What is the difference between a stereotype and a story?
This itself is a question that can very easily have a different answer for each person you ask. Some will say that stereotypes are all about “Clichés” while others will just say that when certain topics are copied by others over and over again it just ends up being called a stereotype, and an even more brazen bunch might very well say that all pieces of work in their beginnings are a stereotype that with time(and due diligence) end up becoming a story. Lot’s of different answers exist to this question, some even think the two have nothing to do with each other, but lately I have began to think that both are one and the same. The only thing that matters is that the work itself *feels* like a story and anything ruins this feeling should be removed from the work.
I’ve recently gotten some of my projects and bills under control, so I felt like buying a few 3ds games. I started my shopping spree with Virtues Last Reward and Tales of the Abyss. One of which was the highly expected / feared sequel to 999 that was supposed to advanced the room escape genre while simultaneously expanding upon the world theorized in the original work. It promoted bigger graphics, the continuance of the story, and most importantly an explanation of 999’s ending. Tales of the Abyss on the other hand is a 70 hour long JRPG that came heavily recommended. In fact, the entire tales series has been something that has been heavily requested for review almost constantly since I started tweeting. These games were wildly different, VLR was closer akin to a murder mystery, it dealt with rooms, exploration, memory, and personal communication while Abyss was a flaming pile of garbage, but both titles seemed to struggle with finding their own identity.
In the case of VLR, important moments were not properly protected while non important moments were protected. You could find yourself learning something very important early in the game about one of the characters named ” Luna” just by guessing a password off of already available information, while other segments of the game that were more or less useless to us were forced to be viewed first before we could track down a different ending that may or may not become vital. In the case of myself, The information I learned about Luna was something I shouldn’t have known until halfway through the game. It left me completely annoyed, confused, and angry for most of the game just because of how much wading through nonsense was needed before I could continue where I had left off. Wasting my time, letting myself get so far ahead story wise due to bugs ( along with the game breaking bugs in the puzzles themselves) for this title almost ruined the experience and this is the exact kind of nonsense that should never have existed to begin with. I have no doubts in my mind that I would have seen this work as a story instead of anything else if these elements that caused problems had been removed from the work.
Tales of the Abyss also had the same kind of issue. Knowledge that was vital were poorly or never explained and this wasn’t just a story line problem, but a game mechanics problem. I still dont understand what half of the equipment in the game did or why exactly I should care. Several of the largest most important topics of the game are never fully discussed, the player characters all sort of know what they are but the players of those characters likely had no damn idea what to do. You can get stuck behind chests, stuck in particular towns, find important characters acting like NPC’s when in important segments of the story, Several character can be saying things in the voice of a different voice actor for no apparent reason, and the entire game just reeks of unfinished, bug ridden issues. The bugs are so bad I had almost no motivation for side quests, I have no interest in playing the game twice, and I spent the better part of two weeks thinking about this rant and how I can convene that Tales of the Abyss should never be considered good enough for the current marketplace. I understand this is an older title and a port to boot, but even back in that era, this would still be considered an unfinished work that could harm the reputation of a franchise.
Lately I have been seeing a lot of indie devs start to pick up older titles and the most common element I am hearing from these devs is that these works were no where near complete, but they loved the enthusiasm that was placed into the work. Enthusiasm might actually be the key to break through stereotype and begin to tread towards a story. Should random hero go through the cave because its where the next “boss fight” occurs? or should he go to that cave because he himself has a reason to go, a reason to fight, a reason as to why he needs to enter that boss fight. If I had heard a reason as to why I was being trapped in a bizarre room sooner, would I have loved VLR more? If what was a 27 hour long book had perhaps been a 12 hour venture would I have felt so enraged for learning Luna’s secret in the first 4 hours? I’ll never know, but I’m willing to bet this article would have never existed.