and i really like forest temple

Uhhh I kinda got smacked around by some inspiration for a VLD fic, of all things?  


“I wanted to see how you two were doing,” Shiro said, collapsing against the counter beside her.  "But, it’s good to get a little quiet.“

Hunk frowned in sympathy.  "They still arguing?”

“Something like that.”  Shiro sighed, kneading his temples.  "I wish I could say it’s surprising, but.  Fire and water are opposites.“

"So are earth and air,” Pidge noted.  "Feel like sparring, Hunk?“

Hunk grinned over his mixing bowl.  "I’m good, but thanks.”

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“So, how do you know each other again?” asked Yukako.

I held my water glass against my lips for a second longer, looking over at Alejandro, buying time. He looked back at me. We locked eyes.

What were we supposed to say in a situation like this?

But to properly tell this story, I need to back up a few days.

I was in Shizuoka, about an hour ride out of Tokyo, Japan. My goals were simple: visit the Magic Grand Prix tournament in Shizuoka, and then spend the next week seeing Magic stores and trying to explore a side of Japan I had not yet seen.

It was the last day of the Grand Prix.  The world is slowly crumbling around 2,700 players, as the delicately placed banners and colorfully shaped signage are being stripped down and removed.

This is the saddest part of any Magic tournament: when it ends.

It’s when the convention center hall stops being a living, breathing embodiment of Magic, with a pulse that sounds like the slapping of cardboard and a heartbeat that echoes with shuffling. When this marvelous world goes back to being a white-walled building that will be used to host dance recitals, or cheerleading rallies, or car shows.

But there was a brief moment left. A flicker of life, minutes, maybe, before the convention center passed the threshold of no return and reverted to its blank state.

And that’s when I had the fortunate happenstance of being introduced to Ryan.

Blonde hair. A slight grin at the corners of his mouth. A full backpack. The discerning gaze of a Magic player. He introduced himself: a local player, formerly from the States, who now lived in Japan.

“I had heard from Helene   you were staying around in Japan for a little longer, and I know it’s out of your way, and it’s probably a long shot, but I live in Nagoya, and it has a great Magic scene, and plenty of people who would love to meet you, and I know you like food and I would show you great food, and some of the sights, and we can play some games of Magic, and once again, I really know there’s probably a low chance, but if there is any possible way you could briefly come visit Nagoya during your stay, I’d be happy to show you around.”

“Okay, sure.”

“Wait… Really?”

“Yeah, sure. See you tomorrow?”

And that, ladies and gentlemen and those who identify as neither of the crowd, is how I travel.

I got Ryan’s information. And true to my word, the very next day, I found myself on a train, bound for Nagoya.

And so the tour began.

Delicacies, with a mix of known and unknown and unwanted-to-be-known contents, were consumed. A smorgasbord of 7 Magic shops were visited, showcasing so many shapes and sizes and colors that Doctor Seuss would have had a field day describing them all. Games were had. Stories were told.

We ended up by visiting one final game store: Mishimaya. A small family run shop, with that lovely musty smell that reminded me of childhood. And there we met a group of other local players.

And, well… It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a group of Magic players, in possession of decks, must be in want of a game.

Rajib. Kevin. Daniel. All from far-flung corners of the English-speaking world, we slammed down our cards. We ran Goblins into Angels. We laughed. We bantered. We talked about life in Japan. I took a picture of us. Put it on Instagram. We went out to dinner. Menus were attempted to be navigated.

It was a good time. We parted ways.

I hopped on a train, headed elsewhere, redrawing up new plans to account for the change of plans. And that was that.

Or so I thought.

Still riding the train back, something else unexpected happened. A notification popped up on Instagram from someone I had never spoke with. His name was Alejandro.

It read as follows: “You should take the [train] to Fukuoka. I still have an original Conspiracy box in Japanese to open and draft :)”

I looked it up on a map. Fukuoka was basically on the entire other side of Japan. My brain’s impulse was immediately to say no. I mean, it was a long way out of my way, I hadn’t planned on going there, time in Japan was precious, I didn’t know this person at all. It didn’t make sense, right?

Right?

…Right?

Well, it’s a good thing that Japan has all these bullet trains.

I arranged to visit in a few days. Alejandro writes to me, “Just so you know, it’s actually quite a bit west of Fukuoka and a bit rural…”

Perfect. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I took the bullet train to a station. From that station, I took a subway train to a tinier station. From there, I took yet another train. Out the window, I watched the metal buildings turn into brick buildings, the brick buildings turn into blossoming trees, the blossoming trees turn into rice fields. For the first time during my stay in Japan, signs begin to look run down. Roads begin to look bumpy. The passengers on the train were no longer mostly in suits.

The train spit me out at my stop, and it was immediately clear I had walked into a Miyazaki movie. Little statues sat in the streets. I spotted farmers in the distance. The buildings all had wooden sliding door entrances.

This – this was the Japan I grew up thinking about.

I’m swept up from the subway station by a car full of strangers. Alejandro has rounded up five others – three local Magic players, whom he had taught himself, one of their wives, and her young daughter – to come meet me. 

I’m taken to a restaurant, in an old wooden building, that has had many lives and seen many owners. There is a small museum in the front of the restaurant showcasing its history. People are sitting on pillows and tatami mats, eating from small tables.

The five of us sat down. I took a sip of my water.

“So, how do you know each other again?” asked Yukako.

That is the question, isn’t it? How do you answer that? How do you even begin to summarize it all into a short paragraph, or sentence, or word?

Let’s just back up for a second and review the facts.

I had traveled to Japan to visit a card game tournament as part of my job at Wizards of the Coast. I then met a local player, who showed me around his city for the day and introduced me to a number of players. They gave me a bunch of advice for my travels. I posted this on Instagram, of all places.

Someone on the other side of Japan whom I had never even talked to saw this, asked if I wanted to visit, I replied saying yes, and traveled 5 hours by train to get there. Once I arrived into Chikuzen-Fukae – the middle of nowhere in Japan – I met five total strangers, and was now sitting in a traditional Japanese restaurant, speaking with these people like they were family. Combined, we heralded from Spain, The USA, Japan, Nigeria, and London.

Pause for a moment. Cue, eyes widening. Cue, flashbacks to the many other times similar things have happened to me or other Magic players. Cue, the sudden realization that this is actually an extremely abnormal event.

Cue the realization that this is family.

I love Magic. It is the greatest game in the world. But even more powerful than the game, even more meaningful than the hours spent smiling and learning, are those people you spend those hours smiling and learning with.

It is a community of immediate friendship. A game which is a blacksmith that forges “Hello and Good Luck” into stories, stories into friendship, and friendship into family. A game which will always direct you to your long-lost cousin or your mystery aunt in every town, in every city. Time and time again, I have found there is always a family member there for you. There’s always someone from the family of Magic.

And there is nothing else like it. Not in the whole world. And I find it hard to imagine anything – truly anything – that could properly describe this series of events other than one word. So it’s what I said:

“We’re… family.”

I elaborated more, but that’s really the only way I can best explain it. We laugh. We eat our meal. We learn about each other’s lives. I make goofy faces at the young daughter like any cousin would. And, in that short window of a single meal, we become a family.

That day, this family of Magic visited sites in this tiny town. We climbed the muddy path up a mountain and watched a waterfall in the forest. We visited an Island temple, wind biting at our noses. We dropped by the restaurants – which my new family knows the owners of – to see if they will open just for us. It is a neighborhood where you actually know your neighbors.

And, eventually, we drove back to Alejandro’s place, with sliding doors and tatami floors, short ceilings that hit my head and tall tales that hit my heart, and we sat at the wooden, engraved kitchen table. We smile and, knowingly, reach for our Magic decks.

That afternoon, my family drives together, an hour, to play in a tiny store for the local Magic tournament.

That night, I sleep on a rolled out bed, in a room kept warm by a kerosene heater. Like an uncle, Alejandro lights the heater for me. And, like a nephew, I wish him sweet dreams.

When I wake up, there are trains to catch. Things to do. New places in Japan to see. I bid my farewells.

My adopted uncle walks me to the train station. He gets on the train, going part of the way there with me. Like any family member, he gives me a long list of directions, trying to be careful I don’t lose my way back.

The train goes for about 20 minutes. Alejandro stood up to get off. He looked back at me. We had known each other in person for less than 24 hours, and yet, I already felt a bit emotional.

I nodded. He nodded. We may never see each other again.

But that’s okay. We both knew it would be far from the last time we saw      our everlasting, evergrowing, evergracious family: our family of Magic.

Can finally share this! I’m really excited for the new Zelda coming out this year, so I painted what I imagine the Forest Temple level might look like in the game :) 

I’m doing a series of these of what I think the world might look like. Look forward to more ;)
(Prints of this: http://society6.com/product/forest-temple-7fq_print#1=45)

5

Certain paths in the Northern Crater take you to some truly strange and eldritch scenery, as well as change the music to Forested Temple or Buried in the Snow. The landscape is incredibly striking, and the most remarkable part is that to some extent it looks almost lived in. 

I can’t help but feel like we’re looking at another ruined Cetran town. The shattered circular things that Cloud walks through suggest buildings that have long since collapsed, and we’ve seen these worn twisting paths cut into the rock before. More than just a town, there’s what looks like a whole ecosystem in these caves, thriving and strange after all this time. 

It really fires the imagination, anyway. I wonder if Jenova wasn’t pulled out of one of these bogs, 2000 years after being struck down in a territory the Ancients had no choice but to walk away from.

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Sursday Update: The Game Design of Proven Lands – Survival Part 1

Hey folks,

Rafael here. Let’s talk about the game design of Proven Lands today, let’s talk about survival, which is, along with science fiction, our core concept.

Why Survival Matters

To me DayZ or H1Z1 are not really survival games, but FPS games with a few survival features. These games are great in co-op, but I never felt like Robison Crusoe, or like Robert Neville in the first half of I Am Legend. They’re cool, but they are rather run-for-your-life experiences like Temple Runner ;) or Hunger Games than games like The Forest or Fallout. The same applies in many cases to RUST and all the other RUST-alikes like GRAV. 

I love survival novels, films, games. I really do. The first half of I Am Legend is a good example of an apocalyptic survival film. By survival I don’t mean the horror survival genre, in which you survive a dungeon or witch. I’m talking about back-to-basics survival games in which you take care of your mind and body a lot. Food, insanity, morale and health. That’s why our main character is named after Teruo Nakamura by default, a Japanese Imperial soldier from the Second World War. The interesting thing about him is that he’s someone who survived until 1974 on a small Indonesian island without knowing about the end of the Second World War. I also like the core concept of Enemy of Mine.

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You look beautiful today :)

So I got tagged by the lovely @extremelyintroverted to do a few questions (which rarely happens anymore tbh so thanx boo)

Favorite Drink? I fucking love Shirley Temples and I’m a whore for coffee soooo

Favorite Color? Indigo or maybe like a forest green or maroon

Smoked? Nah m8 I got asthma

Do you drink? Umm occasionally with my mom if she’s gotten like a fancy wine or something but tbh I’ve tried just about anything you could imagine

Favorite music/genre? Like honestly anything tbh except country is like the death of me but rn I really like electroswing and stuff from Trap Nation and Mr. Suicide Sheep on yt and I’ve always loved pop punk (P!ATD, FOB, etc.) and alternative rock shit and yeah I fucking love music I could rant about music forever

I TAG

@nyxibun, @the-supernatural-fringe-division, @sopwinderbeen,  @jackseptiborf, @beyondmessedup, @imaginesomethinggrey, @doctormantree, @just-another-otakunerd, @i-forgot-adam, @the-last-weeping-willow