Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Four things. And a lizard. Sans lizard.

 Okay, so I finished my editing work on all my little novellas that I wrote this summer and if you so feel the urge, you can read them by following This Link. They're at the bottom of the page.

Soooooooo.  Here's a little synopsis of each of them:

1.) The Reality Engine - A scholar runs away from home, searching for an ancient artifact that may hold the secrets behind the creation of the world.  (28k words)

2.) The Fox King - A slave girl uses a war to make money toward buying her own freedom.  (26k words)

3.) A Certain Necessity of Evil - A slave girl murders her masters and is sold to an assassin who begins training her as his apprentice.  (33k words)

4.) The Bastard Princess - A queen's bastard tries to make a life for herself in a world that hates her and blames her for a devastating civil war.  (39k words)


Like I said, these novellas are meant to set up the characters and the world for a forthcoming novel that I plan to begin work on later this year.

Red Dead Redemption 2

So, for my birthday, my brother got me Red Dead Redemption 2, a game he's been trying to get me to play for ages now.  This is the same brother who got me all of the Mass Effect games for Christmas, not because I wanted them, but because he wanted me to have them.  Notice a bit of a theme here?  He didn't even get me a new copy of the game.  It was used, and didn't come with a case.  Whatever.  So I figured, I'd give it a try, I did end up enjoying most of the Mass Effect games, excluding 2, after all.

So, up front, I have to say that I have never had any interest in Red Dead Redemption 2 at all.  I saw a bunch of trailers, tv spots, and ads plastered all over the internet, but I also heard some really, really bad things about the working conditions  for the people who worked on it.  They basically got paid slave wages to work 90+ hours a week on it, and didn't even get bonuses when the game did well, while the executives raked it in and kept it all for themselves.  I'm not really huge into westerns.  I'll watch an occasional one here and there if someone else suggests it, but I don't really watch them on my own.  It's not a genre I've ever really cared all that much about.  Except for High Noon.  That movie is pretty badass.


So, I really liked the prologue of Red Dead Redemption 2.  I thought it was fun to play.  It had interesting characters.  I liked the combat, which is kind of reminiscent of Mass Effect or Gears of War.  The hide behind thing, shoot at things, move up to hide behind other thing, repeat, etc etc etc.  I thought to myself, well, if the whole game is like this, I'll probably end up loving it.

And then the prologue ended, and the game turned into the EXACT kind of open world game that I hate.  The kind where your main story progression quests are not marked out, if they even exist at all.  There's a whole bunch of side quests marked out all over the map, and some of them are rather entertaining little stories, but there's no main story quest you can go do to progress in the game once you get bored with doing side quests.  Look at the Witcher 3.  You've got about 17 million side quests and points of interest splattering the map like a freaking Jackson Pollock painting.  But where you go for the next leg of the main story is ALWAYS clearly marked out for you, so once you get bored with doing side stuff, you can move on and progress to the next part of the story.  It's the same with Horizon Zero Dawn.  And Final Fantasy 15.  And Xenoblade Chronicles X.  And Nier Automata.  And Mass Effect Andromeda.  All of those games are big open world games full of all kinds of side quests and things to explore.  BUT THEY ALL HAVE A CLEARLY MARKED OUT MAIN STORY TO PROGRESS IN WHEN YOU GET SICK OF THE SIDE STUFF!!!  


Red Dead Redemption 2 has no main story that I can find.  It's a big open world with nothing to do in it but side quests.  I did a bunch of side quests.  I got bored of doing side quests.  There was nothing else to do.  So I quit playing, because I have better things to do.  Sidequests do not a good story make.  Frankly, I don't really care if a main story comes into it later, it bungled things so badly here in chapter 1 that I have zero desire to play any further than that.  When there's no clear goal, or next step to progress the main narrative of the game along, what's even the point?  Do they expect you to just sit around and do 300 hours of side quests and then tell you the game's over?  Yeah, no thanks.  Don't care.  Just doing sidequests endlessly, no matter how interesting their own individual stories might be, just isn't fun to me.  I want to be able to progress in the story when I get bored of side crap.

So yeah, did not like, would not recommend.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

I did another thing. Well, four things. And a lizard.

 So, there I was, sitting around at home, bored out of my mind.  You know, because of the deadly plague of death, as foretold by prophecy. No dating.  No going out to movies.  No going out at all, really, except for work.  Lucky me, my job is an essential service.  

So, with all that free time, I sat down to work on a few things.  At first I was finishing up the first draft of Memories of a Time Long Forgotten, the sequel to Memories of What Never Was.  But I got to a certain part that was particularly tough for me to write, and I kind of kept putting it off for a while.  SOOOOOO, I kind of stopped doing that.  Then I started looking at my partial draft of Carrying the Weight of the World, the story I started last year for NaNoWriMo.  I did some plotting and outlining work on that and I came to a really annoying realization.  This book that was intended to be a standalone fantasy story, was, in fact, going to end up at about 300k words because there's a lot of world building that needs to be done, and a lot of character development done through flashbacks to set up the world, the several forms of magic, the current political climate, and the characters themselves.  So I sat around and thought about what I could do to shave that down, and condense the story a bit.  Then I thought, well, this character's flashbacks have a whooooole lot of the world building in them.  Why don't I just write a novella about her backstory?

So I did that.  And I had a lot of fun doing it.  It's 28k words long, introduces several of the key characters in the larger story, and gives a very good grounding in the world that it all takes place in.  It also showcases one of the three systems of magic in the world.  In my opinion, it's a pretty good little novella.  As I was patting myself on the back for a job well done, I thought to myself, well, that turned out pretty well, why don't I do another one for this other character.

So I did that too.  And it turned out even better than the first.  This one's 40k words, a bit heftier and on the longer side for a novella, but it gives all of the main protagonist of Carrying the Weight of the World all of her motivation and explains why she's the bitter, jaded runaway that she is in the beginning of the main story.  It also explains the second of the three magic systems, all of the world politics, the current political climate, the state of the common people, and why the world is ripe for the massive rebellion that Carring the Weight of the World is about.  Then I thought to myself, well, that was great, why not go for three?

So I did that too.  And this one turned out okay.  It's 31k words long.  It's not the best of the three, I will admit.  The idea of a child serial killer training to become a super assassin was kind of cooler in my head, than it turned out to be in writing.  But it does go a long way toward setting up one of the major characters in Carrying the Weight of the world, and gives a look at another aspect of the world that leads to the rebellion, and also has some more world building in it.    It explains why this largely Asian and Middle Eastern population follows more of a hybrid Middle Eastern/European set of customs and traditions.  Then I thought to myself, well, there's a couple more characters, but one of them was included in the first novella, another's backstory needs to be woven into Carrying the Weight of the World, but this last one might make a good novella.

So I did that too.  This one's the shortest of the four, at 23k words.  It's the backstory for the villain of Carrying the Weight of the World, and it was probably the funnest one to write.  Mostly because I had to take this evil, mass murdering crime boss, and turn her into the hero of her own story, and that was a fun and interesting project to work on.  Also, I basically got to make a 9 year old supervillain, which was really fun to do.  This one gets the last of the world building out of the way, and showcases the third and final system of magic in this world.  And gives the villain of Carrying the Weight of the World her motivation.

So, with all of the world and character building I got out of the way in those four novellas, totalling a little over 120k words all together, I went back to my outline for Carrying the Weight of the World, and shaved it down by quite a bit.  Now I think that I can probably get the story told in a still hefty 150k words, but that's a heck of a lot better than 300k.  The bad news is that I have to throw out pretty much the entire 50k words that I already had written, as most of it was rewritten in the four novellas.  But the good news is that I had a lot of fun.  Probably more fun than I've had writing in a pretty long time.

So, now, instead of a standalone novel called Carrying the Weight of the World, I now have a series called Riftworld, which includes:

The Realty Engine (completed)

A Certain Necessity of Evil (working on final draft now)

The Fox King (first draft done, needs a lot of editing)

The Bastard Princess (completed)

and the novel

Carrying the Weight of the World (outlined)

 I've got a few more weeks of editing on two of the novellas to do, but once I'm done with that I'll post all four on my website.  And for NaNo this year, I think I'll take another stab at the new version of Carrying the Weight of the World. 

As for the lizard, I was making a reference to the single worst Doctor Who episode since the new series began.