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  • Results From Story Design Challenge: Design A Villain

    [07.17.12]
    - Guy Hasson
  • [In the latest Story Design Challenge, site contributor Guy Hasson asked readers to design their very own video game villain. Now, we present our Grand Prize winner!]

    Hi, everyone, and welcome to the results of our fifth Story Design Challenge.

    The challenge was simple: Design a cool villain. Search within yourselves for a villain you've never seen, and design something new.

    The best entries contain the following qualities in different forms:

    • Originality: have we seen this before?
    • Richness of the World: Does it make you want to explore it endlessly?
    • Depth of Character: Is the character you made one dimensional or three dimensional?


    Kefka from Final Fantasy VI was a great video game villain because he was unlike anything players had seen before. Keeping things fresh is a great way to make your characters stand out.

    Greg Walls is our grand prize winner, with a cool villain that starts out like a good guy doing a good thing and ends up like something out of Greek myth.

    Below you'll find his entry copy-pasted into this article. For the others, I can say that the one mistake I saw in almost everyone's entries was depth of character. Too many of the entries took away from existing games. The problem with taking from existing games is that whatever your end result is, it can't be anything but a shadow of the original. The trick is to expand your knowledge beyond games and to copy powerful things from there. Study mythologies, study literature, movies (old ones, too, not just new ones), learn history, read classics. When your palette is richer, your result is richer. When your palette includes only what you've seen in games, your result will pale in comparison to the originals.

    Now, here's our Grand Prize submission - congratulations, Greg!

    Grand Prize: Greg Walls

    Somewhere in an underground test facility located at the heart of the Arizona desert worked a man. This man had one job, a job he did extremely well, a job which he relished in doing, a job that no one else could do but him.

    So what was this job?

    To design, create, and implement intricate mazes and puzzles to house and contain the most powerful and horrifying supernatural beings in existence.

    The designer, that's what they called him. His designs were ingenious, un-paralleled in their ability to confuse and trap even the most powerful of beings!

    But the puzzles weren't enough.

    Ghosts, monsters, demons, and all other manner of creature require more than just cleverly crafted rooms and hallways, they required sustenance. Human lives had to be given to them, to keep them...pacified.

    So the designer toiled, creating room after room, level after level, puzzle after puzzle, watching as people struggled to find a way out, only to be meet by grotesque monstrosities destroying whatever was left of their sanity and body.

    For a while the designer was pleased with his work, fully convinced that there was no way out for anyone who entered one of his devious games....

    No way out...

    The thought used to make him happy, he had done his job so well that it almost felt like he was cheating. If no one could ever escape, what was the point? After some time of watching person after person become destroyed, consumed, lacerated, disfigured, torn apart, driven insane, and even turned inside-out, he became bored. It was nothing more than watching a snake eat a mouse you feed him inside a locked glass cage. His talent was being wasted! All that work, all those layouts, designs, traps, puzzles, it was all nothing more than a beautiful glass cage!

    But what could the designer possible do about it? It's not like he could just re-design the levels so people could escape, the company would never allow it!

    ...They would never allow it if they knew....

    It couldn't be that hard to trick them right? He was the designer! The prodigal genius of architecture and planning! Surely HE could out-wit a company of buffoons! It was settled then; the designer would re-engineer his levels to have exits, ways to escape....if anyone lived long enough to anyway.

    The next couple of months went extremely well. Many test subjects died within a level or so, some made it all the way to level 3! One almost made it out....before his soul was sucked out of him, but almost made it none-the-less. Yes the designer felt alive, thrilled even that he could finally watch people try his puzzles and levels! Finally someone could realize his genius! Until one day...

    Another technician, a "lab rat" as the designer called them, caught on to him after a sacrifice successfully escaped the mazes and ran from the facility. She would have made it to if the company hadn't noticed and hunted her down. But now they were looking for reasons why, and this nosey technician saw the designer's exits, he caught on to his plan, and threatened to expose him to the company.

    "That poor dumb man," the designer thought as the technician screamed at him from inside one of his levels.

    "Threaten me now dolt!" the designer screamed into the microphone on the other side of the security camera feed as the technician was torn from the inside-out by a monstrous looking worm.

    The designer didn't feel bad...he had his chance, that puzzle was escapable, he just wasn't smart enough, none of them were ever smart enough, no one but him! He was better than them, smarter than them, he should be running this poor excuse of a company, these idiots had no idea the power they were just toying with, but he did! He could utilize this power like it should be, HE could manage the monsters in his levels, and HE could realize the potential of human beings at their best as they waged war in body and mind in his articulate master-pieces of engineering! HE, the designer, not THEM, should be running this!

    And so he did.

    The following weeks saw many disappearances of staff. Many sent e-mails or letters out of the blue declaring that they could no longer work for the company and quite. Some just never came in for work, and others left out of rumors of workers being sacrificed in the levels. Whatever the case, everyone noticed that their stream of sacrifices was trickling down, but the monsters were still pacified...

    Eventually everyone had left. The facility was abandoned and the entrance was sealed and buried by the company. The project files were all buried, shredded or burned. The facility was left to rot in the ground, forgotten by everyone, everyone but the designer.

    The designer stayed, buried in his tomb of puzzles and levels, trapped with the monsters he admired with nothing but his thoughts and his designs. Oh he could have left, but he didn't want to, he COULDN'T leave, there was still so much to do, to create, to test! He had to keep trying; surely there was someone out there able to pass his levels, to escape his mazes, to match his power!

    Surely there was someone...

    So he stayed, and waited, and tested. He couldn't leave, but he was human, the monsters he kept weren't bound by such restrictions of reality.

    "People must be tested!" he said to himself

    "The bumps in the night must be feed..." he said to you through the intercom.

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