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Overused Ideas in BG-series


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#1 -Ashara-

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 08:39 AM

It's subjective and intended as food for thoughts, not critisism; please feel free to add:

Original:

- Character with incredibly convoluted and tragic past
- Character w/o any family left

Modded:

- Character with unusual eye colour (violet, green)
- Character with exceptional "stat" or using the highest possible stat for his/her race
- Character who wittily wins over certain NPCs (Anomen *cough*) in every banter
- Character who refuses to speak of his/her past
- Character background/upbringing is unique (demi-vampires, quarter-demons, accidental out-of-worldly creatures, kind-hearted drow etc)

In Fantasy Fiction:

- Wolf companion/communication with wolves
- Drow

#2 Ismail

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 08:56 AM

Modded - characters that are fun to play with one time, or less.
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#3 SConrad

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 08:58 AM

It's subjective and intended as food for thoughts, not critisism; please feel free to add:

Original:

- Character with incredibly convoluted and tragic past
- Character w/o any family left

Modded:

- Character with unusual eye colour (violet, green)
- Character with exceptional "stat" or using the highest possible stat for his/her race
- Character who wittily wins over certain NPCs (Anomen *cough*) in every banter
- Character who refuses to speak of his/her past

Should I take this as criticism? Which is okay, in that case. As long as it is critique in a nice manner, I have no problem with it. On the contrary, critique can be very good for learning to do things better. (That whole block sounds wrong, I know, but I'm too tired to change it...).

Just want to know, since you had some opinions on Khadion.

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#4 -Ashara-

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 09:19 AM

The way I see it, if it is important and heart-felt to a person's concept, s/he can disregard that many others do something similar. But if it is something the author did not decide squarely on, s/he might consider ajusting it and doing it differently from both BioWARE and other mods. Actually the whole list was targeted to my own early idea who was violet-eyed human, had INT of 19, was orphaned and accused of killing her first husband and her past was colourful and mysterious. :)

#5 SConrad

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 09:23 AM

The way I see it, if it is important and heart-felt to a person's concept, s/he can disregard that many others do something similar.

Well said.

But if it is something the author did not decide squarely on, s/he might consider ajusting it and doing it differently from both BioWARE and other mods.

That I will (as well as repeating some what others have done). I believe that a NPC-mod that doesn't bring anything new into the game, isn't worth playing. In that case, the original NPC's are better options.

Actually the whole list was targeted to my own early idea who was violet-eyed human, had INT of 19, was orphaned and accused of killing her first husband and her past was colourful and mysterious.  :)

Oh, I see. :)

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#6 Meira

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 09:35 AM

:lol: I got 3 out of 6. I might be able to squish that down to 2 though. :D

I might add to your list:

-a character of unsual race/heritage/upbringing

But then I would be digging a hole for myself. :P
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#7 -Ashara-

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 09:43 AM

I cannot believe I forgot that one :lol: But yes, the effect is odd - one attempts to do something entirely different and in fact ending up with "fits the mainstream" char...

#8 -Notmrt-

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 10:20 AM

Anomen bashing is realy overused i find or replacing the char

#9 SimDing0

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 10:21 AM

Original:

- Character with incredibly convoluted and tragic past
- Character w/o any family left

- The "nemesis" who keeps returning to fight the PC again and again.
Repeating cycle of pubes / no pubes.

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#10 Ismail

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 10:28 AM

-a character of unsual race/heritage/upbringing

Give me a kobold/goblin NPC, I'll bite anytime :)
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#11 SConrad

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 10:45 AM

one attempts to do something entirely different and in fact ending up with "fits the mainstream" char...

Actually, that's true. But the "Character background/upbringing is unique (demi-vampires, quarter-demons, accidental out-of-worldly creatures, kind-hearted drow etc)" is a very wide topic, and a lot of things fit in under it, if you get my drift.

Hopefully, you won't be able to place Khadion under that as well.

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#12 BobTokyo

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 10:51 AM

It's tough not to be trite with genre fiction. Still, my own list:

1) Hot, Sexy characters, male or female. If you want to create a straight, gay or bisexual character fine, if you want a romance-able character, cool, but there should be more to the character than the contents of his/her robes and his/her plans for them.

2) Misunderstood Villains/Heroes. Yes, it's a staple of the genre. Yes, it's part of everyone's experience to feel teribly misunderstood, generally from the ages of 10 to 40. It's trite, and it's dull. Why not try a well adjusted adult NPC as a change?

3) Alignments that in no way relate to character behavoir. Reliable, trustworthy NPCs who are Chaotic or Evil, unreliable basket cases who are Lawful, saints who are Neutral, treacherous idiots who are Good. Bioware is just as guilty of this as NPC makers.

4) NPCs who are the real stars of the story. Unfortunately an easy trap to fall into, as every tabletop DM knows. This is CHARNAMES story; an NPC should not be stealing his/her thunder more than once or twice in the game, and certainly should not dominate every single encounter.

5) Uber-powerful rules breaking NPCs. When NPCs are vastly more powerful than CHARNAME, you quickly get to the point of wondering why the heck anyone is interested in him/her.

For non-NPC mods:
1) Uber-Spells and Uber-Items. The easiest trap to fall into, and one I'm guilty of myself. Items do not have to be more vastly powerful to be interesting and worth using, and uber items just make the game even less balanced.

2) Cheating Uber-Monsters. Bioware is guilty of this in TOB, as are many mod makers. These come out of saying "how can I make the encounter a tactical challenge" without also saying "does this make sense in the context of the game world". It is possible to do both, it just takes more work. The related issue is Cheese to Fight Cheese. Yes, players will exploit weaknesses in the AI. Finding ways to stop that by making monsters smarter is Good. Finding ways to stop this by giving infinite copies of spell X to every opponent is Dumb.

3) Assuming reloads. Saying "It's not so hard, just fight the battle 10 or 20 times and you'll figure out the trick" is crap role-playing. It only works if you view BG entirely as a tactical combat game. A smart, cautious player should be able to get through a battle without having to look for the one cheesy tactic that the designer didn't think of.

Soap box ends.

Edited by BobTokyo, 05 July 2004 - 11:32 AM.


#13 SConrad

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 10:59 AM

As usually, Bob's reply makes a lot of sense.

Felt a sting going through my body when reading:

4) NPCs who are the real stars of the story. Unfortunately an easy trap to fall into, as every tabletop DM knows. This is CHARNAMES story; and NPC should not be stealing his/her thunder more than once or twice in the game, and certainly should not dominate every single encounter.


Time to revise and replan, I think. Have to go with another idea.

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#14 -Ashara-

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 11:21 AM

is a very wide topic, and a lot of things fit in under it, if you get my drift.

I'd disagree - I think "background is unique" is a very narrow and well defined thing which people easily recognize. If they speak rudely about it they'd call it a "freak", and if they are polite they will say "overly peculiar". It equally applies to Melirinda who is half-vampire and half-cat-race unknown anywhere on Faerun, Deribil who is a son of a Demon King whom an enslaved wizard transported to the Matreial Plane since he saw goodness in him :) I'd say the BG already carries one such extreme character independently of the NPC cast - Charname of Candlekeep. Giving him more companions like that makes the game (to me) turn into a circus show (do not cry, Aerie :) ) Bob put down the same sentiment as well.

Bob, I hear you about assuming multiple reloads, though I simply do not play the mods that do that to you after trying Solaufein once upon a time.

#15 BobTokyo

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 11:24 AM

Felt a sting going through my body when reading:

4) NPCs who are the real stars of the story. Unfortunately an easy trap to fall into, as every tabletop DM knows. This is CHARNAMES story; and NPC should not be stealing his/her thunder more than once or twice in the game, and certainly should not dominate every single encounter.


Time to revise and replan, I think. Have to go with another idea.

Well, every DM has at least once put his/her character into a party and let that character become the focus of the game. A strong subplot for an NPC is a good thing (Jaheira's Harper quests). An NPC with a few enemies that are his/hers can offer great moments (Mazzy and the Shade Lord, Valygar and Lavok). The problem comes when too many dialogs become a chance for the Villains to tell the NPC their evil plans, gloat at the NPC, tell the NPC how interesting he/she is, etc. The trick is finding the balance.

Personally, I think two or three NPC-centric Quests and/or encounters and one or two new villains (plus their lieutenants) focussed on the NPC is the best way to go, but that is of course entirely subjective.

#16 NiGHTMARE

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 11:25 AM

Nice list :). I'll check Kivan and my two future NPCs (these being a paladin of Milil named Jaina, and a half-elven fighter/mage called Tahlemar) against this list...

- Character with incredibly convoluted and tragic past

Kivan obviously has an extremely tragic past, but of course I can't control that ;). Jaina had a perfectly normal upbringing, the only "tragic" thing that happened to her was getting her heart broken by a travelling bard. Tahlemar has the semi-tragic and rather clichéd "arch enemy who was once his best friend but betrayed him" thing going on, but I haven't actually seen this particular cliché used within the BG series before...


- Character w/o any family left

I've introduced a cousin for Deheriana, but neither me nor Bioware have even mentioned whether Kivan has any immediate family left. I guess a banter or two talking about such a thing might be a good idea :). Jaina has two brothers who're very much alive, I haven't decided whether her parents are still around or not, but they probably will be. Being a 41 year old half-elf, Tahlemar has outlived his human father, but his elven mother is still around.


- Character with unusual eye colour (violet, green),

I'm sure you're more than familiar with the colour of Kivan's eyes :D. Jaina has blue eyes, and come to think of it Tahlemar does have rather green eyes...


- Character with exceptional "stat" or using the highest possible stat for his/her race

Kivan has max strength, Jaina has max charisma, Tahlemar doesn't have max anything (though strength and intelligence are close)


- Character who wittily wins over certain NPCs (Anomen *cough*) in every banter

Only the stupid ones :P. There are plenty of times the Bioware characters win over my NPCs (even Anomen and Cernd!)


- Character who refuses to speak of his/her past

Kivan's reluctant, but he doesn't outright refuse. Jaina has a certain incident she doesn't wish to discuss, but she's very open about everything else. Tahlemar has sworn an oath of secrecy regarding certain things (he's spent the past couple of decades in a very strange secretive society), but he's talkative about his life outside this group.


- Character background/upbringing is unique (demi-vampires, quarter-demons, accidental out-of-worldly creatures, kind-hearted drow etc)

Kivan and Jaina are both relatively normal; Jaina did grow up in a community of devout followers of Milil, but in the Realms such temple communities are fairly common. As mentioned above, Tahlemar is a member of a unique society (one of my own invention)... oh and he also happens to be a weretiger :lol:.

So the scores:

Kivan - 2
Jaina - 1
Tahlemar - 2

Edited by NiGHTMARE, 05 July 2004 - 12:09 PM.


#17 BobTokyo

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 11:30 AM

Bob, I hear you about assuming multiple reloads, though I simply do not play the mods that do that to you after trying Solaufein once upon a time.

I can see that, and at least until the next wave of mods come out I'm only playing BG1-TuTu (and not much of that between work and my thesis). On the other hand, there are things worth seeing from an RPG point of view in some tactics heavy mods (BP and CtB have some great RPG content) . It's always a question of trade-offs.

#18 -Ashara-

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 11:45 AM

Bob, I hear you about assuming multiple reloads, though I simply do not play the mods that do that to you after trying Solaufein once upon a time.

I can see that, and at least until the next wave of mods come out I'm only playing BG1-TuTu (and not much of that between work and my thesis). On the other hand, there are things worth seeing from an RPG point of view in some tactics heavy mods (BP and CtB have some great RPG content) . It's always a question of trade-offs.

I cannot handle the stress of reloads; heck I play IWD2 on the next to easiest setting, I am such a whussy.

I'm sure you're more than familiar with the colour of Kivan's eyes

Black :wub:

I think, despite his 18/21 Kivan is actually soft stats wise because when you create an elf, your finger is there on that DEX button trying to keep pressing till it stuck on 19 and in your hearts of hearts you know that *your* elf deserves minimum 21 to be the elviest elf of all elves :lol:

#19 -Notmrt-

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 12:21 PM

Sometimes you find that by trying to do everything wrong it ends up quite right ;)
i mean trying to get something so bad that its good is quite a skill and this often turns a char into one of the best . ofcourse it can also go very wrong hehe
same can be said for trying to avoid all these foibles hehe trying to avoid every mistake can lead to disastor "Im so unique" syndrome ;) you know the type
origional for origionals sake , as most mistakes people make are in being generic or somewhat pizza part #3(cheese)

#20 -Ashara-

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 01:04 PM

There is no right or wrong in a creative process, but do not we always dream of a quick touch-up that turns a run-of-the-mill into something special? Sometimes that special touch-up can be in "undressing". For me a good example will be Fitz in Farseer series. It's not until this Skilled, Witted, Bezerker Fighter, with Wolf Companion, Assassin's Apprentice, loved by two Girls and a boy, Catalyst and Bastard Son of a Prince lost at least his exceptionally good looks, that I strted liking the guy. :lol:

I also remeber the old ill-famed call for Maiden of Pain FR put out last year and the huge list of "do not" themes and heros; I felt divided about it - on one hand, I doubted that it will authomatically makes a book good/original excluding the garden variety motives, on another I think I can understand the desire to not have to go through a pile of "done to death"