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Article - 'Common Clichés' by Lunarianmoon

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

Blurb

A guide to finding and eliminating clichés in your story.

Body

Hiya everyone!

I’m LunarianMoon, and I’m gonna talk about clichés in RPG’s right now. I’m sure I’ve read some article about this before, but hey, everyone uses clichés, so it’s always better to make a more in-depth cliché article, right? First off, if you think you know any cliché I haven’t listed, please tell me! Just post a comment.

To start, we first have to know what clichés are. Well, they are the things everyone uses so often, that you’re actually sick of seeing them. Or, as listed in my dictionary: ‘Clichés are expressions used very much, or are expressions that are of no means anymore.’ So basically, they’re the plots of games we all know.

Let’s start with the story clichés:

-Typical for RPG’s: the all known save-the-world plot: you’re a hero. Only you or your friends can save the world from certain disaster. Some popular RPG’s with this kind of story: Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 7 to 10, Breath of Fire 1 to 4 and of course Grandia (was it 1 or 2, or maybe both?). They’ve all got the basic save-the-world plot. Of course, these games scored well, because the story was wrapped up in a nice gameplay and HOW the story was told. Some good RM2K games that I know are Romancing Walker, Legion Saga III (the others aren’t really STW games) and... uh... I think that’s it. I don’t play a lot of games. If you want a plot like this, you should consider WHY you are the only one that can save the world, by WHAT the world is threatened, ‘cause we don’t want some weirdo snake taking over the game and also, very important, don’t spoil the plot too soon! Playing a game while you know you’re saving the world from who can be quite boring.

-Another frequently used story is of course the unwilling hero versus all powerful enemy, where the hero receives super powers somewhere in the middle or end of the game. Usually, they use a STW plot with this one. Look at Romancing Walker or Breath of Fire. Romancing Walker introduces a Sacred Dragoon, whilst Breath of Fire uses the all powerful Kaiser Dragon.

Now, how can you improve on such a thing? To be honest, I don’t think I can give advice on this. I’m using a player-helpes-real-hero story, but maybe that’s too unoriginal? It looks a lot like FF7’s story, except that Cloud is also a formidable opponent for Sephiroth. He IS a part of Sephiroth, right? But in MY game, the real hero isn’t playable at all! Mind that there are other RM2K games, too, using this save-the-world plot and making it a good one, but I only listed the completed ones.

Next up, characters:
-A lot of RPG hero’s are male. And they wield a sword. Think about it: Durane (LSI), Nastra (LSII), Kima (LSIII), Ryu (BoFIII + IV), Squall (FF8), Cloud (FF9), Crono (CT) and of course the well known Tidus from FFX.

-Another thing is, that most of the games use females as magicians, archers and stuff. Come on! Women aren’t all that weak! Marle (CT), LuLu (FFX), Aerith (FF7), Garnet (FF9), they’re all magicians or archers! Let them use swords or let ‘em fight with axes or something!

-And of course, the basic hero meets girl, girl falls in love, in the end, they get stuck with eachother. Then, they both fall in love and happily live after ever. I think almost all FF games use this. Except for 7, where Aerith dies, and 10, where Tidus sort of dies.
Phew! Quite a long article, longer than expected. I think I’ve forgotten quite a few clichés, but which ones? Oh yeah! The

Map clichés:
-Your end destination lies at the far end of the world: there’s no other city or anything after it. Look at Sephiroth’s dome in FF7.

-Every country has one town and one city. Why can’t we just get off of our lazy asses and make some more cities and such? FF9 has one city for every country, in FF7, there are only about 10 villages and cities. Make more: Japan isn’t just Tokyo, right?

-This is something you regurarly see at RM2k games: either the towns and cities are really cramped up, or there are just three houses. Sometimes a mix of them. Put more efford into making cities. Don’t pick a 30-20 map for a town! That’s too small for a town center! (That’s no cliché: almost every REAL city or town has a center).
Any more? No? I really know I’m forgetting something... oh yeah. I forgot the enemy cliché. In almost every game, the villain is a heartless creature that just wants death and destruction. Give them a reason to do what they do and give them a personality. Like Sephiroth. (He’s so cool!)

Well, that about covers it. If you know any more clichés, please tell me about ‘em. Just post comments or use GWMail. Well, thanks for reading, and have a pleasant game making time.

~LunarianMoon