Regretand Hiding a Secret

Regret and Hiding a Secret

In a hypothetical game, you're a commander of a platoon in WWII. War is a gritty business, and you've seen too much blood and lost too many men.

Of the men in your platoon, one, Riggs, is the most mysterious. His speech and behavior reveals an intriguing "Character Diamond." (Remember that we stressed in Chapter 2.1 that major NPCs without "Diamonds" are likely to be uninteresting.) Riggs' "Diamond" has five corners. He is:

  1. Emotionally Distant. To the degree you can get a read on him, he's got a grim sadness about him.

  2. Beyond Brave; Almost Suicidal He's the first to volunteer for any mission.

  3. A Superlative Warrior both in terms of tactical strategy and in terms of his fighting ability. Bullets seem never to find him. He's instinctually one step ahead of the enemy.

  4. Altruistic to a Fault. He's always helping the other men.

  5. Obsessive Over Each Comrade's Death. He reveals strong emotion only when one of the men in the platoon is lost. He obsesses almost more than any of the other men.

If the person writing Riggs' dialogue is a wordsmith with a hotline to the muses, and if the actor doing the voice over is gifted, and if the animation is expressive enough, then, as we play the game, we'll sense that something doesn't make sense about this character. His "Diamond" is too weird. Why is he so distant, so suicidally brave, and so preoccupied with each new death of a fellow warrior?

He's hiding a secret. No one has to say it; the player will deduce this because his "Diamond" is like a jigsaw puzzle that doesn't quite come together. It seems to contain inherent inconsistencies. Why would he be distant on one hand, yet be so distressed when one of the men in the squad is killed? How could he be so caring about others, yet be almost suicidal in his own behavior?

Finally, about three-quarters through the game, we learn the secret he's been hiding: He used to be a commander with a platoon of his own. In fact, he once even outranked you. But he caused a friendly fire accident and killed some of his own men. He was demoted to his current rank a punishment that, obviously, he doesn't feel was harsh enough because he's full of guilt and self-loathing. This is why he has a taste for suicidal missions.

And so, all the corners of his "Diamond" now make sense. We see why he's such a good warrior: He has tons of battle experience. We see why he's emotionally distant. We see why he's suicidal. And we see why he obsesses over each man's death.

In this example of Riggs, we see two NPC Character Deepening techniques at work: Hiding a Secret and Shame or Regret.



Creating Emotion in Games. The Craft and Art of Emotioneering
Creating Emotion in Games: The Craft and Art of Emotioneering
ISBN: 1592730078
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 394

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