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Questionable subject matter


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#1 TechnoGoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2676

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 07:31 AM

How do people feel about questionable subject matter in games? I'm not talking about sex, drugs, and violence but the actual subject matter. For instance take this fictional scenario: ******************************************* The main character is raised in an isolation community, within a city, with only a few other people around for company. One day the elder of the group comes to you and tells you that you are their last hope for salvatio,n and the only one who can save mankind. He then hands you a mystical handgun, and tells you that you have been choosen to defend the comunity from the monsters that are consuming the world. (it all sounds pretty normal up to this point, but know we get the questionable subject matter part) You where chosen because you alone have the sight, which allows you to see the monsters true form and what they have done to the world, to everyone else the monsters appear like ordinary people. Then through the course of the game through sutble hints that can be explored the player learns that the there are no monsters, they have infact been killing innocent people. And that the main character is infact a insane. As well as that the people in the community are all delusions representing parts of the main characters mind own mind. If they uncover this it would be possible to destroy those delusions and overcome your madness. ******************************************* Now is this sort of thing too questionable to be presented in a game? And should games infact avoid content that brings in to question the players actions. The other alternative is to always present questionable subject matter with a heroic light which in the case I stated earlier, would consist of having the main character not insane and instead have the elder being the one who is insane. That tricked the main character into doing his evil deeds. But then doesn't that water down the subject matter and dilute the message trying to be brought across? [Edited by - TechnoGoth on June 26, 2004 2:48:14 PM]

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#2 Funkymunky   Members   -  Reputation: 621

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 07:53 AM

that actually sounds like a pretty sick plotline (in a good way)

The way i see it, and i'm 21 so maybe my perspective isn't the most widely accepted, but I see it like life isn't always about daisies and baby laughter. Sometimes you slaughter a village full of people because you thought they looked like ravenous mutant wildebeasts instead of regular men and women. Now, if you have the main character start killing children...then you're kinda pushing your artistic freedom.

#3 Auron   Members   -  Reputation: 328

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 08:18 AM

I actually like your idea. I'm not too sure how many people would consider it to be going too far. I don't, but that's because I can see artistic merit in that concept. Properly written, it could make for a very interesting game.

In fact, in a more general sense, it'd be interesting to have a game where players would see repurcussions from killing everything in sight. How many RPGs have you played where to pass certain points of the game, you have to mow down countless soldiers? The big bad of the game is usually plotting to commit genocide but often doesn't get that far, because you've come to stop them -- committing your own genocide along the way.

But these games never consider that these soldiers, whose corpses are lying everywhere (or to follow the RPG standard, are fading into nothingness after death), are actually humans too.

That all said though, I think it would be a great idea in a game to have the player's characters actually have consequences to their actions.

Of course, this entire point is mostly moot if all the things you fight are simply monsters, but this could also work in a way since a lot of the "monsters" are based on wildlife.

For instance, you have a town complaining about a gigantic yak in a nearby forest eating their people (stupid, I know - bear with me) so your band of heroes goes and valiantly slays the gigayak and the town rejoices. But say you stopped in the forest to level up for a bit on the way and wiped out all of the animals and caused collateral damage to the environment. The town may be happy in the short term, but then eventually they would starve because there's nothing left in the forest to hunt and all the vegetation has been destroyed and you would be to blame.

That could be interesting, but it could easily reach the point of being obnoxious.

Anyway, I went off on my own spiel there and mostly ignored your idea. It would work really well if the writing was neither oblivious nor aware of what your character is actually doing. Having every monster scream "I'm human!" would be silly but having no indication whatsoever that your character is really doing something wrong would make the revelation seem like one of those out-of-nowhere plot twists that makes no sense. So there has to be indication to the player that something is definitely wrong but it's not quite what you think it is. A little dramatic irony could work wonders here.

From a dramatic perspective or for a highly story-driven game (like the Xenosaga games) I would say this isn't extreme at all, but for a game more designed for younger or more casual players, it could be overbearing.

-Auron

#4 Auron   Members   -  Reputation: 328

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 08:24 AM

Quote:
Original post by Funkymunky
that actually sounds like a pretty sick plotline (in a good way)

The way i see it, and i'm 21 so maybe my perspective isn't the most widely accepted, but I see it like life isn't always about daisies and baby laughter. Sometimes you slaughter a village full of people because you thought they looked like ravenous mutant wildebeasts instead of regular men and women. Now, if you have the main character start killing children...then you're kinda pushing your artistic freedom.


I don't know here. As far as selling the game would go, yes it's likely too far. But so long as the character eventually recoils in as much disgust as the player does, I think it could still be doable. The point is that both the character and the player have to understand the attrocities being committed. It still probably won't get you past the publishers though...

-Auron

#5 Kwizatz   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 1189

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 08:38 AM

In the Legacy of Kain series you run around killing humans right and left, you even get to kill defenceless prisoners chained to the walls in order to suck their blood or their soul, depending on the case, your idea sounds pretty good actually and to me its sorf of a mix of Fallout plus Silent Hill 2 if you reverse and manipulate a bit the concept of monsters apearing as the thing that haunts the player, in SH2 the Eddie character didnt see monsters as James did, but saw people laughing at him, so he killed them, in this case, you see people as monsters that haunt you, on SH2 this fact was hinted at by having James encounter the corpses of the imaginary dead people Eddie killed on his way.

it also has some bit of the movie "They live" in it

This could really be a great concept if done right.

#6 Chokki   Members   -  Reputation: 610

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 12:42 PM

its a mixed blessing. one one hand, you leave the player with something to think about after he's beaten the game. something most games don't take the time to do. definite plus.

also, original plot. something most games also don't take the time to do. also a plus.

however..

once the player has beaten this game, it will be very difficult for him/her to play it again... who would (in their average, non-morbid mind) play a game like this again, knowing that when they were supposed to be killing monsters they knew they were killing innocent people?

of course, their are ways around this problem. ways that could over-all benefit the rest of the game.

moreover, the player can choose to do the "wrong" thing, being "bad" when later it turns out he was actually doing good. many players would return for the opportunity to play a game where they have the freedom to be "evil," for the sake of the overall good. telling the player that being bad is actually being good opens up all sorts of doors for player involvement.

it will be interesting to see how it turns out if you follow through on this project. best of luck, would make an interesting game.

#7 Kwizatz   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 1189

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 02:39 PM

Quote:
Original post by Chokki
however..

once the player has beaten this game, it will be very difficult for him/her to play it again... who would (in their average, non-morbid mind) play a game like this again, knowing that when they were supposed to be killing monsters they knew they were killing innocent people?


I dont think thats much of a problem, how many people saw Fight Club a second time knowing Jack was in fact Tyler just to beter understand the plot and see if they find something they didnt when that fact was completelly hidden from them? just something to ponder on :)

#8 Wiggin   Members   -  Reputation: 374

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 04:22 PM

Like I suggested in another thread, I would drop the magic and go the way of science fiction, but that's just personal preference.

I would have the main character be an average Joe Block who is kidnapped by this scientist guy with a secret laboratory. The scientist implants bionic eyes which enable the player to see these alien shapeshifters who are infiltrating all levels of society. Little if any information is provided and the player is set free with body armour and a weapon. The player should automatically start killing the aliens (if he doesn't, eventually the aliens somehow sense his secret ability and kill him - game over).

Since other humans react with horror every time he pulls the trigger, soon the player will come to suspect either that he is crazy or that the visions are created by the scientist. A confrontation ensues back at the lab, the scientist maintains the alien story and explains that the player is not the only one who has been equipped in this manner. This is corroborated by stories of shootings in the news. The player may choose to kill the scientist or not, and may choose to continue killing aliens (increasing difficulty, aliens and police attack together), hunt down the other killers (should be possible), surrender to the police (mental institution - game over), or commit suicide (game over).

The player should never learn with certainty wether he is delusional or fighting off an invasion. This provides replayability.

#9 adventuredesign   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 480

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 06:22 PM

TechnoGoth;

It is your art dude, take it to where it is significant to you, and presto, understanding with others is created almost all the time.

There's plenty of wierd stuff out there since the 18th century and some notable stuff before that. Have at it, and make it your sweet thang.

Addy

#10 Doc   Members   -  Reputation: 586

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 06:33 PM

Quote:
Original post by Kwizatz
how many people saw Fight Club a second time knowing Jack was in fact Tyler


Well that's just fucking great. I hadn't seen that movie, yet.

#11 kseh   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1987

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 11:12 PM

It's a beautiful idea. Though on the surface it appears to be a psycological journey type of game it seems to me it takes on the subject of violence in games. I have a hard time seeing people having objections to it morally when the purpose is to impart a message of morality. The problem then becomes one less of appropriate subject matter and one of being appealing to the audience. Can you impart your message without seeming preachy? Will the people that hear rumours about the game still want to see what it's about?

#12 TechnoGoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2676

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Posted 27 June 2004 - 07:38 AM

Auron: I have thought of that before, a sort of creature ecology in games, but in order for it work right it would require a lot of time and effort and unless it was going to be a major part of game its just not worth the effort.

I agree that a story like this has to be well written in order to work but that is a part of most games where story is important. subtle hints and suggestion would be important and make things all the more interesting. Since unlike in movies where there is a twist ending and when you rewatch you can catch the hints as to the twist. In this project I think it would better if the twist is only revealed if the player notices and pursues the clues.

Chokki: I'm not concerned with replay created by story, to be honest I'm not sure how many people replay games based on the story. In general its interesting gameplay and the promise of new challenges and discoveries to made that get people to replay a game.


kseh: Yes, in many ways it deals with the subject of violence in games, espically the fact that player take for granted the fact the in games the character are granted a mandate from heaven that states that all their actions are correct and that if something looks like monster then you should kill it.

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#13 kseh   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1987

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Posted 27 June 2004 - 10:28 PM

(one more small opinion)
I have to say thought that the mandate from heaven thing is a bit... well... I'd find it tough to swallow if I was a person playing the game. The sight element is good but I suggest somehow having the main character discover or otherwise achieve this power rather than it just being handed to him. Maybe have the elder provide the tools and let the main charcter find his own path of self destruction.

#14 LNK2001   Members   -  Reputation: 218

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Posted 27 June 2004 - 10:49 PM

Sounds like a great game plot IMHO...
Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
As well as that the people in the community are all delusions representing parts of the main characters mind own mind.

...up until this point. Being raised in a real bizarre cult could be used to provide an explanation for the hero's insanity. It would also be a nice epilogue (or boss level) to have the (recovering) hero confront this community and face the demons of his childhood, making it possible to start a new life.

I like the idea. Almost like a modernized Greek tragedy;-)

#15 Xori   Members   -  Reputation: 140

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Posted 27 June 2004 - 10:55 PM

It is a great idea. If a movie that goes "that far" isn't "too far", then why should a game that goes "that far" be considered "too far"?

I say, congratulations on the great idea. Now go get to work on your game ;)

(and please make a version for *nix ;))

#16 Estok   Members   -  Reputation: 104

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 01:14 PM

It is a great idea, I don't know why but I relate this idea to mememto and unbreakable. In the unbreakable case, maybe you have the ability to see what evil things they are about to do. But it doesn't seem to justify you killing them.

Have you thought about the actual game play? I can understand that you see monster images on the targets, but they would be just sitting around doing normal things. How much fun is it to snipe them and hide? What is the challenge? What are the actions you envisioned?

In movies, you would have to spend a lot of time on presenting why you have chosen the target (your investigation, discovery, plans on how to get close to the target,...) But I don't see how these would work in a game.

#17 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 04:54 AM

dude, awesome story. very cool. too many happy stories these days.

#18 Pxtl   Members   -  Reputation: 354

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 05:40 AM

Not only do I think "inappropriate" games are good, I think they're necessary for the advancement of gaming as an art form. Art pushes boundaries - makes people think outside a box. But art cannot put you in the place of a subject, forcing you to make the same decisions that they would. You can watch Schindler's List and imagine "Would I do the same thing, losing everything but my car, for a chance to help these people? Would I keep the car?"

Actually, in that vein, that could be a good game: SimDeathcamp. In the genre of a Maxis sim game, but set as the operator of a Nazi deathcamp/factory. Demonstrate how killing, slavery, etc. can be broken down into simple logistics and dehumanized numbers. The player gets to make the same decisions that a Nazi industrialist might have.

Gaming is art. Some good art explores the parts of humanity that we don't like to admit exist. Too often we simply call someone "evil" and imagine that they're an inhuman monster, which is a fallacy. We're all human. Exploring the bad things humans do and why they do them in a tasteful, serious manner could make for a good, artistic game.

The internet allows a game to be more than just pop-art in the malls, the electronic equivalent of the latest Britney Spears album. It can provide new, eye-opening experiences, and allow people to think and make decisions in new ways.

Gaming can be interactive art.

#19 Alex   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 05:51 AM

It's a very good plotline, and could a great game if done right. I also think it would sell very well, but would be tagged as a very mature game like silent hill or GTA:Vice City.

As for the part of going too far: I don't think it is going too far, at least not for the first time. What I''m trying to say is that there have been other stories published with very similar plotlines, and they have been well received (more or less). If you've seen the movie "Secret Window" then you'll know what I'm talking about.

It's the kind of story that keeps you guessing. But more importantly, it's the kind of story that keeps you thinking... long after the story has ended. If you can deliver that, then you should consider yourself successful, since while they may not like all the plot twists, they still won't forget them.
--------------------------------------------------Never tempt fate, fate has no willpower.

#20 Pxtl   Members   -  Reputation: 354

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 05:54 AM

Yup, except that Secret Window was a bad movie. I think the big point is this: gratuitous extremity is bad, but if it is being done in a conscious, intelligent way, then it can be very, very good. Nobody complained about nudity and violence in Schindler's List.




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