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Terry 309 avatar 11:27 PM on 03.01.2014  (server time)
How to make a good villain in a videogame (spoilers maybe)

If there's anything i'm sick of it's bad villains in videogames. Be they a world destroyer, a sadist or just a huge prick, a bad villain is easy to decipher, even moreso than a hero. Villains are very important to a game's story. I'm not really skilled at making a villain myself but i know what makes a good villain. Here i'll list some examples, i hope indie dev's will take some of these ideas and share their own because they are the cornerstone of the industry right now and if we want games to become any less bland in the future, we need to share our ideas to stop these godawful villains from appearing in videogames.

Voice is power

One of the most easily recognizable traits of a villain is his/her voice. Villains need a powerful voice to convey their dialogue. You want to make the player fear them, you want  to show their superiority. Through voice this can be easily accomplished alone. If you have a strong voice, you're pretty much half way there.

Give them an interesting goal with lots of depth, conceal it with mystery to give the player a surprise

Sometimes you wonder why they are the psychotic, sadistic, evil masterminds that they appear to be. Perhaps this has something to do with their characteristics or their past. Or perhaps they have ambitions and goals that are beyond human comprehension. Destroying/taking over the world is not a goal, it is but a means to an end. There has to be a reason for willing to commit such acts. Of course everyone would like the fantasy of controlling everything but we lack the willpower and the skill to do it. There has to be a reason, a very strong reason. A villain must be extremely passionate about their goals. Either that or perhaps it is something to do with the villains past. Perhaps he/she had a bad upbringing or maybe they were experimented on at a very young age and something messed up their mind. Be creative about your villain, and make him/her as passionate about their goals as you are about them.

Avoid villain tropes, teleportation, magical barriers, excessive monologue etc

Ok, i think we've all experienced at least one of these at some point. Though tropes are very hard to avoid, try to avoid using them excessively and if you must use them, try to make them seem logical. If a villain teleports, they must be either a really powerful mage or... if you're going with a sci-fi setting, give them a device that allows them to teleport. Oh and don't just have them teleport instantaneously with no explanation, give them an incantation or show some sort of device and have them press a button or something. Regardless, i'm sick of seeing villains who teleport with no explanation whatsoever.

Magical barriers are less common of a trope but they are annoying because they usually come out of nowhere. If they have a magical barrier in a cutscene, why don't they have one when you fight them? I mean if a villain can easily set up a barrier in a cutscene instantly, surely they will be able to use the barrier in combat and if it's unbreakable, the villain is surely invincible and killing him off would create a plot hole.

Excessive monologue is the fastest way to put people to sleep and the quickest way to make me laugh. If you're going to add any type of monologue, keep it minimal, don't go overboard. Villains need to get straight to the point whilst mocking their opponents and questioning their reasoning for opposing them. Of course during the final confrontation you can give away all your plans but likewise, don't go overboard, keep it brief and get straight to the point, let the hero talk and just sit there grinning as they talk about justice for like half an hour. once they're finished get ready to piss in their coffee before pulverizing them.

Creative dialogue, use complex words, i.e expand your villain's vocabulary (and your own) to enhance their dialogue and give them memorable quotes. Metaphors help too, try to make it as flamboyant as possible

My avatar fits this perfectly, you may not be able to see the dialogue due to the poor quality but it's good (yes it's a comic not a videogame but it's based on Warcraft so i thought it would be relevant).

What makes a villain memorable is his/her dialogue. Villains need an expansive vocabulary to show their superiority over the filthy heroes. Great dialogue also gives them more appeal to the player. Just because they're villains shouldn't make them any less likeable than heroes, they need charisma, they need charm, you don't want them to be remembered for being a nuisance, you want them to be remembered for being a great villain. Don't be afraid to be flamboyant with your words, make it so the heroes can't comprehend, make it so that it keeps the player guessing, a complex vocabulary can make monologues much more enjoyable and harder to decipher. Have them taunt the heroes with their superior vocabulary. The point is, words speak louder than actions. You could have a clown with a chainsaw who is completely mute or a charismatic butler who just happens to have a hidden agenda and uses his strong words to puzzle the player.

Give them a role and have them play it well

Is your villain up close and personal? Or is he/she a a backstage villain, sipping their cup of tea as they watch the heroes suffer from afar? (if you do this, make it logical, actually don't do this, i'm not talking about backstage villains, i'm talking about watching the heroes from afar. It happens so many times where the villain is looking through a magical mirror where he/she can see the heroes suffering at their hands).

One backstage villain i really hated was Rowen from Resonance Of Fate, probably the most boring villain ever written in video game history, i hated pretty much every backstage scene with him and Sullivan, god they were just terrible, please kill it with fire.

Enough of that, lets talk about how to make a good backstage villain. First, make sure they have some connection to the plot, perhaps they are the leader of the guards who attacked you earlier... or perhaps they are just a pathetic lapdog who serves the real villain. Secondly, they need to formulate some sort of plan, they need to recognize the damage and the threat that the heroes pose to their ambitions. They need a way to snuff them out and quick, keep conversations brief and keep the villain enshrouded in mystery, you could just have them call their subordinates to eliminate the heroes for them but perhaps you could do something more creative. It's all about building suspense, don't leak too much, just make sure the player know that the villain is there and that he is coming for them.

Finally they should be doing something off camera. Surely they can't be sitting on their throne all day, they must have better things to do. A true villain is always active be he/she in the players face or not. They should be working on achieving their goals, not sat around letting their minions do it for them. If they are truly passionate about it, they will do it themselves, even if the villain is lazy.

If they are up close and personal, be sure to have them make the best of their time in the spotlight, occasionally actions speak lounder than words with these types of villains, but be sure to let the hero know how pathetic he/she is, master the art of mocking young padowan... uh i mean sith lord.

Don't be a sore loser

There is determination and then there is just being a coward, if the heroes are beating you to a pulp, don't teleport away, keep fighting to the death. Perhaps add a plot twist mid battle to interfere or have the villain defeat the heroes but leave them to suffer whilst walking off camera like a boss rather than finishing them off. When a villain is defeated, don't be afraid to have them admit defeat, even villains can have honor. No matter how close to your goal you were or how determined you were, dying honorably can help emphasize your ambitions, make the hero regret their actions through words, tell them that they made a huge mistake and that your ambitions were their only hope or tell them that you'll be waiting for them in hell, haunting them every night. Just don't run away. The Dreadlords are an exception to this rule.

There are two villains who fall into this catagory. Gaius from Tales Of Xillia and Grazel from White Knight Chronicles both make their escape as the heroes are about to finish them off. Nobody likes a coward, villains are no exception, running away from a fight is dishonorable and it just makes you appear to be a weakling in front of the heroes, you definitely don't want that do you?

lets play spot the difference... if you can spot the difference between these two images... you win a point...

And just to wrap this up, allow me to present to you the worst villain in a video game ever:

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Terry 309

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