March 30, 2008

This is my Story

As I mentioned in my first post, there are two videos not produced by me that I feel are simply amazing. Gizmo on the Pandemonium server has put together a snapshot of his journey through Vana'diel that I think is fairly representative of why we FFXI players feel so drawn to the game. It's not so much about the game itself as it is about the genuine bonds of friendship that are formed.

These videos are what the game is all about. You should certainly never forget all the wonderful adventures you’ve had, but more importantly, remember those you shared them with.

These videos are truly EXCEPTIONAL. Even though I have no idea of the words or where they’re from, Gizmo’s selection of music is simply outstanding, and the way he matched the mood in the songs to the scenes is phenomenal. If you’ve experienced even a fraction of these moments for yourself, I’m sure you’ll be moved, and they might just bring a tear to your eye.

If you read Japanese, you might want to check out Gizmo's site:
http://gizmo.web.infoseek.co.jp/

Here is the video from 2005:

Watch This is my story 2005

Here is the video from 2006:

Watch This is my story 2006

March 29, 2008

Biography of Bart

While I continue uploading my videos, I thought I'd share a little more about me. Back when I was starting out in the game, I wrote a background essay for my FFXI persona. It's not exactly prize-winning, but it was a fun way to express how I imagined my character. I don't really role-play or anything, but this story became an integral part to "Bartholomew of Shiva". In fact, the story played a big role in the artwork that became my forum signature (also at the bottom of this page). I commissioned two portraits by Ophiel (a now-retired player) which I truly cherish to this day. The first was my Black Mage portrait. As Ophi described it:

Bart's picture is another ground breaker. His character had a story that he had posted on the FableUnity boards once, so when he asked me to paint a portrait for him I was delighted! Not only was this a portrait comission (which are actually few and far between), but his character had a background, a past that allowed me to be creative within a context I knew would be relevant to my client.

His tattoos are magical sigils, etched into his skin as a sign of his hidden power... I had to use the weskit, and I had to make those pretty tattoos glow - I just had to! This compulsion brought forth one of the more dramatic pictures I've painted, a picture of Bart unleashing what is probably Thundaga MMCVII.


Later on, once I really started taking WHM up further (something I never originally thought I'd do), I commissioned the second piece of art. Again, described by Ophi:

One thing I like about Bartholomew's comissions is that he's specific in what he's like to see in his portraits and he and I are strangely on the same wave length. Here's him as his white mage self, though yes, I know, this has taken ages to complete due to school and stuff taking up my time.

Took me quite a while to get the spell, the background and the lighting in harmony. The mood that was desired was one of serenity, 'Glinda the Good Witch', and hopefully that has been accomplished. The layout of the signature was a bit of a sticky issue and while I'm pleased with the portrait, I'm not quite as happy with the sig. It's open to amendments.


And now, here's Bart's biography:

Bartholomew’s first memories are of waking in a desert wasteland, not knowing how he got there or where he was from. His head burned for reasons he could not determine, and his mouth was parched. Seeing a small puddle of water nearby, he reached for a drink, but before he could take a sip, he glimpsed his reflection and was astonished to discover his head was covered with strange glowing markings. He knew he needed to find help, as well as food and shelter. Noticing lights shining from city gates not too far away, he decided to seek refuge there.

Upon entering the city, Bartholomew found it to be populated with people of his own race, and being so close to where he awoke, he concluded this must be his home. But no one knew of him, as one young man named Flaco had only too eagerly pointed out. After arranging for quarters, and gaining a measure of rest, the pain of his head had subsided, but his Moogle was still concerned because she said, “Master, there is a faint aura coming from your markings, kupo!” Instantly, he knew it was true, and that he needed to find out more about them.

Bartholomew sought out others who looked like him, but unlike himself, all the others with his facial features had freely shaved their heads and chosen to have the symbols drawn with ink and needle, though none of them could explain what had driven them to do so. What could these symbols possibly mean? It became obvious to Bartholomew that they must symbolize enormous power, since somehow they had induced other men to endure such a painful process as tattooing.

And so Bartholomew began to seek to understand the meaning of these strange symbols, driving to study the magical arts in pursuit of that understanding. It was not long before he realized he could draw strength from the symbols, and they became an integral part of his inner being, their power innate within himself. Yet, he continued to study and try to understand how he had come to have this power, and why it was manifested through these markings.

After a short period of time, Bartholomew learned the layout of his home town of Bastok. Seeking to be useful, he began to help the townsfolk with various tasks they were in need of. But it was not enough for young Bartholomew; he decided to learn more about the world around him and serve his nation in a more official capacity. During this time, he learned of the powerful Beastmen plaguing the lands, and of rumors of evil being re-awakened. Bartholomew knew he must help his people and protect the inhabitants of Vana’diel.

One day, Bartholomew was asked by his country to ascertain the situation of the other nations and their dealings with the Beastmen. And so he traveled to the mighty Kingdom of San d’Oria, only to be snubbed by their people. And from their actions, he knew that even though they proclaimed themselves to be the very embodiment of honor, no one who felt themselves so superior to all others could be honorable. Nevertheless, after learning much of the goddess, he remained committed to assisting all Altana’s children despite his personal misgivings.

Bartholomew’s next stop on his mission was the Federation of Windurst. Once in the surrounding lands of Sarutabaruta, the humble city suddenly and inexplicably called to him. He discovered the tiny TaruTaru, an entire race devoted to the study and care of magic, and felt it might be a place where he could learn about himself and his power. He also noticed the incredibly strong bonds of friendship with the feline-like Mithra. This nation set an example of how loyalty and companionship could help prosper a civilization, which he was further drawn to.

Upon completing his mission and returning to Bastok, Bartholomew anxiously met with the President. It was during this meeting that he discovered Karst to be a misguided fool. Disillusioned, he knew he could no longer stay in the Republic, even though it would remain the homeland of his people and he would return to visit from time to time.

And so Bartholomew moved to Windurst to live and learn amongst the adorable Taru. But he was not fooled by their outward cuddliness. He knew it was they who held the secret to his origins. This became even more apparent as he undertook missions for the Federation. He continually encountered the mighty Ajido-Marujido, and while the others of the mage’s race had no trust in this visionary, he knew the man’s intentions were pure and thought him simply misunderstood. And thus, Bartholomew came to think of Ajido-Marujido as his personal hero.

But that was not all Bartholomew discovered in this new land. Eventually he was called to the Great Star Tree, where he was introduced to the wondrous Star Sybil. Immediately taken with her beauty, he devoted himself to fulfilling all of her desires, although he was sometimes conflicted when her commands concerned his hero. He and the Sybil became intimate lovers, and in exchange for his loyalty to her and the nation, the seer vowed to help her beau uncover the secrets of his past life and the meaning behind what he found out were not merely symbols, but powerful magical sigils. Not everyone understood why the two fell in love, and many frowned upon their relationship, but ultimately the Sybil’s maidens and Bartholomew’s friends simply wanted them to be happy, and so they were.

And so Bartholomew continued to quest for understanding of himself, all the while devoting his power to helping others. He noticed that unlike those who hastily rushed through their training of the magical arts, he studied meticulously and methodically so that he could not only cast spells, but so that he could understand and integrate their origin and power with himself and fully release their potential.

While always helpful to those in need, and while he has worked with a variety of individuals to enhance and develop his skills, he has only met a small number of trustworthy adventurers to closely ally with. To those select few who demonstrated mutual respect and a willingness to put aside insignificant personal differences, he gave his undying loyalty, save where it would interfere with his promises to his lover. These friends called him “Bart”, and so he became known throughout the lands.

Bartholomew continues to seek to understand magical power in all its forms, and to reconcile that power with his own. One day he hopes to know why he was chosen to be gifted with this blessing, and to discover the past he does not remember. He also continues to seek other adventuring companions to undertake his quest to help his nation and protect all the lands from evil, and seeks to form bonds with these heroes as he has with his other friends.

March 28, 2008

And away we go

Whoooo-boy! Well, this is my first attempt at something like this, but ever since Stage6 shut down last month, I've been spinning my head around and around with what to do with all those videos I created. We're talking about reasonably high-definition, high-resolution videos that YouTube and other video sites simply won't support. Even though they are encoded with DIVX, these files are still several hundred MB, and some are even over 1 GB. Many of the videos are over an hour long, and some even over 2 hours (I'm looking at you ,CoP Chapter 5...).

At first, I really didn't want to think about having to re-upload everything. I mean, it took me a VERY long time to get everything up on Stage6 in the first place (several months), and I still have many cutscenes recorded that I haven't even edited and pieced together into comprehensive stories yet, not to mention the cutscenes I have yet to record. At times it has seemed like such an ambitious project, and I constantly wondered if people were even interested to the point that it was worth it. Well, it turns out that a lot of people were just as upset as I was that my videos were no longer available at Stage6. In fact, I received numerous comments from FFXI players that wanted me to get them back up somewhere.

So I've been toying around with different options. Some of my videos have been uploaded to Veoh. I created a channel for the cutscene vids at
http://www.veoh.com/channels/ffxicutscenes
I also wanted to put up those two "This is My Story" videos from Gizmo on Pandemonium that I just can't say enough good things about. Since they weren't part of the cutscene project, I was going to keep them off the channel and just on my regular profile:

http://www.veoh.com/users/lawtechguy

At first, this seemed like a promising option. But once I started uploading the longer vids, I noticed a couple of things:
1. You can only watch a 5 minute preview directly on their website. To view the full video you have to download and install VeohTV and view it that way. Not a super big deal, but still not exactly ideal.
2. If you try to watch in full screen mode, the video quality is HORRIBLE. It's painful to watch my work end up looking like such crap. The only solution is to fully download each video, then open it up in a completely separate viewer like Windows Media Player or the DIVX viewer.

So I'm not exactly back to square one. I mean, I can keep putting them up on Veoh even though I'm not completely happy with them. Or I can go with another idea.....

I'm now looking at VUZE.com, which allows high-def streaming content using BitTorrent protocol. In fact, several people had suggested creating torrents for my videos since they were so darn big. While there is a limited user profile page that links all the videos together, the site encourages users to use magnet links on their own website or blog.

And thus we have arrived to my creation of this page. The goal is to try to start getting my videos on VUZE or another torrent site and organize this blog as a portal to all the videos, as well as keep people updated on where I am with the overall project. If it turns out like I hope, then you will have one very happy lawtechguy!