Sunday, November 11, 2012

Silent Heroes

Pandora station: Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori. I'll miss 'em.
Now playing: In Amber Clad from the Halo 2 soundtrack.

It was Spirit Week and the elections last week, and while the latter was very important, I already spent most of my twitters on Tuesday freaking out and retweeting everyone who was speaking my thoughts and having panic attacks along with me.

(Curses, Florida!)

And I'll show the pictures for Spirit Week later, because right now, I'd rather muse about something else. (And that was technically not as awesome as this game).

The only thing making falling behind NaNoWriMo and freaking out about school bearable is Halo 4.

It's bloody awesome.

So there's this thing about Halo that I'm not allowed to say because I--like a lot of teenagers--am trying to be an educated lady who appreciates the arts without indulging in the mainstream's shallow preferences and views of popular franchises.

But I have always been a Halo fan. I like/love/adore it more than any other video game series out there--more than freaking Mass Effect or Bioshock or Assassin's Creed, and those were the series that convinced me I wanted to be a video game writer.

What Halo did was something much different. See, when I was six years old I was convinced science fiction was just a thing that the most awesome of the elite did. The level of research and creativity needed for it were just pillars I was never going to try to escalate, so better leave that sort of thing to the professionals.

Halo, however, has always felt like a modern day epic. And I know I'll hear blabber about how it's overrated and it's just a cash cow franchise for the mindless drones that populate the video game community. But nope. While I will certainly admit that there's a lot of crappy stuff that gets popular because it's crappy, franchises like the Halo games thrive because they can appeal to both the everyday, I-don't-really-care-'bout-character-development gamers and the ones who are constantly amazed and awed at the story line and characters as much as they area amazed at the gameplay.

I guess there's no need to point out in which category I fall under.

I think Halo was the one thing that tipped me into believing science fiction was the superior of all genres, and something I should definitely try. I know many will disagree, but there's so much wonder, possibility, reflections of the world and humanity, and so much room for epics like these within that genre. I'm sure it's not the only thing I will work on when I'm older, but I hope when I pass away I will have left some (please, high quality! >.<) science fiction novels behind.

I was worried about 343 and Halo 4. All things need to reach an end, and the way Halo 3 ended seemed to wrap everything up nicely (if a bit... ambiguously), but this game has not disappointed. I'll probably write a full review later on.

However, as always, after spending some time with the Chief and Cortana, I've found the little tweaks given to these two have been...bothering me. Just a little bit, though! Not enough to spoil the game, and not enough to make me dislike them. I still love them.

First, about the Master Chief...

Silent Heroes: There's always been this criticism about the Halo series that I never understood--and it goes hand in hand with the way in which people interpret characters like the Master Chief, Isaac Clarke (from the first game, at least), Gordon Freeman, etc.

I'd like to point out that I love Master Chief for the exact same reasons people dislike him and for completely different reasons that people like him. That doesn't make any sense yet, but bear with me.

I like faceless, nameless, silent characters. Sometimes the three of those put together don't work well, and indeed, John isn't really those three things all in one. He has a name and a title--albeit the former is just sort of used by those close to him--and he does speak every now and then. I've noticed lately, however, that in the 4th game, he's been given a lot more dialogue. And I really don't think that was needed. Just like I don't think it's ever needed to show his face.

I'm referring to Wikipedia for this"Some have described the Chief's silent and faceless nature as a weakness of the character, while other publications suggested these attributes better allows players to assume his role." so silly. On both aspects! Why would i even care about assuming the role of Master Chief? It is a video game, but I am not him, and he is not me! I guide him and I help him, but I am not the one battling hordes of covenant and flood enemies, or constantly leaping out of things and just flying through space until I crash-land over a planet or a spaceship like a brick.

In an interview with IGN, the Halo 3 lead writer, Frank O'Conner said, "He's also so quiet and so invisible, literally, that the player gets to pretend they're the chief. The player gets to inhabit those shoes - men and women can apply their own personality. In a way, that makes it very easy for the writer; they don't have to define the Chief's personality."

I also disagree with that statement (even though everything else he says in that interview I happen to agree with).

I never saw Master Chief's silent and faceless nature as some sort of weakness or a way for me to wiggle into his shoes and pretend he's me and I'm him. I always saw his silence as a statement for the character, as a reflection of just what type of man he is. You don't need dialogue to establish who the Master Chief is, you can get that through the little one liners he gives, the off-hand jokes he resorts to in the face of danger, the way in which he moves with confidence while never side tracking with bullshit, and in his relationships and interactions with the Arbiter, Cortana, and pretty much everyone else who has ever served with him or battled against him. I like that even though he speaks more often in the game, he hasn't really changed that much, it's just more of what we used to get in the previous games. However, I still don't think it was necessary.

Hearing him talk in this game is a little odd, especially when he goes on in long sentence. Actually, they're pretty much normal length, but they certainly feel long coming from the Chief. While you could make the argument total silence may ruin a little bit of the character (which is why I understand why they eventually supplied Isaac with a voice on the second Dead Space), there was a sense of who he was in the few words he spoke combined with his actions, his manner of acting, and his relationship to other characters.

That was most likely something else from him that translated into me as an artist. I ended up scrapping Anne's story--especially when poor Luna crashed for a second time and I ended up losing all the files--but I think after I'm done editing Enkindled With Chains, and after I finish Ataraxia, I'll work on Anne and Jane's tale, and though Anne is just a fourteen year old girl thrown into so much danger, she's lived in her streets all her life, angry, but closed away from the rest. She'll be of the opinion that babbling on about what to do will serve no purpose, for no one will hear her, and so she'll act without excuses.

(I mean, it'll have to be a YA in first person, since making semi-silent protagonists in third person may turn to be a little difficult for me, but screw it, I'll try anyways).

I guess I'll have to see just where they take Master Chief and how they develop him. I suppose if it does turn out that he's grown as a person for the better, I'll be willing to forgive this little tweak.

But one thing's for sure: they better never show his full face.

P.S: I'll talk about Cortana's side in another post. This one's getting kind of lengthy.

Friday, November 2, 2012

DarcyDay Survival and Reflection

So yesterday was November 1st.

The priority deadlines for University of Miami (which I purposely missed), University of Florida (which I barely managed), and many others (which I apparently forgot about).

The first day of NaNoWriMo.

The first time my parents let me stay home from school to work on essays and applications rather than because I was sick--because wow they really trust me.

But most important of all.

It was Darcy Day.
At around this exact point, my heart exploded.
Warning: This post gets kind of really girly.

I'll be the first to admit I was a little doubtful about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I adore Pride and Prejudice, I always have since I read the book and saw the 2005 film when I was twelve years old. While I'm glad Austen has continued to be remembered throughout all these years, I do get ticked off at certain "modernization" of Pride and Prejudice, which, are never truly modernization  They sort of just borrow plot elements and then stick them in high school settings. Not to mention there's a good handful of adaptations from the original work, and tributes to the story, so I wasn't too keen on seeing another one that was done so badly.

The creator of the show, Bernie Su, more or less admits that the first 8-10 episodes are not very good, while I'm of the opinion they didn't really hit the right note until right before the Netherfield arc. So far, though, I've loved how it's progress and adapted, while not being the exact adaption but keeping the spirit of the original work intact. I, like many fans, was flipping out since Monday about the eventual awesomeness that was Darcy Day, which, after months and months of not seeing him, we were finally revealed the illustrious man himself. I keep playing and replaying the episode, simply because, though it starts off a little weird, it grows to a point where I was throwing full fangirl worthy fits of screams and squeals. I'm not even one to care if the quality of the video is about 360p, but for this one, you better believe the only reason I picked 720p instead of 1080p is because my connection and computer would not manage the super HD.

So about a week or two ago, I had to cut ties with someone. Break-up. I don't want to give off too many details, but it was sort of something that made me wonder about all my future relationships.

And of course then Darcy Day hit and it was like the world's most coincidental week(s).

Mr. Darcy is a well known character, as well known as Romeo in terms of Romantic Leading Men, and for some reason, women seem to fall head over heels for him even when he's a total jerk in the first half of the novel. I was just as excited to see Darcy for the first time as all the other fangirls of LBD, but it was mostly because I know that him and Lizzie are both incredibly flawed characters with their own issues to deal with, mistakes to repent for, and much self-reflection to be done.

Whenever I reread Pride and Prejudice or watch any of its adaptions, I tend to be more forgiving of Mr. Darcy, simply because I know he will change and will do everything to help Lizzie because of his love for her. But that doesn't mean I pretend he was ever the perfect man, nor am I ever shocked or angry that Elizabeth could reject him in such a way or be so critical of him. He was not a good and honest man and definitely not worthy of Elizabeth's hand in marriage or (especially) her love. I've seen people who analyze the current episode and also other adaptations, and they seem to imagine Elizabeth feels some sort of attraction or hidden like for Darcy despite her blatant anger toward him, but I am almost certain Austen was convinced that such an notion was ridiculous. Love could have never developed from the current relationship. Even though Elizabeth and Darcy are always very much alike, they would not have lasted had the two of them not changed and learned more about one another and themselves.

It must be for the same reason people mistake Romeo and Juliet as a perfect romance--it really isn't, and I feel like maybe the authors of both these classic works understood that, even if certain people of today don't.

I like to think that even if I haven't been in love or if I've been in really crappy-not-even-worth-it-love, the one that matters springs from Lizzie and Darcy's type of relationship. The type where you are forced to grow and reevaluate yourself and your situation, morals, motives, anything. The best things in life makes us better people, so maybe the same applies for love as well.

Of course, I'm not saying we should change because of a person or that we should force someone to change because of us, but everyone has flaws whether we want to admit it or not, and our friendships and romances and etc's should shape us into better people, one way or another, and it should be because we want to, because those relationships and those people matter more than anything else in the world.

I guess I'm just really looking forward to something so meaningful that I may be so naively idolizing now.

Within this month, I have to write such a complicated relationship like the sisterhood of Sonya and Katya that Austen's writing is really influencing me. Her character's relationships and interactions are always intriguing, to say the least.

So off you go!

P.S: I never thought I'd say this, but I am SO HAPPY BOWTIES ARE MAKING A COME BACK :D
"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.