Storytelling Has To Evolve.

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Do you please your audience, or do you please the depiction of the story you had in mind? 


This is something that has been a long time in the making now, from various posts on my Twitter account and rigorous conversations regarding one of my earlier posts in regards to Master Chief Petty Officer. John-117’s death in the Halo Universe.

I just quite couldn’t make my voice heard that well, and I couldn’t put my finger on what I actually thought to deliver a cohesive argument in 140 characters or less.

But it wasn’t until Star Wars Rebels episode Twin Suns came out, and an intense study of what the producers and everyone who worked on it thought in regards to it, that I actually started to see a clear image on the matter.

I’d like to say, that this is something that I deeply believe in, as much as you could quote Death to the Author or anything against my arguments here, I believe that this is something that every storyteller has to aspire towards and believe in.

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So, I think the best way to start this is to quote Carrie Beck, Producer of Star Wars Rebels in Rebels Recon 3.20, Inside Twin Suns. 

“Going into this, I know we had a really rigorous conversation around the idea, of whether or not this is something we should be doing. And especially knowing the journeys of both of those characters. Really making sure that that moment was being constructed from a place of what the story demanded. Not from a place of something that we all personally wanted to see.” 

 

So, what does this mean in the context of what I want to say here? Well, it’s very clear. Storytelling is something that you shouldn’t tread lightly with, every possible outcome and possibility must be tackled and considered in an equal amount. That’s where all the great stories come from and where all the amazing characters are born from.

George Lucas surely created his universe with everything thought out, you could tell, going into rigorous studies of the Star Wars universe it is easy to tell the amount of love and work he placed into the universe.

And this is what a writer and storyteller should do, critical thinking of your own story of every possibility. The world is your playground, and you shouldn’t be afraid to use complete freedom in crafting your universe or stories.

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Which brings me to another point. Do you appease your audience? Or do you allow yourself to create something that is entirely unbiased and of your own doing?

The Outlast series by Red Barrel Games is a clear cut example of this, it’s something that is seemingly created with the experience and not the player, from the story to the gameplay itself, it boils down exactly to the creators want and not what the creators think the audience wants. This is an example of full creative freedom done right, without fearing what the audience must or mustn’t say.

And with their recent new game in the series Outlast II they only followed this trend, allowing themselves to create something that isn’t just scary through and through, but a full experience of countless taboo topics used with a freedom that to this day remains unparalleled in regards to what I can see.

 

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[POSSIBLE SPOILERS SKIP AHEAD IF YOU MUST]

Outlast 2 utilises a grand variety of topics, many of which are due to cause any backlash if any at all should happen – however, in the current industry we live in, anything is due to cause backlash of any amount, however baseless or factless. Two examples I can give right now are D.Va’s Police Outfit and Polygon’s newest post about Call of Duty WWII.

But I digress, and as such, I will list out some of the topics that we see tackled in Outlast 2.

  • The very real threat of rape in both male and female genders
  • Possible pedophilia
  • Extremist religion
  • Catholicism as an extremist religion
  • Satanism
  • Killing babies
  • The Apocalypse
  • Mind Control
  • Conspiracy
  • Evil Corporation orchestrating an evil project

And that’s just some of it from what I could see going into the game and reading up on its story and lore. But I am running on a tangent here, I believe this should only further prove my point, however.

[NO MORE OUTLAST 2 SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT]

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My point being: You shouldn’t be afraid to tell a story from the perspective that it should be told in terms of the characters’ journey and the progression of your universe, you should not be obligated to appease your audience with the story they’d want to see. Instead, you should focus on the story

Instead, you should focus on the story you want to tell, and you must tell it however it must be told to give way to growth and further meaning to the universe.

And for that, I believe I must once again quote Rebels Recon.

“How did you come to the conclusion that it had to be done this way?” 

“We never entered into this story, trying to think about how satisfying that battle should be. It really became about what was the genuine intention of this moment. And knowing where these two men are at this point in their lives. – I think it’s important for us, even though, in the timeline we aren’t at A New Hope, yet, to think about what we know about Obi-Wan in that movie and to work backwards in someway, to make sure the character progression charts appropiately”

This is what Carrie Beck replied when questioned in regards to how they decided to give Maul an end in such a way when it came to the end of the episode Twin Suns.

And this is what Dave Filoni replies with when tackled with the same question.

“If you talk to a lot of people that sword fight, they’ll tell you that people who are very good, don’t have long fights. Its very quick. And so that scene, is an homage to the Seventh Samurai, I think on one level people would be excited to see another prolongued lightsaber fight. But, I just really never saw the confrontation that way because to do that is to say the characters don’t have growth, yes, its exciting as an audience member but it’s not a really belieavable thing – The storytelling has to evolve.”

So, here you have it, the thing that all writers should strive for. A believable, well thought out, story. With actual growth and stakes and this is what I firmly believe as a storyteller and as a dreamer.

Your stories are yours, which you choose to share with your audience, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, a project can be truly amazing when it comes out of the sheer strength of your love for your content and imagination and not from the perspective of what everyone would like to see on the screen or on paper.

Believe in your story, and write what you must. It’s the only way you’ll truly be happy as a writer, don’t write what you think people would want.

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Author’s Notes:

And now we bring this one to an end, it has certainly been a long time coming, I always wanted to bring my thoughts out there in a true cohesive way in regards to this matter, it’s something that I feel strongly about and with good reason. I am a writer, a dreamer, I love my stories and seeing so much appeasing to the crowds in the industry just worries me like no tomorrow, hopefully this gets somewhere, or stays right here, I don’t mind, what I mind is that I finally got my thoughts out for those who really wanted to read them. And for that, I thank you all.

Now, let’s give a collective tease of future projects that I have on the way for you guys.

And one last thing coming straight from the guys at Progressive Halo! 

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We’ve been working on a project that will certainly be amazing, I am incredibly looking forward to the reception of everyone towards it, more info will be released soon enough as we’re closing in final stages for it! Look forward to it and follow the Progressive Halo twitter account at @ProgressiveHalo.

Join in the ProgressiveHalo Discord right now clicking this link as well!

And as always, live your life, play Halo, enjoy some good stories – and dream.

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There is… No value to human life. – Titanfall 2.

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Now that I have your attention. . . 


I have been playing Titanfall 2 for the last few hours before I was astonished by a complete change of pace, a change of pace that isn’t exactly exhibited in many games today.

And that change of pace is, Effect and Cause.

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A clever little mission that is the massive standout of this game, and I thought that it warranted my fullest, undivided attention. So here we are, writing, or in the case of you – the reader – reading my piece about this magnificent mission that I think we can all agree that is a massive standout.

Both in storytelling, and gameplay wise. It is clever, entirely clever.

The mission allows you – Shortly after some… Pseudo-platforming – to manipulate space and time continuum, in such a way that it makes you feel both empowered and like your actions matter in both present and past.

There’s nothing more satisfying than to listen in to the radio chatter and hearing your enemies frantically looking for you and wondering what the hell is happening, however, they stand absolutely no chance of getting to you, they’re dealing with the unknown. And that unknown is you.

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But that’s not what makes this mission so great – To me – after a bit of exploring, I found these audio logs that were interesting at first, some speaking about certain things of the past and the things that happened as you arrived.

They were merely interesting until I hit the jackpot, a 5-minute recording from General Marder, that shows more than just a little bit of information, but more so it is a crucial part of the information that is entirely amazing.

I found myself. . . Agreeing with the course of action that Marder had thought of. Something that doesn’t happen so often in video games these days.

grey side to a conflict, and an entirely logical purpose behind their actions.


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I will quote the entire speech by Marder, below.

I would like to spend some time today to talk about the value of human life. There is… no value to human life.

Now that I have your attention…

To be more precise; human life, to a certain limit, is expendable.

We are self perpetuating, yet self destructive.

Adaptable, yet flawed.

And always, always, resource intensive. We are endless consumers of resources.

But most relevant to our research here is one undeniable fact: that human life is abundant. Overpopulation of any colonized world is a given. Through the lens of cold objectivity, it is irresponsible to say that all individuals on such worlds are actually indispensable. Millions of humans die across the colonized worlds every day by any number of causes. Human life is… expendable.

Now our problem is twofold; On the one hand, we are faced with a hostile frontier populace opposed to our commercial pursuits for the greater good. And on the other hand, there is a never ending cry for natural resources demanded of us by the greater populations of the core systems.

We must have order on the frontier if we are the achieve true progress, but the Militia, in its provincial myopic lack of vision refuses to accept this.

Thus, we are at war.

Now the bitter truth; Reinforcements from the core systems will not arrive for several more years. The militia gains strength day by day, taking back one planet after another. Our choices are limited, drastic action must be taken.

Again, I remind you all of one simple truth: That human life is abundant. And, as distasteful as it may sound, human life is, in truth, expendable. And so that brings us to this planet typhon, where we have discovered a gift; a machine that will do more than change the tide.

Call it fate,

Call it evolution,

Call it what you will.

The truth is we have discovered our resolution, and in it lies a weapon with a powerful ability to fold space and time. We don’t know who built it, but we do know that is it quite old. And most importantly we have learned enough to bring it to life.

As we use this fold weapon, we will manipulate space time targeting anything we desire, sundering entire planets. Our restoration efforts in the mountains are nearly complete, but one task remains. We must complete a small scale test here first. To tune the power source, or the “Ark”, as our colleagues tend to call it.

Once we have accomplished this, we will transfer the power source, the Ark, to the full scale site and destroy one populated Militia planet and then another, until they capitulate. We will open an Einstein-Rosen bridge sending through thousands of concentrated gravitational waves. This will rip apart and sunder every molecule, every atom, and every living thing we target. Resulting in… total loss of life.

But lest we lose sight of the bigger picture, remember those losses are ultimately replaceable by the inexorable march of human reproduction. By decisively neutralizing the militia forces, we will in fact safeguard the existence of the human race, extending its reach and power towards a prosperous and bright future.

You can also listen to it, as I hyperlinked it before.


But take a moment to take all of this in, what does this mean, is he mad? Or is he entirely right in all he says? That’s entirely objective.

For someone fighting for the Militia, that means that it is personal, your home, and everything you fight for, threatened in an instant.

For the IMC? You are nothing but a terrorist, you’re destabilising the system with your revolts and pointless struggle if only you’d. . . Submit. They wouldn’t have to resort to such depths in their actions. Strong, immoral, maybe. But entirely, and completely, reasonable.

Think about it, the core worlds depend on The Frontier’s handiwork and resources, what happens when the Militia continue taking worlds that the IMC needs to help their core worlds. You destabilise Earth and the rest.

And as someone who sees both sides, I can’t help but agree with everything Marder is saying. It’s a strong handed decision that someone needs to take, the Militia needs to secede.

But, as I said, this is subjective, everyone will see this conflict differently, and that’s the beauty of it. Once you create a world and conflict with real intentions and issues, the lines become non-existent.

And I believe that’s the real gem of Titanfall 2. Real purpose.

And from now on, I will wait eagerly for everything Titanfall related. And hope for more like this.


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Now, let’s mention something else I wanted to talk about, in this short, but sweet post I have prepared for you all.

The dialogue options, and how clever it is to truly make you the character of this story while still retaining the personality of Rifleman, J. Cooper. And I can’t help but think that every FPS should innovate in this if we hope for the FPS genre to become a true and tried storytelling format that allows immersion and enjoyment of the story.

Halo 4 comes to mind in this regard, a true masterpiece of storytelling, that indeed sacrificed some of its immersion for some people to accommodate storytelling.

Imagine if we had these options in future Halo titles, and just like Titanfall 2, allow the time to run out between choices, allows you time to either respond or remain quiet. And that is very clever in what could be a great Halo title with storytelling such as Titanfall 2.

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There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain in this regard. And if Halo should borrow anything from Titanfall 2, it should be exactly this. And only this.


Author’s Notes:

However, I believe that’s all I should talk about this for now. If you wish to see more thorough thoughts from me in regards to the story of Titanfall 2 once I finish the game, please express your interest in it.

I am still, however, undergoing my journey through Destiny, but collecting enough notes, needless to say, my reception and thoughts of the story aren’t the best, though, I do have several good thoughts about it, and I am in the middle of reading through Grimoire to both benefit my understanding. . . And benefit you in how much the game is missing lore wise.

I am also, of course playing through BiA as well, I have plenty of thoughts about it and praise that I can’t wait to dump on you all.

But that’ll be all for today, and as always, live a good life, play Halo, and be safe.

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A Vanilla Experience – A Retrospective on Destiny.

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You can be a legend. . . For a couple bucks, I guess. 


So, I have been struggling a bit to think of how to start this, I even thought this would quite possibly be better suited for a video, possibly a 20-minute video at that. But I wouldn’t be any good at narrating this, so. . .

But I wouldn’t be any good at narrating this, so. . . Why don’t we start at the beginning? The beginning of my experience with Destiny Year 3, as a vanilla player.

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I am taken to the exact same page everyone is taken when they start their adventure, the character selection page. And of course, I already knew what I wanted, so I didn’t waste any time at getting at it.

I picked a Hunter, and I began from there, a Human Hunter. Very much representative of my past experiences with this game. Waiting to obtain great riches and hoping to obtain my own legend, using my enhanced mobility to my advantage.

I hit finish and I create my character, and then I was taken to that same old intro cutscene, the beautiful visuals of the men walking across the empty vast regions of Mars, up until arriving face first to where the Traveler laid low.

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Everything was going well, I get to the part where I begin my adventure. And the game crashes.

. . . I should’ve guessed this would be my experience with this, however.

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Connectivity issues aside, being either on Bungie’s end or mine, I restarted my game and began my adventure again. I rewatched the beautiful cutscenes and then, I woke up in the middle of this desolate land, with this. . . Obnoxiously voiced new Ghost by Nolan North.

Let’s say I liked Dinklebot’s grim, and sombre tone of voice more. It made him sound more knowledgeable, better than Nolan’s innocent and oblivious tone. But, here I was, beginning my experience with the game, from a vanilla copy. No DLC. No advantages.

I started my grind from zero. . . Granted, as being a resident of the third world country; Venezuela. I don’t have the capacity to take out $30 and waste them in a paid level boost.

However, I made my way inside the dark halls of the wall…  Peering my view inside as my Ghost’s light shined bright before me and illuminated the area in front of me, just barely. I made my way up and I found myself staring at a vast, dark space. And my ghost left my side, venturing deeper into the dark metallic chasm of this mysterious wall.

And then, the lights flutter to life, and I am found surrounded by this enemy all around me.

And, then conveniently a gun was in front of me after going through a door. Where did it come from? We don’t ask these things.

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Having played this mission before, I easily boosted through it, running like a mad man past enemies, bunny hopping my way to the outside world and then to the level 2 trigger once the ship is reached, having played through all of it before I knew exactly all that happened and it’s inner workings.

However, my journey didn’t end there, I was taken to the Tower, and once again that beautiful cutscene where we see the tower for the first time ensued. The atmosphere being grandiosely beautiful as the chills of seeing that scene again after a while, returned in kind.

But. . . That wouldn’t prepare me for the reality of Vanilla Destiny that hit the moment I stepped on the tower.

From this simple, obnoxiously simple book that continues to bleep giving out some sense of urgency and then once you go in to take that notification off, you’re met by the fact that you have to buy the DLC to actually make it stop.

To, the entire weekly raid selection being locked off to you from the start under the DLC, these are things that make the vanilla player’s experience diminishing. The game asks of you to whip out money to enjoy the fullest extent of it’s content, and while I understand it for things like the story missions and such.

Why is gear, weeklies and weapons locked off to you from the start except for a handful of things that are according to your vanilla status, but the rest is entirely locked off to you, in the fullest regard.

All of this is taking away the core experience of the game from you if you’re unlucky enough to own a standard copy of the game.

But, at the end of the day, to distract me from this, I did what any sane man can do. I played with friends. . .

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And, of course, it was a ton of fun to play with friends, we did patrols, missions and they helped me level up to 10 in one night and I was already halfway through the story, but of course, they being level 40, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I was being carried through the entirety of it.

So we decided to try out a higher difficulty. And what came next, really didn’t shock me. Being a Halo player I am used to going in missions with paramount odds against me when playing Legendary, I wanted this experience with them, something that made my time worth it and my agility and speed came into play like it has before in many playthroughs of Year 1.

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It started to get old at this point, it’s an unnecessary lock to something that is not going to benefit a vanilla player like me who’s still mounting up the ranks, at the end of the day outside of a feeling of accomplishment and adventure, I want that from this game. I want to be challenged and I want to use my character’s ability to the fullest exchange, but, just like everything else in this game. It’s entirely locked out from you.

I want to be challenged and I want to use my character’s ability to the fullest exchange, but, just like everything else in this game. It’s entirely locked out from you.

So, we just carried on, not looking back and focused on having fun. At least to an extent as the reminders that you have a game that is entirely locked off from every core experience and benefit is very apparent every second you play this game.

Well, we finished every mission on Earth, and then, we played Devil’s, Lair. . .

And we finished the mission in less than twenty minutes, Sepkis Prime being the easiest takedown I have ever experienced in this game while playing with two level 40s, there were no stakes involved in it, no urgency for you.

I can carry on retelling the story of Destiny Vanilla through my eyes and my experiences as I carried on upon my ‘legend’ or dare I say, my ‘destiny’. But there’s really nothing good I can say about it, the good of the game came from the gameplay, and my friends jerking around with me.

I can legitimately say, that I only died in this game five times, three of which were through falling off the map unaware. The stakes in everything are so diminished it’s almost non-existent, and if you want a challenge, you’re not gonna get it unless you waste your money on this.

And keyword being; waste’, this is the most critically acclaimed scam I have ever experienced, all the fun it can offer and all the good times with friends that it can give you are just not enough justification to waste your money on a half-baked franchise.

From discussions with my friends, I have learned that there’s more to the story outside the game than I could ever imagine. A game, advertise for the story and a huge world where you can play with your friends, has legitimately no story whatsoever unless you read the Grimoire cards, and that’s another issue, however, that’s an issue I will tackle more in-depth at a later time.

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Just to not keep running on a tangent, I will briefly mention some of the things I noticed myself, from the reef being barely of any substance, looking at that horizon, I can just see the failed promises that this game had, from trading to exploring the derelict ship Cassini.

Many things of which caused me to want to fall in love with the game, and I want to, I really do. However, I don’t feel any urgency to. This game fails to captivate me and others at every turn, there’s no Cairo Station, no Scarab Battle, no Truth assassination. There’s nothing for me to feel compelled to love this game.

And the answer to make me love this universe lies within the Grimoires, then I am thoroughly disappointed.

Nothing good comes from this game in its end game. If you’re a vanilla player, you’re left out of things that potentially make the game for others or things that are part of the core experience of this game.

And this is an awful practice that has plagued the industry in the last couple of years, whoever has the bigger wallet, shamefully wins. And this game is, sadly, no different.

However, let’s put aside what it does wrong, and let’s focus on what it achieves, despite locking you of half the experience of what it legitimately does good.

Social play, I have never experienced such a fun game to play with friends before, this was also true for Day 1 and Year 1, My friends kept me coming back and gripping the edge of my seat to see what we do next today.

Friends are the sole reason why you play this game, not for the game itself. And that’s something that Bungie should hope to capitalise on its fun factor and expand the game enough so that both factors are continually making you come back to their game and enjoy it.

Patrol missions are excuse enough to play with your friends – Though, I’d suggest adding a six-player fireteam cap to it – the public events and the random events that happen in select areas causing the NPCs to fight each other like the Taken Corruption are really, really fun.

There’s no way to describe the laughter I had when my console almost overheated with the number of enemies that appeared on the screen. It was ridiculously fun and good.

They’re so close to creating the perfect game, a game you keep installed forever and keeps you coming back every single day, this is what they can achieve, but greed is apparently too. . . Tempting, and oh, so strong.

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However, from the fun times to the disappointments I had with Destiny, I can conclude that it is, of course, not a bad game it does a lot of good in its experience, but it’s execution and handling is a scam.

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No amount of fun times, clever gameplay, beautiful visuals or even the experiences you can make with your friends along the way; really excuses the scam that is Destiny.

And as such, Destiny 2 must mark an improvement, a step away from setups like it’s predecessor. Doing so would open the game up to more than those who have a big wallet… Destiny 2 should strive to include everyone, not just those who buy the DLC, Day-1 players are important too, Vanilla players.

You gotta give us an excuse to care and want to come back if you lock us out, there’s little to no reason to want to do anything.

So at the end of the day, the journey really only ended. . . Back at the beginning. 

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Author’s Notes:

Now that this post has come to an end, I’d like to give a quick announcement/promotion towards Pictorial Hand at the HaloArchive, if you’re a Halo fan, if you’ve done anything that you’d like showcased and promoted, be it music, art, fan fiction, amongst others. Feel free to tweet at us at @HaloArchive, @AdvJones and @HaruspexOfHell and we’ll find a space for each piece!

We’re working hard on incentivising community creations, so if you have created something you’d like to show off, hit us up!

Also, be on the lookout for other posts from me, I will be going through the story fidelity of Destiny later on, from Vanilla to Rise of Iron in Story Fidelity – Analysing the Story of Destiny.

And I will be accounting some of the events that led up to Halo 5: Guardians’ ultimate objective failures, in Halo 5: Guardians – A Stolen Marvel. 

A Roman in Blue Chapter 4; City of Fire is also coming in nicely, 3,000 words and counting.

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Be sure to join us at the Halo Archive Forums! You’ll be sure to find a good time there and friends!

Also, the ProgressiveHalo Discord has been open for a while! Here’s a link to it; https://discord.gg/nzJThck

We’ve got plenty of cool stuff coming in, so be on the lookout for that as well. And as always, be sure to be safe, live your life, and play Halo. . . And other games, but especially Halo.