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Article - 'Avoiding Clichés' by Angroth

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Aug 8, 2003

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A great article by our newest staffer Angroth, concerning clichés and how to avoid them!

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Everyone knows not to use clichés or copy bad games but still it is done, lets try and resolve the matter!



Clichés surround our modern world. In films they have grown large as have they in gaming industry. They usually come from a spectacular plot which everyone else clones and eventually gets overused.

Below I will go through stories which are best not used because they are clichéd and hopefully make some suggestions that will help you for your story.



Firstly the man, who is usually a prince must save the princess from the tower. Obviously the more you change this the better. You could use it as a basis but you would have to change it and add some nice twists. For example, maybe the saviour is a woman and maybe the princess is the persons brother or sister.

This can be a good story but be careful how you alter to do so.



Next is the save the world from a god like being. Usually this involves the bad guy summoning an omni-powerful force, like in Final Fantasy VII. However in Final Fantasy it differed in that the god like creature was a meteor. Nevertheless this is a very common story and is worth avoiding as a whole. I have seen it used many times and a similar story was going to be used for the incomplete Action Game.

Generally there isn’t much you can do with this story to make it more original. And the player might get bored when chasing the summoner if the game isn’t very good. Therefore if you are going to use it which I hope you don’t, then you will have to thrown in some cool twists along the way. Possibly the guy who is going to summon the being is a family member or friend. You could also make it so that the summoner requires some fresh blood of a four different types to do the summoning. Which would hopefully add a different element and the chance to find out who the guy will steal blood from next, so you race to stop him / her.



One clichéd story line that is used would have to be the abduction. Many people might not feel this way but I have just seen it used so many times. Like in the film Ransom. And it is always a father and a daughter.

This plot for a story, is however very good if modified well. Obviously the father will be the hero, or will it? Maybe you accidently stole something from the bad guy and engraged them! Perhaps the daughter is an object. It would be bad if you changed the daughter for a loved one (like a wife) because that makes it just as bad. Nevertheless with this story there will always be an abductor, abducted and a guardian.

If you play on this story, I’m sure you’ll find a great finishing plot.



Going on a quest to return a horde of gold and / or some form of priceless relic or object is also slightly clichéd. It would be even worse if you made the hero’s pirates. Here’s two films that use this to make you think a bit:

Conan the Destroyer,

Cutthroat Island,

Fifth Element, (done well)

This generally isn’t too bad for a plot and even if left simple is still quite good. Another shoddy story is the two Lovers and an Obstacle. The obstacle can even be a person. Like the film First Knight. Sean Connery and his wife are in love yet Richard Gere as Lancelot loves her so much he can’t help it. This film uses the plot well with a slight twist at the end. Nevertheless I believe a silly love triangle cannot provide a whole story and is better blended with something else.



Now your probably wondering ‘Well, what story CAN I use!?’

Fear not, Loren J. Miller made an article long ago on stories and plots. Whether you have forgotten or not I have put them below.

Remember this is Loren’s work and not my own, I claim not to have made this myself, so place thanks to where they are correctly due.



*Supplication - Persecutor, Suppliant, a Power in Authority

* Deliverance - Unfortunates, Threatener, Rescuer

* Revenge - Avenger, Criminal

* Vengeance by Family upon Family - Avenging Kinsman, Guilty Kinsman, Relative

* Pursuit - Fugitive from Punishment, Pursuer

* Victim of Cruelty or Misfortune - Unfortunates, Master or Unlucky Person

* Disaster - Vanquished Power, Victorious Power or Messenger

* Revolt - Tyrant, Conspirator(s)

* Daring Enterprise - Bold Leader, Goal, Adversary

* Abduction - Abductor, Abducted, Guardian

* Enigma - Interrogator, Seeker, Problem

* Obtaining - Two or more Opposing Parties, Object, maybe an Arbitrator

* Familial Hatred - Two Family Members who hate each other

* Familial Rivalry - Preferred Kinsman, Rejected Kinsman, Object

* Murderous Adultery - Two Adulterers, the Betrayed

* Madness - Madman, Victim

* Fatal Imprudence - Imprudent person, Victim or lost object

* Involuntary Crimes of Love - Lover, Beloved, Revealer

* Kinsman Kills Unrecognised Kinsman - Killer, Unrecognised Victim, Revealer

* Self Sacrifice for an Ideal - Hero, Ideal, Person or Thing Sacrificed

* Self Sacrifice for Kindred - Hero, Kinsman, Person or Thing Sacrificed

* All Sacrificed for Passion - Lover, Object of Passion, Person or Thing Sacrificed

* Sacrifice of Loved Ones - Hero, Beloved Victim, Need for Sacrifice

* Rivalry Between Superior and Inferior - Superior, Inferior, Object

* Adultery - Deceived Spouse, Two Adulterers

* Crimes of Love - Lover, Beloved, theme of Dissolution

* Discovery of Dishonor of a Loved One - Discoverer, Guilty One

* Obstacles to Love - Two Lovers, Obstacle

* An Enemy Loved - Beloved Enemy, Lover, Hater

* Ambition - An Ambitious Person, Coveted Thing, Adversary

* Conflict with a God - Mortal, Immortal

* Mistaken Jealousy - Jealous One, Object of Jealousy, Supposed Accomplice, Author of Mistake

* Faulty Judgement - Mistaken One, Victim of Mistake, Author of Mistake, Guilty Person

* Remorse - Culprit, Victim, Interrogator

* Recovery of a Lost One - Seeker, One Found

* Loss of Loved Ones - Kinsman Slain, Kinsman Witness, Executioner



But don’t forget, clichés don’t only come in the form of stories!