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How do you define 'dark' or 'darkness' and how does this relate to KQ?

posted by BagginsKQ on - last edited - Viewed by 1.3K users

I'm curious how people define darkness in storytelling, and how do you feel it relates to the KQ series?

What is the cinematic/literary/fiction definition of dark? How does it contrast with your own interpretations of dark?

Here are a series of comments on how Roberta viewed darkness for various games in the series, that I have found;

This quest (KQ6) seems to have a darker, more ominous tone than the other King’s Quests; it is also more wordy. Is there a reason?

I was thinking that same thing the other day, but I don’t believe we made it intentionally ominous. It just turned out that way.

First of all, I have to say that King's Quest comes from ME and each one is different and has its own flavor. Some have a darker tone, and others have a lighter tone. Some touch upon violence, and some don't. King's Quest reflects the mood that I am in when I go to tackle another one.

KQ3 was very dark, and it utilized lots of magic and magic spells with the basic idea of finding ingredients for "black magic" spells and then casting those spells. (Certain religious groups were upset with me over that one!)

KQ8 indeed has a story, actually, a much more profound story than prior King's Quests. It is a new telling of the ultimate "quest" the quest for the most powerful, spiritual, benevolent item of all; the Mask of Eternity. This story takes its cue from two sources: the Quest for the Grail, and the Christian story of the struggle between God and Lucifer. When we say that the story is very dark that's really not true; it's just that the story is more profound and seriously looks at the struggle between good and evil. Rather than taking a bubbly, Disney view of good and evil, I chose to look at the struggle between good and evil from a more serious, traditional, almost spiritual, viewpoint. If you look at the traditional stories of the Grail and even in past Christian legend, you find that it is not light-hearted, gooey, and bubbly. Those stories are filled with conflict, peril, finding ones own morality, proving oneself a hero by overcoming evil creatures of Chaos, but yet proving oneself virtuous and good with all things good. That is the theme with this game.

"The idea I sorta had in the back of my mind in developing this game, its not really heavy, or fleshed out strongly, it was the idea of exploring spirituality a little bit, I don't want to get heavy with this, but the idea of religions maybe, or lightness and darkness, chaos and order, and why people believe the way they do, and I sort of went back to primitive religions, and looking really at all religions, seeing what was some commonalities among them... -Roberta Williams, Talk Spot 2.

Here is a comment from Mark Seibert;

December 1998; What would the game have lost the most if you had made in the KQ7 style?
"I think the ambience, I think the game has a wonderful mood to it, it's kinda of dark and mysterious and look of the screen and the music and the sound effects just make for a wonderful experience. I don't think it would have gotten the same experience from cartoon animation."
-Mark Seibert, Talkspot Part 2

38 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • I think this is kind of a dead discussion. Pun intended!


    Bt

  • Well now with certain latest releases... People might have fresh material to discuss...

  • It's complicated...

    Take King's Quest V, Mordack has Cassima locked in his castle, working as his servant unless she agrees to marry him? This situation makes no sense when you are an adult, but in a child logic where babies are delivered by storks, it makes perfect sense. It's on this logic that King's Quest works. There is no war, sex or politics, good and evil are absolute values, there are no real life consequences and you're not supposed to think about the ramifications to anything, the second you do, the world and plot fall apart.

    And it's this logic that keeps the darkness in King's Quest lighthearted. A logic that dictates nothing truly bad and irreversible ever happens to good persons, they are turned into tree or animals, shrunk, poisoned into deep sleep, conveniently swallowed whole by monsters, locked in towers... so they can be rescued later on. Even when Cassima's parents get killed, you go in the underworld to rescue them. I could be wrong, my memory is rather fuzzy, but as far as I remember and excluding the main character for obvious reasons, no good person ever died (permanently) in this series, except the king in the first game, who died of old age.

    See where I'm going? It gets dark and scary at time, there are evil monsters and wizards all over the place, and of course, the player can die in dozens of different ways, but at the same time, even at its darkest hour, threat and bad guys motivations are simple, things remain lighthearted and after the direst torments, characters remain happy go lucky and live happily ever after (at least until the sequel.)

    Approaching King's Quest with real life, adult or fridge logic is missing the point entirely, because like the Mario Bros universe, it works on its own internal, childish and whimsical logic.

  • @blueskirt said: (entire post)

    Yes, very well stated.

    I've been thinking about this, both in the context of this thread and in relation to having recently played The Silver Lining.

    To me, darkness in fiction is a sense of foreboding or dread, intended and all-pervasive, as the likelihood of any kind of happy ending diminishes. KQ might have temporary moments of "impending doom", fairy-tale style, but you pretty much always know that things will work out satisfactorily in the end.

    This is why TSL is so... weird. Mostly it's KQ-style adventuring, lighthearted and whimsical, interspersed with scenes showing the real-world anguish of fairy-tale tragedies -- dealt with in 21st-century fashion, no less, which makes it even weirder. It's totally disjointed and incongruous. Your final point really hits home: "Approaching King's Quest with real life, adult or fridge logic is missing the point entirely".

  • Two great, great posts right above this one. You've explained perfectly exactly why TSL's whole overarching concept sucks so hard, and is so blatantly anti-King's Quest. Nice.

  • A little OT but what kind of darkness would you call The Twilight Zone? It's not outright horror--But it is disturbing. Could it be called psychological darkness, ala Grimm's Fairy Tales?

    It's pretty much 'psychological thriller'.

    But what was scary or dark back then, isn't as scary and dark now. The standards have changed over time. The new standards are full of 'angsty' teenage age drama, and lots of violence and death...

  • Blueskirt hit it on the head. Well said. Perfect post, man. I might weep a little.


    Bt

  • Re: The Twilight Zone...

    Marc Scott Zicree points out very astutely in his introduction to The Twilight Zone Companion that it was the first television series to deal on a regular basis with alienation, loneliness, and isolation.

    Probably most of the quintessential Twilight Zone episodes are about these existential questions - sense of meaninglessness, not belonging. Those are also typically the episodes that I feel have not dated at all, really, because no matter how well-adjusted or balanced we imagine ourselves, none of us are immune from these feelings that drive people to madness or suicide every day.

    If it seems a minority concern or something, you just give it some time...

  • Thanks for the nice words, guys, I can't wait to play your Space Quest II and replay King's Quest III.

    [quote]To me, darkness in fiction is a sense of foreboding or dread, intended and all-pervasive, as the likelihood of any kind of happy ending diminishes. KQ might have temporary moments of "impending doom", fairy-tale style, but you pretty much always know that things will work out satisfactorily in the end.[/quote]

    Exactly!

  • Also mind you the French Cannes (IIRC) film The Occurrence at Owl's Creek Bridge that the The Twilight Zone showed as as an episode is not funny or cheesy... It's a classic film...

    en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Occurrence_at_Owl_Creek_Bridge_(film)

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