Gaming Reviews: XCOM 2

Call of Duty, The Sims, and chess, all rolled into one.

I’ll admit it, I am very new to the genre of turn-based games. Before I picked up XCOM 2, I’d never even played its sequel, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I don’t know if this a recommended game for players who are new to the genre, but whatever. I went for it.

The game opens with a relatively easy beginning mission with a batch of four randomly generated rookie soldiers. The object of the game isn’t clearly spelled out to begin with, but you’re promptly given a simple mission objective: get one or more of your soldiers to the destination point, set the explosives, and evacuate without dying.

Obstacles come in the form of ADVENT soldiers. Not knowing the apparently necessary backstory from the first XCOM game, all I can tell you is that they’re aliens.

Instead of running aimlessly like one would in a normal shooting game, XCOM is played more like a game of chess: protect your strong, valuable soldiers by hiding them behind cover in terrain – and, if necessary, less valuable minions. There are five classes of soldiers – sharpshooters (snipers), rangers (ones with machetes), specialists (healers, basically; they have drones), grenadiers (they blow stuff up), and psi-ops (psionic operatives – they can mind control, but they’re harder to get) and all are necessary to play a good game. There’s as much careful strategizing involved as there is shooting up aliens. Somehow, they’re equally fun.

It’s a very interesting, refreshing combat system, especially for someone who’s as terrible at aiming as I am. The reason I’ve never gotten into games like Overwatch and CS:GO is that I’m pretty much the worst shooter ever. Seriously, I have better aim in real life than I do in most first-person shooters. Instead of a seat-of-your pants, fast-paced, shoot-em-up game, this is a game that requires a lot of strategy and forethought. If you’re planning on sitting down and playing for a long time, I recommend you bring snacks. For whatever reason, I get better at video games when I eat cheese.

XCOM’s combat system is based, more or less, on a random number generator. The game takes several factors into consideration – such as your soldier’s aim and proximity as well as your target’s cover and dodging affinity – and presents you with your hit chance in the form of a percentage. If it’s a good chance, you take the shot. If it’s a bad chance, you either move and try again, or you can go into overwatch mode, which makes your soldier take a shot at the first enemy to move into his or her line of sight.

In theory, at least. I swear (and it’s not just me, either) that XCOM’s RNG is alive, and that it hates each and every player. I have missed 98% chance shots before. More than once. And then your soldier rubs it in by saying something like “Ah, I didn’t get it!” or “Adjusting aim!” Yeah, you missed by five yards. You’d better adjust your aim.

Outside the combat missions, a lot of the more nuanced gameplay happens aboard your flying base, known as the Avenger. This is where you stock up on gear, heal your wounded soldiers, and – of course – mess with the character creator.

The character customization may seem arbitrary, but in the end, it actually helped a lot. I cared much more about my soldiers when I personalized them. There’s a ton of options for you to choose from, so you can make nearly anyone. My dad made his star squad look like our family. I named all of mine after my original characters from various stories and stuff I’d written in the past. When I ran out of those, I named them after people from CBS’s reality show, Survivor. I wouldn’t recommend you name them after anyone TOO close to you, though, because, once they start consistently missing 70%+ shots, you might start to hate them in real life, too.

Although the gameplay seems pretty systematic at first, the game throws you enough curveballs to keep things new and engaging. There are more than a dozen different kinds of enemies, and they all present a different kind of threat. The maps are constantly changing, as are the objectives; as you gain better and better gear and advantages, so do your enemies, in ways that are very difficult to predict, and are almost guaranteed to make you say “Whoa, what just happened?!” at least once.

The storyline is quite interesting, as well, although it is rather easy to miss, since all the vital cutscenes are skippable (and, from the first couple of seconds, all look rather the same). Basically, Earth is being occupied by a bunch of aliens, who are eventually planning to eradicate mankind to use their bodies to create new hosts (Avatars) for their rulers, the Elders, who can mind-control stuff. You are the commander of the resistance, known as XCOM, and it’s your job to direct your forces to drive the aliens out of your home.

XCOM 2 is engaging, addictive, and constantly changing. The combat system is not for the faint of heart; individual missions have taken me upwards of two hours before, which was only made more frustrating by the absurdly long reloading times. Seriously, I could play through Portal again in the time it takes to reload two moves.

Overall, this game earns a rating of 7/10. The gameplay in and of itself is fresh and quite fun, but it’s offset by the immensely frustrating, seemingly unlikely RNG failures, as well as the amount of time it takes to load saves. I would definitely recommend it for veterans of the turn-based genres, as well as particularly zealous newbies such as myself. There will be a lot of frustration, but it will definitely pay off at the end.


Dallas Fan Expo 2017 (and yes, I finished my cosplay)

On Thursday, March 30, 2017 – two days before the convention – I finally finished my cosplay.
What happened between my last post and now wasn’t all that interesting. We (me and my dad, who has power tools and a greater knowledge of industrial materials than I) got the boots put together, painted and bolted on the heels, made sure I could walk around in them (I could), riveted on the straps, fixed up any little cracks in the paint, painted the details on the sides of the boots, and got ahold of all the clothing. Ironically, the tank top was the most difficult part of the whole cosplay, including everything I did with the boots. The first time, the t-shirt transfer burned when I ironed it on; the second time, it immediately tore when I tried to put it on (that’s what I get for buying a nearly transparent tank top for three bucks at Walmart). The jumpsuit, which was tied around my waist, felt basically like a pair of nice sweatpants. From the knees up, it was probably the most comfortable cosplay I possibly could have done.
Fast-forward to April 1 – yesterday. My nerd crew and I – which consisted of my two best friends, my little sister, both of my parents, and both of one of the two best friends’ parents – drove all the way to Dallas, Texas for this year’s Fan Expo convention. I don’t live in Dallas, but it was closer than the big daddy ComicCon in California, so we decided it would do.
Last year, I went with one of my friends and my mom, and it was crowded enough. That year, I wore my ugly hand-me-down athletic shoes instead of my standby green Converse, fearing that my feet would hurt after walking around all day in Chucks.
This year, it was doubly crowded, and I went for just short of six hours wearing a pair of six-inch-tall torture devices on both feet.
My feet still hurt too badly to walk normally, but it was totally worth it.

The three of us on the cosplay red carpet, sans faces, because internet safety is good.

All nine of us cosplayed, and only one of us did it halfway. I was Chell, of course. My little sister was Daenerys Targaryen, which was appropriate, because she has a dragon obsession beyond any dragon obsession I’ve ever seen an eight-year-old have. The friend on the right of the picture above, henceforth referred to as Tall Friend, was Princess Elizabeth from Seven Deadly Sins, a Netflix original series that isn’t actually an anime. The friend on the left, Short Friend, couldn’t decide who to be, so at the last minute she decided to be Random Star Trek Personnel in Jeans and Chucks. My mom, who is not into cosplay (or most fiction in general), also went generic as a Dharma Initiative security officer, complete with a walkie talkie. My dad was Obi-Wan Kenobi, whom he kind of looked like already. Tall Friend’s mom was Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games, and she looked so perfect it was kind of scary. Tall Friend’s dad also went Hunger Games-themed, because he went as Cesar Flickerman, but he was also wearing a Deadpool mask and gloves, which worked out a lot better than you would expect.

Baby Daenerys got her picture taken with Big Daenerys. They were wearing the same dress. It was adorable.
Also, yes, Short Friend is holding a painting of Daredevil.

To get an idea of the scale of this thing, I might add that both Stan Lee and Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker, for the plebeians who have to ask) were guests this year. I didn’t actually see either of them in the flesh, because the crowds were absolutely insane, but I got to watch the friend in the Star Trek shirt shake hands with James Marsters (Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) twice.
We started out with a little bit of shopping, as one does at a convention. I got my picture taken beneath a giant inflatable turret. I was so afraid of overspending that I ended up buying nothing except a grab-box-type-thing, most of which I will probably be Ebay-ing before long, but it was a great opportunity to make my way around the convention center and see as much of it as I could.
I lost count of photo requests around 6 or so, but there was no shortage of stares and the odd “Whoa, look at those boots! What’s she from?” Tall Friend, aka Princess Elizabeth, got quite a few as well. Once, she encountered these two little girls, both about ten or eleven, who were literally squealing and jumping up and down, they were so excited to see their favorite character come to life. I got my picture taken with a tiny little kid, about six or seven, who was dressed as a Black Mesa security guard. It just goes to show that any barrier can be overcome by a common fandom.
We went to the panel featuring two of the voice cast members (Josh Grelle and Trina Nishimura) for the English dub of the anime Yuri!!! on Ice. I’ve never even watched the anime, but I found the panel quite interesting. The Q&A portion of the panel was special, to say the least. I’m not going to repeat it exactly, because this blog is rated G, but I’ll just say that it involved non-canonical ships and a weirdly specific innuendo that was straight out of a bad fanfiction.
Tall Friend, the anime lover, stood in line for an hour and a half to get Todd Haberkorn’s autograph. I’m not certain who he is, but I know he’s from Fairy Tale.
Short Friend, who also loves anime (but not Fairy Tale) stood in line for forty-five minutes to get James Marster’s autograph. Since she had the food, I went with her.
This was at about 3:30 p.m. We arrived at the convention at about 10:00 a.m. I had been wearing those rock-solid boots, with the two-inch platform, the six-inch heel, and the insane springs on the back, for about five and a half hours. By comparison, a playthrough of Portal 2 generally takes me about two to four hours, depending on the seriousness of the gaming. I had officially been wearing those suckers for WAY longer than they were meant to be worn. The seven-dollar dress boots I used for the base had next to no ball-of-foot support, and I felt like my ankles were about to collapse.

They looked pretty sick, though.

I put on Converse and I felt much better.
We did some pretty awesome stuff, such as posing for photo ops with all manner of cosplayers much more experienced than us (all of whom were first-timers), but we had our fair share of shenanigans as well. Cesar Deadflickerpoolman, as we started calling him, sneezed inside his mask, which was as unpleasant to watch as it must have been to experience. Tall Friend, whose cosplay showed a couple of inches of thigh, got recruited by a professional photographer to be photographed holding a sign that said “Cosplay Is Not Consent.” I guess that’s a passive-aggressive way of telling someone to put some clothes on.
Even though it hurt like heck, I had so much fun. Honestly, it feels great to have the deadline over with. I don’t have to worry about meting out my free time to allow for cosplay work anymore. All that work was completely worth it; I saw exactly one other Chell at the convention, and she was wearing a normal, boring pair of black leather boots. I had an awesome time hanging out with my friends and convening with fellow nerds of every kind. It was way too much fun to laugh at really horrible cosplays, most of which incorporated far too much Spandex in places that should never, ever be covered with anything so tight (but not to the cosplayers’ faces – I’m not that mean). No one’s cosplay broke, no one got injured, and no one got stolen from; from where I’m sitting, that looks like a pretty successful day to me.
I can’t wait for next year.

Coming Back to Animal Jam

We interrupt your regularly scheduled cosplay update to bring you… an Animal Jam post!

Wait, what?

That’s right, folks. After two or three years of inactivity, my best friend and I (who you may know as Amber or Rtangel781) drudged up our old accounts and played good ol’ AJ again. As it turns out, a lot of things have changed since we blogged about it.

In order to set aside old wounds (such as transferring all your rare items to a friend’s account and then forgetting their password – that’s dumb, kids, don’t do it) we started over from scratch, under the new names thedragonslayer14 and vneckofpower (don’t ask). We did, however, keep our old character names, Juniper Spiritbird and Lucky Shyclaws, just for old times’ sake, and also because Celestia (aka Flora Cottoncloud) and I recently dredged up both installments of “The AJ Story”, the first part of which was not quite as horrid as we’d expected.

Giraffes are now available to non-members, which is pretty cool, because it looks like nothing else new is. The name generator has (thankfully) had some new additions, adding cute prefixes like Sleek, Tranquil, and Ember, as well as some more questionable ones that make names like “Legit Swaggyswag” and “Notable Kawaiipotato” real possibilities. However, the old standby, Major Majormajor, is still around. Oh, well.

The good ol’ map was exactly how I remembered it. The general public in Jamaa Township seems to have got even more annoying since AJ got popular after I left. (Note to self: are these two things related? I hope not.) There’s also a new thing called a Jammer Wall, which I know nothing about, owing to the fact that it’s members-only.

Best Dressed, Falling Phantoms, and Splash-n-Dash are exactly as fun as I remember them being, and Amber and I can still scrape up a tie in Four Gem/Connect Four, which is pretty impressive, seeing as neither of us have played it in years. In addition, we just happened to drop in on a Monday, which pretty much every AJ player ever will recognize as the day that an exclusive rare goes up for sale in the shop. That day’s rare was a pair of cat ears and whiskers, which are less cute than they sound, at least on a wolf.

For the first time, I got to see the inside of a parental control account, which isn’t as interesting as I thought it would be. For starters, free chat is members-only now, which, in my opinion, is really stupid. You shouldn’t have to pay to be un-censored.

Then again, using that logic, you shouldn’t have to pay to dress up a wolf-shaped pattern of pixels in a skirt and a headset, either. But everyone does it. And, in hindsight, even though I blew close to fifty dollars on that website (in eleven-year-old dollars, mind you), I really don’t regret it. I had as much fun on Animal Jam as I’ve had in any other video game, even though it can’t compare in terms of gameplay. I had a weird kind of social life in which my friends and I gossiped and complained about the rising and falling of the AJ stock market (read: they brought rares to the Diamond Shop and everyone got mad). We played enormously fun games of pretend based on our characters and the additions we’d made to the canonical AJ world. Most importantly, I don’t think my friendships with either Amber or Celestia would be where they are now if we didn’t spend so much time frolicking in Jamaa together.

Would I spend that $50 again? If it meant having the kind of fun we had on Animal Jam, maybe so, at least once I’d confirmed that there was nothing better to spend that kind of money on, such as cosplay necessities, or ComicCon souvenirs. I can’t see myself spending money on another Animal Jam membership at any time in the near future, but who knows? Maybe my kids will be hipsters and they’ll play it, too.

Since, once again, I have no idea how to end this post without it ending up enormously cheesy, here’s a dank meme to send you on your way.

Portal 2 Cosplay: Finished with the first pieces!

It’s been, like, four weeks since I last posted, and you may think I’ve kind of forgotten about this. Not so! I’ve been working on it so much I actually threw off NaNoWriMo (which I ALWAYS do) to work on it.
And I’m glad to say that the first pieces are finished, painted, and glued in place!
Here’s pretty much how it went: Bondo, sand, Bondo, sand, fill, sand, glue, sand, prime, sand, prime, sand, prime, sand, paint. My hands were so raw from all that sanding that the fingerprint reader on my phone stopped accepting my fingerprint, and my hands are still stained Bondo grey.
Nothing of interest happened during the sanding phase, so here’s a picture of what my porch looked like shortly after I finished shaping the pieces.

I'm still getting the filler dust out from under my nails.

I’m still getting the filler dust out from under my nails.

Once I sanded them, my helpful dad and I primed them. They were so smooth, it brought figurative fangirl tears to my eyes.
Like a baby dolphin.

Like a baby dolphin.

I spray-painted them white, cut the boot to the way I needed it, and marine-sealant’ed that sucker on, with some assistance from my helpful cosplay dad.
And they smell like a car shop.

And they smell like a car shop.

The bad news is I can no longer actually get them on in a reasonable amount of time, since they aren’t as flexible as they were before they were covered in auto body filler. The good news is, I can fix that with a zipper on the heel, and OMG I ACTUALLY JUST FINISHED A WHOLE FLIPPIN’ PIECE.
Are they perfect? No. Who cares? This is my first cosplay, and, considering I didn’t just say “screw it” and painted a pair of leather boots, I’m doing pretty well.
My next step is to do the same thing to the bands that go around the ankles. It won’t take me nearly as long, since they’re much smaller. After that, I’m going to get to work on the heels, attach them to the back pieces, Bondo those as well, and then attach everything together. (That makes it sound so simple. Sanding is not fun.)

Anywaaaaay, thanks for checking me out!

Portal 2 cosplay: Making the boots’ first Worbla pieces

Hey, cosplayers, gamers, and fiction enthusiasts, and welcome to Teen Fiction Girl! In this post I’ll be making pieces based on the patterns I created in my last two cosplay posts. I’m going to stop linking every previous post, because as this post goes on the list is going to get really long, so I recommend you (if you haven’t already) click on the “Portal 2 Cosplay: Chell” category on the menu up there. ^^
Also, an advance warning: since most of the cosplay process detailed in this post involved me using heat guns and struggling to form plastic and foam before it cooled, there are very few pictures of the process. I’ll do my best to describe it to you, or provide an alternate tutorial/demonstration where I can.
Before I get started on the process, I think I’d better cover the materials I’m using.
Everyone knows what craft foam is, but the key component of these pieces is a material called Worbla. Worbla is a thermoplastic, which means it has a low melting temperature and can be easily heated up and molded. It’s about a millimeter thick, flexible, and a key component in many professional cosplayers’ wardrobes.

The first thing I did was slightly alter the pattern for the toe piece. It was large enough to fit the boot, but it didn’t wrap far enough around the back, and it was going to cause some weird gaps if I didn’t fix it. I made it a little larger by tracing it onto a piece of posterboard, drawing on the extra width, cutting it out, and taping it on.

I was worried that I might not have enough Worbla for the new, larger pieces, but they turned out great.

I was worried that I might not have enough Worbla for the new, larger pieces, but they turned out great.

At the time I made these components, I had a 15″x19″ piece of Worbla that I’d bought previously just to play with. I also had an enormous roll of craft foam, which is the first thing I used. I traced the patterns onto the foam (once for the ankle piece, twice for the toe piece – you’ll see why in a minute) and cut them out.
I laid each foam piece out onto the Worbla, about an inch apart. I measured 3/4″ all the way around them, traced my new, larger line, and cut it out. (That’s another awesome thing about Worbla: it cuts just fine with scissors.)
Next came the first somewhat dangerous part. Yay, danger!
I got ahold of my trusty heat gun (actually, it’s usually rather unreliable, and extremely hard to turn off – but you get what you get) and heated up the Worbla until it was floppy. I centered the foam on the melted plastic and wrapped the plastic around the edge. I now had three pieces – one ankle piece, two mirrored toe pieces – that looked as though they were made of thick Worbla, when, in reality, they were foam with little Worbla hats on top.
I'm really sorry for the weird stripey shadows; lace curtains and photography don't really mix.

I’m really sorry for the weird stripey shadows; lace curtains and photography don’t really mix.

My next step was to make the flat pieces into components of the boot. Remember how I was confusing everyone by talking about the piece that goes on the “bottom”? You’re about to see what I meant.
I grabbed the boot I was going to use and stuffed it with plastic bags again. I took one of the mirrored toe pieces and conformed it to the side of the boot. (Sorry I don’t have any pictures!) I took the other piece and did the same, but on the other side of the boot. Now I had two halves of the shell that was going to go over the foot part of the boot. It was sort of like those phone cases where the front piece snaps onto the back piece, if that makes any sense.
My next step was to join them. I heated up both pieces, sandwiched them back onto the boot, and connected them along the front of the foot, so now, instead of having two halves of a “boot case”, I had one “snap-on” one.
This was the final product. Don't worry about the weird bubbles on the side; I smoothed them out later (and made the Worbla fit more tightly as well).

This was the final product. Don’t worry about the weird bubbles on the side; I smoothed them out later (and made the Worbla fit more tightly as well).

If this step was a little hard to understand, I’m sorry. Kamui Cosplay has (to the best of my knowledge) never made a pair of long-fall boots, but Svetlana made a pair of bracers using almost the same technique, so, if you want, you can watch this video to better understand what I did.

Now that the toe piece was squared away, I got to work on the ankle piece.
Since I’d done this one a hundred times with the posterboard version, this one was super easy. All I had to do was wrap it around the foot of the boot and connect the parts that needed to be connected.
There were just a couple of hiccups: one, the part that attaches across the front of the foot was slightly too short. When I made my patterns, I hadn’t realized that it was going to be wrapping around the toe and ankle piece, which is a lot thicker than just the boot. It was really easy to make a little foam-and-Worbla square to connect them in the center.
The hardest part was keeping the ankle piece and the toe piece from sticking together. To keep both pieces removable (which was vital at this point, seeing as I hadn’t sanded or painted either piece yet), they needed to stay separate.
When the Worbla cooled, the result was this:

I'm not actually sure what that red thing on the floor is. I think it's a lid of some kind.

I’m not actually sure what that red thing on the floor is. I think it’s a lid of some kind.

As you can see, the piece wraps around the front and bottom of the boot, with two tabs sticking up (one on each side) for the back piece to attach to. And it goes over the toe piece, which is what I meant when I said that the toe piece would be the lowermost one.
I haven’t done the back piece for a multitude of reasons. I was originally going to use Sintra (a low-density PVC plastic; it smells nasty, but you can heat it with a heat gun as well), but it proved far too industrial for my uses: I couldn’t cut it without power tools, it was nearly impossible to mold, it wouldn’t stick to Worbla (which is kind of vital), and it lets off some pretty nasty fumes when you heat it. I could have used more foam and Worbla, but there were a few things wrong with this too. Firstly, I’d used all my Worbla on the other two pieces, and I didn’t want to buy more without knowing whether my idea was going to work or not. Secondly, I can’t forget about the brace on the back that’ll take the place of the heel: it’s going to have to be strong enough to hold up all of my 110 lb., and there’s no way I’m going to be able to attach something so heavy-duty to something so flexible.
My dad and I did some scheming, and this is the plan we came up with.
We’re going to make the braces out of aluminum bars. The back piece will also be aluminum, with a reinforced piece where the brace will attach; it’ll be riveted to the back part of the toe piece (thank goodness I made my pattern bigger!) and covered in Worbla so it can be easily painted and attached to the appropriate tabs on the ankle piece. Since aluminum is a lot harder to shape than foam (and since my pattern was slightly overlarge anyway, since I forgot to account for the thickness of the finished pieces), I cut a slit in the back of my back piece pattern.
I'll bend the pieces inward to close the gap in the back, and it'll make a nice curve.

I’ll bend the pieces inward to close the gap in the back, and it’ll make a nice curve.

My next order of business is to buy more Worbla and make identical pieces for the other boot. Next time, I swear I’ll take more pictures!!
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates on this project!

Portal 2 Cosplay: Making a long fall boot pattern

It’s late September, and you know what that means!
(If you guessed my birthday, well, you’re right, but that’s not quite what I was talking about.)
It’s time to start thinking about next year’s ComicCon cosplay!
Yeah, okay, maybe it’s not for another nine months, but for those of us who work slowly and want to pay attention to detail, it’s time to begin.
Over summer break, my gaming obsession was the Portal series. I’d heard some pretty epic things about it before, but I never got around to playing it until Steam’s fourth of July sale. I saw I could get both Portal games for five bucks, so I thought, why not? It’s only five bucks either way.
It was even more awesome than I expected.
Now, this isn’t a review, this is a cosplay DIY tutorial/walkthrough/demonstration, so let’s get started.
Here’s a picture of the character I’ll be cosplaying as:

Chell is the protagonist of the Portal series; I'll be cosplaying as the Portal 2 version of the character.

Chell is the protagonist of the Portal series; I’ll be cosplaying as the Portal 2 version of the character.

I decided to tackle the long fall boots first.
It took me a while to find a good pair of shoes to use for the structure of the boots. Target and Walmart yielded nothing; it was too early in the year to find cheap knee boots. I didn’t find adequate shoes at Payless, but I magically found a pair of gray leggings with a blue band at the top (who would’ve thunk they even made those?) and snatched them up in about two seconds.
I finally ended up going to Amazon. It took a while, but I finally found a pair of boots in the right size and color, with an accurately sized heel and platform, for only $7.

They're extraordinarily cheap and not exactly the prettiest, but they're perfect for the purpose.

They’re extraordinarily cheap and not exactly the prettiest, but they’re perfect for the purpose.

First I had to cut off the little buckles at the top. They didn’t serve any purpose except looking pretty, so it wasn’t a problem.
Some people make their sewing and crafting patterns by measuring and eyeballing the shape. Not me. Not only are my math skills questionable, but, since the boots’ design is slick and geometric, symmetry is a must.
Instead of wearing the boot to make it hold its shape, I stuffed it with Walmart bags.

No plastic bags were harmed during the making of this cosplay. As of now, anyway.

No plastic bags were harmed during the making of this cosplay. As of now, anyway.

I then proceeded to cover it with tissue paper, and then with masking (or painter’s) tape. DON’T skip the tissue paper, because if you do, your pattern will be stuck to the boot, and something is going to get torn if you try to take it off.

My majestic mummy boot.

My majestic mummy boot.

Using the seams as a guide, I drew two Sharpie lines down the front and back of the boot.

That's my hand. Isn't it cute?

That’s my hand. Isn’t it cute?

And now comes the tricky part: drawing on the details. Using this reference image, I began to draw the lines that will be used to cut out each piece of the boot, carefully measuring each line to make sure they were equidistant from their respective sides of the shoe.
But seriously, curves are hard to do. The boot wasn’t symmetrical, and one side looked way better than the other.
So I decided to do the half-a-pattern technique. I’d make one half of the pattern, trace it, flip it over, and trace it again, to make a mirrored outline of the pattern. I’d cut it out, and it would be perfectly symmetrical without my having to measure a single thing.
And then came my second screw-up. Since now I was only drawing half a boot, I grossly underestimated the size of the plate on the back of the calf. And I cut the pattern off of the boot before I noticed.
I fixed this problem by taping up just the top half of the boot, cutting the messed-up part off of the finished pattern, and taping the usable portion of the latter back onto the boot. I ended up with a sort of franken-pattern.
Why am I telling you this instead of pretending it didn’t happen? So you know what NOT to do. No lasting harm was done to my cosplay (other than a wasted thirty minutes of pattern fixing), but yours will go a lot more smoothly if you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

The "finished" taped-up boot (before I fixed the undersized calf piece). Ignore the misplaced line on the bottom of the ankle piece; that was for measuring purposes only.

The “finished” taped-up boot (before I fixed the undersized calf piece). Ignore the misplaced line on the bottom of the ankle piece; that was for measuring purposes only.

Once my pattern was REALLY finished up, I cut off the unnecessary taped portions (the front of the top and the toe, where the original boot will show through or be cut away) and traced it onto a piece of posterboard, adding an extra half inch or so on the edges that will wrap around the boot (namely the front of the foot and the back of the calf). I traced the lines accordingly (all except the little slit on the side of the foot, which I’ll add on later), mirrored the cutout as described above, and made a two-sided pattern. I wrapped it around the boot for size, adjusted a little, and the pattern was done!

The final product!

The final product!

This is a master template for the patterns I’ll need to cut the material for the long-fall boot. Since I’ll be making the boot in three pieces (the back of the calf, the top piece of the ankle, and the bottom piece of the ankle and foot), I’ll need to use this pattern to create the others.
The next step is to create the smaller patterns and find out how much material I’ll need for each.
Stay tuned for more updates on my project!

A Gaming Update Masterpost: Rift, Diablo, and Trove

Hello, readers, and welcome to Teen Fiction Girl!  Christmas is getting even closer, and quite honestly, I can’t wait.  As we all know, with great holidays come great holiday specials on our favorite MMOs, so read on for a bit more on that.

In this post, I’m going to be talking about the three MMOs I play.  If you read the title, you know what they are.  Only one of them does not pertain to Christmas in some way.  So, for you holiday lovers who also happen to be gamers, this ought to be fun for you.

So, Yule has come back to Rift!  This means a month-long game event full of new wardrobe appearances, mounts, minions, quests, and so much more.  You can go sledding in Iron Pine Peak, rejuvenate the humbugs with Christmas cheer in Sanctum and Meridian, and get a new holiday currency from questing and closing rifts.  This currency can be used to buy a plethora of awesome Christmas, winter, or holiday-related items in a new World Event section on the Rift store.  Beware, savvy costume-seekers; some of the costumes in the store are returnable, while some consume automatically once you buy them.  I planned to save up as many snowflakes (that’s the currency) as I could to buy and then return all of the wardrobe appearances – and thus not actually lose any money – but I lost three hundred of them on the fur cloak.  It’s cute, so it’s worth it, but still.


This is the outfit I put on my character for Christmas.  Sorry for the blurry picture.

As for Diablo 3, nothing new has happened (since it’s not as actively updated as Rift or maybe World of Warcraft is – it’s more of a set-in-stone MMO) but that may change soon.  I might well be getting the Reaper of Souls expansion pack for Christmas (I asked for it, anyway) and, if I don’t, then I’ll buy it myself.  So, after Christmas, expect a lot more Diablo-related posts as I explore the new act of the game.

I got to level 8 on my main character on Trove.  I named her _Myra because just plain Myra was taken, and I made her to look as much like my Diablo character as I could.  That’s only one class; this afternoon I unlocked the Chloromancer class (it’s free if you get the quest on Rift!) and played it to level 4.  My graphics card has been acting up lately, so I only got that high before it flipped out on me, but that’s easy to fix since I’ve had a replacement graphics card on hand since I got the computer (I learned that having a backup is always safe after the fiasco with my laptop last year).

This isn’t related to Christmas or gaming, but I’ve made it my personal mission to memorize all of the words to the Spanish version of Parry Gripp’s Space Unicorn.  I knew a little bit of Spanish to begin with, so it wasn’t that hard, but the pronunciation is strange in my English-speaking mouth.  Unicornio espacial, volando por las estrellas, entregando los arcoiris por todo el mundo…

Yeah, I’ll leave it there.

Thanks for reading!  I hope this was interesting and/or informational (although it wasn’t exactly intended to be informational, and it probably wasn’t all that interesting).  Feedback is appreciated, in the form of either ratings or comments, and I always love seeing likes from my readers with WordPress accounts.  : )

~  Summer

Introduction to Trove

Hello, everyone, and welcome to Teen Fiction Girl!  Firstly, it’s almost Christmas, which is awesome (everything SMELLS so GOOD!  I love the smell of Christmas) and I finished all of my Christmas shopping today.  I was informed by my parents that all the Christmas shopping for me was finished, too, and that I did not get the boots I asked for, so I took the liberty of buying them myself.  They are every bit as fabulous as I expected them to be.

But that has nothing to do with Trove, which is what I made this post to discuss.  Trove is another MMORPG by Trion, the company that makes Rift.  I have not actually played it yet (it’s still downloading), but I know basically what it’s all about.  It’s like a cross between Minecraft and your classic MMO – you can build, craft, and explore, but the combat and player interface is more like that of Rift or Diablo 3 or any other MMO you care to use as an example.  Additionally, when you reach level 20 in Trove, you get an exclusive mount on Rift, which is another bonus of playing the game that I have looked forward to for a couple of months now.

Like all Trion games (as of now, thank goodness) it’s free.  That means installation is quick and it should be ready to play in… about twenty minutes.  Maybe I’ll post some more about it tomorrow.

Thanks for reading – I hope you’ll stick around to see if I post any more articles on this subject!

~  Summer