The Power of Names

Watch Dogs was flat for me. It was in Chicago, a city I enjoy visiting and I think is beautiful, but it felt flat. I couldn’t figure out why. Is it because I’ve been there? Is it because they have such small segments of the city, interspersed with different suburbs?

Then it dawned on me. Nothing had names. If you weren’t a plot important entity, you were generic. “Eat here,” and other signs that didn’t create brand, and therefore did not create a world.

GTAV is a master of this. They have a thousand brands, most of which you will never know. There are a half dozen different banks, and you interact with maybe two of them. They have postal services. You never deal with these. The strip clubs are numerous, there are news agencies, car companies, used car dealerships, and countless other brands. You only ever deal with a very small percentage in any way beyond seeing a building with a logo.

Watch Dogs didn’t do this. It made me hesitant to pick up Watch Dogs 2. I play sandbox games for that atmosphere. Usually the plots are weaker, but the world building is through the roof.

Watch Dogs 2 has captivated me. Even if I’m not a fan of the style of DedSec, I love the world. When I started playing the world felt more alive. At first I thought maybe it was because I never visited San Francisco. However, as I kept playing I realized every building had an existence. They all had brands. Lives were behind them, lives I would likely never know.

This creates life in the world.

My world has secret organizations. There are intricate governments filled with rulers and underlings. Everything is alive if the characters are going to touch it. They never see the full scope. However, these little touches, these names, attitudes, and “brands,” all affect the way the main story plays out. It affects the motives of the support characters. It affects how the antagonist can move against the protagonist.

Even though your reader doesn’t see all of it, or they can if they follow along with your blog, you have created solid motives. You will write the setting and characters more convincing for it. Trust me.

My suggestion on this, and insight to my own process, is brand everything. Give it names, motives, purpose over all. The reader may not see it all, and they may not pay attention to all the crumbs that are put in front of them, but they will feel the world is more real.

Review: The Glass Thief

The Lands of G'desh

The Glass Thief is a fun action fantasy story which goes from sword and board of a common thief trying to pay off a debt, to the high fantasy of a world altering artifact plagued by the attention of the undead. The story is set up in three acts, whether intentional or not, where the story fundamentally changes what it is. These alterations feel a bit like the life cycle of a Caterpillar, and by the end you have a butterfly. Soaked in tears.

The story focuses on a few characters, but at the heart is Del Kanadis, a thief. He has a debt band, a ring around his arm to remind him he must do the bidding of King Adius. Del is well thought out, witty, and has interesting quirks: he won’t kill, and he is afraid of heights. Del grows through his discovery of self and friends. It’s 

View original post 246 more words

Upside Down

I’m upside down
My feet in the air,
Head on the ground.
Wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Didn’t realize I was that attached.
Didn’t see she was my center.

Now I’m detached,
Free falling with no clue
What to do, to chase or wait?
But to give utterance is villainy
For I am the villain, I am a destroyer
And I am destroyed.

You were my glue. You kept me together. Then you dissolved, and you dissolved me with you, because I made you my world.

And it doesn’t make sense.
I screwed myself again.
And it’s empty.
Upside down.
Alone.

Support The Glass Thief’s Thunderclap —

A DEBT IS OWED. Del Kanadis–indentured thief to the King of Fires–desires freedom above all else. When given the opportunity to repay his debt with a single job, he begrudgingly accepts, believing it to be a fool’s errand. His task: infiltrate a secluded village rumoured to hold a relic capable of defeating the Fire King’s […]

via Support The Glass Thief’s Thunderclap —

Villains or the Egg

I watched Captain America: Civil War again last night. There’s an interesting concept in any of the super hero movies. Do villains appear because the heroes amped up the power level?

For the history of comics, this is true. Superman existed uncontested. He stopped meteors, trains, exploding factories, and so on. I remember these when I was younger and I watched them on VHS. While VHS is ancient and dates me, not nearly as much as if I’d admit to watching Superman when it first aired.

The people making the heroes had a good heart. Let’s start with the best in people. Then they darkened it.

Villains started appearing to create a better conflict. They were stronger, more clever, had some ability to keep down the hero. The hero came first.

Now that we have our super hero origin stories, usually starting with them facing up against a major terrorist, the villains don’t appear until later. As they say in Civil War, like the challenge is there, and they have to live up to it.

There’s a problem with this. Escalation of power rarely starts with defense.

Cities were conquered. Walls were built. Battering rams were deployed. Hot tar was poured down on them. People used swords. The bow was created to keep them at a distance. The shield had no reason to exist until someone was trying to kill someone else.

The Great War was so bloody because offensive capabilities completely outstripped defensive capabilities on a scale rarely seen, possibly never seen. They used machine guns and gas. Trenches and gas masks were utilized. Mortars were used to force machine gunners to hide so charges could be mounted with some hope of success.

Historically, the defense, the protector, comes after the offense and destroyer. Joker should have gone on a rampage, and after seeing the destruction with no end in sight, Batman would rise up to defend his city. Now he may have already been defending it from street thugs, but when you’re trained as a master assassin, you really don’t need billions of dollars to defeat a guy who barely knows how to shoot a gun.

In your own stories, keep that in mind. There are heroes that are greater than life, but they rarely come out without a challenge. How do we know they’re incredible if they haven’t been forged in equally great strife?

Pokemon Red

startscreen.jpg

I got Pokemon: Red on my 3DS. Originally it was to let my nephew play from the beginning, but kids love their pretty graphics, and so he was bored quickly. I upgraded him to Diamond, and he seems to accept that leap, despite his complaints he wants X/Y. Sorry kid, I can’t afford to buy you a 3DS, but I can afford to give you my old DS.

With my nephew moving on to decade old technology, I dove into a game that came out when I was 12. At this point in my life, there was a Playstation, I played Final Fantasy VII, middle school was a horrifying experience, but life overall was good. However, I only watched people play Pokemon.

I’m used to wrap not interrupting me for three turns. I’m used to poison wearing out when my Pokemon reaches 1 HP. I’m used to a skinny pikachu.

fat pikachu.jpgYes. Pikachu was fat. Actually it was because in the anime he was slimmed down and kids liked that more so pikachu lost the baby fat.

Anyway, there are a lot of things that I had become used to, as I first started in Gen III and IV. A lot of these changes were brutal. A kid with an under leveled ekans nearly slaughtered me because he was a little faster than me and kept using wrap. I just watched for three turns as he curb stomped me, then hoped that maybe this time I would be faster. Or he would use leer. What I learned is I need a speed arbok and I’ll crush all in my way.

Last night was a nostalgic reminder of how difficult games were. Today for Pokemon, you get an XP share that works for your entire party. It’s easy to get rid of status effects. You know how you’re training and don’t need a guide on which Pokemon give which stat boosts. From the sound of it, in the next game you won’t have to breed Pokemon for 8 hours to get the ideal one for competition. One. Out of six. And you usually need one or two a month to keep up with the evolving trends.

I kind of miss those difficult video games where imagination was king. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I really like seeing a picture of my Pokemon and I know what it is, instead of a blob.

The Magic of Repetition

I’ve been waking up every morning for two weeks at 6:15. There was only one snafu, and that was on me. I mean, the weekends are also sacred, so those are days off, just because I have time to do my routine later in the day. Back on track.

So I wake up at 6:15. In two weeks I want this to be 5:30. Bracing myself.

When I wake up, I go downstairs, start the coffee, and do stretches. Salutation to the sun. Though I just looked up videos, and apparently Wii Fit did a super modified version of the stretch. I will have to modify going forward.

Either way, at a point you reach for your toes. When I first started, as I breathed out, I could get maybe halfway down my shins. This is what I’d expect.

Today as I went into my third rotation, I touched the floor. I gained an extra eight inches of flexibility after two weeks of doing this. Imagine what will happen now that I’m doing it right! I feel like a putz.

After that I go and write for an hour, give or take. Really it’s 45 minutes. Once I wake up at 5:30 it will be an hour. That or I’ll workout in the morning, then write in the evening. Though then the writing usually gets eaten up by Paragon and I feel horrible.

Anyway! Get into a habit. It’s amazing what very little time in that habit can look like. Sometimes it looks like eight inches. Innuendo intended.