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Messages - Thought

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I am sorry that you believe I am being patronizing and jerkish, Alfador. That was certainly not my intent. Unfortunately I am not a charismatic individual: when I try to write encouragement, I can see how it would come across in the opposite. Perhaps it might help you to understand how I see the back and forth.

You were saying that something was beyond your abilities (namely, that if an idea is on paper, it dies and you can do nothing about that). My response was essentially that it wasn't beyond your abilities: you are good enough that no idea need remain dead. You have the ability and the talent to make the deadest idea come to life. Personally, I don't see it as jerkish to think that someone is capable of more than they think they are capable of.

Also, if you have a chance to talk to those authors again, they'll all agree that there are several things that work for everyone: writing more, working hard to make yourself better as a writer, revising, going on to the next project, etc. If you can't write an idea down without it dying, how can you ever revise? If you never revise, a story wont be as good as you are able to make it.

As for ideas: again, you can say that putting ideas on paper kills them for you. And again, I will say that you are good enough to make them live despite that.

All in all, I see it as a very uplifting and encouraging message: I am sorry if it is not coming across that way.

EDIT: Having researched the authors you mentioned, Alfador, I see that they all hold to the same stance as the one's I mentioned. Indeed, a few of them expressed extreme credulity at the prospect of someone claiming to the otherwise. As such, since you say that you're familiar with their perspectives, it might be a communication problem is at the heart of the issue.

The aforementioned idea of beginning with an extremely limited micro project is also worth serious consideration IMO.

Brilliant, on numerous levels. Not only does it provide a proof of ability to the market, it shows potential talent that the team is serious, and it starts building a fan base.

For the game itself, I feel "The Company of Myself" might be a place to look for inspiration. It doesn't involve time travel, but I think the applicants of it to the game are fairly straight forward. In fact, let's assign homework: everyone go over to kongregate or some other website, find a fun short game that seems like a fresh approach to something, then come back and tell us about it.

@Alfador, Tolkien's a bit of an odd case because he wrote so little outside of Middle Earth. Because of that, it's very easy to confuse the Tolkien feel for the Middle Earth feel, although some of his other work (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, for example) feels like a Tolkien book but not a Middle Earth one.

As for creativity, I'm honored you think I relating that from my own experience, but no. I got that from seven separate but highly successful professional authors (well, eight, but I can't remember the name of the 8th). These are: Michael Stackpole, David Farland, Orson Scott Card, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Taylor, and Mary Robinette Kowal. Developing ideas later is not a matter of subjective personal experience, it is simply how it is done. To be fair, brainstorming, creativity, and inspiration are skills that have to be developed. If you haven't developed them yet, that says nothing about what you can do and what will work for you, only about what you haven't done yet.

Regarding the lack of anyone taking a lead, aye, you're spot on there.

...which makes you fall face-first. Plot doesn't make romance, and plot alone doesn't make heist.

First, plot does make romance, but it looks like your romantic tendencies are making you miss that (different uses of "romance" here, by the way). Romance books are all very formulaic, down to what has to happen on what page. That's one of the reason that the romance genre gets so little respect. The characters and setting are entirely interchangeable (and that interchangeability is what allows the romance genre to function as a viable market: a book is 95% familiar and 5% new). I wouldn't be surprised if there is a niche romance market out there for what you described, but that's a niche market, not the genre at present.

As an aside, the paranormal romance genre is different than the romance genre and plot is less important (while setting is more so).

Second, for heist, you'll note I didn't say that plot alone makes it. Indeed, you will note that I have been discussing the key element that defines a feel, not the only element. That said, there are two main components to a heist story. The heist itself (which is often formulated as a mystery: not a "who dun it," but rather a "how'd they do it") and the team of experts. But the team of experts itself plays into what each of their role in the plot itself is. What drives a heist is that mystery, not the characters (which isn't to say that the characters aren't important: again, I am talking about key elements for a feel, not only elements for that feel). That is why Mistborn: The Final Empire doesn't feel like a heist story: the characters and setting overshadow the plot, giving it a different feel.

While it's true that the best "Eureka" moment comes to us when we daydream rather than force ourselves to think...

And by "true" you mean "false" ;)

At its best, the "eureka moment" is what cause idea collapse: suddenly that moment of inspiration causes eight or ten disparate ideas that you've been working on to collapse, come together, and start working brilliantly (like a star). But no, the eureka ideas are never as good as the ones we force ourselves to think of. The reason for this is that the eureka ideas are our first reaction. Because they are our first reaction, they're also going to be the reader's first reaction. If we put down on the page exactly what the reader expects, why are they reading us in the first place?

You want to come up with the first idea, discard that, then the second idea, discard that, the third idea, discard THAT, and when you get around to the fifth or sixth, then you're finally in business. That fifth idea wont be coming unless you are specifically putting effort into refining things, though.

... jotting them immediately does tend to kill whatever's in the back-seat at the time and ready to roll to you, and eventually the idea you had stagnates.

I think if you take a closer objective look at what's happening, you'll see that's not quite what is happening.

Writing down an idea does do something: it gets it out of your head so that you stop thinking about it. In turn, that opens up your head for MORE ideas. There is a sweat spot for when to do that, but it is always fairly early on. You can tell when that moment comes based on when you find yourself thinking about the same aspect over and over. That's useless behavior, THAT's stagnation.

When you put an idea on the page, your mind then has room for more ideas, which you then need to fit to the idea that's on the page. Let's say that you get the idea for a great climax. That's well and good, but you wont get the ideas for all the components you need to pull it off until you get that climax out of your head so that the other scenes and aspects can flood in.

Ideas stagnate in your head, not on the page, because no matter how brilliant you are, you can't hold everything in your head that you need to. Ideas come to life on the page because you can continuously add to them and infuse them with increasing levels of awesomeness. If you find this isn't to your experience, I suggest that something else is going on, and then the onus is on your to examine truthfully and figure out why it isn't working for you. It might just be simply a skill you haven't developed yet.

@Alfador, allow me to illustrate:

What gives something a Star Wars feel? Is it having Luke, Leia, and Han in it? Certainly not, as the X-Wing series of books proves. Is it having the plucky rebels fight against the dark empire? Certainly not, as I, Jedi proves. What makes Star Wars feel like Star Wars is the setting.

What gives something a Lord of the Rings feel? Is it having Sam, Legolas, and Gandalf in it? If so, then about half of each book loses that feel (and certainly the Hobbit and Silmarillion fail). Is it about lone fighters standing against a dark tyrant? Again, no, because of the other LOTR-like texts out there. It's Middle Earth and the fantasy meets history aspect (well, really, a secondary world history crafted in such a way as to be mistakable for a primary world psuedo-history).

The setting is often what gives something a particular feel. Not always, of course. What makes a heist story or a romance feel like a heist story or a romance? The plot. What makes literary fiction feel like literary fiction? The characters.

As for ideas, write them down, examine them to make sure that it isn't actually a solution to a problem you've been having with the current project, and if not, keep the idea for later use. No, not all ideas will see the light of day, but that is just because ideas are cheap. If you make a habit of writing down ideas, and also consciously developing your creativity, you'll always have more than even jumping from project to project can satisfy.

@Acacia, Lavos wasn't evil. It was just trying to survive and breed.

Regarding villains, there are two types and they serve very different purposes in a story. The Dark Lord (think Sauron) is great for removing moral dilemmas and making for cool stories, but they can never be shown on the page, as it were. Those villains are less a person and more of a force of (or against) nature. When you write that sort of story, it isn't a man v man conflict, it's man v nature. The relatable villain, though (think Smeagol) can be represented on the page, is very human (the hero of their own story, actually), brings up moral dilemmas. This allows us to have a man v man or man v self conflict. A common difference between the hero and villain in modern storytelling is that the hero overcomes their own flaws, while an antagonist succumbs to them.

CT has both the Dark Lord and relatable villain (Lavos and Magus, as Alfador pointed out). CC had Fate and Harle (Lynx was never relatable, alas).

You're totally misunderstanding me. I never suggested that having an antagonist who is being evil just to be evil. That's just weak writing.

You just dissed Tolkien.

Actually, you didn't just diss LOTR, you also insulted Star Wars, Firefly, Avengers, Indiana Jones, Beowulf, Harry Potter, and generally a huge chunk of beloved and classical human literature.

Not either type of villain will work for every type of story. That doesnít make one stronger or weaker than the other, nor is one indicative of stronger or weaker writing. Indeed, a strong writer will use one or the other as appropriate in the story, not conforming story to a prejudgment.

As for the hated antagonist, the protagonists do need an emotional investment in the story (only Magus in CT really had this), but that emotion doesn't have to be hate, nor even directed at the antagonist. There are so many other emotions, all powerful, and so many goals. Often, stories (the kind that never make it  to market) fail because the protagonists only ever react to the villain. Ideally, the protagonists should have a goal, something that they are passionate about, and the antagonist is the roadblock. They can have as much emotion attached to them as a wall and still work.

For example, Magus is passionately driven to find Schala. Thatís a beautiful plot set up right there, and we donít need a hated villain to cloud it, although to make a story interesting, we do need antagonists (antagonists and villains are themselves different things).

@Tush, I said setting was most important for giving the game a CT feel to it. Nothing more, nothing less.

I don't really anyone here was saying nor thinking "Time travel plot > characters", though.

Oh, if no one has, then I will: a time travel setting (time travel isn't a plot) is more important than characters, insofar as we want a game that feels like Chrono Trigger.

There are three essential components to any story: plot, chracter, and setting.

CT's plot is fairly standard, actually: the world is in danger by a monster, the hero has to go fight the monster. It's St. George and the Dragon writ large. That said, the monster IS a beloved one. A CT-esq game without a Lavos-esq big bad is like Arkham Horror without a lovecraftian monster. But that's taking us back to setting.

The CT characters, while fun, didn't really create the feel of the game either. We have the silent hero, the rebelious princess, the bespeckled mentor/inventor, the swordsman who wants to restore honor, the barbarian who wants to protect her people, the robot who wants to be human, and the wizard who wants to find a lost love.

The setting (magic, time travel, a monster, Zeal, etc) are what made CT feel CT.

I mentioned before that CT did interesting things: another thing it did was have a single PC from every playable era (except the present, which got 3). That also helped us get familiar with the eras they were from, so we could love each, even if there really wasn't much to it (future and prehistory). So, here I would definitely say setting begets characters. Want to have 8 different time periods? Then there should be 8 PC's at least.

To be fair, adding characters is the quickest way to balloon a story. 8 PC's would essentially make this Wheel of Time. If we want something more manageable, fewer PCs is a good way to go, so also then fewer time periods, and a smaller setting.

The problem with enjoying the process of creation is that you end up with a lot of unfinished projects lying around, and more are always turning up to whack you over the head.

Nah, that's simply a problem with not finishing things, which can be caused by not having enough ideas.

If we just wanted to see the Trio again, then fanfic, fan art, and replaying the old game would be enough. People want to recapture the original experience of playing the game, and they can't get that without a new game, but the new game needn't be CT to invoke the same experience.

That said, it's more of a question of if people want to create a game, or if people want to have created a game. That is, do they enjoy the creative process, or just want the end product and the fame that comes with it?

Bonus points for you, Acacia ;)

Anywho, it doesn't look like we have any team leaders coming forward, but it would be totally awesome if, regardless of game, members of the Chrono Community banded together into a professional game development studio. I suspect that the unfortunate revisions to Kajar Labs haven't done much to promote such a community. Perhaps some coding/program/whatever branches of it could be opened up again. Not to hack the original roms (because that would be totally awesome, and SE can't have any of that), but to allow for discussions that don't involve CT fangames made with RPG maker or the sort.

Photoshop? Photoshop! BAH! Young kids today, they have everything handed to them on a silver platter. Now Dr. Doodle, THAT was a graphic creation program!

Next, you'll be telling me you never used a blue screen Wordperfect program, either!

I do suggest that those who are interested read up on game development (I found these two articles to be highly informative).

Those articles largely present the same information you'll find about succeeding, professionally, at any creative endeavor. The difference between a fan game and a real game is that one gets completed, the other doesn't. And the force behind that difference is the willingness to slog through a project past the point of sanity, until it's done.

I don't have any experience in game development. The closest I come is in trying to develop the story lines for a few. Since the last project I worked on, I have written a few books, so I should be better at that (and more likely to complete it, too). Still, books are different than game stories and scripts.

Faust, good point. A Crimson Echoes needs a Chrono Trigger. To take a step away from Crimson Echoes would also take a step away from Chrono Trigger, and thus weaken the entire thing. Better to go forward with a game inspired by CT, to better catch that magic.

As for when the game should make a switch from open source to intense development, I'd say as soon as a team leader comes forward and decides it's time. Everything really depends on that lead, which, unfortunately, might mean that nothing will really happen until years, maybe decades, down the line and a fan gets established in a career, remembers CT, and decides to put the company they've built onto it.

General Discussion / Re: Chrono Cross Fan Remake?
« on: May 31, 2013, 07:14:17 pm »
Acacia, Alfador, and other knowledgeable individuals: how much difference is there, now days, between mobile and PC? Would there be a way to design a game that would work on both with minimal changes?

Tush, our second dispute?

You know me. You know I have a list, an essay, a book, of arguments supporting my stance, and I'd be happy to discuss it further if you'd like, but I'm not really sure if now is the time (or if there ever will be). We don't even have a team to make the decision, and even once we do, it will be up to them if they even want to hear my arguments. But I didn't want you to think that I was ignoring you (or that I agree with you :P ) if I didn't respond.

... ... ...

Okay, I am a horrible person, but I can't resist giving at least one sentence in response. A good story will do things to readers that the readers would never do to themselves: the team has to have the freedom to do those horrible, delightful, wonderful, terrible things to the fans.

General Discussion / Re: Chrono Cross Fan Remake?
« on: May 31, 2013, 06:30:56 pm »
Tush, the thing is, turning CT:CE into just Crimson Echoes requires a metric crapton of work. Why go through all that in order to create something that's just a step away from the original source? If people want to play CE, they can find a way to do so as is. What's the benefit that the team would get out of all their hard work?

As for working with the fan community as directly a you propose, I'd propose that a good game is a bit like a magic trick or like a sausage: the consumer is happier not knowing what does into it.

As Alfador said, a project like this would need talent beyond the community. Thus a leader would be needed with connections beyond the community. Connections, talent, vision, and a passionate drive: that's a tall order.

General Discussion / Re: Chrono Cross Fan Remake?
« on: May 31, 2013, 02:23:40 pm »
And this is why story is so easy. Look, we don't even have a team yet, and the story is already in development!

At this point, we need a professional to step forward to take this on as a professional project. That will be the team lead (at least for now), and they'll have to recruit other professionals. There's really not much point in us discussing the specifics of anything.

Anywho, there are three concepts present in CT that might be useful for such a team to consider for a spiritual successor. Not to design it, but to hone it:

1) Three Act Format. Actually, I like to call CTís version ďThree Quest Format.Ē There was the first, minor quest (save Marle) that served as a means to introduce some of the main concepts in the game (time travel, changing the future, Magus, and magic), then a second quest, a main one (Stop Magus), a twist (oh noes, Magus wasn't the Big Bad after all), and then third quest (defeat Lavos itself!). Three Act is a familiar structure that served CT well, and I think it would be useful for a spiritual successor.

I suspect one of CCís problems, and why it isnít considered the same sort of classic, is that its structure is far more vague. Honestly, Iím not sure if three act, five act, seven point, or some other structure would fit it better.

2) Character Dungeons. CT forced the player to spend time with each character, and during that time, the characterís backstory was provided. We have a few variations on this, but the overall effect was to make every character shine made the fans love them. Roboís dungeon was the Forgotten Futureís power plant thingy, Frogís the Cathedral and Magusí castle, Aylaís the forest and Reptite Lair, and Magusí was the first quest, and half the second. And so on.

CC again lacked this. What was Pipís character dungeon? Funguyís? They added to the story, a little, but it was quite possible for the player to never encounter them, and so there was no bonding.

3) Hero's Jounrey (see the Campbellian monomyth): Crono meets a mentor (Lucca), heeds the call to adventure (save Marle), crosses a threshold (time travels), meets up with a wide variety of helpers (frog, robo, Ayla, magus), gains a oneness with the universe (dies), defeats evil (aka, Lavos), returns home/recrosses the boundary (ending scene), and discovers that the hero can never return to the old life (Guardia falls).

I feel like CC has a good bit of this, but again is far vaguer. Serge meets a mentor (kid), maybe he heeds a call to adventure somewhere?, crosses a threshold (dimensional travel), doesnít really meet with a wide variety of helpers (sure, the cast is large, but most of them arenít necessary in the least, so they arenít really helpers in the monomyth sense), gains a oneness with the universe (the Frozen Flame), defeats evil-ish things (Lynx, Fate, the Dragon Gods, your mom), but doesnít return home. Thereís no recrossing of the threshold! The game ended too quickly. One should never forget denouement.

As a bonus, here's a question: can any of these (or any bit of story theory) be identified in CE? If not, then we might want to stay away from making a CT spiritual successor too much like CE.

General Discussion / Re: Chrono Cross Fan Remake?
« on: May 30, 2013, 08:01:25 pm »
Idiotekque, to put things in perspective, I've been on the writing team for four different fan games over the years. The reason those games never got finished (ah, the curse of fangame projects!) is that the programming barely got started, if even that. Meanwhile, the stories would race to the 80-90% completed stages (to be fair, that excludes exact dialogue). We can debate how good those stories were, but the point being, that's not where projects like this get hung up: it's in the art and programming.

As for funding the project, as you noted, Boo-Man-G, the kickstarter would really need a proof of concept in order to get off the ground. That means a lot of hours have to be invested, first. How to pay for those hours? There are four standard options that I am aware of: get investors (highly unlikely for a fan game), use personal funds (not practical for a fan game), obtain a grant (not sure if there are any for video game development, but I wouldn't be surprised), or do it pro bono until the projects far enough along to turn an income. There's also a possible 5th (I've never heard of this being done, so that's why it's separate), but create a different product to draw funding for this project. That, though, sort of just begs the question.

The pro bono model is the one that is most likely to occur. That is a problem with fan games: lack of payment also creates a lack of responsibility. The solution is actually fairly simple: being a fan would have to be secondary. Desiring to become a professional would be paramount. Get some hungry (metaphorically or literally) college kids (oh good god, I just called them college kids! I'm old) who need to build up a resume. The key is to find people who would treat working on the project as a job, not something to do in their spare time as they feel like it.

Keep in mind, pro bono work doesn't have to go on for ever, just until a kickstarter can push it to a respectable level. Then, a "pre-order" model might be able to push it the rest of the way. I mentioned Project Zomboid: it's been getting pre-orders for a few years, which is directly funding its development and completion. There are established independent game developer models out there: we'd just need to figure out how they do it.

General Discussion / Re: Chrono Cross Fan Remake?
« on: May 30, 2013, 02:07:03 am »
Story is easy because the writer (or team of writers) can come in, get everything done in about 4 to 6 months of hard work, and move on. And even if it's not brilliant, the game can still do well (look at Terraria: not big on story, but quite fun to play). Compare that to art: a single artists can't practically make every bit of it that a game will need, and a team would be working on it for about a year at least (to my understanding), and they can't really start until some basic parameters are set. The game can't generally be practically programmed by a single person anymore (again, to my knowledge), that is where the most people-hours go, and if you get it even slightly wrong, the thing wont run.

The story has several difficult parts (not least of which is keeping it under control, since everyone loves story and wants to add to it), but objectively speaking, fan games tend to have plenty of story and not enough everything else.

Faust, while talents might be able to be drawn from the fan community (and some of the development would be public to that community), I'd think a business model would be the way to go. People are hired or fired from the project and so on. Honestly, if we're just relying on people's largess and free time, it wont get done.

General Discussion / Re: Chrono Cross Fan Remake?
« on: May 29, 2013, 03:05:47 pm »
To be honest, the story's the easy part of a game. It's the art and programming that are the time-suckers, and I feel where production always hangs.

That said, a Chrono-esq game series could probably do well. Now's the time for such a thing: kickstarter's there to get the funding, and consumers are well familiar with getting games through non traditional sources (see Project Zomboid, Terraria, Minecraft, etc).

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