ARM 0.1 Final Revision: FINAL UPDATE

ARM 0.1 Final Revision

100% Done

COMPLETE


It is done.

After working for so long, I’ve finally reached the end of ARM 0.1, and thus the final revision is complete. With the spellcheck done, ARM 0.1 officially becomes ARM 0.1.1, and it will be ready for timestamping as such once it is stripped of external references and links.

Working on the unassigned character traits led me to once again polish certain characters’ attributes, as well as define certain characters’ key storylines; in particular Feigenbaum and her involvement with Retcon.

Apart from that, I worked on several other tidbits from all over. Here are some final notes from that.

  • Once again I had to rethink Nagastra’s nature. Funny how it keeps giving me headaches trying to tell an interesting story with it. For the sake of keeping convolution to a minimum, I will make it as a fast-hitting weapon as possible, and see where that takes me.

  • Wildcard is a mercenary. Theon is a mastermind. Kurush is a psycho. This distinction is important and I’ll have to keep it in mind when dealing with them.

  • Relating Scythe to Scythian would make for an interesting and quite believable folk etymology, if you ask me.

  • Apparently I broke Word’s real-time spellcheck. It kept telling me that the document’s too long and I’d have to check for errors manually. That’s what I had to do at the end anyways, so…

  • The final major changes I did involved the ALPHA Plexus hierarchy. I decided to remove the Tierce echelon, keeping it only for Didymos and other Plexuses of larger size (if they do in fact exist). That effectively makes a standard Plexus three times smaller; but, I also reduced the hypothetical amount of Plexuses from 11 to 7-10. That resulted in a shift from 8,019 units (maximum) to 1,701 units (minimum). And I’m alright with that. All this came from a lingering feeling that ALPHA is just too big for its own good, especially when you compare it to certain Special Forces unit sizes, like Delta (~1,000), navy SEALs (~2,000 with DEVGRU having 200 to no more than 300), or Green Berets (~5,000). So its overall size makes more sense to me now. After all, ALPHA is supposed to be a covert ops group, not a massive Earth-engulfing military force. Right?

  • The other major change was renaming Triumvir from Triskele. Considered changing either them or the Triarch to that. Haven’t completely ruled out doing that instead, though.

So evidently, the step to take after this is to begin writing as soon as possible. However, there are a few things still to do before that. Other than prepping the document for timestamping, which should take two to three days, I have ancillary documents to re-read, but none of which have more than a few pages. So, getting everything prepped should take me a few days to a week more. Until then…

Permanent link to this article: http://alpha-risk.net/2014/02/arm-0-1-final-revision-final-update/

ARM 0.1 Final Revision: Update 12

ARM 0.1 Final Revision

98.31% Done

Currently at: Profiles

92%

Well, that took much longer than I expected but it was also much more important than I’d posited. The progress bar may not reflect it, but all characters have evolved dramatically thanks to working on their character traits.

Like I thoroughly explained, constant characterization is important for any character because it keeps them both well-defined in the reader’s mind, as well as hopefully memorable throughout the story–and beyond. I also said that certain traits would in fact help explain the attitudes and motivations of characters, and boy was I not kidding about that.

In establishing the simplest attributes for characters, such as hair color, clothing, and accessories of all sorts, I found asking myself, “Why? Why exactly are they wearing this? Why is their hair color this? What is the reason behind their look?” and this alone forced me to establish their roles. I realized I had several characters which I had no idea how they truly fit in the story. Establishing their look required me to establish their nature and purpose, and that in turn allowed me to more clearly define them visually and thematically. Even those characters I thought I knew well already had to be seen in a new light once I detailed their traits. Now I have a full cast of characters, not only with stylish looks, but also with clear roles.

The most striking example of this was, without a doubt, Cyan. Given the full effects of the Incident, I figured that Cyan should display at least a partial hint of the effects on himself. So I decided a gray streak across his hair would be appropriate. This forced me back to a question that still plagued Cyan’s character: his immunity. Why and how exactly would he only be partially affected by the Incident? It was at this moment when the whole mystery unraveled right in front of me, and the answer set in like the perfect puzzle piece I was waiting for. Inevitably, it explained the character as a whole. And it all came from what hair color he should have.

So detailing my characters was even more important than I had ranted about, as it turns out. And it wasn’t an easy road. Learning the proper names for natural and unnatural hair colors; finding names for those types of clothing you’re thinking of; how wildly jewelry and piercings change name depending on the part of the body they’re worn; the names of the clothes they wore in Ancient Rome, the late Feudal Age, the Renaissance. Like usual, researching for Alpha Risk led me to learn so many new things along the way, even if it wasn’t in the most scientific of fields.

  • Hair color, hairstyles, eye color, clothing, eyewear, hair accessories, makeup, piercings, jewelry, equipment, skin decorations, tattoos, wearable devices, skin markings. Researched all of these. I know of these now more than I ever thought I would!

  • I wanted to share this one example of what I had to deal with: So I decided on this piece of clothing I wanted for Hervor, but how to describe it properly? Well it’s hard when such piece of clothing has no proper name, but rather a multiplicity of possible names: shoulder cowl – shoulder wrap – cowl – capelet – cowl capelet – capelet shawl – neckwarmer – shoulder warmer – ponchette. I could go on.

  • Surprising how useful Google Images can be when trying to find accurate names for things–and viceversa, when visualizing things from the names provided to you.

  • I was also concerned about overall heterogeneity. I think I reached a pretty balanced palette of color and gender. But I guess this is just out of my own fondness (i.e. obsession) for symmetry.

  • I completely redid the Sixth Symbol. I didn’t realize how utterly silly the original design looked. So I redesigned it to have the form it should’ve had all along.

So what’s left? Faction traits (just a few to apply to certain factions, or not), and loose personality/storyline traits to apply to specific characters, or not. And that’s it. Hopefully Definitely won’t take me another three months to finish, dammit!

Permanent link to this article: http://alpha-risk.net/2013/12/arm-0-1-final-revision-update-12/

ARM 0.1 Final Revision: Update 11

ARM 0.1 Final Revision

97.86% Done

Currently at: Profiles

84.56%

Very close to the end now, evidently. Not many changes to the characters’ profiles to speak of. I am currently at Character Traits, the final subsection of the final section. Although this section is far shorter than the rest of the Profiles section, it has taken me longer. The reason is what you could call a pet peeve of mine.

WARNING: Rant about characterization follows.

I believe that every character in any kind of story should have an appearance that sticks with you throughout the whole story. Whenever a character shows up, you should at the very least know what they look like. This isn’t a novel idea; it’s a given in good writing. And yet… it isn’t.

I often see novels deal with a character’s description in a single paragraph–or less. The reader is required to memorize each character’s appearance soon after their debut, and that’s it; no more reminders for you. Either you relate this name with this description right now, or you’re screwed in the future. The next time that character shows up, you may end up with a talking (and faceless) head, no idea what it’s supposed to look like. This issue exacerbates when a big cast of characters (say 20+) is at play.

Well, I personally don’t have a great memory, so while reading a novel I’ve often found myself wondering, “what does this character look like again?”, or worse, “who the hell is this one again?!” cause I’ll be darned if I recall what a single short paragraph said about this fella 200 pages ago.

My point is that it’s a common practice to dispose of a character’s description like it was some sort of chore, when a character’s appearance should actually be a constant aspect of characterization. Not only should a character’s aspect be memorable, it should be reinforced because it’s often important to the character as a whole, its actions and attitude. It shouldn’t be a chore to either describe or recall a character’s appearance. I feel that if you haven’t had the need to return to your character’s appearance in dozens and dozens of pages, you are simply doing characterization wrong. Your characters may as well be faceless talking heads for all that it matters.

A novel isn’t a visual medium like film or comics where you can take visuals for granted. “Show, don’t tell” applies to everything: not only places or actions, but also your damn characters. To me, each character should have at least one trait, one aspect that you cannot help but describe every other scene whenever you turn your camera to that character, as superficial and trivial as it may seem at first glance. Simply because that element is a part of what that character is. The more descriptive you are with a character the more memorable it is, of course. But not if you only do it in a single paragraph on the first chapter. There should be a minimum of characterization throughout the entire story. That is what is required to keep a character alive in the reader’s mind, and standing out from the rest.

And that is what I call Character Traits.

I’ve ended up with an extensive cast of characters, most of which are crucial to the story I want to tell. I would say it’s a natural effect of the “global” scope of the story. However, I believe that each of them has to have something that lets them stand out from the crowd of characters. While there are several characters that I “see” very clearly in my mind, there are several characters without a clear enough appearance yet. I want to give them the traits that I feel are best suited to them, and thus make them as clear and memorable in my mind as possible–so their characterization becomes a joy instead of a chore.

Well, enough ranting. I’ll now go down the list of character traits I’ve been working on, and apply them to my characters accordingly.

Permanent link to this article: http://alpha-risk.net/2013/10/arm-0-1-final-revision-update-11/

Status update

Finished with Equipment already. So, on to the last section: Profiles.

Permanent link to this article: http://alpha-risk.net/2013/08/611/

ARM 0.1 Final Revision: Update 10

ARM 0.1 Final Revision

85.22% Done

Currently at: Equipment

2%

Very significant progress; quite swift, as well. The main reason for this is that I consider the Technology items to be quite solid by now, even more so than I remember having written. This is hard sci-fi territory for sure, if I may say so myself. (It also helped that I reduced the indent of several blocks of nested bulleted items, which reduced ARM’s total page number, and thus increased the completion percentage).

Now, I planned on making more than one post concerning Technology as I progressed, but seeing as I’m already done, I decided to unite all the notes onto a single post. I do try to be careful about what I talk about before the actual “product” is finished, and I would love to disclose so much more than this… but this is what I should share for now, methinks.


General

  • I’m amazed at how often technology can often drive the plot all by itself. Not as the dreaded exposition infodump, mind you. But rather, in the manner that their nuances can drive actions and motivations, especially as new attributes are discovered and acted upon. For instance, this happened with the cryptovirus, and to a lesser extent the Cataphract. I would say that the [Nagastra] falls under the same description as well, but I’ve had to reconsider its nature and utility so often, that I consider its complexity a hindrance to defining its plot rather than an aid.
  • It constantly worries me how reality keeps trying to catch up to what I’ve written in there. I wrote long ago about AR uses for social networking enhancement in Mainstream, and it turns out I might as well have been describing Google Glass, pretty much. A similar thing happened with wristphones, but just how popular those will actually get remains to be seen as of today… (At least I still have keyphones to fall back on…) To be fair, I constantly keep myself informed about cutting edge innovations and gadgets, which allows me to be inspired by them long before they get developed as mainstream products.

Weapons

  • I hadn’t noticed how overplayed the FN2000 actually is these days. I found it everywhere when I looked for it. Anything that needs a futuristic-looking rifle, goes straight to the FN2000. A similar thing happens with the P90, but in my opinion not to the extent of the 2000. It’s kind of ridiculous. So, Alphas themselves won’t be using the P2000. On a side note, I learned that the creator of the Halo rifle designed the rifle months before having ever seen the FN2000, and he had been right to fear that people would think he’d ripped off that design even though he came up with his first. Oh, I know that feeling, man. I know it too well.
  • Nico’s [Prime/Elite] Weapon was originally the Cobalt, but that would have been pretty silly. The Razor Rifle is the most obvious weapon for him since he is support. The weapons themselves were originally called “Select Weapons”, but I noticed how that would be confusing in some situations.
  • Fragmentation grenades may be powerful in combat, but they do horrific things in real life that I do not approve of personally. That is why Punica grenades are concussion only. (Not “concussion” as most sci-fi works use it, but real Concussion grenades, of course.)
  • “Do Alphas carry too many things?” is a question that started popping up every once in a while. I still don’t know the answer to that, but I integrated the fluxblade into the Multitool goo, so their standard loadout has lightened at least a bit.

Naming

  • I set upon the name multipad long before the iPad was an actual thing, but really, who the heck is gonna believe that…?
  • Noovoice used to be called “noospeak”, and I later realized it sounded like newspeak. But I didn’t change it because of that; I changed it so it wouldn’t be used as a verb, and because frankly noovoice sounded cooler to me.

Etc.

  • I decided to add a cyclogyro core as a central thrust system for Aeros. Though I don’t hope to talk too much about it in the story itself, this should make their flight a bit more believable. This doesn’t apply to ALPHA hoverships, of course.
  • I thought sometimes of patenting one or two of these, particularly the nullphone. I’ve come to realize that this would be problematic given that I don’t have the actual expertise to describe their technical functioning (a “constructive reduction to practice”), which is highly recommended for patents to do. I did propose the stickon beacon for an Electronic Engineering class project, but nothing came of that, obviously. Quite frankly, I don’t mind anymore if other people actually end up creating things based on my ideas; it’d be fantastic, actually.

Well, moving on: Chapter would have come next; but since I already went down that one, I’ve fast forwarded to Equipment—the shortest section of all. Then comes Profiles, the final section. Onwards, then!

Permanent link to this article: http://alpha-risk.net/2013/08/arm-0-1-final-revision-update-10/

ARM 0.1 Final Revision: Update 9

eventsjun600

Much better. Significant progress for sure, but there’s still much left to be done.


ARM 0.1 Final Revision

68.12% Done

Currently at: Technologies

1%

I’m alive! Now, work may have slowed down somewhat, but there has been significant progress on many fronts–something that the percentage itself may not portray properly. Not the least of which is the overall plot infrastructure, though I’ll admit there’s still much to concretize.

The good news is, pretty much all the names for all the characters/things/concepts/what-have-you are pinned down and set for good, except for a couple which I’ve decided to select as I write along and get a feel for their true form. It was shocking to realize how many characters were still missing a name at all! It’s all good and fixed now, thankfully.

It also helped that so many Chaos Theorists, and Fractalists, and Nanotechnologists, have such kick-ass names…

Anywho, up next is Technologies, quite a doozy for sure. Expect an update, and soon.

Permanent link to this article: http://alpha-risk.net/2013/07/arm-0-1-final-revision-update-9/

ARM 0.1 Final Revision: Update 8

Told ya.


ARM 0.1 Final Revision

64.43% Done

Currently at: Name Page

0%

Finished with Action Situations. But before proceeding properly to Name Page, I’ll try to organize the mind map into a more coherent and helpful entity than it is right now. Evidently, the ultimate goal is to have all pieces correlated and organized into a single narrative infrastructure, but arranging loose parts into “lists” by relevance and preference will suffice for now.

Permanent link to this article: http://alpha-risk.net/2013/02/arm-0-1-final-revision-update-8/

ARM 0.1 Final Revision: Update 7

Alpha Risk mind map, as of today. Looks terrible, I know. And it will only get worse.


ARM 0.1 Final Revision

62.8% Done

Currently at: Action Situations

47.1%

As expected, running down Situations added a lot of pieces (i.e. scenes) to the puzzle. However, it has helped me bring clarity to the flow of chapters, the order and relationship with one another, and even the story and intentions of some characters. That is not to say there’s still a LOT of assembly and clarity to go.

Still half-way through Action Situations, the pieces will keep piling on, no surprise there. It would be silly to believe that I will be using absolutely all of the scenes–action or otherwise–but they’re all considered at one point or another.

I plan to reach Name Page by the end of the week. If that’s the case I will nail down a deadline for finishing the document.

Permanent link to this article: http://alpha-risk.net/2013/02/arm-0-1-final-revision-update-7/

ARM 0.1 Final Revision: Update 6

ARM 0.1 Final Revision

56.87% Done

Currently at: Situations

0%

Long overdue update, evidently. Holidays maelstrom finally over. CHAPTER rundown finished. Longer than expected, and also straining. I wish the plot had ended up more organized and clear after finishing than this. At least it’s clearer. All I know is that the Situations rundown will bring more tiny bits of chaos into the mix.

Also: negligence. For which I have no excuse, so why hide it. The guilt is there though, as it should be.

And I once talked about setting a deadline. That deadline would have been the end of January. Clearly that is not applicable anymore.

I remember mentioning that I would either see this through, or go insane. I’m starting to think those two situations are not mutually exclusive anymore.

Permanent link to this article: http://alpha-risk.net/2013/01/arm-0-1-final-revision-update-6/

ARM 0.1 Final Revision: Update 5

ARM 0.1 Final Revision

51.3% Done

Currently at: CHAPTER

21.9%

I know that there has been little progress since the last post, as you can see from the progress bars. However, something important has happened that merits its own post and I’ll explain why.

I have finally been compelled to change one of the names I was most fond of in all of Alpha Risk.

I was so fond of this name, in fact, that I have been using it as my username in a myriad places on the Net. Back when I came up with it, I was very proud of it, especially since was an anagram for another word and whatnot. (“Ain’t I clever!” I must have said to myself). So I decided to use it not only for myself; oh no, it would also be the name of not only one character, but two, and simultaneously the name of an entire faction, to boot.

But since then, certain things happened.

I discovered too late that this name was painfully close to the name of a character of one of the most popular book series of all time. They are so similar, that more than once while using that username, people started discussing those books with me as if I had undoubtedly named myself after that character—despite the spelling difference. I assume they thought there was no phonetic difference, and they would have been unfortunately correct. (It’s not that I don’t like those books, I really do, actually; it’s just that I wasn’t naming myself after that character!)

That was quite long ago. But just this year I discovered that the name, in the exact spelling that I thought was so “original” and “unique”, was taken by a professional musician with a recording contract and whatnot. Now, you may be thinking that doesn’t sound like that big of a deal (it’s not like this artist is super-popular already or anything); but either way, it should be the final nail in the “dropping-this-name” coffin. (I’m sure this name suits this artist well, however way he came up with it himself; “good luck to ya” is all I have left to say about him.)

Yet even with all that, I still was in denial about this name. And only recently have I convinced myself: the name just doesn’t work for my purposes. Even with the anagram element, and the fact that I tried to make this convoluted backstory involving leetspeak and the Russian language to justify it, it was just not worth it.

The final push I needed to scrap the name for a new one was simply to find a name that works.

And found it I did. It was already a possibility for the name of one of the members of this very faction, in fact. Turns out this name is not only more deeply related to hacking than I realized, but it even comes with its own logo! That is definitely a deal sealer for me.

So I’m glad to introduce for the very first time, the Xors.

(In the end, I guess that “renaming your darlings” is less traumatic than murdering them.)

Permanent link to this article: http://alpha-risk.net/2012/12/arm-0-1-final-revision-update-5/

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