Fallout Equestria: The Daily Unlife

"Live a little, they say. Easier said than done."

These are the voyages of the Canterlot ghoul Lemon Frisk. His mission: to find the Meaning of Unlife. His continuing perils: crazed raiders, feral ghouls, overzealous rangers, deranged robots, and a mare who won't stop poking him.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/6001/fallout-equestria-the-daily-unlife

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9. Week One - Commentary

Welcome, mares, gentlestallions, and assorted zebras, griffins, hellhounds, and possibly deranged secret project zombie cyborg ponies.

This is where I, Nyerguds, give you a peek behind the scenes of The Daily Unlife. Hard to believe that it's been almost half a year since this train wreck was pushed onto its downhill tracks and left to thunder on. I'm currently busy writing Day Eight (read: it'll probably be done somewhere this year), but when I looked back at the previous chapters, I realized I've amassed quite a bunch of funny anecdotes over the course of these months. Some of these have been mentioned in the FimFic comments and the #FalloutEquestria irc channel, but most haven't :)

So, without further ado, let's get on it!

INTRODUCTION
When Life Gives You Lemons

As I've mentioned quite a few times in #FalloutEquestria, The Daily Unlife was the direct result of me browsing through the side stories on Equestria Daily, and not finding any stories centered around a ghoul main character. I have to be honest here though, and mention that there is another one, namely The Ditzy Doo Chronicles, but at that time, the idea of someone fan-expanding canon FoE characters felt kinda odd to me, and I stayed away from it.

What I did find, however, were plenty of story descriptions that basically went "200 years after the world died, x emerges from Stable y and has to learn to survive in the wastelands." This trend was probably set by Somber's Project Horizons, but most of the time it just rubbed me the wrong way. Littlepip's stable was supposed to be one of the only ones to stay closed that long; most other Stables had opened more than a century before that.

So, a crazy idea hit me, as such crazy ideas tend to do (see also: Flitter). I wanted to write a parody of that scenario. An over-the-top stereotypical image of a courageous pony standing in the open cogweel door of his Stable, looking out into the Wastelands, determined to make them his new home. Of course, the Stable was actually Stable One, aka Ghoul City, and the Courageous Hero was actually a ghoul that had been going in and out of that same door for the past two hundred years, to rummage through the remains of Canterlot.

Mind you, I wasn't quite sure of myself at the time. I stumbled into the Fallout Equestria Side Stories Document, and, in the chat there, I met with two people who convinced me it was a hilarious idea, and I should go for it. The first was Artemiev, writer of the comedy gems "Probed" and "Lobotomized", about a Wasteland Raider who gets into far-too-close encounters with respectively human alien invaders, and a magnificent GLaDOS ripoff. The second person was Mimezinga, of Pink Eyes fame. If I have to give any additional information on that story, you're Doing It Wrong, and should go read it. Right now. Puppeh demands it.

So, after writing that, I was still quite unsure of myself. I'd never actually done much storywriting, and none of the writing I did was even slightly comedy based. But Mimezinga loved it, and told me to 'write moar'. So I did. Blame Mimezinga :p

DAY ONE
The First Day of the Rest of Your Life

Ahh, the Life puns! I've got an entire document devoted to scraps, ideas, names, and these. There's at least a dozen of them in there, including possible future titles, and scrapped ideas. Seeing as I'll probably recycle them some day, though, I'm not going to give examples. I do wonder if I'll ever use the "Facts of Life" one, though. (Cue squick about Misty and Lemon actually getting it on)

So, stranded with a ghoul, in the wastes, I did something I never really did again. I started a chapter with a time skip. I guess this would be a perfect time to tell you about my writing method.

I don't have a writing method.

Seriously, though. I make it all up as I go along. Misty didn't exist until I needed someone to chuck bottles at Lemon's head, she wasn't a Stable Pony until he saw her, and I had no idea she was from Stable 69 until I had that crazy idea in Day Three.

This doesn't mean I don't plan ahead, but, I only do so after these crazy ideas actually hit me. Likewise, I was totally planning to actually go to New Appleoosa until a sarcastic turquoise stallion told me they probably sold that stupid guide everywhere. Don't you love it when your own characters decide to buck you in the head?

Right. Day One. Sorry. I got distracted all the way to Day Three there. Day One is where I introduce my second main character, and the whole joke I decided to build the story around.

The joke is, in itself, actually a Project Horizons reference. I loved the fact that Blackjack thought RadAway tasted awesome, while Littlepip absolutely hated it, and I remembered how Littlepip was absolutely horrified by Ditzy Doo's 'squishy' hug. So... I created a character who thought ghoul squishiness was Pretty Neat.

I also decided to introduce a first mystery here, namely, Scorch Mark, without thinking up any kind of backstory for it. Stuff like that tends to fill itself in, and is a nice detail to tie into something bigger later. And, if I can't think something up, I just leave it, and no one will give it a second thought. Win-win! As I said, I just make it up as I go. For the record, though, it's tying in nicely :)

I also decide to get into the core of this story here: the Wastelands, through the eyes of a ghoul, with all the inevitable 200-year old war trauma that comes with it. For those who played the first Command & Conquer game this must be glaringly obvious, but Blossom Tree's name is an awful, awful reference to the poisonous tiberium-spore-spitting mutated trees in that game. What can I say? It was a nice pony-sounding name.

DAY TWO
Live And Let Live

And here we get our first sneaky Fallout reference. This is the point where I admit I never played any of the actual Fallout games, but think it's quite a lot of fun to randomly browse wikis. Hayden's name was sort of based on The Den, a Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy in Fallout 2. Seeing as Hayden is a pretty nice place, though, that's where the similarity ends.

Misty seeing nothing but "Haystack" on her pipbuck was an utterly pointless and never-explained insider's joke between me and myself on Command & Conquer (again; I love that game), which has Haystacks as neutral buildings. Notably, when you mouse over them in the game, they don't say "Haystack", firstly because of some overriding system hiding a ton of (usually quite funny) neutral names in favour of "Civilian Building", and secondly because haystacks and farm fields were usually put on the game maps in their special indestructible flavour, which doesn't even give name popups. The only way to actually get the name popup is to use a map editor to place the actual structure-version in a map, and change some hidden game setting to show the civilian names. So, yeah, this was a contrived, stupid private joke, and Lemon's nonplussed reaction at the time probably matches how you're feeling right now.

Other, more notable references in this chapter include a stab at Fallout's Fast Travel (and the fact Littlepip leaves out all boring parts, too), and the Sugar Carrot Cakes from Project Horizons.

Oh. And the shampoo. Lather, Rinse and OBEY! I had the original Solaris Inc. scalp-melting shampoo idea after designing Lemon Frisk in pony creator and ghoulifying him in Gimp. However, since Solaris Inc. is kinda Mime's joke, I bounced the idea off him first. He let me know his only criterion for letting me use Solaris Inc. was that the product had to be an utter and complete failure. When he heard my idea, though, he was hell-bent on taking it even further, and making it into a Kim Possible reference. Since Mime's a Pretty Cool Guy, and the reference really is quite hilarious, I put it in. So yes, that's totally Mime's fault. Blame Mime.

On to my favouritest pony, ever! Capsworth! A fine example of a wasteland adventurer who decided to call quits before getting any projectiles embedded in his hind leg joints, and who went on to become a trader rather than a guard 'trolling the Ponave wishing for an Enclave cloud cover.

I do hope I'll get the chance to revisit him some day, but seeing as I just write whatever my characters decide to do, as driven by their background and motivations, I have no choice but to quote yet another overused meme, and say, TF2-Medic-style, I have no idea!

DAY THREE
What's The Point Of Living If You Can't Feel Alive?

Hayden was introduced with its back story pretty much done, as way to introduce another ghoul. I planned from the start to meet more kinds of ghouls as the story went along, to show viewpoints that are quite different from Lemon Frisk's, and Spring Singer was the first of those. Well, okay, the melted guy in Scorch Mark was the first. Spring was the first one that talked back, though.

At that time, I really did go with the idea that ghouls didn't sleep, period. This was kinda semi-retconned later, mostly from me following PH as canon and Somber deciding ghouls did need sleep. Blargh. I'm weak, I know. Still, made a nice somewhat-twist, and Lemon not knowing that is still kinda explainable since he spent most of his time away from his Stable anyway.

...I should stop digging this hole before I come out in New Zealand, right? Right. (random fact: I live in Belgium, which is exactly opposite of NZ on the globe)

In the category of More Bad Ideas, we also got the sunrises. I probably pretended, for some bizarre reason, that Equestria was a Flat Earth, and thus, you'd see the sun peeking out under the clouds every morning and evening. Dumbest idea ever. Let's just pretend the pegasi were sloppy around that area, and move along. If you need a real reason, blame Minecraft.

Another one, arguably in the same category, is the use of chapter title images. I made the first of these as story cover, to make it more visible in the Equestria Daily side story listing, because even some slightly edited Pony Creator ponies dumped on a quickly googled Fallout 3 image give a lot more attention than a simple text listing. From there grew the idea of letting each chapter’s title image show the characters travelling with Lemon Frisk at the start of that chapter.

You wouldn't believe how much time I spent on these, and how tired I got of doing them. Mimezinga claims to be on a Crusade Against Pony Creator In Favour Of Real Art, but since he says he can only draw Pretty Ponies, poor ugly Lemon Frisk was stuck with Pony Creator. Again, blame Mimezinga.

Onto more jokes and references! Ponies shooting at each other becoming best friends is an obvious reference to Littlepip meeting Calamity. Then again, everyone shot at Littlepip.

Another reference, that started as a small joke but would be the defining thing about Misty's stable, was Fallout Vault 69, which I first found out about in the hilarious Penny Arcade Fallout comic "One Man, and a Crate of Puppets". The idea of a Vault with a 1:1000 male to females ratio needed a bit of work to actually be realistic, but once that was done, it gave a good basis for building Misty's background.

And now, we come to the grandest plot twist ever. I have to say, I certainly didn't see it coming. That plot twist was, as I mentioned before, Capsworth selling Wasteland Survival Guides. This blew the story into a completely different direction. Without Spray Paint's sarcastic remarks, they'd probably have met Ditzy Doo by now. Most writers probably plan ahead, but let me assure you I was 100% serious before. I had no idea they'd ever actually visit Misty's stable, and I hadn't even made up Whinnyapolis at this point.

DAY FOUR
Living The Dream

This is the chapter where I started thinking up these chilling sub-titles for my chapters. A slap in the face after the silly Life pun. I went back through the first ones to add them there, too.

I had a long scene planned at the start of this, where Lemon sees a Sprite Bot, and would reveal to Misty he was in fact the person who was responsible for deploying those for the MOM. He would then use his old access codes to log into the sprite bot network, and find a pretty peculiar message for him in there. I had other ideas floating around concerning the Sprite Bot, including having Watcher try to talk to him through a bot, and Lemon Frisk kicking Watcher from the system like the damn script kiddie he was. I'll probably get back to that sprite bot idea in some later chapter, but I don't think I'll be adding any references to Watcher.

The whole scene got scrapped after Another Minecraft Sunrise With Misty led to the conversation where he tricked her into agreeing to go back to her Stable. This also led to solidifying the Pretty Mare thing to Official Running Gag Status.

On a related note, I think the wasteland dwellers would collectively rip Lemon Frisk a new one if they knew he was somehow involved in the deployment of those Celestia-damned annoying sprite bots.

And then, finally, Lemon Frisk's special talent is explained! This could obviously not happen without a Cave Johnson joke, so, thank you Misty. In some way, this joke contributed to the idea of a Stable where the experiment was actually sabotaged in favour of preserving the Equestrian cultural heritage, since Misty actually knew jokes originating from pre-war theatre.

And then, romance. Sort of. Maybe. We're still not quite sure. I guess just finding squishy ghouls Pretty Neat wasn't enough, so, she develops an actual crush on him. I take no credit whatsoever for the horrible, horrible heat cycle joke, though. Blame Mimezinga :p

And then, Zebronies. Some people have pointed out to me that the technical term is probably something like "zonies", but that sounds weird, so, I won't use it. The other possibility, "Ponbras", just sounded like lingerie or something, and was likewise rejected.

Anyway, the Slags and their Dead Farm are a full-blown reference to Fallout 2's Ghost Farm. Unlike the original Slags, who descended from a militia that dug themselves in (quite literally), I thought it'd be interesting to have a secret military interrogation camp serve as basis. Vinegar, the leader of the Slags, is a name reference to Vegeir, the Fallout 2 Slags' leader. Thank you, FalloutWiki!

And here I add Unexplained Mystery Number Two: The Shard, and its blue radiation.

Blue radiation is, of course, a stab at the typical green glow attributed to radioactive material. In reality, visible radioactive glow is, in fact, blue. Actually being close enough to an intense radiation source to see this glow also means you’ll probably be dead within minutes.

DAY FIVE
The Life Of The Party

At the end of last chapter, you see me making a huge cliffhanger, for literally no other reason than the fact I Suck At Writing Action Scenes. Oh, you may argue they come out looking pretty okay, but that doesn't change the fact I spend hours going mad over every single paragraph of them. So, yeah. The fact it was evening was just a technicality I abused in my favour, because I wanted to release that chapter before getting into that mess.

Really though, you have no idea how hard it is to write a battle scene with a pony who's basically an unkillable monster straight out of a horror story, without making him look like an unkillable monster straight out of a horror story.

A funny detail to note though was that I originally planned the raiders to be in the stash instead of the Slags. Those were, once again, a last minute idea, and the result of me binging on the Fallout wiki.

On the note of the Slags, that pic of Vinegar must’ve been the most effort I put into one of these chapter titles since I ghoulified Lemon Frisk. Ah, who am I kidding, Vinegar was worse. Not just the bandages, which were added on one by one, but also the design of the helmet, which isn’t based on any pre-googled shape. I even made the layers so I can open the visor correctly by rotating it around the bolt you see in it. So, yeah, I spent way too much effort on it. And I still kinda cheated on the pic, since technically they had Mush and the whole rest of the Slags guard with them too at this point. I had Mush designed in Pony Creator, but couldn’t be arsed to do more bandages.

References! Ilushia is the most huggable pony in #FalloutEquestria, and deserves to be referenced. When she introduced Sparkle Cola Rainbow Crash in her story, New Beginnings, it sounded to me like something Rainbow Dash would take offense at. So I suggested making a joke about that in my fic, since I actually had a character that was around to see RD's reaction. She gracefully approved. Ilushia is best pony.

On to the story content. Here, I finally reveal the location of Stable 69. Whinnyapolis. I frantically looked for ponified city names that were unused in Fallout Equestria fics at that time, and after looking through a bunch of Pony Pun Location Listings (with Added Alliteration!) I finally thought up this one myself. A quick google search revealed some other people had inevitably already thought of it too, but since it wasn't used in any Fallout Equestria fics, it was perfect.

Now, I just needed a reason to actually explore that city. As it turned out, I would get some soon enough in the Stable, but at that point, I decided I'd let Lemon Frisk actually know the city, by making it the city his wife grew up in. Just to be on the safe side. Still, in the end, it'll probably be Misty's wanderlust keeping them out there. As I said before, this story is basically these damned ponies doing whatever the hell they want, while I struggle to write it all down.

Lemon Frisk getting shot at the Stable was something I specifically planned for this chapter. It was a very necessary reminder of the fact he is, in fact, an undead pony. It also served to introduce Misty's panic-induced magic boost. Yeah. As if the super powered undead regenerating ghoul wasn't enough. But I thought it was necessary to explain how Misty wound up inside that Sparkle Cola factory, after two centuries worth of scavengers failed to get in.

And of course, I ended that with a déjà vu to the Hayden joke about best friends starting out by shooting at each other. That was also specifically planned. I just hope it was clear enough.

So, then we Meet The Parents. I should note that Moonstorm is actually my former girlfriend's pony character. She wanted a cameo, and I didn't mind. This led to the cutie mark joke about the whirlwind/whirlpool, which I kept from her OC. So yes, the original Moonstorm's cutie mark really is a whirlwind, and thus, weather related. Her name, however, does not quite match the weather naming style, and seeing as she's coupled with a stallion with an obvious weather name (Hailstorm), you can safely assume her name was not meant as a weather reference.

Oh, right, I almost forgot. I really, really hope it was clear from the context, but when Moonstorm said "She was there, wasn't she?" to Misty, she was obviously referring to Big Apple's legitimate breeding mate; a mare with all the reason in the world to be extremely pissed at Misty.

DAY SIX
This Stable Life

Right. This chapter. Let me just start out by saying I didn’t like this one very much. It has barely any character development, and is basically a ton of infodump tied together with jokes. The only really significant event in this entire chapter is Lemon thinking about why he left Canterlot.

I guess I’m just lucky people read TDU for exactly the jokes I just see as ‘filler’.

Talking about these jokes, I finally wrapped up the whole Pretty Mare thing here. That scene was originally written in the common room where they met Misty's dad after they visited the WRD, with Lemon theatrically climbing on a table and proclaiming his embarrassing statement. It kinda didn't work, seeing as the Stable ponies were all kinda freaked out by the sight of the ghoul acting crazy. Then I got the idea of DJ Trillex, which made it all work out better, and gave Misty a chance at payback with the song she recorded. I actually kinda hinted to that back in Day Three, by marking the link to the song as "Misty's pipbuck recording". I was absolutely planning to have her play that on the Stable 69 broadcast system.

And then we got the ESA. The Equestrian Space Agency. It is based on a room I actually went into in a science museum in the Netherlands. The room was only a cube of 2x2x2 meters, but the effect was pretty awesome. I was a kid back then, but I remember the door had a sign saying "Fear of space?" in Dutch, making a play on the Dutch word for fear of heights, which is exactly the same except for the first syllable ;)

Anyway, when I started thinking about those 50 years of inventing and brainstorming done by the WRD, that room seemed like a really neat thing to add to get Stable ponies used to open spaces. Mind you, Misty still remarked she had trouble dealing with "the quiet, the space, the death.", back in Day One, but that just shows a bunch of mirrors are still not quite the same as a vast open desolate wasteland. It just made sure she didn't go catatonic when first sticking her head out of the door.

The ESA was also a silly excuse to apply Ponies In Socks to my canterlot ghoul. And to pull off a Portal 2 "Spaaaaace!" joke. As I said, this chapter is nothing but a string of jokes.

In the explanation of the ESA we get some interesting names. Flux State and his daughter Equilibrium. The Stable had ten forefathers, and as tribute to them, many ponies named their foals in the same style as the father. It's not a strict tradition, though. Event Horizon called his son Spray Paint, and Fog Light and Moonstorm don't fit the pattern either. But for the weather names and the Apple family, the tradition was held pretty strictly.

As was mentioned in the story, the ten Forefathers were all experts in very different fields of life. The names I made up for them as base for all Stable names were Summer Rain, Life Weaver, Brush Stroke, Rune Shimmer, Swifthoof, Crème de Menthe, Harvest Basket, Snapshot, Blueshift, and of course the token Apple Family member, Apple Pie, aka DJ Trillex. The aforementioned Flux State, Equilibrium and Event Horizon were all descendants of the Stable's Scientist forefather, Blueshift (who, himself, was a bit of a Half-Life reference). Spray Paint was actually named after his maternal grandfather, who descended from the Artist, Brush Stroke.

Of course, this talk on names all leads down to the craziest and most blatant reference I have ever made.

Summer Rain.

For those of you who are not familiar with the webcomic "Least I Could Do", well, it's basically about a magnificent bastard who charms all the ladies, sleeps with them once and then never calls them back. The webcomic is written by a guy called Ryan Sohmer, who called his main character Rayne Summers, to make sure there's absolutely no misunderstanding about the fact the whole comic is blatant chauvinistic self-gratification. The over-the-top blatantness of this, combined with the main character's hilarious random antics, and the fact that in the end, he's really a Pretty Nice Guy, actually make the comic pretty good, and really funny.

Back when I read the Fallout comic mentioning Vault 69, one of the first things I thought was "What if they put Rayne Summers in there?"

The result, of course, was Summer Rain:

I'm painfully aware I put way too much effort in that cutie mark, especially for a pic I never actually used in the story. But hey, more practice with Gimp layers.

There is still loads left untold about this guy, and I hope to tell more about him in the story, every now and then. There's plenty of reasons they all remember him fondly that don't hinge on anecdotes about him buying prostitutes for horses.

DAY SEVEN
Do You Want To Live Forever?

This chapter took way too long, because, again, I suck at writing action scenes.

The first idea I had for this chapter was Lemon Frisk and Misty being out in the city ruins, and finding an impaled ghoul soldier stuck in the rubble that had been there ever since the original attacks, and would deliriously ask for orders, until Lemon Frisk calmed him down and put him out of his misery. When I actually wrote it down, however, the whole thing changed quite a lot, and, of course, became the end piece with Petal Luck.

The second idea was the shower scene. Just like the scene with Petal Luck, this went way beyond anything I'd planned. The flood of memories gave more insight into Lemon Frisk, and allowed more reasons to visit the city. I'd never planned to go quite that far with them, though. Gods forbid I’d actually solve Lemon’s emotional problems.

I did plan a flashback of Lemon Frisk visiting his old comrades' graves during the war, though, mostly to add both the good and bad times in there, but that got scrapped because it didn't flow well. I then realized I could put the same thing into an actual visit just as well, and used that idea to link the ghoul hunt scene with the final part about Petal Luck. The actual visit obviously didn't happen, in the end, but that was quite deliberate, since it gives me a reason to go back there and still do it after all.

And then, we get into Misty's Little Problem. The chaotic release of magic. As I said before, this was another thing that kinda just happened, and even though I totally used it as Deus Ex Machina in Day Seven (not to mention, as excuse to give Lemon Frisk some colourful language), I wouldn't be surprised if it would come back to bite them in the rump some time in the future. Exploring centuries old derelict buildings with a mare who brings down the house when she panics is probably not a good idea.

It was a real pity I didn't have Spray Paint in the scene where they discussed that, simply because he would totally have continued Lemon Frisk’s bedwetting simile. It'd probably have gone something like "If we get jumped by raiders, she may piss herself, but at least one raider would have a face full of piss." Okay, so maybe it was a bit poor taste (Oh gods, did I really just write that?), and I would've scrapped it anyway. Still, I do miss that guy from time to time; he could've brought that kind of P-21 vibe into the group. Um, without all the rape factory angst, I mean.

Anyway. After all that was written, I just sat on my hands for about a month. Yeah. I had no idea how to handle that action scene. The actual ghoul hunt thing. In the end, I started rethinking some things about Winter Gale. When the city search party massacre was first mentioned, I did indeed intend for them to have gotten stupidly slaughtered by the first passing monsters, just like what happened to Misty's companions. But, thinking on about it, I realized that that would be quite strange, seeing as they were security ponies, and thus, well-versed in the use of S.A.T.S. and E.F.S. So I came up with the glowing ghoul and the fact these ghouls were some of the pipbuck-carrying Stable 69 males, and added the friend-or-foe ignoring thing. Because, face it. Stable-Tec would totally pull a stunt like that. Might even have been part of the original Stable 69 'herds' experiment, in some twisted way.

After figuring this out, this indirectly gave me a good way to introduce Misty to the possibilities of her pipbuck, by allowing Winter Gale to give a little eye-opening demonstration. A demonstration which immediately showed the poor guy that the two had survived on nothing but dumb luck and a necromantic radroach-repelling aura so far.

So then, we finally get to the ghouls. Glowing blue, again. By this time I had figured out quite firmly where the blue glow came from. Of course, given the way I write, I have no idea if Lemon and Misty will ever find out about it. I will try to somewhat steer it in that direction, when the opportunity presents itself.

Having figured out the specifics of the ghouls and all that, I thought of a good scenario to tackle them. For the record, I intended this to end with Misty collapsing a house from the moment I wrote Lemon Frisk telling the Stable he'd get rid of those ghouls. So the "throwing a house at it" joke at the start of the chapter was definitely intended to be foreshadowing.

 

Well, I guess that's it, for now. I got some specific events planned for the next chapter, and with some luck, I might even have TGIF-1 making an appearance already. For those of you who don't know what that means, I won't spoil it, but the irc folks know what I'm talking about ;)

Footnote: Level Down! Stop slacking and write your next chapter, dammit!
Special Perk: Slave to your Creations. Something seemed to have gotten out of control. You no longer decide where your own story goes, but just follow your characters as they move along. Ah well.

   
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