December Rambletopics Days - ...Whatever. ([personal profile] adraekh)

Dec. 4th, 2014 10:29 pm
magibrain: A dignified and stately way of shooting you in the face while slicing you open. (Final Fantasy VIII)
[personal profile] magibrain
Final Fantasy VIII! Anything about Final Fantasy VIII!


Oh, FFVIII, my first great fandom love! This will contain spoilers, but if you haven't played the game, I'm going to guess it's not high on your priorities list.

I feel like addressing this one is going to delve into my early sexual confusion, the methods by which I could successfully interact with friends, the computer I had as a tiny magi, and the hilarity of an unexpected NORG.

As a tiny magi, my mother decided that computers were the way of the future, and that my brother and I should have basically access to them. This meant, in practice, two things for me: 1) typing out all the stories! every stories! from a young age, and 2) COMPUTER GAMES.

Get me on a ramble about the computer games I grew up with sometime.

Anyway, somewhere in the haze of Fallout and Exile III and Megazeux and Call of the Shadows, I discovered that Macs, at that time, could run software that could emulate PlayStation disks. The first PS game I remember getting was Final Fantasy VII, which was a mindblowing gigantic adventure world for me at that age. (I still think it and VI are probably the best of the series in terms of story and craft. I hear that I might like XIII's story, but while I feel like I might like to watch the movie, I have no desire to play the movie. I watched my brother play the first nine hours, and that was enough to convince me that I'd get no joy out of the act of holding the controller through it.) FFVII is a bit out of scope, though I did once take the maps from both ways and work out how the continental drift had to happen to turn one into another, but it hooked me on the Final Fantasy series. So when it came out, I pounced on VIII.

Oh man, I can still remember the first time I sat there at the controls, looking at the pixellated Squall standing there in the infirmary with the white light all around him and Dr. Kadowaki just outside.

This was something new; the graphics look like crap now, but coming straight in from FFVII, I was impressed. And I could feel that frission of knowing that I had my fingers on the controls, that this little avatar – while with a (programmed) mind of his own that'd resist me if I tried to stray too far from type – was mine to explore this world through.

And, okay. I played this game when I was... er, it was '99, wasn't it, and me from '86, so... thirteen years old. Possibly fourteen, depending on when I actually could get it. And I had a fiction kink thing for the whole silent-suffering types and for antiheroes and swords and military groups and that was about all she wrote for little Billy. I was pretty much done after that.

Compared to FFVII's Single Gigantic Corporate Empire (and also Wutai, as a footnote), FFVIII had a vastly more complicated political situation. And I ate up the whole Guardian Force thing witha spoon – the vast powerful beings who live in your mind and eat your memories and have affinities toward you and certain ones are predisposed to like certain characters more than others and Ifrit is hot okay; all the girls want him and all the socially maladjusted kids who haven't learned about concepts like "genderqueer" and "asexual" yet want to be him. Or something like that. I loved the world, and I loved the main character, and the rivalry between Squall and Seifer twanged at my powerfucky self and I identified with Quistis possibly too much, and then I squished on Quistis definitely too much, and then...

And then, you have to understand, I was also the kind of kid who hated romance with a blazing passion.

I mean, I am and have always been aromantic. But back then, I didn't know what the hell aromanticism was, or that that was an option, or that people had natural variation in their desire for romance. I just knew that I hated this stuff and media and culture was shoving it down my throat, and I reacted badly to that.

And FFVIII had to go and be a romance.

...you know how I tend to joke that 80% of my fic is spite-based?


So yeah. I started ficcing. And once I start ficcing, I tend not to stop unless acted upon by an outside force. Back then, because I didn't have an internal editor who had done things like, oh, take writing courses and go to writing workshops, I churned out stuff at a rate I can only dream of today. And honestly, I credit that a lot with my status write now as an author who usually doesn't suck.

...actually, I can't go into how I started ficcing without going into the FFGurus Forums, where I posted all my fic to begin with – before FFN, I'm pretty sure. And the community there which took me in and nurtured me and gave me feedback and taught me new perspectives and gave me my first taste of genderfuckery (people tended to assume I was male until corrected, and I found that I really liked experiencing that) and which... was amazing. I still miss that community. I've never found another forum where I could engage to that extent again.

Being a socially awkward kid, one of my primary modes of interacting at people was to babble at them, at length, about whatever I was writing. (...let's be honest, that's still one of the cornerstones of my social skillset.) And as what I was writing back then, and for many years following, was FFVIII, I tended to babble about my fic... which required me to explain all the parts of the game that were relevant to the fic... which eventually covered almost everything about the game, start to finish. ...except, apparently, NORG, which is a story [personal profile] squeemu should probably tell. •g•

FFVIII was literally the basis of my friendships for a while there. (It is remarkable that I have ever made any friends.)

I still love FFVIII. Every once in a while I feel like I should write more for it, except I think I've forgotten enough that I'd need to re-play it again, and I don't have the time for that these days.

I've written a bit before about how Scars, the story I wrote as a goodbye to the fandom when I realized that my fandom interests were shifting, was the very best story I was capable of writing at that time. Dark Legion, my great magnum opus, was the best I was capable of writing when I entered the fandom, so many years ago. I look back at them both with a kind of wincing fondness. It's strange; I'm often not cognizant that my writing skills have improved, but I can look back and say "...yes, I am better than I was back then." And even while I wince, I really do love those stories for what they meant to me, for the places they took me.

Aaand I don't know where I'm meant to take this post next, so I may just rambledanse to a close.



In writing this, I realized that I didn't have an FFVIII icon on this account, and I uploaded one. Then, as I was scrolling down my icons page, for an instant I thought my Sam Tyler icon had Balamb Garden in the background. I'd say I really need to write that fic now, except that I already did.

This post has been brought to you as a service of the December Posting Meme.

Date: 2014-12-06 07:41 pm (UTC)
adraekh: (Default)
From: [personal profile] adraekh
> FFVII is a bit out of scope, though I did once take the maps from both ways and work out how the continental drift had to happen to turn one into another

Oh man, I am intrigued now! Would you mind sharing, if you still remember?

Less geological, but you're reminding me of how I have recently been puzzling over the scripts in FF7. The only two scripts you see are the Latin script and the Japanese kana&kanji script, and the Japanese script has somehow penetrated so far into the main landmasses that you Japanese written everywhere across the signs even in Midgar -- and, well, even ShinRa's logo prior to their conquest of Wutai writes "Shinra" out in either kanji or Chinese characters -- which suggests ... what? Historical expansionism on Wutai's part? (Alternatively: Japanese creators just splashing Japanese and English everywhere, which is what it's like in Japan anyways.) :P

I am also tickled by the fact that the "Japanese" Kisaragi's are the rulers of a nation that seems more Chinese and/or Russian than Japanese. Sometimes I wonder if there's a statement there.

> FFVIII had a vastly more complicated political situation.

This is something I really love about FF8 as a whole, in comparison to FF7 ... whose simplistic political system is most likely completely intentional (mumble something something capitalist dystopia). It makes complex sequel stories far easier to write for FF8 than for FF7.

> And FFVIII had to go and be a romance.

I like to joke that FF8 is like a mediocre fanfic that assumes you read the pairing tag, because oh, of course they are going to fall in love despite the fact that it's awfully set up. I know that if you make certain choices throughout the game, it makes Squall's seemingly sudden turnaround less sudden, but because the game didn't force those scenes upon you (you have to choose pretty specific sequences of choices?), most first-time gamers are left thinking, "Wait. What the fuck just happened?"

> And once I start ficcing, I tend not to stop unless acted upon by an outside force. Back then, because I didn't have an internal editor who had done things like, oh, take writing courses and go to writing workshops, I churned out stuff at a rate I can only dream of today.

Man, I sometimes remember those days with a certain nostalgia and wish I had written more fic before becoming too self-aware of my own writing. All this means that I've got crippling author's performance anxiety now.

> I've written a bit before about how Scars, the story I wrote as a goodbye to the fandom when I realized that my fandom interests were shifting, was the very best story I was capable of writing at that time.

Despite your wincing, Scars is still one of my favorite FF8 fics. :D Now I am kinda curious and want to ask now how you would write it now with your current skill-set.

Date: 2014-12-06 10:50 pm (UTC)
squeemu: Magpie holding a ring in its beak. (Default)
From: [personal profile] squeemu
Oh man, Norg. I'm still bitter about that fight.

Every once in awhile, I get the urge to replay FFVIII and roll around in the first two discs. I still really like the battle system, especially how engaging it was to actually be part of the fight wrt the trigger on the gunblade. And I'm still sad we didn't get to have Seifer in the party for longer; I was weirdly fascinated by the different timing required for his gunblade versus Squall's.

Definitely still nostalgic for how immersive that universe was to me. Each tiny detail was picked apart for meaning and a thread leading to more information about the world. I find that I have difficulty getting into other canons/fandoms the same way and I'm not sure if it's due to getting older, or if I'm just not as interested.

Date: 2014-12-06 10:50 pm (UTC)
thebaconfat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thebaconfat
Thanks for sharing this. It's amazing and I'm getting a little emotional at the thought of how this game introduced us to each other and to whole new communities and how much who we are now is connected to that.

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