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Default BioWare - Patrick Weekes on Romances

November 10th, 2008, 06:32
Yes, yes. But where are the tentacles I was promised?


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And with strange aeons even death may die.
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November 10th, 2008, 11:46
Mass Effect has tentacles
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November 10th, 2008, 12:02
Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
I disagree; I think no romance is much better than the cheesy, immature romances that Bioware's been putting out.
Two points :

- how do you - as a writer for such a game - write "un-cheesy", and rather "mature" romances ? How do you develop that in words ?

- how do you do that without going into the directions of "not appropriate towards teens" and even worse bad taste ? Because the problem is

a) Tennager are players of such games, whether you want it or not

b) "Taste" in something is an highly individual thing, and considered quite differently (just think of Monty Python). Which will result in some people really disliking the way some romances are writter/"performed", and others not.

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November 10th, 2008, 12:03
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
While of course each game is differenet, I think Western RPGs are distinct from JRPGs because in most JRPGs there's an ensemble cast, and you're not necessarily stepping into the role of one in particular. In Western RPGs, it tends to be all about YOU, or the fantasy version thereof.
Most definitively; there *are* several cultural differences in that.

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November 10th, 2008, 13:31
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Two points :

- how do you - as a writer for such a game - write "un-cheesy", and rather "mature" romances ? How do you develop that in words ?

- how do you do that without going into the directions of "not appropriate towards teens" and even worse bad taste ? Because the problem is

a) Tennager are players of such games, whether you want it or not

b) "Taste" in something is an highly individual thing, and considered quite differently (just think of Monty Python). Which will result in some people really disliking the way some romances are writter/"performed", and others not.
That's a silly question. You might as well ask "How do you make a good game?" A lot of things are subjective, but there are such a thing as standards in storytelling, writing, and so forth. If you're going to go "but it's an indeeveeduaaal thiiiing" at everything, why then, we should all praise every game, every book, every movie and criticize nothing ever. Daikatana was probably a masterpiece to somebody, just as The Da Vinci Code and assorted terrible fiction must be. Relativism becomes pretty ridiculous after a certain point.

But to answer: to begin with, you're mistaking "mature" for "sexually explicit." Mass Effect has sex scenes, but do I think those make the game—or the romance—mature? No, quite the opposite, if anything. Most Bioware romantic interests, quite simply, act like teenagers. Emotionally needy, codependent teenagers even if they are thirty-seven-year-old veteran pilot with a son in his teens, or a druid who's probably over a century old and has already gone through one husband. The moment the romance begins, they lose all control of their composure, spew their tragedies at the drop of a hat, and bawl for attention. They can barely decide what to have for breakfast without asking the PC; they can hardly tie their shoes without the PC's assistance. In short, they're stupid, clingy, and whiny. It's some bizarre way of massaging the player's ego. Look, here's this supposedly distinguished war veteran or a Jedi with special powers, and isn't it nice to see how they are all over your avatar? Every scrap of attention you throw their way flusters them and makes them beg for more as if they were all of thirteen. Liara throwing herself at Shepard constantly, for instance, and acting in general emotionally stunted. She may be a century old or nearly, but she has the mentality of a prepubescent girl.

In real life, this would make for an unbearable and very unhealthy relationship. Well-adjusted adults simply don't act like that, or at least shouldn't. That's what makes these romances immature: they give you teenage-level angst and behavior, and want to pass it off as unbreakable twuuu wurrve that's just oh-so-wonderful. It's nice for stupid, impressionable teenagers, but are you saying that everything should be dumbed down to the level of unintelligent teenagers (and I'll qualify that there're plenty of mature, smart teenagers: but they aren't the ones these virtual love affairs seem to pander to) because they're part of the player base?

Planescape: Torment and NWN2: MotB handled romances pretty well, the latter more than the former. It's not even a little sexually explicit, it doesn't force the player into sickening sweet-talk, and the characters lose neither their brains nor their maturity. Compare Fall-from-Grace to Bastila or Liara. Even the Witcher does it all right, discounting the sex cards. Shani and Triss retain their personal goals, personal wants, without centering them around Geralt (Triss, if anything, uses him to further the Lodge of the Sorceresses' political ambition).
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November 10th, 2008, 13:32
I agree with "good romances, or no romances". Examples:
Good romance: Viconia
Bad romance: Elanee
Difference: There's a lot of "back and forth" with Viconia. A good romance is not a one way street - there has to be flirting, discussions, maybe even arguments.

When it's well done, it certainly has a place in heroic tales.
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November 10th, 2008, 16:20
I hate romances in games.

Seriously, i have enough kissing women's asses in real life as it is!
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November 10th, 2008, 16:28
Hey! I'm emotionally needy and codependent and have not been a teenager for years, you insensitive clod! Anyway, I never really play these romances. You don't need to do them and they're not especially in the way. I tried it in Mass Effect, though, and thought it was hilariously funny to watch these characters act like school girls. I think you may be taking these things too seriously.
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November 10th, 2008, 16:40
Taking things seriously would be making a Bishop's romance mod or writing fanfiction about Shepard and Liara making sweet love to each other. But you're getting boring and repetitive now, Thaurin.
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November 10th, 2008, 16:51
I think you may be taking these things too seriously.

Furthermore, I deeply apologize for not meeting your high quality standards. I will try my best to do better in the future.
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November 10th, 2008, 16:59
I'm in the no romances rather than crappy romances camp. I dont think the silly bioware romances stem from any hangups on their part though. The culprit is the rather teenagerish family movie atmosphere of many of their games (an atmosphere that makes it hard for me to replay Kotor1). It goes hand in hand with the portrayal of the evil path in the games (usually is so cringeworthy that it is hard to play with a straight face) and having an annoying teenage girl sidekick.

Of the RPGs I've played (which sadly doesnt include MotB or Torment) The witcher and Kotor2 (what little there is) have decent romances, BG2 is a mixed bag (Viconia is fine, dont like the others), and Kotor is just sheer rubbish.
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November 10th, 2008, 17:30
I also place myself in the camp of those who could do without in-game romances. Unless they have a material (and reasonable) impact on the unfolding story, leave them out. It seems they are required ingredients these days…why? I remembering having very evil thoughts about throttling Aerie…gnnnn! the irritation. Yes, you can ignore them, but often you get silly bits of dialogue popping up which encourage you to say something (or you mistakenly say the wrong thing…). I remember quite enjoying dialogue with Falls-from-Grace. The only reason Bioware seems to include such things is so that at the final Great Betrayal your new gf/bf is on yoru side at least ;-) "Et tu Aerie?" "Because you were mean and wouldn't love me like an elf-maid should be loved (it was the wings, right? right???)! Now I'm getting you back by siding with the Dark Lord! So there".
Yeah right.
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November 10th, 2008, 17:43
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
No no no no no no no no thanks.

The more I think about CRPG concepts, 1) the more I waste my life, but 2) the more I realize that there's a lot of utterly fundamental underpinnings (*cough* like defining CRPG even *achoo*) which have gone more or less unexamined. And yet companies spend milllions making games, basing their designs on guesses about or even ignorance of these concepts.

Here's one: in order for immersion to rock me as a player, my goals and my character's goals have to overlap. Look, I'll save a planet that you've failed to make me give a rat's ass about, you know just to complete the game, but I certainly won't feel like you've made a great game and I certainly won't get any kick from watching an outro movie celebrating all the lives I've just saved. Becaue I don't care about them. To put it another way, if you show my character doing something that's supposed to demonstrate his enormous emotional commitment to something I don't give a rat's ass about, that breaks immersion, and pretty much wastes my time. Because there is no my character, you dev idiots. There's only ME.
I totally disagree with you. When I play RPGs, my character has nothing to do with me personally. I decide who and how my character will be when I create him/her. Just as I'm deciding what stats and skills to assign, I'm also mentally assigning a personality, and then all decisions in the game are based on that. If my character is an evil SOB, then he/she would treat others bad, not care about anybody, exploit whoever needs exploiting, and wouldn't care what other characters think. If I'm playing my character as a good person, then he/she will indeed care about what other NPCs think, who he saved, etc. And yes, this includes romance and partners (i.e. my goodie character would not be with an evil partner even if his/her stats are the best in the game)
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November 10th, 2008, 18:57
I think Ignus is the hottest NPC ever.

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November 10th, 2008, 19:12
I have a story about one of the romances in BG2…

So I am playing a MP game with my daughter who is running the main character. That dreary Cleric guy Anomen is her "romance". We just laughed about it because it was so sappy and he blathered on and on at the most inopportune moments. As soon as his theme music started we'd just sigh. The ultimate happened when we were in some hell place just having dispatched a bunch of demons and suddenly one of his dialogs kicks in about finding some flowers on the ground nearby and how beautiful everything was. "Anomen's flowers" will still sart us both laughing if one of us mentions it.
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November 10th, 2008, 19:53
Wow, two pages — such a hot topic . Someone shall send it all to Bioware!

I agree romances shall be totally optional, no forced dialogue if you don't like the way they were done and "opted out". Still, who would say no to a good (whatever it is) in-game romance? So for romances to get better I think they shall be in the games in the first place and the devs shall listen to the players' feedback and work to improve there.
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November 10th, 2008, 23:12
Maybe I can not speak for everyone here, but for me, love is about as strong an emotion as it can get. It is therefore a powerful storytelling device and for that reason alone should not be exempted from computer games.

The problem I see is that many game romances remain trivial and predictable, which is neither emotionally involving nor interesting. Just shower your romantic interest with compliments and insult whatever alternate love interest is in the game and the path is cleared.

I suppose the Witcher handled itself better than most games in this regard, and there is hope that the genre is indeed evolving.

To all the sceptics: just wait and see; in twenty years, you might spend sleepless nights over someone betraying you in a computer game
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November 11th, 2008, 01:19
I totally disagree with you. When I play RPGs, my character has nothing to do with me personally. I decide who and how my character will be when I create him/her.
Hey, you do your thing, dawwwwg. But just because you add in a "meta-" layer doesn't change the fact that shallow, artificial romances break immersion by offering your character a chance to spew drivel which means nothing to you (or to him, in your case). If YOU personally care enough about your character to imbue him with his own separate personality that has nothing to do with your own, then shouldn't it be all the more annoying to you to read a bunch of generic and flowery dialogue that doesn't at all fit with the personality you've so carefully constructed?

Or do you cleverly make your characters cliched archetypes who spout formulaic BS? That would actually completely defeat my argument right there. Take that, me!
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November 11th, 2008, 01:55
Originally Posted by coyote View Post
It is therefore a powerful storytelling device and for that reason alone should not be exempted from computer games.
My first year studying Theater Arts, I remember an instructor smiling while informing the class that there were only twelve stories ever told (I think it was twelve, anyway): "Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl…." He rattled them all off with ease to our amazement.

It was the late '70s in California, so he was probably high on cocaine. But he had a point. There's a lot of that boy finding and then losing girl thing that goes on in storytelling.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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November 11th, 2008, 02:06
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
…..break immersion by offering your character a chance to spew drivel which means nothing to you (or to him, in your case).
But thats no different from the rest of the dialogue in the game, there's rarely more than three or four conversation choices at a time and most of those are pretty mundane - most game writing is cliched drivel its not unique to the romances.
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