The Witcher III: Wild Hunt

I never played any of the other Witcher games, hadn’t even heard of them until a while before I bought my PS4. In part, I guess you could say that hearing about an “amazing” fantasy game on the PS4 was also part of why I bought one in the first place.

Regardless, I bought the game on the same day as I bought the PS4, even though I didn’t touch it for a while. The story itself is rather simple: You play as Geralt, a Witcher, and you’re searching for Ciri, a young woman he regards as a daughter.

If you just consider the main plot… the story itself is pretty linear. You go look for Ciri, you find Ciri, you help Ciri. But the game really isn’t about the main story, I feel, at least in comparison to other games. You’re supposed to be Geralt… doing what he would do, as a Witcher, in order to survive while working toward the ‘ultimate’ goal of locating and assisting Ciri.

When I say that you’re doing what Geralt would do, I mean side-quests. I can say with great confidence that I’ve never played a game (besides perhaps some MMOS) that has so much diversity in within the side quests and other optional missions. Not only does completing these side quests give you more information about minor and major characters, it also affects how some characters interact with you, and can change the options and goals of other quests. For example, there are several optional quests that change how your characters go about achieving your goals in the main story, which I thought was rather interesting.

My favourite part about the game, however, was how choice was implemented. Of course, a lot of RPGs these days are coming out with a lot more opportunities for the player to pick and choose the things they say and the actions they make. In the Witcher, I found myself often saving the game and re-loading it to go back and see the consequences of the different choices you could make. Usually there were quests where you had the option to kill a character or not, and how the story progressed from there depended on which you chose.

Of course, there were also sillier choices you could make, as well. There was one part of the story where you had to decide whether or not to get drunk. I chose the latter, and oh my, the trouble Geralt got into that night…

Have any of you played the Witcher III, on any system? What are your thoughts?

~Erynn

Advertisements

The Last of Us

I pride myself in being a storyteller. I write stories because it’s what I love to do, and because our world will always need good stories.

When I bought my PS4, it was a bundle pack with the shooter/ apocalypse game The Last of Us. Now, I’ll be quite honest… I’ve never liked shooters or anything to do with zombie apocalypses. They really weren’t my thing, mostly because I’ve always been a fan of story-driven video games and I always had it stuck in my head that most apocalyptic zombie games were just about killing, not the story.

The Last of Us changed that for me.

I didn’t care much about the game at first. It came with the PS4, but I figured my boyfriend would end up playing it instead of me. Instead, he made a comment about the game after we bought it and were heading home. Said something about how it wasn’t your typical zombie game, that it was very story based, etc., etc.. To say the least, I gave it a shot. I’m a sucker for story-based video games.

I ended up falling in love with the game. The story was beautiful; much more than I ever expected to come out of a zombie apocalypse game. I ended up completing the game twice before getting into any of the others I bought. The gameplay was pretty solid, too, though that’s not really what I want to talk about.

As a writer, I always strive to build characters, create worlds and scenarios where the reader can truly care about what’s happening to who. Ellie and Joel are probably the two most dynamic characters I’ve had the pleasure of learning about, and I sincerely hope that I can create characters who have such an impact on readers as they did to me.

The Last of Us has increased the bar for storytelling through all mediums. I hope that even if my genre of choice is completely different, I can write something just as amazing as the story told in the game.

The game also had a huge impact on how I look at zombie apocalypse games and movies in general. I’ve realized that most add science to it (though I don’t think half it of it makes sense) and that it’s not just zombies coming out of nowhere like I initially thought. Most games and movies have a different approach to how the disease spreads (for example, in The Last of Us, the disease is a fungus that was spread mostly through food supplies. That’s not a spoiler.) and different ways to go about finding a cure or just surviving.

I’m still not a huge fan of shooters, but I’ve opened myself up to them to at least learn more. With zombies, I’m more intrigued than a fan. But it’s still a step in the right direction, and I’ve learned a lot about storytelling to boot.

What about you guys? Have you played The Last of Us? What are your thoughts on the game and the story?

~Erynn

My Favourite Video Game: Chrono Trigger

My favourite game of all time is Chrono Trigger, and I give my cousin Chase full credit for leading me in the direction of the game. I remember the experience very vividly…

I was in grade 5, still living in the Coquitlam area. That year my grade was loaned laptops as part of our class, ancient Apple laptops that were terrible, though I was still excited at the prospect of having my own laptop. Of course it wasn’t really mine, but I don’t think my 9 or 10 year old brain quite understood that. Regardless, my cousin being a bit of a gamer, told me that I should play this game, Chrono Trigger, and being as attached as I was at the time, was eager to follow through with this suggestion.

So I was told how to emulate a game, where to go, what to do, and several hours later, voilà! Chrono Trigger was working, and I was ready to play. And play I did.

For those of you who haven’t played the game yet, Chrono Trigger is an old N64 game (I believe) that is considered one of the most beloved games of all time. If you haven’t played it yet, you should. The game was remade a few years ago using the same graphics and dialogue (just with a few add ons) into a Nintendo DS game. For genre, I would refer to it as a Fantasy RPG.

Looking back on the time I spent playing this game (I’ve played through it two or three times since I completed it the first, oh so many years ago…) there was a lot of humour, puzzles, and interesting look on magic, melee combat, politics (corruption and lack thereof), as well as position of people within a civilization, both those at the top and those at the bottom. Of course if I were to go back and replay the game again, I would probably analyse all of those aspects throughout the time I played it. But as I have so many other games to play, I don’t foresee myself getting the opportunity to do so any time soon.

One time I remember very well from my first play through was when I finally reached the last boss. I’d been trying to beat him for a long time, my cousin was kinda there watching, and I asked if they could do it for me. I recall the laptop being handed back to me several tries later with no luck, where I then tried one more time and finally beat the damned thing.

Chrono Trigger is a challenging game, both intellectually and skilfully. What’s the game actually about, you might ask? Well, I don’t want to tell you. Go find out for yourself. There are parts where you want to jump with happiness, shout in anger, and cry with sadness; aren’t those the aspects of a game that tell you it is one to be loved thoroughly? It is truly a well rounded game that anyone with a mild interest in the RPG genre will enjoy.

Again, if you’ve yet to try it, please do. You won’t regret it. And when you’re done, please come back and tell me your thoughts on it.

Have you played Chrono Trigger before?

~Erynn

Writing In Video Games

Something I’ve been interested in for a long time is writing for an actual video game. What prompted me to go out and pursue this recently was an opportunity that I saw; not one that I could take advantage of now, but one that maybe I could be lucky enough to grab in the future. That opportunity was seeing a job opening in BioWare, a department picked up by EA Games dedicated to creating brilliant RPGs and the like. If I was maybe 10 years older, it would have been a dream come true… but lacking the age and experience needed to even interest such a company, it’s something I need to pass on for now.

Just to give you a bit more perspective, they were asking for a minimum of 5 years writing experience in a similar environment (writing and developing stories behind video games), in addition to university education. While I believe I write very good for my age (remember guys, I only just graduated high school this year), I’m in no way shape or form ready to take on such a task.

However, it solidified my desire to pursue something other than novel writing, and that’s why starting yesterday, I started seeking work writing for video games. I picked up a gig several months ago where I was supposed to write the story for a fantasy rpg, but it kind of fell apart. Well, fell apart in the sense that after the guy said he wanted me on their team he disappeared. 😥 Today I got in contact with two different people managing two different projects, one very interested in having me write for them. So maybe it something comes of it in the near future, I’ll be taking a step in that direction that I can tell you guys about.

I’d like to talk a bit more about my experience with that fantasy rpg I just mentioned. While I didn’t get too far into any of the work involved in that project, it was the beginning of a whole new era of writing for me. I opened myself up to the world of script writing (something I had little interest in before), and to the world of real world development. When you’re designing a world for a novel, you only have to see it well enough to write your readers into it. You have narrative readily available to throw your readers into the story, but that’s completely gone in video games. Instead of you writing and describing everything that happens around the reader, the reader is instead a player, and is experiencing the world as the artists pictured it, and it’s your job to reflect that world in the characters.

A video game I finished recently is Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. I highly recommend it if you like diverse combat, but that’s not what I’m here to discuss today. I picked up the game because my boyfriend said I should try it, and he reinforced this fact by supplying me with the information that one of my favourite fantasy authors, R.A. Salvatore, wrote the story for the game. Here’s an article with an interview with R.A. Salvatore regarding his involvement in the game.

What I’ve so far learned about writing for video games is that it’s nothing like writing a novel. You need to show the player the world you’ve spent so long building in a completely different way. Each and every character within the game, whether it be a simple farmer or a merchant is significant. Your story affects everyone, everyone the player touches, and everything that you, the writer, have yet to touch on yourself.

What are your thoughts on the stories behind video games, the writing that is involved in it? Have any of you ever written for a video game before (be it dialogue, quests, or developing an actual story)?

~Erynn

 

A Classic, to Me

Of course, I’m talking about Spyro the dragon. The Spyro franchise is one of my all time favourite videogames; a nostalgia goldmine, a fun game, and the challenge of trying to remember how the hell you work a damned PS2 (those controls are damned awful).

A couple of months ago my boyfriend and I were bored and wanted something to do. I suggested we play Spyro! And he was like, “Spyro? What’s that?” you bet I told him what Spyro was all about, went and set up the lonely, dusty PS2 in my basement and threw in a Spyro disc. We ran into a lot of problems (that’s something we just can’t seem to help with when it comes to almost anything).

First off we couldn’t find my favourite game, so we had to settle with one of the sub-par knockoffs. Second, I didn’t have any functional memory cards, so we just played that game for a bit so he could get an idea of what it was about (he loved it!). Then we decided it was time to get set up for some real Spyro. He ordered us a memory card off of Ebay, and I went on a mad hunt to find the right Spyro game (the exact name is escaping me at the moment, but I think it was something like Year of the Dragon).

Two weeks later we were set and ready to go! We popped that sucker in the ancient PS2, plugged in the brand new memory card, and off we went… or, well, not. The disc was broken and couldn’t be used anymore. Long story short, we had to buy ourself a new copy (damn that was expensive).

Annndd…. we’ve yet to play it. I’ve been dying to do so since we went and bought it, but I haven’t been at home much since then so we’ve had no chance to try. I’m hoping that once we finally move out (yeah we’ve had issues with that, too, go figure) we’ll have everything in one spot and nothing left to stop us! Grr…. I doubt it. The likely scenario states that we’ll maybe get to play 5 minutes in the next year, but I suppose 5 minutes is better than none.

Have any of you guys played the original Spyro games before? What were your thoughts on them? If you haven’t considered trying them out but have a functional PS1/PS2, you should totally try them out!

~Erynn

The Gaming Rig

Hi everyone!

It’s been a few days since my last post, so I’m really sorry about that- I’ve actually kinda been all over the place. And one of the reasons for that is something I’m going to talk about today!

So, this will be the first real post for videogame Wednesdays. It’s not quite on topic, but I’m sure it’s close enough that we’ll all manage.

In any case, one of the reasons I’ve been all over the place is because I’m in the process of building myself a new computer. I may or may not have mentioned it before, but I’m going to assume that I didn’t. I ordered some of the parts in early July, and the rest of them just came yesterday.

Yay! I set off with my boyfriend and his dad to put the damn thing together. We opened up my brand new, snazzy looking case without a problem and began to feel it up. Okay. There are fans everywhere- two big ones on the top, one big one on the side, and I believe there were a few smaller ones. Remember, this is just on the case- almost every other individual component comes with their own.

Next we figure out which piece goes in first: the power supply. So we crack that box open, and oh damn! I feel like royalty for a second. The power supply came in a velvet bag, and all of the cords that came with it came in this nice, reusable folder/bag thing. With a bit of reading, we pop the power supply into the machine and move on to the next part, which is tricky.

The motherboard requires extra care. Just a little bit of static can cause severe damage to this core component of the computer. In any case, we put down some of those pop up screws (this leaves a cm or so between the case and the back of the motherboard for ultimate air circulation), and the piece clicks in nicely. Now for the processor, which just latches onto the motherboard. Simple step, or at least it’s supposed to be.

Sigh. This is where we started having issues. We couldn’t get the processor to fit. Closing the little case that held it in had a space that just looked too small. So we spend a half hour fiddling with it and trying to figure it out, of course, to no avail. We then turned to the Internet, which served it’s purpose: After some searching, we found that the motherboard and processor were incompatible.

I feel like an idiot. Big amateur mistake, I didn’t realize that AMD and Intel were assholes that have to remain so unique that they make their processors completely different from one another. What a pain in the ass! I bought an AMD processor because it was half the price of an Intel one of the same/similar stats. My motherboard is only compatible with Intel.

We ended up ordering a new processor and have plans to return the one I already bought. I wanted to return the motherboard so I could stick with the cheaper processor, but it was ineligible for returns. 😥

I suppose it’s a lesson well learnt. My new processor should be here on Friday or Monday, where I will swiftly return to building the computer. The hard part was just about done.

A bit of info on my new setup is in order. I currently run on a laptop that can hardly handle gaming at all. A couple hours of league has it burning up, most of my steam games get bluescreened after an hour max, and this is WITH game booster and low graphics, etc. Shitty deal, in other words.

This new computer is an enormous upgrade. Nvidia GTX 770 graphics card, a solid state drive, 16gb of ram, and the new processor I ordered is an i7 core. I can’t wait to finish building it (which is a learning experience on its own) and play some games in sweet perfection.

Another thing to note is that I spent about $2000 on this, which is about $200 less than I could have bought a machine with lower specs pre-made at a store. In other words putting it together requires a lot of time, but it’s significantly cheaper. If you’re in the market for a new gaming computer, I recommend that you consider putting your own together.

Happy gaming!

~Erynn

Videogame Wednesdays!

I thought it might be interesting to introduce a series of posts, or rather, dedicate a day each week to make a post about something unrelated to writing and reading: videogames.

If you’re a long time reader of my blog, then you probably already know that I’m an avid gamer. If not, well, now you do. I play whatever suits my fancy, be it an mmo, a fps, or a puzzle game. It really doesn’t matter what it is, as long as I like it.

Anyway, I’m not quite sure what I’ll do on these days, though of course something about videogames. I’ll probably talk about different types of games, different franchises… games I’m interested in, what’s coming out, stuff like that. It may or may not be something you’re interested in, but hey! once a week isn’t going to kill anyone. Though of course, any thoughts or suggestions for the posts are more than welcome.

I’m not going to do a post today about it even though I have many ideas. I guess it just doesn’t feel like the right time to start… but next week for sure! Maybe it’s something to look forward to if you’re a gamer like me.

In any case, a small update on Erynn’s writing world…

The new Taichiren’s Heart is coming along well. I’ve completed the first/half draft of the 1st chapter and have plans for the 2nd and 3rd, though I don’t foresee having time to work on it for a couple more days. However the moment I get the opportunity to write toward it, I’ll be taking it and going to the moon! (in other words, getting as much as possible done).

~Erynn

Something Else I’ve Been Working On…

So as you guys might know by now, I’m a freelance writer. I write a lot, I write for other people, but I also do a lot of writing just because it’s a good learning experience and something I enjoy. An example of this would be for the videogame League of Legends, I’ve picked up writing some fiction based on champion lore stories for the professional gaming team Dignitas. Well, I’m currently a “guest writer”, but hopefully not for much longer. 🙂

To anyone not familiar with League of Legends, it’s a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), basically a pvp game where you get to play one hero in a game of 5v5. The goal is to destroy the enemy’s base; although what the game is actually about has little to do with the writing I’m doing. In any case, each hero you can play has a small lore written by the creators… and I’ve taken it upon myself to write out the details of the stories, though they’re not necessarily real. That’s what the imagination is for, though, right?

Since I’ve only just started, I’m still on the first story. I chose to start with Elise, the Spider Queen because of the amount of freedom was given to her backstory. Not only a simple place to start, but somewhere that I can really try to make something almost believable from something so little.

Anyway, I guess I can show you what I’ve written so far. It’s here. The first part is pretty bad, but I’ve worked out a couple of kinks in this writing style since I wrote it; the second and third parts are better. Part four, the final, will be out in about a week. If you have any feedback or have any suggestions for the next champion I choose, I’d love to hear it!

~Erynn

Different Kinds of Stories

As I’ve mentioned several times in the past, I’m an avid gamer. I play pretty much whatever suits my fancy, be in RPGs, MMOs, FPS, puzzle games… you name it. Although lately, I’ve started playing videogames for a different reason.

Since I call myself a writer, I’ve figured that it would be a wise idea to learn about writing all different types of stories. That includes the process behind writing stories for videogames. I haven’t really learnt all that much yet because I’ve only just begun my examination, but I’m sure that in due time I’ll have more than enough thoughts about the process.

What this actually makes me think about is how many different kinds of “story writing” there are. Not only are there novels, there are short stories and scripts, which also seem to be broken up into several different categories (movies, tv series, and I believe dialogue for videogames falls in here too). The possibilities are endless with just the form of your story, that’s not even thinking about how many possibilities there are with a bit of tweaking to the genre you’re working on- it’s incredible how many opportunities there are to create unique stories, but this also makes me wonder why so many people insist upon writing the same stories over and over again… (sigh)

While I don’t think I’ll ever try my hand at a dedicated movie/tv script, I’m thinking of branching off into writing short stories. Not because I really want to, but there are several important elements in a short story that I believe I need more practice with. For example, pacing and characterization. Plus I have a few short story ideas that I really want to try writing, though this is mostly because I don’t want to end up expanding them into novel ideas. I mean, I already have too many ideas for about 10 different series. I probably should work on getting my first one finished before I work on more ideas… <_<

Does anyone here have a writing focus outside of writing novels? What is it?

~Erynn

Writing Music

Image

Artwork by: PoshKrogan

 

Some people choose to write with music, some people choose to write without. While I’m mostly the former, I can say that I also spend a fair share of my time writing without music.

When I do listen to music, however, that most often takes place when I’m writing with reckless abandon. I feel that music helps initiate a flow that eases the thoughts out of my brain; at least, when they don’t need to come out in any specific order or form. So, mostly half-drafts, first drafts, but I also find music helpful when I’m not particularly interested in the writing (which is sometimes the case with work writing).

I learned this awhile ago- most likely on reddit, so who knows if it’s credible- that when you’re studying, writing, working, or just doing something that you want to be extra concentrated on, listening to video game music can really improve your focus. Apparently, the music is made with the intention of keeping you concentrated on the game, so listening to it naturally keeps you concentrated on whatever else you’re doing. I definitely noticed a different in my concentration when I switched to listening to video game music versus just whatever I felt like listening to.

At the moment I’ve only got two different sets of video game music, which I fully intend to expand sometime in the near future. What I currently have though, is a collection of Final Fantasy and Guild Wars 2 music. I find that the music really easily slips into the background, but I’m still listening to it. Most other music I notice I either completely tune it out or am so concentrated on listening to it that I can’t work on anything else. (I love working to Fear Not This Night.)

While I’m not sure exactly what music I’m going to get next (who am I kidding, it’s going to be Chrono Trigger), I can think of so many different games that would probably have music great for working with. For example, games off the top of my head that I’ll be getting the music for sometime soon: The Legend of Zelda, Bastion, Ragnarok Online, the original Guild Wars, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon (probably all of them), maybe even Borderlands 2 and Torchlight. There are lots of options!

What kind of music do you guys listen to, if you do? Do you have any suggestions for video game music I should try listening to?

~Erynn