear. He'd think she'd snapped, and she knew she hadn't. She would know if she'd gone insane.

The specter reached out, her pale fingertips touching the glass. Her other hand came to her lips, pressing a single finger to them, and silencing her.

What do you want?

She didn't know if the spirit could hear her thoughts, but the ghost didn't want her to speak aloud, that much was obvious.

And ... who are you?

The mirror's surface blurred for a moment, and she once again saw herself. The spirit was there, too, however - her arms wrapped around Akkie's shoulders gently.

"They're coming."

Akkie could read the woman's lips, though no sound issued forth.

Who? Who's coming?

The spirit gestured, pointing toward the window.

It was late, the sky was dark. Akkie hadn't been able to sleep, these last few nights.

She moved, silently, to the window, looking out. The spirit's reflection pointed, and Akkie looked down. There. Movement in the courtyard. Armored men? At this hour?

Those were guards. Stormwind Guards.

Her blood froze in her veins. No, that couldn't be right. The masters were always so careful.

She heard the distant thump of a fist, pounding on the door.

No. No.

She turned toward the door, opening her mouth to scream the warning - and the spirit slid into her body, freezing her voice in her throat.

"No," the spirit whispered gently, in her own voice. "No."

Her body turned toward the window, opening it quietly. She slipped outside, onto the roof, tumbled soundlessly to the ground - and ran. No one saw her move through the streets, up the trellis, and onto a different rooftop. Her body used its training, moving without her consent.

The screaming began when the manor caught fire.

She turned briefly, her eyes fixed on her home, the only place she'd ever known.

"Run," the spirit urged, and her body obeyed, taking her outside the city walls by way of another rooftop, a tall tree, and a controlled dive. She was going to feel that one in the morning - but nothing was broken; she'd rolled just so, at exactly the right moment.

Her feet took her to a clearing in Elwynn, a small, empty space with a tiny pond in the center.

Finally, finally, the spirit let go of her.

"Why?!" She cried it softly into the wind, fists balled up with rage. "They need me!"

The spirit sat across from her, now, resting on a tree stump. "You would have died." She said it softly, her voice sad. "I couldn't bear it," she admits. "My only daughter ...."

"My mother abandoned me!" She said, denying it. "I was left at the orphanage before I could even talk!" That - was what the masters had told her, anyway.

The masters wouldn't lie to her, would they?

"Not by choice," the spirit whispered. "They lied."

The dead had no reason to tell falsehoods. She looked the spirit over, really inspected her. Her long, flowing hair was lighter than Akkie's, though Akkie couldn't say if that was because she was dead, and that had sucked the color from her, or if there was some other reason.

A line of dark blood slit her throat from ear to ear, the blood running down her front. "You were murdered," she said softly.

"In my own home," she said softly. "While my dear, beautiful daughter lay only a foot away in her cradle." No. No, the masters ...

"Your masters lied to you." the spirit repeated. "And now they are dead." A grim smile that didn't meet her eyes. "It brings me no joy," she admitted. "But it puts my soul at ease, to know that I managed this one thing. My daughter is safe - and my murderers have met justice."

The spirit began to fade from view.

"Mother - no - " Achaena reached for the ghost, her fingers brushing through the air where her mother had been, and as the ghost disappeared entirely, she knew then that she was alone. Tears tracked their way down her cheeks, unbidden.

What was she supposed to do now?

The Person Shaped Nothing

Dream fragment:

In this world people are being attacked by an inky blackness that draws all their color out of them, leaving them as the person-shaped nothing, and stealing their emotions as well.

Often they turn to art, music, and the like, to express the emptiness that's taken them.

Those works of art can be used to draw the blackness to another person, which creates another person-shaped nothing and grants the creator their colors, and feelings.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Up Up Down Up Down Down Down.

We haven't had a real talk lately, you and I.

We never speak anymore. You go off in your little world of dreams and fantasies, and I live in my bleak shadows.

It's like we're two different people.

But we're not.

There's me, when I'm on top of the world. When nothing can bring me down, and I can stay up for days, running on fumes because the high is just so high.

And then there's me, when I'm under it, crushed by its weight. When nothing can drag me up, and it takes all my energy just to get out of bed.

Today is one of the latter days.

The doctors say to 'diet and exercise' - nevermind that they don't give a good idea of what to at or which movements will help the most. I suppose anything would do, wouldn't it?

It's supposed to make you feel better.

I stayed up too late last night, and couldn't stay asleep this morning. I'm feeling queasy and sick.

I like telling stories, but I don't have thoughts of my own. I ... extrapolate, on other thoughts.

My head is all over the place, a billion pieces that all say 'suck.'

So when I got up this morning, it was still morning, and so I thought to myself, "Let's accomplish something!" ... only no forward progress was made on any goals, and I quickly got frustrated, depressed, and self-loathing.

Depression, they call the one. Bipolar, they amend, when they hear about the other.

Mom thinks it's an autoimmune thing. Hashimoto's disease or disorder or some such thing - it starts, just as the doctors told me so long ago, "Like your thyroid caught a cold."

Only it never quite seems to have gotten better.

Of course, that kind of thing just doesn't. If it's how she thinks it is, then I'm stuck, because not only is it a lifelong sentence, but the doctors don't understand this kind of shit well enough to even diagnose it half the time, much less actually treat it.

- Crashing from the high.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fixing Isla Paradiso for Gameplay

Pretty simple, actually. There are a lot of issues with the Isla Paradiso map for The Sims 3: Island Paradise. EA did not take the time they needed to fix many of the issues that render it unplayable, and so this map brings even the best computers to their knees.

This step-by-step guide should make this world playable for you.

First off, houseboats.

For some reason, the houseboats in the game tend to not be routing-friendly. What I do is I delete all the houseboats and throw down a routing-friendly lot in its place. This is a very basic lot, designed for the Sims 3 Apocalypse Challenge that I play frequently. It has a lot of store content and requires most of the EPs, however, so any houseboat that you've tested for routing failures should work in its place.

Alternatively just delete all the houseboats.

That means you're going to need to relocate all the families you just evicted. If you have a routing-friendly houseboat, you can put them back down where they were - otherwise, just find a land-based house for them to live in.

It's very important that you don't just delete the families, as that can cause more lag. There are plenty of land-based homes to choose from if you don't want to make your own houseboat or use mine.

There are three land-based homes that are a problem as well - namely the Medina family, Los Amigos family, and the Ichtaca family. The Ichtaca family can be resolved by simply knocking out the archways in front of their front door, allowing the front door to be properly set.

The Medina and Los Amigos homes just need to be bulldozed and - again - the family themselves should be relocated.

Many guides suggest that you deal with the Scott family specially, since they are the source of a lot of lag on the Isla Paradiso map. However, they are evicted as part of the first step, and relocated afterwards - that's all you really need to do with the Scotts.

I personally just delete Hobart's Hideaway, because I don't tend to do much with resorts. If you intend to play with that feature, check this link to solve the routing issues caused there. Literal bugs causing bugs!

You will want to split up the School/Stadium combo lot as well. Place down a stadium in one lot, a school in another, and bulldoze the existing one. The reason for this is not lag-related - however, if you do not perform this step, any athlete in the Professional Sports career will experience difficulty advancing as they are likely to lose every single game they play on the combo lot.

This is a problem with all neighborhoods that have combo school/stadium lots - for example, Moonlight Falls.

If you want to experience all possible careers - and have all the required EPs - you will want to place down a lot that has the Plumbob Pictures Backlot item on it, as well as a separate lot that has the Gypsy Wagon on it. This step unlocks the Film career paths and the Fortune Teller career paths, respectively.

Since Isla Paradiso has very limited space to work with, you probably will not want to use the pre-generated Late Night lot for the Film Career, but instead create a custom lot with the Film rabbithole placed on it.

For extra safety, you can install the NRAAS mod, Overwatch, found here. This mod seeks to automatically clean up issues which cause lag over time.

It is recommended - but not necessarily required - that you turn your graphics settings up to the highest level they will go. This supposedly fixes lag on its own - however, if you do not have a high end computer, it can cause issues instead!

Finally - and this is important! - save the fixed file as a separate save from whatever family you intend to play. That way, you don't have to repeat all of this effort the next time you want to play with Island Paradise. Whenever you start a new family on this map, save the new family separate from your fixed Island Paradise map, and you will always have a safe save to work from.

Now go, enjoy your playable Isla Paradiso!