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I want to share with you a storywriting trope that I've picked-up on a lot recently that you may consider integrating into your game.

I see a lot of times in tv, the main character will ask an innocent NPC to do something that is kind of a big ask, like something very risky, doesn't have to be. And then the NPC gets killed for doing the thing you asked them to do and you feel insanely guilty about it. An example would be like if police were about to bust a criminal that they have under surveillance, and they ask his abused wife not to leave him just yet, because it could disrupt the arrest that they're about to make. And then he kills her before the arrest is made. You'd feel pretty sh*tty if you were responsible for that.

The request could be anything big or small, such as asking them to stay here and stand guard (and then they get killed while doing it). Or maybe you talk them into taking a trip that they don't want to take, afraid to fly, but then they do as you asked and die in a plane crash. For this trope to have the guilty impact that you're going for, you have to ask the NPC to do something that they have misgivings about doing, i.e. they know the risks, and you talk them into it, reassuring them that the risks aren't so bad or that it's worth it.

This is also good for feeding into a revenge angle against whoever is more directly responsible for killing the NPC.
Two of the main characters go through that in Final Fantasy 13 when they are first introduced: Hope's mother joins Snow's rebel group, is given a gun, starts fighting and is soon killed before their eyes, Snow failing to save her. During the next several hours of playtime, Hope resents Snow and wants to kill him while Snow tries to deal with the guilt in different ways.

I thought it was an appropriate trigger to get these two characters' stories going... However, Nora was not developped enough for me to grow attached to her and therefore her death left me mostly indifferent. And I couldn't have much empathy or patience for Hope's and Snow's struggles because of that either.

If I compare to a similar situation in Final Fantasy X: In Djose, Luzzu reveals to Wakka that he was the one who convinced Wakka's younger brother Chappu to join the Crusaders, leading to his untimely death. Wakka becomes angered and punches Luzzu. Luzzu then reveals why Chappu enlisted (he had a very honorable and touching reason to do so) and it helps Wakka calm down. They leave on good terms.

A few minutes later, the party can choose to encourage Gatta, Luzzu's cadet, to join the fight against Sin during operation Mi'ihen. If you do so, Gatta is killed not long after and his superior Luzzu has a very emotional scene dealing with the situation and pain of it. Wakka understands his pain and comforts him.

Those events come after several hours of playtime and several instances of interacting with Luzzu and Gatta, getting to know their personalities and objectives and the relationship they have with the party. Therefore I had time to grow fond of them and was much more affected by the tragic events that unfolded.

FFX handled it better. Not only does the game give the players enough time and experience to care for the characters involved but it also does not dwell on that tragedy for hours and ends it on a positive note, making characters move on and grow, which helps make them more real and likeable.
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