So the other day my dad and I decided to go see Mad Max: Fury Road. As I kind of expected, it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. It was right about the time when the flamethrower guitar man showed up and I was about piddling myself with joy when my dad, who was seeing it with me, leaned towards me and said, “Why do I sense a video game in our future?”
He didn’t know, and many of you might not know, that there is indeed a video game in our future, simply titled Mad Max.
It’s a game that’s already been discussed on this site by Curtis Dillon and DemonicSkies, so I’ll sum it up briefly: you customize your car, you kill other cars, and you fight guys like Batman. Also, it’s made by Avalanche Studios, the same guys who made the Just Cause series, so there’s a strong possibility that it won’t suck. Here’s the overview trailer that they put out:
Now since the Mad Max series is near and dear to my heart, and since this looks like a game that has some effort put into it, I thought I’d share what else I think should be in it:
1. Give us the opportunity to be clever
What I saw in the trailer was an emphasis on smashing cars and beating up a room full of bad guys single-handedly. Blasphemous as it may seem, I don’t think that’s all there is to a Mad Max experience. Max doesn’t solve all his problems through brute force: he’s supposed to be quick and clever. He’s smart enough to set traps and to see when he’s in one. The majority of the time, Max gets out of scrapes because he’s able to outsmart his enemies, not overpower them. Let us set traps and ambushes for people. Give us stealth options.
Max doesn’t solve all his problems through brute force.
And if Avalanche is feeling especially generous, let us bluff with an empty shotgun. PLEASE let us do the boomstick bluff from Mad Max 2. I’d say I’d die happy, but I’ve still got to finish Breaking Bad. So please put that in there.
2. Don’t make us feel too much like a hero
How many times have you done a bunch of quests in some open-world RPG, and you become all famous and beloved/feared by all the NPCs? Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should Max become famous across the wasteland. He’s not supposed to be some legendary hero or scourge. What makes him such a good wasteland hero is that he does all these amazing, crazy things while being a nobody. No matter where he goes, he’s a stranger. So it’s important to me that gratitude is a rarity.
When does Mad Max ever get thanks for what he does? His life is a hectic but pointless fight to exist, and to give us these feel-good accolades that other open-world RPGs offer compromises that. So make doing good things hard. Which brings me to my last point:
3. For God’s sake, don’t put in a morality system
To be fair: ultimately, when or if you get this game, Mad Max is whoever you want him to be. You are in control, and you command your destiny. That’s the nature of trying to adapt other media into video games; the characters will inevitably be altered by the player’s treatment of them. So regardless of what Mad Max was in the movies, he is yours to command in the game.
Having said that: in Fury Road Max points a freaking shotgun at a pregnant woman’s face for a drink of water. The movie doesn’t even make a big dramatic deal out of it: that’s how Mad Max gets a drink. Our protagonist, ladies and gentlemen!
Can you imagine how something so banal and arbitrary as an alignment bar would ruin a survival experience? You want to eat part of that guy you found dead on a sand dune? Be careful: your KARMA might go down! You want some dude’s spare tires and want to steal them? Too bad: stealing is WRONG! I know that Fallout 3 did it, and as good a game as that was, it was stupid then too.
What I’m trying to say is that Max is a pragmatic guy, to put it politely. If he needs to get to the nearest gas town and he finds a guy who knows where it is, he’ll take the guy hostage and get him to talk because that’s how you find out where the darn gas town is in the wasteland. Max gets what he needs to keep going, and that’s all that should motivate him. Period. What does he care what other people think of him? What good is an alignment in a place where everybody is some degree of psychotic? What possible use is a morality system where everybody kills everybody for every reason?
Doing the “right thing”, in a place like the wasteland, has to be the least rewarding and least practical solution to a problem. So PLEASE Avalanche: don’t put in a system that rewards self-sacrifice.
In the Mad Max universe, doing good to people is the real madness.