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[Update] Radiant Dawn interview


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#21 Othin

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 11:30 AM

How would you have done it?

I worked on rewriting FE9/10's stories into one game with Banzai a while ago. I think we decided on the Black Knight being Ashnard.

#22 Paper Jam

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 03:29 PM

Sounds like you had a problem with the entire game's writing, not just Part 4's.

#23 Nintenlord

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 03:36 PM

Nice to see IS developers agreeing with me on the series's appeal. Too bad FE9 was the last game in the series I've played that actually had that appeal to me.

Narihiro: If we include them, itís around 200 people in total. About that many people, I think. All of the people who were involved arenít in the end credits. In broad terms, there were around a 100 people doing the game and a hundred doing the FMVs.

Imagine how much better the game would have been if they used that money in the rest of the game >_>.

#24 OldMan

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 03:38 PM

Am I the only one who thought Ranulf learning the identity was clever and excellently handled? Fuck Ike having to figure it out by himself, does he really need to be any more of a Gary Stu?

But Ranulf basically spoils you.

#25 General Banzai

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 02:48 AM

Sounds like you had a problem with the entire game's writing, not just Part 4's.

Not exactly.

Path of Radiance has excellent writing--up until Chapter 24, where the game starts to fall apart and it becomes apparent that, in the immortal words of Glen, "This conflict is the prelude to a much larger war." We get all sorts of unresolved plot threads mixed with an anti-climactic final battle (Ike and the combined power of several nations vs. Ashnard and some personal guards).

The plot thread part isn't a problem as the plot threads are all resolved in FERD, but the un-epic feel of PoR's ending seems much better suited as an ending to one of FERD's parts rather than the ending to a stand-alone game. Everything about the last quarter of PoR screams unfinished.

Now, FERD is another story. In this interview and a few of the localization interviews with Averill they state that the writing staff for FERD was much larger than in previous FEs and quite frankly, it shows. And not in a good way. The writing teeters from the kind of excellence we saw in FESS and PoR (Jarod springs to mind, but there are many other instances) to cringe-worthy and awful (the narrated map intro scenes, anything that tries to be colloquial, the utter camp that is the Begnion Senate). The writing has trouble finding a common voice and parts of the game can be nauseating.

The plot in general, however, also has problems. It's clear that IS was trying to do something ambitious with FERD, both from a gameplay standpoint and from a story standpoint. It falls short on both, unfortunately. I won't discuss the gameplay but FERD's plot and character flaws have been pointed out and discussed many times before: Micky-Sue, the Black Knight, what happened to Tormod, random wolves that do nothing, a devolution of the racism aspect introduced in PoR into a mere "Bad guys = unequivocally racist, Good guys = Not racist at all except for Shinon", and the list goes on and on and on.

Othin and I looked at these problems and tried to sort them out in a way that could retain the important (and good) aspects of the plot while jettisoning many of the inferior ones. For instance, we decided that the protagonist of Part 1 would be Pelleas, rather than Micaiah; Micaiah would retain her Mary Sue aspects but Pelleas and especially his growing envy of Micaiah would provide the main thrust of the internal drama (instead of Micaiah being all "omg what if they don't like me because I'm Branded?"). Izuka would be eccentric but less obviously evil; his advice might be cynical, similar to Soren perhaps, but not pointlessly villainous.

As far as the Black Knight goes, we decided that his role in the plot was sketchy at best. In PoR he serves as a revenge motivation to give Ike the intrinsic desire to continue (rather than simply continuing because Lord So-and-So said it was his destiny to). He's a powerful assistant to Ashnard and does some fetch quests but that's the extent of his impact on the story. In FERD, however, his role is simply to show how Sephiran manipulated the entire world. He's no longer an intrinsic motivation for Ike; when Ike first learns about the Black Knight being alive he says "Oh, I'm sure we'll cross paths at some point." Knowledge of the Black Knight does not dictate Ike's actions in any way over the entire course of Radiant Dawn.

Meanwhile, there exists a disconnect between the personalities of the Black Knight and Zelgius, almost so deep that they could easily be two different characters. Zelgius is the loyal, stoic knight, aware of the idiocy of his orders but determined to carry them out to the end. Our first and primary notion of the Black Knight, however (a notion that Ike does not let us forget throughout the course of PoR), is that of a murderer, a man who killed his master for no real reason other than to say that he did. Zelgius's loyalty to Begnion (and especially his loyalty to Sephiran) are alien to a man who kills his mentor just as a one-up. Now, did the Black Knight intend to kill Greil might be something called into question; he certainly seems surprised when he actually does. But the very notion that Zelgius would fight the man who taught him how to fight, who trained him and was his mentor from a young age, seems entirely ridiculous. Could you imagine Zelgius turning on Sephiran simply because he wanted to see who was the better fighter? Nowhere in Zelgius's personality do we see a man obsessed with power, obsessed with being the best swordsman, obsessed to the point of murder.

Now maybe you could say that Sephiran ordered the Black Knight to kill Greil to incite Ike to revenge to start the ball rolling that eventually awakens Ashera. To that I say, bullshit.

Anyways, what Othin and I decided upon was this: We would contain the Black Knight's role to PoR by making him not Zelgius but Ashnard. Ashnard would don the Black Knight disguise whenever he needed dirty work done, warping around the continent to for his own personal jobs. The effect of this is twofold: One, it retains the intrinsic motivation needed for Ike to progress on his quest; and Two, it makes Ashnard a much more visible villain rather than the cliched old "King who waits on his throne for the hero to come to him". Not to mention fixing the Black Knight/Zelgius disconnect and eliminating Ranulf's anti-climactic reveal.

The only problem with this is that it makes it difficult to show how Sephiran manipulated everything, which was the Black Knight's role in FERD. Othin and I hadn't quite thought of that yet.

#26 Lord Raven

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:33 AM

a man who killed his master for no real reason other than to say that he did.

I feel like a part of the "Black Knight"'s persona in FE9 was because he was to adapt to the Ashnard's mentality a little bit- chaos chaos everywhere. Mindless killing, and Greil being his master only sweetens the deal (so personal pride + being able to deceive Ashnard a little bit better because he took out the leader of a Mercenary force). And all the crap he said to Greil- pretty much to show that Ashnard is not fucking around. There was a change in motivations, loyalty, and leadership which lead this Black Knight ruse to adopt different mentalities.

Not to mention fixing the Black Knight/Zelgius disconnect and eliminating Ranulf's anti-climactic reveal.

How else was one supposed to reveal it? Besides, if you get Ranulf to talk to the Black Knight in 3-7 he leaks it then, too. He's more subtle about it, though. But Ranulf is the only one who had fought both Zelgius and the Black Knight, so if we had learned in 4-E-2 about Zelgius being the Black Knight or something we'd have pretty much said why the fuck didn't Ranulf tell him sooner?

As for why Ranulf didn't tell him sooner than Part 4, it's entirely possible that the it wasn't really an issue considering a) at some point you'd have thought Begnion and Daein were on the same side anyway (though obviously, Begnion's divided, but they just don't know the details yet so it's extremely trivial), b) it wasn't an issue until only the "strongest of people" were left alive. In this case, Zelgius and the Black Knight- they have no more allegiance to a country, merely at best a cause. c) Ike shouldn't be worried about revenge against Zelgius when, as far as they know, they're on the same side and they can't just fight with Zelgius because of Ike's revenge towards him anyway <_<

We would contain the Black Knight's role to PoR by making him not Zelgius but Ashnard. Ashnard would don the Black Knight disguise whenever he needed dirty work done, warping around the continent to for his own personal jobs.

Are you serious? Greil recognized Zelgius' voice in that cutscene. I heavily doubt the Mad King could emulate his voice.

Edited by Mercenary Raven, 07 February 2012 - 09:36 AM.


#27 VincentASM

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:57 AM

Are you serious? Greil recognized Zelgius' voice in that cutscene. I heavily doubt the Mad King could emulate his voice.

As I understand it, General Banzai is reimagining the story, so that particular point isn't too important. If IS wanted, Greil could have been Ashnard's martial arts tutor and it might have made sense, given that Greil was a revered general and Ashnard was just a low-tier royal.

That said, I personally think Ashnard is still an odd choice for the Black Knight's real identity. He doesn't really seem like the type who would hide his face when carrying out his plots.

#28 Othin

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 10:17 AM

How else was one supposed to reveal it? Besides, if you get Ranulf to talk to the Black Knight in 3-7 he leaks it then, too. He's more subtle about it, though. But Ranulf is the only one who had fought both Zelgius and the Black Knight, so if we had learned in 4-E-2 about Zelgius being the Black Knight or something we'd have pretty much said why the fuck didn't Ranulf tell him sooner?

As for why Ranulf didn't tell him sooner than Part 4, it's entirely possible that the it wasn't really an issue considering a) at some point you'd have thought Begnion and Daein were on the same side anyway (though obviously, Begnion's divided, but they just don't know the details yet so it's extremely trivial), b) it wasn't an issue until only the "strongest of people" were left alive. In this case, Zelgius and the Black Knight- they have no more allegiance to a country, merely at best a cause. c) Ike shouldn't be worried about revenge against Zelgius when, as far as they know, they're on the same side and they can't just fight with Zelgius because of Ike's revenge towards him anyway <_<

Congratulations. You've just demonstrated that there was no good way to address the reveal with the existing setup, necessitating deeper changes be made to the story, precisely as Banzai explained. In other words, you missed the point of our suggestion entirely.

Do note that I already explained this, earlier in the discussion.

As I understand it, General Banzai is reimagining the story, so that particular point isn't too important. If IS wanted, Greil could have been Ashnard's martial arts tutor and it might have made sense, given that Greil was a revered general and Ashnard was just a low-tier royal.

That said, I personally think Ashnard is still an odd choice for the Black Knight's real identity. He doesn't really seem like the type who would hide his face when carrying out his plots.

Precisely.

I believe what Banzai and I were thinking is that Ashnard didn't like the constraints on what he could do or fight personally as a king. Presumably he had a bit more freedom in those areas when he didn't have to be protected all the time. Donning the armor and being able to move semi-anonymously under a new identity, teleporting anytime, overseeing events personally, etc. would all give him even more freedom than ever, something it seems it would suit Ashnard to desire.

#29 General Banzai

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 11:19 AM

We tried a few other possible options for Black Knight, including one where his identity was simply never revealed. Ashnard seemed like the best choice--but the problem is, there is no really GOOD choice.

That was the main thing we found out in our FERD retool. We could make changes which improved smaller flaws in the story/writing, but the game was such a tangled mess than we could never really come up with something that made it live up to its potential. Too many problems just could not be ironed out. (Note that we were trying to solve the gameplay problems--such as lack of balance, barely available characters, etc--at the same time as we were working on the story).

#30 Lord Raven

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:26 PM

I'm sorry, I thought the point was the writing was poor and not the plot itself which is what I was responding to. I don't see why you didn't address my rationalization of the Black Knight/Zelgius "disconnect," considering the fact that the Black Knight/Zelgius's direct motivations and loyalties were not constant throughout the game (especially considering his loyalty is entirely to Sephiran, and everything else is an extension of that loyalty and those goals).

#31 General Banzai

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 11:45 PM

The point is both the writing and the story itself has issues, but at the same time both the writing and the story have salvageable strong points.

#32 Lord Raven

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 12:00 AM

You don't rewrite plots because you just don't like them, considering that's the impression you give off in every single one of your posts.

#33 General Banzai

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 12:04 AM

You don't rewrite plots because you just don't like them, considering that's the impression you give off in every single one of your posts.

1. I specifically said that I like SOME parts of the plot.

2. What's wrong about rewriting a plot you don't like?

#34 Balcerzak

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 01:11 AM

But Ranulf basically spoils you.

Are you talking about when he says to big Z "I recognize your scent", or whatever? Or when he flat-out says it. Because the former was awesome, and if you hadn't figured it out when that happened, then you've forfeited the right to be angry at being spoiled.

Also, it's the source material. By definitions isn't that impossible to spoil?

#35 Lord Raven

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 01:17 AM

1. I specifically said that I like SOME parts of the plot.

Yeah I know, and then you said that "the writing was poor after this" and etc. I'm not much of an English major, but I thought the writing was fine and conveyed what it needed to convey, and once again it was the most logical way something could've happened given the direction of the plot.

2. What's wrong about rewriting a plot you don't like?

When you add elements like "The Black Knight is Ashnard," you're not rewriting a plot. You're changing the plot to fit your sense of writing, and it's not rewriting in any definition of the word that a simple person- with no grasp of college English like Banzai ~the big man on campus~- can muster.

Rewriting I view is "making the plot seem more sensical while not changing the elements," remaking is "changing major elements of the plot." I don't see why Ashnard has to be the Black Knight since my rationale makes sense, I don't see how else Ike should've found out (the audience finding out was a bit of an Easter Egg- though, not hard to find in the least bit), and etc. Changing any of these major elements is changing the entire plot itself, and that really has nothing to do with the writing at that point- which is what you complain about- it's changing the plot as a whole. You overrate yourself.

Edited by Mercenary Raven, 08 February 2012 - 01:23 AM.


#36 General Banzai

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 01:46 AM

I'm fairly certain you either have no idea what I'm talking about or I have no idea what you're talking about.

I like certain aspects of both RD's plot and writing, and dislike certain aspects of both RD's plot and writing, as well. What Othin and I did was outline an edited version of the story which changed the elements that we didn't like. What, then, is your problem? If you think Zelgius being the Black Knight was the best possible way the story could have gone, we can argue that. But instead what it seems to me is that you're attacking my ability/right to "rewrite" the plot of FERD, as though my rewrite had any actual bearing on the published content that you receive when you play the game. Also you mix in a bunch of pointless personal insults.

Othin and I did this because we thought it was interesting, because we wanted to explore Radiant Dawn's potential--potential which we and many other members of this community believe was not tapped in the version of the game sold to us. If you disagree, then go and play the actual game, or engage with us in discussion as to why you disagree. Don't write paragraphs claiming that we misused the word "rewrite", because honestly that's irrelevant. Would it please you if I went and edited every single one of my posts to say "completely change the plot" in place of "rewrite", would that ease your complaints? Because if that's all you're discussing here, just shut up already.

#37 OldMan

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 08:13 AM

Are you talking about when he says to big Z "I recognize your scent", or whatever? Or when he flat-out says it. Because the former was awesome, and if you hadn't figured it out when that happened, then you've forfeited the right to be angry at being spoiled.

Also, it's the source material. By definitions isn't that impossible to spoil?

When he flat-out says it.

Sure, I agree it's cool that Ike isn't the first to notice. But he gets to know it through a casual (and somewhat contextless) remark instead of a "proper" reveal. And since you watch the scene, it becomes "yeah player, the answer to the question is Z. Hope you got it right!"

He tells you a plot point outside of context and buildup. Why not?

#38 Lord Raven

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 11:18 AM

If you think Zelgius being the Black Knight was the best possible way the story could have gone, we can argue that.

If you disagree, then go and play the actual game, or engage with us in discussion as to why you disagree.

I already stated why I think so, considering it addresses your complaints as to what is wrong with that. I'm sure if you looked past some of the points that are irrelevant to what you're saying (considering rewrite and re-imagining are two totally different things from everyone's viewpoint- how the hell was I supposed to infer "we're make a new plot" from rewrite? I sure as hell won't be reading every single long ass post you make about how half-cocked something's writing is in your eyes)

At any rate, I've tried and not seen the main point addressed at all. Which is; why Zelgius as the Black Knight makes sense. I've seen nothing but you addressing the fact that I misinterpreted your strange definition of "rewrite," so I'd advise you, instead of accusing me of being useless, actually address said points.

#39 General Banzai

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 12:16 PM

Incorrect, I explained already that Zelgius and the Black Knight seem to operate under two different personalities with two distinct and separate goals.

#40 Venusaur

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 02:47 PM

Then again, if you're observant enough you can deduce it yourself even earlier, due to Zelgius and the BK sharing the same battle animations.




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