[Mister Saint]'s blog

1239  Link to this entry 
Written about Sunday 2007-01-07
Written: (5174 days ago)

Saturday, January 6th

In ten more days I'll be starting at college again. It gives me the shivers to think about it. I find myself trying to put it out of mind, but that only makes me feel worse about it. Just have to concentrate on wrapping things up here.

Still missing Emily, of course... and my frigging nose still hurts, but not as bad. Tonight I cooked vegetable soup, homemade of course, talked MMA with a friend who is staying the night, and had a nice long talk with a new friend here. I also updated the Poetry Dueling Arena, which has two duels this week, so vote!

I had a similar dream, again. It feels so wonderful to live that way, that I hate to wake up to see it end. But, those are the breaks.

I had a talk with Tracie last night. Usually we don't talk, we just sort of acknowledge each other. Last night, though, she was ready with an answer to all of my questions... she answered quickly and abruptly, making her point without any rambling, but her voice is still very sweet. She told me some things about herself that I didn't know, and I felt more comfortable with her after the fact. It was nice, in a way.

I've been keeping this daily journal since Emily left on her trip, to keep myself distracted at night. Hopefully this will be the last one, as she should be getting back tomorrow if things go right. I'm praying for her as always. She's cool that way.

1236  Link to this entry 
Written about Saturday 2007-01-06
Written: (5175 days ago)

Friday, January 5th: I got my housing application mailed off today, with the hundred dollar deposit. I'll have to take out loans to pay for this semester, and all I can do is hope that my degree, unlike my older brother's physics degree, can actually get me a good job to pay it back when all's said and done.

It still feels like a bad idea. I don't know why. I can't explain it, but the closer I get to going back to school, the more of a doomed feeling I get. Like the end of everything is approaching, or something. It's a very creepy feeling.

In good news, Jinx has fallen in love with the laser pointer. He'll chase that red dot around the floor as long as you feel like pointing it, and you can make him run in circles with it. I did on one occasion that saw him get dizzy and fall on his butt. He loves it, though.

I re-read "El Goonish Shive" recently. For anyone who is into graphic novels and doesn't mind weird humor (including gender-swapping, aliens, and so forth) check it out. The writer of this comic has an amazing talent at foreshadowing and dropping little hints in his story, referencing minute details a month after they appear in the story sometimes. It's a very fun comic on the surface, and very deep underneath. Especially if you like hunting for clues. Look it up.

I still miss Emily, and my nose still hurts. Both of them are bittersweet feelings... missing Emily just reminds me how I love her, and I actually shook Rodd's hand for landing that shot to my face. It was a good shot, and I'd been looking forward to taking a power hit ever since I started training MMA.

Oh. Lastly, I had a wonderful dream last night. So wonderful, in fact, that when I woke up I was nearly in tears for learning it had only been a dream. I can't really talk about it to the general populous, but suffice to say, I hope I have it again tonight. And no, it was not a sex dream. Perverts.

1234  Link to this entry 
Written about Friday 2007-01-05
Written: (5176 days ago)

Thursday, January 4th: Not much of a day. Having some trouble with my college information for some reason, but that's easily handled.

Emily called me today. I heard her beautiful voice and again, I couldn't speak for a few moments. I miss her so much... it feels like forever until the end of the week. But we talked a while, about how she is and how her trip has been, and though she was under the weather it was a very nice chat. I love her, and hearing from her was fantastic. I didn't cry this time, until after we said our good-byes. Last time, I didn't make it that long. But that was very happy!

1232  Link to this entry 
Written about Thursday 2007-01-04
Written: (5177 days ago)

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

Still feeling the nose-hurtness. I registered for my classes today... my bonehead advisors are little help, no matter how many times I say "I need at least seventeen hours of useful classes" they can't advise anything! I've ended up with an English major, creative writing emphasis... little direct job market, but I'm also going to take a class that puts me in writing for the college newspaper, so I can have a portfolio in case I want to pursue print journalism. I want to work in the publishing industry, or as an editor... maybe help writers like me, who have something to say but can't get through the red tape to say it.

I thought less about Emily being gone today. Okay. That's a lie. I haven't cried so far... that would be a lie, too. Less, though. I had some irrational fears... the terrible rumor is that women who go to the weddings of their friends become instantly more interested in committed relationships. With the distance between us, if Emily decided to take on that mindset... I'm afraid I would lose her. I'd rather be knee-capped. But I trust Emily, and I have faith in her, as she's always shown faith in me.

Gourd, my face hurts. 

1231  Link to this entry 
Written about Thursday 2007-01-04
Written: (5177 days ago)

Belated Entry : Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

Even though it has been less than a day since I spoke with Emily, I feel like it has been so much longer. I'm worried on a hundred different levels, about a hundred different things. Her safety, her feelings, if she enjoys herself, if the wedding goes alright, then my own feelings, my own worries, and all the combinations and ramifications thereof.

The good news is, tonight we sparred and trained some. It was very nice, very helpful, and we did a little more groundwork than usual. We started, though, with some boxing, which is my strongest point. I try not to brag too much, but I am proud of how well I throw hands.

So I sparred with my brother Rodd, and just dominated him the first two rounds. Rodd is in excellent cardiovascular shape, though, so he even told me later that all he had to do was wait for me to punch myself out to get in a hit. Still, in the third round I was doing just fine, keeping the guard up, switching stances, juking, all the lovely things that look so dumb from outside.

Finally, though, I threw a punch and got a side stitch. Now, for anyone whose never had a really bad side stitch, I'd like to say... DON"T GET FAT TO BEGIN WITH! But also, side stitches hurt. A lot. A way lot. As a result, I couldn't breathe, and even though I did okay, it caused me to drop my guard hand at just the wrong time.

BOOM! Rodd hit me so hard I could taste it. The sound I heard, and I actually had a minute to stop and think about this in 'ring slow motion', was the sound of a too-big stopper in tub previously full of hot water. You pull it out, and it goes 'plunk' with a popping sound. That's what I heard, and the stiffness and swelling I ended up having indicated that, yup, broke my nose a little. Now, I kind of doubt it really is, but that's how it feels. I actually started to bring my hands back up to get back into it, but my eyes welled up (which happens when you get hit that low on your nose) and I had to step back. 

Even so, I still won overall. After I rested a little I sparred with Iz, my karate-student brother, and did okay. Then I sparred with the coach, in point-spar kickboxing, and went to a 4-5 loss. But! I worked in some kicks and found them vastly improved. Push kicks and leg kicks in particular, but today was the first time I managed to put a useful kick in the head-shoulder area. Not that I landed any. Iz referred to my spar with Brandon as 'extreme patty cake' because neither of us could land a solid hit due to our careful guarding. My teeth and nose were throbbing like hell at this point, so I was very careful to guard. So yeah, fun fun.

I got home, though, and started to wilt. I made it to my bed early, because without Emily there's no reason to stay up. I played SOCOM, and thought about this going to college thing. It feels like the wrong thing to do, but so does not going. I'm the kind of person who always had someone standing over me growing up, saying 'this is what you need to do' and now that I don't have taht anymore, I find myself sort of lost. Parents, teachers, counselors, no one has the answers anymore. I'll get through it, though. Heh... for all the testosterone in the sparring, I still cried three separate times today. The nose-breaking doesn't count, because that wasn't crying. I promise. I've been a mess the last few weeks anyway. With Emily away for the week, I feel as though my life has no meaning. That's a good thing, though, in a sense.

1226  Link to this entry 
Written about Monday 2007-01-01
Written: (5180 days ago)

Welcome 2007. Let's hurry and beat it into subservience like all the years previous! So many new questions to be answered... how many awards shows will famous people come out with to further stroke their blistering egos? Can the Bush administration find new and better ways to look foolish and get my country into trouble? Who will Dick Cheney shotgun this year? Will the rest of the world finally get the idea that not all Americans are gun-toting, ignorant rednecks, or will it wallow in its own hypocritical bigotry for another few decades?  Many questions to be answered!

Well... this sucks almost as much as it rocks. I read Elantris by Brandon Sanderson today, and I discovered that it's a pretty good book. I cannot figure out the modern writers' fascination with killing off seventy to eighty percent of the characters in the last thirty pages, though this book really doesn't suffer too much for it. I felt like many of the characters were not very well fleshed out - in fact, the story-role of some of the ones who were killed off at the end eluded me at first - but all in all, it's a captivating piece of story; especially for a first effort. Still, I hate it.

And here's why. Elantris, named for a city in the story, centers around the aftermath of a world where a race of basically extinct white-haired, silver-skinned humanoids controlled everything. These people could write runes, and use the corresponding symbols to essentially cast spells. These runes could be cast on objects, or in the air using trails of light that the Elantrians produced with their fingertips. They built the runes from basic foundations, and added various modifications to determine target, strength of spell, and so forth. In addition, their home city was covered with these runes, which had different effects on the area itself.

Now, what I hate about this, is that in my unpublished work (completed a full year and a half before Elantris was published) there is a race of white-skinned, silver-haired humanoids who write runes in the air using trails of light, or on objects, building them from basic foundations and adding modification to determine target and such. The race was basically extinct, and lived in a city called Erinkan. Their city was also covered in runes.

So... yeah. As my book has gone through the editing process and the long effort of looking for a publisher, another book has come out that is so similar in this aspect that, if I didn't know for a fact the author could not have done it quickly enough to be out already, I would have thought he'd stolen the idea from me. This is obviously not true, but it does turn my book from a collection of my original ideas into a 'rip off' of an existing work.

Two hundred and fifty six thousand words, down the god damned drain.

1219  Link to this entry 
Written about Tuesday 2006-12-26
Written: (5186 days ago)

Happy today! Whatever day it is for you. If you don't celebrate, I hate you.

1213  Link to this entry 
Written about Sunday 2006-12-17
Written: (5194 days ago)

I broke down and picked up a Harry Potter book to read, largely due to lack of other stuff to read. So far the writing is just fine, one segment actually made me smile even, though nothing really spectacular as of yet. I'll admit to going into this with some bias, though, so we'll see what happens. FOr the record, it was the hype that killed my interest in reading this stuff, not the material itself. In the same way I waited until after it was not quite as cool to watch Titanic, I hope to be free of hating it because I hear so much about it. Titanic was still garbage, but that's not its fault. All the boat could do was sink.

1205  Link to this entry 
Written about Wednesday 2006-12-13
Written: (5199 days ago)

My sis [La Divina] sent me a book! I've been reading on it, and finally finished it, and now am reviewing it! Though, the review comes across pretty negative... I will tell you now that I enjoyed the middle of this book quite a bit, very much so in many places. The link below is in case you don't want to blog-read it.

Book Review: The War of the Flowers


A well written volume whose subtitle should so be 'Faerie for Dummies'



A review by [Mister Saint] of Tad Williams's The War of the Flowers




I'm not going to number rate this, because it wouldn't be fair. Over the course of 816 pages the quality of this book leaps up and down like the guilty member of a married man in strip bar. At times it is a riveting, fast-paced mindfuck that is brilliantly executed. At times it is touching, and connected me to the characters intimately. At other times it is a dreary, depressing thing that made me want to give up reading and writing of fantasy completely. Even further, towards the end it was a vile dissertation of rambling, endless history of the land, architecture of the land, family lines of the land, more history of the land, unnecessary intrigue, scenes that should have been cut out, and grueling essays on regional politics.

Overall: A good read for the patient who aren't aversed to skipping large chunks of the book. Inventive, though, and thoroughly constructed.

Plot: The plot of this was, imaginative setting and history aside, fairly run of the mill. Reluctant hero, spunky sidekick, evil enemies and a mastermind bent on ruling the world. It's been done a billion times, but has a nice freshness to it that another author would've been hard pressed to pull off. Even with its convoluted setup and pages upon pages of 'the clans have fought over X because of X and let me tell you why. Listen up,' the storyline is sound.

Characterization: Dozens of characters, all reasonably well characterized. I got the idea that the author paid more attention to certain sub characters than some of the main ones, especially on the villain side, but overall it was air tight. The smart mouthed side kick was splendidly done. The only irritations I found were that the bad guys seemed a little bit too smiliar to one another, and the main character made me want to hit him in the face.

It was well conveyed that Theo was awkward and uncomfortable with his new situation, but I swear, he reacted to everything the same way. "I'll never get used to this place," he said ten thousand times when he saw something new. And the endless questions! He was like a billboard that read 'mister plot device, please start talking about history of Faerie/culture/politics/intrigue/architecture/botany for a while!' The author couldn't seem to weave this information into the story itself, and so used Theo's pervasive inquisitions as setups for his lectures.

Literary elements: Lots of heavy description, the place was well fleshed out to my eyes. Good imagery, compelling transitions between sections... a well-written work.




Comments:

This book was six hundred pages too long. Tad Williams should have just written a second book, a standalone volume called 'Every goddamn thing you ever could possibly know about Faerie in triplicate' and cut the huge glut of that information from the war of the flowers. I lost sight of the storyline a dozen times towards the end when the author threw those massive chunks of information at me, to the point that I'll admit to skipping over a hundred and fifty pages of the book towards the end (in total, not all at once).

And I missed nothing of the story itself. There's a fine line between 'well built world' and 'Gah! I don't need to be a scholar on it, event already! Gar!' and Williams crosses that line, dropkicks it, and shovels trout on it. In particular, the various characters' explanations of things can run whole pages with individual paragraphs... so much of it needed to just be inferred, but oh well. I don't miss the hair I was tearing out in frustration. ^^

Concerning violence... this author has no sense of decorum where violence is concerned. He goes into quite a bit of detail where cut open bellies, miscarriages, dead animals, and such are concerned and I found it vastly unnecessary and detrimental to the plot. The difference between a death scene in a movie and in a book is that our eyes process visual so fast that a quick scene rarely bothers us. In this book, even a quick scene was described in deep detail and it was just unnecessary. It was hard to smile, reading this thing.

The first seventy pages of this thing were pure torture. It was about a hundred pages before the narrative hook occurred (in my eyes), and I just wasn't that interested in the hero's personal life. Not a hundred pages of interested, anyway.

Now, there is praise to be given here. The 'white noise' (time between major events) was handled very well. The entire concept of a fairy world is nicely conceived and extremely deep, to the point that no nook of the place goes unknown to us. And very few characters were hit by trucks, thankfully, though Williams does have a penchant for killing them off in droves. Oh, and it had a logical ending that didn't try to swerve us at the last second! The first ending in a while that hasn't pissed me off.




Final word: Despite its long list of flaws, it really is an intriguing tale. However, despite the words 'A Fantasy' appearing beneath the title, this is mostly a long, long, godawfully long political drama. Were this book about three to six hundred pages shorter, it would be vastly improved. As it stands, it's still a recommended read for those with patience.
1200  Link to this entry 
Written about Tuesday 2006-12-12
Written: (5200 days ago)

I visited my hopefully-soon-to-be college today, to check on a few things. The trip had its ups and down, but I think more ups in general. One of which was a free sub sandwich and energy drink.

As usual when I'm going somewhere important, I scored about three hours of fitful sleep. Spent the time before leaving frantically searching for an envelope, the location of which I had been sure until five this morning. So found it, and off we went.

Rodd and Dad discussed guns and cars the whole way up, so I of course had my nose in a book. We got dropped off, and I talked to first the financial aid officer. Thankfully my paperwork is all clear, and FINALLY I have some idea of how much money this will cost me. Thanks to my scholarship the amount will be less than a thousand dollars, but to a guy who hasn't been able to get hired that's still a tidy sum.

Next stop: advisor. I discussed my thoughts on a choice of major, my primary choice being print media journalism, and my fears were given weight when I found that all the journalism classes had already filled up. So we talked about a creative writing program, which is a good second choice, except it's not likely to get me a job. Fortunately, it would be a Bachelor's degree in English as opposed to Creative Writing, which has more open doors.

So I went to talk to people, got the various runaround speeches, and then went to find Rodd. I was on foot, since Dad had an appointment in Lexington and took the van to get there. I walked over to the school of criminal justice, across a couple of roads and a highway bypass that might be the scariest place I've ever stood for more than three minutes. Walked a long way, to a building at the edge of campus, and asked a helpful young man where I could find the building.

"Oh," said he, "walk around this sidewalk, you can't get straight there because of the pond. Just cross the next road and go up on the hill, it's not quite a mile."

My feet kicked my ass. They were already sore, but I went on to the building.

Rodd was not there. See, Rodd has a way of planning things that goes like this. "Go on and do your thing, and I'll do mine, and I'll find ya. No, don't worry about deciding a meeting spot, I'll find ya."

So three hours of walking around campus (literally) later, which is no small feat for a near three hundred pound man, I found him. That was when his old girlfriend (whose parents are loaded, and who is still nice to us despite Rodd talking pretty nastily to her the whole time) bought us all lunch. Some dorm-jockey idiot was yelling at us through the window, playing a recording of himself doing it even, but we ignored him. I guess he got tired of touching himself to Slayers reruns or something and needed entertainment.

So I came back with a limp, a left leg that I can't lift more than an inch or so when I walk, a new appreciation for vehicles, some good information, and some tough questions for myself.

Oh. Since I left college with an Associate's degree two years ago (due to personal reasons and financial trouble) I notice that college girls outnumber college guys immensely. Plus, they look like high school girls now, instead of college girls, which was off putting. It makes me that much more happy that I have a beautiful, caring girlfriend... I don't have to 'settle for immature girls to gawk at' when I have her to think about instead.

1196  Link to this entry 
Written about Wednesday 2006-12-06
Written: (5206 days ago)

Poetry Arena's still looking for mods and submissions. Message me or [Nightshadow]. Get your asses over there and vote, too.

WC Monthly is still looking for... anything. Message me.

Nanowrimo 2006 is there to list your 'wrimo messes. Takes half a minute.



1194  Link to this entry 
Written about Tuesday 2006-12-05
Written: (5207 days ago)

Poetry Dueling Arena

Vote. Submit. Prove to everyone that you do more than just breathe and hit keys occasionally. Test yourself against others for exposure, for fun, or for the challenge of it.

Just do it, don't make me come to your house. Cause I won't.

1193  Link to this entry 
Written about Saturday 2006-12-02
Written: (5210 days ago)

I had another spar today. I was working on my low kicks in particular, since kicks are hard for a guy my size.

Good news is, I've dropped another seven pounds. I also worked on side control. I sparred with my shotokan karate-student brother Iz, got knocked around a bit. The most intriguing thing was I had a fight with a girl, and lost o.o She's a brazillian jiu-jitsu master, as it turned out. I gave her a good run. She punched me twice in the nose and once on the cheek. The coach was impressed with my attitude about it though. "You okay?" "Yeah, do it again."

I'm now a member of team Full Throttle, though it's really more of an honorary thing. Fun that!

1192  Link to this entry 
Written about Friday 2006-12-01
Written: (5211 days ago)

November's finally over. God, it was like a bad trip on old mushrooms, or so I've heard. 

Now it's time for christmas to start assaulting our patience and wallets once again. Also time for the bedraggled Nanowrimo masses to drag their stinking, worn down, beaten up carcasses back to this life! Welcome them with soap and hugs, since last year's lawsuits over the pitch forks were dull.

1189  Link to this entry 
Written about Saturday 2006-11-25
Written: (5217 days ago)

I'm back from North Carolina, where we spent two days on a Cherokee reservation. I won't go into the smarmy details of the trip, but suffice to say that it was nothing even close to what I'd envisioned, and I was trying to be a forward thinker on the matter anyway. I wasn't hoping for tents and longhouses or anything like that, but what I saw... made me sad.

Also, casinos are evil. I saw a man sitting between two slot machines, feeding them both money and playing them wildly at the same time. This guy wasn't playing to play, he was playing to win. At a casino, that's like shooting skeet to bring home dinner. I knew better than to do anything like that, thankfully, and only played ten dollars worth of poker.

My luck is awful with games like that. This isn't saying that God has it in for me, far from it. I think she likes me. But where gambling games are concerned... suffice to say that someone could give me odds on a coin toss, I could play both sides it would come out feet instead of heads or tails. Lady luck likes to sit on my shoulder and pet me with one hand while pimp slapping me with the other. In retrospect this is a very good thing... it keeps me from gambling my limited funds away. ^_^

In other news, I met a pair of twin persian kitties while I was there, and a gorgeous huskie. The persians were cool, though they reminded me of my Priss who passed just recently, with typical arrogant cat personality. One of them had seven toes on each of its front paws. o.O I didn't believe it when they told me, but sure enough, it had seven well formed toes. It still looked funny, but they functioned just fine.

1186  Link to this entry 
Written about Wednesday 2006-11-22
Written: (5219 days ago)

Whoops! Trip's getting pushed back to Thursday! My parents, who are going with us to North Carolina, got held up for hours at the doctor this evening. Erf.

1185  Link to this entry 
Written about Wednesday 2006-11-22
Written: (5219 days ago)

I'm gonna be out of town for the next two days. If anyone has questions on the Poetry Dueling Arena or [WC Monthly], or whatever, leave me a message. I wish everyone a safe, pleasant holiday.

1179  Link to this entry 
Written about Sunday 2006-11-19
Written: (5223 days ago)

Day of Remembrance. Seems like a pretty generic term, but it comes around once a year. It's a day for people honor the memories those who've suffered at the hands of prejudice and hatred over the years... not racist hatred, or misogyny, or nationalism, but ignorance. People hear the word 'transgender' and immediately assume a great deal of negative, incorrect things, and this day is set aside to honor those who've suffered for it. 

Every person is a human, just like you. I hate to quote a movie here, but it is one of my favorites... in The American President Michael Douglas's character said in his final monologue that real freedom is not only crying out at the top of your lungs for something you believe in. Real freedom is allowing someone else to do the same thing for something you would spend your whole life crying out against.

1178  Link to this entry 
Written about Saturday 2006-11-18
Written: (5224 days ago)

I know for a fact that there are plenty of poets who log into WritersCo. That the Poetry Dueling Arena is without so much as a message of interest so far is pretty much as irksome as it gets here. Participation is necessary, people, so stop lollygagging and get to it! There are hundreds of writings uploaded here, surely someone must be willing to try something, anything.

1173  Link to this entry 
Written about Thursday 2006-11-16
Written: (5225 days ago)

Finished Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria today. It's a fantastic game in a sense, and yet still falls tragically short of the first one.

First off... I could care less how many people tell me that the 'Squaresoft-Enix merger' way back does not effect which teams work on which games. The last third of this game was like another damned Final Fantasy game... from the score, to the character interactions, all the way down to the mannerisms in the vast, endlessly long cutscenes. And the ending! It was almost a carbon copy of FFX's, which is perhaps the most hideous insult anyone with a taste for storytelling can hurl. Nevermind the fact that it ruined the excellent plot of the first game by undermining its importance, characters, and so forth.

So much more like a Square game... and that's an insult, too. The first game had three possible endings, all of them providing closure in different ways and conclusively sealing up the story. Its actual plotline revolved around only a few characters, only one of which was in your team for most of the game. The rest of your warriors were given backstory and recruited, and afterwards had very little to do with the plot... this prevented VP1 from switching up your team every other cut scene. VP2 leaves you hanging a lot, simply by having characters leave your party at a rate that was hard to deal with. VP1's obligatory 'love interest' was completely optional... you screwed with it, or you didn't, it was your choice. And it was explained fantastically, unlike VP2's "We've been through so much, let's hug and cry a lot while the world is being obliterated."

As the end of the game approaches, it starts handing you storyline characters as if in a frenzy, almost of all of which it shortly thereafter takes away. Your gathered warriors end up almost useless, as the enemies are at the level of these story characters, who are much higher than your own, and you end up using the story characters as long as you can. Until they leave at the most inopportune time imaginable.

And yes. Two important characters at the end were hit by trucks. Actually... technically, it was five characters, but since three of them were hit at the same time, I only counted it once.

There are no clear villains up until the very end of the game. The place-holder villains have unclear motivation and often act irrationally, in addition to having a great deal of their role in the story left unexplained.

The free-flying map system was removed in favor of a very basic FF Tactics style "Just move your cursor over and click where you want to go" system. This is pure ass, ladies and gentleman, as VP1 was a helluva lot of fun for just aimlessly flying around, and this may actually be my biggest gripe with the game itself.

VP1 had gorgeous artwork with heavily stylistic portraits and backdrops. VP2 has gone the cookie-cutter "Everything's 3d rendered and every move needs a screen shake/light effect/fog effect/voice effect" route. Speaking of cookie cutter, they've replaced the iron-willed, deeply layered main character from the first game, with a 'strong willed princess whose true courage has yet to be seen' type who looks all of 14, and given her a needlessly angsty sidekick.

Next to the ending, the single biggest story flaw in this game is that the gameplay leans so heavily on the storyline. I tend to think that any game should focus on play first, and story second. This felt as if I was only moving from plot point to plot point, again, just like every final fantasy game ever made, with a little battle in between. The entire purpose of the game should be to get the player playing, not to tell some story. Movies and literature are for that, and in my eyes at least no video game should ever be about telling a story over its gameplay.

No game ought to have cut scenes that last in the twenty to twenty-five minute range, either, but this one does in multiples. Or cutscenes that lead to ten seconds of walking that leads to another cutscene. It does that too.

Whereas VP1 had a simple "find the good equipment or make it yourself through earning creation points" system that worked fantastically, VP2 sentences the player to item farming. Square has done this pretty consistently over the years in its various games... basically, you run around and make sure you defeat every single monster several times to acquire all sorts of otherwise-useless trinkets that can be forged into new things. I avoided this wherever I could, of course... RPG's can be tedious enough without having to hope one hits the rare bird monster in just the right spot while lucking out on the odds to receive one of four unique items that one needs to make a new sword.

Though I rant great deal about this game and its ridiculous, oft-contradictory and overdramatic storyline, not to mention an ending so disgusting I felt the need to slap something - anything - Square related, it is still a good game. Whyzat?

The core point of interest of the first game was a unique battle system. Instead of telling each character what to do individually, a player could control each of hir fighters at the same time. Learning to time attacks and creating your own combinations was a blast, and thankfully the designers opted to retain that part of the system. Granted, they felt the need to shackle it with a half-hearted 3d battle-map system, but the mechanic itself is basically the same and wonderfully so.

This is actually pertinent to writing, is why I'm putting it here. The lessons learned from a game like this are many, and are summed up as follows.

Build your characters, and do not move them pointlessly in and out of the plotline. At the end of VP2, I couldn't have cared less about those left standing. In fact, I actively hoped one of 'em wouldn't make it through the ending.

Don't drop names! VP2 was horrible about introducing characters from the first game and then immediately trying to use their legacy/nostalgia to elevate its paltry characterization.

Try not to build up something and then forget about it. VP2 built up this object called, creatively, the Dragon Orb for the first two-thirds of the game. After that it was barely even referenced until the ending, and then only briefly so. Another, almost entirely separate, plotline had appeared about then and shoved the first one completely aside, leaving more creative casualties than a pro wrestling storyline could ever hope to.

Maintain your characters' personalities. The ultimate villain in VP2 had appeared in the first game, where he was a sharp-tongued, calculating, brilliant, ruthless individual of endless intelligence and ambition. In the second game he is a brooding, quiet, soft-spoken, overdramatic hack whose cold intelligence has given way to evil laughter and villain-isms ripped straight from Square's creative sphincter.

Anyway... I'm done.

 The logged in version 


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