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Baldur's Gate 2 > PoE 2 Deadfire


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#321
AFA

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Thaos was a decent villian but you lost sight of him for a longgggg time. BG2 did a good job of showing Irenicus.

 

Not really. Half the time Irenicus appeared it was really just Bhaal in your dreams. I think Thaos and Irenicus encounter the party the same amount of times actually.



#322
Blovski

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Thaos was a decent villian but you lost sight of him for a longgggg time. BG2 did a good job of showing Irenicus.

 

Not really. Half the time Irenicus appeared it was really just Bhaal in your dreams. I think Thaos and Irenicus encounter the party the same amount of times actually.

 

Replaying Pillars recently, the lost art of videogame villains really stood out to me. You only actually fight Thaos once (except sorta in Brackenbury, which also the only place you talk to him at all), the Leaden Key aren't remotely threatening for you ever in the game, you only get one real interaction with him until the endgame, he doesn't really do anything much to antagonise you and he doesn't have a single named subordinate you can actually have a proxy confrontation with before the endgame. Pillars constantly makes your character assert that you need to find Thaos but there's only a vague metaphysical reason for you to do so and no real sense of progress in doing it.

With Irenicus you confront him face to face in Waukeen's Promenade, you both talk to him and then actually fight him in Spellhold, the Bhaal dreams lend you some sort of constant connection to him, he has a few underlings you can crush or deal with as a proxy to give you a sense of progress in fighting him.

This really is the biggest area where Pillars just falls flat in terms of pacing and narrative and I think with very little effort could have been greatly improved. I mean, Thaos should be a much more interesting villain than Sarevok, Poquelin etc but chasing Sarevok is much more compelling than chasing Thaos in my view.


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#323
Vaneglorious

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Yo as much as I love the old classics, it IS nostalgia. My eyes have gotten so used to better graphics and sounds that I couldn't get myself to replay BG2, not even the enhanced ed. Not to mention how incredibly slow-paced it is, and older edition DnD combat is also super slow.

 

I also found myself simply running out of patience to get back into it. That doesn't diminish any memory I have of it, though. I have very fond memories of all these old titles, but that's what they remain as - fond memories.

 

When I was a kid I loved drawing random stuff and playing soccer with my dad. As great as those memories are of my younger years, I couldn't go back to doing them again. Things change, people change, the world moves on.


Edited by Vaneglorious, Yesterday, 08:56 AM.


#324
Loren Tyr

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For me - and that's just personal opinion - a good story is the one that engages the viewer/player, not the one that tries to be "deep and complex" by any means neccessary. On paper, Thaos was a "more complex" villain than Irenicus with more supposed "depth" and what have you. He was an immortal archont of a ancient civilization, zelaously dedicated to cover up a Big Lie TM. And both him and Iovara read one Nietzsche book to many. Good for them - but why should *I* care?

 

Look, Irenicus may have been just an elf with a God Complex with the love of his life spurning him as result - and while his motives may be simple, they are also very understandable. And BG 2 is not even trying to pretend that CHARNAME should care about his motivations - as Viconia happily lampshades. And vice versa - he doesn't care about yours. He has a personal beef with the player - he kidnapped your surrogate sister, killed your friends, tortured and humiliated you and will stop at nothing to have your godlike powers. Also later in the game, he stole your soul, humiliated you again and left you to die, forced you to kill your friend that turned out to be his spy and his sister killed your love interest. Even if you don't care about Imoen/Khalid/Dynaheir (for your or Minsc's/Jaheira's sake), vengeance/self-preservation is a simple and good motivator in and of itself IMO. 

 

On the other hand I follow Thaos beacuse... I want to ask him some questions I guess ("Are Gods real?"). He did absolutely nothing for the Watcher to hate him. He doesn't even care about some random guy who just bumbled like a complete idiot into the Woedica-empowering ritual. You follow Thaos around beacuse the game for 80% of the running time tells you to and tells you that he's evil. I know that he caused Waidwen's Legacy - but the game just skims the surface of this tragedy and is so vague about it that it has no personal impact. I guess he also screws over animancers - who are shown to be evil, bumbling, incompetent or shady at best. The fiend. Incidentally, it really would have helped if we had an animancer companion - but Obsidian seems to have a vendetta against that.

 

IMO PoE doesn't do a good job in trying to invest the player in the story. I noticed that it's the running theme with Obsidian games lately. By the time the game *finally* explained why the player is following Thaos, it was too late for me to care about him or Iovara - who shows up out of nowhere with no buildup in Act 3. So, Thaos may be a more "complex" villain than Irenicus - but does it make him a more effective menace that the player will want to take down?

Once again - just my personal take on this argument. I guess that those arguments were talked to death already.

 

I'm not sure how an irrational, all-consuming lust for vengeance is all that understandable, to be honest. It's certainly not particularly interesting, as far as I'm concerned. He wants vengeance / to kill the protagonist for [random reasons] / world-domination... it's a color-by-numbers villlain, complete with a healthy dose of Bond-Villain Stupidity. Yes, "dude wants to kill you" is effective in a bare-bones kind of way to provide a motivation for the protagonist, but it's hardly going to interest me as the player much. 

 

I much prefer a story where the whole world *doesn't* revolve around the protagonist, where the protagonist is at best part of something bigger. Why *should* Thaos care about the Watcher? He/she is just a blip on the radar (if you don't have the benefit of hindsight, anyway)? And conversely, why should the Watcher need to hate Thaos? 

 

Certainly, a good story needs to engage the player, and depth or complexity for it's own sake doesn't necessarily do that. But neither does "making it personal" between the protagonist and antagonist in some sense (or having such starkly defined antagonists at all, really). 



#325
aksrasjel

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I'm not sure how an irrational, all-consuming lust for vengeance is all that understandable, to be honest. It's certainly not particularly interesting, as far as I'm concerned. He wants vengeance / to kill the protagonist for [random reasons] / world-domination... it's a color-by-numbers villlain, complete with a healthy dose of Bond-Villain Stupidity. Yes, "dude wants to kill you" is effective in a bare-bones kind of way to provide a motivation for the protagonist, but it's hardly going to interest me as the player much. 

 

I much prefer a story where the whole world *doesn't* revolve around the protagonist, where the protagonist is at best part of something bigger. Why *should* Thaos care about the Watcher? He/she is just a blip on the radar (if you don't have the benefit of hindsight, anyway)? And conversely, why should the Watcher need to hate Thaos? 

 

Certainly, a good story needs to engage the player, and depth or complexity for it's own sake doesn't necessarily do that. But neither does "making it personal" between the protagonist and antagonist in some sense (or having such starkly defined antagonists at all, really). 

 

Ironically, the world doesn't seem to revolve around CHARNAME that much - most people don't know/care that you're a Bhaalspawn and you don't necessarily save the world - it's not even your goal. When you save Baldur's Gate/Suldanessalar it's more beacuse you were in the neighbourhood and the villain you were chasing was there. Even the final showdown in the Throne of Blood with (A)Mellisan is beacuse of personal reasons rather than trying to save the world - which seems to be doing fine with or without you.

I wouldn't call Irenicus a Bond villain necessarily. He's the one who said the famous "No, you'll warrant no villain's exposition from me" and only lost due to incompetence of his henchmen and circumstances beyond his control. He DID order Bodhi to immediately kill the PC. And he doesn't care about CHARNAME one bit - he cares about his powers and when he gets them, CHARNAME's existence stops being noteworthy. And he's understandable in a sense that you understand where his lust for vengeance is coming from. He traded love for power and lost both - vengeance is the only thing he has left now - irony being that his love would have forgiven him if he only said a word, but now he's unable to - classic Darth Vader tragic villain 101. It's not Tolstoy, but it works with the melodramatic, heavy on character drama story Bioware was telling. 

Forgive my ad hominem - but you seem to be expecting a much different story than Baldur's Gate really is.

 

Also - if Thaos doesn't care about the Watcher and Watcher doesn't care about Thaos - then why is he in the game?

Thaos is for all intents and purposes a villain - or an antagonist if you want to get technical. Giving the player a reason to oppose him - which usually suggests some personal connection to the player character - would be a good start. Usual story has antagonist acting and hero reacting. Otherwise he's just a random NPC no. 34 in a stupid hat. On paper, you can make a story without a clear antagonist/conflict - you just need to be really careful not to bore and confuse the player so they won't ask "Why am I here?" You'll have to double down on player motivation for them to keep going through the story you crafted.

Do you think that the quest to solve the issue of your Awakening would sustain the game's main plot all by itself without any external opposing force like Thaos? It might work on technical level, but you'll still need some opposition, so the plot won't solve itself in 5 minutes. And "enemy within" stories are very tricky to write. From my experience, only Mask of the Betrayer and in some ways Torment pulled that type of story off correctly. 

I am all for that types of ambitious stories - but there is this saying about falling from a high horse and breaking your neck.

 

And, yes the Watcher is not *required* to hate Thaos per se - but be consequent about it. Allow me to spare him or join his cause in the final showdown. Otherwise this doesn't work.


Edited by aksrasjel, Yesterday, 10:55 AM.

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#326
Loren Tyr

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Ironically, the world doesn't seem to revolve around CHARNAME that much - most people don't know/care that you're a Bhaalspawn and you don't necessarily save the world - it's not even your goal. When you save Baldur's Gate/Suldanessalar it's more beacuse you were in the neighbourhood and the villain you were chasing was there. Even the final showdown in the Throne of Blood with (A)Mellisan is beacuse of personal reasons rather than trying to save the world - which seems to be doing fine with or without you.

I wouldn't call Irenicus a Bond villain necessarily. He's the one who said the famous "No, you'll warrant no villain's exposition from me" and only lost due to incompetence of his henchmen and circumstances beyond his control. He DID order Bodhi to immediately kill the PC. And he doesn't care about CHARNAME one bit - he cares about his powers and when he gets them, CHARNAME's existence stops being noteworthy. And he's understandable in a sense that you understand where his lust for vengeance is coming from. He traded love for power and lost both - vengeance is the only thing he has left now - irony being that his love would have forgiven him if he only said a word, but now he's unable to - classic Darth Vader tragic villain 101. It's not Tolstoy, but it works with the melodramatic, heavy on character drama story Bioware was telling. 

Forgive my ad hominem - but you seem to be expecting a much different story than Baldur's Gate really is.

 

Also - if Thaos doesn't care about the Watcher and Watcher doesn't care about Thaos - then why is he in the game?

Thaos is for all intents and purposes a villain - or an antagonist if you want to get technical. Giving the player a reason to oppose him - which usually suggests some personal connection to the player character - would be a good start. Usual story has antagonist acting and hero reacting. Otherwise he's just a random NPC no. 34 in a stupid hat. On paper, you can make a story without a clear antagonist/conflict - you just need to be really careful not to bore and confuse the player so they won't ask "Why am I here?" You'll have to double down on player motivation for them to keep going through the story you crafted.

Do you think that the quest to solve the issue of your Awakening would sustain the game's main plot all by itself without any external opposing force like Thaos? It might work on technical level, but you'll still need some opposition, so the plot won't solve itself in 5 minutes. And "enemy within" stories are very tricky to write. From my experience, only Mask of the Betrayer and in some ways Torment pulled that type of story off correctly. 

I am all for that types of ambitious stories - but there is this saying about falling from a high horse and breaking your neck.

 

And, yes the Watcher is not *required* to hate Thaos per se - but be consequent about it. Allow me to spare him or join his cause in the final showdown. Otherwise this doesn't work.

 

 

I'm not *expecting* a different story from BG2, it is what it is. I'm just setting out why I'm not particularly captivated by it, as perhaps a contrasting perspective to your own. Which of course to each their own, I'm definitely not intending this as a personal criticism or anything. I may not share your view, but I always find it interesting to hear how others experience things. But for me, when things get into "melodramatic" and "heavy on character drama", that's not really my preferred range. 

 

In that regard, the story in BG1 is more compelling to me. Maybe not the whole 'dark destiny' thing that's obviously there as well. But there, the getting enmeshed in the political machinations, the iron situation, et cetera. It feels like you are much more part of a larger setting with things going on independent of your own actions; whereas in BG2, much of it feels more like a backdrop to you running after Irenicus (and Imoen). 

 

Which is also why I like the PoE1 type of setup, where you see the same thing. The main character accidentally gets enmeshed in the whole thing, really. Thaos is in the game because he is a driving force behind what the Watcher has stumbled onto (including him being Watcherified), and therefore you as the Watcher get sucked into his wake. It doesn't fit the "hero vs villain" mould certainly, but that's not the only mould there is. A different mould it fits much better, is the "something's afoot, protagonist is trying to figure out what" mould. I mean, take Sherlock Holmes as an example: usually there wasn't really an antagonist around, that wasn't the draw of the stories. Or Heart of Darkness, entirely different mould of story yet again. These are undeniably compelling stories to many people as well, despite the absence of some personal hero-villain relationship or such. 

 

Certainly I think Thaos is an important part of the story in PoE1 and it is better for his presence, but as I see it not because of that kind of classic hero-villain vibe. He embodies more the larger forces behind it, their agent. He is an active and variable component, in a way a dot on the horizon to focus the chase through the mystery. But there doesn't need to be a direct personal connection for that, and often in these kinds of stories that's only to the detriment; it's just so the author/director/whomever can set up some big, climactic, hideously contrived and unrealistic fight at the end or something (yes, by all means, let's lock blades and have a good discussion in the middle of a grand melee; that would totally happen in reality). If it's a cop movie, it's not enough that the bad guy has done Bad Things and the good guy is a grumpy detective dedicated to doing his job; there needs to be a backstory where the bad guy villainously set our hero cop's bunny rabbit on fire or whatever, and now. It. Is. Personal! *sigh*

 

Or somewhat more subtle variations thereof of course (though substitute 'assassin' for 'cop' and 'dog' for 'bunny rabbit' and you've essentially got the plot to John Wick there), and if done well that kind of plot device can certainly work. But I don't think it is by far a necessary component for good storytelling, and it is quite easy to go overboard with it. 


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#327
aqeelus

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You do not need to interact with the villain in order for them to be a good villain. Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman never had a scene together in the Fifth Element and many considered that one of the best things about the movie. TTO does not interact with us much and despite that he is still an amazing villain. What Irenicus has going for him that Thaos does not is that every time he appears someone is going to get their butt whooped and there's going to be a badass quote thrown around. We see Irenicus' power firsthand and we know he is a bad dude, and I'm guessing that's why people love him, while Thaos' power is only described through dialogue. 

 

One of the reasons the Watcher is hunting Thaos is the same reason the Bhaalspawn is hunting Irenicus, Irenicus stole your soul and Thaos stole your sanity. The game shows you what will happen to you through Maerwald and Aloth. "Are the gods real?" part isn't there because the Watcher is curious about metaphysics. The real question the Watcher's soul is asking is: "Did I betray and kill the most important person to me for a false cause or not?" which is the reason for the awakening in the first place.

 

Honestly, Thaos is such a breath of fresh air from the typical "ancient evil awakens and wants to destroy the world" fantasy villains.


Edited by aqeelus, Yesterday, 08:06 PM.


#328
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I think that the games with the best story are the ones where the main character has an intrinsic motivation to do something, not because someone else forces him to act.

 

The standart is, that the bad guy does something ( kidnap or kill a friend or family member, burn down your village, try to take over or destroy the world, . . . ) and you have to do something. This can be good, but it gets boring if you have seen it 100 times.

In games this standart method creates the problem of false urgency. You must stop the bad guy from his evil plan but he will wait for you forever until you have finished a million side quests, cought 1000 fish or practiced your gambling skills.

 

So I would say the best stories are:

- PST: The main motivation is the question "Who am I and how did I get into this situation?" Exploring the world is motivating because every new place you visit might give you some new info about yourself or the world. There is a vallian but it takes a long time until you know that he exists, what he is and what he wants. In this game exploration itself is the reward, not a tool to achieve something. I think it is good that the main quest is not labeled as main quest there. I played the game a few times and even now I am not sure which things are absolutely neccessary to finish the game. Exploring the world is so great that speedrunning or soloing make no sense at all.

- In MotB you want to get rid of the curse. Its a game mechanic that reminds you permanently of your main goal. It is annoying ( a curse is supposed to be ) and I can only play the game as good char who suppresses his hunger because I play so slow, but it definitely does motivate you for your main goal. The characters and locations are very interesting too.

 

I am really looking forward to "Virgo vs the Zodiac". The dev said she was tired of the normal "me vs the bad guy" story so she chose that the main character is the vallian. You are a self rightious over zealous b1tch who starts a crusade against others on her own because they do everything wrong and you know everything better.






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