The Motivations of Death

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That introduction feels rather familiar...

In Mogworld, the main character sort of stumbles onto his adventure by dying.
In Poacher, the main character stumbles across a ghost woman who then gets him deep into adventure.
Here, the main character, through some "unfortunate twist of fate", gets into his own adventure.

I'm sensing a recurring pattern here.

I imagine a grim reaper game would be a lot like Hitman- orchestrate the deaths of random individuals in clever yet plausible ways that do not raise suspicion in context.

It's not even that the game has a bad concept. I could probably keep most of it around.
For example:
You are death, war has killed all humans, so you want to re-set everything.
I propose a God of War 3 ripoff: Within the first epic boss fight you do exactly that: Everyone is alive again.
This way you can see all the abilities your hero will eventually gain, motivating you to play all sidequests to unlock everything.
Then some bureaucrat knocks you on your ass, demotes you - which loses you all your mojo - and demands you do the clean-up properly.
Because earth has turned into a place where everyone all of a sudden has insight into the fabric of death, so voodoo priests, ghost conjurers and all that stuff spring up all over the place.
This leads to a game of two layers: You must reap the souls of the justly deceased in a sort of Batman's detective vision. This build up energy that you can then, switching to reality, trade in for fun combos and finishing moves which you have to perform on the undead.
You can also build in a feature where in both layers you have souls that you should not touch:
If you slay a red-coloured soul in the death-o-vision you actually create an undead being. Changing colors, changing monsters.
For killing humans in reality you can lose some form of points, or every human that you kill revives instantly (because you're Death and all) but he takes a small portion of your HP bar with him.
The story arch could pretty much be: Defeat a certain amount of monsters that have infested reality, bring in more evidence that War was innocent (because he is still being punished for the Apocalypse, even if you restore all humans) and further the overall plot about why the fuck the apocalypse happened pre-maturely and who had his finger on the big red button.
Took me 10 minutes to come up with this shit.

Silly Yahtzee! You should know better by now!

If you pitched an idea like this to any "sensible" publisher, they'd just get horrified by the sheer astonishing brilliance and uniqueness of your ideas and start hyperventilating into a paper bag until you agreed to make it into a first-person shooter with regenerating health and have the protagonist decked-out in a suit of hypermasculine powered armor. And don't forget the Xbox LIVE multiplayer!

So yeah, I guess it's up to the indie devs.

Two-A:

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.

Indeed it was, it is very central to the entire games story, it wasn't just Deaths backstory but the core narrative of him having to deal with the physical embodiment of Corruption. He initially doesn't care for helping the Makers deal with Corruption in their world (where you spend the first half of the game) but then he learns that the Corruption was caused by the very actions he regrets and feels guilty for in the past where he was tasked with killing his own people.

His motivation is literally a glowing scar on his upper right torso as the shattered shards of a crystal that held the cursed souls of his slain bretheran is embedded in to his skin at the beginning of the game. At the very end when you finally defeat Corruption Death has to make a difficult choice in order to finally deal with his guilt and rescue humanity, ultimately having to make a choice he really didn't want to but did.

Yes it is less appealing because they know another generic slaughter-fest will sell :P

Well, I'm pretty sure the horseman of Death is not exactly Death himself or a grim reaper. Rather since he is a horseman of the apocalypse, most of the theoretical hierarchy can be resolved out by like.....reading the bible. Because I'm sure they'll be accurate to the source material.....right? I don't think there really is a specific grim reaper, just the occasional angel that comes down to take a specific person because they're awesome. Everyone else just kinda goes to purgatory until their shit gets sorted out, I think (not a religious scholar).

As for the game idea, lets make protagonist a snarky guy. He realizes he has to keep up with this reaper nonsense...but that doesn't mean he can't make a few bucks in the meantime. As long as the afterlife is getting their quota, whats a few souls missing here and there. Drum up information from one soul, capture another to stuff into a sack so some guy can hassle him. Maybe have a bit of soul and body shuffles. Make turn that guy you don't like into a zombie. And when the heavenly bureaucrats come down to see why things are going funky, our protagonist waves a silver tongue at them.

Oooo, goblin grim reaper >=D

Anyone read the Legend of Jig Dragonslayer? You should. I think it would be Yahtzee's cup of tea. Clever little goblin...

Sounds a lot like "On a pale horse", by Piers Anthony I think. A guy is surprised by Death whilst trying to kill himself and accidentally kills Death instead, and so has to replace him. Good read, if you can take the homophobia.

I would play the shit out of that game.

Also now I want to visit Manny and Glotis again.

I'd also rather like to see someone like Telltale have a crack at a Final Destination game. It would be harder to cast the player as Death but a lot more fun. Rather than doing QTEs to escape death, you have to do them to cause death.

DEATH as a character is something I keep thinking about for my own game projects, but it's tricky.

I particularly like Discworld's version of Death, specially how such a creature evolves with time into something readers can sympathize with, and he/she is only made mortal in one of the books!

The idea I'm personally working with regarding the character, and what I think Terry Pratchett aimed for, is the evaluation of the value of life through the meaningless of death. As a character, the personification of Death is in an unique position to appreciate life itself, and I think an audience can be made to feel for the character that way.

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.

I can point you towards Discworld 2, a game in which you play Rincewind (voiced by Eric Idle) filling in for Death as he goes on vacation in a not-quite rip-off of Reaper Man. The game is still playable through the likes of ScummVM as well.

image

Grouchy Imp:

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.

I can point you towards Discworld 2, a game in which you play Rincewind (voiced by Eric Idle) filling in for Death as he goes on vacation in a not-quite rip-off of Reaper Man. The game is still playable through the likes of ScummVM as well.

image

Oh man. I loved those games as a kid. Which makes sense as I love the Discworld books.

Blunderboy:

Grouchy Imp:

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.

I can point you towards Discworld 2, a game in which you play Rincewind (voiced by Eric Idle) filling in for Death as he goes on vacation in a not-quite rip-off of Reaper Man. The game is still playable through the likes of ScummVM as well.

image

Oh man. I loved those games as a kid. Which makes sense as I love the Discworld books.

Yeah, my school years echoed to the damnable sound of: "That doesn't work!". Point-and-click adventure games always had pretty obscure logic, but when combined with the Discworld? Ssoooo much trial and error.

RJ 17:
snip

Nice summary, but I don't see how it counters what Yahtzee is actually saying. Yahtzee is complaining about how he couldn't connect with what he found to be a boring and confusing character - one who lacks an interesting characterisation, a relatable goal, and all the crazy powers you'd imagine the personification of death to have.

The creators had complete control over the Dark Sider's franchise. They didn't have to tell a story in which death is not the literal death, or how his powers are limited to hacking and slashing, or how he hasn't got anything but a brute brother to care about. But they still went for the story you described.

Yahtzee was blasť about the details, but I'm with him on this one. When I think of a death, I think of a tall, etherial, and graceful being, not a stand in for God of War. When I think of all the stories you could have with such a character, a battle with angels is hardly the most relatable or intelligent. Dark Siders 2 is basically the wrong story.

Porecomesis:
That introduction feels rather familiar...

In Mogworld, the main character sort of stumbles onto his adventure by dying.
In Poacher, the main character stumbles across a ghost woman who then gets him deep into adventure.
Here, the main character, through some "unfortunate twist of fate", gets into his own adventure.

I'm sensing a recurring pattern here.

It's the standard way to tell a story. Take an ordinary-ish person and have them fall into a fantastical adventure. It is used because the ordinary-ish person acts as an audience surrogate. He thinks like we do, he responds like we do, and he needs everything explained to him like we do.

It is possible to tell a story the other way around too, in which the person is fantastical and the world is ordinary-ish (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, any of the Marx Brothers movies etc), but you can't make both fantastical. Readers need something familiar, so that they can put things in perspective. If you create a world where nothing is familiar, and both the hero and the situation is fantastical, you risk the audience not relating to the situation and becoming dis-interested.

maninahat:

Porecomesis:
That introduction feels rather familiar...

In Mogworld, the main character sort of stumbles onto his adventure by dying.
In Poacher, the main character stumbles across a ghost woman who then gets him deep into adventure.
Here, the main character, through some "unfortunate twist of fate", gets into his own adventure.

I'm sensing a recurring pattern here.

It's the standard way to tell a story. Take an ordinary-ish person and have them fall into a fantastical adventure. It is used because the ordinary-ish person acts as an audience surrogate. He thinks like we do, he responds like we do, and he needs everything explained to him like we do.

It is possible to tell a story the other way around too, in which the person is fantastical and the world is ordinary-ish (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, any of the Marx Brothers movies etc), but you can't make both fantastical. Readers need something familiar, so that they can put things in perspective. If you create a world where nothing is familiar, and both the hero and the situation is fantastical, you risk the audience not relating to the situation and becoming dis-interested.

That's true but my point is that it seems to be Yahtzee's MO.

The Random One:
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.

Perhaps, but nearly all of his pitches are on a AAA scale or very nearly so. And definitely a much bigger scale than the games he's actually produced. He can't exactly crank out, for example, Mankind Has Yet to Recognize My Genius with Game Maker or whatever he's using these days. The last time he even tried making something with a third dimension (Fun Space Game: the Game), he gave up after only a few weeks of work.

A similar concept is already in story form for anyone who has watched the BLEACH series. I will agree that the industry has been flooded with look a-likes, copy cats, reruns, etc... much like the movie industry, so the challenge for these for runners should be creating not only new ways to tell the story, but to tell new stories and concepts never explored that have substance and depth.

That... actually sounds very good. The more emotionally troubled a soul is and the longer it's had to fester, the more dangerous it becomes. Thing is, when a reaping the souls from a huge battle like the kind you just fought FPS-style as a soldier in the living world, the last few are always going to have lots of time to drift, so they become bosses. Sort of like Space Invaders where the last few will be the hardest to reap no matter which order you do them in. The more chaotic and savage the battle, the more anguished the souls are. Actually that could even encourage you to make the kills that your character makes in the WoL as merciful as possible. Teabag someone, and you will be facing a truly enraged horror when you try to reap that soul. Justice.

This requires planning.

As others probably have mentioned... too much like P. Anthony's "On a Pale Horse" story.

I'd rather not play as that guy - Instead, I'd rather play as one of Irregular Webcomic's Deaths, starting as a very minor death of a very obscure/contrived/stupid ways to die (such as Choking on a Giant Frog or Run through the spleen by a toothpick) teleporting all over the world and competing with other Deaths to collect souls and get promoted to a less convoluted death.

It would be more of a cathartic puzzle game, where there might be chances to just swoop in at just the right moment to contrive a death to fall within your comically limited parameters (Often competing with other Deaths who are trying to rig the same situation to fit THEIR comically limited parameters)... and getting to the soul is just PART of the issue - you then have to avoid being outsmarted/outstupided by the souls of the people you're trying to collect, and collect the soul in a manner that doesn't get your efforts rejected by the Head Death because you do something stupid.

Gameplay changes with each 'promotion' as you get assigned a new way to die, possibly causing you to forget which one you are (And giving your kill to someone else.

A game that frustrates and tries to drive the players to idiocy out of desperation, but remains too comical and fun to not play!

ANYBODY can THINK of an interesting game concept. Stop giving Yahtzee so much credit, please.

When he first started describing this concept of his all I could think of was the Dead Like Me tv show.

In the DS world I find that the horsemen are just ultimate warriors of order for a lack of a better word. Its just that simple no over analyzing needed.

The Random One:
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.

Are you thinking something like a dialogue puzzle based Mass Effect/Investigation game where you play a shapeshifing god who has to help confused spirits achieve catharsis and accept their fate? That sounds ridiculously fun.

On an unrelated note, the best death is the death from Sandman. She's just such a good person

demoncub1990:
Am I the only person that thinks that Death kinda looks like Raziel from Soul Reaver?

I am?

okay..

You're not. This whole reimagining by Yahtzee in fact sounds an awful like what I spent 3 Legacy of Kain games doing - killing enemies, then reaping (reaving?) their souls. The primary difference being in LoK, you did this to regain energy, to survive. There was no upper management saying "You have to reap every soul you kill". That would get boring reeeal fast.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Is trying something new honestly less appealing to developers than getting to chop up monsters with big swords for the eleventy billionth time?

Yaup.

Of course, it's only appealing to them because that's what gets them money from the publishers. It is more appealing to publishers because they know that "Monster Chopping with Big Swords: 11B - The Choppining" will sell really well. Whereas "not stab and/or shoot waves of faceless goons 1" is not so tried-and-true.

Get less people to buy "Choppy McChop" and more people to buy "Innovative McDifferent", and the publishers/developers will follow suit.

That, or cut out the publishers and let developers make what they want and sell it on their own. If only there was some low-cost mass-distribution channel through which they could sell games directly. It would probably involve an intricate series of tubes...

The problem with great ideas comes down to having them dissected, violated and then slapped together with other people's great (or not so great) ideas in the horrific negazone of committees. It's the difference between a book written by a single author and a book written by six people. Yes, single individuals can develop some truly awful ideas, but I've come across precious few stories or scripts that had multiple authors that weren't just grotesque aberrations.

I felt the same way when I read about the Darksiders games, and it's how I tend to feel whenever some all-powerful entity is involved in a story. It's really hard for me to care much for a demigod/superhero unless there's just some really compelling storytelling going on. A related problem is the irredeemably awful bad guy/group/alien race. It's so much more meaningful when you have to pause and consider the other side, which then makes you consider your side or the protagonist's side.

As a side note to this, I feel the separatist(human)/renegade(charr) factions in Guild Wars 2 are very well handled in this regard. You can understand and maybe even identify completely with their motivations (why do we want peace with these people who did such horrible things to us) and yet you also can see how trying to enforce a peace treaty is necessary to avoid endless war for future generations.

As soon as he brought up the living world and the dead world, I immediately thought of Soul Reaver.

The mechanics aren't so heavily based around the idea as Yahtzee's suggesting, but the story is.

Nice, except it's pretty much the plot from Soul Music.

To answer the question:

Game Idea:

You are the Grim Reaper and one day Mr. Reaper is carrying away the soul of some mobster who was killed after getting hit by a car. He talks with Mr. Reaper and blah blah blah Mr. Reaper must now kill off the 20 mafia leaders. But he is limited by the fact that he cannot directly kill them like he normally does, he has to do it indirectly.
That or the mob found an ancient artifact that makes them immune to Mr. Reaper's direct actions which offends him so he tries to kill them indirectly.

Mr. Reaper is invisible, can see everything and can move through walls, listen to people talk and can talk to people he has just killed. But he can only interact in the physical world by killing things.
Mr. Reaper can kill more than just humans, he can kill animals and bugs. But none of this metaphorical "killing the lights" stuff though.

So the game is a puzzle game where Mr Reaper must kill certain people/animals in certain ways to kill the mob bosses. You can kill innocent people but it will cost you points. No points are lost for killing bad cops, mob flunkies or animals/bugs.

So you can get missions like killing Mr A's family which drives him to suicide.

Kill Mr. B's rival boss. This makes the rival's flunkies want to kill Mr. B and Mr. Reaper kills Mr. B's guard dog so the flunkies can just waltz right in and kill Mr. B.

Mr. C needs surgery. You can kill the driver of the car causing a car accident, or you can kill the surgeon while he is operating.

Mr. D and Mr. E attends Mr. C's funeral with other rival mob bosses who put aside their hate to pay their respects. Mr. Reaper kills mob bosses at the funeral in a certain pattern and in certain ways to implicate Mr. D. Mr. E goes nuts and kills Mr. D in a rage which causes the other mobsters to react and shoot Mr. E dead.

Sorry Yahtzee, but that idea sounds like an interbreed of classic RPG and whack-a-mole. :P

Oh please Mr. Croshaw, you damn well know that the "4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse" is just a convenient backdrop to a game where the player slaughters hoardes of dudes. It has no real point or message beyond "You're Death. How cool is that?"

And as far as the AAA publishers are concerned, that's all the effort they want (and need) to put into it.

*Ahem*
And now, my requisite pretentious rant on the nature of mass-market appeal, condensed.

[Pretentious]As long as those stupid pigs gladly eat generic pig-shit, they will be fed from their own latrines instead of their troughs.

Or:
These games are the product of a market happy with the same recycled shit.
[/pretentious]

Dammit Yahtzee, you've envisioned another game I would like to play but most likely will not be able to due to it never getting made.

It sounds like you should collaborate with Terry Pratchett and make a Discworld game where you're Death.

That would be the most awesomest thing ever.

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 anounces

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