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Contemptuous Allies

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Halae
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Contemptuous Allies

So, something I've always taken some issue with in storytelling in games versus novels or films is that unless it's a very, very lengthy story-driven game, is that there's almost never someone contemptuous of your character despite being a nominal ally. Some examples of this that I'm talking about are characters like Carmichael from the Dresden Files - he views the main character as a charlatan (it's a masquerade setting, so the fantasy elements of the urban fantasy aren't believed in by the public at large) and regards Harry with contempt, telling Karrin Murphy, Harry's friend on the force, to cut him loose constantly.

How about a teacher that doesn't want a specific student to succeed for personal reasons? It happens in real life now and then, but in a superheroes universe, it could come out as something a bit more fantastical. For instance, a natural talent, Batman style character that doesn't like that he has to play mentor to someone with inborn powers, and makes his displeasure known? A superpowered elitist who openly despises people that are otherwise normal, but draw their powers from tech and magic, since it's not "real" powers like the guy who can turn himself into a lightning bolt because of a quirk of his genetics. A police officer that you're forced to work with because he's been assigned to the same case as you, but even though he won't come out and say it, he's very much not a fan of costumed heroes and villains patrolling the streets and sees this as his chance to prove himself better than you.

The thing, of course, is that not everybody is going to like these sorts of characters, but that's alright, as they don't have to. At the same time, the inclusion of these sorts of characters feels right, because it immediately causes some internal conflict you as a player can work with. That's interesting - it's the good sort of drama in which a story can thrive, particularly underdog stories; it can be the difference between a bland "go here, do this" thing and something interesting, with strong character interactions and clashes of personality, which often are half the reason we like superheroes at all. Threats shouldn't always necessarily come from outside; sometimes, internal struggles can be just as engaging, as long as it's not overused.

An infinite number of tries doesn't mean that any one of those tries will succeed. I could flip an infinite number of pennies an infinite number of times and, barring genuine randomness, they will never come up "Waffles".

Kiyori Anoyui
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Supposedly this is going to

Supposedly this is going to be the exact situation in Incredibles 2. Where Frozone is tired of Mr. Incredible getting all the glory. I don't particularly know if I will like that type of story line for these characters, but I will go in with an open mind. Brad Bird has never disappointed me before.

I do think though with the Consequences that will be available in this game that this type of story telling will fit in really well. Because your relationship can turn out really well for you or very badly. In some cases those contemptuous allies become your closest friend, and other times they become your nemesis. It's all about what happens in between.

So say you and your contemptuous ally in the force catch a serial killer and put him away for life. In your mind you know that you did most of the work, but you know that if you take credit for this it will send your ally over the edge. What do you do A) Take the credit saying you had the lead on the case B) Give your Ally all the credit C) Say it was a Joint Effort between you and your Ally D) Say it was a product of the entire force and every person involved in the case played a major role in the capture of this criminal.

There's always an answer that can lead to good, bad, and ugly things. Perhaps you answer C, you would think this is a safe answer, right? What if your ally felt like they deserved all the credit because they felt like they did all the work. D would be the safest answer, right? What if they took that answer as you belittling the part they played in the capture and they feel they deserve more recognition?

This type of storytelling should definitely be included in this game, because it makes you really think about the choices and how they will affect other people.

The Carnival of Light in the Phoenix Rising
"We never lose our demons, we only learn to live above them." - The Ancient One

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Project_Hero
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I do this kind of thing in my

I do this kind of thing in my RP quite a bit, I make characters who are hard to get along with. They're antagonistic or obnoxious. Not that it's a bad thing in this instance. They add a bit of variety I feel to the group's they're a part of. And it's very interesting to me to see how others react to them.

As for NPCs. It's probably just difficult from a writing standpoint to make characters like this work. Though I feel super hero stories does this more than most. Superhero supervillain team up, antihero hero team ups, vigilante police team up. Even heroes with different methods teaming up: Superman and Batman sometimes deals with this sort of thing.

Though in a game it might be hard to make such a thing really work outside of Superhero villain team ups, or alignment based mismatching. For it to really work both parties need to really be a character in their own right and that can be hard to pull off without making the NPC just seem like a downer or that he dislikes your character for no real reason. Depending on a novels perspective you can really get inside the heads of both characters and understand why they feel that way. In a game you have one point of view and an NPC either needs to spell out for you what his problem is, or you just expect the player to pick it up from dialogue or maybe from some clickable that tell you about them.

Just my two cent ramble on the subject.

Huckleberry
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I like characters who change

I like characters who change over time, and that can be a nice plot device as well. For instance, take your contemptuous character who dislikes your character in the first episode, but who comes to respect your character by the last. Severus Snape is a popular example of such a character.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
Project_Hero
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Tsundere characters.

Tsundere characters.

Redlynne
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I imagine that it's somewhat

I imagine that it's somewhat challenging in a superhero MMORPG context to do this, simply because at a certain level the PC is something of a blank slate in relation to the NPC. By that I mean that the PC could be anything from a child prodigy to an Olde God to a geek on a mission. The simple RANGE of possible backgrounds and origins and motivations make a lot of the assumptions behind these kinds of things non-operative.

Let's take a simple example ... an NPC who can't respect anyone where a cape and spandex. The NPC simply can't take anyone dressed up like that seriously. Okay ... so what if the PC is NOT dressed in a cape and spandex? Do they treat the PC seriously then? How does the game determine of the PC's costume meets the threshold for disrespect from the NPC?

Needless to say, all of the questions are far more easily answered and dealt with by a human game master while sitting at a table with friends than they are by a computer handling over 100,000 PCs who could be wearing anything (and everything, eventually).

How do you deal with an NPC who has Robophobia? Do they react differently to PCs who have "robot" costume parts? How do you "key" the game into determining that? And so on and so forth.

All of these things are a lot easier to handle when you've either got a predefined/prewritten story that you're telling ... such as in a book, or a play, or a movie, or whatever ... in which the script writer has complete control over all the elements involved, and they can thus control the reactions very precisely on both sides of the equation. It's something very different to do in an MMORPG context in which the PC can be almost ANYTHING, including a whole lot of things that ought not trigger the NPC's dislike.

Which is a long way of saying that in a game like City of Titans, pretty much the only "reliable" points of opposition that can bring about contempt for a PC from an NPC are going to be ACTIONS that the PC has done in the past, and/or motivations for doing what they're doing. And you can only get that sort of thing by paying attention to the continuity of what they PC has done previously, and/or paying attention to the PC's alignment axes (law, peace, honor). That then leads into "I don't trust you, $Character" directions based on what the PC has done or is going to have to do, but it all needs to happen within a context.

But then, what do I know about these sorts of things, eh?


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Kiyori Anoyui
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Just watched an episode of

Just watched an episode of Pan Am where the Co-Pilot was upset that the Captain skipped rank to get that spot. The captain happened to be in the right spot at the right time.

Does it matter if the captain is half robot or whatever the case is? There are plenty more scenarios that can create a contemptuous ally than just looks.

To apply this to a super hero storyline, you get paired up with a sidekick(a forever a sidekick kind of situation) who works with you but isn't happy that they're just the sidekick and want to be more than that. This is just one scenario of course.

Like you said though Red, alot of it is in the context. So the contempt can be created and resolved in a story Arc. A lot can happen when you allow a continuous story.

The Carnival of Light in the Phoenix Rising
"We never lose our demons, we only learn to live above them." - The Ancient One

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notears
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I expect this to happen a lot

I expect this to happen a lot when your a villain

TitansCity
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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:

How do you deal with an NPC who has Robophobia? Do they react differently to PCs who have "robot" costume parts? How do you "key" the game into determining that? And so on and so forth.

This can only happens on a tip or a short story... since you can change your costume often, imagine you decide to not have robot part anymore but you've already take the mission... "hey you F***king robot !"... "what ? which robot ? there is no robot here..." you know what i mean... base it on the costume part is not, to my opinion, a right way to handle this kind of thing ^^
Moreover, in a Saga, this is worst if you begin as a cyborg and decide after to become a robot or a human being...

That kind of stuff is, i think, really hard to handle on some parts.

Redlynne
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Right, but the thing is, in

Right, but the thing is, in order to even have any of that in the first place, there has to be some sort of continuity. Otherwise you wind up with veteran distrust of newbie as the only default option for motivation driving the condescension being offered. Context is key ... and continuity is pretty much the only place where you're going to find ENOUGH of that context in order to have any of it make sense or feel reasonable. Otherwise, you wind up putting the PC into constant "prove it, n00b!" situations in which the Player feels like NONE of their past history counts for anything, since their PC is always being treated like the interloping newcomer by everyone.


Verbogeny is one of many pleasurettes afforded a creatific thinkerizer.
Halae
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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:

Right, but the thing is, in order to even have any of that in the first place, there has to be some sort of continuity. Otherwise you wind up with veteran distrust of newbie as the only default option for motivation driving the condescension being offered. Context is key ... and continuity is pretty much the only place where you're going to find ENOUGH of that context in order to have any of it make sense or feel reasonable. Otherwise, you wind up putting the PC into constant "prove it, n00b!" situations in which the Player feels like NONE of their past history counts for anything, since their PC is always being treated like the interloping newcomer by everyone.

there is another option there - if you've managed to do a lot of stuff, someone can regard you with contempt because they expect you to be one of those people that props themselves up on their laurels - glory hounds and jerks, and barely be willing to let you speak because they don't want to hear what they think is likely to come out of your mouth.

Then there's also the people that are jealous of your accomplishments. Someone of comparable power but was at the wrong place to stop an invasion? They'll think you got lucky, or stole it from them.

there's a lot of options here.

An infinite number of tries doesn't mean that any one of those tries will succeed. I could flip an infinite number of pennies an infinite number of times and, barring genuine randomness, they will never come up "Waffles".

Huckleberry
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Contempt as a plot device can

Contempt as a plot device can be cause by any number of things.

Here is a list I am going to make as I think about it, just to prove the point:

  • Doesn't need or want any help at all
  • Doesn't need or want help from outside the organization
  • Previous partner was killed, has trouble trusting anyone else
  • Wants all the glory him or herself, and doesn't want to share
  • Thinks crime fighting should be the realm of the Police and actual public servants who are held accountable for their actions
  • Has a personal vendetta no one else can understand or get in the way of
  • is insane and thinks the player's character is someone he/she/it is not
  • Is an elevated life form who disdains all others

This list just took me less than five minutes to type up, and not one of them depends upon the player's origin story or aesthetics.


Edit: Just sat down again and realized we haven't even touched on the alignment system. So rather than double-post, I'm adding to this post.

You could have to work with an NPC who beleives there is a non-violent solution to every problem. If only we could all get along. Either the NPC maintains the contempt for a character above a violence alignment threshold number, or the NPC comes around to see that sometimes violence is necessary, or the character moves its own violence alignment score to within acceptable levels of the NPC to remove the contempt.

And you could do the same will all six alignment axes.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
Project_Hero
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It could be neat to have "NPC

It could be neat to have "NPC distrusts character unless character has done x mission" or something. So if you did a mission and saved a bunch of the boys in blue later a detective who's usually hard on super hero types isn't so hard on the player cause they stepped in and saved some of their friends/co-workers.

Halae
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Project_Hero wrote:
Project_Hero wrote:

It could be neat to have "NPC distrusts character unless character has done x mission" or something. So if you did a mission and saved a bunch of the boys in blue later a detective who's usually hard on super hero types isn't so hard on the player cause they stepped in and saved some of their friends/co-workers.

That's an easy enough check to make - attach it to an achievement or badge, and the dialogue options check whether you have it or not.

An infinite number of tries doesn't mean that any one of those tries will succeed. I could flip an infinite number of pennies an infinite number of times and, barring genuine randomness, they will never come up "Waffles".