The Question Marked #3: Novels

Sandy: You sometimes express your dislike for novels. You find them often boring and dready. Could you explain it a bit for our readers?

Burg: Well. (Coughs.) I think novels, or being a novelist, is the most common medium for most people getting creative or trying creative writing. Not that I don’t like that! I love it when people try to tell a story. But – here is my ‘but’ – due to its acceptable nature, it is an easy medium for mediocre storytelling. The market is so supersaturated with novels, but little to zero of the people involved have no idea about storytelling. Good novels are fairly rare. To elaborate. Storytelling is a highly deficit thing. You need to characterize your characters, need to know how to build drama and tension, need to know how to involve plot devices, plot points and find a good beginning and end. I may sound overly elitist and arrogant, but storytelling is very hard. (If done right, I mean.) Most people write with little knowledge of such things. To be honest: I find that boring. I read many novels from all kinds of writers. I’ve read A Song of Ice and Fire, Harry Potter, The Dark Tower, just to name the most popular. And most of them suck. There is nothing happening for hundreds of pages. There is built up to a 2 page outcome. There is no tension or drama. Limit by Frank Schätzing for example. You can’t write and write and write and then decide: Okay. A small twist. You need your story to start somewhere, go somewhere, and end somewhere. With a clear idea of how your story should look like. Hence I use an outline on all my stories. To sum it up: people, enjoy your novels. I may not like them. But now you at least know why. 

POP!: Why I love One Piece

My absolute favorite story of all time is the Japanese manga ‘One Piece’. I began watching the One Piece anime in 2003. My local TV station aired new shows constantly in its anime section. From episode 2, which was the first one I saw, I was hooked from its easy and lighthearted adventure which were great and a joy to watch. A pirates theme was something fresh and fun. The action and the characters simply drew me into the story like no other story has done before. The characters did not just look awesome, but they were also very nuanced and detailed. Zoro is strong and silent. Name is a thief. Usoppen is a liar. He crafted characters you care about. Characters you simply have to love.

The superpowers, which are called devil fruit-powers, were simply awesome. My friends and I debated a lot about them. In the beginning of the show, until episode 193, which were the first ones shown, I never saw how impressivly creative it was. Like the Bara Bara no Mi from Buggy. A character that could split his body parts. Is Eiichiro Oda even aware of how awesome this idea is? Or a person which body parts could explore only to use his own booger to explore. Is he aware of how creative this is? He did not simply took something and said: This is a super power. Like Lufffy’s Gumo Gumo no Mi. He cannot simply stretch, he can also pump up his blood to attack quicker. He has developed idead to an extend I cannot even think. I would never come up wich such an idea in regard to a person whose body is made of rubber.

I began reading the manga in 2007, beginning with the Thriller Bark arc. Until I became a writer myself. When I came up with the first ideas for stories, plots and twists, I analyzed the One Piece-mythology on the One Piece-wikia ( One of the first things I saw was, that nothing (!), absolutely nothing has been done before in other creative works. I looked up the devil fruit users and was intrigued by them. A rubber man, except Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four-comic, has not been done before. Ever then I saw how all the islands they visited, were never imagined before either. Then the big picture of One Piece opened up to me: Nothing in One Piece has been done before! Beginning with the world, which is parted in four oceans, north, west, east and south blue, the Grand Line, which its magnetic routes, ’till the devil fruit users powers like hormones, wax, bombs, earthquake. Look it up on the Wikia up above. It is impressive, believe me.

Not only the superpowers, but also the places. The islands and places the protagonists visit are so unique you have to wonder. How does he come up with this stuff? He crafted a world beyond my own imagination. Even in my wildest dreams, I, could not think up this stuff.

I wasn’t just the biggest fan of One Piece before, now I am the greatest admirer of its author Eiichiro Oda. He managed to do, what barely any creative writer has done: Creating a new and original world. Full of characters with unique traits, like their laughing style. With characters that look and feel like real individuals. With ambitions, plans, emotions. People who sought power, people who sought to be a good person, people who sought to be simply strong or the very best in their discipline. The whole saga is a new world. That’s why One Piece is the greatest story ever told.

Ghostwords #5 – Life: Redux

Life is not a journey

Still it goes up and down

Life is an endless river

As our past has itself shown

Life is a mystery

It walks to town

Life is a quill

For every open book to own

When you feel outside

When you feel like a leaf in the wind

Then go to the inside

Then go to the place that smells like roses and mint

When you feel left out

When you feel like drop in the ocean

Then go to heart

Then go to the place that smells like the sun and its bright vision

The paths are often not clearly

The ways are dark and down

The streets are often dreary

The roads are often left to roam

We decide to go the right way

Let righteousness rule

We decide to go the left way

Let hopefulness help us not being a fool 

Depth Note – U.F.O.

Don’t go to war. Go home.

U.F.O. – Sense and Sensibility 

written by

N. “Ain’t Easy Being Green” Burg 

They are many question in my mind regarding aliens and the U.F.O.-phenomenon. The biggest question is not if or if not alien exist. This does not matter. But, let’s assume they were aliens. Somewhere in the wide, dark outer space. On a cute little planet with their cute little civilization. What would these aliens do all day? Have they science? But if they mastered interstellar traveling, are they even secrets left? Have they found the ultimate answer to questions like the Big Bang or have they even found strings? Or are they exploring the universe like we use to imagine in science fiction? Is there even something explore since the universe consists of stars and gas clouds? It’s really hard to imagine an alien civilization since they must have founds answers we are still trying to figure out. Are they even able to conquer the physics we know are are aware of that we can’t beat them? Like light speed for example.

Would they’ve been gone through he same evolutionary process as we did? Would they look for other aliens like we do? And if they are out there: Why aren’t we hearing from them? How do the look like? Scientists can answer this question partly. They need eyes to see, a food to eat, ears to hear and fingers to feel. They probably won’t have these exotic bodies Hollywood is pinning into out heads. No tentacles for example. They need legs to move forward and a brain to process signals. All these things are necessary to even exist. They must have some kind of intelligence. Maybe the same rules of evolution apply to aliens and they actually look like humans.Or intelligent cat people. (Just kidding. That’s Avatar.) Anyway. Aliens may even look completely different since the circumstances are different on each planet. Maybe the gravity is higher so their body is stronger than ours. Or they won’t breathe oxygen. They could breath methane. (Just kidding. That’s Perry Rhodan.) The imagination can run as wild as it can get since we have no idea of how other intelligent life looks like. It could be a giant fly-alien. Who knows.

This thought originates from my thoughts about U.F.O.’s. If there were an alien civilization out there. Why would they visit us with? What would their reason be to come to us? This thought comes from the documentaries about these things. I saw so many material about this topic and they were fairly similar. A bright light, paralization, sometimes people told about how they saw something inside of the flying objects. Most of these sightings have basically no substance since either 1) The same happened to everyone or 2) The information we could gather from this are not useful. And why are they aliens here since the 40’s? Did they just found us? Is this even new for aliens? The material the MUFON (Mutual U.F.O. Network) has gathered can give no insight either. All the gathered material give no clue about their motivations or goals. They only show up, scare someone, and leave. Why would they do this? My assumption would be that they simply like to scare us. Maybe there is an alien television show that scares humans. But wouldn’t that be frightening? Hyper-intelligent aliens that cross the stars only came to scare us? This is such a weird thought, isn’t it? Why aren’t they revealing themselves to us? Why do they show up randomly to innocent individuals? I wish I did know. The phenomenon of U.F.O.’s is so weird to begin with. No explanation for it seems to make sense.

Are they visiting us to see aliens? Are we the aliens in their eyes? Are they coming so close just to see a human? This does as barely sense as any other explanation. They could look through a hyper-high-tech machine and watch from the outside. I don’t want to get into the government thing. I don’t think governments are aware of aliens or work with them. What would governments benefit from? The technology? That’s bullshit. Man developed the technology we now have today, or had one hundred years ago. Technological progress is a logical process. Scientists take to and develop new technology all the time. As said: Nothing makes any sense. Maybe we thought in the wrong direction and there are no aliens. Maybe humans in top-secret underground basis having fun scaring us. They were never aliens, just humans. This makes at least a little sense. It’s such a weird and slippery topic. I don’t know. What can I say further. Aliens. Humans. Unidentified Flying Objects. Whenever this phenomenon has an explanation. I hope it’s a really damn good one.

Depth Note – Interactive Storytelling

Ask me about my anti-idiot agenda.

Interactive Storytelling – The Unfulfilled Rise 

N. „Guden“ Burg

BioShock. Metal Gear Solid. Half-Life. Portal. WarCraft. Majora’s Mask. Grand Theft Auto. Red Dead Redemption. Batman: Arkham trilogy.That’s it. What do all these franchises in common. They represent the rare occasion, where good storytelling did not contradict good gameplay. There is this consensus among gamers that say: Gameplay is king. Gameplay is key. It is all about the gameplay. The tendency to say this, is inherently wrong. I know, I know. Video games are all about interaction; it is an interactive medium. Sure. Yes, it is. But why do people repel good storytelling? Why do people kind of reject the idea, of experiencing an emotional, funny, exciting, agitating, intriguing, deep or vast story? There are many key factors which play into this. Let’s begin.

The first point is the following: Okay: Who is responsible for the writing? Looking at our example, we had dedicated storytellers and writers at hand. BioShock was written by Ken Levine, MGS by Hideo Kojima, Half-Life and Portal by a few Valve Writers, WarCraft by and Majora’s Mask simply had terrific writers I don’t know of. This brings me straight to my point: Dedicated writers. People who know how a story is built, how to relate to characters, how to evoke emotional depth and characters we care and like. Because most of the time, story is an afterthought. Most stories are written by the studios themselves. Explaining why 99% of is total and utter shit. If we want to embrace storytelling in games – the writer – or writers – need to be a usual and common part by when developing a game.

A dedicated writer, be it a background with novels, comics, screenplays or maybe even playwrights, could lead to a crucial and absolutely needed development (No pun intended.) If we hired such people, let’s call them Narrative Consultant or simply the Campaign Writer, we could deal with it like Hollywood does. Hire. Write. Pay. Of course, of course, a game develops and including a script can be pretty damn hard. What if a characters gets cut? Or levels change? What if a cut scene is being excluded? Sure, its involvement is hard. Then we simply hire and employ writers like level designers or sound engineers. The distribution is not the point. The point is to elevate the medium and make it better. I don’t want games to be crap and only light entertainment. Things like L.A. Noire or Deus Ex showed how complex and exciting a story in a video game can get. 

Why is that so important? Because the medium video games is shallow, a shadow, of what it can be. It has an unfulfilled potential. I want it to be taken seriously. I want to fight back corporate video game making like EA or Ubisoft. Somehow, smart business men saw the huge potential, ie market power, and hijacked the whole industry. There is Assassins Creed and FIFA now. The run down the Guitar Hero franchise and I am still baffled of how Call of Duty is still a thing. It is all about the maximization of profit. There is little to zero effort in developing groundbreaking and exceptional concepts or ideas. We either have indies, okay, or some studio who was indie and is now owned by a corporation. 

But storytelling. Storytelling elevates even the smallest developer into a huge behemoth of power with a great story. It can be the groundbreaking discipline to lift gaming into new heights. Well, we already talked about how to achieve that. And then. What. Good stories? And good gameplay? Why should we even care? Because people have no idea of what could be. They only what is. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the campaign for Halo 3. Yeah, Finish the Fight. I loved the hype for Halo: Reach. Then we had Halo 4, Halo: Guardians and now Halo: Infinite. What’s the deal? It perfectly exemplifies how repeating the same shit over and over again, is being sold to you as something new. I played a few Halo games. And know of those I did not play. Same enemies. Same weapons. Same levels. All the frigging same across almost 6 installments over the course of almost twenty years. This must stop.

Because I wish people would feel how I feel; see as I see. The potential – immense. The devotion – zero. Only because people will always brag about: gameplay first! Gameplay! Gameplay! It only distracts you from the truth of good storytelling. But I am on the verge to repeat myself over and over again. Let’s break it down. Video games do not have good stories. It is an afterthought. It has the potential to elevate the medium and simply … make it better. We should demand good stories, we should find talented writers across all mediums to let them develop new ways of stories, storytelling and stories overall. Gaming was my lifelong passion. I am not a gamer anymore. I gave up on it. I gave up on corporate game making, micro transactions, pay-to-win, mobile gaming and other novelties. Gaming must go back to its roots. Back to immersion and soaking up someone into a truly creative and astonishing worlds. Have showed us how its done. 

Just One Thought: Social media uprising and anti-social downfall

I watched a few YouTube videos I came across accidentally. They were talking about the topic of social media. I already expressed my opinion on that topic. But the video sparked a few flames. I go along with the notion that social media is a bad motor for our societies across the globe. It destroys civil discourse, co-operation and due to hate-speech and fake news; it slowly destroys the fundaments our societies are built upon. Social media does more damage and harm than it helps and creates. Let’s have a look.

First: Do we benefit? Or better asked: Do we evenbenefit? I mean: What does social media do? It spreads the word about catastrophes and cruel crimes. It spreads fake news across the globe due to bots and idiots believing in them. It lets people find people who are alike but in a bad way. Conspiracy theorists find conspiracy theorists. Terrorists find terrorists. Racists find racists. Due to the nature of social media, mainly its algorithms, it does nothing but helping idiots to find other idiots to create huge communities of idiots who try to bring and burn down other communities of idiots. In other terms: It is a mess. We do not actually benefit from them; there is no benefit. 

Can we even benefit? In certain aspects. Most notably the Arab Spring. Where people organized themselves to bring down their regime. A good thing. Too bad it can be countered easily by simply blocking such serves on their respective national internet. And while we talk about blocking: All regimes do it. China, North Korea, Iran, some northern African states. So no: We cannot even benefit from that either. So what is the crux? As I said: More damage and harm than it does help and create.

The problems become even more eerie when digital hatred and negative behavior becomes analog and makes people beat other people to death. Or worse: Killing them. This is probably the worst aspect of social media. It may „connect the world and its people“, (as Facebook always states), but only the aforementioned idiots. If it weren’t for the money of ads they earn by giving you personalized feeds; it could have been a good thing for mankind. It would help people connect and interact. Too bad the crux is still ads. 

To sum it up: Social media uprising is anti-social downfall. Only when people would look beyond their own horizon and beyond or their own feed, then it would be a great thing. To learn new cultures and aspects of life of how others tend to live. Too bad they want to sell you something (like they always do). As long as people like to live in their echo chamber, and no service or platform finds a way to get rid of this problem; nothing will change. And we all know the way of how bad things go, don’t we? It will always get worse. 

Super Detective – Chapter 3: The Hard Way

Trivia #3 AI is restricted by an M-Chip. The M stands for ‘moral’.

N.E.T. Article #3 The Mystery of Colleague Nr. 3

Miles Miller started to work for the Hillsight View Ageny in 2044. And worked there for two years. He had a pretty good time and enjoyed his job a lot. Except someone he only dubbed ‘Colleague Number 3’. He knew her name. But it got lost in time. The chemistry was – as he found – weird. She rarely greeted, rarely said hello, and was most of the time locked in her office room. It was peculiar. For sure.

But it all had a reason. The mysterious colleague had a shy nature. She had a pretty drill-like father that treated her terribly. Due to this, she developed a distressed personality that stopped her from being more social and active. But the Agency like her this way. Because she focuses on the cases even greater than the other employees. But it isn’t all doom and gloom.

The boss offers therapy and other measures in order to help, only, to get rejected. It seems she is happy, and she actually is. Even no one calls her by her name, but rather say things like ‘she’, the ‘locked lady’ or ‘colleague three’, (which by the way don’t hurt her), she has a standout position as effective and efficient. Only due to her nature, the agency is able to find people who commit tax fraud.

But Miles isn’t all happy-go-lucky with her. His open-minded and general open attitude often clashes with her reclusiveness. He finds her a mystery. He asked around. Asked the boss, colleagues, Cross; no one could answer him. Miles finds her in the wrong spot and distracting from the actual work. (Which no one agrees over.) Even asking her directly did not help.

The employee is good at her job. She is shy, reclusive and doesn’t talk very loud. No one minds though. She helps and supports, strengthens and boosts. Yes, shy people are sometimes peculiar. Yes, some people prefer to not talk to much. But these people chooseto be like this. Maybe they don’t like the attention, or don’t like unnecessary tension. Anyway. She remains … a mystery.