Posted in Blaugust, Blogging, Gaming, Writing

#Blaugust Day 6 — TGTCML: Discovering the Internet

This is part of the Blaugust series!

darkstarnewcoversmall
Obviously not drawn in 1998.

In my previous post, I talked about how, as a teen, I began writing a fan fiction of my favorite game, Final Fantasy II/IV, before I even knew what the Internet was. Once I discovered the Internet, a whole new, wild world opened up before me. For starters, I had access to information I never had before, such as the fact that the characters in FFIV had last names! Wow! (No, seriously, we didn’t get that information in the US version…)

But the most important thing the Internet provided me with was a platform to share my writing, back before there were blogs or content management systems or anything like we use now. I taught myself to code rudimentary HTML, enough to create those oldskool pages with the midi music, animated images, and scrolling text. You know the kind, right?

Okay, so maybe my sites weren’t so garish. I hope?

I had a number of Geocities accounts, which allowed me to design and post webpages for free on the Internet. I soon realized the potential in this as a writer, and in 1998, I created a site that housed my FFIV fanfic, Coming of the Darkstar (warning: old writing needs editing). I took the old hand-written pages and painstakingly began to type them into HTML format using the WebTV we had at the time (still no computer in my house, but at least we had Internet!). The original story wasn’t finished, however, and I pushed to get it done over winter vacation in 2000.

Note, this story has been edited and re-written several times, so it’s not the exact original hand-written fanfic of old. I still need to give it another good editing now that it’s been several years not having read through it.

During the early years of online fan fiction writing, there weren’t a massive number of fan pieces out there for FFIV (or in general). This was due to the fact that you almost had to know HTML to put together your own site back then. So, anyone who did this kind of thing ended up getting quite a bit of attention. It was even more rare to find an online fantasy web novel at the time, so Darkstar drew a bit of a crowd. And as a young adult writer, it was great!

I tapped into my audience by creating forums and a role play email list (don’t see these much anymore). This was the foundation for what eventually became Sygnus.org.

-To Be Continued-

Posted in Blaugust, Gaming

#Blaugust Day 5 — TGTCML: Writing Fanfic Before it Existed

This is part of the Blaugust series!

nintendopowerIn yesterday’s post, I wrote about my teenage discovery of JRPGs through the SNES version of Final Fantasy II/IV. So, what’s a creative kid-turned-FFIV-fan to do back at a time when there were no smartphones, no tablets, not a single computer in the house, before Windows 95 existed, and the Internet wasn’t even something I could have imagined?

Well, write fan fiction before I ever knew that something called “fanfic” existed!

I was caught up on the ending of FFIV, really torn at the thought that these two brothers who had fought against each other, and found each other, were now going to be separated for good.

No! I thought, like so many future fanfiction writers of any fandom. This was not the way the story should end! 

So, I sat down and put my pencil to many loose-leaf pieces of wide rule notebook paper and started writing a sequel! Yes. I wrote my first fan fiction long-hand, and I actually still have that draft in a folder in a box under my bed.

There was no Internet to look up game information, fan art, other stories… or blogs to share this creation in. I was just a silly kid who collected what little I could get my hands on about my favorite game, the pictured Nintendo Power Magazine issue included.

There was also no outside influence on the story and the characters I began to develop, some who I began to expand upon from what little I saw of them in the game. While FFIV was awesome for its time, it has nothing on newer JRPGs in the way of deep character development. However, it was this very thing that provided a canvas for young fans like myself to come in and make our own explorations of:  What happened next? Who exactly is this character when they take off their armor? How do they fit into the world of the Blue Planet? And what happened to those Lunars and their flying whales anyhow?

It wasn’t until many years later, when I went to college and discovered the Internet for the first time (1997?) that I realized there was something called “fanfic” and I wasn’t the only one who wrote such things. However, during that time, there was no Fanfiction.net or Archive of Our Own. But there was a thing called Geocities

-To Be Continued-

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging, Gaming

#Blaugust Day 4 — The Game That Changed My Life (TGTCML)

snesffii

This is part of the Blaugust series!

This has been such an integral part of my creative life, but I realized that I have never once put this all down in writing nor told this full story. So I’ve decided to use Blaugust as a time to talk about The Game That Changed My Life (furthermore known as TGTCML).

The game that changed my life happened the summer of 1992, when my younger sister and I first rented a game called Final Fantasy II for the SNES. This is now better known as Final Fantasy IV, but at the time, we knew nothing of Japanese game development, etc. etc. etc.

The summer of 1992 was a good summer. I was 14 years old, and had landed an almost full-time summer job babysitting neighbor kids just down the road. Yeah, looking back on it, I was way too young for that kind of job. But the kids were behaved, the pay was good, and it only lasted a few weeks overall.

What it did give me was the financial freedom to buy the coolest new game system at the time, the Super Nintendo. I grew up a Nintendo fan-kid. I fell in love with Super Mario Bros. the first time I picked up a controller at my cousin’s house. While I had dabbled with RPG games like the original Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior, it was really Super Mario World that I wanted on the SNES.

Back then, my parents would go to the local rental shop at our Pharmor and pick up the cheapie movie rentals. They always let us rent one video game for 99 cents, and the very first one we chose for the SNES happened to be Final Fantasy II.

We’d never played a real JRPG with a full storyline and characters we could care about. We never even knew that kind of thing existed in video games. What proceeded to happen was love at first sight and a lot of this:

mindblown

I mean, we went from a cool story about a Dark Knight who went up on a mystical mountain, turned into a Paladin, and ended up riding a whale to the moon to meet an alien race! Heck yeah!

Sadly, buying the system took all the money I had saved, and buying games for us was not something my parents did very often, so my sister and I worked tirelessly to save up recycle money and our tiny bit of allowance for months before buying FFII in November that year. I remember we bought it for over $60 – no joke – brand new at Lowes of all places!

My sister and I played that game over and over and over again. Like the good books and movies of our childhood, this became a part of my young-teen years. Only a few years before that, I’d discovered the world of fantasy fiction through accidentally reading The Hobbit and then devouring The Lord of the Rings. Also, just a note, 1992 was years before the Internet existed for me! So, FFII was just the right game to not just introduce me to JRPG gaming, but into a new sort of fandom I never expected to find.

To Be Continued! 

Impromptu Writing Prompt: Do you have a game you feel changed your life? Blaugust about it!