- rose.oubliette.nu ↠
- Subject — Rose (The Legend of Dragoon)
- Medium — Video game
- Release date — 07 October 2015
- Finish date — 16 November 2015
- Revamp date — 23 August 2022
- Participant in — BAB The 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
- conflicting myths
- duty & roles
- unwavering love
- gradual change
- how to be human again
- past & present intertwined
- first 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
- revamp: Fancybox 4
- revamp: active navigation marker
- revamp: responsive media query
- revamp: fan art usage in layout
- revamp: first commission ever
- revamp: fanfic recommendations
- revamp: linking to shrines of old
- A lot has already been said in About the Site.
One Big DreamAs 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.
I’ve always wanted to shrine a video game character, and to create large character shrines one day. Though I’m very happy that this first step was made with Rose, it was such a daunting idea at the time! This goes all the more so as my actual first character shrine before this, In Control, is considered an accident; it’s also far less elaborate.
The Case of Video Game ShrinesWhere do I even start? I love video games, I love JRPGs. Final Fantasy shrines have always been such a staple 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 approximately 300 self-taken and edited screencaps across the shrine. I also ranted about it extensively on the Review and Site pages as a result.)
Behold My Game Plan!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.
Kickstarting, Not FinishingFirstly, 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.
Organization ToolsSecondly, I used the tools that existed for the medium to help me categorize my thoughts. As a result, this was the most organized that I’ve approached a shrine up to this point.
As I played, I took screencaps of things I knew I would use for the shrine (and ended up with over 1300 as I took environment screencaps too). I’m disproportionately happy about the Group Dynamics, [spoilers] (do NOT hover) and Ruins of Past Glory (spoilers) pages as they allowed me to include all the pretty screencaps I had taken and planned from the start.
I also 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). As with other shrines, I continuously wrote down my thoughts in an Evernote file, which I then assigned to the respective section of my shrine outline.
It was exhausting, but also very fun. A nice side product of working with the game script is the non-chronological way the quotes flow into the shrine via subnavigations. I’d love to shrine an old-school game subject again just to work with a game script!
Tried StructuresThanks 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 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.
Also, 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.
Preserving StructuresMoreover, what I love the most about The Legend of Dragoon is the gradual uncovering of the truth while pursuing the many versions of the same myth. I could have written a shorter summary or limit myself to the truth in The Survivor. I could also have written this shrine from an ex-post perspective starting with the past, but that would have killed what continues to fascinate me about the game after all this time. I am really fond of the shrine structure that I came up with, even if I’m worried that it may be slightly tedious to navigate.
Themed RelationshipsAs with the other two shrines, I knew I didn’t want to talk about the characters in the game and their relationship to Rose 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. They also serve to 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.
Unfortunately, as I wrote this shrine mostly in the order it’s presented in, I had the biggest motivation block due to Dart’s page (spoilers), which kept me from advancing past The Comrade section for several weeks. I wanted to do their relationship justice, but I knew it’d get very long due to the sheer amount of scenes pertaining to both characters and my analysis on top of that.
CompensationIn the end, all the relationship pages did end up being immensely long. I don’t think I could have written them in any other way. Beyond that though, that length is, to me, 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.
Thematic SummariesAs 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.
Kindred Spirits for Real!I’m very fond of this shrine’s version of the “kindred spirits” (spoilers) 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 to an analysis of Rose’s roles (spoilers) (among other things), which is typically a male role when you look at video games of the same genre.
Elements Unique to Video GamesMost of all, 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, something I have rarely encountered in game-related discussions, least of all with such depth. In this case, this included optional conversations, a detailed look at the game’s many locations, Rose’s mechanical design (spoilers), sidequest content, repeating sequences, personal trials, technical aspects that support. In fact, the two pages mentioned just now are two subjects I looked forward to writing the most, and I consider them some of the most original pages on this shrine, and among my favourite pages I have ever written. The same goes for the — unrelated — pages Rose/Miranda, Rose/Shana, and Theme Song (all three contain spoilers).
In honour of the unique case of video game character shrines, I listed some of my influences on the Credits page.
Shrine RevampThis shrine was revamped on 23 August 2022. The revamp included a new layout, a wealth of functionality, and thoroughly reworked as well as new content.
The new layout follows Refugium by including a footer image. Like Sway (and Strength of Heart), there’s something book-like about the layout and the subject matter; unlike its predecessor, however, it is not so much “storybook-like” in design and content, and more “history-book-oriented” due to the subject matter. Still, the design influences show in the many different ornamental borders. In terms of new content and some functionality, I was very much inspired and motivated by Larissa’s example, as I note on the Credits page.
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, which both contain spoilers, 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.
Valkyrie is, as lovely members in the community once put it, my “opus magnum” or “flagship shrine”. I don’t think of it exactly in those terms, as my various shrines convey different things and showcase different qualities. This one exhibits a great many things not present in any other shrine of mine as of 2022, but it’s also missing some elements I consider defining of my stronger works, such as personal intimacy, and a certain kind of creativity that comes in the shape of a very individual approach to a shrine’s structure and navigation points. At the very least, those aspects aren’t as strong in Valkyrie — not due to personal shortcomings but as a natural result of a much more straight-forward subject.
On the basis of size and analytical depth alone, however, this shrine certainly is my opus magnum. Combine the content of all of my shrines up to this point and I couldn’t say with certainty if they’d be a match for what Valkyrie has to offer, specifically due to the unique dimension of video games. It is curious then that, contrary to its evident status, this shrine has never been my showcase project, regardless of audience. I couldn’t tell why aside from what I considered one of my worst layouts and typographical design — until I sat down for this revamp.
Back in 2015, I spent some months getting this shrine out of my system right after my replay of the game. The layout was created in a single day; in retrospect, I can see it was more of an afterthought, a necessary vessel for all that had poured out of me, with speed as the priority factor in its creation. (I assume the event deadline had a hand in it.) I remember having been quite dejected that my graphic editing skills weren’t good enough for me to make a proper header with the rather ill-suited official art. The header turned out nice, but didn’t form an organic whole with the rest of the layout. I also did not dare set the site title on it because I knew I’d ruin what was otherwise the best-looking graphic I could manage. As a layout that was created before I discovered Google Fonts, it also featured very basic typography. Even so, I’m not sure what possessed me to set the basic Arial of all things as the main body font. (It’s not even a serif font, and this shrine clearly demands serifs!) And why was I not using HTML lists for things that were actual lists? Really, I think the only thing the layout had going for it was pretty tables and borders — hardly defining elements.
Lacking visual cohesiveness and visual identity aside, this shrine just contains… so much text. What’s baffling is that I did not break down the longer pages by adding more subheadings! Instead, I did the worst possible thing: I stuck collapsible divs on many longer pages, as if to hide their actual length, which was entirely unnecessary.
I’d been aware of the shrine’s visual shortcomings by 2017 at the latest, as I started 2018 with my very first commission request (to date still my only one): I asked dubiousdisc to draw my vision of Rose, and to make the composition suitable to be worked into a layout. She captured Rose perfectly, and it made me want to start working on a layout right away — except I was still shackled by lacking skills in graphic design then, and lacking confidence to boot. I saw no way to incorporate the elements I wanted into the layout, and no way to pull of what I wanted to convey. The project was thus put on hold, and dubiousdisc’s majestic Rose could not be shared with the world.
Over four and a half years later, my crucial conversation with Andrea during the finish of Refugium enabled me to realize my delicate vision of that shrine. After that project’s conclusion, I went on to create one of my favourite layouts ever: this repository’s. After two intense weeks of creative vacation from work, a large part of which was dedicated to this repository, I had meant to take a break, as a busy time was coming up. However, for the first time in my life, I had so much fun making layouts, including the graphics editing part of it, which had almost always been a necessary evil up to that point, I didn’t want to stop.
I had been using graphic assets by a specific person for those two layouts, and as I looked at one of their sets once more, inspiration struck me. The detail of Valkyrie’s new layout process can be read on Shrine Motifs (spoilers). Here my mind had been looking for ruins to integrate into the header all this time, and instead, it was my intuition and feelings that ultimately guided me. It’s very fitting for a site dedicated to The Legend of Dragoon that a graphic set that evokes melancholia resonated with me.
And once more, I am shown that much of layout-making is simply… luck and serendipity, and creativity taking its own course from there. I don’t think I would have thought of looking for any ornamental elements (let alone the birds), or even thought to look for an abstract representation of the ruins, had they not been part of the set! And yet, they’ve become such an integral part of the design, and there are so many elements in the layout that call to the game.
Hilariously, by the time this layout finally went up, dubiousdisc had forgotten all about the commission and its details. (Quoting myself: ”IT'S BEEN FUCKING 4 YEARS AND WE'RE STILL ALIVE AND KICKING CAN YOU BELIEVE”) I do, though, and I am proud to say: Though the specifics and execution required time, the right spark, and luck, my vision has always been this clear at its core; and in the end, I was able to realize it. Behold the masterpiece I doodled to accompany my commission request:
Since I don’t half-ass things, I took this revamp as an opportunity to go over the text. Much like the case of the Dornenkaefig revamp, I ended up editing nearly every other sentence, just that it took much more time due to the shrine’s enormous size. (Good thing editing texts is one of my favourite activities in the world.) I was quite amazed at how vastly the texts could be improved, as I consider my writing solid in the first place, be it content, language or structure. Though I was initially reluctant to, in a way, split long texts up by adding subheadings to them, I was also surprised (and very relieved) to see that despite their length, my thoughts have been structured all along; the added subheadings didn’t require restructuring of the texts themselves. It’s puzzling, then, that I hadn’t visually structured them with subheadings in the first place.
On the one hand, these improvements mean that when I was writing this shrine all these years ago, my mind was fully focused on getting all the content out. Now, returning to it, I could give my main focus to different aspects, such as conciseness, clarity (with regard to different audiences as well), emotional impact, presentation. On the other hand, it goes to show that I have improved (no doubt a result of academic and scientific work, specifically in law), and the beautiful thing about it is that I’ve been doing so without being conscious of it — how lovely! What more can you ask of the continued pursuit of a craft, of life itself?
The scale of the revamp, unprecedented for this network, speaks for itself. Improving and adding all this content to a shrine I had considered complete years ago, implementing functionality and applying skills gained from all the shrines that have since been created, and complementing all of it with elements first used during this revamp — all of this is testament to my growth. I am so proud that this shrine finally looks worthy of its status among my works, and functions and reads accordingly as well.
Most of all, reengaging with this shrine with such intensity and thoroughness was exhilarating because it allowed me to delve deeply into a subject I love so dearly once more. (This also goes for all the fandom activity and creations of past and present that I scoped out to link to on entirely revamped pages.) In Valkyrie’s case, that’s all the more meaningful because I had written the shrine with such thoroughness in the first place so that I could reexperience the game through it in the future, without having to play it ever again (it has aged badly).
I could read things that I yearn to read, nearly having forgotten that I’d written about them in precisely that way, in a language and with a level of detail that personally speak to me and give me utter satisfaction. And what a delight it was to be able to meet my younger self this way, and to marvel at all the work it has put into this project while showing very visibly how much it has grown! The force of this gratification truly captures the reason I make shrines. I want to make shrines forever!
— 24 August 2022