Author Topic: Emotional impact, emotional response  (Read 26260 times)

Ald Cyrod

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2009, 12:15:05 AM »
Hello,

I was 22 when I joined Bethesda Softworks. I was hired by Mark Jones after sending in a floppy (!) disk containing some images I had created using Deluxe Painter II (!), which I lied and said I created in Photoshop. Oh, right, and I sent the above via the post office (!), promptly after seeing that the company was hiring via a print magazine (!) known as Next Generation.

At the time, I lived in Huntsville, Alabama, and had a few illustration pieces published in various pen-and-paper products for Chaosium Inc. and Atlas Games, after a set of circumstances that mainly involved being pimped by Brom to his contacts (which nets an earnest "!")...as he, too, grew up in Alabama, was kind and patient and shared a kindred love for The Pixies, and smiled fondly at my drawings from my Dark Sun home campaign, which unabashedly were loveletters to the contours of his lines, his love for bugs and dust, and his inability to render perspective. Okay, so the last wasn't a loveletter, it was a common hurdle, but whatever. Now you know why Morrowind was full of Giant Bugs.

And in the spirit of Modelo-swilled digression...my actual pitch for the aesthetic of Morrowind was "Mad Max crossed with The Dark Crystal crossed with Star Wars. Cuz everything should be crossed with Star Wars."

Fuck, I'm getting ahead of myself. Back up. 22 years-old, Mark calls, he's British, and I'm from Alabama so immediately that makes this a moment of Gravitas an' shit. I mean, British? That's all Grand Moff Tarkin an' stuff, right? I'm thinkin', "Holy Sequel to AIDS, this is awesome!" (See Star Wars, above.)

He liked my "Photoshop" images on the floppy and wanted to know if I would-- "YES!", which is what I said before I heard him actually ask, "Create some menus for our Terminator game's multiplayer add-on" which just garnered more dumbfuck yellin' of yes's until I was on a plane for an on-site interview and blah, pack the truck, drive to the state border, stop to piss on it with the hard gold stream of foolheaded post-collegiate-know-it-none, and boom: I'm pushing around a ramp of 256 colors (!) to the front end menu for SkyNET. And I meet the rest of That Earliest Gang (Todd Someone, John Pearson, Ted Someone, Julian LeFay, et al) with whisperings that some dummy named Ken Rolston might get hired and, being a Paranoia fan it was all  "Holy Sequel to AIDS, this is awesome!"

Again.

TES: Daggerfall was, at the time, some Big Deal that was also going on that I knew nothing about, but it looked kinda dumb and generic fantasy and I absolutely had no idea what the hell it meant or how important it would be. (See foolheaded post-collegiate-know-it-none, above.) Also, because I found out it was based on someone's homebrew Dungeons Ampersand Dragons campaign, I was all surly, serial contrarian and full of embarrassment-fueled hypocrisy and "Boring and therefore wrong" was born in the worst and most egotistical of ways. (Surprise.)

I would come to know how important that game would be, though. One, everyone at the office was freakin' out because it was late (whatever that meant) and two, evidently, everyone that played the first TES (what first TES?) were gettin mad that it was late.

After really getting along with Todd on SkyNET (mainly because of the manual's backstory and then an artist quit and Todd asked if I wanted to learn 3DS Max and I yelled "SURE DO!" like a retard and then proceeded to want to know every little thing about what it takes to make narrative in games, especially in regard to 32x32 textures), and John Pearson (an artist that I told, "Naw, dude, I ain't never drawin' no dragons" because I wanted to be cool and I was cool but not cool enough to know that I wasn't being really cool), and then meeting this other dummy Kurt Kulhmann, who got hired on for the TES: Daggerfall "bonus missions" that were only available at, like, J.C. Penney's (no shit) and spying in him a love for Weird Fantasy (Clarke Ashton Smith, Gene Wolfe, Paul Park, the best of Moorcock, and...oh wait, let me take this time out to say FUCK YOU to China Meiville, you turgid, coat-tailing, self-indulgent avante-oh-my-good-God-gay dust-jacket-posing dick-sore)...well, then it all...

...what the fuck was I saying? (Modelo, 6-pack, 7 bucks, twenty-four minutes.)  Oh, right, so I'm saying to Kurt at our first off-site lunch, "Sometimes I feel like being a self-aware vacuum cleaner in the land of the robots illegally listening to jazz" and even though he didn't know what I meant and laughed politely I knew that he knew what I meant and that we'd do this dance until one of us were dead.

Um.

My first job on TES: Daggerfall (they needed emergency help) was to tweak all these real-world paintings they scanned in and, like, hide the fact that they weren't real-world paintings so, like, no one would get sued. So I, like, took whatever 64x128 scans they had, like The One That Movie With British Dude and Scarlett Jo-I-Can't-Spell-It-Son Was In... Portrait of Somethin' Girl, and turned the chick into, like, a lizard bitch because lizard people were in this dummy Elder Scrolls world along with cat people and all the other colors of Benetton and no one wanted to get sued and I didn't want to draw dragons and oh snap here's my opportunity to actually draw clothes on all these scanned-in Penthouse pictures (which I wasn't supposed to do; I was just supposed to not get us sued and "fantasy them up" which I think only wasn't funny and retarded to Julian) because, like, that part of it was embarrassing and just, like, reinforced the Dumb.

So I wasn't having anything to do with this dummy Elder Scrolls world. Until Kurt got promoted. And Ken got hired. And then Julian left and Todd frowned and went, hmm, "Hey Kurt and Michael, what was this pirate game you guys were talking about again?"

Kurt and I were all, "It's set on a gas planet named like UR for Jupiter but it's way in the future so everyone's forgotten that name plus we both love ancient cultures so we can play with the Etruscans and the Medes and BABYLONIAN BULL-PEOPLE, and TOTALLY with air-whales for ships, right, and metal is so scarce that each cannonball has its own name and people eat bone-meal, right, because meat is totally, totally scarce and therefore cannibalism is totally normal and--" and he's all, "Wait, back up the train. That sounds weird. What if we set it in Tamriel?"

And then Ken's all, "Hello, my butthurt children, do not fear or dismiss the generic fantasy, if you regard it as a canvas. Have you ever heard of Glorantha? You may yet find your Jupiter and its evidently-important gas."

I was 23 and trying to remember the name of the guy, of that Persian King, that made nice nice with the Jews and, like, let them take asylum or some other weird yet rad ancient world shit. And maybe, just maybe, if Tamriel was the United Colors of Benetton... I could make the pirate hero a black guy.

And that's why Obama got elected.

-M

PS. Discuss amongst yourselves. I'll get back to this. Burp.




« Last Edit: October 18, 2009, 12:30:29 AM by Ald_Cyrod »

Lord Hoot

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2009, 10:21:54 AM »
Just lol basically

Baruch

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2009, 09:50:30 PM »
I learned a lot.

Quote
Cuz everything should be crossed with Star Wars."

He says this like its a joke but 54 is pure Tatooine.
People get ready, there's a train a comin'.

ppitm

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2009, 09:57:04 PM »
The Chitin helmet is totally Star Wars.

And that's funny because we just responded to the same quote at the same time.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2009, 09:57:52 PM by ppitm »

Chandragupta

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2009, 10:10:17 PM »
Interesting, thank you a lot.

It's not often we get an (honest) look at the real creative process. Too bad really, I find it far more interesting than the standard three pieces of colored-in armor concept art.

Rhoark

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2009, 08:52:40 PM »
Dark Crystal didn't need to be crossed with Star Wars, because it already was Star Wars.  A subplot about a sith crystal that got cut going from the 3rd to 4th drafts of episode 4, executed by Frank Oz and Gary Kurz (producer of episodes 4 and 5).

but I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't appreciate China Mieville.

It just so happens Huntsville is where I am.  Drop me a PM if you ever come back, maybe to research Vehkship designs for TESV.  Though I hear that next year the museum is being taken over almost totally by a temporary Star Wars exhibition...

Rhoark

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2009, 09:23:16 PM »
On the main topic, I got Morrowind late in the form of the GotY edition from a bargain bin, so I played Morrowind when I was around 22, and Oblivion at 26 - hardly a lifetime apart.  Oblivion is clearly better as a game qua game, but the Morrowind setting is clearly more inspired.  Oblivion aimed to be more cinematic than literary.  Knights and Isles closed the lore deficit to a considerable degree, but there is still the notable failure to even attempt portrayal of distinct Nibenean and Colovian cultures.  Cutting the nobility faction quest line stands out to me as the most regrettable loss.

Tortus

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2009, 01:44:31 AM »
The Dark Crystal is awesome. I thought I saw the influence, in the art anyway, but I didn't know for sure.

Oh right, I'm suposed to discuss the stupid
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... oh snap here's my opportunity to actually draw clothes on all these scanned-in Penthouse pictures ... because, like, that part of it was embarrassing and just, like, reinforced the Dumb.
This was funny. I would need to laugh my way through that chore.

Quote
"Sometimes I feel like being a self-aware vacuum cleaner in the land of the robots illegally listening to jazz" and even though he didn't know what I meant and laughed politely I knew that he knew what I meant ...
I'm reminded of Emergency, when I read this.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2009, 02:24:30 AM by tortise »

Lady Olivia

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #23 on: October 28, 2009, 03:34:40 PM »
I was just thinking a couple of days ago, while watching ads for "The Legend of the Seeker" which seems to be yet another medieval-fantasy-like setting for yet another hero to make his epic journey - that it's like the elements of generic fantasy, the keywords, are inscribed on dice, and whichever result you get when rolling the dice, it will do for a usable imaginary world. The Hero! the ad screamed, came after A Thousand Years! to use The Book! and The Sword! to beat The Evil! that came from The Underworld!

The more dice, the richer the setting. Add dice with adult material, other dice with philosophical concepts, and perhaps some dice borrowed from science-fiction and there you go. Where's the author in this? His role, to choose and arrange and fill in the details, rather than create. A grim vision, yet I'm sure there are many successful books and games that came to be just that way.

So is this also how TES was made?

I'm not sure whether I'd be happy or sad to learn that it is. Me, I like structured things. I like to feel that there's a plan, a truth beneath the observables even when they appear to be random. On the other hand, it would be amazing in its own way - awesome, even - to discover that indeed they are random, that they were made up as the authors went, but still managed to form a deeply meaningful story.

Grateful to have a chance to find out.

Chandragupta

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #24 on: October 30, 2009, 11:31:29 AM »
Quote
The more dice, the richer the setting. Add dice with adult material, other dice with philosophical concepts, and perhaps some dice borrowed from science-fiction and there you go. Where's the author in this? His role, to choose and arrange and fill in the details, rather than create.
I think the idea is rather crass. As if fantasy just consisted of taking what you know already and then stapling on some adult material (for most instances, read "boobs") and more theoretical concepts. Randomness doesn't work just like that; an artistic vision is needed.

I can imagine that in some cases, when one is trying to think up the very foundations of a setting, with no idea of what it should be yet, such a dice-throwing approach could work to some extent. It could perhaps land you with a combination of ideas and styles that you might not spontaneously have thought of. After that, however, you have to combine ideas, elaborate and sometimes change them as much as the limits of your imagination will allow. It's called "fantasy", after all. Creation is certainly involved.

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A grim vision, yet I'm sure there are many successful books and games that came to be just that way.
Frankly, I doubt that. At least, I cannot think of any games or books where the settings just obviously results from a random mixture such as the one you describe. The vast majority of all fantasy writing, be it for games or literature, consists of endless regurgitations of a limited set of tropes that have been introduced over the years. Sure, some of these have been successful, but successful doesn't equate to good.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2009, 11:33:33 AM by Adanorcil »

Baruch

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #25 on: October 31, 2009, 04:57:39 AM »
I don't think I understand the conversation at this point.
People get ready, there's a train a comin'.

Etadachiel

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #26 on: October 31, 2009, 05:15:50 AM »
Quote
I don't think I understand the conversation at this point.
Basically, is the story the result of the author's imagination or is it the result of a dice being rolled and going with whatever comes up (like the episode of South Park where Family Guy's writers are really manatees pushing around balls with words on them to make the story)...
“The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish.”

Chandragupta

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #27 on: November 02, 2009, 09:00:09 PM »
Quote
Quote
I don't think I understand the conversation at this point.
Basically, is the story the result of the author's imagination or is it the result of a dice being rolled and going with whatever comes up (like the episode of South Park where Family Guy's writers are really manatees pushing around balls with words on them to make the story)...
I think Olivia's post referred more to the setting than to the actual word-for-word writing.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2009, 09:00:35 PM by Adanorcil »

Etadachiel

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #28 on: November 04, 2009, 02:19:03 AM »
Quote
Quote
Quote
I don't think I understand the conversation at this point.
Basically, is the story the result of the author's imagination or is it the result of a dice being rolled and going with whatever comes up (like the episode of South Park where Family Guy's writers are really manatees pushing around balls with words on them to make the story)...
I think Olivia's post referred more to the setting than to the actual word-for-word writing.
Bah, its still a good analogy...
“The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish.”

Lady Olivia

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Re: Emotional impact, emotional response
« Reply #29 on: November 06, 2009, 12:28:09 PM »
Bah, that post of mine was crap. I pretty much failed to express what I meant. What I did mean was mostly in the line of:

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The vast majority of all fantasy writing, be it for games or literature, consists of endless regurgitations of a limited set of tropes that have been introduced over the years. Sure, some of these have been successful, but successful doesn't equate to good.

And no, I'm not saying that's good, I'm only saying I'm amazed it works: rearranging the same symbols into similar-sounding stories still gets people excited. I know I shouldn't be amazed, it's enough to look at the "wealth" of concepts behind the non-fantasy genres...! It just happened to hit me with sudden clarity, how easy it is to scramble up an imaginary world. I'm sure if any one of you guys were to give it a couple of hours, you'd come up with stuff way better than the crap that sells these days.

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At least, I cannot think of any games or books where the settings just obviously results from a random mixture such as the one you describe.

The real challenge would be to think of games and books that offer original, unique ideas, or at least such that haven't been reiterated a hundred times already.

But my dice analogy is really no good. Bricks would do better; it's not the randomness: it's the recycling. "Building" with existing blocks. In a sense, I'd say you're really creative only if you get to make your own blocks. That's why I'm all the more astonished when new and exhilarating things spring up from combining pre-existing ideas, reinterpreting. It takes a special kind of skill/inspiration.

Duh. I either need to think much more about this, or much less.