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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Update: The Many Paths and So Little Time

So it's been a while since you've heard on any updates on the latest story. You've gotten insights about the development process, but no progress update on how much I've written. To be fair, it's probably always a bad idea to share how far you are in a story because something may happen that causes a complete rewrite. I believe I've hinted at it before where if I had the time and energy, there is one major change I would like to make to Shining. However, at some point, enough is enough. Even though this change I would make wouldn't change the story, it would require a lot of changes to dialogue and then making sure it fits with everything else. As such, I'm being very deliberate about what decisions I would like to make with this next one. On the bright side, the chapter I wrote years ago is still as I wanted it to be.
Now I don't recall if I shared this with you but one of my goals with Neostriker from about the beginning was to create a game. As I was brainstorming, another story was being made and I kept thinking how well it would fit into a game. While I have played many games, my knowledge about coding them is next to nil. As a result, I decided to pursue learning more about programming games and see if I can possibly make a demo for my projects. If anything, then I can get hired at a company who might be interested in helping me flesh out the Neostriker world I have planned. I'm still slowly writing the next novel but it will take longer than I had originally planned. To be fair, that's the kind of thing that happens when it's only one guy doing everything and not getting paid for it. However, since I love this series so much, I'll continue to give it my best to create the best world it can be.

J. D. Nyle

Monday, July 13, 2015

Characters: The Women of Neostriker

Sorry for long delay! I meant to post something last week, but I forgot all about it. To make up for that, here's some insight about what to expect in my upcoming novel.


When people talk about diversity in some stories, women tend to be one of the categories to be mentioned.  However, I do not intend to include any women among the primary cast this time. So will there be no women? Not at all. In fact, there are a few that the characters will meet and they will be important in some way or another (and none are damsels in distress), especially as I set them up to be major later. There is one character I'm holding off on introducing until later but you may be surprised to see how much she is involved in the first story when I do reveal her.

So why won't there be any among the main cast this time? One major reason is I'm personally tired of seeing romances and so no characters will be romantically involved with anyone they meet on this first quest. The easiest way is to simply not include women as part of the main cast. Second, I have some adventures planned specifically for the feminine characters and I want to save those for my second and third novels after I use this first story to set everything up (I'm even holding back the Legends that relate to them until then). Third, I want to focus on world building for the first story instead of distractions. Fifth and perhaps the greatest reason, they just don't fit into my story to be part of the adventuring party this time. Instead, for their greatest impact and glimpse into cultures, they need to be among those met along the way.

The essential point I want people to consider is to let the artist or storyteller convey the story as it comes to him or her. Sometimes we can be too demanding to see "equality" that we consider them essential to a good story. That isn't the case. While they can bring about interesting topics, sometimes we neglect that diversity is a relative term and that there is plenty just within the white-male stereotype as we can see in Lord of the Rings. On the other hand, perhaps these men aren't white and people will just imagine them that way based off stereotypes.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Inspirations: Redwall

    You might recall I mentioned a while back that the fantasy elements stemmed not only from the Legend of Zelda, but also from Brain Jaqcues' Redwall. Close to when Ocarina of Time came out for the Nintendo 64, Redwall was airing on TV. I actually recall the first adventures being riding on a horse like Epona with bombs to find a cave to fight a giant snake to claim a sword. In fact, for a long time, those two were linked as I called my castle Bluewall. Eventually, the elements from Brian Jacques' stories faded away though I might revisit the ideas.
    While my introduction to his stories was Redwall, the only book I had read was Martin the Warrior, corresponding to when it was on TV. So recently, I decided to pick up the original book and see what lessons I can learn from it. It is quite interesting to see the alternating style of a long chapter then short chapter. What I was more hoping for though was tips about describing the essentials for the blind reader. There are some uses of sound, but they aren't as profound as I thought they were going to be. Either way, it will probably be a good experience and beneficial to my next novel due to similarities in the environment. So while you wait for my novel, I can recommend that you pick up one of his books.

Happy Reading,
J. D. Nyle

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Casting Call: Searching for Artists

    I guess "Casting Call" may not be the correct phrase. However, I am in search for an artist who may be able to help illustrate various ideas I have in my mind. Something I have learned over the years is that the imagination focuses on one aspect at a time when coming up with a description. This means I can conjure up many cool things, but when you put them together, they are hideous, kind of like that one Digimon that took various parts from other Digimon.
    This of course also relates to the creation process in general. Long ago, I took whatever I thought was cool and tried to connect it. This led to things like YuGiOh style battles happening alongside Beyblade. If that sounds like I couldn't work, it didn't. Nonetheless, it is still the process of creating something you can call your own. This is because your imagination can only work with what it has seen. What eventually happens is that you mix and match so many things, you eventually come up with something unique that also works. In my case in general, that happened to be the current form of Neostriker.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Legends: The Basis of Wisdom

Hello Everyone!
     Two things for today. If you have been on wattpad, you may have noticed that I started sharing Shining on it as JD_Nyle. I hear it's a popular app where people can download titles and read them on tablets, meaning it should be easier to read my novel. The transfer process is a bit tedious due to some formatting issues but I plan to eventually put the full novel up there. It will probably stay there too unless I get a publishing deal that requests for it to be taken down. We'll see how that turns out as I am excited at the prospect of getting more readers.
     The second thing is about the Legend below. It's not too well developed and mostly a first draft. I really wanted to put this in the next novel, however, there's no room for it and it would be hard to insert it anywhere. As a result it is merely a rough draft but I hope you enjoy it.

J. D. Nyle

Legends: The Basis of Wisdom

"Teacher Simulaen," the younger prince raised his voice. "What makes you qualified to teach us?" he asked. The older brother began to rebuke him for asking such a question but the prophet knew there was no mal-intent behind the question.
"Young lord, am I teaching you how to forge a sword?"
"No," the prince replied, a little confused on the relevance of the question, but the prophet continued on his path.
"Am I teaching you how to fight a hundred men?" Simulaen asked. The prince answered no. "How about how to prepare a delicious meal?" Again the answer was no. The prophet then asked, "What am I teaching you?"
The prince pondered the question for a moment. That was indeed the real question behind his initial inquiry. "Random stuff" he finally replied. The prophet laughed.
"I am not qualified to teach you how to forge a sword, how bake a cake, or even how to fight. In fact your brother is far more qualified than I in that last field. And so in that regard, it would be better for him to be your teacher. However, what I am qualified for is relaying what I have learned myself and I have indeed learned much. But take heed and realize that it is never enough to learn from only one unless it is the Spirit. You must take up and learn from all deemed fit. There is still so much for me to learn and much more for me to become wise."
"So the Spirit didn't make you wise?"
Simulaen laughed again and began to explain. "I do hold that all wisdom does in fact come from the Spirit. After all, if the Spirit established order, then by nature it established the Wisdom to accompany it. However, even if we are told something, it doesn't mean we understand it. Do you know what you need to gain Wisdom?"
"A good teacher?"
"Ah! Very true but that's not all. There are three things required. The first is Experience, Your curiosity is indeed a gift, my prince, but not one to be taken lightly," the prophet began to lecture. "In some men, it is in their nature to explore. I believe that these men are meant to seek wisdom and become teachers. Teachers are supposed to convey experience so that students may learn from them as well. One lesson is to take caution with your curiosity lest you die or cause harm to someone."
  The prince sat in silence after hearing that last sentence. The prophet looked over and continued his lesson.
"The second is leisure. A man who works all the time focuses on his work and has no time to ponder. A man with leisure may indeed reflect on what he has learned and grow wiser."
"Zel, isn't that great?! We can use this to get out of chores!"
Zel looked at his brother with an expression along the lines of "You wish but you know it's not going to happen." Simulaen spoke up and dashed the young prince's hopes saying, "Ah but chores give you experience. Without experience, leisure is meaningless. You cannot be idle for idleness is the misuse of leisure. What leisure allows is for you to perform activities unrelated to your trade or rest and meditate. If you do nothing at all, then you have just wasted precious time.
"Now the third item is perhaps the most important. It is the willingness to accept Wisdom. Truth often has two enemies, those who don't understand it and those who do but reject it."
"Why would they reject something that is true?"
"Because they find it inconvenient," Zel spoke up. "If they accept the Truth, then it would mean they need to take a certain action they are unwilling to do."
"That is correct, Zel," the prophet applauded. "Now I can bestow upon you the first two, but the last requirement is up to you. It is your choice whether you seek wisdom or not. It is my hope that you do, for to become a wise man is truly a great goal. And if you wish to be good leaders, it is important you obtain wisdom so that you may properly and justly govern the people under your care."