When you make the plot of your game, do you go for a Dark or Light mood?

What mood do you like putting your RPGs plot into?

  • Dark(Serious, depressing, tragic, angst)

    Votes: 4 9.3%
  • Lighthearted(Comical, Fun, non-serious, whimsical)

    Votes: 4 9.3%
  • A balance of both(Dark moments mixed in with lighthearted moments)

    Votes: 35 81.4%

  • Total voters
    43

Bernkastelwitch

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This is something I was thinking of when I was showing off a bit of my RPGs plot and characters with a friend. They ended up saying that "My game is a mix of Dark moments and light-hearted moments and it'd never work if I try to do both" and this made me wonder what peoples thoughts are.

Do you prefer a dark, serious story or a light hearted, comical story? Maybe a balance?
 

cabfe

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I have a hard time writing comedic material, so my stories tend to go to the dark side, if I may say so.
But I'm not trying to make a story to be "like this and not that". I just have a canvas, characters playing their roles in it and everything kind of writes itself.
However, having some kind of balance is often needed to avoid being too heavy. It doesn't work with every story/game, but having a comic relief helps a lot.
 

Kyoku

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My games and stories are all usually light, but I've always made subtle dark throughout it. Just the way I am usually. Can't control it.
I like light, silly, fun, life stories/games. But I like it even better if it's fun with a hint of dark!:kaoswt2:
 

Frogboy

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Like everyone else is about to say, it depends on the game. Some stories work best with a light mood, often with some comedic elements and some work best all dark and serious. Depends on what kind of story you want to tell at the moment.
 

Ms Littlefish

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Personally, I like light-hearted games. Life's serious enough as it is that I try to smile and laugh as much as possible. That's not to say I won't play something more serious, I definitely would.

About balance. Most things need comedic relief. It's relative to the story, so that doesn't mean something super dark turns into Three Stooges. It just means that something does have to relieve the tension every now and again.
 

Wavelength

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I generally go for a light mood. All fun, all the time. Action, satisfaction, and power fantasy.

I think it's worth noting, though, that "mood"/tone is not really in the domain of plot, especially in video games where reading/watching the plot is not really the main activity. Rather, tone is almost like a second form of storytelling that can double down on what the plot brings or provide a counterbalance. For example, the Persona games tend to present extremely dark plots using mostly light, carefree moods - basically giving the player carte blanche to feel excitement rather than tension as they power through murder mysteries and doomsday conspiracies.
 

RionFish

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Depends on the story I want to tell. The one I'm currently working on is light and somewhat comedic, the one I'm going to make next-ish is darker with light moments.
 

Philosophus Vagus

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"A mixture of lighthearted and dark moments will never work..." Your friends have never played Final Fantasy VII have they? Or Dragon Age: Origins? Or read any actually good books even? You can get away with focusing on a gritty narrative that always takes itself seriously all the time if you are doing a play or writing a novella or creating a short game that won't likely occupy it's players for more than a few hours but moments of levity are needed if you want to keep people interested in the overarching narrative for long periods of time.

Just try to imagine if you can a FF7 where you just rush into the brothel and murder everyone instead of trying to sneak in, where you hold shinra officials hostage to use the elevator instead of dolphin jumping through charged electrical cables to get there. Where all interactions with party members are cut from finding Barrett dressed as a sailor to chilling in Costa Del Sol to chasing Yuffie after she steals your materia because "you have to stop Sephiroth now because it's so serious!" Would that game have been such a genre-defining masterpiece at the time? Or if after the philosopher's stone Harry spent all of his time training to kill Voldemort because he was "the chosen one" and had to become strong enough to single-handedly win the day instead of all the growing-pains intrigue where we meet such a colorful cast of characters that would all eventually have their own role to play in the final battle when it does come. Or an inverse where Voldemort doesn't exist and it's all happy magical school children all the time. Would anyone even know the name J.K Rowling right now if that had happened?

Serious narratives need moments of levity to work over long periods of time. If everything is always dark and hopeless then you'll likely end up with a "perfect storm" scenario where the viewers feel they've merely wasted their time as a whole. People who are always serious and hyper-focused no matter what simply aren't human, and if your game isn't about someone who tries to be like that breaking down halfway through the story from severe ptsd from the constant strain or something (like Squall from ff8, only most people still hated him for being so serious and focused) then trying to have a protagonist that approaches the world in such a manner is going to drive more people away than it attracts.

Comedy generally gets away with avoiding dark and serious themes better, but how many straight comedies do you know that require more than a few hours investment to finish? When they do, chances are they've got some drama and more 'serious' moments sprinkled in as well. Good storytelling in most circumstances requires a mixture of both, just like life.
 
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UgyBoogie

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The game I'm currently working on is definitely on the darker side. That doesn't exclude lighthearted content thou. Different characters and overall situations set the mood. No one wants to play through a game that is dark and depressing all the time. You have to lighten the mood every now and then. Not just for the sanity of your characters, but for the players aswell :kaoluv:
 

Roninator2

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I would say you have to do both. The dark is the challenge of the game, unless you have a non combat game. Light is the character development to get the player to enjoy the character story and development. My game is very much both as some characters are good and others are evil.
 

Tai_MT

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When I write, it tends to be fairly dark. Not "Edge Lord" dark, but dark enough. I like my heroes/heroines to start from a place of "having been beaten down by life". I do this for two reasons. The first reason is that I, personally, like underdog stories where you aren't sure the underdog is actually going to win. The second reason is that I, personally, find it much easier to create a character arc (that is, a reason they change as people) if they start from a place where they are "damaged goods". Now, I can't really talk too much about a lot of the stories I've got, because it's a lot of "adult content" type stuff. That means in terms of brutality and senseless violence (physical or emotional).

That doesn't mean it stays dark, however. I like comedy and light moments. I like moving the heart or the soul (when I can manage anyway). I like my characters to be witty and sometimes philosophical. So, my tone shifts back and forth as I write and develop characters and move the plot along.

I just try to write my story like it's real life. My characters like they're real characters. Everyone has gone through some really terrible stuff in their lives... or have done really terrible stuff in their lives. Like real life, it's just what you do with these terrible events for how you come out as a person. Characters in writing should be the same as people. Some good parts, some bad parts, some indifferent parts, some parts that try harder, some that don't try at all. Limitations and all, they should absolutely be like real people. It isn't easy to change who you are in real life, it shouldn't be so easy to do it in a game either.

So, I write characters from a dark place to start with. The journey to the end of the game, to stop the big bad coincides with each character's journey to maybe changing themselves, maybe making themselves better.

I like those kinds of stories.
 

Faherya

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A tip directed to the literature, but that is very relevant here:

Tell your story.

The moment you are creating, do not think about structure. Ignore the style and often even the genre. Do not limit yourself to the rules. Tell your story and let it unfold as you see fit. AFTER you can always go back and shape the stitches as you prefer. The essence of the story lies in this: do not limit it, do not limit the characters. When you realize that your narrative is following your own path, you are on the right track.
 

Henryetha

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Writing in my mother tongue I like including some comical fun parts. This is how I would usually talk aswell - when I'm in a good mood.
For english.. it's a bit hard to do that properly.
 

Eviticous

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I always pour my self into my games, my soul, my thoughts, my emotions and my experiences. It can be rather dark when you dig that deep but then the best games are the ones where the developers pour their hearts and their souls deep into the crevices of the game
 

iorn

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I normally avoid "dark" games because most writers have a hard time telling the difference between dark and edgy.

But I guess light hearted stories have a similar problems Ie : They rarely take themselves seriously and often drag unfunny jokes out for too long ......

But If I'm being honest with myself.. Dark all the way
 

kaukusaki

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I tend to operate on fridge logic. My games are lighthearted and goofy on the surface but the themes are always grimdark.
 

MercuryLegba

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Good humor is actually darn hard to write. I think there are tons of semi-depressing games out there, but do think briefly of moments, when a game made you laugh really hard. But to add to the actual point of discussion: "The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think." At least that was the opinion of the Earl of Walpole who coined the word "Gothic" novel in the 18th century.
 

fireflyege

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I say neither. Being too light makes for a boring game and being too dark gets melancholic after a while.

Balancing each other out is a must. You can concentrate on light and dark but adding too much of it will only make you predictable to the point that people will see the ending before they play the game for like 5 minutes and you do not want that.
 

Serg

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It depends, I think in most cases balanced mood will work the best. (as it works in most popular cases for aready known games)
 

Rinober

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I think it always depends on the game itself. If it's a decorate-your-house-type of game, I'd say a light mood might fit the scenario better than a dark one (although it might be interesting to have it the other way around). If the game is about an epic story in a dystopian setting, I'd most likely start with a dark mood.
 

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