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January 9th, 2007, 21:03
Sawyer's post really irked me, and I've been thinking about why. Some of it relates to what I do as a designer, and some of it relates to what I do as a player. It's all subjective, and milieage is going to vary for everyone, but:

I don't hate love in game stories; I just hate reducing love to shallow, masturbatory fantasy indulgence.
This is like Jessica Alba saying that she wouldn't strip in Sin City because she didn't want to be seen as just a sex object. Jessica, you are just a sex object. That's all you have going for you. Sawyer, you do write masturbatory fantasy indulgence.

When I come home from a long day at work, make dinner, clean up after dinner, and help put my little dude to bed, I've got about half an hour to do something on my own time before it's time for me to do evening chores and head for bed. I'm not looking for a sword-holding simulation complete with gangrenous leg wounds and a terrifying fear of combat. I'm looking to be the hero who whacks bad guys. I'm looking for comfort in the realm of the heroic. Yes, it's an indulgence, because I spent $60 Canadian to indulge myself. It's only a shallow indulgence if it's badly written.

Maybe that's all love is to some people, but I think that's a pretty narrow view. Ego-stroking is very popular in CRPGs, which is one reason I don't feel comfortable doing CRPG writing anymore.
And anyone who feels differently from Sawyer is therefore a narrow-minded masturbatory writer.

I appreciate that people wanted more romance options in NWN2, but sometimes I think that people want there to be romance "victory" conditions for all companions. I think that can diminish some characters.
Imagine that coming out of the mouth of your DM. Every time I've heard the DM scold the players for wanting to "win", every time, it ends up being one of two things:

1) The players want a simple victory, and the DM wants to give more shades of gray and moral ambiguity, which ends up being a case of the players and the DM wanting two different things.
2) The DM is railroading the players.

If it's (2), you're taking choice away from the players in the hopes of telling a good story. That's either a sign of clumsiness or an indication that you're working in the wrong genre.

If it's (1), well, different people want different things. In a tabletop game with buddies, that's all well and good, and either the game changes or the group breaks up. In a product that everyone paid $60 Canadian to buy, "You are a stupid immature person for wanting that" is a line of argument you want to use carefully. Don't get me wrong -- there are gonna be people who want stuff in Mass Effect that isn't gonna be there. There are people saying that Dragon Age will be pointless and stupid unless they can choose to be left-handed as part of their character concept. And yeah, there's a point at which the designers have to delicately tell the customer, "Uh, no, this is what you're getting. You want to complain about it, fine. You want to never buy another one of our products because you couldn't be left-handed? Fine. We will struggle to survive without your sinister presence."

But I'm not sure that "I wanted more than one romance per gender" is that point.

It's just disingenuous, this whole line of reasoning:

Anything worth doing is worth doing well, especially when it's something with so much emotional potential. But I certainly don't want to go the route of harem anime, which is total fantasy indulgence and gross pandering.
I don't think anybody was arguing for harem anime, at least not anyone taking part in the serious discussion. But in one cute little rhetorical swoop, wanting to have an actual adult relationship in the game has been equated with wanting a bevy of nubile pixelated nymphs to do your bidding.

As a player, I'm insulted, and it sounds like a designer making excuses by going on the attack.

As a designer, I'm disappointed, because Obsidian is the only other company out there making games like the ones I love, the ones I joined BioWare to make -- and hearing an Obsidian designer slam everybody else is sad.

I'm not slamming Obsidian as a whole -- heck, I'm enjoying the story of NWN2 right now -- but comments like that bum me out and tick me off.
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