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JasRonq

The Evil Badguy Cliche

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Is it so bad for the bad guy of the plot to be evil, power hungry, and/or greedy? Is it just too cliche to stand and too over done?

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Bad guys who are just inherently evil, yes that just plain sucks. Bad guys whose motive for being evil is hunger for power or greed for money or possessions are kind of shallow, ideally they should have an underlying problem that they think (probably mistakenly) will be fixed by getting power/money/stuff.

To some extent it depends on your genre (comedy? drama? horror?) and the age of your target audience.

If you want to write drama for adults, then you would probably be better off with the type of villain who is a hero or anti-hero from his own point of view. Someone who gets into conflict with the hero mainly because his priorities are quite different. Maybe he is fiercely protective of a particular group of people that he feels loyal to, but either they don't deserve it or his protection of them comes at the expense of others who the hero cares about. Or maybe due to some injury or maltreatment he suffered in childhood the villain has an intense fear of something and goes overboard trying to destroy that thing or the people who can cause it, or build himself up to be totally protected from it - greed might be a type of this overcompensation. Or maybe he does everything in an attempt to impress a particular person he hero-worships or has a crush on, or an arch rival he is determined to be better than. If the hero is simply a sadist, he should at least have a unique goal of exactly what unhappiness he wants to inflict on whom.

Basically bad guys are people too, they have fears and desires, hopes and dreams, just like everyone else. Rather than being wrong in every possible way, a bad guy makes a stronger statement if he is only wrong in one detail, whether that detail is his priorities, his ethics, his methods, a personality trait, or one belief on which the rest of his goals and strategies are based.

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A Good example of a bad guy is Saren from Mass Effect, that really believes that he is saving everyone by complying with the enemy instead of fighting against it.

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I liked Mithos from Tales of Symphonia as a reasonably sophisticated villian. [spoilers] Basically, his sister's dying wish was to end discrimination between the half-elves and humans. He binds his sister to the Great Kharlan Tree to keep her spirit alive, while spending around 4,000 years selectively breeding the 'Mana Lineage' to make her a suitable avatar. Meanwhile, he's fashioned Martel (his sister) as a goddess, which most of the population worship. He does try to end discrimination, but presumably the power of the Eternal Sword and his sister's death sent him completely crazy, as he believes the only way to end discrimination is to make everyone the same race (half-elves) and kill everyone not of that race. In some ways, he's similar to Hitler.[/spoilers]

I think he's a pretty good example of a developed villian who works toward a noble aim in a sinister way - in fact, his goal is the same as the protaganists', just twisted a little. The way to develop interesting villians, as sunandshadow said, is to make the bad guys have goals, aspirations, etc.

Why make your villian kill people for no reason other than to cause chaos? He could be a terrorist, a political enemy, a politician who wants to use the fear provoked by attacks seemingly unconnected to him to gain a position of major power, even a particularly apathetic journalist who sees an opportunity to make a lot of money from the story. And that's off the top of my head. If your heroes are so varied in their philosophy, goals, and morals, why make all villians evil for the sake of evil itself? While we're on it, why make heroes good for the sake of good itself? Do you meet anyone purely 'good' or 'evil' who doesn't have a disease of some sort in real life? No? Then don't stereotype so much in games.

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A pattern that is more common in fiction (and, alas, in real life) than in games is having realistic (not ridiculous) evil, power hungry, and/or greedy people and motives on our side, against someone who is merely forced into a confrontation and is not a "bad guy".

Action-RPG example: Joe Mercenary and his buddies are sent to a recently invaded oil-rich country to seize control of extraction facilities and defend them from non-terrorist insurgents, to the benefit of a cartel of oil multinationals.

Wargame example: within a larger medieval campaign, lay siege to a town full of peaceful heretics, kill them all, and steal what you can, in the name of God.

More subtly, the "good" side can demonstrate dramatic instances of cruelty, stupidity etc. and "good" characters can have serious personality flaws and behave badly on some occasion.

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Quote:
Original post by Speeder
A Good example of a bad guy is Saren from Mass Effect, that really believes that he is saving everyone by complying with the enemy instead of fighting against it.


Another great example on an even bigger scale is Halo. In Halo, the Prophets are basically trying to take this 'ultimate journey' which is basically the destruction of sentient life in the universe. Right there you have a whole group of people acting in a specific manner that forms them as the bad guys.

Personally, when I write, I like having a defined bad guy. Of course it's relative to what you're working on, but some stories are better with the reader going "Is he bad guy? Or wait, maybe it's him!" while other stories are better when the reader, within 5 seconds of meeting him can go "He's the bad guy."

Look at the old Star Wars movies, no one looks at Darth Vader and thinks 'Good guy.' On the other hand, there's Uncharted for the PS3. I don't want to give anything away, but there are a few run-ins with characters that could potentially end up being the final 'bad guy' and every few scenes you'll find yourself changing your mind based on what progresses in the story.

I think both styles work good given their role in the work.

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Does the player actually ever gain anything from a lack of depth? Is there any reason NOT to blend the lines between good and evil?

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Personally, I quite strongly disagree with blurring that line. The reason being that it goes against decades and decades and decades of storytelling. It seems almost unatural, like something important is missing.

I think of it as a scale, with about 15 points, evil and good share these, but naturally, they can never be equal. Someone might be more evil than someone else, someone almost on the cusp, but everyone is still either good at heart, or evil, and can be thought of as such.

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In my opinion, nothing is cliche, or perhaps I should say "badly cliche", if you can add depth to it. On some level, almost anything is cliche. "Uncertain commoner is thrust into adventure and saves the world" sums up many stories (Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are but obvious ones), but does that doesn't make those stories bad or even particularly similar? Not in my book, since they are only the same at the most abstract and superficial level. The real story lies within that "cliche". Let the bad guy be evil, power hungry, and greedy. Just don't let him only be that. Make him more, and it doesn't matter if other villains are evil, power hungry, and greedy.

That's my opinion, at least. A good cliche is fine by me; it gives me something to start with, a framework that the story then fleshes out, and by the time it's done, the building looks nothing like the scaffolding from which it was raised.

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But as it was pointed out: good and evil are often a matter of perception.

I loved the Half-Life 1 marines because they were there to do THEIR JOB, and that included killing me. They began hating my guts later on, because I was killing their friends. They always had a good motive to fight me and that made them believable.

They were 'bad' to me, as I was to them.

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Quote:
Original post by JasRonq
Is it so bad for the bad guy of the plot to be evil, power hungry, and/or greedy? Is it just too cliche to stand and too over done?


Depends on the story you're trying to tell and, of course, your target audience. It is perfectly possible to have an evil scumbag who genuinely gets off on being nasty if you can write it well. Many readers may wonder _why_ he's such an evil bastard, but there's no need to get all tied up about this. Maybe -- just maybe -- he really is a jerk!

"Perhaps he enjoys the sense of power!" His apologists claim. "Maybe he loves being in control!" Or maybe he's just an arse.

Ultimately, he's the antagonist preventing your protagonist achieving his goal. He's an obstacle to be overcome. A closed door that needs to be opened. All you need to do is ensure the antagonist *fits the story*. If it's a deep character study, sure, by all means harp on about how his father was a drunk and his mother abandoned him at the railway station when he was five.

If you're writing for games, be very, *very* careful not to over-explain and write characters to death. Write just enough to make the character engaging. Write just enough to ensure the player remains immersed in the game. And then -- this is the hardest part -- stop.





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I think that, as long as you don't just make someone evil for no reason, you're good to go.

There are plenty of things (or so I'd like to think but its not really all that true) that can help with that. He can be evil because of:
Something bad happened to him or someone he knows and he wants vengeance.
He think he's doing it for the greater good.
He's insane, and that can be branched out into other things.

I'd like to say more, but really... thats all I got. The first 2 are used so much that you can almost call it cliche, but of course the reasons behind it change and that helps you not think of it as the same ol' stuff you've seen before. There are probably other reasons that other people can come up with, I just can't, atleast right now.

There are always the ultimate being of evil like teh devil or something too, but..... those are usually either shallow or he has a reason like revenge or its his nature.

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Quote:
Original post by pothb
He think he's doing it for the greater good.


Jesus, and what if he IS? What if the one we're fighting just happens to be correct and we're not fighting against his ideas, but for our life? I don't think this has been done, ever.

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I actually think it has, but I don't think it was the main bad guys. I can't name anything off the top of my head, but I do recall something like it (I could be wrong, I have an abysmal memory). But in those stories, there always seem to be an alternate way to have less casualties.

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Armed Assault started playing on the whole "Jesus, what if we're on the wrong side" theme towards the end of the story, and it worked to turn a generic "kill teh eval commies!!!" story into something a bit more memorable.

I agree with cih too - overhearing marines talking about how you killed their friends helped to keep them human instead of just mechanically evil.

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Im don't think its too cliche for a villain to have shallow motives but whats is cliche is ridiculously overly complex plots to archive shallow motives, EX. if their just in it for money or power their villainous plan should have a better effort vs return than just robbing a bank or becoming a oil CEO.
That and even then they still make a fairly bland villain.

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tbh the standard antagonist who's out to conquer the world or what have you is perfect for a specific age group, it depicts the world in a very black and white i.e these people are good and should be protected and these people are bad and should be punished, this system inherently teaches those people that certain individuals or actions require definitive action either good (protect) or bad (punish).

as one grows older you learn that the world isn't as black and white as we once thought and is more of a constantly changing shade of grey. the principals of the black and white world remain since they can be of great use in situations that call for and indeed bring upon a definitive answer where as in the grey world things are more difficult to discern.

this template for growth can and should be applied to antagonists and protagonists alike, games made for younger players will have a more black and white view to the world with a bad guy who is inherently bad and a good guy who always saves the day while games for more mature players should incorporate a more grey scale view to things and as such make the player have to make serious decisions or thoughts based on events within the game.

then again this wont stop a 30 year old from playing a kids game because he/she wants something simple that requires less thought input and that's also a good thing.

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It's one of the biggest turn offs in any game for me. A "bad guy" that I thought was awesome is the main bad guy in the comic book called the watchmen like other have said a bad guy should be someone who is acting bad because they believe it's the right thing to do.

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It's hard to write a bad guy into a story that doesn't end up recreating Sephiroth or another famous bad guy that is already out there. Therefor, to create something unique, you need to create such a backstory that may or many not be present in the game, but helps you create him as a character.

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Its not hard, its only hard if you're planning to make one that everyone will be pleased with. I'm sure there hasn't been one badguy yet with a sexual background with horses. But can you make him a cool bad guy? Probably not.

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Quote:
Original post by pothb
I'm sure there hasn't been one badguy yet with a sexual background with horses.


bhaha ... oh god!

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At Uni we had a lecturer who we called "Evil Boss" he wasn't evil obviously he just taught OOP. He was bald on top with white hair around the side and a small pony tail, was quiet short and often wore a Hawaiian shirt - looked like a boss off time crisis or something.

I think an evil boss like him would fit more into the comedy evil category.

Not really much to do with you question but just reminded me of "evil boss" and made me laugh :D

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Quote:
Original post by pothb
Its not hard, its only hard if you're planning to make one that everyone will be pleased with. I'm sure there hasn't been one badguy yet with a sexual background with horses. But can you make him a cool bad guy?


Why not? Centaurs have feelings too, y'know!

...

INT. EVIL LAIR, TORTURE CHAMBER -- NIGHT.

JAMES WAND is strapped to a chair suspended over a vat of bubbling, boiling liquid. MISTRESS BUTTERCUP is standing beside him, sneering evilly. We can just see someone emptying the last bulk container of Crisp'n'Dry cooking oil into the vat. [PRODUCER NOTE: Can we get an MCU on this? The product placement money would be handy!]

WAND
You fiend, Buttercup! Wait 'til M25 hears about this!
They'll run rings around your evil empire!

BUTTERCUP
Hah! I shall destroy your M25 colleagues just as I did for you!

WAND
(struggling to free himself; no chance!)
What do you expect me to do? Talk?

BUTTERCUP
(giggles)
Talk? Why no, Mr. Wand! I expect you to fry!

WAND
You'll never get away with this, Buttercup!


BUTTERCUP nods to a minion. Levers are pulled, buttons pressed and the overly complex machinery starts to lower WAND into the vat. WAND begins to sweat with fear as BUTTERCUP skips from the room, laughing uproariously. WAND screams just as we...

CUT TO:

INT. EVIL LAIR, BUTTERCUP'S BEDROOM -- CONTINUOUS.

We see a very large bed. On it lies a French centaur, BLACQUE BEAUTÉ. He's waiting...
BUTTERCUP enters. Her eyes light up.


BUTTERCUP
Blacque! You came! What a pleasant surprise!

BLACQUE
Ah, mon cherie! Busy day at ze office, oui?

BUTTERCUP
(she climbs into bed alongside BLACQUE and begins to run her fingers over him)
Oh my dear, dear Blacque! You don't know the half of it!

BLACQUE
'Ere! Let me take away vôtre worries!

...

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Bwahaha.

Funny, looking at the first post about a sexual background with horses, my initial reaction was, "Hmm, of the bestialist characters I've seen done, they've actually always been sympathetic, never villains." It's kind of overkill to give a villain a trait or hobby that's widely made fun of and/or considered disgusting.


BTW if we're going to list favorite villains, mine is Light Yagami from Death Note.

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