What You Leave Out Of Stories

I’ve been thinking about stories a lot lately. Which, you know, is nothing new. I was going to start this next sentence by saying “what is new is…” but none of this is actually new. I’ve been thinking about story craft for decades at this point and recent years have only seen the amount of time I spend on it increase. In the past, I’ve mostly thought about the way books are written and how stories are told in that format, from what gets included to what gets left out and how not enough of either one can make an otherwise enjoyable story unpleasant. My go-to example for that has always been the level of unnecessary mundane detail that started getting included in the Wheel of Time books after the conclusion of what was originally intended as a trilogy. There are only so many times I can read about characters’ individual hygeine habits in a two-week period that was initially skipped over before it was returned to so the author could describe what happened during that period in detail. For as many memorable, cool story moments I remember from the series, I have an equal number of gripes about frustrating repeated details that shouldn’t have been included.

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Horizon Forbidden West Is An Amazing Sequel

I have been playing a lot of Horizon Forbidden West lately. I bought the game the day it came out (as you can probably guess from my recent posts, I was incredibly excited to play it) and have sunk most of my video game time into it lately. All-in-all, it is an excellent modern example of how a sequel can be an improvement on the original game, not just a continuation of the story. Everything Horizon Zero Dawn did well, Forbidden West also does well, and then it adds a whole new list of excellent things. The plot is just as interesting, the world just as enthralling (maybe even more so, since they’ve really improved on the environmental design), and the battle mechanics are so much more fluid and engaging. As much as I am tempted to find a pattern of battle that works and stick to it as I did in Zero Dawn, the weapon systems and new combat skills make it incredibly rewarding to branch out and try new things that I’ve unlocked. Even just wandering the world to investigate the smattering of question marks feels more rewarding. I can’t think of a single thing that wasn’t markedly improved from the first game to this one.

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It’s So Easy To Get A Video Game These Days

I remember when pre-orders used to be intended as a means to secure a copy of a game. Because store quantities were limited and physical copies were the only way to play a game, pre-ordering the game meant that you’d be able to pick it up the day it released. From a game store perspective, it also made sense because the store could accurately predict the quantity they’d need and secure the funding to order those games. Most stores always stocked extra because there were lots of folks who didn’t closely follow video game news and only learned about games after it was too late to preorder them, but the number was limited and a popular game was usually sold out within an hour of the store’s opening.

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Abdication and Abadonment in Earthbound: Why Do Adults Expect Children To Save The World?

I started replaying Earthbound recently. The game has been released in the collection of Super Nintendo games included in a Nintendo Online subscription and easy access to this old favorite has overcome the bright shine and unexplored appeal of newer games. It has been a long time since I last played the game, perhaps a decade, though I watched a friend play it a mere six years ago so the story is still fresh in my mind. After all, how could you forget a tale of a child who leaves home to make new friends and overcome a great evil that all of the adults in their life either fail to acknowledge or are actively serving? Forget the basic appeal of a JRPG, who could not be moved by a compelling story about overcoming a malignant evil with the power of love, strength born of friendship, and the sheer tenacity of heroes?

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2022 Seems Like A Good Year For Video Games

As much shit as I give Baldur’s Gate 3 for being a mess that is overly reliant on community testing efforts to produce a playable game rather than hiring enough staff to test it themselves, the person they’ve hired to write their patch notes does a great job. They’re clear, humorous without being distracting, and convey a great deal of information. A wonderful example of good software update communication, if you ask me. Still, as much as I enjoyed reading the notes for the latest patch and I REALLY want to get into the game again, the idea of slogging through a whole new pile of bugs and whatever is going to turn into the next community bug report meme fills me with dread. That said, the latest patch seems far more geared towards stabalization and pushing the mechanics closer toward the desire end-goal the developer has communicated than previous patches. And they even released a new class as well!

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Potential Timeline Hijinks Aren’t a Risk, They’re an Opportunity

I’ve been recycling a Dungeons and Dragons campaign that, in its first run, dramatically changed during the time it was transitioning from the “early introduction to the mechanics, world, and general themes” phase to the “initial major plot threads and character story incorporation” phase. Because of some players withdrawing due to pandemic-related stress and removing a player due to violating table rules and interpersonal conflicts, the scope of the campaign had to be drastically reduced since two of the early-plot-essential player characters were no longer in the campaign. And while I could find a way to make it work without them, the players left weren’t as interested in continuing those story arcs the way they’d been going. So I made some major changes, moved their campaign around in time, and changed how a lot of the story was being told. As a result, I had an entire campaign’s worth of world prep, plot notes/ideas, and cool magic items just sitting around.

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I’m Tired and Sad, So Let’s Talk About The Legend of Zelda: Episode 9

One of my proudest accomplishments across the Legend of Zelda franchise is that I’ve managed to always be incredibly accurate with the bow and arrow in any of the games that have one. In some of them, I’ve been even more effective with the bow than I’ve been with the sword. To be fair, the main example I have is Skyward Sword and I’ve never been good at the motion controls used in the game’s sword fighting. I always wind up fighting the controller rather than my enemies. It isn’t hard to be better with the bow when that’s the case. The other instances are all top-down Legend of Zelda games, so that’s more of a movement prediction and zoning thing than an aiming accuracy and skill thing.

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Challenging Assumptions

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the habits and knowledge in your life that you don’t realize are arbitrary. All the things you “know” or do because that’s just what you were told or the example you had to follow and then never really thought about again. For example, you can just eat the whole dang apple. It doesn’t really have a core and the seeds can’t hurt you unless you eat a huge number of them, so you are wasting a whole bunch of apple if you eat around the center, fibrous bit and throw that away.

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I Did Not Sleep Well And Now That’s Your Problem Too

Today has been rough. I apparently ate something that vehemently disagreed with me last night, but not until more than 9 or 10 hours after I finished my dinner, aka 4am. I did not get back to sleep after that and the sort of restless stress and general depression I’ve been battling this week meant I only got about 3 hours of sleep last night. Still managed most of my workout routine, though. My to-failure point on the cycling portion of my routine was about half of what I’ve done the rest of the week, but that kinda makes sense given how terribly my gastrointestinal system hurt all morning and how little sleep I got. Still, I’ve managed to keep up my routine to the best of my abilities and wasn’t even THAT late to work after all was said in done. The week is mostly over at this point, I’ll be able to rest soon, and the only stressful item left to do today is my weekly grocery shopping.

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Understanding Story Adaptation Between Mediums

I’ve always been interested in the way stories change as they are adapted from one form of media to another. For most of my life, the only examples I had were books to movies. I didn’t follow comics closely enough to really consider how comicbook characters were represented in superhero movies and TV shows, and I knew that most comicbooks had such varied, ever-renewed stories that adaptation was fairly open-ended. When the Lord of the Rings movies came out, I was given my first real chance to evaluate something I was familiar with as it moved from books to movies. I didn’t have the skills required to do it in a good, critical way when the first movie came out, but the movies remained a part of my life for long enough that I was still thinking about them and the books when I finally had the skills to do a thorough critical analysis.

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