— Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Annnnnnd we’re back. Let’s not do that again (hopefully)!

Welcome back to Project: Ballad! Or maybe… welcome for the first time? We’re returning after a bit of a… year-long break… but we resume our story today with the beginning of chapter two, and we’re glad to have you here!

Are you new to the comic, or looking to refresh your memory? Check out our “About” section, using the bar up top or the box over on the right. I’d especially recommend our cast page, or maybe the FAQ. We’ve updated a bunch of stuff around the site here and there while we were on break, so if you haven’t clicked around in a while, or ever, check it all out! Oh, and were you just getting back with us? We recently did an interview over at the Hideous Energy podcast, so check that out, too! Thanks David & Austin! And thanks to “Pretty Cool Webcomics” for their kind review, too!

Before the interlude, and before we went out to lunch and took a year to find our way home, the story was as follows: Kendra Price (melodramatic, just past a hangover) was attending the Midwest Fan Fair with her friends, all members of the message board “The White Table,” and hoped to win a costume contest for a chance to play the latest entry in the “Legendary Ballad” video game series. However, two of the boys from her group – William Phillip Millstone (handsome, slightly snotty) and Benjamin Kim Robinson (their pet internet troll) got into an altercation on the show floor. As they were all getting kicked out, everything went topsy-turvy and they found themselves in a familiar-looking, one might almost say fantastical setting. And instantly got into even more trouble. We rejoin our story already in progress.

…But the new page up top is not all that’s going on here on the P:B website today to mark our return! Be sure to check out our “Writing” section below for articles, essays, and blog posts on games and other stuff tangentially related to the comic; and to the right of that you’ll find the “Extras” section, featuring prose stories in continuity with P:B, fanart, process blogs, and other neat stuff! Just today, we’ve got an essay on Earthbound and the first in a series of Q&A’s with the P:B main cast; coming up later this month (already written and scheduled in!) are pieces on Xenoblade, SMTIV (featuring a special guest), and Chrono Trigger; plus, a piece or two written by some of the P:B characters themselves!

More importantly…


The Project: Ballad digital release of volume one!

Yes, for a mere $2.00 US, (Holy crap!) you can receive a pdf, cbz, cbr, and ePub version of Project:Ballad volume one, which contains all of the prologue, chapter one, and the first intermission, along with the first two prose stories (and a stylish version of the cast page, to boot) for reading on your tablet or whatever program you use for that sorta thing. Just click here, right here, this link right here, and grab it! Woohoo!

Welcome back, one last time, to Project: Ballad! Now let’s have some fun!


Synthesis: Chrono Trigger

— Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Here on Project: Ballad, I’ve talked a few times now about how storytelling in games use two different elements, which I’ve termed after the two primary tools in comic storytelling: synthesis and juxtaposition. If you’re just joining us, here’s a few other posts on the subject:

I was recently reading The Game Design Forum’s extraordinary “Reverse Design” piece on Chrono Trigger, a well-written and well-researched piece that goes into painstaking detail on the many ways that the game deliberately sets up misconceptions in order to close a trap around the player – how design and narrative work at making you think that you’re playing one game, when you’re really playing another. There are dozens of moments of “synthesis” in their piece, and I enjoyed seeing them all laid bare.

Consider this piece a brief addendum, meant to serve as a supplemental. There were some moments that I’ve been fond of as a longtime fan of the game that I thought worth pointing out – areas meant to reinforce their points. Consider it also a light voice of dissent, insofar as there were a few brief instances in the game where they felt less design work was implemented than I did.

I’m going to take two examples.

Diversions that really aren’t.