Lucien Maverick’s “No Apologies”

There are days when I wish that I was a visual artist.  I tried my hand at it once, but never was very good.  But then I remembered – I have the written word.  And that most certainly is a form of art.  Now, I never profess to being a perfect writer.  Far from it.  I know that I am flawed, abuse the living shit out of commas and have a lot to learn.  But this is the medium I know best, and it is the medium that I am going to use for this post.

See, my college has an art project going on called “No Apologies.”  It is supposed to be a positive reflection on yourself, and what you stand for.  I can dig that.  So, I thought that I would put my own version of this idea up.  But therein lies the problem – I’m not an artist in the traditional sense.  So, instead of making an art project, I decided instead to tell you what I would design, using the power of words.

I had a friend who was an amazing artist.  Something tells me that she is going to be doing her own project for this.  She did one for the last big to-do art deal here at the college.  But she can’t help me.  She hates me now.  Why?  Well, that’s something I may never find out.  Anyway, she showed me what could be done with charcoal, and for a project like this, I would either use charcoal or oil painting.

I would have my project be something involving me being half in shadow and half in light.  That’s how I exist, most of the time.  I live in a world of light, but I am never completely in it.  Nobody ever truly sees all of me.  Since I have been so routinely rejected for who I am, I just learned to keep certain parts of me in darkness.  I would also have the part in shadow outlined a bit.  It would have a big and dark smile.  This is another part of myself.

See, I have a split-personality.  It is of my own making.  I was in a coma for a month when I was 14.  I cannot begin to tell you how slowly time passed in that place.  It was a never-ending Hell.  In that darkness, I was afraid and alone, all the time.  Being an incredibly smart kid, I decided to do something drastic, so I wasn’t so alone.  I tore my subconscious in half, making part of me the intellectual side, and the me that is writing right now as the creative side.  I knew that if it was just an imaginary friend, the illusion wouldn’t work.  I would learn what this person would say.  So it had to be a completely different entity, but somebody that I could be familiar with.  Thus, the me that exists now, Lucien, was born.  My given name and me are two different people, with very different desires and personalities.  The aforementioned friend is one of the few people who knew both of us on a very personal level.

But yeah, he would be smiling, because Eli was always better at being happy.  It is what everyone says he was like.  I’ll take them at his word.  Plus, we both are a little screwed-up, so that smile would reflect some inner madness.  Don’t worry, I am not some dangerous nutjob.  I just have some quirks.

The picture would be set in a grayscale room.  But there would be something far to one Part of how I see myselfside or the other – a window.  Outside, there would be a small bit of a beautiful world.  A world that I want to experience and live in.  But this darkness is where I am more comfortable.  I am not ashamed of that.  Part of the premise of “No Apologies.”  I would be dressed in an old-school suit, like Humphrey Bogart in one of his old noir films.  And there would be a very regal-looking collar around my neck, because I am kind of into the S&M scene.

So, you are probably wondering – where does the “No Apologies” thing come in?  That doesn’t seem like I am making a statement.  Well, it comes from the fact that I am not apologizing for who I am.  Who I am is strange.  Who I am is kind of messed up.  Who I am doesn’t make any fucking sense, to either of us.  Who I am is different, in a way that will never mesh with what society expects of us.  And I am not apologizing for that.  I kind of like this guy that we have become.  I am proud of who I am, and what I am doing.  I may not have a clear direction on where I want my life to go, but that’s alright.  So long as I am moving forward, that’s all that matters.

And that is what I want for my project.  I hope you understand.

Until next time, a quote,

“I am who I am. I don’t ever want to change for you or anyone else. I’m not perfect. I run into things. I trip. I spill food. I fail sometimes. I say stupid things. But that’s just me. If I want to change, I’ll change for myself and not for you or anyone else.”  – Unknown

Peace out,

Maverick

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Dammit, Square Enix…

The PS4 has been unveiled.  Since I am not the most wealthy of gamers, I am going to be saving my money.  All the games that I want for this year are on the current generation of consoles.  It may be lesser visuals, but it’s gameplay that matters to me.  But you know something that I didn’t see at the unveiling of the PS4?  The two things that could have actually tantalized me to buy this console – Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy Versus XIII.

Kingdom Hearts IIFirst, Kingdom Hearts III.  It’s been over 8 years since the release of Kingdom Hearts II.  This series tapped into something that its increasingly-impatient fanbase loves – Final Fantasy and Disney.  Who doesn’t want to see Disney characters and their worlds come to life?  Who doesn’t want to explore these world and see it from a new perspective?  It has been the childhood dream of every single person I know.  Then you add Final Fantasy characters in there, and voila!  You have the perfect recipe for an awesome game.  The first game was amazing.  It had every single person who saw past the weird premise, hook, line and sinker.  The second game had some definite hiccup moments, like that world based around the Pirates of the Caribbean films.  But that aside, it was still awesome.

The fan base saw the secret ending of II, and we were all practically screaming for the next game.  And there are SO many possibilities!  You can have Pixar-worlds!  Oh my god, the thought of that alone should make everybody just giddy with excitement.  And it did.  After all, Disney owns most of the rights to many of the Pixar films.  It would seem to be a no-brainer.  A Toy Story world, a Ratatouille world, an Incredibles world!  So many great ideas!  But…nothing happened.  They gave us a TON of forced sequels.  Some of them, like Birth by Sleep, were awesome.  But the bulk of them were just cash-ins, to keep the fanbase form losing interest.  But it isn’t working.  The fanbase for this franchise is growing smaller and smaller by the day.  Now, 8 years later, I am hearing almost nothing being said about it, except by the series’ absolutely die-hard fans.

You have the unveiling of the PS4, and what do we see?  Nothing.  We see nothing of Kingdom Hearts III.

Final Fantasy Versus XIIINext up, there is Final Fantasy Versus XIII.  The moment that me and the friends I was hanging out with at the time saw the first trailer, every single one of us stopped dead in our tracks.  We were captivated.  The look, the style, the tone.  This was the Final Fantasy game that all of us were hoping for!  That was seven years ago.  Now, seven years later, I can’t think of a single fan of the Final Fantasy franchise who isn’t asking – “where the fuck is this game?!”

At the PS4 unveiling, Square Enix showed off the tech demo they had from E3, Agni’s Philosophy.  Now don’t get me wrong, this is a slick demo, and looks pretty damn cool.  But here is my problem, and why I am going on this tangential bitching rant – what the fuck, Square Enix?!  This was the single greatest time that you could have possibly chosen to showcase both of these games!  Or at least given us something!  It’s been a long ass time since you released a new trailer for Versus XIII, and there hasn’t been anything released about Kingdom Hearts III for 8 years.  If you were going to pick a time to show this stuff, this was it.  For real, this was the time.  This was the single best time that you could have possibly chosen.  Why the fuck didn’t you do the smartest thing you could have done?

Square Enix needs help.  I am actually wondering if Versus XIII even exists anymore.  Because if they are going to waste a time like this, when they could have shined the most, then they clearly don’t seem to care about this franchise.  What’s more, they don’t seem to care about making money!  They should have had a remake of Final Fantasy VII and VIII by now.  Or at least been in the works, and putting some of their marketing muscle into promoting them.  Does anyone remember the video that Square Enix put out at the PS3 launch?  It was the opening of Final Fantasy VII, with the updated graphics.  Here’s a link.  The moment that everyone saw this, we were certain that a remake of VII was well in the works.  But when pressed, Square Enix said that a remake of VII wouldn’t the smartest idea.  What?!  That’s so dumb!  We should be seeing this!  Instead, we have yet-another cash-grab on the broken XIII franchise.  And Kingdom Hearts is being kept alive by sort-of sequels and a pretty damn cool prequel (Birth by Sleep).  But both of these franchises are on life support.

Square Enix, I don’t want you to fail.  I am going to be buying your Tomb Raider reboot, because it looks slick.  I want to see these two games come to light, and the fact that you haven’t taken advantage of the absolute best opportunity you have to make fantasy buff come running to a new console just boggles the mind.  For real, for poor gamers like me, this is a carrot that you could dangle that would get our attention.  As it stands, I am going to be ignoring the PS4 until the price goes down a bit.  You have failed, Square Enix, and that is so completely depressing.

Until next time, a quote,

“This is a fantasy based on reality.”  -Unknown

Peace out,

Maverick

What is it All For?

I have been asking myself that question with increasing regularity, ever since Christmas break.  What is it all for?  What have I been doing this whole time?  Was it all just a waste?  Was I wasting my time?  And why can’t I move on?  So many questions, no answers.

Feeling BlueSomething that I haven’t told much of anybody, but I figured that I would tell you, my faceless audience.  The night my fiancee died, she told me that she hates me.  Our relationship had hit a major snag.  It was a lie that I told her, but it wasn’t that big, in the grand scheme of things.  It just triggered a cascade effect, and everything was going to shit.  She was going to break up with me.  I am certain of it.  She was going to leave me, and I would be one of the guys who has to return a wedding ring.  As it stands, I threw the fucking thing into a storm drain.  Let nature have its precious metal back.  A silver lining to the car wreck that took the life of the woman I loved most?  No.  Just another reminder.

But she said that she hates me.  Those words, to this day, have stuck with me.  I did something once, back in high school.  There was a girl I wanted.  I wanted her so much, that when I found out that she has a boyfriend, I did everything I could to manipulate both of them into hating each other.  All the skill I have of manipulating people came to the front as I ruined their respective lives.  I wanted her, and I would have her, no matter the cost.  And, low and behold, it worked!  I found the tiniest cracks in their relationship, and used them to drive the two apart to a point that both of them were so miserable that they had one last bout of sex, and unknown to me, she got pregnant.  The girl was so broken, and she looked to me to be there.  But, a new woman came into my life, and she had suddenly opened up to me, wanting me to be with her.  She would later become my fiancee.  The girl, who I had manipulated and used, was broken by this.  She fled the state, and will likely never return.  I saw the damage that my cold-blooded use of another person had done, the carnage I left in my wake, with both her and her ex-boyfriend, who has no idea that he is a father, and I felt my self-respect die.

I made a promise, that day.  I promised that I would never, ever use somebody like that ever again.  I would fly right, and do the right thing.  And every single day, I have kept to that.  I have done everything that I possibly could to make up for it.  Even if this girl would never know.  I would try and help every single person who I brought into my inner circle.  And people in general, of course, in whatever small way I could.  I would open doors.  Every single day, I have gone out of my way to be as nice as I possible can, to the people who mean something to me.  I kept thinking to myself – if I am a good person, and loyal to those who have earned my friendship, then somehow, it will all be alright.

FlowerBut that’s not what’s happened.  Instead, I am used, thrown away, unwanted and often hated by the people I try and help.  Why?  What is it about me that just ruins my life so fucking much?  I am being a good guy!  I am doing right and trying to help people!  Sure, I make mistakes.  That’s life.  But at the end of the day, I am still trying, god-dammit!  But that’s not enough, is it?  Because what is my reward for all my effort?  What do I get in return for how hard I try?  NOTHING!  I get hated by people.  I get hated by people who I am trying to just be kind to.  I have no ulterior motive.  I admit, I am attracted to one of them, but that is secondary, in the highest degree, to my friendship.  My friendship with a person will always come first.  But it doesn’t matter.  Nothing I did matters.

I feel so alone here.  So few want me in their lives anymore.  Seems like everybody has moved on from me, and I am stuck here, in this place.  I want to leave, but where would I go?  I am alone here, in this room.  I count the days of my life by how many unfamiliar ceilings that I come across.

So, here I am, listening to “Blade Runner Blues.”  I’m sure that I don’t need to tell you what that’s from.  It’s an awesome tune.  Otherworldly, but still familiar at the same time.  I want to just cry, but I have no tears left.  I promised myself that I wouldn’t manipulate people.  I promised myself that I would try and help.  But that same sadistic monster that I listened to and chose to follow back then is back.  And it is hungry.  It wants to feed itself, and I know that I could feed it again.  But once I do, where does that get me?  No-fucking-where, that’s where.

It hurts, to not be wanted by anybody.  I am getting in better and better shape, but nobody wants me.  I walk through life like a corpse.  My faulty heart is beating away, counting the seconds until it beats no more.  I won’t miss it.  I will just…fade away.

Another thing my late fiancee told me, was that she wishes she had never met me.  Part of me is scared that every single person who I try and be a good friend to, and who I try to do right by will feel the same way.  It has happened several times already.

What was it all for?  In the end, I don’t have an answer for that.

Do you?

Until next time, a quote,

“I’m losing hope and fading dreams and every single memory along the way.”  -Anonymous

Peace out,

Maverick

Russian Asteroid Impact = How is Your Space Program Doing?

One of the areas that I am horribly mean-spirited about my government is how we have treated NASA.  I may call myself a liberal, to a point, but I didn’t hear many liberals decrying the absolute raping of NASA’s budget, in support of tax cuts for the rich and to continue America’s war machine in the Middle East.  And now we are starting to have our war machine surround China.  A fact that I am sure that the Chinese are aware of.  It’s like this government forgot that in one fell swoop, China could completely destroy America’s economy.  It’s like we have forgotten that China pretty much owns us.  Meanwhile, America is still falling behind the rest of the world in almost every single area, and now, we have gotten a rather gruesome reminder of why our falling behind in our space program is so completely fucking stupid.

Russian MeteorFor the 1 person who doesn’t know, there was a meteor impact in Russia.  It did massive amounts of property damage, and injured over 1,000 people.  This was a terrible incident, but as bad as it is, this should have been a wake-up call to this country.  It should have been a wake-up call to the entire world.

There is a reason far-beyond cost and benefit that this world needs a space program.  I don’t know how many of you are aware of how many asteroids have hit this planet.  Over the 4.5 billion years of this planet’s existence, it was created and formed by asteroids.  There was an asteroid that ended the millions of years of reign of the dinosaurs.  Meteors too many to count are hitting this planet every single day.  What happened in Russia is terrible, but it is something that is guaranteed to happen again.  Yet, despite all the news coverage, and how horrible an event this is, do you know how many people I hear in our government demanding a better space program?  None.  Not one.

Not one of the incompetent pseudo-celebrity jackasses that we have voted to lead this nation will say the smart thing.  Though I suppose that I probably shouldn’t be surprised.  They can’t get the brain-dead simple stuff like universal health care or legalizing pot (at the very least) right.  How should we expect them to get the unbelievably complicated stuff like guaranteeing a future to our species right.  You hear me.  Our government is too fucking stupid to actually do something that would give the human race a guarantee of a future right.  That reality should make all of you want to cry.

Another impact could be a week or a few years away.  We may not guarantee that future in time.  We may only get a couple more shuttles up into space.  But dammit, I ask you this – when we have a military industrial complex that is more of an anchor around our neck, and the last wars in the Middle East having cost more money, by leaps and bounds, than the entire running time of NASA, what the fuck are we doing by doing nothing?!

Neil DeGrasse Tyson made this amazing statement about the budget of NASA –

I’m tired of saying this, but I’ll say it again – the NASA budget is 4/10 of one penny on a tax dollar.  If I held up the tax dollar, and I cut horizontally into it, 4/10 of 1% of its width, it doesn’t even get you into the ink.  So I will not accept a statement that says, ‘we can’t afford it’!

As an addendum to that, he also had this to say –

If you double NASA’s budget, right now now it’s a half a penny on the dollar, make it a penny.  Go ahead, make it a penny, go ahead.  Be bold.  That would be enough to go to Mars, soon, with people.  And back to the moon.  And on to asteroids.

You hear that?  A penny on the tax dollar, and we can do this.  What about a dime?  Or maybe two dimes?  What then?  Imagine what we could be capable, if we gave that to NASA.

We need to start seriously thinking about our future, people.  We need to start seriously thinking about where this country is headed.  We need to start thinking about where our species is headed.  This asteroid should have been a wake-up call.  Our complacency as a species needs to end, or there will come a point where we are so busy playing with our phones and yelling at TV that we don’t notice a far bigger, far more destructive force coming to this planet.  One that we cannot hope to destroy.  One that we cannot survive.  One that ruins this planet for us.  Not like the petty things that my very PC liberal compatriots think will destroy it, like too much exhaust or throwing away plastic bags.  Earth will survive that.  Life will survive that.  But our species doesn’t have another asteroid impact in it.  The dinosaurs didn’t survive that, and neither will we.

We should be on Mars by now.  We should have a stable space colony or two.  We should have plans in the works for an orbital elevator.  For my PC liberal friends, we should be thinking about how to harness space for solar energy purposes.  We should have wrangled us an asteroid or two, for mining operations.  So many things that should be done, and how many of them are being done?  Oh, right, none.

I think I will close this post out by a speech from a famous hero of mine, Edward R. Murrow.

Until next time, a speech,

“This might just do nobody any good.  At the end of this discourse, a few people might just accuse this reporter of fouling his own comfortable nest.  And your organization might be accused of giving hospitality to heretical and even dangerous ideas.  But the elaborate structure of networks, advertising agencies and sponsors will not be shaken or faltered.  It is my desire if not my duty to try to talk to you journeymen with some candor about what is happening in radio and television, and if what I say is responsible, I alone am responsible for the saying of it. Our history will be what we make of it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred year from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes of one week of all three networks, they will there find, recorded in black and white and in color, evidence of decadence, escapism, and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. We are are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable, and complacent. We have a built in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information; our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses, and recognize that television, in the main, is being use to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture, too late.

I began by saying that our history will be what we make of it.  If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge and retribution will not limp in catching up with us.  Just once in a while, let us exalt the importance of ideas and information.  Let us dream to the extent of saying that on a given Sunday night, a time normally occupied by Ed Sullivan is given over to a clinical survey on the state of American education.  And a week or two later, a time normally used by Steven Allan, is devoted to a current going study of American policy in the Middle East.  Would the corporate image of their respective sponsors be damaged?  Would the share-holders rise up in their wrath and complain?  Would anything happen, other than a few million people would receive a little illumination on subjects that may determine the future of this country, and therefore the future of the corporations?

To those who say people wouldn’t look; they wouldn’t be interested; they’re too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter’s opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. Good night, and good luck.”  -Edward R. Murrow

Peace out,

Maverick

I Would Make a Good Noir Protagonist

I don’t know how many of my readers are well-versed in classic Noir films.  I’m not talking about the modern interpretation, like L.A. Confidential, or the dystopian Noir film Blade Runner, though don’t get me wrong – they are both incredibly awesome movies.  In fact, Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies of all time.  But these are not the origin of Noir in films.  To really get a sense of what Noir is all about, one must look back quite a bit further.

Humphrey BogartLike how about a generation?  All of us were captivated when we saw Humphrey Bogart on the screen in Casablanca.  I tend to think that along with being one of the few good romance movies, it also got a lot of its perspective from noir style.  But films like In a Lonely Place or Knock on Any Door were clearly noir.  And the character for both was much the same.

So what does it take to be a noir protagonist?  Well, several things.  First, you need a trench coat, a fedora, and a really nice suit.  Next, you need to be totally oblivious to the health risks of heavy smoking.  But those are just descriptions of appearance.  We’re not taking the Red Letter Media challenge here.  Instead, let’s focus on character.  The protagonist must be a private eye, or something to that effect.  They have probably been a cop, but were fired because of some kind of insubordination.  They must be something of a loner, enjoying people’s company when it suits them, but being fine all on their own.

When it comes to their personal views, they must be cynical on the outside, but have some very rigid principals on the inside.  They are usually something of a libertine, but they keep it classy.  They are often rather magnetic.  People want to like them, but their cold position and rather off-putting sense of intensity can make it difficult to do so.  Their values are not at all informed by religion or society, but the values they have are very stringent all the same.  They have very little respect for authority, and actively rebel against it wherever possible.  While they have rejected the current views on the world, they have avoided becoming nihilists because of the strict code that they have internally.  They will often do bad things, but always for a greater good.  They believe the ends justify the means, so long as the ends demand some very harsh things to be done.  Something of an anti-hero, in that regard.

There are days where I think about my life.  Days when I think about how I am.  And, looking at this archetype, if my life were a story, I would do rather well in this role.  Like a noir protagonist, I am VERY cynical on the outside.  I actively criticize what I see as society’s massive failings (and since I am so unbelievably smart, of course, I am right about it. 😛 ), along with people’s personal failings.  I got into a debate last night with a coworker who believes that friend-zoning nice guys is perfectly fine, because dating them would be “like dating my brother.”  Unless you grew up with that person, you’re wrong.  And I was a little more harsh than I maybe should have been to her, and to other women who have that view.  I said (and I do believe this, by the way) that women who choose to shun nice guys to the side, and then cry to those guys about how there are not more nice guys like them, then they have nobody to blame but themselves for their unhappiness, for not giving these guys a chance.  It seems almost cruel, to me.  So yeah, my cynicism is something I wear like a badge.  But the girl I was arguing with tells me that she doesn’t think that I am the cynic I make myself out to be, but rather a person who cares more than I let on.  Wanna know something – she’s right.

Underneath my rampant cynicism, on the inside, I do have a very strict code, and it isn’t informed by any societal norms or religion. The views I have are ones that I came to organically, and after really looking at the world around us.  Having been such a tossed-aside romantic once (though my inner romantic is dying quickly), my harsh attitude toward women who cry about there not being enough nice guys is understandable.  These women want to feel like they are victims, and the only victim they are is of themselves.  I also have very strong views on what is truly criminal and what isn’t.

To that end, I am also a person who believes in the ends before the means, provided that the ends are good.  If a friend of mine, a true friend, called me up and said that they had killed somebody and didn’t know what to do, I would tell them to wait right there and I would be over.  Then, I would go over, get the story of what happened, look over the place where it happened, and decide if the best plan is to play it off with the cops, since it looks like everything was just what happened, and they couldn’t have happened any other way, or if I would get rid of the body, and tell that person to lay low for a while.  I don’t see that kind of thing as a contradiction.  I see it as doing what is right, for a person who matters to me.

My values come from an internal place, but I can do the wrong thing, if it is for a great means.  I actually have a plan to do just that as I get older, and out of college.  As a journalism major, I have a plan to help a friend of mine with a project of hers, and have a business on the side for myself, but which will also be helping her.

Is my view wrong?  Maybe.  Maybe I am just a monster who wants to justify what I do.  I won’t deny that that is possible.  But at the same time, I would have made for a good noir protagonist.  Similarly, I also would have made for a good cyberpunk protagonist too.

Until next time, a quote,

“…the loner, the cynic with a heart of gold, living in a fallen world, they didn’t spring fully from the brow of pulp detective stories.  They came from somewhere.  And part of that somewhere was Nietzsche’s philosophy.”  – Mr. B Tongue, TUN Cyberpunk is back  

Peace out,

Maverick

The Fall of Final Fantasy

Well, it’s late, I’m bored, and I am watching one hell of a smart video game YouTube vlogger, discussing the fall of The Elder Scrolls.  Check that video out.  It is some pretty interesting perspective.  Not being too much of a fan of the series, I found it very interesting to listen to.  But with that in mind, I thought to myself – what is a series that I like that has fallen?  But wait, I made a list of fallen video games!  Franchises that rose so high, and now are kicking their own dust.  And since the video that I have playing in the background, along with orchestrations of famous love songs (because my brain can’t sit still like that), I thought that I would talk about this.

From its inception, the Final Fantasy brand was about one thing, and one thing only – creating worlds that the players could get invested in.  Even on 8-bit graphics, the worlds of these games come alive from the characters, the story and the gameplay elements.  As the graphics evolved, the games were able to come alive from the visuals.  You could see the details of these amazing worlds, and it was pretty awesome.  We got sucked in even more.  Probably the best examples of making an intricate world that players could get sucked into are Final Fantasy VII, VIII and X.

Final Fantasy VIIFinal Fantasy VII was a rather unique take on how to construct a world and narrative.  The world’s depth comes into play mostly from the character dialogues, because a HUGE amount of the elements at play are having to do with the key players in the game.  The central conflict is with the Shinra Corporation, and its abuse of the Lifestream.  But towards the middle, there is another player who enters this dynamic.  This player is powerful beyond belief.  He has a connection to a celestial body and wants to destroy the world that is filled with people who have abused it, and who he has come to hate.  His name is Sephiroth.  This character is absolutely amazing, and the truly interesting thing about how this game plays is the fact that for the better part of it, the entire story centers on building up what a complete badass Sephiroth is.  Which makes how easy the final boss battle is kind of sad, really.  But that is a hallmark of good story-telling.  It was able to make all of us believe that he was a badass.  We all were sure that the moment we went to face Sephiroth, it would be a very one-sided battle that would require all kinds of skill and a little luck to defeat.  And that is good story-telling.  When you get people to believe something so much that when it turns out to not be true, they are disappointed.  It was an amazing game.

Final Fantasy VIIIFinal Fantasy VIII didn’t have the most dynamic villain in the world.  So to make up for that, they had an incredibly dynamic world.  Plus, they had an interesting conflict – stop a sorceress from destroying time.  When one is creating a fantastical world, you want it to be engaging.  You want your players to want to learn more.  You want your players to want to get involved in it, and immerse themselves in it.  To do that, you also need an interesting hook that will keep their interest.  A group of mercenaries, trying to stop a sorceress from destroying all time, admit it, that is kind of fucking awesome.  That conflict has a spin that genuinely leaves you not knowing what is going to happen.  I mean, time-paradox ideas are a genre unto themselves, so when one has to stop a villain who is using it, you have no idea how it will all end up.  The result is a game that kept everyone’s attention throughout its entirety, and the players ate that up.  We loved every single minute of this game, and it was one of the best fantasy games of all time.

Final Fantasy XFinally (pardon the pun), there is Final Fantasy X.  This game was the first game where it was the visuals themselves that were able to make this world so immersive.  It didn’t have the massive overworld and explorable area that the previous installments had, so to make up for that, they had a deep storyline that was driven by characters.  The characters in this game, aside from the main one, go back to VII’s formula, in that they tell the story and immerse you in the world through dialogue.  When the various characters talk about the history of this world, that you don’t know of, because you (the main character) has been thrown forward in time 1000 years, you are hanging on every word.  And the history of this world, Spira, is vast and complex.  Another hook of this game was the idea of rebelling against conventions.  A new character, in a new world, who wants to change the ancient and grotesquely antiquated values of it.  It is an awesome hook, and like VII, players ate it up.  The world was far more linear than previous installments, but there were still things to explore, and people who helped make the world better.  Ironically, one of everyone’s favorite characters was the traveling historian, Maechen.  This geezer would just tell you stories about Spira, and I guarantee you that all of us listened to every single one.  We all wanted to know about this world and its workings.

Now, I am not for a SECOND saying that the other games didn’t do well at making worlds that we got invested in.  But to me, these ones did it best.  So, where did things fall apart?  Well, like every single fan of Final Fantasy has probably said, a billion times before, it was Final Fantasy XIIIat XIII.  Part of me wonders if the creators of this game thought that they could sell us this world on visuals alone.  And don’t get me wrong, the visuals are AMAZING.  But that made all the other transgressions all that much harder.  This world looked absolutely stunning.  We wanted to get involved in this world.  We wanted to learn every single possible detail about this amazing-looking place and the world around it.  We wanted quests of every kind.  We wanted to roam around and bullshit, just to see more.  We wanted to talk to random people about bullshit, just to learn everything we possibly could.  But we couldn’t do ANY of that!  We couldn’t talk to people.  We couldn’t have side-quests.  We couldn’t explore.  All of the elements that make for a great fantasy game were missing.  The entire thing was linear to a fault, and by the time that it finally does open up, it is far too little, far too late.  That is what hurt us about this game.  But, one screw-up doesn’t ruin a franchise.

They then come out with XIII-2.  I won’t be nice about this – it was a cash-grab.  They knew that players were burned by XIII, so they wanted to give us something to hope for.  The hook was time travel.  Going to various places across various places in time.  Time was the ultimate thing to keep in mind for this game.  And that did so much damage.  We went from one boring-time period to another equally-boring time period.  It was an uninspired and uninteresting bore, and while critics praised the game, players wised up, and things got REALLY raw for Final Fantasy.  Now, everyone is practically screaming the same question at Square Enix – where the fuck is Versus XIII?  Promised to be a modernistic, magical-realism style game.  The trailer hooked us, and every subsequent trailer got us all drooling like Pavlovian dogs.  But delay after delay, and the fans are getting worn out, myself among them.  Now, Square Enix is releasing a second cash-grab sequel to XIII, with this game in the wind.

The name Final Fantasy used to stand for something.  It stood for fantasy game developers flexing their muscles and trying new ideas.  Making new and amazing worlds that we all could get invested in.  New places that we all wanted to see.  Places that we imagined ourselves in.  Now, it is becoming more and more synonymous with disappointment and crushed hopes.

But there is still hope – provided that Square Enix can get their shit together.  I want to hope.  But hope has betrayed me before.

I will be making more posts like this, for all of the games on the list I linked to above.  Agree or disagree, leave a comment.

Until next time, a quote,

“No one lives in the slums because they want to. It’s like this train. It can only go where the tracks take it.”  -Cloud Strife, Final Fantasy VII

Peace out,

Maverick

Happy Single Awareness Day!

Well, it’s that time of year again.  That time when everyone is absolutely buzzing!  The world buzzes to the beat of a special drum.  The drum that has made our species as numerous as it is!

No, wait, that’s sex.  My bad…

But according to so many, this is the most amazing day of the year!  When selfish expression and cheesy gimmicks dominate the land.  Where the most shallow part of our culture can be enraptured in how much they can milk this holiday for what its worth.  Unless, of course, you are one of a very unique…oh, fuck it, they’re not unique.  They’re overwhelming.  The single people.

See, this holiday was inappropriately named.  Instead of being named after a Catholic saint that your lazy asses don’t know a thing about, I have decided to instead give this holiday a much more fitting name.  I was thinking – Single Awareness Day.

Valentine's DayCause you see, while the romantic couples are out there, making a big to-do about how awesome this holiday is (or girls who are not in a relationship, but are hot enough to know that they are going to get sex), for those of you who are not in a relationship, there will be a number of reactions to situations that you are going to have.

For starters, there are the girls who complain about how men are all jerks.  Most of these girls will pass up perfectly nice guys, having put them in that illustrious place that almost all men are familiar with – the friend zone.  Ah yes, the friend zone.  A place where a girl pretty much says, “I like you, but you aren’t enough of a jerk for me to date, because I will need you after I have been hurt by said jerk, to cry to about how their are not more nice guys like you.”  It’s an ugly cycle, and one that you will never escape.  I wish you luck.

Then there is the playtoy.  This is another kind of nice guy who is used and thrown away by a woman who claims to care about them, but will abandon them the moment that they find somebody who is far more suiting to their own personal darkness.  Of course, when this person is no longer to their liking, they will come back to you, because they know that you will go back to them.  It’s a miserably pathetic existence, but we have all had to be there at some point.

Then there is the person who gets to see his ex be with some guy or girl that she/he left them for, and see how happy that person.  Almost like the idea is to rub it in.  Like they haven’t poured enough salt in the wound, and now you get to have more fun at your expense.  Isn’t that nice?

All these groups of people get the raw end of the deal, but now let’s talk about those who aren’t a member of the party for whom I have changed the name of this holiday for.  For you, there is a VERY fruitful future ahead of you, filled with chocolate, roses and cheesy cards.  These facile expressions that they will claim they love so much, when the truth is that most of them would probably just like a nice hug and for you to tell them how much you love them.  But hey, we all gotta embrace that shallow culture, right?

And speaking of shallow culture, then there’s the people who think that jewelry and extravagant gifts are the way to express your love.  Because after all, no woman knows what love is without you going into debt, right?  As the ad says –

Every kiss begins with Kay.

Yeah, and every divorce begins with Jack Daniels.

Oh, and while we’re on that subject, there is a final group of people who I think we should take some time to recognize – the people who get dumped on Single Awareness Day!  For real, do you think the suicide rate goes up on Single Awareness Day?  Well, let’s be nice.  How about for a week or so afterwards?  But yeah, these people get to be one of the most ashamed class of people in the world – those who have to return Single Awareness Day jewelry that they saved their hard-earned money for.  For real, do you think there is anything more humiliating than having to return jewelry that you bought for your loved one?  Well, maybe having to return an engagement or wedding ring.  Still, we need to keep these people in our thoughts, because they are going to be considering the Kurt Cobain approach to life…or death.

But in all seriousness, fuck Valentine’s Day.  That is all.

In a surprising turn, however, and until next time, a quote, (and this is from the heart)

“So, before I get too down to it, I’d like to offer you a piece of advice – if you’re fortunate enough to have somebody who you like enough to share Valentine’s Day with, do something special for that person.  Even if it’s something small.  Don’t forget that something small can produce a reaction much bigger than even the thought itself.  And don’t forget that doing something small for somebody that’s really worth it sure beats the hell out of whatever you were normally doing for that day.”  -Neal Wilcott, F*ck Valentines Day! 

Peace out,

Maverick