Is saving the Element Crystals still a thing?

V_Aero

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Hey all,

we like discussing about tropes. And saving the Element Crystals is a very old one. Actually it's a good excuse to let the player travel around the world for the next 5 to 10 hours, exploring different types of (RTP) caves and temples. Maybe this is the reason why so many developers at least had thought about this trope. I admit, I had. And my friends also had this idea. Because of these reasons.

Nevertheless, this story element is too cliched. Or isn't? It isn't dead, as in Marvel's Avengers they are searching the Infinity Stones - not Element Crystals but still the same. Probably it is okay, as in the end the bad guy has them.

So, why did I start this thread? Because I'm curious what other players think about it. And because I'm still thinking about using this one >_< I want the player to have freedom. Hiding Element crystals therefore sounds like an acceptable idea to motivate the player to explore my world. Commonly known alternatives are "Oh no, this reactor is protected by 3 shield generators around the continent, we must put them down" (Horizon Zero Dawn). Such sentences are already well known and maybe not well-appreciated by gamers so I hesitate continuing my storyline like this.

What are your thoughts?
 

RCXDan

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It's a good fallback trope. Hell, I use it in the form of ten elemental keys for my game.

What tends to get me excited though is if some of the Big Plot Coupon crystals can get stolen/the bad guys get it before you. Like it'd be a good way to introduce realistic tension since hey, someone else got the thing you need.

Do you fight to get it back? Should you even get it in the first place, if the crystal provides something significant for the place it's currently in? What does the crystal mean to anybody it's close to, if they even know it exists?

Lots of ways to have fun with this one.
 

ultrament2

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If it has appropriate buildup and storyline plot-excuse tie-ins, I don't think the player would mind. Searching for McGruffins is a long-lived JRPG trope. Because remember, it's not just about the journey, it's about getting there.
 

D.L. Yomegami

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Tropes aren't bad. I'd even argue cliches aren't bad. It's all in the execution; people are more likely to roll their eyes and sigh if it plays out exactly the same way as it did a million times before.

I use this particular trope myself, at least a couple times across my numerous ideas. My main idea has them in the form of "crystal engines," which unlike the usual iteration of the elemental crystal idea were actually built by humanity in order to stabilize the world after a huge calamity. They're not exactly "elemental" crystals (at the moment I'm thinking they represent the four states of matter, but I'm also considering just not having them represent anything at all and the number is just how many needed to be built to get things back in order). I also play with it in that, at least initially, the protagonist isn't trying to save them.

In general this is one of those old cliches I happen to like. Besides making structuring the plot that much easier, I quite like the crystalline aesthetic. A lot of the time their locations have a nice aesthetic too. Plus they usually bring along guardians (for example, the Four Fiends from the original Final Fantasy), which make for great climax bosses.
 

Faherya

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Clichés are not bad. Speaking in terms of narrative technique, they work. They work today, they worked in 1970/80, in the first electronic games and table RPGs and they worked before Christ in the first mythologies around the world. And if a cliché survives more than two millennia of use, it is something to be considered at least.

The big point is that the plot is not the most important part of a story. The way it is told - the narrative - is. A good writer can take all possible clichés, condense everything by adapting as little as possible, to maintain originality (in the sense of origin) and achieve a very, very good story. Although I don't think I'm good, that's what I'm doing on my project.

You shouldn't be concerned with what people will think of the x or y stretch. You need to ask yourself if these stretches work. Do they make the plot progress? Do they fit the proposal and the style? Do they seem plausible? Remember that absolutely anything that someone creates in one place can be a very strong cliché in another. And that makes no difference.
 

Pastel_Panda

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As long as you have a way to justify finding the crystals (or whatever other miscellaneous Macguffin it would be), and a way to put a spin on it (like RCXDan mentioned, maybe the bad guys are trying to collect them first, a la Mother 3 with the needles), in my opinion I think it's a pretty good trope to fall back on. But using it vanilla with just "go here, find the crystal" can get pretty stagnant. Include a reason for why they need to find them, build tension for what could happen if it isn't fixed, throw some curveballs in that throw the whole plan in a different direction (like one of them getting totally destroyed, perhaps).
 

watermark

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I once had an idea where you can collect the crystals out of order, but the big bad can do the same. So say you get the Fire crystal first, but you end up losing the Water crystal to the enemy etc. By the endgame, they have some and you have some, and the two sides battle it out using what they got.
 

TheoAllen

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It's a simple trope that because it's so simple, it's very easy to follow. It is a trope that I would never mind even if it becomes overused. It also means I don't have to think too hard to understand what's going on and/or what I'm going to do. The good thing can come from various sources like the race to get the McGuffin. You get the first, the villain gets the second, the third you don't know who will get it, and it can be twisted as much as you want.
 

Ninjakillzu

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My first game was called Element War - Runegems, so I hope so!

I think tropes are fine, because that's what the vast majority of people feel comfortable with. If there's a new game, having a trope makes you connect to the game easier, in my opinion.
 

Chocopyro

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I kinda avoided the high fantasy mcguffin type tropes like a plague in favor of my own home brew ones, so that's out of the question for any plot in my current world. The closest I get to the elements are the Esmari Psalms of creation, and how certain races of elf resonate rather strongly with them. And that sounds more fantastical than it actually is. Like the Dune Elves who live in the desert resonate with the Psalm of wind. Ash Elves used to resonate with the psalm of fire, before being severed from the psalms entirely after a war with Almora. Wood elves, the Psalm of earth, Ice Elves used to be the psalm of Water, but they grew discordant. Now they're on sort of a twisted version of it. And the High Elves also grew discordant, and switched from the psalm of light to the psalm of magic. There's also Sakura Elves, but they're just a different ethnic group of wood elves on the other side of the world. (My races cross-pollinate ethnically and culturally. There is no boring singular elf country.)

But hey, back to Elemental crystals. It's not like I hate them. Heck, it's such a simple idea that the possibilities for story telling are virtually endless. Simple tropes tend to be like a blank canvas to me. And I love writing lore for simple ideas with a lot of potential. In this case, it was more that I wanted to keep my world somewhat low fantasy so that I could contrast that with the fairy world...

Hm... Now that I think about it. The fairy world has enough ambient magical and fantastical energies to host something like elemental crystals... -meanders off to the lore cave-
 

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