Feelings

Sometimes, I wish I felt like normal people feel. Normal is boring, don’t get me wrong, but I hate just generally not feeling anything about anything, and then occasionally get smacked in the face by a fucking truck of feelings that leave me completely ruined for days/weeks.

World building: Why

This afternoon, whilst sat on a train, I was pondering (as one does) on how I could achieve any of the way-too-many projects I’m juggling in my head, and how I’d love to get back into writing more again.

In case people don’t know, this is not my first or most prolific blog. But it has, much like its Eve Online-based counterpart fallen oddly quiet. I more often than not use this little corner of the interwebs as a kind of ‘dumping ground’ of my random musings, game related stuff, work rants (ohh so many work rants…), and general shenanigans.

But one of the reasons writing anything down tends to fall by the wayside for me is because I am always working on something.

Emotional nonsense stuff follows. Thus ends the disclaimer – feel free to skip the next paragraph if you want a less baggage-laden read.

I’m not a very happy person. Unless I’m busy. It doesn’t matter what I’m busy with, as long as it’s enjoyable for me. It operates as a decent distraction, and works in essentially the same way as a lot of drugs: escapism, (sometimes) euphoria and (obviously) addiction. So keeping busy is good, and if you ever ask me how I’ve been, and my response is “busy”, then it’s a better sign than you might be thinking.

So… back to the something. Why it took me this long to work out a solution, I’m not sure, but my intention now is to document whatever crazy scheme I am cooking up to keep myself in that lovely state of “being busy”. Yes – actually write about what I’m up to; not get upset that I’m not writing anything anymore. I’m a genius!

Which leads on to the real point of this post…

World building

That was a hell of a preamble, no?

About a year ago, I started playing the excellent Dragon Age: Inquisition, and being the jump-the-gun kind of fellow I am, I started wondering about porting the world of Thedas into a tabletop roleplaying ruleset. D&D 5e had just come out and was gaining very good reviews, so I latched onto that. Little did I know that a game system for Origins already existed and an updated version was already in the works – d’oh!

This led to a bit of stagnation for me. I wanted to create something that could be open source, but I definitely didn’t want to end up stepping on anyone’s toes. Least of all anyone with an official licence to use the IP. Plus, porting over rules and systems for magic in Thedas… I could already foresee that this would be giving me a headache.

So rather than attempting to massage one world into the 5th edition rules, I decided instead to craft my own world and build up a campaign using the core rules.

Making this switch has given me a lot more freedom to be creative with my world and my storytelling, since I don’t need to worry so much about a lot of fiddly details. Having a highly active community of both players and DMs, as well as masses of source materials to feed off means that I never need to worry about things. Things like how would The Fade fit in with the various planes of D&D?

And so, I want this to be a series of entries about my process for world building. I imagine that a fair chunk of it will be visual, since I am currently ploughing a lot of hours into map making. But I want to document the process, since this is all entirely new for me, and that means if I can do it, anyone can! 🙂

What if… FFIX Got the ‘Remake’ Treatment?

Disclaimer: this is all conjecture. I have absolutely zero expectation that this will ever happen. In the same way that I had zero expectation that the benevolent Squeenix overlords would ever remake VII. And then they announced it and I did a happy dance usually reserved for things like winning a large sum of money.

Anyway… What would a remake of IX look like?

You can feasibly believe a remake of VII, because they already sorta-upgraded the canon characters and their looks in the 2005 movie, Advent Children – not only were they less blocky (expected), but also less cartoony in both build and stature. And it carried rather well, in my humble opinion. It also holds up remarkably well, even ten years on!

While VIII veered more towards ‘realistic’ looking characters (even if everyone seems to have mega-long legs in that game…), IX went the other way, with its charmingly chibbi characters and ‘classical fantasy’ looks. It was the steampunk entry vs the more cyberpunk leanings of its immediate predecessors.

The way I see it, it could be done in one of a couple of different ways.

1. Cel-shading

Examples of cel-shading in video games exist around the same time as the release of FFIX in the EU (Fur Fighters, Monster Rancher 3 etc.) But I think the earlier uses got a bit of a bad rap for simplifying graphics, particularly in an age where the ‘next gen’ of consoles were coming into play and there was a massive clamouring/push for greater fidelity and realism in-game graphics, and cel-shading kind of looks like the opposite, especially in the earlier iterations…

Windwaker

While the cartoony-ness (there has to be a better word for it than that, surely?) sort of suits the theme of FFIX, I think more modern takes on cel-shading would do the game greater justice than stuff like the example of The Wind Waker (above). Take a look at Bastion, for example:

Bastion

This sort of fixed isometric view, with high attention to detail in the environments would be a great adaptation for the style of FFIX, bringing something fresh to the series while still sticking to the original’s ‘quirky’ roots. It would also make an HD Freya and Quina look slightly less out-of-place – how they’re going to pull off a believable Cait Sith in the FFVII remake will be… interesting, to say the least.

2. Stylised/Deformed

This one is a bit harder to describe, but my favourite example of this (as an art direction) is in the 2012 game from Arkane, Dishonored.

Dishonored
Dishonored’s art direction mixed a smoggy Victorian-London feel with not-quite-real looking character designs. Image courtesy of True Achievements: http://www.trueachievements.com/n7930/new-dishonored-screenshots.htm

You might be wondering how this would work for FFIX, but think about the Eastern European fantasy elements of the game; the big castles, the architecture, the royal families – something hyper-stylised would quite easily lend itself to that sort of setting, and Dishonored, while a much darker game in terms of story, kind of demonstrated how it can be executed well.

What I Think

I’d love to see a hyper-stylised version of FFIX, but I think that unless you’re going to stick with a familiar almost-isometric camera system of the original, that you’d get far too much flack for making such extensive changes.

I think – realistically at least – the best option (if this was ever to actually happen) would be the cel-shaded approach. Despite some (very) ropey early examples, more recent attempts in video games have been successful and incredibly pretty, and allow a certain suspension of disbelief if executed well.

Game Links

Here’s links to all of the games I mentioned in this post, in case anyone’s interested in finding out more. 🙂

  • Final Fantasy VII – http://eu.square-enix.com/en/games/final-fantasy-vii
  • Final Fantasy VII – http://eu.square-enix.com/en/games/final-fantasy-viii
  • Final Fantasy IX – I couldn’t even find an official website for this game. D:
  • Fur Fighters – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fur_Fighters – I sense a running theme for older games here no longer having actual websites…
  • Monster Rancher 3 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_Rancher_3
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker – http://www.zelda.com/windwaker/ (technically it’s for the HD remake, but I’ll take what I can get, tbh)
  • Bastion – https://www.supergiantgames.com/games/bastion/
  • Dishonored – http://www.dishonored.com/

The PowerPoint Drinking Game

Basic premise: PowerPoint presentations are boring. This makes them more interesting.

Number of players: 2+

Ages: 18+ (or 21+ in the US)

Play time: Depends how long and boring your presentation is

How it works

Similar to drinking games surrounding popular TV shows, where players take a drink whenever a certain trope is employed, or a specific phrase uttered, this fun little (career-destroying) games will brighten up all but the dullest of board meetings.

Here are some basic things to look out for. Feel free to add, remove, and adjust the rules to suit your needs – these are just some guidelines I thought up during a boring presentation (oh the irony).

  • If there is a ‘welcome’ slide, take a drink
  • If there is an introduction slide where the speaker talks about what he or she is going to be talking about for the next three million years of your life, take a drink
  • For every graph or chart you see in the presentation, take a drink
  • For every table of data you see in the presentation, take a drink
  • For every distinct usage of word art you see in the presentation, take TWO drinks
  • If you spot anything written in Comic Sans during the presentation, take THREE drinks
  • If there is an interlude at any point in the presentation, ask yourself how you got here, and why you’re playing a drinking game at work. You tramp.
  • If the presenter is using a laser pointer, take a drink
  • If any slides cite external references, take a drink
  • For any images that are blatantly from a stock image site, take a drink
  • For any images that are blatantly from a stock image site AND still have a watermark, take TWO drinks
  • For every out-of-context motivational quote in the presentation, take a drink
  • If there is an ‘in summary’, ‘in conclusion’ or similar slide near the end, take a drink
  • If there is a ‘Questions?’ slide at the end, take a drink
  • If someone asks a pertinent question, take a drink
  • If someone asks an impertinent/irrelevant question, THEY take a drink

Victory condition: Last participant of the presentation who hasn’t been fired, thrown out or vomited wins eternal glory and the prestigious title of Office Drunkard.

So there we have it. Please feel free to add any other rules or conditions to your own version, or add a comment and I’ll see about amending the post with some ideas.

On Various Holidays and What They Represent to Me

This is for where I am; in the UK. Other places have different, more, or less holidays, and obviously I’m not going to talk about them. 😛

  1. New Year’s Day: Ugh, so hungover/chillout day
  2. Valentine’s Day: Why do you need a specified day in which to show you care about someone special? Show it through your actions on all days. You mook.
  3. Mothers’ Day: Similar to the above, but ingrained in us all regardless of relationship status. Also, why is it a different date in different places?
  4. Easter: Irrelevant. Cheap chocolates the day after though – that’s a win.
  5. May Day: Irrelevant.
  6. Spring Bank Holiday: Irrelevant. Also seems to happen in early summer, wtf is with that?
  7. Fathers’ Day: See Valentine’s and Mothers’ above.
  8. August Bank Holiday: Irrelevant.
  9. Christmas: Family, and as little to do with religion as humanly possible.
  10. New Year’s: Yay booze!

There’s also my birthday, which is a holiday because I say it is. It’s also the one day of the year that I will not work on. I’ve ditched clients that call me on that day, and I’ve walked out of jobs that try to make me work/come in. Some people have a real problem with this concept, and I don’t know why.