Reaction to Footage from Jurassic World: Evolution

Jurassic World: Evolution was announced a few months back this year, but at first all we got to see was a trailer. Today, what appears to be footage recorded from the game itself has finally arrived, and it is every bit as magnificent as you would expect.

Essentially, Jurassic World: Evolution is a game where you run your own zoo of cloned dinosaurs, complete with the Jurassic World license. You could consider it a late 2010’s update of Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, much as Jurassic World itself was Masrani Global’s working update of John Hammond’s vision. That by itself would be appetizing enough, but since the developers are the same people who gave us Planet Coaster, it’s even better to know the project is in qualified hands.

That said, I do hope the roster of cloneable dinosaur species in the final game is more extensive than what we see in this footage. Right now, all we can see here are the most iconic dinosaurs of the first two films in the JP series: Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Brachiosaurus, and Velociraptor. Strangely, the Mosasaurus that was one of Jurassic World’s unique new attractions doesn’t seem to have made the cut yet. While a larger selection of dinosaur species is what I expect once the game hits the market, I had hoped to see more than just the most familiar ones in this early footage. I guess we’ll have to wait for more footage as the game gets finished.

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On Planning and Pantsing

When it comes to planning out stories, writers seem to fall anywhere between two ends of a spectrum. Towards one end, there are the people who write down detailed scene-by-scene outlines of their stories, often with character biographies and setting/world-building notes as part of the package. Closer to the other end, you have the writers who prefer to “write on the seats of their pants” (hence the term “pantsers”), eschewing planning altogether and not necessarily knowing what’s going to happen in the next scene. Although both the planners and pantsers have plenty of published writers in their ranks, in my experience it’s usually the planners who are most convinced that their method is ideal. Certainly most books on writing (with the distinct exception of Stephen King’s On Writing) seem to advocate the planning approach.

I personally would say that individual writers should go with whatever works best for them. As for myself, I’ve found that I lie somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, albeit maybe a bit closer to the “pantser” side. I absolutely do need some idea of where a story could go when I start writing, but I don’t necessarily have to write a whole outline down. In fact, every time I’ve actually finished a story, most or all the planning I did was in my head. By contrast, whenever I try to write a complete outline for a story, I find myself blocked sooner or later. I am still not sure why that is.

To be sure, all my successes as a writer have been with short stories. I have yet to complete an entire novel. It could be that novels, since they naturally have more going on, require more meticulous planning than shorts. All that I can vouch for right now is that when it comes to short stories, I seem to favor a sort of mental planning that almost looks like pantsing.

Dinosaurs in Prehistoric Fiction

One fact I’ve observed while looking up the prehistoric fiction genre is that surprisingly very little of it seems to feature any dinosaurs.

Of course, the fantasy of prehistoric humans (or “cavemen”) coexisting with non-avian dinosaurs has appeared in numerous movies, cartoons, and comic books. But if you look at prose literature with prehistoric human characters, dinosaurs and other Mesozoic fauna appear to be absent altogether. Instead the majority of prehistoric fiction novels, such as Jean M. Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear or Steven Barnes’s Great Sky Woman, try to represent the prehistoric human experience more or less realistically. Literary equivalents to One Million Years BC or When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth are few and far between.

(There are the ape-like hominins in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, of course, but that doesn’t really count as “prehistoric fiction” since it’s really an isolated lost world surviving into the late Victorian era.)

Now, I don’t necessarily have a problem with realistic prehistoric fiction. I actually enjoyed the portrayal of prehistoric African foragers and their world in Great Sky Woman quite a lot. However, I’m also a longtime dinosaur fan, and I see a lot of potential in the cavemen-and-dinosaurs brand of prehistoric fantasy that I think more authors should exploit. Instead they seem to have left it for the filmmakers and comic book artists. What’s up with that?

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Dinosaurs & Dames: A Selection of Short Stories

So this is a self-published anthology of my short fiction that I recently posted for sale on Amazon.com:

Dinosaurs & Dames

This is a self-published anthology of short stories by amateur writer Brandon S. Pilcher. By and large, they are action-packed speculative-fiction tales featuring dinosaurs and other savage beasts, fierce female warriors and huntresses, and African cultural influences. So if you like adventure, strong heroines, prehistoric wildlife, and non-Western settings, these are the stories for you.

I would greatly appreciate it if anyone with a Kindle or Kindle app would be willing to spend $1 on my anthology. You won’t regret it!

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Trailer Reaction)

As people who have followed my little WordPress for some time know by now, I don’t normally use this blog for anything other than sharing my artwork and stories. Today I’m going to do something a bit different from the usual here by posting my thoughts on the recent trailer for the upcoming Jumanji sequel.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – Official Trailer

Right off the bat, what I notice is that this movie’s tone (at least as represented by the trailer) appears extremely different from the 1995 original with Robin Williams. If you ever saw the first movie as a kid, you might recall that it had a certain spooky and ominous quality permeating it, as shown for example in the riddles of ghostly text that swirled within the game board’s central glass dome. This one looks like it’s emphasizing the action/adventure angle (with some humor added to the mix) at the expense of those creepy supernatural elements. It’s quite a sharp contrast for something that is supposed to be a “continuation” of the original’s story.

Also, the original game’s theme was evocative of 19th century exploration expeditions into Africa, so the motorcycle gang seems out of place as a game peril.

On the other hand, making Jumanji into a video game that sucks players into its world is a sensible update for a sequel. Not only does it reflect our changing times, but as a sequel rather than a reboot, the new movie can’t simply regurgitate the original’s premise of a board game that unleashed its obstacles into the real world. We’ve already seen rhinos and elephants stampeding through suburbia, so the logical next step for a Jumanji sequel (if it must be made at all) is to visit their original habitat.

Besides, I’m a sucker for action-packed jungle adventure. Unless the reviews before release turn out to be unanimously bad, I’ll be looking forward to it, even if it’s probably going to be a very different experience from the original.