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SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

... zelda
Doctor Shemp
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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Doctor Shemp » 3 years ago

I've got three concerns with that:
1. It's a very thin line between homage and rip-off, and I think it's more likely to be interpreted as the latter, even if that's not the intention.
2. The scenario with everyone looking the same but being different hinges on the whole thing being revealed at the end to be a dream, which may not have been near-universally reviled as an ending in 1939, but it is now.
3. It's extremely difficult to write dream plots: beyond my talent, certainly. If you do them wrong they can be really, really bad. I saw an episode of a TV show recently that did it terribly, and the result was 45 minutes of confusing imagery and symbolism that wasn't really symbolic of anything besides wanting to have symbolism in the show. I don't think we can pull it off, as good an idea as it might be.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Nabe » 3 years ago

Doctor Shemp wrote:I've got three concerns with that:
1. It's a very thin line between homage and rip-off, and I think it's more likely to be interpreted as the latter, even if that's not the intention.
2. The scenario with everyone looking the same but being different hinges on the whole thing being revealed at the end to be a dream, which may not have been near-universally reviled as an ending in 1939, but it is now.
3. It's extremely difficult to write dream plots: beyond my talent, certainly. If you do them wrong they can be really, really bad. I saw an episode of a TV show recently that did it terribly, and the result was 45 minutes of confusing imagery and symbolism that wasn't really symbolic of anything besides wanting to have symbolism in the show. I don't think we can pull it off, as good an idea as it might be.
1. I don't think that anyone would interpret a game that is already a Zelda homage/fan game featuring elements of the Majora's Mask plot as a rip-off. I also think it would be criminal to do a Wonderland story in such a game without acknowledging the actual Zelda-series Wonderland story.

2. It doesn't hinge on anything being revealed at the end. Majora's Mask isn't explicitly said to be a dream, and if you want to look at it literally, Termina is more likely some sort of alternate dimension. But in leaving it unexplained, nothing suffers as a result. If anything the story improves by not being attached to the main Zelda canon, which is parallel to the result we want to achieve.

Alice in Wonderland itself is implied to potentially be a dream, but its sequel suggests that the real world might instead be a dream of the residents of Wonderland, and the author ends it with a poem that makes the suggestion that all of life is a dream. That's a strength of this kind of plot, not a weakness -- by showing off familiar faces in roles the player doesn't expect, you are effectively cutting any actual connections to the original reality, opening up speculation and new thought in its place. The only ending this plot would require is the one you wrote, where
Sheath hopes she chose correctly for the sake of the world of the game, and leaves through a hole.
3. Give yourself more credit. :D If you can recognize what's wrong with some bad episode of some TV show, then you're already capable of doing better. If it's a bad idea, let's not do it, or if there's some other reason not to, then sure. But if it's a good idea, it shouldn't be tossed because it's too good to write.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Leet » 3 years ago

another good example of a "dreamy world" plot that's also in zelda is Link's Awakening. for the three people that don't know,

the world is a dream, but... not link's dream. instead it's a physical dream created by a sleeping god, who's dreams appear to be so powerful they have manifested themselves in a way that link can interact with them

. just like majora's mask, it has some similar characters with different names than the already established ones, except this time in reverse - the Hyrule equivalents of those characters appear afterwards in OoT.

i.e. "its all a dream" is bad, but ambiguity about the state of the world is good. this is somewhat off-topic, but i find that when writing an ambiguous plotline, what you want to do is not outright reveal things, but give ambiguous details. if you just have "what is everything", then it's like, whatever. but if you slowly reveal facts and theories about what's going on without letting them directly state anything, viewers of a plot have a lot to go off of while still allowing for interpretation.

and now i remember how i really , really need to get to playing majora's mask one day, probably when it inevitably releases on 3ds.

anyway, whatever kind of plot you guys decide on will probably be fine as long as it's not frustrating to follow. so just pick what's coolest. 8]
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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby raekuul » 3 years ago

spoilers
So... Link's Awakening, then.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Doctor Shemp » 3 years ago

Well, I suppose we could give that idea a go, but the other thing is I think it's going to take a lot of text to do that story justice.

Personally I'm also hesitant about explicitly referencing Majora's Mask for two reasons:
1. We seem to be following the old-style Zelda of combat-based exploration, and MM is very much the game that ushered in the new style of a puzzle-based linear story.
2. It's a very divisive game. There's a lot of people out there who hate it, and it's not too hard to see why: starting a game with a 1-2 hour combat-free plotdump that you have to redo over completely if you fail is very alienating. Referencing MM could attract some people, but it could just as easily turn away others.

Now Link's Awakening, that would be a better base. It's old-style Zelda and it's not divisive. I still think we'd be better off doing something original - not original completely, as this story is derivative of other things - but original to Zelda at least. However, if we are to base it off something, I think LA would be a much better choice than MM.
Nabe wrote:Give yourself more credit. :D If you can recognize what's wrong with some bad episode of some TV show, then you're already capable of doing better.
Not necessarily. I can point out what the show did wrong, but I thought about it, and I wouldn't know how to do it better, just that it could be done better.

Oh, and when someone mentioned how I thought the gods looked, I thought about it, but then I didn't end up posting it because this other story got suggested. I might as well post them now anyway:
The Creator
While you may not see it directly, as the Creator's already broken by the time the story starts, I imagined it as a humanoid essentially made out of a prism, with light refracting out of them from a hidden inner source. In its broken form it would be a small cracked prism that still seems to have a small dim source of light in the centre.

The Destroyer
When it appears to Sheath during the game, it looks like a very old man with pure black eyes in a saffron robe. When it reveals its true form at the end, it is, like the Creator, a very large humanoid being, but this time made entirely out of fire, except for burning coals for eyes. When Sheath breaks it, it reverts to a piece of continually smouldering coal.

The Maintainer
Another humanoid, smaller than the other two, but still larger than a normal human. The Maintainer is composed entirely out of straight lines and regular shapes - similar to a Minecraft person, for example, but with joints in its limbs like a normal person. Or kind of like a normal person, at least, because the Maintainer's joints aren't one-directional like a person's, but bend 360 degrees in all directions. The Maintainer also lacks a face or any sort of detail: it wears no clothes, but has no genitals of any kind anyway, like a Barbie/Ken doll, and its skin is a uniform shade of grey. When Sheath breaks it, it collapses to a small grey cube.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Nabe » 3 years ago

My only two points of contact for MM are there being a moon falling, and there being people who look the same but aren't. The latter is the more important of the two, because I think explicitly showing some familiar-looking characters that aren't the people they're supposed to be is a very strong method of explicitly divorcing this game from the main canon. If that's what you want for this game, then I think we should do this, or use some other method to achieve the same result.

Alternatively, there's the option to flatly ignore that the other games exist, and tell the story about the world you've created that just happens to involve Sheath. But then, I'd expect some people to question why it uses Sheath at all for what is otherwise a (good) original plot. (As well as main series enemies like Goopas.)

The moon falling is secondary to the above. The reason I keep bringing up Creator complications is that it just feels like there should either be more to The Creator than meets the eye, or more to the nature of that world itself, because the Maintainer and the Destroyer in the end are brought down to a basic human level, but the mystique around the Creator and the mystery of what the world is remain. And those two facets should have some link, since obviously The Creator is meant to have created everything.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Doctor Shemp » 3 years ago

Ok, I had a think about this. What I am trying to do now is make a plot that may be one of these things:
1. Sheath has fallen into another reality.
2. Sheath is dreaming.
3. Sheath's always lived in this world, and everything before this was a dream.
4. Sheath's dead and this is the afterlife.

And to be vague about things until the end, which is Sheath waking up surrounded by Demo & others.

To that end, here's what I've written for the first scene, when the guy talks to Sheath on the beach. Italics are Sheath's lines. They should be rewritten by someone who knows her better.

Now do mine eyes play tricks on me, or is
It Sheath that stands before me now? Ah, lost
We thought thou wert, and feared the worst we did.
The smile of The Maintainer is upon you.

What? Where am I? Who are you? I was walking with the others, and something hit my head, and I fell, and now I’m on a beach. And why are you talking strange?

Thy head was struck? This has been known to cause
Strange maladies. Thy memory is as
The sun when shrouded by the moon. It will
Return to thee as bright as ‘twas before.
Thou art with friends. Go to our village north
Of here and let our burgomaster teach.

----END----

There are two reasons for making the NPCs talk in archaic English. The first is that it makes the whole world seem different and more unreal. The second is an idea I stole from the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Nemesis". In it, a character is stranded on a planet in the middle of a war where everyone talks unusually, e.g. "If you don't wrestle your trembles to rages, ally, the nemesis'll nullify you." As the episode progresses and he becomes more attached to the soldiers he's with, his speech slowly changes to match theirs. It's a study in propaganda. I thought that a similar thing could be achieved here through the use of dialogue triggers (if we have enough spare): that at 4 shards, Sheath's lines would change to be partly archaic, and at 8 shards, she'd talk exactly like them, mirroring how involved she's become with this world.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby raekuul » 3 years ago

Doctor Shemp wrote: 4. Sheath's dead and this is the afterlife.
and this is her punishment/reward for being in the ASMBXT games. I still dislike the idea of explicitly adding this to the ASMT-verse, but if we end up doing it my vote is for it being like this.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Nabe » 3 years ago

I enjoy it from a conceptual standpoint. When Alice gets to Wonderland, she thinks that the residents think and speak strangely, and they think that she does. I don't know how much of a purpose this particular style serves in this game, aside from being pretty cool. But a lack of purpose doesn't bother me.


Notes on implementing this:

1) From a style perspective, dialogue done in that manner would best be split up at two lines per box, mostly because strings are limited by a buffer size.
poem1.png
poem1.png (6.87 KiB) Viewed 1740 times

Here, I've used the font I'd like to use for dialogue. You can see that the string buffer bottoms out around where I've stopped typing -- this is an issue inherent to Zelda Classic, not simply on a per-font basis. The textbox's width also has to be increased for the longer third line to fit. (This is true of all fonts but one, S. Proportional, which is particularly ugly.) And that's not a big deal, but it is something that needs to be changed manually for every string in the game.

There is a bit of a workaround. There's a script header called tango.zh, which does custom text, and a lot of really cool and magical things (like character portraits and animated scrolling textboxes). With a week's work sponsored by Red Bull, Tango could be set up to handle all of our text, and could probably handle the job by displaying multiple strings in one giant textbox, SMBX-style.

Personally, I think that sort of textdump style is a bit ugly, and would rather do the one couplet per textbox. So that dialogue sample would be five formatted textboxes for the NPC, and two, maybe three to fit Sheath's dialogue. That's not a big deal at all, because the string table fits 65.5k strings; I just want to give you an idea of how it will look in-game.


2) If we do this, I'd have to change a ton of dialogue in Level 7 (and some stuff in Level 5) to fit this new format. I can't see any way around not continuing the dialogue gimmick in main quest dungeons. And that's not a large concern. I just wish this had been an idea from the beginning, because I think it would've had more effect on shaping the design of the game.

3) If Sheath is going to have a ton of dialogue (which this idea necessitates), we need to get AOD to give it a once-over, and if it's really a lot, maybe he should be more directly involved.


Also, this would introduce new questions about whether to change any/all of the non-plot text. Dungeon names, item names, item pickup text, as well as the rupee cave text.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Doctor Shemp » 3 years ago

I can change text. That's not a particularly big issue. Once you get the hang of iambic pentameter stresses it becomes a lot easier.

The thing about the formatting of the text is that it's all verse, as in actual poetry. If you don't format it as I did, it doesn't work as intended. To see what I mean, go back and look at every line, and they're all stressed the same: weak strong weak strong weak strong weak strong weak strong (going syllable-by-syllable). So if the lines aren't separated as they should be, it won't work.

If a line's too big, the common practice is to break it with an indent on the second line and then do a line break where one should fall, e.g.

Now do mine eyes play tricks on me, or is
It Sheath that stands before me now? Ah, lost
We thought thou wert, and feared the worst
we did.
The smile of The Maintainer is upon you.

Now if this is too technically complex to implement then we can scrap it.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Nabe » 3 years ago

I know that formatting is important; that's why I'm stressing that formatting might have to change to make this work.

The best option for implementing this would be one couplet per textbox. If that doesn't work for you, there's a possibility of implementing entire chunks in a single textbox through Tango, emphasis on possibility because I really don't know if it'll work. And as a second possible alternative, I could probably use Tango to chain strings into a single scrolling textbox, which will mostly amount to the same result as the first, but be slightly prettier. Let me know if you could live with any of those options, so I know whether or not I should pursue it this week.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Doctor Shemp » 3 years ago

You know more about the technical side than me, so whatever you think is best. I don't mind how many lines are in each textbox, so long as lines aren't split across textboxes. How many textboxes do we have to work with anyway?

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Nabe » 3 years ago

65, 535.
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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Doctor Shemp » 3 years ago

Nabe wrote:65, 535.
Then there's no issue with running out.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Doctor Shemp » 3 years ago

And here's the scene with the burgomaster (mayor). As before, italics are Sheath's provisional lines.
I have been told of thy malady. Holm,
Who thou met on the beach, is concerned.
Thou must dismiss all thoughts of other worlds.
We know that those whose heads are struck forget
Their lives. The mind abhors a void and so
Creates a dream. Discard the faces in thy mind
For they art fantasy. The truth is this:
Of here, our Sunrise Village, Sheath, thou art.
We sent thou to defeat The Destroyer
Who ravages this land. Thine injury
From thine adventure stems. Now Sheath, thou must
Begin anew thy quest to save this world.

Uh... I think I got about half of that. Save the world, right? But who’s this Destroyer guy? And I think that guy on the beach said something about a Maintainer?

Thou dost remember not the gods? ‘Tis dire.
Let me be brief for time is short. This world
Was birthed from The Creator. Good ‘tis but
The Destroyer thinks not. Each world was burned,
And made again more times than hist’ry counts.
The suff’ring had to end. We had to act.
The wizards did combine their souls in one
To make a god anew. The Maintainer,
Born of the pyre of their bodies corp’real,
Now shields our lives. The world survived. But now
We know that the Creator is shattered.
The Destroyer is plotting. Sheath, thou must
Retrieve the shards! Our lives are thine. Go now!

Still patchy on the details. I don’t think the others were a dream. Didn’t someone pinch me? I think so. Maybe I’ll pinch myself now... ow! Well, that didn’t work. I guess if I’m here I might as well be helpful.
IF SHEATH HAS NO SWORD: I don’t have a sword though.

Go south and search the wizzrobe’s house. Good luck! Note: continue to shield test.
IF SHEATH HAS SWORD: skip to shield test.

IF SHEATH HAS NO SHIELD: A shield would be good too.

North-west of here one can be bought. ‘Tis strong.

IF SHEATH HAS SHIELD, FINISH CONVERSATION.
This is probably the most important cutscene, so feedback would really be appreciated. My intention was to introduce the premise of the game, establish the gods, and to create ambiguity about the nature of the world. I tried to make the mayor's lines be, on the surface, an explanation of why everything prior to this game was a dream, while also being obviously a plausible explanation of why this game is a dream, as the situation he describes could equally apply to Sheath hitting her head in the real world and imagining this whole thing. I also aimed to add to the doubt by having the mayor immediately make reference to Sheath imagining other worlds, despite her not saying that to Holm, as well as obliquely referencing other people, despite Sheath only mentioning them in passing. Ideally this should strike the player as suspicious. Incidentally, Holm is a meaningful name: it's Arabic for dream (in roman characters obviously).

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby KingTwelveSixteen » 3 years ago

Well, that cutscene seems to me like it does everything you wanted it to, except for the obliquely mentioning other people thing. To me the 'forget the faces in your mind' bit seems more like just more 'that stuff you remember is fake and unimportant' (emphasis underlined) and not anything about the friends of Sheathe (Demo, Iris, raocow, Kood) being fake.

Though Sheathe not understanding what the old guy is saying annoys me. It's really obvious Sheathe, jeez! :x

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Nabe » 3 years ago

Alright, I've taken a crack at Sheath. In a.t.x.s. she has a short attention span, enjoys occasional energetic run-on sentences with lots of punctuation, and knows when the plot's not appropriately focused on her, so that's what I've tried to get across. Sheath also uses a more annoying message sound and textbox colour.




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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Nimono » 3 years ago

Mmm, in this case, I don't think having Sheath point out that she's the main character works at ALL. It's just...there for the sake of being there and breaks the fourth wall with no humor in it. Also, I think you might be overusing the run-on sentences there; practically everything she says is a run-on sentence. ...Although, people DO act that way when utterly confused.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Nabe » 3 years ago

Well, that's the thing. Sheath in a.t.x.s. will attest that she's the main character at any opportunity (that, or declare that she's sixteen years old), but particularly when someone or something new and important is introduced that she doesn't understand. Her mind doesn't follow the same plot as the rest of the world, especially when that plot doesn't interest her, so when confused she'll either reassert her importance or ignore the situation entirely.

And when she's energetic, she won't let things like commas or periods stand in the way of her energy. In the dialogue with the mayor, I'd have her ramble much less, since she'll have calmed down. Sheath is capable of more-or-less normal dialogue or even listening to other people, when she's calm or serious or interested enough to pay attention.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Nimono » 3 years ago

Nabe wrote:Well, that's the thing. Sheath in a.t.x.s. will attest that she's the main character at any opportunity (that, or declare that she's sixteen years old), but particularly when someone or something new and important is introduced that she doesn't understand. Her mind doesn't follow the same plot as the rest of the world, especially when that plot doesn't interest her, so when confused she'll either reassert her importance or ignore the situation entirely.

And when she's energetic, she won't let things like commas or periods stand in the way of her energy. In the dialogue with the mayor, I'd have her ramble much less, since she'll have calmed down. Sheath is capable of more-or-less normal dialogue or even listening to other people, when she's calm or serious or interested enough to pay attention.
Well... Admittedly, it's difficult for me to understand how Sheath should act since I haven't read ATXS before, but it leads me to wonder how much we should expect players to understand beforehand. If someone plays this having no knowledge of raocow or his characters whatsoever, they're going to be very confused and questioning why this girl is breaking the fourth wall at the start and stating that she's the main character, and possibly say that the dialogue is badly-written for shoving in a pointless fourth-wall break out of nowhere. Basically, we need to ensure that this can be standalone- that you don't really need to play or read anything else to understand what's going on or who Sheath is and why she's acting like this.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Leet » 3 years ago

Well, it's not as if there's an "explanation" of Sheath's personality in ATXS, so it's not like you'd actually need it to "understand" anything. Like, just read the first page. Sheath is here, she was on a bus and now she isn't, and then stuff starts happening.

Some might say that this is not the best way to begin a story but it's what happened.
ImageWell it is a decent hack but sometime its just too repetitif there no level that actually pop in your face and your like oh yeah that level they all ressemble themselves and just monster along the way.
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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby raocow » 3 years ago

Not that it matters, but if you want to stay to the character of Sheath as she was originally conceived, she pretty much exists outside the 4th wall, yeah. In the comic she once halted an opponent by pulling out their 'speed lines', and she's the only character who would do something like that in the comic.

It's not that she knows she's in a comic (or game in this case), but she can perceive and interact with the trapings of it. She does so inately, without really any thought. about it; it's just 'how the world is'.
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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Doctor Shemp » 3 years ago

In my opinion, I think in this case we should sacrifice staying true to that aspect of the source material so to a) be less alienating to people who haven't read it before and b) actually make the game work. If we make Sheath exist outside the fourth wall in the game, none of the game works. She becomes the most overpowered protagonist of all time. For example, if she's losing to a boss, why not just have her open the editor and delete it? A story has to work on its own internal logic, and if the internal logic is that she can interact with the function of the game itself, then it breaks the internal logic for her not to exploit that at every opportunity.

If you need a fudged justification for why she doesn't break the fourth wall in this game, isn't it normal to sometimes not act like yourself in dreams? It is for me anyway. Or at least to feel locked into a set narrative progression.

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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Grounder » 3 years ago

We could go the Disgaea route and have everyone aware they're in a game, but don't really care about the implications of it and can't do much about the mechanics (of which they are fully aware) of the world.
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Re: SPOILER ALERT: AZCT Plot

Postby Nabe » 3 years ago

I don't think I'd ever suggest that Sheath should have the ability to mold the game's world to the way she wants it to be. I mean, Sheath in a.t.x.s. is essentially invincible. Much like in ASMBXT, she can be bereft of that power without explanation, that's no big deal.

Although, by killing two of three gods by the end of the game, she will definitely be molding the world as she sees fit.

But there's no reason that Sheath having her innate awareness of the narrative would cripple that narrative.

Axing Sheath's knowledge of the fourth wall means removing the single most distinctive and fundamental facet of her character. And if that's the case, then she should not have dialogue at all, because it wouldn't reflect who the character is. It would be much more respectful at that point to acknowledge that Sheath is just a visual patch over Link, by making her silent.

EDIT:
I think it's also crucial to point out that having Sheath slip into iambic pentameter as she progresses through the game is not deeply meaningful on its own. A much stronger way of showing that she is slipping into the world would be to have her gradually lose deeply rooted aspects of her personality, at the same time that she's gradually beginning to speak in verse. If she begins to lose her fourth wall awareness, that would be meaningful.

An intro cutscene prior to her entering the world could establish who the character is and familiarize the player with her. There's no reason that talking to Holm has to be the immediate beginning to the game.


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