Posts Tagged ‘ story ’

Gaming: The Power of a Good Story

Games, games are changing.

Yes the graphics are always improving and the physics engines both imitate and subvert reality in many outstanding ways but now we have something more….

Story.

At the dawn of video games, there wasn’t much space in cartridges or floppy disks for stories.  Most developers didn’t bother, but as the first decade of gaming progressed (that’s the 80’s for you youngsters, yeah the ones wearing the John Hughes’ movie wardrobe), RPGs crossed over to home computers and PCs, which meant stretching the hardware to accommodate story beyond “here be aliens, shoot them!” explanation of the earlier frantic gaming mechanic.

Most of said story remained buried in the manuals with the game itself providing more shooting, spells swinging and sword bashing than complicated plot points.

Not anymore.

Somewhere around the turn of the century a combination of more powerful machines and graphic cards, game worlds could be rendered in glorious 3D (as opposed to the chunky polygons of the century before) and with plenty of space in both hard drives and disks (CDs, then DVDs and now Blu-Ray) they could inject great soundtracks, thousands of lines of spoken dialogue by dozens of highly skilled voice actors (and not a few celebrity cameos).

Which still leaves one thing….

Story!

The best games in the last few years, specially in the Console/PC RPG market, not only have stunning visuals and fast paced action but powerful story lines.  You don’t simply want to blast your enemies into pink (or green or blue, whatever) mist, but you want to known what your father was working on, who is behind the abduction of of human colonies and why your family was slaughtered while you were spared.

Story matters.

Story makes the difference.

The age of true interactive entertainment is here.

——-

And to show you what I mean, here is a bit of epic writing that turns the Mass Effect franchise into something more than alien fodder blasting or Space Opera Light:

Fire in the Sky (2)

Grand Peterhof Palace, Peterhof, Russian Territory, Earth, Sol System, Orion Arm, 30 March, 08:00 hrs. Local Standard Time

Shaparov waived his hand over the conference table, “Please take a seat.”

To the left of  House de Havilland sat the ambassador to Earth of House Garou, Altain Jorgen whose pointed canine ears twitch in response to every sound in the room. To Edwards right say Jackelyn Carter-Moore, representative from the Imperial Bureaucratic Corp, with her long black hair running the length of her gold trimmed white robes, both front and back. Both seats across from him remained empty. Light streamed from the large floor to ceiling windows. Edward noticed the rich baroque furnishings, from the vases to the ornate frescoes in the ceiling

Shaparov stood by his seat, waiting for the final delegate, “And there she is.”

She glided into the room. Her sapphire blue eyes pierced the young duke’s mind like nothing he had ever seen before. Platinum blond hair flowed in long streams behind her. She had a single escort, a shot hair woman of about the same age with a stern expression on her face.  It was the sight of the second that snapped the duke back into reality.

With a snap of the boots and a bow Shaparov welcomed them, “Thank you for coming, Lady Andrea. Now if you will take a seat, we shall begin.”

Edward took a zip from the glass. He saw the Lady’s impish smile refracted through the water. He cleared his throat to distract him from the burning sensation on the tip of his ears.

Shaparov’s demeanor changed from amiable host to military commander in a heart beat, “Ladies and gentlemen, the reason why you are here is simple.” He took a deep breath and held it for a few seconds. ” With your help, I intent to reshape the universe.”

The announcement was greeted with stunned looks of silence by all of the participants except two, Edward Duke of  House de Havilland and Lady Andrea Jessica,  First Daughter of House Kaiser. “For the past three hundred years, the Throne of Stars has remained empty. This was and still is due in grand part to the infighting between and within the Major Houses. We in the Imperial Arm have also contributed to this by our own military actions. Although the intentions of those who held my post were honorable, they were also misguided. One can be a soldier or a ruler, but not both. Soldiers need leaders to follow. Those leaders in turn set the missions to be accomplished and give the soldiers the means to accomplish them. Therefore I propose that,” he waved an open hand toward Edward, “that we find such a leader.”

This time the gesture was greeted with murmurs by the others.

Jorgen spoke first, “House Garou’s position has always been to support any legitimate candidate to the Imperial Throne. Considering that the last Dynasty came from House de Havilland, we believe it to be the logical choice.”

“We have the Duke’s genetic material on record and it is a match to that in the Imperial files. There is a question about parentage–”

“A question that has been asked and answered,” Edward retorted.

“Yes, well the Corps would have to review the records. But if they meet with the established requirements then the path should be clear.”

Edward felt Lady Andrea gaze on him, studying him closely.  Her soft lips move slowly and deliberately with each syllable, “The position of House Kaiser is thus, we make no direct claim to the Throne of Stars. However, we do reserve the right to support or reject any candidate to it, and we will enforce that right by any means necessary.”

She drank from her cup, delaying the moment.  Then she spoke again, “Our approval hinges on one condition.” Her looked directly at Edward with an unflinching stare, “that our Houses be united by marriage.”

“I see. An Emperor needs an Empress, but I did not know that the Duchesses was still available,” Edward replied.

“Not her, me.”

“A union between the eldest and youngest of the Houses would erase any question of legitimacy, would it not Ms. Carter-Moore?” Jorgen added.

“It would help the Duke’s cause, although there is the question of who would take the Duke’s title. After all, once he becomes Emperor, should that happen,  his House would be the Imperial House, not House de Havilland,” added Carter-Moore.

“Indeed, in order to retain the balance of power, the would be Emperor must appoint a successor,” Jorgen said with a flick of his pointed ears.

“That will not be a problem. My cousin is next in line and more than ready to take the position if comes to that. My only question is what you, Grand Marshall, get out of this,” Edward said.

“The only thing that an Emperor could give me and those who have served with loyalty the Empire for hundreds of years, the recognition that we are due.”

“A title of your own. That would elevate the Orion arm to the same level of the other Houses, and deprive the Imperial House of territory,” Edward said.

“However misguided, our loyalty to the Throne of Stars has never wavered.  What is territory compared to the fealty of millions of the best troops in the galaxy standing at the call of the Empire?” Shaparov said.

“A net gain,” Edward said. Turning back his attention across the table, “Which leaves the matter of marriage. You’ll forgive me my Lady if I take sometime to ponder your proposal.”

“I expect no less. But I believe I speak for everyone here when I say that the window of opportunity is small and could close at any moment,” Lady Andrea said.

Now it was Edward’s time to smile, “I understand.”

“If there are no other matters to discuss I call this meeting adjourned. I hope you stay with us until this evening. We planned some modest celebrations in your honor and I hope that you take the time to enjoy them.”

Edward exchanged a last glance with Lady Andrea as group departed the conference table, a move that met with stern disapproval from her escort. On their way back to their quarters Mercer spoke into his duke’s ear, “There was someone missing from the table.”

“I know. But I expect that we will hear from the Han soon enough.”

Complete Rubbish

Inner dialogue sometime last weekend at around 2:55 in the morning.

——-

Complete and total rubbish, that is!

What is it you’re talking about, you nutter?

Well, my short story that’s what!

Oh, you wrote–you wrote a story, a short one, you say, and it wasn’t any good? I could have told you that, you stupid git! I read some of the rubbish you post in this blog. You should be ashamed of yourself.

I am, I am….

So what are ya going to do about it, eh? Write more crap or are ya going to crack open a dictionary for once and use it as God intended?

———

And so it went.

So where did this wave of self doubt and recrimination originated?

From a “beta” my good friend Iz did for me recently.

Did I mention it was a HUGE favor? I mean it was titanic in its scope. He dragged his eyes (mid-vacation mind you) across the garbage strewn landscape that I dared call  a story (yes I dared, silly of me I know) and after much sorting he managed to pull out the salvageable bits.

I do not have Protection from Editors.

Aw God no!

That is a good thing, I guess.

Now I need to recycle those surviving bits into a story worth reading.

I can do this.

I can overcome my dreadful grammar, horrible pacing and inject some emotions into my characters.

YES I CAN!

And I will too.

Just you see.

Or Issac will see, if he has the stomach for a second round.

Did I mention that this favor was of astronomical proportions? Super Nova pale in comparison to what he did for me.

Just so you know.

And now for a cool anime style game trailer:

Flash Fiction Friday: Once More Into the Breach

Haven’t updated in awhile. It seems that Flash Fiction Friday is not as popular as I thought it would be. No worries, you live and learn. This is another story set in the Galaxy Command RPG setting.

——–

Argus stared at the screen over the bar through bleary red eyes. Someone sat on the stool to his left, “How are you buddy?”

Argus drained his glass with one long pull. “What parts of no you don’t understand Gary, the N or the O?” he spat at the new comer.

“The part where you’re broke or the part where you still have nine months on your reserve status, I can’t decide which part that may be Argus,” said Gary.

“And what are you going to do about it?” Argus looked around him, “I don’t see a security squad with you and you’re not stupid enough to try to drag me back to the brig all by yourself so what do you want?”

“I’m putting a new team together and I need someone like you. Technically I could order you back, but I don’t want it to go down that way.”

Argus made a slicing motion across his throat to the bartender. “Technically I could give three shits about what you want or your orders.”

“I’ll take care of that,” said Gary to the bartender. He took the data pad and sign in his own name. “Still drinking scotch I see, all three bottles worth.”

Argus shrugged, “You done?”

“Yeah. There should be something waiting for you in your room. Think of it as your severance package.”

Argus got up from his chair and made his way across the casino. Little old ladies played the coin machines. Lights and sounds blasted through his dulled senses. Inside his room, he stumbled in the dark. “Ouch! Damn it!” A small table toppled over. The pain emanating from the stubbed toe pierced through the alcohol induced mental fog. “Lights!” A black box lay on the ground.  It came to life the moment he touched it.

WE ARE D’VOR

Startled by the ominous voice Argus put the box down on the bed. Gary’ holographic face appeared before him, “Argus this is part of a transmission we received from Eden about a week ago. You heard the rumors about what happened. We still don’t have all the facts and I can’t say more without compromising security. I need someone to whip up a new team to investigate this. Training contract, good pay, expunged record. Can’t give you back your old rank, but you never stood on rank anyway. Meet me at the starport at 11:45hrs. If you don’t show up, I won’t hold it against you. Hope to see you there.” The image winked out.

Argus shook his head and flopped back to be. He would be crazy to return to Galaxy Command. Not after the Koha Maru, not after what happened to Ryan.

Then again… he thought, but sleep took over.

Flash Fiction Friday: Escape from Eden-P1

Another Friday, another piece of flash fiction. This one is inspired by the video in this post. Hope you like it.

—-

Drip…

Drip…

Drip…

“Carson? Where are you Carson?”

The sound of Tszar’s voice drew Jane Carlson’s mind away from the drops of water percolating though the hull of the Antoine Marie. Over 300 meters of the ship laid underwater. Tszar, the ship’s Smtek navigator came down from the access platform to where Carlson stood on four, double jointed appendages.

“Captain Byron wants a word with you”, Tszar said or though, the trans-box attached to the Smtek forehead translated his thoughts to Human Standard.

Carlson stared at Tszar large, liquid eyes. “More repair work, right? The ship is broken. We are not going anywhere. We’re lucky to be alive”, she said.

Some of us anyway, she thought.  Unlike Holland and Dolby.

“There is still a chance of a rescue Carlson” Tszar responded.

“Only if Byron’s crazy idea works, and I doubt it.” She whipped strands of black hair from her face. “The odds of boosting a signal that reaches a inhabited system are low, to say the least. ”

Balancing on three limbs Tszar extended a fourth toward Carlson. The end of it changed shape to resemble a human hand. It came to rest on her shoulder, “We survived a star going Nova. That means that Fate is on our side, for now.”

The Smtek believed in what the universe existed in dynamic balance between two “Wills”, Fate and Sentience. So nothing and Fate takes over, act and you shape Fate. Carlson didn’t care much for a living cosmos but they were alive so maybe there was something to it.

“OK, I’ll see what Byron wants.” She walked away, leaving Tszar to stare at the water descended one drop at a time.

—-

Another video. This one is an EVE Online trailer:

Evagelion 2.0

Evangelion is an apocalyptic mecha action series which centers around the efforts by the paramilitary organization Nerv to fight monstrous beings called Angels, primarily using giant mecha called Evangelions which are piloted by select teenagers, one of whom is the primary protagonist.

Evangelion was a anime series from the late 1990s that deconstructed all manner of anime/manga based tropes from giant robots fighting (and trampling) in Tokyo to teenage mecha pilots saving the day.

How?

Mid way through the first episode the teenage pilot of the titular giant robot goes unconscious in middle of the battle.

The giant robot takes over.

Beats the crap out of its opponent.

And then eats it!

Then it got worse….

By that I mean it got weird….

Which really means it got way better….

And then it had two endings.

Which can only be described with one compound word.

Clusterfuck!

In a artsy sort of way.

Which both rocked and…

Didn’t….

Confused?

You better be.

After all:

Events in the series refer to Judeo-Christian symbols from the book of Genesis and Biblical apocrypha among others.[6] Later episodes shift focus to psychoanalysis of the main characters, who display various emotional problems and mental illnesses;[7][8] the nature of existence and reality are questioned in a way that lets Evangelion be characterized as “postmodern fantasy”.[9] Hideaki Anno, the director of the anime series, suffered from clinical depression prior to creating the series, and the psychological aspects of the show are based on the director’s own experiences with overcoming this illness.

Yeah, and now four new movies  try to reinvigorate the franchise.  The second installment came out today in Japan although we in the rest of the world will probably have to wait until either reaches a Japanese animation dedicated cable/satellite channel or it hits the DVD rack.  Either way Evangelion is back!

Here is the trailer for Evagelion 2.0:

Flash Fiction Friday: Scramble!

Stephen Delacroix pushed the sliding door to the mess hall to one side. The techies hadn’t fix it yet. A paper stuck to the other side read:

Please, do not lock door.

Thank you.

The Management.


Typical Stephen thought. Snatches of conversations buzzed past his ear.

“So I told her that I liked a threesome but not with Mary. I mean I thought she was her sister.”

“Really?

He reached the counter. An young and overweight attendant bent over a open fridge, exposing more flesh that Stephen cared to see. The attendant glimpsed at the new comer and yelled at him “Kitchen close!”

“At 20:00 hrs?”

At the sound of the voice the clerk spun around, nearly falling on his ass. “Sorry Boss. Didn’t know it was you. We don’t have much left, but I can whip up something for you” the clerk said scratching the back of his head.

“Just give me a ham and cheese, Jonsey.”

“Errm…we don’t have any cheese, Boss, unless you want goat cheese?”

Stephen made a face which Jonsey interpreted as a no. “Toast with butter, then.”

“What kind of butter, Jonsey?”

“Well, let me see.” Jonsey rummaged through another fridge, “Goat too.”

“Never mind, I’ll have just toast and a coffee–” The sound of klaxons interrupted him.

ALERT CONDITION ONE! ALL PILOTS, SCRAMBLE, SCRAMBLE!

Stephen Delacroix ran down the maze of corridors to the fighter launch bays. Techs helped him with his vac-suit and system checks. By the time the systems had synchronize the Typhoon Mk. VI slid into the designated launch tube.  Data streamed into his visor as powerful electromagnets clamped on the fighter’s hull. With a quick thumbs up the ship slid down the tube, crushing Gs pushing Stephen against his seat. He felt another jolt as the fighter blasted out of the station’s artificial gravity well.

“All units, this is Calvary Lead. Target ETA in 5 at 3G. Commence burn on my mark…MARK!” Fighter exhausts glowed white as the ships accelerated toward the target area. A quick look at his instruments showed what looked like a squadron of Aero-Fighters, Vampire Class, attacking an unarmed medium size transport.

Stephen, now Calvary Leader, keyed in his radio, “Bravo 1, do you have any other enemies on sensors?”

“Negative” came the reply.

No carrier in sensor range. Probably hiding on a nearby planetary orbit. But that meant that these pilots had flown a long way to close the distance to their targets. A warning beep in his ear snapped him out of his thoughts.

“Looks like they saw us coming in. Jammers online. Switch decoy dispensers to automatic mode.”

Several enemy fighters broke off from their attacks and launched missiles at Calvary Wing. Well practice maneuvers and several decoy canisters defeated the incoming missiles. Their attackers were not as lucky. The return volley devastated the pirate craft.  The others beat a hasty retreat.

Stephen sharp eyesight detected movement near the freighter moments before it engaged it FTL drive. “All units break reverse course!”

The freighter released several large canister which detonated in sudden, blast of light.  Several electromagnetic pulses hit the incoming craft. The systems on the Typhoons overloaded.  They were sitting ducks until the ships computers re-booted.

When the did….

BRAVO 1 TO CALVARY WING. WE ARE UNDER ATTACK!

Stephen detected three warships on an intercept course with the station. Each ship poured volley after volley of missile fire while receiving devastating punishment in return.

“Calvary Lead to all fighters. Return to base, max burn” Stephen ordered. The Wing made it in time to stop one of the ships. The stations batteries destroyed a second, but the third punched through the defenses and smashed into the outer hull. A second later an explosion obliterated it and the lower half of Bravo 1.

The combined sounds of his breathing and heartbeat filled his helmet. Someone was desperate or callous enough sacrifice several fighters and three missile destroyers to achieve their objective.

Whoever they were….

Stephen keyed in his radio again, “Ground control, this is Calvary Lead, we request permission to land on spaceport.”

After a short pause a female voice responded, “Permission granted Calvary Wing. General Patterson will be waiting for you on the tarmac.”

“Understood.”

As his craft entered orbit Stephen Delacroix reflected on what had just happened.

Over six hundred lives.

This is war.

—–

Well, that is it for this Flash Fiction Friday. Not very imaginative, but good practice none the less.  Here is a short video that served as the inspiration for the narrative above. Its from the Macross: Do You Remember Love? PSOne game.

Enjoy!

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