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(Spoiler Review)

I need to talk about Naomi. I was not enthused when it became clear that this season was going to be about Filip, particularly because Filip turns out to be a mass murderer with abandonment issues. It was hard to care about redeeming him after he helps finish off more people in one go than literally any other person in human history.

I’m reminded of this exchange about the murderous Azula from Avatar:

Just so for Filip and Naomi.

Naomi seems to realize that her son is beyond helping (though she doesn’t say so explicitly) and has to…

In the bitter mid-winter
In search of a secret summer
Hope did splinter
And all lay asunder

Waters rage and thrash
Promises wither and shatter
Hearts part without a clash
All is matter; no matter

The sun grows paler
Storm clouds gain speed
To the pleas of the lone sailor
The winds pay no heed

Hard-won wisdom deserts
A frozen heart makes a stand
An unmoored soul drifts
Trials unseen, the waves portend

Uncaring, a valiant battle
With a vessel beyond repair
Indifference, a death rattle
Courage flees in the face of despair

The horizon takes flight The depths beckon…

(This article contains spoilers for The West Wing Season 2 Finale)

In the stories I’m most fond of, characters overcome external conflicts by conquering their internal struggles, empowering them to face the world with renewed resolve. The greatest challenges faced by The West Wing protagonists aren’t political ones. It’s their self-doubt and lack of conviction that undermines them. When they rise above these, their ingenuity and tenacity is boundless, and their difficulties seem far less daunting.

In no episode is this more apparent, or more potent, than in Two Cathedrals.

Bartlet has to grapple with two crises. The first is…

(This article has spoilers from Final Fantasy VII games and movies)

Final Fantasy VII Remake is a sequel masquerading as a remake. Early on, the subterfuge is executed with subtlety; small hints tantalize this truth throughout the game. It is only in the last act that the game raises the curtains on a cosmic battleground that subsumes within itself the world-ending conflicts of the original game. The cleverest hint of all is in the name — this is a story where the characters remake destiny.

The Whispers provide an early sign that things are different, as do Cloud’s prophetic visions…

The secret of being a bore is to tell everything — Voltaire

The iceberg theory, coined by Hemingway, is a powerful and influential idea in literature.

A writer should deeply understand the characters and underlying themes of a story, but they shouldn’t spell them out for the reader. Only the tip of the iceberg should make it onto the page; every word should be used sparingly. What is left unsaid, the bulk of the iceberg that remains underwater, lends the story gravitas and strengthens the feelings experienced by the reader. At its heart, the iceberg theory is a philosophy of…

(This article contains spoilers from God of War)

Leveling up your character is one of the great pleasures of gaming.

I’ve unconsciously developed a certain habit for leveling up. I tend to accumulate the ‘leveling currency’ (points, money, parts, etc.) until I find myself struggling against enemies, or perhaps a particularly tough boss. When I find myself overwhelmed, I go and spend all those points (or equip armor, etc.) I’ve gathered to significantly power up my character, and return to surpass the same enemies I was struggling with moments ago. …

Time is the most valuable resource a player entrusts to a video game. It is a blank cheque handed over to the game; some games use it judiciously, others, irresponsibly.

This is reflected in world design and narrative at a macro level. But choices at the micro level can often be revealing in how a game perceives itself and its players.

Conventional literary and cinematic wisdom tells us that every scene, every line should move the story forward in some way; it should establish a setting or character, build an atmosphere, or advance the plot. …

When done well, a boss battle is not unlike a souvenir you carry away after the game is over — it anchors the game in your psyche.

A boss battle is not easy to make. It demands creativity and effort across the gamut of game development — character design, location design, distinctive move sets, careful calibration and testing, possibly even new soundtracks. This article deconstructs boss battles to understand what makes some memorable while others fall flat. …

Collectibles have been ubiquitous in video games for as long as video games have existed. This is because collecting things is not a video game thing, it’s a human thing. It crosses economic, social and taxonomic borders; it’s hard to find a thing that isn’t being collected by someone (be it expensive paintings or oddly shaped rocks), and just as hard to find a demographic that’s aloof from collecting things.

Video games have naturally imbibed this innate human impulse to an extent that it has become silently omnipresent as a game mechanic. Nearly all video games try to tap into…

Before voice acting became ubiquitous in video games, dialogue had to be communicated through text. This meant that dialogue was generally experienced in two ways. By watching subtitled cutscenes, or by tapping through text.

This activity was, by nature, passive. The exception is games where you actually had to make dialogue choices to guide the narrative. In those cases, dialogue was a gameplay mechanic rather than an expository tool. But for the most part, when you experienced dialogue you weren’t playing, and when you were playing you weren’t experiencing dialogue.

As voice acting became the norm, the nature of dialogue…

Aditya V

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