Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Even more research is in progress.

Still researching the next Xenogears post guys and I got nothing prepared in the mean time. Sorry :(. I'll see you next week.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

More research in progress and a new article I wrote.

Hey guys, no post today. Still doing research for the next part of my Xenogears analysis. This game, I swear to god, makes my head spin sometimes. In the meantime, I did write an Op-Ed for the gaming e-magazine Now Loading Games. Which you can read here: https://nowloading.co/posts/4033253 

So I hope you all check that out and enjoy it.

I'll see you all next time. Bye now.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Videogame talk/analysis: Xenogears Part one: Introduction and Deus.

If you've read this blog for any length of time, then you know that I'm a big gamer. And that video game narratives, in particular, is what first inspired me to become a writer. and to me, one of the most complex and emotionally draining stories ever told in a video game form is Xenogears. And when I say complex, I'm not screwing around. The lore (backstory) of this game alone is over 10,000 years worth of future history and deals with such themes as Deicide, transhumanism, mental health (most notably depression and pain, but also the Freudian theory of the Ego, Superego and the ID) , religion, life and existence, sexuality, genocide, cannibalism and good God the list is too long to go on. But this complexity only serves to make you think, and to me, that is one of the hallmarks of the great Science Fiction stories. Asimov couldn't have written this better. But anyway, what I want to do today is talk about some these themes and ideas as they are presented in the game. But since this game is so complex I'm gonna have to divide this up into multiple parts.
Oh, and one other thing. Unless I need to provide context. I'm not going to give a shot for shot retelling of Xenogears' plot because then we'd be here all day. If you want to know the lore and overall plot of the game, then provided below are two amazing lore videos by Youtuber Terracorrupt The first video deals with Xenogear's future history and the second will deal with the plot of the game itself. I'll be referencing these videos a LOT, so it's best you familiarize yourself with them before reading on or you will be very confused. I'll wait.

The Zohar
All caught up? Good.
The Zohar as it appears in game.
The Wave Existence.
The Kadomony.
Let's start with the obvious, The sentient weapon responsible for all of this mess, Deus. For those who don't know, 'Deus' is the latin word for "God." And for the planet where Xenogears takes place, this is quite literal. As stated in the videos, Deus is responsible for all intelligent life on the planet. In the context of the game's story, though, he's not literally, "God", but a machine originally created by space-faring humans to be used in an intergalactic war that quickly went out of control. What's powering such a machine you might ask? The Zohar, an object originally discovered on Earth (as in our Earth) thousands of years before the start of the game. In order to control both Deus and the Zohar, the aforementioned space-faring humans created The Kadomony, a biological super computer capable of creating organic life...somehow. It was originally was placed in the eye of the portion of the Zohar. As stated in the video, shortly after The Kadomony was complete, it somehow managed to capture and imprison a being from another dimension called The Wave Existence. What exactly the Wave Existence is we aren't 100% sure. But it's described in-game as a "Divine Being" But that could mean any number of things. Could it be God (or A god)? an angel? a devil? we just don't know. Regardless of its divinity, what we do know is that it is not of our plane of existence, it's trapped within the Zohar, and it wants out. But we will get to that later. When Deus crashed into the planet where the game takes place, It separates the Kadomony and Zohar and then uses them to create the Mother of Humanity. In a way, you could imagine the Kadomony as the planets "Adam" while the female that it creates as "Eve". and it's this Eve that gives birth to the humans on this planet. Why would Deus need a human race? Well, it wants to repair itself, and it needs organic and mechanical parts to do this. In other words, it needs to eat humans to repair itself. That's really morbid when you think about it. But anyway, On the religious symbolism side of things, The back story I've explained here could be seen as a Science Fiction retelling of the Biblical story of Genesis, and Deus, The Kadomony, and The Zohar could be interpreted as the Holy Trinity. With Deus as the father (obviously), the Kadomony as The Son, and the Zohar as the Holy Ghost (Thanks to the Wave Existence). But if Deus is god, then it is a false god, an idol if you will, that gets its power from an actual divine being (supposedly) trapped within the Zohar. And, as previously stated,  The Wave Existence wants out of The Zohar. The only way to free the Wave Existence is to commit an act of Deicide on Deus. And it is this struggle that forms the foundation of Xenogear's plot. I say, "foundation" because, as previously stated, it's a bit more complicated than that. But we will get to that in another post.
Xenogear's Eve.

And that's where I'm going to stop for now guys, I hope you enjoyed this. And if you want me to go on, well let me know in the comments.

I'm out. later.      


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Old Hupages Article: In the beginning, there was a Silmarillion.

(Hey guys, I'm still researching the topic I wanted to write about last time. It's taking longer than I thought. I'll get it out as soon as I can but in the meantime, here's an old Hubpages article I wrote awhile back. Enjoy).

Oh boy, this is not gonna be an easy review. I was first introduced to Tolkien's work as a kid through the old animated movie version of The Hobbit from 1977. But it wasn't until middle school that I first truly discovered his work by reading the original book. I didn't tackle Lord of The Rings until I was in high school, about a year or two before Peter Jackson's movies came out I think. I love those books. The influence they've had and continue to have on me as a writer can't be overstated. I first picked up The Silmarillion after finishing The Lord of the Rings, so naturally I was expecting another story like that....but when I first read it, I hated it. Back then, I just didn't understand it. It was as far removed from Lord of The Rings as the earth is to the moon, there were no Hobbits, the prose and narrative style was archaic, there didn't seem to be an overarching narrative and I personally didn't connect with the characters like I had with Bilbo, Frodo and the rest. So I put it away, didn't finish it, and moved on to something else. When I was in college, I started to get curious about it again. I had the audio book laying around so I listened to it...and now I love it.

Now before I can actually start talking about the plot, I first have to address the narrative structure and prose style, because like I said its archaic. On both fronts, The Silmarillion has less to do with a modern novel and more to do with the Bible....no really. The way The Silmarillion is structured is very reminiscent of the aforementioned holy text, and so is the language of the prose. Take the first four opening lines for example:

"There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called IlĂșvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made. And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music; and they sang before him, and he was glad."

Wow, Book of Genesis much? To be fair, the prose style and plot structure makes a certain amount of sense, because Tolkien was a devout catholic all of his life and his original intent for The Silmarillion when he started writing it in 1914, was to make a unified mythology for the British Isles. So it stands to reason that he would want to write the book in this way. And while I personally think this choice makes it feel more epic and poetically beautiful, to the casual reader it might come off as dry, highfalutin and very, very hard to get into. And if that wasn't bad enough, the book is infinitely more complex and dark than either of Tolkien's more famous work. So you really have to pay attention or you're gonna get lost very quickly. But that's not to say that The Silmarillion isn't worth your time, because it definitely is.

As far as plot goes, well that's kinda hard to explain. As I've said before, the book doesn't seem to have an overarching plot, it feels more like a collection of novellas that all focus on the same thing, namely telling the history of the first and second ages of Middle-Earth. Some of the stories presented here will sound familiar to Tolkien fans, as some of the characters in Lord of the Rings make references to the events depicted in The Silmarillion. So you'll read the stories of Beren and LĂșthien, the story of the Silmarils (which Bilbo reference to in The Fellowship of the Ring), the rise and fall of Melkor (AKA Morgoth, the Dark Lord before Sauron) and The Fall of Gondolin. It also includes stories that, while no less important, fans had previously never heard like The Children of Hurin and The War of Wrath. The book also has the origin stories of many of the key players of Tolkien's other work like Elrond, Sauron etc. So in that sense, The Silmarillion lays down the foundation for the culture of Middle-Earth, as well as its early history. It's a fascinating read that can help better your understanding of the Middle-earth mythos, but as I said before, there are a lot of things to keep track of so its easy to get lost if you don't pay attention.

One of the things that seems to be accepted about this book is that its unfinished. Honestly, I don't know how much faith I can put in that claim. Because, according to Tolkien's son and literary executor, Christopher, The Silmarillion is in fact complete but Tolkien sadly died before he could go back and revise the bulk of it. And as a result, The Silmarillion has some small inconsistencies with Tolkien's later work. Christopher did his best to try to fix these (although he admitted later making it fully consistent with his father's famous work was impossible), by using other related material left by his father. But he was under considerable pressure from the publisher to get the book out. What's more, not all of his father's notes were in the family's possession at the time. So he should be applauded for getting the book published and for staying as true to his father's original vision as humanly possible. But there are still those that say that he made up entire sections of the book. But really, the only thing he added was a summary regarding the history of the One Ring, and that at the very end.

To sum things up; despite all of its flaws, The Silmarillion is still a must read for any Tolkien fan, or just a fan of the fantasy genre in general. It's a beautifully written swan song for the father of the fantasy genre. If you have the chance, then check it out ^_^. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Research in progress.

Hey guys, sorry I don't a have a post today. I'm doing some research into the topic I wanted to cover today and it's taking longer than expected. I'll have it ready for you next week. see you then.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

More future plans (and just ranting in general I guess).

Hey guys, sorry for the lack of post last week. I went out of town over the weekend and when I got back I didn't feel well for a couple of days. So rather than just post the picture of the sick guy again, I just decided to wait till I was feeling better. So yeah, sorry.

Typical youtube video length for me...what am I editing,
web videos or movies?
Anyway, I just wanted to take it easy today and let you guys know what I'm planning to do for the future regarding this blog, Youtube, and my writing. Like I've said in a previous post, I feel like my Youtube channel is taking up more and more of my time than I want it to and its got me feeling as if what little creative writing ability I have is slowly liquefying and sliding off the cliff into the bottomless abyss below. Needless to say, this is something I find unacceptable. As hard as it might be to accept for some people, writing fantasy and genre fiction is my life, and I have millions of little ideas in my head that are wailing and beating the sides of my skull with giant robot fists to be let out. Now, I know this is my fault. My time management skills are poorer than the hobo living off the grocers' dumpster and it's something I actually want to improve and be more productive. So with that in mind, with future Let's Plays (I.e: after I finish Dark Souls and Bloodborne) I've decided to do what I was doing before I got my capture device and go back to making shorter episodes, about 20-30 minutes or less (not counting the recap section or the visual novel machinima bits, the latter of which I'm considering cutting down on as is). I say "after I finish" those games because I'm a few bosses away from beating them anyway, and I don't want to drag them out any more than I have to.

I'm also going to try and do more live commentary (that is, talking and reacting as I'm recording) in my videos to cut down on production time. I wasn't able to really do this before because the two microphones I was using at the time (one on my USB gaming headset and the other a generic USB microphone) produced this overwhelming 'buzz' sound (and picked up radio signals) that I couldn't fix without a separate sound editing program like Audacity. I recently bought a new microphone that uses a traditional 3.5mm jack instead of a USB connector and that seems to have solved this problem, at least for now.

My new Microphone.
I'm also seriously considering doing a lot more streams over on my Twitch page. For those who don't know, Twitch is a website that lets users broadcast live gameplay (and other things as well) over the internet. You can think of it kinda like watching live TV, only that people can actually comment on what you're doing as you play, so it allows for more interaction with your fanbase. It's much easier to do than recording and editing videos for hours on end, and it gives me more time to relax and enjoy what I'm doing. So, I might start doing that more.

As for the Blog, Nothing really new to report on that. The schedule I have right now for it (updating it every Tuesday), is working out pretty well for me. It fits in with what else I want to do and writing whatever pops into my head is admittedly kinda cool. Granted, I would like to see it grow and reach a wider audience, but that will come with time, I think.

As for the writing, well as I've said. I have a completed the first draft of my book and I need to get back to marking it up. But I still need beta readers, but no one I've asked has the time to do it (and I do understand why). A friend of mine, one Vanna Smythe (whose books you should totally check out by the way), suggested that I join a website that was all about Literary Criticism called Critique Circle. I did sign up, but I haven't been able to post anything on there. because.....I don't have enough points to do so...Ya know, I can understand having a premium membership option, websites don't pay for themselves after all. But how does it make sense for a site about critique to have something as arbitrary as a point system? I'm here to get feedback on my book, not play fricken Space Invaders. The way you get more points is by reviewing other people's work, and the author you're reviewing has the option to reject it, and that means you don't get any points. I don't enjoy doing reviews very much anyway, at least not anymore, so you can imagine my frustration here. but if that's what I gotta do, then, well, donkey work first, right?

Well anyway, that's all from me for now. Thanks for reading and putting up with me. See you later guys.  


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

New video.

Hey guys. I got nothing this week, so I'll see you next week.
In the meantime, here's a new video. it's part short story/ fan fiction, part Dark Souls Lore video: let me know what you guys think, later: