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Article - 'People Places & Things I' by Guest

An item about Game Design posted on Oct 21, 2004

Blurb

An good article about people, places and things.

Body

People Places & Things I
By Sogon Cires

No, this isn’t a tutorial on nouns. This is an article about the people, places, and the things in your game. As a novice Programmer/Artist/Game maker I’ve come across the path of several really bad examples of characters, some horrible ‘realms,’ and items so completely useless that the owner of the Spencer’s chain himself would get a headache. So I think I owe it to the world to give up some of the tips I’ve picked up over the years.

People
You should look at one of my other Articles here at Gaming World entitled ‘The Frame of Mind’ at http://www.gamingw.net/articles/584 if you want a more in-depth article on people, but for now I’ll keep it short.

We all know about the Id, Ego, and Supper Ego. Id is the primal parts of our personality, ego is the selfish part, and supper ego defines our social behavior. Simple. If you want a better example then I suggest you put these words in a search engine along with ‘Dr. Freud.’

People always act with one of five things in mind, Hunger, Lust, Shelter, Self-preservation, and Comfort… Love and pain, wealth and sickness… they all boil down to these five points, keep each of in check when making your characters.

Hunger: The desire to eat and drink, even when a character doesn’t want to live, he’ll still eat when he can. Pain caused by hunger is an evolutionary feature that helps to insure we stay alive
Lust: the wanting for companionship and procreation. Another evolutionary function, every one has an uncontrollable need to breed (except for eunuchs of course).
Shelter: Every human being will seek out four walls and a roof over open sky (long term at least). Not a single culture went without shelter.
Self-preservation: The need to stay alive is yet another evolutionary adaptation. Even in the act of suicide, the feeling of pain is minimized.
Comfort: Much like self-preservation. Every one wants to be in the least pain possible and live as healthily as possible.

The Id, Ego, and Supper Ego are constantly keeping these five components in check.
(Also note, Dr. Freud’s theory of the id, ego, and supper ego is now pretty much debunked, but they’re good enough for your game. And an article by Xanqui at http://www.gamingw.net/articles/481 inspired me to read up on this subject; you should check that one out too.)

Places
Ah, the wonder realms of pure and divine mystery. To roam a new land and see foreign cities is a feeling that video games can capture better than any media on earth. Not a single piece of cinema or written stories can do so much for your desire for adventure than a well coded video game. Well, that’s my opinion anyway!

Before you get started on your game or start making your ancient land you should decide what your realm should be like, let’s look as some examples of real places that you should shadow your make-believe areas similar to, but be sure to add your own political and geographical changes. They’re all blatant stereotypes, but they’re all cool stereotypes that are based on eras long passed.

Europe: Ah, the history of the European countries stretch back centuries. The tales of kings and knights inspire visions of dragons being slain and evil demons being subdued by the forces of good. When I think of Europe I think of Beowulf slaying the Grendel, holding his mighty blade stained in the monstrosities blood above his head while his bare chest proudly displays his many battle wounds (I don’t quite remember, but I actually think he killed the Grendel with his bare hands though). I think of our mighty hero falling in battle with the cruel dragon, and of his lowly squire rising up to smite him with holy justice. Needless to say the ‘Mystic Medieval Europe’ genre is one of the most popular, and for good reason, there is countless years of folklore and history to feed your imagination. This genre may be cliché, but it’s cliché because it’s good.

The Americas: A new, savage land, the untamed and unknown stretches for miles beyond your imagination. Think of when Christopher Columbus found out the land he mistaken for India was in truth a new continent completely untouched by modern man. A realm only populated by wild animals, savage men and dangers untold. Such a continent has no history, but a long past. When I think of the Americas I think of men fighting their way through the jungles and of people trying to start anew. I think of both angry savages ruled by lust and hatred, as well as misunderstood victims only wanting to live their life the way they had for centuries. I think of angry people uprooted from their land and of outlaws trying to live in a harsh new world.

Asia: An ancient and secret land based on feudalism and arcane beliefs as well as the understanding of the world around them through both science and magic. A land where the politics where decided by a handful of men. A realm where freedom could be bought and the men with the biggest armies ruled. The image of a man cloaked in black jumping rooftop too rooftop in an effort to eliminate a political threat to his employer as countless samurai guard the targets palace is not foreign to most. This is one of my favorite genres, and one that has become really cliché, but like I said before, sometimes things are cliché because they’re good.

There are more, but for now this is all I really want to mention, since this section is running pretty long. Maybe I’ll talk about some more places if I decide to do a sequel to this.

Things
I’d like to cover quite a few things here, but this entire article is running a little to long so I’ll just cover some weapons that you could put in your game for a little pizzazz. I’ll make a short list of items and what the item is. I’ll leave out things like ‘spears’ and ‘swords’ though, since we all know about those.

Sogon’s List of Weapons
Morning Star: much like a cross between a mace and a club, used for crushing bones.
Sidled Arrow: An arrow dipped in poison, like the one that killed Achilles
Claymore: Really big sword that you need both hands to hold.
Shuriken: Ninja throwing stars! Sha sha sha!
Ninjato: A short straight blade used for stabbing as apposed to slicing like with a Katana
Shuriboken: A large heavy blade on a chain used as a weapon or grappling hook
Scimitar: A really cool heavy curved sword
Gatka: Another word for throwing knife.

I think I’ve seen a list of rarely used weapons before, so I’m stopping here. But remember to balance the new with the old. It is annoying to have to figure out what every bizarre item does. If ‘Potion’ works for you, why mess around with a good thing, but a game that features weapons like ‘sword’, ‘spear’, and ‘shield’ gets old pretty quick. Well, that’s it for me until our paths cross again!