Hi everyone, Scott here! I thought it would be interesting to make it so that I make blog posts every month of the 25th, although I missed the date because I had my birthday yesterday… more on that way later on.

There have not been many advancements in Starwarriors as I am currently looking for a job position and have been thinking on getting more into writing. Aside from that, I’ve been going ahead and making commissions.

Today though, I want to talk about something that always keeps me thinking when I’m alone and have enough time to ponder, and that would be how real stories can be for us. You might realize that there are some people that go really deep into the discussions of stories. Trying to figure out foreshadowing events, or discussing weather a character loves the antagonist or not.

Why is all this though?

Being hooked on the story is a very important aspect, but when a universe that is fictional feels as if you want to live within it no matter the outcome, that is the hardest thing to achieve…

… well, the game “Undertale” did that in the first few minutes of it. And I want to write about how it does this!


 

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      NOTE:  Everything discussed in the article are about the elements in the demo, so there are no post Undertale demo spoilers ahead. But if you don’t know what Undertale is, check at least the first segment which is the entire demo!

Undertale has been such a heartwarming experience… I really wish I could dedicate it more time every day. The game did something amazing, it made me want to be in the world of it immediately almost without even trying (although to be honest, I’m sure Toby Fox had a pretty good idea of how to achieve this. Because he does it throughout the entire game non stop)

There is a certain concept that David Lillie (Creator of Dreamkeepers) talks about when writing compelling characters, and that is characters that help others, making them someone we can root for, and someone who tortures others, making them someone we would rather see fall. Their views of the world guide us to know what they believe in, and it even allows us to take sides in what they want to do.

But we are not really talking about a story to follow a character, we are playing this, we are living this. So how do we care about any characters at all?

The story begins with a short overview of the history between monsters and humans. They lived together but are now divided. We also see a kid fall into something… is that us?

Sweet! We got some context already! Time to dig in!

>Start Game

So you begin and are allowed to explore, everntually we meet Flowey.

The first character we meet serves as the antagonist for us.

Yes, a piece of garbage flower that tricks you into being its friend and now you take damage because of it and is about to kill you. AWESOME. The first character, a defenseless flower, turns out to be a hellspawnn demon that is about to end you.

We know nothing of this world, but we already get the vibe “nothing is what it seems” and we are put in a sense of alert and we percieve the world as dangerous.

      Scott, why is this world so heartwarming then?

It’s mostly because we get to meet the very next character. Before Flowey gets the kill on you making you want to smash your keyboard, you are saved by someone.

And her name is Toriel, by far the best character that has ever setup the world for you.

But okay, you already know that you might be killed by a monster. The only reason we trust her right now, is because she saved our ass.

I’m hooked already, there is the odds of a contradiction of “Monsters are not cruel” happening in your mind, but you also want to know a bit more about who saved you. This is all very interesting and I need to learn more.

Of course, she guides us ahead, she shows us that there are certain puzzles we get to complete to proceed forward, pretty cool. And she lets us practice with a test dummy. In Undertale, there are two ways to defeat your enemies. Attacking them, or talking to them or doing other things enough to spare them from fighting.

What I did: I spoke to the dummy, because I didn’t quite want to attack just yet. Didn’t seem to work, so oh well… the next logical step is to attack. Dead center, the attack did max damage.

      Toriel scolds you, you shouldn’t be so aggresive!

I had the feeling that being aggresive in this world was a very negative thing. Sure, the flower tried to kill me, but she stopped him… and now she is telling me that violence is wrong and I should converse and talk to others.

Not only it gave me the idea of how future battles will be, but it made me realize that this monster world that I am plunged upon isn’t really that terrifying. Or that is what I was lead to believe.

And to top it off, when fighting your first real enemy, Toriel shoos it off. She doesn’t like others to be violent either and it seems like she is protecting you. I felt very safe with Toriel now and saw her as a guide by this point.

Then comes the part that absolutely made me trust the world as a kinder place, but especially that Toriel honestly cared for me. The puzzle ahead is too complicated, spikes are literally everywhere you could step… and who knows what this is all about anyway!

Games are all about character control, usually losing this control in any videogame will bring you to worry, mashing the buttons, what the fuck do I do. If its a cut scene, you generally relax, now its the story telling control and advancing the plot. Toby did something absolutely extraordinary.

He made Toriel hold my hand, and let her guide me executing probably best in game definition of safety by the hands of others ever. Not by the hands of the game, but by the hands of a character, interacting with you, guiding you.

Nothing has made me feel safer in the entire world.

Before you know it, you are not beyond hooked in the story, you have this drive to know more about the kindness of this world, the open heart it has. You are in this world now.

This is why the genocidal run is so heart twisting for people (There is a run in the game that involves killing everyone, no mercy) It’s very difficult to even think about killing anything.

There are games that do this? Of course, but they usually want you to follow them, or to perform a certain action. And even cutscenes or quick time events (that I hate) that have a random character saving you.

But Toriel’s is thousands of times better than those. Her aid fits in the context of the world itself and of what has been presented to you… and it happens in the game while you do have control!

And to top it off, in the very next room Toriel asks of you to go to the end of the room ON YOUR OWN. Right after  being held by your hand, you are left alone to be independant. I can assure most players dashed immediately to chase her. Not only because you don’t quite want to be left alone anymore, but you want her to teach you more about this world that is starting to grow into something very interesting.

After you find her behind the pillar, she thanks you for your trust. Now we get a sense that she cares about now only our well being but for our feelings, from here on out you start to like Toriel more and more because she geniunly cares, which is what we should do when readiing a story…

… but it’s other characters caring about you this time.

This is why games should explore more of story, the potential of having the interaction and living the world is just so big.

 

Toriel now leaves you alone yet again, but this time with a cellphone, so she will still be around to talk to you. You don’t feel completely alone like last time.

You do get a phone call, a question for no apparent reason about what you like. It’s just one short moment of casual conversation that opens up the world as something more real to you.

And you are given a few options if you decide to call Toriel, a very nice touch allowing you to feel how you want to feel about Toriel.

I could talk more in detail about how the game continues, but I’ll just make it short for the rest.

You arrive to Toriel’s home to the surprise that she made you a pie, (although you kinda guessed that she was making something for you in the first place) And her just sitting down near the chimney reading the book… there is something that feels very real and honest about this game screen. It feels as if I could live here and be happy.

That’s why that in the battle with Toriel it makes you feel very bad to attack her at all… trying to spare her and having it not work, having her tell you to attack her or leave, even if the game is telling you that you should attack, the entire setup to this point prevents you emotionally. Especially since you realize in the batttle further on that Toriel can’t stand to damage you.

This also teaches you that certain battles will be hard to overcome.

And for the heartbreaking moment, she tells you that after you leave… that you can’t return.

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She gives you one goodbye hug, being closer to your character as ever before, and then leaves.

      Congratulations, I can’t stop playing this anymore ever or I’ll die.

This is just the first segment of the game and I am 100% invested in it already.

As a finishing touch, you still have Toriel’s number and you can call her, however she never picks up. You are one call away from interacting with your loving guide again, but no dice. It’s just a reminder, and it’s absolutely great.

 

SO I guess instead of this more being a tutorial, is more of an experience really, the best way to learn the aspects of good story telling is really to live it, Undertale does this well and I recommend this game immediately, not only that, you have the choice of being a killer or a kind hearted person at all times and that gives more control to the player and your actions will have consequences, it’s simply amazing.

I always feel that (for most stories) if it makes me feel like I want to be there, or it makes me feel as if it would be my home. The story immediately works. Although of course that you have to keep up  the rhythm and escalating how good the world and story is, but it’s the first impression that counts the most. Don’t judge a book by its cover, but it’s ultimately the cover of your book and the summary that will sell in the end.

 

Toby Fox, your beautifully crafted story mixing the serious tone and a funny atmosphere… gives me determination.

 


 

      SO WHAT BOUT DIS BURFDAY

Well, It was my birthday yesterday and I am now 24! Holy fuck…

I’m very happy for all the gifts I got from my friends and family… I did learn that bowling is not good for my poor weak hands though. I also got a little fox plushy that I plan to kill for the comic. (Ezmeralda needs a friend DUH) but I loved that my sister made a very awesome cake for me and I felt very happy overall. I’m realizing that Starwarriors is steadily growing and its very exciting.

Also, a special little extra thing to put at the end, my friend Stratica drew me a birthday present that I want to share, being that the theme is Undertale and all that.

And it’s soooo cuuuute!

Check out his artwork here:

http://stratica.tumblr.com/

 

And I’m off now! Overall good Undertale themed birthday for me.

Have a great day, and keep on determined!

-Scott Fraser