Today I’m getting creative. I’m inventing something. I’m finally putting pen to paper (so to speak) and conjuring the tale of my dreams! Not only that people, but all of what follows is written as part of the Charming and Open: Community Blogging Event, organised and hosted by Robert Ian Shepherd of Adventure Rules!
The premise of this community event is simple. Bloggers are invited to ask Ian a question relevant to his blog, and in return he asks a question of them. As he is much more organised than me, Ian has already answered mine, and I thoroughly recommend that you read his response to my question about weapons in video games, before checking out my response to his question below:
If you could write the story for the next game in your favorite series, what would that game be about?
Wow! That’s a bit of a doozy. I enjoy writing fanfiction from time to time, but the idea of coming up with a whole story is a bit daunting. It also presented me with a few initial questions, most importantly: do I even have a favourite video game series? I toyed with a few series I could call my favourite – Final Fantasy, Tekken, Project X Zone (y’know, because we all deserve a guilty pleasure…), in truth I toyed with a lot of series, but in the end I’ve decided that my favourite series (at least for today) is a JRPG series which is perhaps not given enough love outside Japan (except, weirdly, in France):
On December 16th, 2017 Bandai Namco are planning an event to celebrate the action-RPG series’ 22nd birthday, which will hopefully see a new title announced for the Switch (pleeeeeeeeease). Before this happens, I’m going to present to you my ideas about what I’d like to see in this game.
One thing that makes the Tales of series a good fit for this question is that each of the games has its own tagline which summarizes the main theme of the story. For example, Tales of Vesperia’s main theme is the ‘enforcement of justice’, Tales of the Abyss’s is ‘To know the meaning of one’s birth’ and my theme for this new game, which may or may not be named Tales of Orfellia, is ‘Respecting today is respecting tomorrow’.
I gathered that the last game in the series, 2017’s Tales of Berseria was a relatively dark affair for the Tales series (I haven’t played it yet though…). But with this one, I want to highlight what can be achieved through co-operation and friendship against the odds. In the simplest terms, my characters are going to have to learn to work together, and the first crucial step in this process is gaining each other’s respect. The success or failure of our party to treat everything and everyone with respect will be what sets them apart from the other characters in the world.
Tales of themes don’t tend to just describe one part of the story or the characters though, the themes tend to be found right through the game, and therefore I want this game to involve the concept of respect in another way. The theme of respecting others is a good starting point for the characters, they can look at what it means to show respect, how people gain and lose respect, and the minimum level of respect that should be shown to all. However I also want the game to be about respecting the world as a whole. So I guess what I’m saying is that I want this game to be about respecting nature and the environment, and through that, respecting the future for all.
Tales has actually touched on the environment before, for example with the use of Aer & Blastia in Tales of Vesperia, but in this game, I want the environmental message to be there from the start, for it to be our characters initial focus, rather than being one part of a wide and complex story.
So, we’ll have a random group of oddities who wind up working together to ensure they can save the world from environmental disaster. They will be in conflict with some kind of (probably evil) government. This sounds kinda familiar right? But what they are really fighting against here is not power-hungry villains, but the ideas of apathy and convenience. The idea that as long as the government can be seen to make people happy today, it doesn’t matter what the future consequences of their actions will be.
These are quite tricky concepts to fight against, particularly as the majority of the people will not support our party at first as they will be seen to be threatening people’s lifestyles, so the kind of scene I’m imagining here is that our gang might start some kind of minor (and reversible) environmental meltdown to prove their point. If they can win over the populace, then there might at some point be a need for a revolution against those in power, who have forgotten to respect their people, their land and the future. This could be led by one of our gang who is working from the inside, maybe adding a stealth element to the game.
Diverging from the story slightly, the battle systems would not be dissimilar to those that have existed in previous games – I really enjoy the combat in Tales games, so why mess with it too much? One thing I would like to do though is to tie the combat into our story, so we could introduce an element of empathy towards the creatures that inhabit the world. In various games including Breath of the Wild and Xenoblade Chronicles, I refuse to pick fights with creatures who don’t want to fight me. I won’t chase after some perfectly peaceful Krabbles just because I need something they drop for a non-essential side-quest. I mean I walk past various wildlife every day; I don’t approach them, engage them in battle and then pull out a string of mystic artes to mow them down now do I? Tales games don’t tend to have passive creatures roaming the fields, but I like the idea of them building a world where you can roam with them, and perhaps be rewarded for your pacifism.
Finally, just to go off on a complete tangent, all this environmental do-gooding is all very well, but we need some character interactions too, and there are a couple of things that I’ve felt have been missing recently from my JRPG experiences (although I’m probably just not playing the right games). These are the death of a major character, and romance. Now, romance can be easily woven into this story. Respect after all is pretty much an essential when it comes to romance. Killing a main character isn’t necessarily difficult, but I feel it has to play a real role in the story. I’m going to leave the finer details down to the folks at Bandai Namco, but I’m after a real tear-jerker!
The difficulty in trying to put together a story, and the reason I found this hard to write, is that essentially, the stories in a lot of JRPGs are very similar. You often have to save the world, there is usually some major character development involved and generally the characters don’t start out as besties but have to learn to work together. But this experience got me thinking that perhaps what is important when coming up with story ideas is not trying too hard to make it original, but instead trying to make it important to you, because only by doing that will you create a truly compelling story.
So anyway, what do you think? What other story elements should I add here before sending it off to Bandai Namco? Or perhaps I’ve just proved that all JRPG stories are the same and I’m not cut out to work in the world of story-telling! Let me know below.
Thanks for reading.