on Apr 11, 2007
I could get into a game where the story was – by design – the story arc of an evil character. Like Corvus, I think it could be really enjoyable if done with a wink.
Take the classic tale of The Hero Must Round Up Objects X to complete Artifact Y so he can kill Villain Z. Except, in this game you get to be Z.
The hero is good-looking, blond haired, square-jawed paragon of sanctimonious virtue. He’s mighty, but also brimming with false modesty and driven by a need to feed his bottomless ego with the thankful cheers of the oppressed. The ladies love him. Take the intelligence of The Tick, mixed with the emotional depth of Prince Charming from Shrek 2, mixed with the condescending attitude of D&D Paladins, and there you have the template for our heroic antagonist. His followers are a collection of sycophantic sidekicks who stand in his shadow and direct incoming praise to their leader. He’s Fabio. He’s shallow. He’s arrogant. He’s a moralizer. He’s the guy we love to hate, and he’s just convinced he’s destined to win in the end.
Your plan, of course, is to take over the world. Just as good-themed games suffer a little when trying to allow you to do evil, I think this game would suffer if it tried to let you play a little good here and there. Instead of good vs. evil choices, you would make Law vs. Chaos choices. Yes, you’re evil, but what kind of evil? Certainly peasants mean nothing to you, but will you sacrifice loyal followers to get ahead? Do you kill your own men on a whim? Will you keep your word with those who do your bidding without question. When you tell someone, “Tell me what I want to know and I’ll let you live”, do you actually let them live once they cough up the info? Would you rather rule through control borne of loyalty (theirs, to you) or fear?
As the evil guy, your quests would be stuff like:
- Lure away one of the Hero’s cohorts and get them to betray him.
- Commit a terrible crime and blame it on the Hero, thus forcing him to waste time clearing his name.
- Follow in his wake as he goes questing about. Find the people he’s helped (who are gushing with praise for the guy) and make them reveal what they know about his plans to stop you.
- Get the rest of X objects before he does.
- Build up an army of unquestioning followers.
- Throw said followers at him in waves. Use them to to annoy, harass, delay, and frustrate that smiling, infuriating pretty boy.
- Once your men have softened him up, move in and defeat him yourself.
- Once he’s out of the way, you get to rule these filthy peasants like the heartless despot you are. You (and only you) live happily ever after.
Just imagine the conversations. The game practically writes itself. Comedy is sometimes tricky, but this is one of those ideas (like DMotR) where you just can’t go wrong. (Assuming you’re going for funny.)
If done right, I’d play that game in a heartbeat.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.