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Old 01-17-2001, 08:53 AM   #1
Memnoch
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Join Date: February 28, 2001
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Warning: this is a bit lengthy but goes some way towards explaining why it's harder to be evil.

On the BG2 Board
Monday, January 15, 2001, 19:49 | MageDragon
From the Shadows of Amn message board.

Kevin Martens (co-Lead Designer)
Lack of Evil joinable NPCs: This time around we went for fewer characters (compared to BG) but with much greater depth. For this reason, you will notice that there are plenty of neutral characters to round out your party. These players are useful for both GOOD and EVIL parties. Also, few arguments will lead to fighting or require you kick out one combatant.

Jan Jansen, for example, will cheerfully follow a paladin or a murderer without judgment.

Out of 16 characters, the alignments are actually quite closely balanced.
David Gaider (Designer)
Lack of Evil joinable NPCs, More Evil plot lines, and submitting work to include in the game: I don't know. We probably could have put more evil NPCs in. We didn't consciously think 'oh, we'd better have x amount of evil and x amount of good' or even 'oh, we'd better have a ranger and a paladin, oo! and a skald as well' or anything like that. There are probably people who will say that we should have, but we thought that since we were only going to have 16 NPCs in the game that no matter which way we arranged things there would be people who would complain.

So we decided to go with characters that interested each of us and go from there.

As far as evil plots go, that's up for debate, I'm sure. One thing I've noticed about people who like to play evil is that their idea of an evil plotline is always 180 degrees away from the heroic plotline. Obvious enough as to why. That means, though, that in order to do the evil plotline that they want, a whole other plot has to be written...doubling the size of things overall without adding any length for any one game.

We did this in a few points in the game, and I believe we improved the evil path overall from BG1...but for someone who wants to be wicked, they're still going to be limited in some respects. It's be nice if we could include every option someone could think of, but it's just not going to happen. And the first-off plot for a game like BG will always be the heroic one. Believe it or not, most players play good guys.

As for the psychotics, well...they're just never going to be appeased.

I don't know. Maybe someone will make an RPG one day focused more on evil than on good. And I don't count FO or FO2 as those games... a fade-out and two lines of dialogue to make me think my character has done something naughty and titillating is not my idea of an evil path. Might be for some, though. And a game focused on the evil path might be kind of cool in some ways, too, if it was done right.

As for the thing with helping us with writing dialogue...um...I donít know what to say about that. I may be a professional writer but I won't say I'm an expert. I will say that there are limitations in the medium of writing for a game that most people probably wouldn't think of. It's not like writing a novel, after all, you never know quite where you're protagonist is going to be, what they'll be doing or even much about them, after all...that's not going to stop people from criticizing what they don't like, though, of course.

Maybe people could write better for a game than us. I'm certainly not going to be the one to discourage them. If they think they can write, go to it. Write. Send in your dialogue samples, plot treatments and short stories to gaming companies along with your resume. Getting a job isn't impossible. You think we got jobs in the industry by complaining about what we didn't like in other peoples' stuff?

More dialogue options for Evil characters: That depends on what your point is, here.

If all you're saying is that we could have added more responses for the player so that he was capable of 'sounding' more evil, then I agree with you. When I replayed the game, I thought there were numerous places where the dialogue responses didn't fit with the character I had. Like when you first run into Minsc in the dungeon, you are forced to sort of go 'ewww...you still have that hamster...' when I would be 'Yay! You still have Boo!'.

So, yes, more dialogue options could be provided there. A lot of them, however, you only really find in hindsight. But it's still somewhere to improve, I won't deny it. The only trouble is if those options should like to their own dialogue paths... then the dialogue just gets too big. The whole thing gets 'wider' and therefore is larger and more time-consuming overall, without adding length to any one character who goes through it.

The other problem there, much to my own chagrin, is that we have a limit on word count. We can't go on and on and on with our dialogue...there is a limit, much as I would like there not to be. For a game like BG2 that has to be translated into so many different languages, we writers are forced to bow to the cost of so many translations. It's a LOT.

If the thing you're commenting on is something like **spoiler**, that is a lot more than mere dialogue. Sure, the dialogue has to be written... but more importantly the whole thing has to be scripted. And in the overall frame of BG2 that can be a pretty delicate balancing act, depending on what you're doing. Not that it couldn't be done, or shouldn't, just that it's more work than mere dialogue.

There are other ways we could have fooled the player into thinking he was being more evil, I suppose. Just not the depth with which we were applying to other side-quests in the game.

Or I don't know. Maybe I missed your point entirely. I know there's a few dialogues in the game where someone went to me later on, 'Well, why didn't you add this option?' and it completely blew me away because the thought hadn't entered my mind. Same guy, in other dialogues where I HAD allowed for a particular option, he was blown away by how cool it was because he hadn't thought of it like that.

Like I said, hindsight's a big help when it comes to writing. I know the project I'm on right now is benefiting from the experience.

Ideally, yes. Again, so long as it was only allowing another means for the character to express himself. Mind you, there's been similar comments of why someone doesn't, say, talk like a kensai? Or a monk? Or a half-orc? Or a moron with an INT of 3? We could spend all day filling up the response list in dialogue with different versions of the same thing... unfortunately that would impact on our word count like you wouldn't believe, so it has to stop somewhere.

But adding an evil option would arguably be more popular, and so long as it didn't require different responses from whoever you were talking to, I can't see it requiring too much.

We do have it. In a lot of cases, the game has already come through many, many waves of testing to get to the point where it is now. Unfortunately most testing, in-house, is devoted to whether or not plots (a) make sense and (b) work. We don't have anyone who goes around and checks to see if their PC can be evil or not. I don't know...maybe we should.

Thing is, sometimes when someone suggests something that we've missed, it's kind of hard to add in after the fact.

Which brings up another point. For another response to be 'evil' and not just 'rude' (which I think we already have lots of) there really should be another dialogue path to accommodate it. In most cases that just can't happen. If we planned for such, we could add in small 'ain't I so evil'-type encounters such as in FO2...they w
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