Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Is Drama Required for a Complex Story?

    When we think of stories, tv shows, or movies, they tend to contain some sort of drama. However, I've been wondering if the stories we like the best are actually the ones without said drama. Google defines the word as "an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances." with this definition, I guess it's impossible to come up with a good story that doesn't have drama as we desire at least one of those things. However, when I think of drama, I tend to think of only the "Emotional" variety which tends to be Romantic drama. That kind of drama, I can do without.
    I've mentioned before that my next story will have no romance, at least of what can be seen initially. While I plan to introduce a character that will add some meaning behind some actions later, she won't appear in the novel. Will she be like Jenny from Shining? I actually don't know yet as I have determined part of her personality and role, but there is certainly room for more details. To be fair, I am still working on developing my main cast for the upcoming novel that she has been developed mostly to help me work on the others.
    When I think of the good stories, romance is often the afterthought made mostly to give motivation to the characters like in J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. However, it isn't required as shown in C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series and Tolkien's The Hobbit. Likewise when I think of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I enjoy the story and there are no serious romances. We may think of these as Children's Stories, but there are lessons to be learned from them. They may be "simple" in our eyes but they are often the best. This is because when we desire too much obvious complexity, every time we read the same story, it's no longer as complex. It's the simple complexities that make a story engaging again and again. Yes, Shining could be considered a simple story, but if you read it multiple times, you may notice that there's something new to be understood each time. Over the course of writing it, when I would go back to read over what I wrote, I found many subtleties that intrigue me just by the way it all fits together or references something I liked unintentionally. The biggest surprise was actually the final battle, so when I noticed it, I edited the wording a little more to emphasize it without completely revealing it. However, once you recognize the unintentional reference, it's hard to not see it.
    Of course, Shining does include drama so I can't say it's the perfect example of a "simple" story without it. What I can say is that I'm taking lessons I've learned from my attempts to make things "complex" and that the best complexities are the unintended ones. When you strive for the simplicity, you find that it's actually a complex problem to solve and how you solve it is where your creativity is shown.
    Drama has its place but I think we have depended on it too much for the study of humanity. If you intend to write a story, I challenge you to avoid all hints of romance and see how your characters develop. The result might end up being a timeless classic like Naria or LOTR.

J. D. Nyle

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Crusader Issue

    I find it interesting how we condemn crusades because of the evils the crusaders did by pillaging the local villages but that is a common theme in video games. For some reason, as the "hero" the player must rob the locals possessions in order to obtain money or the best equipment. Why is this in the design and plot?
    We must, however, take into consideration how can a "hero" act when traveling long distances to face an evil? At some point, I want to explore that theme in a story. It will likely only be partially addressed in the next book though maybe I find some room to explore it further.
    What do you think? It's an awkward situation as your intent is certainly not evil, but you definitely require some goods in order to progress in your travels. Also, when time is against you, it's hard to do enough work to earn the money you need. If you have any ideas, I'll be glad to hear them and maybe I'll even apply them in my storyline.

J. D. Nyle

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Gaming Influence

    If you read through Shining, then you might have noticed that the story and dialogue almost feels like a video game. One of the reasons behind that is that I had always imagined Neostriker as a videogame series and until then, that is how I wrote my stories. Shining was actually the first attempt to break from that but such habits are hard to break.
    The second reason is that as I wrote, I could imagine adapting Shining into a video game, particularly for the Wii if it had the power. The Wii U would actually fit better due to the asymmetric gameplay but that is a dream that likely won't come true. Nevertheless, I still kept the mindset as I wrote it and sort of deemphasized it when I went back to edit the format.
    The third reason was actually because it made sense. By having a set logic of how the mechanics worked, I was able to produce consistent combat that actually had reasoning behind it instead of impossible odds. For example, in Rurouni Kenshin or Dragon Ball, the heroes take multiple mortal wounds and yet recover to full strength. It sounds unrealistic and hard for me to ask the readers to swallow so I opted for a mechanic to base everything on (and I think it works).

    Do I still want to adapt Shining into a game? Well, at this point I've made it less game-like enough that it would be tedious and non-constructive to reverse it. However, there is one concept I really want to try and I think it would be fantastic. Spoiler alert. In Chapter 15-20, David goes into this cave that transports him to certain places. One idea I had was if he could visit Hyrule, the Mushroom Kingdom, Dreamland, and Zebes. Then you could battle against Link, Mario, Kirby, and Samus in what would be very unique battles. Alas, I would have to work for Nintendo to pull that off probably. Oh well, a guy can dream.

J. D. Nyle

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Situation Update

Hello Everyone!
    This update is a bit sad in the sense that I have to delay writing the next Neostriker Novel. As much as I was hoping that it would be finished by now, my lack of free time has indeed made that goal not a reality. Even more so, due to personal reasons, I have to move in a few months which means I now have to find a new job for me to start when that time comes as well as prep skills to help me do so. Now I will try to continue to update this blog on a bi-weekly basis though you can be more certain that very few will be about my writing progress.
    On the other hand, I am interested in getting Neostriker: Shining published and even though the full story is available online (and half of it on Wattpad), it can certainly benefit from some grammatical edits and there are plenty of bonus details I can write up about each chapter. Perhaps I'll even consider a Kickstarter as the goal is simply to get it in print. Yes, you can read it online, but I have found it's very difficult to read something on a screen as opposed to having a book in your hands. My last resort may be self-publishing on Amazon and see where that takes me.

J. D. Nyle

P.S. As for that game I mentioned in my last update, there were a few concerns that came up that I wish to address before I upload it. As to the actual content, it's just the space shooter from Unity with a few changes and additions. I added an extra foe, health, and enemy bullets. At some point I want to add a menu screen and boss levels as well but perhaps I should progress to the next tutorials.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Game development update

Hello Everyone,
    Lately I haven't been able to work on Neostriker and I'm still working on learning how to program games (eventually I want to make a Neostriker game demo to help promote my next story). However, the process is slow due to the fact that I have a full time job and also must care for relationships as well as other obligations. Hopefully I can soon return to writing the story or at least the Legends that will lead into it.

J. D. Nyle

P.S. There is no guarantee this will happen, but depending on how the system works, I may upload one of my practice games for you to try (just modifications to a tutorial online).

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lessons from How to Train Your Dragon part 2

In continuation from my last post, I'm writing out some observations I've noticed from the film How to Train Your Dragon. For the most part, I've been covering the beginning. The fact that there is so much packed into those first few minutes is fantastic and overwhelming when you think about it.

Consider which characters get developed in the film. There are three: Hiccup, Stoic, and Astrid. They not only appear in that order, but their development and time spent as the focus of the movie corresponds to their time as the focus within the first few minutes. Even though Gobber is present, he's never the real focus. You know this because Gobber is used to tell us more about Hiccup (and later about Stoic or dragons) but never about himself. However, Stoic has a few scenes where he is the star of the scene and Astrid has one moment in the opening as well where she's the star. Now if you argue there's a fourth character, I would agree if you mean all of dragons. This is because they also take the focus as Hiccup informs us about a few of them which happens quite a bit throughout the film but at a good pace.

It's actually amazing that for a movie that has very nice visuals to realize that it is so great even without them. However, I have to admit that the visuals are fantastic. Not only are they beautiful, but they are well-shot. I recently saw Big Hero 6 and was underwhelmed by it's visuals and flight scene because I kept comparing it to HTTYD. No matter how much I could try to avoid comparing the two, in every regard I saw HTTYD as the much better movie in the areas where they were similar (the first flight scene). This one I can watch the scenes over and over again but I cannot do that with Big Hero 6. If you were to ask me why, I would argue that part of it is the music.

Music is meant to complement the scene. In Big Hero 6, there is a main theme but it has vocals which end up distracting from the scene. In How to Train Your Dragon, they are never distracting from the scene but rather emphasize whatever is happening. There is one peace that I feel like drags on a little bit in the Forbidden Friendship song, but that's okay because when you pair it with the actual activity on-screen, it works perfectly. You know you have a great soundtrack when you can imagine the movie and get excited just by listening to the music (Besides Star Wars and LOTR, only one other soundtrack got me so excited and that was for Hero of Time by George Powell which is far better than the movie it was made for).

That's all I have for today and I believe all I have for covering this topic. If you asked me, there probably something else I can praise HTTYD for but I should probably return to writing Neostriker if not work on learning how to make video games. At least now you have a recommendation for a movie to watch if you are looking for one.

J. D. Nyle 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Lessons from How to Train Your Dragon part 1

    So here's an interesting post. This has nothing to do with Neostriker as I have taken no inspirations from the HTTYD movie nor intend to. However, when it comes to storytelling and design, I think it is a great film to study in terms of the arts. When I look at it, I think to myself, "I can really think of this as a timeless classic." Sure there are some things I don't like in terms of storytelling (pretty much just the stubbornness of the father), but that's out of personal taste as opposed to critical. On a critical level, everything is perfect. So let's start from lessons we can learn about it and how it may affect my own storytelling in the future.
    The very beginning of the movie is the first hint that you have a well-done movie. You have a quick introduction that is timed perfectly with fantastic music. In fact, I often listen to the soundtrack and reflect on well-done it was. The beginning is your chance to convince the audience what to expect and to lure them in. How to Train Your Dragon does fantastic job by starting with a nice mellow tune and scene but quickly turns to humor and epicness. Within the first 5 minutes, almost all of the themes that will be apart are covered. You are subconsciously told that there will moments of reflection, humor, epic encounters, and romance, and a few twists. The only theme missing that is the core to the whole movie which is friendship.
    The friendship is itself interesting as this movie could have easily been about two tribes fighting each other and an unlikely friendship between two wannabe warriors, but instead we get this sort of pet friendship. To be honest, while the other situation may have made a good story, the one we got here worked out perfectly and led to awe-inspiring moments. Sometimes it's best to forgo the more true-to-life scenario and instead tie your themes with fantasy. After all, who wouldn't want to ride a dragon (unless you're afraid of heights)?

That's all I have for you today. Perhaps another time I'll spend more on the movie. Even though this doesn't have much to do with Neostriker, it is important to enjoy the arts for you never know what might really inspire you. Just don't forget my previous advice to take the time and hone whatever inspirations you obtain.
J. D. Nyle