There’s little more exciting than setting up possibly controversial moments. Episode 14 of Fragmented, titled “Toil and Trouble,” does just that. Not only does Marjorie have options to consider for life-changing events in regard to those she cares about, but she has two sides tugging at her heart. When her own personal experience informs her feelings, it makes a difficult situation even more so. The episode is a tug of war, and the goal is for the player to seriously consider the choices they make.
The episode picks up right where the last ends. There is no need to drag out a cliffhanger in this instance; the pace is fast, and timing is everything. My goal is to keep the tension and even increase it. How? Character conflict. Each person involved has a different experience, a different desire, and a different way of coping with their hardships. There is a desire to protect. One to change. Another to help, for selfish reasons, and in contrast, one to help because of compassion and being able to relate.
For this reason, I chose to focus on dialogue. Marjorie is pulled among people, and what she says can make or break relationships. She is in a unique position to understand conflicting points of view. But does that also blind her to some aspects of this conflict? Does it push her to possibly overstep her position? I want to stay true to Marjorie, but that may mean that the reader doesn’t agree with her or is conflicted about her approach.
A Brother’s Love
I wanted to show a glimpse into the relationship between Anna and Joseph. While we seem them together some, and we see them supportive, how far would they push for the other’s happiness? Joseph is younger and more naive, but he is also a good brother who loves Anna. Anna is older, but that can make her more cautious or more reckless, depending on how she is approached. She is a teen, after all. This will play into the choices made, and their consequences in episodes 15 and 16.
The Big Decision
There are three paths to take in an attempt to solve the issues that haunt the characters in this episode. My thought is that readers will choose among selfish, selfless, and dangerous paths. The question is, what is the ideal path? I don’t like to make these choices obvious. Nor do I like to make them easy. To help, someone can be put in danger, the player can sacrifice something themselves, or another character can be forced to sacrifice something. There are moral questions to all of this. Marjorie calls herself a monster, but is that because she feels that way (or has an overwhelming desire to meet her goal, others be damned) or because she worries about what she will become?
The consequences of this episode will absolutely impact the end of the story. While the decisions will be the player’s, the more cut-throat Marjorie becomes the more she will lean toward those sorts of actions, and the less likely she will be to be kind to those who wrong her or others. Thus far, I’ve wanted to have Marjorie focus on her humanity. From this point forward, she may find it holds her back. That will be up to the player as they play the game. In Ashen Skies, I had a lot of “under the hood” variables to keep up with these types of choices. With the creation of episode 14, Fragmented is about to get that same upgrade. I am excited.