Working Title: Penumbra Fox Nine
Genre: Survival Horror
View/Perspective: 3D/3rd person
Synopsis of gameplay:
Penumbra Fox Nine will be a survival/horror game featuring a small fox struggling to survive in a post apocalyptic wasteland populated with numerous threats and grave dangers. It will include a balance of survival and horror elements with exploration-based story.
The gameplay will feature the following:
- A hunger and thirst meter
- A hot and cold meter
- A rest and sleep meter
- A fatigue meter
- A sprint meter
- Dodging, jumping, climbing, and sneaking (slow sneak and fast sneak)
- Pouncing, biting, and clawing
- An injury system (instead of health bars) with injury zones
- A night and day system with moon phases
- A weather system with seasons
- A hearing system to detect enemies, prey, danger, or other interests
- Real world-type puzzles
- Immersive UI
Fatigue and ailments:
Nine will experience various ailments which will affect gameplay:
Fatigue: Certain actions can cause Nine to experience fatigue such as repeatedly sprinting, running for too long, going too long without food or water, going too long without sleep, going too long without rest, and spending too much time jumping or climbing. There are three different levels of fatigue; slight, moderate, and intense.
Slight fatigue: Movements are slightly slowed and Nine becomes unable to sprint. Nine's thirst and hunger will increase a negligible amount. Slight fatigue will slightly increase clumsiness. Slight fatigue can be cured by resting, sleeping, or waiting a short while for recovery. Eating and drinking will significantly diminish slight fatigue.
Moderate fatigue: Movements are slowed, Nine becomes unable to sprint, run, jump, or climb, and Nine's hunger and thirst will increase a moderate amount. Moderate fatigue will moderately increase clumsiness. Resting or sleeping in combination with eating and/or drinking will resolve moderate fatigue.
Intense fatigue: Movements are dramatically slowed, Nine becomes unable to sprint, run, jog, jump, climb, or fast-sneak, his clumsiness increases dramatically, he will become dizzy, and his sensory awareness drops. Intense fatigue can only be cured by eating, drinking, and sleeping for an extended period of time. If Nine spends too much time in a state of intense fatigue, he will eventually collapse (forced sleep).
Drowsiness, sleep, and resting:
Nine requires nine hours of restful sleep per twenty-four hour period, in intervals, typically lasting one to four hours. If Nine does not meet his sleep requirements, he will experience drowsiness, fatigue, increased clumsiness, and decreased sensory awareness which affects his visual, auditory, and olfactory senses. If Nine goes long enough without sleep, he will suffer from dizziness, intense fatigue, headache, and he may fall unconscious which is dangerous as it comes with a risk of starving, dying of thirst, or being discovered by a predator. Nine must also seek out safe places to sleep. Sleeping in unsafe places comes with the risk of being discovered by a predator.
Once a safe place is identified, the player can choose the "sleep" option. This feature is much like the "sleep" option in other games such as Skyrim. Time will pass more quickly and Nine will awaken feeling "rested." There are some ailments which can negatively affect sleep such as headache, nausea, and fleas which will leave Nine unable to achieve "restful" sleep. Nine's sleep may also be interrupted by various factors such as weather changes, predators, loud noises, or the presence of prey. It is possible for Nine to be attacked in his sleep. This is far less likely to happen in "safe" places such as inside tree stumps, small burrows or dens, in vents, nooks, crannies, coves, etc.
Upon first awakening, unless in an adrenaline spike, Nine will experience slight fatigue which will fade in time.
Resting is much like sleep except that it is safer as Nine is awake and aware. As such, he is much less likely to be disturbed by noises, predators, or changes in weather. Resting may alleviate headaches, nausea, slight fatigue and moderate fatigue. As with the sleep function, time is sped up during rest.
Hunger and thirst:
Nine needs to eat and drink to remain healthy. He may scavenge, forage, or hunt for small prey such as mice, rats, squirrels, birds, insects, rabbits, fish, and such. If Nine eats or drinks too much, he will become "overburdened" (functionally the same as moderate fatigue) which will slow him down and make certain acts undoable such as climbing, sprinting, or squeezing into tight spaces. If his hunger and/or thirst meters reach low levels, Nine will experience fatigue, headache, and decreased sensory awareness. If his hunger or thirst reaches critical levels, he will experience intense fatigue, dizziness, headache, and eventually, death.
Headaches: Headaches can cause decreased sensory awareness, fatigue (severity depending on severity of headache), dizziness, and increased clumsiness. Headaches can be alleviated by eating certain plants, drinking lots of cold water, resting, and/or sleeping.
Fleas: Fleas will cause Nine to become itchy which affects his ability to sleep and rest. Fleas will also cause Nine to periodically stop and scratch himself. If left too long, fleas will causes Nine to occasionally run amok in itch-fits. Fleas can be removed by resting in shallow water and/or taking dirt baths.
Chill and overheated: Chill and overheating will cause fatigue, the severity of which depends on the severity of the temperature. Hot temperatures will be more prevalent in the summer and in daytimes, cold will be more prevalent in the winter and nighttimes. He will also be adversely effected by fire and overlong exposure to ice, snow, or cold water. Overheating can be cured by finding shade or water and chill can be cured by finding fire, sunlight, or a warm place to bed down and rest.
Wet: When Nine is wet, he becomes more susceptible to cold and less susceptible to heat. Wet can be cured by resting, sleeping, sitting near a fire, sprinting, and bodily-shaking.
Nausea: Sometimes, Nine will become nauseous from eating bad food, toxic plants, or simply because that happens sometimes. This may cause fatigue, headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, vomiting, and lower sensory awareness. It can be alleviated by resting, sleeping, drinking water, and/or eating grass or certain plants which may induce vomiting.
Sensory awareness deficit: Nine will sometimes experience lowered sensory awareness which comes with decreased visual, auditory, and olfactory acuity. This typically happens as a result of something else such as headache, intense fatigue, nausea, or sleep deprivation. It will increase Nine's clumsiness.
Dizziness: Dizziness is a side effect of other ailments and can only be alleviated by resolving the parent ailment. Dizziness causes the screen to wobble and occasionally spin out of control. Dizziness dramatically increases Nine's clumsiness.
Clumsiness: At his best (well-fed, well-rested, and free of ailments) Nine has an extremely low probability of tripping and an even lower chance of falling down. However, certain ailments will increase his chances of tripping and falling, especially dizziness. Chances are: Very infrequently, infrequently, occasionally, frequently, very frequently.
Hallucinations: Nine may sometimes experience hallucinations. This may be the result of extreme nausea, ingesting certain mushrooms or berries, adrenaline spike, or fear. The only way to alleviate them is to run away from them or cure the parent ailment.
Fear, panic, and adrenaline spike: Nine will sometimes experience fear which is usually caused by predators, loud noises, extreme pain, and such. Fear can turn into panic which will cause Nine to sprint uncontrollably towards the nearest safe place. Adrenaline spike results in heightened sensory awareness and increased speed but will also increase fatigue.
Seizures: If Nine takes too many critical injuries to the head, he may begin to experience debilitating seizures which will cause him to stall, collapse, and convulse. Upon recovering, he will be struck with fatigue, headache, and nausea.
Gameplay includes a number of actions that Nine may perform:
Sprinting: Nine can walk, jog, and run but he can also sprint for short distances. During a sprint, Nine's movements are less controlled and he is slightly more prone to tripping. Repeatedly sprinting in a short period of time will increase his hunger, thirst, and fatigue.
Dodging: Nine can evade attacks or attempts at capture by dodging. He can dodge in any direction, though, repeatedly dodging will increase his fatigue. Dodging can be performed while sitting, laying, standing, walking, jogging, running, and sprinting.
Jumping: Nine is an expert jumper and makes ample use of this talent. Nine can jump in any direction, though, repeatedly jumping will increase his fatigue. Jumping can be performed while sitting, laying, standing, walking, jogging, running, and sprinting.
Climbing: Nine is very acrobatic and capable of climbing up certain surfaces such as trees, dirt, grass, wooden walls, fabric, and such. Spending too long climbing will increase Nine's fatigue.
Sneaking: Sneaking is an integral part of hunting for prey and avoiding predators. Nine can slow-sneak which is quieter but slower or he can fast-sneak which is faster but noisier.
Pouncing: Nine will encounter circumstances where he must fight either in the pursuit of prey or in defense of his life. Pouncing is useful for capturing mice, rats, lizards, squirrels, birds, snakes, insects, and such. Pounce functions much like dodge except that it is an offensive maneuver. Excessive pouncing will cause fatigue. Pouncing can be used to immobilize prey, catch fish, snatch birds out of the air, and squash bugs.
Digging: Nine can dig up insects, worms, and roots by digging. He can also bury food for later and dig it up, though, some food will eventually spoil.
Biting and clawing: Sometimes, Nine will need to bite or claw, usually to dispatch prey or deter predators, though, these skills may also be useful for puzzle solving or escaping traps.
Scenting: Nine's keen sense of smell allows him to detect predators, prey, or other interests from a fair distance and he can learn much about various aspects of his world through scent. For example, he can tell if certain flora will be harmful, if food has spoiled, if there is prey or forageables underground, if there are other creatures in the area, where they've been, and what kind. Scenting is crucial for locating certain prey and avoiding certain dangers.
Listening: Nine's auditory senses are especially keen. He can determine direction and distance of sounds across a long range and he can often tell what manner of creature or phenomenon was responsible for the sounds. Listening is crucial for locating certain prey and avoiding certain dangers.
Barking, growling, and yowling: Nine can utter singular bark-like calls, growl, and yowl. Growling may deter smaller predators such as cats, foxes, badgers, and stray dogs. It can only be heard for a short range. Barking can be used to lure predators at medium range or startle prey. Yowling will accomplish the same thing as barking except that it can be heard at long range.
Carrying: Nine can carry one item at a time in his mouth.
Sit and lay: Nine can sit and lay down.
Roll: Nine can roll on the ground. This is especially helpful for getting rid of fleas, drying off, and disguising his scent.
Full-body shaking: Nine can shake himself out which is useful for drying off.
Injuries and health:
Nine will have "injury zones," one for each paw, each leg, tail, stomach and chest, spine, throat, head, muzzle, and both eyes. Each of these areas will have their own health bar (not displayed on screen as health bars but as red and pulsating coloration (brighter red and faster pulsing for worse injuries) only visible upon key press (so as not to break immersion).
Injuries will affect game play in unique ways:
Paws and legs: If paws or legs are injured, Nine will limp. Too many injuries to the paws and legs will result in decreased mobility or immobility. These conditions will only heal with time, rest, sleep, and proper nutrition. If Nine suffers too many critical injuries to a paw or leg, he will become maimed and burdened with a permanent limp. Too many maimed extremities will eventually lead to death by starvation, thirst, predator.
Head: Minor injuries to the head may cause headaches, dizziness, decreased sensory awareness, and increased clumsiness which will all abate in time with proper rest, sleep, and nutrition. Critical injuries to the head may cause headaches, dizziness, decreased sensory awareness, increased clumsiness, nausea, and, if serious enough, unconsciousness, which has a chance of instant death. Too many critical injuries to the head may cause seizures.
Eyes: Minor injuries to the eyes may result in blurred vision or temporary blindness which will only abate with time, sleep, rest, and proper nutrition. Critical injuries to an eye may result in blindness in the eye. Critical injuries to both eyes will result in complete blindness which will very likely end in death.
Muzzle: Minor injuries to the muzzle will hamper Nine's ability to bite and eat food. He will only be able to eat certain kinds of food designated as "soft" or "easy" food such as berries, mushrooms, and insects or anything that he can swallow whole.
Tail: Serious injuries to the tail will affect Nine's balance and cause increased clumsiness.
Stomach and chest: Too many critical injuries to the stomach and chest will result in death.
Spine: A critical injury to the spine may result in severely and permanently decreased mobility or death. This may happen as a result of falling from too great a height, gunfire, bear attack, or other blunt force trauma.
Throat: Critical injuries to the throat may cause Nine to bleed out or asphyxiate.
Enemies and Prey:
Throughout the course of his adventures, Nine will encounter a number of other creatures. Some will regard him with hostility, others with fear, and some with ambivalence.
Nomads: These are roving gangs of wanderers- men, women and children struggling to survive in the wastelands. They may or may not be hostile depending on how hungry they are. Their weapons of choice are traps, knives, bows, crossbows, swords, spears, and nets. Nomads locate Nine by primarily visual means. They may also be accompanied by pet dogs.
Soldiers: These are trained men and women who kill creatures like Nine on sight. They carry firearms, combat knives, GPS units, two-way radios, and night vision binoculars. Direct, centered hits by bullets always cause critical damage. Shots to vital areas mean instant death. Soldiers locate Nine by visual means and by tracking. They may also be accompanied by trained hounds. Distant gunfire will cause fear and close gunfire will cause panic.
Researchers: These men and women hope to catch Nine for research purposes. They carry tranquilizer guns, two-way radios, binoculars, and flashlights. Researchers locate Nine by tracking and visual means. If captured, researchers will take Nine back to their laboratory where he may have a chance to escape or otherwise face eventual death.
Human enemies can be evaded by outrunning them, slipping into tight spaces, hiding, climbing trees, and leading them into traps or other enemies. Human enemies are very smart, very persistent, decently fast, and have high endurance. Humans' canine companions will pursue Nine even after their masters have given up.
Dogs: Dogs are among Nine's most persistent and dangerous enemies. They often travel with humans, though, stray dogs also pose an occasional threat. They are larger, more powerful, just as fast as Nine, and almost as keen. Dogs may alert their human companions to Nine's presence. Dogs can be escaped by climbing trees, crossing bodies of water, slipping into tight spaces, or luring them towards other enemies such as boars, bears, or other dogs.
Bears: Black bears are large, carnivorous, and may aggress Nine if he draws too near but for the most part, they will ignore him. Bears can be escaped by climbing trees, crossing bodies of water, slipping into tight spaces, or luring them towards other enemies like people or dogs.
Wolverines: Wolverines are both very dangerous and aggressive towards Nine. They can also be very difficult to escape because they are as fast as Nine, can climb and slip into tight spaces like Nine, and can swim after Nine. They are vest avoided, though, they can be lured into other enemies as a means of escape.
Badgers: Badgers are much like wolverines but somewhat less aggressive, slower, less deadly, and much more easily escapable. Badgers can be deterred by growling, biting, and clawing but they may give as good as they get.
Wolves: Wolves are rare but are very much like dogs and will aggress Nine. Wolves tend to travel in packs and are very tenacious in their pursuit of prey. They can be escaped in all the same ways that dogs can be escaped.
Golden eagles: Golden eagles will occasionally swoop down from the trees to prey upon Nine. They can be evaded by dodging. If caught, Nine can bite and claw the eagle to escape.
Pumas: Pumas are rare and elusive but aggressive and will prey upon Nine if given the chance. They can be avoided by squeezing into tight spaces or crossing bodies of water.
Lynx: Lynxes are much like pumas but less aggressive and slightly less dangerous.
Snakes: Nine will encounter several species of snake, some of which are venomous. If Nine is bitten by a venomous snake, he may die or become maimed. Snakes are fairly easy to avoid and evade for the most part. A snake's strike can be evaded by dodging.
Ravens: Ravens cannot actually hurt Nine but they can annoy him and their calls may alert other animals to his presence. They will also occasionally pull his tail and ears.
Bees: Bees will typically leave Nine alone unless he attempts to mess with their hives. If aggravated, bees may chase and sting Nine. Bee stings will cause Nine to become itchy for a fair period of time itching can be temporarily relieved by bathing and rolling around.
Nine will occasionally encounter "infected" enemies. These are standard enemies infected by a terrifying disease that blackens their skin, quickens their movement, and increases their strength, however, it also decreases their sensory awareness, especially smell. They are violent and will persist after Nine until they catch him or are successfully evaded. All infected enemies cause fear and will cause panic if they draw too near. Birds, mice, rats, lizards, snakes, and insects cannot be infected. All other enemies can become infected. "Plague rats" are carriers but they are immune to the infection.
Some of the enemies Nine faces may also become prey- ravens, snakes, badgers, and golden eagles, but other creatures do not pose much or any threat to Nine and are in fact quite tasty.
Worms, insects, and grubs: Nine can dig in the dirt to find worms, insects, and grubs to feast on. These will slightly reduce Nine's hunger.
Fish: Nine can pounce or bite fish in creeks and ponds. Fish will reduce hunger commensurate to their size.
Mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, and birds: Mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, and birds are Nine's bread and butter. He catches them by pouncing.
Foraging and Scavenging:
In addition to hunting, Nine may also scavenge and forage. Scavenging is a risky venture and foraging generally yields only a small amount of sustenance but they can both mean the difference between life and death.
Nine may forage for berries, nuts, tubers, roots, mushrooms, and seeds. Nine can sniff forageables to determine whether they are safe to eat or not. If Nine eats something that is poison, he could become slightly nauseous or very ill, resulting in headache, dizziness, hallucinations, and fatigue. Typically, foraging only provides slight alleviation for hunger.
Nine may scavenge the kills of other predators such as dogs, wolves, bears, humans, or pumas but this comes with a risk of drawing unwanted attention. Human food stores can be scavenged from as well, though, these are especially high risk items as they are usually guarded. If Nine is clever and careful, he can lure the humans and dogs away by yowling, sprinting back to the food source, and sprinting away with his prize which he may eat once having reached safety. Nine can also filch eggs from bird nests and snake dens, though, this comes with its own set of dangers.
Gameplay will revolve heavily around stealth and remaining unseen. There are many ways Nine can go about this.
Nine can sneak through tall grass, though, fast-sneaking in tall grass will make noise. While in the tall grass, he will become far less visible to all enemies tracking him through sight, rendering him practically invisible to human enemies who will not see him until they are right on top of him. Nine can also sneak through tree branches, though, this is considerably harder and comes with the risks of getting caught or falling. Nine can sneak through bushes and undergrowth but as with grass, this will generate noise in fast-sneak mode. It is also possible to sneak through shallow water.
There are numerous places where Nine can hide from enemies but some spaces are considered "hiding places" and as such, grant a lower chance of being found. Hollowed out tree stumps or logs, vents, burrows, nooks, tall grass, bushes and undergrowth all count as "hiding places." While inside a hiding place, movements and actions are limited but Nine can still make use of his senses to determine where enemies are.
Some enemies will be able to locate Nine in a hiding spot by scent. Nine can foil these enemies by leaving fake scent trails that lead away from is hiding spot. For example, he might run some circles and figure-eights around a few trees, climb up a tree, run through the branches, and drop down far away from the enemies then slip into the hiding place.
Nine will not "level up" like in an RPG but will instead gain skills and hone skills he already has.
Throughout the course of gameplay, Nine will become more adept at various actions.
Scenting and hearing: Nine will be able to locate enemies at longer distances with greater precision. He will also become more adept at identifying harmful items when foraging and scavenging.
Sprinting, climbing, jumping, dodging, and sneaking: Nine will be able to sprint slightly longer. He will become more adept at sneaking, making less noise and moving slightly faster while fast-sneaking. Climbing will be easier, faster, and less noisy. Nine will learn to double jump which involves jumping from one surface quickly onto another. Dodging will be faster and further.
Pouncing and biting: Nine will become better at pouncing with greater accuracy and speed. He will also become better at aiming his bites, landing more hits for greater damage and more critical hits.
Little bits of story will be revealed through gameplay. Cinematics and dialog will be kept to a bare minimum. As the player progresses through the level, he or she will find little clues about what happened in the world- newspaper clippings, magazines, bits of technology, telling environmental clues, snippets of dialog from human enemies.
Queen Bitchcunt the Fucknificient, Goddess Sovereign of Tumblrland.
By all means please continue on with this weird, wonderful tale of this world gone wacko!
Hooray for all the nonconformists of this world!
I know completely what you mean there! It's fun and relaxing at the same time because there's no need to worry about the "rules of good writing", and no niggling perfectionism pushing us to have everything pristine. If you enjoyed it that much then I say definitely do more c:
By the way, I read what you had posted here before, but didn't comment because I would have just been repeating what others had already said. But I am very intrigued by your ideas and would be interested in reading anything more you might decide to share! Your literature, characters, and especially your writing style (be it serious or humorous) is a refreshing change from the usual slew of sub-standard tripe that I often come across. You definitely know what you're doing, and while we all have room to improve, it's a skill that I for one certainly think you should pursue C:
Paragraph 1. Logic! Vel doesn't KNOW what magic looks like!... does he? (...unless someone told him. He's not going to wax poetic about "smokey rainbow glittering", he's going to be "eh" about the people telling him about "glassy ribbons of ley" earlier in his life. ) The secondhand description of what Baj told him about mind-reading later is good, is what this should be like.
Actually, this is good. Spelling and grammar are solid. Paragraph structure is good. Dialogue and action scenes are well-executed. Motivations are clear. You understand why this guy could be attacked and is so down about life it's just "one more thing" and he moves on.
I'm gonna tell you, your biggest problem is NOT descriptions per se, it's what I call Flow, and it's kind like that comment about Jazz "If you have to ask what Jazz is, you don't know Jazz." The rapid dialogue and interaction have quick flow, and are an easy read. The dense descriptions slow down, even break down flow. This isn't 100% bad, it can be used as a good technique, and some of my favorite stories are like that. You need to learn to use it as a tool, to lead to some "payoff" to the story or audience... to a point, frankly, my reaction was to skip past the long descriptions to find out where this was leading, sorry!
Overuse of arcane language, "dictionary words", or fantasy magic terms are bad not because they are fantasy words, exactly, because they also slow down flow. It's the combination of the two that is a double-whammy. The parts in the second half where his ID tag automatically logs expenses, he just flicks on and off aetherial switches, are effective because he acts like this is normal and familiar, so the story just flows along. It also lets us the audience know, without saying it, which things are normal and familiar to him.
Opening scene suggestion? - daydreams of being a spell-wielding hero. Hallucinations creep in and spoil it. (I love trolling the audience that way XD) Then tie-in to this part.
Mention it's dark midnight BEFORE the hallucinations? Could make it creepier!
Combine desc of main char with paragraph after? he describes everything he hates about himself and is bullied for. Try working the two together, LET him show us an unfairly ugly version of himself - the kind of fur sticking out his pudge, the color of his cross-eyes, why his tail is too big and wierdly colored, etc!
Turn the description of the stack into a walk through it? Easier to understand, empathise, an awkward tired guy just trying to push his cleaning cart and get his big fat tail through the clutter, than a "laundry list of that clutter".
Try using verbs in descriptions. Even an inanimate object can "sit", "stand", "lay", "lean", "perch", "flop", "sprawl", etc! See what happens if the objects act on the space - "The books huddled together on the shelf" rather than "The corner held a bookshelf"
Part-whatever- a good way I've found to organize rambling descriptions - What is the FIRST thing you'd notice about this room/landscape/city you just made up? Something brightly colored? (The flowers in a vase) The big thing in the way you have to walk around? (The table the vase is sitting on). Sound? Smell? Temperature? Weird floor texture? (if barefoot/barepawed) Now, the trick - here is where things get headtrippy - What is the first THIS CHARACTER would notice, and what does he think about it? (hint: it won't necessarily be what you would!)
I'm also going to echo previous comments. The medium of art you've been using, you can control EXACTLY to the most minute detail what the reader sees, but the story in the picture, everyone will make up their own . The medium of writing, you are creating THAT story, telling it the way you want to, but the picture of that story, everyone will imagine a different image! If you asked 10 people to draw a picture of this place and the main character, you would get 10 different interpretations and 10 different images. Accept it, embrace it, focus on shaping the STORY, instead of the IMAGE.
The universe is original, the main character certainly got some depth.
The long descriptions do not bother me as long as they stay dynamic, colorful and interesting (which they are), but they indeed can be a danger. When I write, I try as much as possible to get to the point fast enough and intersperse my descriptions with some dialogue or action. Not always possible, though.
Another danger that I perceive is the great number of specific words, the unique vocabulary through which your universe exists (Aleythir, arusai, nor, etc.). Following your work (with passion, I must say), these words are familiar, and most of them can be understood thanks to the context. But they could trouble new readers.
I would read the sequel with enthusiasm.
P.S : Is there any way I could propose this demoness in high heels ?
As for the demoness, I decided to pull her back for the time being. Now, she's just a black scary silhouette with red eyes. But she will be making a proper appearance later. I want to slow build her because she's very important.
Well, if you are worried about your prose, one tip I like to use that I made up for myself after finding I was really upset with how long and tedious my writing felt:
'When it doubt, cut it out.'
So take this:
"Row after row of stacked abodes rose one-hundred and fifty feet high, almost to the ceiling. Some of the stacks were brown wood-panel or whitewood and many were made to look like stone or brick. Most were shaped like rectangular boxes but some were shaped like triangles, cubes, or L's for structural and aesthetic purposes. An abundance of flowering potted plants hung from girders, bar joists, staircases, and ledges. Squatty dwarf oaks grew in big pots alongside winding vine trees and flowering bushes. Koi ponds and little gardens filled would-be empty spaces. To Vel, the Stacks looked like a vertical trailer park city amidst a lush hanging garden jungle. It was a chaotic clutter of colors, shapes, sights, sounds, and smells and for the most part, he loved it."
And realize it could simply be this:
"Row after row of stacked abodes rose one-hundred and fifty feet high, almost to the ceiling. To Vel, the Stacks looked like a vertical trailer park city amidst a lush hanging garden jungle. It was a chaotic clutter of colors, shapes, sights, sounds, and smells and for the most part, he loved it."
Details and Descriptions:
For me, personally, I LOVE details like you have there. It's not too lengthy, it puts a clear image in my mind, and from then on I have a point of reference to think of the city from again as you have Vel move through it and go about his business. Something is lost when those details are abandoned, because while it's really nice to leave things to the reader's imagination, it also makes the world much less concrete, and therefore more forgettable. Your description of characters in particular is also very clear. You did a good job of interjecting speech between descriptions, which helps a LOT with flow. I might just suggest you try to be careful about repeating yourself, as in using the same word too many times in the same paragraph. Sometimes even just using one word twice in the same paragraph can feel repetitive if it’s only describing something minor. I would point here to the word calico while describing Baj. Instead of using it two separate times for her and hair, you could condense to describe all her fluff on her head and body at once.
I don't think starting out with terms that nobody will know unless they understand your world is a good way to start. Such things should be introduced slowly and through words and terms that are more familiar. I am positive most people will ultimately be too A-D-D or easily bored and will lose interest because nothing makes sense to them. It may feel sucky to you because it's essentially dumbing the world down, but everyone has to start from zero and work their way up. Your introduction of dolors and doles was interesting, for instance! It sounds similar to dollars, and the description was compact enough that reading one or two paragraphs confirmed in my head "Yep, that's moolah." However, the very beginning with the aleythai, the names, the terms - if I didn't know them already, I would be utterly lost as a new reader. The most general idea I would come up with if I didn't know about this universe is "Ohhh so like... Magic-users..? Ish? And then NOT-magic-users-ish?" And I can see your introduction of Baj served that purpose, to give a sort of feel for what these forces and people are. It still would leave me wanting a bit more, which isn't necessarily bad for a long story. At the same time, the nature of short stories is that details are often left out. Since this is indeed a short story, I would (from the newbie reader PoV), accept these things at face value and move on, either trying to understand as I read, or just putting it down and finding something else to read. As the writer, I would maybe be a bit more candid/pithy about who was important enough to describe.
As for your main character, I think he starts out pretty simple. A Diary of a Wimpy Kid kind of vibe. We are introduced to his issues quickly, which is good for the sake of time. His issues make him stand out and it’s easy to understand how/why he thinks. Though his actions are consistent and almost predictable, I wouldn’t necessarily count predictability against you here. It’s more like reinforcement for the earlier foreshadowing where he felt his hallucinations were real.
As far as what Vel is DOING, and the premise, it seems to be a sad slice of life gone wrong sort of story... I think. If that makes sense. I can't tell where it is going or why it started, except that it started in time for me to know he has hallucinations, he wishes he was somebody else, and then he gets attacked because he wasn't sure if something was really happening thanks to aforementioned hallucinations. Also that he has a surprisingly high pain tolerance x3. If this was all just one short story I would be very confused that it ended here, and also why it started where it did. The fact that he was bullied right before he was attacked too feels like an attempt to me to draw out more sympathy for him, but it still felt more like just examples of "ho-hum, this is my life", and less so a moment in which I should sympathize with him. I think perhaps we should learn more about him first, see him struggle, see him go home, then you can condense his time up until the attack. This will make the action have more impact, rather than just being a single part of his day like all the other parts of his day.
I really like short sci-fi's like cucumber gravy as examples to compare my writing too. Not to necessarily mimic, but to draw me out of my own head! I suggest this to you if it helps as well, because you can gauge yourself through a better, more realistic lense if you feel you are doing something ‘wrong’. There's millions of short stories out there anyway, take your pick haha.
www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic… if you want to check it out, btw. It has a writing style I find catchy somehow. It's just a fun read!
I really enjoy the writing format that serials take as well. I would refer here to check out a really fun example that I personally find highly entertaining! jukepop.com/home/read/8883
-Dialogue is good and flows nicely with descriptions.
-Descriptions are slightly lengthy, but still do not feel unnecessary.
-Use of terms from the universe a bit abrupt and lacking some definition.
-Introduction feels rushed and glazes over otherwise interesting aspects of the universe.
-Characters are solid and consistent, but seem to lack purpose.
-Seems rather calm the entire time like simply observing things are happening. However! Your voice is already active and engaging!
I hope this massive text wall is helpful to you in some way and has what you were looking for!
Now, here comes the big question: Do you think I should burn this and start over or do you think this can be salvaged? More importantly, do you think it should be salvaged?
Given that it is simply a chapter of course, I imagine the terms issue with have already been met.
Still, while there is a lot of good in this as it stands, I would bet you will feel much greater frustration trying to edit it to death, rather than just starting fresh.
I am glad I could be helpfulf <3
My first suggestion would be to move the general descriptions of both the setting and Val to the beginning of the story, and then move forward with the action while adding details along the way as they become relevant. Think of it like mapping out a painting with some basic outlines to help establish the picture and to give you something to build on.
Another thing I noticed was the inclusion of distinctly Earth-bound terms like British and goose. When creating an alien world, these Earth terms can break the immersion factor of the story and will tend to bring the reader out of that trance that we can get into. So unless there is an actual Britain and actual geese in the universe that you are building, I would avoid using words that are specific to Earth. (Things like measurements don't count because then you'd be spending the entire first half of your story making sure we understand what the hell you're talking about and no one will sit through that length of exposition.)
Last thing of note was the distinct lack of explanation about the demons, undead, and all the other enemies you mentioned throughout the story. Granted, they are pretty self-explanatory, but we're given no reason for why they're attacking, how long Val's country has been at war, how many have died, where those creatures come from, etc. Without those details, the story suffers from a lack of depth. It's an easy hole to fall into, and it makes the story less interesting and harder to immerse oneself in.
The thing about details is that there needs to be a balance. Your concern about hitting people with a wall of facts and exposition is warranted, but don't be so wary about giving details that you miss out on important ones that you wind up giving the reader a different impression than the one you want to convey. Write down notes about your story; figure out which details are crucial and the which ones are superficial. Then you can figure out how to deliver said details in coherent manner that tells the story you want to tell.
Hope I was able to help.
I have to ask though; what did I say that made you think this isn't taking place on Earth?
Don't go all emo and put the guy through this kind of hell regularly, ok?
All in all, your sentences are a bit long-- that stems from the intricacy of your designs. But your overall composition is pretty sweet. I have a soft spot for well-combined fantasy and realistic tones, and your descriptions fit that bill nicely.
The only thing you really need is practice-- and a good hug.
There's no point in being ashamed of your writing (hell, even "I" have a few things I'm sorely tempted to delete from my gallery).
Even your worst works have value as the materials you've grown from.
So please, make this an actual deviation, and grow a freaking spine already!!
You're awesome ( or at the very least, you will be in the future). Accept it.
I really do appreciate it your reply. May I pester you for a few more thoughts? What areas do you feel I could improve on? Sentence length was one. Anything else come to mind?
(Oh, and don't worry. Things will be looking up for Vel in the near future... sort of... )
Have you even READ anything on my page? What in blazes could possibly give you a logical basis for that assumption?
Relax. You really DO have a lot more to be proud of than you think.
If this lack of confidence is the only thing holding you back, then maybe you're the only person you need to worry about impressing.
As for a more detailed critique; I'll take some time later and try to drum up a more complete one for you. If you make this an actual deviation, you can actually REQUEST critiues from others with an inbuilt function.
For now, try organizing your thoughts into something a little more concise. I like details, but it is possible to drown your reader in words. You could experiment with breaking down the descriptions of a wide area or theme into smaller chunks and scatering them around your narrative.
Above all, keep reading (My favorite author is David Eddings) and keep WRITING!
Whatever the answer is, it's annoying as hell. Everything can stand to be improved. Nothing is perfect, least of all me, and no, that's not me being fake modest, that's me being honest. I want to improve and I can't do that if I don't get outside opinions... I mean of the non-asspat variety.
Unfortunately, I think requesting critique is a core member perk only and my core membership ran out a long while back. I could always just ask through a journal and/or put a "looking for critique notice" above the story.
Here's another thought: Graphic novel. I'm better at it. I've developed a style that I think is decent and sustainable. People will be more likely to enjoy/read it in this format. What do you think?
And you deffinitely have the right attitude, just don't try so hard to improve your flaws that you forget your strengths.
I didn't know about the critique request thingy, bummer.
And I think you need to try as many different mediums as you can-- it doesn't matter if you're good at them or not, really. That comes with time and practice anyway.
A varied approach can expand your skills. Frankly, screw other people. Find something fun and run with it. Art is something you do because you love it. (Not the stuff you do because you need to eat to live; that art follow different rules, sadly)
As for comics, you DO have some pretty cool pieces of sequential art, but your style is incredibly intricate and rich; part of the crux of sequential art is beaing able to draw a LOT of frames with different complex scenes in them. Your wrists might snap off if you try to do a few pages with your standard styles. (For what it's worth, it would be a freaking GLORIOUS way to become a parapalegic though). I'm a big fan of the Watchmen mini-series, myself ( I hated the ending, but it fit the story well).
Incidentally, how much do you know of photography? The same skills for organizing frames translate between both mediums.
And some of your story ideas may NEED to be put to a visible frame to really work. Comics may be a great idea.
Oh hey, you have a story written in your artist's comments section. I can't wait to dig into that.
I wanted to see where this was going!