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Beige

Funeral.

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Beige    188
I've been thinking how to best execute a funeral scene in an RPG I'm working on, but I'm not familiar with any prior examples. Can anyone think of any good memorable character death sequences, why you liked them, why they worked? I suppose it's implied that this thread will have spoilers in it

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liquiddark    350
Spoilers: Robotech, Halo

The death of Roy Fokker in the Robotech cartoon series, maybe. The character was central to the plotline as it seemed to be headed, and marked the end of an era within the universe at hand. In addition, the passing of the character caused a fundamental shift in leading male Rick Hunter's approach to the universe at hand.

I think that this is an important point - many different lives are torn apart by significant deaths. Rick Hunter, for example, never really has a family in the Robotech series; dramatically speaking, this is because the author wants Roy to take on the father-figure persona for our hero, without having the baggage a real father would have. Roy is presented two-dimensionally, so that we don't have the same attachment to him that we'd have to a more deeply elaborated character. Killing a main character on a show like ER, for example, is usually a season's work, although they've certainly been brave with certain characters' deaths. With a shallow character we only really need two shows, one for the death itself and one for the funeral/aftermath. Then we get on with the ass-kicking.

In RPG terms, I don't think anyone has been working hard on the problem of saying goodbye; this is usually left as an exercise for the imaginative player. At best, someone gets mad and someone gets sad, a la Final Fantasy's once-a-game deaths. These sequences are pure plot sugar in my opinion, tastes great but very much less filling. They use ham-handed death scenes with GREAT BIG BOLD LETTERING to let you know that this is going to happen whether you like it or not, maggot. I don't think that these have a future, long-term, but then I'm not an FF fan anyways, and I definitely think that liking the game/story is a prerequisite for caring about dying characters.

The only in-game scene of loss that really worked for me, really, was the discovery of the captain in Halo. I keep coming back to this game, and I feel cheap when I do so, but I genuinely believe it's a tight, tight game. Why does it work? Well, the captain is a hard-bitten 2-dimensional character, tied into the story but not placed too near its heart. We meet the enemy before we discover his fate, and both are pretty horrible, at least when you're down in the basement with the lights all off at midnight and beyond. And the meaning attached to his death - the human race is doomed if we cannot win out over the Flood, Covenant be damned - is near and dear to the story of the first game. I think that's about as simple as it gets in terms of what works.

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dhasenan    128
The best funeral sequence I've seen....

Do you mean the death, or when the player discovers the death, or when the people close to the deceased mourn en?

As for death discovery, there was one...the main character and his brother are talking; their enemies burst in the door; the brother tells the protagonist to get away. Noble self-sacrifice. But it's the older brother, a mentor to the protagonist. You think "he can't really die, can he?"

And then the protagonist gets captured, wakes up in a dark cell, and a few minutes after escaping he's informed in a monotone that his brother's body is in a lab...he goes there...seeing the corpse....

I never cry. That scene, the first time I saw it, got me as close to it as I've ever been.

What made it work? The character had established importance and was, it was supposed, superior to the protagonist. Wiser, more intelligent, faster, more lethal, more noble. That gave his death value.

Seeing him die, on the other hand...the impulse would have been vengeance. And fear. By being removed from the danger, the impact of the death was made stronger, more pure. Also, the element of doubt was strong; even when informed of the death, I couldn't believe it. It was dread, not anger; the result was grief rather than vengeance.

If, on the other hand, the death is known before the funeral...then you'd have to handle it differently. I'd include the victim's family for sympathy. There would be no stirring speeches about making the death meaningful, no rousing promises to avenge en, nothing but the purity of the end. I believe it is better to make the player ask "Why did this have to happen? What can I do to stop it from happening again?" and find the answers in enself rather than spoonfeeding en with your desired effect.

It would be a rendering of Nabokov's lines: "the cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness".

The player might decide it's the very struggle that provides purpose to the game that is causing this death. Would you prefer a game that affects the players emotionally so much that they cannot finish it, or a game that they finish and play again but has less effect? It's a hard question, and I am tempted to choose the latter.

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Boku San    428
Quote:
Original post by Gauvir_Mucca
Dhasenan, Paul Denton lives. He's in the sequel.


Yeah, but the sequel sucks. So we're going to pretend it doesn't exist.

I mean...seriously, they called that a GAME? BS.

BTW, FarScape: The PeaceKeeper Wars comes on next on SciFi.

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OrangyTang    1298
Quote:
Original post by Gauvir_Mucca
Dhasenan, Paul Denton lives. He's in the sequel.

Actually, it depends how you play the game whether he lives or dies. :) If you follow his advice and run when the MiBs turn up he dies. If you stick with him and fight your way out he lives and meets you later in the game.

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Beige    188
Quote:
Original post by dhasenan
The best funeral sequence I've seen....

Do you mean the death, or when the player discovers the death, or when the people close to the deceased mourn en?

As for death discovery, there was one...the main character and his brother are talking; their enemies burst in the door; the brother tells the protagonist to get away. Noble self-sacrifice. But it's the older brother, a mentor to the protagonist. You think "he can't really die, can he?"


Heh. I figured you were talking about Deus Ex.

I'm interested in all of the above, actually. Although I mentioned the funeral, because I'm still trying to decide how to play that sequence.

One thing that seems hard to do is to give meaning to the death of a character, or even make it so that the death doesn't seem cliche.

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Nahoopii    284
FF7 Spoiler



My favorite "death of a character" moment, is by far Aeris going down to Sephiroths sword in Final Fantasy 7. She was a playable character, with many times where your forced to use her in group. She was important to the player as a natural healer, and her dialog throughout was very innocent revealing. In all, I When she died it was another, "she cant die, can she?" moment.. Through the rest of the game it made me wonder if she was going to be resurrected or come back somehow.

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dhasenan    128
Quote:
Original post by Beige
I'm interested in all of the above, actually. Although I mentioned the funeral, because I'm still trying to decide how to play that sequence.

One thing that seems hard to do is to give meaning to the death of a character, or even make it so that the death doesn't seem cliche.


How did the character in question die? Is that set?

I go for meaningless deaths, I suppose, to keep attention away from the purpose of the death. There was one scene in a story I'm writing...a man rebelling against authority, failing, and at the end his manor is captured while he stands at a window, soldiers falling, dying behind him, others taking their place, but they can't hold. Finally, half a dozen of the enemies surround the rebel leader, swords at his neck. He turns around to face them, realizes the fullness of his failure, and leans forward.

Or to take a scene from Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo (in a similar situation) tried to rebel against the incoming Europeans and, when faced with his complete lack of ability to affect the invaders, had no choice but to hang himself.

So, anyway, if you give meaning to the death, in my opinion it weakens the impact of the death. ***SPOILER*** In the fourth Harry Potter book, Cedric Diggory might die, but that's just ten minutes before Potter beats Voldemort, so it doesn't really matter.

Since death is a resolution of conflict, it's not wise to put it too near the resolution or climax of another conflict. If you do, you don't get the time to internalize the death; it doesn't affect you because you're too excited by the new events or too thrilled about the next resolution.

But a meaningful death? That would be one that co-occurs with the resolution of a conflict, such as Spock's death in whichever Star Trek movie. He died to save us all. That's cliche. I think it would be best to have the death co-occur with the resolution of a minor conflict, such as finding the penultimate Rune of Vishnu so that the band can wrest the last from the Dark Lord and lock him and his minions away for all time. The problem with this is it has to be scripted with the AI or else shown in cutscenes. The former is unreliable; the latter is unappealing because it totally destroys immersion.

Perhaps having the person be wounded in delivering vital information and die after giving the message? It doesn't have to be part of the main conflict, after all.

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Beige    188
It's not set. The more important thing to me, as for now, is how this affects the main character. A lot of people die in this game who are close to him, and it is starting to wear him down.

He's at this funeral, thinking to himself, "I'm fueling myself on revenge, I'm feeding on their death. It's useless, their sacrifice won't be justified by anything I do."

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dhasenan    128
So...you want the death to be meaningless (in that it doesn't accomplish anything), but to have impact. It's a bugger of a problem.

Do you want the death to be shown during gameplay? The only way to arrange that is by scripting something, which is iffy. Cutscenes are more certain and give you more freedom, but it's less interactive; in my opinion, that makes it less interesting. The player can't try to save en and fail; it can't come as a complete surprise.

What sort of universe is this game set in? What's the overarching conflict? Is it medieval warfare? Modern psychological drama? FPS noire? The universe and conflict dictate the types of death you can allow. Still, if I were to stage it, I'd have a weakened, almost dead enemy appear after a battle (gunfight, whatever) and ambush and kill the friend, who is following the player home, or to some sort of refuge.

This has an added advantage, or actually several. The player's in the thick of it; he has to kill this weakened foe, has to deal with the paranoia, and then has to report the friend's death to his compatriots, each of which can react differently.

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Beige    188
Quote:
Original post by dhasenan
So...you want the death to be meaningless (in that it doesn't accomplish anything), but to have impact. It's a bugger of a problem.

Do you want the death to be shown during gameplay? The only way to arrange that is by scripting something, which is iffy. Cutscenes are more certain and give you more freedom, but it's less interactive; in my opinion, that makes it less interesting. The player can't try to save en and fail; it can't come as a complete surprise.

What sort of universe is this game set in? What's the overarching conflict? Is it medieval warfare? Modern psychological drama? FPS noire? The universe and conflict dictate the types of death you can allow. Still, if I were to stage it, I'd have a weakened, almost dead enemy appear after a battle (gunfight, whatever) and ambush and kill the friend, who is following the player home, or to some sort of refuge.

This has an added advantage, or actually several. The player's in the thick of it; he has to kill this weakened foe, has to deal with the paranoia, and then has to report the friend's death to his compatriots, each of which can react differently.


It's a fairly linear RPG, set in a near-future Minority Report/I, Robot world. The setting is one of political turmoil and conflict on the foreign and domestic levels. The character in question is a law enforcement officer.

I would lean towards scripting it. The way I've planned to have it so far, it goes like this.

You have four characters available and you have to pick three for your party. The one you leave behind is killed later, although the player doesn't know that yet.

After you finish the mission, then you find out, it goes to the funeral sequence, etc.

One thing I wanted to do, was have it so if the player catches on and save-loads to pick a "more valuable" character, there's a little extra dialogue sequence where the main character wonders to himself, "Why did I leave him behind, of all people?" or something to that effect.

Hrm.

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dhasenan    128
Interesting. If the character is left behind whilst others go off somewhere, is there a raid on the place (safehouse) they left? Not much is more disheartening than going home and seeing it burnt to the ground. Well, unless there's a sign from your archenemy that reads "Neenur neenur".

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Beige    188
I haven't set that in stone yet. I'm leaning towards making it happen right when you get back, you see that other character, then bam.

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dhasenan    128
Are you going to separate that death from the subsequent action? If an enemy appeared and dispatched one of the characters without thought, either the player retreats and has time later to think about the death or the player attempts to attack. If it's a successful counterattack, I think that detracts from the potency of the death.

You should probably put it together each way and test it out on independent observers to see which gets the better reaction, of course.

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Beige    188
The attack is probably going to be a timed bomb of some kind. There won't be any enemy going "neener neener" to chase after.

I agree that being able to take out the enemy immediately detracts from the impact. I would prefer to make it so you know who did it, and you know they're still out there, but the player is focused on the immediacy of the loss.

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onyxflame    203
It all depends on what you want the focus to be.

If you come home and see a bomb explode your base and buddy, and don't know who did it or why, you'll be thinking "holy crap, this sucks ass" and so on.

If you come home and see a bomb explode your base and buddy, and you know exactly who did it, you'll be thinking "damn that bastard, I'm gonna get him!".

If you come home and find your base already destroyed, with visible remains of your buddy, you'll be thinking "ok, I'm pretty sure Big Bad Enemy did it, but I have no idea where he is, and I don't have any proof, and the rest of us might be next, and I just wish I didn't have to think about all this because I wanna grieve dammit"

This is all what the main character would be thinking, of course. Whether you can get the player to think the same things is another thing entirely.

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dhasenan    128
*shrug* I think it would be better to show the person dying. That way, you get shock first, then paranoia, then dread and despair. Otherwise, you get milder shock and dread, then despair.

Either way, it should be as sudden as possible. Shock and awe both promote despair. So situate the base in an area of low visibility if it's pre-destroyed. Perhaps hidden in city slums--that way, people can mention the fact that something suspicious was happening, or that there was some sort of explosion or fire.

Actually, I'm liking that idea more and more. You're right, onyxflame. Hinting at the incident and then revealing it...try to get the player to disbelieve but fear.

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Spoonbender    1258
Quote:
Original post by Nahoopii
My favorite "death of a character" moment, is by far Aeris going down to Sephiroths sword in Final Fantasy 7. She was a playable character, with many times where your forced to use her in group. She was important to the player as a natural healer, and her dialog throughout was very innocent revealing. In all, I When she died it was another, "she cant die, can she?" moment.. Through the rest of the game it made me wonder if she was going to be resurrected or come back somehow.


That was the most ridiculous, overhyped, artificial death. sequence ever. Of course you kept wondering "she can't die, can she?". There was *nothing* in the rest of the game to suggest that something like that could kill a character. Or that a character could be killed at all. They broke every one of the game's rules with that sequence.

She got killed by something that, considering the rest of the games battles, shouldn't even have made her flinch. I mean, they kept getting killed in combat but were revived afterwards without a problem. They were mown down with chainguns, and giant magical monsters and meteorites kept hitting them (usually taking 2-3 minutes to display the animation), but when Aeris is hit *once* by a sword from this guy, it's special. No explanation, other than that "The story requires her to die now". No way to try to avoid it, no way to revive or heal her afterwards, she just dies.

I felt so cheated after that. If they had to kill a character, they could at least make it convincing. Give me a reason why that little pinprick could kill her when the hundreds of previous battles couldn't.

It totally ruined the immersion in the rest of the game for me, and when I got to the final boss, I couldn't be bothered to kill him, and just stopped playing the game... :)

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