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Directed Project 2020 – Entry #10

10 entries already!

More ramblings: I did good progress on my current ink prototype. I made up my mind about a few things:

  • In a story, I rarely design characters as blank slates, no matter the medium. I’m very cautious about blank slates. Personal suspicion is that these characters are actually white slates. If you can project absolutely anything on them, it does say something about the world they’re living in, and the kind of status they have: having the absolute freedom of being anything you want without being judged or challenged. Yes, I wish this was even possible (to design a world and characters with absolute freedom without consequences on their growth and inner selves) but it is actually something that’s out of my realm, and also not the kind of story I want to tell here.
  • I’ve been stuck playing mostly Japanese games and watching either Japanese or Korean shows these days. There are vast differences between Japanese and Korean cultures, but I do see some common thing, that’s also something I’ve felt about my own culture (being of Vietnamese descent): Much more freedom in terms of tone shifts. It’s also something that reminds me of Shakespeare’s plays. Brit TV is also less stuck in ‘one genre, one tone, one story’ and is great at mixing pure drama and pure comedy. Because the tone of these stories can shift in a second or two, I don’t feel I need that much branching or crazy amounts of choices. I already have a feeling of ‘freedom’ because I can explore different stories which are so varied in terms of tones (I’m having a blast with Yakuza 0 because of this) It brings so much movement and dynamism to the whole narrative. I never feel stuck in a story. I’m never bored. I don’t even need more than this. And it brings so much depth. I wonder why American TV and game stories are so… mono-emotional. Maybe because the ones making them are so monolingual? Ha! (Yeah Brits, I think, are maybe a tad less monolingual than Americans, because of their close proximity to other European countries. Also many of their shows are coproductions with other countries, compared to US shows.)

So in my last prototype, everything has become wacky and silly, as I really wanted from the start. I’ve come to realize that silly tutorials in JRPGs for example, with wacky jokes and overly enthusiastic NPCs trying to sell you the game’s system are actually a great thing. Because these tutorials are not trying to lie or hide about how you’re dealing with a system of rules that is most likely not fair. I think as a player you’re both more encouraged to be playful with the game’s system (hence, challenge its rules, question everything) rather than just embracing it blindly (with some weird obsession about immersion in Western games, for example). Maybe non-Western games leave the player in a more rebellious (ethical) position regarding a system of rules.

So yeah, the eBuddy app will be overly enthusiastic. As a Confidant, you will have wacky options to express yourself, and I won’t even hide the fact that most of these choices don’t really matter. But in all that goofiness and wackiness I believe trust can occur, and more surprising effects that do not rely on the usual ‘drama’ — it’s not about conflict anymore, it’s about… twisting things.

Published in Narrative Design