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Stumpmaestro

Some elements from my RPG story- again :P

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Hi everybody- I am merely going to post a more condensed version of my game's 'premise' here. I am actually finding it somehow incomplete and this worries me- but there are elements I'd like to preserve moving forward. Please, take from these coins of my thought process what you will.

 

The central question is: Is this overwrought nonsense or potentially workable substance?

 

 I was motivated by a mounting fear in the prospects this project holds, so I want to get this out there and see if anybody agrees/sees areas for improvement/likes what they're hearing.

 

So---

 

Setting/Technologies/Forces: The game is an RPG set in a world with electrical power on the rise- but in it there is the presence of magical force.

 

Magic is divided into the classic Aristotelian/Greek elements: Fire, Wind, Water, Earth.

 

Yet, beyond these elements which consist the 'multiplex' akin to a force beyond individuation into four disparate elements. Beyond this you have the inconceivable 'pulse' of the universe itself- the 'Fire of Creation' or 'Ignis'. The title of the game as of now would be 'Ignis' to reflect this. The main goal of the antagonistic group (ultimately) is to harness the Ignis and suffuse a human being with it- thus creating an immortal being that can wage an eternal war on humanity without destroying it. 

 

The world is divided into several biomes and major nations too, and I am working on the specific natures of these. Finding the proper political balance at work is important- but I'm willing to ditch the political part if it ends up striking me as superfluous (this might be the case).

 

Basic Plot: The machinations of an ancient group are finally bearing fruit. Their motivations are inscrutable and reflect the power of planning carried out for millennia. As said, they want to wage an eternal war on humanity in order to prevent humanity from degenerating into a Brave New World inhuman technologically assisted hell where everybody is bred in a test tube. To force humanity beyond it's foibles, they intend on eradicating its flaws through war. Only if humanity can 'surmount' an eternal war will they have evolved to their standards.

 

To this end, the main villains enlist the assistance of a plethora of historical figures. Each played an indelible role in the shaping of the world today, they were the 'Zeigeists' or historical 'movers' who brought the world forward. Each of them were plucked from there era and preserved for the present moment. They would serve as commanders in the 'eternal war'. They would each receive a portion of this eternal life and wage war alongside the hierophant of their group. (I feel like this history element could be removed, but the symbolic value I have in mind goes back to Hegel, Spengler, Plato)

 

Thus you have an order beyond all the temporal ones while all the temporal powers in the world continue down a beeline towards the hell lived in by the central antagonists.

 

The main catch is therefore: Granted that we are heading towards a meaningless life of pleasure that makes us inhuman, would it be better to suffer- perhaps eternally- in order to come out 'the other side' with better prospects? The seeming absurdity of the statement is part of the point.

 

I rely on a quote from Nietzsche to illustrate the tension: 

 

                 But what if pleasure and pain should be so closely connected that he who wants the greatest possible amount of the one

                 must also have the greatest possible amount of the other, that he who wants to experience the "heavenly high jubilation,

                 "must also be ready to be "sorrowful unto death"?

 

So there you have your antagonists. Their argument is meant to be compelling precisely because they have 'seen it all'. So how would a protagonist force form to combat them?

 

Protagonists: The protagonists all feature an essential catch- they are bound together by their need to uncover, to experience more, and a corollary of this is to suffer. So in the course of the game, you end up identifying with the antagonists to some degree- all whilst reviling the atrocity's they have committed and are willing to commit. The method and the goal of suffering are often the same- you become stronger. But what are you willing to sacrifice- or what will you sacrifice regardless of choice?

 

 

That being said: Even without a description of anything else I think that this project suffers from a central perhaps interminable problem: How do you bring these points up in the course of the game? My problem is telling an effective story, not producing the moral to go along with it. I also suppose that the concept itself is likely to be unwieldy should I go with it- a big philosophical narrative? Xeno- pulled it off I suppose. 

 

Also- I do need to work on crafting compelling protagonists without them coming off as hamfisted. We'll see about that.

 

Thanks for any and all feedback.

Edited by Stumpmaestro

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Let me get this straight: your central theme is that suffering is necessary for the good life. Sadly, the nature of humanity is to misguidedly eliminate it. Realizing this, the now-doomed nihilists of the future inflict this suffering on their predecessors to save the world from the lukewarm fate-worse-than-death. The protagonists oppose these attackers as a matter of course, but nonetheless believe in a strikingly similar ethics. A game presumably follows.

 

I think it could work, and without glossing over the philosophical implications. But what you need to think about is how the game's central dialectic can be embodied in your characters, plot, and gameplay. And if I'm reading you correctly, this is where you're having trouble.

 

For characters, I would think about the tension between suffering and happiness, and try to distinguish different ways your characters might conceive it. Are there people who believe in hedonism, that the people of the future live the most blessed of lives? Are there people who are willing to concede (or logically should) that the antagonists are in the right? Then think about why these potential characters have their beliefs, both in the sense of how they acquired them and what reasoning or emotions they use to justify them. (Even if you think they're wrong, try not to make them strawmen.) Then think about whether/how these beliefs shape their lives and personalities. When these character ideas become distinct enough, you should find yourself falling in love with a few of them. Or better, falling in love with the harmony between a them. These (or some of these) will be your main characters. Think of how these characters might change over the course of your story. You don't need many character arcs, but it's usually wise to have a couple. Give these characters backstories, relationships, names. Talk to them, and have them talk to other characters to try to get a feel for them.

 

I sometimes think of plot as a kind of inquiry. Each scene is like an experiment, and the way it plays out reveals something about an underlying dramatic question. Perhaps we come to see some sub-problem that needs to be solved before the question, or a part of the question is resolved. The dramatic question is intimately tied to the theme; to borrow from the Aristotelian idiom, the theme is the universal of which the dramatic question is a particular. The answer to the question embodies the theme, and this is picked up on by the discerning player. The simplest statement of the question might be "will the eternal war be stopped?", and the answer may be along the lines of "yes, because the antagonists' actions are unjustifiable" or "no, because humanity can't escape anomie." It's clear how these reveal the theme. An individual scene might begin with a provocative scenario: the protagonists confront the antagonists in the latter's world. Thus, we can see how the antagonists live, and hopefully the how will illustrate why it's so undesirable.

 

As for gameplay, I'll offer this advice, and you can work out why I'm giving it. Make the game hard.

 

I hope this helps. The characters, the plot, the setting, the gameplay, even individual lines and actions -- everything in a story is an interesting, imperfect instance of what it represents. Writers are told to show, not tell, because concretes make what could be impersonal, tense and instinctively relatable.

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Let me handle this chunk by chunk. Thank you for the response.

 


Let me get this straight: your central theme is that suffering is necessary for the good life. Sadly, the nature of humanity is to misguidedly eliminate it. Realizing this, the now-doomed nihilists of the future inflict this suffering on their predecessors to save the world from the lukewarm fate-worse-than-death. The protagonists oppose these attackers as a matter of course, but nonetheless believe in a strikingly similar ethics. A game presumably follows.

 

It is sort of like this. It's more that in the absence of suffering to strive against, human reality tends towards 'Brave New World'-esque conclusions. The villains come from the past actually- technology has sustained them through the years, so they've been privy to all of the cycles and events that have occurred since then. Their conclusion is that their society is the end result of any society that has taken similar pathways. There's a lot more to it than that- but that's the gist, so you're basically right. But they come from the past. One of the two (they were test-tube twins) has a red eye in his left socket, the other in his right. One of them is in a suit that is actually mobile, the other is essentially affixed to a giant life support 'coffin' mechanism. 

 


For characters, I would think about the tension between suffering and happiness, and try to distinguish different ways your characters might conceive it. Are there people who believe in hedonism, that the people of the future live the most blessed of lives? Are there people who are willing to concede (or logically should) that the antagonists are in the right? Then think about why these potential characters have their beliefs, both in the sense of how they acquired them and what reasoning or emotions they use to justify them. (Even if you think they're wrong, try not to make them strawmen.) Then think about whether/how these beliefs shape their lives and personalities. When these character ideas become distinct enough, you should find yourself falling in love with a few of them. Or better, falling in love with the harmony between a them. These (or some of these) will be your main characters. Think of how these characters might change over the course of your story. You don't need many character arcs, but it's usually wise to have a couple. Give these characters backstories, relationships, names. Talk to them, and have them talk to other characters to try to get a feel for them.

 

I haven't thought over the 'falling in love with the harmony bit'. I mean, I've drafted a few characters mentally, but I'm not sure if they breathe enough yet. The bigger problem is more the world in which these characters have grown- the world that the antagonists have watched for all of these years. I have a few prototypes I'm working out though- I just need to set them against the backdrop of the world itself. 

 


I sometimes think of plot as a kind of inquiry. Each scene is like an experiment, and the way it plays out reveals something about an underlying dramatic question. Perhaps we come to see some sub-problem that needs to be solved before the question, or a part of the question is resolved. The dramatic question is intimately tied to the theme; to borrow from the Aristotelian idiom, the theme is the universal of which the dramatic question is a particular. The answer to the question embodies the theme, and this is picked up on by the discerning player. The simplest statement of the question might be "will the eternal war be stopped?", and the answer may be along the lines of "yes, because the antagonists' actions are unjustifiable" or "no, because humanity can't escape anomie." It's clear how these reveal the theme. An individual scene might begin with a provocative scenario: the protagonists confront the antagonists in the latter's world. Thus, we can see how the antagonists live, and hopefully the how will illustrate why it's so undesirable.

 

This is good- though I already have largely answered these central questions. The larger one is embodied in the portion of your paragraph- the sub-problem. Stitching these into the overall framework of the antagonist's plot is the key, and I've often found that pacing is more than anything else the most important ingredient in getting your plot across effectively. So I've worked on characters arcs that jive well with the main plot: for example, somebody who had it all has it brutally ripped away from them- they've suffered. But the game will not focus solely on suffering (players might get bored) but also the process of learning and travelling in general (fits the RPG mold). Suffering is therefore thematically the centerpiece, but so is 'maturation', 'insight', and ultimately 'happiness'. 

 

With regards to a confrontation in their world I intend on scripting a scene in which you get video footage of their society and its destruction- right before one of the antagonists walks in and challenges you. Corny, but could work effectively. Nice doffing of the hat to Aristotle too :p (This game's central philosophical influences are Hegel, Heraclitus, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Plato, Aristotle, and maybe a bit of Spengler/Vedic wisdom). 

 

When you say 'will the eternal war be stopped' there are a few things I should add. You actually kill both of the antagonists before their plan can be eventuated, but a secondary antagonist attempts to initiate it himself. Thematically, he is incapable of doing it- because the physical and mental agony drives him to want to destroy everything rather than initiate a war. There you have an excuse to stop his plan while considering the plan of the main antagonists you had no choice but to kill (your life was in jeopardy). However, you get your chance to resolve the dilemma when you encounter the two brothers once more (I'm working on the plot point as to how they survive and come out stronger). Ultimately I plan on having the plot come full circle somewhat by having this eternal war actualized- only, the main protagonist and the antagonist(s) are the only ones fighting. By the time your protagonist is extricated from the dimension, he will have experienced an 'eternity of warfare'- which will perhaps be the place the plot 'rests'. 

 


As for gameplay, I'll offer this advice, and you can work out why I'm giving it. Make the game hard.

 

Well, because that's suffering :p. Sure, I've had this in mind. I have an idea of the combat system, and working difficulty into it has been a very entertaining experience.

 

Thanks a bunch for your response. Very sagacious advice.

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Moved from other thread where it was rather irrelevant to the original post and title

 


[quote name="sunandshadow" post="5205676" timestamp="1421805373"]
[quote name="Stumpmaestro" post="5205553" timestamp="1421766732"]
I would do a sub-section-esque structure. With the right formatting, it will always allow you to keep tabs on your big themes and ideas and plot consistencies. Once you've threaded enough of your 'main substance' I think it's fair to go a little bonkers brainstorming, keeping the things that really 'hit you' and excising those do-not-wants.
 
But yeah, in JRPGs characters are probably the integral ingredient, which is why it's easy to make a JRPG using only tropes- they 'sustain' the narrative. So, I've seen critiques leveled at the entire genre to the effect that "it's overformalized pap" which is SOMETIMES correct in my opinion. But it's a useful critique precisely because it forces the mind to wander and ask 'how do I make these solid characters and compose an effective narrative around them"?
 
For me the problem was having a pretty abstract 'plot' but without good characters to populate it. Working on that now for my plot...
[/quote]
Themes are very important in pro story design, though I didn't really get the feeling this particular poster had enough experience to be focusing on themes yet.  Your project is interesting - I've wished two or three times now that I had anything helpful to say towards it.  I suspect I disagree with your premise though, which is a terrible place to start critiquing from, there's no way I could be fair.  But have you by chance looked through my developer journal?  This entry is particularly relevant to generating characters: [url=http://www.gamedev.net/blog/90/entry-1033044-plot-iv-plot-as-thematic-argument-characters-as/]http://www.gamedev.net/blog/90/entry-1033044-plot-iv-plot-as-thematic-argument-characters-as/[/url]
[/quote]
While this is no 'place' to critique my premise, I've also had reservations about the entirety of my project as well- but that's for other places. I'd be interested in inquiring as to what about the premise you find flawed, even if it is just a 'sentiment' of doubt. I'm no pro with this stuff, and let my 'philosophical fancy' carry me- and of course, this is exactly the thing to be avoided, the 'debacle' eventuates.
 
If you'd like to get some more juice on things I might have been working on I'd be glad to carry on discussion in a pm if you have the time or what not.
 
ANYWAY.
 
I've had some discussions with Superherox7 (if he does not mind my mentioning them) regarding this topic and we've had some interesting conversations about what he considers the 'hook' in his tentative project. I looked through your journal, and I think it's generally sound- but I'm playing around with different conceptions of narrative as I speak.
 
The article in question positions actors or 'moral agents' as the breeding ground for the tree of plot. Events occur, as it were, naturally from a soil where conflict is deeply embedded preferably implicitly rather than explicitly in my opinion. To use your example, the three magics should not voice their standpoint, but rather 'act in line' with the nature of those magics and reveal how one position somehow 'sets itself apart' from the others- to good or bad import.
 
I like your article though because it deals quite nicely with the underlying geometry of a 'good' narrative. I'm also aware of a few articles in which you mention an acquaintance with Aristotle, so I can see where perhaps a few of these ideas come from.
 
I've often conceived of RPG stories as 'characters in a world' or 'world in a character'. I use Chrono Cross and Chrono Trigger to illustrate this to myself. Chrono Trigger had an intimate cast that ventured off into the world and resolved deeply personal/universal knots. Chrono Cross sported a structure in which the 'world' almost acted like its own organism, or in a sense, the plot dominated the characters. Thus it was more about the message and less about individual characters. Perhaps this makes CC flawed- though I'd disagree.
 
Anyway, sorry for blabbering. Glad to hear your input.

 

Lemme describe me: I am a structuralist, a socialist, a hedonist, and a bit of a utilitarian.  The themes I write about are outcasts banding together into teams aka families of choice.  My bad guys generally represent tradition (bigotry), discipline (bullying), and peer pressure.  My good guys represent getting in touch with instincts, embracing change, avoiding conflict or eliminating it by a surgical strike when necessary, and focusing on improving the future (because the present is intolerably full of conflict).  I don't believe in gods, destiny, prophecy, or conspiracies.  So, perhaps you can see how your story here rubs me the wrong way on several points.  That's not saying your premise is flawed, just that I personally don't get along with it.

 

As far as Aristotle goes, his Poetics, specifically his characterization of fiction as an act of mimetic play, does form the historical basis for my theories about fiction (and many other people's).  But he's the source of less than 10% of my accumulated theory.  The concept of characters as thematic vectors comes from Cynthia Joyce Clay's book Vector Theory and the Plot Structures of Literature and Drama.  As for the idea that a story, like a speech, presents a mocked-up argument between two points of view, I first encountered that idea through Dramatica: A New Theory Of Story and Dramatica For Screenwriters, as well as other materials from the Dramatica community.  (Dramatica theory is the source of many of the terms I use to discuss theme and character roles in plot throughlines, but it's also a rabbit hole one can get lost down for months or even years, so be cautious if you decide to look into it.)  I mentioned that I'm a structuralist, and much of structuralist theory about myths, folktales, and other fiction comes from Claude Levi-Strauss, with Vladimir Propp approaching the topic from a different angle.  Those sources together account for most of the theories about fiction that I've adopted as my own and tried to integrate and build on.

 

For the rest, you seem to be talking about the concept of plot-driven vs. character-driven stories.  Personally I believe that in an ideal story there is no divide between what happens because of the characters' motives and personality vs. what happens because the plot requires or 'wants' it to happen.  When I start roughing out the idea of a story I usually start with a relationship arc, which is a midpoint between character and plot.  But if for some reason I had to choose between 'character driven' and 'plot driven' I'd choose character driven.  I don't personally have a strong instinct for plot, and plot isn't the main thing I read for, though it can certainly be a good vehicle for presenting the characters with interesting puzzles and challenges to react to.  I like introspection, whether humorous or philosophical; I like romance, character development, and worldbuilding.  I like characters sneaking around in disguise, keeping secrets, conniving about how to persuade or manipulate each other in to doing what they want each other to do, angsting a bit over whether some action is ethical, angsting a bit over whether to declare their attraction to another character, cleverly triumphing over opponents who don't like to 'think outside the box', plus the usual sappy fluff of the romantic happy ending.  Those things may border on plot, but most of them are more about characters than plot.

 

For CronoTrigger and Chrono Cross specifically, I'd say Chrono Cross did a better job of delivering its story, which makes it hard to compare the two stories on even footing.  In CronoTrigger it's difficult to consider the world as a character because the different time periods had different personalities and so you'd have to consider each time period as a minor character, rather than the worlds as a whole as one major character.  Chrono Cross on the other hand got distracted trying to do a huge cast of collectible characters like the Suikoden series, which weakened the unity of its cast of characters.

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Moved from other thread where it was rather irrelevant to the original post and title

 

 

 


 

I would do a sub-section-esque structure. With the right formatting, it will always allow you to keep tabs on your big themes and ideas and plot consistencies. Once you've threaded enough of your 'main substance' I think it's fair to go a little bonkers brainstorming, keeping the things that really 'hit you' and excising those do-not-wants.
 
But yeah, in JRPGs characters are probably the integral ingredient, which is why it's easy to make a JRPG using only tropes- they 'sustain' the narrative. So, I've seen critiques leveled at the entire genre to the effect that "it's overformalized pap" which is SOMETIMES correct in my opinion. But it's a useful critique precisely because it forces the mind to wander and ask 'how do I make these solid characters and compose an effective narrative around them"?
 
For me the problem was having a pretty abstract 'plot' but without good characters to populate it. Working on that now for my plot...


Themes are very important in pro story design, though I didn't really get the feeling this particular poster had enough experience to be focusing on themes yet.  Your project is interesting - I've wished two or three times now that I had anything helpful to say towards it.  I suspect I disagree with your premise though, which is a terrible place to start critiquing from, there's no way I could be fair.  But have you by chance looked through my developer journal?  This entry is particularly relevant to generating characters: http://www.gamedev.net/blog/90/entry-1033044-plot-iv-plot-as-thematic-argument-characters-as/

 


While this is no 'place' to critique my premise, I've also had reservations about the entirety of my project as well- but that's for other places. I'd be interested in inquiring as to what about the premise you find flawed, even if it is just a 'sentiment' of doubt. I'm no pro with this stuff, and let my 'philosophical fancy' carry me- and of course, this is exactly the thing to be avoided, the 'debacle' eventuates.
 
If you'd like to get some more juice on things I might have been working on I'd be glad to carry on discussion in a pm if you have the time or what not.
 
ANYWAY.
 
I've had some discussions with Superherox7 (if he does not mind my mentioning them) regarding this topic and we've had some interesting conversations about what he considers the 'hook' in his tentative project. I looked through your journal, and I think it's generally sound- but I'm playing around with different conceptions of narrative as I speak.
 
The article in question positions actors or 'moral agents' as the breeding ground for the tree of plot. Events occur, as it were, naturally from a soil where conflict is deeply embedded preferably implicitly rather than explicitly in my opinion. To use your example, the three magics should not voice their standpoint, but rather 'act in line' with the nature of those magics and reveal how one position somehow 'sets itself apart' from the others- to good or bad import.
 
I like your article though because it deals quite nicely with the underlying geometry of a 'good' narrative. I'm also aware of a few articles in which you mention an acquaintance with Aristotle, so I can see where perhaps a few of these ideas come from.
 
I've often conceived of RPG stories as 'characters in a world' or 'world in a character'. I use Chrono Cross and Chrono Trigger to illustrate this to myself. Chrono Trigger had an intimate cast that ventured off into the world and resolved deeply personal/universal knots. Chrono Cross sported a structure in which the 'world' almost acted like its own organism, or in a sense, the plot dominated the characters. Thus it was more about the message and less about individual characters. Perhaps this makes CC flawed- though I'd disagree.
 
Anyway, sorry for blabbering. Glad to hear your input.

 

Lemme describe me: I am a structuralist, a socialist, a hedonist, and a bit of a utilitarian.  The themes I write about are outcasts banding together into teams aka families of choice.  My bad guys generally represent tradition (bigotry), discipline (bullying), and peer pressure.  My good guys represent getting in touch with instincts, embracing change, avoiding conflict or eliminating it by a surgical strike when necessary, and focusing on improving the future (because the present is intolerably full of conflict).  I don't believe in gods, destiny, prophecy, or conspiracies.  So, perhaps you can see how your story here rubs me the wrong way on several points.  That's not saying your premise is flawed, just that I personally don't get along with it.

 

As far as Aristotle goes, his Poetics, specifically his characterization of fiction as an act of mimetic play, does form the historical basis for my theories about fiction (and many other people's).  But he's the source of less than 10% of my accumulated theory.  The concept of characters as thematic vectors comes from Cynthia Joyce Clay's book Vector Theory and the Plot Structures of Literature and Drama.  As for the idea that a story, like a speech, presents a mocked-up argument between two points of view, I first encountered that idea through Dramatica: A New Theory Of Story and Dramatica For Screenwriters, as well as other materials from the Dramatica community.  (Dramatica theory is the source of many of the terms I use to discuss theme and character roles in plot throughlines, but it's also a rabbit hole one can get lost down for months or even years, so be cautious if you decide to look into it.)  I mentioned that I'm a structuralist, and much of structuralist theory about myths, folktales, and other fiction comes from Claude Levi-Strauss, with Vladimir Propp approaching the topic from a different angle.  Those sources together account for most of the theories about fiction that I've adopted as my own and tried to integrate and build on.

 

For the rest, you seem to be talking about the concept of plot-driven vs. character-driven stories.  Personally I believe that in an ideal story there is no divide between what happens because of the characters' motives and personality vs. what happens because the plot requires or 'wants' it to happen.  When I start roughing out the idea of a story I usually start with a relationship arc, which is a midpoint between character and plot.  But if for some reason I had to choose between 'character driven' and 'plot driven' I'd choose character driven.  I don't personally have a strong instinct for plot, and plot isn't the main thing I read for, though it can certainly be a good vehicle for presenting the characters with interesting puzzles and challenges to react to.  I like introspection, whether humorous or philosophical; I like romance, character development, and worldbuilding.  I like characters sneaking around in disguise, keeping secrets, conniving about how to persuade or manipulate each other in to doing what they want each other to do, angsting a bit over whether some action is ethical, angsting a bit over whether to declare their attraction to another character, cleverly triumphing over opponents who don't like to 'think outside the box', plus the usual sappy fluff of the romantic happy ending.  Those things may border on plot, but most of them are more about characters than plot.

 

For CronoTrigger and Chrono Cross specifically, I'd say Chrono Cross did a better job of delivering its story, which makes it hard to compare the two stories on even footing.  In CronoTrigger it's difficult to consider the world as a character because the different time periods had different personalities and so you'd have to consider each time period as a minor character, rather than the worlds as a whole as one major character.  Chrono Cross on the other hand got distracted trying to do a huge cast of collectible characters like the Suikoden series, which weakened the unity of its cast of characters.

 

That's fair- I'm sorry I misinterpreted your previous remarks regarding premise. I thought you intended those remarks in a formal sense. Thanks for clearing it up. 

 

At any rate- The concept of character driven versus concept driven is certainly the most interesting 'balance' there is in games. Take Xenogears where the concept totally outweighed the characterizations. That game suffered terribly (in my opinion) for that reason.

 

I have no knowledge regarding fiction theory beyond Aristotle and the Greeks, so I can't really speak there. I suppose I can relate through myth insofar as Carl Jung's work is concerned (and Psychoanalysis at large) with regards to the archetypical inheritance of stories. Of course as we all know, George Lucas borrowed from Joseph Campbell who in turn was inspired by Jung- so the connection is there. 

 

I don't quite know where I stand relative to plot/character development. I've been so involved in the plot aspect though that I've let some needed characterization fall to the wayside- which is not ideal. I have indeed entertained the aspect of optional romances in this game too (oh boy.) But I'm trying to deal with it realistically rather than have it emanate out of the structure like some foreign appendage. I do have characters set up and ready for development, but as Dodopod said, I need to fall in love with these characters and all of their quirks. Will get cracking on that.

 

The Chrono Trigger/Cross issue has always been one I've been interested in. I just think that they wanted to tell the tale differently- and I like how Chrono Cross is kind of like a 'tributary plot' to Trigger. Whatever, interesting to hear your thoughts on it. 

 

Thanks for your help though. I really appreciate the response.

Edited by Stumpmaestro

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If you ever feel like reading more theory about what fiction is, why it exists, and how it works, just let me know and I'd be happy to provide a reading list. smile.png

 

BTW if you think this idea isn't compelling enough, have you considered a sci-fi or sci-fantasy version of this story?  You could have aliens behind your war test that humanity has to overcome to demonstrate that they have refined the flaws out of their nature and are ready to join the galactic community.  That would allow you to avoid doing anything with time travel, humans given immortality, or a secret conspiracy.

Edited by sunandshadow

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If you ever feel like reading more theory about what fiction is, why it exists, and how it works, just let me know and I'd be happy to provide a reading list. smile.png

 

BTW if you think this idea isn't compelling enough, have you considered a sci-fi or sci-fantasy version of this story?  You could have aliens behind your war test that humanity has to overcome to demonstrate that they have refined the flaws out of their nature and are ready to join the galactic community.  That would allow you to avoid doing anything with time travel, humans given immortality, or a secret conspiracy.

 

It's a nice idea, but internally the thought was to keep it too humanity to illustrate how multifaceted we are, or how diverse we can be as organisms when certain conditions are born. I want to introduce levels of diversity. First there is the intra world, then it is with regard to species, then finally it is with regard to wide gaps of time and millennia. It might not contribute much as a theme per se, but it could be something that the player really becomes conscious of as you explore the world.

 

First off: there is no time travel though. You merely have two individuals who have preserved themselves artificially for a long time. They have suffered 'time', not 'stepped across it'. Just so that's clear.

 

Humans with immortality: It's kind of meant to be a bit different. When granted infinite power and control, reality itself kind of becomes 'immortal' or 'fixed' in a way. When fixed, there is no real 'development' anymore. Everything is eternally directed. 

 

Secret conspiracy: haha yeah. This seems a bit cheesy, but it was my best way for involving some 'mysterious' element in the plot. Of course- making the plot compelling is the primary objective, so perhaps it won't be a 'conspiracy' at work. I'll keep refining this specific point and perhaps ditch some concepts in favor of a better developmental arc.

 

Fiction theory? You could send me a list but I'm pretty busy with schoolwork reading (Damn you Heraclitus! Damn your (mostly) boring secondary literature!)

 

I'm primarily interested in formalism if that makes sense. I'm well aware of archetypical patternings in literature, and structuralism (a la Strauss) strikes me as somewhat congenial. I'm actually interested in marrying structural patterns of human experience to the vast ways in which certain environments change these interactions. Because yes- the intrapersonal structure might remain the same, but the environment greatly effects the interpersonal. I love thinking over things like this though, so you can hit me with a list whenever. 

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Oh I thought the two people were from the Brave New World style future and went to the past to prevent it.  How would they think of such a future as the biggest danger to mankind if they hadn't seen it themselves?  Probably the answer is above and I just didn't read closely enough.

 

Vladimir Propp's Morphology of the Folktale is a short, simple to understand introduction to structuralist or formalist theory and can be read online: http://homes.di.unimi.it/~alberti/Mm10/doc/propp.pdf

 

But for people who haven't read any fiction theory yet what I usually recommend is Robert McKee's Story.  This book provides a good survey of modern concepts in fiction theory, or at least modern as of when it was published in 97.  It's easy to read and a good foundation from which to explore interesting aspects of the field in more depth.  It's also a fairly popular book that libraries might have.  If you don't have time now, maybe in summer.

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Thanks for the recommendation. But really, I should thank you for reading my material at all- I'm highly appreciative. 

 

I'll check those works out. I'm also bound to run into something relevant as I pore over Jung- and eventually get to Campbell.

 

And for a final clarification: They came from a Brave New World PAST. They were responsible for destroying the civilization though by forcing a mainframe overload of the new form of energy that had lead to this lifestyle. Unleashing it resulted in the magical phenomena that the world currently experienced.

 

But yes- the event took place in the past. This past was futuristic in that sense. Yet the two brothers destroyed it (resistance wasn't entirely strong- they managed to conquer). 

 

A recurring theme are these highly advanced automata that inhabit the game world. These are suits that the brothers used to stay alive for years- suits which naturally replaced the living organism contained within as they aged. That's my 'explanation' as to how they survived. The only organic piece either possess are their carefully monitored and taken-care of red-eyes (red owing to being born in test-tubes and lacking pigmentation a la Brave Wew World). So part of the 'mystery' and fear these characters possess are the single red eyes that sit in their sockets. Though you only ever 'meet' one of these brothers for the majority of the plot.

Edited by Stumpmaestro

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Oh, thanks for the clarification, now I understand how that would work.

 

Jung is interesting but problematic (much like Freud, who was a mentor of his).  For example, the concept of archetypes is tremendously useful.  But the idea that these archetypes exist in a racial collective unconscious is fantasy, not science, and the particular archetypes chosen aged quickly into cultural irrelevance.  Campbell, well, he's rather difficult to read, and to my personal vexation, he is a transcendentalist.  I personally prefer Vogler's The Writer's Journey, which is an explanation and elaboration upon Campbell.  That whole hero's journey thing has an irritating number of cultist-like followers though.  IMO it's interesting and worth reading, but it does not universally apply to all fiction (as Vogler only admitted in the forward to the 2nd edition of the book after having the concept beaten into his head over years by fans) and it's sure not the be-all-end-all of fiction theory.

 

Technically if you're going in historical order you should read Freytag first, but OMG is his book awful.  The only useful thing to come out of it was the original version of Freytag's Pyramid/Freytag's Triangle, which has evolved so much that its modern form barely resembles the original.  See the modern one: http://home.comcast.net/~wickeddelight/modernizedfreytagstriangle.png

 

Lajos Egri's The Art Of Dramatic Writing also predates Campbell.  He wrote mainly about the role of the thematic premise in creating fiction.  I actually taught an online class which was a historical to modern survey of ideas in fiction theory, which is why I have all this information sitting around.  Researching all this stuff was my project my senior year of university, though I didn't finish it until years later for that class.

Edited by sunandshadow

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Oh, thanks for the clarification, now I understand how that would work.

 

Jung is interesting but problematic (much like Freud, who was a mentor of his).  For example, the concept of archetypes is tremendously useful.  But the idea that these archetypes exist in a racial collective unconscious is fantasy, not science, and the particular archetypes chosen aged quickly into cultural irrelevance.  Campbell, well, he's rather difficult to read, and to my personal vexation, he is a transcendentalist.  I personally prefer Vogler's The Writer's Journey, which is an explanation and elaboration upon Campbell.  That whole hero's journey thing has an irritating number of cultist-like followers though.  IMO it's interesting and worth reading, but it does not universally apply to all fiction (as Vogler only admitted in the forward to the 2nd edition of the book after having the concept beaten into his head over years by fans) and it's sure not the be-all-end-all of fiction theory.

 

Technically if you're going in historical order you should read Freytag first, but OMG is his book awful.  The only useful thing to come out of it was the original version of Freytag's Pyramid/Freytag's Triangle, which has evolved so much that its modern form barely resembles the original.  See the modern one: http://home.comcast.net/~wickeddelight/modernizedfreytagstriangle.png

 

Lajos Egri's The Art Of Dramatic Writing also predates Campbell.  He wrote mainly about the role of the thematic premise in creating fiction.  I actually taught an online class which was a historical to modern survey of ideas in fiction theory, which is why I have all this information sitting around.  Researching all this stuff was my project my senior year of university, though I didn't finish it until years later for that class.

 

When it comes to Jung I'm primarily interested in his Kantianism. Of course he's a fantastist, as his personal adherent (and I believe she dated him) Maria Moltzer said of him: 

 

Gary Lachman: "She [argued] that [Jung's theories] should be considered art [not science] which got on Jung's nerves because he recognized that ... her arguments made sense, which suggests that he himself was in doubt about it."

 

That being said, I take quite a bit from Jung (and Kant, Heraclitus, Hegel, Schelling, Nietzsche, Plato, Aristotle, and to a lesser degree philosophically Huxley). Personality types as a channel of his philosophical theories is a primary interest for me. Freud is similarly inspiring to me- but I dislike his emphases. His clarity is refreshing after Jung though. That being said, I'm much more of a philosophical intuitionalist/fantasist, so that might express my sympathy to Jung. It colors every one of my interests- which may explain my fascination with theories of historicality (as if such a term could even exist in a scientific scenario!) 

 

That being said- Jung always called himself a man of 'science'. The only way I could see this being the case is in his opposition to the Hegelian apparatus that he unwittingly resonated with more than he might have seen. Yet his Kantianism is certainly admirable (if you ask me), and his theory of Archetypes strikes me as a curiosity that has the 'spirit' right but not the precise elements. Of course, he could not ever venture to have precision- because he WAS NOT a man of science! Even Freud suffers.

 

Indeed, this historicality informs quite a bit of my plot as my thought inevitably tends towards the reconciliation of metaphysical opposites, and how newness is born from them in (Niels) Bohrian fashion:

 

 "Contraria sunt complementa."

("Opposites are complementary.")

 

Campbell is quite annoying in that cultist activity I will agree. I also dislike his 'happy emptiness' sort of feeling, this 'follow your blissism'. It strikes me as remarkably distasteful overall- but he's my link into the field. 

 

Well now we've gone off topic into my philosophical interests, but I think the point stands.

 

I definitely will look into those authors once I've finished this year's thesis. I'll look into the Egri and toy with Freytag. I know that you've studied this material, but your erudition is nevertheless commendable. 

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I'm not sure Campbell is a good link into the field, but at least he's not as bad as trying to start with Derrida and Foucault.  I don't think philosophy is off topic - it's directly relevant to theme in writing, at least.  Also it's intertwined with psychology, and thus relevant to both characters and writers' motivation and artistic goals.  The act of writing fiction can be compared quite literally to a ritual spellcasting, and magic is also directly related to philosophy via metaphysics and religion.  Or we can more prosaically describe writing fiction as an act of persuasive communication where one is strategically attempting to move one's society in one philosophical direction or another, putting the issue into the realm of politics or sociology.  Fiction may not be an obvious sister-subject to philosophy, but fiction has many, many little connections to philosophy. smile.png

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I'm not sure Campbell is a good link into the field, but at least he's not as bad as trying to start with Derrida and Foucault.  I don't think philosophy is off topic - it's directly relevant to theme in writing, at least.  Also it's intertwined with psychology, and thus relevant to both characters and writers' motivation and artistic goals.  The act of writing fiction can be compared quite literally to a ritual spellcasting, and magic is also directly related to philosophy via metaphysics and religion.  Or we can more prosaically describe writing fiction as an act of persuasive communication where one is strategically attempting to move one's society in one philosophical direction or another, putting the issue into the realm of politics or sociology.  Fiction may not be an obvious sister-subject to philosophy, but fiction has many, many little connections to philosophy. smile.png

 

Oh no doubt. Ultimately it's all about a level of meta-awareness and knowing how to exact your story. Hollywood draws crowds even if their stories 'suck' because they understand tried-and-true mechanisms. Telling things in a novel way while maintaining standards and keeping those emotional hooks is how stories are ultimately remembered best. I'll keep plugging away at it for now.

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