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Thread: The Party

  1. #1

    Default The Party

    I never really liked XII's party. I liked Ashe and I liked Balthier but the group as a whole felt like they were a whole lot of nothing. Most of them don't do anything and quite frankly, I think the Archadians get more development than any of them save Ashe. XII had such a developed cast of antagonists that the protagonists looked lame by comparison.

    Also I just realized another reason I think the FFXII party comes off as weak compared to others. Watching an FFX LP made me think of this.

    In FFX, X-2 and XIII, the characters talk in battle. They have a lot of standard lines of course but they even have special dialogue for certain other characters. Examples would be how Snow is looking out for Hope, Vanille looking out for Sazh, special lines for bosses when you Paradigm Shift like Lightning's "BARTHANDELUS!", etc. Then back in X there was a lot of special dialogue for story parts, like Yuna making a little sad and confused sound when she's thinking of marrying Seymour, Tidus telling Auron "don't break any bones, old man" to which Auron "hmphs" and this would be just after Auron joins the party, and so-on. And in X-2, YRP had all sorts of fun together. "GIVE ME A Y!" "GIVE ME AN R!" "give me a break"

    There's none of this in XII. Not a peep. Even when characters die, the most you get is a groan or a "no...." from the character dying. No one else cares. Nothing that happens make them care. There's like 3 or 4 times when there's dialogue between characters in battle in the game and they're all at the end, with Gabranth and Cid and Vayne. There's nothing actually between your characters.

    It just makes them feel so much more hollow compared to the other voiced parties in my view.

  2. #2

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    There's none of this in XII. Not a peep. Even when characters die, the most you get is a groan or a "no...." from the character dying. No one else cares
    Vaan and his brother ? Vaan going into deep escapism and desiring to become a sky pirate, in a attempt to escape from his sadness and grieving and the harshness of reality ?

    Ashe and her princely husband ? And grieving for years ?

    Basche and his twin brother ?

    Baltheir trying to remain strong when Fran was injured ?



  3. #3

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    ....you didn't read any of the rest of that paragraph, did you? I was talking about combat.

  4. #4
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    • Former Cid's Knight

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    While I can agree that some dialogue during important plot relevant boss fights would have been nice, I am actually happy the party stays quiet because I find chatty party's to be really annoying. I will physically wince if I have to hear Rikku say something stupid and bubbly in the beginning/ending of a battle in FFX/X-2 because it aggravates me. I'm fighting monsters, I don't need to listen to the parties lame jokes and one-liners. I have similar issues in the Star Ocean series. If you want to see a game that does party dialogue during gameplay well, I would say The Last Story comes close because they actually have conversations, not declarations against bad guys or silly one-liners you'll hear a million times for the next 40 hours. If you miss the dialogue, the conversation is never repeated again because it's only relevant at that point in time. Dialogue in random battles just makes me more painfully aware of the fact I'm playing a game and this battle isn't worth my time, because the party generally is mocking the battle anyway.

    So I would say the lack of dialogue was one of the game's strong points actually. Vaan already irritates people as it is, he doesn't need some cheeky one liner to say in battle to make him more irritating like another blond protagonist. Not to mention Balthier would be more hokey if his Bond One-liners were said so often since he already has this schlick in the story proper. The rest of the cast doesn't strike me as the type to say lines either, I mean Basch, Ashe, and Fran don't strike me as the types to say witty things in battle and having them proclaim some "heroic" proclamation just undermines their characters. Honestly, the dialogue thing works in silly anime -style rubbish that is Toriyama's titles, but doesn't work so well in Matsuno's more serious and mature world of Ivalice.

  5. #5
    'Just Friends' Formalhaut's Avatar
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    I can see both sides. Less is more, but too little is perturbing. This is a party that, while originally forced together for whatever reason, ends up journeying across all Ivalice. While yes, there are clear connections between Vaan/Reks, Balthier/Cid and Ashe/Rasler, there's little in the way of genuine connection between the six core party members. The plot of XII is very much a deep, story driven narrative, and can hardly be labelled as character based, sans the little bits of interaction at key moments (which admittedly only happen after trekking through an area).

    I don't expect the cast to be saccharine besties, but I do feel the game could have benefited with Dragon Age style party banter, if anything just to make the 'travelling' segments less tedious. It would be less dull listening to, say Basch, asking Penelo about her martial arts background while traversing the super dull Sandsea. Or Ashe and Balthier discussing recent events, anything. In battle comments could be done as well. If Penelo falls, hearing Vaan shout out her name or go "somebody help her!" would just make combat seem more natural, and maybe more intense. It's these small details of character interaction that really flesh out a cast, and for all FFXIII's troubles, the party felt like, well, a party. They talked to each other.

    I love FFXII, but I do feel this is one area I feel let it down somewhat.


  6. #6
    Radical Dreamer Cid's Knight Fynn's Avatar
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    A'nutoh Tia (Sargatanas)

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    Yeah, it doesn't really fit with the party's dynamic, which is so different than what we have in most JRPGs. As was noted in another thread, they're not going out there trusting every stranger and hoping to become one big family. They're all much more reserved to one another and don't really interact much aside from those whom they were already acquainted with. And heck, even Fran and Balthier, who basically have the strongest relationship each other in the game, would feel weird exchanging battle banter since their whole thing is that they communicate perfectly without words.

    And yeah, basically everything Wolf said.

  7. #7
    'Just Friends' Formalhaut's Avatar
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    I don't know. For me, serious and mature doesn't necessarily mean stoic and silent. I keep going back to it, but I loved Dragon Age for the mature themes and story, whilst retaining a sense of party cohesion and dynamic. If nothing else, I cannot fathom a party of adventurers saying nothing to each other while traversing a large desert, or a snowy ravine, or a sunny beach.


  8. #8
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Formalhaut View Post
    I don't know. For me, serious and mature doesn't necessarily mean stoic and silent. I keep going back to it, but I loved Dragon Age for the mature themes and story, whilst retaining a sense of party cohesion and dynamic. If nothing else, I cannot fathom a party of adventurers saying nothing to each other while traversing a large desert, or a snowy ravine, or a sunny beach.
    To me it's more about the dialogue interrupting the flow of gameplay. I agree that a few more "party chatting cutscenes" interspersed throughout the game would have been appreciative to give the cast a better sense of growing together as the game went on. Actual just in-game party bantering would have been a logistical nightmare to implement in the game since your party is chosen by the player, meaning you may never hear some conversations and what not because you won't use certain characters; cutscenes would have worked better for that in my opinion. Dialogue in battle just always feels awkward to me when it's not tactical talk, and even then, writer's can screw it up "Yes Lulu, I know, use your fire spells to beat the Sin spawn, I got the first ten times you and everyone in the party said it". Considering how easy it is to get a character killed in battle in this game, having Vaan and Penelo have dialogue proclaiming their emotional state when the other is killed or being revived would have gotten really old really fast after the first difficult boss/Mark Hunt battle you engage in. Also, as Fynn pointed out, the relationship between Balthier and Fran works because they don't need to talk to each other, so it works better in cutscenes than in battles.

    Calling your attacks also just feels so... shonen/comic booky for my taste, now it might have been cool to do what they did in FFTactics and have the characters occasionally and randomly chant a spell or ability before using it during the charge up time, so there I can agree with. I will agree that maybe having some dialogue when the game actually does the fanfare would have been cool as well.

    I might feel more inclined to do this if I ever saw it done well, as it stands I always feel like games go overboard when they do dialogue as I really hate the banter in Star Ocean, FFX and XIII as it always makes the characters feel like cartoon characters to me instead of as actual people.

  9. #9
    Yes homo Mr. Carnelian's Avatar
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    I agree with Formy. Battle dialogue I could take or leave, but why, oh, why would anyone remain silent when crossing somewhere like the Sandsea, for instance? There's nothing to look at, the only thing to do to alleviate the crushing boredom would be to talk. But, no. As always, when roaming the vast expanses they all remain stoically silent.

    I'm not saying that their conversation has to be all "Yay, we're all besties!". People have long conversations with people they don't really know or like all the time! Would it be so weird for the party in XII to talk to each other, even if they didn't much care for each other outside their specific friendship groups?

  10. #10
    'Just Friends' Formalhaut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf Kanno View Post
    Actual just in-game party bantering would have been a logistical nightmare to implement in the game since your party is chosen by the player, meaning you may never hear some conversations and what not because you won't use certain characters; cutscenes would have worked better for that in my opinion.
    Why not both? Dragon Age: Inquisition has nine companions, and while, granted, much of the interactions with them are fleshed out in specific character quests (which obviously wouldn't work for FFXII), there's more than enough time to listen to at least half, and if anything encourages multiple playthroughs to hear different perspectives or viewpoints. in FFXII, it becomes very easy not to include Fran in parties because she has the weakest stat growth out of everyone, but with unique conversation lines, it might be worth swapping others in, and using different members (I'm guilty of using the same three very often).

    Admittedly, Fran doesn't talk much. But you could integrate it into her party dialogue. She could give terse, shorter responses at first, and as the party travels more and (presumably off-screen) bond, she may open up, if only slightly. Heck, it might give her more of a story progression than she receives in the game.

    Calling it 'party banter' is a tad disingenuous, as the party 'banter' in Dragon Age can often times be rather serious. There are light-hearted moments, but by and large there are some very interesting discussions that go on.

    Dialogue in battle just always feels awkward to me when it's not tactical talk, and even then, writer's can screw it up "Yes Lulu, I know, use your fire spells to beat the Sin spawn, I got the first ten times you and everyone in the party said it". Considering how easy it is to get a character killed in battle in this game, having Vaan and Penelo have dialogue proclaiming their emotional state when the other is killed or being revived would have gotten really old really fast after the first difficult boss/Mark Hunt battle you engage in. Also, as Fynn pointed out, the relationship between Balthier and Fran works because they don't need to talk to each other, so it works better in cutscenes than in battles.
    Over done, battle dialogue can get a tiresome. I agree. I can take it or leave it as well. It could work in set events, though, but probably not in everyday combat.

    Calling your attacks also just feels so... shonen/comic booky for my taste, now it might have been cool to do what they did in FFTactics and have the characters occasionally and randomly chant a spell or ability before using it during the charge up time, so there I can agree with. I will agree that maybe having some dialogue when the game actually does the fanfare would have been cool as well.
    I was never a fan of this either. Having said that, the quickenings do this rather often with the characters.


  11. #11
    Radical Dreamer Cid's Knight Fynn's Avatar
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    So you're expecting a Matsuno game to be a bio ware game, basically.

    Really, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with party banger (no matter how serious, that's the term, Forms), but I just don't think it'd work in the context of the game. It really doesn't matter what Basch has to say about Penelo's battle skills or whatnot. The stuff you mention from DA really just sound forced and unnatural in the context of FFXII (not in DA, since I can't tell, I haven't played that).

    Matsuno does this one thing where he relies on old school RPG tropes to help with immersion. Seeing everyone talk like that can actually break immersion, as Wolf noted, but what you say is a bad thing - the Sandsea with no dialogue - is actually a tool that helps immersion. Yes, it's a specific kind of immersion that doesn't work for everyone. Why I t works for some is because it leaves spaces for your mind to fill in.

    So this is kind of how I see it, which has only been reinforced since I started playing DQ. Gamers today, especially RPG gamers, have learned to rely heavily on text. And I don't mean on-screen text, but text as opposed to context, subtext, co-text, etc. So people expect to be told and shown everything. You want to see all their struggles, all their eternal turmoil brought to you on a plate. Of course, it is great that it's possible nowadays and it can be used to great effect in games like Persona 3 and 4 where it actually is the point of the story. But it's not the point in FFXII, and would really do nothing to help reinforce the game's quality. The very reason I find FFXII so great is that it is so different. It relies on subtext, and context, especially evident in Fran and Balthier's relationship, which really helps you use your imagination, making FFXII a different experience for everyone.

    I'm not saying this is how games should be made, because games should be diverse. But for me, adding banter, so taking away one of the more refreshing qualities of FFXII which is its reserved approach to its characters, would really make it much less of a unique experience. I'm glad FFXII exists and the way in which it exists, because I don't want every game to be Persona (or DA or whatever) and I'm glad there's something out there that can pander to my tastes more.

  12. #12
    'Just Friends' Formalhaut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fynn View Post
    Really, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with party banter (no matter how serious, that's the term, Forms)
    Fairly sure I know it's the term, Fynn.

    the Sandsea with no dialogue - is actually a tool that helps immersion. Yes, it's a specific kind of immersion that doesn't work for everyone. Why I t works for some is because it leaves spaces for your mind to fill in.
    Yes. Complete immersion into tedium. There's much said for peace and quiet, but goodness the Sandsea is a large, dull area. Not to mention it's so large it is split into two separate areas.

    So this is kind of how I see it, which has only been reinforced since I started playing DQ. Gamers today, especially RPG gamers, have learned to rely heavily on text. And I don't mean on-screen text, but text as opposed to context, subtext, co-text, etc. So people expect to be told and shown everything. You want to see all their struggles, all their eternal turmoil brought to you on a plate. But it's not the point in FFXII, and would really do nothing to help reinforce the game's quality. The very reason I find FFXII so great is that it is so different. It relies on subtext, and context, especially evident in Fran and Balthier's relationship, which really helps you use your imagination, making FFXII a different experience for everyone.
    I don't expect every interaction to be shoved in my face, but when I struggle to even recount an interaction between two main characters, it just leaves me scratching my head. Sure, I can infer that, logically, the group must have bonded during their travels, but I'm left with barely a starting point to make that connection. Penelo and Basch interact, like, what, one or two times throughout the entire game. Sure, I can only imagine that they must have talked to each other off-screen, but still.

    I agree that subtext is superior to blatant story-telling at times. Fran and Balthier's relationship for example, because it was already built up pre-FFXII, oozed subtext and knowing glances. But it's very difficult to infer any subtext among the others, except perhaps Vaan/Ashe, due to their mutual sighting of Ghost Rasler.


    I'm glad FFXII exists and the way in which it exists, because I don't want every game to be Persona (or DA or whatever) and I'm glad there's something out there that can pander to my tastes more.
    I get that, and for my praise of Dragon Age's strong character interaction, I certainly wouldn't want FFXII to be Dragon Age. Having said that though, as much as I love FFXII, I feel the character interaction in the game is among the weakest of the FFs. Fran and Penelo are the most immediate victims; you could pretty much drop those two from the party without any ill effects (especially Penelo). The party interaction, too, feels empty.

    For me, FFXII is a triumph of compelling plot development and a rich world, explored by a party who don't talk to each other, and with a few exceptions couldn't care for each other. But then, we're going to have different views on this, because for me, no matter what type of story you're telling, characters are the immediate image that stick to my mind when I'm remembering a game/film/book.


  13. #13
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    • Former Cid's Knight

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    I feel the real issue here is less about the need for party banter and the actual divorce between gameplay and story. If you were to actually just watch FFXII's story unfold in order, you would find the characters actually get along well. The issue, as it has been pointed out, is that the gameplay sections are long and you can go several hours between cutscenes. I can agree that FFXII's pacing as a whole is certainly off. The issue here comes down to what you're looking for, playing White Knight Chronicles which borrows several deign choices from FFXII, I can honestly say that I prefer silence over listening to the party making conversation every five minutes that we're not at our destination, because I got lost on one of the games huge maps. Of course, XII had better, less cliche characters, but as I mentioned earlier I'm sure if I had to listen to Balthier's one-liners every ten minutes he would not be one of my fave characters in this game.

    Generally speaking, when I'm set upon by a task, I become pretty focused on completing it and having random dialogue sprouting out to break the silence or cutscenes messing up the flow if there are too many short ones interspersed. If I'm gaming I want to game. The idea of listening to the party make insufferable small talk or even breaking up the Sandsea with several small cutscenes of the characters trying to figure out where they are going would have made that location much worse for me. Game, let me do my job. This was one of the issues I had with Bioshock and on occasion, MGSV is that I would be concentrating on my next task or not getting killed and then some NPC started breaking my concentration because this gun fight is the best time to reveal some important plot element. Thank god Bioshock lets you go back listen to all previous conversations but damn was it annoying. With that said, I'm thankful that the game part of XII just left me in peace. While I can agree that the game could have done more to make the player be more immersed in the characters, that just doesn't really feel like Matsuno's style as his plots tend to deal more with themes than people.

  14. #14
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    I think there are legitimate complaints to be made about FFXII, but combat banter would have been terrible and wouldn't have fit at all in with the atmosphere of the game. I agree entirely with WK that it would have just broken the flow of the game and any immersion.

    I'm not saying it's a bad thing to have as a rule (though I remain skeptical); I just don't see it fitting in well with FFXII. Of course, I also disagree that lack of party cohesion is a negative for FFXII at all.

    Regarding WK's last post, I really hated FFXII's pacing my first time through the game, but my second time through I realized that it's partly my fault. I'm the one that has to explore all the maps and try out hunts and detours that add on hours more between cutscenes -- and FFXII does add plenty of stuff for you to do. My second time through, I appreciated the story a lot more and I had trouble thinking of ways the game could have portrayed the story better (besides just cutting all the extra stuff out). Yeah, you don't get the big connections with the individual characters that you see in other types of JRPGs, but that's not what the game is about; it is quite literally the anti-FFXIII, where the characters are just caught up in the grander, overarching events (unlike XIII, where they overly-develop the individual characters and the story is haphazardly tossed in at the end).

  15. #15

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    FFX has a much darker atmosphere than XII yet still hadparty banter. That's because it's a good way to develop characters and group dynamics.

    If Balthier and Ashe had spoken more than a few sentences to each other, I'd probably have been more moved by her emotional plea for him not to die at the end of the game.

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