Sign in to follow this  
JLW

Can you identify the themes of these games?

Recommended Posts

Well, my last team tore itself apart because none of them have any respect for eachother at all. I'll bounce back. In the mean time, I can't refine my concept for the current game any further and I am sick to death of pouring over it. So while I'm taking a break from putting WAY too much detail into my design document I want to consider where I'm going with the series it's meant to be a part of and I hope to present a basic overview of each game. There's a running theme to this series, and each game has its own theme in addition to that. I want to make sure the themes are strong enough other people can recognize them without being told what they are.

 

Wounded Gaia: The first game of the series, the one my last team obliterated itself on and then told me I can't use any assets from (not even concept art) and is forcing me to restart from after six months of development.

 

The year is 2015. Europe is dying, caught in the crossfire of a deadly nuclear war between the USA and the USSR. (Alternate history, yes. Not going into it now.) 2,000 successful nuclear strikes and twenty-five years have left Europa collapsing under the weight of its own decaying carcass. Even after the USSR has collapsed, the US has ripped itself in two and Japan has forced the US and the newly formed SRR (Socialist Republic of Russia) to clean up the mess they made, the remnants of these powers are still squabbling over who gets to pick Europe's bones. The player is a small German child, alone in the Black Forest. Their only goal is to survive in the frigid, irradiated wasteland while war rages around them. This game is a wasteland survival roguelike with a strong horror element. It has no plot and no story, the war is largely a background event as you focus on day to day survival, with the war just coming along periodically to destroy everything you've worked for and send you running for your life, nursing your bleeding wounds.

 

Dying Gaia: The second game of the series, intended to be started within two years of the first game is completed, preferably within one.

 

The year is now 2025. Europe is dead, and the rest of the world is heading its way as its infection spreads. A disease named radpox has spread out from Europe into the rest of the world, killing a small percentage of the world's population but leaving the overwhelming majority infertile to varying degrees and frequently completely sterile. There's not many births happening, to say the least, and the human population that has been slowly declining for decades is now falling like a rock. Worse yet, a new strain that leaves *all* infected adults permanently sterile and turns them into carriers has begun to spread. Humanity doesn't like the idea of extinction, and has created "quarantine domes" to protect the uninfected from the outside world. These are all composed of children, as children cannot carry the disease so only they can be sure they aren't carrying the disease. The player is a child in a quarantine dome in Japan, as it fails due to the Russian navy attacking it. The player character is abducted by the Spetsnaz during the fight along with many other children, but the Japanese navy quickly finds the base, crippling it and allowing the player to escape into the Russian wasteland. This game is also a survival roguelike, but now your goal is to get yourself rescued by the JSDF instead of just living as long as possible, so you need to find a way to get to the waterfront and get the JSDF's attention without getting recaptured or killed. When you finally make it, you find out that the Russian spetsnaz kidnapped you and the other children to try and ransom you to Japan in exchange for information on the construction of the quarantine domes, which Japan would never give them because the RN (the alliance of Japan, the American Republic and Europa) would rather all their enemies be depopulated by their newfound sterility even if keeping the information secret hurt all of humanity, and that Russia was willing to compromise the domes and make the extinction of humanity more likely (including themselves, mind you) just for a chance to save itself.

 

Forgotten Gaia: The third game of the series, intended to be started within two years of the second game being completed, preferably within one.

 

The year is 2030. All the quarantine domes have failed, some to malice and others to incompetence. Humanity has only one hope left, and that's space. They intend to send people into space to colonize new worlds uninfected by the sterilizing plagues of Earth. Obviously, they can only send those uninfected, and that means children as only with children can they be 100% sure they aren't carriers of the disease. You are one such child, one from the American Republic, one of many sent into space on a ship to a nearby solar system. The ship fails its landing due to sabotage by opposing nations and sinks into the ocean upon arriving, and now you and yours have to make a foothold on this rock without the resources onboard. This game places you on a randomly generated island landscape, with the ability to travel between islands fairly early. By the end of the game, you'll definitely be at war with some of the locals, which will actively try to damage your foothold and kill the children, and will have to survive anyway. This game is different from the others in its goal, which is to get a solid enough foothold to make their deaths unlikely, likely involving retrieving equipment from your crashed spaceship. You also, of course, need to keep at least one little boy and one little girl alive and the more little survivors the better.

 

To summarize:

 

Human civilization dooms itself, then stomps all over its own attempts to fix it until the only solution is to let itself die and be reborn on another planet, and even then the nations sabotage their enemies' attempts to save the species, hurting the entire species' chances just to try and keep their enemies from surviving with them, and then goes to war on the new world. Humanity still doesn't go extinct, but not for a lack of trying.

 

Now, I want to know if the themes of each game and the overall themes of the series are evident at this point. If not, I need to work on that.

Edited by JustinS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before I comment on the descriptions that you've given, a caveat: I feel that how well a theme is conveyed is heavily dependant on implementation (in the artistic/design sense, not the technical sense). As a result, I'm not convinced that the clarity of your themes in these precis is a good indicator of the clarity of those themes in the games themselves.

 

For example, your first precis spends a lot of time on backstory, and gives only a brief mention of the gameplay; if the actual game spends all of its time on gameplay and leaves that backstory in scattered, hard-to find collectable pages, then the themes may well not be terribly visible.

 

On the other hand, if a theme isn't terribly apparent in one of those precis, it may still come across well in the game if it's either expressed differently, or is supportedby other elements (visuals, gameplay mechanics, etc.).

 

However, all of that said, my guesses as to your themes:

 

Wounded Gaia: War is horrible, and hurts pretty much everyone.

 

Dying Gaia: Civilians being used as playing pieces, as means to their ends, by world leaders.

 

Forgotten Gaia: Fighting for survival; holding onto life against the travails of a hostile world.

 

Overall: Humanity is highly self-destructive--blindly so--but also hard to kill outright.

 

[edit] Come to that, the second part of the theme that I identified for Forgotten Gaia--"holding onto life against the travails of a hostile world"--might also be an overall theme.

Edited by Thaumaturge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before I comment on the descriptions that you've given, a caveat: I feel that how well a theme is conveyed is heavily dependant on implementation (in the artistic/design sense, not the technical sense). As a result, I'm not convinced that the clarity of your themes in these precis is a good indicator of the clarity of those themes in the games themselves.
 
For example, your first precis spends a lot of time on backstory, and gives only a brief mention of the gameplay; if the actual game spends all of its time on gameplay and leaves that backstory in scattered, hard-to find collectable pages, then the themes may well not be terribly visible.
 
On the other hand, if a theme isn't terribly apparent in one of those precis, it may still come across well in the game if it's either expressed differently, or is supportedby other elements (visuals, gameplay mechanics, etc.).

However, all of that said, my guesses as to your themes:


Fair enough. The only disagreement I have is that gameplay *can* convey these themes. It's a concept called "Mechanics as Metaphor", and you should look it up. Extra Credits did a fantastic two-part episode on the concept.
 

Wounded Gaia: War is horrible, and hurts pretty much everyone.


The only part missing is: There's nothing you can do to stop it. This is very much a horror game, and war is the monster. It's a constant threat that comes at you frequently, something you keep running from and are powerless to stop. And, as this is a roguelike with no end, either it or something else will kill you eventually.
 

Dying Gaia: Civilians being used as playing pieces, as means to their ends, by world leaders.


Not quite. This game's primary theme is hard to summarise, but it's mostly just making a point with its realistic portrayal of the sides' moral motivations neither side is the "good" one, or the "evil" one. Russia attacked a dome full of children, exposing them to a terrible disease that sterilised all of the older ones, to kidnap hundreds of them and hold them hostage, but they did it to save their country and their people. Japan was attacked, and defended itself, going out to rescue the children and bring them home safely, but they never would have been kidnapped in the first place if Japan hadn't just sat there watching while a disease slowly wiped the Russian people off the map and did nothing to help. The player finds this out late, after they've likely already decided the Russians were the bad guys, and while hinted at here and there in the subtext it's meant to be a shock. It's a point about passing judgement, and trying to understand others' actions.
 

Forgotten Gaia: Fighting for survival; holding onto life against the travails of a hostile world.


Rebirth. The main theme of this is rebirth. Beginning again, starting over. Humanity in this game is a phoenix, it dies and arises again from the ashes. That's even the reason I use children for this series. This series is loaded with symbolism, at least the young being the ones that have to form humanity's future while their stagnant elders wither and die alongside any that remain with them is pretty damned blatant. I'm telling young people to get involved, try and make a difference. That's actually the most actionable moral in this series.
 

Overall: Humanity is highly self-destructive--blindly so--but also hard to kill outright.


It is about humanity being self-destructive, but more specifically how it destroys itself for itself. Humans are selfish, caring only for themselves and those close to them, causing immense harm to others for the gain of themselves and their loved ones. And everyone does it, so everyone suffers for it. Think about what the Russians and Japanese did in Dying Gaia. Japan withheld their technology from Russia, so Russia would die. They wanted to eliminate a perceived threat by doing nothing while it died, not caring about any of the innocents they hurt doing so. Russia wasn't going to let itself die, so it attacked Japan, hurting and possibly killing children, then kidnapping them and holding them hostage, while hurting all of humanity to give their people a chance of survival. There's nothing malicious about it, at its core they just want what's best for themselves and their loved ones, but they do it in a painfully short-sighted, violent manner that leaves everybody worse off, even those they did it to help. And that's a part of human nature that's in everyone and everyone needs to be mindful of.

 

But that's not the only message of the series, though. The three morals combine into the other major message of the series. Put each in succession, then read it back. That's the other message.

 

For the final message, check my signature.

 

 

 

[edit] Come to that, the second part of the theme that I identified for Forgotten Gaia--"holding onto life against the travails of a hostile world"--might also be an overall theme.

 

Goddamned edits! (I am aware of the hypocrisy.) And no, not really. At least not intentionally, though of course all art is up to interpretation.

Edited by JustinS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well then, my result was... somewhat middling, it seems: I was close on some, and missed others entirely.

 

However, as you say, different people are likely to take different things from a work (well, unless you bash them over the head with your intended moral, a-la [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AndKnowingIsHalfTheBattle]"And Knowing Is Half The Battle"[/url]). For example, I could also see someone focussing more on the player character than the surrounding events, and reading a theme related to the human spirit to survive. Ultimately, I suspect that [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Applicability]applicability[/url] is likely to be found in most works, barring perhaps the most heavy-handed of allegories.

 

 

The only disagreement I have is that gameplay *can* convey these themes.

I didn't mean to imply otherwise--indeed, I think that conveyance through gameplay was one of the methods that I thought of as being missing in written precis.

 

 

Rebirth. The main theme of this is rebirth.

Hmm... I think that the emphasis on all the things that can harass the player might have been what misled me; perhaps if it weren't played as a horror, or at least if the elements of sabotage weren't present, it might tend more towards the hopeful tone of "rebirth". Of course, again, how you portray what you've written above may well change how it comes across.

 

 

I'm telling young people to get involved, try and make a difference.

Hmm... The thing is, you've described a world in which things are pretty thoroughly horrible; I might be a little worried about hopelessness, or at least a falling back on subsistence--just trying to live, let alone makes things better--becoming the perceived tone. The feeling that I kept getting, I think, was "just survive the next five minutes; survive, one step at a time". It seems to me that people are likely to get involved if they think that things are likely to get better for their involvement.

 

Does the last game end on a high note (presuming that the player doesn't reach a loss-state, of course), with the colony established and starting to thrive?

 

 

Humans are selfish, caring only for themselves and those close to them ...

Ah, I doubt that I would have likely spotted that one, simply by virtue of my outlook.

 

All that said... How important is it to you that people necessarily see the theme that [i]you[/i] want to place into this, as opposed to the applicability that they take out of it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm... I think that the emphasis on all the things that can harass the player might have been what misled me; perhaps if it weren't played as a horror, or at least if the elements of sabotage weren't present, it might tend more towards the hopeful tone of "rebirth". Of course, again, how you portray what you've written above may well change how it comes across.


Only the first game is a horror. And I mean *only* the first game. And it's a war-based horror, at that. You know the type. Blood rack, barbed wire, politician's funeral pyre, innocents raped with napalm fire. (An imaginary cookie to whoever gets that reference.)
 

Hmm... The thing is, you've described a world in which things are pretty thoroughly horrible; I might be a little worried about hopelessness, or at least a falling back on subsistence--just trying to live, let alone makes things better--becoming the perceived tone. The feeling that I kept getting, I think, was "just survive the next five minutes; survive, one step at a time". It seems to me that people are likely to get involved if they think that things are likely to get better for their involvement.


The world is indeed horrible, under control of its current rulers. In the first game, your goal is just to delay your inevitable death as long as possible. But, then, there's a certain liberty in hopelessness, isn't there? Because things can't get 101% fucked. The second game gives you a goal, a way to survive, so at least you have that. In the third game, you finally get a chance to really take action and now you have a chance. By this point of the series the horror elements are basically gone. The second game only had a bit of horror in it, maybe a tenth of the first, but the third has basically no horror left. (Not saying it can't be scary, it can be. Just not that kind of scary.) By that point, now *away* from the corrupt and decaying world of your elders, you have a chance and if I play it right then for a veteren of the first two games this should be the sweetest feeling a video game has ever given them.
 

Does the last game end on a high note (presuming that the player doesn't reach a loss-state, of course), with the colony established and starting to thrive?


Yes. And that's important to the series, to end on a positive note because the player finally got a chance to act.
 

Ah, I doubt that I would have likely spotted that one, simply by virtue of my outlook.


That's okay. Not everyone subscribes to the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau like I do. (Laconic: "Our will is always for our own good, but we do not always see what that is.")
 

All that said... How important is it to you that people necessarily see the theme that you want to place into this, as opposed to the applicability that they take out of it?


I'd be satisfied if they successfully identified half of them, and thrilled if they actually *learned* from even one of them. Edited by JustinS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Only the first game is a horror. And I mean *only* the first game.

 

The second game gives you a goal, a way to survive, so at least you have that.

 

... to end on a positive note because the player finally got a chance to act.

Ah, I see--I missed that progression in the original text (I may not have been reading at my best). That makes a lot more sense now. ^_^

 

 

But, then, there's a certain liberty in hopelessness, isn't there?

There may be a certain liberty in being at the worst that things can get, but things are still at their worst. :P

 

More to the point, however, hopelessness isn't just things being at their worst: it's losing the belief that things are likely to get better, without which one is rather more likely to fall to apathetic inaction.

 

 

Not everyone subscribes to the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau like I do. (Laconic: "Our will is always for our own good, but we do not always see what that is.")

Indeed, I do disagree with that philosophy. (I think that I have seen it stated before--in those words too--however.)

 

That said, I don't think that it's just disagreement that left me to miss it, I think that it's simply a philosophy that's somewhat... aside, I suppose, from the way that I think. For example, I may not agree with sadistic malice, but it's something that will likely occur to me to think of.

 

 

I'd be satisfied if they successfully identified half of them, and thrilled if they actually *learned* from even one of them.

Ah, fair enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, I see--I missed that progression in the original text (I may not have been reading at my best). That makes a lot more sense now. happy.png


I take full responsibility for this failing, I'll figure out why later.

On a side note, I guess it's my turn to ninja edit you. Because I totally did. Sorry, added a line while you weren't looking.
 

There may be a certain liberty in being at the worst that things can get, but things are still at their worst. tongue.png
 
More to the point, however, hopelessness isn't just things being at their worst: it's losing the belief that things are likely to get better, without which one is rather more likely to fall to apathetic inaction.


No, no. It's that disbelief that things can improve that GIVES hopelessness its liberty. No matter what you do, you can't make things worse. So you can do whatever you want and not have to worry about the consequences.
 

Indeed, I do disagree with that philosophy. (I think that I have seen it stated before--in those words too--however.)


That's actually Jean-Jacques Rousseau's words, so yeah, you probably have.
 

That said, I don't think that it's just disagreement that left me to miss it, I think that it's simply a philosophy that's somewhat... aside, I suppose, from the way that I think. For example, I may not agree with sadistic malice, but it's something that will likely occur to me to think of.


Screwy thing is, sadism and masochism still make total sense under Rousseau's understanding. Rousseau says people want the best for them, but don't know what that is. If you begin to associate "other people's misery" with your own success, you begin to seek to inflict pain on others as it makes you think you're more successful. Humans do, after all, learn by association. Same goes for your own pain. If you get the best for you in a way that hurts others enough times, you'll come to think hurting other people is part of helping yourself, and soon that hurting other people means you are helping yourself. Kinda like how we come to think that feeling the burn of alcohol means our mouthwash is working and don't think it's working if we don't feel it burn? Same principle, only more twisted. 

Ah, fair enough.


I want to make other people better people and that's important to me, but any improvement will do. Even if it's just making them think a bit about moral principles, that's still progress and that's enough for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

No, no. It's that disbelief that things can improve that GIVES hopelessness its liberty. No matter what you do, you can't make things worse. So you can do whatever you want and not have to worry about the consequences.

Hmm... I see what you're saying, but I suspect that it would be at best a rather unpleasant liberty to experience, and at worst might not actually work out that way: why do anything if nothing will get better and everything's horrible? I think that the lack of consequences would eventually wear thin as a comfort.

 

 

... sadism and masochism still make total sense under Rousseau's understanding. ...

Oh, I do see that--I was just saying that the philosophy itself is, by virtue of its perspective, one that's less likely to occur to me as a theme in a work.

 

 

I want to make other people better people and that's important to me, but any improvement will do. Even if it's just making them think a bit about moral principles, that's still progress and that's enough for me.

I can understand that, I do believe. ^_^

 

 

On a side note, I guess it's my turn to ninja edit you. Because I totally did. Sorry, added a line while you weren't looking.

The bit about "blood rack, and barbed wire", I take it? I don't recognise it offhand; the reference to napalm puts me in mind of the Vietnam War, but my history is sufficiently shaky that I don't know how reliable an association that is, and it doesn't overmuch help me to identify the work of origin. It's a nicely-turned quote though, I do think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm... I see what you're saying, but I suspect that it would be at best a rather unpleasant liberty to experience, and at worst might not actually work out that way: why do anything if nothing will get better and everything's horrible? I think that the lack of consequences would eventually wear thin as a comfort.


In some people, sure. In others it leads to a blind, hopeless and everlasting blast of nihilistic hedonism, doing what they want when they want because nothing can possibly impact it and they can have fun at others' expense all they want as none of it will matter in the end.
 

Oh, I do see that--I was just saying that the philosophy itself is, by virtue of its perspective, one that's less likely to occur to me as a theme in a work.


And I get that. We're talking past eachother. Suffice to say, Rousseau's philosophy was used quite a bit writing these stories, and will be present.
 

I can understand that, I do believe. happy.png

 
I should hope so, it's not very complex. I do belive. happy.png
 

The bit about "blood rack, and barbed wire", I take it? I don't recognise it offhand; the reference to napalm puts me in mind of the Vietnam War, but my history is sufficiently shaky that I don't know how reliable an association that is, and it doesn't overmuch help me to identify the work of origin. It's a nicely-turned quote though, I do think.


21st Century Schizoid Man, from King Crimson's album "In the Court of the Crimson King", 1969, track 1. And yeah, it's partially about (and that verse is entirely about) the horrors of the war in Vietnam. The rest is about the contradictory mindset of the American people, the political climate, and the rise of consumerism even makes a brief appearance. It's a very, very good song. Figured somebody might recognize it, guess not. Edited by JustinS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

In others it leads to a blind, hopeless and everlasting blast of nihilistic hedonism, doing what they want when they want because nothing can possibly impact it and they can have fun at others' expense all they want as none of it will matter in the end.

Fair enough, I can indeed see that happening in some cases. (I'm not sure that I'd likely see it as a consolation, but I could see others feeling so.)

 

 

We're talking past eachother.

Ah, I see now--my apologies for my part! ^^;

 

 

21st Century Schizoid Man, from King Crimson's album "In the Court of the Crimson King" ...

... Never heard of it (that I recall), I'm afraid! ^^;

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I keep wanting to comment on this thread, cause I'm very interested in themes as related to design.  But... I can't think of a comment on this particular series concept that doesn't start with "wow that's depressing". blink.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I keep wanting to comment on this thread, cause I'm very interested in themes as related to design.  But... I can't think of a comment on this particular series concept that doesn't start with "wow that's depressing". :blink:


Then make this comment that starts with "wow that's depressing".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I keep wanting to comment on this thread, cause I'm very interested in themes as related to design.  But... I can't think of a comment on this particular series concept that doesn't start with "wow that's depressing". blink.png


Then make this comment that starts with "wow that's depressing".

 

Well, I don't want to say anything insulting or impolite, and I don't know exactly where the line would be.  I was speculating to myself about whether depressing concepts are correlated to unhappy team members.  Do grumpy people choose negative concepts to work on or do negative concepts cause people working on them to become depressed or grumpy?  Both, neither?  It's only speculation, because as a person who has always disliked horror and tragedy I've never understood what motivates people to create or admire works of horror or tragedy.  My personal feeling is kind of stuck at "Why on earth would anyone want to write or develop the theme, 'Humanity constantly sabotages itself, which is unforgivable, and in this context even the strong survival and rebirth drive of humanity becomes disgusting, and even children don't deserve any kind of happiness.'?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

I keep wanting to comment on this thread, cause I'm very interested in themes as related to design.  But... I can't think of a comment on this particular series concept that doesn't start with "wow that's depressing". blink.png


Then make this comment that starts with "wow that's depressing".

 

Well, I don't want to say anything insulting or impolite, and I don't know exactly where the line would be.  I was speculating to myself about whether depressing concepts are correlated to unhappy team members.  Do grumpy people choose negative concepts to work on or do negative concepts cause people working on them to become depressed or grumpy?  Both, neither?  It's only speculation, because as a person who has always disliked horror and tragedy I've never understood what motivates people to create or admire works of horror or tragedy.  My personal feeling is kind of stuck at "Why on earth would anyone want to write or develop the theme, 'Humanity constantly sabotages itself, which is unforgivable, and in this context even the strong survival and rebirth drive of humanity becomes disgusting, and even children don't deserve any kind of happiness.'?"

 

 

Alright, see, this is 10000% your failing. Let me run through why.

 

1. You can't look deep enough into horror to see what a good horror is really about. Any good horror is there to explore a concept or fear, not just to scare the viewer. When done right, it finds a way to discuss the fear in question indirectly and provoke thought on the topic in the viewer. They allow the artist to express their opinions and talk about the subject indirectly, and THAT is what people value.

2. Nothing here qualifies as a tragedy, but even if it did a tragedy is valued for exploring emotion and exploring the minds of the characters, as these inevitably end up being the primary draw of any good tragedy. They also carry morals, and cautionary tales, just like horror does, and when done right these are abundantly clear.

3. You not only completely misinterpret the story at work here, you do so massively in a way directly contradicting stated facts AFTER I've explained it. Let me elaborate.

A. Not only did I never say humanity's self-sabotaging actions were unforgivable, I said they were quite understandable under the circumstances. And the way the actions of the second game are described strongly supports this, as the positive motivation of the factions are emphasized quite a bit.

B. There is absolutely NO basis, AT ALL, for the entire rest of the sentence. All of this is 100% directly contradictory with the material you are supposedly pulling this garbage from. This interpretation is as insane as if you read a newscast that said it was going to be 120 F outside and reading that as "freezing cold, so much so that even ECW gear won't save you and and the world is an impassible ball of ice".

4. You completely ignored that I went into what the themes and morals of this story were, at length, apparently content to ignore everything right up to the title of the thread you were reading in order to claim horror is without value. But then, with an obvious idealist like yourself, completely ignoring everything about everything that ever was in order to claim your pre-existing conclusions and biases are completely accurate and without flaw isn't that terribly rare.

Edited by JustinS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Well, I don't want to say anything insulting or impolite, and I don't know exactly where the line would be.  I was speculating to myself about whether depressing concepts are correlated to unhappy team members.  Do grumpy people choose negative concepts to work on or do negative concepts cause people working on them to become depressed or grumpy?  Both, neither?  It's only speculation, because as a person who has always disliked horror and tragedy I've never understood what motivates people to create or admire works of horror or tragedy.  My personal feeling is kind of stuck at "Why on earth would anyone want to write or develop the theme, 'Humanity constantly sabotages itself, which is unforgivable, and in this context even the strong survival and rebirth drive of humanity becomes disgusting, and even children don't deserve any kind of happiness.'?"

 

 

Alright, see, this is 10000% your failing. Let me run through why.

 

1. You can't look deep enough into horror to see what a good horror is really about. Any good horror is there to explore a concept or fear, not just to scare the viewer. When done right, it finds a way to discuss the fear in question indirectly and provoke thought on the topic in the viewer. They allow the artist to express their opinions and talk about the subject indirectly, and THAT is what people value.

2. Nothing here qualifies as a tragedy, but even if it did a tragedy is valued for exploring emotion and exploring the minds of the characters, as these inevitably end up being the primary draw of any good tragedy. They also carry morals, and cautionary tales, just like horror does, and when done right these are abundantly clear.

3. You not only completely misinterpret the story at work here, you do so massively in a way directly contradicting stated facts AFTER I've explained it. Let me elaborate.

A. Not only did I never say humanity's self-sabotaging actions were unforgivable, I said they were quite understandable under the circumstances. And the way the actions of the second game are described strongly supports this, as the positive motivation of the factions are emphasized quite a bit.

B. There is absolutely NO basis, AT ALL, for the entire rest of the sentence. All of this is 100% directly contradictory with the material you are supposedly pulling this garbage from. This interpretation is as insane as if you read a newscast that said it was going to be 120 F outside and reading that as "freezing cold, so much so that even ECW gear won't save you and and the world is an impassible ball of ice".

4. You completely ignored that I went into what the themes and morals of this story were, at length, apparently content to ignore everything right up to the title of the thread you were reading in order to claim horror is without value. But then, with an obvious idealist like yourself, completely ignoring everything about everything that ever was in order to claim your pre-existing conclusions and biases are completely accurate and without flaw isn't that terribly rare.

 

*raised eyebrow*  First of all, I was replying to the first post alone because I wanted to respond to your initial question without 'cheating' by looking at posts lower in the thread that would have extra information.  It just not accurate to claim I was ignoring 'everything'.  In fact I was responding primarily to:

 

 

Human civilization dooms itself, then stomps all over its own attempts to fix it until the only solution is to let itself die and be reborn on another planet, and even then the nations sabotage their enemies' attempts to save the species, hurting the entire species' chances just to try and keep their enemies from surviving with them, and then goes to war on the new world. Humanity still doesn't go extinct, but not for a lack of trying."

I know I'm biased.  I have only my own perspective through which to look at your stuff, it's not like I can choose to look at your story the way you or Thaumaturge or anyone else does.  But I was actually looking at your words here.  Specifically the idea that humanity in your story's universe is repeatedly taking actions that push itself toward extinction.  The word choice "trying" here is particularly interesting to me because I interpret it as lampshading the fact that the humans didn't sit down and decide, "oh let's try to drive our species extinct".  In fact many of their conscious efforts are aimed at survival.  So the source of their drive toward self-extermination must be something instinctive or subconscious.  I thought that you went to some effort to point out that the conflict here isn't some people vs. other people, but instead humanity as a species vs. itself.

 

That brings me to the part where I used the word "unforgivable".  Unforgivable and understandable aren't opposites; an action can be both.  Perhaps more importantly, I didn't mean unforgivable by you or me or some kind of morals, I meant unforgivable by the universe of your story, which seems (to me) to be pronouncing a vote of no confidence on your humans basic deservingness to live by repeatedly killing them off.  In your universe, humans are so at odds with themselves that they keep getting closer and closer to failing at survival.  It's like the phrase "too dumb to live" only in this case it's that humanity is "too self-destructive to live".  But maybe my bias here is that I see competence as being equivalent to deservingness.

 

Last point, the word "tragedy".  I see a plague that ends up pushing humans right off their home planet, causing a lot of suffering and death in the process, as a tragedy.  I see self-destructive existence as an on-going tragedy.  Also you use the word rebirth, and in my experience tragedy and rebirth go together in stories - tragedy is usually what something is being reborn after/from the ashes of.  But, if you think of tragedy as something different, that's fine, I can agree to disagree about this point.

 

As far as horror and tragedy as genres go, they aren't unique in being able to explore emotions, psychology, and that sort of interesting topics.  Certainly, stories of any genre can have interesting and valuable content.  But personally I'm interested in negative emotions like fear mainly in the context of overcoming them.  I don't personally find as much to be gained from a story of failure as from a story of struggle with near-failure that ultimately results in success.  There's so much failure in real life that stories about it seem kind of redundant.  Yes that's a bias, obviously so.  But looking now at your response to Thaumaturge in post 3, if you want to communicate the message in your sig poem, that's a message that could be successfully communicated to me, just not with the approach you're taking.  In fact I love reading stories about team-building and the formation of families of choice, which would be the equivalent of "Europe gaining a new clod of earth and becoming the greater".  If nothing else I would think that might be an interesting audience psychology data point for you.  But on the other hand, I've experienced how bitterly frustrating it can be to have a story I want to tell that people don't want to hear or don't interpret the way I intend it to be interpreted.  So if my perspective isn't useful to you as a data point, maybe you can instead take away some feeling of writer solidarity in suffering and struggling with communicating a message to a definitely-less-than-ideal audience.

 

Anyway.  Didn't mean to upset you, so I'm sorry that happened.

Edited by sunandshadow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*raised eyebrow*  First of all, I was replying to the first post alone because I wanted to respond to your initial question without 'cheating' by looking at posts lower in the thread that would have extra information.  It just not accurate to claim I was ignoring 'everything'.  In fact I was responding primarily to:


Even with just the initial post, the stance you held makes no sense. But go ahead.
 

I know I'm biased.  I have only my own perspective through which to look at your stuff, it's not like I can choose to look at your story the way you or Thaumaturge or anyone else does.  But I was actually looking at your words here.  Specifically the idea that humanity in your story's universe is repeatedly taking actions that push itself toward extinction.  The word choice "trying" here is particularly interesting to me because I interpret it as lampshading the fact that the humans didn't sit down and decide, "oh let's try to drive our species extinct".  In fact many of their conscious efforts are aimed at survival.  So the source of their drive toward self-extermination must be something instinctive or subconscious.  I thought that you went to some effort to point out that the conflict here isn't some people vs. other people, but instead humanity as a species vs. itself.


It's not subconscious, it's just short-sighted and stupid. Each faction wants *itself* to survive, to hell with the rest of humanity, and is willing to sabotage their enemy's efforts at survival to improve their own. That's a conscious decision they're making and failing to recognize the consequences of. If every country but Japan, the American Republic and Europa died off to a lack of reproduction, but all of their nations managed to survive they'd consider that a 100% positive result. The same goes for each of the other four factions of this setting (none of which has been mentioned by name, but are there), they'd greatly prefer to be the sole survivors of humanity. And if another faction survives, then they see that as problematic because all these factions are enemies and that means they wouldn't be as well off and would still be in danger. The problem is they don't see that everyone trying to make sure they're the only ones with survivors likely means no survivors for anyone.
 

That brings me to the part where I used the word "unforgivable".  Unforgivable and understandable aren't opposites; an action can be both.  Perhaps more importantly, I didn't mean unforgivable by you or me or some kind of morals, I meant unforgivable by the universe of your story, which seems (to me) to be pronouncing a vote of no confidence on your humans basic deservingness to live by repeatedly killing them off.  In your universe, humans are so at odds with themselves that they keep getting closer and closer to failing at survival.  It's like the phrase "too dumb to live" only in this case it's that humanity is "too self-destructive to live".  But maybe my bias here is that I see competence as being equivalent to deservingness.


Ah, a meritocratic philosophy. Not bad.

Well, even from that perspective, humanity *does* survive. Keep in mind the third game's set-up isn't even just one ship being sent out, all the factions are doing it and getting success. Also, personifying the universe for the disease it created isn't necessary. That's just how that went and it makes perfect sense. The most irradiated sections of the waste are a haven for disease, since they cause rapid mutations in the viruses and bacteria and weaken the immune systems of people in them (totally a thing, by the way), so diseases get a start there. Diseases that kill their hosts, however, don't tend to last long in these areas since they don't get time to spread. Diseases like radpox develop because they don't kill their host and are highly contagious, letting them spread in the irradiated deep zones, and when people return to civilization from the deep zones they bring those diseases into a place way easier to spread in. Radpox is especially good since it's not obvious is somebody had it recently and is still contagious. (Which you are for a while after having it, like with most illnesses.) And it's especially damaging because it leaves victims sterile, and they can't possibly realize that for a very long time.

The disease hijacks the gamete-producing organs to replicate itself, causing sterility. The radpox retrovirus isn't subtle and the immune system destroys the important, gamete-producing tissues to stop it, removing the virus. In the stronger sterilizing plague, however, the immune system is tricked into never responding to the infection of the testes/ovaries, no symptoms of any form are ever shown except sterility, and the person remains contagious forever as a carrier. This is also why they can't sterilise children or use them as carriers, the organs in question aren't active yet so it can't replicate itself and doesn't remain in their system or grow as strong.

There's no need for a personification of the universe here, because this disease is just a good disease for the situation and it happens to be apocalyptic in its very nature.
 

Last point, the word "tragedy".  I see a plague that ends up pushing humans right off their home planet, causing a lot of suffering and death in the process, as a tragedy. I see self-destructive existence as an on-going tragedy. Also you use the word rebirth, and in my experience tragedy and rebirth go together in stories - tragedy is usually what something is being reborn after/from the ashes of. But, if you think of tragedy as something different, that's fine, I can agree to disagree about this point.


The event is a tragedy, but tragedy fiction isn't just any store with a tragedy in it or that'd be 99.99% of all fiction. Hamlet is a tragedy. A tragedy needs a sad ending, and this series just doesn't have one. This is a *drama*.

As far as horror and tragedy as genres go, they aren't unique in being able to explore emotions, psychology, and that sort of interesting topics.  Certainly, stories of any genre can have interesting and valuable content.


That doesn't mean that they explore the same ranges of emotions, sections of psychology, or anything else. Horror and tragedy are also unique in their power as a cautionary tool.

But personally I'm interested in negative emotions like fear mainly in the context of overcoming them.  I don't personally find as much to be gained from a story of failure as from a story of struggle with near-failure that ultimately results in success.


You know, that's kinda exactly what this story is. To the letter. In case you forgot: Humanity DOES survive. They get children to other planets, and those ships are ultimately successful enough of the time to get humanity a decent foothold on the worlds in question. Those children will grow up and reproduce, and humanity will continue.

There's so much failure in real life that stories about it seem kind of redundant.  Yes that's a bias, obviously so.


Except that in the end, this series DOES have a relatively happy ending.

But looking now at your response to Thaumaturge in post 3, if you want to communicate the message in your sig poem, that's a message that could be successfully communicated to me, just not with the approach you're taking.


I specifically pointed out that one for free because it's not evident. It's only expressed through the mechanics of the games themselves. Specifically, how anything that impacts one character has an indirect impact on every other. This is particularly evident in the first game. If the military, for instance, kills some looters the player will find everyone gets substantially more poor since those looters are the main source of supplies for the entire region. Entire settlements will also react negatively to the death of any person, not just continue on as if nothing happened, and likely be for the worse because of it, and this influence spreads throughout the map to some small degree. Every death you witness or cause has a negative impact on the world. (The game actively discourages killing humans through a number of methods. This is one.)

In fact I love reading stories about team-building and the formation of families of choice, which would be the equivalent of "Europe gaining a new clod of earth and becoming the greater".  If nothing else I would think that might be an interesting audience psychology data point for you.


Except there's nothing to LEARN from that. And fiction is only valuable in what it can teach us, everything else is just petty escapism.

But on the other hand, I've experienced how bitterly frustrating it can be to have a story I want to tell that people don't want to hear or don't interpret the way I intend it to be interpreted.  So if my perspective isn't useful to you as a data point, maybe you can instead take away some feeling of writer solidarity in suffering and struggling with communicating a message to a definitely-less-than-ideal audience.


That's one way to put it.
 

Anyway.  Didn't mean to upset you, so I'm sorry that happened.


I wasn't really upset. I was slightly offended, sure, but mostly just frustrated. And, for the record, I still am.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know I'm biased.  I have only my own perspective through which to look at your stuff, it's not like I can choose to look at your story the way you or Thaumaturge or anyone else does.  But I was actually looking at your words here.  Specifically the idea that humanity in your story's universe is repeatedly taking actions that push itself toward extinction.  The word choice "trying" here is particularly interesting to me because I interpret it as lampshading the fact that the humans didn't sit down and decide, "oh let's try to drive our species extinct".  In fact many of their conscious efforts are aimed at survival.  So the source of their drive toward self-extermination must be something instinctive or subconscious.  I thought that you went to some effort to point out that the conflict here isn't some people vs. other people, but instead humanity as a species vs. itself.


It's not subconscious, it's just short-sighted and stupid. Each faction wants *itself* to survive, to hell with the rest of humanity, and is willing to sabotage their enemy's efforts at survival to improve their own. That's a conscious decision they're making and failing to recognize the consequences of. If every country but Japan, the American Republic and Europa died off to a lack of reproduction, but all of their nations managed to survive they'd consider that a 100% positive result. The same goes for each of the other four factions of this setting (none of which has been mentioned by name, but are there), they'd greatly prefer to be the sole survivors of humanity. And if another faction survives, then they see that as problematic because all these factions are enemies and that means they wouldn't be as well off and would still be in danger. The problem is they don't see that everyone trying to make sure they're the only ones with survivors likely means no survivors for anyone.

I think I could make a strong argument here that your version of humanity still comes across as having a clear self-destructive instinct. Thanatos would probably be the appropriate Freudian term. But, part of the reason I want to say that is just that it breaks my suspension of disbelief to consider human factions to be as stupid as you are painting them. It would take colossally bad luck to have the decision-making people in all factions be willing to waste resources continuing to attack each other once it's clear that their own survival is a desperate priority (around the quarantine dome stage).
 

Last point, the word "tragedy".  I see a plague that ends up pushing humans right off their home planet, causing a lot of suffering and death in the process, as a tragedy. I see self-destructive existence as an on-going tragedy. Also you use the word rebirth, and in my experience tragedy and rebirth go together in stories - tragedy is usually what something is being reborn after/from the ashes of. But, if you think of tragedy as something different, that's fine, I can agree to disagree about this point.


The event is a tragedy, but tragedy fiction isn't just any store with a tragedy in it or that'd be 99.99% of all fiction. Hamlet is a tragedy. A tragedy needs a sad ending, and this series just doesn't have one. This is a *drama*.


But personally I'm interested in negative emotions like fear mainly in the context of overcoming them.  I don't personally find as much to be gained from a story of failure as from a story of struggle with near-failure that ultimately results in success.


You know, that's kinda exactly what this story is. To the letter. In case you forgot: Humanity DOES survive. They get children to other planets, and those ships are ultimately successful enough of the time to get humanity a decent foothold on the worlds in question. Those children will grow up and reproduce, and humanity will continue.

Ahh, now I see where a big difference is.  My interpretation was that based on their shown track record humans would inevitably exterminate themselves; I was expecting the fact that a few made it to the new planet would be a pyrrhic victory.  Why?  Because the problem all along has been human nature, and they haven't been transformed into post-humans, they haven't (implausibly) learned some big lesson that changes human culture to be no longer self-destructive.  In fact the problem behavior has clearly followed them to their new planet(s) because of the sabotage resulting in the failed ship landing.   And in any situation where there are only children trying to survive in a harsh environment, you're going to have high casualties and basically a Lord of the Flies situation.  I figured that would be part of the third game, I was imagining it would be something like Warcraft III (or a lower graphics version, as indie projects generally are).  You do imply that at the ending of the third game there will be basically the absolute minimum situation for human survival.  Absolute minimum situations like that, IME, are extremely fragile and much more likely to fail in the future than to build back up to a global human civilization.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I could make a strong argument here that your version of humanity still comes across as having a clear self-destructive instinct. Thanatos would probably be the appropriate Freudian term. But, part of the reason I want to say that is just that it breaks my suspension of disbelief to consider human factions to be as stupid as you are painting them. It would take colossally bad luck to have the decision-making people in all factions be willing to waste resources continuing to attack each other once it's clear that their own survival is a desperate priority (around the quarantine dome stage).


Yes, but that's all war is. War is humanity hurting itself. Every time a war happens, it's bad for humanity. And yet, they still do it. All the time. Why? Because they believe it benefits them, and they care foremost for themselves above all others. The US is particularly guilty, real world and in-universe, and it's just a fact of life. But that doesn't make it a self-destructive impulse. They're not intentionally harming themselves, they likely don't see how their actions harm them (just how others' actions harm them) and they likely believe (accurately) that if they stopped they would be reducing their own odds of survival by letting their enemies survive. They are also likely assuming (also accurately) that their enemies will continue to attack them even if they stop.
 

Ahh, now I see where a big difference is.  My interpretation was that based on their shown track record humans would inevitably exterminate themselves; I was expecting the fact that a few made it to the new planet would be a pyrrhic victory.  Why?  Because the problem all along has been human nature, and they haven't been transformed into post-humans, they haven't (implausibly) learned some big lesson that changes human culture to be no longer self-destructive.


Except now they've ditched the adults, and with them ditched the warring factions that were the reason for their abhorrent actions. With no warring factions and plenty of distance between eachother they can't fight eachother anymore... Probably. Maybe. Don't quote me on that.
 

In fact the problem behavior has clearly followed them to their new planet(s) because of the sabotage resulting in the failed ship landing.


Last curse of a dying world, don't give them the satisfaction of being remembered.
 

And in any situation where there are only children trying to survive in a harsh environment, you're going to have high casualties and basically a Lord of the Flies situation.


Not really. Kids are quite capable, certainly many times more capable than they're given credit for, and these kids are more capable than most. And besides, with how bad of a job the adults were doing, they really can't botch it any worse.
 

I figured that would be part of the third game, I was imagining it would be something like Warcraft III (or a lower graphics version, as indie projects generally are).


Nope. All these games are controlled from a 1st/3rd person perspective, with standard mouselook controls. (Or gamepad controls, if you really want.) You control individual characters, the rest are AI but you can give them tasks and goals and the AI is going to be quite competent, and you can switch between characters at will. The kids would have been perfectly safe if they had all their resources, but of course the ship lands in the ocean (for safety, normally, that's how spaceships land), the crash breaches a sabotaged door, ship's sinking. Gotta get out, don't have any time. Well, shit, now we don't have any items at all now and have to actually do some wilderness survival in our wilderness survival game. Well, damn.
 

You do imply that at the ending of the third game there will be basically the absolute minimum situation for human survival.


Let me give you a quick debating tip. See, I see what you're doing here. You want to make the case that the civilization will ultimately fail, and in order for that claim to be valid you've chosen to back it up by saying the minimum would be unlikely to survive, except that only works if it really is the minimum, so you need a way to make that the only possibility. So you put those words in my mouth, pretend I said it. The problem is, I know what I said and I never said that. So here's how that's going to go, the whole counter-argument to "You do imply that at the ending of the third game there will be basically the absolute minimum situation for human survival."

No I don't.

See, simple? And that's why you don't put words in people's mouths, it doesn't work.
 

Absolute minimum situations like that, IME, are extremely fragile and much more likely to fail in the future than to build back up to a global human civilization.


Yeah, sure, if it wasn't for the win condition not being a bare minimum because I never said anything like that, instead being absolutely overwhelming. It isn't enough to keep the foothold for now, or for a while, it's enough to keep the foothold full stop. That's enough that it is quite unlikely that, barring some massive and unforseen cataclysm like an asteroid impact or the storm of the century, they will be displaced in the forseeable future. If you hit that final goal, you haven't been seriously threatened in the short term for quite a long time. The game makes you get a good enough foothold you can be reasonably sure your little ones will survive. Edited by JustinS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this