Thursday, March 31, 2011

Behind the Boss Gauntlet: Karel's Tale

Karel's Tale: From Demon to Saint wasn't originally in my lineup of tale ideas. I'd actually decided in the project's early stages to not do anything with Karel. "He's in FE6, his fate is already decided. We already know what happens, why bother making a tale out of it?" See, the big focus of Elibian Nights was filling in the "gray area" between FE6 and FE7. What happens to FE7's other cast-members (because we only really hear about the ones that die or survive to FE6). With some characters, it wasn't so set-in-stone. I was able to kill a character like Renault, I was able to see Raven fulfill his life's goal, I was able to show Pent continue his master's research, and I could do it all without conflicting canon. So why tell Karel's story?

Well, the initial idea for the tale came to me in sort of a...unique way. I was playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl with my brother, we were going through the Subspace Emissary boss gauntlet for fun. That was the inspiration. "What would a boss gauntlet in Fire Emblem look like?" I was eager to develop a chapter like that of my own, and what better project than Elibian Nights? The nature of the hack allows me to experiment like that, it's perfect for things like Karel's tale. I knew what I wanted in terms of the gameplay, but there had to be a story as well.

I mulled over potential plots for several days. A lot of characters already had plans, for those remaining it didn't make much sense or didn't have enough plot potential for my tastes. Then I realized: I'm doing nothing with Karel, the guy who hunts down powerful warriors for fun! The boss gauntlet chapter instantly made sense with Karel as its starring character. But wait, I'd decided not to do anything with Karel at the project's outset.

But the reason Tale 6 came to be was a fundamental change in my ideology behind the project. It is true that Elibian Nights fills in the "gray area," but I realized that telling strictly canonical stories wasn't as restricting as I'd originally thought. I realized that not only could I add new stories, but I could tell the canonical stories just as well. With Karel, I knew where the tale had to start and I knew where the tale had to end; but everything in-between was free for me to decide. I began writing the tale, coming up with a variety of boss scenarios. A lot of them were discarded. It was decided that I wanted the story to be told in six meaningful fights.

Everything was progressing smoothly. The scripts were written, and I was coding scenario three. But I felt like that tale was still...lacking. I couldn't put my finger on it, but there was just something missing. Initially the tale just went from boss scenario to boss scenario, the narration older Karel provides didn't exist. It wasn't until The Blind Archer asked me about Fir's involvement (there were no plans for her) that I got the idea of involving older Karel. The idea came to me: have Karel reflect on his own life to Fir. I thought this was exactly what the tale needed. I eagerly grasped the nearest pen and began scripting this narration. With that last-minute addition, Tale 6 was finally "complete." Not hacking-wise, but as a story I felt it was ready. But given the momentum of that narration idea, the completion of the hacking wasn't far off.

There we have it, that's everything that went into the making of Tale 6. I hope everyone looks forward to more blog posts (because I certainly look forward to writing them). Until then, good day and good luck!

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