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Today I'd like to talk about Mentor Characters and how games should utilize them as an integral part of the game.

Now, you must’ve heard this story before, a protagonist has a mentor character and is very dependent on said mentor. But then close to the climax, the mentor character dies, forcing the protagonist into growing up and fulfilling their character development.

StarWars1

It’s nothing new, and many people know why it keeps getting used. It takes away a safety net for the protagonist so they become independent and makes their victory that much more satisfying for making it in the end by themselves rather than riding on their mentor’s coat tails.

Shame it doesn’t happen in games often.

Oh let me rephrase that, shame it doesn’t happen in GAMEPLAY often.

Yeah, there are enough mentor characters who die in game stories, but usually they only die for the sake of the plot rather than having their deaths affect the gameplay in any way.

Let me say it again, a mentor character is supposed to be a safety net. They’re the characters the main characters have to rely on to grow up before having to take their final steps on their own.

StarWars2
StarWars3

The beautiful thing about games is that they’re an interactive experience. They can make you LIVE the experience of having your safety net taken away and having to get to the end by yourself rather than relying on the mentor as a gameplay feature.

But I’ve yet to see that feeling being pulled off in games.

By comparison, games have already done such great interactive experiences with other story characters, like rivals.

Devil May Cry 3 added a feature that was new in the series where every boss character you defeat immediately gives you a new weapon based on them.
DMCCerberus1 DMCCerberus2

DMCAandR1 

DMCNevan1 DMCNevan2

Except for one boss: Beowulf.
DMCBeowulf1

After Dante defeats him, Beowulf escapes and later meets Vergil, Dante’s rival.

HE kills Beowulf and gets the weapon instead of Dante.

DMCBeowulf2

This not only made Vergil a great rival in story, but in gameplay as well, since just like Dante, Vergil gets stronger and stronger as the story goes on, motivating the players to become better and better to keep up with him.

In story Vergil is Dante’s equal in power, in gameplay he’s a boss you have to fight 3 times and each next boss battle he’s stronger and has new techniques.

This is the kind of interactive story telling that games should do with mentor characters.

It is one thing to have the mentor character constantly give cryptic morals until their inevitable death, it’s another thing to actually have it affect the players.

There are two games that I know of where they came the closest to the feeling of “taking away the safety net”, though like I said, still not perfect.

That would be Megaman X3 and Prince of Persia The Sands of Time.
SafetyNetExample1SafetyNetExample2

Now I’d first like to point out that, in STORY, the first Megaman X did the Mentor Character better. But in GAMEPLAY Megaman X3 did it better because it actually affected something.

The Mentor Character in question is Zero, in his first ever playable appearance.
SafetyNetExample3

In the game, you can go to the Pause Menu and choose to contact Zero. In story, X simply asks him to take over, in gameplay you will now play a character that is stronger than X in almost every way. He has a stronger weapon, he has more health, he even has an attack that X doesn’t have.

Here’s the catch, he will automatically switch back whenever he’s about to face a boss, forcing you to use X in the Boss Fights.

Not only that but if you die while controlling him, you won’t be able to use him ever again.

Naturally, players all around the world would always switch to Zero if there’s a difficult piece of the level coming up. They end up relying on Zero.

But there’s a special boss in the game who you CAN fight with Zero.
SafetyNetExample4

And if you beat him with Zero, he will grab Zero in a deathgrip and explode.

Zero ends up severely damaged, but not before giving his weapon to X.

Now the players are unable to use Zero again, but X is now in gameplay just as powerful as Zero, now that he has his weapon, meaning the game took away the safety net that is Zero and gives X (and by extension the player) the chance to become independent from him.

SafetyNetExample5

Sadly, the problem is that, when you think about it, X DOESN’T become independent. It only reinforced that he IS dependent on Zero. The only way X was able to become as powerful as Zero was if he had Zero’s weapon.

Look, out of the Original Trilogy of Star Wars, A New Hope is actually my least favourite of them (Yes, I prefer Return of the Jedi with the Ewoks, so what?), but eventually Luke didn’t copy Obi-Wan to become a hero, he became a hero because he became his own being. He didn’t win the first Death Star battle because he beat Darth Vader with a Lightsaber battle like Obi-Wan tried to do (no, that’s reserved for Return of the Jedi) but because he was a great pilot and did the impossible shot into the Thermal Exhaust Port.

SafetyNetExample9

Luke became an independent character because of his own skills, not by taking Obi-Wan’s skills. Obi-Wan was just the safety net that, when taken away, awakened Luke to grow up and become a hero in his own right.

So the set up is there for Megaman X3, but the final detail just forced a bit of a bad implication.

The game that did that detail better was Prince of Persia The Sands of Time, and ironically it is NOT with a Mentor Character.

It’s with a Magical Dagger.
SafetyNetExample6

For those who don’t know, Prince of Persia The Sands of Time is a game where you play a Prince who found a Dagger of Time. With it, he can reverse time to escape harm, which comes in handy in a game full of death traps and parkour.

Because the game is filled with death traps, some of them you can’t POSSIBLY see coming, it makes players rely on the Dagger of Time to reverse time and be ahead of those traps.

Yes, I know this is Forgotten Sands, shut up.

Naturally, in the climax (heh heh, that means a bit more if you played the game) the dagger gets stolen.

Suddenly you can’t rely on the dagger anymore, and thus the Prince (and again, by extension the player) is forced to go further without a safety net and having to rely on their own skills.

In theory, this would be one of the greatest moments in interactive story telling as the player would experience the loss of something they relied on and having to rely on their other skills to become independent.

SafetyNetExample8

Shame said section is probably one of the most frustrating sections in the whole damn game.

I mean, my god, I get what they were going for, but if there’s any flaw in this game, it’s the combat system. It’s repetitive. You use an attack your enemy can’t block, and then you use the finishing move with the dagger. Rinse and repeat ad nauseam. There’s no tactics to it, it’s a chore.

Sadly, THAT’s the skill they focus on during the Dagger-less section, the terribly designed combat.

Thankfully there ARE enough parkour moments during the dagger-less section, but that’s what they should’ve focused on, rather than sprinkle around the terrible combat moments in it which ruined the whole flow.

So in conclusion, I’ve yet to find a game display the safety net idea as well as other games have done with rival characters, and I’d like to see that done well.

If there’s a game you know that you think DID do it right, you’re welcome to tell me. Games are still a relatively new medium and while people like to say that there’s nothing original to do in games anymore, I feel there are actually a lot of basic story stuff that games still need to learn to incorporate it succesfully.

  • Mood: Optimism
  • Listening to: Fireworks (Cover) - JonTron
  • Reading: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Theatre Play
  • Watching: The screen of my TV, my laptop screen is broken...
  • Playing: Monkey Island 2
  • Eating: Food
  • Drinking: Drinks

Today I'd like to talk about what games can learn from the Theatre play; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

People who know me personally would have heard me spout out how Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is my most favourite story of all time. And I don't mean that lightly.

This play very much defined my current outlook of life. It taught me to value the time I have with the people around me, as well as value the little things in life.

But most important of all, it sealed the message in my head that everyone is a protagonist of their own story, which eventually translated to my personal quote: "Every idiot can become a hero".

But I'm getting ahead of myself, what is the story of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and what should games actually learn about it?

Warning, I'm going to spoil the whole story, but there's a huge probability that not many people will come rushing to Netflix to watch this even despite my fanboying about it. If you do, though, thanks for humouring me.

MVP

Now, without further ado, my summary of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead!

"I want to go home..." "Don't let him confuse you..."
Ros: "I want to go home..."
Guil: "Don't let him confuse you..."

The story's about two minor characters from Hamlet, they're called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

I'll give you a minute to catch your breath at such a revelation.

They're introduced by having no memory whatsoever about who they are, where they are and why they're there. The only thing they're certain about is that they've been spinning coins for a long time and it always lands heads for some reason.

They only know their names due to a quick flashback where a messenger called them Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, though from the context of the flashback, it's difficult to realize who's who...

But for the sake of consistency here, Gary Oldman on the left is Rosencrantz and Tim Roth on the right is Guildenstern.

RaGADThird

The two have very opposite personalities.

Rosencrantz is optimistic, he's playful and naïve, but there's a bit of a scientific mind to him. He takes things rather literally, but when it comes to common sense, he at times becomes the sane man over Guildenstern.

Guildenstern is cynical, he's serious and assertive, but while he is the more philosophic out of the two, he tends to have a skewed sense of priorities. He's smarter than Rosencrantz and has to put up with his lower intelligence, but there are times when a more simple-minded approach overcomes his rather complex way of handling things.

They come across a group of actors, with the head of the actors offering to present an erotic play for our two heroes, with them participating. Realizing they're not so much actors as much as a pimp and a rable of prostitutes, Guildenstern refuses, while Rosencrantz, whether out of innocence or out of curiosity depending on the play, is kinda interested in learning what the players actually do, though still reluctant on actually participating himself.

Eventually to humour Rosencrantz, Guildenstern wins a bet with the players to make them do a play, which is full of "blood, love and rhetoric". (Psst, it's Hamlet)
Tragedians

Not truly interested, though, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern just walk away.
RaGADSecond

They somehow end up in Hamlet's castle, where they meet King Claudius and Queen Gertrude, Hamlet's Uncle turned Step-father and his Mother, now turned Step-Aunt. If that confuses you, just read Hamlet (which may confuse some people even more) or just take it as it is.

From the words of Claudius and Gertrude, they've found out something more about themselves, apparently they're Hamlet's childhood friends.

And thus they get the mission they got in the actual play of Hamlet, to spy on him and find out why he's acting mad lately.

From here on out the story goes in a format of this:

RaGAD
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern mess around with stuff waiting for things to happen,

HamletWithRosAndGuil
And then scenes of Hamlet happening from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's point of view.

What's great about this is that this format works for both people who haven't watched Hamlet as well as people who did. Because Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the Hamlet play never got the full picture. And neither do they here. Which means for the people who HAVEN'T seen Hamlet, they'll be as confused as both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. But people who HAVE seen Hamlet will get the little injokes and just enjoy how the two characters were apparently around to see small tidbits of the Hamlet story.

Eventually they come across the players/actors/prostitutes again, which brightens Hamlet's day a lot more than the presence of his supposed childhood friends. Hamlet wants them to do an existing play called "The Murder of Gonzago", albeit one that he heavily edits for some reason.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern get sneakpeaks of the play during the player's rehearsals, and something that audiences will probably note is how the play very much reflects the story of Hamlet and eventually Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, which finally ends with everyone dead, including them.

RaGADFinal

And lo and behold, everything the play showed ends up happening in real life. Claudius is shocked at the play for some reason and stops it prematurely, which for some reason makes Hamlet very happy. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern get a letter from Claudius, who tells them they should bring Hamlet to England and give the message to the English king. Then they find out Hamlet killed some guy named Polonius and must find this Polonius guy's corpse. They eventually end up on a boat to England where they find out the message is for the English King to execute Hamlet. They decide not to tell Hamlet and they get attacked by pirates.

Again, in the eyes of audiences who haven't seen Hamlet, these are all a series of random events which Rosencrantz and Guildenstern themselves are completely confused about as they simply get pushed in one situation or another, while in the eyes of audiences who HAVE seen Hamlet, this would open their eyes on how Rosencrantz and Guildenstern never had control of the situation at all. Suddenly these two characters whom people for ages have been calling treacherous traitors are now seen as two poor confused individuals who were way over their heads.

"There there, it's alright, I'll see we're all right..."
Guil: "There there, it's alright, I'll see we're all right..."

Sadly it doesn't end well for them, because just like in the play, they end up getting hanged, because Hamlet apparently switched the letter they got with his own forged letter, which orders the English king to execute them instead of Hamlet.

Now, you might be wondering, what exactly about this story is so "revolutionary" that games should learn about?

Is it the symbolism of how stories reflect real life and vice versa?
Is it the required chemistry of two actors to pull off such opposite yet rather similar characters?
Is it the fact that it shows a story from the perspectives of two characters who aren't the typical hero type?
Is it the many layers of complications the story gives that after the characters die, they somehow start back at the beginning of the story again?

Well, while those four things truly are qualities that I appreciate in any medium, whether it's games, movies or TV shows, there's actually a more simple thing that I find games should focus on.

Giving the characters the time to be themselves.

Let's get back to what I said in the middle of the recap:

From here on out the story goes in a format of this:

RaGAD
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern mess around with stuff waiting for things to happen,

HamletWithRosAndGuil
And then scenes of Hamlet happening from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's point of view.

This format sounds repetitive, and I'm sure it is for some people out there, but think about it, isn't this similar to how games are?

One time you're messing around with the gameplay, then suddenly you're following along in the actual plot, whether through cutscenes or a mission.

The big difference here is this: the story of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern does not put the characters in constant dread.

Most games have this story of "A great evil is taking over the world! You must stop them now!" or "This new Invention will destroy the world! Destroy it before it destroys US!" or "The world IS pretty much destroyed! Survive this apocalyptic world!".

I know there are many that do something else, hell some high profile ones do something else like GTA, but the point is, this is the standard of video game stories.

RAWR! Imma kill everyone in my path! That's how heroic I am!
Kratos: "RAWR! I'll kill everyone in my path! That's how heroic I am!"

Because of that, you almost never truly get to see the characters be themselves in a "normal" situation.

Heck, running around in a city invested with monsters is a "normal" situation in games.

You don't see characters interact with each other that doesn't involve "how do we stop this" or "we have to do something" and the like.

Everything has the fate of the world depending on it.

Instead, what's the two scenes in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that's known to most people who've seen it?



These scenes made me care a lot more about the two characters than any growling crying scenes game characters have ever shown me.

It's not about sympathy, it's not about going "Oh no, my poor baby" and caring about them because they've been through "so much torment".

It's about me seeing the characters and saying "Yup, I'd like to talk to them. I'd like to be friends with them, they seem like interesting guys to hang around with."

Not only that, but I feel a connection between them.

This is not a moment of "Oh my god, they're so badass when they work together to defeat a common enemy!" or "Awwww, they give moral support to one another before the final fight!".

It's a moment where they have nothing to do. So they start doing things together. They talk. They play games. They disagree, they agree, they're being HUMAN BEINGS!

Mindblow

Tell me, how many games have you played where two characters are playing games together? When's the last time you've played a game where two characters are waiting for something to happen and start talking to each other about whatever pops into their minds, something that DOESN'T relate to how evil or dangerous their situation is?

Now to be fair, the question some people will have now is "okay, how do you suggest we put those moments in the games then? I don't feel comfortable about being forced to play a mini-game of baseball with the characters."

Now first of all, I'd like to point out that said baseball mini-game was actually pretty fun in a certain game:

Yakuza_4_cover

But see, that's the beauty of games. You can make stuff OPTIONAL.

Have a cutscene be an unlockable or hidden thing that would happen if you do certain things in the game, like this in Sonic Unleashed:


Or do something fun by modifying the existing gameplay.

You have a game that's a hack-n-slash where you kill enemies with your sword?

Well, give them a part-time job where they have to perform as a knight at a play, they'd have a wooden sword instead of a real one and the "enemies" you fight are actors who overreact to getting hit. Maybe add audience sounds as the script tells you to be defeated in the end and have the audience GASP at the dramatic death scene.

There's no need to turn it into a whole Quick Time Event mini game, just be creative with the gameplay system you already have.

Or put your character and their friends in an elevator in the longest tower in the game. You're pretty much not going to do anything anyway, have the characters cough a bit at the silence and then have a small conversation like:

NPC#1: "So... I've been thinking about asking Sonia to marry me..."
Player: "No way! You serious?"
NPC#2: "FINALLY!"
NPC#1: "Yeah, it's just that I haven't been able to find the right ring yet..."
Player: "Oh that's not a problem, you want our help with that?"
NPC#1: "Thanks! I've never been the best at jewelry."
NPC#2: "Don't worry, man, we got you covere..."
*Ding*
NPC#2: "COVER ME!" *Bang bang bang*
*Gameplay resumes*

In conclusion, it doesn't hurt to put scenes in a game that do not involve the fate of the world. Sometimes just adding a bit of humanity to the characters is enough reason to keep the scene in.

  • Mood: Optimism
  • Listening to: Beginning - One OK Rock
  • Reading: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Theatre Play
  • Watching: The screen of my TV, my laptop screen is broken...
  • Playing: Secret of Monkey Island
  • Eating: Food
  • Drinking: Drinks
I'll be honest, this review is very specifically tailored for :iconcrescotheeko:, as he lent me this book specifically so he can hear my opinion on it.
Now that I've fully read it, I've decided to put my opinion in a full documented review so there would be actual structure to my criticisms.

This is a comic book written AND illustrated by Tess Garman and Teagan Gavet, a duo known by the name of Blotch.
And I would just like to say that for all the criticisms I give, I'm not going to personally attack them, saying stuff like "They're stupid for writing things like this" and all that, because in the end I'll always have some respect for duos who've come together for a common cause, and in the end, two people doing both the writing AND the art is still a feat on it's own.
On the other hand, a professional artist should also be able to take the criticism and learn from it, especially when the criticism comes from a nobody like me :P

So without further ado, the story.



The story starts with a prologue. It shows several people getting murdered by a Tiger and his gang. (Oh yeah, the characters are anthropomorphic characters).
A rabbit was able to send a message before he got shot, which gets intercepted by a bear named Mac, who apparently has a bunch of sled dogs working for him.

The leader of the sled dogs is named Pi, the only female of the group. She has a second-in-command called London, some comic-relief guy called Nickel and two twin dogs called Geri and Freki. They got the mission to bring a bossy warthog called Major Oleg and a medic called McKay to the site of the prologue.

And thus the adventure begins. They eventually come across a frozen lake which apparently has very thin ice, which they decide to cross rather than circle around it.

As they tried to cross it, they hear a gunshot, which shocks a bunch of them and makes them run to the ground, the medic breaking the ice and almost falling into the frozen lake.

They then find out the gunshot came from some stray dogs called the "Maguruq", who are threatening a reindeer. A quick scuffle occurs and they save the reindeer.

They decide to rest in a cabin somewhere before coming across another lake, this time with a lot of broken ice floating in it. They come up with this plan to put the sled on a big piece of ice and pulling that ice to the other side.

They get some trouble by some crows, who later get revealed to have been sent by an ice bear.

Eventually they were still able to get across and that's where this book ends.



Now, the biggest problem :iconcrescotheeko: seems to have with the story is one of the earlier events, which is when Pi orders the group to go through the frozen lake with thin ice. I personally thought I'd be able to find a counter-argument once I've read the whole thing, but I would have to agree that it's pretty stupid, especially in combination with Pi giving a speech about how much she cares about her group and all that. The second-in-command London even outright says it's better to be safe than sorry and to simply go around it. But without any reason whatsoever, Pi just says "We'll cross". There's no argument, she just says "We'll cross". My best guess would be that this is supposed to support Pi's character flaw, that she lives for danger and all that, but she's not called out on it. A flaw doesn't feel like a deliberate character flaw unless said character is called out on it, but that never happens.

In fact, the only characters who get called out on their character flaws are Major Oleg's, simply because he's the designated character to "not trust".

I'm sorry, but that really doesn't work, it makes the main characters feel like they're the writer's little favourites rather than actual characters.

But the thing is though, in the end, I actually don't find this moment as insulting as :iconcrescotheeko: seems to find it.
I can understand how this moment can paint the whole thing in a negative light for him, because I know he experiences stories in an event-to-event basis.
And that's okay, different people have different tastes. But I myself am kind of a dialogue person.

Someone like :iconcrescotheeko: would from this moment on read over the dialogue, coloured by this one event that ruined the character's characterization. I myself as a dialogue-person am generally able to read the bonds of the characters as they talk to each other. Even if Pi doesn't show it in her actions, I can at least appreciate the IMPLIED bond whe has with the other characters.

But here in lies MY big problem with the story. And that's the lack of character establishments.

Or rather, the lack of MEMORABLE character establishments.

It really says something that I actually had to open the book again to find out what the names of the characters were, because the book really didn't invest me enough to remember them off the top of my head.

At the VERY least give me some spectacle, like:

I know this book is more serious and "realistic" than that, but you've got Anthopomorphic animals! USE IT!

Say what you want about Sonic the Hedgehog, I can tell who Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Shadow are the moment I see a group picture of them.

I can wipe my memory and pop in the disc of Sonic Adventure and I'd still be able to tell which character is which.
Sonic? Oh he's the blue hedgehog that introduced himself by running on the walls of the city.
Tails? Oh he's the two-tailed fox that introduced himself by crashlanding with his airplane.
Knuckles? Oh he's the red echidna (okay, I wouldn't guess he's an echidna, but whatever) that suddenly attacked Sonic for the Emeralds he has.

Instead, all these characters are introduced in a bar, talking to one another.
Well, I take that back, Geri and Freki are introduced by being behind the other characters as they introduced McKay and Major Olegg to the group.
But there's nothing memorable about them.

There are only a few characters that I could actually remember off the top of my head, Pi because she's the main character, London because he talks with Pi a lot, Nickel because he's the obvious comic relief and Major Olegg because he's the only Warthog in the group.

But even then, the only character out of those that got any impression out of me was Pi and Nickel.

Pi is obvious, she's the main character and the leader *coughmarysuecough*, but Nickel as a comic relief only got an impression out of me... because he annoyed the hell out of me.

I GET what they were going for, this comic relief who also has a use in the group, and even though he screws up he's also proud of he screw-ups, making him "mature" about it.

But what I experienced instead was just a character being self deprecating while showing no signs of doing ANYTHING about them.

Of course it also doesn't help that everybody goes by this attitude towards him with "Oh, that rascally Nickel..." instead of actually calling him out on it. He's a comic relief, without the actual relief part.



Lastly, what also annoyed me was the art.

No, it's not terrible, in fact, taken on it's own, it's very pretty. I mean, these artists have done a great job drawing the detailed fur on each of the characters and the snowy landscape.
But in terms of character design, as pretty as they are, they're bland.

They have anthropomorphic characters, but they don't do much to differentiate the characters. (In fact, I wrote an article about character design recently, telling exactly how to do it: minhsgamephilosophy.wordpress.… )

It took me quite a while to figure out who is who, and I was only able to tell who Pi was because she's the only female of the group (though to be fair, giving her a mane to make her female is actually kinda smart).

They're different types of dogs, I get that, yes, but in terms of colour schemes and body types, they're all very much the same.

When I see a group shot, I don't see Pi, London, Nickel and others, I see a blur of characters blending into each other.

To be fair, it's their art style, and the colours do give the atmosphere of the icy area they're in, but I'm just saying that it doesn't help me in identifying the different characters.

I actually confused Nickel with Freki a lot more times than I should.

That's another thing, the icy environment.

As beautiful as they are, I got thrown out of the experience several times because I didn't realize we're in a different area.
I suddenly saw Major Olegg talking and I was like "Wait, wasn't he below the hill?" and then I was "Oh, we ARE below the hill!".
In movies the Director of Photography has to find the best spots to film a scene and frame it in a way that makes it look distinct.
As an artist, you don't have that limitation, you can frame everything any way you want, and instead you failed at that basic thing.

Be creative, put several landmarks on the different areas that make me quickly register which area is which.
The fact that everything is an icy environment is no excuse, ice doesn't destroy hill formations or completely cover specifically shaped lakes or hide very high and distinct trees.

Something that :iconcrescotheeko: also criticized is the villain showing up in the prologue and nowhere else in this book.
Personally I can understand that they want to save his appearance for a later book, but the thing is that a book, whether it's part of a trilogy or not, should still have a beginning, middle and an end.

Each book should have had it's own little story that's part of a bigger whole, and I didn't get that with this book. I felt like it was a bunch of random events that just come and go.

Having the villain show up at the end of the book would have at LEAST contained and bookended it, but we don't have that. With a prologue like that you should at least make the reader feel the presence of the villain despite his absence, but that not the case either.

So with that in mind, I do have to agree with :iconcrescotheeko: here.

In conclusion, I like the art, I think it's very pretty and nicely detailed. I also like the dialogue for how it's written. I'm just not invested in the characters and their personalities and actions don't help me become interested in the next book as much as it should. The character design is pretty, but also bland, not helping me differentiate the different characters besides the main character, who in itself is very Mary Sue, even if she DOES have character flaws. (You don't need to be a flawless character to be a Mary Sue)
  • Mood: Optimism
  • Listening to: Insecticide - Kunoichi/Nighshsade
  • Reading: Those Two Guys Screenplay
  • Watching: The screen of my TV, my laptop screen is broken...
  • Playing: Shinobi (PS2)
  • Eating: Food
  • Drinking: Drinks
Yeah, I've been working on updating my Game Philosophy website.
It's still nothing special, but it at least looks a lot better than what it previously looked like.

Give it a look, if you're interested.
minhsgamephilosophy.wordpress.…
  • Mood: Optimism
  • Listening to: Endless Possibilities (by Bowling For Soup)
  • Reading: Those Two Guys Screenplay
  • Watching: The screen of my TV, my laptop screen is broken...
  • Playing: Thief
  • Eating: Food
  • Drinking: Drinks
Yeah, it's only been 2 days since my previous journal and already I'm writing another one.
You could say I've been really active these past few days, and I seem to have some kind of andrenaline rush to do as many creative things as possible.

So anyway, Action Comedy.
I've seen so many Action Movies that give you that awesome feeling of suspense and scenes where the characters end up doing death defying stunts and all that.
I've also seen many Comedies where you laugh your ass off due to a hilarious physical scene, like two poor chaps who try to get something heavy up the stairs.
And lastly I've also seen movies where you have both suspense and humour at the same time, like Jackie Chan movies.

Now notice how the previous two are very general, since for the Action Movies you can very easily picture either Mission Impossible, but you could just as easily picture James Bond or the Matrix. For the Comedy it could just as easily be Laurel and Hardy or Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin. But the third one I specifically say Jackie Chan.

That's because generally, nobody does the combination of the two genres as well as Jackie Chan. At least in my opinion.

Yes there are funny scenes in Action Movies, even within the actual Action Scenes. And yes, Comedies ARE able to get suspense from the subject manner of their Comedy, heck I'll quote Leo Rosten here: "Humour is the affectionate communication of insight". Comedy is a great way of demonstrating the tragedy or to put more context to the darker subject matters.

It's also again why "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" is my favourite story of all time, and yes I WOULD have married that play since I love it so much. Sadly I don't think Tom Stoppard would have approved of that marriage. Mostly because he has no idea who I am.

But back to the point, why is it that Jackie Chan's mixture of Action Comedy just works so well for me?

Well personally, I think it's because he builds on both the strengths of Action and Comedy individually and made them work together so well.

Action and Comedy is all about build up. You bring the context into the scene as quick as possible and you keep building up from there, adding twists and turns along the way until it comes to an awesome climax.

In hindsight, the lack of the above seems to be a problem with current Action and Comedy movies nowadays since they tend to just stagnate in one place until it goes to the next scene, but that's for another time. It's not like there AREN'T current Action and Comedy movies that do that anymore, I'm just talking the majority here.

Anyway with Jackie Chan movies there's a very simple context, and it just builds up around that context. He has something the bad guys want, the bad guys want to get him, oh no, he's running away from them, crap a truck is in the way, oh don't worry, Jackie does a funny stunt to get away from that guy using the truck, oh wait the enemy now thought of something to do with the truck, etc. etc.

When writing action, it's not always about what kind of long Shakespearean Soliloquys you can put in a scene, sometimes it just works to have a simple concept and have the characters interact around it.

What makes Jackie Chan scenes work is that it's a two-way street. Yes, many fans simply look at Jackie as he does his stunts, but I personally constantly look at the bad guys. Just their expressions and their looks of surprise as they suddenly realize that Jackie expertly dodged something in a way they didn't expect. But the bad guys aren't stupid either, they constantly think on the fly too. They also pick up random stuff on the ground or in the room and try throwing it against Jackie.

There are people who seem to have this idea that serious action and comedic slapstick don't belong together. I disagree, I think just as much as Comedic Writing can help Dramatic Writing, so can Comedic Slapstick help Action Choreography. It humanizes the fighters. It makes us care about them and makes us root for their survival.

Sure you can't have literal Tom and Jerry Cartoon physics in the exact same scene where the characters suddenly have Hunger Games types of injury, but that is why new stories should be made specifically tailored to the right mixture of Slapstick and Action.

I mean think about it, it's not like a guy being hit with a hammer and walking dizzily is any less realistic than the kinds of action sequences you see nowadays where someone is shot and just walks it off as a flesh wound. At the very least the slapstick shows the character as being vulnerable, which is exactly what is missing from Action Movies nowadays to begin with.

Bottom line, just have a simple context for your scenes, add more and more complications to it that work for and against the main character, have it be a two-way street where the villains also think for themselves and just add some humanity to the characters by adding some vulnerability with the slapstick.

Oh, and maybe also have characters that are likable, that may help too.
  • Mood: Optimism
  • Listening to: Endless Possibilities (by Bowling For Soup)
  • Reading: Those Two Guys Screenplay
  • Watching: The screen of my TV, my laptop screen is broken...
  • Playing: Thief
  • Eating: Food
  • Drinking: Drinks

Today I'd like to talk about Mentor Characters and how games should utilize them as an integral part of the game.

Now, you must’ve heard this story before, a protagonist has a mentor character and is very dependent on said mentor. But then close to the climax, the mentor character dies, forcing the protagonist into growing up and fulfilling their character development.

StarWars1

It’s nothing new, and many people know why it keeps getting used. It takes away a safety net for the protagonist so they become independent and makes their victory that much more satisfying for making it in the end by themselves rather than riding on their mentor’s coat tails.

Shame it doesn’t happen in games often.

Oh let me rephrase that, shame it doesn’t happen in GAMEPLAY often.

Yeah, there are enough mentor characters who die in game stories, but usually they only die for the sake of the plot rather than having their deaths affect the gameplay in any way.

Let me say it again, a mentor character is supposed to be a safety net. They’re the characters the main characters have to rely on to grow up before having to take their final steps on their own.

StarWars2
StarWars3

The beautiful thing about games is that they’re an interactive experience. They can make you LIVE the experience of having your safety net taken away and having to get to the end by yourself rather than relying on the mentor as a gameplay feature.

But I’ve yet to see that feeling being pulled off in games.

By comparison, games have already done such great interactive experiences with other story characters, like rivals.

Devil May Cry 3 added a feature that was new in the series where every boss character you defeat immediately gives you a new weapon based on them.
DMCCerberus1 DMCCerberus2

DMCAandR1 

DMCNevan1 DMCNevan2

Except for one boss: Beowulf.
DMCBeowulf1

After Dante defeats him, Beowulf escapes and later meets Vergil, Dante’s rival.

HE kills Beowulf and gets the weapon instead of Dante.

DMCBeowulf2

This not only made Vergil a great rival in story, but in gameplay as well, since just like Dante, Vergil gets stronger and stronger as the story goes on, motivating the players to become better and better to keep up with him.

In story Vergil is Dante’s equal in power, in gameplay he’s a boss you have to fight 3 times and each next boss battle he’s stronger and has new techniques.

This is the kind of interactive story telling that games should do with mentor characters.

It is one thing to have the mentor character constantly give cryptic morals until their inevitable death, it’s another thing to actually have it affect the players.

There are two games that I know of where they came the closest to the feeling of “taking away the safety net”, though like I said, still not perfect.

That would be Megaman X3 and Prince of Persia The Sands of Time.
SafetyNetExample1SafetyNetExample2

Now I’d first like to point out that, in STORY, the first Megaman X did the Mentor Character better. But in GAMEPLAY Megaman X3 did it better because it actually affected something.

The Mentor Character in question is Zero, in his first ever playable appearance.
SafetyNetExample3

In the game, you can go to the Pause Menu and choose to contact Zero. In story, X simply asks him to take over, in gameplay you will now play a character that is stronger than X in almost every way. He has a stronger weapon, he has more health, he even has an attack that X doesn’t have.

Here’s the catch, he will automatically switch back whenever he’s about to face a boss, forcing you to use X in the Boss Fights.

Not only that but if you die while controlling him, you won’t be able to use him ever again.

Naturally, players all around the world would always switch to Zero if there’s a difficult piece of the level coming up. They end up relying on Zero.

But there’s a special boss in the game who you CAN fight with Zero.
SafetyNetExample4

And if you beat him with Zero, he will grab Zero in a deathgrip and explode.

Zero ends up severely damaged, but not before giving his weapon to X.

Now the players are unable to use Zero again, but X is now in gameplay just as powerful as Zero, now that he has his weapon, meaning the game took away the safety net that is Zero and gives X (and by extension the player) the chance to become independent from him.

SafetyNetExample5

Sadly, the problem is that, when you think about it, X DOESN’T become independent. It only reinforced that he IS dependent on Zero. The only way X was able to become as powerful as Zero was if he had Zero’s weapon.

Look, out of the Original Trilogy of Star Wars, A New Hope is actually my least favourite of them (Yes, I prefer Return of the Jedi with the Ewoks, so what?), but eventually Luke didn’t copy Obi-Wan to become a hero, he became a hero because he became his own being. He didn’t win the first Death Star battle because he beat Darth Vader with a Lightsaber battle like Obi-Wan tried to do (no, that’s reserved for Return of the Jedi) but because he was a great pilot and did the impossible shot into the Thermal Exhaust Port.

SafetyNetExample9

Luke became an independent character because of his own skills, not by taking Obi-Wan’s skills. Obi-Wan was just the safety net that, when taken away, awakened Luke to grow up and become a hero in his own right.

So the set up is there for Megaman X3, but the final detail just forced a bit of a bad implication.

The game that did that detail better was Prince of Persia The Sands of Time, and ironically it is NOT with a Mentor Character.

It’s with a Magical Dagger.
SafetyNetExample6

For those who don’t know, Prince of Persia The Sands of Time is a game where you play a Prince who found a Dagger of Time. With it, he can reverse time to escape harm, which comes in handy in a game full of death traps and parkour.

Because the game is filled with death traps, some of them you can’t POSSIBLY see coming, it makes players rely on the Dagger of Time to reverse time and be ahead of those traps.

Yes, I know this is Forgotten Sands, shut up.

Naturally, in the climax (heh heh, that means a bit more if you played the game) the dagger gets stolen.

Suddenly you can’t rely on the dagger anymore, and thus the Prince (and again, by extension the player) is forced to go further without a safety net and having to rely on their own skills.

In theory, this would be one of the greatest moments in interactive story telling as the player would experience the loss of something they relied on and having to rely on their other skills to become independent.

SafetyNetExample8

Shame said section is probably one of the most frustrating sections in the whole damn game.

I mean, my god, I get what they were going for, but if there’s any flaw in this game, it’s the combat system. It’s repetitive. You use an attack your enemy can’t block, and then you use the finishing move with the dagger. Rinse and repeat ad nauseam. There’s no tactics to it, it’s a chore.

Sadly, THAT’s the skill they focus on during the Dagger-less section, the terribly designed combat.

Thankfully there ARE enough parkour moments during the dagger-less section, but that’s what they should’ve focused on, rather than sprinkle around the terrible combat moments in it which ruined the whole flow.

So in conclusion, I’ve yet to find a game display the safety net idea as well as other games have done with rival characters, and I’d like to see that done well.

If there’s a game you know that you think DID do it right, you’re welcome to tell me. Games are still a relatively new medium and while people like to say that there’s nothing original to do in games anymore, I feel there are actually a lot of basic story stuff that games still need to learn to incorporate it succesfully.

  • Mood: Optimism
  • Listening to: Fireworks (Cover) - JonTron
  • Reading: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Theatre Play
  • Watching: The screen of my TV, my laptop screen is broken...
  • Playing: Monkey Island 2
  • Eating: Food
  • Drinking: Drinks

Journal History

deviantID

XNinjaRed
Huy Minh Le
Artist | Student | Film & Animation
Netherlands
:iconapinkishblue::iconxninjared:

Favourite genre of music: Pop/Rock
Favourite photographer: My father?
Favourite style of art: Manga
Operating System: Windows XP
Favourite cartoon character: The Grim Reaper
Personal Quote: "It's not Survival of the Fittests, it's Survival of the ones who dare to cheat."
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:iconcrescotheeko:
CrescoTheEKO Featured By Owner Edited Nov 5, 2015
Voice acting tips from a voice actor!
--> www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEuurm…

Dit was een handige video en ik denk dat dit heel handig kan zijn voor toekomstige projecten. :3
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:iconxninjared:
XNinjaRed Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2015  Student Filmographer
Inderdaad, het laat het ook meteen in praktijk zien.
We zullen deze tips sowieso kunnen gebruiken wanneer we de final voices van Those Two Guys opnemen in mijn sound studio, want we zullen dan ook naast elkaar staan en tegen elkaar praten, waarvan we ook echt kunnen reageren op elkaar. Het handige is wel dat bewegen tijdens de voice acting al in ons zit, in beide onze temporary voices deden we al de bewegingen met de acting. Het is nog het inleven van de karakters en emotions goed doen dat we langzamerhand aan moeten wennen en perfecten.
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:iconcrescotheeko:
CrescoTheEKO Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2014
:w00t: :party: Happy Birthday!! :party: :w00t:
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:iconxninjared:
XNinjaRed Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2014  Student Filmographer
Thanks, buddy :D
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:iconcrescotheeko:
CrescoTheEKO Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2014
You're welcome! ;3
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:icon64supernintendo:
64SuperNintendo Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013  Student Filmographer
Happy birthday!
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:iconjannoo:
jannoo Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2012
Hmm, it's a long time ago you uploaded something.... When will you upload something new? =D
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:iconlanprowerkopaka:
LanProwerKopaka Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2011
Hey, I've tagged you!
[link]
Hope that's okay. :D
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:iconsimmszs:
Simmszs Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank u much for the dA watch :dummy:
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:icontsuki-soraruki:
Tsuki-SoraRuki Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
:icongroupjoinplz: :iconcreation-inspiration:
we're so honored you join this group
here are a things you need to know about CI
more information is here
for the rest I wish you a great time at Creation-Inspiration
and feel free to upload your creations anytime ^-^
regards, Crew Of CI
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