“An Ancient Evil stirs”. This has been the focal point of far too many games lately. It’s time “Ancient Evil” stopped stirring and got out of the kitchen. Let some other menace cook up trouble for a change.

In my editorial Old Wine In New Bottles, I pointed out that CRPGs are in a rut. “Ancient Evil” may be the biggest one of all.

Consider: In the last seven games I played, Foozle has been an evil god, demon or malign force, imprisoned or held in check for untold ages, now free to wreak havoc on the world.

Morrowind. Neverwinter Nights. Scratches. Daemonica. Oblivion. TitanQuest, and now Barrow Hill. All are built around the same plot point: “Ancient Evil stirs”.

One would think there were no other evil in the world, no other malevolent being to bring down. Only something foul and unclean from centuries past is dangerous enough to call for heroes.

Why are designers so enamored of “Ancient EVil”? Are they following each other like sheep, because “everyone does it”? Have they not given any thought to providing a fresh villain to fight? Are they just being lazy?

Or is “modern times” – be it our own day or the quasi-feudal setting of many CRPGs – considered too dull, too prosaic, too ho-hum to provide a worthy opponent?

Surely that isn’t the case. Especially in CRPGs, it shouldn’t be difficult to create a powerful enemy that belongs to “today” rather than ages past.

“Ancient Evil” is not only ancient, it’s tired. Foozle comes in many guises, but even he seems weary now. From one game to the next, there is little variation.

“Whatcha reading, Scorp?”
“A note from Foozle, Fred. He wants a vacation”.
“A vacation??”
“Yeah. He’s played “Ancient Evil” so much, he’s running out of disguises, plus he’s bored crazy”.

Game designers should think more creatively about the “ultimate bad guy” in their games. We need something more imaginative to defeat to save the world. It’s time to give “Ancient Evil” a rest. A long one.miniscorp