Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
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# 1 Characterization pet peeves
12-27-2012, 10:17 PM
Apologies if this has already been discussed somewhere, but I just got a friendly warning from a mod in another forum about necro-posting (definition here is different than the fora I'm used to), so to be on the safe side I'm starting another thread.

I just wanted to open up a discussion about some of the characterization pet peeves that I've encountered in various Foundry missions.


1) Please remember that my captain is not human. Not every captain is human, and may well be insulted by being called one or being expected to know the most obscure human cultural references. (I may know those references, but when I'm in character, I know my captain doesn't know everything about humans.)

2) Please remember that my captain may not be male. Even when I play a male captain, I can't help noticing. The only exceptions to this rule--though obscure and not always liked by every Starfleet captain--are the use of "Mr." and "sir" to address officers in a military context. I have run into it on occasion where (perhaps because of more than one character being involved in the conversation, or my captain reading some sort of record about himself) somebody did use a gendered pronoun (usually "he") to refer to my captain. While it's OK with my character, that is not OK when other players may have female captains.


3) Shoehorning my captain into being a jerk or a perv. This is actually my number one pet peeve--even above calling my captain a human when he's not, or assuming that all captains must be men. I understand that some people like this kind of humor, so offering it as an option is understandable...but I do not like being forced to choose an option like that, where my captain is flippant, hits on everything that moves, acts like a speciesist, or is cruel. And remember that some people have Vulcan captains that are not v'tosh ka'tur, so that's going to be especially OOC for them.

Sometimes the option to do this can be funny, but it should be only an option and not the only choice. Two examples stick out of cases where it did work. On someone's mission (I forget the title or author), my captain located a stash of Romulan ale while searching crew lockers for something even more incriminating. One of the choices was for him to turn to his crew and say, "Sweet! I mean--seize the contraband!" That I couldn't resist--but what was great was that it was a choice.

The other two cases stick out very well. I particularly remember ajstoner's mission "Finding Resolution," where after overhearing Captain Kull give a very Sun Tzu-like speech about my captain, that really increased my captain's respect for Kull's personality and intellect. From there he began to respond to Kull in a much more belligerent (and Klingon-like) manner than he ordinarily would. Establishing that unusual banter with Kull had a really cool payoff in "Avenging Resolution"!

I also remember another case where my Cardassian captain had the opportunity to completely go off on a Cardassian war criminal in "The Spirits of Ramok Nor" by alimac30. While it's not like him normally to lose his temper, the option was there. (And more neutral responses were offered for those whose captains might not act like that.)

Speaking of shoehorning I didn't appreciate, Cryptic has actually been guilty of it on a few very notable occasions. I did not care for being made to blindly follow Admiral Zelle in "Divide et Impera" when I was getting suspicious much earlier than the mission allowed me to show my suspicions. But the worst offender of all that I've encountered thus far was the Torture-the-Fed-Captain mission on the KDF side. Yeah, I know KDF is more brutal, bt even among Klingons there are variations. Can you imagine Worf or the cloned Kahless torturing a defeated enemy? I could see a duel to the death or fighting until the destruction of the enemy's ship, so as to give an enemy a proper death--but a Klingon like that would see no honor in torturing a disabled, disarmed enemy. It almost made me feel sick to do that and I would have MUCH preferred an alternative means to accomplish that objective.


4) Disrespectful bridge officers

Oh boy. Let me put it this way: I would not allow someone who was disrespectful to me or others to be one of my senior officers. Cryptic seems to be mindful of this in their official missions: once in a while a BOFF might make a slightly pointed remark, but these instances are kept rare and are not inappropriate.

Heck, even at work I would likely write up one of my direct reports if they said some of the outrageous things I have seen some people write my bridge officers into saying. Please do not make my BOFFs hit on me (adding to that, you don't know what the BOFF's gender is in advance and whether the player's captain is straight, gay, or otherwise interested in responding to that BOFF's advances) or be OOC jerks.

They also shouldn't be calling me by my first name...or at least Foundry authors shouldn't assume that sort of relationship is there.


5) Be careful with disrespectful military NPCs.

The lack of consideration of military protocol sometimes affects what people write for military NPCs too. Ensign Helna is the character people seem to assign this to the most (she seems to occur in multiple people's missions). There's more leeway for this with NPCs, but I'd at least like the option to warn or discipline a crew member who mouths off to me. (Of course sometimes such aberrant behavior is a sign that said crew member is about to go bad or go psycho, in which case it's perfectly understandable in the plot. )



What about you guys? How do you approach these in your missions?

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Career Officer
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# 2
12-27-2012, 11:27 PM
You know I don't really have much to add, I agree a lot with all your points and try to follow these rules...and yes there are a lot of missions that break these rules which to me are very distracting.

Check out my Foundry missions:
Standalone - The Great Escape - The Galaxy's Fair - Purity I: Of Denial - Return to Oblivion
The Defenders - Duritanium Man - The Improbable Bulk - [WIP] Commander Rihan
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 522
# 3
12-27-2012, 11:53 PM
Good advice for all, and I'm glad you liked the Romulan Ale joke.

One Cryptic mission really bothered me as well: it was the one where Franklin Drake tricks you onto that holodeck where he and another character are each accusing the other of being an Undine spy and you have to decide to attack one. It made no sense; I would have taken them both into custody and brought everyone back to my ship for a nice blood test, not shoot up the place on a wild guess.

Last edited by ajstoner; 12-28-2012 at 01:23 AM.
Rihannsu
Join Date: Jun 2012
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# 4
12-28-2012, 05:22 AM
Yeah, I try to stick with the "silent hero" motif as much as possible. That way the player can imagine their character saying whatever they feel would be appropriate.
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Lt. Commander
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# 5
12-28-2012, 07:14 AM
In regards to #3 and my series, I've already got a few comments complaining about following through the initial mission when it would become obvious to the player that something is wrong.

Thing is there IS a reason for doing what you're doing, but to reveal it would ruin a major plot point later on in the series. In a different media like a TV show it might be possible to give the viewer an idea of what has happened, but with our essentially first person story telling experience here it becomes more problematic showing things your captain doesn't know or see.
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Survivor of Romulus
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# 6
12-28-2012, 08:33 AM
All quite valid points.

However, when I'm writing, I tend to ignore them and just write.

The thing about our audience is that it is so widely varied and have so many ideas about their characters and their bridge officers, none of which we can know. To my mind there are two approaches you can take. You can either attempt to write for every eventuality or write what you want.

That's a decision each author has to make for themselves. I lean toward the latter. I think writing for every eventuality just makes things very bland. I do try and give options though. Sure, i get a couple "my character would never say that" comments per mission, but sometimes you just have to say sorry buddy, but the Foundry is the author's sandbox, not the player's, and I needed you to say X so the story could go in Y direction.

Anyway, I can add a couple pet peeves.

1. Klingons are not evil. They may have been straight-up mustache-twirling villains in TOS, but the Ron D. Moore Klingons of TNG, on which all subsequent klinks have been based, are not evil at all (Duras family excluded of course). They are different from humans, they have different cultural values and different rules, and they would do things humans wouldn't, but that doesn't make them evil and it doesn't mean that they always do bad things.

2. Not all KDF players are Klingon. Players should note this one too. In many reviews people said my spotlight mission "Raktajino in a Jar" was not very Klingon. However, I wasn't really writing it with Klingons in mind. I was writing for Orion or Gorn or whatever others (my own KDF main is a Vorta).
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Captain
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# 7
12-28-2012, 10:34 AM
Not sure what to add except...I agree.
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# 8
12-28-2012, 10:44 AM
Current experiments in multi pathing are progressing
Captain
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# 9
12-28-2012, 11:00 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajstoner View Post
Good advice for all, and I'm glad you liked the Romulan Ale joke.
Sorry I forgot that was you!

I still think your best moment in that mission was when the player has the opportunity to eavesdrop on Captain Kull. It's a shame some players probably miss that, because I know it totally revised my opinion on Kull when I heard him do what struck me as a very intelligent, Sun Tzu-like analysis of my character (yet without getting TOO personal and inferring traits Kull couldn't possibly know).

Quote:
One Cryptic mission really bothered me as well: it was the one where Franklin Drake tricks you onto that holodeck where he and another character are each accusing the other of being an Undine spy and you have to decide to attack one. It made no sense; I would have taken them both into custody and brought everyone back to my ship for a nice blood test, not shoot up the place on a wild guess.
Yeah, that one definitely had some problems too, though the one with Admiral Zelle bothered me the most because I'd basically been co-opted into committing a war crime.

(I was irritated with Zelle from the moment we had our first fight and she wouldn't pick up a phaser. Leading from behind and not facing the consequences--good sign of "Crazy Admiral Syndrome" there...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by markhawkman View Post
Yeah, I try to stick with the "silent hero" motif as much as possible. That way the player can imagine their character saying whatever they feel would be appropriate.
I tend to like some dialogue options because I enjoy seeing the author's writing on display. I especially like branching dialogue because it a) gives me a choice to fit my captain's personality and b) may lend itself to re-playing later just to see where the other options lead. (Alimac30 is a particular master at that...making you want to try his missions multiple times to explore other paths.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by chicochavez View Post
In regards to #3 and my series, I've already got a few comments complaining about following through the initial mission when it would become obvious to the player that something is wrong.

Thing is there IS a reason for doing what you're doing, but to reveal it would ruin a major plot point later on in the series. In a different media like a TV show it might be possible to give the viewer an idea of what has happened, but with our essentially first person story telling experience here it becomes more problematic showing things your captain doesn't know or see.
I haven't played your mission series that I'm aware of, but is there any way to acknowledge the cognitive dissonance at some point, but force the player to go on anyway? An unhappy talk with bridge officers, perhaps? (Either one of your subordinates is unhappy with your course of action, or you ask them for alternatives only to have those alternatives shot down?)

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# 10
12-28-2012, 11:15 AM
Two points where I absolutely agree with you though is 4 and 5.

I try not to necessarily ascribe "abnormal" personalities to bridge officers. Since I don't know what the player has in their head for them, for instance on my main the tac officer i have in one of my boff slots is my first officer, she's Bajoran from one of the DMZ colonies and is "involved" shall we say with the captain, but nobody outside of me knows or cares about that.

So what I do is just write them like they were normal Starfleet officers, which is they are good at their jobs, come up with alternatives, don't tell the captain what to do, are respectful towards superior officers and spout exposition like there's no tomorrow.

If I need someone to have a more radical personality, I make up a new NPC. Even then I usually have any Starfleet officer preface everything they say to the player with "sir."
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