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June 2010

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luzerna in jrpgs_and_wrpgs

an adventurer is you!

Hello, I am Lu, I play games, I'm younger than anyone else who's posted an introduction about themselves so far, and I got Dragon Age for Christmas which I have been playing almost non-stop. Which brings me to the actual topic of this post.

People who play JRPGs exclusively have it easy: they tend to be linear, concrete, unmovable, with established characters who will interact with the player character in the same way, all the time, and the player character himself has a canon personality you can't deviate from. If the developers decided that the player will be a jerk, you are going to play through the game being a jerk to everyone. If they decided instead that you should play a Jesus analog, you are going to play as a Jesus analog. And that's that. Even silent protagonists seem to have some sort of personality (Link, for instance, though there's some confusion over whether Legend of Zelda's an actual RPG series or not). There might be some choices to be made, but it's more often than not "choose to help, or just ignore this sidequest completely."

That's the divide between them and their western cousins, more D&D inspired, where you play as blank slates. In Dragon Age you choose everything: your background, your looks, your class, your morality, how you solve problems, how you unfold the plot, how you interact with your party. How you've decided to act throughout the game comes by to hit you in the face at the end, or so I'm told. In this way, it's kind of like if you mixed a JRPG with a dating sim, except more violent. You are completely free to do whatever you want in these sandbox worlds! It's so liberating! Or is it?

I play the same guy every time, in every single one of these games; I do the Right Thing even when it's the least rewarding option, I save everyone, and I cheat myself out of experience points and items by talking my way out of problems because I don't want to hurt anyone. I was absolutely devastated when I went back to Tenpenny Tower in Fallout 3, after jumping through hoops for everyone to get along and live peacefully together, and found out that the ghouls just killed all the humans in the tower anyway (highlight for possible spoiler). Breaking the habit in Dragon Age has been proven to be extremely difficult so far. Why I empathize so much with polygons and why I care about what pieces of code think about my character is beyond me, but Maker help me, I do. I figure it's possible this comes from my background of Japanese games where you're obligated to be the hero--there aren't much borders in WRPGs, so it seems we build imaginary ones to compensate. You steer yourself instead of the game's plot steering you, so what you end up doing is going down the same path over and over again because that's what you know. Unlike tabletop RPGs, it's a single player game, so there's no one there to whine about how your lack of variety and make you switch up form time to time. The path I've walked down for years is saving the world from cosmic horrors and evil popes, and it smells of wide-eyed idealism and taking third options. It could also be because I grew up with Reboot and my subconscious still thinks of computer-generated things as people. Or maybe I'm just a sissy who doesn't want to make hard decisions. (Which is entirely possible.)

Either way, the point is, I'm curious. It seems to me that most players of WRPGs stick to one personality more or less for any game--whether it's an idealistic pseudo-pacifist like myself or a complete sociopath. Who do you play? Why do you think you stick to that kind of character in particular? For people who can't answer because they don't play enough to know, is this sort of thing why they can't hold your attention? Do you think that this ultimately makes the game more immersive or not?


fffffff you too? Man this game is entirely too addictive.

And my god, I have the exact same problem. I'm trying to alleviate it by telling myself in advance that "okay, this is going to be my super good character, and this one over here is going to be a complete ass, etc etc." My main character in Dragon Age is fairly middle of the road, ultimately leaning towards good but occasionally persuading people to give her shit (I maxed out coercion near the end of Ostagar, and I use it every chance I get).

It also helps that I usually have a party full of assholes as well (+ the dog, the dog always comes. ALWAYS), so no one's making me feel particularly bad -- as opposed to having Alistair or Wynne in tow.

I'm trying the same thing. My dwarf's the good guy (and my main character because it's easier to be him than the jerkass elf) but I've been trying to make him a fucking paragon of good and justice to teach myself a lesson. Which means, uh, turning down a lot of quests because he's too righteous to take it up with morally ambiguous people. It hurt so bad to turn down the Crows in Derenim. :( My usual guy sounds like yours--mostly on the straight and narrow, but I do steal stuff and if you're a jerk to me first (or if I've got a contract for your head) I don't exactly have a problem with putting you down.

Wynne and Alistair function as Alia's moral compass--I can't bring myself to actually kill anyone outright but I want to act like an asshat anyway, so I talk down to everyone I meet until one of them tells me to shut up and offers the nice way out. I get a lot of "Wynne and/or Alistair disapproves (-5)"s.

Yeah, I think Denerim was the point where I said "fuck it" and started doing more morally ambiguous things. Such as the stuff with the Crows. IN MY DEFENSE I am playing a city elf rogue so lmfao.

THE DOG HAS SAVED ME FROM AT LEAST THREE DIFFERENT POTENTIAL WIPES. Including the Broodmother earlier today, holy fuck that was a close one.
I love love love Dragon Age. My wife and I have both been playing it non-stop since we got it. I've gone through with 3 different characters, and she has about 6. it is great fun. I've gone through as a very good city elf, a profoundly evil wizard, and a middle-of-the-road warrior who I designed to become king someday.

Generally, I like being good guys in these types of games. I tried playing evil pricks in games like Mass Effect and Fallout 3, but... I don't know, too many stories for me. being a jerk is no fun. Plus, the main plots are almost always designed with the good guy in mind, so they generally feel a lot more natural that way.
I've never played Dragon Age, but in WRPGs I'm always playing do-gooders who will sometimes ignore the law in the name of good. Chaotic Good in D&D terms. Then I try to go back and play evil, and I always feel like the most terrible person for some of the awful things you can do.
I'm very much the same way. Part of it is that I grew up on JRPGs and while I'll choose the talking sass option sometimes because yay choices, I'm never a complete douche because I have it subconsciously burned in that I'm going to get a game over or something if I kill all the villagers. The other part is just that I'm a huge sap and get all DDDDD= when fictional characters cry or suffer or whatever. Besides, I'm so desensitized to blood and killing in video games that I don't really derive any pleasure from hacking people to tiny pieces anyways.