Thursday, July 11, 2013

Storytelling, Continued: Blogroll

Two blog posts about emotional engagement with Alistair:

Dragon Age: Origins Is The First Game About Gay Marriage & The Power of Mods

A video game designer experienced romance with Alistair as a gay man, with unexpected, thought-provoking consequences. 

Dragon Age Postmortem: Oh, Alistair

She has some good things to say about the implications of the plot in general, and her play-by-play description of her last conversation with Alistair is a mirror of mine.  She interpreted Morrigan very differently than I did, but I really enjoyed reading her reactions.

Both pieces also reference the writer's connection with Alistair as a virtual boyfriend, something that their real-life partners misunderstood.  (And both writers had real-life partners, as do most of the writers I've seen talk about their Alistair crushes.  So maybe I'm not giving the game enough credit when I say that if I had a real boyfriend I might not be so into my fake one.)

I've also been thinking about that middle area of the game, where the main plot sits around, doing nothing while I flirt with Alistair.  In KOTOR, you are given three worlds to visit, but after two there's a surprise kidnapping that you need to escape from, and a big reveal about your secret identity, and that makes going through the last world a little different, because you're looking at the main quest with different eyes.  Even though the actual world plays out exactly the same, it means something different after the big reveal.  There isn't anything like that in Mass Effect, and I don't remember if there was in Jade Empire.  It's an effective design that I'd like to see re-imagined in the future.

What if you learned that the bad guys are actually brainwashed good guys, and can be saved?  Like, the fewer of them you kill, the more allies you'll have for the end.  So you're going through the quest, and they're still trying to kill you, but now you're trying to avoid as many as you can. 

p.s.  Totally unrelated to story:  I just realized that the Dragon Age stats are missing something really important: damage taken.  I'm not sure how to measure it, because what I'm looking for isn't really "how many hit points lost," but "how much damage directed at the tank instead of the mage."  Alistair has more hit points than Morrigan, but what makes him really useful is that the same attacks actually do less damage to him, and he draws away those attacks.  I wish there were a way to track that.

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