Scrapped Narrative Options/Narrative Tone — Guild Wars 2 Forums

Scrapped Narrative Options/Narrative Tone

On the most recent Guild Chat, Peter Fries brushed over a few of the scrapped narrative choices that may have existed before a tone-shift occurred. So my questions are:

1) Why was the Awakened Assassin idea removed? We're already aware that the general reason was that it was 'too dark for the narrative', but is there a more specific reasoning/rationale that you can provide because it seems like such a snazzy concept to be removed for that simple of a reason.

2) What was the tragic event that would've sparked Faren's rise to heroism? We were told that Faren was originally meant to experience something extremely harrowing that would push him to take up arms for a more personal and dynamic reason, but it was cut because it was 'too dark for the narrative'. Is there a specific reason as to why this was cut as well?

3) What are the limitations for 'darkness/mature themes' in the Guild Wars 2 narrative? It seems to be a bit inconsistent at times, when we have storylines like Bastion of the Penitent which are quite disturbing, and we have the comparison of Long Live the Lich which aside from the final cutscene was quite family-friendly/had no overt consequences, when you'd expect to have quite a dark/mature tone for a primarily Joko-based storyline.

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  • foozlesprite.8051foozlesprite.8051 Member ✭✭✭

    Oh boy, I'm interested in all of this but number two the most. I'm oddly invested in Faren, and would love to see some of the 'why' behind his growth as a character. He's gotten out of his ivory tower, and while he still hams it up with bravado, he really is someone that cares. He used his influence to try to help Southsun refugees, improved his fighting and helped us in the jungle, got his hands dirty with Amnoon cleanup, and came back to put himself on the front lines. Seeing a tipping point for him would deepen that growth.

    As for number three...there are probably ratings guidelines that say "you can have this much (type of dark content) before we push you up a rating." :(

    (As an aside, I'd love to see more of the opening story characters even if they can't be as big of a deal as Faren because of his longer tangential history in the main story. Malyck is obviously the first desire, but it would be neat to see some Snaff Prize krewes, charr warbands, etc.)

  • Twyn.7320Twyn.7320 Member ✭✭✭
    edited July 3, 2018

    The reasoning behind Number 3 is that this is the ESRB rationale for Guild Wars 2's Teen Rating:

    'This is a massively multiplayer online (MMO) role-playing game in which players perform quests while exploring the fantastical world of Tyria. Players interact with numerous creatures and characters, perform various tasks, and engage in melee-style combat. Players use swords, firearms, explosives, and magic attacks to battle soldiers and enemy creatures (e.g., minotaurs, giant insects, golems). Skirmishes depict enemies getting shot by arrows, slashed by swords, lit on fire, or struck down by lightning bolts; some underwater attacks result in blood-cloud effects, and stylized blood effects are sometimes depicted in cutscenes. Some sequence depict alcohol use: players can earn achievements by consuming alcoholic drinks—the screen appears blurry to denote drunkenness; in a “drinking competition” mini-game, characters drink ale from mugs—the sequence ends when a challenger's health reaches zero. The words “a*s” and “kitten” can be heard in the dialogue.' - ESRB for Guild Wars 2. No additional summaries are available for the subsequent expansions.

    Personally, with narratives like Bastion of the Penitent and Out of the Shadows, I feel like the Rating is a bit out-dated. If this type of story-telling is allowed in a regular release, it makes me wonder why this isn't the base tone for Guild Wars 2, as I've struggled to find complaints about the tone of either narrative. The only complaints about Out of the Shadows appeared to be its length, not the actual story itself which was widely praised at the time for its content and depth. Additionally, the backlash of putting Saul's story in a Raid Wing shows that the tone of the narrative and the depth of Saul's story is actually impressive to the community. Personally, I haven't seen more unity over the content of narratives in Guild Wars 2's community in any other instances, it always seems to be split directly down the middle for the overly family-friendly Episodes.

  • Ashantara.8731Ashantara.8731 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @foozlesprite.8051 said:
    Oh boy, I'm interested in all of this but number two the most. I'm oddly invested in Faren, and would love to see some of the 'why' behind his growth as a character. He's gotten out of his ivory tower, and while he still hams it up with bravado, he really is someone that cares. He used his influence to try to help Southsun refugees, improved his fighting and helped us in the jungle, got his hands dirty with Amnoon cleanup, and came back to put himself on the front lines. Seeing a tipping point for him would deepen that growth.

    So much this. I don't understand why some players don't get him as a character but keep bad-mouthing him. He has shown so much growth, bravery and devotion while still being able to preserve his light-hearted demeanor. He is one of a kind in the world of GW2, and I love to see more of him. (The teen rating can kiss my behind.)

  • perilisk.1874perilisk.1874 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @Twyn.7320 said:
    2) What was the tragic event that would've sparked Faren's rise to heroism? We were told that Faren was originally meant to experience something extremely harrowing that would push him to take up arms for a more personal and dynamic reason, but it was cut because it was 'too dark for the narrative'. Is there a specific reason as to why this was cut as well?

    Does he have any real connections to any character other than Merula (and the noble human PC)? If I only had one guess, I'd say that they considered putting her on the inbound Tyrian ship in Seized, in the ship's refrigerator.

  • perilisk.1874perilisk.1874 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @Jessica Price.1649 said:
    But that didn't feel right, either, once we'd played it out. It hadn't been earned, for one thing, and for another, it still felt like a disservice to Merula.

    It would also make the bit in PoF with the apiary jokes a little... uh, uncomfortable. Different bugs, but still.

  • perilisk.1874perilisk.1874 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @foozlesprite.8051 said:
    Just do Marjory and Kasmeer the favor of not fridging the lesbians either, mmkay? ;)

    Just do anything at all with Marjory. She's had a token presence since HoT. I can't even remember if she's actually part of Dragon's Watch.

  • foozlesprite.8051foozlesprite.8051 Member ✭✭✭
    edited July 3, 2018

    @perilisk.1874 said:

    @foozlesprite.8051 said:
    Just do Marjory and Kasmeer the favor of not fridging the lesbians either, mmkay? ;)

    Just do anything at all with Marjory. She's had a token presence since HoT. I can't even remember if she's actually part of Dragon's Watch.

    I'd drink to that, and I don't even drink. There must be a way to fit in a hard-boiled detective somewhere...

  • Haleydawn.3764Haleydawn.3764 Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited July 3, 2018

    @Jessica Price.1649 said:
    Okay, so he's (Faren) largely been comic relief. And we wanted to give him this arc that to me felt very real, because I've seen it happen in real life. ~...~ So we had this idea that Faren was going to have gotten engaged and we had a whole backstory for him and his fiancee, but there was a lot of discomfort with the idea that we were fridging this woman. We'd created her character just to die, like she wasn't even really going to have any screentime before she died. So that didn't feel right. So then we were like, "okay, maybe it's Merula! She's got a backstory and preexistence!"

    This is interesting, because during LS2 Marjory's sister was indeed written in and only created to die in Fort Salma. Was Faren's fiancee plot decision reworked because of this? Or just because it doesn't feel right using 'cheap' plot twists now? (I hope this doesn't read as a stand-off-ish PoV, I'm just genuinely curious as to the writing change.)
    (Edited to remove wrong phrasing)

    Well, for example: our ESRB rating is one of the reasons that when a certain character gets eaten, that has to be conveyed through audio rather than through visuals. Showing dismemberment is something we can't do. If we want anything that's too dark, it has to be largely something that's conceptual and implied rather than explicitly shown or talked about.

    Which is understandable, I also feel like this type of portrayal hits a player harder imo (Which is A-ok with me!). Many horror films use sound instead of visual to convey the horror/gore that is happening, because not only does it hit harder, makes it more horrific, it does ironically make releasing to cinema easier, instead of releasing Unrated Cuts only. So, give your sound engineers a pat on the back from me, keep up the good work.

    Better get a wriggle on.

  • Sojourner.4621Sojourner.4621 Member ✭✭✭

    @Haleydawn.3764 said:

    Well, for example: our ESRB rating is one of the reasons that when a certain character gets eaten, that has to be conveyed through audio rather than through visuals. Showing dismemberment is something we can't do. If we want anything that's too dark, it has to be largely something that's conceptual and implied rather than explicitly shown or talked about.

    Which is understandable, I also feel like this type of portrayal hits a player harder imo (Which is A-ok with me!). Many horror films use sound instead of visual to convey the horror/gore that is happening, because not only does it hit harder, makes it more horrific, it does ironically make releasing to cinema easier, instead of releasing Unrated Cuts only. So, give your sound engineers a pat on the back from me, keep up the good work.

    For sure... in fact I find that it is more effective because in your imagination something is as gruesome as you can imagine, but once it's on screen that's what it looked like, which can easily fall flat/shy of what it's actually meant to convey by the littlest details like lighting/etc. Suggestion of violence, or what could go wrong, or the horrors of what someone actually went through are almost always more compelling than actually seeing it. It's the fridge horror aspect that's the sign of good writing.

  • @Haleydawn.3764 said: This is interesting, because during LS2 Marjory's sister was indeed written in and only created to die in Fort Salma. Was Faren's fiancee plot decision reworked because of this? Or just because all of a sudden it doesn't feel right using 'cheap' plot twists? (I hope this doesn't read as a stand-off-ish PoV, I'm just genuinely curious as to the writing change.)

    It isn't "all of a sudden"—Entanglement from LW Season 2 was released four years ago. But we're always trying to raise the bar for ourselves on storytelling.

  • Donari.5237Donari.5237 Member ✭✭✭✭

    I am interested in all things Faren. This disclosure, however, suggests a debunking of my pet theory that he is E, ala the Scarlet Pimpernel. If he's been comic relief that needed some sort of goad to rise to heroism, then he hasn't been the secret information broker all along. So I am sad.

    Not that he couldn't still be written that way and all this a clever double-blind, but I can be objective enough about my theory to acknowledge that as desperate reaching on my part rather than sane speculation :)

  • At one point, we filled a marker board with names of characters in consideration to kill in the previous three episodes, and I spent a lot of time cruelly tormenting Dara Potocska by claiming Faren was going to meet a terrible fate.

  • Haleydawn.3764Haleydawn.3764 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @PeterFries.1057 said:
    At one point, we filled a marker board with names of characters in consideration to kill in the previous three episodes, and I spent a lot of time cruelly tormenting Dara Potocska by claiming Faren was going to meet a terrible fate.

    That would have been what I'd expected when seeing him in Amnoon to be quite honest. I'm not a fan of Lord Faren at all. ><

    Better get a wriggle on.

  • Ceit.7619Ceit.7619 Member ✭✭✭

    @Haleydawn.3764 said:
    This is interesting, because during LS2 Marjory's sister was indeed written in and only created to die in Fort Salma. Was Faren's fiancee plot decision reworked because of this? Or just because it doesn't feel right using 'cheap' plot twists now? (I hope this doesn't read as a stand-off-ish PoV, I'm just genuinely curious as to the writing change.)

    I would also say that these are different situations, too. Marjory's sister was a soldier, and that entire base was killed and she was one of many casualties. This is a lot different than inventing a person, or twisting a person into a romantic entanglement just for the purpose of fridging them a bit later.

  • Shanna.4762Shanna.4762 Member ✭✭

    The Lord Faren thing did seem to come out of absolutely nowhere, but I really loved seeing his character have some growth. It's too bad about the ESRB thing, but it makes sense I suppose. I've always found it weird that in a story of war and good vs evil, so few characters of significance meet their demise to add some gravity to the situation.

  • @Haleydawn.3764 said:
    This is interesting, because during LS2 Marjory's sister was indeed written in and only created to die in Fort Salma. Was Faren's fiancee plot decision reworked because of this? Or just because it doesn't feel right using 'cheap' plot twists now? (I hope this doesn't read as a stand-off-ish PoV, I'm just genuinely curious as to the writing change.)

    I can't really speak to LS2 decisions. Long before my time. :-)

    What I can say is that whether or not a trick or trope is "cheap" or not is largely about the context, how it's used, rather than the thing itself. It's like an appoggiatura sounds sappy and cheap as hell in some places and is achingly beautiful in others.

    I can't say we won't ever introduce a character that quickly gets killed off. But I can say that in this case, it was something that we didn't feel that it was something that treated the character with justice and dignity and compassion--which is something we try to do as writers, even if the story or other characters don't--so we decided not to do it.

    Which is understandable, I also feel like this type of portrayal hits a player harder imo (Which is A-ok with me!). Many horror films use sound instead of visual to convey the horror/gore that is happening, because not only does it hit harder, makes it more horrific, it does ironically make releasing to cinema easier, instead of releasing Unrated Cuts only. So, give your sound engineers a pat on the back from me, keep up the good work.

    Will do. :-) We work with some extraordinarily talented sound people.

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