Everyone who is creative has had to have started somewhere. The people we idolise today, the people who have overcome great feats in their fields, had to have at some point, sat down and put pen to paper, they must have begun an amateur, and grown into the professionals we see. One of the reasons why I love writing so much, is because writing is usually the first step to creating or organising anything. I cannot remember who said it, but I must’ve read somewhere that; “Language is one of Humanities greatest achievements.” I agree with this statement and I think it would be foolish to disagree. I hold a deep respect for people who can write and speak in multiple languages, I find it fascinating and fill myself with envy for those who do it so fluently. Everything, I feel starts with writing, and I challenge anyone to find something that doesn’t, so far I haven’t found anything compelling. Yes, you could argue that ideas come first, thoughts and feelings, but these are invisible unless expressed with the powers of speech which are in turn, words. The first transgression from a vision into reality, comes in the shape of structured sentences in my experience. This line of thought lead me to write this article about the roots of ideas because it is important and very interesting, to see complex ideas boil down to their simplistic fundamentals. I have touched on this in my very first post called ‘A Project Fuelled by Tea’ and in other earlier posts, but have never gone into great details about where The Ancestral Odyssey originally came from. From a writers perspective, writing things like this can be extremely risky, similar to that of a magician revealing his magic tricks to his audience, once he or she reveals how it is done or perhaps only leaves a clue, this can in turn ruin some of the mysticism. I hope this does not happen, but if it does, well it sucks to be me. Before I begin however I must address that I do not consider myself great, I do not hail myself as someone to look up to or in any way idolise, not in the slightest, I am nothing special, but I am someone who has an abundance of ideas some of which have crept into my first book which I hope you pick up one day, I do consider myself a creative person with a passion for writing and world building. The world I have created (Equis) is similar to our own world, but with some very colouful aspects which I think you’ll appreciate. With that said, I hope you enjoy ‘Fangs in the Roots,’ my riskiest post yet.
Constructing this next paragraph was difficult, I could not do it after finishing the last paragraph because it took some serious mental power. I had to re-visit my childhood, I had to re-live a time when I wasn’t working on The Ancestral Odyssey, nor any of the ideas which lead to its beginning, I had to go to a time where I was free from this. I am twenty-nine years old, my first initial thought to start something, happened around the time when I begun College at the age of sixteen back in 2003, that was a good thirteen years ago, I had to rewind even further than that! Yeah, this required some serious alone time, an evening with the internet and plenty of tea hooked up to my veins. I found that if you want to remember this far back, one such technique is rewinding your time in gradual steps, not that I am an expert but do not try and leap frog all the way back to a desired time, because unless you have a fantastic memory this won’t work. Instead (in my case) try to remember your first room, think about what your old interests used to be, what toys you used to play with, what you did with your parents, siblings and friends. Recover the memories one piece at a time and make a note of them. Another way to do it, is to unearth your old tastes in music or film. When I was in College I remember the release of the movie Troy, and Spiderman 2 with Doctor Octopus, that train fight was so freaking cool! Use such memories as stepping stones and just keep recalling until you hit the wall of foggy thoughts. If you fall short, take a short break, but do not forget where you left off, just release the pressure and relax until you re-enter that head space. The internet is an incredible tool, use it, listening to certain pieces of music unlocked several pieces of my past, watching old clips of old movies certainly did the trick. The funny thing is that your past is always there, it hadn’t been deleted, such things had just been buried under layers of other experiences, other thoughts and feelings. Using these techniques which I certainly found helpful, I was able to get to about the age of seven to eight years old, anything before that is just shards of images and loose memories that cannot be re-connected no matter how hard I try. To go off topic a little, I picture my memory bank as a warehouse in the back of a post office, think of the end of the first Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the ark was placed in secret by ‘top men.’ Inside this warehouse are filing cabinets, private rooms and stacks of envelopes all over the place. Each one of these envelopes is a memory of a kind, inside could be a sound, an image, an experience, a piece of music, a scene from a film, a snap shot of a game, words from a book or my new pin number, you get the idea. The warehouse is maintained but could always do with an extra helping hand, because every once in a while new deliveries pour in, and it is up to the guy inside to sift through them and organise what goes where. It is a bit of a mess but a managed mess to say the least. As I said, I got to about the age of seven, and what I found was bizarre.
This is where I get nervous, because this is where I reveal the true origins of The Ancestral Odyssey. Before I had a title, before I had any established characters, before I even had an idea of what the world would look like, all I had was a glimpses of what it could be? This is something I have noticed throughout the course of working on something so vast and otherworldly, is that in the beginning, the ideas you have are loose and squidgy, they can be bent and pulled into almost any direction with very little effort, however over time as your story grows, this gooey substance becomes less flexible, and ever more like clay. The more you handle it, the tougher it gets to manipulate. Just the other day I altered one thing at the beginning of Volume Three, something of mild significance, but it reverberated through certain chapters like dropping a stone into a pond, so in order to smooth it out you need to pick up on such details and alter them accordingly. The devils in the details, and if you do not know said details DO NOT PUBLISH, learn them! If you see any inconsistencies, fix them!
Right from the start I’ve been a gamer, from the age of about seven my father dug out a Commodore 64, this was where video games came on plastic cassettes, literally I am not joking, they were tapes you had to insert into a tape player in order to play them, don’t believe me? You can look this up for yourself and have a giggle. I do realise that I am showing my age as I write this post, right now I am playing the music theme to one of the earliest games I ever played. My brothers and I started up on games like, Shadow of the Beast, Space Gun, X-Out, The New Zealand Story, Flimbo’s Quest and one of the very early Alien games. I remember I used to go round a friends house after school to play his Playstation, Nintendo64 and PC games. We played games like Novastorm, Earth Worm Jim, Donkey Kong, Time Crisis, Beast Wars and when the classic Resident Evil came out, we waited till dark, raided the cupboards, heaved as much junk food as we could carry into his room, and lost ourselves within the survival horror that made it as famous as it is today, yes you can argue that Resident Evil 2 and 3 are responsible for its rise to fame, but nothing quite stands out like the original. As cheesy as the Resident Evil franchise was, with the hilarious dialogue, the sea of plot holes, inconsistencies and silly villains, it is something I hold dear, it is something that does so much right that you tend to forgive its flaws. My favourite character was always Jill, just saying. I am looking forward to seeing how Resident Evil VII turns out, what with it being in VR, taking the story into a whole other direction, getting back to its roots, because as much as the recent games have expanded the genre, it has derailed a bit. I do feel that the games still knock their film adaptations directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, out of the park, same goes for the two Silent Hill movies, they hold nothing to the games in my opinion, and do a poor job of representing what Silent Hill is actually about, a psychological horror with depth to your protagonist, not a monster movie gore fest. It’s a shame because younger generations who have not played such games, watch movies like this, and assume that this is all the franchise can be, when as matter of fact, it’s not, it’s so not. I can bring up so many other examples of game gone wrong in film but it angers me when I do, and compels me to write Hollywood an angry letter. Anyway, back on point. I remember when my mother made the decision to purchase my brothers and I our own Playstation, and we purchased games like Spyro The Dragon, Wipeout2097, Bloody Roar, Red Alert, Doom, Tekken, V-Rally, Worms, Rollcage and so on and so on and so on. As we got older we upgraded our platforms, from Playstation to Playstation2, bought ourselves PC’s and I got my first Xbox on one of my birthdays so I could play the new Oddworld game, and from there I found Halo and Gears of War. Simply put, I’ve played a lot of games starting on one of the earliest of gaming platforms, so it would be wrong for me to say that gaming hasn’t influenced me in some way, of course I have a multitude of other inspirations, but these are some of my earliest memories, and after briefly going over some of my favourite titles, having a rant about Hollywood doing a piss poor job on most of them, and recalling some old memories, I may very well write up a detailed article on some of my all time favourites, but before I move on with this post, just so you know I could have listed out hundreds of titles, and dedicated a page or more to each an every one, because I love games and respect game developers.
You’re probably wondering by now; Where the hell is he going with this? Get to the point!? Here is the point. Everyone around my age at that time was into gaming, especially boys, I was no exception, I loved them so much I used to create my own stories from them, act them out in the back garden, my Dad being a carpenter, used to make us swords from wood, he even used old hub caps from cars and made shields out of them for us. So even when my mother took the consoles away because we played them so much, we used our imaginations outside to continue to game. I however, used to love games with good stories attached to them, I became very invested in some and got upset when it ended. Remember, back then we didn’t live in the age of sequels, not every game had another to follow, back then most of the time a game was just a game, something you bought, played and put away, there was no install time, downloadable content or anything else attached say for a manual, it was very simple. Even if the game did have a sequel lined up, it could take years to be released, because when I was a child there was no massive demand for games as there is today, so once your game ended, it more often than not, ended for good. True, some games are seeing comebacks, but this is probably due to the fact that it is easier to take something great that has had its day, and re-make it, rather than come up with a whole new idea yourself from scratch. For example, Crash Bandicoot is on its way out again, and as much as I look forward to that, I feel like asking the question: Why? Because some of favourites ended so abruptly, there were times when I would seek solitude, go for long walks by myself just so I could re-imagine what happened afterwards. Doing this as often as possible, walking too and from the bus stop to go to school, on the bus, on long drives etc etc I guess that was where I got my ability to assemble story lines, and I feel like I got good at being inside my own head, sometimes I’d rather be alone than surrounded by crowds because the noise didn’t allow me to escape. Yeah, I was a bit of a strange kid.
One of the games I found myself particularly drawn to, one that to this day has one of the best introductions/opening videos to any game I’ve seen, is called Legacy of Kain: Soulreaver, directed by Amy Hennig, developed by Crystal Dynamics. Without going into too much detail, Legacy of Kain: Soulreaver is a game set in a world called Nosgoth, it is a world ruled by Humans and Vampires but the Vampires seem to have the upper hand at this point. It’s about the passage of time, destiny, revenge, family and redemption for what was done to a Vampire called Raziel, the eldest of six brothers, this is the character you play as. Not only was your body destroyed by being thrown into the lake of the dead, The Abyss, out of an act of jealousy, but your clan, your home, your legacy was reduced to ruin afterwards. So after your apparent ‘destruction,’ you are raised from the dead by something that claims to be a God, only to discover that centuries have gone by since you awoke, that the world you once knew is gone and your brothers changed beyond recognition. Upon your re-birth, Raziel goes from a typical Vampire who had a thirst for blood, who now has a thirst for souls, and with each soul he consumes he can inherit new abilities. As you begin your journey across Nosgoth for vengeance, as you learn about what powers you possess with your new transformed body, you visit a variety of different places, places like ancient crypts, all kinds of cities, abbeys flooded by water, cathedrals riddled with traps, wastelands full of creatures, all kinds of caves and so on, really there is so much in this game to keep you busy for weeks. Nosgoth is rich with its own lore and mythology, the atmosphere in some areas is oozing and can really envelope you if you let it, I love it! Especially when you meet your brothers one at a time in their own lairs, each brother also having gone through their own transformations, going from Vampire men to grotesque creatures, changed in their own unique way making them terrifying to look at, and when you meet them they have no love for you, not any more and a battle ensues. The graphics are dated but they are still pretty good considering that this game was released in 1995. The soundtrack is one of the most appealing features to me, the music sets the tone, it has a way of building suspense and atmosphere and fits together with the area you are in. It is near perfect guys, I really do encourage anyone reading this to invest in it, I know that can be a bit difficult nowadays seeing as technology has moved on a great deal, but I downloaded it a while ago from the PS Store/Network. Legacy of Kain is one of those games that has a huge story, it sometimes leap frogs from era to era, the passage of time is key to its intricate story. I do not do it justice here, please trust me when I say it is a wonderful game, I hope I have however triggered at least some interest, check it out. If the opening intro to Soulreaver (easily found on YouTube) does not do it for you then I do not know what will.
Legacy of Kain: Soulreaver is one of a handful of games that really stood out, one that kept me thinking long after I had finished it, a game I play once every few years just to re-live the nostalgic feelings and perhaps learn something that I missed the last time. It’s a story that doesn’t tell you everything, at times it leaves you alone to put the pieces together yourself, and this is what I particularly loved about it, a technique that I admire artists for doing. For me, it allowed my mind to construct my own stories, allowing my imagination to run with it because it is so rich with content. So when the time came for me to make my own world, Legacy of Kain had a hand in it, I cannot deny that it served as a great inspiration, it would be wrong to do so. Even to this day, I find myself listening to some of the pieces of music to enable me to get into the head space I want to be in, for the scene I am writing to take place. In the early days of writing, back when my book was called Mythology, there was a strong presence of Vampires, where as if you compare the very, VERY first draft or scribbles of a story, which is in a folder on lined paper, to what I have now, Self-Published and on Amazon, there is not a hint of anything remotely similar to Vampires in it. However, in saying that, I think it would be wise for me to point out that that does not mean I don’t have my own interpretation of a Vampire, I do have a few ideas involving a blood sucker, but it is part of my Mythorgin timeline, along with Witch, Imp, Druid and so on. So before anyone hits me with the fan fiction argument, The Ancestral Odyssey is not I repeat NOT, fan fiction! Vampires in the Legacy of Kain story certainly were an inspiration, but so are so are a great number of other things, some things being merely feelings or sounds. The world of Nosgoth, the mysteries that run through it definitely trained my brain at a young age, trained me to understand that it is better to show and not to tell sometimes. Giving your audience all the answers is not always a good way to go, instead let the people who are enjoying your work have their own input. We all once had powerful imaginations once, as adults, as time moves forward, we tend to lose touch with it, I implore people of ALL ages to use their imaginations when it’s appropriate.
Thank you for reading this article, it has been an interesting one for sure regardless of how risky it was. I hope you enjoyed it and I haven’t turned you off to reading my own book which is available on the Amazon Store. I’ve taken a trip down memory lane, had a dabble in talking about some of my favourite games and inspirations, I may even start throwing in reviews on this site, who knows, but for any of you reading this, if there is a game (focusing on games for now) you’d like me to talk about or review in the future, please leave me an e-mail or drop me a tweet, links can be found below. People say that everything comes from somewhere, whether it be from a singular thing or a collaboration of things, everything stems from something else, and as much as I agree with this statement I still also feel that it is up to the artist working in his or her own field, to try and make it as unique as possible, giving audiences something new is something I strive for.It’s always good to remember our roots from time to time, they are partly responsible for shaping us into what we are, this was the purpose for this post.
The fang art was pulled off Google, I could not find any references as to who made the picture, so before you sue me for everything I have which isn’t much, drop me an e-mail and I can remove it if you so wish. Sony own the Playstation pad in the image, I do not. Again, thanks for reading.
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