Author Topic: Chrono Break: The Videogame Scriptment  (Read 1858 times)

FaustWolf

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Chrono Break: The Videogame Scriptment
« on: May 09, 2010, 07:43:02 pm »

Link to the most ridiculous Youtube playlist you've ever seen inside!

I'm kinda crazy.

It must have been around this time in 2004 or 2005 that I came across the leaked "scriptment" for James Cameron's Avatar. JRPGs and even some action games were trending toward more cinematic forms at that point in time, and I wondered whether game writers did something similar during development, and what form the "game scriptment" might take. After a miserably failed attempt at creating my own IP late in high school, I decided to return to fan fiction as an exercise in developing creative writing skills. I thought it would be neat to try my hand at a "videogame scriptment" -- whatever that might entail.

I started out fully planning to do a scriptment for Xenogears Episode IV, since it was obvious by that point that Xenogears was a dead franchise. While I made some appreciable progress in scenario development and writing a short test scene, some roadblocks sprung up, the most important being the implosion of the Xenogears fanbase and its general reticence toward fan interpretation of Tetsuya Takahashi's work. At the same time, Dragon Quest VIII came out, and I was like: "Dude! How nostalgic!" (and you can probably guess why). My Chrono kick quickly led to discovering Chrono Symphonic, and I was like, Duuuuuude. Xeno was quickly put on the back burner, and I drafted the "Prelude" section of the Chrono Break scriptment in December 2005 or January 2006.

I didn't know where the heck I was going with it, but by the end of that section I had a dude traveling through time, which of course brought up questions of theory I wasn't prepared to handle. That's when I began following the Chrono Compendium in earnest. It was, just...this huge resource, and even though I was too stubborn to succumb to Time Bastard theory at that point, I never would have made it as far as I did without all the quick character, political, and geographical records stored here. I blasted out six "chapters" between 2006 and 2007, when I finally registered at the Compendium forum. Ironically, it was the first Dream Splash! that drew me in irrevocably.

By November 2007 I was at a crossroads -- the Chrono Break scriptment was approaching its crowning crescendo on Zenan Bridge, in the middle of the Medieval storyline arc, and yet game modding was seriously beckoning thanks to swift progress on the Chrono Cross Model Project. I knew that if I stepped onto that bridge with Schala and Glenn, I'd have to finish the damn thing -- all of it, at least one full non-branching script -- and put everything else aside to make that happen. In the end I went with Magus Unmasked and let Chrono Break slide into oblivion.

It wasn't a bad decision at all in retrospect, because the work has some deep flaws -- spelling errors that embarrasinlgy creeped into this presentation being the least of those. Getting into the minds of female viewpoint characters and writing them effecitvely has always been a great challenge for me, probably owing in no small measure to my sexist heritage. The reader can really tell that I was using the "spaghetti on the wall approach" here: first Schala's a freaking ninja, then an introspective emo who could probably compete with Squall Leonhart, and then finally coming into something truly human through her interaction with Cyrus, Glenn, Leene, and Alistair's kids. Schala was really Alice in Wonderland, and I worried sincerely that her human voice and pre-eminence as a viewpoint character would be drowned out amidst all the awesome people she was going to be surrounded with in later chapters. She (or rather, I) had some catch-up work to do in terms of her character development, and I'm not sure whether the whole thing would have collapsed by the time Magus was to make his sterling debut.


My point in presenting this is, pre-eminently, to highlight how "art begets art," and how one medium can flow into another. The impact that music has on my writing will become obvious from the get-go, but in addition to some introspection on my earlier writing I want to describe how movies, pictures, famous artworks, etc., guided me along the way. This post is getting long, but I think I'll start with a reply describing how fanart and movies inspired the characterization of both main characters and prominent NPCs in this "videogame scriptment."


NOTE: Provided anyone gets to Chapter 2 before I can comment on it, I wanted to put a TRIGGER WARNING (oh, that sounds so appropos considering the franchise, doesn't it?) on everything after 6:40 in Chapter 2, Part 1. The real-time button press cinema sequences were inspired by Resident Evil 4, but I didn't realize that the in-close nature of these scenes can unnervingly simulate real assault experiences. I think even a written description of Schala's struggle against "the Creature" is probably worthy of such a warning, considering complaints levied against the game Heavy Rain recently. I didn't really appreciate the cultural effect these kinds of sequences could have in a videogame until recently, but I'm not sure I would have re-written that part of Chapter 2 even with such knowledge; the whole point of that sequence was to show just how bad Guardian citizens have it in this new timeline. Still, a warning would be appropriate.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2010, 05:09:06 pm by FaustWolf »

FaustWolf

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Re: Chrono Break: The Videogame Scriptment
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2010, 09:58:09 pm »
Before I begin scene-by-scene commentary, I want to say a few things about the premise of this long-defunct project and inspiration for each of the important characters.

The Chrono Break scriptment envisioned a reboot of the series stemming from the "What the Prophet Seeks" ending of Chrono Trigger. The situation is such that a new timeline lacking most of Crono & co. is created by The Prophet of Zeal, and this creates an opportunity for the much-beloved secondary characters of Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross to step into the limelight -- filling in the vacuum left by the Heroes of Time, as it were.

In addition to a music folder dedicated to the project, I began browsing the wide body of Chrono fan art and collecting specific pieces for inspiration in shaping each character's story and persona. In restrospect it's amazing how deeply I depended on fanart as "concept art," making use of small details for clothing, hairstyle, and personality references. This experience has really made me appreciate how awesome fan artists are!

Schala
Three viewpoint characters were in the works, but I sensed I needed to stick mostly with a female main character for the sheer challenge it would provide for me as a writer. Since the game's scenario starts off with the destruction of Zeal, I figured she was going to be ridden with negative emotions at first, and her main challenge would be coming out of that catastrophic mental nosedive, and find something to live and fight for. I immediately fell in love with this piece by Emperor Justin:

For some inexplicable reason it just seemed to contain everything I needed as a launching point for exploring the corrosive moroseness she holds inside herself. Plus, those are the best bangs I've seen since Sephiroth and Aeris. Mmm-hmm!

I used the following fanarts as clothing references. The first is Schala's ceremonial dress for the Mammon Machine activation in the Ocean Palace, and the second being the inspiration for a medieval riding dress Leene gives her later -- note the "drooping sleeves!":



Cyrus/Glenn
Something I quickly noticed about focusing on secondary characters is that there's so little love for them! Luckily CuteLucca totally hit the nail on the head with both Cyrus and Glenn; jeez!

Darn, it just doesn't get any better than this. The picture just...encapsulates the entire story of both these characters, or at least allowed me to extrapolate effecitvely as a writer. To this day I just can't imagine Cyrus without that hooked nose and short crop-and-goatee hairstyle, or Glenn without that "disheveled mid-part." Cutelucca's attention to detail is just awe-inspiring; I had to incorporate the high collared shirt they seemed to wear under the plate armor, the Wyvern pins that might indicate officer rank, and the "lion relief" on Cyrus' helmet. Most important, however, was the big-brotherly concern Cyrus seemed to hold for Glenn, and Glenn's secret eagerness to climb out from under Cyrus' paternal shadow.

The Castellans
Another piece sketched by CuteLucca, this wasn't a fanart from what I gather but rather an interpretation of an historical figure or one of her own original characters named "Gregory Castellan." I was looking for medieval armor references and the name "Castellan" just stuck in my mind. A division in Guardia's military between the "knights" and the "Castellans" took shape early on, the latter devoted to Guardia's internal security and police functions. I wanted to explore themes of factionalism, internal political discord, and reconciliation, so the concept of a force called "the Castellans" worked its way in easily.

The image itself didn't impact any characters or the story as much as the image's title, with the exception of the Castellans' preference for chainmail over plate armor in the scriptment.

"The Prophet"; Magus; Adult Janus

I wanted to get away from "elf ears" for most characters for whatever reason, and was looking for fanarts that portray Magus with human ears. The closest I could get was a sketch by Kay, saved from IcyBrian's fanart collection probably. It portrayed the kind of disheveled appearance and dreary attitude I was looking for in The Prophet of Zeal, but The Magus that would replace him in the new timeline was to be a confident humanist who knew instinctively what to do with power; for The Magus I simply imagined Adrian Paul with blue hair and adopting the kind of kickass attitude CuteLucca ascribed to Magus in her "DarkMatter" portrait.

Mystics
I'm not even sure the first three are even fanart, and certainly not Chrono fanart. The rightmost one looks like another CuteLucca piece that I mis-titled (I was going to restyle him, "Aldebaran, the Slasher" in the script). That piece gave me an impression of a gentlemanly warrior despite the outlandish appearance, and I felt a desire to explore what Mystic culture might be like. Schala plopping into Guardia and falling in with the Mystics later on in the story offered an interesting opportunity to make the Mystics seem beastly at first, but gradually humanize them and their motives over the course of the medieval story arc.  

Interestingly, I had a segment of the Mystic population -- termed "Ayselites" in the scriptment, mostly Slash's type in terms of biology -- worshipping an immortal but bodiless Queen Zeal who had survived the fall of her kingdom through sheer willpower. The idea cropped up independently in the minds of other fans I've worked on Chrono-themed projects with, and I have to wonder if something in the original Chrono Trigger plot lent itself to this idea. Probably the fact that the Black Omen was hanging right over Medina in some parts of the game.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2010, 05:04:52 pm by FaustWolf »

skylark

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Re: Chrono Break: The Videogame Scriptment
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2010, 12:49:58 am »
Holy crap.... :shock:

It's amazing just how one premise can spawn so many similar ideas.

For those who have been keeping up with my parody, my interpretation of post-Ocean Palace Schala will soon enough seem a bit similar to Faust's. Though, reasonings behind such moroseness can prove to be quite different. :P

Uhh, it's okay to discuss things in this thread, right? :?

FaustWolf

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Re: Chrono Break: The Videogame Scriptment
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2010, 02:33:00 am »
Yeah, totally, skylark -- you could make a thread here to share some of that stuff you sent me over PM awhile back, too! So many people have these...these little writings, tucked in their desk drawers or on their hard drives and stuff. I've been pretty fortunate that a few fellow fans have shared some of these with me over the years. There's something special about seeing a creative process unfold mid-stride like that.

I've run out of time to write more about my various inspirations this weekend, but I can't wait to kick back with a beer tomorrow  sometime and explain how Ukrainian reform politician Yulia Tymoshenko influenced my decisions regarding Leene's portrayal, how King Guardia is actually the Burger King deep down inside, and the big and small ways in which the movie Kingdom of Heaven influenced my thinking on the medieval storyline arc.

There's a point in the scriptment -- either midway through Chapter 1 or the Chapter 1/Chapter 2 divide -- where my writing takes a definite stylistic turn for the better IMO, looking back on it. Or perhaps it just happened gradually. Looking back on something written over a long period of time is kind of like studying tree rings: it's a chronicle of your own growth history.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2010, 05:16:55 pm by FaustWolf »

tushantin

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Re: Chrono Break: The Videogame Scriptment
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2010, 05:43:46 pm »
 :lol: Hey, good things or bad things - EVERYTHING inspires creativity! Politics, movies and music has inspired various scenes and stories within your mind. Today the corruption of Indian government and the police bribery inspired a scene for my story. But like ZeaLity says, "Desire is the arc of our enlightenment!"

I'm very much glad to have read your adventures in the land of creative fanworks (CYRUS AND GLENN FTW!!) Can't wait to see what else you've got in store.  :D (CYRUS AND GLENN FTW!!)

FaustWolf

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Re: Chrono Break: The Videogame Scriptment
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2010, 06:01:50 pm »
Quote
CYRUS AND GLENN FTW!!
It's true. It's so true. Cyrus and Glenn, together, are the win. It's a shame we didn't get to see more of them together in Chrono Trigger, and what their friendship might have been like on a day-to-day basis. That's part of why I spent so much time focused on the medieval era, I think.

Ah, jeez, did I seriously make it so the viewer had to be logged into Youtube to view the playlist? That's been corrected.


I still don't have much time, but I wanted to say a few words about Leene.

There's no Leene fanart. Anywhere. Her chin appears in one comic on DeviantArt, and that-is-it. This is one of the most beloved figures in Guardian history - or at least one of the few that we know about - and...nothing. Agh! How frustrating! Well, I wanted to rectify that.

It's strange how I tend to focus on hairstyle as first priority when writing a character, especially when I have a (near) blank slate to start with. A person's hairstyle can tell you so much about them - whether they're conservative and want to go for an established look, or liberal and flaunt stylistic tradition. I remember being transfixed by Leene's bunched-up hair in Toriyama's concept art when I bought the Nintendo Power strategy guide back in 1996, so I knew she did really cool things with her hair. Still, I was dealing with a younger Leene, and in a different timeline, and figured my options were open.

The year leading up to my starting this project saw the Ukraine's Orange Revolution. Somewhere in the mantage of images surrounding that event I must have been exposed to one of Ukraine's reform/pro-Western politicians, Yulia Tymoshenko:


And I thought: that is one kickass hairstyle. Probably because it brought to mind one of Princess Leia's hairstyles, but nevertheless it's often referred to nowadays as "the Yulia." I would guess Tymoshenko's power grabs over the years have made her one of the most divisive figures in Ukrainian politics, and the less-than-sterling controversy surrounding her proved advantageous to me as a source of inspiration -- I was keen on writing a Leene more powerful and involved in major government decisions than she appeared in Chrono Trigger, but didn't want to make the mistake of making her a "perfect, distant, virginal figure," a complaint commonly leveled at Tolkien. I was satisfied that I was able to lend her efforts at political control a frightening overtone in Chapter 5.

Judging from the artwork Toriyama drew, I would guess that medieval Guardian tradition reserved the right to wear a crown only to the King of the realm. The same overtones were present in the new timeline I envisioned for the Chrono Break "reboot," so, in a move befitting of Yulia Tymoshenko, Leene literally creates one out of her own hair. How awesome is that!? I can't help but shake my fists in glee just thinking about it. It's a reflection of the fact that since marrying into the Guardia line - this time inspired by the self-perceived quality of her own judgment over that of King Guardia XXI and the old guard he represents - she's had to improvise and gain power through other means. The fact that the source of Leene's influence over certain officers (especially Alistair) remains largely unaddressed in the script is intentional -- she was to be a populist and beloved by the large peasant class, and the NPCs would have been left to voice it in an actual game-delivered story.

As dissatisfied as I was with Schala to begin with, I'm now re-evaluating her when I think of how sad it is that, in fact, Leene must depend on men if she is to have any power in this medieval society after all. Schala's magical prowess is an internal source of power that Leene can't hope to call on (for the time being, and so it must remain in the bleakly unfinished work). While Leene and Schala develop a close friendship, there must be a part of Leene that envies, and perhaps even resents, this foreigner from Zeal who has wandered into her care.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2010, 06:04:49 pm by FaustWolf »

TheMage

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Re: Chrono Break: The Videogame Scriptment
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2010, 03:00:23 am »
 :shock:

Oh wow! This is amazing! I am so very excited about this, this must have taken you forever!

*runs to youtube*