Episode 12 of Fragmented ends in a scene that’s exciting to continue. A big face-to-face happens—sort of. The cliffhanger leads into the next set of episodes that swerves from the path of episodes 10 through 12. Yet, it’s for a good reason. Marjorie may be a monster, but she has a heart. She feels deep in her soul. That’s what vital to remember for the next three-set of episodes, starting with Fragmented episode 13, “Pains of the Creator.”
The title of this episode leans into the broader picture relating to the characters and the consequences of their actions. However, I didn’t want it to be too heavy, too emotional. I wanted a sort of desperation, even exhaustion to a point, but hope was important as well. It was crucial to strike a balance, and to do so, I chose to create a mini-game.
The episode begins with a big chase scene. Movement was important. Scenes had to change quickly, but there should be a choice or two within those settings. With Tales’ system, building a game to catch someone was simple mechanically. It was the details, though, that kept me biting my nails.
First, I figured out the settings used. That wasn’t too difficult, because there are only so many places to run through in Victorian London. On the other hand, what happens in those places kept me contemplating and editing to get it just right. One can only jump over so many things, run into so many people, slip and fall, lose sight, etc., so many times before things become stale. So, how do you keep things moving and fresh?
I used Marjorie’s talents and faults in these instances, and I also played on the type of personality choices the player would make.
- Would she be rude and brutal or polite and apologetic for running into someone?
- Would she worry about how she looks or just about catching her target?
- Can she take a chance with a physical activity because of a chosen magical ability? Use another to figure out their next move? Or will the lack of a specific ability lead to failure?
Each can impact the distance covered in that scene. Then, add this to a constant reminder of how close or far the player is from their target, and a mini-game is born. It was a lot of fun to write and play through to make sure it was, you know, possible to “win.”
The chase scene has a dual meaning. Not only is she literally chasing an individual, but chasing something is all Marjorie’s life has been since she woke. In addition, what happens after serves to contrast how she hasn’t slowed down, hasn’t thought about her future, and hasn’t done more than search for something here and now. Her reaction is genuine, but is it as thoughtful as it would be if she explored similar aspects in regards to herself? To me, it’s more reactionary. Does that mean, that in the end, she’s wrong in what she says and does (or what the player chooses, particularly) in this and upcoming episodes? Not necessarily. Yet, in the end, when the series completes, will she think the same? It will be interesting to see how players reflect after the story completely unfolds, especially since it gets at the heart of the series and its reflections on mortality, morality, and humans playing God.
After the events of the chase and the subsequent outcome, Marjorie is reminded of the whole reason she is alive. I really wanted the action to slow after the chase, but for the consequences to become even greater. It’s funny because I worry about boring people after something more exciting happens. It’s a push to, say, keep ramping up the pressure, either to find answers or make important choices, but without an action-packed scene. For that reason, I build on some emotional back and forth and then end the episode with possibilities swirling in the reader’s head. It keeps the tension high without having a cliffhanger just for the sake of it or for shock value. Plus, the conversation lays the groundwork for the hard choices coming in episode 14, “Toil and Trouble.”