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Pseudolonewolf`s Avatar Miasmon's Plot: A follow-up Wed 3rd Aug 2011 11:29am

Category: Miasmon

The last news post has had quite a bit of activity, and I've been responding more often than usual myself... though unfortunately my responses may have come across as dismissive or stubborn or something like that, which doesn't bring me any joy...

I've spent several days though planning the plot in detail, and there's a whole load of it that I can't describe in news posts like this or the last because otherwise I'd be spoiling the whole story. I built the plot from the middle; the end bits are meant to be a conclusion of the middle bits, and the start is meant to build up to and foreshadow parts of the middle (and of course the end).
Keeping that in mind, I managed to narrow down the possibilities for the starting bit to two that would fit with the rest of the plot that's to come...

But when presented with an option A and an option B, it seems that many people took the chance to suggest 'option C, this thing I just thought up now without knowledge of the rest of the plot'.
While I suppose there's some value in fresh ideas in a general sense, it's somewhat frustrating hearing people just write about whatever comes to mind like that because, well, I *have* spent days devotedly planning, coming up with loads of ideas build on the backs of others and dismissing many in the process, and it's sort of like people feel that their spontaneous ideas will instantly be of equal value or something like that... when they don't really fit with the rest of the plot.

I don't want to dismiss anyone's efforts or contributions as if they're completely worthless or unwanted or anything, and I appreciate that you all commented at all, if you did, but... well, I suppose I just don't like having to say 'no, I can't do that' over and over again when people suggest things that can't actually fit because they didn't know enough about the future events when coming up with their ideas... It's not pleasant to be dismissive, but I wouldn't like to lie and say that I 'will consider it' or something like, and it's also difficult integrating ideas that, uh, sort of weren't asked for and which don't fit with the rest of the stuff that's to come... I don't like disappointing people though! D:

Anyway, I'll give you examples of what I mean:

One common suggestion was a compromise between the two ideas where you play as Francis, but you can choose his sex (I suppose you'd be Francis or... Francesca or something?!/1). It seems like a neat and obvious solution to the problem, but it can't really work because Francis's planned personality and lines are written from a male standpoint; you can't just transplant words from a man into a woman's mouth and expect them to sound just as fitting. But more importantly, there's a load of plot stuff that specifically requires for him to be male for any of it to work... and it's sort of integral to the later events so it couldn't be changed without ripping apart my plans, which took a while to get where they are now so I don't want to do that.

Another suggestion was playing as Francis, but having a battle earlier on, in the middle of or before all the rambling dialogue. This couldn't work either though because Francis hates monsters and has *never* trained them, ever; he couldn't remember a past when he ever did and he wouldn't just spontaneously decide to start before someone had taken quite a bit of time to convince him (and if a situation came up where he'd need to fight, he'd just flee instead; any 'unavoidable fight' situations wouldn't fit with the plot). Changing it so that he DID train them wouldn't make sense; the tragic accident that prevented him from ever training them happened when he was in the process of designing the machine that clones them, so it was impossible for anyone train monsters before that.

Flashbacks were suggested too; I could put Francis right into the action and then cut back to the earlier stuff at a later time. While I like flashbacks as a narrative device - chapter 2 contains an extended 'flashback' of sorts - they can't just be used willy-nilly... or at least I don't feel that they can, anyway. They work best for certain kinds of characters or situations, like when someone's on the run or something or has some kind of troubling past that led them to where they are; they don't work too well with the 'starting a new adventure' kind of setting. Then of course there's the matter of knowing what monsters you'd even have if you started from a later point; it'd be like starting from Pewter City in Pokemon... Which starter would you have? What party would you have? And so on.

So basically, uh, the two options that I presented were the result of a lot of work, constructing things from the rest of the plot that I'd written, rather than just random ideas I'd spontaneously thought up and which were interchangeable with any other ideas...

I think I've grown to realise also that I may have actually started the news post and poll in the first place just to get reinforcement... I think I'd subconsciously chosen one of the two options even though I said I was open to either, and was just hoping for comments that would say that I was right in doing so, without directly being asked if it was a good decision, or something... y'know?!?
Obviously that isn't a good idea, but as I say, it was subconscious; I didn't deliberately intend to do things that 'dishonestly'.

The one I was considering most, I suppose, was the idea of playing as a silent 'rookie archaeologist'... so it's a shame that it seems that the older idea is more popular, though I can understand why it is; it is quite novel while the other's more generic.

I still feel like I might not have explained myself clearly though; I still wonder if people thought that the silent protagonist option would result in less plot or dialogue, when it really wouldn't; there'd be just as much, but it'd just be presented slightly differently. It's just that your character would be a silent watcher rather than one of the key characters in each scene.

Anyway, there are a few reasons why I'd be more inclined to go with 'option B', so I'll mention a few.

One big one is that it's the newer idea. The idea of playing as Francis is something that I've been working with for months now, and the fact that it wasn't working out as well as it could is what made me even think of changing things at all... I mean, I have a lot of experience with actually playing through the game as him (though there's not a lot of plot stuff in it at the moment), and it just doesn't feel right somehow...
The newer idea is built on the old, taking what worked and pruning away what didn't, while the old idea was, well, raw and unrefined. Or something.

There's also something rather *personal* about a monster-catching game... I mean, there's a good reason why most of them would have silent protagonists. It's because it's your team rather than your character that is important, and they reflect your personality, which might not fit with a more defined character's appearance or mannerisms. It'd be like having a cold, hardened, misanthropic assassin who talked about how bitter he was all the time, and you played as him and made him train things like female Jigglypuff and Skitty and so on. (Did you know that the plural of any Pokemon's name is the same as the singular? I learned this recently! So you'd have 'one Pikachu' and 'two Pikachu' rather than 'two Pikachus'. Isn't that interesting?!? o_O)
It'd be *amusing*, but it just wouldn't fit... Similarly, Francis's personality would make him more inclined to train some monsters over others, but the gameplay obviously wouldn't reflect that.
Being a 'generic avatar' puts more focus on your party, in a way, and this IS a monster catching game at its heart so that's probably important.

I prefer the intro part I've come up with for the rookie archaeologist, since it's obviously more dynamic, but I can't use Francis for the same intro bit without redefining a whole lot of stuff about him and ripping other parts of the plot to shreds, which I don't want to do. If I'm to use Francis as a protagonist, he'd 'need' to start off as a hermit who's gradually convinced to go on an adventure, and before he is convinced, there's no way he'd do any monster battling. If I use Francis as an NPC, however, he doesn't even need to do any monster battling, and I can shed his 'tragic past' or present it in a different way. So Francis as a PC would have no business being in some ruins at the beginning, while a rookie archaeologist would. Yes. No other things make the sort of coherent sense that I want the plot to make, again because of future events that I can't describe here.

I don't want to put females off playing the game. There are precious few girls here as it is, as the recent polls will attest, but the Pokemon community seems to have quite a few... so some of those might find Miasmon and be put off by it if they have to play as a crotchety old man. The feature in Pokemon Crystal to play as a girl probably brought many females to the series, or at least pleased many who were already fans, so I'd rather try to cater to them if I can by letting you play as a female protagonist. It must be annoying being a girl and having to play overly masculine games all the time.

Obviously the pacing is better at the start if you're a young rookie exploring a ruin, and you can pick up on some crucial plot stuff in a more intriguing way. It would make the game longer, too. As I've said, I can't just transplant the same events into Francis' story because it wouldn't work without completely redefining what he IS, which I am not comfortable about doing.

It's probably much easier to write dialogue for a character who's meant to be sort of clueless, wet behind the ears. Things can get sort of contrived when a character has to explain obvious information to an old man who was the one who came up with that information in the first place; it'd be like playing as Einstein and having people explain how E=mc2 to him or something, which would be awkward.
The reason that a character who is some kind of rookie or newbie is so popular is because it directly reflects what the player is at that time; it is a useful device.
Of course, Francis would be the one explaining it to others, but there'd be no need for him to do so; I'm specifically thinking of archaeology-related stuff that makes up much of the plot, and since most of the characters are archaeologists, they wouldn't need to tell eachother basic stuff all the time; it'd be assumed knowledge. And I've never been a fan of the sort of exposition that's meant to seem like some casual reminder rather than an explanation ("as we all know, the ancients liked egg-based meals and worshipped a spider in the sky, so I thought..."); it always seems clumsy and awkward to me. It'd be like two Biblical scholars talking amongst eachother and bringing up the fact that Jesus was crucified in enough detail to make it clear to non-experts what they were talking about, even though no non-experts were present... or something. o_O

There are many other reasons too while the 'young rookie' idea is better... but I think I've gone over enough of them here to make a case.

I still haven't 100% decided to go down this route yet, but it is what I am moving towards... which makes me feel very awkward because I've basically just asked for your opinion then said 'I don't care, I'm doing what I want anyway even if it seems you don't want it!!'
I'm really sorry about that, since it seems like a horrible thing to do and I take no pleasure in it, but I do think that from a technical standpoint, it would make the most sense... and I suppose I have a different vantage point for assessing each idea's worth than you all do. Or something. Sorry again anyway!

I'll still be including all the stuff that my games are known for though, like plot and character development and such, so don't worry; just because you won't be playing as Francis doesn't mean that you won't find out his story or anything!

(Hmm, I'm saying all this now, but don't expect it to be the final word on the matter; I could change my mind again after experimenting with this idea and coming to the conclusion that I preferred the other... Only time will tell what will happen. o_O)


51 Commentson 29 roots

Ysillo`s Avatar
Rating Orb Ysillo 19 United States MelancholicPhlegmatic 609C 2F
6 years ago | (1)
It's not easy, but I respect you for speaking truthfully and dismissing ideas rather than leading people on.

When it comes to subconsciously doing the poll to verify your decision, I can understand how some might feel a little mislead, but it wasn't on purpose, and I don't think anyone will begrudge you for it. Plus I think that everyone does something like that at some point.

Francis Marmalade sounds like he is at that state where the character has become his own person, so I completely understand and respect your decision to not compromise him.

I look forward to whatever you decide.
Scicri`s Avatar
Rating Orb Scicri 15 United States SanguineMelancholic 3C 0F
6 years ago | (2)
Personally, I support the rookie idea because of the potential for humorous dialog between the faceless hero and the other characters. Instead of being heroic and confident he could be a " lackey" type character who's forced to undertake tasks that his co-workers don't feel like doing. That could open some narrative potential with side-quests and make fetch quests (a pet peeve of mine) slightly easier on the mind. For example:

Scientist No.1: Oh dear! I seem to have misplaced my researching tools!
Scientist No.1: .....!
Scientist No.1: I didn't see you there [Insert name here]!
Scientist No.1: What? You'll go to the lab for me to find my bag that I could have easily replaced? Good! It's 300 miles that way!

See what I mean?
ChaoticBrain`s Avatar
Rating Orb ChaoticBrain 22 United States MelancholicSanguine 30C 57F
6 years ago | (0)
Part of what frustrates me about this whole deal of having to choose between Francis or a rookie's standpoint is that you seem to be treating the two ideas as mutually exclusive, even though you don't give us any proper justification as to why. In Idea 1, you had Francis loathing Miasmon due to some tragic accident, but in Idea 2, you scrapped that idea. I had previously suggested that you take Francis' backstory from Idea 2 and transplant it into Idea 1, but in this update you seem to reject this idea for no explained reason. I know you want to avoid divulging too many plot points, but it seems that you're driven to make a decision without our input, because our input is useless, because we're not being given enough information to give useful feedback.

So if I could just ask, what is it that's preventing you from using Francis' backstory from the rookie-viewpoint version, while still making Francis the player character? Why is it required for Francis to hate the Miasmon, but only when he's the player character?
Vergos Exitalis`s Avatar
Rating Orb Vergos Exitalis 18 United States CholericMelancholic 16C 4F
6 years ago | (0)
I take it you're not a writer.

When you create a character, you're making a person, all his thoughts, his hopes and dreams. You don't just throw it all to the wind and make an entirely different person, with the same name and face-- It doesn't work that way.

A couple more concrete reasons I can think of are that a crotchety old man wouldn't really *be* a rookie archaeologist, since he wouldn't have the same enthusiasm, and he'd likely believe that he wouldn't have the time left to actually become good at it. Having Francis be the rookie would also take away some of the things that make that option more attractive, like easier dialogue, and the ability do, in a sense, become the character, Silent protagonists are great plot devices that can take some of the distance away between the player and the game-- You might have noticed that it was one of the things that Bioshock did really well.

Also, the main motive of Francis (as far as I could know) was to discover the real reason that Fracture, well, fractured. That would be at least as solid a motive for a young archaeologist to follow, and it would make the internal conflict a lot easier to write.

Yes, Francis sounded like a great character. Yes, he had a great backstory and I was looking forward to playing as him. The thing is, the game wasn't working with him at the helm, and Pseudo is looking to fix whatever problem it is.
ChaoticBrain`s Avatar
Rating Orb ChaoticBrain 22 United States MelancholicSanguine 30C 57F
6 years ago | (0)
See, the thing is, he's already willing to (or has) rewritten the character of Francis for the version of the plot starring the rookie. Given that, I think he should try centering the plot around Francis 2.0, as this professor's personality appears to work a lot better as a main character than Francis 1.0 would.

Alternatively, let the rookie be the player character, but have them encounter Francis 1.0 instead.

The reason I'm so adamant about having an old man as the player character is because nearly every game these days, RPGs especially, revolve around characters in their teens to early adulthood. More than anything, I'd like to see a game that makes a genuinely relatable protagonist that isn't young and eager. To me, it was the game's sole hook, and changing that makes it very difficult for me to stand behind this game idea. I'm aware it's likely a losing battle, but it's a point I feel it's worth fighting over.
Blaze12`s Avatar
Rating Orb Blaze12 13 United States SanguinePhlegmatic 18C 1F
6 years ago | (3)
I think it's a really good idea to have the protagonist as an old man, because it is completely original and eccentric. However, some people do like to have the protagonist as a young person, for… whatever reason. Going with Francis, would be a lot easier, it seems, and also would keep with the original idea. I was wondering, perhaps you could do what idea *you* want the most, and then when you get around to working on Beast Signer you could go with whatever the crowd truly wants. However, this is your game! Hope this helps!!!
Vlemich`s Avatar
Rating Orb Vlemich 23 United States SanguineCholeric 9C 1F
6 years ago | (1)
I'm pretty sure a main reason for the post was because Pseudo mentioned he felt as though he was leaning toward the new idea, you know, the rookie archaeologist. The point of considering a new idea at all is because, for one reason or another, he seems to believe it will make the game better in some way. Maybe going with Francis wouldn't be easier for him. It is actually quite possible that the very topic you are commenting on has been covered, in length, in the very article above your post! I might even be able to find a few points he makes about reasons for considering switching from Francis to a young avatar, but only if I look REALLY hard. And actually, the "crowd" you speak of seems to like the idea of Francis more, according to the polls at least. I didn't have time to vote in the poll, and I believe that playing as a set personality of a major character, in a game as diverse and unique as a monster catcher, while possibly an original idea, tends to generally lack the customization one might enjoy from viewing themselves in the character.

On a side note, I'm a bit sick of people posting comments with the basic translation of "Well I can see points for both sides, do what you want." If that is all you have to say, it is probably a better use of your time to simply read through the comments and see how many people have already said what you are saying. I don't mean to be harsh, I'm just a bit perturbed today, I suppose.
hlbeta`s Avatar
Rating Orb hlbeta 22 United States CholericMelancholic 144C 131F
6 years ago | (3)
I wholeheartedly support using Francis as the primary character. He's interesting, makes sense as a hero and lends a spark of uniqueness to the game. His "retired genius" status lends the narrative some echoes of the hero's journey or exiled royalty reclaiming rightful titles but in this case it actually makes sense. He's not just [NAME], the young [GENDER] who was called forth from a humble living to do incredible things, as so many other protagonists in these games are. Francis is a genuinely intelligent and talented individual who has already taken up the call to greatness in the past and no longer wants that life. The narrative shifts from some youngling's development of extraordinary power to the mental and moral growth of someone who was already a hero who must realize that it is their duty to use their existing power instead of squander it in exile. It's a rarer story arc and a far more interesting one.

So what if you did the combat tutorial as something closer to the Ranch areas of the Pokemon games in that the trainer is effectively the active creature? You could have Francis out gardening or something (teaching the player to interact with world objects) when the following occurs:
A HUGE SPIDER appears!
Francis: Woah, that is one HUGE SPIDER! It is so FAST I could not possibly hope to STRIKE FIRST!
Tutorial: (Explain turn order system here)
[HUGE SPIDER wins initiative, automatically hitting and poisoning Francis]
Francis: Those freakishly huge fangs must have injected some manner of toxic fluid into my precious bloodstream! Vision fading... must find... antidote!
Tutorial: Select ITEM from your menu and then select ANTIDOTE or this will be a very short game.
Francis: That's much better, but in the time it took for me to use that antidote the spider seems to have run off somewh- GEDDITOFFGEDDITOFFGEDDITOFF!
[HUGE SPIDER uses AMBUSH, falling on Francis' head for puny damage]
Francis: Die you monstrously large arachnid!
Tutorial: To exact gruesome vengeance on the HUGE SPIDER, select ATTACK and then select WRATHFUL STOMP.
[Overwrought bug-squishing animation ensues followed by the pronouncement that the attack was super-effective]
The player then emerges victorious and better instructed in the ways of combat.
Pseudolonewolf`s Avatar
Rating Orb A β Pseudolonewolf 23 United Kingdom MelancholicPhlegmatic 2257C 559F
6 years ago | (4)
Francis was never really a *hero*, as such... I mean, he was an academic who dug up old bones and ruins, and just happened to stumble upon some old technology, which he reverse-engineered with a colleague of his, suffering a horrible tragedy in the process then retreating into isolation as he released his findings in order to avoid fame. He's just a tired and miserable old archaeologist who's never trained monsters before... and as such the only 'power' that he has is being able to read the Ancients' written language fairly fluently (which is why the other archaeologists would seek him out). He was more 'lucky' than 'talented' in his discovery of the monster-cloning machines, and he never went on great journeys or anything.

The 'rookie archaeologist', while obviously being a hollow gendered shell, would at least have joined an archaeological team for the same reasons that anyone would become an archaeologist in the real world, then when their whole team gets involved in the plot stuff, they get dragged along for the ride. Mostly they'd just be a watcher, a grunt; the bulk of the plot would happen to the people around them while they'd just sort of help out like a lackey, following orders most of the time.

Introducing some kind of battle at the start which doesn't even use the same mechanics would require more and awkward coding (slowing down development; I am really trying to minimise the amount of features and stuff this time since that's one of the biggest things I've learned from previous projects), it'd disrupt the flow (I think), and, well, with your specific example anyway (and I know it was just an example), uh, the whole reason that I include monsters made of miasma is because I don't advocate the killing of any living creature; the fact that monsters aren't 'living creatures' gets around that. So even a battle where you kill an arthropod (something I'd never do) wouldn't be something I'd include, if it wasn't a Monster.
I'm not going to bother with a tutorial battle at all though; the battles are straightforward so anyone who can't figure it out themselves likely wouldn't even be able to get past the title screen in the first place anyway. The reason I want battles (plural) to appear earlier was just to give the game a more exciting and dynamic feeling; I know I've played RPGs before (mostly when younger) and thought 'I wish this talking would be over and done with so I can wander around and battle things!!', and I imagine that the Flash game playing masses are even more impatient than me in that regard.
hlbeta`s Avatar
Rating Orb hlbeta 22 United States CholericMelancholic 144C 131F
6 years ago | (0)
When referring to Francis as a hero and powerful individual, I meant it in terms of intellect. The information given seems to indicate that he was at the top of his field in his heyday. His work with cloning (miasmic printing?) revolutionized the relationship between his people and their environment. He's already changed his world once, probably for the better. By entering into his self-imposed exile he effectively denies the world access to his gifts, which are presumably important considering his involvement in the story. I find that kind of personal growth good narrative fodder, but it's pretty clear that he's not going to be the PC anymore.

The whole tutorial fight thing was meant to just be a scripted battle that would show off a few key aspects of the controls. I assumed mechanics identical to Pokemon and ran with it. Probably best for me to avoid such detail in the future. It amused me at the time.
spaceprobe9`s Avatar
Rating Orb spaceprobe9 10 United States 10C 0F
6 years ago | (9)
Pseudo, if you see this, tell me what you think please.
spaceprobe9`s Avatar
Rating Orb spaceprobe9 10 United States 10C 0F
6 years ago | (6)
Well I think Miasmon will be great, but one suggestion: You should go with the rookie and take the silence factor then make him / her a speaking characters.
That's rational, I mean i don't want to overwork you, but seriously, if people don't like silent protagonists and don't want to start as a hermit, then it will probably help for publicity. Right?

Plus, I think a lot of people (Even those without accounts.) want to put the personality quiz in the game too.

I think it should decide your starter (Whenever you get it) and the starter determine your Element.
Vlemich`s Avatar
Rating Orb Vlemich 23 United States SanguineCholeric 9C 1F
6 years ago | (3)
I'm not one to criticize, but Pseudo has obviously been working his tail off to this point. If he DOES include the option letting the protagonist be either male or female, the plot scripts he writes will have to reflect the gender differences. On top of this, if the protagonist actually speaks, then how do you determine their personality? A woman would address some situations different than a man would, and vice versa. You couldn't simply write dialog for one gender and transplant it to the other. You're not just asking him to add a few texts of dialogue, you are asking for an almost entire rewrite of the script (I doubt the plot would change, but conversation and interaction would have an entirely new dynamic).

As far as a personality test to determine your avatar's element AND it leading to the monster you get. I actually like that idea. It would seem that it could justify Francis' decision to give you a monster to train in the first place. I can see it now... "Well you certainly have a FIERY personality! I think this little monster would suit you well! (Then you are given the fire element starting monster). It seems like that part might actually work nicely into justifying the starting monster. But I also know some people are picky as hell and want to choose for themselves.
spaceprobe9`s Avatar
Rating Orb spaceprobe9 10 United States 10C 0F
6 years ago | (0)
Valid point.

I need the space. I need the space. I need the space.
warlordofthedar`s Avatar
Rating Orb ! warlordofthedar 14 United States MelancholicCholeric 9C 0F
6 years ago | (6)
well if you decide to go with the silent protagonist could you plese tell us what the old mans secreat was
Supergnash`s Avatar
Rating Orb Supergnash 18 United Kingdom MelancholicPhlegmatic 354C 145F
6 years ago | (3)
He did say at some point that whichever option he goes for, he will keep the story pretty much the same as well as revealing the big incident that happened to Francis at some point. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but regarding the plot, nothing much will change and we'll all get to know the old man's secret eventually and it will still fit in with the story.
NinjaOfSteel`s Avatar
Rating Orb NinjaOfSteel 21 United States CholericSanguine 50C 28F
6 years ago | (5)
Like I said before, I like the idea and originality of the old man opening, but I do think the newbie approach will be more popular overall.

Either way, Miasmon is Psuedo's world, and we all just live in it. (Or "will" live in it at least)

So Psuedo, just do what you want, it was nice enough of you to even ask for an opinion on a game of yours. I know your cautious about letting others help you because you want your vision to be pure. So I think its a great honor to have possibly been able to add to your game. Even if only very slightly.
galvatron3000`s Avatar
Rating Orb galvatron3000 33 Morocco 2C 0F
6 years ago | (4)
Whichever the decisions you take, Im behind you 100% of the way. Its your game and the way you envision it is something purely up to you. You've proven time and again that when it comes to games you knock a great deal of the audience's socks, so to say. Still, thanks for asking for our opinions. Even if you do not use them, you've read them, and that matters quite a bit to me.

Now, for the SPONSOR question. Considering this game will draw from an audience of Pokemon fans IE "youngsters", will you be placing it in Kongregate or somewhere else in particular?
Pseudolonewolf`s Avatar
Rating Orb A β Pseudolonewolf 23 United Kingdom MelancholicPhlegmatic 2257C 559F
6 years ago | (7)
I try to read essentially all the comments on news posts and polls and stuff, and I do appreciate them all, even if I do dismiss them or don't respond at all... Comments posted on news posts and polls appear in my inbox thing like comments on user pages do for regular members, ensuring that I see all new comments shortly after they're written, which makes it easier to get around to reading them.

Anyway, I'm not sure what'll happen with the sponsorship stuff; I might go with Kongregate like I usually do, just because they're a good sponsor and it's easier to work with someone familiar. And they pay well. If I go with them, then I'll of course have to upload the game onto their site...
The bit after the development isn't really the bit I plan for though; it's something I prefer to put off thinking about until the time actually comes.
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