The Motivations of Death

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The Motivations of Death

Yahtzee proposes a very different game involving the Grim Reaper.

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No, dear Yahtzee. Trying something new is unappealing to the *publishers*, the guys who give the developers their money and get to say "No man, don't bother establishing character motivations or an arc or anything. We gave you this money so you can make heads fly off more spectacularly, now get to it chop chop."

In some ways your concept seems like a more fleshed out concept of the whole life/death realm going on in Soul Reaver. I'm know really interested in playing a game like that.

Still, even if the motivation was spotty I still enjoyed Darksiders 2 for it's combat. Yeah the story was rather silly, but it's certainly an easy thing to ignore.

Reminiscent of Piers Anthony's On A Pale Horse, but a video game. Oh, and in the middle of an actual war. I like it.

And yes, I expect a big part of the problem lies with the publishers, but still ... a really creative team should be able to make this work and still sell it to the suits.

CyricZ:
"...We gave you this money so you can make heads fly off more spectacularly, now get to it chop chop."

What you did there, I see it.

OT: time and time again Mr Croshaw comes up with great ideas for games that shame most of the game industry and we never get to play these games. Can we just hurry up and get cloning sorted? Then we could have a million monkeys Yahtzees working at a million keyboards, making us the best games evar.

the7ofswords:
Reminiscent of Piers Anthony's On A Pale Horse, but a video game. Oh, and in the middle of an actual war. I like it.

And yes, I expect a big part of the problem lies with the publishers, but still ... a really creative team should be able to make this work and still sell it to the suits.

I was thinking the same thing, the new "Death" is the person who kills the old "Death"...

Man a videogame series using some of the ideas from Anthony's "Incarnations of Immortality" would be awesome... though just like the books the Satan storyline would be the best ;)

I love that he's clearly come up with an actual original game concept whilst just writing out a weekly column.

My concern would be that the reaping aspect would be too repetitive. This is a flaw inherant within any game which revolves around shirking off "work" to play the game proper: the game fundamentally has portions that feel like work. Then again, Pandora's Tower made this kinda work by wrapping it around time-based level progression ala Majora's Mask. Heck, there's two examples of games that work shirking responsibilities into things in the same genre as Darksiders.

Or if I were more cynical, I'd just point out that MMORPGs are popular.

This actually sounds pretty rad. The shifting thing is a new twist on Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver's material/spectral plane mechanic.

It doesn't any sense from a storytelling perspective though. If your guy is Death, and your role is to reap souls, and people are dying every second all over a presumably large warzone, even things like teleportation and fancy scythe-fu won't be able to account for the sheer backlog of souls to be reap'd that would build up.

I think that every time Yahtzee comes up with a good idea for a game he should just create a kickstarter for it (considering that he himself has complained about publishers sinking far to much money into a given game), and then these games that obtain the needed support could actually get made.

I see it now: funding goal 1 he gets 1 programmer himself, and we get a timeline of a couple years.
funding goal 2 he gets 2 additional programmers, and a timeline of a year.
funding goal 3 he gets a level designer, and maybe an artist/modeler/animator, but we still have to wait a year.

If Yahtzee publicly announces his idea for a game, but expresses no explicit interest in that game idea, and in many cases just says that he wishes it was made; does he still own the idea?

wouldn't that mean that you'd be flicking back and forth between deathrealm and the real world with the speed of a woodpecker?

I really fail to see how "Oh no, I don't wanna be damned" is a better motivation than "I want to save my bro from damnation". Gameplay-wise, attaching a minigame to every kill on a war-wide scale sounds just tedious, repetitive and not fun. Setting-wise, we're just following murderers, asshole murderers, a protagonist probably jaded (probably already by the setting alone, but even more so during the game) and completely detached divine bureaucrats (that can keep the game linear and steer the plot completely freely).
That's even more dull than Warhammer's grimderp, at least that had aliens and magic and was set in spaaaace.

As for the game itself, I didn't play the first one so from the beginning of the intro I just assumed everyone got mythological themes simply because it sounds/looks cool (heck even your skills have weird names) and Death's more powerful Reaper form is like overclocking and a shape tough to maintain. Otherwise he's just one of the council's elite henchmen, all of them part of a race so broken they needed to be exterminated save for the four that are now under direct supervision from above.

I really don't get what's so hard to understand in this game, it seemed pretty straightforward to me. Did the first game wage war on braincells?

I don't think it was really the point to have Death's motivations detailed. He seems like a pretty introverted guy with a lot of secrets but also with a very strict code of ethics. I liked that. And what was revealed was that he's a very big supporter of balance and justice. So much in fact that he killed his own kind to protect both. Does it seem strange then that he would try to free his brother? It's his brother, balance is in danger and it's a right thing to do.

I really really like these hypothetical ideas for games you come up with. They sound like they'd be a good bit of fun, with a surprising amount of depth to them as well. Someone really needs to have a look at them. They're excellent. I WANT THEM. D:

Death wants to bring the human race to life because then he can do his job again .Now thats a good motivation for that character .

So I guess the whole sub plot about the Nephilim went right by yahtzees head or he really indeed just didn't give a flying fuck to the point of pretending it wasn't part of the story when it was THE VERY CORE of Death's motivation. Darksiders fiction is one you must be invested in to care. Of course it all seems like tired boring nonsense if you don't because you're pretending that only 20% of what you are being shown and told is there.

It's like Yahtzee is basically complaining about his own super jaded super cynical reaction to things and instead of pointing the blame at himself he points it at the content creators.

I like Yahtzee and I've been a fan of his videos since he started but his attitude to "other peoples bullshit" when it comes to storytelling often rubs me the wrong way. Dismissing creative fiction completely just because you'd rather be experiencing hypothetical Story X or Story Y just seems like a really poor way to review and critic anything. But then it's probably good I've always watched his reviews more so for entertainment at seeing a cynical guy yell about things he hates that actual well thought out critique.

LazyAza:
So I guess the whole sub plot about the Nephilim went right by yahtzees head or he really indeed just didn't give a flying fuck to the point of pretending it wasn't part of the story when it was THE VERY CORE of Death's motivation. Darksiders fiction is one you must be invested in to care. Of course it all seems like tired boring nonsense if you don't because you're pretending that only 20% of what you are being shown and told is there.

It's like Yahtzee is basically complaining about his own super jaded super cynical reaction to things and instead of pointing the blame at himself he points it at the content creators.

I like Yahtzee and I've been a fan of his videos since he started but his attitude to "other peoples bullshit" when it comes to storytelling often rubs me the wrong way. Dismissing creative fiction completely just because you'd rather be experiencing hypothetical Story X or Story Y just seems like a really poor way to review and critic anything. But then it's probably good I've always watched his reviews more so for entertainment at seeing a cynical guy yell about things he hates that actual well thought out critique.

Was the sub plot in the actual game?, if so, I see where you're going. But if the core motivation of the protagonist was in a tie-in book or something other than the game itself then it's bad storytelling. I'm all for expanding universes, it gives them more life. But the story of a particular work should (ideally) be able stand on its own.

Things are messed up man. The seals were broken even though they weren't supposed to, and you know War got framed for something he didn't do. Then all of humanity died and since thats probably one of the pillars of all existance everything is about to tip over and fall into a black hole. And Death has to do ... well something.

It's not the deepest of settings but it's a sequel to an action game about pulling levers and jumping on platforms. Thats not the best context to make innovation.

I agree though that physically killing stuff with sharp ojects seemed to fit War better. But it's about antropomorphed God-like beings, these things rarely makes sense. Old Norse mythology is just as nonsensical in the same way. And I suppose the same holds true for Greek mythology and myths in other religions with polytheism. You just have to go with the setting that Gods are almost like human beings.

Two-A:

LazyAza:
So I guess the whole sub plot about the Nephilim went right by yahtzees head or he really indeed just didn't give a flying fuck to the point of pretending it wasn't part of the story when it was THE VERY CORE of Death's motivation. Darksiders fiction is one you must be invested in to care. Of course it all seems like tired boring nonsense if you don't because you're pretending that only 20% of what you are being shown and told is there.

It's like Yahtzee is basically complaining about his own super jaded super cynical reaction to things and instead of pointing the blame at himself he points it at the content creators.

I like Yahtzee and I've been a fan of his videos since he started but his attitude to "other peoples bullshit" when it comes to storytelling often rubs me the wrong way. Dismissing creative fiction completely just because you'd rather be experiencing hypothetical Story X or Story Y just seems like a really poor way to review and critic anything. But then it's probably good I've always watched his reviews more so for entertainment at seeing a cynical guy yell about things he hates that actual well thought out critique.

Was the sub plot in the actual game?, if so, I see where you're going. But if the core motivation of the protagonist was in a tie-in book or something other than the game itself then it's bad storytelling. I'm all for expanding universes, it gives them more life. But the story of a particular work should (ideally) be able stand on its own.

It was the main plot in the first game.

I'd pay 50 USD for it.

the7ofswords:
Reminiscent of Piers Anthony's On A Pale Horse, but a video game. Oh, and in the middle of an actual war. I like it.

Yeah, that's the first thing I thought of when I read this. "Hey, that was a Piers Anthony book". Not a bad concept for a game, actually.

Bostur:

Two-A:

LazyAza:
So I guess the whole sub plot about the Nephilim went right by yahtzees head or he really indeed just didn't give a flying fuck to the point of pretending it wasn't part of the story when it was THE VERY CORE of Death's motivation. Darksiders fiction is one you must be invested in to care. Of course it all seems like tired boring nonsense if you don't because you're pretending that only 20% of what you are being shown and told is there.

It's like Yahtzee is basically complaining about his own super jaded super cynical reaction to things and instead of pointing the blame at himself he points it at the content creators.

I like Yahtzee and I've been a fan of his videos since he started but his attitude to "other peoples bullshit" when it comes to storytelling often rubs me the wrong way. Dismissing creative fiction completely just because you'd rather be experiencing hypothetical Story X or Story Y just seems like a really poor way to review and critic anything. But then it's probably good I've always watched his reviews more so for entertainment at seeing a cynical guy yell about things he hates that actual well thought out critique.

Was the sub plot in the actual game?, if so, I see where you're going. But if the core motivation of the protagonist was in a tie-in book or something other than the game itself then it's bad storytelling. I'm all for expanding universes, it gives them more life. But the story of a particular work should (ideally) be able stand on its own.

It was the main plot in the first game.

Oh, I see, I have yet to play both games. :/

Two-A:

LazyAza:
So I guess the whole sub plot about the Nephilim went right by yahtzees head or he really indeed just didn't give a flying fuck to the point of pretending it wasn't part of the story when it was THE VERY CORE of Death's motivation. Darksiders fiction is one you must be invested in to care. Of course it all seems like tired boring nonsense if you don't because you're pretending that only 20% of what you are being shown and told is there.

It's like Yahtzee is basically complaining about his own super jaded super cynical reaction to things and instead of pointing the blame at himself he points it at the content creators.

I like Yahtzee and I've been a fan of his videos since he started but his attitude to "other peoples bullshit" when it comes to storytelling often rubs me the wrong way. Dismissing creative fiction completely just because you'd rather be experiencing hypothetical Story X or Story Y just seems like a really poor way to review and critic anything. But then it's probably good I've always watched his reviews more so for entertainment at seeing a cynical guy yell about things he hates that actual well thought out critique.

Was the sub plot in the actual game?, if so, I see where you're going. But if the core motivation of the protagonist was in a tie-in book or something other than the game itself then it's bad storytelling. I'm all for expanding the universe in which of a particular setting, it gives it more life. But the story of a particular work should (ideally) be able stand on its own.

It was, quite literally, the first thing they say in the game. The first... Its part of the intro.

I agree with LazyAza. Sometimes Yatzhee's critics seems like he is not paying attention or just "forgetting" stuff to pull his point across...

I first noticed it during Uncharted, when his complains were:

How about a game where you can play as Death from Discworld? Esp. if you had Ian Richardson as the voice of Death.

hermes200:

Two-A:

LazyAza:
So I guess the whole sub plot about the Nephilim went right by yahtzees head or he really indeed just didn't give a flying fuck to the point of pretending it wasn't part of the story when it was THE VERY CORE of Death's motivation. Darksiders fiction is one you must be invested in to care. Of course it all seems like tired boring nonsense if you don't because you're pretending that only 20% of what you are being shown and told is there.

It's like Yahtzee is basically complaining about his own super jaded super cynical reaction to things and instead of pointing the blame at himself he points it at the content creators.

I like Yahtzee and I've been a fan of his videos since he started but his attitude to "other peoples bullshit" when it comes to storytelling often rubs me the wrong way. Dismissing creative fiction completely just because you'd rather be experiencing hypothetical Story X or Story Y just seems like a really poor way to review and critic anything. But then it's probably good I've always watched his reviews more so for entertainment at seeing a cynical guy yell about things he hates that actual well thought out critique.

Was the sub plot in the actual game?, if so, I see where you're going. But if the core motivation of the protagonist was in a tie-in book or something other than the game itself then it's bad storytelling. I'm all for expanding the universe in which of a particular setting, it gives it more life. But the story of a particular work should (ideally) be able stand on its own.

It was, quite literally, the first thing they say in the game. The first... Its part of the intro.

I agree with LazyAza. Sometimes Yatzhee's critics seems like he is not paying attention or just "forgetting" stuff to pull his point across...

I first noticed it during Uncharted, when his complains were:

I have only played a demo of the first one. So I'm sorry that I don't know much about the story.

I agree that he lets his bias show a lot sometimes (whenever he reviews a Nintendo game, for example).

I like how they touched on Drakes Motivation in Uncharted 3 only to completely abandon it latter on. The problem with giving characters Motivation in games, is in order to give a character motivation it would require writing a good story to go along with it.

I feel motivation gets lost in a lot of games where your just moving set character to cut scene to cut scene with no interactive choices. They don't even have to be moral choices like in Infamous 2 or Bioshock just something that says "here I am." Like being able to take that cool chick with the red jacket with you. instead of being forced to drag that whiny reporter chick with you for a 3rd time in Uncharted 3. Writers seem to be more focused on motivation and over all story telling when there's multiple paths to consider.

Yahtzee,

You lost the game developers at "character arc".

Gotta say, Yahtzee, I find it a bit odd that I didn't even play the first Darksiders game and yet I seem to have a better handle on the story than you do.

Indeed, in the Darksider universe, the Horsemen are not the living embodiments of their namesakes. Turns out they're just 4 warriors of a warrior-race that was creating havok across the cosmos. These 4 saw the destruction they had wrought with their brethren and decided that someone had to put a stop to it. So in exchange for ridiculous amounts of power, they sign up with the Cosmic Bureaucracy to serve The Balance and try to maintain said balance across the various planes of existence. As such, they essentially become the strong-arm enforcers for the Bureaucracy, going around punishing those that break the rules of the balance, including a cease-fire with regards to the human realm. Evidently a pact was formed between Heaven and Hell as arbitrated by the Bureaucracy stating that only once the 7th seal has been broken could the two oposing armies meet on Earth and duke it out. However War was tricked into starting things early which lands him in the comsic brig.

So now we come to Death. His story apparently takes place during War's imprisonment at the beginning of the first game. As for who Death is and what are his powers, yes, he's just a guy that's really good at killing things - just like his mates - however he does have the powers of the Reaper. What you apparently missed, however, was that just like War before him: Death is not riding with the authority of the Bureaucracy behind him. As such, his power and authority is severely diminished. This explains why you can't fly around in Reaper Form the entire game: his powers are still sealed away (presumably in the 7th Seal, to be specific). The King of the Dead even tells you this flat out: "You do not ride with The Council's authority. Until you do, you are beneath me." This implies that Death should hold rank over the vast majority of the characters in the game, but since he's acting on his own, he is denied that authority. This leaves him as just being a guy who's very good at killing...who can also tap his deeper power by transforming into the Reaper for short bits at a time.

As for motivation, he believes (and rightfully so, from what I've been told by friends that have played the first game) that his brother is indeed innocent. That War was "The eldest and most noble of the Horsemen, and that he would never have done what he did on purpose." So yeah, you can chalk it up to blind loyalty to his brother. But as we also learn, the 4 are the last survivors of the race that they came from, can you really begrudge them a bit of loyalty towards one another? One of my favorite parts of the game was how through Death's dialogue they actually seem to be mocking traditional adventure/RPG quests. "You must go and open the lava gates so we can light our forge!" is met with Death responding by essentially saying "I'm Death, why the fuck should I do you a favor?" Death doesn't care about the concerns of the quest givers in the game, he just wants to get his own personal quest done and over with. He feels that he should have the authority to demand that the King of the Dead help him with no questions asked, only to once again be reminded that he's riding without the true authority that backs up his power.

gardian06:
I think that every time Yahtzee comes up with a good idea for a game he should just create a kickstarter for it (considering that he himself has complained about publishers sinking far to much money into a given game), and then these games that obtain the needed support could actually get made.

The problem is, Yahtzee isn't really all that interested in making games, just coming up with ideas for them. And while there are people who make a decent living doing that (Peter Molyneux, Suda51, Tim Schafer), they all actually have established careers in the industry. And the day Yahtzee gives up his sweet gig as a critic to step onto the bottom rung at a game studio is the day ice cream starts raining down from the sky. (I'm pretty sure he said once that Valve is the only AAA studio he would ever deign to work for, and they turned down his application.)

The problem is less that he's the only person with decent game ideas; it's that the hundreds of other people with neat ideas like these, including the ones who work in the industry already, are no more empowered to make their ideas a reality than he is. The industry simply does not value fresh new ideas for the most part. Even Valve isn't going to call him up and say "Hey, we want to turn your pitch into a game"; they're too busy making unnecessary sequels and buying out mod teams who have finished products to show for their work.

Hmm, maybe someone should put together a mod team to produce one of Yahtzee's game ideas. That's probably the only way it could happen at this point.

I think that's one of those ideas where you'd really need the "right team" to do it. That is, it's not something all developers would manage to pull off and make it actually fun to do.

canadamus_prime:
How about a game where you can play as Death from Discworld? Esp. if you had Ian Richardson as the voice of Death.

Yes please. Best Death Ever.

The problem with a human becoming the Grim Reaper is that the idea has already been ruined thanks to the mangling of Family Guy & the Simpsons.

The problem is that after the first Darksiders became a sleeper hit, you can not review the franchise based on the games alone, and assumptions made about the back story. DSII constantly makes references to the handful of comics that were released between the two games.

I think it's actually part of the flavor of Darksiders series, that you play a demigod who you normally wouldn't relate to, and if you do it makes for some interesting experience.
I don't really want to play as Death that has human motivations.
I wonder if they get to complete the story. Looks like they need 2 more games explaining what 2 other horsemen were doing at the time of DS1 and 2 events. And then maybe final 5th game where you somehow get to play all 4?

For that concept, the only process not explained would be gameplay progression. How would one encounter change from the next. Also if killing enemies twice would be pretty annoying so some way to keep the audience from making it seem samy must be implemented.

Am I the only person that thinks that Death kinda looks like Raziel from Soul Reaver?

I am?

okay..

My thought on a game about death would be a supernatural Dinner Dash. People are dying and you have to show up and convince them to cross over, and you choose how you'll appear to them, how you'll approach them etc.

Steve the Pocket:

gardian06:
I think that every time Yahtzee comes up with a good idea for a game he should just create a kickstarter for it (considering that he himself has complained about publishers sinking far to much money into a given game), and then these games that obtain the needed support could actually get made.

The problem is, Yahtzee isn't really all that interested in making games, just coming up with ideas for them. And while there are people who make a decent living doing that (Peter Molyneux, Suda51, Tim Schafer), they all actually have established careers in the industry. And the day Yahtzee gives up his sweet gig as a critic to step onto the bottom rung at a game studio is the day ice cream starts raining down from the sky. (I'm pretty sure he said once that Valve is the only AAA studio he would ever deign to work for, and they turned down his application.)

The problem is less that he's the only person with decent game ideas; it's that the hundreds of other people with neat ideas like these, including the ones who work in the industry already, are no more empowered to make their ideas a reality than he is. The industry simply does not value fresh new ideas for the most part. Even Valve isn't going to call him up and say "Hey, we want to turn your pitch into a game"; they're too busy making unnecessary sequels and buying out mod teams who have finished products to show for their work.

Hmm, maybe someone should put together a mod team to produce one of Yahtzee's game ideas. That's probably the only way it could happen at this point.

Oh come on. The AAA game industry is the only thing that exists now? Yahtzee has released quite a few games independently, and while he's no Edmund McMillan, he's a lot better than most of the overpriced stuff that you're talking about, simply because he has room to experiment.

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