Tuesday, January 12, 2016

History Of Project M-Verse: My Version Of A Fighting Game Story

After years of lamenting the many ill-conceived or poorly-executed storylines plaguing many of the fighting games I loved so much growing up as a kid, I set out to follow through with an age-old adage:

If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

And so, in 2013, a story called Project M was born. I bought a MacBook Pro Retina for the sole purpose of creating an animated film series. I wrote the script, purchase the animation software, and hired voice actors.

I worked nonstop from March to August until I had something that I wouldn't be embarrassed to show my family and friends. If you watch the full episode, you'll notice several aspects and similarity between this and what would later become the web serial Project M-Verse.




Below are the three primary influences that factored into the creation of web series and, to a larger extent, the web serial:

My Love For Fighting Games
I grew up on fighting games. Street Fighter II. Tekken I through IV. The King of Fighters. Marvel vs. Capcom 1&2. There are a few others you could toss in (Project Justice, Super Smash Bros., Bloody Roar, Plasma Sword). 

Take a look at any commentary related to fighting games of the late 90s and early 2000s and one of the common criticisms is that most fighting games lack good storylines. (Neatherealm Studios has tried to change that perception with their brilliant "Story Mode 2.0" concept used in Injustice and the recent Mortal Kombat installments.)

Many of my favorite fighting games have a unifying plot device that revolves around some sort of tournament. What I have discovered, however, is that tournaments severely limit the realism and plausibility of those game storylines.

Why Fight?
With all due respect to Ryu and Paul Phoenix, fighting simply to prove you're the best is insipid and boring. If Marshall Law wants to open a restaurant, why fight in a tournament? Go apply for a business loan. Start a Kickstarter fund. Knock over a bank. Why fight? Gen Fu (from Dead or Alive) competes because his granddaughter has a "terrible disease" and needs the money for medical bills. Admirable, but shallow and highly implausible. If you're that desperate, use your awesome fighting skills and pull a John Q. Why fight? Where's the motivation to fight coming from? If it's for revenge, why wait to get it in a tournament that has rules that may restrict you from exacting that revenge? 

The villain is one of the most vital pieces to any story, and many fighting game villains suffer from the same limitations. Shao Khan. M. Bison. Orochi. They all have grand plans to take over the world. So they form a tournament?  World domination through tournament fighting makes no sense.

The "tournament" is a plot device used to gather several characters under one story, all trying to reach the same prize. Trying to carry eight to 10 character stories per game is hard enough. It becomes virtually impossible to do with the use of the tournament, which limits the ability to expand characters central to the story. It's why the vast majority of fighting game-based movies don't work (the first Mortal Kombat is still the best effort of the bunch).

What My Fighting Game Will Do Differently
As it relates to the Project M storyline, it's important to me that the characters all have deeply rooted personal reasons for fighting each other. I want a soap opera. Unlike most fighting game stories, I don't want the focus to be on the prize (money, prestige, or some, magic relic.) The prize should be the satisfaction of defeating one's rival.

Also, I want to place a heavy emphasis on narrative themes. I want Project M-Verse to be a reflection of my thoughts on God's purpose for us, both individually and collectively. I want this story to be a place where I can talk about demons, miracles, brain science, forgiveness, and repentance.