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An Oathguard Named Desire

  • mellytan
  • 07/26/2014 11:13 PM
  • 4354 views
Many thanks to Dyhalto for his review; it helped me finally get around to doing what I’ve been saying I’d do for months.

Scroll down to the bottom for actual Oathguard update if my introspective warbling really overcooks your broccoli.


---

(Insert poorly photoshopped image of A Streetcar Named Desire poster with Gela as Marlon Brando and Genvieve as the chick here. So romantic and yet so tragic...)

* * *


I used to want to make video games.

Like just about everyone who has ever clicked New Project in any iteration of RPG Maker.

But now, sitting on the other side of the last 7 or so years of developing “Oathguard”--the game, the places, the people in my imagination--I have had to reevaluate my creative desires and goals.

Do I still want to make video games?

Did I ever?

* * *


I love art.

That is, I love it when one human being successfully creates something with certain intentions and feelings, which another human can experience and feel and perceive what the creator intended. Something that is not (just) entertainment, but an earnest attempt at sharing of the human experience--as much as is possible for one individual to convey to another.

I love games.

As a medium, “video games” are completely separate from every other. In the player’s control, what the game is trying to convey can be more than something to just be observed; it can be experienced to an extent that is generally not possible or intended by literature or film. And with experiences--vice the passive contemplation of a described experience--humans can understand the most. It’s why “Here, you try this” is generally a more terrifying/exciting/engaging command than “Here, watch me do this.”

So most of all, I suppose you could say that I love experiences.

* * *


I guess that’s why I chose to follow the career path that I did--which does not involve making any kind of art at all. (Unless you consider life as art...which baby I do. *dons baret and Wayfarer Ray-Bans*) I wanted to have unique experiences that could bring me as close as I could get to the adventures I’d dreamed of as a kid (and still dream of, even now).

Though I do get to experience some pretty cool stuff, there’s still something missing--the stuff of those adventure and dreams that cannot ever be precisely experienced. The stuff we pay billions for each year to read about or emulate on electronic devices. What I dream about, even now.

In other words, that desire for the satisfaction that can only come from juvenile fantasy wish-fulfillment, self realization, and “god damn I actually finished something I started” through creation has still remained with me, as strong as ever.

“Oathguard”--and whatever that word encompasses--has remained a part of my life. A part of me: my thoughts, my dreams, my notebook margins, and a good chunk of my 784 entries in Evernote.

I need to finish Oathguard before I die.

But what does that even mean?

* * *



actually for me it means drinking heavily


For me, I don’t know yet. I don’t know a lot of things yet, and most of them I will never know.

But for you, it just means that I’m still “working on Oathguard.”

In the last several months, I have been mainly working on a long-form outline of the entire story as I see it. I feel like my next attempt at bringing something to life from all this will be the last, so I want to make it count by having it all together before I start at something.

* * *


“But what will that something be,” you wonder aloud. I put a finger to your lips to hush your uneasiness, and you imagine that I murmur a something like “All in due time, my love” before continuing.

* * *


Why has it taken so long just to get this outline done?

Probably the same reason why I just wrote a 500+ word preable for a message that amounts to saying “Oathguard is still alive in some form.”

Also, the downside of having a life-changing/consuming/renewing/destroying vocation is that sometimes I have just about 0 downtime. And when I do have time, I usually want to spend it alternately having fun in the sun or vegging out on the couch--erm, I mean, consuming meaningful art. (Yeah...good save, mellytan.)

That, and because of my perfectionist/reactionist/attention span-deprived creative nature, the yarn of Oathguard is always changing, expanding, contacting, reverting, and restarting. Characters are combined and created, whole plotlines are dashed or even forgotten. Unfortunately, as much as I try to curb it, this is just one of the negative sides of my nature and will probably improve but never completely change.

And then there’s the dilemma of that something.

* * *


That “something” is:

What will I use the story (and setting, and characters, and gaping plotholes) of Oathguard for?

A novel? A comic? A flamboyant stage musical*?

A...video game?

I honestly have no idea which would be more terrifying.

* * *


My main concern is finishing this something, and so these options each present their own myriad opportunities and problems. Here are my thoughts as I consider each one, here, in real time as I type this, just for you, dear:

Novel:
-dude ive always wanted to write an awful fantasy novel, i wrote 70 pages about oathguard a few years ago and it was pretty good except
-except oh my god i cant even finish a short story without the plot changing 49 times
-shit this would take forever, its not like writing a script
-i would seriously write 2 pages to describe a room
-nobody reads anymore
-maybe i should make myunh a mary sue
-(as if she isn’t already??)
-(ugh)

Comic
-oh my god i cant draw
-oh my god id have to hire an artist
-oh my god i dont want to spend actual american dollars on this
-oh my god what if i cant find an artist with a style i like
-oh my god i like comics and im good at scripts and scene direction
-oh my goodness

Game
-oh my god. no
-no
-no

* * *


no


Game (reconsidered after breathing into paper bag):
-no
-well
-ok
-maybe
-not on my own
-wait even with a team it would be ridiculously time consuming
-i would have to cut out a very large part of the story to make it manageable
-maybe things would have to be changed for the story to be conducive to gameplay
-and even if someone offered me $50,000,000, yasumi matsuno by my side, etc i would not quit my job to work on a game for the world
-i wouldnt mind some kickstarter blood money though


* * *


Well, there you have it. A good 1000 words to basically tell you that I have no idea what I’m doing.

I did this not only to relieve the months of word diarrhea that I have holding in regarding Oathguard, but also to ask for feedback from anyone who cares about the direction of the project might go from here. Because like I said, I still really have no idea what I’m going to do with it. Each option appeals to me/frightens me more or less equally. So I ask...

1) What do you think of the potential for Oathguard as a novel/comic/game?

Regarding content:

2) I am worried that I’m making the plot of Oathguard too anime/JRPG with all the daemons and glyphs and random sci-fi elements that have continued to be a part of it, and thus distancing it from what people liked about Oathguard.

Is the draw of Oathguard more in the characters/dialogue/presentation of the world--regardless of how full of fantasy tropes it is--or would you be terribly offended if any more Saturday morning cartoon elements got in?

Thank you for your time.

* * *


Next time you hear from me:

Maybe I’ll link some development documents and actual content that I’ve been working on but have not released outside a small circle of friends.

(More likely: I’ll retreat into my cave for another year before emerging to say that I’ve finished my script for An Oath Named Desire.)

Either way...may the Oath be with you. Auf wiederlesen...

---

*Thanks again Dyhalto, and Tau.

Oh wow I always forget how long making one damn blog post takes for me...

Posts

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The best I can say right now is that this made me want to play your game and I hope to have more meaningful comments afterward. In the meantime, I know this is some of the most worn-out advice ever, but I feel like I need to vouch for it, as someone who literally couldn't finish anything until roughly 2 years ago: finishing things is just a habit that you can catch like drinking or watching BBC series in your underwear. The only hard part is the beginning, full of throat-burning and British accents.

It's easier to start finishing things either
- because you don't care about them (like short stories or even flashfiction that must never see the light of day, that I wrote in one sitting just to get some ideas out of my system and thus safely away from my real project),
- or because you have no damn choice (having two months to write 300 pages lest I fail at my entire career had an extremely positive outcome on my life). Deadlines from writing workshops and other events are your best friends.

Your brain is like a pigeon. Extremely dumb and therefore surprisingly easy to train once you stop believing that you can change yourself using magic free will. Peer pressure helps to an amazing degree, so enlist people who will actually chastise you for missing your deadlines.

Now of course - like anything out of a self-help book - you won't believe a word of it, or will acquiesce and not try it a single second. And I cannot blame you, I didn't either before I had to learn it the hard way on my own. But at least, once you get there, I will be able to say that I told you so.
The flame still burns, it would seem. I was subscribed to this game ages ago. And I know where you coming from. I was about to give up on working on Enelysion until Addit and nhubi wrote those reviews, so it really does help to have some peer pressure to egg you on. =)
All of Hasvers' advice is magical gold.

More than anything else, it sounds like you like the world of Oathguard and you would rather not be making it as a game right now. Also, it seems like you like ambitious projects, particularly re: this Oathguard world.

So why not do national novel writer's month this year?

Downsides:

-it eats like an hour or so of free time a day (less if you commute by train or something and can write on the way to work)

-you may spend the occasional evening howling at the night sky, cursing your past-self for getting you into this mess

Upsides:

-you write a novel

-you cannot feel bad about the quality of the novel because you did it in a month

-you give yourself far less time for the plot to drift or for the story to radically restructure itself. And if it does: you wrote it in a month. This is to be expected.
I would read an Oathguard novel. That sounds like it would be the simplest/easiest option, honestly.

Is the draw of Oathguard more in the characters/dialogue/presentation of the world--regardless of how full of fantasy tropes it is--or would you be terribly offended if any more Saturday morning cartoon elements got in?


I'm not entirely sure what this means but the former one, I guess?

And yes, NaNoWriMo might be a good idea. People who write things have told me it is a good writing exercise. I cannot personally attest to this because I am a dumb pleb who does not create things. :V
I feel ya. The struggle of "which form of media do I want to use for this" is a terrible one. Especially with projects that have been kicking around for years...

Honestly, if you want to finish? Novel, full-stop. Your concerns about how to write and like, make a coherent plot are going to persist if you made a comic, a game, or a musical. To write a novel all you need is somewhere to put text and a broken spirit, but the process of writing will break your spirit anyways so you'd be fine. Unless you're willing to wrestle with the artistic side of comic formats, I'd avoid.

For me, the distinguishing factor of video games is that sweet, sweet, interactive potential. But is the ability for someone else to influence the narrative important for Oathguard? If yes, then hey, video game would be the best bet. Or maybe one of those webcomics that branches out? idk there's experimental stuff you could do.

Regarding the question of saturday morning cartoon elements, I'm the kind of person who cares about characters. Give me characters I care about and they could be the saiyan princess from feudal Japan who is the last of their bloodline after they murdered their family in their quest for the One Piece and I'll roll with it. Tone is an important consideration though, and idk, I always frame it in questions of "how believable do I want this to seem" which is very different from "realism", mind you. I GOT A LOTTA FEELINGS ABOUT TONE

The subtext to this message is also "yooooooooooooo you should pop on skype and talk to me about creative projects sometime"
Thanks for your feedback, guys. I've been thinking a lot about what you've said. As you will read below, I'm being swayed in the novel direction, so I will think and plot and dream about it a bit and get back to you in another blog post. I'm guessing it would have to be the last one I post here, if I'm not going the game route anymore...

author=Hasvers
finishing things is just a habit that you can catch like drinking or watching BBC series in your underwear. The only hard part is the beginning, full of throat-burning and British accents.


yes, you are right. i like the peer pressure idea, it does work. i will have to figure out a way to find peers to pressure me

author=yuna21
The flame still burns, it would seem. I was subscribed to this game ages ago. And I know where you coming from. I was about to give up on working on Enelysion until Addit and nhubi wrote those reviews, so it really does help to have some peer pressure to egg you on. =)


indeed

author=kumada
So why not do national novel writer's month this year?


always wanted to do this, however there are likely going to many times this november when my job depends on me having a fully functioning brain (or as much as possible for me, anyway; it's not the kind of thing where i can drag myself in, zombified from lack of sleep, and sit at a desk all day with a pitcher of caffeine). lack of sleep just wrecks my already slow brain gears, and i can't compromise my performance at what i do, even for oathguard.

thanks for the suggestion, though. i am thing of doing something like working on it a little bit every day for 6/7 days of the week, even if it's just opening up the docs and reviewing, dreaming.

author=argh
:V


thanks for your input, another vote for novel...i feel myself being swayed by the peer pressure like tall catgrass in the wind~

author=PentagonBuddy
Unless you're willing to wrestle with the artistic side of comic formats, I'd avoid.


yeah, i was researching all this comic stuff and realized that this option would present the steepest learning curve, which i dont need in my life right now

author=PentagonBuddy
For me, the distinguishing factor of video games is that sweet, sweet, interactive potential. But is the ability for someone else to influence the narrative important for Oathguard?


for sure; that's why i love games

and that second question...wow. it really made me think and realize, like: wow, i guess i really just want the audience along for the ride. never thought of it that way haha...i mean i've always struggled with how an Oathguard game would just be so linear, yeah you'd have some silly choices sometimes but in the end you couldn't escape your fate.

So another strike for Game, another 1000 psi of dynamic peer pressure for novel.

author=PentagonBuddy
Give me characters I care about and they could be the saiyan princess from feudal Japan who is the last of their bloodline after they murdered their family in their quest for the One Piece and I'll roll with it. Tone is an important consideration though, and idk, I always frame it in questions of "how believable do I want this to seem" which is very different from "realism", mind you. I GOT A LOTTA FEELINGS ABOUT TONE


i totally feel the same way; the plot and world can be super trite and i wouldn't care at all as long as the characters and their conflicts and yes the tone was right.

so i guess i'm worried the anime elements influencing the tone...oh well, guess i'll find out~
Despite the ambiguity of the blog, I must say, I am happy you have updated the whereabouts of the game! It seems you have thought a fair deal (and may be thinking still) about the future of Oathguard. Being someone who isn't close to you, or know you personally, I'm not sure how much weight my opinion will warrant, but nonetheless:

My first question is, what do you want?

Are you indecisive solely because you have no utter clue, or indecisive because you have an inkling, but are unsure of what your cult-followers will think?
Based on what you typed, I fully believe that you are more keen on a novel. Regardless of that, I'd go with your heart. I mean, just write. This is you. One thing I've come to understand, as a composer, is that for anyone who creates, there is always someone out there who appreciates.

(Rhyming ftw!)

The more talented you are, the more appreciative...tators you'll have. Not saying that this is your mentality but, if the course of your decision depends on what others may think, please relinquish that ideal.

I was blown away by your game, but in truth, it's the story that really caught me. You are a very good writer, and in some instances, the nuances you have created through your story may very well end up lost and discarded if you pursue the videogame. Yet, there are characteristics and interactive capabilities that you can only get from a game that you can't get from a novel. And vice versa.

Blarghedy.

Pentagon practically smashed that one in the head.

author=mellytan
1) What do you think of the potential for Oathguard as a novel/comic/game?

It has potential for all mother-luvin' three, and I'm not just saying that. I can understand your dilemma about a novel, since reading is becoming a novelty to the upcoming generation, but that opens avenues and gateways to other possibilities.
Who knows - you'll write the novel and someone will contact you thinking it's amazing and BAM, they turn it into an anime. (*cough*seirienomoribio*cough*)
It also allows you to maintain much of the juicy details! The stuff that always makes books better than their visual progeny.

I'm not much of a comic person, so had I not heard of OG, it'd be lost on me having been released in that format. Of course, with comics, you allow the player to "see" your world. Yeah, this takes away from the imagination, but it also means you can keep the main parts of your story! It can be, in many instances, a unique experience. Audience wise, though, I feel as if you may be subjugating it to an even smaller ensemble.

Games are the rage, but they are even harder to complete. Of course, you know that. You even said it yourself - the amount of dedication and support needed has the potential to trickle over into your professional life, perhaps leaving you more drained than if you pursued it part-time. It raises the interactive rate, sure, but THAT also depends on how it is presented in the game - If the meat and bones of interaction is stale, turn-based action with a story, you might as well have stuck with the story.

author=mellytan
Is the draw of Oathguard more in the characters/dialogue/presentation of the world--regardless of how full of fantasy tropes it is--or would you be terribly offended if any more Saturday morning cartoon elements got in?

Aren't those three things the most important aspects of a plot? I mean, if you were able to draw us in with that from only an epilogue in a game, I don't think you should worry!
I truly don't think it matters, though. In the end, to each his own (we all have different tastes in story/settings), but I'm more than certain that if you continue on as you have, I, along with everyone else, will find it enticing, to say the least.

So, yep! Regardless of the medium you choose to present Oathguard in, we will look forward to buying a copy!

Oh, I have no idea what this National Novel Writer's thing is, but making it a habit to complete ideas is fantastic! The more you familiarize yourself with "completing" stories or concepts, (quotes because whenever you create something, you never truly finish it) the easier it will be to finish larger projects.

Just a thought.



author=PentagonBuddy
Honestly, if you want to finish? Novel, full-stop.


There's a problem with this sentiment.
Writing for a novel is completely different from writing for a comic or a video game. You can't get away with just the plotline + dialogue. You have to describe the direction grass is blowing and the curl on Joe's lip. It takes a completely different skillset to write a novel and it's very simplistic to just say "A novel will be faster".
Honestly, I think a game would be faster than a novel. You can break it into individual piecemeal and work on different parts as your attention span and/or motivation allow, whereas a novel is a straight-up forward roll with virtually zero room for corrective action once you get too far. You can plan in advance, sure, but if down the road you want to adjust a character's manner to make them more/less a characteristic (eg. more assertive), the interconnectivity of a novel will require the whoel thing to be scrapped. With a game, simply tweak the sprite graphics and re-adjust their dialogue (I've done it in my game >.>;;).

Also
author=m4uesviecr
reading is becoming a novelty to the upcoming generation

Sad, but true. Kids these days are fucking stupid.
I met a 17 year old who didn't know how to start a pull-cord motor (like a gas lawnmower)
When a game I was working on wasn't working out, I tried turning it into a comic, and lost steam after like 10 pages. Then I thought about making it a novel. Even worse. The reason is because when I envisioned it, it was as a game. Trying to move it to other mediums made it vastly different from what I'd envisioned, and that killed my motivation to work on it.

Also, a plot that works for fantasy games with a lot of anime-inspired fighting tends not to work for novels without major revisions, and vice versa, at least that's what I've found to be the case.

Not saying this'll happen to you. Just food for thought.
Thanks again, guys...so grateful for the opposing views, you're really making me think about this...stop it, it hurts...me no like thinky aaaauughh

Anyway, what you all brought up basically capture the biggest concerns I have with each media.

About the novel route...

author=m4uesviecr
the nuances you have created through your story may very well end up lost and discarded if you pursue the videogame. Yet, there are characteristics and interactive capabilities that you can only get from a game that you can't get from a novel. And vice versa.
...
If the meat and bones of interaction is stale, turn-based action with a story, you might as well have stuck with the story.
author=Dyhalto
Writing for a novel is completely different from writing for a comic or a video game. You can't get away with just the plotline + dialogue. You have to describe the direction grass is blowing and the curl on Joe's lip. It takes a completely different skillset to write a novel and it's very simplistic to just say "A novel will be faster".
author=Neok
Then I thought about making it a novel. Even worse. The reason is because when I envisioned it, it was as a game. Trying to move it to other mediums made it vastly different from what I'd envisioned, and that killed my motivation to work on it.

Also, a plot that works for fantasy games with a lot of anime-inspired fighting tends not to work for novels without major revisions, and vice versa, at least that's what I've found to be the case.

This this this. All of this basically sums up why I've always had trouble going either way.

(I guess I should point out at this point that I actually wrote a chapter of the OG novel--based on the game prologue--several months ago. And like I mentioned, a few years ago I wrote a rambling 70+ pages that went nowhere and has almost nothing to do with the current story. Not to mention Oathguard started out as worldbuilding for a novel. So the novel vs game thing has been something I've been wrestling with pretty much since the beginning.)

(i think ghibli-produced anime series broadcasted on nickelodeon is the solution)

((12 years later) miyazaki-sensei please reply. pl ease)

Going with a novel: uh yeah despite my endless word documents trying in vain to make sense of the OG world, I am not looking forward to writing descriptions and metaphysical justifications about all the anime daemon bullshit that I have incorporated into the world. You guys are right, and it's totally been a big reason for my hesitation to try a novel.

Going with a game: Oathguard was always mostly about the story/characters/world and as I made the RM2k3 game I always felt like I was shoehorning gameplay in, or otherwise twisting the story so that I could fit in another battle just so I could feel justified calling the whole experience a "game".

author=Dyhalto
Honestly, I think a game would be faster than a novel. You can break it into individual piecemeal and work on different parts as your attention span and/or motivation allow, whereas a novel is a straight-up forward roll with virtually zero room for corrective action once you get too far. You can plan in advance, sure, but if down the road you want to adjust a character's manner to make them more/less a characteristic (eg. more assertive), the interconnectivity of a novel will require the whoel thing to be scrapped. With a game, simply tweak the sprite graphics and re-adjust their dialogue (I've done it in my game >.>;;).

Mmm...I agree about dividing up the little parts that make a game; it was always fun to jump around and work on different parts of the game and bring them all together.

And you basically described what happened to those 70 pages of OG novel I wrote: the story was going nowhere and it was to late to put that train on a different track. I stopped writing it and couldn't salvage much from it.

However, a game can go in the wrong direction like that, too...and if you consider all the elements that go into the game, if you want to redo things, you end up having to scrap graphics, maps, dialogue, music, etc...

If I'm gonna screw up, I think I'd rather be able to just press backspace and move some paragraphs around instead! So I think a novel still wins in that arena, for me, anyway.

also
author=m4uesviecr
(*cough*seirienomoribio*cough*)

dude you are now my best friend...i just started watching Kemono no Souja Erin (book series by the same author) and it's another awesome, subtle series with a rich world and great female main characters. erin and her mom are basically like a less martial version of myunh and gela~
author=mellytan
i just started watching Kemono no Souja Erin (book series by the same author) and it's another awesome, subtle series with a rich world and great female main characters.

I'm a SUCKER for strong female anythings, and I also need to read that series ...and the Seirie series.

Eff it, I need to read in general.
seirei no moribito is rad as hell
I'm a sucker for strong female leads too. XD
author=mellytan
Going with a game: Oathguard was always mostly about the story/characters/world and as I made the RM2k3 game I always felt like I was shoehorning gameplay in, or otherwise twisting the story so that I could fit in another battle just so I could feel justified calling the whole experience a "game".


What about calling it a Visual Novel instead of a game so that you don't have to shoehorn anything in? That way, you could avoid the parts of novel writing that don't translate well from games.
author=Sviel
What about calling it a Visual Novel instead of a game so that you don't have to shoehorn anything in? That way, you could avoid the parts of novel writing that don't translate well from games.

I've thought about this occasionally. Spurred on by Darken once a few months ago, I tooled around in Renpy a little bit. And of course I'm somewhat drawn to the idea of turning OG into a VN with Renpy, specifically for the reasons you mentioned.

Semicolon however, I'm also apprehensive because I seem to have a natural aversion to VNs (which of course is ironic because they're essentially 99% words and that's my favorite thing about most games in general). I'm definitely not a consumer of VNs; I don't think I've ever finished one in my life, except a few of those dating sims for girls when I was like 14 (I'm sure you can guess what the draw was there). Recently people have touted certain series' stories, but I've found all of them pretty insufferable and boring. (The awful, garish, and pandering art direction that seem to permeate today's games and animation doesn't help, either.)

Darken mentioned that the fact that I'm a VN outsider might help me make something fresh, but honestly I'm scared about making something that I'll end up hating. I don't want to make something I wouldn't read/play myself.

So I suppose I'd honestly rather write a book...

author=Darken
seirei no moribito is rad as hell

Gela is basically Balsa
except no one can be as cool as balsa

Actually, the plot of OG used to be about a girl saving a foreign prince...then I watching SnM and realized someone had done that already :v

author=m4uesviecr
I'm a SUCKER for strong female anythings, and I also need to read that series ...and the Seirie series.

the first 2 books (really, the only 2 books) they translated into english are very very good...i would have to reread them to gush about them again but if you liked the series you will not be disappointed!

please please pick them up; despite the fact that the english books won awards and were lauded by critics, the publisher stopped translating them because of the lack of sales.

i have some of the other books in japanese, could barely read them tho.
all i know is that in book 3 balsa fights jigoro's spirit in a weird magical cave

or something
author=mellytan
please please pick them up; despite the fact that the english books won awards and were lauded by critics, the publisher stopped translating them because of the lack of sales.


I saw that! I had started to dig after watching the anime and was saddened -- Our western culture prefers to spend their time in 50 gray-shaded porn.

Ah, well. You're REALLY making me want to buy it, but I need to hire people! D:

Oh, decisions decisions...
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