yaysunshine: (lemme take a selfie)
2014-12-30 01:19 pm

December Meme: Web design thoughts

for [plurk.com profile] wombatgal! Late because I... forgot, ahaha. I blame it on the travel.

So, I thought about this a lot because I guess in some ways I don't really subscribe to any particular aesthetic, design-wise; in general, because of the place I stand in the implementation pipeline, I guess my strong feelings ended up falling more towards functionality than anything else.

An un-ordered list (ul) of feelings I have about web design:

  • Readability and accessibility come first. Text should be in the order it is intended to be read; stuff should have aria attributes; tab ordering should be considered. Thankfully we are out of the age of table-as-layout, because tables should be a structure for displaying data, not a layout tool.
  • Modals are TERRIBLE and must be AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS
    • There are legitimate uses for modals, I guess, I just personally find them kind of obnoxious—if at all possible, I prefer flash messages.
  • I used to think letter-spacing was the coolest thing and now it's just really obnoxious to me
  • If your hover state css makes text or block elements change size so that it's difficult for me to click, rethink your hover state, I cannot tell you how much it makes me want to tear my hair out when a menu keeps flickering in and out of my grasp. I'M LOOKING AT YOU, ELLO
  • Unique styles should be used sparingly, and only if necessary to achieve some kind of desired effect.
  • I see a lot of very clever form designs that are, sadly, unreasonably difficult to implement. My rec for doing forms is the keep it as simple as possible.
  • Can every email client just do whatever Apple is doing already with the rendering, I am tired of doing all this bananas stuff to make HTML emails look reasonably similar across all clients
  • I think I tend to like lighter colors these days (e.g. white or light backgrounds), but that's just me.
  • I think there is too much blue going on in websites these days. I saw someone put together a game once where you had to guess which social networking blue color the color they showed you was. Can't we do, like, green? Or purple, or something.
  • I like the minimal/small header trend that's come into being recently—I think there's something elegant about it.
  • I wouldn't mind seeing more sites break away from the very clean-cut look for more variety in design, but I understand why it's not done—it probably doesn't read as "professional." Also, obviously, the implementation is more difficult if everything's not clean lines etc. but still. Like, this is gorgeous. Obviously it doesn't work for corporate but I love it.
  • I love when people use the web kind of like a very unique sort of canvas—the ability to have a limitless canvas where you can click away and click back and have the process change things, etc. Emily Carroll's comics do a bit of this, and comic Unsounded uses the "page" in a really interesting way in a couple places. XKCD does this sometimes, too (and I guess all alt text messages not specifically used as alt text are a little what I mean). Twine games are a little bit this, also, the way people use links to give little asides and not take you out of the flow of the narrative. This strays a bit from web design but I think borders on it, at least.
yaysunshine: (kyuubey mustache you a question)
2014-12-18 12:25 pm

December Meme: Top 10 fictional characters who I relate to/resonated with me the most

For [plurk.com profile] _Isa!

This was supposed to go up on Tuesday, but then I was suddenly exhausted, and then on Wednesday I realized I should probably, like, pack for vacation. Anyway, in no particular order:

1. Lirael, Lirael and Abhorsen

Lirael meant a lot to me during a shitty time of my life in middle school, as a bookish weirdo with no friends who spent most of my free time in the library. I even had the unusual dark hair in my sea of scandinavian classmates! Clearly I was not just a misfit but rather had a great destiny ahead of me.

Even after I sort of found my feet a bit better, socially, and made some new friends, I still related to the title character's appreciation for solitude—and I suppose also in retrospect her determination to figure out how everything around her works.

2. Myfanwy Thomas, The Rook

I describe The Rook as kind of a shy girl power fantasy—lose your memories and everything that's conditioned you to shrink away from conflict and become even more kickass than you already were. And you can 100% sign me up for that power fantasy.

3. Sophie Hatter, Howl's Moving Castle


I get, like, extra-sullen about the Howl's Moving Castle movie, which I understand a lot of people love—it's a beautiful movie! But it totally skips the part of the story that I love, which is Sophie breaking away from the narrative of "this is just the way things are and always will be" that she's trapped herself in and finding the power she had all along.


sorry, I uh, got sidetracked there, moving along

4. Madoka Kaname, Puella Magi Madoka Magica


Probably everyone feels this way to a certain degree, but I have a little momentary existential crisis now and again about whether my life choices are doing any good for anyone. The way being a magical girl relates to growing up in this show feels to me a little bit like a weird parallel to adulthood in general—full of tough choices with no take-backs wherein you might be screwing the world over for your own personal comfort, but that's what it takes to survive. (#no ethical magical girling under late capitalism?)

Also, like—admittedly I originally watched the show during a time when I was not doing super well, but I could definitely relate to the feeling of watching friends go to a not-good place and not knowing what to do about it.

Anyway, that wandered a bit, but I really connected a lot to Madoka's "...can't I just help people, though" feeling. I guess if one takes lessons from fiction, the solution is go big or go home, ha ha.

5. Mayu Shimada, Wake Up, Girls!

Mayu is a quiet, stoic sort of person with a strong sense of justice and who loves the performing arts. She says several times throughout the show that she believes that "some people can make everyone happy, some people can make those around them happy, and some people can only make themselves happy." Seeing herself as a failure at the first two, she's seeking her own happiness, finally—which, ironically, is what puts her on track to maybe accomplish the other two.

It was a storyline I really needed at the time, personally (the entire show is actually great about self-care, which was surprising but awesome), and it stuck with me.

6. Hime Shirayuki/Cure Princess, Happiness Charge Pretty Cure

So, this is one of the only depictions I've seen of a socially anxious introvert who nonetheless likes to be the center of attention in the areas where she's confident, and I strongly identify with that. I'm also delighted by the fact that she's always mildly sullen when her friends drag her off for do-gooding because she wants to stay inside and not talk to strangers, and maybe sleep. And the show doesn't punish her for it! She learns to push herself when she needs to, but it's treated just as who she is.

7. Kell Tainer, X-Wing: Wraith Squadron

It was about eight years after I first read this book that I was finally diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. But even at twelve I saw a lot of myself in anxious, perfectionist Kell. Like, they sent me to the guidance counselor in fifth grade because I suddenly became inconsolable about getting less than 100% on math and spelling quizzes.

Like Kell, I don't think it'll ever really leave me, but also like him, I've gotten a lot better in dealing with it.

8. Meg Murray, A Wrinkle in Time

I don't know why I didn't relate as strongly to Charles Wallace, actually, since I read this book for the first time when I was six, but Charles Wallace is kind of a hard character to relate to in that he's a little bit of a cipher and spends a quarter of the book creepily possessed. Maybe I knew I was going to grow up to be a bit like Meg.

In any case, this was the first science fiction book I ever read, and I'm very glad about it.

9. Keladry of Mindelan, Protector of the Small

She's unusually tall, bad at talking about her feelings, and has an unwavering commitment to justice. Thirteen-year-old me totally related to the first two items and aspired to the third; current-me feels the same way.

10. Mightily Oats, Carpe Jugulum

This is sort of a battle of "but which Discworld character do I feel the most strongly about"—I could have put several on this list. Terry Pratchett and I have nowhere near the same religious beliefs, but in Oats he wrote a character who rang really true for me. It's a weird, odd thing to reconcile a benevolent higher power with a troubled, contradictory, confusing world, and I think he captured that really well.
yaysunshine: (tiny bird)
2014-12-12 12:14 am

December Meme: Favorite thing about where I grew up versus where I live now

for [personal profile] fuchsian!

I grew up in Minnesota, just outside the Twin Cities area, in a small, semi-rural suburb that gradually became a large, very developed suburb. In general, it's a quiet, friendly place, and I like it quite a bit there.

The tricky part out there is transportation, though, which Chicagoland is great at. Well, we all complain about Ventra and buses and trains running late, but it's so nice to be able to be able to hop the a train or a bus and be able to get nearly anywhere you could want to go in the area. There's also just stuff around, I guess. My home neighborhood is nice, but it's just houses and schools and golf courses for miles. It's idyllic and great for running, but it gets kind of isolating. I didn't care so much when I was in high school and younger, but now that I'm used to just going places on my own I get weird about not being able to do that as easily. (Though I miss being able to go out to State Parks. The one thing I can't do without a car!)

I think I still kind of like the peaceful suburban atmosphere, though, which is why I'm really resistant to moving into Chicago proper, though, haha. Now if we could just get a Caribou Coffee in here, with the polar vortex it'll be just like home.
yaysunshine: (gatcha!)
2014-12-08 11:57 pm

December Meme: Favorite Places in Chicagoland

For [plurk.com profile] wombatgal!

A semi-embarrassing fact about me: I am something of a homebody and don't get out nearly as often as I would sort-of like to. That said, here's my list:

  • The Evanston Farmers' Market. One of my favorite days out of the year is when it opens; I always get a little sad when it closes for the winter. I like to walk down and get breakfast on Saturday mornings and maybe get some vegetables in the summer!
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, which I don't go to nearly as often as I wish I did. Maybe sometime when I have more free time in the evenings I'll go again! I always like looking at the special exhibits.
  • Ogilvie Transportation Center + The French Market + Union Station - I really like transportation hubs with amenities. When I was taking the Megabus home from college I would actually get there a couple hours early to get something to eat from the many food options available and then browse the little travel shops. The French Market is also kind of like a little, less noisy street fair, and it's precious.
  • The Violet Hour. I actually thought it was weird the first time I was there, because it's so dark and all the drinks are obscure stuff, but it's grown on me since then. So fancy! Also, the food is amazing. (Sidebar: it's like a block from Geek Bar Beta, apparently??? I feel like Geek Bar Beta would make a pretty A+ DCP outing sometime, actually.)
  • St. James Episcopal Cathedral - I REALLY LIKE CATHEDRALS, fun fact, I think they are very pretty
  • The Evanston Barnes & Noble, wifi away from home. I still miss the Borders, though—I used to walk all the way from North Campus to hit up both the bookstores. The Borders coupons were fantastic for not having very much discretionary income.
  • The Lakefront - specifically the part by my apartment. I happen to be close to a very nice stretch of walking path and park, which is super nice during the summer.
  • Adagio Teas - one of my fave tea stores; I was super pleased that it turned out that this was their home state and therefore the first place they decided to open physical stores
yaysunshine: (TEA)
2014-12-07 08:14 pm
Entry tags:

December Meme: My RP style in journal RP

Also for [personal profile] moreinsanerer, as a follow-up!

The kinds of storylines I'm interested in playing out in journal RP, hm... well, I think I tend to play characters that have something secret going on, so I like the general process of revealing more about their character as they get to know people. I also like a good heart-to-heart conversation, though I like those more when the characters have known each other for a while, and there's some kind of impetus, like a crisis, so it feels organic. Also, putting characters in stressful or odd situations together! That's definitely a fave, and it gives them something to talk about and something to do so it breaks up the conversation a little.

I tend to play very nice characters in journal RP, which has given a lot of my online friends the impression that I am a saint, which is somewhat hilarious in contrast to all my IRL friends believing that I am Always Chaotic Evil. In a lot of ways I wish I could play more jerk characters in journal RP, since they tend to react differently to events going on, and I like variety. On the other hand, I worry that my jerk characters would be too much jerks. (I do still keep thinking about unleashing Kallie Sunshine on City of Sin. It's where she was meant to be.)

I think I tend to do "best" at journal RP when I have a very focused thing to do, which is why I think PSL or very focused, non-jamjar games have worked out as more "my style" than jamjar games. I also have, like, this weird issue about what amounts to GM-ing for myself. All this freedom that journal RP gives me is alarming! Are you sure I'm not going to get in trouble for this???

(I'd love to see someone do a journal RP on some kind of either GMless and/or diceless system, or a modification of one so that there's still a resolution mechanic but it doesn't require the kind of mod involvement that, say, a LARP does. I know Spencer was trying this out a while back; I should toss some ideas back and forth with her about it sometime.)

It's kind of weird, but in some ways I wish I felt confident enough in keeping up my activity levels to join an ECATS-like game (like Aather, Kyriakos, Decollage, whatever ones still exist idk) because I think the way they do events is really interesting—regardless of what it is, there's generally a set, relatively short period where as many people as can make it get online to participate, rather than having an IC-day long event take months to tag out. (Also, I've seen some of them use abstractions like having players actually play Mafia and stuff online to determine event results, which I think is an interesting mechanic.) It's easier for me to be IC for a set block of time, I think. Also, way harder to get distracted that way!
yaysunshine: (aw yiss)
2014-12-06 03:27 pm

December Meme: My RP Style in LARP

For [personal profile] moreinsanerer! What a good topic for a LARP day.

This is a really interesting thing to talk about because I've played a lot of characters that are very, very different, at least on the surface, but at their core (and in the way I play them) there are a handful of constant components.

As far as creating and developing characters, all of them tend to a) feel very strongly about something (even if it's "hail chaos"), and b) have something going on below surface level intended to be revealed over the course of game. I have apparently developed this reputation as Always Chaotic Evil (when I suggested I might be playing a good character last year people laughed at me), but statistically that's not quite true—it's just that whatever I have going on tends to antagonize someone, somehow, haha.

I think a lot of the characters I play tend to have some sort of strong interest in change/self-improvement particularly—even Kallie Sunshine, actually, whose motivation for trying to get half of game killed stemmed from wanting to erase a part of her life she didn't like and control her own narrative.

As for how I actually play my characters in game... I think I tend to be most interested in character- and emotion-driven storylines, because that's something that's a) always there and also b) fascinating to me. When I build characters who are good combatants I tend to also give them something along these lines because I find combat really boring most of the time. Bonus points for characters with strong feelings about family, because I have a lot of family feelings as a person. (Also, if I'm crying IRL in roleplaying it means it's definitely a good game. FEELINGSSSS)

It's like—haha I am really obvious in being a hella story gamer stan but as far as my fun is concerned "success" is having interesting things happen, not necessarily in completing investigation stuff or beating a bad guy. (That stuff's good too, though.) I think this has informed a lot of the way I like to run games; success should raise interesting questions, failure should create difficult choices, IMO. World of Darkness LARP doesn't always lend itself super well to this, but when success/failure is often a numbers game I think the interesting part is what it means to characters.

I've also become a lot more comfortable with just grabbing the Probable Bad Decision and running with it; I used to say no to things routinely in my first year of LARP that I know now were story hooks and the STs trying to give me cool stuff. There are some STs I'm a lot more cautious of a player with, because I know they love a "gotcha!", but most of the time my rule of thumb is Why Not Do the Thing, basically, if it seems like it'd be in character. (I think Kallie Sunshine helped with this. I basically had no reason to not do anything. My general roleplaying flowchart w/ her was "SURE WHY NOT", basically)

And, I mean, I still haven't managed to get myself killed in a game so I guess it works out pretty well for me? Though next year... next year it will be a goddamn miracle if I don't get killed in the first half, hahahaha. It's going to be exciting.

yaysunshine: The silhouette of a girl in a froofy dress holds a bow against a light background. (Default)
2014-12-04 01:00 am

December Meme: "Why Magical Girls?"

I was going to make something up for days 1 and 2 but then I got busy so here's the first topic on schedule anyway, hahaha—

"Why magical girls?" for [personal profile] lassarina

So, magical girls were sort of a formative experience for me—I happened to be about nine when the original dubbed versions of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura ("Cardcaptors") were airing, which was just about perfect.

There was something that really reeled me in there, particularly about Sailor Moon. I think it's maybe several things:

  • A variety of cool girl characters to identify with.
  • Girl friendships!!! Fire-forged girl friendships!!!
  • Themes of overcoming adversity and growing up (while still being yourself)—e.g., Usagi grows out of crying at the drop of a hat and tripping over herself, but retains (and strengthens) her best qualities in the process of magical girling.
  • There's a sort of inherent optimism in most magical girl shows, and I am a dyed-in-the-wool optimist.
  • There's nothing I like better than a good redemption arc, and magical girl villains tend to get them relatively frequently. The first episodes of Sailor Moon that I watched included one, actually, which maybe was what made an impression on me.
  • There is something really fun to me about the idea kicking ass in a cute outfit.
  • Also about the ability to become your coolest, most powerful self on command. HECK YEAH

It's sort of a very specific flavor of a girls' coming of age story. The forces of darkness are often metaphorical, on some level—materialized negative emotions, selfishness, despair. It also provides a framing device for dealing with real unhappiness—loss, hardship, loneliness, conflict, uncertainty—in a fantastical context. Yuri Tsukikage finds a way through her grief, Rue finds freedom from her abusive father-figure, Eas fights a literal manifestation of her guilt over past misdeeds, Amu Hinamori gains confidence in being her genuine self.

There's also a couple themes that I guess show up more in the stuff that I watched from college on—the idea of magical girl as a beacon of hope (Princess Tutu, Madoka Magica, AKB0048) and magical girl as healer and inspirer (Princess Tutu, Shugo Chara, Heartcatch Pretty Cure), which both really appeal to me from a narrative perspective. I guess part of that is maybe related to why I like to do creative things—because things like music and literature have helped me and inspired me so much, I want to do the same for others with the things I work on.

So, naturally, it worked its way into one of my origfic projects. It happened that a bunch of independent story threads managed to coalesce together into something coherent finally, and a couple of them happened to be magical girl-related ideas. And I figured... "eh, why not just keep those elements in, it's not going to be the weirdest thing on the YA shelves if I finish it and manage to sell it." And the one thing I did learn for sure from my high school creative writing class is that you might as well write what you love and have fun writing.