Daily Archives: February 25, 2010

Top 10 Worst Silent Lead Characters

Silent protagonists, from a design perspective, are a device used to get the player to empathize more with other characters. Draw them in, make them feel like they’re right there with everyone, making decisions and demands. It’s also a rather tiring aspect of many RPGs, especially JRPGs, but they do occasionally pop up in other genres. They can mostly be broken down into the following:

Mutes: They are characters that do no speak at all. No text, no voice acting…nothing. They are mimes in a dark, dark room. They are empty husks you move with the directional pad and never grow to care for.

Reactive: These are characters that often don’t get speaking roles, but exist for other NPCs to bounce ideas off of and/or look to for assurance/disapproval. Sometimes get involved non-verbally.

The Roleplayer: Silent only in voice, this leading character is one that the player builds through dialogue options, morale choices, clothing and weapons, stats, and so on. They “speak” pre-determined lines, but only if you choose so.

Some silent protagonists are better than others. Click the “keep reading” link below to see my take on the Top 10 Worst Silent Lead Characters.

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Comparing Dragon Age: Origins with Summoner, Not Completely Crazy

I’m going to do something here that might have folks scratching at their heads, but it has to be done: Dragon Age: Origins and Summoner are pretty similar games. Yes, they’re both third-person RPGs set in traditional epic fantasy worlds, focusing on party-based battles, twisting plotlines, and a constant sense of so much to do. But they also both eerily pace themselves in the same manner.

In 2000’s Summoner, after the introductory prologue to get things started, main character Joseph ends up in Lenele, the City of the Gods. It’s a huge city made up of at least ten areas, and Joseph will spend a good hour or so wandering around, speaking to locals, and picking up a ton of miscellaneous side quests before you can even begin the main one.

In 2009’s Dragon Age: Origins, after the introductory origins story and battle at Ostagar, main character Grey Warden ends up in Lothering, a small village that, while not made up of at least ten areas, offers just as many (or more) side quests before starting the real deal.

At both of these points, I began to feel overwhelmed. The main quest has barely begun, and already I have a honeydew list as long as a broadsword. Suffering from gamer OCD, this is problematic. Anyways, let’s also take a look at plot synopses…

Summoner: Joseph’s goal, achieved through his newly regained powers of summoning, is to defend Medeva from the Orenian invasion and to defeat the evil emperor, Murod, by using rings to summon the ultimate creature.

Dragon Age: Origins: After completing their character’s respective origin story, the player encounters Duncan, leader of an elite group known as the Grey Wardens. Duncan guides the player to their destiny of becoming a Grey Warden, a group who dedicate their lives to the destruction of the Darkspawn, a force of demonic creatures that live underground and have at various points in history swarmed the surface of Thedas in movements known as Blights.

So, one game is about stopping an invasion of evil creatures, and the other game is about…stopping an invasion of evil creatures.

And look, Morrigan’s in both games:

I’m really not trying to harp too much on Dragon Age: Origins. I do like it so far, and it’s definitely going to keep me busy for awhile. Just feels like I’ve played it before, recurring pitfalls and all.

P.S. Woah, I even managed to last this entire post without making the joke that both game’s graphics are interchangeable. Er, whoops. Zing!