Backer Topic #2: It’s the Apocalypse Again!?

How do you feel about RPG’s protagonists tendency to save the world? I think “small scale” RPG, where most of the action is limited to one region, could be as engaging as running around the whole world. -Seil

Small-scale RPGs aren’t all that uncommon, I think. The mid-range Ultima games (IV-VI) were generally focused on the affairs of a single kingdom. The Fallout series usually looks at an area the size of a medium US state. Persona 4 (unless the secret ending contradicts me) is essentially a morality play set in a Japanese small town. But I could list examples all day- that doesn’t make for a very helpful conversation, now does it?

Unless you’re talking about very short stories, every tale sooner or later has to raise the stakes. The traditional three-act story structure requires that the fundamental conflict change over the course of the second act, so that the climax feels grander and more important (and more satisfying to the audience) than the first act. The Avengers begins with the initial conflict- Loki has stolen the Tesseract and mind controlled a bunch of SHIELD personnel and is enacting some kind of plot- and gradually escalates to the climax- Loki opens a portal to somewhere in space, and an invasion of alien warriors threatens the entire earth. I won’t bore you with an extended lecture on story structure though- other people have done it better and I wasn’t all that great at college-level English anyway.

What RPGs (and, it seems, JRPGs in particular) often due is focus on increasing the scale of the conflict rather than exploring other ways of raising the stakes. In action movies, things often get “personal” at one point- in the Matrix, for example, the scale of the conflict (ie, freeing the human race from the machines’ control) never really changes, but the climax is kicked off when Neo’s mentor, Morpheus, is kidnapped (ie, something specific the hero cares about is threatened, rather than a broader conflict that is difficult for the human mind to properly comprehend). A few games don’t shy away from this. The stakes are raised in Persona 4 when Nanako is put under personal threat.

Another way to raise the stakes in by sheer exhaustion. To get away from the examples from movies and RPGs, in the first silent Hill game the stakes never really change- Harry is looking for his daughter the whole time, and uncovering the mystery doesn’t really change his driving motivation to find her. But by the end of the game, Harry sounds tired and exhausted, having been through hell (thrice!) and (probably) just murdered his only real ally.  The stakes are raised not because anything about the conflict changes, but Harry’s got nothing left but a hail mary play, going all in with his remaining energy and sanity to end the conflict before the conflict ends him.

Shit, I’m listing examples again. The reason why I think a lot of games decide to increase the scale of conflicts rather than finding other ways of raising the stakes is because spectacle is easier than good writing. Not that there’s anything wrong with spectacle, but it’s far harder to get an audience to care about the small things. A big final boss fight against a dragon is easier than, say, a race against time to save a little girl being used as a hostage. The dragon doesn’t need to be “sold” very hard to the audience- as long as it looks bigger and more threatening than anything else the player has fought, that makes it a climax. Getting an audience to really care about a character, a group, or a region is much harder.

Now, I hope you all don’t get the impression that I hate spectacle, or I think smaller conflicts are better- just because something is more difficult to do doesn’t make it automatically more enjoyable. It’s just that broadening the scale of conflict to raise the stakes is easy, and, to be honest, we’re all still figuring out how to tell stories through the medium of video games. Nobody’s got the perfect formula quite yet, and once that happens, well, I think all game developers will be forced to raise the stakes- on their own writing and plot development.

15 Replies to “Backer Topic #2: It’s the Apocalypse Again!?”

  1. Thanks for the interesting read. I have never considered the question in these terms but it makes a whole lot of sense. That said, I’m a sucker for epic tales…

  2. The secret ending of Persona 4 does involve saving the whole world. Without defeating the FINAL boss, the fog would spread and do nasty things to everyone on the planet.

      1. Well, you do need some stuff (I believe it’s getting all, or at least most, of the social links maxed) to actually get to that ending so there’s that.

        But Persona (and its parent series too) has a history of stuff like that so it’s kind of expected.

  3. It’s been over 2 years and you still got a whole lot to complete the game. On an engine that a 6 years old could play with no less. Yet you make profit by “donation”. That’s not cool man. Sooner or later you’ll get report on Patreon and Paypal for adult game profit. Both of them has strict policy on this matter. It’s a free game but you still make profit from it, using other people’s works. At least Gabe (Queen Opala) completes 2 full games before asking for “donation” (money). You haven’t even complete a game and you ask for money. I think you are taking advantage of us porn fan.

    And why does every porn rpg maker “developer” always have something bad going on so they “can’t” make the game. Just complete the game and sell it like everyone else plz.

    1. Patreon’s policies allow for erotic content, so maybe you should do your homework before passing out accusations. And if you don’t like that fact that I’m asking for donations, then don’t donate. You can still play the game for free anyway, so why complain?

    2. Dude, game development is a really tiring and tedious process. Although RPG maker is pretty user friendly compared to other game engines, it still takes time to configure/create assets.

      For most, game development is just a hobby, and sadly real life comes first along with the (very) time consuming day job. Taking a few years to learn on the side and get set up is not unreasonable when balancing all life’s woes.

      I would hardly say he is taking advantage of us. Free is free. Everyone that has donated so far has done so on their own accord.

      As for being reported, anyone can cause you trouble if they want to. Considering all the other games with erotic artwork though, I think this would be one of the last campaigns to be reported/removed.

    3. Make a game yourself, then. As it is you are just throwing fecal matter at someone because they aren’t working fast enough for your liking, and yet you clearly aren’t paying them and therefore have no right to demand anything.

    4. If opala is the only thing you played your not fit to call yourself a porn fan bro. That game isnt finished fully btw there are parts that are unfinished but hey your the porn fan you should know that….secondly no one forces you to donate

  4. Hey just want to say I love your game and was wondering how you make the CGs do you draw them or use some software?? if so what software do you use?

  5. Interesting. I’m kind of a peon with movies, and normally like them if I see them, but I can be more particular with video games. For example, I love dragon’s dogma. The big baddy through the main portion of the game is the dragon, then assuming you take the good path you fight God. It surprised me with that turn out, seeing as how the god was my size and far weaker and with little to no trials before finally killing him. Capcom certainly didn’t perfect that story, but it had a certain charm to it.

    1. I haven’t played Dragon’s Dogma, but I’ve gotten it from friends who have that the pawn mechanics were really the focus of the development. Obviously you want games to be as good as possible in every respect, but when you’re perating on a budget you have to have priorities. For example, multiplayer is very much the focus of Call of Duty’s dev cycle, while a Halo game gets a bit more emphasis on single player as well.

  6. if the world is going to end the chosen 7 will come to save it
    form the badguy it is overused i made game for last year for the indie game maker contest you try to save the world but cant it ends
    that is why i called it end saga

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