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Graeme
4th Jan 2009, 19:29
Another thread but hey, there's a lot in here to get out. I'll reply to some others threads too, don't worry.

Let's look at the first Deus Ex game. We don't need to list all the things that made it magical as there are plenty of other threads doing that already. One specific aspect that may or may not have been touched on (I didn't search through all the threads so forgive me if this is a duplicate), is the enemy. In Deus Ex one how did it all start? In storytelling, you need suspense, momentum, mystery and intrigue. DX1 had all that. It wasn't until a couple missions in that the seeds of doubt started to sprout and from their hazy mist emerged clues, signs. Strange men in black, the odd e-mail that seemed awry (if you poked around a bit), Walton Simons of course.

I won't go into depth about how utterly sinister, mysterious and obviously evil Walton Simons came across to me but I'd like to point out that what I hated about it (in a way that kept me playing the game) is that he was technically a good guy (fighting the 'terrorists' and so on) and that I was powerless to do anything about him even though I KNEW he was a bad guy. It brought up all these questions about who he was, what his agenda was and so on which pulled me along for the ride. I've suggested before that one of the reasons this dark conspiracy plot/group was so successfully portrayed in DX1 is because the story went from a time of stability (where JC was clearly on the good side fighting the bad side) to a time of chaos, uncertainty, lies, betrayal, deceit and so on (INSTABILITY). Whereas DX:IW tried to plunge you into this conspiracy with never really having a 'side' that you felt attached to like UNATCO. I know I was certainly hesitant about sending that transmission for Paul, betraying my UNATCO colleagues. IW never cemented you anywhere and so you had no where to be uncemented from as things unraveled.

Maybe that's why the bad guys were so much worse in DX (this stable to unstable transition). Maybe not though. It could have do with other elements I haven't considered.

What makes a bad guy (or group of bad guys) so ominous and frightening?

ZylonBane
4th Jan 2009, 20:13
What makes a bad guy (or group of bad guys) so ominous and frightening?
A hook hand!

Jerion
4th Jan 2009, 20:26
I think it's all about how the enemy is asserts him/herself. One of the better Bad Guys I've seen is in the movie Serenity (fantastic movie; loved Firefly). The Operative is smart, strong, fit, clever, cold, calculating, and above all, believes that he is doing the right thing. You can almost root for him. If you've seen the movie you know what I mean.

Spyhopping
4th Jan 2009, 20:35
In American films quite a lot of the bad guys have an English accent :D

Hmmm I think a 'good' bad guy has to be consistent in their goals, calm and collected and likes to be in control

spm1138
4th Jan 2009, 20:59
I like Ben from Lost.

He's a terrific villain. He's got most of the same qualities as the operative actually. It's so much more entertaining when your opposition is sane, methodical and driven.

That dangerous mindset where the end they have in mind justifies almost any means.

NK007
4th Jan 2009, 21:34
Sephiroth was a great villian, but he was sort of confused and lost, like a child, yet so powerful. I really liked that.

I want a bad guy that I would really like to kill though. Just thinking "oh man, I hope this game has good fire physics cause I'm gonna burn your ass!". Someone I love to hate.

Romeo
4th Jan 2009, 23:25
The best bad guys are the ones who don't play by the rules at all. Their interest isn't in killing you, it's in destroying everything you love and leaving you so you don't have the willpower to continue. Probably the best example of this, would be the Joker from the latest Batman. He's easy to hate, because he has no particular goal in mind.

GmanPro
5th Jan 2009, 17:22
The best bad guys always have a handicap or some quirky thing about them. Like a Bond villain. It helps to remember them.

Radius86
5th Jan 2009, 17:28
What, no large top hat, twirling moustache and cackling laughter? :rolleyes:

Behindyounow
5th Jan 2009, 18:44
Having no Face.

Faceless villains always seem more evil. Not sure why. Just give them a mask or helmet or veil or whatever.

Giving them a face makes them seem more human, and in some cases this is a good thing, making you see they aren't so different. But if you want them to be bad, really bad, they need to be inhuman. One way of doing this, is giving them no face

Lady_Of_The_Vine
5th Jan 2009, 22:22
Having no Face.
Faceless villains always seem more evil. Not sure why. Just give them a mask or helmet or veil or whatever.
Cue the Omar? No face and instantly they are the 'bad guy'? It's nothing more than a trick of perception! Were they really the bad guys? I never thought so. :scratch:
But this definitely works, yes... unfortunately. ;)


Giving them a face makes them seem more human, and in some cases this is a good thing, making you see they aren't so different. But if you want them to be bad, really bad, they need to be inhuman. One way of doing this, is giving them no face
Faceless villains always seem more evil. Not sure why. Just give them a mask or helmet or veil or whatever.

Another cunning psychological trick! :eek:
Give them a face and they are immediately cosy and oh-so-human. Deception works every time, suckers! :rasp:

LOL :D

Romeo
5th Jan 2009, 22:53
The Omar do give off the impression of being evil though, and this is the default reaction of most people. Do remember, their a sect of half-humans, wearing black suits which hide them and look the same.

Yes, faceless villians can seem more sinistre, but I also find this cuts off the personal hate for them from the player. Saren from Mass Effect and the Joker from the Dark Knight were both bare-faced, and they were some of the better bad guys in recent memory (Saren only if you read the books). One thing a face has over a mask, is confidence. A mask shows that the villian is too scared to reveal themselves to you. Their face, on the other hand, can be seen as a dare to try and stop them.

pauldenton
5th Jan 2009, 23:26
Taunting

Someone who continuously taunts you, tries to push your buttons - like a mouse.

Talking about how they killed your parents or friend etc, stating how pathetic you are.

and ad to it - personalise it by making them refer to one of your choices as a bad choice etc.

DX 1 and return to castle wolfenstein are good examples of taunting.
It is a most effective method of creating immersive feelings - a personal relationship - no one likes a arrogant, mocking, evil, smartarse, and especially so if he has real knowledge of your actions and highlights your limitations.

taunt 1 (tônt)
tr.v. taunt·ed, taunt·ing, taunts
1. To reproach in a mocking, insulting, or contemptuous manner. See Synonyms at ridicule.
2. To drive or incite (a person) by taunting.
n.
A scornful remark or tirade; a jeer.

Graeme
5th Jan 2009, 23:29
Thinking back to a lot of games, the bad guys were never that scary because they were never powerful. They may have been powerful I suppose, but didn't feel like it because all they did was send hordes of baddies after you. In DX1 though, the bad guys demonstrate their power in dynamic ways, i.e. martial law, a nation wide manhunt for you etc. I guess that's what made the 'enemy' in DX so powerful, the fact that it turned out the good guys (the government and the police and so on) were actually the bad guys and there wasn't anyone you could turn to help. The more I think about the first game the better it gets.

I hope Eidos portrays the 'enemy's' power not through the size of their gun or health bar but rather their presence, influence and untouchability.

On the note of bare-face vs masked bad guys. I'm leaning more towards bare-faced, particularly someone who you've seen face to face like Walton Simons who is supposedly a good guy.

NK007
6th Jan 2009, 00:10
Taunting

Someone who continuously taunts you, tries to push your buttons - like a mouse.

Talking about how they killed your parents or friend etc, stating how pathetic you are.

and ad to it - personalise it by making them refer to one of your choices as a bad choice etc.

DX 1 and return to castle wolfenstein are good examples of taunting.
It is a most effective method of creating immersive feelings - a personal relationship - no one likes a arrogant, mocking, evil, smartarse, and especially so if he has real knowledge of your actions and highlights your limitations.

taunt 1 (tônt)
tr.v. taunt·ed, taunt·ing, taunts
1. To reproach in a mocking, insulting, or contemptuous manner. See Synonyms at ridicule.
2. To drive or incite (a person) by taunting.
n.
A scornful remark or tirade; a jeer.

On that note, I'd like the main villain to be a total douchebag.

I mean, the kind of guy who pops his collar or listens to indy rock to look different. A major douchebag is much more fun to shoot. I'd probably put a few more rounds in him and throw him off a roof just for the fun of it.

FrankCSIS
6th Jan 2009, 04:31
A lot of it has to do with how we are presented or introduced to them. Before we even knew what the game was about, DX1 made it very clear that Simons was untrustworthy, to say the least.

We then get to stumble on him about an hour later back in HQ, enjoying a casual conversation. The tone was set not to trust anyone, as well as the overwhelming force of those conspiring in the shadows, and in plain sight. There was an ambiguity about him that made the plot that much richer.

The fact that we faced him several times before an actual confrontation made it that much better too. You knew it would happen eventually, and the build up for that moment was huge.

Simons was also great because he didn't have to chew on puppies to prove himself or be portrayed as the villain. He was a badass, no doubt, but not overly so. Given the chance I don't think I would've actually continued to work for him, but everything wasn't plain cartoonish evil about him. In contrast I didn't care much about Page, although I suspect we were meant to feel that way about him.

So I'd say I like my villains with different shades of black, but that would be a tad too reductive. I guess good guys, bad guys, and people in general, are just that much more interesting when they are complicated.

As for the guys we just want to empty our entire clip into, those make good high-ranking henchmen, but not so much the main baddie. With a few notable exceptions, inherently evil psychos shouldn't be in charge of something, but rather serve as agents of fear for those in command. There are some exceptions, especially if the nutjob is also outstandingly brilliant, and when he's just so scary that no one would dare keep him on leash.

i_is_a_moose
6th Jan 2009, 22:09
Character development always draws the line between bland, ethereal villains and ones you really just want to shoot in the face. and other regions. Spehiroth wasn't just a beast because FFVII said so, but also because he was a freaking good supersoldier, and he was developed over the course of the game until you beat him. Additionally, outfit helps, too. Heck, Darth Vader wouldn't have been half the villain he was had it not been for that nifty mask.* Going back to the Walton Simmons reference, you do get a strong "this guy isn't right" vibe just from his clothes and mods alone.
Also, making Bob Page sound like Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation definitely helped his villain status in my mind.




* Note: Darth Vader was freaking amazing, until this strange phenomenom called "The Prequels" came along and made him into a wimpy whiner in a helmet

Chemix
7th Jan 2009, 00:15
It really depends on what kind of bad guy you want

The guy you face in person needs to be driven; beyond that they can be cold, like Simons, but not as outright rotten. There was nothing to like about Simons, nothing that could make you think they had an ounce of good in them, and he had a note of unintelligence about him, like a blunt instrument. I think it detracted from his character, but he was a decent villain, none the less. Ideally, this person would have a sense of right and wrong that would be overridden by their goal. Saren from mass effect showed this quality more or less, but he was very predictable in his speeches and acted more as a mindless drone than a possessed being. Perhaps their goal is more than a paycheck, perhaps his life is hanging in the balance, or his loved ones, and maybe that drives this villain to hunt you or attack you or whatever.

Being hunted: An important aspect of a good villain is the hunt for the player; at an extreme, the player thinks they're hunting the bad guy, when the villain is setting them up for the fall: See Shodan of System Shock 2, or the Joker from The Dark Knight (which I should add, despite the attempts to imply him as chaotic, he did have a goal, to prove that deep down inside, we're all just murdering psychopaths that will do anything to stay alive). Getting back to the hunt- it's hard to maintain a sense of being chased when you're facing something that you can kill. Methodically throughout my playthroughs of DX I wiped out MJ12 and UNATCO troops completely on every map. The hunting feeling left as I removed the threat. The simple answer is to have endless spawning enemies, but that breaks immersion. To fix this, the enemy must be made powerful, or the player made weak so that they can't easily wipe out the enemy, and there is no inclination to do so. If you make the ways around the enemy more easily seen, players will find patterns and seek to escape using them to avoid suicide runs.

The opposite effect is the players increase in power and skill as the game progresses. Some games, like Oblivion for an easy example, attempt to keep the difficulty step in step with the player's development, but this takes away the reward of increasing in power if all of your opponents do the same. There need to be tiers of enemies of different threat levels, all but the highest of which should be present, but in smaller numbers as they increase in threat.

In example: Thugs come in gangs, 4-8 people, armed with melee weapons, fists, and the odd pistol. Cops are lone or paired guardians of a specific area, or patrol route, spread throughout cities and are armed with semi auto handguns, nightsticks, and the occasional revolver. Mercs come in squads of 4, and are armed with submachineguns, sniper rifles and basic handguns. SWAT teams come in single or multiple teams of 3 with similar armaments to Mercs, better AI. Special troopers, like MJ12 squads, (not the mechs) would come in sparing frequency with assault rifles, AI on par with SWAT and better body armor. Lone wolfs, mechs like the player themself, would be deployed very rarely and would be a major challenge. The key is while introducing the new challenges, to maintain a sense that the player has overcome something, so when cops were an issue, now they aren't, but they're still there.

For an enemy that's not in your face, it's best to make sure that the player never sees what they really look like, and that doesn't mean just blocking view of the face, but can mean a fake appearance as well. One of the concepts in the creation of HL2 was that Breen would have a head and face displayed commonly, but that his body would be highly modified, slug like even, as preparation for immortality ala Combine. Now I'm not saying that DX3 should copy this idea, but the idea of a false image is still a powerful one. The face of your enemy could be commonly apparent, but a digital disguise for what they really look like, which could be completely human and benign. As has been said before, taunting is important, but it's even more important that the taunting means something to the player. Threats should have a decent likely hood of coming to pass, building up an association; if the villain says something will happen if I do this, then it probably will happen. This creates a setting where you can affect the player better when they threats aren't real.

IE: "If you take one more step, this man will die (random street person looking scared)" If you walk forward, the person dies, if you walk away, you don't know. If you persist and keep on having people die, then it proves your resolve, but also, the association becomes that if you progress bad things happen. Now whether the player cares about the end of virtual lives created purely to be chosen whether to "live" or "die", is up to the player. Alternatively, it can be imposed upon the player. "If you take one more step, you'll be thrown back 100 steps" and this can test the players will and maybe cause them to choose a different path. To make death more meaningful, or rather the death of virtual beings, there need to be connections, like families that virtually mourn or hate the player for their choices. So if you let person X die, it doesn't matter until you walk down street B during mission 7, where X's family lives and will be display a seen of mourning, or attempt vengeance, or both.

Most importantly: A villain must have a real goal, a mindless killing machine works for a horror movie or a simple monsters during a dungeon crawl, but it just ends up being another kill in the end, there's no reason for you not to do so.

Larington
7th Jan 2009, 01:28
I hate to make a comment that almost sounds cliche nowadays, but look at how the original Alien film presented its villian, everything was done to prevent it being seen until as late into the film as possible, even bringing light levels down considerably so that the black creature was hard to see against a black background.
Its been handled surprisingly well in games as well, a swinging power cable or a hopping insect setting off your motion sensor as you find yourself wondering if you'll ever meet one of these aliens - Which is exactly when one jumps you from behind.

Alternatively, there are a number of black & white episodes of doctor who (And other shows being filmed during the transition to colour film) where the monsters seem rather frightning, but when they transition to colour they just don't work as well.

And SHODANs dialogue was nothing short of incredible, brilliantly delivered too. You got a real sense of loathing from her communications, that having to use you to achieve her goals was demeaning to her in itself.

Big Orange
7th Jan 2009, 01:40
The main villain along the lines of Bob Page should be typically a sociopath (or at least a high functioning autistic) but he/she shouldn't be like rabid dog at all, something of a physical weed and surprisingly urbane, but he/she is very smug and passive-aggressive with barely suppressed loathing for the rest of humanity. His/her power should be reflected by his/her very long reach through faceless governments and corporations from a secluded stronghold(s). It should take at least until halfway through the game to know about him/her properly and meet him/her in person.

Big Orange
7th Jan 2009, 01:44
I hate to make a comment that almost sounds cliche nowadays, but look at how the original Alien film presented its villian, everything was done to prevent it being seen until as late into the film as possible, even bringing light levels down considerably so that the black creature was hard to see against a black background.

The real villain in the Alien series was the essentially unseen conspirators from within the giant Weyland-Yutani Corporation, represented by disposable patsies such as the insane android Ash and the sleazy minor executive Mr. Carter Burke.

Larington
7th Jan 2009, 01:47
Heh, thats what I get for not having watched any of the films in several years.
That said, I found the corporate skullduggery angle far less interesting than the story of the people who were caught in the middle of the machinations of Weyland-Yutani.

Big Orange
7th Jan 2009, 03:10
Heh, thats what I get for not having watched any of the films in several years.
That said, I found the corporate skullduggery angle far less interesting than the story of the people who were caught in the middle of the machinations of Weyland-Yutani.

You're concentrating on the danger and thrills surrounding narrow tactical threats rather than the wider strategic threat represented by people like Bob Page or Dr. Wallace Breen (who in person are quite unremarkable, much like Weyland-Yutani's lab coated scientist and gold card executive types who wanted alien specimens in all probability).

iWait
7th Jan 2009, 06:37
I also agree with the faceless thing, but differently.

A villain who is anonymous, or a group of people acting anonymously in concert, is the best villain of all. You know why there are so many **** holes of humanities filth are on the internet? 'Cause you can have a normal, well adjusted, successful businessman come home from work, get on the computer, and masturbate to gore, then proceed to go to dinner with his wife. Anonymity protects, but more than that it unleashes that certain aspect of people that only comes out when they know (or think) they're completely safe.
Think Lord of The Flies, it's a perfect example. Or, if you still don't believe this, venture into the intertubes for a couple hours, you'll find out yourself.

TL,DR: Trolls are little kids who wouldn't say **** to you in real life or regular people who would gladly return your wallet to you if they found it.

Jerion
7th Jan 2009, 07:01
The sad part about it all,is that that "anonymity" is virtually nonexistent- it is all to easy to find out a person's real identity no matter how many different avatars they use.

LatwPIAT
7th Jan 2009, 09:43
I also agree with the faceless thing, but differently.

A villain who is anonymous, or a group of people acting anonymously in concert, is the best villain of all. You know why there are so many **** holes of humanities filth are on the internet? 'Cause you can have a normal, well adjusted, successful businessman come home from work, get on the computer, and masturbate to gore, then proceed to go to dinner with his wife. Anonymity protects, but more than that it unleashes that certain aspect of people that only comes out when they know (or think) they're completely safe.
Think Lord of The Flies, it's a perfect example. Or, if you still don't believe this, venture into the intertubes for a couple hours, you'll find out yourself.

TL,DR: Trolls are little kids who wouldn't say **** to you in real life or regular people who would gladly return your wallet to you if they found it.

So the bad guy will be a 15-year old hacker who has an impressive collection of Japanese porn? Talk about anti-climatic. I mean, I watched a series that did that (At least the "15-year-old" part.) and it only managed because the guy cause a social phenomenon all by himself and was an anti-villain.

Actually, I liked how Deus Ex always used a "cliché" to the breaking point. There are not one, not two, buy four AI's running around. There are another four La Resistance (NSF, Luminous Path, Silouette, Savage) who're against absolutley everyone, including your own allies. There were five different versions of the creepy monotone. (Simons: Agent Smith, Daedalus: Voice Filter, Ikarus: SHODAN, Morpheus: HAL, Helios: Project 2501) and there were tons of conspiracies. So if they had a young hacer as the big bad, there would be at least three of them.

TrickyVein
7th Jan 2009, 15:11
Pol Pot ruled in the utmost secrecy and anonymity. He was one badass dude.

I think you have a good point about the world of Deus Ex being transformed from one of apparent stability to one of instability. Clique's in videogames aren't bad so long as there is some more depth to the individual who exhibits them.

Here is another trait which I find to be very evil - the ruthlessness by which you and your brother's lives were counted as so many dollars of taxpayers money - the way in which Simons sent the troops after you instead of letting the killswitch work - how human life can be dealt with in terms of efficiency and output, costs and returns.

Megalomania is also a must for any evil character.

Voltaire
7th Jan 2009, 18:13
I'm gonna talk about two of my favourite "villains". The first is the rampant general from the film The Rock, the second is The Jackal from FarCry2 (the latter is in spoiler tags for those that are currently playing it).

Brigadier General Hummel is a great character to set against the heroes because he isn't an out and out villain- he is almost an anti-hero, in that his pursuits and goals are noble, but his means are generally harmful to society. Throughout the film he is painted as the baddy, but it becomes clear later in the flick that he isn't complacent in carrying out atrocities against others, even for a cause as heartfelt as his.

The Jackal is an excellent character because we rarely see him, and we never get the full story. The aim of the game is supposedly to kill him, but he keeps turning up and ruining it by saving your life. The cheek of it! His motives are always shady, and you often find yourself desperate to shoot him down, but occasionally he garners moments of trust, sometimes explaining himself so well that we forget he's a scum-of-the-earth arms dealer. Really intriguing personality and humanity.

Those were good antagonists. The thing they have in common is the fact that both are very human characters, with none of this 2d disney villainy. If there's going to be someone bent on making my life harder, they'd better explain themselves.

LatwPIAT
7th Jan 2009, 23:13
I'm gonna talk about two of my favourite "villains". The first is the rampant general from the film The Rock, the second is The Jackal from FarCry2 (the latter is in spoiler tags for those that are currently playing it).

Brigadier General Hummel is a great character to set against the heroes because he isn't an out and out villain- he is almost an anti-hero, in that his pursuits and goals are noble, but his means are generally harmful to society. Throughout the film he is painted as the baddy, but it becomes clear later in the flick that he isn't complacent in carrying out atrocities against others, even for a cause as heartfelt as his.

Brigadier General Francis X Hummel. He's an excellent anti-villain, especially because we actually got to see his emotion at what he had forced himself to do, such as the shower room massacre.

iWait
8th Jan 2009, 01:10
So the bad guy will be a 15-year old hacker who has an impressive collection of Japanese porn? Talk about anti-climatic. I mean, I watched a series that did that (At least the "15-year-old" part.) and it only managed because the guy cause a social phenomenon all by himself and was an anti-villain.

Nope, what I'm saying is a good villain is an anonymous one.
Used the interwebs as an example because it shows what people are fine with doing under anonymity. Hammertime, Meiwes, That One Train Dude From That .gif

Say, a rogue AI doesn't like you, so you walk into a building, when all of a sudden the doors lock and the Freon fire extinguisher system goes off. That, in my opinion, is a lot better than you walking into a building and the arch-villain jumps outta a ****in' corner, gives you a speech about how "You shoulda....", "We're evil", "I killed your father..." then proceeds to go into the boss fight sequence where he A. Runs away or B. You kill him (Before which he may say something like "The dude you're hanging with is Darth Revan, ***got")

NK007
8th Jan 2009, 01:25
Memorable quotes and name are also a must.

Big Orange
8th Jan 2009, 02:54
Memorable quotes and name are also a must.

Walton Simon style villains should often be darkly comical and have some witty quotes ("I am a patient man... but not that patient." *BLAM!*).

Laputin Man
8th Jan 2009, 09:06
I'm going to sound like a fanboy here but, I think that Vick Mackey is one of the best written villains today. There are so many things that he does, so many sides to the character. He was incredibly manipulative and charismatic. Always several steps ahead of everyone, and he thought well on his feet. He was dark, intimidating, and rutheless. But at the same time he had some good qualities too and he was human. I really liked the fact that, after watching the entire series and seeing all the terrible things he has done... there could still be a part of you or some of the viewers that would pull for him. I don't know, I think that if they could take just some of that and apply it to a villain it could be great. Not sure if it would work in a conspiracy setting though.

spm1138
8th Jan 2009, 12:08
Same writers doing Sons of Anarchy now. Well worth a watch.

I agree. Vick Mackay's fundamental problem was that he could always justify to himself whatever horrible thing he is doing next.