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Mooglez

What makes a "good" Villain.

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Bored, thought I'd bring this up for discussion. Include example from books/games if you see fit. _____________________________________ What makes a "good" Villain ? _____________________________________ "Being a good villain is like being a good photographer, you got to pick the right moment." -Steve Hemmesch Edited by - mooglez on November 9, 2001 12:19:43 AM

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To begin, a good name. Consider Malagate the Woe, or Howard Alan Treesong, two wonderful villains in Jack Vance''s Demon Princes series.

Other items to put on your list include a large ego, an odd childhood, a history of increasingly dastardly deeds, and a possibly a thoughtful side with some odd fetishes.

___________________________________

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A good villain should be believable - not some cardboard cut out figure of evil. Thus he or she should not be deformed in someway - Shakespeare has a lot to answer for in Richard III - or too mentally aberrant.

However most villains have pschyopathic tendencies, otherwise they wouldn''t be villains - there''s no such thing as a loveable rouge. Perhaps the worst villains are actually the one that seem most ordinary.

(oh - if the villain can have a white cat to stroke, this helps though )

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Agreed on the right name. Like Piter de Vries or Feyd Rautha Harkonnen.

I don''t agree about Richard III however. Why, don''t the deformed people have a right to try and conquer the world too?



What I''d want to see at a villain is that they have all the odds against them (and win) rather than have a masterplan that cannot fail, own an industrial empire, be the leader of the invincible Legion of Terror, etc. Imagine Napoleon as seen from the outside of France. For once let the villain play the superhero''s part.

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evil does not have to meanunlike-able. the most evil people can fool you into thinking they are nice, and then turn around and stab you in the back, or plot your ultimate demise. Sometimes evil arent evil by the fact they kill everyone. They may just be corrupt.

a good villian will always raise his public appeal, and when the time is right he will destroy the public. this is usually after his eil is dicovered

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i think the best villains are those who, once you know their motivations for being a villian, might no longer be the "bad guy"... for example, as the story progressed, you could have the player learn more about their alleged "arch enemy", and by the time of the final confrontation he/she doesn''t even know if they should be enemies anymore, as the "villian" has a valid reason for doing what he does.

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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This depends on how you define villian. If you mean a trophy that some superhero is just waiting to defeat, well, pick up marvel comics and learn there. On the other hand, if you want a true antagonist, you have to put some work into it. For example, your antagonist has to have at least one reason to not like the protagonist. Judging on the amount of mental abuse and psychosis you give your villian, the reason can be such that it doesn''t hold true for the protagonist disliking the antagonist. If you look at Suikoden2, (PSX, Konami), you have a supervillian and an antagonist who differed from the protagonist, who was his friend, on just a few matters, and this drove them apart.

Chances are your looking for that villian that you just love to hate, in which case I recommend having him be a moral opposite of the protagonist, and on purely psychotic grounds, and have him/her/it wear a cool cape.

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This probably goes more on the lines of story lines, but it''s important.

I saw this Japanese animation movie once called Blue Submarine Number 6, it was rather interesting. The Villains were made very well. The leader had his reasons for his actions, and they all had very real personalities, too. What the bad guy did was for the people of the world, even though he killed more than 90% of the population.

Before I go on and explain what happens, I''ll just tell you to see it. It''s great.

A good villain will have a deep personality. They should also have reasons for their actions. It helps to have a philosophy deeply mixed in as well.

Let''s not forget that the good guys need deep personalities as well.


Control the storm...

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Also remember that heroes are made, not born. The same applies to villains. Childhood is important, but more recent events need to have major impacts as well.

I was once wanting to write this story, called Heroes are Made, but it didn''t fly. I had a page of the early childhood, I didn''t like it...



Control the storm...

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by Crydee
A good villain should be believable - not some cardboard cut out figure of evil. Thus he or she should not be deformed in someway - Shakespeare has a lot to answer for in Richard III - or too mentally aberrant.

However most villains have pschyopathic tendencies, otherwise they wouldn''t be villains - there''s no such thing as a loveable rouge. Perhaps the worst villains are actually the one that seem most ordinary.

(oh - if the villain can have a white cat to stroke, this helps though )



I have to disagree with you strongly on both points.

Shakespeare''s Richard III is one of his best villians...indeed probably one of the best of all time. The best villians are often mentally aberrant, although they do not think so. A good villian doesn''t necessarily mean a likeable villian.

And there is such a thing as a loveable rogue -- haven''t you ever heard of Robin Hood?? In fact, the word rogue has some decidedly soft or likeable qualities associated with it. A rogue is a troublemaker, a rascal, a scoundrel -- not really a hardcore villian per se.

R.

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I agree that Richard III is one of Shakespeare''s best villains. That''s the problem. It led to a genre where the villain had to be deformed in someway to show that they were evil. My point was that a villain should not be instantly recognisable - like in the old westerns where the good guy wore white and the bad guy black.

A rogue ends up hurting people - what''s loveable about that?

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Actually, the most appaling villain I know of in Shakespear''s stuff I know must be Iago, in Othello. I just hated that the man, profoundly; and mostly because he just didnt really have a *reason* for acting the way he did.
This is actually quite different from a villain that you "like" for the depth of his character. In this case it''s IMHO the writer that you respect, because of the work put into the character.
But in my opinion a good villain is someone you really hate, just like a good hero is someone you love.

I was thinking of another properly written (as opposed to extremely dislikable). I saw this episode of Farscape yesterday where the nemesis of the hero, Scorpius, who until know was just your really one-sided evil guy that you just really really dislike (so it makes him a good villain, if you follow me ) for so often causing troubles to the heroes. In this episode, Scorpius basically tells his story of how he came to be what he now is. In just one episode, he becomes IMHO this really cool written character that was turned into what he is by all the shit he went through. He also get a somewhat respectable motivation for all his action : saving, ultimately, the galaxy from a much more aggressive race than his.
The scary thing though, is that he suddenly becomes a three dimensional being, with feelings and a really really crappy childhood, and that makes him almost likeable, or at least much more understable.

And that''s where I kind of worry... if the evil bad guy suddenly becomes "human", doesnt that destroy the whole purpose of the bad guy, which would be to scare us, to make us the spectators hate him ?

Darth Vador is so effective because he behaves really really bad, but if we discover this facet of his personality that explain all this evil behaviour (through the new trilogy), will that not lessen him in his evilness ???

Do I make any sense ?



Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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quote:
Original post by ahw
Actually, the most appaling villain I know of in Shakespear''s stuff I know must be Iago, in Othello. I just hated that the man, profoundly; and mostly because he just didnt really have a *reason* for acting the way he did.
This is actually quite different from a villain that you "like" for the depth of his character. In this case it''s IMHO the writer that you respect, because of the work put into the character.
But in my opinion a good villain is someone you really hate, just like a good hero is someone you love.

I was thinking of another properly written (as opposed to extremely dislikable). I saw this episode of Farscape yesterday where the nemesis of the hero, Scorpius, who until know was just your really one-sided evil guy that you just really really dislike (so it makes him a good villain, if you follow me ) for so often causing troubles to the heroes. In this episode, Scorpius basically tells his story of how he came to be what he now is. In just one episode, he becomes IMHO this really cool written character that was turned into what he is by all the shit he went through. He also get a somewhat respectable motivation for all his action : saving, ultimately, the galaxy from a much more aggressive race than his.
The scary thing though, is that he suddenly becomes a three dimensional being, with feelings and a really really crappy childhood, and that makes him almost likeable, or at least much more understable.

And that''s where I kind of worry... if the evil bad guy suddenly becomes "human", doesnt that destroy the whole purpose of the bad guy, which would be to scare us, to make us the spectators hate him ?

Darth Vador is so effective because he behaves really really bad, but if we discover this facet of his personality that explain all this evil behaviour (through the new trilogy), will that not lessen him in his evilness ???

Do I make any sense ?



Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !



Ahh...sympathy for the devil.

Well, in my opinion understanding something of the villian''s motivations and reasons for being evil is a vital part of me enjoying him or her. The only villian I can think of off hand that does not have some kind of fully-formed personality is Tolkien''s Sauron...but this is mostly because I haven''t gone through all the Unfinished Tales. Even Sauron, however, has a more ''human'' face when you realize that he was once a friend of the elves and loved and trusted by them. Perhaps someone else here is more up to date on their Tolkienia than I am and can fill us in on this.

But if we only consider the LOTR, Sauron is this faceless evil that doesn''t really have a personality. The only reason this works is because we have some other more transparent villians to look at -- the Ringwraiths, the Witch King of Angmar, Saruman, etc. We know how evil they are and assume their faceless master to be even more black-hearted than them. To me...Shakespeare''s Richard III is a fully-formed bastard (and I don''t mean he''s illegitimate, although he might be...can''t remember). You love to hate him, and can admire him for his profound misanthropy. Of course villians are not born this way. They have their own histories and motivations just like all characters do. To introduce a villain without offering some insight into their psyche is, I would say, sloppy and simple.

Taking the Darth Vader example, his villainy is so much more tragic when you realize that he was once a goodhearted, law-loving almost chivalric warrior. His fall was so much greater than that of the petty criminal...so it affects us so much more. Think of him as a villain vs. the Sherrif of Nottingham for example...the Sherrif of Nottingham is a petty criminal who''s just asking to get his arse whipped. You don''t think of him as being this ultimate evil figure.

And back to the rogue thing, Crydee...I''ll use my example of Robin Hood again. Robin may have hurt people, but he hurt the rich (bad in this case) and helped the poor (good in this case)...so how is he bad? Remember that good and evil deeds are always a zero-sum situation. Your good deeds always take away from what evil people strive for...their evil-doing takes away from the sum of good in the world.

Sorry for the long post.

R.

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The Robin Hood / Sherrif of Nottingham is a good example of fiction taking over history. The Sherrif at the time of Richard I was Ralph Murdac. He was descended from Vikings - not a Norman. He also supported John - then Count of Mortain - who wanted to see greater integration between the "English" and their Norman invaders. John also wanted more reliance on the rule of law - which paradoxically led to Magna Carta.

Ralph Murdac in 1189 would have been seen as a traitor by many "English" people. At that time Normans were still the invaders, an occupying force. That is why he was hated. Yet his motives were to try and integrate more. He was up against people like Walter of Coutances who Richard made regent of England in his absence. Walter refused to speak English and regarded "English" people as animals. Ralph sided with John''s attempts to resist the worst of Walter''s tyranny and remained loyal to him when everyone else deserted him. Nottingham was the last of John''s castles to surrender to Richard in March 1194.

Ralph was deprived of his sherrifdom and judicial office but otherwise allowed to go free. If he was as evil as he has been cast he would have been executed or exiled.

Robin Hood was probably a petty villain. There is no historical record of his robbing the rich to pay the poor. He probably robbed the rich to pay himself. He was used as a symbol of English resistance to the invader and so given a good image. But the reality is likely to have been very different.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by Crydee
The Robin Hood / Sherrif of Nottingham is a good example of fiction taking over history. The Sherrif at the time of Richard I was Ralph Murdac. He was descended from Vikings - not a Norman. He also supported John - then Count of Mortain - who wanted to see greater integration between the "English" and their Norman invaders. John also wanted more reliance on the rule of law - which paradoxically led to Magna Carta.

Ralph Murdac in 1189 would have been seen as a traitor by many "English" people. At that time Normans were still the invaders, an occupying force. That is why he was hated. Yet his motives were to try and integrate more. He was up against people like Walter of Coutances who Richard made regent of England in his absence. Walter refused to speak English and regarded "English" people as animals. Ralph sided with John''s attempts to resist the worst of Walter''s tyranny and remained loyal to him when everyone else deserted him. Nottingham was the last of John''s castles to surrender to Richard in March 1194.

Ralph was deprived of his sherrifdom and judicial office but otherwise allowed to go free. If he was as evil as he has been cast he would have been executed or exiled.

Robin Hood was probably a petty villain. There is no historical record of his robbing the rich to pay the poor. He probably robbed the rich to pay himself. He was used as a symbol of English resistance to the invader and so given a good image. But the reality is likely to have been very different.




Crydee...of course you''re right that Robin Hood is a fictional figure, although I thought he was ''brought to life'' much later on...in the 1400s if I remember correctly.

In any case, I was only referring to him as a mythical figure, not a historical one. And the fact that he probably didn''t even exist doesn''t take away from the points I was making about the nature of villainy. But thanks for the history lesson anyways...



R.

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Personally, I think one of the best examples of a villain is Shylock, from the Merchant of Venice. His venomous attitude and arrogance, combined with his scheming, underhanded nature, makes for a really loathsome character.

The most evil thing about him is that when he tries to have Antonio (the lead character) killed, he does it not for a specific reason like revenge, but simply to vent his anger at the whole world. The way he does it, by actually turning the legal system of venice on Antonio, meaning that everyone will know what he does but will not be able to persecute him for it, is also sheer genius.

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I am currently working on a game that has terrorism and gansters in a city like New York.
(Can''t talk any more)

I think that the most evil people are normal are human.

They believe that what they are doing is right and you should show things from there point of view.
Maybe even play as the bad guy.

Hitler believed he was doing was right.

No one thinks they are evil.

They should seem normal and NEVER show them questioning what they are doing.
They should believe in what they are doing.

Also how about the hero changing the villain.

That will make it better.
I hate always seeing bad guys dying.

They can have a happy childhood.

Bin Laden had a pretty okay child hood I think.
Most people only change there views on life around 15 years old.

Can anyone prove me wrong.


mailto:peadar@coylelj.fsnet.co.uk

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Take the games "Blood Omen: Kegacy of Kain" and "Soul Reaver" (which is the sequel to Blood Omen). In the firat game, you play as an average being turned into a vampire to get revenge on the person who changed you. Your "villian" was the wretched **** who gave you the choice of being reborn as a vampire, or just dying. You don''t really get to chose but thats not the point. I thought that the villian in there was incredibly stupid.

But in the end, you had a choice: Kill yourself so you won''t become evil and ruin the world or rule the world. You had the choice for yourself and it had multiple endings.

Now, in the sequel "Soul Reaver," you played as a vampire named Raziel who was cast into a dark abyss and changed to a soul taker. Your "villian" was Kain ( the vampire who ruled the world in the end of the first one ). Now thats interesting. The sequel claims Kain chose to take over the world. Kain was your master, and when you evolve before him you are cast away. You then try to get revenge on him.

Whats really great is the fact that you ACTUALLY had the chance to learn of Kains methods. You can understand your enemy.

You can see where he is right, I actually stopped playing Soul Reaver because I loved Kain and refused to kill him.

My point is that [,in my opinion,] the best way to create a villian is to allow the player the chance to feel how they feel, and to understand whats makes them what they are.

Another cool villian was Shredder from Ninja Turtles but I really don''t want to get started with them

Artificial intelligence is the devil... resist intelligent NPC''s


"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster... when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you..."~Friedrich Nietzsche

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