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T O P I C
Dark Fantasy
July 11th 2000, 20:51 CEST by andy

In a recent .plan update about role-playing games, 3D Realms programmer Brandon Reinhart commented that he "would like someone to make an RPG with a hardcore dark fantasy storyline". We asked Brandon if he would write about this for the 'Crap, and this is how he explains it...



Dark Fantasy
Brandon Reinhart

Dark Fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that tells a story through a very misanthropic point of view. My favorite writer of dark fantasy is Michael Moorcock. He stands as a good example of what the genre is about. Two of his characters, Elric of Melnibone and Corum Jhaelen Irsei, are doomed souls fated before they were born to champion a cause they hate. The stories focus on the personal pains and tortures of the individuals and offers little hope for their futures.

The main character is a dark fantasy is an anti-hero. Not necessarily evil, yet often driven to perform an evil act to achieve some necessary goal. Elric, for example, bears a sword that drinks (and destroys) the soul of anyone he strikes. He hates the sword, despises it with all his heart, but he is also enamoured by its power. In one story, Elric's sword turns at the height of battle to drink the soul of his friend and companion, Moonglum.

In a dark fantasy, the main character rarely wins personal salvation, even if they achieve their greater goal... regardless of the importance of that goal.

Most dark fantasies are not worlds of elves and dwarves. In fact, its really the concept of delving deep into human (and inhuman) fears and pains that drives dark fantasy. By saying I would like to see this kind of story telling in games is not to say that I want to see yet another tireless retread of Tolkienism. Rather, I would like to see games tell more mature stories. Not mature in terms of language or sexual content, but in terms of intelligence and quality of storytelling.

I have to admit that I have a personal interest in the deep sword and sorcery forms of fantasy. I love role playing games and I love to listen to Nordic inspired black metal. One day I want to tell my own stories through the gaming medium. That having been said, I think that the darker side of human storytelling can be brought to gaming and can be successful without necessarily being fantastic. Stories like "Silence of the Lambs" and "Jacob's Ladder" are interesting possibilities, although a bit extreme.

Planescape: Torment, is an excellent example of what I think is a step in the right direction. The game follows a Nameless Immortal (your character) and his band of tortured souls and demons as they seek to find the meaning behind their unlife. It is one of the few games (if not the only one) that treats evil with a serious eye. (As opposed to Dungeon Keeper which presents evil as the funny friend you've always wanted to hang out with.)

Standing on top of all of this is, of course, gaming's own dark god: profitability. I believe very strongly that when gaming makes a move towards maturity it has to be done intelligently. Games like Kingpin are perfect examples of "mature content" without any real depth or reason. The game designer has to keep in mind his target audience and the way the game box is marketed and sold. While "Silence of the Lambs" would probably not be fitting for a game box in today's market, something like "Torment" certainly is. You CAN explore death, insanity, and religion without making a game overtly offensive.

Ultimately, games are our fantastic escape from the real world and some of us like our fantasy worlds to be grim, brutal places. I would like to play a game where I could sit atop my throne of skulls and ponder antediluvian enchantments. I would like to play a game where I could forge a pact with a demon to achieve some greater goal... only to have that demon return later to claim his due. I would like to play a game where there is no happy ending, no magic sword of power, no benevolent elvish king. A game where death has meaning and its meaning is deep, mysterious, and compelling.

C O M M E N T S
Home » Topic: Dark Fantasy

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#1 by "Andy"
2000-07-11 20:52:47
andy@planetcrap.com
I'll probably ask Blue's to post a link to this story because I think it's really interesting, but I'll wait a while until the thread gets going. No point setting the trolls loose in an empty thread. ;-)
#2 by "JeffD"
2000-07-11 21:04:07
jefdaley@microsoft.com
Dark Fantasy is fun...  I enjoy the concept of the antihero -- the person who must do evil to accomplish a greater goal.  My latest spree of tabletop characters follow this idea -- most notably my Vampire character I'm playing in the Giovanni Chronicles (White Wolf fans will know what I'm talking about, to everyone else, GC is a set of storylines detailing the rise of a really nasty bunch of vampires, the PCs play a bunch of vampires created pretty much by accident).  My character is driven to avenge the death of a few of his friends, but he's degenerated into little more than a savage murderer in the process.

That sort of thing is fun.

=JD<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#3 by "Botswana"
2000-07-11 21:17:25
ANYTHING to get away from the over-used standard fantasy fare.

Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Post Apocalyptic (think Fallout) are just a few areas that have seen very little in the way of GOOD roleplaying games.

I like the idea of Dark Fantasy, but at this point I like the idea of anything that parts with the norm.

Vampire: The Masquerade is an interesting departure, and fits well into this theme. If it were not for some serious flaws with the game, I would recommend it. Unfortunately, I thought the vampires that were on the side of the protagonist were just a little too noble. I wanted to walk the fine line between good and evil.

It's interesting, Baldur's Gate let you play as an evil character, but with extreme (re: ludicrious) penalties. Seems like most of the current games lean heavily towards being "good". Even though Fallout 2 does not fall into any kind of fantasy setting, you could live outside the law and basically you became accepted by the lawless, thus the game was playable no matter how "good" or "bad" you were.
#4 by "[KAG]formerly known as Seth"
2000-07-11 21:42:15
d_k_denz@hotmail.com http://www.aelk.org
looks interesting- /me heads of for amazon.com (as long as they still exist)


not dark, but GREAT fantasy:
Terry Pratchett- all the books(I know, he DOES repeat himself) and especially the second game...

a good laugh is one of the  most refreshening things you can get(besides beer, etc)
#5 by "Apache"
2000-07-11 21:56:02
apache@voodooextreme.com http://www.voodooextreme.com
Michael Moorcock is one of my favorite fantasy writers; there is an official Elric game in development which should be done in around 2002-04, it will be interesting to see how that turns out.

I loved planescape torment, it was my game of the year for '99, but unfortunatly it sold <b>very</b> poorly, I think less than 100k units.
#6 by "Billy Saw Hurock"
2000-07-11 21:59:19
billysawhurock@hotmail.com http://www.bloweduprealgood.com
Less than 100k??  It must be terrible then. ;)
#7 by "kegie"
2000-07-11 22:00:20
kegie@acc.umu.se http://www.acc.umu.se/~kegie/
If you are into dark fantasy and vampires but find V:tM a bit silly, read the Necroscope series by Brian Lumley. The vampires that figure in those books are a lot darker (and imho more realistic) then those in vampire: the masquerade.

Also, re: Michael Moorcock; I also want to recommend The Warhound and the World's Pain and The City in the Autumn Stars by the same actor. Again it's about the Eternal Champion (like Elric), but this time the story is set during the 1600's, and the antihero is a soldier of the name Von Bek...

Anyway, it's a lot harder to make good dark fantasy games since they are by definition more focused on the soul and the deeper effects of evil, as opposed to magic swords and faery queens. I think Planescape: Torment not only is a good example of what makes a great and original RPG, but also what it takes to do that. I think making an FPS shooter and trying to get the depth of a good dark fantasy story into it would be even harder, but I'm convinced it can be done (I'd count System Shock 2 as a dark fantasy game of sorts).

--
kegie
#8 by "Apache"
2000-07-11 22:05:38
apache@voodooextreme.com http://www.voodooextreme.com
<quote>Less than 100k?? It must be terrible then. ;) </quote>

Comparing it to Baldur's Gate which sold about a million, I expected it would do better. Icewind Dale debuted as the #2 best selling game this week, so I think it will be better than Torment.
#9 by "Apache"
2000-07-11 22:06:14
apache@voodooextreme.com http://www.voodooextreme.com
err sell better, not be better.
#10 by "Diseased"
2000-07-11 22:15:15
diseasedanimal@yahoo.com
Torment is an amazing game.  Amazing storyline, music, mood, architecture, graphics, I could go on forever.  

Very sorry to hear it didn't sell too well.  LGS syndrome i guess...some of the best games on earth are so underapprecated.
#11 by "Botswana"
2000-07-11 22:18:51
What's kept Torment out of my hands has been high prices.

Most of the places around here it has been around $55, which is a bit more than I like to pay for a game. Especially since it is focused on single-player and will likely be a "play once and you know the whole story". While it can be fun to replay games like that, it doesn't change the fact that you now have an advantage.

Now that it is around $35 I am considering a purchase.
#12 by "VeeSPIKE"
2000-07-11 22:20:54
appliedavoidanc@triton.net
<b>#3</b> "Botswana" allowed this bilge to spill out of his keyboard
<QUOTE>It's interesting, Baldur's Gate let you play as an evil character, but with
extreme (re: ludicrious) penalties. Seems like most of the current games lean
heavily towards being "good".</QUOTE>

Not surprising. Most people have a hard time thinking of themselves or the characters they might be playing as 'evil.' In general, people think of themselves as good people, regardless of actions that might be to the contrary. They generally cannot seperate that which is themselves, and the character that they are supposed to portray. How many of you remember playing F2F with a supposedly 'evile' character, and not being able to get it right. Most times people would claim to be evil, and then act in a neutral manner, because they just could not get it (at least in my experience, anyway. Your results may vary, contact your physician.) And while a dark fantasy game might get a lot of attention, I do not think it would do well for just that reason - people would not be able to 'get' their character. <i></i> <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#13 by "Skid"
2000-07-11 22:26:59
skid@planetquake.com http://www.thepeel.com/void
#11
Yup, I've been meaning to get it as well. But the idiots are still selling it for $65 Cdn over here. I'm way too broke to be able to afford that :\
#14 by "VeeSPIKE"
2000-07-11 22:28:10
appliedavoidanc@triton.net
<b>#7</b> "kegie" allowed this bilge to spill out of his keyboard
<QUOTE>(I'd count System Shock 2 as a dark fantasy game of sorts).

</QUOTE>

only because it IS dark (literally, at any rate.) But you have the difference in that your character is not an evil one, by any stretch. And the story does not develop anything about your motivations (or lack thereof) for your actions. You are not forced against your will to carry out your mission. You just do not know who is really giving the orders, initially.

(BTW, is everyone else as non-plussed by the ending as I was?)

<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#15 by "VeeSPIKE"
2000-07-11 22:30:05
appliedavoidanc@triton.net
<b>#14</b> "VeeSPIKE" allowed this bilge to spill out of his keyboard
<QUOTE>kegie" allowed this bilge to spill out of his keyboard
</QUOTE>

Sorry if that sounds harsh. I need to change my default.

<s></s><I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#16 by "kegie"
2000-07-11 22:36:17
kegie@acc.umu.se http://www.acc.umu.se/~kegie/
<b>#15</b> "VeeSPIKE" wrote...
<QUOTE>

<quote>kegie" allowed this bilge to spill out of his keyboard
</quote>

Sorry if that sounds harsh. I need to change my default.

</QUOTE>

hehe, no problem ;)

And, about SS2 not having an evil main character; I wouldn't say that's a requirement (can't think of many stories with evil main characters) of dark fantasy, rather that they shouldn't be invincible heroes who always do the right thing...

--
kegie
#17 by "Botswana"
2000-07-11 22:37:46
Yeah, where do you get off calling my stuff "bilge"?! (j/k)

Seriously though, for a game to be considered "dark", must the protagonist necessarily be evil per se? Like I said, I picked up Vampire because I wanted to walk the fine line. The concept of trying to maintain my humanity while forced to feed on the blood of the living seemed like an interesting moral compromise. Unfortunately, the way it is set up, you can actually do fine without ever feeding on humans (although the game is easier if you do)

Another interesting example is Deus Ex, although not a fantasy setting by any means. You can play it as the "good cop" or "bad cop" route and you will see the consequences either way. Personally, I fall somewhere in between.

Daggerfall was another interesting game. You could be evil and do quite well (although the local militia would probably be pretty hostile towards you). Also, you could become a Vampire or Werewolf in that game and to survive you HAD to kill innocent people. Now whether you are doing it in an evil sense, or a matter or survival would be up to the individual ethics of the person doing it.

What is really sad is that we can almost itemize the list of games that have even come close (very few would I say really qualify) but how about trying to name all the games where you are truly the good guy.

Sure, more people can identify with it, but are we always "good" in real life?
#18 by "Brandon 'GreenMarine' Reinhart"
2000-07-11 22:55:52
brandonr@3drealms.com http://www.3drealms.com
I think that sometimes the most tragic and dark characters are the guys who want to be good but simply have no way of achieving salvation.  Maybe their society or situation pushes them into a series of events that they feel are morally wrong but have no way of getting out of.  The darkness comes from exploring their reaction and ultimate self-destruction over the results.

In Michael Moorcock's stories, the progression is usually reverse-biblical.  The character begins in paradise and ends in damnation (biblical in a loose sense as these stories never draw off of real-life mythos).  Corum, for example, lives among an extremely enlightened and long lived people who spend their years composing symphonies and researching ancient magic.  They have lost the art of war and are ultimately destroyed by the Mabden (humans).  Corum is the sole survivor of the Mabden treachery and has his eye and his hand cut off during a torture session.

Even traditional fantasy writers touch on really cool dark fantasy concepts.  I always thought the idea of the Ways, the corrupt network of magical pathways in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, was particularly cool.  His Forsaken characters would make an excellent topic for a game and the Wheel of Time could certainly be classified as Dark Fantasy if you removed characters like Ninaeve. :)
#19 by "Deviant"
2000-07-11 22:58:36
damien.white@chch.ox.ac.uk
I hope this "Dark Fantasy" idea doesn't entail your character being evil.  I mean, I always end up about Neutral Good in Torment, and frankly I wouldn't want to play any other way.  I hated the way how in both Shogo and the Blood games (by obtaining life essences in Blood, less so in shogo but you can still get critical hits and thus health) you are encouraged to kill innocent people.  I really don't know about that... if you're comfortable with killing computer NPCs, fine, but the game shouldn't make you do it just to survive, you should have a choice.  
BTW, what alignment do other people end up as in games like Torment?  I've always wondered if such games would work at all as personality tests;)

Oh, and did anyone else dislike the plot of Heretic 2?  "(Nearly) everyone is infected by a plague which makes them psychotic killers, so you can go around and kill them all".  Geez, talk about limiting your room for expression.  And if the infected are so psychotic, why don't they all kill each other?  Gah. Never once does Corvus ever express any regret for killing hundreds of otherwise normal people... talk about a reflective character.  Can't Raven be a <I>little</I> more sophisticated?
#20 by "kegie"
2000-07-11 22:59:41
kegie@acc.umu.se http://www.acc.umu.se/~kegie/
Oh, and lets not forget Thief, I mean you are a thief after all, not your average hero.. Though you still fight evil enemies, it would have been cool if the game had been about stealing stuff from rich good people =) I was a bit disappointed with that game, the first level was the best of all of them imho; the zombielevels didn't take advantage of the special gameplay you got when trying to get through the level unnoticed and was just something you tried to get by as fast as possible.
#21 by "brennan"
2000-07-11 23:01:15
scottsyoen@home.com
This is really interesting.

I love good stories, and I also love good gameplay.  A lot of games have had one or the other, and some have had both.  But the difficult part seems to be telling a good story *without breaking up the gameplay*, which I have almost never seen.  I'm not the most experienced gamer in the world, but I felt Half-Life did this better than any game I've seen.

What I enjoyed so much about Half-Life is that story and gameplay were, to a large extent, blended.  That is, it wasn't like, game game game, stop for 2 mins. of exposition, game game game, stop again, etc.  It sucked me in because (a) what exposition there was went by relatively quickly and I was active in the process, and (b) often there wasn't any exposition per se; often they assumed I didn't need to be *told* everything, that I could see things happen and deduce.  It's much more effective, in terms of storytelling, to see soldiers start shooting up defenseless scientists, rather than have a scientist run up, have full motion video start, and have him give a 2 minute speech on how the soldiers shot up his colleagues and how broken up and mad he is.

What I see in RPGs a lot is hack hack hack, stop for a monologue, hack hack hack.  The story may be great, but the telling is why I haven't usually liked RPGs.  It totally kills the flow of the game for me.  I think I play mostly FPSs because nothing breaks up the immersion.  Even if the story is stupid or non-existent, I can suspend disbelief if I'm constantly in it; if I'm not suddenly unable to act for a minute and a half, and have to sit as someone talks at me.  Most FPSs do this badly as well (the Daikatana demo...Jesus, could they break the immersion any more than panning unnaturally around badly acted, jerkily animated characters whose MOUTHS DON'T MOVE?).  I generally find that RPGs are very subpar in terms of the mechanics of storytelling, even if they've got a great story to tell.  Torment may have been an exception - I'll find out as soon as the price hits $29.99.

People criticized the Half-Life storyline as being overly simplistic, but that's largely what allowed it to be successful.  It didn't need speeches.  With current tech and modes of play, I see it being very difficult to tell a complicated story while keeping the player involved and active.  There was a reason Half-Life wasn't as complicated as Catch-22.

-brennan
#22 by "Darkseid-[D!]"
2000-07-11 23:04:05
darkseid-d@planetcrap.com http://www.captured.com/boomstick
Hrm you could class Deus Ex as dark fantasy :)


very very dark and gritty undertones throughout the plot

and the whole Deus Ex Machina slant ;)


*hypnotic suggestion* Deus Ex is very good, go and buy it.

Ds<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#23 by "Darkseid-[D!]"
2000-07-11 23:05:52
darkseid-d@planetcrap.com http://www.captured.com/boomstick
/me pulls GreenMarines Mohawk in a Nynaeve HRRRRMPPHHH style


is it me or do the WOT characters need to shit the hell down and discuss whats going on. If they _shared_ info .. well ....it might make things go a bit easier ;)


Ds<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#24 by "kegie"
2000-07-11 23:12:04
kegie@acc.umu.se http://www.acc.umu.se/~kegie/
<b>#18</b> "Brandon 'GreenMarine' Reinhart" wrote...
<QUOTE>
the Wheel of Time could certainly be classified as Dark Fantasy if you removed characters like Ninaeve. :) </QUOTE>

And especially with Rand, the "great hero", going crazy and all. But I suspect the ending of the wheel of time will be something totally different from the heaven to hell analogy... My hopes are still up for Rand becoming the next Dark One though ;)


<b>#19</b> "Deviant" wrote...
<QUOTE>
Oh, and did anyone else dislike the plot of Heretic 2? "(Nearly) everyone is infected by a plague which makes them psychotic killers, so you can go around and kill them all".
</QUOTE>

Yeah, I found that strange as well. Like in the amphibian levels where you try to find a healer or something, first of all you kill all these people standing around basically guarding the entrance to his home, and even so he's completely friendly with you. But I've noticed this in other Raven games too, I mean SOF is nothing but violence... There was some level where the briefing was something like "The evil terrorists, who do what they do for money, have taken over a building. You have to kill them all to get paid". Ok, so it wasn't exactly like that, but not very far ;)
I mean, SOF's major selling point (the one they put in ads) was "You can shoot peoples legs off! There's lots and lots of blood!" I didn't play that game very far, I just found the whole thing so damn stupid...

But I still think Heretic 2 is one of the best games I've played.

--
kegie
#25 by "Brandon 'GreenMarine' Reinhart"
2000-07-11 23:21:52
brandonr@3drealms.com http://www.3drealms.com
Darkseid - Man!  One of the things I find the most frustrating in the WoT stuff is how the characters never share any information and people always get in stupid situations as a result.  I haven't read those books in a while though.
#26 by "Brandon 'GreenMarine' Reinhart"
2000-07-11 23:23:47
brandonr@3drealms.com http://www.3drealms.com
keigie says:

<QUOTE>I mean, SOF's major selling point (the one they put in ads) was "You can shoot peoples legs off! There's lots and lots of blood!" I didn't play that game very far, I just found the whole thing so damn stupid... </QUOTE>

I think the point behind my dark fantasy argument is that the attraction comes not from gore, but from the more serious treatment of the dark side of the human mind.  I would agree that mindless violence is pretty silly (but I still don't mind games like UT or Quake3 that exploit that).
#27 by "Valeyard"
2000-07-11 23:53:30
valeyard@ck3.net http://www.ck3.net
The closest I've seen to this sort of game was <i>Sanitarium</i>.  A good idea, a decent story but the gameplay was tedious and frustrating.  I'd love to see the same story, or a similar story in a fully 3D environment.

I think it would be interesting to re-make some games that had <i>some</i> of the right elements, but just couldn't pull it all together.  The technology available today could make some of those older "bargain bin" games into quality products.

-Valeyard<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#28 by "JeffD"
2000-07-11 23:54:57
jefdaley@microsoft.com
Re: Deus Ex:  Best CRPG since Torment.  RPGs are about Role PLaying, about assuming a role and acting it out -- your characters should be a personality, not a collection of stats.  In Deus-Ex, my character is a pretty conservative, idealisitc agent.  He tries not to kill, because most of the soldiers are just dupes of MJ12 and don't really know what's going on, they're just guys trying to make a living and earn a paycheck.  Plus, he's a superspy, not a commando, and thus tends to stick more towards sneaking around and avoiding fights.  Sometimes I fail at this -- I get caught and they attack me, I can't run... and I'm forced to kill.

Re:  WoT:  Wheel of Time is a classic example of an author losing control of his plot.  Jordan has *far* too many characters -- in the original books, the primary characters were Mat, Rand, and Perrin with the women (Egwene & Nynaeve) as secondary characters.  Now the book has *far* too many primary characters (Rand, Mat, Perrin, Nynaeve, Egwene, Elayne), tons of secondary characters (Gawyn, Suine Sanche, Myn, Lan, etc).  Jordan's tracking so many seperate plotlines that he just can't keep track of it all or resolve any of them, and thus his books aren't satasfying.  The past 2 Wheel of Time books (Crown of Swords, Path of Daggers) have been by far the worst of the series, with little really happening and characters being re-written entirely (Perrin was written out of Fires of Heaven, and Mat was written out of Path of Daggers).  

I'm desperately hoping the next WoT book doesn't suck, but I'm expecting otherwise.

As far as it being Dark Fantasy, the potential is there -- Rand is fated to save the world from the Dark One while at the same time destroying all that he loves and cares for (He is the Kinslayer reborn).  It'll be interesting to see if Jordan has the guts to follow through on this promise, or if he'll whip a Deus Ex Machina (heh) out of his ass and let Rand live happily ever after with his frickin harem.  

=JD
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#29 by "Steve Bauman"
2000-07-12 00:00:57
sbauman@adelphia.net http://homepages.together.net/~sbauman/
Ugh. Can people please make fewer fantasy and sci-fi games? It's all so cliched now.

It seems every developer just wants to remake all of their favorite sci-fi or fantasy novels, but am I the only gamer who really dislikes these sorts of novels?
#30 by "Darkseid-[D!]"
2000-07-12 00:04:15
darkseid-d@planetcrap.com http://www.captured.com/boomstick
short answer

yes.



next question



Ds<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#31 by "Vengeance[CoD]"
2000-07-12 00:20:05
rhiggi@home.com
<b>#25</b> "Brandon 'GreenMarine' Reinhart" wrote...
<QUOTE>

Darkseid - Man! One of the things I find the most frustrating in the WoT stuff is how the characters never share any information and people always get in stupid situations as a result. I haven't read those books in a while though.
</QUOTE>

Those damn books drive me crazy.  Its the whole domination by women thing that just bugs the hell out of me.  Theres not chapter in any one of those books that doesn't make you want to say:

"Just pimp slap the bitch and get one with your life, man" at least once.

I've developed a severe hatred for all the female characters besides Min.  

I've stoped reading them too.  Too damn frustrating (I'll go back eventually, I know).

Probably the best author thats come out in a while is George R. Martin.  Excellent series ("A Clash of Kings" is the latest I belive).  Read it.  It doesn't play the magical side (wizards and crap) as much as most fantasies which I normally don't like, but the story is just too damn good to pass up.


V<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#32 by "El Asso Wipo!"
2000-07-12 00:26:00
stupadasso@hotmail.com http://www.whitehouse.com
<b>#31</b> "Vengeance[CoD]" wrote...
<QUOTE>
Probably the best author thats come out in a while is George R. Martin. </QUOTE>

Bullcrap, the best author in all of history is that chick that writes the Harry Potter books!  she's a genius!!!<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#33 by "Desiato"
2000-07-12 00:31:11
desiato_hotblack@hotmail.com http://www.spew2.com/
Somehow this reminds me of a character much like SPAWN. Damned but yearning to be better than he is. I like dark stories -- it would be interesting to see an implementation of Moorcock's character.

One thing about demons. What do you think would be more chilling and scary -- some apparition that you only see a large misshapen claw of now and then with a distorted evil voice, or just a big 'ol demon with the requisite horns and such in plain view.

I've always thought that you could always terrify a little more with what you *don't* see...can you imagine? You have to make a pact with a demon, but the very summoning of it makes you break out in a cold sweat....better *really* need that favor.

Desiato

"If we hit that bullseye, then all the dominoes will fall like a house of cards....checkmate." --Zap Branigan
#34 by "Rantage"
2000-07-12 00:34:25
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
<b>#33</b> "Desiato" wrote...
<QUOTE>
I've always thought that you could always terrify a little more with what you *don't* see...can you imagine? </QUOTE>

I agree.  That's why Hitchcock was a freaking genius, and many of Stephen King's books are downright creepy until you start finding out more about the bad guy/thing.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#35 by "Vengeance[CoD]"
2000-07-12 00:35:11
rhiggi@home.com
<b>#32</b> "El Asso Wipo!" wrote...
<QUOTE>

<B>#31</B> "Vengeance[CoD]" wrote...

<quote>
Probably the best author thats come out in a while is George R. Martin. </quote>

Bullcrap, the best author in all of history is that chick that writes the Harry Potter books! she's a genius!!!</QUOTE>

OMG, you've insulted Tolken.  I'm pretty sure that means you've been damned to hell with no chance of pentinence.  Sorta like "do not pass go, do not collect $200".

Heh, I've actually heard they are good books, but I haven't read one myself.

V<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#36 by "Illbuddha"
2000-07-12 01:39:15
colin_kawakami@bossgame.com http://www.databass.com/ck/
Recently, I've been thinking that games should go even further than "dark fantasy"

I'd love to see (work on) games that had their basis in real world events or mythos... like a game where you played Christ, or Buddha or Mohammed, or even Judas, or game that dealt seriously with racism, poverty and discrimination... say something about the United States' Indian Wars or something Civil Rights / McCarthyism era.

Of course, no publisher would ever go near a game like that today.
#37 by "BloodKnight"
2000-07-12 01:43:10
bloodknight@somethingawful.com
Finally a game with some serious thought into it.  Dark Fantasy so far sounds like a very good quality RPG, and for once, with a very unique plot.  Torment, Fallout, Vampire, and Baldur's gate are good examples of how RPGs should be like, deep storyline, a lot of background (but not too complex) information on the game, and reasons for this happen.  I don't know who mentioned it above, but Kingpin is probably something you shouldn't follow if you want to become the 'evil' guy.  Nonsense swearing and killing everything you see without a reason only dumbs down the replay value.  Vampire is also a very good example of a kick ass RPG, sure it isn't exactly 'evil', but the irony was what made the game good.  Noble being the 'brothers and sisters of the dark', feeding off mortals and each other?  A very unique twist makes an RPG, and no, Diablo/Final Fantasy doesn't count.
#38 by "BloodKnight"
2000-07-12 01:45:02
bloodknight@somethingawful.com
<b>#37</b> "BloodKnight" wrote...
<QUOTE>Dark Fantasy so far sounds like a very good quality RPG</QUOTE>

What I meant by this, so no one gets confused, is the setting and mood of this upcoming RPG that might be in the works.  I know 'Dark Fantasy' isn't a game, just the style that GreenMarine was talking about would make a very good RPG
#39 by "G'Kar"
2000-07-12 02:06:25
ashvin@babylonia.flatirons.org
I agree with Brandon.

There is a certain brand of fantasy / sci-fi which I dislike intensely. In the fantasy realm, the best description of this class of story is something along the lines of, "The noble knight must save the elven king's fair daughter from the Evil Wizard's (tm) Castle of Rotating Evil, across the Cavern of Darkness protected by the Dragons of Evil."

Sadly, this brand of story is very much alive in popular culture. Wittness the popularity of <I>Star Wars</I> and Disney -films that, at their core, are nothing more that fairy tales, complete with their own versions of "Once upon a time" to "happily ever after".

The popularity of these stories for both writers and audiences is likely due somewhat to the Campbellian notions of mythos and how we relate to our stories. This line of reasoning holds that we as humans need our base values to be reflected in our mythos; we write stories where good triumphs over evil because we <I>want</I> good to triumph over evil in reality. Of course, the failing of this brand of story is that it fails to reflect reality, wherein nobody is pure good or evil. As many on this forum have noted, there are numerous writers (both of the pen and the screen -Straczynski and Whedon usually falling into the latter category) who choose to explore the depths of the human psyche, to blur the line in their writings between Good and Evil.

Game designers and publishers likely find these typical black and white stories attractive because they *are* so prevalent in our society and (from the prespective of a publisher) they tend to sell better than darker, more introspective stories. Naturally, there are creative persons who go against the grain, and try to produce dark, introspective works, but the lack of commercial success these games see discourages future attempts at creating such stories. I, too, want to see a larger number of stories in all mediums that blur the lines between good and evil -stories whose protagonists range from reluctant to disturbed, whose evil is not necessarily Evil. I *wish* there were more stories where the Good Guys win because they exploit the humanity of the Bad, or where the "heroes" follow reluctantly the paths choosen for them by uncaring Gods. I like gray morality and indecision, and wish it would appear more often everywhere.

However, until such games (and books, movies, and television shows) can be shown to be commercial successes, it is likely that we will be forced to find this rare kind of story wherever possible, keeping a close eye on the creative persons and studios intelligent enough to understand and produce such stories.
#40 by "G'Kar"
2000-07-12 02:08:50
ashvin@babylonia.flatirons.org
Wow, that was long. I'm usually not that long-winded.

Really, I swear ;-)

-- Ash
#41 by "None-1a"
2000-07-12 02:17:24
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a/
I waited a bit before commenting on this one (wanted to see what a few more people had to say about Vampire). Brandon if you can get some guys at epic to run with this idea (doesn't need to be an RPG) I'll have my butt standing in line as soon as it's anounced waiting for it to be relesed. When Vampire's development team started talking about the whole moral issuse you'd be facing with your actions in the game was the first time I I got really interested in the game (unfortinitly from the comments made so far it sounds a lot like that was down played for the final). <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#42 by "Andy"
2000-07-12 02:26:43
andy@planetcrap.com
<b>#41</b>, None-1a:
<QUOTE>
Brandon if you can get some guys at epic to run with this idea
</QUOTE>
He'll be very clever, because he doesn't work there anymore. :)
#43 by "None-1a"
2000-07-12 02:31:35
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a/
<b>#42</b> "Andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>He'll be very clever, because he doesn't work there anymore. :)
</QUOTE>

O man how easly do I forget stuff (don't bother that would be really easy). <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#44 by "BloodKnight"
2000-07-12 03:56:27
bloodknight@somethingawful.com
<b>#42</b> "Andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>
<quote>Brandon if you can get some guys at epic to run with this idea

</quote>
He'll be very clever, because he doesn't work there anymore. :) </QUOTE>


ummm....OUCH!
#45 by "EvilAsh"
2000-07-12 04:45:55
EvilAsh@eviladam.com http://www.eviladam.com
Planescape Torment didn't sell crazy because of one thing....No multi-player.

:(

After folks enjoyed playing BG with mp..
I bet many wished Planescape had MP and when they found out it didn't they skipped it.

Oh yes.. Icewind Dale Has multi-player. :)
I bought it too. cool game.

:)
#46 by "Brandon 'GreenMarine' Reinhart"
2000-07-12 05:03:13
brandonr@3drealms.com http://www.3drealms.com
I work at 3D Realms now and I don't think they'll be having me design a dark fantasy game any time soon :)

However, I'm always doing designs for games in my spare time, so I get a lot out of just thinking about stuff like this.
#47 by "shaithis"
2000-07-12 06:37:40
chrisb@gamespy.com http://www.gamespy.com
<B>#45</B>, Evilash:

<quote>Planescape Torment didn't sell crazy because of one thing....No multi-player.</quote>

Can you back that up with any statistics? I'm under the impression (and an accurate one, I'm pretty sure), that most of the market for PC games buys them for single-player purposes, not multiplayer. Something like 80% of sales.

People seem to think that Multiplayer's this big selling point. It's often not. Most of the people who buy Diablo 2 will never play it on Battle.net. Most of the people who bought Age of Kings will never play it against another person. Fallout Tactics will probably sell 1/4 what Fallout and Fallout 2 did.

Personally, I could give a rat's ass about multiplayer. I would shell out 50 bucks for a single-player only version of Half-Life before I'd put down money for Quake3:Arena (which I still haven't done. I'm waiting for it to hit the bargain bins). Co-op is cool, and I wish more games supported it, but it doesn't affect my buying decisions at all.

Most people buy games because they view them as something like an interactive movie, not because they view them as a sport, or a group activity. The sport idea is gaining in popularity, no question (look how many people play counterstrike), and co-op still has its place, but they're still nowhere near the majority of sales.

Cheers,

-shaithis
#48 by "PainKilleR-[CE]"
2000-07-12 07:53:08
painkiller@planetfortress.com http://www.planetfortress.com/tftech/
The reason I waited so long before buying Planescape (I only just recently bought it, along with Icewind Dale) was because I saw it as just another game on the Baldur's Gate engine. Until I read the good reviews and so many good recommendations (as well as why people were recommending it) from people I trusted to a degree on things like this, it just wasn't going to end up on my hard drive.

Simply put: they didn't promote the game right. There aren't a lot of people out there willing to buy multiple games on the same engine, especially if they're still playing the first game they bought on that engine. It's even less likely when there's little mentioned about any evolution in the engine itself. It's one thing when you look at Quake 2 vs. Kingpin or Half-life, you can see the differences pretty quickly (just in the engine, nevermind the gameplay, though the differences there are even more drastic). None of the publicity that I saw (fully admitting that I didn't follow the game closely) showed me that it was going to be anything more than another BG with a different setting. It wasn't until I noticed a very large group of people that I trusted the judgment of on these things saying that it was a good game, better than BG in fact, that I even considered buying it.

Now, hopefully, I'll get the time to load it up and play it soon.

-PainKilleR-[CE]
#49 by "Apache"
2000-07-12 08:48:25
apache@voodooextreme.com http://www.voodooextreme.com
<quote>People seem to think that Multiplayer's this big selling point. It's often not. Most of the people who buy Diablo 2 will never play it on Battle.net. Most of the people who bought Age of Kings will never play it against another person. Fallout Tactics will probably sell 1/4 what Fallout and Fallout 2 did. </quote>

I'd have to say Diablo II would be an exception to this rule, with over 50,000 players on each of the realm servers practically 24 hours a day/7 days a week, that tells me that the game is quite popular online.
#50 by "PainKilleR-[CE]"
2000-07-12 08:55:52
painkiller@planetfortress.com http://www.planetfortress.com/tftech/
<b>#49</b> "Apache" wrote...
<QUOTE>I'd have to say Diablo II would be an exception to this rule, with over 50,000
players on each of the realm servers practically 24 hours a day/7 days a week,
that tells me that the game is quite popular online. </QUOTE>

50,000 per realm, with 4 realms, is 200,000 people.

Now sales of Diablo2 have been: anyone want to guess, or have figures? over 1 million sounds right to me, but that's just a rounded guess I'm pulling out of my ass, especially given that they spit out 2 million copies and many areas are having problems with getting more once they sold out.

1,000,000 - 200,000 = 800,000 which is 80%, or MOST of the players. Of course, since it's not the same 50,000 players, the numbers change a bit (then again, I'd want to look up the player numbers on battle.net every bit as much as I'd want to look up the sales figures).

-PainKilleR-[CE]
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