What is one of the main things in the game? Story. Who drives the story? Villains of course! An article about guys we love to hate!

Hello there, people, it's Crown-It-All with his first article. Let's get it straight - I've been studying villains characters for quite some time and this article will be about my dear baddies. So let's go on.

I won't be telling you boring stuff about the difference between mechanical and narrative villains. There's not much stuff you need to know about mechanical baddies - just final bosses, go on ahead. We'll be talking about the narrative villains, if you like so. Those guys, who really drive the massive plot, are quite complex characters. Let's start from the begining. Oh, yeah, there will be exemplary villains and some information about them so just warn you it can be boring. A bit.

Motivation and Backstory
First goes first. Narrative villains are very complex, as I said, and most of them have believable motive for doing what they're doing. Expect for real complete monsters like Joker. Well... Where was I? Motivation. Motivation comes from the backstory. Allow me to shape it in the example of a random villain of my favorite "Ace Attorney" series. For those of you who don't know, it's pretty much like... Investigator RPG. Searching for the culpit. Warning! There might be spoilers even after many years after the release.

Well. The exemplary villain for our case (funny... case. Inner joke) will be miss Dahlia Hawthorne - the main antagonist of "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials & Tribulations".
Let us look into her backstory prior to the first in-game appearing.

Born as Dahlia Fey, Dahlia was a daughter of Morgan Fey - the little sister of the Master of the legendary Kurain Chanelling Technique, which chanelled the worlds of the dead and living. She also had a twin-sister Iris Fey, by the way. Random DL-6 Incident caused the desperate police to ask the Master of the cooperation to channel with the dead victim for him to name the culpit. That spirit accused the wrong person, who then was acquitted, and the Fey's authority started to fall.
One of those consequences was that Dahlia and Iris's father abandom their mother, as he didn't see benefit from their marriage anymore. Iris was left in a temple, as Dahlia met her new step-mother and step-sister.

Pretty much of a plot, don't you think? It's pretty detailed, as that DL-6 Incident in fact, was one of the major events of the franchise. Yes, you will need to create several major events to affect your characters. Deal with it. It's actually not that hard to break people's (and not only their) lives as you think it is. Back to the subject - you need to detail the backstory. That's the main thing I wanted to say.
"But Mr. Crown-It-All!" - you might say. Yes, I know I didn't tell about the motivation, did I? Here it goes - exemplary motivation.

As her father was a jeweler, money-hungry Dahlia conducted a plan of stealing a two million dollars jewel. She and her boyfriend Terry Fawles played a kidnapping, and Dahlia's step-sister Valerie Hawthorne, detective at a time, was to deliver the ransom. However, she betrayed them and shoot as if it was a real kidnapping. Dahlia jumped from the bridge where the crime took place, along with the jewel, and presumingly died. She was found and nursed by her twin-sister Iris, and then Dahlia wanted revenge upon Valerie, so she killed her and put the blame on Terry Fawles, escaping the death row in order to meet Valerie.
She was nearly exposed by the protagonist, Mia Fey, while the latter was protecting Terry Fawles in court, but Fawles, upon learning of Dahlia's manipulation of him, ended his life poisoning himself, which forced the court to be ended and Dahlia let alone free. Some time later, Dahlia poisoned Mia's co-counsil Diego Armando, when he set a meeting with her. She successfully hid the bottle in jewel necklace, giving it to the main protagonist of the game, Phoenix Wright, as a symbol of their love at first sight. Later, she was about to kill him in order to retrieve the necklace as a decisive evidence against her, however, she was forced to kill other main who almost exposed her motives to Wright, so she came up with a plan of pinning the crime on Phoenix. The latter was defended by the same Mia Fey and that time Dahlia was convicted of her last two crimes and found guilty, swearing for revenge to Mia Fey.

Now you have your motivation. Pretty strong on this example. The villain must live with his ideals and do not contradict his beliefs with his behavoir, unlike Dahlia's testimony.

Villain as a Plot Device
Have you ever heard about the Butterfly Effect? I bet you did. The same way it goes in the plot and the characters, and even our lives. Do something, and you may even change the human race history. There will be another exemplary villain for the point - Bansai Ichiyanagi from "Ace Attorney Investigations 2 - The Prosecutor's Path". Those Capcom fellas never translated it, but there is a fan translation, so I will call him Blaise Debeste. Spoiler alert.
Well, he is yet the highest authority ever seen in "Ace Attorney", even more so than a president of a foreign country (mainly, because it was an imposter, but it's a secret). He actually never ever care for anyone, including his own son whom he repeatedly humiliates at front of the player. Yes, and that's how the most annoying character in the game becomes the best. You get it? "Debeste" - "The Best". Right? Well... Down to the plot device.

Even though Blaise was developed long after the first game of "Ace Attorney", his actions influence it in the chronological history of the franchise. He only made a fool out of the great God of Prosecution - Manfred von Karma, giving him false information of a crime for his own enjoyment. It resulted in a single penalty of a prosecutor with perfect score for 25 (later even 40) years. This action led to DL-6 Incident, which even affected the previous exemplary villain. Just a single action led to Blaise being responsible for the corruption of 8 characters, who later would become the villains themselves. If not the Debeste's action, they would probably never ever killed anybody.
Not only that, but in total he manipulated 14 villain of the franchise out of 52 (excluding himself), causing countless murders all around the timeline. One of those villains even include a noble boy who's psychic broke under the pressure of being chased by Blaise Debeste. Now that's how you do a complete monster of a villain.

What I was trying to say is that villains are perfect plot devices when you come to this.

There was backstory and motivation to define the villain's goals. There was an example of what a villain can do to the whole plot. However, there is one more thing that makes a good villain - an intresting personality. You can't just make a hollow villain call it for a day. NO! You need to fill him with the fitting personality, so he will be even more believable and more awesome!
I actually don't think I really need to show you that point on an exemplary villain, but if you want - look at our dear Joker. One of the synonimys of "evil". Or at Darth Vader. Seriously, those guys can really be exemplary villains for anything related to "evil". You surely can't call these two "hollow" characters, can you?

There is it. I told about about the main things that build up a narrative villain. Those are backstory, motivation, plot building and personality. Do you need more out of me? I just tell whatever I can and know.

Crown-It-All at Your Service.


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While I like the article, why is it listed under Game Design and not Writing?

Whoops. My bad. Guess I was too excited about my article and didn't notice that "Writer's Block".
While I like the article, why is it listed under Game Design and not Writing?
Another great example of an antogonist would be the Cigarette Man in the X-files. The Cigarette Man views himself as a hero and perhaps he is. He was one of the few who originally learn the fate of mankind and almost singlehandedly delayed human extinction. To save humanity, he had to become a conspirator and an assassin. That and his tragic relationship to the protagonist, Mulder. He is fated to the role of the antagonist, almost unwillingly.

He gives the following soliloquy, mirroring Forrest Gump (which makes sense in context as C.G.B. is equally as omnipresent to major historic events, as portrayed by the episode that the soliloquy is from.)

“Life is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for. Unreturnable, because all you get back in another box of chocolates. You’re stuck with this undefinable whipped-mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down when there’s nothing else left to eat. Sure, once in a while, there’s a peanut butter cup or an English toffee. But they’re gone too fast, the taste is fleeting. So you end up with nothing but broken bits, filled with hardened jelly and teeth-crunching nuts, and if you’re desperate enough to eat those, all you’re got left is…is an empty box, filled with useless, brown paper wrappers.”

Also, interestingly enough, Alan Moore did not portray the Joker as evil or as misguided in the Killing Joke.
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