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View Full Version : Arcs: unnecessary, and here's why



D.I.D.
12-06-2015, 03:04 AM
A lot of people go on about arcs as if they're important to great characters. Some go further and insist that a character without an arc is, by definition, a bad character. "Where is [such-and-such]'s arc? That's why he/she doesn't deserve a sequel or a trilogy, and why my favourite character does!". I don't think that the phrase "character development" is interchangeable with "character arc". I don't think character development is altogether necessary in any case, but the phrase doesn't mean that the character has to change: only that the audience's understanding of the character changes. A character can be entirely static and still achieve that, and this in itself can be intriguing.

I think you only have to look at some of the greatest characters in literature, especially characters who sustain multiple entries over time, to see that the presence or absence of an arc is irrelevant. They can make a character great, but they're not essential, and they've become falsely elevated in a world that grew up with Star Wars, gorged itself on tvtropes.org, and now can't imagine any satisfying denouement that isn't accompanied by a damn 60-piece orchestra.

If you think any AC character is better than, for instance, Sherlock Holmes then you're flat-out wrong. Sherlock has been picked up by other writers such as Bert Coules, who added stories about parts of Sherlock's life that Doyle didn't cover in as much detail. So there are stories about Holmes as a student with ambitions of being a detective, and there are stories about him retiring to the South Downs to be a beekeeper, but the guy has absolutely zero arc whatsoever. He occasionally changes his mind because other people turn out to be right, but Holmes has no alteration of his internal ethical/moral alignment onto which you could hang a story. He is essentially the same man from his earliest story learning his life's approach from his university's librarian, and was never a softer, weaker, naive young man. I'd argue it would have been disappointing if he was; we need Holmes to be an eternal force of nature who was always as pin-sharp as he is in later life.

More important than an arc is that all of these spikes on Holmes's personality snag on the world around him. There are clues that only he notices, because everyone else is The Public and he's Sherlock Holmes. There are weapons of charm and influence that work on everyone except him, because he might be a psychopath. He has associates from the lowest homeless street kid to the highest nobility not because he's altruistic or charming but because he respects no boundaries at all. He delights in his well-to-do friends recoiling from his contacts among the criminal poor because he enjoys that on a mischievous level. He has had specific experiences and gained precise knowledge which allows him to have a unique effect on every circumstance in which he finds himself. That's a good character.

Within crime fiction, we could say the same of other great characters such as Hercule Poirot and Philip Marlowe, although it would be easier to argue that those two are story vehicles and that's why they're infinitely reusable. I'd also posit that mystery stories benefit from rigid, arcless characters who provide solid backbones to stories that are constantly reinvented around them. You don't really learn new things about either detective, Poirot being essentially perfect and Marlowe's foibles being obvious at his surface, and it's really the suspects who lead the narratives. That's not true of Holmes, and he certainly did reveal new facets and flaws over time. Readers learned that Holmes was addicted to narcotics, to Watson's horror, and would increasingly indulge in cocaine when deprived of the thrill of investigations. He also used heroin, and this was a further worry for Watson when Holmes went underground to investigate an opium den. He's messy, he's prone to rages, and he's occasionally borderline inhuman in his treatment of people. Yet, none of this constitutes or feeds into an arc of any kind.

In adventure stories in film, with strong (but not necessarily high-quality) characters, where's the arc of Indiana Jones or James Bond? They are what they've always been and always will be, aside from minor nips and tucks to reflect changes in social fashion. A big one, The Doctor in Doctor Who: a decades-long history of literally universe-sized events in a consistent and evolving personal story, but there's no arc. You might even say that while The Doctor has no arc, he forces everyone else around him to undergo their own arcs. Some people would say Daniel Plainview has a character arc in There Will Be Blood, but I'd argue that he doesn't. Everything is thrown in his path which would normally result in a character arc, but all it does is to strip away the extraneous trappings of his disguise and reveal what Plainview is and always has been. Everyone thinks they can appeal to the piece of goodness that they insist must reside in Plainview's core, and they all discover to their horror that his core is devoid of good; he's an inveterate monster. That's an arc the audience travels, but not Plainview.

I'm not saying that a story with no arc is better than one with an arc. There are superb stories with arcs, "Ikiru" for example: when the arc itself is good, when the arc itself is remarkable. What I am saying is that an arc is useless as a prerequisite, and sometimes worse than useless when it result in a humdrum Hollywood path that does nothing for the story or the character. I don't think "I was inexperienced, then I gained experience, and now I'm older and wiser" is a significant arc. I don't think "I made a mistake and learned from it" is an arc for the ages. They're alright as story components, but please stop elevating these weak arcs to a height that they don't deserve, and stop demanding that the writers of AC crowbar one in so that you can put a line through that tickbox and believe you got a good story.

Everything I said earlier about Holmes being a good character and why - that the qualities of his personality and knowledge have an effect on the world through which he moves - that's what makes him feel rounded and real. That's what makes him like you, and the people you know, and that's why you can imagine a conversation with him vividly. Video games are under the impression that a really great character should be shown starting out a bit clueless, then gradually toughening up, defeating the enemy, blah blah tearful ending. They think that when you see the soft kid/teenager/young adult turn into the ***-kicking hero, you'll see yourself in them. Maybe that works for some people, but I think it's a cheap and ineffective way to draw out the audience's empathy and sometimes it even hurts the character. As I said above about the need for Holmes's talents to be a constant even in stories about his youth, you can ruin a character of enormous power by showing him/her as an experienced rube (Darth Vader was ruined forever by being shown as a snot-nosed kid and a whiny teenager, for example).

Here's the thing. You're a real person, and you don't have much of an arc. Sure, you change, but you're not fundamentally that much different or improved at older ages than you were at 18 - in some ways you're probably worse, and you just became better at not embarrassing yourself. I can see traits in my friends' kids that I'm certain are still going to be there as they grow into adults (good traits!). One of the most wounding statements you can hear from someone you love is "You'll never change", because they're probably right. Maybe the desire for stories with arcs has something to do with this: that we're all pretty much trapped inside the person we are and it's hard to keep up a significant personal revolution for very long before reverting to type, so we yearn to see characters transform in a matter of hours.

ze_topazio
12-06-2015, 03:23 AM
I've seen some 10 minute shorts with better characters and story than 20 hour long stories, so when people claim they need trilogies for the characters, or some 100 hour long campaigns, because this stories and characters as of late feel incomplete and underdeveloped, the problem is not the length or lack of sequels, maybe is the characters and stories that suck, maybe is the writers that suck, 200 hour long campaigns and sequels wouldn't make any difference.

D.I.D.
12-06-2015, 03:39 AM
I agree very much, but I sympathise with the writers too. They have to write a compelling story in chunks of one minute or less, which will be viewed between extended advertising breaks for fatal stabbings and headshots. It can't be easy.

This is why I think we should be focussing more on great characters you can read very quickly than heroes on a personal journey. We need as much of that meagre time for story development as possible, and maybe the development of other characters instead of the hero.

Sesheenku
12-06-2015, 03:49 AM
I laugh in my head when anyone calls AC characters great tbh. They're pretty bare bones.

You're right they don't need an arc necessarily, someone likable and relatable that's just doing what they do is well enough.

Assassin_M
12-06-2015, 04:02 AM
Firstly, I've no problem with the lack of concise character arcs or Hero's Journey, to be more precise. You've played right into my territory with the detective genre. Another example, which I'll use later to illustrate my point, would be Conan Edogawa/Shnichi Kudo (Holmes and Poirot were the precursors to me being a fan of Detective Conan). Conan has no character arc where he starts off as one person and changes into another person. What drives this character vehicle is the intrigue of him being a teenage detective who outsmarts dangerous criminals and catches them faster than the police. Conan doesn't grow, his outlook on life and crime never changes, he pretty much starts and continues as he is. Goku from Dragonball too, he's the same way. He's the same ol' guy, no matter what happens and no matter how much time passes. Are they bad characters? Nope. They're amazing and hugely popular.

My first point is that I don't value character arcs for no reason. I value them because it's how Ubisoft writes their protagonists. In every interview, every video, every time they talk about the characters, they emphasize the fact that they wrote Evie and Jacob to start out as something and end up as something else. They've always used the Hero's Journey concept, they like it a lot. It's a pretty solid concept, one that's been used in video games since forever. Me criticizing Evie is not because she HAS to have an arc, but rather it's because this is how Ubisoft intended to write her and in my view, it wasn't very good.

What I'm saying is, if I was served a dish that had no chicken on the menu, I wouldn't criticize it for NOT having chicken, but if it did have chicken on the menu and came without it, then I have grounds to criticize. Is chicken absolutely essential? Of course not.

Now, back to characters like Conan, Holmes and Goku. Think about those characters for a second. You've brought up all of Holmes' interesting points. Him being a sociopath veering on psycho, being addicted to narcotics, addicted to solving crimes....etc. Those are very interesting character concepts and add layers upon layers of depth to both narrative and the character. Conan is a teenager who loves crime novels and has an insane amount of knowledge. He uses that to solve crimes that even the police cannot solve. He's a paragon of justice and goodness because he refuses to push his proverbial victims to suicide, viewing such an act equal to murder. He's selfless, brave, courageous and values human life to an illogical extent, even willing to disregard his own safety to save one single person. This never changes. He's like this from the very beginning. What makes this character good is the fact that, like you said, all these traits add depth. We're not TOLD about these traits, we're shown these traits in meaningful ways throughout the narrative. These traits influence the situations he's in, the world around him, the people he meets, even some of the criminals that shrunk his body, intending to initially murder him. Conan is interesting because of how he interacts with the characters he meets.

Heiji, another detective in the show, is introduced as a punk teen who views himself as a rival to Conan/Shinichi. Heiji places this rivalry on a huge pedestal, viewing it as extremely important, but because of his interaction with Conan/Shinichi, he starts to see that there are other, more important things to solving crime and it becomes apparent in his later actions such as when he risks his life to save a criminal who did his crime and wanted to commit suicide. Heiji has an arc, but he's not better than Conan/Shinichi. Conan is just as good of a character because of that interaction. This depth, this chemistry, it's essential to a good narrative. A hero doesn't have to change, they can be the same from start to end, but there has to be depth, there has to be meaningful impact and interesting discussions. Goku from Dragonball is the same way. There are tons of other examples but I wont bore you with details, you get my point.

I have always said that what makes AC unique and interesting is the fact that it's entire premise is based on a discussion. A very simple yet violent discussion about Freedom vs Control. Look at a game like RDR. John Marston doesn't change at all, but the game uses the characters that interact with Marston as the player vehicle. They ask him questions and call him out on his occasional hypocrisy and that gives way to John showing his depth to the viewer. Irish, a common thief and arms dealer. West ****ens, a swindler. Leigh Johnson, the lawman. All characters with different outlooks and they interact with John. This narrative vehicle spawns deep dialogue and an outlook mirror from the characters to John Marston. See, there's a dynamic. Something's happening around John and he reacts to it, based on how he's written.

A character like Evie, on the other hand, has no such depth to her. She doesn't affect her brother in any meaningful way and we're not shown that she's a stone cold Assassin who closed her heart to love and romance. She instantly falls in love with Henry and keeps chastising and patronizing Jacob for his recklessness, there's nothing endearing about her. Okay, sure, lets have the romance be the main catalyst of her narrative, but she does NOTHING for the other side of the narrative, Jacob. The dialogue is uninteresting and the very dynamic is simply uninspired. She does nothing of impact on the screen. Reflecting AC narrative, her impacts merely pertain to in-game Macguffins, gameplay mechanics or plot devices. Killing Templars, finding Pieces of Eden, liberating London and there's little else.

LoyalACFan
12-06-2015, 04:33 AM
I don't think character development is altogether necessary in any case, but the phrase doesn't mean that the character has to change: only that the audience's understanding of the character changes. A character can be entirely static and still achieve that, and this in itself can be intriguing.

That's still an arc. The hero has to be put through some kind of test of character for us to change our opinion of him/her; whether it results in change or not leaves an impression on the reader/viewer either way. In a sense, it's the same thing; it often works well for villainous or cowardly characters when they're given the chance to do good but don't take it (see: Daniel Plainview) and the inverse can work when a previously reviled character is revealed to have been good the whole time (see: Severus Snape).


/snip/ Sherlock Holmes

Serialized fiction comes with a different set of rules because each of the many entries is intended to be essentially standalone while still starring a well-known character (usually one with a unique distinctive talent; in this case it's Sherlock Holmes' intellect, for Harry Flashman it's his roguish antiheroism, etc). Mystery is especially unfair since it really doesn't need identifiable characters to work. The stories are less about how the circumstances will affect the protagonist and more about how the protagonist will affect the circumstance. And these characters are almost always DO have some sort of character arc at some point, even if there isn't one in every story. Even Holmes has one in "A Scandal in Bohemia," the first short story he appears in (and honestly the only one I'm very familiar with), where he has to confront being outwitted by a woman and consequently elevates Irene Adler to near-demigoddess status in his mind.


/snip/ Indiana Jones or James Bond?

Indiana Jones does have a character arc in Raiders, but then that character got serialized and remained static for the duration of the franchise after that (well, except for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which we don't talk about). It's the same deal, people liked what they saw in the first story and so Spielberg gave them more. As for Bond, well, I've only ever seen a couple of the movies, but from what I saw he's actually a pretty crap character. I'd argue that the Bond franchise only successful because of the action and taboo-smashing sexual content in his books and movies.


Some people would say Daniel Plainview has a character arc in There Will Be Blood, but I'd argue that he doesn't. Everything is thrown in his path which would normally result in a character arc, but all it does is to strip away the extraneous trappings of his disguise and reveal what Plainview is and always has been. Everyone thinks they can appeal to the piece of goodness that they insist must reside in Plainview's core, and they all discover to their horror that his core is devoid of good; he's an inveterate monster. That's an arc the audience travels, but not Plainview.

I think he absolutely has a character arc in the truest sense of the word, but like I said earlier, learning more about the character by watching the ordeals they go through still makes them dynamic.


Video games are under the impression that a really great character should be shown starting out a bit clueless, then gradually toughening up, defeating the enemy

Because to a large extent, the character has to be an analogue for the player while they're learning how to play the game. I mean sure, there are better ways of doing it than making you run around as an unskilled teenager for three hours like AC2 and AC3, but it's really hard to plop the player in the shoes of somebody who's already supposed to be a badass Assassin with awesome parkour skillz and make them really feel like they're living the experience of being that character when they don't have the foggiest clue how to control them correctly. The "clueless n00b becomes hardened badass" trope is overused, but it's a perfect framing device for easing players into the game.


Darth Vader was ruined forever by being shown as a snot-nosed kid and a whiny teenager, for example.

The writing in the Star Wars prequels was horrendous across the board. Darth Hayden Christensen is hardly a damning indictment of backstory and context.


Here's the thing. You're a real person, and you don't have much of an arc..

And I would be the lamest protagonist ever seen in any medium :p

D.I.D.
12-06-2015, 05:27 AM
That's still an arc. The hero has to be put through some kind of test of character for us to change our opinion of him/her; whether it results in change or not leaves an impression on the reader/viewer either way. In a sense, it's the same thing; it often works well for villainous or cowardly characters when they're given the chance to do good but don't take it (see: Daniel Plainview) and the inverse can work when a previously reviled character is revealed to have been good the whole time (see: Severus Snape).

Your example of Snape is more the kind of thing I meant, where the audience can go on a arc in a sense; the character doesn't change, but their understanding of him/her does. I think that would be a good one to see in AC one day.


Even Holmes has one in "A Scandal in Bohemia," the first short story he appears in (and honestly the only one I'm very familiar with), where he has to confront being outwitted by a woman and consequently elevates Irene Adler to near-demigoddess status in his mind.

Yeah, he has a few moments like that across the stories. They don't really change him, though. He isn't shown to have learned from that experience not to underestimate women, and it's not the last time (if you include Coules stories) that Holmes is bested by another person. It's an event that's taken on much more significance in the public's conscience as society has changed than it does in Holmes's mind.

You'd have to have moments like this, but in AC terms it would be like the events of a single mission or maybe a chapter being described as the character's arc - you just couldn't do it.


Indiana Jones does have a character arc in Raiders, but then that character got serialized and remained static for the duration of the franchise after that (well, except for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which we don't talk about). It's the same deal, people liked what they saw in the first story and so Spielberg gave them more.

But what is that arc? He starts the film as a badass adventurer retrieving an ancient artefact, and that's how the film ends. He's super-capable throughout. Things happen, but I don't see the arc here. There's no "hero's journey", as far as I can see, certainly nothing that's the key to why this film excited people.

[On Bond - yeah, I'm not a fan either, hence the slightly dismissive tone in my post, but he is certainly a great character in terms of how much fan love he's inspired and being enduringly bankable, so credit where it's due!]



Because to a large extent, the character has to be an analogue for the player while they're learning how to play the game. I mean sure, there are better ways of doing it than making you run around as an unskilled teenager for three hours like AC2 and AC3, but it's really hard to plop the player in the shoes of somebody who's already supposed to be a badass Assassin with awesome parkour skillz and make them really feel like they're living the experience of being that character when they don't have the foggiest clue how to control them correctly. The "clueless n00b becomes hardened badass" trope is overused, but it's a perfect framing device for easing players into the game.

This is a great point, well made.

I do see what you mean, but Syndicate just managed it fine. The decision to give you slow-motion/paused tutorials during your first fights was excellent. I think we can now have a game that starts with one of the game's best missions without too many problems.


And I would be the lamest protagonist ever seen in any medium :p

:D

D.I.D.
12-06-2015, 05:43 AM
My first point is that I don't value character arcs for no reason. I value them because it's how Ubisoft writes their protagonists. In every interview, every video, every time they talk about the characters, they emphasize the fact that they wrote Evie and Jacob to start out as something and end up as something else. They've always used the Hero's Journey concept, they like it a lot. It's a pretty solid concept, one that's been used in video games since forever. Me criticizing Evie is not because she HAS to have an arc, but rather it's because this is how Ubisoft intended to write her and in my view, it wasn't very good.

Fair point. I avoided a lot of promotional videos and such, so I didn't know that. If they promise something and then don't deliver it, that's a fair reason to be disappointed.


What makes this character good is the fact that, like you said, all these traits add depth. We're not TOLD about these traits, we're shown these traits in meaningful ways throughout the narrative. These traits influence the situations he's in, the world around him, the people he meets, even some of the criminals that shrunk his body, intending to initially murder him. Conan is interesting because of how he interacts with the characters he meets.

Another great point. I'm sure if the game was a little less open-world and a bit more Tomb Raider-ish, they'd focus a lot more on showing rather than telling, and the game would feed story almost constantly too.


Heiji, another detective in the show, is introduced as a punk teen who views himself as a rival to Conan/Shinichi. Heiji places this rivalry on a huge pedestal, viewing it as extremely important, but because of his interaction with Conan/Shinichi, he starts to see that there are other, more important things to solving crime and it becomes apparent in his later actions such as when he risks his life to save a criminal who did his crime and wanted to commit suicide. Heiji has an arc, but he's not better than Conan/Shinichi. Conan is just as good of a character because of that interaction. This depth, this chemistry, it's essential to a good narrative. A hero doesn't have to change, they can be the same from start to end, but there has to be depth, there has to be meaningful impact and interesting discussions. Goku from Dragonball is the same way. There are tons of other examples but I wont bore you with details, you get my point.

Yes, I can see that. The writers need to prime their characters with enough potentially catalytic features and then feed those into the circumstances you find in the story. You don't want it too obvious, where the character seems too convenient for his/her plot nodes (or vice versa), but then again it can add a special kind of excitement sometimes to see a situation arising and to think, "Ohhhhhh, when that character sees this, there are going to be fireworks!". Stuff like that helps the audience to feel like it knows this character as a person.


I have always said that what makes AC unique and interesting is the fact that it's entire premise is based on a discussion. A very simple yet violent discussion about Freedom vs Control. Look at a game like RDR. John Marston doesn't change at all, but the game uses the characters that interact with Marston as the player vehicle. They ask him questions and call him out on his occasional hypocrisy and that gives way to John showing his depth to the viewer. Irish, a common thief and arms dealer. West ****ens, a swindler. Leigh Johnson, the lawman. All characters with different outlooks and they interact with John. This narrative vehicle spawns deep dialogue and an outlook mirror from the characters to John Marston. See, there's a dynamic. Something's happening around John and he reacts to it, based on how he's written.

A character like Evie, on the other hand, has no such depth to her. She doesn't affect her brother in any meaningful way and we're not shown that she's a stone cold Assassin who closed her heart to love and romance. She instantly falls in love with Henry and keeps chastising and patronizing Jacob for his recklessness, there's nothing endearing about her. Okay, sure, lets have the romance be the main catalyst of her narrative, but she does NOTHING for the other side of the narrative, Jacob. The dialogue is uninteresting and the very dynamic is simply uninspired. She does nothing of impact on the screen. Reflecting AC narrative, her impacts merely pertain to in-game Macguffins, gameplay mechanics or plot devices. Killing Templars, finding Pieces of Eden, liberating London and there's little else.

Yeah, it's kind of light. I thought there was *just* enough of her romance to establish it, *just* enough mentions of her discomfort about acknowledging it, *just* enough to tell us that something their dad had taught them about discipline was interfering with her pursuing the relationship, but not enough to really shape Evie. I liked her more than you did, but I wouldn't try to argue that she's especially well-formed. There's enough to tell you she's idealistic, a bit of a dreamer (the only character who believes in ghosts), but overall she's likeable rather than really addictive.

I'm still waiting for an assassin who really grabs me. If they ever show us Evie again, maybe in Jack The Ripper, I'd really like to see her as a 41-year-old assassin and see what they do with her then. Both her and Jacob seemed to have been caught by AC before their lives were quite ready for it!

Sesheenku
12-06-2015, 07:08 AM
Here's the thing. You're a real person, and you don't have much of an arc. Sure, you change, but you're not fundamentally that much different or improved at older ages than you were at 18 - in some ways you're probably worse, and you just became better at not embarrassing yourself. I can see traits in my friends' kids that I'm certain are still going to be there as they grow into adults (good traits!). One of the most wounding statements you can hear from someone you love is "You'll never change", because they're probably right. Maybe the desire for stories with arcs has something to do with this: that we're all pretty much trapped inside the person we are and it's hard to keep up a significant personal revolution for very long before reverting to type, so we yearn to see characters transform in a matter of hours. Let's try and keep your personal views out of this dear. I most certainly have had several arcs. Child me and adult me are leagues apart in personality and temperament I assure you... Not to mention I'm slow paced but poised to make drastic changes at any moment and I often do and stick with those changes. Development in that manner is a part of life, if you're not changing, learning, and growing then that's a personal problem you need to resolve. Arcs are not imaginary things.

LoyalACFan
12-06-2015, 07:13 AM
Your example of Snape is more the kind of thing I meant, where the audience can go on a arc in a sense; the character doesn't change, but their understanding of him/her does. I think that would be a good one to see in AC one day.

It would be pretty cool, but I dunno, I'm not sure that that sort of thing would work for the main protagonist. I mean with Snape it worked marvelously, because he was such a ****** throughout all six books and the revelation hits us like a ton of bricks when we realize what's really going on. But he was a side character; if they pulled a similar stunt with the main protagonist, it might feel like they're just being deceptive for the sake of it, since we're meant to be inside the character's head. It would be really tricky to pull off a twist like that when the audience is actually in the shoes of the character.



Yeah, he has a few moments like that across the stories. They don't really change him, though. He isn't shown to have learned from that experience not to underestimate women, and it's not the last time (if you include Coules stories) that Holmes is bested by another person. It's an event that's taken on much more significance in the public's conscience as society has changed than it does in Holmes's mind.

I don't know, I've only read "Scandal in Bohemia" personally so I can't say how it affects him in the long run. It definitely felt to me like it changed him quite a lot within that single story though; he was really affected by it, so much so that he began referring to her exclusively as "the woman, as if she eclipsed and predominated the whole of her sex" (or something like that, been a while since I read it). But that's what I mean, even if it didn't revolutionize his worldview in the long run it shook him up enough that we saw another side of his character (Sherlock Holmes recovering from defeat).



But what is that arc? He starts the film as a badass adventurer retrieving an ancient artefact, and that's how the film ends. He's super-capable throughout. Things happen, but I don't see the arc here. There's no "hero's journey", as far as I can see, certainly nothing that's the key to why this film excited people.

From the jump, he wanted to know what was in the Ark as much as the Nazis did, but in the end he was able to (literally) turn away from temptation. But you're right, that wasn't the key to Raiders' success, I just thought that it was worth noting that Indy wasn't completely static.



I do see what you mean, but Syndicate just managed it fine. The decision to give you slow-motion/paused tutorials during your first fights was excellent. I think we can now have a game that starts with one of the game's best missions without too many problems.

AC has the benefit of having been around for several years now though, with its control scheme pretty similar to what it's always been (though you could probably make the distinction between pre- and post-2012 which ushered in the most drastic control shift we've seen). Most people who played Syndicate had played at least one or two other AC games, and a lot of them probably played Unity which has basically the exact same control scheme. There wasn't as much need to walk people through the basics. That said, the combat isn't exactly punishing and you can easily get through most fights by just mashing X/Square.

D.I.D.
12-06-2015, 09:24 AM
Let's try and keep your personal views out of this dear. I most certainly have had several arcs. Child me and adult me are leagues apart in personality and temperament I assure you... Not to mention I'm slow paced but poised to make drastic changes at any moment and I often do and stick with those changes. Development in that manner is a part of life, if you're not changing, learning, and growing then that's a personal problem you need to resolve. Arcs are not imaginary things.

Personal views are what this thread and all other threads are about!

I've gone through big events. I've achieved some pretty big things, and I've gone to live in other countries (something that few people would have ever believed was on the cards for me). I've ended up doing completely new creative things professionally in areas completely unrelated to the ones I was already doing, things that were new to me. I'm about to head out internationally and do all that again in yet another new way. None of it feels very "arcy" though. Arcs seem very unrealistic to me. They're a framing device, and an untruthful one.

There's a thing that comes up in neuroscience and psychology about free will. A lot of very clever people doubt that we have it at all. It's a really important question to pose and to keep turning over every now and then, precisely because it makes people so defensive and uncomfortable. I think the topic of personality hits upon similar problems, where unless you believe in souls then personality is obviously a construction. It's tempting to think personality is deeply complex and a never-ending WIP, but it's kind of hard to support when you look at people's behaviour in a "step back and squint" kind of way. Language is complex, moment-to-moment interactions are complex, but people are pretty simple.

Early on, you're invested in becoming more sophisticated because your culture is telling you that's the goal and you're rewarded for playing along with that. I think the reason so many people report feeling happier and more confident as they draw away from youth is that they jettison all that pretence about sophistication and accept their simplicity. It takes a lot of effort to keep going through the chaos of your young adulthood, and at some point you either say "**** it" and laugh or you keep that going and take the consequences. There was a time when I might have wanted to create an artificial separation between "me" at [age x] and "me" at [age y] and it felt really important to feel like I'd grown, mainly for my comfort, convenience and self-esteem, but as I get older I'm totally accepting of it all. I do change, but I recognise that the 'improvements' we make are actually a case of being more peaceful: recapturing parts of a nature that was constructed inside us during childhood, not really adding something new. Maybe you could call that changing, growing or learning, but it feels like looping back.

If I think about the people I know best, and these are friendships going back more than two decades, then everyone I know has changed and nobody I know has changed. They've done some amazing things but it would take some heavy fictionalisation to make an arc out of any of it.

Sesheenku
12-06-2015, 10:11 AM
Personal views are what this thread and all other threads are about!

I've gone through big events. I've achieved some pretty big things, and I've gone to live in other countries (something that few people would have ever believed was on the cards for me). I've ended up doing completely new creative things professionally in areas completely unrelated to the ones I was already doing, things that were new to me. I'm about to head out internationally and do all that again in yet another new way. None of it feels very "arcy" though. Arcs seem very unrealistic to me. They're a framing device, and an untruthful one.

There's a thing that comes up in neuroscience and psychology about free will. A lot of very clever people doubt that we have it at all. It's a really important question to pose and to keep turning over every now and then, precisely because it makes people so defensive and uncomfortable. I think the topic of personality hits upon similar problems, where unless you believe in souls then personality is obviously a construction. It's tempting to think personality is deeply complex and a never-ending WIP, but it's kind of hard to support when you look at people's behaviour in a "step back and squint" kind of way. Language is complex, moment-to-moment interactions are complex, but people are pretty simple.

Science is good and all but none of it matters in the end our perception as humans is limited so things that may not factually have variety have variety and reality is subjective so it might as well not even be mentioned. It's lovely to put facts to paper but when it comes to trying to pin humans down like that it just doesn't work cause we don't work in a 100% logical fashion or view the world in that way either. A blessing for us surely or we'd probably all kill ourselves.

It doesn't matter if the color I see is factually red at the day if I see it as blue now does it? All those issues at the end of the day will boil down to individual perception. The answers won't really change anything. Thus the truth isn't that it's simple, it's that it's complex and we choose to look away cause of that and that's fine.

An arc in the story sense is more structured to be sure but nevertheless it is to show growth, if you've grown at all in your life then you've had an arc


Early on, you're invested in becoming more sophisticated because your culture is telling you that's the goal and you're rewarded for playing along with that. I think the reason so many people report feeling happier and more confident as they draw away from youth is that they jettison all that pretence about sophistication and accept their simplicity. It takes a lot of effort to keep going through the chaos of your young adulthood, and at some point you either say "**** it" and laugh or you keep that going and take the consequences. There was a time when I might have wanted to create an artificial separation between "me" at [age x] and "me" at [age y] and it felt really important to feel like I'd grown, mainly for my comfort, convenience and self-esteem, but as I get older I'm totally accepting of it all. I do change, but I recognise that the 'improvements' we make are actually a case of being more peaceful: recapturing parts of a nature that was constructed inside us during childhood, not really adding something new. Maybe you could call that changing, growing or learning, but it feels like looping back.

Sophisticated is not the word. I'm not worried about what some twit thinks of me on the street, I'm worried about what I think of me.

Simple and complex is all perception this argument could last all day cause that's simply your view and my view is opposite.

I live my life simply HOWEVER I believe it's complex, I just don't devote my energy to those complexities cause they're vast.

If you want to view reality as simple guess what? You're gonna find all sorts of things to justify that line of thinking and your own personal reality will be that it's simple but that's only for you, it literally means jack squat to the next individual.


If I think about the people I know best, and these are friendships going back more than two decades, then everyone I know has changed and nobody I know has changed. They've done some amazing things but it would take some heavy fictionalisation to make an arc out of any of it.

Something as simple as getting hit with a proper realization to appreciate the smaller things is enough to be considered an arc if it changes their perception and how they act.

One friend I see was timid, quiet, and subdued when he was a child, the stay at home and play video games type of kid. Now he's out and about all the time, goes to the gym, only plays soccer video games, goes out to parties.... etc.

That's only the simple version though, all the emotions, thoughts, and events that led up to that change in him I'm sure would have made an arc. Maybe one nobody wants to read cause it's not violence, sex, or some other crap but an arc nonetheless, one of personal growth and change.