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Random Ramblings on Writing and Video Games

On Writing

It's a bit crazy, but I still get reviews rolling in occasionally for The Fifth Act. (By crazy I do of course mean 'awesome'). Since the fic has been complete for a long while though, I've been noticing an amusing trend where I get a review complaining about all the angst somewhere in the mid-thirties... and then half an hour or so later I get another review on the last chapter basically saying 'okay yeah I actually liked the ending, all is forgiven'.  Which has led me to wonder both:

A. How much crap I can get away with in the body of the story so long as the ending is decent.
B. What the reaction would have been if the ending had been properly tragic.

It's interesting to think about, even though I'm long done with post-mortem on that particular fic.

It's also interesting to relate that to tragedy fic in general. An overwhelming number of people say how much they hate sad endings... and yet, in terms of response, Dear Kunsel is far and away my most successful one-shot ever - in fact, in terms of feedback per chapter, it's the runaway winner of everything.

*In case you can't tell I logged onto FF.net and had a look at the stats page for the first time in a while.*

Is it just the visceral response of the unexpected?  Since the happy ending is the expected one, anything that doesn't follow that, even if unwelcome, prompts a reaction.

(Don't worry this doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to go on another tragic fic bender.)

Still on the subject of fic, I've been writing a lot of Cid recently, because while writing Beloved I discovered how much I enjoy writing some of the less popular characters in FF7 (e.g. Nanaki, Barret, Reeve.)  Subsequently had this amusing exchange with agentlerain online:

Me: I'm concerned about how much Cid is swearing. It's technically canon, but how much swearing is too much swearing?
Her: When there are no words in-between.

...I felt like we were very Australian right then.

My boss was swearing at the build at work last week and kept apologising to me for it but I'm like 'if you didn't apologise I wouldn't even notice'. Lately I've started to wonder how terribly my social calibration may be off because of things like this.

On Games

Ni No Kuni is amazing and so perfect that I've actually been playing through it quite slowly because I need to savor it. That's all I'm going to say on that one for now less I start gushing verbal rainbows.

Persona 4 Arena, on the other hand, is kind of shit.

I'm not terrible at fighting games - while they are not my first genre I have played the hell out of at least couple per generation, perhaps not enough to be world-class arcade shark but more than enough to easily pwn my social circle and the hardest AIs. Yet I simply cannot do half the combos, not even in training mode where there is nothing going on. This is basically the same reason why I haven't been able to get properly into Guilty Gear or BlazBlue despite best efforts. Quarter circle analog stick combos do not translate well to a home console controller. And timing for some of those combos is damn near surgical.

I don't know where the voice director has gone, either. It's the same cast of actors, but they're somehow worse than both P4 and P4Anime. Or has my tolerance for cringe-worthy voice acting simply disappeared? Labrys's voice in particular makes me recoil.

Also, is it just me, or does the story read like Mary Sue fanfiction? It started out okay, but it feels incredibly trite compared to P4. It was always going to be a tough ask for a fighting game to live up to P4's kind of storytelling, admittedly, but something about it rubs me horribly the wrong way. Which is weird, because the basic premise feels reasonably solid. Maybe part of the issue is that they're starting to shove thoughts into Narukami's head and put words into his mouth that feel incongruous with whatever your mental image of the protagonist in P4 was - part of the problem with the P4 anime, actually, where the anime staff apparently decided to chose all jerk!bro responses. Plus reading headspace narrative in P4-universe is really jarring - that story was driven almost entirely by dialogue and little emotiocons/facial expressions showing character satisfaction. It feels kind of like a break in style, an exposure of the fourth wall - you're suddenly acutely aware that this is something someone has made, and that the characters are puppets dancing to another author's whims.

And the music doesn't loop. What the hell ArcSystems. You get to work with Shoji Meguro's music and can't even do that?

TL;DR - Persona 4 Arena is a lot more ArcSystems than it is Atlus.

Still on the topic of Atlus, though, Devil Survivor 2 has been somewhat marvellous! It was basically exactly like Devil Survivor with a couple of small improvements and a different cast, which is great, because sometimes 'more of the same' is all you want. It had a pretty decent difficulty curve too, where most battles were challenging enough to make me think hard about strategy but not so much that I struggled - at least, until the final boss where I did die a couple of times. Also found out there is an anime of it! Have only watched the first episode so far but it's looking pretty excellent.

On a side note...

Iron Man 3 was awesome. Star Dark: Into The Darkness was even more awesome and gave me an incredible appetite for BAMF!Bones-centric canon-verse genfic, which is apparently an incredibly rare and specific taste (and have subsequently expanded my acceptance to Reaper!Bones fics). I would also totally be on board for any Sulu or Chekov canon-verse genfic. For such an old and massive fandom, the pickings are surprisingly slim in terms of decent canon-verse genfic in general, actually.  If anyone has recs, pretty please sling them my way.


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 20th, 2013 04:07 pm (UTC)
As someone pushing her way through Devil Survivor 2 so the anime doesn't spoil her, I completely feel you. I have heard rumors of them doing a Devil Survivor 2 Overclocked version.

Also, Crunchyroll is doing a simulcast of Devil Survivor 2 the anime, so with a free account you can see all the episodes out so far except this week's. Having watched the first couple, I now almost slash the protagonist and Yamato, just for that scene where Yamato almost whispers in the protagonist's ear in passing something to the effect of "Follow my orders."
May. 21st, 2013 02:36 am (UTC)
I never wind up playing any of the Overclocked or International versions of games. There never seems to be enough of a difference to merit paying for another playthrough? Or have I been missing something all of these years?

Yes, that is indeed where I have been watching! I actually have a paid Crunchyroll account even though I am not completely in love with the service, because $7 a month is trivial given their back catalogue, saved me the hassle of tracking down Kuroko no Basuke or a couple of seasons worth of Bleach episodes. LOL, I haven't made it that far yet, but I can totally imagine! I wonder which path they'll wind up following.
(no subject) - killiara - May. 21st, 2013 03:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sinnatious - May. 21st, 2013 09:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - killiara - May. 21st, 2013 04:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 21st, 2013 12:42 am (UTC)
Well, this is just me, but I personally can stomach heavy angst and darkness if things turn out well in the end, and/or as long as there is a sense of hope left. In The Fifth Act, you just knew that things weren't entirely hopeless and there were ways to save the characters. (The cure, the friends Cloud had made, etc.)

Or, unless the story is very short, like the one with Hojo and Cloud and For Fallen Comrades. (This is also why I haven't read Dear Kunsel yet. I am not ready for crying yet. D:) With a short story, I can get over it faster, for some reason. Not so for longer fic.
May. 21st, 2013 02:44 am (UTC)
That certainly makes sense. I'm much the same really, I am fully on board with dark and moody stuff so long as there is at least relief at some point, little oases of light, or at least a light at the end of the tunnel. This is my big problem with Christopher Nolan's Batman films - as fantastic as they are, I never want to rewatch them because it's 3 uninterrupted hours of unrelenting heaviness. Seems to be a sliding scale, people have different preferences and tolerances for different ratios. Would be awesome to get some data on something like that, though how you could measure something so subjective would be tricky!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - May. 22nd, 2013 01:32 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 21st, 2013 01:10 am (UTC)
I always wanted to leave you a long-ass review of The Fifth Act on FFnet but I've never started. On Livejournal I've never got the courage to ^^' (some authors don't want reviews for their older fics *shrug*). But anyway, on the subject of tragedy fic, my opinion is that it depends on how sad it's the original material, who is your favorite character and how attached you are to it. On fandoms like Death Note, for example, if you are a Light fan like myself, sad fics is the last thing you need XD. In the FFVII case, I'm a Sephiroth fan since long time ago and maybe that's the reason why I'm addicted to fix-fics, since a happy ending for said character in canon it's out of the question (or better said, with the majority of the characters I like -_-). Sephiroth ending up dead on The Fifth Act would been sad for me, although I was kind of expecting for it to happen o_o. I guess is pessimism on my part.

On Iron Man 3, I didn't like it much. It's weird because I loved the first one and even the second one that it's so hated, but this one was meh to me. I'm really waiting for Thor thou. And I heard so many things from Into Darkness that I feel I want to see it. I think it's an intimidating fandom to get into. I mean it's like THE fandom XD. It's weird but I feel massive fandoms don't seem to have that many good fics like I expected (I'm speaking about the Harry Potter fandom that I've recently joined), or they are so many fics that the good ones are even harder to found that usual.
May. 21st, 2013 07:44 am (UTC)
There's never any obligation to review, so don't worry about it. :) I was just waxing theoretical about it because the psychology of fandom and fanfiction is damn interesting sometimes, it kind of feels like market research! Only relevant to your interests and not requiring any destruction of soul and morals in the pursuit of profits.

That's definitely a fair analysis of people's taste and tolerance for tragic fic in general. And certainly character preference would play a big part - if your primary interest is reading one particular character, the tragedy of that character getting killed off is exacerbated by the loss of not being able to read that character for the rest of the fic (assuming it doesn't occur at the end).

The first Iron Man is definitely still the best of the lot. And definitely see Into Darkness! It was a really well put-together movie. As for the big fandoms, you have a point. I tend to find they have a lot of quality fics, but they're more often buried under a complete avalanche of not-so-great fics, the ratio is a little less forgiving. And Star Trek is kind of the granddaddy of modern-day fandoms, even if it has since been outstripped by others in terms of size.
May. 21st, 2013 02:18 am (UTC)
Iron Man 3 wasn't my favorite out of the trio. It was just lacking something I'm not quite sure. That and I was trying really hard not to yell that the way they portrayed Extremis was completely wrong. It was pretty decent though. Into Darkness was so amazing! I'm not a Star Trek fan, my friends dragged me with the promise that Benedict Cumberbatch was in it and he was fantastic. Once I watched it though, I went back and watched the first movie too. Into Darkness was so good.

On the topic of late reviews to stories, I know I definitely Read The Fifth Act after it was fully completed on Live Journal and Fanfiction, but I usually wait till the last most chapter to review on everything if there is a significant amount written already. The Fifth Act is also the first FF7 story at the top of the most reviewed, favorited, ect.. so many people will probably read it if they are quickly looking for a good story.
May. 21st, 2013 07:58 am (UTC)
LOL, I had a grumble on how they handled Extremis as well, and I do agree with you that compared to the others it was lacking. I think it really came down to the villain - the switcheroo they pulled was amusing but Killian simply never felt as threatening as the Mandarin. I also didn't feel as though Tony's initial impetus to action was strong enough - had it been Pepper instead of Happy injured (or Pepper kidnapped and presumed dead until later) there might have been a stronger tinge of desperation and anger. I just haven't seen enough of Happy from the previous films for those emotional stakes to be high enough. :/ And Maya Hansen just felt extraneous to the plot.

...Jeez all this analysing is making me like it less! There were enough awesome scenes that I didn't care overmuch at the time. In aggregate it was still pretty cool.

Both Star Trek movies are brilliant, I love the whole cast, plus, you know, science fiction! There have been heaps of science fiction movies lately and it's brilliant.

And yes, that does make sense as to how people keep finding it even though it's old, I just thought that pattern was interesting and spurred a bit of contemplation. :)
May. 21st, 2013 02:45 am (UTC)
Did you stay for the little scene after the credits? I laughed myself sick because of that! Poor Dr Banner! It tied up the movie quite nicely, i think that the 'let me tell you a story' technique was just so that they could use that scene at the very very end! XD
May. 21st, 2013 03:53 am (UTC)
Re: ironman3
In my personal headcanon that kind of made all 3 movies flashbacks as told by an unreliable narrator. :D Which explains so much about the moments of cool and the loving, lingering shots over his technology.
Re: ironman3 - sinnatious - May. 21st, 2013 09:57 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: ironman3 - sinnatious - May. 21st, 2013 09:56 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 24th, 2013 01:27 am (UTC)
RE: Writing, I agree with the anon, that for long chaptered things that get heavy, I can continue as long as there's a sense of hope. But I think I'd be a little disappointed if there wasn't some kind of 'payoff' in the end. It doesn't have to be a completely happy ending, but as long as some (perceived) good coming from the end, then I feel satisfied. If the story's suffering and the ending is suffering, I sort of feel like, "what's the point of the suffering, then?" I think that's part of why Digital Devil Saga (when you complete both games) is so rewarding in the end.

RE: Devil Survivor 2 anime, as you've probably guessed from my gushing over it, is a really, really good adaption so far. It's pretty much part of my weekly Friday routine now. Get up, watch Devil Survivor 2 the Animation, go do other stuff. They are making Devil Survivor 2: Break Code, which is coming out around June/July (I forget) in Japan. If I've got the cash, and if it comes to Australian shores, I'm probably going to get it (to make up for the time I didn't buy Devil Survivor 1), since it seems that there's stuff about Yamato's sister (who's mentioned like, once, in the game).

... and. like. Hibiki is in school uniform. With the bunny hood.

My real question is, if there's a devil survivor 3, what animal motif will the MC have in that game?? a dog hat??
May. 24th, 2013 11:34 am (UTC)
Hmm, yes, this is very true, there needs to be some sort of 'reward' for the hardship, else there's not much point to the story, is there? Said reward can take many forms, but for the purposes of fic this is usually a happy ending, or at the very least an achievement of goals.

I'm hoping to watch some more of it this weekend! Are they doing a full season? If it's only 12 eps I'd be worried about it being rushed, but if they're doing a whole 24 that's more than enough time to give the whole cast a chance to shine!

I'm doing a second playthrough now, but stuck on Lillith, urgh. I might have to give in and tackle her on a third playthrough. :/

XD These are the important questions! The animal world is large, they can choose just about anything.

Edited at 2013-05-24 11:37 am (UTC)
(no subject) - tenshinoakuma - May. 24th, 2013 01:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sinnatious - May. 25th, 2013 11:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tenshinoakuma - May. 25th, 2013 11:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sinnatious - May. 25th, 2013 01:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 25th, 2013 09:08 am (UTC)
i'm bad at fighting games too :P at least with jrpgs if you get stuck you can grind until you beat it.. haha.

i think it's good that you are experimenting with different characters in your fic :)
May. 25th, 2013 12:06 pm (UTC)
This is the great thing about RPGs! If you suck there is a way around it!

Thanks, hope it turns out okay!
May. 27th, 2013 01:38 am (UTC)
Haven't seen either movies yet and probably won't for a while, but I've been a follower of reaper!Bones fic for a while, so...

There's the reaper_lives LJ community, it's kind of dead now but had lots of fics from the first ST reboot movie, AO3 has a tag for reaper!McCoy in their fic filter, uh, a recent one that I've read and rather enjoyed and can actually find the link now is:


Short gen fic with reaper!Bones and crossover with Priest to boot.

In my LJ memories I have a category for STXI, but majority of them are Spock/Bones(reaper!Bones) slash, not sure if you ship that pairing or not, there's a gen fic:


Somehow, Reaper (who wasn't McCoy at the time) helps ends Tarsus IV and he meets a young Jim Kirk.

I thought it was kinda cute.
May. 27th, 2013 08:33 am (UTC)
\o/ These recs are glorious! Thank you~! I've read them both already and they were quite enjoyable. I'll have to check out that community you mentioned also. I think I've farmed everything out of the Ao3 tags and FFnet crossover section by now.

If there are any standout Spock/Bones ones I will certainly give them a try - I'm pretty tolerant of most ships in STXI, but I've read enough bad ones by now that it's turned me off a bit so have subsequently become choosy. Any particular must-read standouts in your memories? Anything particularly plotty?
(no subject) - peangallery - May. 27th, 2013 01:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sinnatious - May. 27th, 2013 01:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 27th, 2013 03:14 am (UTC)
I always thought the great thing about Fifth Act, structure-wise, was that Cloud's goal and all his work towards it is really tragic, in the devoured-by-his-own-inbuilt-flaw sense, and then the happy ending is completely caused by all the accidental good things he did while not really thinking about them. So it works on a tragic level while not being just a totally straight tragedy, I mean.
May. 27th, 2013 09:34 am (UTC)
Off topic, but every time I see that awesome avatar (pun intended) I have the weirdest feeling that I'm about to be beaten up. XD
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )