Gw Temp

Menu

Article - 'Unexplained Phenomenon' by Xanqui

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Jan 14, 2004

Blurb

Is a character in your story really powerful, does he get lucky often, and does he pull off AMAZING fight scenes? Why?

Body

Does it ever bother you when the main character is on the verge of death and has absolutely no chance to win, but suddenly regains all of his strength and defeats the villain? It bothers me. It also bothers me when, from out of nowhere, an ally of the hero just happens to be in the right place at the right time to save the hero. It’s not so bad when it happens once or twice, but when the hero is frequently saved by nic-of-time events, the story quickly becomes less and less realistic.

Granted, the world was created purely by coincidence. There just happens to be the right amount of oxygen for us to breathe, and there just happens to be an abundance of the most important beverage of every species: water. However, coincidences such as these need to be avoided, especially in games.

The first, and most important thing to do about these phenomenon is to explain them. The audience should know why an ally just happened to be there. Perhaps the ally was captured by the villains as well, but managed to escape, and rescue the hero just before he’s executed. It would be important, in this case, to also explain how the ally escaped. He could have kept a nail file in his mouth so that he could use it to cut out of the jail cell while no one was looking. It’s not necessarily plausible, but at least the audience knows how it happened.

But on the contrary, you can’t always know everything. No one is going to give a crap about how the ally got his hands on the nail file, which turned out to be his brother’s best friend’s, but lost it in a ditch during a fight between the villain who had been after the nail file for all of his life, which turned out to be the last key of ten used to bring destruction to the world. In other words, he just had the nail file. Leave it at that.

Simplicity of phenomenon such as these is important. They shouldn’t be significant to the storyline, but should instead be subtle. But almost as important as explaining them is to make them POSSIBLE.

Let’s take a look at that ridiculous movie Vertical Limit. I never actually saw this movie, but I did see the commercials. In one of the clips, they show a guy running down the mountain, away from what appears to be an avalanche. He leaps like two hundred feet across to another big block of ice, and uses his pick-axes to catch onto it. Let me sum this up in one word: NO. His arms would have been ripped off if he caught onto it. Either that, or he wouldn’t have been able to hold onto them. Rubber grips aren’t THAT strong.

This was a terrible way for the character to get out of a tight situation. It was impossible, unlikely, and stupid in every way. Not to mention, it was a terrible clip to advertise the movie with. I can guarantee you that at least 50% of the people who didn’t go see it was because of that stupid clip.

However, being a game maker, you’re probably doing a fantasy story about a hero powerful enough to actually survive something like that. I know, that was a generalization, but if that’s what you’re doing, at least there is some plausibility to that. Then again…

Fighting Like Neo, yo
One thing Neo had that I’ve noticed a lot of characters in science fiction/fantasy stories lack is a reason for his ability to fight like “The One”. He has a reason for being able to fight the way he does. But in movies like Romeo Must Die (which I personally enjoyed) had characters leaping into the air, fifty feet high, fighting, and there was no explanation of this whatsoever. They were on Earth, and from what I’ve seen, even the most athletic humans can’t fly.

This can be as simple as “finding the crystal that gives god-like powers” or “a scientific formula that gives the power to make things move with your mind!” In that case, it’s more plausible. Now, I’ve never seen anyone move something with their mind, but I can’t prove that there’s no formula that lets people do that. So, in that case, if the story is about a guy who finds the formula and drinks it, then yeah, I believe it.

So it all comes down to what needs to be explained and what doesn’t. God-like powers need to be explained, but we don’t need to know the chemicals that were required to combine with the proper energy levels and blah-blah-blah. We just need to know that it was a fricken’ crystal.

Well, that pretty much sums itself up. Remember: the world is a realistic place, but the world of your story isn’t. Do whatever the hell you want with it. And lastly, good luck.

Thanks to Mekesss for giving me the name of “Vertical Limit.” I couldn’t remember the name of that damn movie.