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NERD

As a teenager I was never far from pen and paper or eventually my manual typewriter. Short stories that I never got to finish were my speciality. It has been a very long time since I’ve attempted writing fiction – although I failed miserably at NaNoWriMo one year – and as my reading has begun to increase so has my urge to attempt a new piece of fiction.

The premise I have and a synopsis is starting to grow from it. It’s slow going just now but when my studies conclude in May there will be an opportunity for that time to be massaged into creative writing. The mnemonic “Narration, Exposition, Reflection, Description” is something I’d like to claim for my own fiction writing use. It has found its way into topics like Sabermetrics but for writing it seems an ideal fit too. After all where would writers be without reflection?

To have a novel written – published or not – is a long-term achievement unless, of course, I find an agent willing to stump-up an advance. Extremely unlikely as that is, it would allow a better concentration of time given over to writing it. I can dream, right?! In any circumstance I have notebooks full of daft, crazy scenarios that I may eventually decipher into a modern-day or futuristic story.

Curious as I am, are there any of you reading this post thinking of doing the same or have you already written ‘your’ book? Had it published? Been rejected? Was it what you hoped it would be?

Body and mind

Popular narrative loves the human condition. Our bodies and minds are abused, battered, saved, lost, stripped, mended, exhausted, diseased and disabled. Combat is never far from the body and mind in a setting that is dictated by good narrative. Think of all the movies, books and TV dramas that rely on conflicts of the human condition be it physical or mental. Where would the hero or heroine be without a little pain and suffering?

Which brings me nicely onto the subject of one medium that I believe has yet to grasp the vast opportunities of exploring short and long-term injury, both mental and physical, within its narrative. Video games are still seen as childish representations of fictional realities. If I’ve learnt one thing from fiction it’s that I connect better to a character that suffers and succeeds when there’s a grounding of reality there.

One recent example was the decision I had to make whether to remove the hand of Lee, after he had been bitten, in the recent (Telltale Games) The Walking Dead game. I knew it had to be done for Lee to survive but I’d never been confronted with losing part of a limb, within the context of a video game, before. It was a very effective moment and drew me to the character’s overall plight that much more. I felt then that Lee may not yet survive the story where previously I believed he would. I shared that emotion because the loss was a permanent outcome that shaped the resulting gameplay.

When I played Fallout 3 I had hoped that the effects of radiation sickness would feature more than it did. Imagine if a contagion was a plight that had to be addressed within the framework of a game world. Where a player had to be mindful of who he/she came into contact with and what would happen if they became infected? Will that risk be represented in the game The Last of Us? I’d like to think it will be but how complicated would that make the variables of outcome for the player?

Still there really is very little to excuse the endless supply of meaningless, cold and un-involving video games that still get produced. Maybe like many of the other mediums of entertainment, it will take the smaller independent productions to lead the way to a less childish and more emotionally involved gaming future?

Binding

At the start of 2013 I made a little promise to myself.

I then put that promise into a visual achievement over at goodreads.

It’s now nearing the end of April and the promise seems to be holding out. The basis of which came about because I love reading but had been very lazy over previous years. Especially since the turn of the century (sounds crazy to type that last sentence).

Now I love to write and have always done so since I was say…eleven or twelve years old. But any improvement I have gained in my writing is a two-fold endeavour. Without reading regular, varied, new material I believe my writing has begun to suffer. This is why I have pushed myself to commit to more reading since 2010 – the year I began my OU studies. I’d love to write my own novel and I feel to attempt such a feat would mean a better understand of the written word.

The movie & book activity that I’m posting about here goes some way to reinforce my reading habits but I also like the chance to balance ‘the book’ against ‘the movie’. Comparing these two very different mediums, that I love, allows a development to my writing skills I have only just explored within the context of essay writing at the OU.

I will be looking at posting a report on The Silver Linings Playbook in the very next movie & book. I’m nearing the final part of the book itself and hope to watch the movie with my wife this weekend. In this series of posts I’m open to suggestions, as I am with the game diary posts.

So if you have any movie & book reports that you’d like me to cover don’t be shy…

Delilah

knifedun

Returning to an experience like Dishonored, especially after some time has passed, can be both hugely rewarding and a huge slap to my face. I originally had no plans to pick up the game upon original release and for that thought-crime I should be sorely punished.

In the very first post here I rushed in my top ten games from the last five years. I placed Dishonored in 9th spot but I now see that was a mistaken value to give the game. In retrospect, I’d rate it far higher than that. It could well be my favourite game since 2008 when I first played Bioshock on my sparkling new 360. Five years on and Dunwalls scope, variety and re-playability are totally in-tune with my own imagination. As game-worlds go I have concluded that Dunwall trumps all those other playgrounds with the choice it allows me in my approach and depth of connection. Gaming experiences that allow me to play stealth as an option, a game that rewards both full-bloodied attack or sneaking to find an advantage, will always win my heart. Sorry Columbia but you’re not even in the running.

Back to the diary then.

Took my time with the first level, A Captain of Industry. There’s an introduction of a new NPC, Billie Lurk, in a supporting role to Daud and his quest for redemption. I like how this takes us me away from the experience I had playing(the other side of coin) with Corvo. Some new abilities also for Daud plus a few that have been tweaked – Blink can be paused and redirected(although I am still to master this).

The size and choice of approach to this initial level match that of the original game. Once again I am encouraged to explore and try out new approaches because the design of the game is a dream that, as a gamer, I don’t want to wake up from.

So Delilah.

Name of a whaling ship. Name of a Copperspoon.

It’s the first lead that Daud has to track down. I’m sure there are many more to come before this two-part DLC concludes. Daud learns very little early on but this level has a number of clues that fill in some of what he seeks. As I played out A Captain of Industry my suspicions rose with regards to Billie Lurk’s motives for helping. She may not yet be all she claims to be…there may be honour among thieves but where does that leave assassin’s?

Next up in this Dishonored game diary – Thalia

  • Daud (returnofsweetflag.wordpress.com)

 

Vex

Bemusement.

I have had to take a break away from playing Bioshock Infinite. The game was beginning to wear on me and I just can’t get passed the mental block that is stopping me from completing it. I know that in time I will return to finish the game and maybe playing on the ‘hard’ setting may hinder my enjoyment a little.

If Bioshock Infinite wasn’t so reliant on the arena combat that feels muddy then it is possible I’d be enjoying the game experience more.

Here’s the issues that I have currently with the game. Currently I’m chasing the ghost of Elizabeth’s mother towards some tears;

  • Elizabeth. Other than ammo, health handling, picking locks and tears, I’m feeling a disconnect with her character. As AI companion to your Booker there’s some nice touches but not to the extent I thought I’d see. In combat she aids Booker but is never in any danger herself. I have a theory she’s either a figment of Booker’s imagination or the game design itself does not allow the opposing AI any provision in including Elizabeth as a threat. If it’s the latter of the two then I have a problem with it. It breaks my immersion with the game. If I think back to how well the connection grew between Lee and Clementine (in the recent The Walking Dead game) was from the belief that, as Lee, I was protecting her from danger at every turn. Looking ahead too I have great hopes for how this dynamic will work in the forthcoming The Last of Us. I’m not getting that from Bioshock Infinite. If the game was less combat driven and more was given over to situations that Booker and Elizabeth could work through together that would go some way to increasing my immersion.
  • Combat. I read the arguments for and those against the level of violence in the game. I can find value in both arguments. Ultimately I don’t find the combat that enjoyable; I’m not a fan of roller-coasters or combat that revolves around areas that aren’t dissimilar to arena combat seen in games like Quake. Bioshock Infinite has both these elements in its combat makeup. I prefer my Bioshock combat within buildings or a city like Rapture.

Please remember I have yet to finish the game. I have tried to ignore spoilers but I know a few have slip through into thoughts. It’s very likely that I will close this diary out when I complete the game. Look for the conclusion post as soon as I allow myself some time back in Columbia.

The conclusion to this Bioshock Infinite game diary – Torn

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