[BxG] Marry, F*ck, Kill [Drama, Dark, Pyschological Horror]

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Re: [BxG] Marry, F*ck, Kill [Drama, Dark, Pyschological Horr

#46 Post by Mad_Scientist » Sat Feb 21, 2015 3:01 am

Before I say anything, take all this with a grain of salt, as I am hardly an expert writer or anything.

Ok, first off, I don't have a problem with the basic idea behind the premise necessarily. I've played and enjoyed Saya no Uta for crying out loud. I think horrifying premises can be interesting and powerful if done right. And that definitely includes this premise. But...

That "done right" thing is the kicker. There are certain premises, themes, and ideas that are tremendously difficult to pull off right, that take an extremely talented and sensitive writer to succeed. And your premise is definitely one of them. I just mentioned I enjoyed Saya no Uta, but I feel there are parts of it that are, to put it mildly, uh, problematic. I have a lot of issues with the game. (I wonder what it would be like if Gen Urobuchi wrote it today, with all his experience now?) I think there are some pretty masterful elements to it that let me enjoy it despite its flaws, but oh boy does that game have issues.

And these same premises and themes that I'm talking about also tend to turn out very, very badly if not done properly. It's a huge risk and you can potentially alienate and/or offend a whole bunch of people you never wanted to. It's one of the reasons why I, myself, will not currently write a game or story that features rape. And I don't just mean rape by a protagonist, I mean any rape. I just don't think I currently have the talent or knowledge needed to be able to write about it properly, in a respectful and sensitive manner. And I DO NOT want to screw something like that up. Of course that's just me, and there are certainly people out there who can write about rape, and do so properly.

The point is, I'd advise caution, and that you seriously ask yourself if you think you can pull off this premise, at least as right now. I don't mean to be discouraging, I just feel you should be confident about this before you start putting in serious work on this title.




There are a lot of potential pitfalls you can fall into. One is that villain protagonists can sometimes make it seem as though the narrative is justifying the decisions of the protagonist. This is especially true for visual novels I feel, where the element of choice and the fact that you are usually able to see inside the protagonist's head is really good at letting you empathize with them. In most cases this is a good thing, but sometimes it can be hard to sort out "is this just the perspective of the character, their rationalizations and reasons, or is this also the perspective of the game itself?"

And make no mistake, what you have described is essentially a villain protagonist, except for in one route that you described very briefly and which honestly sounded kind of boring. "You can choose not to do any of the three over two months and die. Game over. The end."

I'm going to talk about Saya no Uta in more depth, and include some major spoilers. But I feel it illustrates a point I want to make.
Ok, in Saya no Uta, the protagonist is initially somewhat sympathetic. But as the game goes on, he becomes more and more depraved, and eventually finds himself committing acts of murder, cannibalism, and rape. (At least if you don't make the choice that causes the game to end halfway through.) It's pretty horrifying.

But there are some important things to note. One, the protagonist isn't the sole protagonist. His former best friend is a major character, and as the game goes on we start seeing more and more scenes from his perspective, till he's essentially a co-protagonist by the end. Heck, one of the game's only two choices is actually made for him. This, combined with some subtleties in the writing, allows the game to make it very clear that the initial main character is not really justified in what he's doing. It's understandable that he is doing (most) of what he is, considering the situation he's in and the madness and stress he's under, but the game clearly views his actions as terrible despite that.

These scenes where we focus on the MC's former best friend are also nice as they are a break from being inside the MC's head. The MC's perspective is so warped and twisted, especially as the game goes on, that reading his thoughts can make one feel a bit unclean after a while.

Another thing to note is that the first choice does not occur till halfway through the game, so early on as we watch the MC become more and more cruel and go deeper and deeper down the wrong path, we as the players are not actively guiding him that way. We have no choice but to watch it happen, helpless. By the time we do have a choice, the MC has already unknowingly done terrible things and gotten so far into the madness that there's no real way to save him. He can't make things right anymore. In addition, this is a slow process, and we spend a lot of time in the MC's head watching him gradually get worse and worse at the same time as we grow to empathize with him and his situation.
I'm bringing all this up to illustrate two points. As I understand it, you're planning on us only seeing the perspective of the main character, and we will see inside his head. Without that outside perspective to provide a different context to his actions, you will have to be careful to make sure that it is clear that his rationalizations, his thoughts, his reasons, etc, simply his, the excuses and stress of a man trying to justify committing murder.

And another, potentially harder thing to do is that you will have to get the players to actively choose to have the MC commit murder. Well, start planning it anyways. I think part of the reason some people are reacting so badly to your premise is that the MC will be presented with a choice right off the bat to start planning to eventually murder someone, or kill himself/let himself die. In order to really play the game and progress in the developed routes, players are immediately asked to make the choice to kill.

And there's no build up to this, no gradual corruption and desperation, no agonizing or desperation. Just murder, or not. And furthermore, this will happen before we've had time to get to know the protagonist. And furthermore, the main aspect of his motivation that you've described is his experiencing death. But that is a visceral motivator, by which I mean that no matter how talented a writer you are, it is impossible to truly convey what experiencing actual death would be like, and no one reading it will be able to truly imagine what it would be like. And so the main motivator for our main character is something ultimately beyond our comprehension.

I kind of feel hesitant about this next part, as I feel it can come off as somewhat arrogant to suggest things to "fix" an idea. But you seem to really want feedback, so one thing that I think could potentially help things would be if, at the start, the MC asks the Mysterious Man what happens if one of the women dies due to other reasons. (Which would definitely be possible considering the ill friend.) And the Mysterious Man says that if that happens, consider himself lucky, he'll count it as a freebie for killing.

And so the MC is not immediately forced to make the choice of killing or dying. He has a third option, try to marry/fuck and let fate decide if he lives or dies. His chances would be slim, but better than nothing right? Obviously he should ignore his ill friend since she's the most likely to die of other causes, and focus on his co-worker and boss for the marrying/sexing. Except, convincing someone to marry you in two months is kind of hard. Maybe he should actually try to marry his ill friend, since he could use her illness as a reason they should rush.

Of course, isn't all that kind of heartless? But what if he had some feelings for one of the women anyways, and this whole thing is just the push he needs to confess them?

This altered scenario presents the MC with difficult choices, just how far is he willing to go to live, how much will he manipulate, but does not immediately ask the player to choose to kill someone, does not immediately give us a MC who will murder to save himself. I say not immediately, because of course as the situation goes on, as we get to actually know the MC and the other characters and maybe care about them, the choice can come up again. Maybe the MC succeeds in marrying his co-worker and sleeping with his boss. But his ill friend is still alive, and the deadline is ticking away. And the MC who constantly reassured himself that he would never kill anyone, that he just did this on the off chance he'd get "lucky" and live, starts to have doubts. He starts to question himself. And then a situation where he can act presents itself...

Or maybe he sleeps with his co-worker and marries his ill friend, and he learns his boss is planning to do some reckless, dangerous activity. Does he try to talk her out of it? I mean, she's a grown woman, it's her choice. He can't force her. But if he would normally try to talk her out of it, but now is quiet, what does that mean for him? And what if she actually dies? Not trying to talk someone out of something reckless when you probably couldn't have convinced them anyways isn't really murder, right? Right?

Anyways, again, I hesitate to say "this will fix it!" cause it comes off arrogant, but I think immediately expecting players to start planning an eventual murder is going to be a big hurdle to overcome, and this is one way to sidestep that. It still allows the game to explore the "kill to save oneself" thing but doesn't force that upon players and the MC till there is time to get to know him and maybe empathize with him a bit more.

On another note, I feel you should make it extra clear that the MC won't just die if he fails, he'll suffer an eternal suffering fate worse than death, and that whoever he kills will not suffer such a fate.

Anyways, my 2.12 cents.
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Re: [BxG] Marry, F*ck, Kill [Drama, Dark, Pyschological Horr

#47 Post by Applegate » Sat Feb 21, 2015 3:20 am

Squid wrote:I really don't think him knowing the crazy situation and keeping it a secret is a "power fantasy".

It's easy to ask somebody to have sex.
It's easy to try to have a girl who likes you start a relationship and fall in love.

Neither of those are inherently "power fantasies" here.
I think what is meant is a "power fantasy" for the player. Basically, as a player, we're picking any of the three women and decide which one we'll have sex with. It isn't necessary for this choice to be rationalised in the game because the females have no power or agency to stop the determined player to have sex with them. Basically, regardless of whether the woman is a willing or unwilling recipient, the player/main character WILL have sex with the woman he picks.

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Re: [BxG] Marry, F*ck, Kill [Drama, Dark, Pyschological Horr

#48 Post by Rosstin » Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:52 am

My goddess, Saya no Uta is insane. Very interesting.

Look, there's a very simple bottom line here. Don't make this game. Make a different game. You came upon this concept because of the sick M/F/K game that people play in real life, which only works because of how little thought people actually put into how messed up that game is.

As everyone has said, only a masterful writer could write this concept. I wouldn't trust any of the visual novelists I know, even the famous ones, to write this concept well. It's simply beyond you. Make a different game. You can't make this work.
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Re: [BxG] Marry, F*ck, Kill [Drama, Dark, Pyschological Horr

#49 Post by Mad Harlequin » Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:07 am

PyTom wrote:While I'm in admin mode, let me just ask people to back off a bit - we seem to have the same small group of people posting back and forth in rapid succession, when a little more time might let more people contribute to the discussion.
My apologies. I'll bite my tongue after this. I need to rest for a while, anyway.
Mad_Scientist wrote:I kind of feel hesitant about this next part, as I feel it can come off as somewhat arrogant to suggest things to "fix" an idea.
Guilty as charged. But you've offered good advice here, so don't feel you have to hesitate.
Applegate wrote:I think what is meant is a "power fantasy" for the player. Basically, as a player, we're picking any of the three women and decide which one we'll have sex with. It isn't necessary for this choice to be rationalised in the game because the females have no power or agency to stop the determined player to have sex with them. Basically, regardless of whether the woman is a willing or unwilling recipient, the player/main character WILL have sex with the woman he picks.
Yes, that's it exactly.

Honestly, it may be that the only way to properly execute this idea is to remove choice from it entirely---because let's face it, the game which inspired this idea is itself a power fantasy, as asterazul said---and just focus on telling the story, featuring the MC as a villain protagonist (thanks, Scientist) and chronicling his moral breakdown over time. But that wouldn't be an easy undertaking. Unless you can do this exactly right, you'll find yourself perched upon a powder keg and playing with matches.
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Re: [BxG] Marry, F*ck, Kill [Drama, Dark, Pyschological Horr

#50 Post by PyTom » Sat Feb 21, 2015 10:50 am

asterazul wrote:Don't make this game. Make a different game.
This is terrible advice, as it assumes that ideas are basically fungible - that you can just exchange the idea that motivates you to go through the production of a game and replace it with something else.
Mad Harlequin wrote:But that wouldn't be an easy undertaking. Unless you can do this exactly right, you'll find yourself perched upon a powder keg and playing with matches.
Sure, but is the risk of failure - or of offending someone - a reason not to create? And while I'm not sure how serious the original creator is, I don't think it's our place to outright talk him or her out of making this project. We don't try to convince people not to do something just because their skills are low - we try to help them with skill development.

One of the nice things about storytelling is that we can tell stories about things that are completely unacceptable in the real world. (This is an important lesson my friend teaches his 5 year old all the time.)


Although I'm not much of a storyteller, I would suggest the game might work better with an outright evil protagonist, rather than a cowardly (kill her, not me!) one, perhaps with the inciting character being powerful and mad (like a mad president who offers money and a pardon to anyone who completes the m-f-k trifecta).
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Re: [BxG] Marry, F*ck, Kill [Drama, Dark, Pyschological Horr

#51 Post by Rozume » Sat Feb 21, 2015 12:44 pm

I don't think think that with this type of story only a "masterful" writer can pull it off - I think anyone can write any type of story as long as they know what they're doing or, at the very least, have an idea of what they're doing.

The OP may be a tad bit under-skilled for this type of story, but that doesn't mean we can't help him. Like PyTom said before, it's not our place to dissuade him from making what he wants to make.

My advice for the OP is to 1) figure out what kind of story you want this to be - is it simply for entertainment, or do you want to make a statement with it? Or even both? and 2) Find the best person to tell your story with (i.e. your MC should be compelling). I stated in a previous post that I don't think your Average Joe is the best person for the job. Perhaps look towards other kinds of protagonists, like anti-heroes or villian protagonists. I personally think a villian protagonist fits the job more and makes more of a statement.

I hope this helps. Good luck developing this!

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Re: [BxG] Marry, F*ck, Kill [Drama, Dark, Pyschological Horr

#52 Post by Mad Harlequin » Sat Feb 21, 2015 3:25 pm

PyTom wrote:Sure, but is the risk of failure - or of offending someone - a reason not to create? And while I'm not sure how serious the original creator is, I don't think it's our place to outright talk him or her out of making this project. We don't try to convince people not to do something just because their skills are low - we try to help them with skill development.
Okay, so I said I wouldn't jump into this thread again in the interest of letting other people talk, but, well, I've been quoted, and by an admin!---so I hope I'll be forgiven.

For the record, I haven't said, "Don't do this project." I wouldn't have expended energy and time on questions, comments, and suggestions if I wanted to just say, "No, you can't/shouldn't do this." I would have posted that one sentence and been done with it.

My point is that this concept can be executed in a manner that isn't a tacit encouragement of horrible, immoral behavior, exploitation, and what I'll call "predator simulation," and several people, myself included, have offered suggestions to that end. A character can assume this role and do these things. That's fine. But for reasons that should be obvious to everyone, I don't think the player should. (This is my opinion.)

The RPG Vacant Sky puts the main character in a similar scenario, minus the marriage and sex choices. At an antagonist's order, you have to choose to kill one of your friends. If you refuse the choice, they both die.

That's the kind of execution I suggested earlier---it turns the concept from a power fantasy in which the MC can choose to exploit, or kill himself and reject---into a situation that leaves him with no choice but to do so or die. Furthermore, all of the other characters must comply with the mystery man's orders as well, or they will die. He is now as much of a victim as the other characters, and the player experiences not the exploitation-fueled high of a power fantasy, but the helplessness of a victim forced to harm other victims.
One of the nice things about storytelling is that we can tell stories about things that are completely unacceptable in the real world. (This is an important lesson my friend teaches his 5 year old all the time.)
Yes, of course. That's why Lolita exists. I just don't welcome the idea of someone assuming the role of Humbert Humbert.

Thus I conclude my last post in this thread (for real this time). I hope what I'm saying makes sense.
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Re: [BxG] Marry, F*ck, Kill [Drama, Dark, Pyschological Horr

#53 Post by Mad_Scientist » Sat Feb 21, 2015 7:16 pm

PyTom wrote:
asterazul wrote:Don't make this game. Make a different game.
This is terrible advice, as it assumes that ideas are basically fungible - that you can just exchange the idea that motivates you to go through the production of a game and replace it with something else.
Yah. In case there was any confusion, in my post at least I didn't want to outright say "don't make this game." After all, I do think the idea has some really interesting potential. I simply feel caution and care is advised.

Also, there's always the option of delaying the game idea until one has more experience writing things with similar horror/disturbing subject matter. It all comes down to how confident one is that they'll be able to pull it off, and if they're willing to take the risk of not pulling it off.

PyTom wrote:
Mad Harlequin wrote:But that wouldn't be an easy undertaking. Unless you can do this exactly right, you'll find yourself perched upon a powder keg and playing with matches.
Sure, but is the risk of failure - or of offending someone - a reason not to create?
The risk of failure? Certainly not. In fact, creating something and failing can be a great teacher, and if one is constantly afraid to do anything cause they might fail, they'll never finish anything.

The risk of offending? Well, that gets a bit more complicated, though the fact is, one always risks offending people.

What it comes down to for me is simply this: I don't want to hurt people. Fiction is a wonderful and powerful thing, and stories have the potential to touch people deeply and make them think. They also have the power to offend people and hurt them badly. "Offend" seems like such a minor thing, but stories can touch upon deeply serious, personal, and outright traumatic things, and bring up horrible feelings and memories in people. They can seriously disturb and cause people pain. Some stories are intentionally disturbing and can be powerful in there own way, but stories that handle certain issues badly can be extremely painful without any deeper meaning or purpose behind the pain.

And well, I'd rather avoid doing that if possible. But there will always be a risk of doing that. Heck, right now one of the projects I'm working on deals with a subject where, if I screw up, I could deeply offend and hurt people. I'm taking that risk for various reasons I'm not going to get into in this post now, but it's something I think about often, and makes me pray I won't screw up.

So as I said, it's impossible to avoid any risk of offending people. That will always be there, so really, writers just have to first ask themselves if they even care if they accidentally offend people, and if they do, how much of a risk of doing so are they willing to take. And if they decide that a current story idea is too risky, that's not a reason to just abandon the idea. Certainly not at all. Instead it's a reason to maybe put the idea on hold till they have more experience and can do it better.

Now, again, to clarify, I don't want to come off even as if I am saying "don't make this game yet, wait till you have more experience." I don't know if that's the right option or not. I simply want to make it clear that it is an option, while at the same time offering my own suggestions on how to make the game interesting and avoid turning off/offending people right off the bat.
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