Valkyrie

subject — Rose (The Legend of Dragoon)
medium — Video Game
creation date — 07 October / 16 November 2015
participated inThe Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions Challenge
We are neither immortal, nor gods. We are mere people. People should just live in the present. Because it means living for the "next" present. I have been that way. And I won't change.
  • mysterious stranger
  • worldbuilding
  • conflicting myths
  • history
  • comrades
  • duty & roles
  • I still believe
  • gradual change
  • conviction
  • legacy
  • how to be human again
  • past & present intertwined

Favourite Pages

Milestones

  • first video game and video game character shrine
  • first extensive media section
  • first enormous shrine
  • first shrine uploaded incomplete
  • working closely with a game script
  • navigation accompanied by quotes
  • body language analysis
  • floating divs
  • Lightbox

Making of

  • As mentioned on In Control, there is the kind of shrine that you wouldn't ever have considered making had it not been such a great fit for an event. Perhaps the subject was too minor, perhaps it was too negligible compared to everything else you could be shrining instead. Then, there's another category of shrines you might just never create outside of an event: the kind you'd love to make, the kind you've dreamt of making for years, the kind you just know you'll write one day in the far future – without ever seriously considering sitting down and doing it due to the sheer size of the subject, and especially due to your immense love for it. That shrine, to me, is Valkyrie.
  • Where do I even start? I love video games, I love JRPGs; Final Fantasy shrines have always been such a big thing in the shrining community, and I've loved video game character shrines since discovering shrines. But making a video game shrine is such an overwhelming thought, because, if it's JRPGs that you're looking at, you're looking at an average playthrough of 40-60 hours. Nowadays, I guess there are more resources available when making a video game shrine, what with Let's Plays and such – but I don't think that it replaces the actual experience if you're looking to analyze something into the tiniest detail.

    Video games specifically are an interactive medium: If I watched a walkthrough and the player didn't play the exact same way as I do, how can I be sure I'm not missing something, some NPC that you have to speak to repeatedly, some location to which you can only return at a certain point even though it is completely optional? Something that may not have any significance whatsoever to someone else, but that allows me to draw connections of my own? How do I write about how well a party member mechanically fits into a party, how that performance changes over time, what best to equip them with depending on the playstyle? Guides and video playthroughs only get you so far.

    It depends on the person's shrining style, too, of course, and how long it has been since they last experienced the subject. As for me, memories have to be fresh when I create a shrine – not because I don't have confidence in my memory or my attention to detail, but because I want to work under the best possible conditions to draw the most out of the subject as well as myself. (I also believe that due to the inherent interactivity of the medium, you're much more passive when consuming them via videos – coming from someone who is very attentive. I don't think I would have necessarily picked up as much on details such as body language had I not replayed the game myself.)

    Deciding to replay a video game to make a shrine is just such a big commitment due to the time consumption involved, all the more so if it's a very old game. I also knew I wasn't particularly fond of The Legend of Dragoon's gameplay. In fact, I was wavering between replaying and not replaying the game even after having signed up for the event, until I just sat down and did it. (I'm immensely glad I did; this shrine wouldn't be remotely the same had I not, and I'm not even talking about the 300+ self-taken and edited screencaps across the shrine. I also ranted about it extensively on the Review and Site pages as a result.)
  • But how do you go about shrining something that you adore due to its scope, its immensely rich worldbuilding, its many different mysteries and its slow development? How do you shrine it without being overwhelmed? To me, two things that were firsts for me helped tremendously in creating this shrine.
  • Firstly, I didn't intend to finish it within the deadline at all. The BAB Challenge only ran for a month, and that was not enough. It wasn't enough for me to replay the game and to shrine it, it wasn't enough to even "just" shrine it, not with the product I had in mind. Instead, I set myself a goal with the part of the shrine and storyline I wanted to release within the deadline, and the rest would be a work in progress. Of note is the fact that all my shrines up to that point had taken me 1-2 weeks – this one took me over two months.

    I don't doubt it would have taken much longer had I not decided to release it unfinished. Do not underestimate the motivation gained from feedback and gratification. Hitting a deadline doesn't mean that work on a project has to stop. I continued working on this shrine as I had, but it was important to set myself a realistic goal within that deadline.
  • Secondly, I used the tools that existed for the medium to help me categorize my thoughts: In addition to my notes, I copy pasted and split up the entire game script, cut out the irrelevant parts and colour-coded it by subjects I wanted to talk about on the shrine (to facilitate following multiple plot strings). It was exhausting, but also very fun. A nice side product is the non-chronological way the quotes flow into the shrine via subnavigations.
  • The Introduction page was inspired by one of Samantha's shrines. Its tone is distinctly different from the others as it tries to be, well, a story book. I think it's a nice way to talk about a character's first appearance.
  • Thanks to my work on Strength of Heart and In Control, but also the unreleased Reira shrine, I knew how I wanted to structure this shrine. As with Reira, I wanted to show the gradual change in how Rose is perceived, as her story – the game's true story – comes late into the game, but hints of it are everywhere. (My keywords for the game and for the shrine itself are "time, past and present" after all.) Rose plays multiple roles within the narrative, so I split up the navigation accordingly, taking inspiration from the Reira shrine. As a result, there's a strong "narrative" in the shrine in the sense of pages building on each other. Opinions on this may differ, but I think that depending on the shrine, there may or may not be a recommended order of reading... and that isn't something negative. It all depends on the narrative you're trying to weave.

    And as with the other two shrines, I knew I didn't want to talk about the characters in the game and the relationships Rose has with them on "pure" relationship pages. For Valkyrie, the "relationship pages" don't just analyze Rose's relationships and the way they change over the course of the game. In addition, they already analyze Rose's change in attitude and way of thinking, as well as a good part of the game's themes, especially the importance of time. I placed them between The Survivor (Rose's past storyline) and The Woman (Rose's present storyline) for that reason: Her newfound comrades are what allow her to change, and that has to be reflected in the shrine's structure. Relationships aren't something tacked on – they are part of the journey. Without them, there's no understanding of Rose's growth or the themes of her story.

    The pages did end up being immensely long, but to me, that length is also justified due to the lack of dedicated The Legend of Dragoon fansites in the present. To compensate, I wanted to analyze every other character significant to Rose as well, and compare the themes of their storylines with Rose's – because every aspect of the game is so strongly linked to those themes. To be quite honest, I also knew I would never replay the game ever again, and thus wanted the shrine to be a future stand-in, which partly explains why it's that extensive and detailed.
  • As with In Control, the "summary pages" aren't just a summary of events in the order they transpire in the game: The Woman is a thematic summary of Rose's present journey throughout the game; because it's stationed so late in the shrine, it looks at things retrospectively and groups them, immediately following the growth detailed in the "relationship pages" in The Comrade.
  • I'm very fond of this shrine's version of "look-alike" page. It's everything I've wanted a look-alike page to be like since I first saw one: an outlet to ramble about your extensive knowledge of various subjects belonging to the same field, but also a place to talk about those things at length while contrasting them. Perhaps it's too "serious" for a silly bonus page, but since fiction is my world, it's what I enjoy doing. After all, there's no other place where you'd be prompted to do so – unlike, say, literary comparison. What I like even more is that due to this shrine's subject specifically, the page is a lead-up for an analysis of Rose's roles (among other things), which is typically a male role when you look at video games of the same genre.
  • Most of all, I think I'm so proud of this shrine because it accomplishes what I want to include on a video game shrine specifically: analysis under consideration of the medium's unique tools. In this case, this included optional conversations, a detailed look at the game's many locations, Rose's mechanical design (one of my favourite pages I've ever written), sidequest content, repeating sequences, personal trials, technical aspects that support points made in, say, The Protagonist Role, and so on.

Retrospect

I would have never made, let alone finish, this shrine had it not been for the BAB Challenge; I say as much multiple times on the shrine itself. The source material is enormous, Rose is enormous, my appreciation is enormous – Valkyrie is enormous. But can you guess what about the challenge made me so determined to create the shrine? The challenge theme. I wanted to have that amazing The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions tagline up on my shrine no matter what. It is perfection. Sometimes, it's "silly" things that motivate us, and that's great! There are plenty of shrines I start working on before others because I just happen to have the perfect name for them and want them "out in the world" (Setting Sun was prioritized due to that).

Valkyrie is somewhat of a departure from my shrines before this, as my main motivation to create a shrine isn't love. It's having something to say, something personal and "new" to offer. If my thoughts are adequately reflected elsewhere or by someone else, I wouldn't feel the "need" to shrine that particular subject. Before I even consider making a shrine, there has to be an essay topic for me to want to talk about; that moment of "I've got to talk about this!" is what sparks shrines for me. A shrine, to me, is the providing of a context to understand that particular essay, the lead-up needed to understand the full weight of the point I'm trying to make.

While I had some things I wanted to talk about as far as Rose is concerned (Theme Song and The Protagonist Role in particular, but also what I had absorbed from Tumblr discourse about Shana's portrayal), they weren't the motivation behind the shrine. Valkyrie's motivation was love – nothing more, nothing less.