Jul 31 2013

A Tale of A Tale of Gottfried

I’ve been a little preoccupied with other stuff the past couple days, but I need to post something. Besides his 3D work, Kazuya’s playing around with sprites for A Tale of Gottfried, or GottMono as I like to call it for short (from the series’ Japanese title, Gottfried Monogatari). You might find it a little curious as it’s not something that gets much attention, but, believe it or not, it’s the flagship series of the Earth Arc and actually the oldest of all the franchises in the canon.

First, let me speak briefly on the concept of the flagship series. Each of the Arcs (except for the If Arc) have a series that acts as the foundation for everything else. In the original three Arcs, they were naturally what came first: KoG for the Tellus Arc, Tico for the Space Arc and GottMono for the Earth Arc. The Cross Arc is a little different, being a later creation, in that the Aether War series were designed specifically to act as a flagship series. (That being said, it’s the Post-Apoc Cycle that’s most captured my imagination there.) This plays into release dates as well, as I want to reveal the Arcs to you a certain way. Should I ever actively pursue traditional publication (or even resort to self-pubbing), I’d want the flagship series to be the first ones out the gate.

Okay, back to GottMono. The basics of the characters and scenario date back as far as ’93, I think. (For comparison, the initial concepts for the KoG and Tico series were drafted in ’95.) I might talk about the idiosyncrasies of my writing career as it developed another time, but I’ll mention briefly that I started really writing in 2001. It’s coming up on twelve years now, so why haven’t you seen anything for GottMono besides the short “Nobody Likes the Chocolate Ones”?

The truth of the matter is that I find the GottMono series to be a nightmare to plot. I have a bunch of scattered scenes, but properly tying them together and fleshing them out is a real pain. Interestingly enough, I used to have a similar problem with the Tico series. I found Tellus Arc stories incredibly easy to plot, but the (then) other two Arcs just weren’t coming together for me. As you’ve seen, I overcame that problem with the Tico series and am chugging along at a decent pace (thought the rocky update history, especially for Tico1, is a testament to the challenge it’s been). I haven’t had the same fortune with GottMono, but a while back I had an idea and I think it’s a good one if I can implement it.

I may have mentioned this either on the site or on Twitter at one point in the past (around the time the idea first came to me), but I’m going to talk about it here for good measure. My idea for GottMono is to compose it like a TV series: 26 episodes with a 22-minute apiece. I don’t intend to time them exactly, but I think these parameters give me a framework to operate in. While there is an overarching plot for each book (and for the series as a whole), an episodic approach was pretty much my vision for the series from the start. This way I suppose I can balance the slice of life and the mythology.

Seeing where Kazuya is with those sprites, I spent a little time adapting my old outlines to the episodic format. It’s served to highlight just how much work I have to do. As it currently stands, I have the basis for seven eps of GottMono1, nine for GottMono2, seven for GottMono3, and 14 for GottMono4 (which has thus far proven to be the easiest to plot, perhaps because it shakes up the formula of the original so much).

Maybe all that is interesting to you and maybe it isn’t, but I thought a little peek into the process might prove educational. I’m really fond of these characters and I’d love for you to get to know them better. I suppose I’m just going to have to step up my game.

Jul 29 2013

WIP Update – 28 Jul 13

Well, I haven’t made as much progress as I thought I would’ve, but so it goes. I have made headway in TTWC1 (practically everywhere except the chapter I need to have ready for next week) and I’ve been adding to this short I started last month. I’ll give you a hint: Last month and this month had events of the same type. What type of event might that be? Why, a wedding. Now, whose wedding could I possible be chronicling? That, dear reader, is a secret and even if I do finish it sometime in the near future, I won’t release it until it’s not a spoiler. Feel free to ponder that one as you will. ^_^

Jul 27 2013

WIP Update – 26 Jul 13

Well, again I’ve inched along in Cronos’ Chapter 2, but I also wound up going over chapters for Ionathas, Gamaliel and Corona. Yes, it doesn’t help me update-wise to jump ahead like that, but it’s been a long time since I last looked over the chapters I did for them. Some required more rewriting than others.

Changes in the plot in this version have prompted me to scrap Gamaliel’s former Chapter 2 and replace it with something new that has yet to be written. Before it was just his perspective of the Fleet of Light breaking off from the main invasion force, but since I restructured the series, I’ve been moving to cut back on retelling the same events through the eyes of different characters. It loses its novelty value when overused, after all.

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ll be incommunicado for a day, but maybe I’ll have even more to report when I return. We’ll see. Until then.

Jul 26 2013

WIP Update – 25 Jul 13

More baby steps with Cronos’ Chapter 2. I do think it’s nice how this draft is a little more level-headed and builds up the suspense more. It’s a wonder what a rewrite some ten years later can do for a sequence.

I’m going to be incommunicado Saturday, but maybe that time without Internet access will actually prove to be productive. I might have a little more to say Sunday than most of these updates. We’ll see.

I’m thinking about sprinkling in some more commentary articles to spice things up a bit. I need to have more going here that just these scanty progress reports. Until then.

Jul 25 2013

WIP Update – 24 Jul 13

We have more incremental progress on Cronos’ Chapter 2, which is going to have to be ready in two weeks. I have to say, I’m liking what new character Sir Telemachos is bringing to the table. In earlier drafts, there was some real disconnect between Duke Cronos’ reputation and what was actually being shown on the page. While part of what I’m doing is better harmonizing those two, the other part is making him conscientious of that dissonance. Telemachos is proving to be a good mental and physical sparring partner and I think the Duke is going to come off much better because of it. Hopefully you’ll be seeing what I’m talking about soon.

Jul 24 2013

The Big Dang Animation Project

I mentioned on Twitter that I should provide more detail into the animation project Kazuya’s working on. The idea is to make a KoG1 short in a style reminiscent of Puchi Eva. I’m thinking of using the fight with Sonia in Rowan from Chapter 5.

The task would be one thing if Kazuya was already a proficient 3D modeler/animator, but he’s still learning the ropes and I’m doing a little study myself to give him more meaningful direction. (It’s almost entirely conceptual on my part as he’s the one with the software way across the pond.) If you’ve been on Twitter, you’ve seen the base model in progress I posted (over much protest on Kazuya’s part). With the base model as the starting point, a few variants will be put together and from there, it’s a matter of hair styling and costuming to make those basic models into the characters that need to be on the stage.

There are a lot of assets that need to be put together and I’m kinda pushing Kazuya just to get it done within a reasonable timeframe rather that indulge our mutual perfectionism. If we can make this hurdle, we should learn enough to do even better next time.

Part of the deal with 3D work is that if you get the assets right, you can just reuse them rather than recreating them from scratch each time. Well, it also applies to 2D work, especially when Flash is involved (and that’s also something I’d like to explore).

Anyway, I’ll try to tease more production shots in the course of the coming months and maybe even extra stuff like animatics and such. Stay tuned.

Jul 23 2013

WIP Update – 22 Jul 13

I’ve been mostly busy with other stuff today, but I did manage to do a little work on the peripheral materials and a few hundred words on Cronos’ Chapter 2 for TTWC1. The dialog is positively dripping with irony. ^_^

Jul 22 2013

WIP Update – 21 Jul 13

I don’t have a lot to report. I was out of it most of the day, but I did manage to get a couple hundred words written on Chapter 14 of Tico3. I’m still debating how I want the chapter to play out, though. I may need to switch gears to TTWC1 while I make up my mind.

Jul 21 2013

The Night Owl Crashes and Burns

The past several nights, I’ve found myself dropping out rather abruptly, wrecking my plans to get some late-night writing done (hence the recent lack of WIP updates). I got an exercise bike not too long ago in a bid to strike back against my ever-expanding waistline. It would seem that ten or so simulated miles has a way of tuckering out a lazy, fat weakbody like myself. Whoda thunk it? ^_^;

I got up to 20 miles in a 90-minute go tonight. I’m sure that has to count for something somewhere. You know, my first time in Japan, I was doing over nine miles a day every day and that was just the day’s commute. If the spirit of adventure took hold, there was no telling how far I’d go. It wasn’t uncommon for me to half circumnavigate the city. This sort of feat proved none too easy to replicate after three years of being out of practice when I briefly returned in 2011. I’d rather not be that shot for stamina again. I’d also like to get back down into the 160s if I can manage it. I swear, just breathin’ the air in this country seems to make me gain ten pounds. It’s not for aesthetics or even so much for health I try to watch my weight, though. The less load on these busted ol’ joints, the better.

This sort of thing doesn’t move the writing along, I know, but my idea is to get to the point where I can be typing while I bike, so I can get the exercise and the writing in. (Now I just settle for overlapping my vid watching and stuff with the biking.)

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about Chapter 14 of Tico3, so maybe I’ll get some of that done tomorrow. Until then.

Jul 19 2013

Predator and Prey

During my last trip to the wilds, I saw a dog playing with a rabbit. If you’re unfamiliar with rabbits, you might think they don’t make any noise. I personally don’t have much experience with rabbits, but I do know that they squeak when they’re in distress. It’s unpleasant to hear.

I call off the dog, figuring I’ll give the rabbit a chance to get away. It was only a juvenile. Probably hadn’t been weaned that long. Well, when the dog came over to me, the rabbit just lied there. At first I thought it was just being too stupid to take the chance I’d given it, but I then learned that  it was already mortally wounded.

Because it was past saving, I let the dog have her prey. This is, after all, the law of the wild. There are predators and there is prey. Domestication distorts the system a little, but in the wilds you’re a little closer to the natural order and for my increasingly urbanized self, that order is an alien one.