Tale of Ragnar Redtail

Alaria wasn’t always the skilled archer she is today. In fact, she didn’t learn the art of long range weaponry until just a couple of years ago.

Thieving is an up close and personal business. Daggers and deception proved the most useful tools on accomplishing her objectives. After all, a long-range thief is nothing but a murderer. It wasn’t until her Uncle Biro established the Assassin’s Guild that Alaria even picked up a crossbow. Uncle Biro warned her that versatility was a more valuable weapon than any she would loot in her travels and encouraged her to become adept in more than blades.

At first she was clumsy with the bow. Her small frame couldn’t seem to fit the clunky device. It felt jarring and unnatural to carry ammo separately. In a dangerous scenario, she worried she’d fumble the bolts and fall to her foe before she could load and aim.

Her perceived inadequacy drove her to practice several times a week. One foggy morning, she ventured into the woods to practice. She brought some breakfast scraps- orange peels, bread crusts and the odd apple core- for targets. The fog made practice more difficult than she’d anticipated. The moisture in the air dampened the bread crusts until they were too soggy to shoot. Alaria tossed an apple core into the air, aimed and missed. She was getting frustrated and tired of retrieving bolts.

“One more shot. Just one more and I’ll call it a day,” she said as she pulled the bolt out of a tree.

She reconfigured herself. Took a deep breath. Then in one swift movement she threw a curl of orange peel into the sky, swung her crossbow into position, eyed the peel as it hit the peak of its flight and squeezed the trigger.

She could almost feel the bolt pierce the flesh. A sense of pride and satisfaction washed over her… until she heard the squealing high note of pain.

A curious hawk made a dive for the peel at exactly the wrong moment and Alaria’s bolt tore through his left wing, rendering the poor creature flightless mid-flight.

54992073d27009695ef2420ccdb4e6c9.jpg

Alaria gasped. Surprise. Shock. Horror. The hawk seemed to tumble out of the sky in slow motion. Alaria darted towards him. She caught him, gently cradling his frozen body. He stared at her, eyes wide, his chest fluttering in which shallow breaths.

“I know it hurts, but it doesn’t look so bad,” Alaria said soothingly. “Let’s get you fixed up.”

She returned to the Guild as quickly as she could without jostling the bird and found the medic. He took one look at Alaria holding the pitiful creature and rolled his eyes.

“Do I LOOK like a vet to you?” He grumbled.

“Please! A life is a life. Besides, you owe me.”

“…fine. I’ll take a look. But no promises. I’m no avian specialist.”

He laid the bird on the table, wings outstretched, and carefully touched the bolt. The hawk flinched, but seemed calm. Understanding, even.

“Looks like the bolt missed doing some major damage by a thumbnail or two.” He looked up at Alaria. “Bird’ll fly again. But your aim could use some work.”

“I wasn’t TRYING to shoot him! Dummy went after the orange peel I was sporting.”

“Probably looked like a worm to ‘im.” He slid the bolt out of the wing in one smooth, steady motion. The hawk tried immediately to fold his wing, but jerked it back half open and lying at his side.

“Not so fast, pal.” The medic dressed the wound with cotton and gauze. “It’s gonna be a mite before you’re sky worthy again.”

“How long do you think?” Alaria asked.

“Couple weeks maybe. You gon’ look after him?”

Alaria gave this some thought. She knew nothing about caring for creatures. She had only ever looked after herself. But she felt indebted to the hawk for causing his pain and plight.

She nodded.

When he mended up, she took him to her quarters and gave him some bread.

“I’m really sorry. I never meant to… you know.” She sat on her bed and kicked her feet out. The hawk looked at the pitiful tiefling and cocked his head to the side, seemingly sizing her up.

“Can you forgive me?” She held out a small cube of cheese. The hawk fanned out his red tail and squawked before taking the cheese from her hand. Alaria giggled.

“I suppose you’ll need a name if you’re staying here. How’s Ragnar? Ragnar Redtail!”

Ragnar cocked his head again and blinked twice, seeming to try the name on. Then he squawked his approval.

Ragnar and Alaria grew close. When Ragnar healed, he didn’t fly off as Alaria expected. He returned time and time again. Often, he brought her berries or trinkets he found on his flights.

“Your vantage point sure makes finding shiny a cinche!” Alaria kept her collection displayed in her quarters so Ragnar could admire his treasures.

Eventually, Alaria began sketching coins and gems and keys. She showed these things to Ragnar and sent him off. Sometimes he was gone for stretches at a time and Alaria worries. But he always found her and returned with a treasure resembling her doodle. Alaria always rewarded his good worth with a cube of cheese.

Presently, Ragnar is off looking for items while Alaria journeys with Dany. She’s a bit worried he won’t be able to find her since she ran off from the Guild… but she’s hopeful.

Follow Dany and Alaria’s journeys over on Gluxbox’s blog.

Advertisements

My Hopes for Zelda Mobile

mastersword

I don’t consider myself a mobile gamer. I have some time-killers I play on the train, but I still struggle to see mobile gaming as “real gaming.”

But The Legend of Zelda is making the leap to mobile devices later this year and I’ll be on board for that. MORE ZELDA! Still, this version needs to feel as big as the franchise, especially on the coattails of Breath of the Wild, while adopting a mobile formula that encourages habitual use. Some features and functions that I’d love to see include:

Daily puzzles. The Legend of Zelda is legendary for its challenging puzzles- there are 120 shrines to solve in Breath of the Wild. With the breadth of functionality offered by mobile devices from touch screens to gyroscopic/movement-based controls, puzzle innovation is nearly endless and can be varied enough to not feel repetitive. Give me a new challenge every day

Real World integration. Hyrule is a HUGE place and I want to feel like I’m exploring it in the real world. Much like walking hatches eggs in Pokemon Go, I’d like my daily physical activity to translate to my mini hero in-game. Do I need to walk 3 miles to get to Zora’s Domain and unlock new puzzles? Bring me my running shoes and let’s go on a quest!

Link as a secondary character. I’d be less critical of it as a Zelda game and more delighted I get to play alongside my favorite characters and themes. Let me customize my own sprite who interacts with Link in my own story. Maybe Link is my silent sensei, training me to protect Hyrule so he can retire. Or maybe he needs me to rescue him! I love playing as Link, but I’m craving my own adventure. Mobile would be a perfect platform to try this kind of alternative story formula since it’s not a traditional vehicle for Zelda games and players’ expectations for mobile games are vastly different than console. There could even be an opportunity for microtransactions to buy new character features, clothes or accessories.

molduga

Selfies! It’s mobile! Come on. Those Wind Waker selfies were adorable and hilarious. Nintendo could drive engagement and promotion with a selfie feature that’s easily sharable to social.

What do you want to see in a mobile Zelda game?

The Old Kind of Tattoos

A few years ago while I was working on a research project at the amusement park I worked for, I stumbled upon this photo called “The Old Kind Of Tattoos” a stranger posted on some crazy niche industry forums about Wildwood in its glory days.

theoldkindoftattoos

We lost my Uncle Buddy this week. He was 91. The last of his group. The last of the Greatest Generation in my family.

He used to hand-paint old-fashioned temporary tattoo transfers and sell them at a rickety little stand on the boardwalk. The first time he ever applied one on me, I was so afraid it was going to hurt (and he may have played up that fear just a little- he was silly like that). I remember the stickiness of the tattoo on my arm, the cool, wet sponge and then incredibly, the art was on my skin and the paper was perfectly clean, if not a little slimy. It was SO COOL. I spent hours playing in his tattoo storage closet, swimming waist deep in Ninja Turtles, Mickey Mouses, dragons, Bart Simpson heads, snakes coiled around daggers and MOM hearts. I examined them all and stood on my toes next to his work station to watch him paint. Each one was slightly different. Not a single one was perfect, a product of the slightest tremor or shift in focus.

I have two family photos always displayed. One is my grandparents sitting on the beach. The other is my grandfather and Uncle Buddy manning a machine gun.

My grandparents met shortly before my grandfather enlisted in the Marines at a round robin dance. The ladies formed a circle in the middle and the men formed an outer circle and whoever you ended up in front of was your dance partner for that song. My grandfather landed in front of Mimi. After their first dance, he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to dance as well with anyone else. Each round, he shuffled around the circle so he’d always land in front of her. They married shortly before he deployed for the South Pacific.

While on deployment, Grampi was stationed with Uncle Buddy and he went on and on about his wonderful wife and the letters they constantly exchanged. Uncle Buddy decided he wanted a lovely lady to write letters to and asked Grampi if Mimi had any friends. He began writing his letters to Mimi’s sister, Aunt Redda. And they got married when he returned from war.

That’s what the Greatest Generation did. They went to war and they came home and reveled in their families and hard work. They were extraordinary men and women who lived simply, happily, beautifully. They took pride in their work and found joy in watching a little girl flex her sad little bicep and feel like a badass for the first time in her life because she had a droopy Ninja Turtle inked on her arm.

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 4.37.06 PM

RIP Uncle Buddy. I’m glad you’re all together again.