atolnon: (Default)
( Nov. 24th, 2009 10:40 pm)
I finished Kingdom Hearts for good. I haven't played Chain of Memories, and I'm unlikely to invest any further in the series because CoM is unlikely to have a good play value, even if I know I'm missing some of the story. I feel like there's not too much to be gained in this aspect.

Seeing the ending, I stand by everything I've said so far about the game with a single addition. There are a large number of Final Fantasy characters in the game, from various series, and unlike the Disney characters who have story bits set in their own worlds, in their own contexts, the Final Fantasy characters have all been pulled from their own contexts and inserted into a Kingdom Hearts narrative that was completed whole cloth. That is, Jasmine is from Agrabah, Ariel is from Atlantica, Beast has his castle and rose, but Cloud is not from Midgar, Squall is not from Balamb Garden, and Setzer (small cameo that he makes) isn't from, well, the worlds of Balance and Ruin. (I'm a nerd.)

This game is not, by itself, what I'd consider amazing. It is, however, chock full of things that fascinate me. In this case, it's how the Final Fantasy characters have become characters somewhat divorced from their actual settings. Umberto Eco stated in an essay that some well-known characters become entities outside of their original stories and I wouldn't say that all Final Fantasy characters are. However, characters like Sepheroth, Cloud, and to lesser extents Yuffie, Cid(s), Seifer, Squall and Yuna are coming close. Kind of like Mario. It's hard to say what Mario's continuity really is anymore, but he appears, by himself, as a cultural icon. That's why you can take all of these FF characters and just drop them into this game and say 'Bam! New context!' They all act the same as their original counterparts, but they're not the same actual characters, but nobody bats an eye.

On completion, I realized I had a nagging feeling about the game. I felt that, and this is a spoiler in only the most specific sense, he is basically a multiple murderer before the age of 20. Part of the premise of the game is that there are beings called Nobodies that are created when a 'heart' leaves a body. Sora is assured, as are we, that Nobodies have no emotions and are just 'shells' of people. Since some appear as bosses in the game, it's no surprise when Sora does away with them. Because there is some rationalization as to why this is ok (and it's stated several times at important junctures) and this is his own rationalization for defeating them in the manner that he does, I feel that there's something odd about this.

That is, it's not incorrect to end a life in self-defense, which is clearly happening, but killing someone and disregarding that as a difficult action morally because you believe they don't feel emotion is a terrifying thing to propose.

That went on really, really long.
I've been watching some Supernatural. I doubt I'll catch up on all of this before I go. On disk three, Home and Asylum were much better then preceding episodes, and the ground set for the not-so-subtle conflict between the brothers is basically the entire story that we're watching. Like I had begun to expect by episode 2, supernatural baddies are just a stage to set the action of a dysfunctional family. Asylum really reminded me of Fatal Frame for a little while, which made it worth the price of admission by itself.

So, I guess my main objective is to watch as much of this Supernatural stuff as I can before I leave and have to give it back. I guess I'm also tickled that I ended up combining Umberto Eco and Kingdom Hearts in the same thought-space. Most of my stuff is put away, so Eco's short essays and a copy of Catcher in the Rye are my current constant reading companions. We'll probably be hearing from them again. Enjoy your new Umberto Eco and your last Kingdom Hearts tag for a long while, LJ.
atolnon: (Default)
( Nov. 15th, 2009 10:33 pm)
There are two things I've been thinking of lately, and I'm not done with either of them. Both involve a pretty substantial investment of time, but I'm not sure how prepared I really am for discussing them. On the other hand, I want to, so I guess it's gonna happen anyhow.

I've been watching Supernatural lately because I've got the first season on loan. I guess I'm on episode 8? So far, the best episode really has been the pilot and the series hasn't really caught my interest. I thought I would be the target audience for this kind of thing, and so far, I don't feel that's really been the case. Basically, I haven't really found it really frightening. I don't know if I'm supposed to. The jury is still out. Episode 10 is Asylum, and I'm really looking forward to that one. I'll let you know how I feel about it, and when I get a few more episodes in, I'll give a more detailed opinion.

The other thing I want to come back to is Kingdom Hearts 2, if only because when I've brought it up in passing to others, I've found people to be deeply enthusiastic about it, to the point that I feel I've underestimated this games popularity.

When a friend asked my opinion, I was hesitant to give it. I felt compelled to give several qualifiers. I've enjoyed it so far, it feels well-produced and put together, there's nothing wrong with what it does. And what it does is basically to create a stand-in for a youth, Sora, whose story plays like a Mary Sue. He's naive and trusting, he's energetic, and he's fundamentally good natured. When I use the term 'Mary Sue', I mean it in what's basically the most precise way possible: as the protagonist of a video game, he's a stand in for the author (or player), he's loved and invited in to the inner circle of a group of people with a pre-existing narrative, he gets his abilities or power from an external plot device, he rapidly becomes more powerful then established canon characters, and (spoilers) in the first game he 'dies' to facilitate saving another character/s (/spoilers).

So, I know you can argue that both ways, and I'm not condemning the game by any means. I've read fan fiction, and cast no stigma on it. I've got some written up, somewhere around here, but I can't find it at the moment. Basically, it just has that type of narrative. And it's supposed to. It's a cross-genre mash up with an external character inserted into a non-canon narrative. (And becomes its own canon, at this point. But KH Cloud isn't FFVII Cloud, and can't be.) In fact, for a major game project to cleave so close to the tropes found in fan fiction is pretty impressive, which is why this is a game that continues to fascinate me. But I haven't gotten to the ending yet. And I guess next time I want to come back and talk about my writing project and Baroque, but I've got a lot of ground to cover.

I wrote, like, two pages yesterday. That sounds super lame, but it's the most non-journal stuff I've been able to write in quite a while. Maybe it makes more sense now when I say this project is like rehabilitation to me.
atolnon: (Default)
( Oct. 19th, 2009 10:28 pm)
http://dionaea-house.com/

Right there. I love that link, and I have for years. It's one of my favorite pieces of fiction, not because it's exquisite; it's pretty little rough around the edges. I love it because it's so engaging. And at the time, you could only assume it wasn't real. As it gets more outlandish, I like it less, but I think it's great inspiration for gaming horror. Horror in gaming is something I'm very taken with. I am on and off on thinking about it and running it, but it creates problems as a genre that action and whimsy do not (those create very different ones). Dionaea House is very early-release NWoD. Something like that is what I think about when I think about the weird, obscure World of Darkness.

So, what the hell am I up to? Your guess is about as good as mine. On a day to day basis, very little. Work makes me tired of dealing with people and very happy to just kind of bottle myself in the house reading or cooking or something. I haven't taken a lot of initiative to get out. During school, my 'work' periods were very academic and I wanted to get out more. When I work customer service, I want to stay in. That explains, to me, why when I have a standard-ish job, I'm much more of a homebody. I'll admit that makes the prospect of gaming daunting sometimes. When a game falls through, I rarely persue an alternative that isn't 'stick around and have a cup of coffee'. It's been a little worse then usual, because work is leaning on the helpdesk a little harder then it used to. We're being squeezed to produce value, but management fails to understand that's not how people actually work. It looks terrific in the short term, but it breeds resentment in the analyst population. I see this happen all the time, but I'm honestly a little disapointed, though I understand exactly how and why it's happening. It's stuff like this that makes me want to avoid business, management, and marketing forever and ever.

I've been playing a lot more FFXI lately. Between Andy and my social group, I've been able to break level caps (I can get up to level 70 of 75!) get my artifact equipment (next up, pants and awesome hat), and generally feel more involved. I really only do a little gaming every day. Large portions of my evening are cleaning, cooking, and often writing and reading. Sometimes I'll spend all day playing video games, but the rarity of that situation is such that me renewed interesting in FFXI means that I've put a hold on Kingdom Hearts II. KH 2 is a much better game then 1, but its story sounds like crossover self-insert fanfiction reads. I realized recently that it's probably like that on purpose.

I want to do some other stuff before bed, and I'm out of interesting things. Good night, everyone.

atolnon: (Default)
( Oct. 7th, 2009 10:56 pm)
..today. Not that it was awful or anything, since it wasn't. Just... unimpressive. Maybe seeds from today will improve tomorrow. I guess there are worse things to hope for.

The deck prototype I worked on failed pretty awfully. It's still a seed of a clever idea, but it's not really anything close to good in its current incarnation. I slapped together something else, and I don't really like it. It's a quick win in theory, but I feel it has a glass jaw.

I've gotten home and it's pretty late, so I don't feel like I've got any time for any meaningful writing. Anything I put down would just be a token to appease my desire to write daily, but I'll probably do it to keep writing something consistently.

And tomorrow's Thursday, which is my easiest day. Plus, I've got some discounted cards coming in the mail, and I think I'm supposed to get my yearbook in (which leads to my driver's license, and I'm not sure if that's a story I've told yet here but that really is a whole different issue).

Have I said anything about Disney buying Marvel. I know it's old news, but I like to rehash that shit a bit because, hey, with new stuff happening every day, it's easy to forget something like that. Or maybe just easy for me. Anyway. There are people that are bent out of shape and people that are enthusiastic (and we geeks are usually pretty negative as a matter of course but...), then there are people like me who instantly realized that Wolverine can now fight along side Sora or whatever in Kingdom Hearts 3: Infinite Cash Franchise. I make a joke like that because KH does pretty much plant a money tree as it's basically just weird Disney/Square-Enix fan-fiction, but people eat it up. But hey, there's nothing wrong with fan-fiction in principle, and the games arn't too bad, so go crazy, Square.

If you like KH, don't tell me you're not dying to see Nightcrawler and Cyclops fighting with Squall, Cloud, and fucking Donald Duck. But seriously, our media has really become myth, and that is the only way this shit could ever happen. And that is something I am dying to research now that I've written down. It is never going to get out of my head.

My, what an exciting day today!
Ok, no. But it was ok. It was pretty good. On a day to day basis, you wouldn't expect a much better one.
I totally found some stools that were what I was looking for, except 6 inches too high. I can swap them out tomorrow, but the good news is that they add something to the space, and it was what I was hoping for, and have unlocked counter space in what may be the lamest in-game achievement ever.

The sad thing is that the is the only furniture I've bought since I got my coffee table, and I'm actually pretty excited about it. They, uh, will improve my quality of life. I wrapped up my evening with a Magic session at the card shop, where I didn't perform spectacularly. I didn't draft anything interesting and I didn't open anything great in my prize pack. (shrug)

Kingdom Hearts added itself to my 'completed titles' list today, and it ended kind of like I expected. (Especially considering that is has several sequels.) KH, like many Square games before it, has a fairly long end-game where you can re-visit zones for items, zip around in your spaceship, and fight bosses. I forwent all of that stuff, since it didn't promise to reveal anything but more levels and equipment. I've played a bunch of these games and have realized that you can blow through the end pretty easily if you want to, so there's no need for that kind of time sink. My speculation proved as accurate as I had guessed.

What to move on to? I guess it doesn't really matter, but I do have KH2, so I might as well. I'm going to skip on Chain of Memories. The plot isn't engaging enough to spend more money on a DS game when I can already guess how it goes.

Sadly, I don't have a Sat. PAX ticket, so I have to wait.
atolnon: (Default)
( Sep. 1st, 2009 09:54 am)
Some time ago, I saw Kingdom Hearts and its sequel in a bin for about 8 bucks a pop. It was buy 2, get one free, so I ended up with Baroque as well, which is its own fucked up little endeavor. (And I say that in a fairly pleased way, but moving on.) There was a point in time where for a few years, every anime engagement I heard of or attended was packed to the teeth full of cosplaying Soras or whatever. The game won awards and it spawned a thousand YouTube channels of people singing the theme song.

It's a cute little game. I don't regret buying it. I've enjoyed playing it. It doesn't produce any particular emotional impact in me.

It's true. It doesn't really resonate with me. I assume it's not really for me. I think the cause of the uproar was that it was a lot of people's first real RPG like Final Fantasy 7 was for a number of others (I ended up with Final Fantasy 6, so I'm a few years off.). So it was good, but for them, it was the best. I mean, power of friendship, keyblade, Cloud's there - and Cloud is pretty much a meme at this point, regardless of his actual characterization in 7, which I find to be almost endlessly fascinating.

The games I played before this were Silent Hill 2, Baroque, and the last games I beat were Fallout 3 and Persona 3. Two of those games are some of the intense games I've played. Silent Hill 2 is intense enough that I'm actually afraid of Pyramid Head while I'm engaged in it (afterwards he just becomes his kind of comical meme that he's been transformed into thanks to the internet, its own endless engagement of speculation on my part - this is going to end up in a paper at some point, isn't it). Anyway, compared to the heavy fare I'd been dieting on up to this point, the bubblegum trappings of Kingdom Hearts are gonna seem a little light, but my opinion on it as objective as I can be is that it's got a solid but lightweight narrative that's designed to appeal to a certain demographic, a solid but unimpressive control system, and fairly tolerable AI. It lets you build spaceships, and those ships have lasers. It has a good soundtrack. It's a good allaround game. Not one of the best I've ever played, but you could do much worse then buying it for 8 bucks if this is your kind of thing.

If it's not, and you're the other type of reader on here that I know of, buy Silent Hill 2 for a Playstation 2. Even if you're not a gamer, it's an amazing representation of gaming done very well.

.

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