TWITCHING THE TROPE

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Okay, so we all know what a trope is, right? (If not, check this link and curse my name for the next few hours while you try to escape. Have fun. I'll see you back here when you're done~)

So, tropes and clichés. Both refer to recognisable ideas in stories. One is hated, the other, liked. And both are often confused for the other. Do you use them to your advantage? Do you hate one or the other? Do you try to alter them in some way to create a new version,?

If so, how do you change your details? What tropes have you lampshaded and how? What clichés have you twisted and added to/subtracted from to make something a bit different?

Really, I'm just interested to see how people change the 'normal' things in games and make them different. What do you change to break the mold?


I'll give an example of what I mean. Elves. Those pointy-eared bastards who are holier than thou and so fleet of foot. Those jerks in tights who leap lightly and keep to themselves, deep in the forests fair. Every fantasy RPG seems to have them - or at least some race resembling them.

I do too - Welves. Still fair of face and voice however, Welves are not assholes who look down on others. They are in-touch with the spirit realms, but not aloof. They like people and love to mix with different races. They travel far from their home forests, collecting stories and songs, learning from each person they meet and harking their wares to the world.
Dancers, singers, storytellers, tinkers and travellers, they speak many tongues and are happy to teach others their ways. They are a happy, content people who give generously. Welves hunt and heal. They do not lie, but lie by omission; make better lovers than warriors (and have more than one lover at a time, often different genders).
Welves are not stoic, are not easily cowed and do not judge. They see things as they truly are - lying to a Welf is pointless as they know when you do it and simply won't care if you do.
They have pointed ears, lovely voices and are gentle, kind, considerate. They are tall and slim of build, come in all skin colours and breed strong (meaning that children of mixed race throw more often to their Welven side than whatever race their other parent was) and take in all who are of Welven blood - kin or not.

They are elves if they were nice and not assholes. Welves are awesome. They are the Mary-Sue of the races. ;p


Another? Another!


An amnesic character who decides to give up on finding her identity and instead chooses to live a new life. She's searched and since given up. Will she find out who she really is? She no longer cares. She's content with her life now and looks forward to what the future will hold for her. Yay for an amnesic who decides it's time to get over it and move on instead!

So... Twitched any Tropes lately?
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6133
One small correction: Not every trope is necessarily a cliché. There are many tropes that are rarely used or allow for so much variety that they haven't lost their originality yet. (See this page)

About your Welf example: I know you're a much more experienced game developer than me, but what you're describing there doesn't sound very appealing to me. Maybe I'm mistaken or it's just because of the context, but those Welves sound like the traits that distinguish them from Elves were inserted just for the sake of it, not because there's a good (in-world) reason for it. But, more importantly, you make it appear like all Welves are the same: A species with (almost) no diversity or individuality and with common traits shared by all of them. Sorry to say this, but that is a cliché.
(If I misunderstood something important, please don't be angry...)

Personally, I think the best thing you can do to make your characters non-cliché is to make sure they aren't reduced to one single trait (or set of traits). Always add at least a second layer to their personality. That can also be done by combining multiple tropes (or variants of tropes) in one character. This can lead to very interesting personalities, even if the tropes used aren't as original when isolated.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
Linking this out of obligation:



I don't usually do a very good job of subverting cliches. I just reuse whatever story bits I've used before in other stories that seemed to work well, and change the ones that didn't work by replacing them with cliches.

Once I made an evil empire that the player party starts out fighting but eventually joins in an attempt to change the empire's policies peacefully, and then the evil emperor joins your party. That was pretty good.
author=Liberty
So, tropes. Clichés. Those over-used bits that people continue to use in their games because they work. Reviewers despair their uses and 'experts' expound leaving them out. Those who know better will tell you that all you need do is change a few details and they work fine.

Yeah, that's not really what a trope means...
Nah, I didn't mention that you never actually play as a Welf, hence you see those who travel more often and don't meet those who stay in the forests - and sure, there are different Welves to the norm; there are fighters and select people who decide to stay in their forests but they're few and far between. As a whole the Welven race is more pacifistic than the other races (for good reason - not only does it put them into a position of neutrality with all races, the fact that they speak for the spirits and Gods gives them unlimited access to any country. If they were known to be warriors or fighters they wouldn't be able to travel and collect news as they do. To note, there are some who join up with armies and the like, but more often than not they are the offspring of parents who grew up outside of the forests and thus also brought their children up so).

It's their social identity (and they use it to good benefit) - of course each is different and has their own desires, dreams and what-not, but they usually are quite a bit alike. Comes from the genetics and their societal teachings - there are mad Welves, there are Welves who hate and cause trouble or want more than the simple life, but as a whole the race is a lot more chill when compared to the other races that inhabit the worlds. Actually, there's a lot I didn't add about them because of spoilers.

But here, if you don't mind spoilers~

To understand the Welves you need to first understand the Gods. Here's the run-down:

The Elder Gods and the Younger Gods are two races who govern the worlds above and below – the Mortal Lands, the Demonic Realms and the Lands Far-Seen. They reside in a place between these places, the better to see and watch.

The Elder Gods were the first Gods, breathed into life by the dreams of the Only. The Only dreamt the worlds and lands, creating through its dreams. Time passed and the Elder Gods grew weary of their eternal watch. They began to envy the Only its dreams, and wished to experience creation for themselves. One among them, known as the Dream-Weaver, took things into his own hands and fashioned a body alike his own. He transferred a part of himself into the body, breathing life and soul into it until it woke. This was the first of the Younger Gods.

Excited, the rest of the Elder Gods decided to create their own Younger Gods, to be their slaves and tend to their every need, taking their place to allow them rest from the eternal watch. Some regarded their creations as companions, beloved, whilst others regarded them as lesser beings.

After some time one among the Younger Gods spoke and said that they would require powers to protect the planes while their Elder slept and dreamt. Glad to shirk more responsibility, many of the Elders passed more and more of their powers to their Younger counterparts, never noticing that the Younger Gods grew more discontent with their lot the more they saw of the Lands Beyond.

Time passed and with it came more understanding of the powers with which they had been gifted. Finally, angered by the laziness of her creator, one of the Younger Gods stood up and demanded that she, too, be allowed rest from the eternal watch. She asked for a schedule where they could switch back and forth, taking turns on the watch. Her creator flew into a rage at her suggestion and killed her.

The Gods were horrified at this violence and shunned the one who killed, but it was too late. A plan was forming in the mind of one of the more beloved Younger Gods – the Goddess Feula. Her creator treated her as close kin, protecting her and taking care of her. She was one of the few who embraced the idea of the Watch Change, and offered to take the place of Feula so that she might rest.

A dream came to Feula as she slept and when she woke she knew what she needed to do. It was shown that death could strike even the Gods, so she gathered her fellow Younger Gods and convinced them that doing away with the Elder Gods was the only way that they could continue the work the Only had given them. She only meant to capture them and lock them away however, as her words spread, so too did the anger and resentment at the loss of their sister.

One night, as the Elder Gods rested in their dreams, each Younger God went to them and killed them. Some woke before they could be killed, fighting back against their creations, but soon they found themselves outnumbered. Malufa, the creator of Feula, was one of the few spared the First Night, and became the leader of the Elder Gods.

War was apon the heavens. Soon the Elders numbers were dwindling until there were but two left – Dream-Weaver and Malufa herself. Afraid for his life, Dream-Weaver sent himself into another plain, so as to be untouched. The Younger Gods locked that plain to keep him there eternally. Malufa, the last of the Elder Gods, engaged in combat with Feula. Both were hesitant to do battle but Feula would allow no other to take her sister’s life and Malufa was herself conflicted.

The battle lasted many days and nights, both engaging, then backing away, only to engage once more. At the end of the seventh night, just as dawn was breaking, with tears in both their eyes, Malufa was defeated. The pain of loss and betrayal finally got the best of her and she allowed herself to be beaten, hoping to die and be at peace. Feula could not bring herself to make the killing blow and instead used her powers to erase all that Malufa had known and been. She then sent her to the Mortal Lands, to forever wander as a human.

At the time of this battle many changes had begun to stir in the Mortal Lands. The church of the Elder Gods began to prepare for war, unaware that their protectors were now dead. A small cult of Younger God worshippers had begun to murder those in high positions of the church. The king of the Southlands prepared to march against the North, delusions of grandeur planted in his head by strange, prophetic dreams he began to have. And a young woman, unaware of her past, appeared at the edge of a forest, unknowingly pursued by a cabal of Dreamers who have been ordered by a voice in their dreams to find the Woman with no name.

That's basically the Gods.

The Welves were actually the first race created by the Only after he made the Elder Gods and as such he created them to be a mouthpiece/communicators between Mortals and Elder Gods. Their ties with the spiritual world and the way they were created is very different to the other races that inhabit the Mortal Lands. For one, they have quite short lives when compared to the other races. This is why they travel so much and gather information as they do - because their time is so limited. And why is that so?

The immense pressure their bodies are under due to their ability to look beyond the veil and see the spiritual side as well as the physical, makes their bodies and minds deteriorate quickly. This short lifespan means that they're more accepting of what life has to offer. They don't get upset easily because at a young age they come to terms with their short lives (we're talking about 20-30 years, tops) else go mad. Those who have gone mad - very few (children are brought up in such a way and environment that they are taught how to accept life and respect it in all its varied forms and not to fear death but rather look at it as travelling to the other side of the veil they see all their lives) - are kept in the home forests under careful watch of those who choose not to travel.

It's a product of their upbringing - the 'common traits'. It enables them to deal with every race equally (garnering their favour), not cause trouble (thus meet death earlier than necessary) and helps them enjoy the lives they live by not expecting more than they already have. It also allows them access to anywhere in the lands, grants them freedoms that other races can only dream about and garners trust among all they meet. People know Welves don't lie, thus they trust the messages that the Gods send through them. (They are actually hard-coded in their genetic make-up to be unable to lie. They can lie through omission, but actually lying is impossible for them.Certain Welves are very well-versed in language and quite adept at changing the subject when necessary~)

Of course there are differences - the interbreeding alone makes for quite different appearances - and those not brought up in the forest homes are often a more cynical bunch who are more wont to play word games and fall prey to the pettier emotions like greed, despair and hatred. They're more likely to commit suicide, search for ways to prolong their lives and go mad trying to divorce themselves from the spiritual side of their lives (or seek a way to profit from it).

As for why they're a stronger breed - that is, breeding true more often than not - the Only felt guilt over how short their lives were compared to the other races and made them throw more to the Welven blood so that they wouldn't be bred out of existence. Not a great idea to have a mouthpiece to the Gods then have them die out because they keep breeding with other races. Best to allow them to breed strong and true so that any children born of mixed couplings will most likely be Welves themselves.

They also have a solemn duty which they take seriously - that is, keeping an eye out for spiritual interference and being the intermediaries to the Gods. They spread word of the Gods' intentions and thus are well-regarded by many due to this (the knowledge that they can't lie helps in that regard. No-one wants the words of their God skewed by liars after-all). They don't pick and choose one religion over another and thus every religion regards them highly (there are no monotheistic religions in this game, bar the Only, but it's not really known by any other than the Gods themselves).

If they seem a bit cookie-cutter, it's because they are. They were created to be a certain way and once they realised that they could easily fall to madness, their society started teaching them from a young age to be a certain way. They can follow their dreams (in so much as those dreams don't interfere with carrying the words of the Gods to the people) and they can travel the world without worry that they won't be welcome thanks to their special upbringing.

As for the conflict with the Elder vs the Younger Gods, they know more about that than even the Younger Gods do. For one, they know where the Lost Elder Goddess is and have kept careful tabs on her. They also know who is sending the dreams and why. They have access to every land and through using spirits can speed messages along to each other quite quickly (the other races have no idea just how involved they really are with the running of the world and how they affect it without seeming to).

There's quite a bit more - historical names and how they affected the world and shaped it to the Gods' liking - but I think I've written more than enough. The reason I didn't expand initially is because, well, spoilers for one. For two, it was like, 4am. For three, I didn't want to write a whole bunch of stuff - just give an idea as to what I meant in general. And lastly, because what was written was meant to show the contrast between normal elves and Welves without delving into huge walls of text. XD



e: Sue me, it was 4am when I wrote that. XD I've edited it to make a bit more sense. (Serves me right for not sleeping like a normal person. Who wants to be normal anyway~?)
Once again, I feel this is a disservice to not mention that

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TropesAreTools

Tropes aren't bad, they aren't cliches, they aren't overused, and I've never heard a serious writer say they hate them or to avoid them, or to leave them out.
author=Feldschlacht IV
Once again, I feel this is a disservice to not mention that

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TropesAreTools

Tropes aren't bad, they aren't cliches, they aren't overused, and I've never heard a serious writer say they hate them or to avoid them, or to leave them out.

Gotta agree - furthermore, tropes are tropes because "they work" and people can understand them easily : ) kinda like colors.
you can't "invent new colors" - you can just pick different colors from the existing spectrum and draw a nice picture. some colors are more rarely used, some colors are more commonly used. and as an artist you should use the color that best serves your purpose: like, the feel you want to express with your painting.



edit:

@ Liberty:
Btw, don't "Welves" also exist in the PS1 game "Wild Arms"? ^^ I think to remember...
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
I practically never set out with the intention to subvert cliches. When I accidentally do, it's usually actually as a result of trying to shoehorn a cliche in where it doesn't really fit.

For example, in one of my games, I decided I wanted to use a modern setting, but I have no experience coming up with good RPG stories that don't rely on an evil empire trope. So the Evil Empire That Ensures Its Own Downfall When It Summons Demons is a former Soviet nation in eastern Europe. A player might think this is an attempt to make a more unique kind of evil empire, but in truth it's just an attempt to make a less unique kind of modern RPG.

author=NebelSoft
Btw, don't "Welves" also exist in the PS1 game "Wild Arms"? ^^ I think to remember...
The elf-like race in Wild ARMs (they are called elws) is extremely seclusionary, to the point where they moved their entire society to an alternate dimension just to escape human conflict. They're pretty typical elves, they just have rabbit ears instead of elf ears.
Personally, I prefer to write whatever makes the most sense in my story, trope or not. Often tropes becomes subverted when you merely make them make more sense.

Anyway, people have mentioned that tropes are tools. I do however suspect that more often than not, they aren't consciously used. I have many times seen a JRPG story where the author used a certain trope, but I thought the story would have worked better had the author chosen something more original in that particular situation. It seems likely to me that we are subconsciously drawn to tropes even if they may not be the optimal choice, simple because they are familiar terrain.
author=LockeZ
author=NebelSoft
Btw, don't "Welves" also exist in the PS1 game "Wild Arms"? ^^ I think to remember...
The elf-like race in Wild ARMs (they are called elws) is extremely seclusionary, to the point where they moved their entire society to an alternate dimension just to escape human conflict. They're pretty typical elves, they just have rabbit ears instead of elf ears.


Aaaah! True! Elws... I knew it was something similar to "Elf" with with a "W" XD *lol* ahh, good times, wild arms... ^^ I liked those...

And yeah as I said, there are some "tropes" that are more commonly used (and thus more clichee to audience) than others I suppose =w=
If I were to explain everything I do to make my games "normal but abnormal" (as I understand is the question you're asking about tropes) not only would I have to kill you, I'd probably be here for a week and a half.

It's a secret to everybody.
Honestly, I think nearly every story idea I've ever had involves the twisting or subversion of at least a few tropes. This probably isn't a very good way for most people to try and come up with ideas, but it's not like I ever had a choice in the matter, since it's totally compulsive (and of course, I've been doing it since long before I encountered tvtropes, or knew what a "trope" was.) Rather than drawing inspiration from great stories worthy of emulation, a lot of my favorite ideas come from stories that I don't like at all, since they make me start to think of what could have happened differently that would have made them interesting.

The earliest story idea I had that I still remember (I've forgotten loads of crappy ones that came before it) was a subversion of the Rebellious Princess stories I'd read so often. I decided that after seeing so many stories where a headstrong princess resists an arranged marriage, breaks things off, runs away, and usually finds an opportunity to marry for love or otherwise make good for herself, it would be refreshing to see this result in total disaster. A rebellious princess and prince have an arranged marriage, but can't stand the idea, so they agree between each other to run off and avoid the whole thing. The political scandal between the two countries, which were trying to marry their heirs to promote peaceful relations, results in the countries being plunged into war. Tens of thousands of people die, while the prince and princess struggle to survive in the ravaged countryside with their lack of marketable skills. When they meet again, they come to the conclusion that, as much as they dislike each other, this whole disaster is their faults, and they deserve each other.

This is why I was really disappointed by the movie Brave. For the first Pixar movie with a female protagonist, I was really hoping for something fresher than a Rebellious Princess story, something I'd already gotten tired of more than a decade earlier.
I tend to just go with the tropes. Mix and Match a bit maybe, but often I even think in these tropes. ("Okay so this guy then does the thing that is usually done in these circumstances") What I like to subvert is often point of view or making it slightly more down to earth.

In point of view I enjoy stories that follow people that might not be the main players. Someone is out fighting a war but the story is about people staying home and hearing about what is happening. Or if it is a fighter it is a regular soldier, not an officer.

Making it down to earth by changing point of view I guess. this is the main trope I enjoy and it's a simple way to subvert whatever one is subverting.


And Welves are Wood Elves by the way. At least in Blood Bowl a Wood Elf is often called a Welf. (in plural they are more often referred to as Woodies, so one Welf, many Woodies (though sometimes Welfs))
Blah, I wrote a stupid because I was half-dead at the keyboard. Hopefully this fixes that issue now.

I didn't realise the word Welf had been used but I guess it makes sense that it would have been. Oh well, not gonna change it now. ^.^

(Also, I totes made a healer who is a huge, burly ex-pirate because, hell, why not, right? Better than little Miss Gentle-and-Sweet-and-Priestessy-Cute-Girl-#4125. ^.^)

Sometimes I just go into a game thinking "I want this but want it different. How can I change it so it's fresh?"
Ratty524
The 524 is for 524 Stone Crabs
12896
I seriously wish people would stop getting worked up over "avoiding cliches" and crap. It's like a plague in the RM community as a whole, and it does nothing but confuse newer developers trying to get their work out there.

There is no such thing as true originality, period. We've come to a point where almost every idea was already done by someone at some point. Get over it.

What makes a project "original", however, is how much of a personal touch you add to that "overused" plotline. I think a story only becomes "cliche" and boring if the developer is just throwing that same "hero kills the demon" story without showing that he/she has any personal attachment or thought about that plot. Honestly, do you think a story that has nothing but a brave hero who kills a bunch of slimes because he can connects to your ideals, or the ideals of others?

I'm not saying you should make games that entirely reflect your personal life, because that can get kind of awkward, but I just feel like the story you make should have some sort of message that you can at least relate to. After all, if you can't relate to your own story, how do you expect others to?
@Ratty524: Heh, those were some wise words I did not expect to read here. : 3
author=Ratty524
I seriously wish people would stop getting worked up over "avoiding cliches" and crap. It's like a plague in the RM community as a whole, and it does nothing but confuse newer developers trying to get their work out there.

There is no such thing as true originality, period. We've come to a point where almost every idea was already done by someone at some point. Get over it.

Who is this post directed at? I'm counting a total of zero people in this topic who seems worked up over avoiding clichés. Also, since when was "has been done before" the definition of a cliché?
author=Ratty524
There is no such thing as true originality, period. We've come to a point where almost every idea was already done by someone at some point. Get over it.


Hello do you live on Earth
Ratty524
The 524 is for 524 Stone Crabs
12896
author=Crystalgate
Who is this post directed at? I'm counting a total of zero people in this topic who seems worked up over avoiding clichés. Also, since when was "has been done before" the definition of a cliché?


Eh, I admit it was a bit reactionary post on my part, because in many other RM communities kind of treat the whole ordeal as "OMG MUST TRY TO BE ORIGINAL" and it's something I'm sick of.

author=Pizza
Hello do you live on Earth

I do, indeed. Can you honestly name any idea that isn't based on something else?
author=Pizza
I do, indeed. Can you honestly name any idea that isn't based on something else?

How strict are your criteria here? You're not going to find a story that isn't inspired by something that already existed in some form outside the author's head. But this is still probably stretching "based on" to the breaking point. I can pretty easily come up with stories with core plots that are pretty distinctly unlike those of any stories I'm aware of (and probably any stories that have presently been written,) and may be "inspired" by other stories mainly to the extent that I use them for ideas on what not to do. There are some criteria that pretty much all stories are going to share, simply in order to be stories (LockeZ already linked that graphic where the far end of the "expected" end of the scale includes "there are events" as a feature.) And there are some criteria that most stories are going to share, in order to be good stories (it would be easy to write a story with a climax near the beginning, but also stupid, so that and many other hypothetically possible story structures are almost universally avoided.) But not just in terms of minutiae of content, but broadly in terms of theme and concept, I'd say that there's quite a lot that could be done but never has.

Of course, a lot of these things haven't been done for good reasons, which is why, as I've mentioned in a number of my reviews before, it's easier to be original than it is to be entertaining. If I wanted to come up with a really original story, from scratch, fast, I'd start by coming up with themes or messages that wouldn't appeal to any ordinary human being, since these are the naturally less likely to have been used before.
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