« | Home | »

Third party publishers as RPG archetypes

posted on October 21st, 2009 by simon

Imagine if you will some kind of strange alternate meta-world, where major third party games publishers form a rag-tag party and embark upon a quest to… make an awful lot of money? I suppose they’re going to steal some Dragon’s gold, that can be the story. Although in reality, in our universe, they’re just corporate entities raking in the cash for their shareholders and higher echelon types. But in this otherworld, they’re taking on a Dragon, and I think we can all get behind that.

Valve – The hero

Emerging from obscurity, our hero plots an unlikely meteoric rise to widespread acclaim and influence. It also emerges that he is the only one who can wield the arcane STEAM, a mystical source of great power which makes him all but unstoppable. He is unlike his companions, somehow set apart by destiny; he isn’t really a publisher at all, yet at the same time they flock to his banner. In the end no one can argue with the sheer quality of his work, even if he hardly ever seems to say anything.

EA – Highly dubious

There’s almost always that character you are forced to accept into your party even though he spends the entire game stroking his angular mustache and raising one eyebrow meaningfully. You know he will betray you at some point, the writing is on the wall, but none of the characters in the party seem to notice. The caustic wit, the spotty past, the big evil badge he always insist on wearing – it all adds up. So maybe you just don’t level him up with everyone else and give him the worst equipment you’ve got. So when the inevitable confrontation comes and he laughs at you for trusting him all along, he finds his proverbial gun has no bullets.

Still, despite all this you’ve got this nagging feeling eating at you, this idea that maybe somewhere deep down there’s this nugget of decency left in him – if you could only reach it, maybe he might turn back to the light. Probably not though.

Capcom – Difficult

Capcom is big on being adversarial. You always get the feeling that Capcom wants to be leading the party in your place, often questioning your decisions and dammit, sometimes she’s right. Now sure, many of the things she does are simply infuriating, but she’s got a lot of heart and somehow you can’t stay mad at her. When you look at all the great things she’s achieved, in the end you feel like its well worth the bother of having her around, and it certainly keeps you on your toes.

Square Enix – Brash

No one does brash quite like Square Enix – he has it down to such an art form that you’re sure he invented it altogether. This constant need to prove himself the best, where does that come from? He may claim not to care what anyone thinks, but the insecurity is practically tattooed to his forehead.

Take-Two – Unstable

Take-Two is crazy, and she wants you to know it. She’s probably trying a bit too hard to be edgy, but at the same time you can’t argue with some of the results. You can underestimate her with all the tedious attention seeking theatrics, but she’s quite cultured and has some serious smarts too – occasionally she can seem downright civilised.

The love/hate relationship she has going with EA is a little tiresome; at least they’re talking about it in private now rather than arguing in front of everyone.

Activision Blizzard – Suspicious

There are things about him that you have to respect; there’s that cold part of him with an unwavering dedication to quality. Then there’s this corporate franchise-milking disregard you see in his eyes that reminds you of EA at his worst. You know you can’t trust EA, but at least he is comically evil. But this one – you can’t quite be sure, which is all the more infuriating. He is powerful enough that you want him in your party, but in the end whose side will he be on when the chips are down?

Lucasarts – Wizened mentor

A long white beard tells you he’s been around a long, long time. He was out saving the world, or stealing from Dragons, whatever, before our hero was even born. His glory days may be a long way behind him now, but he has the look of a man who’s seen it all before and managed just fine. You get the feeling he’s been sleeping for a long time, and he’s just now started to wake up again; he seems rejuvenated. This enigmatic old man proves a regular source of inspiration and ideas for his companions, and for an elderly fellow he has a pretty good sense of humor.

Konami – Stoic veteran

He’s been doing this as long as he or anyone else can remember and he’s been doing it well. Maybe he isn’t the flashiest, maybe he doesn’t make a big thing of it – but you can rely on him to do a good job. His eyes are grey to match his hair, the voice is deep and steady. He’s also big on the health and fitness, always willing to provide training tips to his companions. When it really comes down to it, when you’re surrounded and escape is no longer an option – you want him at your side, brandishing something dangerous.

THQ – Ditzy

THQ is capable of some great things, but she’s always tripping over her own feet and knocking stuff over. Maybe it’s a confidence thing? She just makes all these silly mistakes, and seems to get lost inside her own head so much – sometimes you just want to grab her by the shoulders and shake her.

Ubisoft – Roguish

She is different, she is French, she doesn’t really care what you think. There’s something admirable about her attitude, or maybe I just like the French more than anyone really should. A lot of her success has come from vaulting around rooftops or moving ghostlike through the shadows; there’s generally a degree of subtlety and innovation in her approach. She has an unmistakable style, smooth and precise, and did I mention the French thing?

SEGA — Fallen from grace

SEGA was once so much more than just a man, and there’s a light shining in his eyes that reminds you of this. Is he bitter? He doesn’t seem especially bitter, but surely he must be? He was a king, an emperor, more even. How the mighty have fallen. But he seems to be enjoying himself, coming to terms with his earthbound mortality and having some success. Perhaps all the powers he once possessed, perhaps you don’t ever completely lose them…

3 Comments

  1. christian said on October 21, 2009:

    I would imagine Sega now being a crazy old man who wanders around looking for sailors.

  2. Cunzy1 1 said on October 22, 2009:

    Not being one to want to rain on your parade but we did it first and better

    http://www.thatguys.co.uk/2006/08/game-developers-are-pussies.html

    Yeah that’s right just posting the whole link up there.

  3. Michelle said on October 23, 2009:

    I found the genders you’ve chosen for each developer quite telling!

Leave a Reply