WHAT

a graveyard for ideas

thoughts given form and put to questionable rest



Last update: 2021-03-24


Reading Guide

Hey what's up gamers welcome to my twisted mind (thoughts about game dev and writing and various other art things)

Everything exists in terms of "yes, I think this, but there are also many cases where it isn't true or applicable, and there are always other methods to think about too." These are more like context-reliant journeys than they are conclusions. There is always something missing.

If any of these thoughts seem helpful, interesting, or otherwise amusing to you, feel free to graverob. Otherwise, consider these the feverish scribblings of a maniac trying to describe the imperceptible boogeyman they share a room with. That motherfucker...

Some parts are blacked out yet able to be viewed via selection like so:
BOO! Were you surprised?
These parts are extra shy, lacking in will, certainty, or truth.


Document Map

When traversing these documents within the navigation menus, do note that the "(?)" on the top righthand side link to the homepages for each respective category.

Key: marks points of interest,   will indicate new documents

Unhinged Ramblings (?)
[X] General project progress/How it's going
[01] Deprecated "Review Session" note from Version 2
[02] problems problems problems
[03] What to say and how to say it
[04] Oooooohhh what the fuck is happening (development process woes) (gameplay wtf)

Observations on Function (?)
[VN] Button inputs AKA 'A Treatise on VN Writing'
[__] Saying things about things unsaid
[??] art and feelings and stuff
[XX] Treasure hunting and building houses, or: My obsession with creating stories and OCs
[SA] In regard to standards and acceptability

Classified Documents (?)
Map unavailable

Reference Material (?)
[A Side] Information
[B Side] Inspiration

I don't know what's happening

In which I suffer over more specific, and therefore perhaps more vague, aspects of making game and writing and blah blah personal projects. Everything in this journal is personal but this is probably more specifically personal.

Last update: 03/17-2021

(real lacanians dont hurt me plskthx bye <3)


To-Do:

  • structure and write drafts
  • determine how to unfold the world (linear vs. non-linear?)
  • godot vs. twine vs. ren'py. FIGHT
  • determine game mechanics
  • re-determine game mechanics
  • do i still even want this as a game...
    • if not a game, then some kind of nonlinear story
    • what if we hosted the whole story on an unlockable wiki
      • completion of minigames = unlock new entries and stories? look into this format
  • get to work and stop stressing fool

The State of My Drafts

I name various story format experiments and gameplay writeups and potential outlines as "draft" but this naming scheme isn't very great. Here is a list of everything I've labeled under a "draft" name for the Ghost Agency project, in questionable chronological (?) order. These are split between Quollwriter, Google Drive, and Scrivener, because I am a monster.

Purpose Drafting
March Plot Draft
GHOSTS Plot Draft
Misc Draft Scenes
Draft Draft
Draft Draft Draft
Brainblast Fake Draft
IF Draft
Draft Doc 1
Draft Doc 2
Pizza Draft 1
Pizza Draft 2 (<- current)


Miscellaneous Thoughts

idk i'll dump random things here when i feel like it

the feeling of depth may very well be a result of a "near-miss." like, i kinda get what you're trying to say, except i also kinda don't, and that compels me enough to keep thinking about it

are my desperate ramblings actually worth putting up online anywhere? am i just saying obvious shit? bitch i don't care being repetitive or cliched doesn't stop us from telling each other to sleep early and stay hydrated

turns out working on solo personal projects for too long with no breaks makes you feel insane

when i was younger, i wanted to do a lot of things, namely make adventure games and visual novels and do epic coding stuff and run a website. now that i'm older, i'm actually pursuing these dreams. but i feel childish now. i know i put all my hopes on this, but shouldn't i have grown out of my childhood by now?

It's unhinged ramblings, except about art and function in general instead of in specific

Most of my ramblings explore function and execution of expression, but these are less about my own work and more about things in general, I guess? I thought'ed these thoughts during project work, but they're not explicitly about my projects.

These are ideas about how to engage with and create art and stories. Another way to put it is: these are the hazy attempts of someone trying to explain a joke that keeps them up at night with how much they don't understand it. (You may have heard that jokes shouldn't be explained...)

I'm focused mostly on visual novels and adventure games, so those are my primary influences and source of reference, although generally all forms of storytelling are of interest to me.

I'm very drawn to media that subvert expectations yet manage to remember the heart. In this case, what I mean by "the heart" is simple enjoyment. But resuscitation can be harder than it seems.

I'd like to figure out what it is that makes the heart tick.


Motivation Flowchart

Placing emphasis on the absolute non-canonity and barely-edited nature of these documents

SHHHHH!

SUPER DUPER ULTRA MEGA SECRET LINKZ (god please don't mind the writing...)
Prologue Draft X Side Y
Prologue Draft 2 Side A
Prologue Draft 0
This format can eat my ass

do not click

Sources of inspiration and sources of information

Anything goes!

I cannot confirm or deny the relevancy of these topics to my works, but they interest me.

Written: 03/17-2021

Oooooohhh what the fuck is happening (development process woes) (gameplay wtf)

dancing the everybody knows shit fuck dance

I told myself I don't really care about gameplay mechanics or anything else so long as I can make something even marginally entertaining, but it's still pretty hard to throw away the months of planning and work done towards figuring out a decent gameplay stucture that ties into worldbuilding, story, and themes. I've made it so that the plot structure is directly reliant on the gameplay structure, so making major changes to one or the other risks unravelling the entire thing, and that always results in my brain exploding a little. I fell asleep last night feverishly scribbling on a notepad, and woke up the next morning feverishly scribbling on a notepad.

I got stuck about a week ago and took a break to re-fuel the inspiration-meter, but now I've just got a lot of influences swirling in my head. What's the right way to do this? Should I just give up on trying to make involved mechanics with my budget/time limitations and go back to writing a standard kinetic novel with a few minigames sprinkled in? Where things currently stand, I'm worried about the scope both in terms of what I have to create for, and the amount of information I'm throwing onto the audience's lap.

This interview about the creation of 13 Sentinels got me thinking about player stress. It's specific to 13S, of course, but I still find it worthwhile to think about. The bit about the thought clouds is especially revelant to me:

Maenou says that the cloud think is supposed to represent words that the characters has thought of, and they experimented with the interface a lot, with it originally having far more keywords than the final product. Kamitani says that having 20-30 keywords show up on the screen resulted in putting the player through the stress of having to look for the right one even when they knew the correct answer, and so they reduced it to 12-13 at most, with irrelevant words disappearing. They were constantly unsure as to whether they were doing the right thing as there was nothing else to refer to.

I'm also working on a format that relies on key words, and my issues with scope have to do with "okay, but I can't just throw in dozens of keywords and possible actions with those keywords, that would overload both myself and the players" so I'm trying to figure out how to narrow things down without sacrificing too much... thematic integrity?

How 13S manages to juggle a convoluted timeline and complex world--and I think most works do this--is by taking it on bit by bit, scene by scene, story by story. It's simple, but honestly pretty easy to forget (for me, anyway).

When we jump into the POV of a character, what we get is their adventure, and the byproduct of that is more information about the world. I can only speak about my own experiences, but when I'm working on a narrative, I'm going in the opposite direction. What pieces of information can each character contribute to the overall understanding of the world? And then how can that be expressed? To me, the journey is the byproduct, not the information. This doesn't make for a very nice process, because things quickly go from "I want to have fun characters interacting with each other and the mysterious world they live in" to "all these scenes I'm writing are for the sake of revealing factual bullshit I'm not emotionally invested in" and that latter way of thinking makes me feel cartoonishly cynical. My level of pessimissm rivals even Eeyore's.

So what happens when I just write freely without worrying about purpose? Well... it's a lot more fun, but I also trash 80% of what I write. Dunno how to fit anything in with anything. Sometimes things do boomerang back to click into place somewhere, but it's hard to predict.

At this point I've materialized, murdered, and buried a ton of what-ifs. They still continue to haunt me. My head is full to bursting with ghosts, and I can't tell the difference between the living and the dead.

I should really just keep it simple. I think the issue is that I don't want to keep it simple, I've become addicted to cramming as many dreams and desires as possible into a project that cannot possibly sustain it all. I think it'll be necessary to step back, clear out what's accumulated, and properly move on.

The reason I write and publish this (and I guess everything else here in this web journal) is perhaps to aid in the process of moving on. I have a hard time letting things go, but if I can just put it down in a place where it can be witnessed by people beyond myself within a proper context, then it helps alleviate the stress and loneliness that comes with developing solo projects like this.


I'll conclude with some ideas and resources for creating a story/development bible.

Building a basic story bible for your game
Learn to Write a TV Show Bible With Our Show Bible Template
Sonic the Hedgehog Bible

Potential "Bible" Topics

  • Summarize premise and goals
  • Work out functionality of each piece of gameplay but don't fret about it too much
    • The main purpose is just to determine what we'll be expressing in gameplay rather than in direct prose, so that there's less stressing over flip-flopping back and forth
  • Establish scope to establish realistic boundaries and goals
    • What can be done?
    • What can't be done?
    • Determine priorities
      • Anything that falls to the wayside will be worked on only if there's enough time to
        • But if we keep revisiting these ideas, then re-consider if it's a priority
    • Work out a list of assets
      • Major areas for branching dialouge
      • List of scenes
      • List of GUI elements
        • List of expression sprites per character
      • List of BGM and sfx (tag these within the script)
  • Foundations for narrative
    • Summarize characters and their goals/development
    • Summarize major relationships
    • Summarize the world structure
      • Set up strict rules (think rules to the point of shounen battle manga power systems, like hxh greed island)

Ideally this is just set up as a list of things to consider, and then expanded on-the-fly as the script progresses. The main point isn't to rigidly plan everything out in one fell swoop, but to be able to quickly determine if new ideas should stay or get trashed, based on what's been declared to be the scope and purpose.

The development of String of Fates was fast and... er... not "easy," but "grindable", thanks to the structure and concept already being set in stone. Ghost Agency's structure isn't set in stone, but at least its concept is. I honestly just really need to stop fiddling with the structure and get on with it already.

The... "story bible" for String of Fates (more like the rough outline) that I chucked ideas at and then proceeded to base the entire script on, was just this (minus lists of assets):

Written: 03/09-2021

What to say and how to say it

Motivations are always fluctuating. In the case of my story projects, I'm always wondering what it is that motivates me to keep trying to express a story. I feel like figuring this out will 1) help me decide what it is I want to do and say in my stories, 2) help me determine which ideas to push forward to see to fruition and which to allow to gather dust.

What is it that I want to say in Ghost Agency?

A potential list:

[REDACTED]

Why do I want to express these things so much to the point of dedicating so much time, effort, energy, and resources into the creation of a narrative-heavy adventure game/visual novel? Hell if I know!

It'd be easy enough to do "I want to do this, and show these things, because it'd be fun and stuff, and if I could get people to laugh or feel something then I guess that'd be cool," but where it gets complicated is when you start applying ideas about "good practices" regarding how to unfold the plot, how to portray characters, and how to convey thematic ideas, all without violently bonking the audience over the head with preachy statements and lack of subtlety.

I could just let go of all the things I want to say and allow plot and characters and mechanics to unfurl without thematic rhyme or reasoning, without trying to aim for some grand conclusion about philosophical topics, but all of my favorite media end with a "here's the lesson of the day!" message, so I'm hopelessly drawn to it, regardless of how... childish? it may be. I don't particularly care about getting bonked over the head, I just find it nice to gain insight into the ideals of others.

Although I do really really value media that just lets things be as they are without explicit judgement. And so I want that, too.

How can you aim to say something without actually saying anything?

I feel like that may be where the beauty of art lies. This is especially prevalent in visual art, where the goal is more often than not just to magnify certain design traits and aspects of design in our realities just for the sake of appreciating it or exploring its emotive qualities (at least, that's what I think about when I look at and create visual art).

But for words? For writing? So much relies on the communication style of an individual. How direct can I be with what I'm trying to say? How much imagery should I rely on instead? Subtext? What about communication through things left unsaid? How much is too much, and how much is too little? It's quite the pickle.

My personal, er, "writing style," I guess leans towards being pretty direct and at times even confrontational, and I wonder if that's something I need to hone or if it's something I need to acknowledge as immature and lacking.

And at the end of the day... Who the hell even cares?

Here is a list of things I want to portray in Ghost Agency:

  • hot girl shit
  • trans people in grand stories and adventures beyond just the popular medical narrative of dysphoria suffering
  • neurodiverse people who aren't put down for having specific needs or divergent ways of thinking
  • acceptance found in a world where there was thought to be none

I think I'll be keeping in mind the things I want to portray instead of the things that I want to say. I don't particularly care about whether people pick up on messages or themes, those are for my personal satisfaction rather than anything I want to air out and force onto others. But I do care if they're able to enjoy the characters and world, because that's the real kanin and ulam of the project.

What drives my creation forward is not thinking about whether the things I want to say are worthwhile, but rather thinking about things that I want to see, and playing with ideas of what could exist.

I didn't come to this conclusion because I planned to come to this conclusion and decided to write an essay about it. I just kept writing because I felt like I was missing something, and then stumbled onto that something in the end. This may be a valuable process to examine and tap into.

Written: 03/01-2021

problems problems problems

current main problem (besides simply having 0 motivation) (but maybe this is why i have 0 motivation) is that i dont rlly find anyone in the cast interesting enough... for now. iamb re-reading f/sn and i really dig the atmosphere even in the SoL sections... this is the feeling i want

other current problems:

  • finding a proper writing style... i havent written enough to know the difference btwn my own preference vs. the things i just have to get through (ie like how i hate coloring but still do it for the sake of the final artwork)

    • [COUNTER] look thru inspos, examine stuff that Hits, look for patterns in stuff i gravitate to and see if that can be played off as a strength (also just writing more)
  • determining what's effective from all the things i've learned and picked up from standard prose and fiction writing... are all of these things actually necessary to make sure to do, or are they just things i'm copying without actually knowing the effect? what is it that i want to say?

    • [COUNTER] take some scenes/write them out and look at it from different angles. what is worth saying? what can be ignored or inferred? there's a difference between pushing through expressing things you want to express and wasting energy just to meet some kind of standard. figuring this out is a struggle but it might be freeing to do so in the long run
  • figuring out when to be conscientious and appropriate vs. when to throw that all out the window. throwing it all out the window is generally more entertaining for everyone involved, but there's a worry about getting carried away and taking things too far

    • [COUNTER] this is getting a bit too personal for comfort. writing while basing everything off the self and personal ideals isn't really fun for me... there's not enough roleplaying. this issue can be easily resolved by writing as another character. everything is easier as long as the focus is taken off the self.
    • [COUNTER COUNTER] the current cast is huge and i don't want to focus on only a few protagonist POVs :( but i also don't have the range to go into the POV of all 10 people :( it might be necessary to cut down for the sake of my own sanity, though...
    • [COUNTER COUNTER COUNTER] we don't have to think about all 10 of them all at once. one by one is okay. let's take this one character at a time, and then decide what to do with them

Written: 10/25-2020

Deprecated "Review Session" note from Version 2

What makes a story entertaining for me?

[REDACTED]

Tastes?

[REDACTED]

What must be explained, and what doesn't?

[REDACTED]

from this, we can come up with some rules and limitations for ourselves.

Rules:

  1. [REDACTED]
  2. Take your tastes and run with it unabashedly. Don't worry about needing to explain yourself on things that don't need to be explained.
  3. Make a space for feelings. Let them live. Even feelings that seem to be wrong.
  4. [REDACTED]
  5. Cheer for the worst in all of us.
  6. [REDACTED]
  7. Give characters agency, decide what they are and aren't willing to communicate.
  8. Experiences definitely alter the tone of the song, but one aspect doesn't change. It could be the leitmotif, the bgm, or the percussions. Each person's anchoring point is different, but there is always that point.
  9. [REDACTED]
  10. Take note of what has been explained and what hasn't upon a readthrough of your draft.
  11. [REDACTED]

What lies close to your heart?

[REDACTED]

Preferences:

  • [REDACTED]

Written: 03/24-2021

In regard to standards and acceptability

Much fretting over the proper method to be doing things, because I don't actually like the proper method of doing things around ~80% of the time. Ideally I wanna barrel towards revolution and anarchy, but I know I don't work like that or wholeheartedly even want that, so I gotta go find some kind of middleground alternative.

For context, my primary worries lately have been like this:

  • How abstract and how detailed do I have to be?
  • Do I really have to show things that I'm not even interested in? 'cuz I'm not interested in A Lot of things, including things people say you should do
  • Are there certain ways of expressing things that are just plain inappropriate and generally bad practice?

The general answer that I've been trying to hammer into my brain but keep ending up unsatisfied with is this: Everything about art is colored by the perceptions of whoever is viewing it, and because everyone is different, it's impossible to appeal to everyone. Might as well appeal to yourself. Art is a free-for-all. Go ham.

The reason that's challenging for me to accept is because I go weak when considering 1) Lots of people flock towards landmark works of impressive art and a lot of that is actually really very good, so what's up with that and what are they doing correctly? 2) I have my own gauge for what is good and bad, I have standards, I wanna uphold those standards, even though I can't really tell what my standards are to the point that I'm This at a loss for what to do

#2 is especially damning, because it's hard to accept that what we have control over making could possibly ever be behind our own standards, and so we will fight, kicking and screaming, to get things Just Right.

But #1 is a pain in the ass too, because it has to do with the history of what we've seen others say throughout our lives is "good," the history of what we've experienced ourselves and think is "good," and where those two things overlap to make up what we perceive as "good" as a whole. And that has a lot of power over what we decide to throw out into the world.

I think art (shared/published, meant to be witnessed by others) is created from these two forces banging their heads against each other:

  1. Whatever the fuck it is we end up producing. Literally, whatever, it can be anything. It can be a shitty doodle on a napkin
  2. The standards we have in our heads made up of our specific history and context and experiences

It's not that publishing a shitty napkin doodle is a bad practice in and of itself. It's like how that one banana taped to a wall sold for over a hundred thousand. It's like how countless people decided to throw their savings into GME just because they wanted to join the meme. It's like how posthumous diaries have been published and many are fine with voyeuristically flipping through thoughts that were meant to be private. Social norms and standards have a sway over, but not the final say over, what actually exists and happens.

So yeah, it's not that. I think it's more like art is able to come about because it's survived after being put through the wringer by its artist.

And that wringer is like, well, imagine taking the art, and putting it through an obstacle course, and each obstacle is a piece of the artist's history, thoughts, opinions, feelings, worries, whatever. The art gets passed through ALL that shit before it's able to come out the other side. And the prize is being able to be shown to other people. Or: being able to be associated with its creator. Artists are very cruel to their own creations that don't make the cut... publicly, anyway.

It's less about what other people are able to accept and more about what the individual artist is able to accept. (and sometimes the individual artist is only able to accept what will be accepted by other people -cough-) and like, I guess, it's just a process of working this out.

I have not personally been able to work out what I want to create that I think can make it past my personal obstacle course, but I guess there's still something to be gained from acknowledging that it's a process, and I'll just... keep making stuff and chucking them through the course. See what comes out that's at least under my max threshold for embarrassment.

Aaaaand in that sense... Maintaining this site has been one big practice in Putting Stuff Out There. I'm not 100% sure where my max threshold for embarrassment is, it shifts constantly. So I'm continuously making tiny edits to this place as I discover that certain parts have passed the threshold. It's been insightful, I think, for my own process, witnessing myself make split decision changes and removals to old content that I used to think was okay, every single time I update this place with a new entry. I don't think I would be interacting with my own sense of standards to this degree without the intention of posting stuff to places. This comes with good and bad. I dunno. Maybe one day I'll decide this entire place passes the threshold and I'll delete it all. I hope it doesn't come to that, because I do like this place, at the time of writing.

Written: 03/12-2021

Treasure hunting and building houses, or: My obsession with creating stories and OCs

Since I learned how to make them, my stories and characters have never left my side. There was maybe one point in my life where they did, and that was during a time I could barely engage with any of my hobbies due to anxiety.

I guess you could say that much of what I do, I do for my characters. They're my #1 motivation in life. I study and work because of them. I strive to stay open-minded because of them. I look into new fields and topics that I would have never looked into otherwise because of them. Anything that would interest one of my characters is something I'm interested in too by default.

It's a strange relationship. Aren't these characters just me, then? Do I express my "self" in the form of characters?

I don't really like thinking of my characters as myself or even putting many of my own traits in them, I am my own person. (I also happen to feel animosity towards characters that are too much like myself...)

(Related topic of interest: Fernando Pessoa and his countless heteronyms with rich, detailed histories and inner lives)

But perhaps my characters are some Other force that I've happened to give a form. They're inspired by the events around me, the people I meet, the media I consume, the concepts I come across, and the things that move my heart. For some reason I'm unable to just go "wow, that's cool" and move on, I have to examine why I think it's cool and inject it into my work.

Let me try to clarify what my process is like.

  1. Something interests me or sparks an imagined "what-if" scenario, and it's enough of a force that it motivates me to come up with a premise, scenario, or character
  2. I continue developing and adding more characters based off of imagined interactions and scenes (sometimes just the idea of a single scene is enough to spur on the creation of everything else)
  3. The characters are thrown into the world and their interactions with both each other and the environment are observed. It's all about "what-if"s
  4. I turn the dials on different character traits and continue to reshape the setting to see which combinations yield the best results
    • I'm looking for treasure, and my reactions are the metal detector. This metal detector is my most valuable tool in the whole process
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 until treasure is found
  6. The treasure is fleeting. If I want to share it, I need to figure out how to coax it out again. At this point, it's not so much that I'm trying to express the treasure that I found, but trying to create a home for it to come back to and live in. Wait, this is treasure is getting pretty anthropomorphized...
    • In a way, I'm creating monuments dedicated to the discovery of the treasure and to channel good luck so that treasure can be found again
    • Another way to put it: I was struck by lightning, and because I'm a massive masochist, I now want to build a lightning rod so that I can hopefully increase my chances of getting struck again
  7. I look into my toolbox for things I can use to build this home. If there's something missing, I go look for it.
  8. If I want to share the wealth and prosperity with others, then I need to figure out how to make this home stable and hospitable for human beings. What I end up creating should ideally be understandable to people without scaring the treasure away.
    • The treasure is fickle and timid. Its weakness is being mistaken for something else. Being too specific or too vague can be poison.
    • The treasure is easy to lose track of. Being too consumed with the process of building risks forgetting the initial purpose. But this is also how we can find new things. It's give and take.
      • Imagine: you joined a group to play soccer with in order to get in shape, but you all ended up being such good friends that you end up hanging out and messing around more than you actually play soccer. The initial purpose was lost, but new things were gained. Is this ultimately a net loss? Or a net gain?

Note: Steps 1-2 could come from the same process that's described more in depth in steps 6-8, honestly. In the end, it's all about finding something worthwhile in the imagination and wanting to coax it out enough to share with others.

I guess I just want to share things that I think are neat, but I'm also obsessive and controlling enough to where I want to share those things in the specific way I experience them. This is why I analyze and seek out so many things related to the execution of media. It gives me a way to predict other people's reactions, and that helps me make creative choices in order to evoke specific reactions. Predicting reactions is always pretty difficult, though. I'm only me, I don't know what goes on in other people's heads! I could create things and use my own reactions to those creations as reference, but my reactions will always be colored by my own specific context. And my context involves knowing my characters, story, and setting in depth. I can't properly imagine what it's like to encounter all these things for the first time.

I could sidestep this issue by creating as I go... but I like to have frameworks and goals. I like having certain scenes in mind so that I'm motivated to create enough to reach those scenes. But focusing on specific scenes too much risks allowing everything else to slip into formulaic boringness.

I get so much from these characters and the world that they live in that I really want to show them off. I want to show people these imagined scenes and interactions that've really touched me.

So, I attempt to coax people in. How?

Let's get a fire going, the smoke will signal that something's here. Let's cook some food over the fire, it'll entice people passing by. Let's put up some decorations to make it lively enough so that those who come will want to stay. And once night rolls around and we've started sharing stories by the campfire, we can finally share the things we've been longing to share. But is it even worth it? We've got such a nice and comfortable thing going on here...

It seems there needs to be a balance between yearning for treasure and building a well-furnished home.

And it seems that balance isn't something that can be reached with precision and then left alone, it requires constant adjustments and re-assessments.

In summary... er... what was it I was trying to get to? What thought was I trying to house by writing this?
It's somewhere here, probably.

Written: 01/23-2021

art and feelings and stuff

u kno how birds do elaborate mating rituals and ppl try their darndest to understand whats goin on bc it is so funky-weird-cool, amusing, exciting, tantalizing to think we live on the same planet as this enigma of a bird... i feel like art is kinda like that

ppl write "red wheelbarrow" and some ppl are like "omg what does that meann i need to KNOWWW" and others are like "nodding yep" the discrepancy in understanding is what pushes us to try to connect but also is what allows connection. it's a very pretty idea

like to me a red wheelbarrow reference is a lowkey joke for anyone else thats taken a reading comp/english class in the US in the current era, but in the past or outside that context there wouldn't be any connection. art's all about taking shared feelings and contexts and building a monument for it, making it concrete, even if some ppl won't fully Get It

this is maybe why the abstract can be attractive, because it's consistently playing with whatever ideas it gets its hands on to create new landscapes of experiences that defy explanation. it's taking pure ideas imbued with feelings and running with it so hard that it just forces you to try to Sense it instead of Explain it. the primary mechanism at play is to be provocative, and that's like.. the core of art, even though we generally think it's just bizarre.

i guess what's important here is that when we think about "feeling" we think of some emotion that can be at least somewhat described in word, like "sad" "happy" "confused" etc. but the feeling i get when i'm, say, no thoughts head empty just staring at the wall, or maybe just looking respectfully at art that makes nice use of shading, isn't really something i'm equipped with words to describe. and so we (i) don't really understand those feelings as Being There, although they are, because that's how we're able to choose favorite colors and play with any mixes of imageries and ideas at all. the mix of situational contexts and unfathomable attraction to certain images and cliches is what births whole genres.

actually i suspect that the most succinct way we have ever been able to describe the process and raw experience of art or even just living is by describing how we can not describe it. hey yo tony whered u get that fresh pepperoni.

Written: 01/14-2021

Saying things about things unsaid

A struggle with writing is that for me it's very much tied to self-therapy/vent, so it's hard to really stick with it if I feel like the feelings have already been sorted out? I don't care much about expressing myself to other people if the problem's been resolved in my head.

Which is fine for random personal works and explorative essays, but it's less fine for telling a long story you want to tell. Many people consider "leaving things open-ended" a mark of great writing, whatever the literal fuck that means, but perhaps it's really just something like this:

Leaving things open-ended is self-serving. It makes sure that stuff lingers in the mind for further consideration juuuuust long enough so that it stays relevant and it continues to generate new readings and discussions

(it helps that as people we're also really shit at explaining what abstract things mean) But anyway, in the shoes of an author, when we already understand everything about our work and what stuff is supposed to mean, it becomes really damn boring.

But instead what we can do to stay afloat is to think about it as a discussion with our audience. I present a situation. Now, what do you think? I have my own interpretation in mind, but how about you? How does it compare to mine? How can we move forward in this story, together?

We can even take this further, by purposely introducing things that even we don't fully understand, and just hoping that the audience will maybe understand it for us, or at the very least share in experiencing this weird abstract thing-a-ma-jig. It's awesome how we're able to do that, even despite not knowing a single thing.

On the surface, it seems like I'm trying to tell you something. Teach something. Express how I feel. Maybe I am. But at the end of the day, what motivates me, personally, to express things into the world is not unhinged therapy (not that it's bad, I love to read cathartic works of unhinged therapy), but instead the potential of connection.

(oh and also look at this thing I think is cool. magic explosions. epic systems. bam bam boom boom)

We kinda have this general idea in society that art should express the self or make some kind of statement, but that idea doesn't work for me, so I will opt for an alternative. Plus, I think that idea of art not only alienates artists who don't function that way, but potentially also non-artists, and it sucks.

Anyway,

All these tools authors use and the storytelling decisions they make do not only ever have to be for the sake of "good writing" or whatever the fuck the nebulous concept being "good" entails, it can also just be a method of reaching out and staying motivated/excited through sheer possibility. Possibilities out of your control are a very powerful way to combat everything else that is in your control when you're creating stuff.

This is all some kind of perverse way to go "here's a thing! now react to it and think about it!" and it's not always something soulful or cool or deep and it doesn't have to be. It's just a way to stay connected in a very isolating hobby.

And I'll just leave it at that, before I keep going and lose my motivation to bother posting this.

Written: 01/10-2021

Button inputs AKA 'A Treatise on VN Writing'

Primary concern as of late has been "okay how do i write and structure this" like 1st person, 2nd, 3rd? What events to do and when, how to pace it, etc. and that's always been an issue from the very moment I started writing. But some research+thinking abt gamez narrativez (and that Understanding Comics book) has me considering medium.

Learning good writing and prose is no doubt helpful especially for a VN, but it doesn't by itself show you how to write for a game, which will have audio, text, visuals, and user input mechanics. A game is also different from writing a movie or a comic, although it can be structured to resemble them, and that's because of the user input aspect.

While it's a hot debate that VNs or even VN-like sequences are "videogames" by themselves, I don't care about that debate and instead wanna look at what we can gain by viewing it under the "videogame" medium, and then specifically what it means to be a "visual novel". Maybe we can see how to do VNs more effectively.

Structurally, VNs go like:

  1. Player starts game
  2. Game outputs feedback for starting
  3. Player presses button
  4. Game outputs feedback for pressing button (usually with text, visuals, sounds, or a UI prompt)
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 until game is over

Which is... the most very basic form of all games ever honestly, but it's important to think about because this is very different from just going through media that's more passive like books or shows.

In between each thing you decide to output to the player is the player's active decision to press a button.

In action games, maybe the button executes a kick, and players will keep pressing that button so long as they want to kick.
In VNs, the button executes more story elements, and players will keep pressing that button so long as they want more story elements.

Looking at things this way can seem more stressful and limiting than it's worth, like, "oh god, is this single line of dialogue I'm about to show actually worth an extra buttonpress?!" but I think that's actually a very important question to think about (I say this as a VN reader who is begging and crying for authors to consider this oh god please edit down those damn scripts)

And when we start to think about things this way, we can start using the medium to its full potential, and start thinking "alright, so the player click-to-continue'd, what can I show them now?" It becomes a game in its own right, and you fully step into the shoes of a gamemaster pulling at strings and presenting more and more new things to whoever dares play along with you.


MOTIVATION OF INPUT

The action player will kick if there's an object or enemy to destroy, or maybe because they just find the kick animation really fun and like to see it.

The VN player will click-to-continue/ctc if they want more story, or maybe because they just like the ctc sound.

It's all about presenting a desire in the game, giving the player the option to fulfill it through their input, and fulfilling that desire through the feedback.

Perhaps you throw the player into a mob of new enemies, so the player runs to one new enemy and kicks it, it depletes a certain amount of HP, so the player keeps kicking until the HP is gone. Then the player moves to another one, etc. until the whole mob is eventually destroyed. They can be given an overall score based on how fast they destroyed the mob and then are allowed to freely move on and explore the rest of the level.

There's a few desires being addressed here:

  • fulfillment of an objective (to fight the mob)
  • the satisfaction of kicking them to oblivion
  • discovery of a new enemy and how it stands against kicks
  • getting scored based on performance
  • being able to explore more of a level that they're invested in exploring (or finding new enemies in)

So, turning back to a narrative-heavy game like a VN, what desires can we set up and fulfill?

In general we'll want to be fulfilling the desires to see more art (sprites/CGs), read text, and hear bgm/sfx. We can fulfill those easily enough, but they generally aren't enough by themselves, so there has to be a good story backing it up... but what makes a good story? Different narrative devices? Good prose? Emotional connection? And how can we tie visuals and audio along with it? All this shit is broad as hell!!!!!!!!

Instead of trying to think of all that, we can focus back to the general desire->input->feedback loops in games.

Present a reason for a desire. Maybe someone says something intriguing, poses a question or something.

[neutral A sprite] "A: What's your favorite fruit, CharaB?"
> Okay, that's simple, what is it? Press button.
[nervous B sprite] "B: I don't eat fruits."
> Wait, what? Press button.
[shocked A sprite] "A: Why not?"
> Press button.
"B: Well..."

Well?

I'm not giving an answer, but I hope you're wondering about it, even just to entertain me.

This is a relatively mundane conversation, but it poses desire for knowledge along the way that prompts us to continue.

Let's look at a more functional example, say, an action scene between enemies.

"A: I'll kill you!"
> Press button.
"A draws their sword and points it at B."
> Press button
"The sword glints in the moonlight."
> Press button
"The tip of it is sharp."
> Press button
"A lunges at B."
> Press button
"B smirks in the face of their mortal enemy."
> Press button
"B: You are like a little baby."
> Press button
"A: Huh?"
> Press button
"B sidesteps."
> Press button.
"A: Gah?!"
> Press button
"A loses their footing, and falls over."

Now, this isn't the greatest writing, but bear with me.

In prose, there's a technique you can utilize to make action scenes feel fast and, well, action-y. Short and choppy sentences can be used to indicate speed. Readers can go through each bit of action quickly, and it mimics the natural pace of the action.

Notice here, though, that the action is much more drawn out thanks to how many button presses are needed to get on with it. While it's tolerable, do we really want this many button presses to show what we want? (10 of them, btw)

Here's the scene annotated based on possible desires we're introducing, and how they're being fulfilled:

"A: I'll kill you!" <-How? Will they actually do it?
"A draws their sword and points it at B." <-The "How?" is by using a sword
"The sword glints in the moonlight."
"The tip of it is sharp." <-So it can inflict some major damage, but to who?
"A lunges at B." <-How will this go?
"B smirks in the face of their mortal enemy."
"B: You are like a little baby." <-Why they baby?
"A: Huh?"
"B sidesteps." <-They baby cuz B is skilled enough to do this
"A: Gah?!"
"A loses their footing, and falls over." <-Will B counter now?

I'm being very generous with interest here, but notice that there's some text where nothing's really going on and it's just fluff. You can get a dedicated reader through all this fluff based alone on how much they want to know the initial question, the "Will they actually kill B?" but that's a lot of good will you're relying on.

There's a few ways to revise and improve this script, and one way (arguably the most natural way we think to do it) is by turning some parts into images instead of text, and compressing actions to animation.

"A: I'll kill you!"
> Press button.
[closeup of shiny sword in the moonlight] transition [sprite of A with sword]
> Press button
[animation of A's sprite lunging to B] transition [B smirking sprite]
"B: You are like a little baby."
> Press button
[flash on screen] [B's sprite moves away from A]
"A: Huh?"
> Press button
"B's footwork was way too hella fast, and they swiftly dodge A."
> Press button.
[A's sprite moves down and rotates sideways as a crash sfx plays]
"A: Gah?!"

With every button press on this version, there's a bit more feedback that the player receives, and action feels more like action, rather than individual bits that we're supposed to piece together as an "action scene." Books can get away with the latter way easier than VNs, because we're just reading it in one go instead of sitting at a screen and forcing the story to move along piece by piece with a button.

But how do we decide what to animate visually instead of describe through text? You can question "alright, what do I want to let the player know that I'm not able to show visually at all?" and go from there, probably. But then what's stopping you from just animating and making CGs of every action, then just leaving text only for dialogue? Well, nothing, really. Except budget and time. But if you really wanna do it, then, still, nothing.

What if we don't want to go down this route of animating everything and using a ton of CGs?

That's tricky!

Considering desire->input->feedback, what if we just showed the entire script of the action sequence on a single buttonpress, and give players the answer of whether A kills B with this single button, while introducing some questions there so they'll be motivated to buttonpress again for the next chunk of text?

This is super jarring to do if you've been following the usual VN format of buttonpress->1 or 2 sentences, but it's not so weird if you do this all throughout. It's also basically what books do with each page.

You just lose out on a major asset of VNs: unexpected moment-by-moment changes in expressions and music!

And you will also make some gamers go "damn i just pressed 1 button and it gave me this huge chunk of text to read ugh this is too much work. i'm peacing out" and you can sidestep that by just making a good story, but... well... the player has to have a reason to trust that this is a good story first. That's hard if you show them all the work they have to do just to get to the next input upfront.

Games are like a form of trickery, we show little bits in the present to hook people into playing content that can be hours long. The amount of work to get to the end never changes, but we can at least manipulate the present so that it doesn't seem like work.

So maybe we don't want to do textdumps like that.

But what we can do, instead, is apply this in the tiniest ways.

Let's try the script again, this time with no CGs or animations, minimal sprites, and with our basic desire->input->feedback ideas in mind:

"A: I'll kill you!" <- emotionally charged, let's leave this as is
> Press button.
"A draws their sword and points it at B. The sword glints in the moonlight." <- we get some info about the sword, hype it up
> Press button
"The tip of it is sharp." <- we can leave this line on it's own to draw attention to it being sharp. that's kind of ominious, isn't it? haha... :)
> Press button
"A lunges at B, who stands still." <-Why no move? O_O
> Press button
[B smirking sprite] "B: You are like a little baby." <-SMUG BASTARD ALERT
> Press button
"B sidesteps effortlessly, and A loses their balance." <-This is why B doesn't move, they've got skillz!
> Press button.
"Right as they're about to fall face-first onto the floor, B yanks them by the collar and jerks them back up." <-We've changed the event of A just falling to the floor so that the action keeps flowing. It's not over yet, my dudes!

We go from the original's 10 button presses to 6, cutting out some fluff and merging other details with actions.

More tolerable, I'd say.


BRO... IT'S ALL ABOUT BUTTONS... (I MAY BE WRONG)

So far we've talked a lot about how to overcome VNs's weakness of being tied to hella amounts of user input, but what about how to use input to our advantage? Is that, like, a thing?

Well yeah thanks to this we can have branching narratives and choices and stuff, but this ain't about that right now. This is about the SINGLE BUTTON PRESS EXPERIENCE. Maybe later.

Let's look at kind of an extreme example.

"A: The weather looks great outside!"
> Press button.
"And then the world ended."
> Press button.
"You pressed that button and made it end, great job."

Yikes! That sucks!

But what I want to draw attention to here is how this kind of makes sense. If you had this in, say, a book, it would make no fuckin sense because we pressed no buttons. Although we can kinda make it sense if we changed it to "you read this sentence and made it end" but note how that instantly feels... weird? if we ported THAT version to the VN. Like:

"A: The weather looks great outside!"
> Press button.
"And then the world ended."
> Press button.
"You read that sentence and made it end, great job."

Uhhh nah man I pressed this button, you told me the world ended, and now you're telling me I made it happen? I am just sitting here pressing things and seeing what you're gonna show me!

A kind player may be patient and accept the concept like, okay I guess I did read that, go on?

But if we go back to the first example, things check out more evenly. I pressed this button to see what happens, and that happened, so maybe I DID do that...

It's all about moment-by-moment actions. The novel version makes sense in its context because the last thing we did was read, and the original VN version makes sense in its context because the last thing we did was press button.

What I wanna draw attention to here and what I wanna tentatively propose is that the primary action of VNs is not actually reading; it's pressing a button. To be able to read is just part of the reward of pressing a button.

So why does that matter? How do we use that to our advantage? Like, practically, and not just in this super specific world ending scenario?

This matters because we can use buttonpresses for pacing and control over what gets shown moment-to-moment (or what doesn't get shown). Anything that we show is immediately given weight just because of the action of the player before it. And what the player is doing with every buttonpress is essentially going "Okay, what will you show me next?"

Let's take this example:

"A stabbed B."
> Okay, what will you show me next?
"Again."
> Okay, next?
"And again."
> Okay... next?
"And again."
> Okay...
"And again."
>
"And again."
>
"And again."
>
"Until the only thing left was a mutilated lump of flesh and a pool of blood."

Yikes!

Sorry for picking such a brutal example!

This is also somewhat extreme in its simplicity, but it's useful for highlighting how input contributes to the scene. All we have here is a repetition of a very simple phrase, which can be arguably annoying, but withhold any of your potential annoyance with me for a sec!

Imagine this in novel format. We have this string of repetitive words, the reader can easily just go "yeah okay this next part is a repetition, I get it, that's cheesy" and gloss over it if they wanted. But a VN (thankfully or unthankfully) has no such luxury.

Instead we're forced to keep pressing the button, and we have no idea how long this will go for. We have to sit with this brutality in the very present moment. The time and pacing is in the hands of the gamemaster, and the player is tasked with taking what they're given and pushing forward until the end.

Nothing really happens during the repetition of this example except for building up the scene and drawing it out. Drawing things out can be bad if scenes are overly mundane and do nothing emotionally, but it isn't always a bad thing if we can use it to our advantage to maintain emotions in the present.

This isn't limited to repetition of course, or brutal murders, you can use this to let readers bask in the glory of something, ruminate over sad things, or relish in the warmth of friendship. And with the next press of a button, you can throw that all to the wind and move forward, because we have always been in control of moving forward. It's what we ask for over and over again, and it's an intrinsic part of the game.

Okay, what will you show me next?


CONCLUSION

The conclusion here is that VNs are a different beast of a medium than any of its non-input-reliant individual parts alone, and ideally we should be utilizing the strength of VNs: emphasis on the present.

A VN is inherently based in the present because user inputs are based in the present. And I don't mean present-tense vs. past-tense writing, I mean that creators have immense power over what they can show players moment by moment, and that should ideally be used to advantage more often than disadvantage.

And I think we should be using that cheerfully and unabashedly, so that we can get story sections in games that aren't sloggishly boring to get through, and well... that are fun!

MISC

Garbag'e dump'e...

Konbini Parody

02/04-2021


These images are shy...


*Shame Intensifies*

Super Secrets require (not-really-)Super Passwords

Hint: i am a simple man with simple and entirely obvious tastes :'(
Hint #2: it's the gentleman fedora'd form of it.

Experimented: 11/24-2020

Folder? Adventure??

This was too much of a pain in the ass, but the idea is fun.

Written: 11/17-2020

Draft __ Noa Arc Intro

[CG of March Sleeping in the dark]

[CG of apparition over March]

[CG of Bell bonking March to wake them up]

BELL: March, the newbie is here.
BELL: I'm sorry for our awful and rude boss, Noa.
NOA: Um... it's okay.

March sat up and rubbed their eyes before yawning, which prompted another smack to the back of the head from Bell.

It was funny, although a little worrying that the person who apparently runs the place would let their employees smack them around like that. I didn't have time to gauge how I felt about it before March spoke up.

MARCH: Isn't even ruder to display such an act of violence to a stranger?
MARCH: You're going to scare Noa away. Now they'll think you're a brute that hits people for fun.
MARCH: Noa, if you walk out right now for the sake of your own safety, I'd totally understand.
BELL: No way!! Noa, these fists are for March only. You're completely safe. Go ahead and sit down.

F-Fists?

Uh.

Bell motioned to a sofa, and I sat down obediently. March stood up and sat across from me, while Bell continued to stand leaned against the wall.

This was my first meeting with March. I applied to [INSERT AGENCY NAME HERE] and had a phone interview with Bell, going over general questions. It was then that I decided that I definitely wanted to work here, and Bell decided that I had potential. The only thing left was to get approval from the boss.

MARCH: So, Noa, why do you want to work here?

Bell asked that question on the phone too. I gave March the same answer.

NOA: I'm looking for a new opportunity where I can apply my knowledge and challenge myself. I want to build on my experiences while helping others. I'd always been interested in paranormal mediation, and your agency aligns really well with my goals. I'd love to work here.
MARCH: Is that honestly how you feel?

I glanced over at Bell, who just gave me an apologetic smile and shrug.

NOA: It is.
MARCH: I see...
MARCH: Sorry to put you on the spot. It's just hard for me to imagine why anyone would say they'd "love to work here," I mean, it's not great.
BELL: March--
MARCH: Bell. You filled Noa in on what the working conditions are like, right?
BELL: Of course.
MARCH: And you're still willing to sign up for it, Noa?

[INSERT AGENCY NAME] is dedicated to its clients. The schedule is centered around their needs, and that means the agency operates at whatever time clients need it to operate.

It's also an extremely risky job where you interact with apparitions that may only want to hurt you. It's not unheard of to lose some limbs or even die while on the field.

Anyone working as a paranormal mediator should be ready to put their life on the line. That much is obvious.

NOA: I'm aware of the dangers, and my answer is still yes.
MARCH: Why?
NOA: Well...
NOA: I think helping people is worth it. If I can save lives or provide relief for anyone suffering because of an apparition, then it's worth it.
MARCH: Hm...

I can't deny that March's line of questioning rubbed me the wrong way. Just coming out here despite Bell's warnings should have been enough to show that I was serious... right?

At any rate, an interview is a two-way street, so I decided to poke March back.

NOA: Why do you work in this profession, March?
MARCH: For money.

I was thinking, "that's it?" and apparently it showed on my face, because March laughed a bit before elaborating.

MARCH: Not many people are capable or willing to do this job, and it just so happens that I am.
MARCH: It's a demand that I can fulfill, people pay decent money for it, and I need the money to put a roof over my head. So why not?
March smiled at me a bit apologetically.
MARCH: I know it's not the best reason, but you gotta take what you can get in life.

This was when I realized two things.

First was that March, despite speaking about it so casually, was serious about this being their reason. They decided to turn to such an extreme line of work to make a basic living.

Second was that March had no outward injuries.

Bell had told me over the phone that the agency was "kind of a mess" because March started it and worked alone for years before deciding to hire anyone. There were still traces of a time when everything was handled by a single person, so they're still experimenting with effective ways to spread out the work.

March being able to avoid serious injury while doing this all alone just for the sake of money was...

NOA: ...impressive.
MARCH: What was that?
NOA: Nothing.
BELL: Pfft.
MARCH: Ah. Well, anyway, it's not that I doubt you or anything. In fact, it's the opposite.
MARCH: I'm responsible for anyone I drag into this profession, and as you know, it's not a nice one.
MARCH: The fact that you have such a nice reason for doing this makes me reluctant to... throw you into the lion's den, I guess?
MARCH: It's good to want to help people, it really is. But there's a lot of other ways to help beyond apparition mediation.
MARCH: Before this, you worked as a lab assistant at the university you got your parapsychology degree from, right? Why not continue as a researcher? Expand your studies?
NOA: ... I want to study apparitions directly.

The next bit wasn't something I wanted to admit even to myself, I didn't think it was a good enough reason. But I thought "ah, fuck it." March's honesty rubbed off on me.

NOA: I've always wanted to talk to ghosts because it seemed like fun, even though I know it's dangerous.
NOA: If things go wrong, at least it'll be exciting.
NOA: It's probably wrong to think that, and I should be more careful, but I don't really... care?
NOA: That's... what I honestly mean when I say that it's worth it.
NOA: So getting paid for doing that is a dream come true. And you and Bell seem like fun people to work with, so...

My previous work was stuffy and dull. When our research funding was cut, I went through the usual job hunting motions and memorized interview question after interview question. Yet Bell was completely casual during our phone interview, like putting on airs of professionalism didn't matter at all. Meeting March and Bell in person like this just cemented the thought that,

"Oh, these people wouldn't mind me if I were me."

It's probably unfair to have that sort of expectation towards people you barely know, but it was hard to swat away the hope. Something you've been deprived of just ends up as an unreasonable craving.

NOA: So...! I really want to work here! I know what I'm getting into, and I take full responsibility for my decisi--
BELL: PfffFFT. Ahahhahhah!
BELL: March, just go ahead and hire Noa already.
MARCH: I was already planning to, I was just waiting for Noa to finish! Shut up!
MARCH: I'm sorry for this asshole, go on.
NOA: It's okay, I just... hah,
NOA: Hahahahah!
NOA: So I'm in?
MARCH: We'd be happy to have you.
BELL: Welcome to the team~

[Side story about Noa's previous work?]

Bell stopped me on my way to my car.

BELL: 'Grats on getting the job!
NOA: Thanks.
BELL: March is a total pushover, so I had no doubt that they'd end up signing you on.
NOA: O-Oh?
BELL: Not a bad thing, glad to have a new face around here.
BELL: I was starting to get sick of only ever having March and Shiloh's faces to stare at day in day out.
NOA: Shiloh... the other person that works here?
BELL: Yeeeeap.
BELL: Reserved dude, handles the bookkeeping mostly. You'll meet him eventually.
BELL: So, you noticed it right?
NOA: Noticed what?
BELL: The thing hovering around over March's desk.
NOA: Oh, yeah...
BELL: That didn't bother you?
NOA: It did at first, but no one else seemed bothered, so I just ignored it.
BELL: Really? You know, most of the people we interview in person are so freaked out by it that they either back out, or get too nervous to answer any questions properly.
NOA: I figured that being used to it was just... part of the job?
NOA: Besides, isn't it normal to see apparitions around these days? They're everywhere. Pretty much everyone's encountered one.
BELL: Still not pleasant. To most people, it's scary. Barely been a decade since they popped up, most of the population's still adapting to the concept.
BELL: It's impressive that you were able to keep your cool. That's honestly the real benchmark we go by to test if people are fit to work here.
BELL: Little ghost buddy just hangs around the office not doing much, but it works for our benefit when it comes to weeding out new hires. Although it's not great for walk-in clients looking for help, haha.
NOA: Uh huh...
BELL: March can't see them, by the way.
BELL: Apparitions.
NOA: Wha?!
BELL: Weird, right? Can't hear them, either. Can't feel them.
NOA: It's not... unheard of, but it's rare.
NOA: Even rarer for anyone in a paranormal field.
NOA: Actually, I didn't even think that was... possible?
BELL: Well, March made it possible.
BELL: I guess their natural sixth sense is pretty good.
BELL: They use traditional methods to communicate, but of course most people can just talk to apparitions directly. I can help you out on that front since I can see and hear them just fine.
BELL: I almost thought that you were the same as March, honestly, 'cause you didn't mention our office friend at all.
NOA: I just didn't get a chance to... I didn't think it was that important.
BELL: Hahah. Guess not. It hasn't bothered anyone in the office, so we haven't bothered to get rid of it.
BELL: We get a lot of removal requests, but that doesn't mean every apparition has to go, y'know?
BELL: Ahhh, I'm rambling. Anyway, just wanted to fill you in. Looking forward to having ya.

Bell gave me a pat on the back as we said our goodbyes, and I headed home.

The next day was

Written: ??? Some time last year

Huh?

This is a story about ghosts.

The story begins with Wren Villanueva, Angelo Rizaro, and Mai Pham. Wren is interested in the supernatural and comes up with a device that allows people to see "ghosts". Angelo and Mai get involved with Wren's interests, and together they help Wren test her device. It takes many tries to get it working, but once it does, their lives are changed forever.

As a trio, they begin researching "ghosts," and form a paranormal investigation unit.

Over time, something goes terribly wrong.

During one investigation, Wren dies. This causes a rift. Angelo and Mai end up parting ways.

At this point, I'd like to ask you what you think.

Are ghosts are real?

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. I can't say for certain whether they're real or not

3. It's rather tricky to sway completely towards one side or the other, to deny or accept the existence of something that we may never be able to get concrete evidence of.

Or at least, get widely accepted without-a-doubt bulletproof evidence of.

That's how I think of it, anyway.

Let me rephrase the question.

Do you think it's possible to ever prove the existence of ghosts?

  • Yes/No again



NO ROUTE

If ghosts were real, then I'd be speaking to my dead uncle right about now, is what March Galang thinks.

Instead, March is just vaguely haunted by him. He comes in dreams and memories, some happy, some painful.

March strictly considers the things that suddenly appeared in the world to be apparitions, not "ghosts." The things that March deals with on a daily basis are fragments of people's emotions and thoughts, not people themselves. The distinction is important to March.

After a few events and growing pains, March has taken over their uncle's paranormal mediation agency, [INSERT AGENCY NAME].

It was a decade ago that apparitions became tangible to people, or at least the majority of people. March is within the minority who still can't see, hear, or feel them. But they're able to get by in their line of work.

In fact, business is, as they say, booming. This prompts March to start hiring people, as they had previously been running the agency alone.

The first hire is Noa Telego.


March is sleeping when Noa comes in for an interview. Noa spots an interesting book on the agency suite's coffee table and picks it up to take a peek, but it's so dusty that it makes them sneeze. This wakes March up.

The interview proceeds from there, and Noa gets the job.

March has work with a client the next day, and invites Noa to come along so that they get an idea of what work on the field is like. It just so happens that the next day is a Saturday, but Noa agrees anyway.

The schedule is set for 2PM tomorrow.


March shows Noa around the agency, although there isn't too much to look at. March briefs Noa on various job responsibilities, and then they head out to meet with the client.

The way this goes is that clients have some sort of trouble with apparitions, and they go to people like March for assistance.

[INSERT CLIENT NAME HERE] has been having those troubles.

March and Noa go into her apartment to look for clues on how to draw the apparition out. There are a few simple rules for doing this, and soon they're able to meet with the apparition. That is, Noa meets with it. March gets separated from them.

When March is able to find their way back to Noa, their first instinct is to exorcise the apparition, but Noa stops them.

Talking to the apparition makes Noa realize something, and they return from the encounter drained and visibly shaken.

March expects Noa to quit, but they turn up again two weeks later.


It's Wednesday, and at this point March has been able to hire another person: Shiloh Martins. It's been decided that Shiloh will deal with the agency's bookkeeping. (damn march u live like this)

Noa returns, but they look so different that March doesn't recognize them at first.

After Shiloh and Noa get acquainted, Noa and March leave to meet with another client. Shiloh stays behind to do some work.

The client this time around is [INSERT CLIENT2 NAME HERE], and they meet at a cafe.


It's a local cafe, situated at a place that's isolated enough to have a private meeting.

[INSERT CLIENT2 NAME HERE] explains the case.

March and Noa head from place to place to locate the apparition. They search at a park, a restaurant, a lake, and a mall.

Eventually, they find the apparition at an aquarium.

They also find a person.


Apparently, Chamber Farris has been chasing around the same apparition.

Information





General




Creating


Writing

Tips

Plot Structures

Examining Approaches to Writing

Games

About "Bibles"



Studies


I am unsure how to describe this category

Lacan

Semiotics

About Words and Communication and Identification of Things

Other Topics of Interest

Emergence



Spirits


Paranormal

Forums

Consciousness

Immortality

Inspiration





Things Other People Have Said


Quotes

I'm astounded whenever I finish something. Astounded and distressed. My perfectionist instinct should inhibit me from finishing: it should inhibit me from even beginning. But I get distracted and start doing something. What I achieve is not the product of an act of my will but of my will's surrender. I begin because I don't have the strength to think; I finish because I don't have the courage to quit. This book is my cowardice.

- Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Every time I write, I’m watching out not for the feeling that I have right after watching a movie, but the feeling I have one month later or one year later. What part does the audience still remember? What picture do they still remember? What feeling do they still remember? That is most important.

- Shunji Iwai, ADA interview

But in the end, stories are about one person saying to another: This is the way it feels to me. Can you understand what I’m saying? Does it feel this way to you?

- Kazuo Ishiguro, Nobel Lecture

A library is many things. It's a place to go, to get in out of the rain. It's a place to go if you want to sit and think. But particularly it is a place where books live, and where you can get in touch with other people, and other thoughts, through books. If you want to find out about something, the information is in the reference books—the dictionaries, the encyclopedias, the atlases. If you like to be told a story, the library is the place to go. Books hold most of the secrets of the world, most of the thoughts that men and women have had. And when you are reading a book, you and the author are alone together—just the two of you. A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people—people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.

- E.B. White, letter to the children of Troy (1971)

Brother, you were *were* a ghost. Up there, screaming--along with all of them. Scaring each other. Haunting each other.
It's the living who are ghosts. The dead are silent. They don't rattle windows or write letters in blood. The living do. Leave them behind. Rest.

- Ancient Reptilian Brain, Disco Elysium

Writings and Talking and People

Interviews and Things About Other Media

Etc



Media Influences


Music

Albums

Playlists (youtube)

Games and Game-adjacent things

  • Umineko WTC (Ryukishi07 works in general)
  • The House in Fata Morgana
  • 428: Shibuya Scramble
  • Ace Attorney
  • Zero Escape
  • We Know The Devil/Heaven Will Be Mine
  • Disco Elysium
  • NieR series
  • The World Ends With You
  • Portal 2
  • Danganronpa
  • Beginner's Guide
  • Journey
  • Yume Nikki
  • MS Paint Adventures (yes homestuck. but i want to include problem sleuth)
  • Deadly Premonition

Movies/TV

  • Knives Out
  • The Sixth Sense
  • Kunihiko Ikuhara works
  • iDOLISH7 (including mobile game story)
  • King of Prism by Pretty Rhythm
  • Natsume Yuujinchou
  • Aku no Hana (anime)