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xaduha3
13th May 2015, 22:22
Since Adam Jensen is here to stay I think it's about time we discuss him. I don't think there was a dedicated thread for that on the official HR forums post-release.

If the creators tried to make him a blank slate, then they didn't quite managed that. They just gave him a bland personality.

JC was 23 according to Morpheus, accelerated growth or not, his upbringing alone can explain his aloofness. We also have Paul to compare him to, so that's most certainly 'nurture, not nature'. He's what the player can make him and the theme of JC finding out who he is is clearly visible throughout the game. Paul was a pure stroke of genius, how often do you see siblings in games?
... khm, Baldur's Gate had a whole spawn of them, though only half-siblings
Adam Jensen is 34 and apart from the White Helix Labs sidestory he apparently had a pretty normal upbringing. His motives for doing what he did were known and not that complex. I wouldn't call him particularly clever also. To me it looked like he had some strong opinions that he couldn't come to terms with. I wasn't choosing what my character thinks, I was let to know that Jensen was of two minds.

That's another part of Deus Ex formula, but unlike with Hubs I can't really name another example of a game that got it right, where protagonist isn't mute.

Irate_Iguana
14th May 2015, 11:14
I don't think you can get it right if your protagonist speaks. The only way around it would be to write full dialog for a few personality types and let the player decide what he wants to say. You need to anticipate people mixing and matching and write dialog to cope with that. Which is fine if you're only planning on doing a single game with said protagonist. If you intend to carry the character over to another game it makes the work exponentially more difficult. That's why it doesn't get done.

Adam is here to stay. Modern triple A development is all about recognizable characters. They should just get it over with and give Adam a full personality and give him sentences that are modifications of his basic personality. Making him a blank slate that the player can do with what he wants is too much work for a company that can't be arsed to put in leaning.

xaduha3
14th May 2015, 13:47
I think it can be done with a certain personality, a variation of "Strong, Silent Type". The character may or may not have strong emotions and opinions, but that doesn't mean you're going to learn about them in a hurry.

I think that Deputy Samuel Gerard (http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0003750/quotes) from "The Fugitive" and "U.S. Marshals" is a great example:

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He was perfectly willing to shoot Dr. Richard Kimble rather than let him escape, he wasn't into negotiations, he's a man of action.

'Actions speak louder than words' that what is required. You choose to do something, then you can explain why you did it. Briefly and If asked.

'Social battles' look out of place for such a character. The whole 'Social pillar' isn't what we had in DX.

FrankCSIS
14th May 2015, 23:16
'Actions speak louder than words' that what is required.

Funny you'd say that. We were having a discussion about Mad Max, Road Warrior and the upcoming Fury Road, and one topic which came up was that Gibson was almost omnipresent in Road Warrior (in contrast with Mad Max), but in actuality only had 16 complete lines of dialogue. It got me thinking about how verbal action films have become, and how hollow a lot of the dialogue usually rings. In contrast, Steve McQueen for instance was notoriously known for cutting his dialogue in half, sometimes more, giving most of his lines to the other characters. He wanted to be in nearly every scene, but was not interested in talking all that much.

While the conversation battles were interesting, I think the game would work better if most of the lines came from the supporting cast. It's the oldest trick in the books. You let other characters define your main protagonist(s). Back to Road Warrior, second scene, the Gyro Captain says "It's not self-service. Too hard for me. But a man of your ingenuity...!" And thus Max is introduced.

Or Papagallo who goes
You're happy out there, are you? Eh? Wandering? One day blurring into another? You're a scavenger, Max. You're a maggot. Did you know that? You're living off the corpse of the old world. Tell me your story, Max. C'mon. Tell me your story. What burned you out, huh? Kill one man too many? See too many people die? Lose some family? Oh, so that's it, you lost your family? That makes you something special, does it? Do you think you're the only one that's suffered? We've all been through it in here. But we haven't given up. We're still human beings, with dignity. But you? You're out there with the garbage. You're NOTHING.

Max doesn't get into an argument, or even say anything. Gibson just gives this one looks that says "I know you're right. But man I just want to be left alone"

I think a game which aims at being "interactive" would be genuinely more interesting if resources were spent ensuring NPCs heavily and consistantly reacted to what you did, instead of what you said. Let them define you with words, and stop uttering all the nonsensical inner dialogue. A lot easier to handle, from a design and story-telling perspective as well.

xaduha3
15th May 2015, 01:03
Hear, hear.

Also, I think that the dialogue systems in games should never allow you to say completely opposite things. Your viewpoint must depend on your previous actions. The actual dialogue choices should allow you to phrase things differently, lie or withhold facts, but the main point should be set.

FrankCSIS
15th May 2015, 01:13
I like that. The Tex Murphy series back in the 90s featured several conversation battles where saying the wrong thing would get you killed. While it's a nightmare gameplay-wise and should be left in the past, what I retain from it are interesting scenes, where saying too little or too much would result in different but equally dire consequences. Hiding things from an NSA agent interrogating you was clever, and sometimes not telling everything to your love interest was for the best. Those were often the conversation choices you had.

Once you were down a specific path, some dialogue choices were also entirely removed, because they would clash with what you had previously done.

xaduha3
15th May 2015, 01:55
> While the conversation battles were interesting

I have a problem with them. To me it looks like everything you say is just 'means to an end'. You're manipulating your opponent and you can go about it a couple of different ways. You're not choosing what your character thinks, you're just choosing what to say to get to your goal. That's the most sane way to look at it, but it clashes with the archetype.

Strong, silent type + Silver Tongue = ?

FrankCSIS
15th May 2015, 02:45
I don't dislike the idea, but it's nothing novel. FMV games had them in spades. This is a case of ignoring the past and being condemned to repeat it. A lot of hits and misses have been previously done, and one ought to study them and understand what works and what doesn't. I think the construct is interesting, but I don't think it should focus so much on immediate results of getting one thing done, as you say. It turns a convo into a mini-game, and once you get the hang of how the system works it's easy to win all the battles, and get a predictable outcome. I like the idea of "trying" to get things in one direction or another depending on which choice you opt for, but you should rarely, if ever, get a flat out immediate result, where people just roll over.

They should also abandon the dichotomic idea of convincing or failing to convince, and rather explore multiple choices depending on where you are headed, action-wise. This is hard to put into words, but I think one might get the idea. I think it was in Pandora Directive, where there is a key conversation where you need to decide if you want to convince a character to come with you to a location, or rather convince her to stay at home. There is no win or lose option here, but rather two different approaches to the next location, with 4 different outcomes later down the road depending on what you chose to say.

EternalAmbiguity
15th May 2015, 21:59
Hear, hear.

Also, I think that the dialogue systems in games should never allow you to say completely opposite things. Your viewpoint must depend on your previous actions. The actual dialogue choices should allow you to phrase things differently, lie or withhold facts, but the main point should be set.

Can you give an example of completely contradictory things said? And WHY should that not be possible? Perhaps I'm playing a psychopath who manipulates people and yanks them along purely for my own amusement. Nothing is sacred when roleplaying a character.

> While the conversation battles were interesting

I have a problem with them. To me it looks like everything you say is just 'means to an end'. You're manipulating your opponent and you can go about it a couple of different ways. You're not choosing what your character thinks, you're just choosing what to say to get to your goal. That's the most sane way to look at it, but it clashes with the archetype.

Strong, silent type + Silver Tongue = ?

Interestingly, this is exactly why I don't consider Deus Ex HR or Alpha Protocol RPGs (original DE isn't even worth mentioning). You're not defining a character; you're engaging in combat.

In my opinion, Bioware's done it the best so far: very involved dialog, dialog where you make decisions, but almost never where you "battle" a character to "win" something. They did it a few times (Saren, TIM, couple times in ME2 for squadmates), but by and large dialog is for defining your character, not for convincing the terrorist to back down or the NSA agent to let you in to mess with the computers.

And on your point about voiced protags in general, I don't feel it's IMPOSSIBLE to have one truly be a blank slate, or something close to one, it simply takes a lot, lot, lot more dialog work. I'd say DA Inquisition is the closest we've gotten so far, though it only worked by segregating emotion to a special wheel, and still has the Bioware paraphrasing problem.

xaduha3
15th May 2015, 22:54
Can you give an example of completely contradictory things said?

I don't have an example, I played HR twice and TML once. I don't remember if there were, but that was the impression.


And WHY should that not be possible?

Because it's lazy. As I said you should choose your path by performing actions. As a bonus that allows dialogue choices to be more nuances.


Perhaps I'm playing a psychopath who manipulates people and yanks them along purely for my own amusement. Nothing is sacred when roleplaying a character.

I don't think you really have that option when you're playing as Adam Jensen. That goes too much into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde territory.
Moreover I bet the majority of people don't play it as a psychopath, what fits your scenario doesn't fit theirs.


Interestingly, this is exactly why I don't consider Deus Ex HR or Alpha Protocol RPGs (original DE isn't even worth mentioning).

...

You know what? Maybe you're right and games like DX and AP aren't true RPGs. And maybe I don't want a true Blank Slate character, with ranges from Chaotic Evil psycho to Mother Teresa.

I want a preset, but moldable character with some backstory. Yep, I think that's it. Give Jensen more pronounced personality, set his worldview in stone, but let me control the tone.

EternalAmbiguity
15th May 2015, 23:23
I don't have an example, I played HR twice and TML once. I don't remember if there were, but that was the impression.

Because it's lazy. As I said you should choose your path by performing actions. As a bonus that allows dialogue choices to be more nuances.

I don't think you really have that option when you're playing as Adam Jensen. That goes too much into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde territory.
Moreover I bet the majority of people don't play it as a psychopath, what fits your scenario doesn't fit theirs.

I'm sorry, I thought you were talking RPGs in general here, not DE:HR. I can understand your statement with regard to HR and Adam Jensen definitely, but it's different for "normal" voiceless RPGs.





You know what? Maybe you're right and games like DX and AP aren't true RPGs. And maybe I don't want a true Blank Slate character, with ranges from Chaotic Evil psycho to Mother Teresa.

I want a preset, but moldable character with some backstory. Yep, I think that's it. Give Jensen more pronounced personality, set his worldview in stone, but let me control the tone.

Be warned I have very esoteric views on what an RPG is. The most esoteric I've found, and I used to spend hours talking about it with others, who were less close-minded than myself but were considered very close-minded (with regard to RPGs). I don't consider The Witcher games "true" RPGs, nor the Elder Scrolls games, nor JRPGs. It's best to examine the concept and come up with your own definition (then spend pages and pages arguing it on a forum until the discussion gets locked! :P).

As to your point--that's not a bad idea, and I wouldn't be surprised if they do it. Especially from what we saw of the first trailer. "I must make amends" and all that.

3dot14hole
30th May 2015, 18:38
I like Adam, he has some of the finest sarcasm, lol. I think he's different because he's not like your average Joe. He's a strong personality, you can tell he feels, but he doesn't show it. I don't find him silent, he speaks at an adequate amount. As for him being A,"Blank Slate", there's still plenty of time to expand on his background, not that I'm bothered.

Shralla
31st May 2015, 16:17
I don't want his background expanded. He is SUPPOSED to be a blank slate, a vehicle for the player to interact with the world. At this, and at all other things you mentioned, JC Denton is a better character.

One thing I do like about Adam is that he smokes cigarettes. It's rare that a game company has the balls to have their main character smoke cigarettes in this day and age. First there's the attitude that still says video games are for children, and then the attitude that suggests that video games are a huge cause of behavioral issues among children due to their impressionable nature. Then there's the whole cultural backlash against smoking cigarettes in general. Wrap it all up and pretty much only Japanese companies ever stick smoke in their characters' mouths. I wish it played a bigger part of the story, his interactions with people, etc. Why hasn't he ever started up a conversation by asking for a smoke, when literally everybody else in that world smokes cigarettes as well?

xaduha3
31st May 2015, 18:33
I don't want his background expanded. He is SUPPOSED to be a blank slate, a vehicle for the player to interact with the world. At this, and at all other things you mentioned, JC Denton is a better character.

What worked for JC doesn't work for AJ. One of the reasons - he talks via Infolink, which is bad. We don't even choose the answers, he just says what he wants. You can even replace Adam Jensen with Geralt and it's going to be a better game for it.

3dot14hole
1st Jun 2015, 21:29
One thing I do like about Adam is that he smokes cigarettes. It's rare that a game company has the balls to have their main character smoke cigarettes in this day and age. First there's the attitude that still says video games are for children, and then the attitude that suggests that video games are a huge cause of behavioral issues among children due to their impressionable nature. Then there's the whole cultural backlash against smoking cigarettes in general. Wrap it all up and pretty much only Japanese companies ever stick smoke in their characters' mouths. I wish it played a bigger part of the story, his interactions with people, etc. Why hasn't he ever started up a conversation by asking for a smoke, when literally everybody else in that world smokes cigarettes as well?

Or could it be they don't want the character to look like a complete do-gooder, and make them look more badass, or even human. I think the former.

Bit off topic, but the one of the cooler things I've seen is Snake using cigarettes to expose the lasers in MGS. Who says smoking isn't good for you?

zwanzig_zwoelf
16th Jun 2015, 20:36
Adam Jensen is one of the best characters in gaming history, but he's worse than Garrett. Garrett and Bosso are really loco dudes and they listen to Tupac while making love while Jensen is a lonely boy who listens to Justin Bieber just to imagine Pritchard dancing in pink panties in his shower mmm.