Posts Tagged ‘Monthly Musing’

In which I pen an heartfelt letter to my old flame about rekindling our love affair.

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(Originally posted on HeyPoorPlayer.com)

Hey guys, it’s been awhile. What can I say, the ending was rough. We both said things we didn’t mean, but don’t for a second think that means I ever stopped loving you.

I’ve been hearing bits and pieces about Mass Effect Andromeda and I felt like I needed to let you know that I’m glad you’re moving on. It’s been a bumpy road and we’ve lost some people along the way, but maybe this could be the fresh start we both needed? Here’s the thing though, for this to work there’s a few things I’m gonna need you to keep in mind.

Click here to read the rest

Photo Credit: JosephGilbert.org via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: JosephGilbert.org via Compfight cc

The words won’t come. I try to coax them out into the open. Sweet sing-songy platitudes call them forward, but they remain just beyond my sight. I know they are there somewhere, but the miasma has engulfed them. Frustrated I call louder, more urgent, insistent. Still the words won’t come.

I give up the pretense of being calm or rational and slam my fist as I demand they answer me. I know they are out there and now I can feel them laughing and mocking my building rage. I feel them, but I cannot hear them, they won’t even give me that much.

So many times they have lead me by the hand, feeding me reassurances that I possessed a measure of talent. They enticed me with visions of worlds yet explored and tales unconquered. How could I have not been made to think this was what I was called to do? My whole life believing, with a sense of entitlement, that these words belonged to me and me alone. Knowing that one day I would hold them close and they would tell me all of their secrets. I would wield them like a well sharpened sword and cleave a path to my destiny. Only now, they refuse and I can see my path crumbling like over-baked clay. The more I struggle to collect them the less substance they hold. Soon they will blow away and I’ll be left alone.

I thrust my hands into the darkness and flail helplessly trying to find some small purchase to take hold of. I almost think I’ve got something, but I’m overeager and loose my grip before I can even begin to reel it out into the light. I feel the anger rise up in my throat like bile and I spit it out into the air around me letting it fill the room like a heavy fog. With no vent to escape the dense clouds instead double back on me causing my eyes to tear up as my self inflicted hatred wounds every exposed part of me.

It is in these times I know the terrible truth of myself. My fraudulent nature, my unfulfilled desire to be more than I am. I know and I mourn the things I can never allow myself to want because in these moments I know I do not deserve them.

The cursor blinks on the empty screen, still waiting for me to begin. The words won’t come.

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As some of you have found out, I’m an MMO player. That’s right, I buy a game so I can pay for the privilege of playing it every month. Now, this article isn’t about MMO’s or monthly fees, but since I’m currently hobbiting my way around Middle Earth, I’ve noticed a common trend in RPG’s that pertains to this month’s theme and I thought I’d share it with you all.

So for those of you who’ve never jumped on the MMO bandwagon, sit back, relax and allow me to take you through the epic journey you are missing out on. Those of you who have played MMO’s are free to sit back and nod knowingly you’ve been there and done this more often then you’d like to admit.
LOTR starts off in standard MMO fashion, with the creation of your character. After all, the world does in fact revolve around you, at least for now. Once you’ve made your Middle Earth self and selected an appropriate name that fits the world (Ilovewaffles) you are ready to set off on your adventure through perhaps one of the most acclaimed story worlds in all of fantasy literature.

Once you’ve blundered your way through the tutorial mission, vanquishing whatever minor villain the game lovingly placed in front of you and crippled so badly that you had no chance of losing, it’s time for the real game to start.

As you take in your majestic surroundings you notice a nearby NPC with a glowing ring over their head. Ah ha! Quest giver! Now the game can really start. Now you can test your skills against the forces of Sauron’s army, destroy the one ring, save the world, get lots of dwarven chicks, ect. This is your story to tell and by God you will do it justice.

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I’m sorry, but your princess is in another castle

As you move your mouse over the NPC you take a deep breath, pausing in silent contemplation. Are you really ready for this? Can you really stand alone against the tides of swarming baddies that are surely sharpening their weapons and plotting your demise?

Yes, you decide, now its time to battle the dark forces and bring righteousness back to this world. You right-click the NPC and read your first non-tutorial quest.

Kill wolves.

Okay, not quite what you were expecting. Weren’t there some bandits guarding the road nearby? Well, okay I guess even the mightiest warriors have to get their start somewhere. I’ve always been a fan of wolves and would prefer avoiding them over having to kill them, but you don’t want to look like a sissy in front of the elves. So, you kill the wolves, loads of them in fact.

As you make your way back to the quest giver, coated in conspicuous amounts of blood and fur, you prepare yourself yet again for a quest truly worthy of Tolkien’s epic story. Perhaps a little Nazgûl action?

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Now there’s a real monster.

Kill Boars.

Kill Bears.

Kill Spiders.

And so on. Now, to be fair there are occasional “Kill Bandits” quests peppered in as well, but these guys are small potatoes compared to the big picture, so what gives? If the quest givers are to be believed the animals are posing a serious threat to the towns and cities you are visiting. If their cuddly frolicking goes unchecked countless residents will suffer the consequences. Add in to this the fact that your paltry skill level leaves you unsuited for any true combat and you find yourself with little choice, but to take on the local animal population.

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Nice puppy

Now in some RPG’s they have the courtesy to create “monsters” for you to battle. Oddly deformed and unusual critters that you encounter on your travels. Sometimes there is no avoiding these monstrosities as you cannot see them until they have already sprung up to attack you and your party. While these random encounters can be tedious they also serve to build your animosity and desire to kill the beasts that continually attack you. They pose a real threat to you and anyone who ventures outside the city walls.

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Kill it with fire!

What about the animals? In MMO’s it’s usually possible to avoid all, but the rabid and zombified variety by just walking around them or outrunning them as the need arises. They don’t mean any harm, they just want to be fuzzy and lead unspectacular lives of animal mediocrity. Not only are they wholly unaware of your great quest to put an end to evil, they remain completely neutral on the subject. This, however, doesn’t change the fact that not only will you kill them, you must kill them.

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She’s only protecting her cubs you heartless jerk.

If you take a PETA loving carebear approach, refusing to kill these helpless animals you won’t be able to grind to a high enough level to be effective against real enemies. If you skip on all the quests that order the destruction of snuggly kitty cats you will miss valuable experience points and better gear. The spiders and snakes you face may not be evil, but they sure as heck are in your way. Your way is the only way that matters after all.

So lets take just a moment to think back on all the woodland creatures that have been felled by our blades, burned by our magic and maimed by our lutes. When the day is won and we stand on the battle grounds of Mordor, let us not forget the noble creatures who gave their lives so that we could grow to be true champions. Here’s to you woodland creatures, big and small, your sacrifice was the greatest of all.

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You laughed too, admit it.

Featured on the front page of Destructoid on 4/25/09.

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So far, we’ve seen some great articles dealing with the many diverse and exciting incarnations of expanded gaming universes (fair warning, this won’t be one of them). We’ve had a fine sampling from movies, cartoons, books, and edutainment venues. But one growing part of the expanded world has been sorely overlooked and since nobody else wants to get down and messy with the dry-heave inducing media in question, I guess its up to me to bring you; Expanded Universes, the Fan-Fiction edition (Shipero totally sniped me, but I’m posting this anyway).

Let me start off by saying, I don’t finish many games. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing games, exploring new worlds and meeting fun and interesting characters. But generally, after playing something compulsively for a few weeks, I’ll take a day or two off to attend to the petty concerns of real life and, typically, I don’t find my way back. If I do, its usually been so long that I have no idea what I was doing, or how to play anymore, so all progress is lost and I start over. It’s a vicious cycle, but lets move on.

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Fortunately, there is a wondrous thing called the Internet. Finally, I was able to get the story behind the games I loved, even though I hadn’t finished them. Granted the walk-thrus and synopses weren’t always the best source for finding out why something had happened or even what the outcome was, but it was enough that I could at least reach some resolution to the story I’d started. It got to a point where when I found a game I was interested in, I’d just read about it, not bothering to even buy it. This lead to my addiction to following game walk-thrus verbatim and not actually playing any games for myself for a few years (that’s a blog for another day).

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At some point the avid reader in me matured a bit and realized that I was no longer content with “kill the boss and save the world, game over” explanations anymore. I wanted to find out what Harry Mason was thinking while he explored Silent Hill, why Zelda was always needing some kid to rescue her, and what kind of hair gel Seifer used (okay, maybe not so much the latter). I really just wanted to get more out of the story, find out what made these people tick and why they did the things that subsequently lead to them either saving or destroying their worlds. It was on my mission for truth that I stumbled into the serpents pit lovingly called, fan-fiction (remember this is an article about fan-fiction).

In theory, this was the answer to all my prayers. Finally a place where anyone who was a fan of a game could give their take on the story, or even create whole new stories and worlds with the characters everyone knew and loved. It seemed so perfect that I can hardly be blamed for falling for its guise. How was I to know that lurking beneath the surface of this seemingly happy and tranquil utopia was some of the worst story writing and cringe worthy match-ups the Internet has to offer?

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Yes I was young then, but I’ve learned a few things about why fan-fiction has gotten such a bad rep and I’m going to share these things with you. First and foremost:

There are no straight guys in fan-fiction.

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(I wish I could tell you guys I didn’t already have this pic on my hard drive.)

Really, none. No matter how macho and tough your favorite game character is, there is a fan-fiction somewhere where he is a limp-wristed sissy who only wants to be loved by every other male character in the game. Now, I enjoy fictitious male-on-male action as much as the next girl, but I have to admit, I was pretty shocked to see that there were no limits to how far-fetched the fan-fiction writers were willing to be in their attempt to ship their favorite paring. Even in the stories where a male and female character are the main pairing there is always at least a hint of bisexuality swimming just beneath the surface. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with the story, (though usually it is the story), there will be some awkward groping sessions and a “we’re friends and friends do that kinda thing so lets not be ashamed” discussion dropped in there somewhere.

Did I mention that anyone can write fan-fiction?

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Oh yes, anyone and everyone. There are no rules or regulations (or grammar) to be concerned with. There are ridiculous amounts of angsty, emo, abusive drama fics, as well as fluffy “OMFG so random” pieces. There is no standard of acceptance here so even the most lack luster would-be author can churn out their own little gem that twists and corrupts entire game worlds. Quick example for the folks playing at home:

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“Joe must defat the demon lord who has captured Blue and Silvia. He may need some help from an unexpected aquaintence, though.”

A fire started it all
“Orphan Kim, has never liked Pokemon. Because berserk Fire Pokemon killed her parents. On her 10th birthday, her decision will change. When she visits Prof. Rowan, her starter turns out to be a Magby, the Fire type. OC’s gladly accepted. Please R&R”

It’s not enough to control the world, the writers want to live in it as well. The vast majority of the plot of fan-fictions stems from the writers wanting to tell everyone about their experience in the game, but as if the game were real. This leads to a metric ton of bad to mediocre “OMG I’m in Kingdom Hearts and I’m also the new keyblade master. Also, all the guys are like totally in love with me, OMG” stories.

There should seriously be an entire section devoted to these atrocities of imagination. If it were possible for ideas to have abortions, the result would be these type of fan-fictions.

But what about the good fan-fiction?

Okay, so not all fan-fictions are terrible. I’ve read some good stories by people who actually were decent writers, but you know what? As long as they write fan-fiction they will never be good writers. This isn’t a knock against those who write fan-fiction (I’m guilty of it), its just an observation. Being good at writing fan-fiction (to quote that guy from Waiting) is like being the smartest kid with downs. When your only competition is the worst writers in middle school, you’re stories are pretty much the best by default. Don’t think that the shallow words of encouragement and praise that flood the comment section are full of anything resembling actual literary criticism. Nearly all the so-called comments on the fan-fiction site are something along the lines of:

“OH! Please I wanna know more! This is so awesome! XD I really hope you update soon! ^_^ “

“I can’t wait to see more. Keep up the good work! “

“UWE HE HE, NOT A BAD START, HOPE THE REST ARE THIS GOOD YAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA “

So yeah you get some confidence in your writing, but at what cost to the beloved characters and worlds that are being raped by your ilk?

Is there no hope at all?

Having reached the conclusion of my rant, I feel compelled to point out that I still enjoy the concept of fan-fiction. It could be the perfect media to give me a chance to see the worlds of my favorite games from a different and often overlooked perspective. I could get more in-depth stories about characters I’ve grown to love and a better insight into their daily struggles outside of the scope of the game. However, good fan-fiction is like finding a quarter in a pile of dog poop. You know it’s there, but you have to really psych yourself up to actually dig around and look for it.

Featured on the front page of Destructoid on 4/4/09.