Life Made Out of Ashes

Musings on the audio-visual of NieR Automata, a video game.

I’m not a fan games with high-quality graphic. Playing Assassin’s Creed, for example, is exhausting even for a short while. Took me a while to realise that the feelings I get when I play AAA games is similar to how I feel when I’m outside, walking in a busy city with too many noises coming from all direction, too many people about, too many things to see. I can’t take in all these little things, yet my brain just kind of  force myself to take them in anyway? It’s tiring. And the same things happens when I play modern games.

So avoided AAA games on principle, and any game that boasts a huge world or detailed graphic. Games that populate their worlds with little intricate details might well make them more lively for some people, but they only drives me mad. I can appreciate them in a good screenshot, but I know I can’t play them in motion.

A week ago, on a ridiculous whim, I started playing NieR Automata.

Automata is an odd game, aesthetically. If you only look at its screenshots, it’s not very pleasing to look at. Washed out colours. Dull atmosphere. It’s set in an earth that’s long destroyed and abandoned. The environment is basically ash, dust, and rust. Even the plant life looks greyed out.

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I love it. Continue reading “Life Made Out of Ashes”

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A Game that Wrecks Itself

Drakengard is a pretty awful game. The gameplay is a boring mess hacked together, the music is an absolute cacophony, the story is told in so haphazard a manner. Basically, it’s a bloody mess.

Drakengard is such a fantastic game, if only because it is a bloody mess. The gameplay is a repetitive fight through waves of enemy, because the story is about someone fighting through waves of enemy, again and again and again. The music is a chaotic blend of orchestral pieces, because war is always so chaotic, so messy. It destroys whatever sense of calm orchestral music can have.

The story is a simple Rescue the Princess and One Against the Empire, if you look at it through a whole, but it twists it around. You’re not the hero. Caim, the main character, just want to kill everyone. You, the player, just want to get past this, get to the next scene, and see what happens next. The reward is never worth it. A short conversation. A fragmented lore haphazardly thrown about with no sense of narrative to tie them together.

It’s not a pleasant game to play. It’s not meant to be a pleasant game to play. It makes you feel awful, because it’s designed that way. Its levels are long and dragged on, because it’s meant to be long, meant to drag on and on. After a while killing people become so rote. What do you expect out of it? What do you think you’re doing? Saving the world?

Drakengard is such an awful game and yet it’s so good at what it does. I have no idea how it manages to spawn sequels, considering how narrow its target audience is. It’s a good thing that the other games touch on different things, I suppose. Different ways to make you uncomfortable. And you know what, I’m glad there are games that make uncomfortable in these ways.

On Morbidity and Madness

Mad ramblings about a visual novel.

Doki Doki Literature Club is a pleasant little visual novel made by the three-man-band Team Salvato. It’s about being in a literature club in school, where you hang out with cute girls and exchange poems with them. It’s very much a slice-of-life. Its romance elements don’t come out too forward, so it’s enjoyable even to those who aren’t into dating sims. I particularly like how it highlights the role of literature, and how it uses this theme to convey its characters.

It’s available for free, so I don’t see what’s stopping you from just trying it out. Even if visual novels aren’t your thing, it’s definitely worth checking out.

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Warning: This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed.

Continue reading “On Morbidity and Madness”

The Reclaimed

“Death is no excuse to stop working.”

I wrote this in two sittings for a four-days writing challenge from my college club.


The Reclaimed

 

Miriam was not particularly known for her kindness. She scowled often, she glared at all the kids who came by her house. She lived alone in a small house surrounded by camellias, and only her more observant neighbours knew that she had one child, a daughter, who visited her every other weekend. Miriam was old, older than most people would guess, but she looked much younger. Or would have, if she smiled, which was not a thing that she did. Every morning, Miriam would go outside to water her plants, and then she’d sit on her porch, either reading or weaving one of those intricate quilts people had seen decorating her windows. Continue reading “The Reclaimed”

Wearing My Name

I just found out that the protagonist of Inkle’s upcoming game, Heaven’s Vault, is named Aliya Elasra. It’s the first time I’ve seen a character with the same name as me in a western fiction, or any fiction really, and it made me smile.

My name is Aliya. You will not believe how odd and difficult that sentence sound to me. I’ve never been very comfortable with the name, and it took me a long time to accept that, yeah, that’s my name. My family called me by nicknames when I was a kid, and as a kid in a close-knitted family, I wasn’t in a habit of introducing myself. So the first time, the first memory I have of “owning” the name was in grade school, when we first get to introduce myself.

I didn’t know how. It felt weird to tell them the nickname my family used, so I just stick with the first word in my name. Aliya. It didn’t feel particularly mine. I just grabbed it off the full name I was taught was mine. So, okay. That’s what you call me, I guess.
Continue reading “Wearing My Name”

Introducing Plater, a static site generator

The Gist:

Want to generate a static site but don’t wanna read too much documentations? Know how to build a site from scratch but wants its header/footer/etc to be consistent? Wants to write your post in markdown, but publish them to html? If you say yes to all of this, then Plater is for you.

Plater is a simple static site generator made in Python 3. You can get it from its GitHub page. It’s not really beginner-friendly, but it’s effective for those who know basic Python and can already make website templates with Jinja2.

Basically, Plater does two things. One: it combines templates and contents (Markdown-formatted text files) into a html page. Two: it indexes some of those contents and create a html page that lists them. This way Plater can be used to generate still sites (promotional pages, documentations) or concurrently-updated sites (blogs and the likes). It doesn’t make assumption on what it contains; you get to decide that.

If you use it for whatever reason, do tell me how it goes! I’m always glad to know if the stuffs I made are helping people. Continue reading “Introducing Plater, a static site generator”

I’ve always believed that even the least interesting plots can become great stories. It all depends on the execution. A good plot can be bad if it’s badly written or paired with shoddy acting/cinematography/artworks/characterization/gameplay/whathaveyou. On the other hand, even bad boring holey plots can be a great piece of art provided it’s presented the right way (see also my rambles on The Lion’s Song).

I write stories. That’s a bit of an exaggeration considering I haven’t finished any stories in ages. Plots are always my weakness. I can make the elements; I think I’m reasonably well at writing scenes and building worlds and creating characters, but I can’t really do anything with them that’s interesting. I can’t plan ahead when I’m writing, so it’s always just, start with an interesting premise and see where it goes. Most of the time it never really gets anywhere, which is kind of frustrating.

I recently watched the film Assassin’s Creed, finally. I’ve been a fan of the video game series for a while, but couldn’t manage to watch it when the film first came out. It was a massive disappointment. It was boring. It tries too hard at being mysterious. It’s too bland, too greyed out. The characters are empty voids they haplessly tries to put one-liners on. The scenes that were set in the Spanish Inquisition were so colourless, such a letdown after the historical spectacles in the games.

Good plots can be terrible films if they’re handed badly, and looking at its story beats, the story could have been a good one. Not something groundbreaking, but decent, more decent than the soulless flick we have.

So, as a fun side project, I’m trying to write an adaptation of the film. It follows the same plot. Not even “roughly the same plot”, but the same plot. The scenes play out differently, but it still follows the same beats. I was going to note down what lessons I’ve learned from it, but I’ve forgotten most of it while rambling here. Dang it, me.

One thing, though: writing this has been much easier than my latest attempts at writing a story. Sure, I still too often get distracted by Twitter and wiki-walking. But it’s good to have a sense of direction, to look at what I’ve written and knowing exactly what goes next and what will happen after that and after that, all the way to the end.

So, yeah, I guess. If you have a writer’s block like I do, it’ll be much easier to at least know what will be behind the wall. I’ve so often tried to overcome that block by writing around it, or in other words by, frankly, meandering. It doesn’t go anywhere, it just gives me a headache.

So. Plan ahead, I suppose. Can’t make a story with just a bunch of interesting characters in an interesting world with interesting tools if you don’t know what to do with them. I haven’t really figured it out myself, but I hope I will.

 

“I didn’t know it at the time, but I was looking for the name of the wind”

Review of The Name of the Wind, a novel by Patrick Rothfuss.

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This heck of an excellent cover is for the 10th anniversary edition

Here’s a nice word in Indonesian that I haven’t found an equivalence in English: roman. The dictionary lists it as simply a story that “paints its characters’ action in context of their personality and inner thoughts”, but insofar as I understand it, as a literary term, a roman in Indonesia is a fictional story that focus on the entire life of a single person, preferably from their birth to their death. Roman are usually lengthy novels, often consisting of multiple volumes, with multiple arcs and subplots. It’s a bit like a memoir, but definitely fictional. A bit like an epic, but it focus more on life and much less on heroics. A bit like, perhaps, a massive elaboration to the backstory of a character.

While I was thinking on what kind of story The Name of the Wind would be called, roman is the only the word I found that perfectly describes it. It’s high fantasy with a very well thought-out lore, sure, but the focus of the story has always been on the life of its main character, Kvothe. Continue reading ““I didn’t know it at the time, but I was looking for the name of the wind””

Sang Perapian dan Sang Salamander

Yo English-speakers. I wrote plenty about this in another post.

Ini terjemahan bahasa Indonesia untuk adegan pembuka novel Fahrenheit 451 karya Ray Bradbury, karena aku nggak ada kerjaan, masih kesel sama kualitas novel terjemahan, dan mungkin masokis (nerjemahin Bradbury itu hard mode, ok). Terjemahannya bukan kata-per-kata, dan diusahakan enak dibaca.

Kritik, saran, komentar boleh nih. Kalau ada yang punya terjemahan versi lain buat Fahrenheit 451 boleh tuh dibandingin.


Sang Perapian dan Sang Salamander

Sangatlah nikmat membakar. Continue reading “Sang Perapian dan Sang Salamander”

The Furnace and the Newt

Preface for another post which contains an Indonesian translation of the first parts of Fahrenheit 415, which ends up being a bit longer than I expected. Figured I’ll just keep them separate:

When you’re reading or listening to a language you’re fluent in, you’re not really paying attention to every word, do you? You never process them word by word, oh this is the subject, this is the verb, and it’s a past tense, and this is the object that verb is done to, no. You kind of take the entire thing at once and process it whole. A girl is walking her dog, and you imagine a girl with a dog on the leash, maybe in a park or on a pavement outside. A girl is walking with her dog beside her, and you’ll imagine roughly the same scene, but perhaps minus the leash, or maybe the leash isn’t as important.

Sorry, I’m woolgathering (aha, woolgathering! Your mind might jump straight to its idiomatic meaning: to indulge in aimless thought, or it might dawdle a bit in the image of wool and sheep). My point is that when you’re reading or listening, the message you receives might not be exactly as the sentence goes word-for-word. Your mind takes shortcuts, expands abstractions, and these blazing-fast processes are often different between culture, not to mention language. Continue reading “The Furnace and the Newt”