Sunday, April 19, 2020

*does happy dance* IT'S DONE!!!! ERMAGERD, FINALLY!!!

So, I just finished the final draft of Memories of What Never Was, and if you feel the great urge to read it, you can do so for free at the bottom of this page.

So, about 20 years ago, I was writing my first novel length story.  It was crap.  The less said about it the better.  And I was coming up with what would be my second novel length story at the time.  That one was also crap.  But while writing that second story I did a lot of thought on the backstory and how everything came to be in the world of that second novel length story.  So naturally, I wrote a story that takes thousands of years later next, instead of the backstory for my third novel length story.  It was REALLY crap.  And then I came back to the backstory for that second novel length story and thought, yeah, I could do that one.  So I wrote it out, and I called it Beyond the Lost Horizon.  This was about fifteen or sixteen years ago.  At the time, I thought it was pretty good.  It wasn't.  It was crap. 

I had big plans for that book.  It was a massive tome, almost 350k words.  And it was to be the first book of a six book series.  I even wrote a rough draft of what would have been the second book.  Which was craaaaaaaaap.  Anyway, I tried to sell that one.  I tried HARD to sell it.  I probably sent submissions in to about 300 different literary agents and publishers.  I got one bite, but it turned out to be a scam in the end.  Defeated, I set it aside, and went to work on my next project, which was the original version of Spires of Infinity.  Which was actually not that bad, but did have some serious problems with it.

Once I finished Spires of Infinity, I looked back on Beyond the Lost Horizon, and thought to myself, you know what, self?  I can do better.  I really liked the world in which the story took place, but the characters were pretty bland and generic, and the story was cliche, generic, and just plain terrible, and the writing wasn't great either.  I thought to myself, this world, and these characters deserve better than what I'd given them the first time around.  So I set to rewriting the entire thing from scratch.  I developed a TON of new lore, and gave the characters new, and better motivations.  And I started writing it.  And it turned out crap.  So I set it aside again, and went to work on my next novel length story I Am Nobody, which, again, wasn't terrible, but wasn't great either.  And all while working on that one, I was thinking how I could fix Beyond the Lost Horizon to make it work.

And so, about 5 years ago I started work on the current version.  The original story was way, WAY too long at 350k words.  I wanted something that was more in the 130k-170k range.  So I took what was about the first third of the original Beyond the Lost Horizon story and completely reworked it with all the new lore, and basically completely new characters that just happened to have the same names, and I called it Memories of What Never Was, which would be the first book of the Beyond the Lost Horizon trilogy. 

There was a lot of work that needed to be put into it to get it just right.  I rewrote it probably three times before I came up with a first draft of something that I actually felt good about.  And I had to put it on hold for long stretches due to burnout at my job with the Post Office, and needing to work through some story elements that weren't quite working before continuing.  It's taken me about 5 years to get Memories of What Never Was to the point where I actually feel like it's finished, on top of all the other versions and incarnations that this story has been through before it.  I've rewritten this book so many times I should get a medal for keeping my sanity.

I really like this version of the story, and of the characters.  I feel like I've done a pretty good job of it.  I'm actually pretty proud of the FINALLY completed book.  I've been working on this thing, in some form or another, off and on, for half of my entire life now.  And it's finally in a form that I feel ISN'T crap.   ........and it's only 1/3 of the story....... *sigh*  The good news is that I have the characters, the world, and the lore all figured out.  It really took some doing to put it together and get it to this point, but the foundation is already there instead of being built from scratch, so hopefully, I don't take another 40 years to write the next two volumes.

Anyway, if you feel the great urge to check out the product of my blood, sweat, and tears, again, you can read it at the bottom of this page And a reminder that it is in manuscript format, which means 12 point courier font, double spaced, and all italics are underlined instead.  Also, copyright, etc.  I own it.  It's mine.  Don't steal it.  I worked on it for twenty freaking years.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

In 1997 Final Fantasy 7 came out.  A friend of mine bought it and a Playstation on the release day, and we spend all night long playing through the Midgar section of the game.  We were blown away by the graphics, and the characters, and the story.  The game pulled us in, and only when it was like 3 or 4 AM did we stop for some much needed sleep.

I, like the genius that I was, had spent my money on a N64, rather than a Playstation, expecting the Nintendo console to continue to be where JRPGs were headed, and was not able to afford a Playstation for almost another year.  (by selling my N64 to that same friend)  I became obsessed with this game.  When I finally got a copy of my own, I played it every single day for an entire year, looking for all of the little secrets held within.  In my opinion, it is the last truly good game in the Final Fantasy series.  The series never again reached the same scope and height that it did in Final Fantasy 7.  Looking back, it's not my favorite Final Fantasy game, that would be 6, but it's the game in the series that most captivated my interest upon release.

When they remade the opening cinematic to show off what the PS3 was capable of, I freaked out over the prospect of getting a remake of the game with modern graphics and voice acting.  I was sooooooo disappointed when I found that there were no actual plans for it.  I bought a PSP just so I could play Crisis Core when it came out, and I played through Dirge of Cerberus when it was released.  I jury rigged my laptop to hook up to my TV (that wasn't a thing back then) so that I could watch Advent Children the day it was released in Japan with fansubs.  And I was generally disappointed by all of them except for Crisis Core.  They just weren't the same, and seemed to have walked back all of the character development that the characters went through during the second half of the original game.

Anyway, fast forward to when they announced the Final Fantasy 7 Remake and I was very excited.  But with each subsequent news update on the project I became more and more apprehensive.  The game would be serialized.  The first game would only be the Midgar section of the original.  Despite all of the fond memories I have of that all-nighter my friend and I spent playing through the Midgar section, it's kind of the most boring part of the game.  It's a prologue that drags on FOREVER before the actual story begins.

But FF7 fanboy that I am, even in my 40s, I was, of course, going to buy it no matter what.  And I did.  And I was pleasantly surprised by it.  The graphics are amazing.  The English voice cast do a pretty great job.  The music is a mix of completely new tracks and reimagined old tracks, some of which have several different versions, like the original fight music, or the bombing mission music.  And there is this completely epic medley of, basically, all of my favorite tracks from the original game that plays during the amazingly cinematic motorcycle chase at the end of the game.  I felt the combat was a little clunky, but eventually got the hang of it when I realized that you could keybind abilities.  I played through on normal difficulty, and on that difficulty level there were some bosses that were exceptionally hard to beat.  One of them I did end up lowering the difficulty to easy to be able to get through.

The story has been fleshed out, and we get to spend a lot more time with all of the characters to better learn who they are as people.  I like what they did with the characters, for the most part, and I also really liked that we got to spend more time with Biggs, Wedge and Jessie, to build them up as people, rather than those NPCs that don't really have much going for them at the beginning of the original.  Mostly, the additions to the story are pretty good, but I don't really like the Kingdom Hearts-ization of the story much, with those annoying Whisper things.  I DO NOT enjoy Kingdom Hearts AT ALL, and I felt that Nomura's trying to force some of its BS into Final Fantasy 7 was not great, especially  in the ending.  While I do like the ending, I'm also a bit afraid of what it might mean for the rest of the FF7 remake series.  Because to me, it seems as though it was meant to be a, we broke the ties of fate, and now this story can go off in a completely different direction and leave the old game behind so we don't have to tell the same story again, sort of thing.  I really, REALLY hope that they do not decide to go that route, because if the rest of the story of the original gets the same treatment that the Midgar section did in this first game of the remake, I will completely love them.  If they go off in a completely new direction, I may like it, but I will probably be a bit angry that I am not getting what I was promised all those years ago when they announced that they were, in fact, remaking the game.

So, all in all, I really enjoyed it, and I hope that the rest of the remake episodes are handled as well as this one.  If you like the original, and were maybe a bit on the fence on whether or not you wanted to spend the time and money on the remake, I'd say go for it.  It's not an exceptionally long game, I finished in just under 40 hours, but at the same time I did not even come close to 100%ing it.  I do feel that I got my money's worth out of it, and look forward to the next, with the hopes that they do not do what I'm fearing that they will with it.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Memories of What Never Was Draft I forget what number I'm up to

Okay, so, even though it's April, I'm still feeling burnt out from Christmas.  It was THAT BAD last year.  As a mail man, my job is considered to be an essential service, so I am still out working, while everyone else is working from home, or losing their jobs.  I am very grateful that I still have a job, don't get me wrong, but I could really use a month or so off to recover from Christmas. 

So, being so burnt out, it's really hard to find motivation to do much of anything, which is why I've taken so long to get back to work on Memories of What Never Was.  But I've been forcing myself to do it over the last few weeks and have finished another draft of it.  I forget what number I'm up to.  It's 7 or 8... or maybe 9.  Something else that had me dragging my feet was that this draft was a very tedious one to get through, because it's the one where I was fixing all of my sentence structure, to make sure I don't have too many sentences with the same structure in a row.  And doing that can be extremely mind-numbing. 

There were also a few character changes I wanted to make with Kriss.  This is a story about her overcoming her past, and learning to live with it.  And I felt that she didn't have enough agency in that, so I've done some big changes regarding her.  I also felt that her redemption at the end felt a little forced and anti-climactic, and needed both a more conscious decision on her part to move on and be better, and a little more of something to push her toward it.  This required rearranging a few of the events during the ending, and rewriting a few of her earlier introductory chapters, as well as an almost entirely rewritten climax.

Anyway, I have one draft left to do, which is basically just a read through to make sure everything jives correctly, and I didn't miss any big grammar mistakes, or create any new ones with my changes.  Once that's over with, I'll be done, and since that'll only take a week or two, I'll post the finished thing then, on my crappy little website, instead of the latest draft now.