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Thinking back on, well, almost every Bioware and Obsidion RPG over the last few years, I feel like there are far too many characters that fall very sharply on the good guy or bad guy scale (with the sole exception being on particular character from KOTOR 2).

 

This is disappointing, because I see in other media a lot more diversity of relationships between characters. Ones where people are both friends and enemies, or have strained relationships, complex histories, etc. A few that come to mind are characters like Tom Zarek from Battlestar Galactica - a man who is clearly a villain, but sees himself as a freedom fighter, and most interestingly of all, he is in constant contact with the protagonists but through most of the series their hands are tied about just killing him due to his political connections. Far too often you have villains that are far off in some tower somewhere, and you barely really get any sense of who they are or their interactions with others, which I think is a real shame.

 

On the flip side, consider characters that are of questionable loyalty, which could tip to either side? Various characters from Game of Thrones do this very well, driven by their own ambitions. Imagine a scenario, for example, where you kill off a band of Orcs or something, but decide to spare a now-orphaned child from that tribe to raise yourself. That's just off the top of my head, but I would like to see more emotional richness between characters, and more complex relationships among characters than just the good guy bad guy thing.

 

Above all, I am tired of the maniacal villain scheming on the other side of the planet that you get to actually talk to for all but five minutes at the end of the game. That trope has been done to death in every kind of media.

 

Who's with me on this?

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It's funny you mention Song of Ice and Fire...

 

While it does have a lot of deep characters, it also has its share of characters that are villains.

 

Cersei, while realistic motivations, is a character that everyone I know loves to hate. Few people can see her ever being "redeemed" and even fewer people want to see her redeemed. Likewise, Gregor Clegane and Ramsey Snow are pretty much put in just to be vile, depraved sons of *******.

 

I like motivated ​ villains - but I also like to be villainous. I don't like the whole "I'm just misunderstood and not really a bad guy" thing that some people do, especially for a primary antagonist.

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It is nice to have a little depth to your characters and NPCs... most people are neither completely black or completely white but some shade of grey ... villains who have a little depth to them or tragic heroes are always more interesting ... one of my favorite examples of a villain who you can't quite hate or love is the character in the Star Trek Next Generation episode "The Survivors" ... when they finally discover his "crime" they respond that they have no court capable of judging his crime or a being of his power so they simply leave him be

 

Another notable example is the comment made about Sauron when he reminds the Fellowship that even Sauron wasn't always evil

 

Depth and range are desirable both in fiction and in games :)

Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.” ― Robert E. Howard

:)

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What I think for what it's worth: don't force it. You get people saying "Oh moral conumdrums!" and "Gray areas!" in the belief that it will automatically make a better story, when actually forcing it is actually the worst thing you can do. I say, do what is best for the story: sometimes cut'n'dried villains work fine, other times one with decent motives will work.

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It is nice to have a little depth to your characters and NPCs... most people are neither completely black or completely white but some shade of grey ... villains who have a little depth to them or tragic heroes are always more interesting ... one of my favorite examples of a villain who you can't quite hate or love is the character in the Star Trek Next Generation episode "The Survivors" ... when they finally discover his "crime" they respond that they have no court capable of judging his crime or a being of his power so they simply leave him be

50 Shades of neutral.

 

I would really like there to be a decent number of foes in the game who are actually rather well intentioned but simply of the wrong perspective. Religion, ideology and nationalism can take a great hold over people to make good people do bad things. Druids attacking logging communities may have the well-being of the greater-good at heart but that doesn't matter to the farmer who just watched his lad take an arrow to the heart. Priests and Inquisitors of the Church of Tauror may heal the weak and injured wherever they go but that can't morally compensate for what they do to those who they deem 'deviant' spell-casters (magical nonfaithful) in rituals to please their petty deity.

 

Character design and growth must play a big part in discussions of morality in video-games. Let characters shock and disappoint us. Let old 'friends' reveal dastardly allegiance.

 

When I think of a really well-designed neutral character, I think of the second-to-last boss in BG:TOB, the Monk. His ethos and goals are reasonable, but his methodology is absolutely inexcusable.

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I see that I incidentally stumbled upon two different issues here:

1) Morally Gray Characters

I agree that sometimes these aren't as compelling as more cut-and-dried characters. So long as they have compelling motivations, and develop in some interesting way, that's what I'd like to see. Something more like Darth Vader, with twists and turns in his morality, rather than Sauron, who is just evil and bad for seemingly no reason (note: Never read the books, only seen the movies, so I could be wrong).

2) Protagonist-Villain Relationships

What I was getting at with the Tom Zarek reference is that a lot of villains I see are off far, far away from the main character and have little to no interaction with them, and thus there is no real relationship between them. I think it's more interesting to have a villain that the protagonist comes to know personally, and that they have some sort of interesting relationship arc. Like the hero-villain equivalent of a love story, if you will, with interesting twists and turns. That's the bigger thing I'd like to see more.

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I am very much with you on this, as much as I do actually like bioware's games (or used to) and as much as I like getting cool evil guy options and red eyes and stuff, I find it pretty stupid how their games have to judge every action you make. If you ask me it should be up to the player to decide what is good an evil, not the company who makes the game. The whole good/evil morality bar, started out as something cool but has become a real step backwards in gaming imo. I would much prefer it if you just did things and people acted accordingly based on their own unique morality as opposed to having two rigid and explosively stereotypical roles that each and every person has to fall into. I recall with some degree of bitterness how you couldn't even do things of the opposing morality if you wanted to in ME, because then you would gain the wrong points and eventually lose dialogue options, it just limits player choice and spontaneity.

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I wouldn't exactly call Kreia a "grey" character largely because despite her vast characterization and relationship development she was at the end of the day a Sith through and through. It was essentially telegraphed at the very, very beginning of the game that she'd "turn out" to be one. At the latest it should've taken you the very first influence option choice with her to figure it out. It wasn't so much that she didn't allow you to answer neutrally (the very few times you could) but that you'd almost always get docked if you answered like a Jedi *would* (or perhaps should is the better term). It also didn't help that there is no such thing as a "grey" Jedi or a "grey" Sith in the Star Wars universe period. Jolee never convinced me and neither did Kreia they basically stuck to the teachings of their respective orders and that basically is the fundamental key.

 

Still, i'm certainly not against more Kreias in regards to characterization and development.

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I wouldn't exactly call Kreia a "grey" character largely because despite her vast characterization and relationship development she was at the end of the day a Sith through and through. It was essentially telegraphed at the very, very beginning of the game that she'd "turn out" to be one. At the latest it should've taken you the very first influence option choice with her to figure it out. It wasn't so much that she didn't allow you to answer neutrally (the very few times you could) but that you'd almost always get docked if you answered like a Jedi *would* (or perhaps should is the better term). It also didn't help that there is no such thing as a "grey" Jedi or a "grey" Sith in the Star Wars universe period. Jolee never convinced me and neither did Kreia they basically stuck to the teachings of their respective orders and that basically is the fundamental key.

 

Still, i'm certainly not against more Kreias in regards to characterization and development.

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Gray_Jedi

 

She was a Grey Jedi because she didn't believe in either side of the force, in fact she despised it.

I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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2) Protagonist-Villain Relationships

What I was getting at with the Tom Zarek reference is that a lot of villains I see are off far, far away from the main character and have little to no interaction with them, and thus there is no real relationship between them. I think it's more interesting to have a villain that the protagonist comes to know personally, and that they have some sort of interesting relationship arc. Like the hero-villain equivalent of a love story, if you will, with interesting twists and turns. That's the bigger thing I'd like to see more.

 

 

The PC and his/her girlfriend/boyfriend plan to marry. Then the significant other backstabs us (literally) and takes off with all of our belongings thinking us dead.

 

The PC sets out on a quest to find his former love and bring them to justice.

* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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I am very much with you on this, as much as I do actually like bioware's games (or used to) and as much as I like getting cool evil guy options and red eyes and stuff, I find it pretty stupid how their games have to judge every action you make. If you ask me it should be up to the player to decide what is good an evil, not the company who makes the game. The whole good/evil morality bar, started out as something cool but has become a real step backwards in gaming imo. I would much prefer it if you just did things and people acted accordingly based on their own unique morality as opposed to having two rigid and explosively stereotypical roles that each and every person has to fall into. I recall with some degree of bitterness how you couldn't even do things of the opposing morality if you wanted to in ME, because then you would gain the wrong points and eventually lose dialogue options, it just limits player choice and spontaneity.

 

I don't see that as a requirement.

After all, some things simply are evil. Period.

If you go around kicking and murdering babies and puppies, that is plain evil by pretty much anyones standards.

 

That said, aligment systems have their pros and cons and I don't mind having no aligment system. (especially given how 90% of the people don't relaly understand the core principles behind aligment systems)

I consider it a better alternative than a horribly broken or mislabaled system (looking at you BioWare). Paragon/Renegade and Friendship/Rivalry are good concepts, but just poory executed and explained. I know plenty of people who think a Rivalry path is an evil path (becasue it's red)

 

EDIT:

 

And I really don't want to see a Kreia-like character again.

 

An obviously evil, ploting and condescending character that I can't get rid off, with the powers of hax. Just no.

 

I detest Kreia. I detest that "hunger in the force" makes sith. I detest the whole "wound/hole in the force" plot.

Easily the worst parts of KOTOR2.

Edited by TrashMan

* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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I believe there are two ways to make a very strong and compelling antagonist.

 

1. Make them believe they're Right, and make them Right on some level.

I was harping on this in another thread to an extent earlier, but I find every faction in New Vegas to serve as its own compelling antagonist. Sure, some of them are skewed more towards seeming morally good or evil, but they all consistently think that what they're doing is best for rebuilding society, and these reasons all make sense to some extent depending on your worldview, at least enough that you can understand why people would believe in them. You aren't fighting House, the NCR or the Legion because they're Evil, you're fighting them because you disagree with their ideology, which makes your interactions with them more organic. They aren't just some demonic foil for you to strike down with your brand of justice and moral superiority--they're constantly testing your own beliefs and ideologies, and may just end up changing your mind by the end of it all.

 

2. Give them a deep relationship with the protagonist

This is a theory I have based on observation across a wide stretch of media. The best antagonists have complicated relationships with the antagonist that colors their interactions and makes those interactions interesting. Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, for a famous example. For an example from video games, one could argue that Portal is about the player developing and eventually terminating a dysfunctional relationship with GlaDOS.

 

[Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines spoilers ahead]

As for an example from Obsidian-related games, we can look at the Prince LaCroix from VTM: Bloodlines. From night one you're stuck as this guy's pawn whether you like it or not, and the whole game is spent making him out to be the most smug, hate-able representation of The Man and the worst traits of the camarilla. By the time he stabs you in the back you're just waiting to be given a reason to punch this guy, and that's what makes the finale of the game so very satisfying, because you get to single-handedly tear down LaCroix's dominion goon by goon and watch him grovel pathetically while his tower burns. Without interacting with LaCroix through the entire game this would not have nearly the impact it does, because he's just some dude instead of your unjust lord or **** boss in addition to the power-hungry maniac bent on conquering the world.

Technically speaking, yes, there is an ending where you side with him, but really honestly--why?

[End VTM spoilers]

 

Kreia very nearly hit both of these points, with a relationship you develop over the course of the entire game and a philosophy--at its core at least--that was believable and made sense. But then sadly the ending had to be rushed out the door and the payoff fell flat.

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http://starwars.wiki.../wiki/Gray_Jedi

 

She was a Grey Jedi because she didn't believe in either side of the force, in fact she despised it.

 

You do realize that within that article you linked me are nested both the Jedi and the Sith codes (or perhaps creeds would be a better word) right? You might want to read the both of them as they tend to be well.. polar opposites of each other. An *extremely* simplified version of them would be: Oppress Emotion (Jedi) and Express Emotion (Sith). There really isn't much in the way of a middle ground there which is generally why all of Jolee and Kreias arguments fall flat. When the chips were down at the Sith temple in KOTOR I Jolee sided with exactly who you'd expect him to side with (the Jedi). He could've been the first vengeful "grey" Jedi.. except he would've been a Sith and he basically said as much thus his choice. A great many of Kreia's teachings if not all of it was basically Sith teachings but assuming you completely ignore that fact you might have forgotten *how* a Sith becomes a Master. I'll give you a hint: Kreia used the method on you the player character.

 

But all this is neither here nor there.

 

I don't see that as a requirement.

After all, some things simply are evil. Period.

If you go around kicking and murdering babies and puppies, that is plain evil by pretty much anyones standards.

 

I don't think he was quite getting at what you are saying. When you use a blatantly simplified version of course it sounds really stupid. But if you murder people to save others is that really a good or an evil act. Even more rare are the instances where the actual influence of the event has any meaningful consequences for the action. I like how in Dune Paul ends up absolutely destroying House Harkonen and taking over. Strangely, though he completely eliminated a vile and evil faction it ends up costing him (and the Fremen) a great deal in the immediate and somewhat distant future.

Edited by Razsius
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I think walking around murdering babies and puppies is less evil and more "sick", so someone with huge mental problems. I don't think such a guy would be a good villain at all.

 

I like it when in games you get to know the villain during the game. So in the beginning maybe there is a problem you run after rather than a villain and if there is a villain it is good in the beginning if you just see him as evil until you have more information. But then during the game you should get to know more about the villain, his character, his motivations, maybe because you meet him, maybe because you follow him and maybe in the end you yourself are the villain that killed all his family, friends and race.

It may be classic and boring, but it beats the villain being just plain evil, sociopathic and egocentric or mentally disabled/crazy by miles. I rather have more grey than just black and white.

 

about game of thrones: I agree with the OP. while in some books some persons may be vey egocentric from one characters view it usually gets different in other books. Some villains may be "evil", but they have clear motivation and drive and that is done quite well, I think. I also like how you have to change your view of them when you see things from their perspective and understand their motivation more clearly.

Edited by Rink
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some things simply are evil. Period.

If you go around kicking and murdering babies and puppies, that is plain evil by pretty much anyones standards.

 

 

But nobody ever does something because "hey, its the evil thing to do." Evil is not a motivating factor. For example many of us would consider Hitler evil, but I doubt Hitler considered himself evil, I doubt many of his people considered him evil. Apply that to a fantasy context, humans decide that orcs are evil and they must be exterminated, so they kill all the orcs...isn't that genocide? Isn't genocide evil, or was it necessary, who decides? Some actions are good or evil, no doubt. But their is nothing absolute about these concepts in the real world, what is evil to you might not be evil to me and vice versa. Its only in fiction, that evil and good are absolute concepts, and this gives rise to ridiculous cartoonish villain's who just do things to be jerks without even attempting to justify their actions. If somebody does something evil in a story, they have to justify it to themselves at least, or else why would they do it? If someone is going around "kicking and murdering babies and puppies" It should be because they think its the right thing to do, and that these babies and puppies have somehow earned their fate. In real life, everybody considers themselves the good guy in their own story, unless they are psychotic in which case they have an excuse. That's what I'd like to see in PE.

Edited by jezz555
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am thinking that it ain't good to fixate on good v. bad or categories o' villainhood. is "villainhood" a word? no? well, you know what Gromnir means. in our opinion the reason why most villains seems ridiculous is 'cause it is near impossible to empathize with a somebody who wants to rule or destroy the world-- Not sympathy mind you, but empathy. rule world? why? what does world rule get you that you cant' some other far less exhausting way? and world destruction is also having obvious problems for empathy... but is actual probable easier to pull of than world rule. villainous motivation and goals is what writers need focus 'pon. Lord Blackspoon's wife were killed in a senseless runaway griffon accident, so he gets despondent and wants to kill all life in the world? nope. bad. am realizing that the drive to be Epic can be strong, but that not excuse bad motivation.

 

focus on motivations and goals.

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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