The Storytelling Issues of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

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I’ve watched Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (and its director’s cut version, Advent Children Complete) more times than I can really remember, and probably more than I care to admit. I’ve been trying to put my finger on what the issues with that film in particular are. Everything in my previous post still applies, it’s clear that while the film has excellent visual flair it still has problems using that to tell a coherent story.

But I think it’s hard to really comprehend this on a simple viewing. You have to really break it down in order to figure out where the film stumbles in terms of storytelling. To that end, I’ve broken the film down into scene beats, bold indicates a scene added or altered in the Advent Children release.

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The Difference Between a Cutscene and Film

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There’s something that I’ve been thinking about for many, many, months. I wanted to do a post on why, for whatever reason, Final Fantasy VII Advent Children doesn’t quite feel like a movie. It was a similar feeling to Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, of which I discovered the root cause when I went to its IMDB page. Literally, all the team had experience with was cutscene work.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children possesses the technical properties of a movie, and is technically proficient in its construction. It’s the most watchable of all the Final Fantasy movie, not as anemic as Final Fantasy: Spirits Within or as fundamentally broken as Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive.

However, in order for me to really get at the heart of what the issue is, I have to answer a question that no one that I’ve ever seen has really given an answer for or even really addressed: I have to delineate the difference between a cutscene and a film.

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Victoriana: A Game Unplayed

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When it comes to tabletop RPGs, I didn’t always have the criteria I outlined in my previous post, but I actually gained this insight by picking up a game and then…well I never got to play it.

I frequently test the waters and do world-building by playing tabletop RPGs, and when I began my journey into Cloudrunner I didn’t originally intend on using Fate Core. I went out and bought a copy of Victoriana, as that seemed like the best fit at the time for steampunk.

Ultimately, both my players and I passed on the game, and I instead ran it in Fate Core, and that was a decision I’m glad about. But why did I veto this game?

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Seeing From Beyond the Abyss

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For quite some time, I had been dealing with depression. While I still have moments of doubt, for the most part, stability has been achieved. Even the low moments are relatively high in absolute terms. I’m in a good place, and I want to dissect this journey so that I can perhaps help someone else navigate through their own struggles.

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Best Place To Start Is At the Beginning: Creating Great Openings For Your Tabletop RPG Campaigns

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When I began writing fiction, one of the things that was drilled into my head was that I absolutely needed to get the beginning right. It’s the beginning of a story that engages the audience, one that sets audience expectations and can easily derail a story if screwed up.

If one looks back at older books or movies, they’ll quickly notice that it often takes a long time for things to get going. Back before the internet when access to culture in both film and literature was a lot more constrained, people simply accepted infodumps and slow openings because they didn’t have much in terms of entertainment.

Modern audiences, by contrast, have tons of books, films, games, and other forms of entertainment at their fingertips. A storyteller has to grab their audience quickly, or they’ll be tuned out.

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