Author Topic: Chris Avellone(Mask of the Betrayer) on CRPG romance  (Read 13428 times)

Offline Kulyok

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Chris Avellone(Mask of the Betrayer) on CRPG romance
« on: August 08, 2007, 05:20:39 AM »
Here.  He seems to be a big fan of Lost, too.

(Very generic - nearly every CRPG/mod romance fits these criteria, but for some reason, my reaction to his portrayal is solid dislike. "It's not what personality you write, it's how you write it?")

Offline berelinde

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Re: Chris Avellone(Mask of the Betrayer) on CRPG romance
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2007, 06:51:37 AM »
I agree with everything except the very last point. There I disagree in the strongest possible way. If I'm playing a mod where a romanceable NPC is identified as attractive by non-joinables, or has non-joinables vying for the NPC's attention, it's a deal-breaker for me. It makes me think "Wow, hung up on your NPC much? Next!" If the NPC can't convince my PC that he or she is desirable without seeding the game with NPCs to inform my PC of that, then including shills isn't going to help, and may actually hurt.

There's an exception to this: Salvanas, or the female equivalent, if anyone ever gets around to writing her. He hits on everybody.

Kelsey's Cierra doesn't bother me. She's interested in him, but the implication is that all she wants is his sorcery, and she'd be just as happy to gut him to extract it.

I don't have the aversion to NPC/NPC romance though. Presumably with them, there's the basis for an emotional attraction, which is different, and also provides the player with entertainment and possibly in-party conflicts, which can be fun. I'm really looking forward to the PC/Aklon/Aerie/Haer'Dalis/Anomen polygon. All it needs is Surayah to be perfect... And I think the Darian/Mazzy romance will be sweet, too.

Offline Kulyok

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Re: Chris Avellone(Mask of the Betrayer) on CRPG romance
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2007, 07:11:33 AM »
The last point is especially dangerous when overdone, and is very easy to overdo, so, yes, I agree; no surprises here.

Quote
If I'm playing a mod where a romanceable NPC is identified as attractive by non-joinables, or has non-joinables vying for the NPC's attention, it's a deal-breaker for me.

I thought Ajantis BG2 Romance had a Garren's niece vying for Ajantis' attention - you think it won't work so well, then? Also, I wonder - is "joinable NPC - romance interest" any better than "non-joinable NPC - romance interest" in this regard? After all, if a joinable character competes for the romance interest's attention, this character is bound to pay the romance interest much more attention, or so it seems to me.

Offline berelinde

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Re: Chris Avellone(Mask of the Betrayer) on CRPG romance
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2007, 09:03:44 AM »
In the case of Ajantis, [spoiler]the attraction is over shared values and personality traits, and it takes a while to develop. It's very natural. Quite different, really. The niece doesn't just say "Oh, Ajantis, you are so handsome, I must have you now!" And the attraction is mutual, which is also appealing. *And* it doesn't happen at all if Ajantis and the PC are in an active relationship, so it isn't like it's nothing but a cheap ploy to draw attention to an attractive NPC.[/spoiler]

With non-joinables displaying instant attraction/throwing themselves at a party-joinable NPC, it's got depressing Sue overtones. "Oh, look, even strangers in the street can't help but notice how wonderful I am! Don't you think I'm wonderful, too? After all, look what I'm passing up, all for you!"

I don't mind joinables hitting on other joinables, either. Korgan makes suggestive comments toward everything female, and that's fine. Kivan is deferential toward Aerie, and that's OK, too.

Nor do I mind NPCs, joinable or otherwise, that are designed to flirt with others, any others, not just specific NPCs.

Example of something I would find really obnoxious and unacceptable:
Acolyte Lara: ~Gavin, would you stay and talk a while... alone? It's nice to meet someone with such a powerful... faith.~
Something that I would find acceptable, but badly written:
Acolyte Lara: ~OR(4) IsGabber("B!GAVIN") IsGabber("Anomen") IsGabber("Cernd") IsGabber("Keldorn") ~ ~<GABBER>, would you stay and talk a while... alone? It's nice to meet someone with such a powerful... faith.~
Acolyte Lara: ~Class(GABBER,CLERIC_ALL) Gender(GABBER,MALE)~ ~<GABBER>, would you stay and talk a while... alone? It's nice to meet someone with such a powerful... faith.~

Everyone has different deal-breakers, but that's a big one, for me.

Offline jcompton

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Re: Chris Avellone(Mask of the Betrayer) on CRPG romance
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2007, 09:41:50 AM »
I (demonstrably) think that it's not a bad design point. I wouldn't go so far as to make it entirely mandatory, but it accomplishes an important goal--establishing that the romance itself is not happening in total isolation between the PC and the NPC. It's relevant and registered by the rest of the world, too. You can accomplish that with a rival, or in a different way you can accomplish it with a little side encounter, like the "Jaheira's locket" sequence.

(Why oh why does she always give it back to me when she runs off? It breaks my heart.)
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Offline berelinde

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Re: Chris Avellone(Mask of the Betrayer) on CRPG romance
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2007, 10:10:25 AM »
That's just the world acknowleging  a relationship between an NPC and the PC. That's fine, and sweet. The guy giving Jaheira the locket doesn't hit on her first, in <CHARNAME>'s presence, then give her the locket in token of his unrequited love when she rejects him.

I guess the point of it is that the locket exchange and other game-world observances of the relationship, observe how good the couple is, not how gorgeous the NPC is. Makes one wonder what the NPC would say if you weren't standing right there.

It didn't exactly endear anyone to Shandra. It's another extension of the "show me, don't tell me" principle. Is the NPC physically attractive? A decent charisma score and a nice portrait are convincing enough for many people. Having NPCs hit on MyNPC(TM) isn't quite as bad as describing the perfection of his or her face in loving detail as part of the joining dialogue, but it's got to be handled pretty skillfully to be successful, and it's more convincing when it's an original in-game NPC, not a fan-written one.

« Last Edit: August 08, 2007, 10:40:35 AM by berelinde/BGhead »

Offline jcompton

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Re: Chris Avellone(Mask of the Betrayer) on CRPG romance
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2007, 10:50:34 AM »
Makes you wonder what they'd say if you weren't standing right there.

His point precisely! (yes, I know, not one you appreciate.)
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Offline berelinde

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Re: Chris Avellone(Mask of the Betrayer) on CRPG romance
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2007, 11:31:24 AM »
True! But the thoughts it engenders aren't necessarily those the writer intended.  ;)

Offline Ajnos

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Re: Chris Avellone(Mask of the Betrayer) on CRPG romance
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2007, 01:42:31 PM »
If the NPC can't convince my PC that he or she is desirable without seeding the game with NPCs to inform my PC of that, then including shills isn't going to help, and may actually hurt.

That's what bothers me the most.  I don't need a Greek Chorus swooping in to tell me that he's so wonderful.  Maybe you could just attempt to write someone engaging and I'll decide if he's all things wonder.  (And for godsakes, dial that crap down when I'm playing the same gender.  In my egomania I like to think that my PC is the actual main character and not some NPC Smarty McShinyhair you have stuck me with.  *coughShandracough*  And ego aside, it just comes off really weird and needy.)  The Jaheria locket thing is a bit different, the merchant compliments her (I think?), but he's also trying to sell you something.

It's like that irritating Implied Attributes thing in movies. "Gosh, Perfect Tommy sure is smart!"  There.  Now he doesn't have to do anything smart, because we /told/ you he's smart.  I get the point, but it comes off as lazy writing to me.

EDIT: Regarding Jason's point about isolation, with all respect, I don't think random people commenting on the loveliness of your girl counts as acknowledgment of your relationship.  The BG2 locket, yeah, it recognizes the relationship and develops it.  The painter in NWN2?  Not so much, it recognizes the NPC only and, while praising her, does nothing. (Especially for femalePCs... seriously, why is it even there?)



« Last Edit: August 08, 2007, 01:54:34 PM by Ajnos »
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Offline berelinde

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Re: Chris Avellone(Mask of the Betrayer) on CRPG romance
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2007, 01:49:47 PM »
It's like that irritating Implied Attributes thing in movies. "Gosh, Perfect Tommy sure is smart!"  There.  Now he doesn't have to do anything smart, because we /told/ you he's smart.  I get the point, but it comes off as lazy writing to me.

Back when I still thought I might want to be an author when I grew up, before I realized that I might one day be responsible for my own mortgage, I took a high school creative writing class. The teacher had few rules, but one of them was "Never, ever, have anyone say 'Why are you telling me this?'"

Offline Bex

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Re: Chris Avellone(Mask of the Betrayer) on CRPG romance
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2007, 03:50:33 PM »
(Why oh why does she always give it back to me when she runs off? It breaks my heart.)

In my first game, I also gave Jaheira the lock of her hair to hold onto after the Baron Ployer encounter (a symbol of faith in preventing further shenanigans, no?), and she'd faithfully return it every time she left the party. I know it was unintentional, but it's one of those things that adds a poignancy to the relationship. Or I have an overactive imagination. Whatever.

My major problem (beyond some criticisms already voiced) with Avellone's romance guidelines is that he seems to be saying there is only one type of character that's worth writing a romance track for. Maybe that's another reason why we're only given one possible romance track in these fabulously shiny new games (rar). It strikes me that these characters are so bland and generic that, rather than having universal appeal, they end up not appealing much to anyone. Maybe they wouldn't be so bad if we hadn't been railroaded into them. Anomen started to look better when he was both fleshed out and not the only option. Aerie, Jaheira, and Viconia offered a pretty diverse choice, and each one has adherents. Maybe your PC is looking for someone to protect, or for someone to win over. I think "depth and choice" sums it up fairly well.

And WTF is up with this delusion that female gamers are looking for a shining knight, I'd like to know.
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Offline KIrving

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Re: Chris Avellone(Mask of the Betrayer) on CRPG romance
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2007, 06:29:28 PM »
After reading that, I now know, exactly, why I really dislike Obsidian's, pretend, romances. (Will the real romance possibility please step forward.)
A CRPG is not a television or movie drama and I don't believe that the same rules apply.  Personally, in those mediums, I actually prefer when the 'rules' are bent or broken. 
In a game, I want my character to be interacting, to be involved and influence what goes on and to directly engage with the npcs(especially the npcs that are romance possibilities).
I don't want to feel like I'm a passenger on the drama train as it travels through the plot and reaches its anticlimatic destination.
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Walk backwards.
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