Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!
    This week, I'll sidetrack a little from my usual insights about storytelling and wish you to have a good day. I would also like to take this time to remind you that gifts are not how many people give or receive love primarily. Perhaps what they want is a hug or quality time. Let us show love to each other and continue to do so for the rest of our lives.

    Now I'll give you a little insight in my planning for my stories. When studying societies, religion is always important, especially early on in the culture. What this means is religion is certainly necessary as I intend to build an entire "world" and therefore cannot ignore the concept and various debates surrounding it. However, it will certainly be different. I do not consider myself worthy of doing a "Christ Story" and so all stories take place before such an event. Hence, Christianity won't be present in name though I will certainly borrow from it.

     Basically, when religion appears in my stories, it's trying to explore the basic principles and focus of what religion means with definition I found while reading through the Roman Catholic Catechism: "Give God what is Due."  What this means will be an interesting topic as the question rises, "How can you have religion without divine revelation?" My quick answer is that if God is the source of all that is Good, then it means you have to align your spirit with what is good and oppose evil. Hence, the values of Love, Respect, and Mercy will be present as I want to strongly advocate virtue.

    So will Neostriker be a religious story? Not really. Neostriker is a world but religion will certainly be part of it. Therefore there will be occasional short stories about religion, but it won't be the main subject. However, because religion advocates for virtues and is a major player in the fight between good and evil, you will certainly see some of the same ideas. After all, the basis of religion isn't evil when considered from the definition I gave earlier. On the other hand, the people who take charge of religion are very much susceptible to corruption. Another way of saying this is that "religion is not a tool. Those who use religion as a tool are likely to become evil."

    Therefore, if you are paying attention to my logic, radicalism is a result of someone using religion as a tool. How can we rationally keep it in check? Consider the basic principles of religion and make sure your actions do not contradict any of them. If God is Good, then that means you cannot do evil if you want to be on God's side. If God is the Author of Life, that means you cannot take another's life except to protect your own and those under your care (self-defense). If God is Love, that means you must love even those who hate you. If God is Truth, then you cannot lie. Consider these and respect them and you should be on the right path to practicing religion properly.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!
J. D. Nyle


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Legends: The Princes and the Cave

Hello everyone!
    Considering that I had hoped to finish this story by August, which obviously didn't happen due to certain events, I've decided to share the First Chapter. I actually wrote this chapter maybe 5 years ago and haven't made many changes since. When I took a look at it, I decided I liked how it was and served its purpose as a first chapter very well. Oh yes, this is finally where the prince's name is revealed. I might change it but I like how it sounds as well since it's a soft name to contrast with Zel. Anyways, hope you enjoy!
J. D. Nyle

Legends: The Princes and the Cave

Ages after the fall of man, the world was bountiful with all creatures of life. The lands were mostly divided among the many kingdoms. One of the greater, and focus of this story, was the Nellenion Kingdom, the Kingdom of Nyle. In the years prior the great age for the Nellenion Kingdom, The king Laertor’s wife gave birth to twins. When the first child came out, he was crying loudly and fighting. Because of this, they named him Zel, which means “Warrior.” However, an interesting event happened after that. For when the second child came out, he was quiet and peaceful. Then with a simple yawn, his older brother by seconds calmed down. As a result of this event, the king and queen named the second one Eloim, “Peace.”
The amazements did not stop either, for those there noticed that these twins had slightly pointed ears. The king summoned the prophet Simulaen and besought him of what this meant. For it was the custom that those who had pointed ears, as legends say the first man and woman had, became prophets. The twins, on the other hand, did not have fully pointed ears but half way.
When the prophet arrived, he was greeted joyfully by the king. “Dear friend,” began Laertor, “I am proud to say that I am the father of two beautiful sons.” “Glad tidings and congratulations I bring to you, old friend.” responded the pointed eared Simulaen. “And pride you should have” he continued, “for they are indeed wonderful and shall ever be if raise them right. Now what is it that you wish to inquire of me?”
“My friend, I simply ask for revelation onto what the sign that has appeared might mean” stated the king. “And what sign do you speak of?” came as answer. “The sign of half pointed ears on them both” gave the king. The prophet closed his eyes and meditated for a short while before giving his answer.
“The ears simply indicate the blessings of the Spirit that will be with them. The part that they are half way is to mean that the Spirit has not called them to my sort of duty but to their own.”   
 When the prophet told the king that the Spirit would bless them, he feared this prophecy until he realized that both were blessed. For in the old times, history had shown that when a father was told one of his children was blessed over the other, he would make a grave mistake and cause discord among the family and eventually kingdoms.
“Many thanks, my friend” said the pleased king Laertor, “Please stay tonight as we celebrate the birth of these blessed ones.” “With honor” was the simple response of the prophet.
            As the twins grew older, the people of the kingdom adored them. They both very different, for Zel was a fine warrior from early on, taking on even the greatest of knights before the start of his thirteenth year. Eloim, on the other hand, was considered as peaceful as his name. He was gentle and kind and also thoughtful. The twins were so loved by everyone, the idea of only one taking the throne was dividing, for no one could think whom they would prefer. At the time, the prevailing idea was that of the king. He proclaimed that the two sons should both become kings of equal status and that they should rule the kingdom together. This eased the minds of the people and saw it fair.
One day, when the twins were of the age of twelve, they with their father and a few nobles went hunting in the Kylian Forest. Neither was bad with a bow, but they were not yet experts, even with their smaller ones. As they went through the thick trees and shrubs, the king and his men found a deer and gave Zel the chance to get it. With great aim, the prince did not fail. As they went out to get it, the men praised the lad.
“My son, you will definitely grow up to be a fine warrior.” declared king Laertor.
“Thank you, father,” was the cheerful response from Zel. The rest of the men and Eloim congratulated him. It is said that while Zel was the greater fighter, Eloim was better with the bow. And yet if there was anything else that Eloim was more profound in, it was getting into trouble. No malice was ever in the prince’s heart. It was simply his curiosity about the world around him. And it happened again during that hunt.
A while after Zel got his deer, he was out in the front with his father and Eloim in the back talking with the other men when they found a trio of deer. However, one noticed the approaching men and made a run for it with the others following. The hunters ran after it hastily. Soon, Eloim tripped and fell. He called after his company to wait for him but they could not hear him. These men could run fast when they are on the hunt. The blood was coursing through their veins and paid no attention to anything but their prey and the means to getting them.
Eloim had no hopes of catching up with the nobles. And so the young lad began to walk in the direction they had gone. Even though he was alone, it did not frighten him. The colors of the forest were bright and various. He came across a few little creatures and gleefully chased them around. After losing them, he dropped to the ground and lay facing the sky.
“I love this forest,” thought the boy. “It’s a perfectly fine day to walk around and enjoy the air.” So laid back was the younger of the twins that it seemed little ever dampened his spirit. So innocent of heart he was.  
Soon enough, he turned to his side and spotted a cave with glowing insects flying in. He was so close to it and yet failed to see it when he arrived. It was all too unknown to him. He had heard from a dear friend that there was a cave in this forest he was in. In this cave, he had been told there grew a special flower of beauty which glowed like the moon in the darkness. From the moment he recalled this did his mind not wander from trying to find this flower, until it was too late.
When the curious prince did not find the flower he was searching for by the entrance he ventured deeper into the abyss. He could not venture far, however, because of lack of light. Nevertheless he admired the insects that provided what little light he had. Unfortunately, after tripping again, Eloim discovered the danger he was in. In front of him was a gigantic spider creature. The size of it was more than twice his own. And as a little boy he gave a scream and tried to make a run for it out of the cave. The spider, though, was much faster and blocked his way. With the light behind this monster, Eloim could see a stinger at the rear of the spider’s body. With no second thought, the prince readied his bow only to find that he had dropped most of his arrows.  
            The lack of arrows struck fear in the mind of young Eloim. He was already terrified of the monster that stood before him poised to strike and now knew he lacked resources to fend it off. His hands did not give up though. They grabbed one of the few he had and took aim. The spider then made its move. Its stinger came fast upon the fallen lad only to just barely miss. The prince took his chance and fired straight up into the body where it stuck. It was a fine shot but this monstrous creature was tougher than an ordinary spider. It shrugged off the pain but it was still all the more angry. Trying again, Eloim attempted to draw another shaft from his quiver only to fumble it. The terrified boy, who could barely see his opponent, could not compose himself and released another echoing scream.
            It was a long and painful moment. Eloim was frozen in place. He had heard that some creatures, if their prey doesn’t move, won’t attack. However, this was not the reason why he did not move. He couldn’t. Fear had taken a grasp hold over him and all he could do was tremble. But suddenly, a glint of a blade came and hacked at the hind legs of the threatening arachnid. The eight legged beast screeched in pain, something the prince had no idea it could do. The creature, which no doubt had a venomous sting turned its attention to its new assailant. Eloim also took a look towards his savior and found it was his own brother!
            It was long after they began pursuit of the deer that Zel took notice that his twin was not in sight. He immediately ran back along the path he had traversed. Some of the nobles followed but for some reason they too got lost and Zel was all alone. Yet he did not care. All that went through his mind was to find his brother. He just made it to the cave when he heard the second scream. Without strategy he rushed in the cave and took his knife out to slash the assailing monster before him. Always preferred the blade to a bow, Zel did. He had more confidence in his strength than his accuracy. To him a blade was more dependable for one could always run out of arrows to use. The use of a blade to save his brother was by then instinct.
            As stated before, the monster arachnid did not like this treatment. One of its legs was almost cut off despite the single blow coming from a knife. By no means was it a weak knife either. It was a strong and sturdy steel knife, made by the best blacksmith in the Nellenion kingdom. The venomous creature was quick to turn toward this newcomer. The thing gave another screech and attempted to sting Zel again and again. However, Zel, being smaller than the creature was able to move around and through its legs. He willfully gave another hack and finished off the leg he had begun this encounter with. The arachnid had then become a seven legged monster. Its fury did not cool down. It scrambled to attack again only to just miss. Zel was indeed a fine fighter.
            Finding some courage in his bones, Eloim found the arrow he had dropped and fired it at the enemy’s head. It could be certain that till that day, that spider had never felt so much pain, yet it was amazing how much it could take. Zel did not skip a beat to diverting the seven legged fiend back to him. He went and with two strokes took out another hind leg. The monster fell on its stinger only to quickly get up again. Zel could not believe it at first. For the back of the monster appeared to be very heavy despite the darkness the limited such sight. To add to it, the legs he felt should have been weak considering how easy he cut them off with his knife.
            Zel finally took an instant to strategize. He made a run and when he reached Eloim, he dropped his quiver at his feet and continued to move, all while keeping his adversary’s attention. It would have been wise to by then try to escape, but Zel was a warrior, one who rarely thought of retreating even if it would give him the advantage. Sadly, this is where it all went wrong.
            The warrior prince was doing a fair job fighting and Eloim, a little more sensible was beginning to make his way towards the exit while fixing an arrow on his bow. The fearful lad readied his bow and fired another at the head and hit. The creature fell back but disaster had just happened. The stinger fell and hit Zel in the chest and he fell back, dropping his cold blade. Eloim, with all anxiety and worries raced to his brother’s side only to see the monster getting back up. The standing prince grabbed his brother’s steel knife and stabbed his opponent. The monster then took its chance at stinging the prince but missed as he pulled away in time. While he just escaped, he stumbled and fell back and was in a horrible position. It was then that a great light shone and blinded the monster.
            The light came from behind Eloim and so he could not make out what was happening. The white light came like a javelin and six legged arachnid finally retreated back into its abyss. When the monster went away, Eloim wasted no time returning to his brother’s side.
            “Zel!” cried the rescued brother. “I’m so sorry for all of this.”
            “Don’t worry” responded the prince weakly. “You’re my dear brother. I’d gladly die for you.”
            “Let’s pray that you won’t die from that, prince Zel.” called another voice. Eloim finally turned to look at he that saved them both. A light was still shining from a staff so that the cave brightened up. The man was Simulaen the prophet. He placed his hand over the wound and muttered a few words as in prayer. From his hand another light shone and Zel began to recover. He handed Eloim his staff and then proceeded to carry the wounded prince out of the cave. There, they found the rest of the company who had just arrived. The king would have normally scolded the twins but concern took its place for the poisoned son.

            “He has begun to heal” started the prophet, “but I will need to take him to my place to continue the treatment.” No debate met his statement. The group proceeded to the home of the prophet where he finished his treatment of the lad. Laertor questioned the other twin as what had occurred but the boy was still in shock of it all and would not answer. Nor did he ever readily tell the tale of the events of that cave for the rest of his life.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Magic Confusion, LOTR, and Shining

(Those who haven't read Neostriker: Shining, scroll to the bottom for important terms and definitions)

Society today has an interesting practice when it comes to words and meanings. They change the definition of something but then try to imply it was always the case. For example, the definitions of “witches” and “magic” are being changed while the creators imply that it was always this way. I find it interesting and terrifying because of the implications of changing these definitions can have.

When you take something that is by nature evil, such as magic, and then strip away the elements that make it evil, you have something completely different. Even though you may end up with the same word, the substance that makes up the word is now completely different. However, if you were to go back in time, people would not accept your "new definition" because it would not correspond. While you may be able to "re-cast" the old word to fit your new definition, you cannot impose your new definition on old interpretations of the word. The fact that you had to change the definition means that you understand they are different. Hence, what we must be careful of is that when we teach our children the concept of "good magic," they might not be able to distinguish the old definition and therefore think what is evil to be okay.

Definition of Magic

Now what does this have to do with Neostriker? There were no witches or apparent magic in Shining. As for my next novel, there won't be witches yet, but there will be magic according to what I have determined to be its original meaning. Magic is the use of evil spirits (or evil nature) to do "your will" with the twisted notion that you have power over them. In the new and modern confusion, you can see traces of this definition present. The problem is that authors did not properly convey this when they wrote their stories and their influence made it even worse.

By “authors”, I'm referring to the likes of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. When you read their stories, they indicate that their meaning for "magic" is different, but they never explained why or how it's different. So when new authors recall their stories, these new authors remember that, "since those guys used magic for good, it must be okay." In these minds, magic is a tool and the evil stems from the purpose it's used for. A recent series I saw that followed this line of logic was BBC's Merlin. However, this isn't what Tolkien or Lewis had in mind when they used the word.

For the old and venerable authors, magic is how the humans described what they saw but could not rationally explain it. The analogy would be that if we took a flashlight to medieval times, they would not be able to understand the concept of electricity and therefore it would appear as "magic". In Tolkien's case, there is a section of The Fellowship of the Ring that explains it's advanced science that we would be unable to comprehend.

Now it could be said that Tolkien failed to easily convey the difference between the "magic" that corresponds to my earlier definition and "magic of nature". For example, powers that are intrinsic to the nature of the being can be considered as okay and as a tool. In this case, Gandalf as the wizard (or Tolkien's equivalent of angels) is okay, but a normal human who studies to become a warlock is not. This is because, even in the magic of nature, there is evil when one tries to grasp for it, such as the One Ring from Lord of the Rings.

Problem 1: Grasping

When you look at the One Ring, I recall it being referred to as a "magic ring", and that is key. We often assume that its power is simply to make one invisible. However, that doesn't make sense when you read the "Ring Monologues" each character has when presented with it. In fact, both Isildur and Sauron had the ring but never turned invisible. The ring's power was actually to amplify an aspect of the nature of a character to the point that it corrupts. Hobbits are described before as already good at hiding and so invisibility makes sense. Sauron was powerful and so the ring granting him even more power makes sense. Gandalf mentions that he would initially use the ring to help his magic for good but he would eventually become worse than Sauron. The thing is that evil happens when a character tries to grasp for the Ring or, in Sauron's case, all of the rings. However, when the ring comes to a character, they are eventually able to get rid of it, with the exception of Isildur. Those who grasped: Sauron, Boromir, and Gollum. Those who didn't grasp: Bilbo, Frodo (until the end), Gandalf, Aragorn, Faramir, and Sam. The ones who grasp are seeking magic to do their will, but those who didn't were able to overcome their own desires for the good. In this sense, you can say magic is the tool for the author to develop his characters, but you should still never grasp for it.

Something N. D. Moharo says is that "tragedy occurs when someone does something they were not supposed to or not do something when they were supposed to." This falls in line with what I am saying about grasping. For example, if I'm driving and want to make a turn, I need to check to make sure there is no one in my way. Even if I really want to make the turn now, I must wait and allow the right moment to come. Otherwise, I might hit someone. That would have happened because I turned when I wasn't supposed to; I grasped at the ability to turn instead of waiting for my turn. One problem with magic as I defined it is that you are trying grasp for something to happen instead of letting it happen (more on that in my novel).

Problem 2: Calling of Evil Spirits

The second problem with magic is the calling of evil spirits. Evil spirits don't change. Hence, the only reason why evil will help you is if they believe you will cause a greater evil. Therefore, the use of magic will lead to evil unless you are able to break from it.

This part of the traditional definition is perhaps played with the most. When authors say that their definition of magic is that it’s a tool and of the nature of the character, that can be okay. However, if that’s the case, they cannot use spells or enchantments. The nature of spells indicates that another spirit is being called and therefore contradicts the idea that magic is part of the nature of a character.

The second aspect authors may play with is by suggesting that spirits can change. However, there is a philosophy that probably stems from Thomas Aquinas or Aristotle and Buddhism (if I'm interpreting the idea of reincarnation correctly) where spirits cannot change unless they have their own body. It's interesting because it could mean that the test of the angels was that they were given bodies. In fact, it could be that C. S. Lewis was onto something when writing The Magician's Nephew in that "angels" actually had their own world with a morality similar to our own and its time finished before our own world began (or maybe they existed before the dinosaurs). Anyways, hence the old understanding of magic is that evil spirits will always be evil, hence summoning them is evil.

Problem 3: Possession vs Inspiration

The third problem with magic is what essentially becomes possession. This occurs when you seek a spirit's power and they give it to you, linking you to them. You may think you are in control, but slowly and surely, you surrender one part of yourself after another. In stories, it'd happen like this: "I cannot do that now, but if you do this, then you'll have that power." Sometimes authors are nice and blatantly write it as "surrender your soul and you will have all the power you want." Now let's mark a distinction. Evil spirits possess; good spirits inspire. That's important because that's how it applies in Neostriker.

When I wrote Shining, I didn't have this full understanding of magic. As a result, you get an idea that it's the Asens that give David his powers, but it's supposed to be that they guide David to manifest and grow his own spirit. I actually determined this when preparing for my next novel (still trying to figure out a good name for it) so when I went back to edit Shining for publication, I tried to hint towards and explain this logic properly. The funny thing is the misconception actually makes sense in Episode 11 and is completely appropriate. In that episode, an evil spirit/Dark Power starts the process of "surrender for power". To contrast, Zel as a good spirit only assists, guides, and protects. With inspiration, there is still fullness of freedom in your actions, and nothing is sacrificed except for perhaps your ego.

Something you must be careful of is the nature of possession. Throughout human history and the cultures of the world, no one is able to free himself from possession. It always requires someone else or God to intervene. This is because of three things: 1) the evil spirit is more powerful than you simply by nature otherwise you wouldn’t use them; 2) The spirits can convince you that they are part of your mind and hence the actions are your will; 3) Only those siding with the powerful Good Spirit (aka God) can cast them out.

Summary and Closing

In summary, Old Magic is the use of evil spirits (or evil nature) to do "your will" with the twisted notion that you have power over them. This old meaning indicates the three things evil of magic: Grasping for something you shouldn't be; Calling upon evil spirits; and what amounts to as possession. Therefore the opposite of magic is: patience and self-sacrifice, the avoidance of evil spirits, and inspiration.

J. D. Nyle

Terms and Concepts

P.S. For those who haven't read Neostriker: Shining, here is a brief explanation of the terms used:
    David is the main character of the story who has the ability to don special armor and become a "Neostriker". It's revealed halfway through that this armor is a manifestation of his own spirit/soul called "neo" and therefore the term "Neostriker" means "Spirit Striker".
    Asens are also revealed halfway through to be spirits. Zel is the Asen who helps David grow and become more powerful.
    The Dark Power is the source of evil and hence, for the purpose of this essay, can represent magic.

Update 2/1/18

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

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."

Monday, May 11, 2015

Writer's Notes: Re-Exploring Old Ideas

    There's an interesting thing about writing a series. Ideas that you had dismissed long ago can suddenly grant you inspiration. One idea was an idea of maneuvering between a real world and a spiritual dimension where actions would affect the real world and you could combat demons. Sound vaguely familiar? I remember getting the idea from the implementation of the Dark World and its future versions in the Legend of Zelda series. This actually is what led Neostriker's core concept centering around Spirit Battles and it fits perfectly.
    The reason why I started thinking about that was because of some ideas that popped into my head from "understandings" of another series called Persona. Now this is where I start using an example of creativity I covered before where I don't understand something. I have never played any Persona or Persona related games. It has aroused my attention, but the concept of allying with demons has always turned me away. There is also the fact that I don't have any of the game systems to play those games. As a result, I know essentially nothing about the games. This means the only way Persona has given me inspiration is through headlines of articles about the games. One such article was the idea of "Social Links" where doing simple actions had huge effects. At least that is what I gathered from the article's title since I didn't read it. This, in combination with a trailer for Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem, I started thinking about spiritual dimensions again.
    However, I need to be honest and add that another title has brought about more thinking on the concept and that is Tales of Hearts for the DS and PSP Vita. I haven't played it, but I was tempted to buy it and so at least know the premise. The major problem was I didn't know which version to buy and I couldn't understand Japanese well enough to warrant a purchase.
    Would you believe that there is actually a third thing that brought about this thinking? This is actually more of a parallel concept that I was thinking might possibly tie in. When I mentioned that the Spirit Battle becoming Neostriker's core concept, I didn't mention that it only became official in Shining (which can you still read on this blog from the Episode List page). Shining is the bridge between the old and new as it became, by accident, the most succinct and convincing core explanation for how everything works in that world. Until then, the Spiritual Dimension, which was very vaguely implemented, was only a concept that I had for a completely different work years ago and forgot about. The implementation only grew as I began to ponder sequels, the current novel, other novels' plots. The original plot involved machines and then eventually plugging into the cyber world sort of like The Matrix but with the Mega Man Battle Network System as that was the actual inspiration as well as a method to linking my older works. Anyways, the reason why I have been thinking about this is because I was also pondering exploring the concept of Operators again. However most of these ideas are mostly restricted to the Shining Universe as they relate to how I was planning its sequel dependent on if it will be a movie or a game. As you may already know, I'm not actively working on that so it may be a few years before it becomes reality.
    So why did I write this piece then? Well, to put it simply, I thought it was a nice look into how a creative mind works. I also wanted to establish that there are some things I come up with just given a headline or premise. The thing about creativity is that you are given a little piece but you need to fill in the rest. Someone helps you take the first step, but you need to walk the mile. I could possibly look into those games I mentioned, but I have no intention as it would possibly take away from the fact that I developed these concepts myself. Sometimes if you envelop yourself in too many works, your own creativity weakens. Being creative is an exercise and so you need to leave yourself open to being able to develop things on your own, otherwise you just end up copying.

J. D. Nyle

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Concerning My Legacy

What will happen to Neostriker after I am gone? This is something that has worried me for a long while. Based off what I've seen around me concerning those who inherit stuff, I've decided that I need to declare some conditions. The first in line to claim rights to the Neostriker property will indeed be my family (wife then descendants unless I dictate another). However, all those who inherit my works and Intellectual Property must agree to these conditions or they forfeit all rights.

  1. The characters and all works regarding Neostriker must be in line with Roman Catholic Moral Teaching. In my research, the Roman Catholic Church is the only one whose positions have not really changed despite cultural and political pressure. All Christian sects have changed their morality over time, but the Roman Church appears to have been a strong constant. And so I judge that these moral teachings are the best constant I have surviving my death. To make things more clear, look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Nothing in there that is said to be evil can be promoted through Neostriker.
  2. No company that directly opposes the Moral Teachings of the Roman Catholic may publish Neostriker content. The only exception would be if ALL proceeds go to the Roman Catholic Church wherever it is based or to feeding the poor directly (not through any third-party organizations or charities). In other words, those sort of publishing companies cannot make any money from such a deal.
  3. Licensed products cannot be made in countries where abortion is forced by the government. That includes present-day China.
  4. Only one person at a time may hold the rights to the property
  5. All future inheritors must abide to all of the conditions or forfeit their rights.
  6. The stories I have written must stay as is. Nothing added, nothing subtracted.

Failure to abide by these conditions will automatically transfer the rights to the Roman Catholic Church wherever it is based. In that case, the pope will need to approve of any publication or licensing agreement. While I know there is corruption there just like everywhere, my logic is that it would then be next to impossible to release anything official that opposes my moral views. You might think it's bad that I would be constricting my stories from "evolving" but I rather keep it the same than to promote what I would consider evil within my lifetime. After all, these stories do in part represent ideas I have and I rather these ideas not be corrupted. If they are wrong, then so be it. I can at least rest assured that they were not wrong out of malicious intent as I am committed to finding Good.

Now, I do have a method for my family, should one of them end up being worthy, to regain the rights to the property. If one member can prove he or she is line with the Roman Catholic Church's Moral Teachings, then he or she may regain control of the property but still must abide to the conditions above. Failure in any part will start the cycle again and the rights shall be transferred back to the Roman Catholic Church.

J. D. Nyle

Monday, April 13, 2015

Writer's Notes and Excerpt: Tips on Approaching Your Story

    When it comes to writing a story, a patience is a must. Sometimes it can take 2 weeks or 4 years to plan just a single scene. When it comes down to a crucial scene, it is important to get it right. However, just letting it stay unwritten will not do the job for you. Sometimes you have to change how you think about. It is common to think linearly and write the scenes as they come. However, I do not know of many authors that do just that. Like a director who shoots many scenes and rearranges them later, an author must be ready to tackle a scene from multiple directions.
    I prefer writing things in order, but when you skip around and concentrate on the crucial points first, then you are able to better craft the entire story. This is because you get to think about what needs to happen and when. What must happen for this scene to exist? What impact do you want it to have? I realized that one scene would make more sense and have a greater impact if one small detail was included before. Not only did it help me set the stage, but it gave a better glimpse of the characters and their motives. I hope this advice helps you with your own novel endeavors.
    So I do like giving you all something other than my own thoughts and notes. However, I don't have another Legend prepared. On the other hand, I do have a small piece from the novel to share which you are probably more curious about anyways. I hope you enjoy this small taste as well as knowledge what my next novel is about. Keep in mind that this is only a small piece of the first draft. Some details are bound to change and improvements to the writing style as well. Anyways, enjoy!

J. D. Nyle

~during the battle, Zel finally encounters Daelan.~

“I must admit, your skills are far beyond what Celonret and Zenoth have anticipated,” the shadowy figure exclaimed across the cleared area. His purple armor with black highlights took a fearsome shape. Legends spoke of the knaunuhts but even they would pale in comparison to the Daelan king. However, Zel had always overcome his own nightmares and this was no different in his mind.
“So you finally emerge, Daelan,” the warrior prince said, focusing intently on his mighty foe. At least, that is what one Daelian soldier thought as he attempted to assault the prince before being slashed by his holy sword.
Impressed by this talent, Daelan smiled and shouted out in a loud voice that could be heard across the battlefield, “No Daelian soldier shall approach the mighty prince! He that ignores my instruction shall face my wrath!” Then turning his head back toward the prince and said, “No one shall steal such glory from me.”
“Hoh?”  Zel smiled in return. “That pride is going to be your downfall.”
“Enough blabber. My sword will silence that tongue of yours!”
The two royal warriors rushed in crossed blades. One-two, swings were tested. Three-four, speed was observed. Five-six, skill had been assessed. They backed off slowly and rotated clockwise as if in a well-coordinated dance. A feint here and a motion there, the contest of wits had just begun.
“I know you have a few tricks in your set,” the king stated.
“It is rarely wise to reveal your secrets at the start,” the prince replied.
“Your wisdom does not apply to me,” Daelan said as he raised his left hand and a blast of purple flame shot out toward the prince but he quickly evaded it.
“You are certainly a fine warrior. Not even fazed,” the Daelian king complimented.
“There’s not much to be fazed by. I could sense the dark energy emanating from you. So you really did bond with Zenoth.”
Daelan laughed. “Of course! Once I learned of this power, there was no one who could stop me from mastering it.”
“You jest! The Dark Power’s only master is evil. No man could tame chaos like that.”
“That’s where you are wrong. Zenoth recognized my greatness and granted this to me as a gift for me to control.”
“If he is the source of your mighty power, wouldn’t that mean he is more powerful than you?”
This statement enraged the Daelian king and his swings become more ferocious. Nonetheless, Zel was more than capable in fending off his attacks. A parry here, a redirect there, the mighty prince was patient in awaiting his opportunity. When it came, he took it and with a glowing rising slash, he leapt into the air and followed with a strong turn-around kick in Daelian’s face, knocking the wicked king back before any counter could be made.
Daelan staggered as he regained his footing. “I see you have control over the Elements.”
Zel softly landed and readied his shining blade for any movement. “The Elements were used to defeat Zenoth before and they shall be your downfall as well.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Writer's Notes: The World

    When crafting a story, it's important to determine the location. Will it be in America, Europe, or even Mars? The location is important because it can grant you many choices and freedoms, as well as help narrow your path. In my case, Earth is not the setting. Instead, I'm crafting a new fantasy world that may be Earth-like, but free for me to shape.
    In one sense, it's best for an author to write about what he knows. Since I've only lived on Earth, shouldn't I write about that? However, I've also spent time analyzing the imaginations of different authors and animators. When you have all of that, it's hard to write only about Earth and so crafting a new world is the best.
    So what does this mean for my story? Well for one, I'm allowed to craft my own creation myth. I can also play around with the nature of characters and their biology. For instance, I have yet to decide whether or not my characters can be called "humans," just like Tolkien and his predicament with the "elves". However, since it would be too much of a pain to come up with a new term and get my readers to grasp it, I'll just call them humans as the nature will be very similar. There are a couple things I'm want to play with but morality and that side of nature will still be the same. I hope you are looking forward to what I have planned.

J. D. Nyle

Monday, March 16, 2015

Writer's Notes: Not Developing the Villain for the First Novel

Hey Readers,
    When writing a story, a decision needs to be made regarding the narrative. Either focus on point of view of the protagonists or alternate perspectives between protagonists and villains. An example of the former would be The Lord of the Rings books while the latter would be Star Wars: Heir to the Empire. I enjoyed reading both, and considered the latter but I do not feel I could properly write in that style. As you may have read in Shining, most of the story was from the point of view of David and occasionally Jenny.
    While there is certainly an audience for developed villains, I'm honestly tired of it. Sometimes we need stories that really are good versus evil. At least that is what is needed for this first novel as I set up the world it will take place in. It is actually mostly due to having to focus on world building that I don't have enough space to focus on jumping perspectives. While it will be a battle between good and evil, I'm mainly writing this novel to be an adventure and so the focus will be on the protagonists and the world they see.
    So will I never develop the villain? If we are talking about the villain for the next novel, yes and no. In some respects there won't be any development due to one nature of the character. On the other hand, there are plans for legends where he is developed due to a second nature as well as how he connects with our heroes. Yes, it is a fairly complicated antagonist, but his development will be more in Legends than in the first novel as his development is tied to revelations about other character not yet in the spotlight.
J. D. Nyle

Monday, March 9, 2015

Legends: A Duel Between Brothers

    It's been a while since I posted anything with action. So I wrote this short story as a reminder that there will be action in my new novel as well. Also because I was able to imagine it so vividly in the first place. I hope you enjoy this little piece and some revelations about these two characters.

Legends: A Duel Between Brothers

One day, the two princes were dueling inside the castle with wooden swords. They had played many matches, but none of them ever seemed as close as this one.
"Today is my day, Zel," the younger prince exclaimed, not letting up on his swings. His spirit was high today and the look on his face appeared to say he had already won. However, the older brother was not going to yield so easily. Strike after strike, the older brother fended of the younger but his arm was steadily growing weaker.
"If you think you will win without a fight, you are sadly mistaken!" Zel stated, giving a strong push for space and a change of pace. It was not everyday that the other prince would dictate the fight, but this day might have been different.
"What did you eat today?" Zel inquired as his brother rushed in and crossed blades.
"The same as you! Eggs, meat, vegetables, too bad it's not helping you!"
The younger brother seemed to have a point as Zel was showing signs of fatigue. Nevertheless, his sword was always close but never hitting its target. Zel had always been know as the superior swordsman even on his bad days. On the other hand, the younger prince was not unskilled either. One-two, parried by Zel. Three-four, closer but still no score. Five-six, making sure Zel has had his fix. There was no opening for the older prince to attack without being struck himself. Unlike his usually more peaceful brother, Zel would not settle for a draw. In this castle, even if one struck first, as long as the other was in mid-swing and finished with a successful critical hit, the duel would be considered a draw. After all, such a situation would be the case in real combat.
Blades were crossed again, Zel was on the bottom, fighting his brother's unusual strength and weight. Sweat could be seen on his face as he was struggling but then his brother had placed too much weight and so Zel was able to roll off to the side, causing the other to fall to the ground. In most matches, this would have been the end, but the younger had indeed learned from his past mistakes and recovered in time to parry Zel's first attack for a long time. Unfortunately for the older prince, it didn't last. Soon the younger brother had the edge and spirit again.
"I don't think you've ever dueled this well before," Zel commented fending off another slash and thrust.
"Are you admitting I'm better now?" the younger said with a smile on his face.
"Dream on!"
Realizing there was no way to overcome his brother's spirit this way, Zel picked himself up and rushed head on to counter the next attack. After shoving the younger one back, Zel made his retreat, running up the stairs and corridor while throwing down chairs to hinder his chaser.
The younger prince did not hesitate to chase while the prey was in sight. This was his chance for victory and he was not going to let it slip away. His mind honed in on his target and proceeded to pursue. He easily overcame the obstacles and nearly caught up with his brother in the top room when he felt something hit him. He turned to look and saw a trap rigged to fire on him as he tripped a wire on the floor. The next thing he knew, the tip of Zel's sword had successfully poked him.
"That's cheating! You rigged this trap beforehand"
  Zel laughed as he lowered his sword and stepped back. Finding a chair at the table he sat down and sighed relief. "I have to admit, you gave me a harder time than I expected, but I figured it was time to open your eyes to the real nature of combat."
"What do you mean?"
"You can't expect whoever you are fighting to not have some tricks prepared beforehand. Every fight is different. You also can't expect no one else to attack you as you pursue your main foe. If you are in battle, you would be killed by one of the soldiers in your pursuit of their captain if you aren't aware."
"That still wasn't fair. I would have won."
"Really? Try again."
The younger prince did try, but the older easily parried and countered with a successful strike, revealing he was acting the whole time.
"That was your plan the whole time?"
"Of course. Like I said, I figured I should open your eyes to reality. The idea of playing fair is so that we learn the fundamentals. However, if you don't practice more realistic situations, you'll never be able to apply those fundamentals. Swordplay is as much a thinking man's game as well as brute force. You need to develop some strategies."
The younger brother was still upset about the nature of being tricked like that. However, seeing that his brother was not really tired at all helped convince him that he still had a lot of training before he could finally win. As a result, his resolve to surpass his brother in at least something strengthened. Something he did not realize until much later is that this sense of competition had greatly accelerated his progress in many things so that only his brother was known as superior.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Writer's Notes: God's Place in Neostriker

    So you may have noticed in reading through Neostriker Shining, that God is mentioned mainly only in the beginning. In the Legends I have released, there is the character Simulaen, who is referred to as a prophet. However, there are two things at play here. I cannot logically write a fantasy story that makes use of spirits without including a Supreme Spirit and Creator that has supernatural powers. On the other hand, I do not consider myself to be audacious enough to write anything to represent what God might say. Hence, you most likely won't see any "Thus says the Lord!" in my stories, even from the prophets.
    When you read my next novel, you will probably think of Simulaen as mostly like Gandalf the wizard from The Lord of the Rings. Now one thing I will differ from Tolkien on is the use of the term "Wizard" as that is by nature associated with magic and has led to confusion among readers about the nature of magic. More modern series, such as Harry Potter or BBC's Merlin have made it even more confusing. While even Tolkien includes a section in his books about how the "magic" seen was actually science beyond their comprehension, but it never explained what was wrong with magic. Having stepped back and pondered the associations and definition of magic, I now understand why it is evil by definition. I'm not going to into full detail right now as it's actually a planned section in my novel as they discuss the character of a prophet-turned-wizard. Hopefully you will find that dialogue to be interesting as it has had a deep impact on the development of Neostriker.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Legends: The Prophet's View on the Games

    This is a very short piece but I think is important for setting up the characters and some of the culture in preparation for my novel. This small piece references two board games I've designed and hopefully can use to create strategy games. While my main goal would be to create a Neostriker game, I would enjoy being a project lead on the two titles I reference here as I have the rules and structure all set up. I just need some game programming experience and artistic talent.

Legends: The Prophet's View on the Games

    One day, the two princes were playing a game of Tactics before their class with the prophet Simulaen.
    "Ha! I won!" the younger prince exclaimed with joy.
    "Good job," Zel said, happy for his brother.
    "So there is something you can beat your brother at," the prophet stated.
    "Would you like to play a round before class?" the younger prince asked.
    "No, but thank you for the offer," Simulaen politely declined. "I do not care for the game of Tactics. I find it a rather disheartening game."
    "Why? I know you enjoy playing Neman, which is almost like Tactics," Zel pointed out.
    The prophet laughed and pulled out his Neman cards. "It is true that Neman and Tactics are linked. Tactics was derived by removing the customization cards from Neman and adding set units. The idea was to make it simpler and accessible to everyone and not just the wealthy class. Both can have layers of strategy, but the concept of one versus one is my preference."
    The prophet picks up a piece and shows it to the princes. "What is the name of this piece?"
    "The Soldier," the princes both answered. After that, the prophet picked up another piece and asked the same, they replied, "the knight." Then they were asked which was more valuable and they quickly answered, "the Knight."
    "That is why I don't like this game. It assigns value to pieces and tells you which can be sacrificed. While it is possible to win with just the soldier, the tacticians still consider it worth less. No life is worth less than another. Each man is very important, not just on the battlefield, but to the lives of their friends and family. Any man who views war like a game of Tactics deserves to lose. That is your main lesson for today."
    "What are the other lessons?" the younger prince inquired.
    "How to properly play Neman, of course," Simulaen smiled and the young princes gathered their cards with excitement to play against the prophet.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Writer's Notes: Themes

Hello Everyone,
     Themes ted to be part of every story whether the author wants it or not. However, I learned that trying to make a theme work is different than letting the theme develop naturally. Long ago, I tried writing a story and tried to have a different theme for each chapter. As a result, the story was horrible. There are some elements that might cross over to my next novel, but trying to make each chapter a lesson means you under develop every theme. Because of this, Shining is probably my best work so far when it comes to novels because I didn't focus on shoehorning themes. Likewise, My plan for my next novel was to have no themes but one has come up again and again naturally in my development so it will be included.
    Now a question for you. Do you think it's best practice to try and write with no themes? Or do you think concentrating on a main theme is what makes a story and good story? I look forward to hearing your responses.
J. D. Nyle

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Legends: Prophets and Meditation

    "Prophet Simulaen, is it true what they say about prophets? That their ears are pointed so that they can hear the Spirit?"
    "No, My Prince. The ears are more of a symbol than of actual purpose."
    "Then why do we say that it is so? Are there no prophets who don't have pointed ears?"
    "My Prince, ask yourself 'What do ears represent?'
    "Listening. Our culture has long thought of the ears as the ability to hear, but hearing is just noise unless we listen. There are some who have perfect hearing but they do not understand what is said because they do not listen."
    The prince pondered for a moment. "So the pointed ears help you listen to the Spirit better?"
The prophet shook his head in disappointment. "I said before that the ears are merely a symbol, a visual reminder. Everyone could listen to the Spirit if they wanted to. Do you know what the Spirit is?"
    The prince replied, "No. Not exactly I guess. Just the creator of the world, right?"
    "Not just that, but the source of all that is good. For it to be the source of good, it must be Good itself. Tell me. Are there times when you hear a thought in your head about an action you should take?"
    "Not really," the prince answered trying to recall any situation but failed to do so.
    "Perhaps that's because you haven't prepared yourself. Some people don't realize it, but they always do what they are inclined to do. For people like your brother, it is always a good deed and that is called 'Virtue.' However, for people like you and me, we must meditate to prepare our minds. This is because there are good inclinations and bad ones." After saying this, the prophet paused for a moment, allowing these words to sink into the young prince's mind.
    "So the good inclinations come from the Spirit, who is the source of good by being Good, right?" the prince finally spoke up.
    "That is correct," the prophet smiled, seeing that the prince was grasping at least a little of what he was saying. He then continued, saying "The reason we meditate is to allow the mind to reflect whether an action is or was good or evil. The more you contemplate by emptying your mind of the rubble your senses give you, the easier it becomes to distinguish the good from the evil. When you make the habit to choose the good, you obtain a virtue. When you obtain virtues, then you become like your brother whose thoughts are so quick to recognize a good action he is inclined to do that he does not need to meditate."
    "But how do you meditate? I've tried it before. It's so hard."
    "Of course it's hard at first. It becomes harder the longer you go without having done it before. This is because if you allow the bad choices to take reign, you don't gain virtues, but instead vices. These are habits you need to break in order to become virtuous but all habits are hard to break in their nature. In order to break them, you need to strengthen your will to overcome them and act in virtue instead."
    "I don't think I can do that. Sometimes even if think an action is bad, I feel too inclined to do it." As the prince said these words, he noticed the prophet quietly laughing to himself. "What's so funny?" he inquired, feeling a bit insulted by his teacher.
Simulaen let out a deep breath and regained his composure. "So you have heard the Spirit before but you didn't recognize it."
    "What do you mean?"
    "If you think the Spirit's voice is something you feel in your ear, then you are wrong, unless you are referring to someone speaking on behalf of the Spirit. The Spirit speak through your conscience first by reminding you what is wrong. What I have mentioned before is only another step towards communication."
    "Now I'm confused."
    "Alright, I'll try to explain it again in a proper order. All things that are good come from the Spirit, which is the source of good because it is Good. That means that when you feel inclinations towards doing good, you can say it comes from the Spirit. The first way the Spirit tries to communicate with you is reminding you what you should not do. After you make a habit of trying to avoid evil and start searching for what is good, then the Spirit will try to communicate by inclining you to do good deeds. However, because you still have inclinations to do non-good actions, you need to start meditating to help your mind be able to correctly identify the good from the evil. If you continually choose the good inclinations, then you obtain a virtue. The more often you practice, the easier it is to distinguish right from wrong."
    The prince sighed. "I'm definitely going to need to think about all of that for a while."
    "As you should," the teacher smiled again. "It is always a good practice to reflect on what you have been taught."
    "So how should I start meditating?"
    "Well, you must recall that a purpose of meditating is to clear your mind of distractions. Find something that helps calm your mind and allow you to focus. I personally found focusing on a ball of light above either a field of grass or calm water inside my imagination helped me a lot. It's also important to realize you do have to start small. You won't be able to focus long, but you should be able to do a minute or two. If you set aside time everyday to meditate, you will eventually be able to meditate longer and easier." The prophet then looked and saw that his pupil's mind was near exhaustion. "That will be it for today. You should go and let your mind rest."
    The prince bowed with respect and appreciation, saying "Thank you, teacher Simulaen," and left to ponder their discussion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Writer's Notes: Diversity

Hello Readers,
    When people hear of diversity, they think about different skin colors and genders. However, that will not be the case in my next novel. I'm planning on not indicating the normal skin color so no one can tell if it's white, asian, middle-eastern, or hispanic based. Also, there won't be any female characters in the main party, though at least one will be introduced for future epics and legends. Even then, her part may not be as you have come to expect in the traditional or liberal sense. It may be a fantasy story, but it's not Final Fantasy (which I have not played), so don't expect heavy magic users in the main party. The story will be about the quest of a prince and his company of knights, like an old Arthurian legend or fairy tale (not the Disney variety). Lastly, there will be no romances portrayed. I don't think we have enough stories that are romance free so there will be some talks about the women they love, but not much detail and you won't see it.
    So you might be wondering how I'm going to include diversity in a such a party. The point is character and city diversity. I don't know how well the characters will develop, but I want to make sure they have distinct personalities that play off each other. The cities will get some diversity thanks in part to the different kingdoms or governments that possess them. The plan is for the quest to take the company through at least seven different villages or cities. Hopefully that won't be too overwhelming a goal for my 24 chapter novel. Otherwise I might have to cut out a few cities and save them for Legends.

J. D. Nyle

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Writer's Notes: Developing the World

Hello Readers,
    Writing the next story for Neostriker has been a challenge. My story outline has been ready for 4 years now, but I'm no where close to completion. This is because I'm building a new world. As a result, I need to figure out how to flesh out the world and make it appealing. Some people point out that if the Lord of the Rings movies did not show the Shire in the beginning, we wouldn't care as much for the quest to save the world. In my studies of Tolkien, I do believe he thought that way. Part of creating a story about saving the world is developing a world worth saving. While I could ignore this and just focus on the quest, I feel like that would make the story less fulfilling. Instead, I'm attempting the route of creating legends and mythologies for the societies encountered. The story will be complete, but at the same time, open for further development. I have 8, potentially 10 stories I want to write in this world, with countless short stories. Shining holds hints of a few of those stories in different chapters. I'm personally very excited to tell them, but it will certainly take time. And since I haven' made any money from my creation yet, I can only use the little free time I have to work on it. However, my resolve has not faded as I still get new inspirations and ideas for my Neostriker Universe.

J. D. Nyle