Incoming Rant-Fur Fighters: Viggo’s Revenge

I knew it would happen when I started this journey.  I knew, years ago, when I decided to go through and beat all of the games I own, it’d take me to some pretty dark places.  While it’s true that I do have an extremely discerning taste and a big giant sexy brain, neither of those have really stopped me from buying some completely dreck games.  And I’d be forcing myself to play them.  This wouldn’t end up well.

I knew hell awaited me.  I’d staved it off so far.  No matter how poor the game was, I always found something to enjoy.  Doesn’t mean there weren’t some games I played with a scowl plastered on my face, but for the most part, I’ve found some redeeming feature in every game I played.  Yes, even that one.  You know the one.  The one you hate.  To some degree, it’s been quite satisfying, and really justifies why I’m keeping this endeavor up.  At the same time, it was frustrating, because I knew Damocles had left his sword hanging, only to drop at some future date.  Eventually, I was going to run into a game so horrid, so abysmal, that even I couldn’t handle it, and I was still going to force myself through it.

Well, it has finally happened.  I have stared into the abyss, and the abyss stared back.  From the darkest reaches of my soul it drew the antithesis to everything I held dear, my nemesis, the bane of my existence.

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Dragon Age: Writing the Bad Villain Well

One thing I’ve always appreciated about the Dragon Age series is their unusual choices in villains.  The strength of the antagonist can make or break most stories, even moreso than the protagonist in a lot of cases.  Dragon Age has been taking a lot of risks with theirs, and that they’ve all worked out decently is quite impressive.  Dragon Age Origins started out by putting you up against the dual villains of a faceless, personality-less horde, and the whims of politics, rather than giving you an actual well-defined character to fight as most other games would.  Sure, Loghain was at the center of the political storm, but the true enemy he represented was wider than just that.  Dragon Age II did not improve on much, but it did up the ante on the central antagonist, pitting you against the city’s commitment to see itself destroyed.  There wasn’t even a real face to the evil, that time.  And yet it’s Dragon Age Inquisition that gives the series it’s most unique antagonist yet.  They pulled out all the stops to bring you the core enemy this game, giving you something most games would not even attempt.  For this game, the central antagonist is Corypheus, the complete stupid loser.

Corypheus

Corypheus is the North Korea of Dragon Age.  He’s dangerous because he’s somehow amassed enough power to do some real harm before he’s taken down, but he still cannot wipe his nose without it blowing up in his face.  There is nothing he does that does not make things worse for him.  Corypheus shows off his sweet immortality power?  Turns out that defused some of the traps lying in between you and the big macguffin he was after.  Corypheus invests the core of himself in a big, intimidating, permanent show of force?  That ends up creating a vulnerability you’ll exploit later.  Even his greatest triumph, marching down to your house and kicking you and all your homies right out of it, ends up being his undoing as it gets you crowned inquisitor and solidifies your political base.  Also, that ended with you hitting him with a mountain.  A whole blasted mountain!

One thing that really strikes me is how easily the writing of this villain could have ruined the story.  There’s a number of ways to have a good antagonist, but usually, you want them to either be threatening or relatable.  Corypheus fails on both counts.  He is absolutely the opposite of what most authors would want in their work.  It’s hard to maintain a sense of danger when every time you see him, he’s in the process of screwing something up, and it should be hard to relate to such a total dickweasel.  Corypheus is not what you’d normally want in a compelling antagonist.  Yet he still manages to make a decent villain.  How is that?

Well, part of it is that the challenges you face are more part of a machine operated by Corypheus than any traditional You vs. Hostile Force conflict most games will present, so he doesn’t really need to be the big bad wolf, he just needs to set things in motion.  But I think most of it comes down to one thing.  Corypheus may not be relatable, but he is at least interesting, because of the way he’s presented.  Corypheus is not the traditional dark force you’ve seen in so many games, the inhumanly wicked being.  He is evil, but he is evil in a very understandable manner.  He is simply a person handed too much power, whose existence is centered around one central flaw that ends up dragging him down.

In this case, it’s all pride.  Pride is his elemental weakness, the vulnerability the plot hits for extra damage.  Every time he loses, every opening he leaves, every resource he lets slip through his fingers, it’s all because he was acting in some way to manipulate other’s perception of him and satisfy his pride.  As flaws go, it’s not particularly subtle, but it does help to round him out, make him more interesting.  Flaws are the building blocks of characters.  Authors have known this since the days of Oedipus.  People are going to be drawn more to a flawed human being than they are the pure white Mary Sue.  And it makes no difference what role they play.  You see flawed characters in the protagonists’ side so often, while the antagonists, evil though they may be, often seem to fit an idealized model besides that.  Yet, as Corypheus demonstrates, flaws are important for villains as well.

I don’t think Corypheus will be topping any character lists.  Though his flaw does demonstrate some thoughtful writing, it doesn’t change the fact he’s still kind of a wiener.  But the flaw that guides him does make him a more interesting and more understandable villain, even as he never puts up an effective fight.

Distractions of Dark Souls

Last time, on Adventures in Oolacile, we had a cliffhanger.  The first in this entire series, I think.  What the hell, Aether?  Weren’t you just complaining about those?  You hack.  Fix it.  Fix it now.

Well, if you insist.

If you’ll recall, we ended things last time with me tromping through a forest then passing through a fog gate.  On the other side of that gate we find a cutscene.  You know what that means.  That means it’s boss time.

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And here’s our opponent.  Look at him.  All bobbly and spindly and totally smaller than me.  And here I thought the DLC was supposed to be hard!  I could totally take this guy.  I could totally take like, 20 of this guy.  I could…

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My reflections on how awesome I am in comparison are interrupted as someone else jumps in and totally takes that guy.

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Dude lifts his sword a bit, then stabs the guy again for good measure.

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Then he seems to notice me.  Dark energies begin gathering around him.

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I’m… not entirely sure I can totally take this guy.

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Dude roars at me, strikes this pose, then hurls the impaled corpse of that guy right at me.

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The corpse doesn’t quite clear the distance, it skids to my feet, but the meaning is clear.  And aww, man, Artorias?!  We were supposed to be buds!  I’d impress you with my awesome swordwork, we’d bro out and save the princess, and then be generally cool guys together until I had to return to my time!

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New Eden, Page 24-Catching Up Edition

Hey boys and girls, just back from a fortnight sojourning across the parts of America nobody likes to admit exist.  Still not done with life stuff, but until we’re ready for regular content to resume, have some more of this.

New Eden Page 24

Transcript

Panel 1

AGLA:  Well, not really a guardian.  More like a steward.  An archangel, one of God’s most trusted, left to manage the place.

Panel 2

Smythe: You know what?  Just take that somewhere.  We’ll look over it once we get back to the states.

AGLA: What do you suppose happened to them?  The guardian, the archangel?

Panel 3

AGLA: How about another old testament story?  Are you familiar with Noah and the Ark?

Panel 4

Goon: Urgh!

Panel 5

Smythe: What the hell?  What was that?

Panel 6

Goon: The engines!  Something’s wrong!

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