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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 2.4K 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
  • Well, perhaps you're right. When I say "black humor," I'm thinking of shows like Tales from the Crypt, which definitely falls into that category. I don't see Twilight Zone as being all too different from that vein. Also, there have been several iterations of the Twilight Zone, not all of which are from the 1950s or so. ;)
  • Lambonius;541430 said:
    Well, perhaps you're right. When I say "black humor," I'm thinking of shows like Tales from the Crypt, which definitely falls into that category. I don't see Twilight Zone as being all too different from that vein. Also, there have been several iterations of the Twilight Zone, not all of which are from the 1950s or so. ;)
    Ah...I've never really watched anything Twilight Zone related outside of the original '50s show, which is generally played straight. I remember watching Tales from the Crypt as a kid though...Even as a kid it seemed kind of campy. I've heard, however, that the original Tales of the Crypt comic books from the '50s are kind of disturbing and truly dark, same goes for a lot of EC Comics' stuff. But I've never gotten the chance to see any of it for myself.
  • KQ4 definitely has some "darker" and creepier elements, without being overboard on it. Walking through Tamir has it's beautiful moments, but those grabby-trees are scary; the old run-down house is pretty creepy, but atmospheric - the graveyard is pretty scary.

    It uses some "darker" elements as part of an overall palette of emotional elements to create a full experience. A common cliche today is to make everything so over-archingly "dark" and melodramatic, that it feels like you're caught in a teenager's view of what life is. I find so many people taking beloved figures from their childhood (Such as He-Man, Thundercats, Transformers) and making them "dark" as they are now adults. Maybe it's the cynicsm of finding out that life isn't the bag of fun and diamonds that you felt you were promised when you were a kid - when you find out that you're not the unique and special flower that people told you that you were all throughout your childhood you might get a little bitter. Problem is, today, that grown men and women just won't let go of that teen angst.

  • KQ4 has it's mix, west Tamir is very light and bright, filled with jolly characters such as the dwarfs, minstrel, pan, and Cupid, even a happy unicorn (at least until you are sent to capture it). Eastern Tamir is darker (not dark fiction dark, but dark as in lack of light), it also has horror elements (not the same thing as 'dark fiction' or 'dark fantasy').

    Black humor and dark humor are the same thing actually. Often this type of humor has a psychological aspect to it... Thus why its kind of a subcategory of dark fiction, or often tied into dark fiction.

    Alfred Hitchcock was the genius when it came to the macabre humor!

    Dark and creepy are two separate issues...

    Dark =/= Creepy you can have one without the other in a story. Creepy is more the horror direction, dark is more the psychological...

    In KQ4 the dark psychological aspect is knowing that the clock is counting down, if your quest isn't successful you might be stuck in Tamir, or your father might die. There are psychological overtones in that you are being manipulated by an evil being in her plans to destroy and conquer the world.

    But the game is also filled with many horror elements (the scary and the creepy) as well dark, dark =/= horror.

    The thing about dark fiction is it tends to affect different people differently, it's more subtle and effects more at the psychological level. Horror tends to be more blunt and effects most audience (perhaps on a base emotional level).

    That is why KQ6 can be described as having a darker tone, as it's subtle and may only be 'dark' to some on a psychological level, but not to the whole audience.

    The Realm of the Dead has elements of dark, horror, and dark humor. All of these can interact but are not the same thing.

    Another literary website described the difference as such;
    Horror suggests the reader should expect to be left with an overwhelming feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting — i.e. something horrific. Given this conventional definition of horror, for me, it doesn’t exist within fiction. Any events likely to provoke this type of reaction from me can only be found within the constraints of non-fiction.

    Dark Fiction, on the other hand, rarely evokes a preconceived expectation as it doesn’t suggest the intensity of the ‘scare’ factor of the story. A story of a locust plague may not be considered horror by one reader, but will evoke extreme recoil from a reader suffering with entomophobia. Although the first reader may not consider the story to be horrific, I believe very few people would deny that this type of story has the potential to provoke a wide range of reactions from reader to reader depending on the intensity of their aversion to the subject matter.

    Simply put, the term Dark Fiction is sympathetic to the gamut of subjective opinions, whereas Horror is far more restrictive in its definition.
    Another good example, is KQ3 is a very bright and cheery setting (it is not 'physically dark'), even when you get to Daventry, everything is pretty colorful... But it touches on the dark psychological elements, such as the fact that you are a slave boy, that is routinely punished/tortured, is going to be killed soon, and must work against a clock to survive. There is also darkness to the fact that Daventry is not the same kingdom it once was, and also heading towards its doom, despite how bright the kingdom may look... You have a once fully benevolent king who is now willing to send innocent maidens, and his own daughter to their deaths, sacrificting them to a dragon... Who has locked himself in his castle in a state of hopelessness, awaiting his final destuction... You as a character are working againts a clock to save teh kingdom and your sister. The only way you can, is to resort to the use of dark and evil magic ('dark fantasy', tends towards the 'evil' side of 'dark' in meaning).

    KQ3 is Dark without Horror (a good example that the two are separate issues)...

    Here is a definition of 'dark fantasy' that I found in a literary/writer's glossary that might separate and give understanding to the different types of dark fiction;
    dark fantasy: Character is up against a conflict that appears too severe to be overcome, and usually is along the lines of a horror atmosphere involving insurmountable odds/evil wizards/evil magic. Can be a modern or mythical setting. A psychological suspense element is often beneficial, perhaps essential.
    Notice, it says similar to horror, but its not actually horror.
  • Something doesn't have to be a Horror or Thriller in order to be dark. To be honest, I'm not all that crazy about horror movies, especially recent ones.
  • I don't agree with oversimplifying the meaning of dark storytelling. Either a story has a plot or it doesnt. In my mind there isnt such thing as pure evil. So every antagonist in a story has a reason for doing the things they do. Not saying their choices are the correct ones but they always have a twisted motivation or they are led to believe that the bad deeds they are doing are not actually bad. If the villian is truly twisted then you'd have to agree that they are not normal or have a psycological issue for their reasoning. (which I wont go into... Religion, madness....etc.

    KQ in my opinion isnt supposed to be looked at in this way for me. Its a lighthearted adventure fantasy... classic good vs. not good. Theres witches, wizards, talking owls, even death himself. What I think is lost in our current state is that storytellers are trying to make these types of storys or games more realistic. Trying to attach emotional feelings and modern reactions to a genre that is purely meant to stay in the fantasy realm. Yes it may have dark elements but that's just a storytelling arc and nothing more to me.
  • Jerminator;541571 said:
    classic good vs. not good. Theres witches, wizards, talking owls...

    I would classify Cedric as pure evil. :D
  • I think this is kind of a dead discussion. Pun intended!

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