Tag Archives: final fantasy vii

Mascot Time! (The Wolf of Descarta Art Contest)

Right, I know. I already have Balmus all over this site, and thanks to Caelicorn, he looks absolutely amazing!

Given my comic book/anime/video game influences, most of the characters in The Wolf of Descarta¬†are designed to be pretty slick looking–all except for one.

The dreaded Coquil.

There’s no sense in keeping the Coquil a secret any longer. My novel’s excerpt on Amazon.com nearly concludes the chapter in which Balmus and his notorious guild of player killers, The Order of the Blood Moon, knuckle down with this bizarre creature in Bladescape (who just happens to be guarding a legendary weapon). If you’ve read 7 Fantasy Cliches That Need to Disappear (For the Good of All), you already know that I’m easily irritated by the cutesy, overpowered helpers that infest the Fantasy genre.

dragon

Phoooooo!!!

So I decided to throw in a cutesy, overpowered monster that hulks out and nearly murders all my heroes just four short chapters into the novel.

My inspiration for the Coquil came from an MMORPG called Dark Age of Camelot (and probably my not-so-secret desire to take a battle ax to an Ewok).

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Now this game was old school. You didn’t start off with a nifty armor set and bearing a majestic sword and a shield–more like sporting a loin cloth and armed with a rock and a stick.

Dark_Age_of_Camelot_cover

To be honest, you didn’t feel very hard core at the beginning of DAoC. Most of the time you’d be grinding and get waylaid by things like bunnies in the woods. Winning at PVP was easier than walking through the friggin’ forest or through a farmstead! I distinctly remember finally getting my chainmail and an imposing greatsword, strapping on a crimson cape signifying my guild, and feeling so very accomplished–maybe about 40 seconds before I was ruthlessly mauled to death by a homicidal badger just chillin’ on the hillside.

bg-rabid-badger

Mushroom, mushroom!

You heard right. A stupid badger.

Badger-badger

Mushroom MUSH-room!

And yes, someone already did this:

Badger Mushroom Snake2

Argh! We’ve got a Snake!

While I’m at it, does anybody remember those stupid, overpowered rabbits in Final Fantasy VII with carrots for swords? Urrgh! Screw them too!

FFVII_Sneak_Attack

WTF?! Cloud’s dead?!

So the Coquil–in all its a pink, fluffy evilness–is product of pure rage at the comedic irony of being beaten down by seemingly helpless woodland creatures that should have been laying chocolate eggs for Easter and clucking like a chicken or some damned thing.

cadbury-bunny

What? You steppin’ to me, hero? You’d best beware–I cluck, and it don’t make a damn bit of sense! Neither does the beat down imma give you!

Now, in my infinite wisdom, I think the Coquil should be the mascot for the blog. The trouble is that I can’t draw to save my life. This is where you come in.

For the next two weeks (ending December 6), I will be accepting fanart submissions of the Coquil at blackknightofbladescape at gmail dot com. The winner of the contest will receive free, autographed copies of both The Wolf of Descarta and RealLies (hopefully in time for the holidays) and a permanent link on this blog to his or her artist page.

No purchase is necessary to participate. Just head over to Amazon and read the free excerpt. Once you’ve got a good idea of what this ruthless, quadrupedal abomination looks like, sharpen your pencils–or fire up your software–and get cracking. The top three entries will be posted on Monday, December 9 and receive what accolades I can bestow upon you in the form of written praise. ūüôā

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Sci-Fi and Sushi: Blast from the Past

Manly_Cloud_by_GENZOMAN

Cloud is all grown up…

Joe Erickson (@SweetJoesus) and I dug up our most notorious Final Fantasy VII fanfic from our high school days and, against the better judgment of the universe, decided to record the two of us doing the voices, musical numbers, and commentary. Joe plans to release it in a three-part podcast on Scifiandsushi.com, and the first piece hit the Web last night.

This presentation is free on the Web and can be downloaded on most podcast apps. I was listening to it on my iPhone this morning, and I almost drove off the side of the road. Joe and I have been friends for a very long time, and I don’t mind¬†bragging that we are absolutely hysterical together. We should have done this a long time ago.

I would like to caution my readers, however,¬†that this podcast is not for the faint of heart, nor is it politically correct in any way, shape, or form. The script we discovered and comedically reenacted is about 15 years old, so the views and themes expressed therein in no way coincide with¬†our current sympathies. In a nutshell, Mel Brooks would be proud, and due to its foul language alone, this podcast would¬†probably garner an R rating.¬†If you follow this blog for my musings about the beauty of symbolism or my family oriented anecdotes, this podcast is probably not for you. Moreover, if you’re not a fan of¬†Sci-fi/Fantasy¬†and the Final Fantasy series, you probably won’t get all of the jokes (though we go into great detail explaining some of them).

Anyone¬†still with me? Feel free to¬†geek¬†out with FFVII: Roadtrip (Part I) on Scifiandsushi.com.¬†I promise¬†that–at the very least–you’ll laugh your head off at our reactions to our adolescent stupidity. The voices are ridiculous as well. I play Cloud, Sephiroth, Tifa, Cid, Vincent, Rude, Elena,¬†Leonardo DiCaprio (this was written around the time Titanic came out), a white rapper, and the Midgar Zolom, amongst¬†many others. If you ever wanted to hear me make an ass out of myself, this is your opportunity. -.-

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Of Inspiration and Influence

With RealLies coming out in less than a week, I feel it’s important to give credit to those works and individuals who have most influenced me. Many writers act like what they create is entirely original, as if they write in a vacuum, but I think most fans know better. Most agents and publishers do too–this is why one popular pitch method involves comparing your work to a combination of previously published works.

So let’s set the record straight. How did I come up with what my publisher refers to as “wild fantasies that eclipse life itself”? For a guy who currently makes a living deconstructing Chaucer and the Pearl Poet, it’s not really all that glamorous.

1) Gattaca

Gattaca

Dammit! Even the stairs around here are DNA!

One of my creative writing professors in college claimed that this movie was a failure because the viewer never truly understands the protagonist’s motivations for going into space. I’ve spent the last eight years trying to figure out how a man of such talent and intellect could miss the point so badly. In Gattaca, genetically inferior “invalid” Vincent must circumvent a genetic caste system that puts him at odds with his dream. He struggles against his family and later society to prove that one’s will, not one’s genetics, is at the core of what makes us human.

Gattaca is probably the most underrated film of all time, in my not-so-humble opinion. My concept of a genetic caste system that limits the opportunities of some individuals in a Sci-Fi universe definitely came from this movie. The how, the why, the how many, and the scope–that’s where I came in. While the situation in my story, “The Wolf of Descarta”, is much more complex, I never would have gotten there without Gattaca. It also gave this dreamer the motivation to fight the world to achieve his dream.

And as for why Vincent wanted to go into space? The final frontier? Is there a starker symbol for the greatness of humanity? I mean, come on…

2) The Matrix

What if I told you that you must understand allegory to understand The Matrix: Revolutions?

What if I told you that you must first grasp allegory to understand The Matrix: Revolutions?

Being a child of the 80’s and 90’s, I missed the great William Gibson and went straight on to the Wachowski brothers. I enjoyed all three of these movies for very different reasons, but the first film will always have a place in my top ten because it was my introduction to the cyberpunk genre.

Descarta’s Virtuon Gaming System (or the Dream Box in the novel) is based upon a set of questions I had about the Matrix. First, what if the Matrix could be anything? An RPG that never ended? A Jazz club from the 1930’s? A futuristic war zone with gunships wired into the bodies of their pilots? Second, what if people consciously made the choice to live virtually as opposed to dealing with their issues in reality?

Cyberpunk is about as underrated as a genre as Gattaca is as a film. I mean, what genre could possibly be more relevant right now? (My iPhone, which has a mind of her own, agrees.)

3) Final Fantasy VII

Come on, girl, do you have to be dead?

Come on, girl! Do you have to be dead?

I can’t honestly write anything about influences or inspiration without including Final Fantasy VII. My first stories were fanfics written in my Algebra class or over the phone with one of my (still) best friends during my junior year of high school. I could discuss the depth of characterization and how a poor translation made some gamers gloss over what a breakthrough this title really was. I could rant for hours about how the game includes references and allegories to world mythology (especially Norse), the Bible, Kabbalah, etc., but such arguments are better saved for the masters thesis on how video games can be literature that I will eventually write to piss off all of academia.

What “The Wolf of Descarta” takes from Final Fantasy VII is somewhat less apparent than these other titles. I learned from Tetsuya Nomura (designer) that a motley cast of characters works better than a bunch of doppelgangers, for one. I also learned the device of the love triangle from this game–a device which works well in stories but stinks to high heaven in real life. With Aerith’s death came the realization that sometimes a great story doesn’t have a happy ending.

I suppose I could have learned all these lessons from reading Shakespeare’s tragedies and Mallory (Le Mort d’Arthur), but for some reason this game made them stick.

4) My Professors at ASU

So many stairs...

Ah, G. Homer Durham Hall… So many stairs! Why do the elevators not go to the top?

I was fortunate that my college career included courses with two professors with actual industry experience.¬† These two saw something in me and took me under their proverbial wings. Without their continued guidance and support (eight years later!), I would have probably given up a long time ago. Their example is one of the reasons I’ve spent so much time in education, as well. The idea of being that milestone that helps one along to his or her goal is certainly compelling.

I actually wrote Descarta to surprise one of these two, a Sci-Fi writer who claims to dislike Fantasy, which was my first love. Creating a scenario in which the two genres must coexist became my goal and my challenge.

5) Emily

Are you going to take the picture, or is this about the socks?

Dan, are you going to take the picture, or is this about the socks again?

Whenever a writer produces anything worth reading, it must in some ways be personal. My mind conjures that old proverb, Write what you know. Descarta is, before it is anything else, a story about a man lost in himself that finally makes a connection with someone. When that connection is severed, he fights against the universe to reestablish it–because he knows it is these connections that ultimately give meaning to our lives.

This is our story, babe. I couldn’t have done it without you.

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