To use tropes or not to use tropes in your game...

MechScapeZH

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I concur with you both @Milennin & @Mrs_Allykat.

You know how there are some movies that you see & you think "That was totally stereotypical, but the actors' performances were great?"

Your characters are your "actors" and their interactions are your "acting"- even if the situation they're in is stereotypical, it won't matter if the dialogue and interactions between them are compelling.

(...I know that's a bit of clunky metaphor, but I do believe it's true.) :)
 

CrowStorm

Storm crow descending, Winter unending.
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I'm just popping in to say that "not using tropes" is not actually even a thing, let alone an option. It is literally impossible. Tropes are the building blocks that stories (and games) are made of. You're using them even if you don't know it. They are the medium we work in like sculptors might work in clay or marble or whatever, idk, rocks, you get the idea.

Explained in much more comprehensive detail here.

"Convention"/"Conventions" is a much, much more accurate word here. And the conventional wisdom surrounding conventional wisdom--at least in the world of writing--is basically that you follow the "rules" until you're good enough to break them. When are you good enough to break them? Well, a) you'll know when you're ready and b) you'll have a good reason (probably even one you can articulate) for every convention or rule you're flaunting.
 

Ailius

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Here's an idea:

After a 15 minute exposition dump, you have your crew of pirates arrive in a town, on a ship obviously. The pirates, obviously not being on a mission to save the world, team up with the town guard to help loot the peasantry. (My politics are about as subtle as a hammer, so my game does have a town so 'refugees welcome' that this happens. Alternatively you could have some sort of authoritarian religion that does the whole "kindness to strangers" becomes "mandatory generosity" thing. Maybe somebody else could do it better having a side quest where you do the 'good guy' thing and overthrow the local nobility.)

Anyway, after looting the town, the pirates realize they had amnesia the whole time and what they were really doing was going to the Air Temple to get an Airship. So, they head straight there, no grinding along the way, and easily leveling up to lvl 30 prior to the boss fight. Then, after a challenging fight with purely physical attacks, the pirates defeat the boss and get their airship.
 

Ailius

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Okay, now that I've had my fun...I actually agree with Grunwave on a lot of points:

Exposition dumps should be avoided in video games. Video games are supposed to be an interactive medium, so if you're in a place that needs exposition, try to find ways to get the player to act through it rather than just read it. In my opinion it's a good opportunity to have a tutorial level.

And amnesia is just...well...no, just...no. If you need a character to have amnesia in order to make your plot twist work, (OMG the protagonist was really the BBEG's mentor all along, he just forgot who he was.), well take that as an indicator that your twist is stretching believably and poorly foreshadowed.


I will defend the whole boat/ship/airship trope. Players like open world games. The problem is open world games are hard to make and hard to balance. Thus, if your development team doesn't have unlimited resources, you usually have to settle for a linear game. I'll define (10) as a dungeon for level 10 players. In a linear game, it looks like (start) => (10) => (20) => (30) => (40) => (50) => (end).

One of the work-arounds for this is to have a metroidvania style game where you break the linearity up with artificial barriers. In the case of RPGmaker vehicles, now you can do: (40) [Ocean] (20) <= (10) <= (Start) [River] (30) [Mountains] (50) => (end), with the player getting the boat in (20), the ship in (30) and the airship in (40). This means you can simulate a lot of the 'feel' of an open world game when you lack the resources to actually pull it off.
 

Chocopyro

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Yes, I find the best way to distribute exposition is to scatter it through out the world, and if the main story absolutely needs to have the player know that information to continue, well, then that's a good time to implement the quest for knowledge mini-arc. Sometimes the PCs might know just enough to get the party pointed in the right direction, but still have gaps in their knowledge that might be more esoteric to another vocation they may crossover with. Like the blacksmith thinks "Oh yeah, this sword is the work of the artisan, Degurio Von Finchinburger. Perhaps we could travel to Tempura and see if we could get him to tell us who he sold it to." And then that guy tells them he doesn't make them blades for just anyone, and that he stopped forging them in the war of White Cider, then goes off on a small tangent -insert great war info here-, thus leading the PCs to need to learn more about the war and find someone who fought in it, and so it goes. Eventually, the player gets enough context to put the info together for his/herself, so there really isn't much of a reason to cover everything all at once. Even if you're writing a novel, not a video game. Let players ask the questions, and reward them with the answers if they choose to look for them.
 

Faytless

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I personally try to code my own stuff and not rely on plugins. This way, even my "take" on typical tropes is "my" version of it.

Think of it like playing "Fur Elise" on Piano. My interpretation of Ludwig van Beethoven's work will sound different than say, any other billy joe's version. We're all playing the same notes but, I've been told I have a very soft and warm tone to my play style.

I think whats more important is that you find a trope that you're happy with and wont lose motivation in story-telling. God knows how many times I've done that.
 

Mrs_Allykat

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The amnesia "trope" is really a sub-type of a larger trope, "The Stranger." Personally, I'm not fond of the amnesia story itself, since it's seldom implemented well - even in AAA titles. Sure, FFVII pulled it off, but the pacing lead the player to discover the world and the character together. Most games end up in a pile of forgettable stories, like "Lost Planet" or "Shadow Hearts." Other titles, such as "Alundra," really only use a brief mention of amnesia to set the "Stranger" trope into action, and to put any backstory of the protagonist aside.

I would like to point out that there are other ways for the game-maker to pull off the "Stranger" trope without the use of amnesia. Look at elder scrolls, the protagonist is often started as "just a prisoner." I believe Dark Souls 2 had the player character not be the main protagonist at all, but a sort of supporting character.

With that said, I happen to like the "Stranger" trope, though I'm not overly fond of the amnesia variation of it. Whether the writer places the protagonist in a far away prison or has them wash up on the shore of a far away land, the player is a stranger to the game-maker's world when they enter it for the first time. This sort of builds an immediate connection between the player and the protagonist.
 

ave36

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-Airship -- Final Fantasy explains this very well within its lore. An airship in your game is unoriginal and we all know it. No offense, but you might as well put a Chocobo mount in your game.
But I do have a Chocobo mount in my game. It is called a Choco-Choco to avoid a cease and desist letter, but it's a chocobo.
 

HumanNinjaToo

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They say there is nothing new under the sun. Just because an idea has been had before doesn't mean it's not a good idea. Some of the best fictional works I can think of (i.e. Tolkien or Martin) are full of ideas that have been used in fiction for hundreds of years. You don't have to reinvent the wheel to be successful.
 

GumboSoup

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The secret of art is telling old stories in new ways. That's all there is to it.

Humans haven't changed fundamentally for hundreds of thousands of years, all story ideas have been used millions of times already. Once you accept this you can begin to concentrate on what matters - telling the story your own way.

On another note, all audience research, no matter what the art form, point to the same conclusion - audiences love things that are familiar and yet bring something new. Finding the right balance between familiar and original is the secret behind popular success.

But there is a silver lining to this. You don't have to "sell yourself out", quite the opposite. Every human being has a unique perspective so just by being uniquely yourself in retelling that "old story" your work will be original and unique enough. Chasing artificial originality for originality's sake will only make your work mediocre and therefore uninteresting - it comes spontaneously and effortlessly if you only listen to yourself. "To thine self be true" is not just a hippie self-help phrase, it is invaluable foundation for any successful artistry.
 
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