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the messages in rpg storylines, issues of morality

messages story issues morality

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#1
Naesh

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I noticed something. There are lots of stories in which the player character is somehow special, chosen by destiny, aided by the gods. All this mostly because he/she was at the right place at the right time or simply just because it's the player character. How many times did we experience that the main driving force behind the story was that the player character was the "chosen one"? How many times did we stop the evil forces from doing something really bad, just because it's something really bad and we are "meant" to stop it from happening? This type of story carries the message that those people who are not "chosen" by fate cannot achieve anything. I really hate that, because it's a false message.

What would you say to the idea to flip over the coin this time? Let's play a character who is shunned by the gods, struck by a cursed fate, branded with an inescapable death at the hands of greater forces. As the story progresses we could see how this character escapes certain death again and again, against all odds, just by the sheer power of his / her will alone. He / she would not do the quests in order to stop some ancient evil, but only for the reason that he / she wants to live. Stopping a calamity could be just something that follows from the actions of the pc and the character may be entirely indifferent about it!

I would like to play a story where the main goal would be something humanely impossible, yet, at the end of it the character could achieve it! Like, in order to end a curse that brands you as the target of undead spirits every night, you have to kill a (demi)god! Or take Baldurs Gate 2 for an example. I *really* hated that despite all my efforts i could not save Viconia, no matter what choices i made. What i wanted was the crazy option to go after Lolth, even if slaying her would have turned out impossible at the end! My character would have tried it! This type of story carries the message that no matter what happens, even if the most powerful being in the universe strikes you down it is in the human nature to stand up and fight again! Even if it seems futile at first! You do not have to be favored by fate to do great things! Humans are not the playthings of greater powers! (at least, involuntarily, that is) There is no need for the aid of gods, you can achieve your goals from your own power (with the help of your companions)!

Edit: i see that i posted this in the wrong section, i don't know how that happened, sorry about that

It would be great to see a game, where the player character is not "forced" or "conditioned" to play the "good" guy by appropriate feedback from the game itself! If my pc doesn't really wants to help that old lady, then that's it, the old lady might be screwed for all i care! And why would my pc help that old lady anyway? Just to stay true to his "lawful good" alignment i have to fight some rather dangerous trolls to get some stupid old book back? Or spend some valuable coin on something utterly meaningless? Bleh! :D I can just kill the old hag, take the coin that was meant for the reward and be done with it! Perhaps i will even go after that old book afterwards!

Of course, this would not mean that my actions would have no consequence at all, i just wouldn't see it immediately in a change of alignment for example! My character might even think that he is actually lawful good, when in reality, considering the *long term* consequences of his actions, he tends to be chaotic evil! And what does "good", "evil" mean anyway? All that should matter are the consequences of your actions and whether you are favored by some group or shunned by other! For example, the habit of killing old ladies makes the player character indifferent about killing (seemigly unimportant or weak) npc's and this could lead to very dangerous consequences in *later parts* of the game! (so the player is tempted not to load his / her *much earlier* save when facing the crisis that came from his / her earlier questionable actions)

Edited by Naesh, 23 October 2012 - 08:48 PM.

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#2
Gromnir

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What would you say to the idea to flip over the coin this time? Let's play a character who is shunned by the gods, struck by a cursed fate, branded with an inescapable death at the hands of greater forces. As the story progresses we could see how this character escapes certain death again and again, against all odds, just by the sheer power of his / her will alone. He / she would not do the quests in order to stop some ancient evil, but only for the reason that he / she wants to live. Stopping a calamity could be just something that follows from the actions of the pc and the character may be entirely indifferent about it!



http://classics.mit....er/odyssey.html

is a good read.

*shrug*

in any event, cursed by god is little different than chosen. is just a different kinda special.

regardless, every crpg made since internet has been 'round has seen some number o' people reject the notion o' special protagonist. heck, various developers (including obsidian) has claimed to makes non-special protagonists. am doubting you ever get what you want. there is industry-wide recognized expectations of the Average Gamer, and that includes wish fulfillment.

oh, and we as gonna just complete ignore anything you said once you started talking alignment... 'cause alignment is stoopid.

HA! Good Fun!

#3
AgentOrange

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Yes I would indeed like to see Obsidian do a Berserk RPG.
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#4
Naesh

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there is industry-wide recognized expectations of the Average Gamer, and that includes wish fulfillment.

Surely the average gamer (who likes Planescape Torment for example) doesn't wish to be treated like a puppet on strings all the time. I see catering to the need of wish fulfillment in the possibility to do things more easily than in real life. I guess that is why the romance thread is so popular. Even so, in real life you do not have to be "chosen" by fate to be loved back. In reality, if you spend some time together with a compatible person, that alone is enough for the feelings to develop. It's more like an invisible natural force is at work. Love is hardly the "reward" of your wordly achievements or fetch quests. (They might be required, but definitely not sufficient. )
In my opinion it would be a bad idea to rub it under the pc's nose that "You are chosen by the gods. That's why you can have anyone in the game as your wife. " If you look at it, this sends the message to the player that in real life he / she is pathethic, incompetent and will never achieve anything. But maybe it's as You say and that's the message the average gamer wants to hear at every turn.

#5
Naesh

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Yes I would indeed like to see Obsidian do a Berserk RPG.

And Berserk is very successful! In my opinion this type of storytelling is much more awesome!

#6
Gromnir

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there is industry-wide recognized expectations of the Average Gamer, and that includes wish fulfillment.

Surely the average gamer (who likes Planescape Torment for example) doesn't wish to be treated like a puppet on strings all the time.


if the Average Gamer had bought and liked ps:t, we might not be having this conversation. ps:t did not sell by any measure that were relevant or meaningful in the industry.

that being said, am guessing that as pe will avoid traditional publishing model and is being made by some of the guys that made ps:t, much of what you liked about ps:t will be in pe... but obsidian clear learned from ps:t. pe has elves and dwarves and classes and many of the "tropes" chrisA wanted to avoid in ps:t. obsidian has learned that you can still make a smarty game when you give folks the trivial stuff they want. make a hero story and focus on protagonist not mean you gotta do in the traditional way, and it not mean you gotta be boring. so give folks what they want... but different and better.

oh, and we had to look up "berserk."

...

no. just, no.

HA! Good Fun!

#7
PsychoBlonde

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They've already stated that they want the PC to be "in the wrong place at the wrong time" and "a victim of circumstance" rather than "the chosen one". Although, if you wanted to be a pedant, you could state that they're still chosen--by circumstances.

The protagonist is always going to feel somewhat singled out simply because the story is following THEM and not somebody else. At best, you're going to get situations where the reason WHY this person is the protagonist is not stated explicitly and thus there's an implication that somebody else COULD have been the protagonist. Maybe.

It's not better or worse one way or the other. It just depends on the particulars of the story.
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#8
Naesh

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that being said, am guessing that as pe will avoid traditional publishing model and is being made by some of the guys that made ps:t, much of what you liked about ps:t will be in pe... but obsidian clear learned from ps:t. pe has elves and dwarves and classes and many of the "tropes" chrisA wanted to avoid in ps:t. obsidian has learned that you can still make a smarty game when you give folks the trivial stuff they want. make a hero story and focus on protagonist not mean you gotta do in the traditional way, and it not mean you gotta be boring. so give folks what they want... but different and better.


I really can't imagine how can You show something new and astonishing using the traditional hero story.
I hated this in Dragon Age: Origins too. For some reason I wasn't just some guy who just wanted to save himself and the people close around him, or take revenge for something personal that happened to him. No, basically at the very beginning of the story i set up to save the entire world and everybody was expecting me to do so...
Yes, ps:t was much better in this perspective. I guess i am in for a surprise then with p.e. ;-)

Oh no, wait. There was this one time... this game, Dreamweb. The hero-setting worked there perfectly! The point of the story was that the player played an assassin for
some unknown greater force. (The "keepers of dreams" or something... ) The instructions as who to assassinate next came through hallucinations or dreams, so the
player was always left wondering, if the player character went simply mad and is just killing some random people, or these greater forces are for real.

oh, and we had to look up "berserk."
...
no. just, no.

Yes, that's the usual response from the hardcore rpg fan. You are repulsed by the fact that it's a japanese graphic novel and You find it silly. But it's for a different demographic. That's why You have never heard of it and this is why it's redeeming values might have missed your eye. Among these, the most important (in my opinion, that is) are the subtle messages that the story carries are not shallow and not "in your face". The actions and words of the lead character are actually inspiring. His motives are very understandable, there is no "world saving", "enacting justice" or "impressing others" among them. The story doesn't tells you, the reader, that you cannot be a hero in real life, quite the opposite.

If you can, please take a look at Chapter 172, pages 8-10. or, equivalently, vol.21. 71-73. and ignore the facts that the world and style are not to your taste.
(This is the part, where an antagonist says "you will sacrifice thousands of people to save that which", the crowd shouts out to burn her, and the lead character shouts back to them, saying "all these people gathered together, just because you guys are in trouble, thats why you all pray, you bunch of... you are nothing, but a sacrifice for someone else" and despite the fact that he will indeed sacrifice thousands of people "just" to save someone close to him, he proceeds... i really can't give it back to you here, you have to read it... )

By "it's successful" i meant that it's successful relative to the target demographic. Still, I see no need for the hero-setting, but i guess that's up to the developers anyway and they know their job. Anyway, i am looking forward to a mixture of planescape torment and the baldurs gate series with some new elements in it. ( btw. if you take a look at the polls here:

http://www.obsidian.net/

you will see that people expect exactly a mixture of bg and ps:t, and if you look at it, the nameless one was not trying to save the world - just himself - so why not take this approach one step further and go with completely human-like protagonists with understandable goals and motives? )

#9
Gromnir

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"I really can't imagine how can You show something new and astonishing using the traditional hero story."

we stopped with this. lack of imagination is such a terrible burden.

HA! Good Fun!

#10
Karkarov

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if the Average Gamer had bought and liked ps:t, we might not be having this conversation. ps:t did not sell by any measure that were relevant or meaningful in the industry.

that being said, am guessing that as pe will avoid traditional publishing model and is being made by some of the guys that made ps:t, much of what you liked about ps:t will be in pe... but obsidian clear learned from ps:t. pe has elves and dwarves and classes and many of the "tropes" chrisA wanted to avoid in ps:t. obsidian has learned that you can still make a smarty game when you give folks the trivial stuff they want. make a hero story and focus on protagonist not mean you gotta do in the traditional way, and it not mean you gotta be boring. so give folks what they want... but different and better.

oh, and we had to look up "berserk."

Little harsh but nice post. The problem with any forum dedicated to any one developer or game is that most of the people on it don't understand that not everything the dev/game touches is actually gold or a massive success in the grand scheme.

Out of curiosity other than the extreme violence and highly adult themes of Berserk (both of which would never work in a American release without seriously being toned down) what was the issue?

#11
JFSOCC

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I'm intrigued. yes. this could work.

#12
Gromnir

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if the Average Gamer had bought and liked ps:t, we might not be having this conversation. ps:t did not sell by any measure that were relevant or meaningful in the industry.

that being said, am guessing that as pe will avoid traditional publishing model and is being made by some of the guys that made ps:t, much of what you liked about ps:t will be in pe... but obsidian clear learned from ps:t. pe has elves and dwarves and classes and many of the "tropes" chrisA wanted to avoid in ps:t. obsidian has learned that you can still make a smarty game when you give folks the trivial stuff they want. make a hero story and focus on protagonist not mean you gotta do in the traditional way, and it not mean you gotta be boring. so give folks what they want... but different and better.

oh, and we had to look up "berserk."

Little harsh but nice post. The problem with any forum dedicated to any one developer or game is that most of the people on it don't understand that not everything the dev/game touches is actually gold or a massive success in the grand scheme.

Out of curiosity other than the extreme violence and highly adult themes of Berserk (both of which would never work in a American release without seriously being toned down) what was the issue?


most of our posts is tending to harsh.

oh, and we actual read the first manga issue before we dismissed. the characters is... not. is caricatures. super-powered swordsman with 2 metre i-beam-pretending-to-be-a-sword and bad guy wearing cobra armour drinking blood from severed head at end o' spear? please. scenarios is ridiculous over-the-top. dialogue is forgettable, and story is not near as original as some folks here seem to think. violence doesn't bother us.

HA! Good Fun!

#13
Naesh

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oh, and we actual read the first manga issue before we dismissed. the characters is... not. is caricatures. super-powered swordsman with 2 metre i-beam-pretending-to-be-a-sword and bad guy wearing cobra armour drinking blood from severed head at end o' spear? please. scenarios is ridiculous over-the-top. dialogue is forgettable, and story is not near as original as some folks here seem to think. violence doesn't bother us.

Well, yes, but my point was not the big sword. It's a japanese graphic novel. For the japanese. Have you watched japanese commercials? Did you find them over the top?



My point was that it's successful and the lead character is very much like a human, not an instrument of fate. (the first volumes are a bit weak by the way. ) An other, western example would be Brandon Lee's Crow, where the main character wants revenge for his loss - not to stop the evil gang, just because they are evil and are causing harm to the people, but for his own revenge.

But i better stop now, i started to feel like i'm trolling you guys.

#14
Gromnir

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"My point was that it's successful and the lead character is very much like a human, not an instrument of fate."

you aren't serious, are you? what 'bout the protagonist seems genuine human to you? oh sure, being angry and vengeful is human qualities, but not the way they is done in that manga we read. am not shocked that berserk is successful... in japan. angry hero or anti-hero doesn't necessarily remove us from realm of hero story in any event. angry hero and anti-hero is hardly new.

honestly, the odyssey reference we submitted is oddly more remote from the realm o' crpgs. odysseus offends a god and spends 10 years trying to get home. he ian't trying to save world, or revenge himself on a super villain. ultimate solution is not defeating monsters or solving impossible riddle. unlike most homeric characters, odysseus grows.

HA! Good Fun!

#15
Pshaw

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I understand your premises but even if you start out from humble beginnings the fact that you have become a key player in a grand story makes you special. In Fallout New Vegas you're just a regular dude, shot and left for dead even, you simply choose to get involved in all this **** that's going on around you. I think that is about a lowly as you can get yet you still get that 'I'm somehow better and more crucial than everybody else' feeling by the end of the game.

I understand your desire to play a more anti-hero type character who's not out beat an evil force or fulfill a destiny but is really just trying to get away or get safe. But generally in the end being 'cursed' by the gods is still your characters story being driven by the power of gods so it's not that much different than being chosen. The tone would be darker to be sure but beyond that it's essentially the same.

So in the end I guess I'm trying to say humble beginnings or a darker tone to the story won't remove this 'specialness' feeling the surrounds the main character. The only way to do that is to make things more ordinary, remove the struggle almost entirely. I personally feel that a good example of this is the end of Red Dead Redemption where your last handfuls of quests are helping your family around the farm. Then suddenly your old life comes crashing back in with disastrous effect. As fitting as that ending was without the epic bad ass killing spree that was the majority of the game that ending would have fallen flat. I'm personally not interested in a life sim which is basically what you'd have to get if you wanted to remove all of that epic/special feeling from the main character.

#16
Naesh

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"My point was that it's successful and the lead character is very much like a human, not an instrument of fate."

you aren't serious, are you? what 'bout the protagonist seems genuine human to you?

Rather, the only thing that doesn't seems genuine human to me is his immense strength and that huge kick-ass sword. No, i retract that, there is such a sword actually and i can imagine someone who dedicated his life to it, wield this beauty:



The early material that you read was more like an experiment of the author than the legend that it has become. There are two turning points in the story, i guess i should tell you to start reading from vol. 5 or better, from vol 17., if you want to see some improvement in the drawing style and then if you are still interested you can read back. The murder of the cobra-armored badguy simply does not covers just how awesome this story will be later on. Because it gets better - but only if you can stomach the over the top ridiculous style... if you cannot or still find it distasteful or retarded then i am not sure if you should bother. And the fact that there are better stories out there - so what? I wanted to prove a point and this was my example.

What i really like is that the main character is just a human.
Yes, he wields that huge lump of iron, but there is an attempt to explain that in the story.

What i really mean by "is just a human" is that he relies only on his bodily strength, finesse and luck to overcome the situations he gets into, to defeat those inhuman monstrosities. He cuts through the hardships of life with that big sword of his. Even though he makes some serious errors, he realizes these later on so there is some character development too! At the beginning of the story the only motive behind his actions was to survive, he only wanted to stay alive. As the story progresses, he gets betrayed and branded with an inescapable doom. He still pulls through every time somehow and keeps fighting. *This* is what the true face of the human nature looks like! Even if you are struck down by powers unimaginable, you *will* manage to stand up and continue fighting!


The point is that he will get to a state, where, by all accounts of greater powers he should be dead, but he isn't. This story tells about the triumph of the human will over fate.
At every turn, the reader gets reminded of that in a subtle way. If the main character of Berserk would be the main character of Odyssey, he would go after the heads of the gods armed with a sword and somehow succeed in the end.

Compare this sort of character, this sort of story-telling with what we got in the modern rpgs.
You are the dragonborn, favored by the gods, so you are meant to stop the world eater. You are a grey warden, so only you can kill the archdemon, good luck with that, you are meant to do that by the way, everybody is expecting that from you. These tales tell about the triumph of destiny over everything else, about how worthless the human will is in the face of the greater powers. And the main character (You) gets to succeed only because of that, since you are the one who is favored by fate. What message does this carries to the real world? Do you really want to play a game what tells you that?

angry hero or anti-hero doesn't necessarily remove us from realm of hero story in any event. angry hero and anti-hero is hardly new.

Well, if you call what i described before an angry hero or an anti hero, then you are right! But i think there is a substantial difference there! I can picture myself being an anti-hero or an angry hero, whereas i can't picture myself as someone, who has no attachments to life at all - and that's exactly why his desire is to save the world instead of saving himself or his loved ones!

Is self-sacrifice really a virtue? Shouldn't we be more humane and rational by sending the message to the player that to him his own life is the most important thing in the world, more important than the life of all the others combined? That he should stand up for his own values, protect the people close to him / her exactly because he places such a high value on himself, not because he is so worthless, selfless and "good"?

What really-really bothers me are these type of subtle messages - that tell me that i am worthless in some way, or that i should value someone or something else more than myself! While playing these games i am reminded again and again (in some way that's very hard to notice) that in real life i can achieve nothing, i am not a hero by any measure since i was not born as the chosen one. And as i said before this is a false message, because i am a hero in real life too! ;-)

So why not make a change in the way ps:t did and go one step further towards a world full of people? Yes, even your companions can be people and the character you play might not be a machine either!

Edited by Naesh, 24 October 2012 - 03:38 PM.


#17
Nonek

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Try Mask of the Betrayer, New Vegas, the Sith Lords, Alpha Protocol etcetera all from Obsidian, they can be played as a very human anti hero or an outright villain (especially MOTB) so I wouldn't really have any fears for Eternity in this respect. Don't know anything about the oversized swords of jrpg's, but you can get some fairly ridiculously large ones in MOTB if that's your bag.

By the way if the gent in the video wants to get through that pallet quicker he might want to use an axe and a prybar, much less effort too.

Edited by Nonek, 24 October 2012 - 03:45 PM.


#18
Gromnir

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as to the embedded video, we went through 90+ pages o' a really bad comic 'cause we didn't want to dismiss berserk w/o reading. is no way in hell we is gonna get snookered a second and/or third time.

HA! Good Fun!

Edited by Gromnir, 24 October 2012 - 05:08 PM.


#19
Naesh

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as to the embedded video, we went through 90+ pages o' a really bad comic 'cause we didn't want to dismiss berserk w/o reading. is no way in hell we is gonna get snookered a second and/or third time.

Dang it. I just re-read vol 17-vol 21 again. You know that what you read was drawn like 25 years ago, right?
Whatever, your loss. :-)

Edited by Naesh, 24 October 2012 - 06:00 PM.


#20
Gromnir

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...

am hearing that this were done, at the very least, decades ago.

http://arthistory.ab...jmwt_mma_16.htm

this one might even be older... just in case you thinks people is important.

http://jackiewhiting...t/SchlAthns.htm

HA! good Fun!

ps we highly recommend http://www.dccomics....night-returns-0 is also older than "like" 25 years. go figure.

Edited by Gromnir, 24 October 2012 - 06:13 PM.






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