Creating a Character

I don’t consider myself an “authority” on writing but I do like to give out advice if people need it. I’ve talked at length about my favorite disaster lesbian OC Mint quite a bit, and have seen some friends on Mastodon and elsewhere talk about wanting to make an OC, but not being able to because “they’re not creative enough” or “don’t know what they’d create.”

I’m here to tell you, dear reader, that this is simply untrue. Inside all of us, right next to those two wolves everyone keeps talking about, is a great original character that is probably cool and/or cute and more than likely extremely gay. Let’s find them!

Oh and this info is useful for any stories you might want to make too. It’s the same thought process I used to make the protagonists for my current novel-in-progress, and I think they’re pretty cool, so hopefully, this advice helps!

Why Would I Make an OC?

A counter-question: why not? It’s 2019, everyone is tired, and we’re trying to find happiness wherever we can. OCs can be that. If you want a more pragmatic answer: creating characters is a good creative exercise. And it’s fun! The point is: you don’t really need a reason. You could make your character and never look at them. Or you could make them, then base your entire online persona around them (hehe, that’s me). Both methods are valid!

Without further ado:

Step 1: Wants, Needs, Feelings

The thing that separates a character with depth from one that’s flat and kind of uninteresting is how you describe who they are. I see a lot of character creation sheets on tumblr and twitter that ask a million questions about their physical characteristics and their likes and dislikes – these are, in my humble opinion, not very helpful at the beginning of creation. I think it’s better when first establishing a character to dig a little deeper. Personality extends beyond an OC’s favorite ice-cream, or even how they blush when they’re embarrassed.

Instead, ask yourself questions like the following:

  1. What does the character want? What do they need? Love? Power? Wealth?
  2. Why do they want the things listed above?
  3. How do they get the things listed above, if they do get them?

You want to start with these sorts of questions because they’re the center that your character revolves around. Everything they do or say should generally be in service of these wants and needs, and informs all the stuff we’ll be talking about below.

This can extend to likes and dislikes as well! Consider:

Bad: Mint hates going to the doctor.

Good: Mint can’t get a shot without Queen there to hold her hand.

See the difference? The former is fine – it’s a statement that adds to Mint’s character. But the latter adds another layer: it shows Mint’s dislike for doctors’ offices, as well as one of the ways she relies on her girlfriend for support. It’s an easy way to add more depth to the character you want to make.

Then there’s feelings. Describe how your character feels about other people. How they feel about the place they’re in in life, and their physical location. Are they content with who they are? Are they anxious to leave the spot they’re in now? These sorts of questions give your characters even more depth, and help you understand who they are better, as well as how they might react to certain situations.

Step 2: Fashionista, How do you Look

You might think it counterintuitive that a visual design comes as the second step, but it really isn’t. When you establish your character’s wants and needs, you can have an easier time describing how they look and act. For Coretta, the protagonist of my novel, I first described her wants, needs, and feelings:

  • To succeed in school so she can support her mom
  • To leave the town she’s in
  • Dismissive of the students around her
  • Demanding of morality and justice

The above informs a lot about Coretta: how she dresses, her posture, how much she takes care of/cares about her physical appearance. Combine this with inherent traits (race, age, how gay they are, etc.) and you’re well on your way to an interesting character!

Coretta is Black, 5’9”, and has curly hair. She tends to wear loose-fitting clothes like sweatshirts, sweatpants, and hoodies, as they let her move freely and keep her anxiety in check by letting her relax. She has green eyes, a large nose, and is broad chested in her build. She tends to slouch, unless she’s angry, in which case she uses her full height to tower over her peers.

If you’re just looking to make a cool looking character or in general need a visual design, you can also use a visual creator! There are a lot of dress-up-esque apps on your phone and online that can help with this. My favorite is Charat, which is where Mint was created! You could also commission an artist to draw the character for you if you don’t have any artistic ability – I have never done this before in my entire life.

Mint’s Original Design

Step 3: Top or Bottom?

It’s important.

What Next?

To be honest, the stuff above is most important in the process of creating a character, so you’re pretty much done! After that it becomes a question of what you’re going to do with them, which is what stops a lot of people from creating characters. There are a couple of things you could do next:

Make another one! Why stop there? Make a second character! Are they related to the first one you made? Do they like each other? What sort of shenanigans do they get up to? Expand your little OC world.

Pair them with a friend! This can be super fun! I have Mint, while my friend has Queen. We spend a lot of time back and forth describing what sort of stuff the two get up to, and sometimes my friend even makes art of the two! (she can draw, I…cannot, lmao) Having another person to get creative with can be rewarding, plus it offsets some of the creative burden from you!

Make a story! It can be short or long, drawn or written…hell, you could even make it a micro-blog or something like that! I’ve written fics of Mint and Queen after fleshing out her backstory, and it’s been a lot of a fun, and a good break between my other projects.

Nothing! This is just as valid a response as the above. I mean, if you’ve gotten this far in the creation process, I’d assume you’re invested enough to do one of the above things, but you don’t have to be. It’s a hobby like anything else!

Anyways that’s it from me! Hopefully this helps if you’ve been wanting to get into character-creation, whether you’re trying to make an original character for a creative project, or a Mint-type OC, who exists only to be cute.

Okay, bye!

Happy Birthday, Mint

When We First Met

Bubblegum’s place smelled like incense and perfume when I walked in. This usually meant that Aprajita was cooking something up and masking the smell to keep everything fresh. It smelled amazing, strong but also delicate, and not so intense that I felt my sinuses burning.

“Yo, I’m here!” I called out.

“One minute!” came Bubblegum’s reply.

The apartment was decorated with all sorts of pictures of Bubblegum and her partner. I picked one of the frames up, gazing at it absentmindedly as I waited. Bubblegum and Aprajita were sitting together on a boat off the coast of Malaysia, according to the inscription on the back. The former was decked out in all pink, per her usual style, with a grin so wide it almost took up the whole picture. Next to her was Aprajita — or as their girlfriend like to call them sometimes, “Api” — wearing a blue blazer that looked way too thick for the weather they must have been in. They had a tiny smile on their face — a momentous occasion, all things considered. The two expressions you most often get from Aprajita were usually “neutral” and “slight frown.”

Bubblegum came bustling through the door, an orange box in her hands.

“Alright, here it is!” she said, passing the box off to me. I nearly buckled under the weight of the thing, surprised by how heavy it was when it reached my hands. Bubblegum clasped her hands together, smiling.

“They’re not that far from here, so it should be quick!”

I gave an exasperated sigh.

“Bubbles, I know we’re band-mates, but that doesn’t mean I’m also your delivery girl!” I said, putting the package down next to me and placing my hands on my hips.

“Of course Mint, of course! Buuuut shipping is expensive, and if it’s a local delivery, me and the customer get a discount when you do it!”

“Yeah, and all I get is a sore back,” I muttered. “What’s in this thing anyway?” I asked, tapping the box with my boot. Bubblegum crossed her arms.

“I can’t tell you that, obviously. It’s against the law.”

“From what I’ve heard, the law isn’t a thing that’s stopped you before.”

“I will neither confirm nor deny the truth of those statements,” Bubblegum replied. It came out so quickly and rehearsed that I was almost worried about the sort of crap she got into before we met. But she’d never tell me, so it was never worth dwelling on.

“Ask them yourself!” she continued.

“That…would be weird,” I said, scrunching up my face.

“From what I’ve heard, being weird isn’t a thing that’s stopped you before.”

Touché,” I said. I lifted the package up and slung it over my shoulder.

“If nothing else, this courier gig is going to get me jacked,” I said as I made to exit Bubblegum’s place. “Tell Api to save some food for me, please!”

“Will do! If they’re feeling extra generous, they might even throw some curry in on the house.”

God, please.”

“But…only if you get that package there quick. Ciao!” The pink-haired woman shut the door behind me before I could protest.

“Well, curry’s a suitable enough bribe,” I said to myself. “May as well get to it now.”

My skateboard was waiting for me on the porch. I kicked it off of the wall and hopped on, kuh-kunking down the two stairs that led to Bubblegum’s home before getting onto the sidewalk. My friend wasn’t lying about her customer being close — they were only a block or two away. And the weather was perfect for a ride on my board. A breeze was running through the summer sun, preventing it from scalding the neighborhood with its heat. Clouds assisted in the endeavor, only letting the yellow orb peek through them now and again as they passed above me.

I lazily pushed myself left and right on my skateboard, mind elsewhere as I let muscle-memory kick in while I rode. I had been across these paths so many times before when coming to Bubblegum’s house for band practice, I could probably ride through them with my eyes closed. It was incredible to think that our little garage, grass-roots effort had gotten so popular so quickly. People were even starting to recognize me while I was out skating! I had no idea how I was going to deal with it if we really blew up…

Before I could ponder the effects of potential fame any further, I found myself standing in front of the client’s place. They were on the third floor of a narrow apartment complex, nestled between houses on either side. It looked to be a little cramped. I shrugged, hopping off my board and making my way through the lobby and onto the elevator. It spit me out where I needed to be, with the client’s apartment being only a few paces away.

I gave the door a swift knock, and waited.

Nothing.

I gave another quick rap with my knuckles, louder this time.

Still nothing.

“Hello?” I called out. It was then that I realized I could hear a faint sound on the other side of the door. I put the box down and leaned close to the door, ear pressed against the cool, black-painted wood.

It was music!

And not playing from speakers, either. A guitar was shredding somewhere inside, completely drowning out any sound of my knocking. While I admired the thing’s aggressive style, I had places to be. This just wouldn’t do.

“Hey!” I shouted, now finally pounding on the door. “I have a package for you, fam!”

The sound cut off. I let my hands fall to my sides, tapping them impatiently while I waited. I was just about ready to leave the package in front of the door and bounce when it finally swung open.

A taller girl stood in front of me. She had striking pink hair that swept forward, nearly obscuring her eyes. and shaved on one side. And she was dressed in a casual grey jumper that looked like something a mechanic might wear. The sleeves were rolled up to reveal chain-patterned tattoos on either of her arms. My eyes widened, a thought exploding through my head unannounced.

Holy shit she’s cute!

“C-can I help you?”

I gaped at the girl.

“Hello?”

“O-oh! Hi! Um, I…” I was sputtering. I was already screwing it up! Aprajita would roast me if she found out. I could already hear her words echoing in the back of my head. “Some top you are.” Noooo!

I tried to stick the landing as best I could. I gave a small wave. “Hi, I’m Haruko! My friends call me Mint.”

“Um…cool,” the girl replied. “I’m Queen. My friends call me Queen.”

“Oh, cool, cool…” So much for sticking the landing. I shot up straight.

“Oh right! I have a package for you. From Bubblegum? The Etsy lady?”

The girl — Queen — lit up at the realization. “Awesome! I’ve been super excited for this stuff.”

I passed the box to her, putting my hands behind my back afterwards. Queen gestured towards her apartment.

“You wanna come inside? It’s hot out, I can give you a glass of water or something.”

My heart shot up into my throat.

“Are you sure? I don’t want to intrude…”

“You aren’t. I’m here alone, so if anything, you’ll be brightening the place up. Come on in.”

I stepped into the apartment and past Queen, trying not to look too eager all the while. I caught the smell of metal coming off of her fingers from playing her guitar. When I walked through the hallway into the apartment, I let out a small gasp.

“Woah…”

The apartment was filled end-to-end with all kinds of fancy technology. A lot of it I couldn’t even describe to you. Stacks of computers were lined up like battle-stations, and multiple desks were strewn about with monitors on them displaying all kinds of information that I definitely did not understand one bit. Cables snaked their way pretty much everywhere — past monitors, coiled around desk legs, under tables and scattered on the ground. Queen stepped through the jungle of tech with ease, not bumping into a single thing as she walked from one end of the living room to the next.

“Sorry about the mess,” she said as she headed into the kitchen. “I don’t usually have guests over, so I’ve never had to clean up. It’s a bad habit of mine.”

“You’re good,” I said. “Do you work with all this stuff?”

“Yeah.” The kitchen was separated by the living room with a counter, so the tall girl was able to continue talking to me while she accessed her fridge. “Most of it is just diagnostic stuff, but the rest is for one kind of project or another, even if I’m never actually working on them as much as I’d like.”

I sighed in understanding. “I feel that. I have like three or four songs on my mind at any given time. Nine times out of ten I don’t work on any of them and veg out on the couch instead.”

“Oh, you play?” Queen asked, stepping over to me with a glass of water and gesturing towards a couch that I hadn’t noticed amidst the sea of electronics. I nodded.

“My friends and I started a band a couple of months ago, actually. Minty Fresh. I didn’t pick the name, by the way!” I quickly added as I sat down, waving a hand. It was Bubblegum’s idea. I promise I’m not that conceited…”

Queen seemed to have stopped listening to me. Suddenly she put her hands on her head, gasping.

“You’re the singer of Minty Fresh? What the hell?”

“Um…yes?” I replied, acting as a question more than an affirmation. Queen shot her hands out towards me, palms upward, as if I just broke one of her computers.

“That’s amazing! I was at one of your shows, like, two weeks ago, at Future First! You opened for Kanon!”

I gave a sheepish grin. “Yep, that’s me…”

“No wonder you looked so familiar! This is so cool! I always wanted to start a band, but the guitar has always been kind of a hobby for me. But you’re like, out here! Doing it!”

I laughed. “Don’t sell yourself short! You were shredding pretty hard just now from what I heard.” I was trying to turn the subject away from me, still unused to the fact that people were starting to recognize who I was. We were in a small enough town, but still…it was weird.

Luckily, Queen seemed fine with moving on. “Thanks. It’s a nice break between projects. Ah, speaking of!”

I sipped at the water Queen provided me while she jumped to the parcel I had delivered, pulling out a pocket knife that she used to swiftly cut the thing open. I sat up on my chair to look over her shoulder while she pulled everything out. It was more advanced-looking technology, as well as some sort of shiny block.

“Yes! This’ll do nicely.”

I kicked my legs idly on the couch as the girl examined all of her new toys. “What’re you gonna do with all that stuff?”

It seemed like Queen had to struggle to tear herself away from her present to focus her attention on me. “I’m trying to make a helmet. I want it to have a HUD, and maybe even interface with a couple of my other things.”

“Oh, I see, I see. A HUD, huh? Pretty cool.” I had no idea what a HUD was.

“Where does Bubblegum even get this stuff?” I asked. Queen laughed.

“It sounds like we shouldn’t ask. She was selling it for pennies, too, she may as well have been giving it away for free.”

“Yeah, that’s kind of her MO. I assume it’s a middle finger to…something.”

“Capitalism?”

I shrugged. “Oh hey, what’s that at the bottom of the box?”

Queen turned beet red. “This is, uh, just an extra thing that I got.”

“Can I see?” I was curious, but I didn’t want the girl to explode, which seemed very close to happening if you got a good look at her face.

“S…sure.”

She passed the thing to me. I could tell just by feeling it that it was made out of crocheted yarn of all sorts of colors. I ran it through my fingers and turned it around.

“Oh my God.”

It was a sweater. Emblazoned on the front was a cat hanging on a branch with text above it that said “Hang in There!”

Queen couldn’t meet my eyes as I looked up from the sweater and at her.

She’s…too cute!

“Did Bubblegum make this for you?” I asked as nonchalantly as possible. The girl nodded. “I knew I recognized the handiwork. This makes more sense to put in an Etsy shop, anyways.”

“This is so embarrassing…” Queen muttered. “But I guess I won’t see you again, so…”

I gave her the most innocent smile I could. “Oh, you won’t?” I asked.

Queen looked like she was about to faint. I almost felt bad for teasing her so much, but enjoyment beat out whatever little conscience I had.

“I mean…if you want to…oh, actually, I remembered something. At your concert, I saw you were struggling getting some of your equipment working.”

This time it was my turn to blush.

“Was it that obvious?” I asked, tapping my cheek.

“Oh, no no, it’s not your fault!” Queen was up and about again, moving to grab a sketchbook off of her desk. It was clear that she was always in her element talking about tech, which was, like everything else about her, extremely cute. She flopped onto the couch next to me, flipping the book open to a page with what looked like a pair of headphones, striped red near the top.

“That stuff is always really difficult to work with, especially in the moment. But see, I had this idea for a headset that sort of unifies everything it connects to, and lets you control it with minimal effort.”

“That’s…awesome.” I wasn’t even trying to flatter her at this point. It’d actually be really helpful for concerts too.

“Right!? So I was wondering if you’d wanna try it at your next show?”

I beamed. “Sure!”

“Awesome.” She was up again, pacing back and forth. “So I’ll need to get a look at all your instruments and amps and stuff, and definitely anything wireless you have on stage. Hmm…and I’ll need your measurements too.”

I crossed my arms, giving a sly smile.

“Measurements, huh?” I asked, coupled with an exaggerated eyebrow raise.

Queen stuttered yet again. “O-of your head, I mean. I don’t need, like, other measurements.”

I crossed one leg over the other. “Sure, but do you want them?”

She pretended not to hear the question. “Alright, so I definitely don’t have enough space to do this here…is it okay if I come to you?”

“Yep!” I replied, hopping from my seat. “It’s a date!”

“It is? I mean, it is. Right.”

I grabbed a marker off one of Queen’s desks and gently took her hand to scribble on it.

“Here’s my number. Call me whenever you wanna swing by, Q.”

“O-oh. I could have just put it in my phone.”

“I know,” I replied, grinning. “Well I won’t be taking any more of your time, and I have to get ready for practice.” I made for the exit, Queen following behind me. I turned to the girl as I kicked my board, letting it slide under my arm as I grabbed it from the air. I was absolutely trying to flex, and was very happy the thing didn’t slap my face, like it did pretty much every other time I tried to pull that move off.

“Feel free to order from Bubblegum again. I certainly wouldn’t mind,” I said as I waved my goodbye. As I left the apartment, Queen called out to me.

“Hey Mint!”

I turned. “What’s up?”

The girl had a hand in her pocket. “Oh, nothing, I just…I like your hair, that’s all. It suits you.”

“Oh! Thank you!”

“Yeah. Alright, see you later.”

The girl closed the door. I was able to contain myself all the way to the elevator, where I couldn’t stop myself from hugging my skateboard and squealing in excitement.

Character Intro: Coretta Jones

Been a while since I’ve done one of these.

Last time I wrote about Kat, deuteragonist and Coretta’s childhood friend (and later in the novel, #1 smooch pal). Today I wanna talk about the protagonist of this novel. Coretta.

Who’s Coretta? She’s quiet but brash, sarcastic and quick to react to pretty much any situation. She finds herself taking on the role of leader/protector/caretaker in situations because she feels responsible for everyone. This stems from the way in which she helps her single mother, Anne, who raised Coretta alone for most of her life – subsequently, this is how she ends up becoming the leader of her group of psychic pals.

Coretta’s goal in life is to become successful enough in the future to take care of her family’s needs. Because of this, she pushes herself academically, even though she tends to distance herself from school. She understands where her race places her on the social totem pole, especially at her school, and is quick to remind others of their bad behavior, ill-intentioned or otherwise.

Coretta is very demanding of others’ morality and sense of justice. She doesn’t let anyone get away with anything and believes that adhering to your set of beliefs consistently is what leads to a person worth respecting. People that are hypocritical will feel no end of scorn from Coretta. She respects hard work and dedication, though this sometimes leads to her not practicing enough self-care. Coretta herself can be weak in her resolve when it comes to things like dating, and “fun for fun’s sake” — things she believes she isn’t interested in. She hates this contradiction in herself, and tries to stamp it out. Coretta’s largest flaw forms itself in her stubbornness, as well as her unwillingness to let herself have fun, based on the pressure for her to perform well.

A lot of Coretta’s characteristics are based on my sister, but more exaggerated (although…not by much. Don’t tell her I said that!). I wanted her to be a black girl because they don’t get a spot as main characters in YA novels as often as I’d like. Plus, girls are more fun to write anyhow. There are a lot of unique angles and dynamics that can only be written from a black girl’s perspective, from the focus on the importance of family to the issues that only they have to deal with, and I try to showcase some of that in my writing. Needless to say, it’s hard to be a suburban superhero when every cop in town remembers your name…

I’m very fond of Coretta and am excited to show how she develops in her journey through The Freelancers. I hope you’ll like her too.

Peppermint

Wow it’s been a while, hasn’t it? To be honest, after having a nice freakout about The Freelancers, I’ve mostly been focusing on writing it again, and have really been at it in earnest, catching up on chapters and solidifying where I want the plot to go. Any time that hasn’t been going to writing has been spent on consuming other media, or working, which means the blog has been left by the wayside a bit.

That said, I had a fun idea recently, regarding Mint. I think making her a vocaloid, a spur of the moment decision at first, has helped in the long term with making her an interesting character. For one, it allows her to exist has a multimedia entity. A recent example of this is that Mint is officially an UTAU, voicebank at all. You can download her voice and use it to make any kind of music you want.

Beyond that, I’ve been thinking of the ways having an OC essentially be data could affect their story. One way I considered is how redesigns/alternate designs could work. Which is my way of introducing Peppermint!

Peppermint is a Mint offshoot. Essentially, she’s a homebrew of Mint’s original software, that’s been modified and redistributed enough to become popular among vocaloid fans. Her design is an inverse of Mint’s, with red hair and eyes instead of her usual green. Her personality is also different – where Mint is a firecracker (or a trash goblin, if you asked her girlfriend), Peppermint is more subdued, which you can tell based on her facial expressions and body language. They’re even different in terms of musical interests – Mint having a focus on future funk, and Peppermint with rock and otherwise more dramatic/intense genres.

Peppermint is quieter, but a bit more intimidating. She is also, admittedly, a bit of a trash goblin like Mint, but she does a better job of hiding it. She likes marathoning shitty movies, dancing, and tinkering with her motorcycle on days off.

This was originally going to be an April 1st joke, but I missed the deadline and I liked Peppermint enough for her to be a real thing, so…poof, here she is. I hope you like her as much as I do!

Art by @mishakeet!

Making Things Makes Me Sad

Lately I’ve been finding the indie artists I see in my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist on Twitter and sending them DMs about how I enjoyed their songs. My trend towards empathy has been scaling upwards as I’ve gotten “””older””” and part of that has reflected itself in my thoughts on the process of creation. I can’t imagine what it’s like to make a song and posting it on Spotify, but I feel like it’s an extremely brave thing to do on such a saturated platform. I think the enthusiastic thanks I get in return for my DMs is a pretty good indicator that this is true.

I have mentioned now and again that I’m writing a novel about a bunch of gay kids with psychic powers. I said it’d come out in 2019, which is probably a mistake. I haven’t written for it in while. For once it’s not because I’m not sure what to write next — one of the perks of being on a second draft instead of a first, I guess. It’s actually because I’ve been pretty paralyzed at the idea of releasing the thing, just, you know, in general.

Anyone who tells you that you should just write for yourself is either a liar or already extremely famous. To act like your creations are not made with the intent of sharing them makes no sense to me. Obviously one should write for themselves in the sense that they create what they want to create…but creativity is a form of communication and expression. To that end, the idea of putting my all into this work only to have two or three people read it is enough to have me lie in bed and never get out of it.

I think my general lack of self-esteem does a good job of exacerbating this issue. You’re kind of expected to believe that everything you make is “good.” No one wants to hear about what you don’t like about your work — unless of course, you mention it after said work has become popular, in which case it’s seen as humbling. Hell, even writing this makes me feel like I’m being…hmm. Ungrateful? Which is a weird description, but pretty accurate, I think. It feels like I’m expected to just be happy with what I get when I finish this novel. But not addressing the fact that I want as many people as possible to read this stupid thing feels disingenuous.

I don’t know if The Freelancers will be great as I work on it. I don’t even know if it will be good. I don’t know if people will want to read it, or tell other people that they should read it. If creativity is a form of communication, lack of interest is a pretty good litmus test for quality, shallow as it sounds. I think this writing block has just been sitting here because I have to come to terms with the fact that the immense effort I put into making this book will not be met with much in return. I think that’s supposed to feel freeing, but for me it’s just depressing. Oops.

This is probably — well no, it is — the reason I’ve been writing so much fanfiction recently. The instant feedback you get from it is kind of addictive, I’m not going to lie. People know what Kingdom Hearts and Nier Automata are. The barrier of getting people to care about your characters and the world they inhabit is non-existent when it comes to fanfic, and all that’s left is for people to read what you wrote. That’s freeing, but it’s also not what I want, creatively.

A lot of this plays into how social media works, and vying for the attention and time of people with less and less of it. Most people don’t even read the most popular and critically acclaimed books that are coming out now. Why would they read this random thing that I’m writing? I don’t have a publisher. I don’t have much in the way of marketing skills. I am nobody, and I don’t see why I should continue to try.

Alright, PHEW, that all comes across as very depressing, which I don’t mean for it to be. It’s just been something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Hell I’m far from the only person who’s struggled with these thoughts. But I am struggling with them, so…regardless, I don’t plan on quitting any time soon, mostly out of stubbornness than anything else. I’ve come this far, all that’s left is finishing it, putting it behind me, and getting prepped for the next project. Because I think, regardless of how I feel about myself or my creations, I won’t be able to stop making things. It’s in my nature, as cheesy as that sounds. If you’ve stuck around this far, and you do plan on reading The Freelancers when it comes out, know that I’m extremely grateful. If you couldn’t tell, I’m kind of dying for validation here. Whoops!

Mint’s Smash Bros Moveset

Art by @bunnifuku on Twitter, check them out, they’re amazing!!

Well it’s a slow day at work and I’ve had this idea in my head for a while now, so I’m going to tell you about what Mint’s moveset would be if she were miraculously added to the Smash Bros Roster. There is no point to this post other than that it was fun to think about. Without further ado:

Overview

My idea for Mint’s moveset is based around two things she likes to do: skateboarding and music. She also streams, but I had no idea how to incorporate that into a set of abilities – maybe she’d shoot her harassment comments from Twitch at enemies, I dunno. The general gist is that Mint has two modes: Music Mode and Board Mode, that she switches between with her Down-Special.

Music Mode

Mint’s Music Mode is more long-ranged and slower than Board Mode. In this mode, Mint carries a microphone on a stand and uses it in her attacks like a bat or staff. Her smash attacks have long range because they shoot out musical staffs, but they don’t have as much launching power. Good for controlling the stage on the ground and hitting enemies from afar.

Special: Mint blasts a soundwave from her mic. The longer the button is held, the more damage and range the attack gives off.

Up-Special: Mint transforms into a set of musical notes that fly about. It’d have the same sort of control and speed as the bolt from Ness/Lucas’ PK Thunder, and would be invulnerable until the last few frames where she de-transforms. It doesn’t do damage.

Side-Special: Mint’s mic turns into a guitar, and she slides forward while strumming it, doing damage to anyone she passes. If the button is held, Mint stays in place while shredding the guitar, causing musical notes to shoot out in front of her.

Down-Special: Transformation. Takes about 55 frames to switch to Board Mode.

Board Mode

In Board Mode, Mint swaps out a mic for a skateboard. This mode is much more physical, and has great aerial movement, with Mint performing tricks in the air to do damage. Very good for racking up damage, before switching to Music Mode and finishing people off.

Special: Mint does donuts on her skateboard in one spot. The faster you tap the Special button, the faster she goes, before ending with a finisher that does extra damage. Has slow start-up.

Up-Special: Mint shoots upward on her skateboard. She can’t use the attack button, but if you rotate the movement stick, she’ll change the angle on her skateboard, doing damage to anyone that gets close.

Side-Special: A grind rail appears in front of Mint, which she hops onto with her skateboard. If you tap the attack button while grinding, she’ll spin, doing extra damage to anyone trying to approach her.

Down-Special: Transformation. Takes about 55 frames to switch to Music Mode.

Final Smash

Mint’s Final Smash changes depending on what mode she’s in. In Board Mode, she’ll smack you around with her skateboard at high-speed, Great Aether style. In Music Mode, she hops onto a stage and starts an impromptu concert, with the crowd that swarms in to watch damaging the enemies on screen.

Colors

Each palette would be based on other Vocaloids:

  1. Mint, Green
  2. Queen, Grey
  3. Hatsune Miku, Light Blue
  4. Megurine Luka, Pink
  5. Ren/Lin, Yellow
  6. Kaito, Dark Blue
  7. Meiko Sakine, Red
  8. Gumi, Green/Orange

And just speculating, she’d probably be Mid-Low Tier based on the movelist I’ve given her. One person would take her to Top 10 at EVO causing a surge in popularity before everyone drops her again. Board Mode would be used 80% of the time unless the Smash Ball is included, especially because Board Mode would have a very fast Down-Tilt spike with the board.

This will never happen obviously, but we should still get Miku in Smash Bros…preferably with the leek.

Alright, see y’all.


Alliance Alive

Oh Alliance Alive. I’m very sad that nobody played this game because Legend of Legacy was a doozy that probably warded people away. This is because it was bad, I mean that it was bad. It was hampered by obfuscated systems and the complete lack of a plot, and was a huge grind to get through. Did you know that some characters had secret affinities with certain weapons? Now you do!

Alliance Alive arrived to fix Legend of Legacy’s, well, Legacy. And wow does it do a fantastic job with that! There are so many aspects that got fixed that it’s less of a spiritual sequel and more of a spiritual redo.

So why do I love Alliance Alive so much? Let me count the ways:

A combat system that finally makes sense. Where Legend of Legacy had too many systems that didn’t make sense, Alliance Alive has a bunch of systems that are all laid bare in their entirety, while also easing up on the complexity. Everything is defined by formations and roles, no more secret systems to speak of. It harkens back to a nice little blend of Romance Saga and Final Fantasy II, speaking to the pedigree of the game considering its developers. It’s extremely addictive to set up a bunch of different formations to change your strategy up on the fly. Also the bump to five active party members instead of 3 is a huge improvement. Speaking of Party Members…

An Alliance with Soul. Your 9 party members, like, talk to each other! It’s wild! They have lines and a personality and everything! And they’re all really charming! I can’t remember their original names because you can name them whatever you want from the Status menu, but I’m particularly fond of the Daemon Fox lady and the young scientist girl. Their interactions are a lot of fun. There’s also a plot to speak of (written by the same person that wrote Suikoden II) and it’s actually pretty engaging, concerning a human uprising against the daemons that have them under their thumb. It’s not mind-blowing by any means, but there are enough mysteries to keep you enthralled.

The Alliance System. People have been saying that Ni No Kuni II is like Suikoden II, but when it comes to closeness, I’d say Alliance Alive hits that mark a lot closer. About 9 hours into the game you unlock the Alliance System, wherein you set up 5 Guilds on your giant Ark ship. You then recruit members for your Alliance in different areas and assign them to the different guilds, which increase their power and help you out. The way you recruit these people is part of the fun — one human with an obsession with wanting to become a daemon joined when I switched my active character exploring the map to one of my daemon characters and talked to him. Another joined after we kicked their butt in a fight. There’s an addictive “collect ’em all” quality to grabbing all these characters, and I’ve essentially put the main quest on hold to find them at the moment.

A World Map. For real! And rather than just running around, you get a cool little glider that you can use to strategically fly from place to place to access secret out of the way areas, like new spots to build Guild Towers and guild members to recruit. It’s very cool (although the game can lag a bit if you’re moving too fast).

QOL Stuff. You can save anywhere! If you need to backtrack, 9 times out of 10 the game will fast-travel you there if you want! All the stats are explained this time (I’m serious, Legend of Legacy was bad)! You can change character’s names! The enemies are all visible on the map! You can chain battles to expedite grinding, if you want to grind at all!

JRPG Nostalgia. I guess this all culminates to one single feeling I have about Alliance Alive: it actually pulls off that nostalgia for the SNES/PS1 era of JRPGs. Something about raiding a hot spring to save a bunch of talking frogs felt like peak Final Fantasy IX to me, and that’s very much a good thing. It even has secret party members! There’s no obnoxious fanservice, no tedious sidequests that feel like padding, and every system in the game makes sense to include, letting you put as much or as little time into it that you want (seriously, you can completely ignore that Alliance system if you want to). And it does all that without hewing so closely to those SNES/PS1 JRPGs that it doesn’t actually do anything interesting or new. It’s just a really good game that feels like it was made with love, in my humble opinion.

Now that Alliance Alive is getting ported to the Switch, give it a shot! It’s definitely the most slept on game of 2018, and I highly recommend it!


Hyper Light Drifter

I wanna preface the below with the understanding that I don’t think Hyper Light Drifter is a bad game. It is demonstrably not. Honestly, my standards are so low at this point that as long it’s not filled with gross loli shit or racist under/overtones, then your game is probably fine in my book. BUT HLD (or Hyper Lightmension Driftunia if ya nasty) has a lot of design decisions that I think are very interesting but that I found myself not agreeing with, enough that I’m making a whole blog-post about it.

For the unitiated HLD is a succesfully kickstarted top-down action-exploration game that is pretty hard to define in terms of its inspirations. It feels like it takes bits of everything from traditonal SNES JRPGs to Zelda to — and I’m sorry to say it — Dark Souls. It has no plot to speak of, really. Sure, you can speculate, but unlike Dark Souls, which has a plot you can piece together with some digging and a Vaati video or two, that’s pretty much impossible with HLD, because there’s not a single line of dialogue in the game outside of tutorials. We’re going to get back to this.

Hyper Light Drifter is beautiful. It’s one of the best looking 2D games I’ve ever played. Every pixel is lovingly crafted and purposeful. The fluidity of the animation as the Drifter cuts through enemies never stopped being engaging as I played through the game. Every setting is distinct in its aesthetic and carried a different variation of the overall melancholic tone that the game provides. The music is also fantastic, with brooding synths that sound like they came straight out of a Blade Runner film but without all the Asian fetishization.

Those are my highlights. But that said, moment-to-moment I found myself frustrated with Hyper Light Drifter.


What’s the Point?

Let’s get back to that part about HLD having next to zero plot. This can be fine as a design decision. Shadow of the Colossus has so little dialogue, it probably all fits on a double-sided 8.5 by 11 sheet. The problem is that even SotC has an easy to understand goal. Obfuscation doesn’t equal a compelling world to explore in. Dark Souls’ environmental design and even its inventory descriptions give you some idea of what’s going on and your place in its world.

HLD doesn’t have this in any way. Why are you going around killing these enemies? What is the village hub you go back to for upgrades? What are these skeletal titanic remains doing in the world? A little bit of mystique is great in getting the imagination going, but you can’t just stop there. There has to be some thread that players can go down to answer at least some of these questions, even if they’ll never be solved fully. It hearkens back to the unforgiving, hostile environments of a game like the NES Legend of Zelda, where everything is out to kill and you don’t really know why, but doggone you spent money on this cartridge and you’re going to finish it. It’s just not something I’m into personally. By the time I fought the last boss, I assumed I was supposed to feel something about the events that followed. But with no understanding of the stakes towards the conflict I had just been through, I just sort of…blanked out.

You Zig, I Zag

“But Mint,” you say with an exasperated sigh. “The plot is just window-dressing for the main focus, which is clearly the combat, you cheeky tart!”

Alright, fair, fair. And I will say that when all the pieces come together, HLD flows in a way that feels great.

Dancing through bullets, dodging past enemies before cutting them down with your sword can be exhilarating…in the right circumstances. But it takes a long time to get there. Combat is stilted and slow unless you upgrade yourself with a particular set of skills from the main hub of the game. It’s totally possible to miss these upgrades. The only reason I knew of them was that I spent a bit of time researching where best to put the upgrade points I had collected after finishing the first dungeon of the game.

The Chain Dash is a move so fundamental to the core of Driftunia’s design that I was baffled that it wasn’t immediately available in the Drifter’s tool-set — it was like having to level up for the block and dodge roll in the original Kingdom Hearts. The same can be said of the Dash Shield, which lets you move through energy shots with the right timing, and the Sword Deflection, which does exactly what it sounds like against enemy projectiles. The game became infinitely more fun after I built this toolkit, but I don’t feel it should have been “built” in the first place. Getting upgrade parts to improve your character is a staple of the action-exploration genre, I won’t argue that. But as I mentioned, with a myriad of upgrade choices to choose from, you might completely miss these skills. Couple this with a lack of i-frames, busy screen-effects, and some bosses that were more a chore than a challenge to fight through, and you have a game that is definitely mechanically sound, but not built with the sort of tempo I’m interested in when it comes to action games.

Image result for not my tempo
forgive me for this one, I recently rewatched Whiplash, heh…

Nooks and Crannies (and more Nooks)

And so we find ourselves in the third pillar of Hyper Light Drifter’s design: exploration. Again, I want to make it clear that I don’t think that any of what I’ve talked about up to this point is particularly bad. It’s just not for me. And this applies with HLD’s exploration as well. A lot of the game’s hidden areas are based on the old-school design philosophy of “bumping into all of the walls until you find a wall that’s not actually a wall.” As you get into the game proper, you’ll find yourself wondering if the forest of trees to your left is actually a game border or a spot that takes you to a new screen just out of reach, with goodies to peruse. I’ll admit that I sometimes felt pretty good about finding these spots, especially as they led to new beautiful areas and bits of currency that brought me one step closer to a new item. But by the end of the game, I was getting a bit tired of it all, bumping into one object after another and destroying every item in every room to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. Some of the secrets are pretty obvious. Others are so obtuse to reach that you’ll find them either out of sheer luck, or by checking a guide.

This isn’t as big a cardinal design sin as the inability to keep track of everything. You’ll find lots of areas that you’ll need to backtrack to after gaining a certain number of keys, and you have no real way of remembering them unless you make a note outside the game, or, again, keep a guide handy. I unlocked two monoliths. How many are there in total? No idea. I didn’t feel any incentive to explore much outside of the critical path because I knew I’d forget where everything was and had no idea how much progress I was making for the extra stuff.


I guess the general thesis I’m making after writing all this is that HLD really wants you to care — about its characters, its world, and its mechanical systems — but doesn’t do enough for it to earn that care. It’s simultaneously aloof and open, wanting you to dive into everything it has to offer but not really giving you a reason — or even, depending on your prior preparation or luck, the tools to do so. I didn’t hate my time with Hyper Light Drifter. But I didn’t love it either. I didn’t feel much of anything, and I think that’s a shame, because it’s a game that, with a bit more time, is definitely something I could see myself loving.

An Informal Guide to Mastodon

Mintsadon. Heh.

Let’s see if we can do this without my trade-mark rambling, hmm?? (we won’t)

Welcome! To the informal guide to Mastodon. Informal how? Well for one, it’s not going to be too technical. A lot of it will be assorted tips and tricks that you might pick up after some time on Mastodon — things that are considered norms, things that should have been explained when you signed on, etc. You’ll get it when you start reading. Oh God, oh no, I’m so bad at intros. 

Why should I read YOUR Mastodon Guide? 

Well I’ve been on Mastodon for a few months now. I am not the Old Guard by any means. But! I make up for that with heaps of enthusiasm. In the short time I’ve been on Mastodon, I’ve had a big attitude shift, turned into a mint, and made some good friends. I’ve a vested interest in the network, so…hopefully that counts! 

Also unlike literally every other Masto guide, I didn’t write this on Medium. Fuck Medium.

What the heck is a Mastodon anyways?

Oh good, the guide’s starting! In the simplest terms possible, Mastodon is what you’d consider a Twitter alternative. It’s a micro-blogging site that exists on a timeline, where everyone tweets — or in this case, toots…yes, I know, and I’m sorry — to whoever is following them. You can reply to each other’s @s, post vids and gifs, and so on. There are some differences from Twitter which you’ll soon see.

Why should I join?

I mean, other than the fact that yours truly made their online home there? You really need more? Oh hecc, fine.

I personally think you should join Mastodon because it’s Federated. What this means is that Mastodon exists as a series of servers. Each server is its own “Instance.” All of these servers than interact with each other. The nice thing about this is that you can choose where you want to hang out. For instance (HAH), I’m on elekk.xyz, whereas I may have a mutual follower on Mastodon.art.
This is understandably confusing, so I’ll have you look at it another way. Think of Mastodon Instances as a bunch of guilds, and the Federation as the MMO you’re hanging out on. Elekk is my guild, and is generally videogame oriented. Mastodon.Art is another guild, that is all about posting art. That said, even if we’re in separate guilds, users from both can still follow each other, or “play together,” if you want to stretch this already strained metaphor any further. Users can also block instances, which is another Mastodon benefit: you aren’t forced to hang out around nazis like you would on Twitter. 

Mastodon is also ad-less. Instances are run by different Admins, who pay to keep the servers running, and may solicit help via donations to keep the server running. 

Why else? Well, unlike Twitter, you won’t see likes and whatnot on your timeline. There aren’t any algorithms trying to drive your engagement to brands that Mastodon thinks you’ll like. It’s just you and the posts. 
I’d also consider the Local Timeline one of the best reasons to join Mastodon, but we’ll get to that!

How do I join?

Well ya gotta pick an instance! You can find a list of some (not all) instances on https://joinmastodon.org/. The nice thing is that if you don’t like whatever server you start on, you can always pack up and move to a new one, keeping all of the people you’re following — though this does not include people following you, or the posts you’ve already made, so it’s best to move early, lest you get attached to your account. Or don’t! Move around whenever or however you want. What the fuck do I know? I’m not your mom.

I’m on. Now what? 

This is a close approximation of what you’ll see when you first join Mastodon:

It can be a lot, especially if you’re not used to multi-column views. Have no fear! I too was thrown off at first, but it’s not as scary as it looks. There are four columns here:

  1. The Compose Column. This is where you make posts.
  2. The Home Column. This is where the posts of people you are following will show up.
  3. Notifications. Self-explanatory.
  4. Local Timeline. Ooh, something new! The Local Timeline is where the posts of everyone on your instance shows up. Think of it as the tavern that your guild hangs out on. 
  5. Federated Timeline. Another new thing! The Federated Timeline is where every post from every person on every Instance that your Instance has federated with shows up. It is fast. It is scary. I don’t go in here often. 

Let’s look at each column one at a time. 

Doot the Toot

The first column is where the magic happens. You type, you toot. It’s simple on the surface, but what’s cool about Mastodon is that you can do a whole bunch of fancy things with a post! See those three buttons on the bottom? The first is for pics, vids, and gifs. The second, however, is your privacy options. 

When you make a post on Mastodon, you can choose how far it reaches out into the Fediverse! 

  1. Public: This post will show up on the the Home Timeline, the Local Timeline, and the Federated Timeline. Shout your love for Initial-D into the world.
  2. Unlisted: This shows up on the Home Timeline, but not the Local Timeline or Federated Timeline. It’s like a soft shout. I use this a lot for threaded posts. The first one is public, with everything after being Unlisted, which helps keep the Local Timeline clean.
  3. Followers Only: My favorite. These posts only show up on the Home Timeline of people that follow you. This also means that if someone looks at your profile without a Mastodon account, they won’t be able to see these posts either. It’s very useful.
  4. Direct: Mastodon’s DM feature. Anyone you @ in this post will be part of a private message. Yes, everyone you @. Even the person you wanted to talk shit about in said DM. Be…be careful in that regard.

Content Warnings

The CW is another cool Mastodon feature! When you click it, you’re able to type in a warning for your post. The final product will look like this:

When you click the “Show More” button, your post will appear below it. Any image you attached to a CW post will be marked sensitive. This means that a user will have to click the image to reveal it.

So what are CWs good for? Here’s a list of things that are commonly thrown under a CW:

  • Politics 
  • Food
  • NSFW posts
  • Spoilers for Media
  • Extra Long posts
  • Religion
  • Personal Posts

There is no hard and fast rule to CWs, but the above are generally accepted as things that should be CWed for one reason or another. There may be posts that are required to be CWed on your Instance too — check with your admins or your instance’s code of conduct to be sure. In general though, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re not sure, just CW it! (A little secret: people are going to click it anyways. Don’t tell anybody.)

Visual Descriptors

Another cool feature when it comes to Mastodon is the ability to add visual descriptors to images, but it can be easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. When you upload an image or video to Mastodon, hover over it and you’ll see this:

Click the text that says “describe for the visually impaired,” and you’ll be able to add a descriptor to the image that screen-readers are able to read! It doesn’t have to be too detailed or anything, but try and add enough that someone would be able to get a good idea of what the image is without looking at it. For instance (HAH AGAIN) with the image above, I’d probably write something like “a girl with long green hair in a light-green armored outfit from monster hunter looks at the camera with a serious expression.”

Please alt-text your posts! It’s extremely useful for people who are visually impaired, and is just a good practice to follow. I highly highly highly recommend it!

Hashtags

I don’t know where else to put this, so I’m putting it here. Hashtags work like they do on Twitter, but they’re a bit easier to check out, so they’re worth using! Any unlisted or follower-only toots with hashtags won’t show up in the index list, though. 

Custom Emoji

Click the Smiley Face and you’ll find custom Emojis! These are added by your instance admins. If you ask nicely, they might even add ones for you (but like don’t be a pest about it lol). 

You can also quick select emojis on posts by typing them in between colons. Like this: :akkoshrug:

It’ll auto-complete for you! Cool beans! Alright we have well and truly spent enough time here, so on to the next column!

Home is where the Toot is

The Home timeline is pretty easy to follow, so I won’t delve into it for too long. I will say that if you click the top-right options thing-y, you can see that you can hide boosts (retweets if you Twitter) and replies. Uh, other than that…

Oh! This is as good a time to mention pinning and unpinning columns. See that little “unpin” button? If you click it, you can remove the Home column, or any other columns you might not need (like, say, the Federated Timeline).  You can bring them back by clicking the appropriate button above the search-bar here:

And then repinning it in the same place you can unpin it. You can also move columns around by clicking the left and right arrows. Cool. Moving on. 

“What’s the news, cronchy? I haven’t left my house in 3 days.” Or in other words: Notifications

Notifications might be pretty simple, but their customization options are extensive as hecco. You can choose to get desktop and sound notifications for new followers, likes, mentions, and boosts. You can even choose to not have them show up in the column at all! As you can see above, I choose to have desktop notifications for mentions, and hide pretty much everything else. You can have it set up however you like! Pick whatever makes you feel most comfortable.

The Local Timeline!! I don’t have a funny header name.

The Local timeline is legit. It is my favorite part of Mastodon. As I mentioned before, it’s where all the posts from people on your instance show up. Why do I love the Local timeline so much? 
Because it’s the most social part of this social network. On Twitter, when you’re new, it can feel like screaming into a void. There’s no sense of community until you carve it out brick by brick, and even then, your posts can be lost in a stream of hot takes and nice art. But with a local timeline, your rapport is built in. You are among people who have at least one thing in common with you, which is joining the same instance you did. Someone will see you when you make your first post on Mastodon, and I think that’s great! Most of the friends I’ve made on the Fediverse were through the Local Timeline. Don’t neglect it!

The Federated Timeline

What the hell are you doing here? Oh. Do I still have to explain it? Alright, fine, fine.
The federated timeline is the Mastodon badlands. Uh. That’s it, really. Look I can’t say much about this thing because I’m never here. If you like 300 posts a second then dive in I suppose. The only people I judge are SoKai shippers. 

Lists

Legend has it there’s a secret fifth column on Mastodon. It’s called “The List,” and today I reveal its secrets unto you. Lists are essentially private columns that let you see toots of specific people you follow. I don’t use the feature often, but it’s probably useful if you follow lots and lots of accounts.
To make a list, open the hamburger menu on the top left of the page and click lists. From there, enter the new title of your list, and add people to it. Done!

Profile Settings and Preferences

There’s a lot of fun stuff you can tweak in your profile. Click the three dots next to your account to access them.

Profile 

Here’s where you get to make yourself cute. It’s all pretty self-explanatory, but there’s one section that might be confusing, and that’s profile meta-data. 

Profile Meta-Data lets you make a table like the above that shows up on your Profile. Here’s what the above looks like on my own!

You can put anything you want in the tables. People commonly put in their preferred pronouns, other places they can be reached, location, and their own websites. In regards to that last point, make sure to put the full address when you’re putting a website in — if you don’t include it, it won’t be clickable!

Pinned Toots

You can pin toots to the top of your account! Click the 3 dots of any of your toots and click pin to profile to do so.

The final result will look like this! 

Pinned toots are good for intros that might be longer than your bio, links to your creative endeavors, or anything else that remains constantly pertinent to you! 

Moving Instances

If you’re moving instances, scroll all the way down and click “Move to a different account.” You can put in the account you’ve moved to! 

Once you do that and click save, your old account will look like this:

Holy shit a ghost

Everything Else

…Look. There’s a lot you can do in settings besides edit your profile, and I’ve decided they’re beyond the scope of this guide. This is because I’m tired, and most of it is pretty easy to follow anyways. Just click around! Clicking around never hurt anyone. 

Oh Wait

One thing I will point out out is Import and Data Export, though. Data Export lets you import your follow list, as well as accounts you’ve muted and blocked, so you can take them with you if you ever decide to switch instances. Import is where you plug in the lists you exported. 

Apps

Who uses their computer to do things? Not me! I wrote all 2356 words of this guide (so far) on my phone. And that’s probably where you’re gonna spend a lot of time on Mastodon. You can run Mastodon on any phone browser, but it’s pretty finicky…so  let’s find some apps, like god intended!

Apple

I do not have a Steve Machine so this section is gonna be a little sparse, sorry! The iPhone apps l’ve found all look pretty cute and good, though. I’m pretty jealous (as you’ll see in the following section…)

Android

Here’s my domain! I’ve tried every Mastodon App under the sun. Most of them aren’t great, sorry. A lot of them are missing key features, like adding text descriptors to images, and others either have notifications that don’t work very well or at all, or end up being not very pretty. Nonetheless, I’ve compiled the list of the stuff that’ll do you right the most. 

Fedilab

It’s not exactly easy on the eyes, but Fedilab makes up for that with an extensive feature list and super fast updates. Seriously I don’t know if the dev gets any sleep. Fedilab is always being worked on, and I could see it being the premier Android Mastodon app — ah, if it gets a redesign, that is.
Find it here.

Tusky

Tusky is the best looking Mastodon app on Android, I’d say. I’d recommend it 100% for those looking for a very smooth experience. That said, I’ve had issues getting notifications to work on it, so your mileage may vary. Doesn’t update as often as Fedilab, but there’s a nightly version you can check out if you’re adventurous. 
Find it here.

Pinafore

Would you believe me if I told you that the best Android mobile app is a web-wrapper for Mastodon? It’s true!!! Pinafore is my preferred app of choice. To get it to work as an Android app, add it to your home screen from the web browser on your phone. Don’t forget to enable notifications! It’s a bit more of a hassle to get set-up, but Pinafore works perfectly for me. If you don’t want to wrestle with it though, the two choices above should be fine.
http://pinafore.social/

Conclusion

I think…are we done? Holy shit I think we’re done! Thank you for reading this informal guide to Mastodon. I hope it was help. Please tell me if it was helpful, this was a lot of work, lmao. If you have any suggestions or additions you’d like to be added to this guide, or just to say hi because you think I’m cute or something I dunno, hit me up @eightbitsamurai