Virtual photography gets easy

By which I mean that it’s technically far more achievable than previously; the ability to take good images is a whole other thing, just as DSLRs have made professional quality photography available to all without putting photogs out of business.*

I’m specifically referring to game photography here – the art of taking great screenshots, essentially. Games are inherently visual and always have been, with screenshots being part of their marketing since the earliest days. Three distinct changes have occurred which make taking in-game images suddenly more interesting.

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I lost my spaceship in No Man’s Sky

I wrote a while back that I only started enjoying Far Cry 3 when I applied my own artificial restrictions to its free-form playground (in that case, using only the bow, despite the plethora of weaponry on offer). Taking an accidentally similar approach to No Man’s Sky, I gave myself a similar limiter: not having a spaceship. In this instance, though, it was entirely accidental. Continue reading

Writing chapter 60: Senescence

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I’m heavily influenced by J Michael Straczynski’s writing. His 90s show Babylon 5 was formative for me in more ways than one, as has been much of his subsequent comics writing.

‘Senescence’ is riffing on two specific JMS endings: the bittersweet feel of B5’s Sleeping In Light and the story of Jason Miller in Rising Stars. In the latter case he’s a figure who goes to extraordinary lengths to make amends and change the world with serious personal consequences, and that was a feeling I wanted to capture at the end of Cal’s character arc. Continue reading

Writing chapter 59: Transfiguration

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That opening chapter is ADoF at its most meta. I knew going in that this was the penultimate chapter of the book and could feel the pressure of all the previous chapters. Fumble the ending and you can mess up everything that came before.

This is Kay’s tipping point moment. It’s when the groundwork they’ve spent so long laying finally pays off. It’s a very deliberate choice that everything goes down in a peaceful manner. This is an intellectual and experiential revolution, with Kay outlining her view and story, then Cal providing the proof. The social momentum she’s built throughout Arc 4 carries the idea forwards with such force that there’s no stopping it. Continue reading

Writing chapter 58: Vertigo

And we’re back on Locque. One regret I have in ADoF is that the story whisked us away from Locque, thereby reducing the time we had to explore its culture, society and people. Arc 4 brought us back to the world, very deliberately, but it was in some ways too late – with Kay already deep in her mission, there’s no space in which to experience ‘normal Locque’.

This is something I think is really important in adventure fiction, and which often gets forgotten in on-going series. It’s critical to retain the links to the ‘real world’ (whatever that may be, in the context of the story), as it’s that which gives context to everything else going on. Continue reading

Writing chapter 57: Psyche

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Here we have a character who suffers a terrible handicap, leaving him with only a single superpower. I thought this would make for an interesting theme to explore: that of focusing on what you’ve lost, rather than on what you still have.

More time gets spent this chapter on the long-overdue confrontation between Kay and Cal. Ever since hints started to get dropped about Cal manipulating Kay and Marv the story has been building up to this moment. The obvious raute would have been a big fight, or at least a highly charged confrontation, with lots of suppressed thoughts bubbling to the surface. It’d start with Kay or Marv raising the subject and forcing Cal to tell the awkward truth. Continue reading