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The trend in CRPGs for many years has been on greater interaction with the NPCs in your party. I've noticed, though, that 'greater interaction' tends to be translated to 'the NPC has some horrible issue or secret from their past they're dealing with and you help them get through it, particularly if you have an interest in sexual intercourse with said NPC in a Bioware game.'

 

Sometimes you can decide in what direction they change, but the principle remains roughly the same:  the PC takes the role of party therapist, with everybody slowly divulging their dark secrets and tragic histories. If you want to get to know the NPC, pretty soon you're going to stumble across that tragic back story and become the comforting, nonjudgmental friend they confide in. 

 

I think this is a cliche that deserves to be screwed around with, and I hope to see PoE do it. How do you distinguished posters believe it could be played with and yet still keep interaction with the NPC interesting? 

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I don't know about this. So far Obsidian did a great job to not make me feel like a therapist of my team in their games. I'm currently playing through NWN2:MotB and if anything it feels like my companions are the ones that are striving to help me. They certainly know a lot more about what is happening and I think Obsidian did an extremely good job with that game.

 

Sure, there are companion quests where you help them in Obsidian games, however for me they do not even come close to the level of Bioware side quests.

 

Maybe I'm the only one that feels this way, however I love the way Obsidian handles companions and their interactions, so I have faith in them to deliver in that regard in PoE.

Edited by Fluffsy
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I don't know about this. So far Obsidian did a great job to not make me feel like a therapist of my team in their games. I'm currently playing through NWN2:MotB and if anything it feels like my companions are the ones that are striving to help me.

 

And I think that's actually the key. It would be nice to have more NPCs who are there to listen to your take on things as much as you are to listen to their life stories, giving you both an interesting relationship with the NPC in question and a chance to define who your character is and how he/she thinks. 

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This is mostly done by Bioware, but it's not always as that. I believe in Mass Effect 2 and the last Dragon Age games, although the companions have their secrets to be unveiled and *might* want your help, they also interact with your problems too.

 

With Mask of The Betrayer and New Vegas pretty much happens what Sluffsy describes.

 

If you have good writers, plenty of time and you basically know what's going on in the world, you make good companions (and good factions) :)

Edited by Sedrefilos
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There are points in games where I always feel the temptation to tell my companions to get their lives in order, cut out the needy whining as it does nothing and no one wants to hear it, and not expect me to nursemaid them. It was so refreshing in the Witcher 2 to have Roche, Iorveth and all the other characters be independent, self motivated and although grateful for the protagonists help, in no way useless without it. That was a step in the right direction for me.

 

Nordom in Torment comes to mind immediately as a great example of a character whom is both interested in and provides useful information and feedback on the protagonists situation.

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Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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I think the real enemy isn't angst and talk therapy but uniformity. Having some people on the team who could use a hug is one thing, but feeling stuck on the Island of Misfit Toys is quite another. Also, there's definitely a point where the amount of influence you wield over people can greatly damage the illusion of NPC autonomy. For example, when I first played through ME1 as a Paragon Shepard I thought Garrus trailed only the humans in the race to see who could be the blandest character possible. By contrast, I can forgive an awful lot about ME2's team interactions just because I was so unexpectedly pleased when Garrus responded to my previous by-the-book mentoring by becoming a friggin' vigilante. I mean, hey, half the reason Bioware did it was probably just to avoid having to write differing characterizations, but whatever, the fact that there was someone I couldn't just up and brainwash was enough to skyrocket him up my favorite NPCs list.

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Interesting topic! I've thought the same thing myself.

 

In theory, it all makes perfect sense. To sum it up:

The designer wants you to get to know your compansions.

One of the best ways to get to know someone is to talk about their past.

Everyone has regrets. And if you're, say, an assassin in a fantasy world, your regrets will probably be bigger than most.

Once they get over the past, they can focus more on the future.

At the same time, the player gets an ego boast because people are confiding in him.

So why does it sometimes feel so... Cheesy?

This might depend on your life experience and personality, but I find people to be very closed most of the time. My colleagues barely ever talk about what they did on the weekend, let alone their deepest, darkest secrets. So when I see this situation...

Party member: I've never talked to anyone about this before, but OMG you are so easy to talk to!
Me: ... (silent protagonist)
Party member: I knew I could count on you. Talking to you just makes me feel better.

... it just feels extremely false.
JRPGs are also especially guilty of the above (since in most J-RPGs, your party members are cute, yet mysterious girls)

 

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I think the real enemy isn't angst and talk therapy but uniformity. 

 

+

 

... it just feels extremely false.

 

There's your problem(s). The basic formula for people to bond without spending years of small-talk together is to show weakness+receiving acceptance. However, this can of course be done in many different ways, and perhaps creativity is sometimes lacking. There are many different kinds of weaknesses (not only regrets), they may be shown in many different ways (not only through dialogue), often unintentionally. The part where the player is always the listener is also problematic, but I guess it is more difficult to remedy since you would have to have a pretty huge amount of dialogue options to allow the player to tell whatever backstory he or she wants.

Edited by ISC
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