Weekly Update

The Lightbringer – Yeah, I finished The Lightbringer! I’ll say it again if I want to!

Development – Priorities shifted yet again. Last week, I started my latest project for Team KAIZEN. For the next month, before PlayStation Experience (PSX) in December, I will be polishing their 3D fighter Shattered Soul to a pitch-ready demo in the event someone important at PSX would like to play it. 😉

Writing – I’ve subjected myself to a ton of reviews and analyses, I’ve watched game footage and cutscenes repeatedly, and my Final Fantasy XV analysis is coming along. If I’m going to beat a dead horse, I’m at least going to say something that’s constructive and enlightening that no one has said before. Also, Chapter 6 of The Twelfth Hour should be done today! FINALLY!

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Advent Children Script Discrepancies

Recently, I got a chance to look at the script book included with the limited edition release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. It had some interesting differences and notes that I thought I’d share here.

Tseng hurries over to Elena. (He has lost the use of one leg.)

This is a description from the first scene with Reno in the helicopter over the Crater. In the film, we don’t actually see Tseng or Elena nor do we know what state they are in.

The large sword Cloud used in FFVII is plunged into the ground. It serves as a grave marker for Zack. Flowers have been placed around it.

Three motorbikes appear. One of them hits the sword, knocking it over. The flowers are crushed under its wheels.

In the final film, flowers don’t appear here. They appear post-credits in Advent Children Complete.

The flower bed begins to shine a bright white, healing the fallen Cloud and Tifa.

I wonder if the scene with Cloud and Tifa in the flowers in the church still signifies healing in the final version of the film. It just looks like a bizarre way to show Cloud reuniting with Tifa to me. O.o

Cloud swiftly rolls out of the way, grabs his sword and gets up. He tackles Kadaj and takes him down. The whole area turns chaotic, which gives Marlene a chance to slip away. Yazoo and Loz charge toward Cloud.

Cloud dodges their attacks and leaps toward Kadaj, but Denzel steps between them. Cloud hesitates, and Kadaj grins as he fires. Cloud is sent hurtling away. His cell phone flies off in another direction. Kadaj draws toward Cloud, hoping to finish him off. Then, a not-quite-human form appears and attacks Kadaj, who shrinks back. Vincent (human form) grabs Cloud roughly, and continues to attack Kadaj and the others as he slips away with Cloud in his arms.

I guess the final version of the film decided it needed to be vague about what Kadaj does to Cloud but in a completely different way. Also, in the film, Denzel stands in Cloud’s way at a different moment in the battle, and Vincent never takes his human form.

Cloud’s cell phone sinks to the bottom of the spring. It’s surrounded by a frothy substance (Aerith’s willpower at work: it looks like the water isn’t making actual contact with the phone).

Huh. I just assumed the bubbles signified air escaping the phone as water seeped into it.

A noisy crowd fills the plaza around the monument. Yazoo and Loz are trying to destroy it. The children brainwashed by Kadaj surround the memorial as if to protect Yazoo and Loz. The other citizens call out their children by name and chastise the defilers, but they are powerless to do anything. Yazoo summons dog-like monsters and sets them on the citizens, plunging the plaza into further chaos.

This might be evidence that the more farfetched things the film asks us to believe, such as orphans threatening Cloud or defending a monument from a mob of adults, emerged in the script rather than through the director’s or cinematographer’s choices.

Kadaj brushes his hand against the materia equipped (embedded) in his arm, summoning Bahamut. Bahamut appears, throwing the monument plaza further into chaos. (The following dialog appears to be CUT?)

The scene ends here in this version of the script with this strange note that apparently no proofreader thought to remove. I wish I knew what dialog appeared after this!

The scene changes, and we’re down on the ground by the 13F building where Rude is beaten down. The three enemy motorbikes casually enter the frame. Badly beat up, Rude still manages to slowly get up.

The motorbikes appear later in the film and somewhat out of nowhere.

Cloud removes two swords from his motorbike and heads toward Bahamut. Tifa follows.

Cloud and Tifa taking off toward Bahamut on Cloud’s motorbike, the final result, is a little more badass. 🙂

(It’s not clear if Rufus is alive or dead.)

I’m not sure why the writer thought it was important that we don’t know the result of Rufus jumping off the building. It seems irrelevant. Advent Children Complete seemed to think so, too… in that it takes the time to show Rufus walking into the frame like nothing happened.

Behind Cloud there is a huge explosion/firework display. Cloud and Kadaj are sent flying from the blast. Their swords exchange blows before they even reach the ground. The tip of Kadaj’s blade catches Cloud’s sleeve, tearing it off and laying bare the black, ichorous scarring on Cloud’s arm. Cloud’s attack damages the capsule that Kadaj is carrying.

In the film, Rufus is the one who breaks open Jenova’s capsule. Kadaj revealing Cloud’s geostigma, which is caused by Jenova cells, and Cloud revealing Jenova is an interesting exchange of attacks in this alternate telling.

As though it had a will of its own, the water reaches the walls and begins to climb. As the water reaches the rafters, it comes pouring down like rain, soaking Cloud as well. Cloud’s left arm glows with a pale light as the geostigma begins to heal. While Cloud watches this happen to his arm, Kadaj destroys the wall near the rafters and escapes. Cloud ignores this and gazes at Aerith’s flower bed. He sees Aerith’s figure through the misty spray.

In the film, Kadaj is affected by the healing rain, and Aerith’s image doesn’t appear until the end of the film.

Cloud corners Kadaj, who flashes a cold smile. When Cloud tries to attack Kadaj again, Kadaj holds up Jenova’s head in front of him.

Cloud senses what’s going to happen and gives a start. He moves to strike again but it’s already too late. Kadajs has thrust the head of Jenova against his chest. (See storyboard for details.) Kadaj and Jenova’s head fuse into one.

Given how visual this film is, the parenthetical in this quote suggests that the storyboard was just as important as the script.

When Sephiroth raises one hand up high, the skies take on a sinister appearance, as though heralding a great catastrophe.

Sephiroth sneers. He brings down his raised hand, which triggers the dark catastrophe the sky promised.
A black Lifestream oozes forth.
*The visuals should be menacing.

I include this mostly because “*The visuals should be menacing.” XD

Denzel and Marlene are hugging each other, frightened. Denzel clenches the stigma on his forehead, which is responding to the black Lifestream oozing from the earth. Marlene watches this with concern.

Then, Marlene senses something and starts:

MARLENE
Is it her?

Denzel gives Marlene a puzzled look.

No, he doesn’t. 😛

In the midst of battle, Cloud glances earthward and sees Midgar. White Lifestream weaves betwixt the black Lifestream, and the former is cleansed by the latter. Cloud smiles.

I like that the film kept the visuals menacing and Cloud at a disadvantage until the very end. It definitely makes the scene more suspenseful than this would have.

Water droplets fall upon the pilot’s seat. Tifa sees them and looks up.

Water is gathering near the ceiling. A drop falls. Tifa smiles.

In the final film, where the water comes from and how Tifa notices it isn’t really mentioned.

As Cloud rides off on his motorbike into the world, the landscape grows more vivid as the screen’s chroma slowly increases. (Composite with real-life shots.)

Eventually the bike passes through a patch of flowers.

Vestiges of Aerith (nothing with any presence in reality) silently watch Cloud as he rides away. Aerith looks a little lonely, but then she smiles.

This appears to be a description of the montage shown during the credits. It’s interesting that it’s in the script. In the original Advent Children, Aerith appears briefly in the middle of all the shots showing Cloud riding his motorcycle down a highway. Interestingly, in Advent Children Complete, these shots of Aerith do not exist. (Also, overlaid on top of the montage is another montage showing shots from the film, which is kind of dumb. Even they seemed to think so, considering that the opacity of this sub-montage makes it nearly transparent. I’m glad you set the original vision aside for this, Square Enix. -_-)

The Lightbringer

The Final Fantasy XV music video I created as part of Extra Life last weekend is finally done! It’s also probably the closest to a Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV music video (that doesn’t turn it into a horror or a comedy) I’ll ever get. So you’d better enjoy it. 😛

Feel free to donate to my fundraiser page if you feel so inclined.

Weekly Update

Video Editing – First of all, where’s the Final Fantasy XV music video I made for Extra Life? It’s basically done after spending about twenty hours on it over Saturday and Sunday. @.@ I just need to polish the timing, add some video effects, and tack on the credits, which I’m hoping to do tomorrow or Wednesday. I think I unexpectedly remade The Omen trailer with game footage. O.o I also spent a few hours last week throwing together Noctis Screams over Ardyn because it needed to exist immediately.

Software Development – FirstGroup America asked me to add some new features and build a console version of the PDF splitter application I built for them two weeks ago, which is partly why I’ve been so damn busy. I finished that up last week.

Writing – Apparently, it’s national novel writing month or something like that. Alas, writing on The Twelfth Hour continues at a slow pace. I’m about halfway through Chapter 6. Hopefully, I’ll have more time now that most of the projects that were consuming it all are wrapping up. I started working on a Final Fantasy XV article that will probably still drain my time, but I can’t really help that. In case you haven’t guessed, Final Fantasy XV, with all its glory and horribleness, is my latest craze. O.O

Extra Life 2017

I’m raising money for the Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital through Extra Life this weekend! I’m actually not playing video games as tradition dictates. This year, I’m spending the weekend making a Final Fantasy XV music video. You can donate to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, watch me video edit live, or read the articles I’ve written for the Extra Life Community website on my fundraising page here.

I promise the video won’t just be sound clips of people screaming on Jaws, The Wizard of Oz, and Dragonball Z over Final Fantasy XV footage (as hilarious as I think that is). If you don’t believe me though, you can donate to my campaign at any time. Feel free to wait to see if I produce something decent. 🙂

And even if I produce another load of hot garbage, consider donating if you enjoy my Extra Life articles or something else I do or donate just because. Just do it for the kids!

Noctis Screams over Ardyn

There’s an important cutscene in Final Fantasy XV where the main bad guy Ardyn explains his motives to the protagonist Noctis. Unfortunately, the first time I played through this scene I couldn’t hear anything Ardyn was saying over Noctis’ grunting and struggling sounds.

So yesterday, I randomly got a terrible idea and determined that it needed to be a reality immediately.

A Conversation about Present Tense, Action, Thought, and Dialog

The following is a conversation I had with someone who read the first chapter of my work-in-progress novel The Twelfth Hour. I provide it here for all you writers out there who like experimenting or who like writing dialog. These are some things to keep in mind. This is also for reviewers! Please, for the love of God, if you can’t provide examples from the thing you’re reviewing to explain why you liked/disliked it, at least tell people what in your personality/past makes you think the way you do! It’s helpful for understanding who is and who isn’t your target audience (and it’s interesting)! For context, you can read part of the chapter here.

They say you shouldn’t argue with people who review your writing. I agree. You probably shouldn’t do this! I had to because ever since I wrote my analysis/review of reviews of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, I can’t keep my mouth shut when I read/view a review that provides no evidence or reasoning to support its claims. In this case, I had no idea what I did wrong, how to improve, or what the reviewer wanted. This was also the second critique that I received, and I thought if I didn’t receive any more, I wanted them both to count. I tried to be diplomatic and genuinely wanted to understand what the reviewer was talking about.

It turned out I received three more reviews, and this critique was the oddball. Other reviewers, while intrigued, were thrown off by the short scenes and many perspectives, wanted to spend more time with Gene and Esarose, and wanted Seth to be less mysterious. This review hinted at the problems with the story’s opening and Seth’s introduction, but as far as I can tell (and correct me if I’m wrong), mostly the reviewer seemed to be looking for a classic, fantasy adventure rather than an experimental, psychological mystery.

I cannot say that I did not like it, as I never got into it.  The people and scenes did not connect with me.  I got confused as nothing seemed to be important, and finally rushed through it attempting to find a point of interest.  None came.

Let me start by saying that I did not feel the weight of the opening scene.  The conversation had no importance.  What was said was simply chatter. While I assume you were attempting to set up the accident, you never got me to feel anything to have me care.  They were simply stupid kids on a stupid ride who get into a stupid accident.  I know what I said sounds harsh, but you did nothing to make this opening scene have any more importance with me than that.

Present tense is annoying, and really does not work with the story you are attempting to tell. Laughing at some of the literary devices used, which do not work in present tense at all, kept me from any attempt to get involved in the characters.  I do recommend past tense.

I would suggest finding a way to have your readers connect with the psychic so they care about the visions, how they are obtained, and those involved.  The chatter really did not make sense to me, did not get me connected to the story, or have me understand how the opening scene related to this one.  Again the conversations appeared to be only chatter without any importance to the story at all.

Let me say that I find mood helps with a ghost story.  I might be wrong in calling this a ghost story, but from what I could make out that is what this is.  In any event, something to have me understand the importance of what is going on, who the characters are, and what the potential plot might be would help.

I am sorry that I could not be more help.

If you’d like to be more help, would you mind answering the following questions?

How far did you read into this exactly? Did you skim the rest of the manuscript or just part of it?

You said in a couple places that the opening conversation didn’t seem to advance the story. You also said present tense doesn’t work with the story I’m attempting to tell, and that “nothing seemed to be important.” What story do you expect me to tell, and what gave you that expectation?

What literary devices did you find humorous/ineffective? Why?

If you don’t feel like answering, that’s fine. Thank you for your comments!

I read until Seth is finally given the necklace only for that not to help. I guess about a third of the way through. When that happened I gave up attempting to understand what was going on. I skimmed from that point looking for something to catch my attention or interest.

You seem to enjoy chatter. While some is usually pleasant, and can relate things of the personalities, it gets old quick. As someone who has taught high school and raised children, I know first hand how silly those conversations can be. The same at my work. While it is fun engaging on some topic, I know the only useful thing that happens is some time passes. For a story, the chatter needs to be productive or you are just wasting your reader’s time.

Let me also the stress the use of description to clarify things. The change from the opening to the actual story is meant to have some shock value. Good, but the next thing after a shock is a desire to regain some dignity and a sense of one’s situation. You never provide that. You move on, into more chatter no less, which did not help me gain a sense of my circumstances.

I mostly write fantasy. I can use the word ‘goblin’ in a story, but there is no universal goblin. While I might use the word, I still need to inform my readers what I mean by goblin. This is also true for psychic powers. While these might be true, how they have been presented and with what authority has been in a multitude of styles. You need to let your readers know how they are intended in the novel (as it could well be different in another novel with another main character who has a differing mentality).

As for present tense, that can only be used for a story that stays moving in a constant manner with the intent to rush a reader along. As soon as you have moments of revelation, pauses for sleeping or other things, or other time demanding (or constraining) situation the illusion of a constant moment is lost. I read one novel with multiple point-of-views all in present tense with me constantly pointing out that not all PoVs could be simultaneously at this moment. If you are going to use most literary devices, past tense is demanded.

As for what story do I expect you to tell, well I expect you to be telling one. It is your job to establish your story. Simply expecting me to read along until something happens to provide a story is wishful thinking. A piece of wonderful advice is to start your story as close to the ending as possible. While the clues certainly will not come all of a sudden, providing some foundation for your readers to understand what type of story you are telling, the basic mentality of the main character, and a good understanding of the setting is required. You did none of that.

I provide this simply because it is becoming more and more common in what I am reading. I am not saying this applies to you, although I have a suspicion it might. Talking is not action. A story full of blather is not a good story. A movie full of conversation is not a good movie. Even in radio, they made certain something was happening other than the actors reading their lines. Focus on what is going on, who or what is doing it, and what results. Listening to them talk about it is no more interesting to your reader than walking through a building and listening to what people are talking about.

I hope this helps.

Thanks for your comments! Yes, my other readers also wanted Seth and his relationship to the opening scene and Monica explained a little sooner and better. I agree. I didn’t do a great job of that, but most of my readers ultimately got the essence of what was going on as the scene continued.

I think I know what you’re saying about dialog, but I still don’t see how it applies here. I’ve read stories where dialog describes a scene/person/object/ability where narration would be much more succinct and natural. I once read a book where multiple dull scenes were dedicated to the characters eating, getting ready for bed, and complimenting one another on their accomplishments. I’ve read stories with scenes that I found amusing for their comedic dialog but recognized that it was pointless. You’re right, I enjoy listening to people talk, but I hate rambling, redundancy, and shallow chatter.

The way you talk about conversations, it’s as if people only speak to waste time. Certainly, those conversations exist, but people also converse to convey information about themselves and the world. That’s how I use dialog. I suppose I could explain everything about Seth, psychic powers, and ghosts through narration, but I thought it would be more interesting to illustrate the characters and the world’s rules through action and dialog in a scene that also introduces the mystery that the rest of the book will solve. That is, what is the dark energy that Seth discovers in the necklace, and what does it have to do with the car crash from three years ago? The flashback is chatty, but it, including the dialog, also introduces some of the main characters and functions as an overview of the entire book, though the reader wouldn’t know that yet. Sure, I could shorten the dialog in places and move some information around so the reader sees it sooner, but I don’t know what else you’re looking for when you say the dialog is only chatter. I don’t know how my dialog could be more purposeful than it already is.

I don’t see why you would assume that all scenes from a multiple POV novel would occur at one moment just because they’re written in present tense. Movie scripts are written in third-person present tense, but viewers/readers typically don’t imagine every scene with a different character occurring at the same moment. I could just as easily imagine that all scenes in a book with multiple POVs written in the past tense occur at the same point in time, but I don’t. That would be ignoring the context of the story, which isn’t the point of reading a book. From what I’ve seen, the present tense, over the past tense, just has a tendency to discourage characters from sharing their thoughts or reminiscing about past events and, as you mentioned, to propel the reader forward. My other readers, while intrigued, actually found the pace of this chapter a little too fast. It has nothing to do with how many scene breaks or POVs you’re allowed to have.

The introduction’s a bit rough and the pace a bit off I’ll admit, but perhaps the rest is a matter of personal taste. I can’t do anything to make you or anyone like dialog or present tense if you just don’t like those storytelling methods. I didn’t exactly write a mainstream novel and expected it would throw some people off. If you feel you can elaborate on what you mean though, I’d like to hear it.

Comparing movies and books is a fun topic, although I believe one should quickly realize the two are separate mediums. The book and movie are never the same. One reason is the difference in mentality of the writer and producer. The other is just how the scenes are envisioned. One can accept that what is being watched are images from the moment something was happening. Believing that someone is writing away while the events are happening is however silly. No, you did not swing that sword, shoot that gun, or climb that tree while scribing the actions. What I am reading is the report AFTER the events happened, so past tense. While one can be okay with reading a work in present tense, if they actually thought about it they would laugh along with me.

Now, before I go any further, let me warn you that I do not come from a English/Literature background. I have always enjoyed reading, but I can be found reading a science text or speaking on a documentary more often than a modern work. In fact, I am often reading ancient novels as I prefer them to the pablum being generated today. My background is Math/Science (my degree is in Physics). I fully accept that I am not your target audience.

Let me also say that I am not a talkative person. Yes, there are productive reasons to talk. There are however many who talk instead of doing something. I want to read about people who are doing something. I want to watch movies where the characters are involved in some activity. I enjoy speaking with others who do things, as I find those conversations having some value (and the people themselves interesting).

Let me also add that I want to read about people with minds. Having nothing but conversation go on does not say anything about the thought process of the main character. I would hope you have a brain that is thinking while your mouth flaps away. That is what I present in my novels. My characters are not only speaking, but I am informing the reader of what is being observed, certain biases about the topic(s), and other details that help present the main character as being more than a mindless automaton going through a script. My characters are not simply swinging swords or shooting weapons, but choosing targets, adjusting tactics, and considering facts that are gained. If all your characters are doing is chatting, they really have no substance to make their lives (or deaths) of value.

I hope I said stuff that might be of help. At the worse, I hope that I have enabled you to see a different point of view. I wish you well.

Ah, I see.

Expressing character thoughts is something I’ve had trouble with in this book. It’s not as bad as it was, but judging by what you and my other readers have said, I still need to inject more thoughts into this. In previous drafts, I told this story almost entirely with dialog and action and left it to the reader to infer the character’s thoughts, as you would do if this book were a film. That’s kind of ignoring the unique strength writing has, however, which is expressing thoughts directly.

Hmm… I tend not to think of books or movies as artifacts that the characters themselves produced unless it’s explicitly stated. After all, characters in a book may not know how to write or books may not exist in their world. I think of books as… a window looking into the story, if that makes any sense, not as something that the characters literally wrote or are writing. Like how books excel at expressing thoughts and movies excel at showing actions and visuals, past and present tense just have different strengths and weaknesses that affect the window I see the story through.

Thanks for taking the time to share your reasoning. This was insightful, and I hope I didn’t bother you too much.