The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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J T
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A game with only one enemy.

by J T Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:54 am

As far as I know, there is no video game that is about just one villain.

Kotaku ran an interesting story recently with two of the columnists debating their idea for a new Jaws game. Video games about Jaws have traditionally sucked. It's hard to make a video game where there is only one villain. They provided some food for thought though.

I wrote a response on Kotaku, but decided I wanted to share my idea here, because I am so in love with the concept of a game with just one enemy now.

Here's the original article:
http://kotaku.com/5595176/the-arguments ... video-game

Here's my response:

I love the idea of a single villain video game. Jaws makes it particularly challenging because Jaws doesn't talk, he just bites. You can't really use Jaws for further narrative exposition.

I am imagining a game that is part Shadow of the Colossus and part Persona 4. Stages are not divided by a new boss at each stage (because there is only one boss and he is Jaws), but rather stages are divided by the introduction of new characters. You meet new people and you develop relationships with them. You have to make crucial decisions about how you manage your time between activities for developing relationships with these people and researching Jaws' behavior patterns and critical weaknesses. Both will provide critical skills and information needed to survive the next showdown with Jaws.

At the end of each stage, you find yourself in a different scenario where Jaws attacks and you have to save the character introduced in that stage. If you save them, they will be useful later and you won't be able to ultimately kill Jaws unless you have enough of a team put together, but if they die, they die. You don't reset the level and try again. They will be critical to storylines of love and friendship if they survive, but they will be tales of loss and revenge if they die. This would make Jaws all the more terrifying because you would spend roughly half of your time learning to care about the next potential victim and half of your time learning about Jaws and letting your imagination run wild with all the terrible things he could do to you next. Therefore, when Jaws actually goes on the attack you are invested in protecting your friends and freaked out by the fearsome creature.

Every showdown at the end of a stage would play out more like a Shadow of the Colossus battle that is essentially a giant environmental puzzle that is about staying alive, protecting your friends, and trying to injure or evade Jaws by using items in the environment, and items you collected along the way. If you developed friendship with the new character earlier in the stage, then they will have provided you with some sort of crucial item or strategy that will help you solve the puzzle. If you spent more time in research, then you will have gained some other crucial information that would help you solve the enironmental puzzle. The puzzle should play out differently depending on the scenario you picked, but either way make the player feel like they made smart choices in how they spent their time that helped them survive the latest shark attack. Branching story paths will be activated based on which characters you still have alive at the end of each stage. Later stages will require you to keep several people alive. At least one stage will put you in a forced situation where one of the multiple characters will die-- your actions cannot prevent the death, only which one of the characters dies.

I think this could allow for a very compelling video game that is character driven and truly frightening. It's often a challenge to care about characters because we spend so much time killing bad guys. However, with a game where the goal is to develop relationships with characters and keep them from dying (in situations where the character can actually die), characters would actually feel important and you would care about whether they lived or died. You just need the right kind of writers to make the characters relatable, and a smart level designer that can make the Jaws escapes feel like life-or-death battles with real consequences for the characters.
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Curlypaul
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Re: A game with only one enemy.

by Curlypaul Sat Jul 24, 2010 6:26 am

That sounds like a cool game. I'm not a fan of MMORPG's but it could also work in that setting a bit like Monter Hunter.

Can I ask what you do for a living JT, you always have lots of creative ideas spilling all over the place.
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fvgazi
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Re: A game with only one enemy.

by fvgazi Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:00 am

Doesn't Portal only have one villain?

J T wrote:frightening. It's often a challenge to care about characters because we spend so much time killing bad guys. However, with a game where the goal is to develop relationships with characters and keep them from dying (in situations where the character can actually die), characters would actually feel important and you would care about whether they lived or died. You just need the right kind of writers to make the characters relatable, and a smart level designer that can make the Jaws escapes feel like life-or-death battles with real consequences for the characters.


That is a great idea. It would be cool to have more games that focus on that survival concept. As characters die, the game should get progressively harder as well.
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AppleQueso
 

Re: A game with only one enemy.

by AppleQueso Sat Jul 24, 2010 10:10 am

Wasn't Donkey Kong the only enemy in Donkey Kong?
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GamerMON
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Re: A game with only one enemy.

by GamerMON Sat Jul 24, 2010 11:18 am

fvgazi wrote:Doesn't Portal only have one villain?

J T wrote:frightening. It's often a challenge to care about characters because we spend so much time killing bad guys. However, with a game where the goal is to develop relationships with characters and keep them from dying (in situations where the character can actually die), characters would actually feel important and you would care about whether they lived or died. You just need the right kind of writers to make the characters relatable, and a smart level designer that can make the Jaws escapes feel like life-or-death battles with real consequences for the characters.


That is a great idea. It would be cool to have more games that focus on that survival concept. As characters die, the game should get progressively harder as well.

Yeah there was only one villian in portal but there was all those robots that she controlled. That is like saying Skynet is the only enemy in Terminator 2.
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Re: A game with only one enemy.

by AppleQueso Sat Jul 24, 2010 11:52 am

How about the original Clock Tower? If I remember right, the only enemy in the game was that short dude with the giant scissors who chased you through the house.
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J T
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Re: A game with only one enemy.

by J T Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:15 pm

Curlypaul wrote:Can I ask what you do for a living JT, you always have lots of creative ideas spilling all over the place.


I'm a graduate student in clinical psychology. Currently I make my money by teaching the research methodology course to undergrads in psych.
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Dylan
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Re: A game with only one enemy.

by Dylan Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:42 pm

AppleQueso wrote:How about the original Clock Tower? If I remember right, the only enemy in the game was that short dude with the giant scissors who chased you through the house.

Mostly that's the case (you're referring to Bobby), but there are also a couple of occasions were you struggle with the other members of his family.

*Spoilers*
For example, when you have to escape from Danny in the Cradle under the Star, or when you have to kill Mary at the top of the Clock Tower.
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sevin0seven
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Re: A game with only one enemy.

by sevin0seven Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:54 pm

i also remember Road Runner's Death Valley Rally for the SNES having one enemy.
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Re: A game with only one enemy.

by Octopod Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:07 pm

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