Tracey Townson

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So You Want To Create An NPC

Writer's WorkshopYou’ve now created your character, and have been playing him or her or it for awhile. But now, after a few months building your character, you want to create some supporting characters in addition to your main. Or maybe you just want to just deviate from playing the same character continuously and allow your creative juices to start flowing in a different direction. Or maybe you want to create other crew members on your ship who are not PC players. Whatever your motivations are, it becomes more and more difficult to SIM continuously in the group without creating at least one NPC along the way.

How important are NPCs in SIM? Extremely. And creating interesting NPCs, who are just as interesting as your main character can, and will allow your characters to learn and develop. Your NPC is will paint an overall picture of their surroundings and may even guide the direction of your SIM.

So how do you go about creating really interesting NPCs, and quickly, and those who will be an awesome antagonist to your main character, or even other PCs? Well, the first would be to give them at least one defining characteristic. Give them a nervous tic, a scar, whatever. This sets them apart from just a two dimensional character that we would normally forget. This particular quirk will be recalled by other SIMmers with ease.

The Man in Space

Hadfield-guitar, from lambtonshield.comWhat is it about us Canadians? Why are we so proud of the things we accomplish? Maybe it’s because we come from a country where two official languages flourish. Where walking in the streets of Ottawa, you can hear people switch from French to English as they walk and talk, while in the middle of a conversation. Or maybe it’s because so many unique individuals from different parts of this vast, frozen wasteland have flourished. Not just here in Canada, but on the international scene. And I’m not just talking Justin Bieber here.

But of those Canadians who have made it to where they are today as superstars in their own right, including William Shatner and James Doohan of Star Trek fame, no one could be as down to earth as the one Canadian who is presently the furthest away from Earth at the moment. Chris Hadfield.

Who is Chris Hadfield, you say? My response is one of the pioneers of the space age, and presently the commander of the International Space Station. What makes him so special? His connection to those who follow him. His constant communications with those on Earth since arriving at the station in December. He has been broadcasting, tweeting messages, and sending photos he has posted to allow those of us on the ground to see our world from his perspective.

He has conducted question and answer periods for schoolchildren through Twitter, had a conversation with another commander of a ship we all know, William Shatner, recorded a duet with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies, and was backed up by a Toronto glee choir. Basically, Chris Hadfield is showing us that being in space doesn’t mean you are out of touch.

But despite all this, what Chris Hadfield is doing is even more profound. He is showing Canadians, if not the world, the unique and wonderful vision of what space is all about, and in a way we could never otherwise see ourselves.

So you want to SIM a fight scene….

Writer's WorkshopThroughout my years as a SIMmer, this has always been my Achilles heel. Maybe because I am so used to writing in a certain way, I always found my character’s fight scenes to be way too drawn out. Most fights don’t last for very long. Consider for a moment being caught offgaurd and being hit from behind. You are still conscious, but your primary focus is on what just happened. Not the starry skies, not the blooming flowers, but on your present situation of what just happened to you, and either seeking out reasons why, or retaliation. In order to illustrate the difference between a good fight SIM, and a great fight SIM, I’m going to use a SIM of mine written a few years back and edit it in front of your eyes.

Fight scenes shouldn’t just happen. We all don’t just go to school and work everyday and happen to get into a fight with someone. There should always be reasoning for the fight. It should relate to the overall SIM in some fashion. In the following SIM, the reasoning is that my character entered a holodeck sword practicing scenario. An attack was imminent. It was why she was somewhat prepared for it. Here is the original SIM:

Smell & Taste of the Middle of the Galaxy

They really know how to party in the middle of the Milky Way“Astronauts have consistently reported the same strange odor after lengthy space walks, bringing it back in on their suits, helmets, gloves and tools, It’s a bitter, smoky, metallic smell – like seared steak, hot metal and arc welding smoke all rolled into one.” says … It’s believed that this smell is caused by high-energy vibrations in particles that mix with the air when brought inside. In the future, we might even be able to recreate the smell of the Moon, Mars, Mercury or any place in the universe, provided that we have the right chemical information. In fact, we can recreate the smell of the heart of the galaxy – astronomers searching for amino acids in Sagittarius B2, a vast dust cloud in the middle of the Milky Way have reported that because of a substance called ethyl formate, it smells and tastes of raspberries and rum.

History Never Forgets the Name “Enterprise”

“Let’s Make Sure History Never Forgets The Name….Enterprise”

Those are the famous words uttered by Captain Picard in the Next Generation Episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise” (S3;Ep15). We are all aware of the Enterprises in Star Trek, however there were many ships named Enterprise in real life as well. With the US Naval Aircraft Carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) undergoing its final mission, I have decided to put together a chronological list of ships named “Enterprise”, both through history and into our future. In this multi segmented series, I will begin with the 18th Century with the very first Enterprise. The French vessel L’Enterprise.


This first Enterprise saw action between 1705 and 1707. and was quickly captured by the British Navy ship, the HMS Tryton in May of 1705. It served in the Mediterranean under the command of J. Paul. On May 19, 1707, W. Davenport took command and she saw action off of Leghorn, (Livorno) Italy. She wrecked on October 12, 1707 off of Thornton.

William Shatner: Rock Star

Every year, Canadians celebrate the best in the Canadian music scene with the Juno Awards. The Junos are not much unlike the Grammies or the American Music Awards. However, they focus solely on Canadian talent. Past winners include Bryan Adams, Arcade Fire, Jann Arden, Bachman–Turner Overdrive, Barenaked Ladies, Billy Talent, Michael Bublé, Justin Bieber, Tom Cochrane, Crash Test Dummies, Celine Dion, Alanis Morrissette, Avril Lavigne, and I could go on and on, but will stop here for brevity’s sake. Needless to say, these artists represent many diverse types of music, and thus such an awards show has no lack of great content. 

Mixed Berry Cobbler

Poor Trip, fending off ladies of all species who find him simply irresistible! In “Stigma,” it’s one of Dr. Phlox’s wives, Feezal. Trip desperately tries to keep Hoshi at the mess hall table when he sees Feezal approaching him, urging her to “try the cobbler – Chef outdid himself!” When Connor came wanting to taste the cobbler before shooting the scene, he took a bite, then said “Better get LOTS of that ready, ‘cause I’ll be diggin’ in!” Yes sir, Commander! (…and get some ready for Ensign Sato, too – Linda was right behind Connor, asking for her own bowl of cobbler!) 

Carbon Creek Chili

Ever wonder what it would be like to eat that which the crew of Enterprise ate? Help comes from outer space via North Hollywood! Enterprise food stylist Dorothy Duder delivering fresh made, non-reconstituted, non-replicated Carbon Creek Chilli that’ll warm your dilithium. It is the actual recipe served in the Enterprise episode “Carbon Creek.” Whip up a heapin’ helpin’ and watch T’Pol invent velcro, while demonstrating Vulcans really have a soft touch.

Real Planets Stranger Than Science Fiction Part 1

There is nothing like a planet made of ice that could send the chills through your spine, unless of course, you are an Andorian. So just imagine, a planet completely covered in ice and you can imagine Gliese 436 b. However, this star is so close to its sun, the surface temperature is a consistent 800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Artist's conception of Gliese 436 b

(Img: From wikipedia)

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