First of all, the latest version of Harem Collector was emailed to backers this morning. If you are a backer and did not receive your email, please contact me ASAP. I probably have the wrong email for you. So relieved and happy to actually get a release out, btw. Looking forward to the public release next week.
Oh, and Spoiler Warning for Harem Collector. You’ve been warned.
Video games should always be about gameplay. If you want to tell an excellent story via a video game, you’re probably better off writing a novel or making a movie. This is why video game stories- even from games are lauded for their stories- tend to be very simple. The point is to provide an engaging, interactive element for the player, after all. This is why games tend to be a poor medium for a character study. This is what makes archetypes so important for storytelling in this medium.
Archetypes (or, if you pay more attention to the internets than English class, character tropes) are basically a short-hand for what a given character is or how they will act. Archetypes are useful to game designers because they are capable of delivering a large amount of information with a small amount of characterization, which is key in game design because very few games are character studies. I know this sounds lazy, but Japanese developers use them, western developers use them, and I’m going to tell you why you should use them.
For example, take Guardians of the Galaxy. Action movies are similar to video games in that studying the characters is not the point, so you need to deliver all the information necessary to describe the characters in a small amount of time. Fantasy novels are the same way- video games should focus on gameplay, action movies on engaging action and good dialogue, fantasy novels on the unique setting (usually). Anyway, by taking the core five characters of GotG, and describing them in 2-4 words, you’ll probably end up with something like this:
Peter Quill- Loveable Rogue
Gamora- Assassin with a Heart
Rocket- Jaded Veteran
Groot- Gentle Giant
Drax- Noble Savage
When the movie opens, we are introduced to Peter Quill by seeing him in action- on a hostile planet, searching for something, but while he does that while listening to a walkman and dancing around. He kicks the local predators out of the way without breaking stride. By the time those opening scenes are over and Quill heads for the planet Nova, we have a bead on his personality- he’s cut from the same cloth as Malcolm Reynolds, Han Solo, or even Bluto Blutarsky and Danny Ocean. Immediately, the audience starts associating attributes to Quill that they don’t necessarily have any evidence for, because of those archetypal connections. The character appears fuller and more complete, because you can draw on that archetype. Later, Quill is given better definition, and the specifics of his personality and how he defies his own archetype are introduced, but the movie’s authors have bought themselves breathing room while also making the experience more satisfying to the audience.
When designing a new character Harem Collector, I find it very useful to say “This character is like X except for Y”. For example, Therese is basically what TV Tropes would call a Lawful Stupid Knight Templar- she is a straightforward, hardcore agent for good who reviles sin and refuses to do evil. This provides a broad map for her character and her behaviour, until later when the differences show up. She talks to Larelle, and accepts her necromantic powers while condemning Larelle’s assault on Lumberhill. This way, you learn that Therese doesn’t believe evil is inherent, and her character gets a little more definition, but the playing audience never feels that Therese is less of a character until they learned that fact. Gargan is like a typical 80’s movie bully and rival, then you start the Virgin Gynocides and learn that he’s actually really dedicated to his job. Meline is a typical imouto character with a huge hard-on for her brother, then you do her Love Quest and (hopefully) pick up on the fact that her dedication to her brother is very much a result of her childhood and family life.
Archetypes are a valuable tool for the game designer, and in hentai specifically, archetypes have a secondary value in that they can be comforting. Hentai draws from a small pool of similar character archetypes (and western porn is an even smaller pool, but that’s kinda sorta a different thing entirely) because when you’re looking to enjoy some hentai, challenging characters will probably just distract you from your purpose. In this case, archetypes serve a useful function of putting the audience at ease, and tipping the audience off as to what this character will react to (and thus, reinforcing the fantasy that you’re a charmer who can romance the panties off anyone).
So don’t worry about your characters being “too typical” or “simple”. Design around archetypes to your heart’s content, and save your innovation for the stuff that’s really important- the gameplay.
By the way, Chibi needs to get some computer equipment repaired before she can work more on Harem Collector or Fairy Side, so starting today she’s doing commissions to raise money for the repairs. Her commissions start at $10 USD, and comes with the added benefit that your commission dollars also benefit Harem Collector’s development. You can see examples of her work here and here and here and here. Contact her at magicwhitelady AT hotmail DOT com for more information.