Thursday, October 15, 2009

... reverse derivation

While writing COT-R I adopted a theory which I dubbed reverse derivation. This will be drawn upon much more for the writing of COT2, since I will be exploring into unknown territory, and dealing with the most pivotal events of the entire Thief trilogy, such as the transformation of The City which took place between the Dark Project and the Metal Age.

Fanfictions are derivations of derivations. Works of fiction are derived from the real world, and then the fan derives farther still. This copy-of-a-copy approach (though now that the VHS days are behind us that concept will probably die soon) is a component in the fanfictions infamy. Different works have different levels of derivation from the real world. Books, oddly enough, seem to be derived the least from the real world. (This is ironic to me because books are the farthest from the real world, being just strings of symbols...) Movies go in the middle, and games are derived the farthest. I find this ironic again, since games are supposed to be interactive simulations so they should be the closest of all to real life, right? In reality I think all gamers agree that the abstractions in games really does push it the farthest away.

So the conundrum of the game fanfic is to be the type of work that should be the closest derivation of the real world, and yet it's derived from the thing that is the farthest derivation of the real world.

So, that's where the reverse derivation comes in. I am attempting to place my writing on the derivation chain where literature should go, rather than at a distant point beyond games. Of course, even though the Thief universe is derived from the "real world" it's a different world from our own. So what I've done is looked at patterns in games that are derived from the real world, such as historical shooters and so forth, and reversed their conventions along the same lines to arrive at what real world elements the game-world elements in Thief could be derived from. In many cases it's trivial. Games have health packs or first aid kits which deliver instant recovery from fatal wounds the same way that Thief's healing potions do. Thus, in the literary version of the Thief universe, health potions are no different from common medicine. The various fantastic arrows that the player is given is more difficult to reverse-derive since they're unique in all of gaming, but they've driven me to the conclusion that elemental crystals are real, and it would be possible to tie one to an arrow, but noone goes around with a quiver full of water arrows, and they would probably be very difficult to shoot.

Health potions and water arrows are trivial in the grand scheme of things. The real topics that interest me are the historic ones, the ones that deal with the culture of the Thief world and how the society operates. Those will be the topics I will tackle with great interest while writing COT2, and it's very likely that the broad strokes will not agree with what is presented in the games. I very much doubt that the Call of Duty games paint an accurate picture of World War II.

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