Music & Stuff

 

Howdy, folks.  Kinda didn’t blog last time! :/

I have no thoughts on anything writing-related at the moment.  However, I have been creative this week.

Some of you may know that I play piano by ear and also that I’m a big Mass Effect fan. 😀 As such, I decided to put my YouTube account to use and post a video of my interpretation of a song from that video game series.

Here’s a link to the original song, and here’s my video:

I recorded this on my phone, so it isn’t the best quality video… I should probably use my Kodak camera next time, heh.

Anyway, hope you enjoy!

 

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Subtlety, Progress & More Mass Effect Stuff

‘K, this post is just gonna be a jumble of things.  Thought I’d warn you now, heh.

Subtlety

A couple of days ago I went to see The Hunger Games in theaters (and it’s really wonderful, btw), and fellow writer Jay Noel and I got to talkin’ on Facebook about whether we thought the movie or the book was better.  We have different opinions, though my primary reason for liking the movie best was a matter of personal taste, I think.

I thought the novel itself lacked subtlety.  Everything was made so obvious that I didn’t really have to use inference at all.  And maybe it’s because it’s a YA novel, idk, but I like having a mixture of things you have to figure out for yourself and outright explanations.  Personally.

Anyway, this got me thinking about subtlety in fiction and the challenge of achieving it.  Soon enough I was on Google seeing what other writers had to say about it.  I came across two really good articles that were more or less saying the same things, just differently, though they were both insightful, imo.  I think the one explains things more in-depth, but the other is good, too.

Check ’em out, if you’re interested.

Progress

Hey!  I’m actually making some progress on editing!  (I change the color of the progress bar some whenever I advance a percentage point or more, hehe.)

It’s been hard getting back into some kind of rhythm after all that’s happened, but excuses aren’t going to get things done.  (Sometimes I feel like I need permission to work on this thing, as it currently does not bring in any income.  Maybe that’s silly, but it can be hard internally justifying a time-consuming effort when you have no guarantee whether its fruits will be lucrative.)

Anyway, my goal is to sift through a minimum of 500 words every day until the end of June.  (Might sound like very little, but I’m not just making quick fixes this round.)  After that, I should be ready to start sending chapters for critique out to first readers–yay!  Maybe I get done before then, but in any case that’s gonna be my mandatory deadline.  We’ll see how that goes.  (So far I’ve been doing considerably more than my daily goal, so I’m off to a good start, at least.)

More Mass Effect Stuff (SPOILERS!)

Last time when I talked about playing Mass Effect 3 a couple of folks requested I do a “spoiler-y post” on my interpretation of the game’s ending.

I give in.

My thoughts aren’t just my own, however.  When I finished the game I knew something felt “off”, but I didn’t realize that this could have potentially been Bioware’s intent all along.  And, after considering other people’s theories and thinking in retrospect…I had to come to the conclusion that maybe the writers at Bioware are just incredibly clever folks (and not the sloppy plotters so many fans are making them out to be).

As I said once, the ending felt really strange and eerie to me, like what was happening wasn’t the “real” ending.  Then I watched a few videos like this one and thought, “Whoa…that explains almost everything!”  Perhaps there was a reason I felt so out-of-sorts at the end; perhaps I, the outside player, was experiencing a simulation of the in-story phenomenon of Reaper indoctrination (brief 87-second video).

I have to tell you, this theory changed the entire way I looked at the game.  It truly blew my mind.  The fact that I had no idea what was going on at the end of the game and, according to this theory, quite literally fell into the trap of the Reapers (by tossing myself into the energy beam that would bring about the Synthesis of organic and synthetic life) is just brilliant; it’s also sad.  If I were actually Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect universe, I would have voluntarily doomed the galaxy to Reaper control.

And I didn’t even see it coming.

Now I’m kind of determined to replay the game and make the theorized “best” choice at the end, the one that has mattered all along: destroying the Reapers.  Still, I enjoyed my original gaming experience with my “guinea pig” character Genevieve Shepard, whom I’ve used on my first play-throughs for all the ME games.  In any case, I do think Bioware should release free content with some real answers. 😛  (I suppose I get why they might hold back answers for a while, though.  It does encourage a lot more discussion and theorizing.)

In the end, I guess it’s still possible that all the available endings are failures, depending on how you interpret them, but I guess us fans will just have to wait and see.

Mass Effect 3

So.

Some of you might know that I’ve been *ehem* neglecting the editing of my novel in order to do a play-through of a game called Mass Effect 3, developed by Bioware (now a division of Electronic Arts).  I’ve been a huge fan of their games since they released Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.  I don’t play a lot of video games, but when I do many times they’re role-playing titles by Bioware.

I love the idea that gamers can make decisions that can compound and actually affect the storyline (and, in this case, even carry over into other games).  Bioware thus far has done an incredible job of exploring the possibilities of this feature in their games, and Mass Effect 3 is no exception.

I’m not really here to do a game review, though.  I just want to point out some of the highlights of my gaming experience with Bioware’s latest title and reflect on some things I can take away from it as a writer.

Mass Effect 3 Is Not Afraid To Explore Dark, Gritty Themes

There were missions in this game that really made me cringe and wonder thoughts like, “How can anyone do that to another human being?”  It took me to places I’d, quite frankly, rather not go (were they real) and affected me on a surprisingly emotional level.  The game portrays humanity not only at its best but also at its absolute worst, particularly when things go terribly awry with certain technological advancements.  It shows a possible future that is staggeringly bleak and forces you to engage it head-on.

There were many a time during the game where things got so depressing that I truly questioned our hero(ine) Commander Shepard’s ability to unite a galaxy and defeat an overwhelmingly powerful enemy.  The foes are mighty and the stakes are insanely high.

No picnics here.

Mass Effect Asks The Tough Questions

Should humans develop artificial intelligence?  Do A.I. have the right to life?  Just what are organics (humans, alien races) really capable of?  What is the purpose of organic life?  How far should we take genetic engineering–or any scientific process, for that matter?  What is the next step in human evolution?

These are just some of the many questions that this game poses to players (very similar to Battlestar Galactica, actually) and asks them to make tough decisions about.

Mass Effect Makes You Care About What Happens To Characters

No small feat.

When I cry three times during one game (I’m not even kidding)…then I think the writers and creators have done something right.

Throughout all the games in the Mass Effect series players are given the option to cultivate relationships (both platonic and romantic) with other characters, and those can continue to grow over time.  In a story about galactic war, it goes without saying that some of the characters players grow to love (or hate) will end up dying–and I, for one, felt it.  The main ones, even some minor characters, all had their own personal stories and reasons for fighting, stories they’re willing to share if only the player takes the time to get to know them.  This made the playing experience all the more personal.

Also, I’m Still Trying To Suss Out What The (apparently controversial) Ending(s) Means

I get the feeling that things aren’t really as they seem to be on the surface… The “ending” (the one I chose, at least) felt very haunting and eerie to me and leaves a lot to the imagination (see here *spoiler alert*), making me suspect there’s more to come.  Whether in DLC (downloadable content) and/or another game, who knows?  Either way, I plan to stick around and find out.

Anyway, What I Took Away As A Speculative Fiction Writer

  1. Be brave in taking players (readers) to places they haven’t gone–not just philosophically or as far as using one’s imagination goes but also emotionally.  It may start in a foreign world/environment with exotic lifeforms but it really happens though characters who ultimately, alien or not, must feel human.  (See #3.)
  2. Ask the “what ifs” and try to provide some answers.  “How would a galaxy full of various alien races fare against a superior sentient machine race hellbent on annihilating and/or repurposing all advanced organic life?”  The Mass Effect series is the answer to that question.
  3. Develop distinct characters who have their own personal motivations.  If people can relate to their plights, then chances are they’ll actually care and the story will have more meaning.
  4. Endings are tough to pull off well; consider them carefully.

And…yeah, I think that about sums it up!

Anyone Else Playing This Game?

If so, what do you think about it?  Or, if you aren’t, have you ever played a game from which you were able to take away some writing lessons or goals to be inspired by?