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Thread: Good Silent Protagonists

  1. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf Kanno View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Fox View Post
    the game giving you wonderful flavor text choices to really give identity to them like Persona, Mass Effect, and Suikoden
    In what world does Mass Effect have a silent protagonist? xD
    Conceptually, they are one. Shepard really never talks much without being prompted by the player, the fact their dialogue is spoken out loud doesn't change the fact that they are nothing more than a player surrogate like any other silent protagonist.
    I disagree with pretty much everything you said but especially on the Shepard point. Commander Shepard has a very strong and well defined personality, that the player can merely guide along a few slightly divergent branches. Shepard always takes part in conversations, always has something to say, always has an opinion to express. I don't think I can recall a single scene (I'm sure there are a couple) in Mass Effect where Shepard stood around listening to exposition without joining in, like Joker does all the time, or only being able to respond to a pointed question with "nod" or "shake head" as was the case in XCX.

    So no, Shepard is in fact a great example of how you can write fleshed-out, non-silent characters without completely sacrificing the player's influence over that character. If all silent protagonists were Shepard-like protagonists instead, I would be absolutely delighted. Just imagining Persona 5 with an MC that had that kind of personality excites the crap out of me, maybe then I'd actually care about the character I romance instead of just going with Ann because she was the first girl I came across.

  2. #17
    Radical Dreamer Fynn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarZidane View Post
    I'd rather have writers make a good attempt (even if it fails) to become better, rather than using silent protagonists as a crutch to avoid having to write a better protagonist

    But maybe that's just me

    And I'm not saying silent protags are necessarily lazy, but when the argument is "a silent character beats a badly written character", that's a lazy decision
    Honestly, I only really take issue with the notion that it's a crutch to fall back on, because I feel that really rewarding silent protagonists really take a lot of knowing exactly what you're doing to write. In the end, though, it's a stylistic choice. I appreciate silent protagonists a lot if only because it's something that can't exist outside the medium of video games, and I am all for diversifying media. Games trying to be movies or books is just so passe.

  3. #18
    The Alpha and the Omega WarZidane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fynn View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by WarZidane View Post
    I'd rather have writers make a good attempt (even if it fails) to become better, rather than using silent protagonists as a crutch to avoid having to write a better protagonist

    But maybe that's just me

    And I'm not saying silent protags are necessarily lazy, but when the argument is "a silent character beats a badly written character", that's a lazy decision
    Honestly, I only really take issue with the notion that it's a crutch to fall back on, because I feel that really rewarding silent protagonists really take a lot of knowing exactly what you're doing to write. In the end, though, it's a stylistic choice. I appreciate silent protagonists a lot if only because it's something that can't exist outside the medium of video games, and I am all for diversifying media. Games trying to be movies or books is just so passe.
    Again, it's just in that context. If you wanted to make a silent protagonist all along, go right ahead. But if your feedback is that the protagonist is bad and your answer would be "just make it silent then" (as a few posts in this thread show, people would rather have a badly done silent protag than a badly done speaking protag), I'd call that a crutch.

  4. #19
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    I can see where Wolf is coming from with Commander Shepherd. Iím probably in the minority, but I honestly felt like a lot of the dialogue with Shepherd was a bit stilted and awkward because I felt they were going with a pseudo silent protagonist route with him in having him really be an avatar for the player while trying to give him a good amount to say. I wouldnít call him silent, but he fits a very similar role to the silent protagonist.

    I do like how the Persona games do the silent protagonist thing. I feel the characters show a good amount of personality still, and there is still a lot of guiding conversations. I also think the Chrono games did it well. I remember the first time I played through Trigger I didnít even fully realize Chrono never talked until a good amount through the game.

    Xenoblade Chronicles X is the worst of what Iíve played in terms of silent protagonists. I felt a lot of scenes really felt awkward and drew attention to the fact my character isnít saying anything. I think thatís an issue of the animation being a bit stiff and awkward, and I feel like there was a good amount of awkward silences. I still love that game though.

  5. #20

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    (2:55) Yeah I mean, if this is how we want to make our "silent protagonists" in future I am all for it.

    I guess in the sense that the goal of a silent protagonist is often to allow the player to project their own personality into it, and the various story branches and dialogue choices in Mass Effect allow you the player to have a notable impact on Shepard's personality... sure, in that regard their roles are similar. But in comparison to any actual silent protagonist you could name there is vastly, vastly more to her character, both in terms of a personality and a well defined character arc. Considering how much dialogue they had to record to cater for all her story branches I think you could also argue she's the furthest possible thing from a silent protagonist

  6. #21
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Honestly I never liked Shephard. For me, the means of the choices given to the player made the idea of it all being a game more obvious to me, so I never really got as attached to them as some people did as I just saw them as a doofus I spent half the game flipping a coin to see if they were going to be a jerk this particular moment or a nice person. Likely because I never really agreed completely with any of the choices the game gave me, besides shooting people who talked too long. Not to mention that at the end of the day, your choices weren't as radically story defining as the game made it sound like they could be. There's a reason I've never been interested in checking out anymore Bioware titles as I'm still very bitter about how Mass Effect turned out.
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  7. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fynn View Post
    I appreciate silent protagonists a lot if only because it's something that can't exist outside the medium of video games, and I am all for diversifying media. Games trying to be movies or books is just so passe.
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