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ON STORYTELLING: Why Answering Everything Isn’t the Best Way to Go

28 May

Lost

I had a few readers ask me to do something very interesting recently. Well, perhaps not so interesting to you as it is to me, but the pleas I received definitely did lead to a line of thought which I wanted to go over briefly, and before I get to caught up in digression, let me give you a summary of the request I was given:

Can you answer my questions?

Sci-Fi Bloggers is of course the notable online magazine I am the Editor-in-Chief of and it is our goal to provide original content of our own to include with our (mostly) daily reports on current goings-on in the world of science fiction and fantasy. One form of this we adopted some time back is our Friday Fiction category. There we feature the work of several authors, the two most prominent and frequent being Brandon Scott and myself. We recently did a “Double Feature” special which included a tale I have been criticized for and praised for entitled “Jars”. The thing for which it was criticized by the way was the same thing it was lauded for: its confusing nature.

I was asked to add on to it, to continue it, to make certain it didn’t end on more than one occasion. More specifically, I was asked to “fill in the blanks.” For those who haven’t read it, it’s five pages, so it shouldn’t be too hard. Take a looking by clicking here.

Please read that before continuing. It is quite brief.

Now, here we have a case wherein I believe that I shouldn’t add anything more to this tale. I think the entire thing is perfectly encapsulated by the self-contained incident (or rather couple of incidents). Nothing more needs to be said. And I was asked about adding more and then someone had a proposition, and I smiled and asked to hear what the proposition was. He went on to delineate a storyline in which the woman and the monster chasing her were both servants of Hades, Lord of the Underworld. After learning of numerous atrocities committed by Hades, acts that harmed and ended the lives of millions of human beings in the world above, she joined the ranks of mortal men, committing espionage against her own kind. She was arrested for her crimes and, after breaking out of prison, tried to “lay low” and remain hidden from her newfound enemies.

In the intervening time between then and my story, she has children, mortal children. The creature, the beast that’s after her, is a bounty hunter, and in order to protect her offspring from the horrors of the Underworld, she kills them, for they are without sin and wouldn’t end up there as a result. The bounty hunter, through physical contact, manages to scramble her memory, and thus, “Jars”.

Now, let me make this point crystal clear: I didn’t write any of that. Or at least I didn’t originate the idea myself. Perhaps I reconfigured it in a form that was more consumable, but it was one of my readers who thought of it.

I told him right then that that very thing, what he just did, is why I didn’t answer all of the questions in a tale such as “Jars”, because the purpose of some stories, many of them in fact, is not to solve but inspire. If I had told him my concept of “Jars” and what think the monster is, he wouldn’t have thought of that brilliant storyline, he wouldn’t have created anything. And the funny thing is, the same thing happened to me just two weeks later.

Brandon Scott wrote a story called “Small Town Games”. You can read it here. I immediately thought a whole movie should be made around the concept. Perhaps I was right, but perhaps Brandon was in suggesting that the manner of his construction, his storytelling, led me to the creation of my own idea of what “the games” were. See, that’s an interesting thing.

The single most powerful thing a creation can do is cause further creation. If the actions of one man, woman, child, what have you, can cause another to do something else, that is real powerthat is influence.

I am suggesting that other writers look at this as a possibility. Instead of criticizing Lost for not answering all of your questions, maybe look at it the way you might a show like The Leftovers, where answers are no longer necessary, or like The Sopranos, where implications feeds us the answers, the truth. I know it sounds like I’m excusing authors and directors from solidifying their visions and ending their tales, but perhaps we could be a little more forgiving when they don’t hit that last note on the piano, because sometimes the precipice is all we need. Sometimes, we don’t have to dive into the water below. We can create our own pool, our own interpretation, our own art.

~D.

 

It’s That Time of the Menstrual Cycle Again…

28 Apr

IMG_2685

…and I feel like promoting TitleCapitalization.com.

Okay, sorry if you found the titles vulgar, but I can’t help myself sometimes. What can I do to make it up to you? Oh, I know! I ‘ll show you disturbing fiction written by not-me! Pretty sweet, huh? No? You don’t like reading about children dying of hunger and dehydration while playing video games? Well, here, read about grown adults dying of hunger and dehydration while playing video games. God, what a way to go, eh? We’re living in something of a retrograde society, degenerating and destroying ourselves at every turn. Maybe we should do something about that, inquisitive-grunting-sound?

Hammered that one in pretty good, didn’t I?

You know, some people don’t find me funny. Lol, jk. Everyone, finds, me, funny, especially commas. HARHARHARHARHARSPACEBAR! Okay, let’s get real. We all saw the trailer for The Leftovers, amirite? No? You didn’t? Here, check it out real quick.

Feeling any déjà vu? Good, that means you’re clicking the links. Don’t click that one. Ugh, you already did? Bad, that means you’re not following instructions. Click that one. Ugh, you didn’t do it yet? Good, that means you’re cautious. Hah, you thought I’d say “bad,” but you were WROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG. Also, feeling any déjà vu? Good, that means you’re reading the text.

Now that I have your attention, I’m going to gawk at the fact that my dad’s watching Veep. I NEVER thought I’d see that sh!t go down. Negat!ve-grunt!ng-sound, those fr!gg!n’ upside down !s are dr!v!ng me !nsane, so !nsane that I’m going to off!c!al!ze doing posts on the 28th of every month.

That probably j!nxed my post pattern, which has been pretty much accidental so far, but that’s okay. At least it fixed the Is, and made them bigger.

I

~D.

#disappearingbears

28 Jan

TFAGODB

*POOF*

You know what really grinds my gears? Bowling piranhas. People seem to be so obsessed with it nowadays. It’s disappointing, a great embarrassment, to say the least. Okay, okay, I’ll stop. Hey guys. I’m going to take a lesson from a good friend of mine and proceed as though I didn’t vanish for an extended period of time.

Now, you’re probably wondering why this piece has received such an infuriatingly relatable/unrelatable title. The reason for this is simple: the Nostalgia Critic has done a review of Wicker Man, and I laughed pretty hard when I watched it.

Click links, for they are your only friends. That’s right, we aren’t friends. WE’RE BROTHERS! And sisters, I guess, if any sisters are reading this.

Paragraphs are fun. So are segues. Bet you didn’t know how “segue” was spelled, did you? You probably thought it was spelled “Segway,” but that’s a company brand name and completely unrelated, just like the title of this post and the content within.

Okay, so for those who’ve made it this far, if you’re expecting some thesis one how the film/writing/gaming/news/political/military/corporate/slash/industry industry works in its entirety, you’re out of luck. You’re also out of your mind, because I would never write something so needlessly complex, so ridiculously comprehensive, and so ripe for tangential diversions that it would make Tristram Shandy look like Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Boy, two Bobby the Tongue references in one post and we still haven’t arrived at the point of this piece? Man, we are on a ROLL today!

Okay, so for those who’ve made it this far, if you’re expecting me not to repeat things for the sake of giving off powerful heat rays of extremely dry, unfunny humor, then prepare for the great reveal of all: “unfunny” is actually in Google’s dictionary. To blatantly steal the joke of another: “We did it, guys. We finally killed English.” By the way, I hate Reddit, and I love it, and I hate it again. I won’t explain why, that’ll be something for later.

Okay, so for those who’ve predicted that I’d start the next paragraph with the same phrase verbatim, HAH! Gotchya!

Okay, so for those who’ve made it this far, I think I can start talking about things that matter. Firstly, we aren’t alone. Oh, big concept, huh? Well, we aren’t. I’m sorry, but if you’re still debating the chances of whether or not there is life beyond our solar system just as intelligent as us, stop. I don’t mean to enforce this viewpoint on you. You may reject it, and that’s fine, but know this: when we finally make contact, I’m going to spray you with silly string for five to twenty minutes straight while repeatedly yelling, “I told you so,” and it will be sweet justice, oh yes, sweet, crispy, bacony justice.

And yes, our worst fears have been realized: “balcony” is in the dictionary as well. I wonder who fell for that and actually clicked it without taking note of the fact that I used the word “balcony” the second time, not “bacony.” An interesting test in psychological behavior, indeed.

Ah, but you want to know what proof I have that we are not alone in the universe. Well, why don’t you come on down to Florida and we’ll have a discussion about that.

Okay, so for those who think that was the point of this piece, you’re still wrong. I just did that to weed out anyone who isn’t into aliens. Why? Because aliens are freakin’ awesome. Now, if you’d like to know what the point of this piece and, and you think there is none, you’re still wrong. Why? Because you are, and you are also correct, and you are also a woman of science. What’s that? You aren’t a zebra? What’s that? You’re sick of me beating around the bush?

Well then,

let’s

get

down

to

monster trucks.

I’ve never been to a rally, not one. I’m actually not into that stuff. Well, maybe I’d be into it if I’d seen one. But I haven’t, so I’m not. Just a bunch of big, giant, wheels, hot wheels. Remember Hot Wheels? I remember seeing the loops the cars were able to drive through in the commercials and thinking, “Golly, gosh, can mine do that, too?” Nope. You cars suck Dylan. That’s why you have to buy these ones. GET THEM NOW! I bought them. They couldn’t loop either. Damn snake oil salesmen, always ruining my day.

Okay, so for those who haven’t heard, movies have been shit lately. Pardon my French, but The Legend of Hercules was shit, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones was shit, American Hustle was overrated, Man of Steel was terrigood, Star Trek Into Darkness had an AWFUL ending, and I only saw two of those films. Can you guess which ones? Has my credibility been entirely destroyed yet? If your answer was no,

ROT.

Rotting flesh, burning, peeling away from their bodies after the bombs fell. Why did we do it to them? Are we really so cold, so cruel? One could say we prevented the deaths of many in doing what we did, was it worth the price? We opened Pandora’s Box, unleashed a monster that can never be shut away again. Why did we do that? Is the old saying really true? Will our curiosity be our undoing? Will our thirst to understand all, including Death itself, be our final end, our eternal Armageddon?

What will become of this material world twenty years from now?

Eh, enough of that stuff. Let’s talk about how everything begins where it ends instead. You see, the truth is that everything in the material world will rot away at some point, even movies. They may suck now, but they’ll be gone one day, so GET THEM NOW! Yes, even the ones recorded one VHS. What’s that? They have commercials in them? Don’t fast forward. Watch them. Yes, even the Hot Wheels ones. You’ll thank me later, when you and your friend Gary have something to reminisce about as you watch monsters trucks do flips over whole rows of bushes and zebras. What’s that, woman of science? You’d like to know what the point of this piece and, and yet you also think there is none? You’re still wrong, just as you are about aliens, and Florida, and whether or not we’re alone in the universe. Go stand on your bacony and look up at the stars. You’ll see them, and then sweet, crispy balcony justice will be delivered in the form of me spraying you with silly string for five to twenty minutes straight while repeatedly yelling, “Gotchya!” HAH! I can’t wait!

Okay, so for those who’ve predicted that I’d start the next paragraph at some point, you’re right. What’s that? The last one should’ve ended a while ago? Where the fuck are you from, Reddit? I hate Reddit, and I love it, and I hate it again. And if Reddit is pissed off at me for killing English, Reddit can go look up “unfunny” in the dictionary and discover for itself why breaking that whole thing into multiple paragraphs would’ve given off far too many heat rays of extremely dry, unfunny humor.

Man, we are on a ROLL today! Bobby the Tongue would be proud at the way I’m making Tristram Shandy look like Medal of Honor: Warfighter.  I mean, with this many needlessly complex, ridiculously comprehensive tangential diversions, you must be going out of your mind right about now. What’s that? You’re telling me the title of this post and the content herein are still unrelated? Well, if you’re still expecting some thesis one how the film/writing/gaming/news/political/military/corporate/slash/industry industry works in its entirety at the end of all this, you might as well hop on a Segway and head on over to California. Segues are fun.

So are paragraphs. And sisters, I guess, if any sisters are reading this, WE’RE BROTHERS! That’s right, we aren’t friends. Click links, for they are your only friends.

Your reaction to all of this is priceless. I’m laughing pretty hard while I watch it, the way I did when I saw the Nostalgia Critic’s Wicker Man review. At this point, you’re probably desperate to know why this piece has received such an infuriatingly relatable/unrelatable title. Well, in response to that, I’m going to take a lesson from a good friend of mine and proceed as though you and I never met today.

Hey guys. Okay, okay, I’ll stop. Honestly, this is all probably really disappointing for you, and, in that regard, a great embarrassment for me, to say the least. Ugh, you’ll all likely obsess over this failure of mine for weeks, they way you did over bowling piranhas. Speaking of which…

…you know what really grinds my gears? When people don’t just get to the fucking—.

*POOF*

TFAGODB

~D.

Want Something Scary?

9 Jan

Shadows

Well, too bad. You get this instead.

~D.

Guys, Guys, Guys…

24 Dec

Holy

Guys, guys, guys, it’s Christmas Eve.

Go donate to a Kickstarter campaign or something, like Tell Me A Story…, that one looks promising. Or maybe, if you’re feeling holy, try the Philippine Typhoon relief projects on GoFundMe. Go help, trust me, it’ll make you feel better.

Merry Christmas Eve!

~D.

C

23 Oct

I am that I tiger.

Wow. It’s crazy how far we’ve come, isn’t it? I mean, take a look.

We started with that review of that one movie with the dolls. Then, I said something I’d like to take back, and got lazy, and didn’t post for some time. After that, I came back and told a story, turned into more of a weirdo than usual. Then there was this poorly edited version of something I wrote, followed by another poorly edited version of something I wrote that is now way different, even in terms of plot, time periods, character development, dialogue, etc. So much stuff!

Man, what else did we do? Ah, that’s right! We went on a journey together, and you heard my voice and it was awkward. I wrote a bad ending, and watched an adequate show so you didn’t have to. We followed a goat, examined terrorism, false advertised, discussed knowledge, stayed up late, talked about you, got pissed about abortion, started, got pissed about each other (or I guess it was just me being a bitch or whatever), got pissed about some superhero movie, analyzed characters. Hell, we even got you to want to follow me on Twitter less than you already did! Oh, and something about 9/11, and loving you.

I think the last thing we discussed was racism, and I’ve been away a while. Don’t worry, I’m not disappearing. I just wanted to make sure I did something special for our hundredth time together. I couldn’t come up with much, honestly. Just remembering the good times with the Legendary Heroes and whatnot.

Okay, I guess that’s everything. Here’s something to read before you go to bed, or when you wake up, or whenever. Oh, and here’s a list.

Goodnight/good morning/good evening/good space/you all need to play Beyond: Two Souls.

 

~D.

C

P.S. – I think I left out something, but I feel like I shouldn’t talk about it for some reason.

 

P.P.S. – Look at this tiger.

Building a Better Story: Characters

21 Aug

Poison and cheer!

Building a character and building a person are, relatively speaking, the same thing. Just go ahead and start designing the character, and then, at intervals throughout their creation, ask yourself, “Is this what a real person under these circumstances would do? Is this how they’d act? Would Iact this way in the same situation? Would anyone I know act this way? Is this the kind of character who would even have a ‘human’ reaction to these events?”

Doing the above gives us a sense of reality in relation to the character, regardless of whether they’re a man, a machine, an alien, or whatever. When we can observe the character realistically, no matter how strange they might be, they’ve been designed properly.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: designing a character purely for interest is not interesting. We’re not interested characters because they’re interesting. We’re interested in characters because they themselves are interested in the world around them, thereby becoming “interesting.” We are interested in the interested.

Realistically Designed Characters: Han Solo, Andrew Detmer, Commissioner Gordon (BEFORE The Dark Knight Rises), Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, President Josiah Edward “Jed” Bartlet.

Characters Designed for Interest Alone: Jar Jar Binks, Mudflap and Skidds (from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), the Catalyst, Gurgi (until the later books that is).

In short, make people, not characters. And don’t force them to be interesting, because that’s not interesting.

~D.