Operation Backlog Completion 2017

Feb 272017
 

Between its multi-part nature and new battle system, the Final Fantasy VII Remake has certainly caused some confusion for fans.

In a new interview, director Tetsuya Nomura raised even more questions about what the Final Fantasy VII Remake means for the Compilation.

Final Fantasy VII started as a single game, but it ended up as a small series of its own, with a movie sequel (Advent Children), a third-person shooter sequel (Dirge of Cerberus), and an action RPG prequel (Crisis Core), to name a few of the most popular additions to the Final Fantasy VII universe.

Some fans, including me, theorized that maybe the reason the Final Fantasy VII Remake needs to be released as multiple games is because it’s adapting pieces of the Compilation, too.

Well, that’s not the case. Probably.

In this new interview, Nomura gave his thoughts on the possibility of an HD remaster of Before Crisis, Crisis Core, and Dirge of Cerberus.

He said the Final Fantasy VII remake “will be different from the original Final Fantasy VII,” and that remasters of the Compilation games alongside the remake “will hardly have an overall coherence […] because there is no more continuity between the Compilation and the Remake for the moment.”

On one hand, you could that this to mean that the Final Fantasy VII Remake will include aspects of those games, which is why remasters wouldn’t fit alongside it. On the other hand, the phrase “no more continuity” suggests they won’t make sense in the new Final Fantasy VII universe.

Some fans will be pleased with this news, since the Compilation has had a mixed reception, especially for some of the more convoluted elements it introduced. At the same time, though, it raises the question of just how different the Final Fantasy VII Remake will be from the original.

Of course, he did say “at the moment,” so who knows how it will end up?

What do you think? Will elements of the Final Fantasy VII Compilation remain in the Final Fantasy VII Remake, or is the Compilation material gone from the new universe?

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Feb 242017
 

I’m taking a break from my usual topics today to talk about some of the online resources that have helped me:

  1. Find markets for short stories
  2. Get into video game writing

Short Story Markets

I have a few different sources for finding short story markets.

Brian Scott’s Online Writing Jobs eNewsletter sends you alerts about new freelance writing jobs as well as short story markets. Jobs are usually listed first, followed by a selection of new story submission calls at the end.

Next, since I write horror and dark fantasy, I also follow Dark Markets, a site that lists both established and new publications seeking dark fiction. You can also browse Dark Markets specifically for anthologies, magazines, etc.

Finally, there are a few genre-specific Open Call groups on Facebook where people can post new open markets:

I haven’t found Open Call groups for other genres yet, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. These are my main resources for finding new markets to submit short fiction to.

Video Game Writing Jobs

More than short story markets, people often ask how to find video game writing jobs.

When I started, I thought the only way was for a big game developer to hire a writer. Jobs like that can sometimes be found at Gamasutra, although they’re uncommon. They also usually require you to be on-site and have a proven history of video game writing, which doesn’t help if you’re just starting out.

The first thing I did was play around with ChoiceScript. I don’t have a completed ChoiceScript game yet, but it gave me a small amount of game writing experience to show developers.

Then I moved on to writing for indie games.

Whenever you look into an indie game job, make sure you know the details. Will you get paid directly for your work? Is it a revenue-sharing project instead? Is it a free job that will give you nothing more than another credit? Look into the details and check out the company to make sure everything is legitimate.

Now, where can you find these jobs?

First, the newsletter I mentioned above occasionally lists video game opportunities as well. Other resources, however, are specifically geared toward games.

The Indie DB Job Board and the Mod DB Job Board are two places where indie developers list jobs.

Reddit is also surprisingly useful. My first job writing for an indie game came from /r/gameDevClassifieds, where developers post jobs and freelancers post portfolios.

There is a similar one, geared toward paid work only, called /r/gameDevJobs. Finally, while they aren’t gaming-specific, game writing jobs occasionally surface on /r/forhire and /r/HireaWriter.

I’ve also found game writing jobs through Upwork. Many writers will tell you to steer clear of sites like Upwork, but if you search carefully, you can find solid, well-paying jobs even there.

And finally, I also use the Lemma Soft Recruitment & Services Offered Forums to find opportunities specifically for visual novels.

Other Resources

Finally, on a side note, if you’re looking for an editor/agent for your finished novel, I recommend following the MSWL hashtag to see what agents/editors want, participating in pitch events like PitMad and SFFpit, and checking the New Agency Alerts at Writer’s Digest.

I hope these resources help you if you have short stories to publish or want to get into video game writing. Questions? Know of other good resources? Let me know in the comments.

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Feb 222017
 

About a month ago, indie developer Radical Phi sent me a review copy of Angels With Scaly Wings, which they described as “The Dragon Dating, Mystery & Drama Visual Novel.”

A dragon dating game? Sure, why not? After all, a game about dating birds proved to have hidden depths.

When I started Angels With Scaly Wings, I realized right away that the romance is only a small part of this visual novel. It began with an explanation of how humanity discovered a portal that put them in contact with a world of intelligent dragons, and from there quickly spiraled into a murder mystery with hints of conspiracy.

A few hours later, I reached a rather depressing ending. Determined to get a better outcome, I plunged into the story again and reached my first “good” ending… which was almost as bleak as the bad one. I realized I might need to play many times to get an actual happy ending.

But not only does Angels With Scaly Wings make that painless through features that let you fast-forward text you’ve seen or even skip entire scenes, it actually incorporates it into the narrative.

The presence of dragons might make you think “fantasy,” but this really is a science fiction story, and the sci-fi elements play a more central role than just setting up the premise. In particular, there’s time travel. When you start a new game, it’s because your character is in a time loop.

Ah yes… time travel…

While the game puts a great deal of enthusiasm into its time travel, it does present problems and paradoxes if you look at it too closely. On the other hand, the time loop creates a neat way to integrate the way most fans play visual novels–repeated playthroughs for each and every character route.

Now, despite the fact that you spend much of your time dating dragons, the sci-fi mystery story is stronger than the romance. You get to know these characters, learn their backstories, and grow close to them, but it isn’t given enough time or depth to feel especially romantic.

It’s also possible for at least some characters to get their good endings without accepting their romantic advances at the end, and a couple don’t have anything beyond lightly implied romance.

So if you’re looking for real serious dragon romance, Angels With Scaly Wings won’t be what you expect. (And if you’re looking for a happy, silly game, it’s definitely not what you expect.) However, the mystery is intriguing enough that it kept me hooked on my first playthrough, and subsequent playthroughs held my attention as I tried to see every scene, uncover every part of the story, and figure out how to help my dragon of choice.

In some ways, it felt like a puzzle: if I make this choice and go to this place, will I have the tools I need to get so-and-so’s good ending?

The more I played, the more my choices began to affect other playthroughs, because of the time loop. This was a pretty cool feature that tied into how the true ending actually works from a narrative perspective. It wasn’t perfect, as the game occasionally referenced events I hadn’t actually done, but overall it’s one of the most interesting aspects of Angels With Scaly Wings.

Some parts of the story and exposition could be handled better, and while some character interactions were engaging, others felt bland. However, I enjoyed playing Angels With Scaly Wings. It made me work hard for my happy ending, and intrigued me enough to make me do so. It might not be a perfect game, but I’ll be interested to see what Radical Phi does in the future.


Speaking of visual novels, don’t forget to back Ascendant Hearts on Kickstarter. No dragons here, but we do have romance!

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