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Drake Sigar
30-11-2011, 11:19 AM
There have been two awesome dragons in the history of media - Sean Connery (you could have replaced the dragon with a Mr Potato head and my reaction still would still be "AW MA GAWD IT'S SEAN CONNERY!") and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty (who is ten times scarier in her normal form). Maybe the upcoming Hobbit movie will change things, but until then, dragons suck.

Yet these winged beasts are synonymous with fantasy (it's not hard to see why, the child in us loves dinosaurs), and are crowbarred into every modern fantasy game. I'm talking about Skyrim's infinite dragons. I don't like them. I found out if you don't complete the initial dragon tablet main quest, no dragons appear in Skyrim, so that's exactly what I did (or rather didn't do.) Over 120 hours played without dragons. See, the problem with these dragons is they won't let you be what you want from a roleplay perspective. You should be able to do a few quests and take up cabbage farming (this bracket break is pointless, I just wanted to annoy you), but the dragons are always there to prod you along as you come back to the smouldering remnants of Uncle Owen.

agentorange
30-11-2011, 11:29 AM
Shut up, bitch.
http://i.imgur.com/NYtI8.jpg

It's really hard to tell if this thread is about dragons in general, or just about Skyrim. But anyway, the problem isn't with dragons themselves, it's not like dragons are forcing themselves into these games; it's down to the developers and how they handle implementing such a clichéd fantasy icon. Demon's Souls had three of the most imposing and destructive dragons I've encountered in a game, and the game only had those three. I haven't played Skyrim, but whoever came up with the idea of INFINITE dragons probably hasn't heard of the concept of diminishing returns.

sinister agent
30-11-2011, 11:32 AM
Of all the tedious problems facing swordy games, most of which have been essentially identical for about 25 years, dragons are among the least of them.

GothicEmperor
30-11-2011, 11:38 AM
The only good dragon fight was the one in Dungeon Siege 2. Mostly because only the tank in your party could survive it, and after you make it crash to the ground; you think it's all over and while you walk to the Standard Act Ending Room, its head suddenly pops out of a wall to attack you in a fight that's even harder.

Drake Sigar
30-11-2011, 11:43 AM
It's really hard to tell if this thread is about dragons in general, or just about Skyrim.

Bit of both. I just wanted to address this developer/publisher fallacy that in order to sell a fantasy game you need a dragon, and simultaneously elbow Skyrim's ribs.

Ravelle
30-11-2011, 11:50 AM
The Dragons in Skyrim are as much part of the game as bears,sabrecats and bunnies, they are just wildlife but flying.

gundrea
30-11-2011, 11:53 AM
Skyrim does dragons justice. Dragons are in many games as boss monsters but before Skyrim they either sat on the ground(ala Baldur's Gate) or were a sequence of QTEs(ala Daggerdale).

Jockie
30-11-2011, 12:38 PM
I like dragons! also OP you are missing the Giant Floppy Eared Dragon from The Neverending Story in your list of great dragons.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_nA8t7ZFEOBI/SMyRVS_kKqI/AAAAAAAAAF8/dyszt_FW0H4/s1600/falcor.jpg

pakoito
30-11-2011, 12:40 PM
The biggest thing Beth did right with Dragons was not to script them. The biggest mistake is that their AI sucks for everyone, just find a spot to dodge projectiles, jump in, jump out for a nuke, hide again. Rinse and repeat.


Wait no, the biggest mistake was not to let you ride them, tease you with it and then get a crappy cutscene. It really annoyed me.

Vexing Vision
30-11-2011, 12:41 PM
I found the Dragons in Skyrim to be astonishingly good - shared my fears of the OP and took a long time to activate Dragons, which I'm now regretting and definitely won't make the same mistake again for a second playthrough.

I can't really think of any other game that did Dragons right, although the Velah-raid in DDO was pretty amazing and impressive.

Drake Sigar
30-11-2011, 12:44 PM
The Dragons in Skyrim are as much part of the game as bears,sabrecats and bunnies, they are just wildlife but flying.
Wildlife doesn't have an argro area three miles wide. Let me put it this way: in traditional fantasy worlds dragons are constantly challenged by humans seeking gold, glory, or a trial to marry the local princess. The dragon strikes them down one by one, but over the years they keep coming until one day a lucky human kills the dragon.

In Skyrim, YOU are the dragon. The dragons are the dragonhunters, an unavoidable nuisance that constantly interrupt your daily life.

Malawi Frontier Guard
30-11-2011, 12:48 PM
http://i.imgur.com/rExVu.jpg

Have I ever told you about how dragons are literally the devil.

Because they are.

agentorange
30-11-2011, 12:50 PM
I can't really think of any other game that did Dragons right, although the Velah-raid in DDO was pretty amazing and impressive.

Gothic 2, Demon's Souls, Baldur's Gate 2. Though it all depends what you mean by "right".

Vexing Vision
30-11-2011, 01:10 PM
Gothic 2, Demon's Souls, Baldur's Gate 2. Though it all depends what you mean by "right".

I haven't played Demon's Souls for lack of Playstationing, but both in Baldur's Gate 2 and Gothic 2 they have merely been pretty static spell generators with a lot of hitpoints.

Okay, so BG2 did a good job of making them feel very, very powerful due to the cool spell-like abilities, but in Gothic 2, the awesomeness of the dragon fights was mostly influenced by the very lovingly detailed ambient in which they were crafted.

For me, at least. :) Skyrim does them justice. Dragon Age did not.

Juan Carlo
30-11-2011, 01:22 PM
I rather liked Divinity 2's use of dragons. Or at least the lore built up around them.

Scumbag
30-11-2011, 01:55 PM
I personally quite like dragons. Cant think of anything off the top of my head where I saw a Dragon and thought "Oh god! Here we go again."
Orcs, Elves and Dwarves however...

db1331
30-11-2011, 01:56 PM
Demon's Souls and Dark Souls do dragons the best out of all the games I've played. Just your first brief glimpse of the red drake in Dark Souls was more pants-shittingly exciting than all of Skyrim's dragons, infinite as they may be.

ntw
30-11-2011, 02:02 PM
I personally quite like dragons. Cant think of anything off the top of my head where I saw a Dragon and thought "Oh god! Here we go again."
Orcs, Elves and Dwarves however...

The thing that bugs me is the (pretty much universal) assumption that humans are the "average", e.g. in physique you get your svelte elves, stocky dwarves and middle humans. It'd be a nice change if humans represented one end of the spectrum.

Or maybe it's just me being contrary from my own unique perspective ;)

Ian
30-11-2011, 02:06 PM
What about ZOMBIE dragons? I bet not many games have those.

Ravelle
30-11-2011, 02:14 PM
Wildlife doesn't have an argro area three miles wide. Let me put it this way: in traditional fantasy worlds dragons are constantly challenged by humans seeking gold, glory, or a trial to marry the local princess. The dragon strikes them down one by one, but over the years they keep coming until one day a lucky human kills the dragon.

In Skyrim, YOU are the dragon. The dragons are the dragonhunters, an unavoidable nuisance that constantly interrupt your daily life.

They have a wide agro radius yes, but they won't chase you forever.

Personally I like the dragons but their AI is a bit weak and makes the fights kind of dull, dodge fire and keep slapping them with your sword or just keep shooting them with arrows.

Kaira-
30-11-2011, 02:15 PM
What about ZOMBIE dragons? I bet not many games have those.

Dark Souls has... umm, two or three of those, I guess. Vicious beasts. Otherwise, don't know really many, skeletal dragons are plenty though.

Subatomic
30-11-2011, 02:50 PM
Dark Souls has... umm, two or three of those, I guess. Vicious beasts. Otherwise, don't know really many, skeletal dragons are plenty though.

WoW had it's fair share of dragons in all variants, from sekeletal to zombie to cyborg-like construct (yes, really).

Berzee
30-11-2011, 02:52 PM
I agree with the OP about being sick of dragons in general. They have to be very special for me to appreciate them (i.e. the night fury from How To Train Your Dragon) but as people have enjoyed them tremendously for many hundreds of years, maybe I should consider it to be my own personal character flaw.

westyfield
30-11-2011, 02:59 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRsGyueVLvQ
Best to watch this one in HD.

Berzee
30-11-2011, 03:04 PM
Hey I've seen that movie before! Rather impressive work.


Best to watch this one in HD.

(movie spoiler)And when you're just not feeling utterly depressed enough.

Drinking with Skeletons
30-11-2011, 03:51 PM
Check out a Monster Hunter game if you want good dragons (and other large beasts); I'd recommend Monster Hunter 3 on the Wii, since the Classic Controller Pro is infinitely superior to a PSP's layout. It's a long-running franchise devoted almost exclusively to fighting giant monsters and, as you might expect, it's second to none in that respect. It also has a heavy crafting component, which may be a huge selling point or a deal-breaker.

If nothing else, go on YouTube and look for Rathian and/or Rathalos fights to see how they surpass the dragons of Skyrim.

Note: Skyrim's dragons work fine in context, and I'm not advocating that they should be hour-long, unforgiving battles like in Monster Hunter or that they're bad. Just that Monster Hunter really knows what it's doing in the giant monster department.

Ravelle
30-11-2011, 04:18 PM
Oh man I love Monster Hunter Tri, it's a bit hard to find a team but when you do and the people work well together it's one epic game.
I remember Ratholos and Rathian together on one map, great times. That game had some great designed Dragons, too bad it wasn't released on ps3 as well.

apricotsoup
30-11-2011, 04:24 PM
I don't have a problem with dragons, but I do have an increasing problem with generic fantasy worlds.

There's nothing fantastical about something I've seen a thousand times before and dragons do now fall into that category.

I just want to explore worlds that feel fresh.

pakoito
30-11-2011, 04:35 PM
Monster Hunter Trii is a walk in the park compared to any other MH. But the good part is that it can be played on DolphinEmu so it's the best a PC player can try ;)

metalangel
30-11-2011, 04:36 PM
No more dragons?

http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/images/britain_flags/Wales-flag.gif

My missus will come and kick your shit in personally. :p

The problem with dragons is that they're always just used as a nice and easy ultimate monster, as opposed to something interesting. How about a wise and friendly dragon in a game? Or playing AS a dragon? They have such a resonance in both Western and Eastern cultures there must be more that can be done with them.

Drake Sigar
30-11-2011, 04:52 PM
I don't have a problem with dragons, but I do have an increasing problem with generic fantasy worlds.
There's nothing fantastical about something I've seen a thousand times before and dragons do now fall into that category.
My thoughts exactly.



My missus will come and kick your shit in personally. :p
Knowing the inhuman tongue movements required to communicate in the Welsh language, I'd pick a Welsh girl too.

Aw yeah.

bussinrounds
30-11-2011, 05:05 PM
Infinite dragons is a really dumb design decision. Instead of making dragons a really unique and memorable experience, Beth figures if 1 dragon is so KEWL then having an unlimited amount of dragons must be TOTALLY AMAZING !! Herp.

And of course, if they're gonna have so many of them, they can't make them too difficult either. So they end up being laughable while things like giants and trolls are much more powerful. Derp.

Anthile
30-11-2011, 05:18 PM
Want to be a dragon? You can always play http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/12/06/scaled-up-choice-of-the-dragon/

Drinking with Skeletons
30-11-2011, 05:39 PM
Oh man I love Monster Hunter Tri, it's a bit hard to find a team but when you do and the people work well together it's one epic game.
I remember Ratholos and Rathian together on one map, great times. That game had some great designed Dragons, too bad it wasn't released on ps3 as well.

Capcom has tried to replicate the success of the series in the West, but for some reason it has never caught on. Demons/Dark Souls did quite well, despite being brutally hard and grindy, Minecraft set the world on fire, despite being almost nothing but crafting (and arguably grind, depending upon how you define that term in the context of a crafting game), and Skyrim is breaking records left and right, despite not providing as refined a monster-slaying experience (again, not saying it's bad, and it's providing an overall very different experience, but still), but Monster Hunter languishes as a niche series.

They should consider exporting the MMO version, if nothing else, or experiment with a PC port of a title. I refuse to believe that a larger Western audience doesn't exist; they just need to find the right entry point, and consoles aren't cutting it.

I'd just be happy for a localized version of the PS3 upgrade to the latest PSP version (which also hasn't been released outside Japan; I wonder if they're waiting for the PS Vita to release and then hit us with a version with better controls).

Nalano
30-11-2011, 05:44 PM
I wouldn't mind even more dragons in my fantasy games if it means there's at least one NPC that can hold a conversation without sounding like a total idiot.

Wulf
30-11-2011, 05:56 PM
Yes, more dragons! But at least do interesting things with them.

The problem with the use of dragons is that they're incredibly typical in most things, they're just this big, powerful bad guy in almost everything, and that's incredibly depressing. They've been made completely two-dimensional in so many games. But when you introduce the notion of multifaceted dragons, or playable ones, then everything becomes much more interesting. I definitely think that we need more dragon games, but just more imaginative ones.

Without dragons, we'd never see the likes of Dragon Commander (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdaUt1Hip_Y), which has managed to capture my imagination in ways that few things can.

And really, call me an old romantic (and you all know I am), but... I don't know, there's little else like a sky filled with dragons. It's the very essence of wonder. And we've all become so jaded because they're just these big things that we kill, now, but the best dragon stories have had dragons either as just ordinary people (good and bad), or as valued allies. I'd love to see a game set in a reality like Flight of Dragons, for example. (If only so that I could defeat a boss by yelling the names of random sciences at it, which would be better than every MMO raid that's ever been, and most boss battles, too.)

Really, there's room for dragons, we just need dragons with depth. I'd rather see this sentiment become: No more two-dimensional dragons. Really, a world without dragons wouldn't be a world for this old wulf. Dragons are imagination, they embody the fantastic.

---


I wouldn't mind even more dragons in my fantasy games if it means there's at least one NPC that can hold a conversation without sounding like a total idiot.

We agree on so many things. There have been many intelligently written dragons throughout the ages, even Istaria had a few. We can't blame dragons for the lack of talent of the people envisioning them.

---


Want to be a dragon? You can always play http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/12/06/scaled-up-choice-of-the-dragon/

I loved the heck out of that. Though I think it might be a bit telling when an online text-based thingy has a more compellingly written dragon than any in any game I've encountered. Dragons can be awesome, you just need a decent writer behind the lines and plot. And this is absolute proof of that. Choice of Dragon was incredibly fun, I'd love more of that.

---

I'm trying to think of dragons that have stoked the fires of my imagination in ways that books, films, and even comic books have, and I'm coming up with very few examples. Dragon Knight Saga was incredibly amazing, granted. It was funny, it had a moving story, it was beautiful and it tore at my heart strings, but... it was more of a weredragon than a dragon, per se.

There's Istaria, and I liked the dragons there. But... generally? Do we have any game examples of something that comes close to Dragonheart? I'm coming up blank, here.

That is what we need to fix, rather than removing dragons entirely. There are so many books, films, and again, even comic books that have had and continue to have memorable dragons. That gaming lacks these memorable dragons is half the cause of the problem. Hell, Paarthurnax and his "Way of the Voice" could have been if they'd done more with it, but really it ended up feeling shallow and half-arsed. I wanted Paarth to be more than he was.

Maybe a mod will provide an interesting dragon or two? I can see that happening, to be honest.

But... are there any examples of dragons in games which haven't felt shallow? That's the problem.

---

Okay, just one more thought... but only because this is an important topic to me.

See, Okku from Mask of the Betrayer would have made an awesome dragon. He was well written, he had depth, and he felt old in ways that Paarthurnax didn't. Paarth liked to say that he was old, but he didn't exude oldlness and wisdom in the way that Okku did. Except Okku was a spirit bear, not a dragon. Okku definitely had the feeling of a dragon about him, though. This is hard to describe unless you've played Mask of the Betrayer.

But that's what we need. We need a well written dragon or two with real depth, just to break this bloody meme of dragons being large, mindless foes with the AI of a particularly dumb chicken.

hamster
30-11-2011, 06:26 PM
I think it's kind of weird to have intelligent dragons without changing the whole reptilian look. Also, there needs to be a great sense of their size. These things should be ridiculously enormous. And when it comes to controlling them, there ought to be a sense of great inertia - slow to move at first, but very quick once they get the thing moving. I'm talking about tranches and tranches of dragon rushing through the air with the sense of heft like a sledgehammer, drawing a slithering, powerful sine wave in the air. And dragon battles with all of the above! This would probably require dynamic camera work though since a fixed over-the-shoulder camera view really de-emphasizes the size of the dragon.

cjlr
30-11-2011, 06:36 PM
I'm talking about tranches and tranches of dragon rushing through the air with the sense of heft like a sledgehammer, drawing a slithering, powerful sine wave in the air. And dragon battles with all of the above! This would probably require dynamic camera work though since a fixed over-the-shoulder camera view really de-emphasizes the size of the dragon.

So, like Lair, but not mediocre?

Hensler
30-11-2011, 07:02 PM
I haven't followed the lore since World of Warcraft came out, but Deathwing is my favorite gaming dragon.

Deekin from Neverwinter Nights would be #2 on my list.

Ravelle
30-11-2011, 07:09 PM
Does Behemut from the Final Fantasy games count because he's pretty badass.

Drake Sigar
30-11-2011, 07:11 PM
Want to be a dragon? You can always play http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/12/06/scaled-up-choice-of-the-dragon/
What a fun little game. Trying to build a lasting dynasty by playing the sneaky manipulative type who only shows his physical superiourity when neccessary. I don't want to be known as the Tony Montana of dragons.

Smashbox
30-11-2011, 07:22 PM
Yet [this thing is] synonymous with fantasy (it's not hard to see why, the child in us loves dinosaurs), and are crowbarred into every modern fantasy game.

I feel this way about magic, particularly spell-casting. It's fun, sure, but why is it in everything, again?

Wulf
30-11-2011, 07:45 PM
I think it's kind of weird to have intelligent dragons without changing the whole reptilian look.

See, that's just xenophobia talking.

Excuse me whilst I let out a long, long, and very soulful sigh.

Okay, I'm done.

Look, we can't keep looking at things like this. Why does intelligence have to be signified by any particular kind of visual aesthetic? Is this a religious thing? Is it a cultural thing? It's just not a thing that my mind is equipped to understand.

See, my brain is a simple one. It dictates thus: If a creature is intelligent enough to tell me that it is so, and to tell me that it is aware, and to know what that means, then it is. The appearance of the creature is irrelevant, because appearance has nothing to do with intelligence.

Really though, you honestly have no idea how depressed I get when I read things like this, because it's like some kind of classical conditioning is going on that I'm completely immune to. Frankly, I'm tired of the most perfect people in any given entertainment-based scenario being perfect avatars of humanity, with no visual flaws at all, and their opponents being anything from ugly people to monstrosities.

I have said this before, but I'll say it again: With attitudes like this, if we ever encounter an alien race then we're completely and utterly fucked if this is the prevailing opinion. Totally. Totally. Fucked. I mean, what are we going to do? Tell the dragon-like aliens with towering intellects that they're complete imbeciles that would never be able to understand our ways of higher thinking?

I wouldn't blame them if they wiped us out and turned earth into some kind of shiny parking lot for that.

I just really, really, really don't understand this mindset.

And I am so saddened by how common it is. So very saddened. You have no idea.

There are days when I wonder if I'm perhaps one of the few humans alive who isn't obsessively xenophobic. This is where a lot of my bitterness stems from. I expect better. I'm always disappointed.

I'm sorry to harp on, and this is not meant as a personal insult, no matter how you may take it, this is merely my lament at how common this sort of mindset is.


Also, there needs to be a great sense of their size. These things should be ridiculously enormous. And when it comes to controlling them, there ought to be a sense of great inertia - slow to move at first, but very quick once they get the thing moving.

Lair, for all of its faults, did a very good job of that.

Anyway, this is a point that I might be able to agree with, but then... is it necessary? With the right steampunk technology and/or magicks, you could make an incredibly large, speedy, agile dragon anyways. So long as its internally consistent with the lore of its own world, there shouldn't be a problem with that.

---

As an addendum, an example.

Would it be wrong, for example, to have a dragon in steampunk armour, with giant goggles, and radio equipment with which s/he controls a workforce of automatons, where it would be otherwise thrilling to see a normal human with the same? Why does the nature of the dragon have to be changed to allow them to be intelligent, to allow them even to manage industry and creation?

Frankly, I'd be exhilarated to see a dragon like that. It'd be funny, amusing, and it would challenge the notions of what a dragon can be.

---

Oh, I know! I'll link Seeking Advice (http://www.furaffinity.net/view/3581801/).

Maybe some will understand why I'm linking that, and its relevance, and perhaps some won't. But it is linked. That's done.

Unaco
30-11-2011, 07:48 PM
See, that's just xenophobia talking.

No it isn't.

westyfield
30-11-2011, 09:14 PM
See, that's just xenophobia talking.

Lolwut.
If your cat climbed up on your lap, turned to you, and said "Hey Wulf hey, give me a tickle under the chin, I like it when you do that", your first reaction wouldn't be "Well, my hands are free at the moment, so yes, I will". You'd be surprised - you'd probably stand up rapidly and deposit the cat on the floor. Not because you're a filthy cat-hating human supremacist, but because you're not used to having a talking cat.
Intelligent dragons seem weird because we're not accustomed to intelligent reptiles. We look at a lizard, or a snake, and we see a stupid scaly creature that crawls along on its stomach and can't thermoregulate (the idiots!). So when we see a dragon (which looks like a large winged lizard), we associate it with actual lizards, which quickly leads to assigning characteristics of lizards to dragons, one of which happens to be a lack of intelligence. And from thence doth the weirdness arise.

Drake Sigar
30-11-2011, 09:49 PM
Look, we can't keep looking at things like this. Why does intelligence have to be signified by any particular kind of visual aesthetic?
Maybe if we give the dragon a beard...

Unaco
30-11-2011, 10:01 PM
For the record... I have no problem with intelligent Dragons, or more 'primitive' bestial Dragons. Or Dragons so intelligent that we can't comprehend them.

But I also don't have a problem with people who do have a problem with those sorts of things... for people that it's a disconnect for, that find it weird, and 'breaks' a world they appear in. That's cool... we all have these cultural basis' or whatever for how we react to things, due to associations we have and we make. I've said myself, I can't take things like the Charr from that Guild Wars game too seriously, due to associations I have with Saturday Morning cartoons and things like that (even though I have no real trouble with Khaajit). But then, I have no problem with some other weird things that other people might not appreciate in their games... I'm reading a series of books just now that feature sentient, teleporting, cryptic talking Menhirs, a God from another world in the form of an omnipotent tree, and giant flying whales that live symbiotically with (slightly less) giant flying Manta rays that fire lightning (the Black Company for any who were wondering).

It isn't Xenphobia, and I think it's quite disingenuous, and somewhat insulting to say it is. It's about tastes, about our subjectivity, and about the sorts of video game worlds we want to inhabit and spend our time in, and the sort of worlds we can embrace and believe, and the things that 'break' that belief for us.

Nalano
30-11-2011, 10:09 PM
Lolwut.
If your cat climbed up on your lap, turned to you, and said "Hey Wulf hey, give me a tickle under the chin, I like it when you do that", your first reaction wouldn't be "Well, my hands are free at the moment, so yes, I will". You'd be surprised - you'd probably stand up rapidly and deposit the cat on the floor. Not because you're a filthy cat-hating human supremacist, but because you're not used to having a talking cat.

And then you are used to having a talking cat, and life goes on.

The funny thing about these fictional dragon-filled universes is that it's practically common knowledge that dragons are intertwined with human affairs, and are known to be at least sapient.

And, of course, we are talking about universes where there's a whole bevy of sapient yet non-human beings - many of them violently hostile - among outlandish demi-humans, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, fairies, talking animals, sentient trees, and the like, down below, up above, in other dimensions, under water, and hiding in every nook and cranny.

In fact, not seeing some weird event in a high-magic world like TES or Forgotten Realms or whatever would be cause for some alarm.

Smashbox
30-11-2011, 10:09 PM
My own concern along these lines is less about disrupting immersion (it's fantasy) and more about over-reliance on staid genre tropes. Think outside the norm, writerlings!

Lambchops
30-11-2011, 10:13 PM
No more dragons?
How about a wise and friendly dragon in a game?

Longest Journey? It kind of has this.

PeopleLikeFrank
30-11-2011, 10:24 PM
Maybe if we give the dragon a beard...

That's ridiculous.



...



It has to have some glasses, too. Duh.

Nalano
30-11-2011, 10:29 PM
Actually, there is something I'd like a moratorium on, if we're talking about overused fantasy tropes:

If the status quo has been upheld for millenia, act like it wasn't all just cobbled together yesterday! If your wizened elders are centuries old... make them wise.

I'm so sick of elves that take a century to reach majority acting like 16 year old naifs.

westyfield
30-11-2011, 10:41 PM
If the status quo has been upheld for millenia, act like it wasn't all just cobbled together yesterday! If your wizened elders are centuries old... make them wise.

Our way is the old way. Passed down from our great and enlightened ancestors, we have sworn to protect and uphold our proud tradition of racism. Bitter? No, why would they be?. Anyway, they're elves! It's not like they're gonna do anything about it.

Nalano
30-11-2011, 10:44 PM
Our way is the old way. Passed down from our great and enlightened ancestors, we have sworn to protect and uphold our proud tradition of-- oh, since you asked nicely. Here.

Memph
30-11-2011, 10:44 PM
Dragons in Vagrant Story were memorable. Mainly for stomping my arse repeatedly though. Damn that game was tough as a £2 steak

Serenegoose
30-11-2011, 10:45 PM
Actually, there is something I'd like a moratorium on, if we're talking about overused fantasy tropes:

If the status quo has been upheld for millenia, act like it wasn't all just cobbled together yesterday! If your wizened elders are centuries old... make them wise.

I'm so sick of elves that take a century to reach majority acting like 16 year old naifs.

Actually I quite like that, since it brings the elves a little closer to the myths that spawned them. I like the idea of them being immortal children, like capricious forces of nature that exist on the edge of predictability. It's the old, faux-wise, perfect elves that irk me, just because they're so tedious.

Which isn't to say that you can't be sick of them, but I just felt like saying that anyway.

Nalano
30-11-2011, 10:47 PM
Actually I quite like that, since it brings the elves a little closer to the myths that spawned them. I like the idea of them being immortal children, like capricious forces of nature that exist on the edge of predictability. It's the old, faux-wise, perfect elves that irk me, just because they're so tedious.

Which isn't to say that you can't be sick of them, but I just felt like saying that anyway.

I find them tedious because they're pseudo-wise. Clearly those hundreds of years were not spent in quiet contemplation. Maybe their entire civilization was hell-bent on finding the perfect skin cream.

Drinking with Skeletons
01-12-2011, 12:27 AM
See, that's just xenophobia talking.


There's a problem with introducing alien--truly alien--species in fiction, and it's especially evident in video games. The problem is that if a member of another species wishes to communicate with a human--or a character that is, for most functional purposes, a human, such as The Elder Scrolls' Argonians--then that individual must share some common interest or perspective that allows that communication to take place. This is especially true if that alien being is going to be interacting with an active participant (the player in a game), who is going to naturally be more critical should the non-human seem to be expressing opinions or behaving in ways that simply waste the human's time. This has a snowball effect that tends to make seemingly exotic and fascinating beings into quirky, re-skinned humans.

Let's look at the dragons in Skyrim since you've cited them as a step in the right direction. They are multi-ton, flying, reptile-like creatures possessing at least as much intelligence as humans. They do not have arms of any kind, and when walking on the ground they move in a way similar to some species of bats. They are physically robust and possess natural armor and are resistant to the more powerful magics of the setting. They have their own complex language and are capable of understanding and reproducing other languages, allowing them to communicate with members of other species. They are, by their nature, magical, and can utilize their language to bend reality to their will (though their demonstrated abilities are limited by the necessary boundaries of the game rules, based on the available Shouts we know that they can change the weather, slow time, calm animals, and more). This extends to their basic nature which is, according to Paarthunax, to dominate the world around them. They can travel to the afterlife and eat the souls of the dead to become more powerful; it is stated that Alduin guards this privilege jealously, so we can infer that all dragons are capable of doing so. However, since not all dragons are permitted to do so by their tyrannical king, they clearly do not need to eat souls to survive. They cannot be permanently killed except by another dragon--presumably, since it is stated that they absorb the souls of their vanquished fellows--or a dragonborn, an individual directly blessed by their father and creator Akatosh to possess many dragon-like qualities. Exactly what happens when one is killed by a non-dragon is unclear, but the evidence is explicit: they can, at the very least, be resurrected by another dragon. As creations of Akatosh, god of Time, they have some capacity to see and/or exist outside the flow of time as humans know it; Paarthunax doesn't elaborate enough on this for it to make much sense to me, but perhaps someone else understood this better. According to the lore books, they do not breed; they simply are and have always been as they are.

While extremely complicated, that's a pretty typical portrayal of dragons as intelligent beings. So what is the great philosophical divide within this strange, majestic, inhuman race? To subjugate all other forms of life or to meditate on reality and live in peace and harmony. Really? They can bend time, change the weather, fly, travel into the afterlife, and everything else, and it boils down to enslaving humanity or fighting their nature and living in peace? Why do they need slaves? I understand how they might want small cults of worshipers, but to manage a large population of slaves requires massive amounts of commitment: food, housing, guards, and overseers leap to mind. What benefit do they get out of it? They don't use buildings, they don't wear clothing, they don't seem to amass physical goods (they can't use them anyway because they don't have hands), and they are strong, powerful, and mobile enough that anything a human would have that they would want (livestock seems like the obvious draw) could be easily taken with or without causing havoc. The idea of an evil empire of dragons just doesn't make sense because they are so physically different and so supernaturally powerful that it's ludicrous that they would just form a human-style totalitarian state. A far more efficient and safer plan which would also happen to wreak havoc on the lives of mortals and assert the terrifying superiority of the dragons would be to watch their civilizations from a distance and swoop in at opportune times to disrupt affairs and keep the mortals in a constant state of war and strife, creating a steady stream of souls to feed upon, further magnifying the terrible power of the dragons. Oh, wait, that's Alduin's plan for the whole game, which is why comparing the smart plan to the stupid plan is so easy.

But this is just a side-effect of trying to create a mysterious and alien race for the player to interact with. They can't actually be that alien, because the player has to have some reason to talk to them and has to get some benefit from doing so. The bits about the dragons' relationship with time is the most alien detail, and guess what: it doesn't matter to the player! The player can't travel through time, or see time from outside the bounds of reality, or whatever Paarthunax was trying to describe. We can barely conceive of the idea, so while neat it is entirely superfluous, and the best we can manage is a simple time-travel plot point.

Finally, the creators of these alien races, as humans, are going to naturally have a difficult time not allowing some degree of humanity to seep in. Meanwhile, the audience is going to naturally latch on to the humanity of these races and enjoy their "otherness" only as a spin on their own nature. Your final example is a case study: a dragon in armor? How does a non-human behaving like a human "challenge the notions" of what it can be? Does a bear riding a bicycle challenge the notion of what a bear can be? The most extreme end of this concept is what you see in The Witcher 2: a dragon who basically spends all of her time as a shape-shifted human. Why? That kind of behavior would be seen as the most pitiable kind of self-loathing or as a sign of a warped mind would a human do so: the rejection of her very species in favor of living life as another.

I know this was long, but I hope I made sense.

Nalano
01-12-2011, 12:28 AM
There's a problem with introducing alien--truly alien--species in fiction

His Master's Voice
Solaris

Read them.

Subatomic
01-12-2011, 08:45 AM
....
Finally, the creators of these alien races, as humans, are going to naturally have a difficult time not allowing some degree of humanity to seep in. Meanwhile, the audience is going to naturally latch on to the humanity of these races and enjoy their "otherness" only as a spin on their own nature. Your final example is a case study: a dragon in armor? How does a non-human behaving like a human "challenge the notions" of what it can be? Does a bear riding a bicycle challenge the notion of what a bear can be? The most extreme end of this concept is what you see in The Witcher 2: a dragon who basically spends all of her time as a shape-shifted human. Why? That kind of behavior would be seen as the most pitiable kind of self-loathing or as a sign of a warped mind would a human do so: the rejection of her very species in favor of living life as another.

I know this was long, but I hope I made sense.

I think the metric ton of alien races in Star Trek are a good example. Very few of those are truly alien, most could just as well be humans with a different culture, philosophy or religion. With the very few 'real' aliens introduced, they still felt the need to humanize them at some point. When the Borg were first introduced, they were unlike any other species encountered by the Federation, like a faceless race of technological locusts. Later on, the resorted to adding human characteristics, first with Hugh in 'I Borg' and finally with the Borg Queen in First Contact and Voyager, which somewhat ruined the race.

Another example are the Changelings from Deep Space Nine. Like the Borg, they are extremely alien to humans, exist mostly as an ocean of goo where there's no real individuality and seem to procreate by splitting off parts of that ocean. They also seem to be functionally genderless. Still, the character of Odo acts very much like a human (or bajoran for that matter, as he was raised by them), and even has romantic feelings for another character. How exactly does that even work for a species so completely unlike humans/humanoids? What kind of sex drive, which is the biological imperative underlying romance, does a species like that have?

coldvvvave
01-12-2011, 09:45 AM
I had a dragon in my party in MM8 and in Wizardry 8 too.

Ravelle
01-12-2011, 09:59 AM
I had a dragon in my party in MM8 and in Wizardry 8 too.

I like how in the Might and Magic games Dragon's strength was displayed in it's color.