DJ D-Kline had very few core qualities when I first started writing. He was to be the embodiment of fast rising stars, of people paid a lot to do very little, and of those with far more ego than they do money. And D-Kline is rich, and proud of it.
A key character element that emerged quickly, what with all that bluster and egocentrism, was that the guy was a complete douchebag. Using people like tools at every moment, and entirely uninterested in his own music, his own fame dominates his life.
And that’s the central point that Cyberfunkers want to make. D-Kline’s music exists to make him money, which to them makes it hollow, pointless and lacking in any creativity. Yet D-Kline’s argument is, whether or not it’s creative, it’s still wildly popular. Doesn’t that give it merit also?
Obviously the Cyberfunkers think not, but what I liked about this dichotomy was that it looks at two very different attitudes towards art – creativity versus commercialism.
Everyone who makes art of any forms has their reasons for doing so. Truly, I have heard more artists tell people -not- to become artists than anyone else, not out of competition but with the reasoning that if you have any other means of being happy, then you really should do that instead. Being an artist is hard and, until you make it big, largely thankless. The work and love you put into your projects will likely go unrewarded, and the sheer time it takes leaves little time for conventional work, leaving you either poor or relying on someone else who (hopefully) understands.
Some of them make it big! Luck or skill or determination, it all plays its part, but there’s nothing a dedicated artists hates more than someone who doesn’t deserve it making it to the top. Accusations of these people, whose reported lower quality of work has somehow been ignored and they’ve become a massive star. In writing, Stephenie Meyer was a high profile one, David Guetta in the music scene, Tracy Emin in the modern art world, and there’s many more. With these types of people comes the argument that their fame is proof of their quality, but this doesn’t tend to hold sway over other artists.
So, the question becomes: what’s more important? The result, or the means to it? Does art exist to be sold, or to simply exist? Is money gained the true indicator of a project’s success, or is it peer approval? In an ideal world it’d be both.
True, making D-Kline an arrogant egomaniacal arsehole who spends his life in an echochamber of his own greatness may seem biased on my part, but I urge you to look up interviews with those who’re challenged by their peers over their own legitamacy. They often end up in two camps; one set begins releasing work under a fake name to prove that they’re successful without their already gained fame. The other turn their back on their peers and inflate their ego with the worship of the commercial world. D-Kline is one such latter camper.
On the other hand, if you ask me, the Cyberfunkers are far from saints. They don’t care whose lives they screw up on their quest to destroy D-Kline, and with the player’s choices can be considerable dicks to those around them. D-Kline’s victory speech over them is, to me, a very important element that I wanted players to consider. While it’s true he strings them up like trophies, the point he makes while doing so, and particularly during his appeal to the player themselves afterwards, is potentially a valid one. I really wanted players to be able to decide, and actually consider, whether or not D-Kline is right. D-Kline is very much an antagonist, but I use that word particularly because it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a bad guy, or a villain. Just like the Cyberfunkers, he’s an artist and entertainer, he simply does it for different reasons. Giving players the ability to pick his victory as the narrative ending seemed to me an ideal way to make his argument feel more real, and make players consider the dichotomy in a way they could apply themselves to.
Last of all – my final thoughts!