Stories & Songs (pt 1): Everyone needs a hero
Hello everybody, this is story generation engineer and writing supervisor Kyle, making his debut on the team’s blog. A little about myself: I enjoy long WAAAGH!’s on the beach, watching cartoons, playing video games, and making awesome procedurally-generated RPG’s for handhelds and other mobile devices. My main duties here at Studio Mu and Microventures is to help develop the procedural story generator and integrate it into the game in a meaningful way. I won’t lie, there are scars on my heart from many a year ago, left by the vicious betrayal of a moral-choice system based platformer, but James’ vision of a beautiful future for games has brought me away from my modest plantation in Brazil for one last go. I wanted to make sure I left my mark on the development process, so I’ll be describing my work here for the next few months.
So, to kick this thing into gear, I thought I’d start off with a brief exposition of what I was thinking when Lauren and I first drafted the heroes of MicroVentures.
During James’ initial pitches, the Knight (formerly known as Warrior) was described simply as a loyal champion of justice in service to the king. He obeys without question, and carries virtue on himself like a mantle.
A solid start, but Lauren and I felt that he was too serious in comparison to the overall tone of the game. While such an uncompromising character would make casting your typical fantasy adventures easy, it didn’t really leave a lot of play for us when it came to writing for him. So, I suggested taking him in the direction of the incompetent glory hog.
After all, how hilarious would it be to have a pompous windbag to repeatedly tear down? He gives big speaches, but as soon as he tries to actually do anything, he gets destroyed. Winner!
We immediately rejected that idea. It’s kind of overdone, and it ruined the flow of the game having this useless coward continuously clearing dungeons full of monsters that wanted to eat his succulent flesh. It would be too much of a disconnect between the player’s actions and the information presented. Still, it got us thinking…
Instead of a raging incompetent, what if he was just inexperienced? Fresh out of the academy, full of ideals and dreams, with a grade A can of whoopass to back him up? A character like that has the potential for hijinks and personal growth, without compromising the tone of the game.
The Rogue more or less retained her starting personality. James described her as a heartless bastard, a hardened mercenary who doesn’t care for king or country…until they name the right price, that is.
This was a pretty good start, so the question once again became “How do we make the tone of the character match the tone of the game?”
Deadpan snarker; the comic relief. The rogue became the deliverer of cynical observation and breaker of fourth walls. She is still in conflict with the principles of the other characters (believe me, this will probably come up at least once in any player’s game in the future), but she accepts that she’s along for the ride with them and occupies her time by picking on them.
The wizard was viewed from the start as sort of a mentor or guide to the other heroes, leading them with wisdom and foresight. He also had a great thirst for knowledge, wandering far and wide just for the sake of curiosity. The intent was that this trait would grant us a storytelling opportunity to take the player on an adventure that reveals more of the world and its lore. Powerful and insatiable, if I had to describe him with two words.
Again, Lauren and I were fairly pleased with the direction he was already aimed in, so we only needed to reorient him to match, you guessed it, the game’s humorous tone. I had a suggestion…
The wizard kept his wise, thoughtful personality, but he was a bit quirkier. His vast experience and accumulated knowledge makes him think that others can’t keep up with him, so he tends to explain things in layman’s terms, no matter how easy it is to understand the subject. He also has a penchant for the dramatic, both in how he speaks when he gets excited or when he’s casting spells. He is no less intelligent or powerful, just a bit of a know-it-all.
I hope you enjoyed this little breakdown of the three main heroes. I’ll be discussing more of the writing and story generation techniques in subsequent weeks. Peace out y’all!
– Kyle “may or may not have based his decisions on his favorite characters” Huey