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Thread: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

  1. #1
    Cookiegod's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Icon1 Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    Hello there.
    This thread is devoted to Cookie's failures as a writer. I hope the title is a good start.

    Cookie currently has two contributions to the Writer's study:
    • OWaB - Of Wolves and Blobtits
    • OWaP - Of Wolves and Prey

    Those abbreviations aren't confusing enough as it is. So this thread here shall henceforth be referred to as OWB.

    The Witcher AAR is a flawless masterpiece, so I won't talk much about it here. Also, I'm not planning on posting anything new there for the time being.
    I'm thinking about maybe, maybe doing a quickie AAR about a Rome 2 campaign I did, but even if I do it probably won't need much talking about.
    So this thread will likely be mostly about OWaP. It might look dead and you might have forgotten about it, but it's not, and I haven't.

    Instead I've decided to write ahead so I'll be able to at least post the entire chapter 2 on a strict weekly schedule. I'm ahead now, but I'm not sure when I'll start posting again. It depends on how ambitious I want to be (-> pictures) and currently people seem to be on holidays atm.

    One major change is that I'm no longer going to clog the AAR-threads (or your brains) with semi-related stuff: Historical context, writers struggles, and other things.
    Instead, I'll post those things here!

    So if you're one of the guys who do like that kind of stuff, like this weirdo here:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Can only repeat, this AAR is not only interesting because of the story, but because of all the background details as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Once again the background information proved to be a bliss.
    Ironic how you always blather about the lenght of your post, making it even longer.

    ... you'll feel right in!

    Seriously though: I think this might be interesting for those of you trying to become better writers, or those of you who care about historical context.

    Also, your feedback is welcome as always. I actually rely on it a lot. Often I'm not sure what I'm doing, so your opinions do matter to me.

  2. #2
    Carmen Sylva's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    I think this might be interesting for those of you trying to become better writers, or those of you who care about historical context.
    I like your humble style.^^

    But seriously:

    Background informations in a separate thread is a a good way to make a AAR more structured and readable.
    Christ was crucified, Socrates was poisoned, Phidias was accused of theft - it is almost an honor to be abused by contemporaries.

    Carmen Sylva (1843 - 1916), actually Princess Elisabeth Pauline Ottilie Luise zu Wied VA (Royal Order of Victoria and Albert), German writer and lyricist, by marriage Queen Elizabeth of Romania

    Proud Non-Citizen / End of Time / Unschuldsengel / My Mods

  3. #3
    Derc's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    Why haven't you called this thread 'Of Wolves and Writer's Block (OWaWB)? Here's the wolf already, rummaging through this thread and telling you what a stupid idea that is. I'm talking about putting OWaB on hold, of course. Outsourcing your semi-related stuff into another thread is actually a decent idea.

    OWaWB for MCWC!

    Quote Originally Posted by C-God
    This thread is devoted to Cookie's failures as a writer.
    You just need a vacation. One where you don't build garden houses. Concrete was the wrong inspiration. No wonder you seem stuck.


    "... Thus our judgements, if they do not borrow from reason and philosophy a fixity and steadiness of purpose in their acts, are easily swayed and influenced by the praise or blame of others, which makes us distrust our own opinions."
    - Plutarch

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    Default OWB: Historicalities 1

    Some clarifications before we descend into the rabbit hole:
    1. Iíll do different types of posts on this blocg. Youíll see which it is in the title colour. This is about some historical context. Hence the green in the title below.
    2. It is not necessary at all to read this for OWaP. All necessary information will be given in the ďAARĒ itself. Any further insight you might gain here is only semirelevant. I do not intend to spoil things. Do not feel obligated to read unless the topic interests you.

    Historicalities 1
    One of my struggles regarding OWaP is realism and historical authenticity. Since the AAR is not only based on a game, but a multiplayer campaign with many human players acting without me having any control over it, the story isnít a retelling of actual events. What I try to do, however, is to have the campaign as some sort of an alternate history, one which could actually have happened in real life, and include as many wtf historical events as possible without having the story itself suffer from it. Since Medieval II isnít particularly historically accurate, some of those changes had to happen pregame, which is part of the reason why Chapter II of OWaP has been rather weird so far. But those werenít particularly many (and obviously I try to not fret over every single detail, and stick to only whatís relevant for the story). So hereís some historical background for you below. This time it's not that mind blowing, more like historical technicalities (hence the title), don't judge me. Future historical context posts in this thread might be more interesting. Wanna hear about the gay caliph and his lover traitor vizier? Well, you might in a future post.

    Small ingame change 1: Ingame rulers/character names had to be sometimes changed to their historical counter parts. E.g. ďDuke Giorgio RossiĒ, the ingame faction leader of Milan who I have to assume carries the name of one of the game developers, thus became Albert Azzo II, and his children changed names accordingly.

    Small ingame change 2: Albert Azzo did rule both Milan and Genoa (at least nominally), but his borders didnít exactly fit those ingame. I have made this map for you:
    The large red circle is basically the ingame start domain of Milan. The dashed line represents Alberts approximate holdings in the west. The crossed out red circle in the east represents his approximate holdings there. They were rather substantial, and as time progressed, he and his descendants lost their control over the lands in the west while enlargening those in the east. Obviously they were soon outshined by the city states that once used to be their subjects, such as Milan and Genoa, but they remained one of the most prominent, powerful and oldest ruling dynasties in Italy for centuries.

    Venice on the other hand didnít hold much land in Italy itself at that time, other than the lagoon (the cyan dashed line on the map). The borders it holds ingame however werenít achieved until the Italian wars in the 15th and 16th centuries.

    So this is where alternate history change 1 comes in:
    Instead of his descendants losing all lands in the west whilst holding on to those in the east, Albert sells the lands in the east to Venice and regains total control over those in the West.
    This is the historical backdrop to what happened in Chapter 2 so far.
    Now this might seem insignificant enough for me to omit it, but I did use these historical facts in the actual game to justify my actions there.

    Alright. Letís move on.
    Albert/Alberto had three sons: Welf/Guelf, Hugh/Hugo/Ugo, Fulk/Fulco.
    Welf was his son by his first marriage. Welf received through his motherís family vast landholdings in Germany and became one of the most powerful men in the HRE. Second only to the kings/emperors of the HRE, for whom he and his descendants were a source of constant headache. How significant that was would especially be felt in Italy. In the pope vs emperor struggles (Guelfs vs Ghibellines) throughout northern Italy, the pro pope faction Guelfs were named after him and his descendants.
    Hugh was the first son by Albertís second marriage, and he was initially just as lucky as Welf, went to France, inherited the county of Maine. Problem: He really didnít have an easy job and wasnít up to the task. Generally seen as inept and lazy, he ended up selling his county to his cousin and went home, coruling with his younger brother for a while until dying childless.
    Whereas his older brothers inherited from their mothers families, Fulk/Fulco and his descendants continued to rule his fatherís domains. Welf and his descendants werenít happy about that, but couldnít do much about it, even though they continued to press their claim for roughly a century.

    Anyway: Obviously Hugh will play only a small role in the story (the fewer characters, the better). But the rivalry between Welf and Fulk and their descendants will play out in the story as well.

    So to give you an idea about how powerful Welf actually was: He participated in the uprising against the king (later emperor). Even though the anti-king died in 1080 and the revolt overall started to fall apart after that, Welf himself kept fighting on for a looooooong time. He and the emperor settled their differences in 1096. Almost 20 years after the civil war had started.
    The beginning of that war didn't go particularly well for Welf, however. He did have to flee to Hungary in 1077 for a short while. I did read something about him then going to his father for support and then returning home to fight on. It would make sense, and my story builds on this.

    However, this is where alternate history change 2 comes in:
    So I obviously needed him to lose his possessions in Germany (and his father to lose those in the east), and I needed Venice to expand. Easy solution: Have Venice kidnap Welf en route.
    Didnít happen, but could have, and does in the story.

    Some things that he did do after 1077 will still happen in the story. Just the circumstances and outcomes will change. Best example for that: Marrying his son off to the famous Mathilda of Tuscany. Hugely important historically, and also quite important in OWaP. But letís not get ahead of ourselves.





    Closing remarks:
    Obviously the historical context provided in this post wasnít particularly mindblowing. Those were technicalities. I had to get them out of the way for my story. The bigger the house, the more groundwork needs to be done. Obviously not every historical detail needs mentioning, and if necessary, Iíll always sacrifice historical accuracy in order to make a better story.

    The historical context was only part of the reason why chapter II starts out in such a weird way. Much more important was laying the groundwork for character development. Iíll talk about that in a different post in this thread. Possibly soon.

    Anyway, I might do more of those historicalities posts as well. The details in future ones will hopefully be more wtf-moments in history focused Ė just like the story itself.

    So here are two questions for you, dear reader, who made it this far:
    1: Would you want to read more posts in the future about historical things that happen or are mentioned in the story?
    2: What are your thoughts on historical accuracy in creative writing? Is that something you like authors to get right or is it more important for you to get to the story quicker?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    Random ramble-blog-like hijacking inbound, apologies in advance for the inevitable mess.

    I may have some investment in writing, even though I've always struggled to get a foothold here. My style of operation is so fundamentally different that the site isn't especially compatible for me. But, I can always go on about various topics, so here we go, but first, a tad more background. My origins leave me with an immense regard for character development and narrative cohesion, much more so than even my peers in the background sometimes hold. The two words have very particular executions; character development specifically relates to creating a solid individual (in logic, not necessarily in historical roots) and then developing them, again, not by what history demands, but by what their very nature demands. History is a series of building blocks, each thing occurring depending on the successful occurrence of the prior thing. Think about it. The amount of changes you have to make for Medieval 2 to be historically viable while reflecting its gameplay results in a world fundamentally built and advanced on different variables, particularly when you let the AI do whatever it wants. Each successive change utterly throws the balance of what will be, and technical advancements, prominence of factions, interfaction/cultural rivalries, and so much more are permanently influenced because Spain's AI decided it wanted to take over Ireland, and countless more examples. This is why I first gave up on the idea of making a truly historical AAR, and then the idea of making a historically accurate AAR at all - aside for one factor, which I'll get into below. In any case, it's why I do best in worlds of fantasy - the amount of shifted variables are not quite so extreme and more writer's liberty can be taken without a second thought for someone who has high regard for the context source, real life when historically speaking. Narrative cohesion, rather than being the true order of future events (we've established that is long out the window), is simply the logical procession of the story at hand. In this regard I think OWaP does well.

    I do think the struggle involved need not be difficult. Realism does not entail accuracy in events, only accuracy in context presentation and in the handling of the context. What people have to work with does not change (much, anytime soon) when characters are entirely on their own paths. They work with the same technology, behaviors established by their history and upbringings, and social factors, though historical rivalries will deeply take massive turns on, say, a grand campaign map unless you straight up ignore the time Milan invades the Papal States. I don't, so in this respect, it could be a massive struggle - or I could, you could, focus on accurately presenting the scenario, the technologies, behaviors, and so on, while not playing your hand to history in the sense of procession of events and characters as they were outside of their basic context. I believe a story in medieval 2 is so much more authentic when you explain the events that uniquely take place, rather than shoehorn in an effort to reproduce a historical scenario. This speaks in general and isn't an accusation.

    In this respect there may be some disparity between the terms "historical authenticity" and "historical accuracy", although I'd just decapitate the issue and say they're the same bloody word. Still, you can derive different implications from them. The former implies you will get more from what I detail above, while the latter, pins you to the advancement of history. Your questions seem to refer to the latter, where 'historical things that happen' seem to be implied. This, in my view, is a judgement call; certain things may occur even if the world is thrown upside down, but if an event seems dubious in relation to what you or the AI has done on the campaign map (that can reasonably influence said events you want to include), then it would be prudent to change it or even straight up remove it, possibly conceive new events and conditions resulting from how the map has played out. Speaking purely on my background and style of gameplay, I believe it is far, far, far far more interesting to see the world as it has been influenced by the new scenario and take on events accordingly, rather than bind myself to the historical order of things. This is not at the exclusion of portraying technology, traditions (where sensible), behaviors and context - you can make an absolutely historical context while playing through different events. Game of Thrones the TV show managed to do this to an extent. You saw many medieval things, historically authentic things, even if nothing at all was in historical procession. This is what I mean, as compared to attempting to follow historical events with a three legged, one eyed, senile dog.

    I am wholly devoted to the story, the proceedings, rather than an attempt to preach history I can find from wikipedia through a critically flawed medium of reproducing historical events. After all, this is fundamentally against what total war is about. "Here's the context, what if [all this] happened". This, I believe, is the very essence of the total war experience. Others might likely disagree, and as a relative outsider, I cannot speak at all for the TWC base. I can speak for what I respect the most - a rendition of history as the game has allowed it to be, with the changes and new faces that all come along the way. So many authentic events and details can occur through the medium, even if they have no relation to real life. Done well, everything is connected, and you are ultimately presenting alternative history. Again, I enjoy this more on a creative level than the admittedly impressive act of trudging through true events through a medium that struggles against them and only haphazardly incorporates them.

  6. #6
    Cookiegod's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    Thanks for the in-depth reply, Commodus. I get your point, but you seem to build your case on some misunderstandings:
    1) There was no AI, it was a multiplayer campaign with all factions except the very passive rebels (and yes, including the mongols) having been played by humans. And that game is long over, so I know exactly how it played out.
    2) It was supposed to be a simple casual game, but at the insistence of others it became partly role player oriented. Which is why some historical context did matter slightly in the course of the in game events, as I and others tried to justify our actions with real history. So the Este thing isn't simply over. It will come back. I do not include some historical details unless they either further the plot or at least have some entertainment value themselves.
    3) What I mean by historical authenticity is exactly realism. It doesn't have to be the same timeline, it just means that their actions make sense given the circumstances.
    4) I'm not shoehorning historical accuracy into a medieval 2 game. Quite ironically some distant factions did go for distant Ireland, and I play along with it. What I am doing, however, is portraying the in-game events as a logical progression from an actual historical start point. Kinda like an alternate dimension. If X & Y played out differently, how would that have changed the world? That's what I'm going for.

    Other changes are easy and simple. Just because a province belongs to some bland faceless "rebels" ingame, doesn't mean that I have to call them that in the story. Just because a character is named "Derp" in game doesn't mean I have to call him that in the story. I can have some historical character embody his part. The point isn't to haphazardly shoehorn anything into anywhere. And not everything that happens in the story needs to have happened historically or even in game. Basically the story builds on the game, which in turn builds on history. Story takes precedence always, historical accuracy never. It serves a function.

    The point is to enrich the story where appropriate and give the world some more depth, or to quote your own words: "A rendition of history as the game has allowed it to be".
    "Something funny."
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Thanks for the in-depth reply, Commodus. I get your point, but you seem to build your case on some misunderstandings:
    And yours, on the concept that I was specifically tailoring each line to what you were doing. I disclaimed, as I do now, that I'm not necessarily attributing things to you, rather speaking in a more general AAR sense on the site. If that was unclear from the start, I apologize.

    An in depth reply from here is not necessary (unless you desire it) given the simple 'shooting past' of points and arguments between us. Good on you for doing as you describe through the four points and subsequent section.

  8. #8
    Cookiegod's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    Quote Originally Posted by CommodusIV View Post
    And yours, on the concept that I was specifically tailoring each line to what you were doing. I disclaimed, as I do now, that I'm not necessarily attributing things to you, rather speaking in a more general AAR sense on the site. If that was unclear from the start, I apologize.

    An in depth reply from here is not necessary (unless you desire it) given the simple 'shooting past' of points and arguments between us. Good on you for doing as you describe through the four points and subsequent section.
    My bad. I did read the "speaking in general and isn't an accusation" line, but I still misunderstood it as also being criticism with regards to the AAR.

    And it's not like I disagree so much with you fundamentally on this one, generally speaking. I just don't think that criticism applies this well to the OWaP (not that I'd be offended if it did, I like being pointed out to be wrong).

    But yeah. I do have my problems with AARs and historical novels as well. AARs have that problem that their outcome is a foregone conclusion, and after a somewhat difficult beginning they tend to become rather easy but tedious. Alwyn actually has a creative way of dealing with this in his New Town AAR, where he also tells the stories from those who are being defeated.

    Historical novels and movies honestly mostly suck. As stories they tend to be weak and bad. As for realism/accuracy they tend to get too much wrong.

    I can see how that drives writers to fantasy. But at the same time I don't see much reason to get into stuff that isn't real.

    Anyway: Next one or two posts coming very soon will deal with what you and I both cherish far more: Character development.
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