Sometimes I Don’t Think Of These Things During Class

There was a time in class when we were all discussing how exactly to remediate Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and afterwards a realization hit me…ah, I remember it like it was yesterday…

I realized that we could be going about this whole remediation thing completely the wrong way, and I believe the answer lies with LOTRO. The difference between LOTRO and what we’re doing is that LOTRO does not tell the story of the fellowship of the ring, but rather the story of Middle Earth. That is, in class we discussed how we should portray the forester and his encounter with Britomart, Guyon, and Arthur, how to get some action while seeing the Recrosse knight and Britomart tear up the six nights, and how we should experience the lusty assault of the lady Malecasta.

In LOTRO, how often do you see Frodo, Aragorn, Gandalf, or Legolas? You do find Strider at the Prancing Pony, and you do find Frodo in Rivendell, but they serve less than plot central roles. They give you quests and experience; they don’t take you along for their ride.

It seems to me that the way we were designing the Faerie Queene online is almost like a movie, or at least like a pick-your-adventure story. There are various areas to explore and dialogue’s to navigate through, but it isn’t the player’s story, it’s simply a retelling of Faerie Queene.

I think we need to take a step back and look at Faerie Land. I think this game should be a way for reader’s of Faerie Queene to interact with Spenser’s narrative, and I also think this game should help to interest players in perhaps maybe a little bit glancing at Faerie Queene, but I don’t think that what we make should be Spenser’s words as close as we can make it.

How do we do that? I think one way to do it would be to make the module, at least as we are creating it, at one specific time. Let’s say that specific time is Britomart at Malecasta’s castle. How would you meet Guyon and Arthur without any jousting scene (they have already gone chasing after the forester)? I would say that could be a quest arch. The player finds someone connected to Florimell (friend, family member, whatever) is upset over her loss, and you have to track down Florimell (perhaps killing various woodland critters along the way) as a multi-part quest. This quest could lead you to Guyon and Arthur where dialogue could possibly allude to the joust (to connect the readers to the story), but the dialogue would pertain mainly to the quest at hand.

As for Britomart in the castle, could first meet her at dinner and perhaps play through the small plot line of Malecasta getting in Britomart’s bed. This could involve quests of various sorts in the castle. This part would pertain a lot to Britomart and sort of railroad the character, but it is only a piece of the game and not a the whole thing.

The six knights? They’ll do what they always do. When you approach the castle you have to either choose to serve the lady Malecasta (and forsake your love!) or fight them to gain entrance.

Then again, Britomart is such a main character that you can’t just abandon her with such a small part of the game. This could be done with different parts of the game (just as there are different books in the epic quest). You could again meet Britomart at the wall of fire perhaps, at another “book” in the plot line. I would say that’d be a job for a future class.

Basically, I think the game needs to be more about the characters exploring the land, and less about the characters that have already explored the land.

Take my ideas with a grain of salt or disregard them in their entirety; all I’m saying is: this is our creation! Let’s make it something more than a lame summary.

-PChis (Melocotones)

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6 thoughts on “Sometimes I Don’t Think Of These Things During Class”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. In the next class session on Tuesday, we will review how I constructed Mythrendale and how that analog is something that starts within the context of our world — rather than the story alone.

    What does Fairieland mean as a contextual setting is the most important starting point from a design perspective.

  2. I agree. This would definitely be the preferable way to program our game. It should not only be easier to do with the time we have (no cutscenes or elaborate scripted events), but it will also give the player a greater sense of contribution to the world.

    One thing that I personally would add to the discussion, though, is that there have been a number of remediated books-to-games that rose above the status of a “lame summary.” Three of them also belong to the Tolkien universe. It was a series of last-generation console games devoted to letting people live through the LOTR trilogy. Players could choose any of the major characters from the books and fight through all the important battles. It was surprisingly well done, and it let people follow Tolkien’s story in a new and exciting way. It WAS still Tolkien’s story, though, down to a T. Basically, what I am saying is that it can be done – even if it’s not easy… and maybe requires more action-packed source material.

  3. for all practical purposed I completely agree and think that this is how we should go about our adventure. However, we must remember that Tolkien’s work is highly setting focused, and therefore it is easy to make his world’s exploration entertaining as well as textually sound, but Spenser’s work is more character focused (not that LOTR isn’t but FQ is more so) and to really tie it into literature I think character involvement is important- perhaps more so than in LOTRO simply by virtue of the differences in how each work was written. So maybe what I’m suggesting is. . . compromise? BOTH an individual adventure and heavy character involvement 🙂
    WT

  4. I agree with Wes, but for different reasons. I think that if there was no involvment, the game would be boring as hell. We are working on a much smaller game, and the eleven book epic quests in Lotro, which are the quests that delve into the main story line of the books, are over 100 hours of gameplay. We won’t have that luxury. If people enter the world expecting to be immersed in FQ, and leave having Britomart giving you one quest, i think they will be sorely dissapointed.

  5. I’m on the same boat as Matt and Westley. If we create a game space with very few references to Book III, then what’s the point? In class we agreed on a game that could be both educational and entertaining in that the player could experience Faerie Land in a different way while also being able to enjoy the fantasies of the game space. We also need to keep in mind the people who will be playing the game. My prediction is that every single player will have read or be reading the Faerie Queen. Where only a minority of the gamers in WoW or LOTRO play the game for the story line, in FQ it is obviously going to be a majority. Accordingly, we’re going to need to provide the players with as many opportunities as we can that make them stop and say “Oh, I remember reading about this!” The story plot and references to it, I think, are what’s going to make our game great, not to mention unique.

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