Influences outside of gaming.
This post focuses on creative works that influence me that are outside the realm of gaming – things like books and animations that have inspired me and continue to influence my work, as well as the people that created these works.
Before I get started, though, it’s important to note that the TF2 level is still in the works – it’s just had to take a back seat recently. While it’s sitting on the back burner, it is progressing slowly, it’s just that there hasn’t been enough progress to warrant an update. There will be more to come, though.
Back to my influences – I initially found it difficult to think of any outside the realm of gaming, to be completely honest. It made me realise that I should probably expand my horizons outside of this industry. I don’t read as much as I used to, but I still found that books are a major influence. Namely, three that are very similar: Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe.
In the case of Lovecraft, I actually haven’t read much, but I found “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” to be incredibly compelling.
The story focuses on a student who, despite multiple warnings, makes the terrible decision to stay overnight at the town of Innsmouth. Throughout the story, he is pursued by inhuman creatures, who are later to be revealed as half-human and half-marine creature. What I liked about the story was the initial mystery and creepiness of the town – I’m not sure I can explain exactly what it is, but there’s something I found incredibly compelling about Innsmouth. The story deals with themes of mental degradation, abstract horror and realms outside human interpretation.
When it comes to Stephen King, I actually find that more than his stories, I really like his writing style. Again, I probably won’t be able to clarify exactly what it is I like about his style, but there’s a definite level of empathy he creates, no matter how unrelatable his characters can be. It’s the way he combines what the characters sees and what they think – when you’re seeing the wold from the point of view of a particular character, the descriptions will change according to their particular bias and interpretation. It’s something I think a lot of writers miss – they write descriptions and interactions as a neutral third party (the author) rather than how the character would see it. I don’t believe this is necessarily bad writing, as I’m not exactly an expert, but the way King writes draws me in a lot more than most. I’d say this is personal preference rather than an objective improvement over other writing styles, but this empathy is the reason I like his stories so much, and is especially important for someone working in Games development.
Pictured Above: Stephen King, the offspring of Ron Perlman and Bill Gates.
It’s not all books from influential horror writers, though. Some of my influences are influential horror manga, in the case of Kentaro Miura’s Berserk series (I have a wide spectrum of influences). The story focuses on a man (appropriately named Guts) who hunts demons across an alternate medieval Europe. The story is absolutely no holds barred – there are some incredibly explicit images and themes, and a total lack of subtlety. What I love about it is that it’s the ultimate revenge story. These explicit horrible moments that are scattered through the story serve to get the viewer to support the protagonist Guts, despite that the fact that he’s a really terrible kind of guy.
It took about twenty minutes to find a slide without extreme nudity or gore., but that’s Guts pictured above. I’ll admit it isn’t the deepest story ever written, but it does attempt to raise questions about ethics, morality and pre-determination. Guts has been doomed to be sacrificed to Demons, and spends all of his time fighting against his fate (without much luck, to be honest). The series hasn’t actually finished – and the writer released about one chapter every two years – but I very much doubt it’s heading towards a happy place. What I like about it is the way it enforces empathy with the protagonist, who as mentioned previously s normally the kind of guy that you wouldn’t even want to talk about. He murders innocent people left and right (at least initially), but when compared to the villains he’s practically Ghandi. It also has great characters and more importantly, great world building.
As a massive nerd, another big influence to me has always been anime, everything from Pokemon to Ghost in the Shell. Specifically though, I found Code Geass to be incredibly. The story is set in an alternate future in which Britain never stopped conquering the world, essentially splitting the modern world into China and Britain (both of which occupy most continents). Also Europe, but it’s role is relatively minor in the plot. The story follows the bastard prince of Britain, Lelouch Lamperouge, as he attempts to grow a rebellion and fight back against Britain’s occupation of Japan (now known as Area 11).
Lelouch is gifted with the power of ‘geass’, which allows him to command anyone to do anything, but only once and only if he has direct eye contact. I found the story to be incredibly compelling, but more than anything I loved the ending. Without spoiling anything, the ending puts a massive twist on the entire series and changes how you think about certain characters, particularly Lelouch.
There are some major spoilers for Code Geass ahead, so if you’re at all interested in watching the show, avoid the rest of this paragraph. Towards the end of Code Geass, Lelouch has become the emperor of Britain, essentially controlling most of the known world. He achieved this through the use of a secret masked persona, known as Zero. Once he’s the emperor, Lelouch rules the world brutally, with an iron fist. He’s hated unanimously, but feared so much that nobody stands against him. The twist comes in the final episode, when his best friend assassinates him dressed as Zero – I’m really glossing over it here, but essentially Lelouch sacrifices himself to unite the world under a certain set of ideals and essentially brings about world peace. What I found so compelling about this is that it’s truly an act of altruism – while many characters sacrifice their lives, few sacrifice their reputations. Lelouch is forever remembered as a terrible criminal and a tyrant, and he knows this is going to happen when he sets his plan in motion.
I’m not sure I’ve managed to express what I liked about these stories so much, but I can’t help but think back to all of these when I start a creative project, in some capacity or another. I’ll be more than happy if I can create something that invokes the same response in someone (even just one person) as any one of these did for me. I also may have rambled in sections, but I think I got the basic point across.
I’m also sure there are influences I’ve forgotten – I’ll be sure to write up another post when I remember some. Another important thing to mention is that, while these are great influences on me, most of my influences are actually from the world of gaming, which I’ll save for another post.
I’ll be updating this blog a lot more frequently this trimester, and hopefully I’ll have some more news on my Team Fortress 2 map before too much longer.
Thanks for reading!