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I like "villains" like House or Ozymandias from Watchmen, because they're not as clear cut and dry as NCR (good) vs. Legion (evil). New Vegas was great because it covers a broad spectrum of choices; good, evil, neutral, or yourself... though I wouldn't really consider House "neutral", but he's definitely more grey than the other choices.

 

The "grey villains" are always the best villains in my mind, because you're given choices about whether or not you agree with their methods, regardless if they're truly good or truly evil - the goal is always what is more important, not the path you take to get there. Also adds a lot of replay value I think.

 

It should also come as no surprise that I like Isair and Madae, too. I thought they were great villains, and they were really only villains to the people that persecuted them. You feel a degree of pity for them because you realize that they just wanted to be accepted and couldn't find it anywhere, so they set out to create a world for themselves and those like them. It's a noble intention, they just went about it the wrong way.

 

Ultimately, simple villains are boring (rawr, I'm evil, I want to conquer the world, rawr). Villains with a complicated personality and intentions are the way to go, and it makes them memorable.

Edited by Madae
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Rather note have an overused evil villian; that's mainly an antagnist for "good" guys. If we must have antagonisst, please us have multiple antagonists that we an choose from, like in New Vegas. I would also like the ability to either join the protagonist or even take over their organization if that's possible.

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Eh.... ultimately there should be someone prodding you in the world. Otherwise, why am I even playing the game and doing the quests? I'm just going to go get my stronghold and lay back. That's what my lazy character would want to do. Why would I sacrifice blood and sweat and tears if I don't have someone being a thorn in my side? Haven't played FO:NV so I can't say how that works out in terms of character motivations.

 

Ultimately, there should be an antagonist, but an antagonist doesn't always have to be a person.

You live, so you have desires. (And you - not always, but - usually desire the things that are under you nose. ) You make an effort to get them, to fulfill your desires. And then you will desire something else and the cycle goes on until you die.

 

When i got enough gold to buy that badass sword that i chose (and not the game chose instead of me) i went and bought it - i felt satisfaction. When in a similar situation i went and cheated to get the necessary gold, the game quickly became empty and disappointing. I guess there might be a similar driving force behind the want of possible romance options.

Either way, you put some cool stuff under the player's nose and let them chose. Let the player acquire his choice through his / her own effort. The worth of the stuff acquired is reflected in this effort.

 

The story works in the same way - a story is good when i *want* to know how it can and will continue. In this case the various possibilities and branches of the storyline are the "cool stuff" that's put under the players nose.

 

If there is a grand villain there also should be a grand desire in the player to defeat him. When this desire feels somehow forced - 'cause a lack of choices for example - the entire thing becomes uninteresting. I just won't care. Exploring the world will be more fun than defeating the villain. In skyrim i like exploring more than going after alduin. Actually i don't care about alduin. I just complete the storyline for the sake of completion. Exploring is much more fun in that game.

Edited by Naesh
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<Warning PS:T spoiler>

 

 

Personally, I think PS:T feature 2 of the best written "villain" in cRPG - Ravel Puzzlewell and the Practical Incarnation.

 

Ravel was wicked, obsessive, misunderstood, cunning, tragic and completely and madly in love with the PC. The potential romantic interest in the form of Fall from Grace and Annah has a bottom line in their attraction to the PC. You can do crappy stuff to drive them away. Not Ravel, her love/obsession is absolute and have no bottom line. Because of her nature, her expression of love almost invariably lead only to tragedy. And upon her passing, even the infinite multiverse feel a lot smaller.

 

Practical Incarnation from PS:T was ruthless, manipulative, selfish to the extreme and mades for a good "villain" even when he is technically "dead" when the game begins. The crappy mess that he leave across the planes for the PC are not just physically threatening but also make the PC(player) angry, sad and have to confront himself with some soul searching questions.

 

Referring to these two Titans of "villainy", I think it would serve future cRPG better to just forget about using a moral compass of good, evil and gritty grey which plague so many games and movie now. Just write characters with deep conviction, intense emotion and multifacet personality whose agenda happened to conflict the PC.

Edited by Aldereth
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Practical Incarnation from PS:T was ruthless, manipulative, selfish to the extreme and mades for a good "villain" even when he is technically "dead" when the game begins. The crappy mess that he leave across the planes for the PC are not just physically threatening but also make the PC(player) angry, sad and have to confront himself with some soul searching questions.

 

One of the things I absolutely love about the Practical Incarnation is that, technically speaking, he is more of an ally than a villain for the overwhelming majority of the game. Most of the threatening things you face aren't his fault; if they have to do with some past incarnation, then more often than not they're the mistakes of the Paranoid Incarnation, often trampling on Practical's attempts to help. He left behind a journal that would have explained everything, for example; Paranoid burned it. The tattoos on your back, giving you a rough guide as to what you need to do? Practical's work. Deionarra only shows up to help you, both in the early and late game, because of his cold-blooded manipulation. Vhailor and Morte and Dak'kon are all only available as companions because of his cold-blooded manipulation.

 

In short, a good chunk of the things that help you out tremendously through the course of the game come to you only because one of your previous incarnations was a complete sociopath willing to do whatever it took to advance his own interests...which just happen to be your interests, too, since technically he is you. Above all, if the Practical incarnation hadn't been a complete monster, then the Transcendent One would have sealed you in the crystal at the end and Deionarra would not have been there to free you. He was thoroughly evil...and yet absolutely necessary to win the game.

 

So yeah, I agree, even as I wonder whether to properly classify him as an antagonist. He is an antagonist for your final conversation with him, when he seeks to absorb you, but before then your interests and his are conjoined.

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Though I loved Irenicus, bad guys like on Fallout:NV would make it possible to side with the bad guys, and choice is usually a good thing in a good rpg.

 

Yes. While I hope for some bad guys who are pretty obviously 'bad', I also hope you can nevertheless sign up with those same bad guys and help them achieve victory in the end game. Obsidian has a track record of allowing this, so I'm confident we'll see something of the sort.

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I don't think you can call the Practical Incarnation an antagonist at all because, like you said, he doesn't really oppose the protagonist nearly as much as he helps him. Sure he turns on you at the end, but in a way it's tricky to say he turns on *you* because you're both technically the same person, and he just thinks he can help you/him better than you.

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I don't think you can call the Practical Incarnation an antagonist at all because, like you said, he doesn't really oppose the protagonist nearly as much as he helps him. Sure he turns on you at the end, but in a way it's tricky to say he turns on *you* because you're both technically the same person, and he just thinks he can help you/him better than you.

 

Thats just one of the original ways to tacle such issues that makes Torment one of the best games ever made (if not, the best game).

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I really liked the villain of Jade Empire (not least because saying who it is is a big spoiler). Managed to be very competent while not feeling `cheap` - the reasons the villain beats you sometimes are very well-thought out and don't leave you feeling cheated. You only really managed to win because of a literal, justified deus ex machina. Also managed to be, if not sympathetic, at least... somewhat understandable.

`This is just the beginning, Citizens! Today we have boiled a pot who's steam shall be seen across the entire galaxy. The Tea Must Flow, and it shall! The banner of the British Space Empire will be unfurled across a thousand worlds, carried forth by the citizens of Urn, and before them the Tea shall flow like a steaming brown river of shi-*cough*- shimmering moral fibre!` - God Emperor of Didcot by Toby Frost.

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If there is a grand villain there also should be a grand desire in the player to defeat him. When this desire feels somehow forced - 'cause a lack of choices for example - the entire thing becomes uninteresting. I just won't care. Exploring the world will be more fun than defeating the villain. In skyrim i like exploring more than going after alduin. Actually i don't care about alduin. I just complete the storyline for the sake of completion. Exploring is much more fun in that game.

That's because Alduin is a crap villain who never presents any real threat. His motivation is also a laughable cliche "I want to destroy the world.... cause that's what I do".

 

A good villain is always marked by a few specific things.

 

1: You encounter them early and are given reason to not like them quickly.

2: They continue to show up regularly and actively work against you through the whole game, not just part of it.

3: They have a motivation that makes sense and can be at least partially related to, and their goal has to be something sane.

3.5: Due to their motivation they may not consider themselves a villain, or possibly just think "the ends justify the means" and aren't worried about what it makes them.

4: By the end of the game the player actually WANTS to take them down.

 

Make your villain fit that mold and be it a faction or an individual players will love the dude for it. New Vegas is a horrible example because other than Caesar and the bums who directly screwed you no one is actually a real "bad guy". Also Caesar never actually did anything to "you" personally, you just knew he was a bad guy that was bad news for basically everyone from simple observation and common sense. You were never given a reason to personally go gunning for him.

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If there is a grand villain there also should be a grand desire in the player to defeat him. When this desire feels somehow forced - 'cause a lack of choices for example - the entire thing becomes uninteresting. I just won't care. Exploring the world will be more fun than defeating the villain. In skyrim i like exploring more than going after alduin. Actually i don't care about alduin. I just complete the storyline for the sake of completion. Exploring is much more fun in that game.

That's because Alduin is a crap villain who never presents any real threat. His motivation is also a laughable cliche "I want to destroy the world.... cause that's what I do".

 

A good villain is always marked by a few specific things.

 

1: You encounter them early and are given reason to not like them quickly.

2: They continue to show up regularly and actively work against you through the whole game, not just part of it.

3: They have a motivation that makes sense and can be at least partially related to, and their goal has to be something sane.

3.5: Due to their motivation they may not consider themselves a villain, or possibly just think "the ends justify the means" and aren't worried about what it makes them.

4: By the end of the game the player actually WANTS to take them down.

 

Make your villain fit that mold and be it a faction or an individual players will love the dude for it. New Vegas is a horrible example because other than Caesar and the bums who directly screwed you no one is actually a real "bad guy". Also Caesar never actually did anything to "you" personally, you just knew he was a bad guy that was bad news for basically everyone from simple observation and common sense. You were never given a reason to personally go gunning for him.

 

Mr. House was always a bit of a villain to me for his narcissism and threat to what remained of humanity - the NCR were generally somewhat bad guys in my opinion for their blatant goal of exploting the locals for their own gain. The mold is nice to go by, but shouldn't restrict creative, able and proven writers.

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One of the things I absolutely love about the Practical Incarnation is that, technically speaking, he is more of an ally than a villain for the overwhelming majority of the game. Most of the threatening things you face aren't his fault; if they have to do with some past incarnation, then more often than not they're the mistakes of the Paranoid Incarnation, often trampling on Practical's attempts to help. He left behind a journal that would have explained everything, for example; Paranoid burned it. The tattoos on your back, giving you a rough guide as to what you need to do? Practical's work. Deionarra only shows up to help you, both in the early and late game, because of his cold-blooded manipulation. Vhailor and Morte and Dak'kon are all only available as companions because of his cold-blooded manipulation.

 

In short, a good chunk of the things that help you out tremendously through the course of the game come to you only because one of your previous incarnations was a complete sociopath willing to do whatever it took to advance his own interests...which just happen to be your interests, too, since technically he is you. Above all, if the Practical incarnation hadn't been a complete monster, then the Transcendent One would have sealed you in the crystal at the end and Deionarra would not have been there to free you. He was thoroughly evil...and yet absolutely necessary to win the game.

 

So yeah, I agree, even as I wonder whether to properly classify him as an antagonist. He is an antagonist for your final conversation with him, when he seeks to absorb you, but before then your interests and his are conjoined.

 

Both Coincidence and you are right from a playthrough as an evil Nameless One and see his "help" from literally a Pracitical point of view. What he had done help Nameless One to survive so that he(along with the Practical One) get a round two with the Transcendent One. While the paranoid one created more traps that does physcial harm as you point out, it does not mean that Practical One did not put you in danger. Case and point, he did turn on you at the end. Not to mention he purposely risk to get on the radar of V'hailor to see if his "axe of justice" can kill the Transcendent One. If memory serves, V'hailor's axe is one of the few thing that can kill Nameless One dead. I am sure Practical One probably leave a long list of enemies that would have done much harm too if not for the Paranoid Ones life long effort to erase everything the previous incarnations.

 

On a spiritual level and for a basically good Nameless One, the Practical One is through and through villain and antagonist, he basically broke Dak'kon will and bully Mort into virtual slavery. And I would count Dak'kon and Mort as Nameless friends and ally. Any douchebag who do that to the protagonist's friends and ally is no friend at all. And if one were to look at the larger picture, the whole adventure is more of a spirtual journey where Nameless One learn to own up to all the deeds (misdeeds and sins, really) he and all his incarnations have committed. All the vile and dispicable act the Practical One has done probably earn Nameless One another eternity in Hell. So from the emotional context of the story, he is through and through villain.

 

And getting back on topic, cRPG can use more "villain" and antagonists that can engage the player at an emotional level where the player would find even the help from these characters to be absolutely vile and revolting

Edited by Aldereth
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<Warning PS:T spoiler>

 

 

Personally, I think PS:T feature 2 of the best written "villain" in cRPG - Ravel Puzzlewell and the Practical Incarnation.

 

Ravel was wicked, obsessive, misunderstood, cunning, tragic and completely and madly in love with the PC. The potential romantic interest in the form of Fall from Grace and Annah has a bottom line in their attraction to the PC. You can do crappy stuff to drive them away. Not Ravel, her love/obsession is absolute and have no bottom line. Because of her nature, her expression of love almost invariably lead only to tragedy. And upon her passing, even the infinite multiverse feel a lot smaller.

 

Practical Incarnation from PS:T was ruthless, manipulative, selfish to the extreme and mades for a good "villain" even when he is technically "dead" when the game begins. The crappy mess that he leave across the planes for the PC are not just physically threatening but also make the PC(player) angry, sad and have to confront himself with some soul searching questions.

 

Referring to these two Titans of "villainy", I think it would serve future cRPG better to just forget about using a moral compass of good, evil and gritty grey which plague so many games and movie now. Just write characters with deep conviction, intense emotion and multifacet personality whose agenda happened to conflict the PC.

 

Neither of those characters were villains in PST.

 

Ravel was your 'wise old mentor' trope, subverted in that she was mad, amoral, and loved TNO in a twisted, grey hag way - the only way she knew. She helps TNO, rather than hampers him.

 

Practical Incarnation was a shadowy 'boogeyman' who had lost all agency by the time you came to be. His ruthlessness was a lesson to TNO, but he never acted against you except at the very end, when he tried to steal your body. In this, he was a foil, rather than a villain. Same with Paranoid Incarnation.

 

The villain of PST was, of course, TTO. He followed the standard trope of a villain in a heroic journey, slaughtering your 'wise old mentor' figure, hampering you every step of the way with his shadows and targeted assassinations, and eventually killing all your friends and cornering you in his lair.

 

Was TTO a decent villain? Yeah, but he didn't exactly carry the game - it wasn't the villains that made PST great. In this, I think a lesson is also learned about whether a game needs a great villain to be effective.

Edited by Azarkon

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As far as villians go, say what you will about where the franchise has gone since in the case of Mass Effect, but I've always enjoyed villains like The Master and Saren. They are evil simply because they are utterly convinced of the correctness and necessity of their chosen path. When the player points out how misguided they've become... well there's an ending there that's unexpected lol. As the Master says "All that I have done in the name of good...." They *thought* they were doing the right thing and were willing to do anything to see it through. Human history is chalked full of such characters who often become villainized after their ends (or remain heros for their respective groups).

 

While I still enjoy crazy/self motivated villains like Irenicus, Sarevok, Kreia, and Malak, they are, in my mind, easier to forget because they're purely self-motivated with some wacky plan that involves you somehow and require a lot more from writers to make them convincing and memorable.

 

Somebody who believes they're going to help everybody in a big way, and is willing to do anything to accomplish that, and then ends up doing far more harm - that's a relatable story ezpz especially if it involves betrayal.

Edited by Gallenger
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On a spiritual level and for a basically good Nameless One, the Practical One is through and through villain and antagonist, he basically broke Dak'kon will and bully Mort into virtual slavery. And I would count Dak'kon and Mort as Nameless friends and ally. Any douchebag who do that to the protagonist's friends and ally is no friend at all. And if one were to look at the larger picture, the whole adventure is more of a spirtual journey where Nameless One learn to own up to all the deeds (misdeeds and sins, really) he and all his incarnations have committed. All the vile and dispicable act the Practical One has done probably earn Nameless One another eternity in Hell. So from the emotional context of the story, he is through and through villain.

 

I can see the emotional/spiritual/whatever argument for him being a villain, but the curious thing is that all his villainy prior to his last confrontation with you is directed towards helping you. Because in helping you he is (literally) helping himself. He isn't a friend, for certain, but an ally, even if a hated one? Yes. He does horrible things to Dak'kon that end up with Dak'kon as your companion; if he had not done them, you would not have Dak'kon as a companion. He frees Morte from the pillar of skulls, so Morte wouldn't be a companion either without him. And Deionarra is only there to help because of him. In that sense, no matter what you think of him on a moral level, he is not an antagonist for the overwhelming majority of the game. He's on your side.

 

Even the Vhailor thing is directed towards helping you. After all, your goal is to die, right? Keeping one of the few things around that can kill you, though nicely sealed away where he cannot harm you until you choose to release him, is merely a very shrewd back-up plan in case there is no other way out.

 

Now, is he a villain? That's much more certain. He's evil thorough and thorough. He's a villain...but he's your villain until just before the end. Part of what makes him a great character.

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Anyway, I should be able to finish this game by destroying everything and becoming an ultimate chaotic evil super villain known in other planes as the Eater of Souls.

 

Even though they've already said they're not interested in binary good/evil morality?

 

Anyway, my personal favorite villain in a video game was one in (bear with me,) a Japanese sci-fi game series, an alien scientist whose role in the invasion of Earth was to create human/alien hybrids to infiltrate the Earth and sabotage its defenses years ahead of the invasion. They were supposed to be kept in place by some sort of psychic mind control device (to prevent the old humanity is infectious trope,) but he deliberately used himself (he being immune to this device,) as the genetic basis for the hybrids, with the intent that they would resist the mind control, get all infected with humanity and sabotage the operation by providing the Earth with access to alien knowledge and technology with which they could better fend off the invasion.

 

He then subverted his race's invasion fleet and purposefully lost in battle to ensure the Earthlings could salvage and reverse-engineer his people's best technology. He foresaw future attempts at peace between the races and plotted years in advance to sabotage those efforts, all of which went off without a hitch despite the fact that he died in the aforementioned climactic battle two games prior. The guy was an interesting twist on the classic sociopathic mad scientist type because his apparent goal in the end was the destruction of his own race using humanity as the weapon to do the job. I say apparent because ongoing bits of lore and out-of-game content suggest he may have had a grander scheme whose results have yet to come to fruition.

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I enjoy (smaller) villains more who are a bit disturbed and clearly suffering from something that happened to them. I like finding out why these people became what they are now.

Then i can stop them out of pity rather than hate. But these type of villains would not be good crpg material.

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best villain of all games has to be the one from Arcanum. Who simply wanted to end chaoticness by destroying all life. (also if you had the right companion, he would turn on you at this point, after offering you the chance to join the bad guys side and destroy the earth)

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On the subject of villains done badly, RAE mentioned Loghain earlier, but I think there is a Bioware villain who absolutely trumps him for awfulness.

 

*SPOILER* (Kind of) if you haven't played Throne of Bhaal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melissan, the primary antagonist of Throne of Bhaal.

 

Oh, does that really require a spoiler warning? The game itself practically tells you flat out...twice...that she is a bad guy. The big talking stone heads first with their oh-so-subtle remarks about how someone seemingly friendly will actually be a foe, then Gromnir (the NPC, not the poster) basically tells you her plan detail for detail.

 

I gather we were supposed to not figure it out quite so early, but I have never figured out why anyone with a functioning brain would think we wouldn't. We don't know this chick at all. There has been no hint of her existence in past games, we haven't seen her do anything benevolent except the obviously counter-intuitive plan of herding all the Bhaalspawn into a small enclosed area 'for their safety', and overall we simply have zero reason to trust her beyond the game forcing us to trust her at every turn.

 

The lessons the crappy villain Melissan teaches us:

 

1) If you want to have a 'sympathetic' NPC turn out to be a villain, spend some time making them....y'know, sympathetic. Build up a feeling of trust between them and the PC. They did this pretty well with Yoshimo by making him a pretty nice guy driven into betrayal by circumstances, but completely dropped the ball with Melissan, who is about as hammy and unconvincing an 'ally' as they come.

 

2) If we do not find the NPC in question sympathetic and do not trust them from word 'go', do not force us to find them sympathetic with railroading dialogue that makes it impossible not to play along with their not-so-devious plan.

 

3) Give us some build-up. Melissan might actually have been a nice villain if her existence had at all been foreshadowed in previous games. Instead, she felt like a last minute character shoe-horned into the Bhaalspawn plotline. Mostly because she was.

 

4) Speaking of which, if you have had two previous main villains with exciting and original motives like 'become a God', then perhaps its time to mix things up a little bit motive-wise?

 

There are more I'm certain, but those four are a nice start. Basically, don't make a villain like Melissan. She is the opposite of a good villain.

Edited by Death Machine Miyagi
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Mr. House was always a bit of a villain to me for his narcissism and threat to what remained of humanity - the NCR were generally somewhat bad guys in my opinion for their blatant goal of exploting the locals for their own gain. The mold is nice to go by, but shouldn't restrict creative, able and proven writers.

True, there were reasons not to like the NCR and it was reasonable to not get along with them too. However they still fail step 1 and 2. Much like Caesar's Legion they never actually do anything to "you". So "you" never have a personal stake in what happens to them. If you have no stake in their fate then they weren't much of a "villain". See the trick with a good villain, or any good character for that matter, is you as the player have to care about what happens to them. If you don't care about them then they failed as villain, or a companion, or a love interest, or a mentor, or whatever else they were supposed to be. I didn't care about the NCR.

 

Mr. House on the other hand was a joke. In my game I literally found him on accident just by sneaking around his casino and hacking things. When I realized I could pull the plug on him and all he had for me was threats and an idiotic scheme I just said "no thanks" and hit the off switch. Game over Mr. House, so much for your masterwork manipulation. I was left wondering why he hadn't died decades ago.

 

Either way New Vegas (made by Obsidian or not) is not a good game to hold up narrative wise. It is way too open ended to have much depth in the "villain" department. In fact I could really argue all of the people you could help were "villains" even though none of them other than Caesar was really any good at it and he was only a wannabe of the real Caesar.

 

Was TTO a decent villain? Yeah, but he didn't exactly carry the game - it wasn't the villains that made PST great. In this, I think a lesson is also learned about whether a game needs a great villain to be effective.

 

Fair enough. The question is this though. If the Transcendant One had been a better villain would it have hurt the game? The answer is clear: No. But it might have enhanced it a little. So while you might not need one it most certainly won't hurt either.

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On the other hand, PST had a very slow drip of information, and revealing The Transcendent One earlier on could have ****ed with the flow of things.

 

The Transcendent One was the final antagonist, but not necessarily the biggest villain. And that's totally fine.

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Motivation, morality, ethics, and philosophy are all very important but I would actually like to see Obsidian write a villain where those factors are secondary. I'd really like to see a villain who is just so charismatic that they can convince people to follow them regardless of what their motivations or the moral implications of their actions are.

 

Kane from Command and Conquer is a good example of this kind of villain.

256px-Cc_kane_shot.jpg

 

He's just got that right mix of charm, authority, and mystery that he makes you like him and want to listen to him even when you don't know who he really is or what he has planned. And he's able to commit horrific acts of terrorism and genocide while still retaining his charm and likability.

 

I would love to see a villain like Kane in Project: Eternity.

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