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Article - 'Making Offers' by Wina

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Feb 21, 2004

Blurb

An article about the interactions between villains and heroes.

Body

The Offer: Introduction

In many games, the protagonist offers the hero/antagonist a chance to join with him. This could be turned as one of the best scenes in the game if executed properly and with the right atmosphere. People tend to think that the protagonist offers this opportunity because they fear the hero but it is because the protagonist knows the type of power they will form if in a team. The hero often refuses this offer, very quickly, making the scene a disaster and the whole idea a waste of space. Now, I will show you how you can make this a moment to remember.

The Offer: The Moment

The offer from the protagonist often happens after or during heated battle. This battle happens some time after the two forces meet, or anywhere, but never near the end unless a sequel with the same cast is appearing. In a game with a sequel coming, it is most effective to make the offer at the end. Now here are a few examples of places used as settings for the offer in commercial games,

Spiderman, The movie (game): Level: The Offer; Moment: The second battle with Goblin.

Final Fantasy VII: When Sephiroth reveals the location of the Reunion

Final Fantasy VIII: When Seifer asks the party how they can fight Matron

Onimusha Warlords: Tokochiro offers Samanosuke to join the Oda Clan

There are different types of offers but the message in them is very clear. The different types are (I named them^_^): Open Offer, Invitational Offer, Implied Offer, the Reasoning Offer, and the Forceful Offer. These different methods have ways in which to build them or destroy them.

Open Offer

The open offer is the most obvious offer to spot and, in my opinion, the most boring one to watch. The moment Tokochiro offered Samanosuke the idea to join the Oda Clan, a question or comment struck in my mind. When these type of offers are made, the protagonist knows what type of power the opposite force has or what type of power they will have combined. After all, Tokochiro did say that Oda could use a samurai with Samanosuke’s skill on his side. To manage to pull this off originally is tough because all these are the same. A boring offer would go as following:

Protagonist: Join me, blah blah blah.
The better one would go:
Protagonist: Join me, together we can rule the world. Think about it, all the riches you would like and planets/countries that would bow obey every single one of your commands. Life would be different, life would be better.

The difference between the two is that the last one uses tempting in order to gain the antagonist while the other is straight and easy for the hero to refuse. Offer the hero something they have always wanted, offer the with something they would enjoy, tempt them.

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Voldermont tempts Harry with seeing his parents again. Something Harry has always wanted, and who wouldn’t if you lived with a horrible family? This was a strong point in the story and it has a sequel so don’t go saying, they used the offer at the end! Harry was confronted with a strong emotion at that moment. Likewise, your hero should be questing for something besides killing the bad guy. Each person in the team has a motive, fear and strong point. Attack the weak point and you will be setting a very good offer.

You have seen my example of this offer so let’s move on…

Invitational Offer

The invitational offer is one of my favourites because it symbolizes a good point about a powerful protagonist. If your bad guy is very strong, knows he can defeat the good guys, got his gambling money ready then why offer him straight rather than invite him? The invitational offer symbolizes that the protagonist doesn’t need the good guy at all. He will roll with him but continue if the hero refuses. This was very symbolic in Sephiroth but the most important point about him is that he used more than one type of offer. Sephiroth invited Cloud to join him when he told of the reunion’s location. Why? If Cloud comes, use him; if Cloud doesn’t come, use another clone. The invitational invite shouldn’t degrade your protagonist but make a feeling of inner strength and might. Here are my examples like before:

Protagonist: Come with me, join me.
Antagonist: No!! I refuse!!
Protagonist: Come with me, you know that you want to.

I hate this example because it portrayed the protagonist NEEDING the hero. This will bring him down in strength. The player will start thinking, “What type of wimp is he? Without me he is nothing at all.” Then comes the other type of invite:

Protagonist: Join me. Come and share my power but if you wish not to then don’t. It is your choice and not mine to make. After all, I am omnipotent.
Antagonist:….I don’t know. Maybe darkness is my destiny? Maybe I should come, after all you sound pretty sure of yourself. I don’t want to die, I have to keep my family safe…I will join you.

Okay, I went overboard but you surely get the point there, don’t you? The protagonist has to induce fear in the antagonist. Be sure of him and the opponent will fear.

Implied Offer

Seifer’s offer wasn’t a direct one but he tried to tell them: don’t get in the way, pave the way and join us. After all, he had a pretty good reason to tell them that. The strongest implied offer is the one that links the antagonist with the protagonist. Seifer was linked to Squall through Edea at that moment and it really caused you to hesitate in the attack. Why kill someone that cared for you before. How many of you are willing to kill your mother? This offer is pretty easy to grasp because nearly everyone uses it: yes, in bribery. It’s sad but true, Do this and you’ll get this. If you still don’t understand this just think about how your mom tells you if you don’t do homework, no internet^_^.


The Reasoning Offer

The reasoning offer is by far a strong weapon in a fight that you believe you might lose. Goblin used very good reasons to try and sway Spiderman:

-These people wouldn’t lift a finger to help you.
-We are like brothers.
-There are more but I don’t feel like going through the level and listing them as I play.

Goblin knew that by stating facts someone could join him. Most people just need a reality check in order to join your side of the discussion. Others say Napoleon was completely bad but did you know that he was murdered by poisoning? That could change your look on things but what if I add to that fact that Napolean saw his errors and felt wrong for having wronged Josephine and doing what he had done to people. Voila! You may have changed sides. This hasn’t been used much in RPGs so use it before others do and it becomes too cliché. I’ll just bore you by adding another example so I’ll skip to the last type of Offer.

The Forceful Offer

This has been used many times in cartoons and movies but little in the game biz. A protagonist could gain different type of reputations from players by using this way. The names I can think of right off the top of my head are: Knowledgeable (of the character’s weakness), Forceful, Smart and evil (I don’t know why). Sephiroth forced Tifa to stop talking when he was talking to Cloud in the Northern Cave. This way he was offering Cloud to join him indirectly. He threatened to show everyone what she was thinking inside and that scared her because she didn’t know how to reveal things to Cloud when they were wrong. This offered Cloud a choice to join Sephiroth or not because it meant that Tifa didn’t believe in him and something that Sephiroth was saying might be true. That’s when Cloud finally cracked. My example is right here:

Protagonist: Join me or I will kill your mother.
Antagonist: Leave my mother out of this!
Protagonist: Why? Wouldn’t she be happy seeing her son doing good? Besides, I am just making her release from this world quicker.
Antagonist: No!! Don’t hurt her!!
Protagonist: Then join me, my friend, save your mother.
This showed us another character quality of protagonists, control. They hold the talk in their hands from start to finish giving the player a sense of reality, fear and loss of control (others might turn the game off here, MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.) I didn’t use the bad example one because, probably, most of you can form one yourself or distinguish it among others.

The Offer: Conclusion

These different types of offers have their advantages and disadvantages but help greatly in showing the player what type of evil they are dealing with. This scene WILL happen because offers reality to the player. Napoleon offered the French a chance to join him when he escaped exile and they did. He said: (not exact)

Soldiers!! Whoever here thinks that they can kill their emperor should do it right now and without hesitation. Otherwise let me rule over France again and be your emperor.

After a moment of silence the soldiers began to cheer and they celebrated his return. This showed us that Napoleon was brave, powerful and very convincing (he should take up a job as a lawyer).

I’m sorry people but I will have to pull a Mateui on you and give…HOMEWORK:

It is pretty simple; just give a VERY good example of each of the types of offer (have to be your own/original). Good bye, class. Come back soon!! (*sniff* perfect little angels).

-Wina
W language:
“Whoever said progress was a slow process was surely not talking about me, (pause) I’m a W-I-M-P. Plus, I’ve got the magic stick (angels sing; room shines brightly). -50 Cents, Pimp Remix with Snoop Dog.