Knights of the Old Republic EP24: Great Paladin

By Shamus Posted Friday Oct 23, 2015

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 229 comments

Link (YouTube)

If you’re reading the comments, then you know there’s a pronounced and constant debate on KOTOR vs. KOTOR II, which is actually a proxy of the larger debate of Obsidian vs. Other RPG Developers.

BioWare – especially pre-EA BioWare – really likes their black and white morality, their lighthearted adventure, and their happy endings. Obsidian is more of a moral quagmire / combative relationships / complex ending kind of place. Fans of either style have been slugging it out for years:

“BioWare is too sappy and simplistic.”

“Obsidian is ugly and nihilistic!”

“Obsidian isn’t ‘nihilistic’, it’s realistic.”

“Obsidian is boring. BioWare is fun!”

“BioWare is cartoonish. Obsidian is interesting.”

“Obsidian is a factory of software bugs, unfinished games, and failed game launches.”

“Fight me IRL.”

The argument is largely moot now. There is no longer a “BioWare Voice”. They’re too big and their disparate writing teams are all over the place between their tentpole franchises of SWTOR, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect. Heck, you can find radical shifts in tone and style not just within the same franchise, but often within the same game. BioWare games mess around with Obsidian-style moral complexity, lighthearted adventure, and drooling action schlockWe fight or we die!.

But the BioWare vs. Obsidian debate lingers.

A good illustration of the tonal differences is Jolee Bindo (BioWare’s KOTOR) versus Kreia (Obsidian’s KOTOR II). Both are trying to both fill and subvert the “wise old teacher” role from Star Wars. Both will argue with you regardless of whether you’re approaching things from a light side / dark side perspective. But Jolee does so in a friendly “devil’s advocate” way, while Kreia is condescending, hostile, or prickly. Jolee is the easygoing uncle who just encourages you to think for yourself instead of blindly repeating what your parents told you. Kreia is the cold, domineering mother who will never, ever be satisfied with anything you do.

I don’t mind the shades-of-grey thing Obsidian does, but they revel in sticking you with insufferable asshole companions and I have no idea why. Is there a huge demand for games with abusive jackasses that you’re obligated to spend time with? Is that a market? Bishop, Quara, and that DICK WarlockWho straight-up murdered the only companion character I actually liked. Seriously. Screw NWN2. from Neverwinter Nights 2 were so insufferable they actually ruined the game long before the ending ruined it a second timeOr third, if you count the door. Which I do.. A good percent of the KOTOR II team has the same kind of intra-party conflict. Why are you following me if you hate me?

Eventually in an Obsidian game I reach the point where I start thinking, “Why am I traveling with these clowns? I hate them more than I hate the main villain. Actually, why can’t they be the villains? I’d gladly take on a quest where I get to kill them instead of coming home from a hard day of adventuring to have them berate me, and I’d rather quit the adventure than continue to put up with their bullshit.” I think that’s why New Vegas is my favorite Obsidian game: The companions are optional and my enemies all stay at the other end of my gun.

For the record, I love Jolee. I love how he can disagree amicably, and I think his relaxed attitude towards galactic wars is refreshing. Game developers are always trying to sell you on the notion that this is the most important battle in history and everything is riding on your success! The last thing they want is someone offering the player some perspective: You know, the galaxy is always in peril. Don’t get too full of yourself.

He’s funny, he’s charming, he’s different. And he makes you medpacks. Which is nice.



[1] We fight or we die!

[2] Who straight-up murdered the only companion character I actually liked. Seriously. Screw NWN2.

[3] Or third, if you count the door. Which I do.

From The Archives:

229 thoughts on “Knights of the Old Republic EP24: Great Paladin

  1. Andy says:

    Nitpick about the new footnote regime: on iOS Safari, I can’t hide the footnote popup once I click on it. It just hangs out, blocking a section of text, until I click on another one.

    1. Andy says:

      Oops, sorry, that was a major topic in the LAST post. (The comments to which I didn’t read.)

  2. manofsteles says:

    Even Jolee versus Kreia seems to illustrate the simplicity/ambition dichotomy. While Jolee’s character and quests (outside of the trial on Manaan) were much simpler and less ambitious, the lesser amount of writing and voice acting seemed to allow both to be more fine-tuned; thus, Jolee as a character seems to have been much more successful and popular.

    Kreia, on the other hand, was a much more ambitious character, with far more importance and nuance. Unfortunately, she had so much more writing and voice-acting, which when combined with a a much larger game and a truncated development cycle to boot, worked against her execution. Even with the restored content mod (which is one of my favorite mods ever), I still feel that her arc was still missing something,which was likely because the modders couldn’t get Kreia’s voice actress for more sessions, which no one can expect of them.

  3. Infinitron says:

    That sounds more like “Chris Avellone companions” than “Obsidian companions”.

    I hope somebody introduces Shamus to Durance someday.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Dang. Ninjaed me.

      1. Artur CalDazar says:


        Gee this is a quite nihilistic and entropy ridden set of themes, oh Chris Avellone was involved? Colour me shocked.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          “My character is metaphysically a sucking wound in the substance of reality? Oh right. Chris Avellone is involved.”

    2. manofsteles says:

      It’s too bad that Chris Avellone left Obsidian, and that those two terms won’t be one and the same going forward. While I lament when his ambition overreaches and results in too many ideas and not enough emphasis on fully executing and polishing the ideas that are already there, his writing, his ideas, and his obvious love for the medium make him one of the game developers that I admire most.

      More importantly, his eagerness to go out and speak to and engage with the gaming community (not just the gaming press) help to encourage other game developers to make their names and faces known. In a presentation at DICE in 2004, Jason Rubin (another one of the game developers that I admire most) spoke of the need for game developers to engage with the gaming community. Love him, hate him, or something grey in-between, Avellone has consistently done that, even when just as many gamers did hate Obsidian’s games as loved them.

    3. djw says:

      Jolee Bindo: Friendly devils advocate.

      Kreia: Domineering (tiger) mother figure.

      Durance: Batshit crazy uncle that hates everything and everyone (with a strong emphasis on the batshit crazy part).

      I liked having Durance in the party primarily because of the comments all the other characters would make about how nuts he is. Also, priests are really useful in Pillars (although you could just make your own with a better stat distribution if you want to ditch Durance).

      1. Grudgeal says:

        I find a lot of Avellone’s characters to be interesting. Horrible people I’d never bother to get to know in real life, of course, but interesting nonetheless. Durance is crazy, racist and generally unpleasant, but his craziness has a very strong internal consistency to it and is fascinating to pick at. He’s kind of like Racter from Shadowrun Hong Kong in that he lives in his own, horrible, little world, but it’s interesting to come in and visit once in a while.

        Sadly, Grieving Mother isn’t nearly as interesting. Mainly because, while her mindscape scenes are well-written, the character herself is extremely boring.

        1. djw says:

          I thought her story was interesting. I think that her character was bland by design, because her entire shtick was that due to her cipher abilities she appeared to be a completely boring peasant to everybody except for you. In a few cases where you speak to her the other characters in the party ask why you are talking to that peasant woman (who they had been adventuring with for the past 6 levels and still never noticed). Among other things, this means that you don’t get any interaction between her and the other characters, which does detract somewhat from the experience.

          However, the story that you reveal by delving into her mind scape was (in my opinion) very interesting. It did not occur to me that you could write an interesting story about midwifery, but having read it I stand corrected.

    4. djw says:

      Also, it is worth mentioning that Pillars also has Eder, one of the most decent and laid back NPC’s that I have ever seen in any video game, AND the writing around him (eg. his personal quest) is quite good.

      If you need a post-Durance palate cleanser a conversation with Eder works wonders. His interaction with Sagani (specifically, Sagani’s fox) gets my vote for funniest in the game.

      1. Joe Informatico says:

        Eder’s great. I even love the “good ol’ boy” accent, which is a perfect fit for his character. And I’m glad Pillars went there. These epic fantasy secondary worlds aren’t Earth, they’re not constrained by Earth’s history or cultures, so why do so many fantasy fictions feel the need to use British accents for everyone? Go ahead and mix up some anachronistic accents–it’s not like Received Pronunciation existed during the Middle Ages anyway.

        1. djw says:

          Dragon Age used American accents for the Dwarves, which was an interesting touch.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            It was the least offensive change they made to Dwarves. Even then I’d prefer they hadn’t made it. I liked Origins but what they did with the Dwarves was the worst part of it, from their culture to the questline. They set up Dwarves to be pointlessly stupid so that everyone could comment on how pointlessly stupid they were and I’m thinking “Yup, you’re right. You made the Dwarves pointlessly stupid and now you’re pointing it out to me over and over again. Don’t know why.”

            1. djw says:

              I’m not sure what there was about the dwarves that was pointlessly stupid?

              Elective monarchies are a real thing (Poland in the middle ages, for instance) and rigid caste structures are also a real thing that we have in the real world in various cultures.

              I’m not convinced that either of those is the best way to organize a society, but none of it strikes me as pointlessly stupid either. Just different. In fact, I found the dwarves to be a refreshing change of pace from the typical high fantasy setting.

              1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                “Hey, lets make a large portion of our society casteless. All they’re allowed to do is roll around in the dirt and hate life as much as we hate them. And lets brand their faces to help strip away all hope that their lives will ever mean anything. This is a sensible move that will surely lead to a sustainable society.”

                I mean at least enslave them and put them to work. If you’re going to make Dwarves into a punching bag for soapboxers, at least have their actions make some kind of sense.

                1. djw says:

                  It was hardly enlightened, but I did not see it as particularly unrealistic for a medieval society.

                2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  That sounds like india to me.

                  1. guy says:

                    Japan, too.

                  2. Wide And Nerdy says:

                    Really? People in India are born explicitly prohibited from ever being able to participate or contribute in any way?

                    See, I can totally buy the idea that people might be left with no role as an unintended oversight but even if I’m the straw evil wealthy ruling guy, I wouldn’t just tell the ground munching masses that they are forbidden from ever doing anything. I might kick them out, enslave them, whatever is convenient but I wouldn’t just say “you have to sit around and do nothing.” What could I possibly gain from that? Even if they’re criminals.

                    Why didn’t they simply send the Casteless to the surface if they don’t want them around? I mean either exile, or imprison or execute them but no, we’re going to pour them into a giant evergrowing slum and tell them to stay there and do nothing?

                    For that matter, why don’t the Casteless go to the surface themselves. Yes, some of them are sickly or disabled but the Carta has a bunch of reasonably intelligent and ablebodied Casteless Dwarves. So capable that they present a meaningful challenge to Grey Wardens no less. They could make a better living on the surface, as a mercenary band if nothing else.

                    1. djw says:

                      There must have been some economic exchange between the casteless and the non-casteless in Dwarven society. Otherwise the situation would be unstable.

                      However, it is entirely possible (and historically realistic) for the dwarves to say one thing and do another. An example from American history is how we claimed that freedom from tyranny was really important on the one hand, and enslaved an entire race on the other hand. This required a great deal of hypocrisy from everybody involved, and yet it went on for almost a century (or longer if you count the years before America was formed).

                      Regardless of what dwarves said, it is really unlikely that the casteless actually sat around and did nothing. No doubt the “dwarves of good social standing” used the casteless as a flexible labor pool that they did not have to pay very much. Bhelen also used them as a “source of nookie” and no doubt others did as well. Say one thing and do another is a very common practice in pretty much all human societies.

                      As an anecdotal aside, a few years ago I had a student from India who was from a reasonably well off family. He told me that he was surprised by the amount of manual labor that middle class american’s have to do (he cited his uncle, who was a doctor, shoveling snow off his driveway in New Jersey as an example). In his home town in India there were so many people who were so eager for cash that he actually felt guilty doing anything that required physical effort because for a pittance (to him) he could pay somebody to do it, and to them that “pittance” would be enough to eat that day.

                      Saying that the casteless dwarves should just go to the surface raises the question of “how would they live?” You say as mercenaries, but that would require them to have military skills that are useful in surface warfare. Where did they get those skills? The carta dwarves that already had combat oriented skills were making enough money off of crime that you have to wonder why they would leave? And in any case, the thug style combat skills that you need to run a criminal enterprise are not the same as the skill required to fight in large formations against similarly armed opponents.

                      Do they know how to farm surface crops? (my guess, no), so you can strike that off of the list of possible surface occupations for casteless dwarves. At best, most of them would become a rootless cheap labor source, but they already had that going for them at home…

                      The surface dwarves we do see in DA:O seem mostly to be merchants, because the Lyrium trade with the surface is important and surface dwarves are very well placed to use contacts in Ogrimmar to set themselves up as middle men in the trade. The merchant trade requires a skill set that many casteless dwarves might not have (eg. accounting skills).

      2. Hermocrates says:

        Given how enjoyable all the other characters are, I actually don’t mind Durance at all either. He’s a total asshole, but like a . . . useful, lovable asshole. His gruff personality feels legitimate, not just there to piss off players, and he really does have some interesting things to say between all the antagonism and sexism.

  4. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Pillars is pretty good about this too. The only character like what you’re describing is Durance and you can kill or dismiss any character you don’t like. If you don’t like any of the NPCs squaddies, you can build your own custom team.

    I think the departure of Avellone should see a decrease in the type of character that was bothering you. He wrote Durance and Grieving Mother.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Also I was thinking about it. Mira, Atton, the Mandalore, the Echani warrior, none of them necessarily hate you. They might be prickly with you but they get over that.

      Sure the echani is here to spy on you. Kreia has her agenda. Misa (or whatever) was supposedly sent to kill you but clearly has no intention of doing so. Atton is a former sith trained jedi hunter but he’s not doing that now.

      As for G0-T0, while I hated having him on the ship, I enjoyed the twist with him That rather than being a remote telepresence droid for the real Goto, he is in fact the real G0-T0, a droid in charge of a criminal cartel who lets everyone think he’s just the avatar for their real human crime boss. It makes a lot of sense given the status of droids that a sufficiently advanced one might become discontented and pull a stunt like this.

      1. Chauzuvoy says:

        Two things to note about the KotOR2 party:

        1: Kreia overshadows the whole group. Even if you leave her on the ship she’s important enough to the story and pops up in your head enough that a lot of your experience with the game hinges on how much cryptic old Sith Lord you can tolerate. The game also isn’t shy about the fact that she’s hiding things and so on. The fact that she’s Darth Treya, one of the Sith Lords hunting you is barely a reveal, so you have to be able to accept travelling with this very nontraditional Star Wars character as a major companion. I think a lot of the time when people criticize KotOR2’s party members, they’re really saying they didn’t like Kreia.

        2: Most of the party isn’t along to help you. In KotOR, basically every party member is along because you needed them at one point and they stuck around. Mission and Zaalbar are needed to get into the Vulkar Base through the sewers. T3 is needed to open the Sith Base, HK-47 is needed to translate with the sand people. Canderous has the plan that gets you off Taris. They’re in the game because YOU needed them. In KotOR2, everyone’s along for their own reasons. Handmaiden is keeping an eye on you, Atton needed your help to get off Peragus, Kreia has her own cryptic Jedi reasons. Mandalore is along to reunite the Mandalorian clans. They aren’t there to serve your goals, they’re there because their own goals led them there. Which changes the dynamic, I think. It’s not that they aren’t helpful or are ever really hostile towards you (to each other, however…). But they’re not there because you need them, they’re there because they need you. Which means if you don’t like someone, it’s harder to justify not being able to ditch them on Nar Shaddaa.

  5. lurkey says:

    “[…]sticking you with insufferable asshole companions and I have no idea why[…]”

    Heh. I was musing recently on why I like “Darths and Droids” more than DMOTR and came to conclusion that personalities of parties is very big, if not key, reason. Everyone is likable in D&D (even Pete), while those in DMOTR are all entitled douchenozzle assholes (even Gimli). Seriously, were I that game master I would have defenestrated those whiny tools wayyy before Moria. And that of course means you’re kind of like Obsidian in writing adventuring parties, Shamus. :-)

    1. Lachlan the Mad says:

      To be fair, Shamus started DMotR with the intention of (a) not diverging from the lore (he said that book lore = the DM’s intentions and film differences = the players screwing up), and (b) only running halfway into Fellowship — he wound out stretching it to cover all three movies when it got popular. Darth & Droids deliberately diverges from the films to tell its own story, and has run for much much longer than the full run of DMotR.

      These and other differences in intention lead to different styles of humour. DMotR used an abrasive and irritating party because they were fun to write jokes and conflict for, and because the comic didn’t need a long run. Darths needed a better-rounded, less abrasive party for its much longer run and its alternate lore.

      Does Shamus always write parties as prickly and abrasive? I don’t know. Who here has read Witch Watch? That’s a party-based story, I believe.

      1. shiroax says:

        I don’t really remember well, but I think they were reasonable and cooperative there.

      2. guy says:

        After an initial period of trying to kill each other, the characters in Witch Watch got along excellently.

        1. Wasn’t one of them dead to start though?

      3. Joe Informatico says:

        I think abrasive parties are better for writing humour. For more serious narratives, conflict within the party can be a good source of drama, but you don’t want to take it too far or have serious antagonism last very long, or the audience will wonder why the hell these people are still working together.

        1. Lachlan the Mad says:

          The other problem is that, even in a comedy work, an abrasive party that sticks together for too long without any character growth is going to start raising the question, “why do these people work together?”. That takes longer to happen in comedy than it does in not-comedy, because comedy can hide behind “because it’s funny”, but even comedic abrasiveness has its limits (e.g. in The Big Bang Theory, I have no idea why Leonard didn’t kick Sheldon out three seasons ago).

          1. djw says:

            So Shamus was wise to end DMotR before the joke ran stale.

            More generally, if you keep the story going long enough you either need to transition from jokes to serious (a. la Cerebus) or you risk turning into Garfield.

    2. djw says:

      Of course, the DM in that group was also a douche of sorts (his whole campaign was built around reading out loud at the players) so it was a symmetric sort of douchiness.

      Whether you like that or not is probably more a matter of taste than anything. I personally liked DMoTR quite a bit better than Darth’s and Droids, because Shamus brings the funny on every page, and I don’t mind disliking the characters.

      I also really liked Fawlty Towers, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Borat. All of which feature casts that are either mostly or completely dicks.

      Some people dislike humor like that (for instance, my Dad got up and walked out of the theater when he watched Borat, because he so thoroughly hated the character).

      1. Peter H. Coffin says:

        Fawlty Towers had the blessing of being short, but Seinfeld lasted far too long. And both Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm’s characters weren’t necessarily jerks to each other, they were just such reprehensible people that their kindnesses to each other seemed almost conflict to normal human beings.

    3. Wide And Nerdy says:

      You wouldn’t eject your players if you were this DM. Its quite clear that he would have a hard time getting replacements and he probably knows that.

      Its not like the DM was the only sane man. He constructed a campaign with very little loot, almost no battles except against nigh-invincible foes (except for the endless waves of orcs he’d send) and had NPCs rattle off long exposition and dialogs with each other sidelining the players so he could show off his lore. Its every bit as much a wonder that they put up with him as the reverse (the only thing excusing it was his sincerity). And really the main reason they were acting out was because they were bored.

      Thats the joke. LOTR is a wonderful story that ironically would make a terrible DnD campaign.

      Maybe you live somewhere with an abundance of players such that you can cherry pick your fellow players to suit your tastes but in a lot of places, the gaming population is sparse enough that you’ll sit at the table with people you don’t always like so you can play. This is probably a little less true now with so many online options (DMOTR was written several years ago and Shamus is no doubt drawing on experiences that go even further back. )

      In any event, the players got along with each other just fine. Even Aragorn with his teasing of Legolas, that kind of ribbing is normal at many tables and all in good fun. It was the DM they didn’t much care for.

      Also, a lot of this is old school tabletop rpg culture and humor. Pick up Knights of the Dinner Table if you want to get an idea. You’d probably find yourself wondering why they put up with each other two. Its just a different sort of gaming culture. Gen X wasn’t as gentle as the Millenials.

      1. Nelly says:

        No loot, lots of talking, few battles and most of those against hugely overpowered creatures? Bad DnD, but an excellent World of Darkness campaign…

    4. Felblood says:

      I actually found the cast of DMotR really endearing, but that’s becasue I remember when my gaming group was new and inexperienced, and we each fell pretty neatly into one of the brands of clueless muchkin parodied within.

      You have to have a love for the subject matter, to really enjoy an affectionate but merciless parody.

  6. Smiley_Face says:

    While Jolee and Kreia both fit the grumpy old sage archetype on the surface, they are very different characters with different uses. Jolee is in a secondary supporting role, unlike Bastila and Carth who are more central to the plot, and therefore can be written to be as interesting as possible without carrying the annoying burden of exposition. Kreia, on the other hand, is the first character you run into, and is the most central character to the plot of the whole game. Kreia may be more annoying than Jolee, but is she more annoying than, say, Bastila? I’d say it probably comes down to personal preference.

    I’d say a better contrast would be Atton vs. Carth. Both start in your party, filling gunslinger with a tortured past archetype. Carth is a jaded boy scout; half the time he’s angsty, whiny and paranoid, complaining about opening up to you while he keeps bugging you to let him dod so. He has a little bit going on beneath the surface, with his personal quest, and that gives him a little depth when you get there – this has become standard Bioware procedure. Atton goes through several layers of character that are all consistent with each other; first, he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time; then, once you head off with him, he’s a bumbling smuggler trying to make a quick buck; then it slowly becomes clear that he’s smarter and more competent than he appears, but he’s hiding behind a facade so he can escape his past; you’re then free to probe for that, or not, as you like.

    I think that’s sort of what it comes down to; complexity. The Bioware characters are mostly what they are on the surface, and this lets Bioware nail exactly what they want and make them resonant and archetypal. Obsidian characters are driven by what’s below the surface to a far greater extent, and exploring that is the focus, at the expense of them not always nailing it, letting it be less resonant or just overcomplicated to get there. The same analysis probably applies to their stories, to be honest.

    Ultimately, I would say that neither game is ‘better’, and I think they both compliment each other by offering different takes on the world. That’s why I like them both so much; KotOR gives me feels, KotOR II engages my interest. I like both.

    1. manofsteles says:

      I really get what you mean about the emphasis on archetypes versus complexity, and that either of those approaches can really work; with Bioware versus Obsidian, it seems less about about which is the better approach, and more about simply giving great developers the time and space to make the best work they can (within reason; I’m lookin’ at you George Broussard)

    2. Felblood says:

      I’m really, really uncomfortable with the way the word “complexity” get’s thrown around in the great Obsidian vs. Bioware debate.

      It’s true that Obsidian likes to paint it’s characters with a finer bush and fill in a lot of the gaps in their stories, and it’s true that these stylistic choices highlight a lot of the differences between the two. However, I don’t buy that this is actually the crux of the divide between them. It is a symptom of deeper, more interesting differences.

      You can paint a world that is bleak, ugly and cruel in broad stokes.

      Take Picasso. His darkest works aren’t detailed depictions of the way the scene actually looks, but simplified, iconic images designed to convey the feeling of witnessing the brutality of the fascist regimes. That alone doesn’t make his works inferior to the works of Realists, but lot of people have looked at those paintings, realized that they made them feel bad, and chalked it up to the art style, rather than the actual message of the paintings.

      I’m not saying that Obsidian handles their dark subject matter with the maturity or skill of Picasso, but the comparison sheds some light on what they are striving for, even if they aren’t usually achieving it. Obsidian games will usually make you feel bad part of the time, but it isn’t the details in the grit and the grim backstories that makes them that way.

      1. Thomas says:

        I ultimately don’t think Obsidian characters are defined by being dark. Atton has had some nasty experiences, but at his heart he’s a good person now. Baodur is the most gentle and lightsided individual in the franchise. Visas Marr does have a dark past, but despite supposedly being a Sith she’s lightsided and kind hearted through and through. Handmaiden doesn’t have any dark, I can’t remember what the Disciples deal was. T3 isn’t at all dark, GOT0, even as a crimelord isn’t that bad.

        Kotor2 characters are darker _in comparison_ to KotoR1 but I don’t think they’re darker than hundreds of characters you see in hundreds of shows.

        Likewise in Alpha Protocol there isn’t a dark character in sight. Lots of complicated characters with conflicting philosophies and emotions, but not dark. Planescape Torment was fairly middle of the road with its companions and most of new Vegas companions were very normal. Veronica or Rail or Boone aren’t going to win twisted character of the month.

        Obsidian characters disagree with the PC more, but they’re also more actively trying to challenge your perceptions. Jolee pretends to do that, but actually he’s just a straight lightsided character whose pretend grumpy. He essentially completely agrees with a lightsided PC (not to say he’s not great, it’s just a mistake to think he’s adding complexity or challenging the player)

        Jolee is less gray and grumpy than Doctor Cox in scrubs and Dr Cox is the hero character in a goofy hospital comedy

        1. Felblood says:

          Atton and Bao Dur are good people, but their function in the narrative is to highlight the darkness of the world around them. These are good, kind, gentle people, the best you’ll meet anywhere. They are both haunted by guilt for the actual war crimes they have committed.

          Through the influence system, you can bring them back into the light, if you want, or you can drag them the rest of the way into darkness. Even the best of us are just one influential leader away from pure evil.

          Jolee, likewise, is the exception that proves the rule. Everyone else in this game, including the mechanics, treats the light/dark dichotomy as simplistic and binary and he’s the one character who recognizes the greater significance of the situation and the nuances of Law is not Good and Chaos is not Evil.

          He totally rejects the Jedi Council’s approved curriculum of emotional repression (Love isn’t the path to the Dark Side, love will save you.), detached callousness (He got shot down smuggling medical supplies to enemies of the Republic.) and conformist paranoia. (Half the reason he is initially reluctant to admit to being a Jedi Padawan is becasue he wants you to assess him as an individual and not make assumptions based on his religious affiliation.) He’s the only character in all of Star Wars who could sell the line, “From my point of view, it’s the Jedi who are evil.”

          It’s like his dialogue is written by the only staff writer who read the timeline Lucasarts gave them, and realized that following the Jedi Council and getting the “Good” ending, while cannon, also supports the corrupted ideology that directly leads to Anakin’s fall and the destruction of the order.

          It’s really too bad the game mechanics shoot him in the foot here and refuse to actually give you a neutral Rogue Jedi ending. I read a rumor once that he was added to the game last out of all the companions and all his dialogue was written after the main plots had all been set in stone. It really does give him the air of an old man, helplessly lecturing while the word goes on obliviously to it’s doom, and growing increasingly frustrated that nobody listens to him, but it doesn’t actually retroactively add any depth or gravitas to any of the other writing.

          1. Chauzuvoy says:

            At the same time, though, I think that reflects on the darker themes of the game as a whole. KotOR1 is a straightforward “hero saves the world from evil” narrative. Even Jolee’s Crotchety Good serves as a contrast to the rest of a story where the Good Guys are boy scouts and the Bad Guys are HK-47 without you holding his hand. On the other hand, KotOR2 is all about the aftermath of war. The game takes place during a period of relative peace and reconstruction after two hugely devastating wars, and all the planets you go to and all the people you meet have all been touched and broken by those conflicts in some way. KotOR2 is a game where having an ex-assassin, a Sith apprentice, and a superweapon engineer as the kindest and most good-hearted people in your party fits. You couldn’t have them in a straight-up adventure story like KotOR1, but they feel almost necessary to the setting deconstruction of KotOR2.

    3. Bitterpark says:

      And I, for one, think Bioware-style party members are shallow cardboard cutouts who give the PC an unreasonably huge amount of loyalty and leeway, for no better reason than to stroke the player’s ego and avoid offending them. They’re like repressed fragments of the PC’s personality, mostly bubbling away in the background, briefly surfacing once in a blue moon to maybe offer an alternative solution you could consider, you don’t have to though, it’s fine, no pressure, really, it’s fine. And I hate that.

      And Obsidian-style party members actually feel like people, with their own goals and agendas, and their own perspective on things, ready to call you out if they think you’re doing something wrong or stupid. They’re like a proper adventuring party held together by mutualy convenient goals, rather than a weird cult of the player character’s personality.

      1. guy says:

        Carth on Taris was much more proactive and forceful about everything than any Obsidian character I can recall. Multiple DA:O characters will outright try to kill you if you do something too out of line: Wynne if you let Morrigan convince her you’ve brought a Malificar into the Circle or support exterminating the entire Circle, Lelianna and Wynne again if you opt to defile a sacred relic, Sten if you haven’t convinced him you know what you’re doing by the time you get to step five of the nested problem in Redcliffe, Zevran will switch back to his old employer if he doesn’t like you a fair bit.

        DA2 has the party outright split in half in the final act.

        DA:I has you literally leading your personal cult, though it is also notable for having an influence system where people care what you do when they aren’t in the active party. Also, in the last DLC, Iron Bull can potentially abruptly remind you he’s still working for the Qunari intelligence service when you show up to fight them. “Nothing personal… bas.” Also, you know, Solas.

        KOTOR 2 has multiple instances where you can murder random people for no legitimate reason and your influence with non-crazy party members goes up. IIRC, I killed some civilians to make Handmaidan like me enough to become a Dark Jedi Guardian. According to a guide I found, that only works if you have Kreia in the active party (this was not the playthrough where I left her on the ship forever) but the point stands.

        1. Bitterpark says:

          I’ve never actually played KOTOR 2, or any Bioware game that came out after ME2 (Did DA:O come out before ME2? I played that one). I am surprised to see so many examples in Origins though, I think I just never did the things that triggered any of them, except for Zevran, so I just assumed he was an outlier example.

          I’ll admit, I mostly base this estimation on Mass Effect – Wrex is the one counter-example (and he damn better be, considering the context), and the rest of the party members are fine to let you do whatever with the rachni queen/army of geth/other important and far-reaching choices I can’t recall off-hand.

          Then, there’s the fact that Bioware characters just started to run together for me after a while, but that’s a different discussion. People say they came up with some new ones in the recent games, I wouldn’t know.

        2. Syal says:

          I have previously and will continually make the argument that every major character in KOTOR 2 is a direct reflection of the Exile, and thus Obsidian does ‘repressed aspects of the PC’s personality’ even more directly than Bioware. Kreia even comments that there’s no particularly good reason for these people to stay with you unless something else is going on.

  7. James says:

    Added plus in New Vegas the companions are deep have their own problems and history completely divorced from the PC, and on top of it are generally like-able.

    Boone is a tortured old sniper, a man who saw the worst crimes the NCR committed and thats not even the worst thing that happened to him, but he doesn’t whine, doesn’t bitch about it like you might get from bioware.

    Cass is a drunk and shes angry, shes die hard NCR, but only challenges you about it when you go “too far” down the dark side (cuftburt levels of chaotic stupid)

    Veronica is Felica Day. ‘nuf said.

    i could go on.

    1. Alex says:

      Yeah, I liked them too – or at least, the companions I chose to run with (Veronica, Cass, Rex and the hoverbot, thanks to mods). I’m perfectly happy with companion NPCs who I don’t always see eye to eye with, but they need to be people I can still respect.

    2. Merkel says:

      I came here to say this; New Vegas had some of my all-time favorite companions. They were all complex characters with their own lives and problems, but not one of them ever got on my nerves. to continue your list:

      Raul is a former vigilante, who wants to leave that behind, and while his sense of humor has a good bit of irony and snark to it, it never felt mean.

      Lilly is a grandmotherly figure, who just happens to be a living weapon with multiple personalities. She never feels cheep though, like she was written just for a joke.

      Arcade is a bit of a nerdy know-it-all, but he never really feels like he’s condescending to you.

      And that’s saying nothing of the Dead Money companions.

    3. Gruhunchously says:

      Boone doesn’t whine or bitch. Instead he represses his feelings to a dangerous level, to the point where he’s mainly traveling with you because he secretly hopes it will get him killed so he won’t have to deal with them anymore.

      Raul is interesting because he’s the only companion who actually speaks positively about the Legion, even though he’s not on their side. He lived most of his life in the crime ridden slums of Mexico and the southern states, and he saw how the Legion’s presence managed to turn them from anarchic hellholes into orderly (if brutal) civilization. He’s kind of like Jolee in that he doesn’t have much of a stake in the current conflict, and instead has a more worldly perspective, which makes sense given that he’s one of the few who will likely live long enough to see the long term effects of the fight in the Mohave.

    4. Arcade Gannon’s backstory is my favorite, bringing the Enclave into New Vegas without the organization being clownshoes. Not to mention he’s got other facets to his personality that aren’t obvious and take a lot of conversations to reveal.

      I liked Raul especially for making the whole “immortal ghoul” thing seem pretty interesting. His story goes all the way back to the great war and its aftermath, which not only reminds you why old world culture might feasibly live on (carried forth by the ghouls) and the effect that would have on someone who had lived in the wastes for 200 years.

  8. Nixorbo says:

    Jolee just did it all for the Wookies, anyway.

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      The Wookiees?

      1. Smiley_Face says:

        The Wookiees.

        1. Bubble181 says:

          Well, you can take this Wookiee, and….

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Stick him in a cave.

  9. Spammy says:

    One of the things that I hated about KOTOR II was that it really didn’t feel like Star Wars, it felt like the writer abusing the Star Wars universe to make their point. One of the points that I hated being that the Jedi were all dumb or actually evil and the Light and Dark sides of the Force don’t matter. Whenever anyone tries to push their Grey Jedi or Grey Force ideas on me my eye start to glaze over because it sounds like someone describing their fanfic character whose mom was an angel but his dad was a demon so he’s like both and not good or evil and he has like one angel wing and one demon wing and and and…

    Not agreeing with a lot of interpretations of the Force is why I probably can not ever run a Star Wars RPG.

    1. Smiley_Face says:

      As a kid who had watched the prequel series and had some problems with them (again, kid, so the realization that EVERYONE had a problem with them hadn’t happened yet), it felt a little cathartic to have something explicitly acknowledge that yes, the Jedi dogma taken to extreme is stupid and destructive, it’s far healthier to take a neutral, less judgmental stance; let’s have a game about that, and explore some of the problems that seem to follow from this universe.

      Yes, it absolutely goes against the spirit of the films. But I don’t feel that everything related to Star Wars has to embody that spirit; in fact, having different works branch out and explore other viewpoints makes the whole experience richer for me, even if some of them strongly oppose each other.

      1. Supahewok says:

        Does it really even go against the films? Revenge of the Sith made it pretty clear that the Order fell due to its hubris and dogma, with Yoda going away to Dagobah to meditate on their failures. And then in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, both Obi-Wan and Yoda insist that Luke has to confront and destroy Vader to return peace to the galaxy, yet Luke uses love to redeem his father instead. I think the films make it pretty clear that the Jedi’s way of ignoring emotions is wrong, which parallels with KotoR 2; because the main line of the Jedi refused to acknowledge the suffering of the galaxy, Revan went off on his own and fell (Just like the Order refused to acknowledge Anakin’s emotional struggles, and he fell). The Exile clears away the old vestiges of the Order, who after near annihilation still refuse to accept the Order’s failings, and founds a new Order with her apprentices, who have each been through trials and brushes with the Dark Side and have come out more balanced for it.

        1. Merlin says:

          This was discussed quite a bit on the episodes at the start of Dantooine. The Jedi are dumb and wrong even in the original series.

          That doesn’t preclude “the gray side of the Force” discussions from being dopey & fanfictiony, but it’s not really out of line with anything that’s presented in any part of Star Wars media. (It also may not jive with Lucas’ intent, but Lucas is also dumb and wrong pretty often.)

          1. Couscous says:

            The Jedi are a group that thought “bring balance to the force” meant eliminating the dark side of the force because there just being the light side is totally balanced. I figured that meant that the white side was not supposed to be interpreted as the pure good and the dark side as the evil that should be completely eliminated. It actually works as a yin and yang thing which made sense to me given that Star Wars had something of an eastern mysticism flavor to it.

            There seems to be contradictory messages from the Star Wars people about whether it is supposed to be balance between the sides as most would expect given that the force is divided into sides or it is supposed to be the elimination of the Sith. I keep on finding claims about both citing various interviews and Star Wars works, but I consider that good evidence in itself not to really care about what the writers think. It looks like they have gone more with it being a balance between the sides though.


            “There are some who would like to exploit our power. The Sith are but one. Too much light or dark would be the undoing of life as you understand it. When news reached me that the Chosen One had been found, I needed to see for myself.”

            1. Spammy says:

              I feel like people are maybe not understanding what Space Taoism means when they talk about keeping the Dark Side around. When the Dark Side is around you get murdering children and blowing up planets. I really struggle to find a way in the original movies to present the Dark Side as something constructive that’s worth keeping around. Look at Malak. Malak was right there next to Revan all this time. He’s pretty much the face of the Sith here now that Revan’s gone. And he tries to raze a city-planet to kill one Jedi. What’s he doing that’s worth keeping around?

              1. Thomas says:

                I think they make a good case for the dark side being a destructive chaotic force that disturbs the ‘balance’ of the universe. I always assumed ‘balance’ was being used in the same the word ‘harmony’ is used. I think that’s a fairly common usage philosophically

                1. djw says:

                  The dark side messes with the universes Feng Shui.

                  1. Star Wars having an adamant adherence to some kind of Feng Shui would be the best explanation for the lack of safety rails and the proliferation of reactor shafts.

                    1. djw says:

                      Obi-Wan Kenobi didn’t really turn off the tractor beams, he just disrupted the reactors qi.

            2. Lachlan the Mad says:

              Strictly speaking, Anakin fulfils both possible interpretations of “balance”. In Ep 3, he wipes out all but two of the Jedi and leaves 2 Sith alive. In Ep 4, with a new Jedi on the rise, he kills Obi-Wan so it stays level at 2:2. In Ep 6, he brings the other sort of balance by wiping out the Sith.

              1. TL;DR Lucas is a horrible writer and didn’t understand his own “prophecy,” which he never had anyone speak aloud in its entirety.

                1. Felblood says:

                  Actually spelling out the details of the prophecy would have been a far worse mistake, on par with replacing the idea that every attempt to scientifically explain The Force has failed, with Medichlorian blood-testing. Considering everything else that happened in those movies, I’m going assume this was either an accidental stroke of brilliance, or something Young George left himself a note about.

                  Star Wars draws it’s power from the fact that it’s painted in broad stokes, and you infer things about this world through what isn’t shown, as much as you absorb information about what is explicitly stated. Your mind automatically fills in those blank spaces, and everyone gets to enjoy their own personal perfect Star Wars Universe, right up until they discover the EU or the prequels and everything falls apart, due to excessive exposition.

                  1. Except that “the prophecy” changes a few times in the movies themselves. Just a sentence short enough to appear on a t-shirt would’ve sufficed. When the plot hinges on a prediction of the future, it’s pretty important to nail that prediction down. Making it ambiguous is par for the course, but again, it would’ve been better for the whole mess if it had been stated. It’s only discussed between people who supposedly already know this prophecy and it’s never spoken aloud (like to someone who, like the audience, doesn’t know about it).

                    Saying it’s part of a “broad strokes” strategy is like having LOTR be about a piece of jewelry that’s never revealed to be a ring until near the end, and even when it is revealed, the powers it holds changes, sometimes it has a gemstone, and the rules surrounding its meaning are never concretely stated.

        2. John says:

          It absolutely goes against the films, in so far as space vampires, unconscious mind control, black holes in the Force, and the idea that the Force itself can somehow be destroyed are all huge, unsupported leaps from the depiction of the Force in the films. That sort of thing is fine for an original IP wherein the word “Force” is replaced with, I dunno, “Magick”, but it is very, very wrong for Star Wars.

          1. Couscous says:

            Unconscious mind control isn’t anything I would see as not Star Wars just from the original trilogy. They can obviously do mind tricks so I don’t see why a person doing that unconsciously is a huge change.

            Being absent from the force was already established as possible in the EU. Sever force is an actual ability in The Old Republic MMO.



            You might say that this is just really stupid like most of the EU. I am not going to argue against that because it is pretty true so I am just going to say that it doesn’t feel particular un-Star Wars-y to me just going by the original trilogy.

            The original series established that a “disturbance in the force” was a thing with Obi Wan Kenobi sensing it far away from the destruction of Alderaan. KOTOR II was basically saying a bad enough one happened that weird stuff happened to the player character. I don’t see anything in the original trilogy that disagrees with this given that the force is pretty much just magic in the original trilogy mixed with some mysticism. Admiral Motti literally calls Darth Vader a sorcerer in the first movie. The only quote that says that explains the force is “the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”

            Now that I said that bit of fanwank, what story could feel Star Wars-y without just copying the original trilogy extremely well like Knights of the Old Republic 1 did? The EU books and comics are a hive of scum and villainy. I don’t even think everybody agrees that the prequel trilogy feels Star Wars-y.

            1. Alex says:

              “Unconscious mind control isn't anything I would see as not Star Wars just from the original trilogy. They can obviously do mind tricks so I don't see why a person doing that unconsciously is a huge change.”

              It’s a huge change because there are basically two types of Force powers – the ones that let you use the Force to influence the world around you and the ones that let the Force influence you. You can do the latter unconsciously, allowing yourself to react with Force-guided instinct to deflect a blaster bolt or fire a torpedo at exactly the right moment. But to do the former, you need conviction, as when Luke could not lift his X-wing out of the swamp because he did not truly believe he could do it. And exerting your will on the minds of others through the Force is going to be more like the former than the latter.

            2. John says:

              I don’t see “the EU did it first” as much of a defense. An indictment, maybe . . .

              The fact that Obi-Wan can sense a “great disturbance in the Force” doesn’t imply that any of that other stuff is either possible or plausible. It’s true that the Force stuff in The Sith Lords doesn’t explicitly contradict the films, but it is very much not in the spirit of the films. In the films, the Force gives Jedi (i) mild precognition, (ii) empathy and mild telepathy, and (iii) telekinesis, and (iv) enhanced physical capabilities. That’s it, and, frankly, that’s all you really need. It’s fairly sci-fi, in keeping with the setting. When you add space-vampires, rituals, and whatnot you move into fantasy territory.

          2. djw says:

            I stopped caring about continuity with the original films when the prequels gave us midochlorians and a C3P0 built by Darth Vader. At that point it was clear to me that Lucas didn’t deserve to have a say in Star Wars anymore.

            1. John says:

              If there weren’t implicit rules, you couldn’t be mad at George Lucas for breaking them.

              1. djw says:

                Fair enough. However, I am quite ready to pass the writing/editing of those rules to somebody other than Lucas. Obsidian, in my opinion, did a good job of that. Your mileage may vary.

      2. Greg says:

        I can’t remember who it was (forgive me if it was someone on this site or in this Let’s Play series!), but the best description I’ve heard of the most prominent theme of the prequels boils down to “What happens when the good guys care more about Law than Good?” The Jedi Order in the prequels are a bunch of self-absorbed, judgmental, holier-than-thou dicks who view themselves as both answerable to a higher power but also that power’s sole interpreters. The problem is, the writers (trying not to just blame it all on Lucas) apparently didn’t recognize this fact, and so we have the Jedi presented as the unambiguous good guys, which makes the prequels less a tragedy and more an incompetence-induced car crash in slow motion.

        I mention this because it ties pretty strongly into my major gripe with KotOR II. I prefer it to the first game, but precisely because Kreia is so central to the narrative, the game never gives you the opportunity to simply disagree logically with her, instead boiling down to either “you shouldn’t let people kill puppies, Kreia” or “yeees, I see what you’re saying, kill ALL THE PUPPIES!” Was it Avellone who said that hatred for Star Wars was one of the driving inspirations for that game’s plot? It shows, and it’s subversive and interesting enough to almost work; but there’s no opportunity for the player to be like “wait, what? You’re misinterpreting that rather badly …”

        Comparing Jolee and Kreia is not a particularly fair comparison. Jolee is laid back and mostly unimportant; the most notable thing about him only happens in a Darkside playthrough, and that’s the most true significance he has. If you don’t like him or respect him, that’s fine; just take someone else along. Kreia is basically the entire game of KotOR II; you can’t escape her, by design. Their outlooks also aren’t particularly similar; Jolee believes in noninterference because he believes that everyone has the right to their own life and no one being can make all the right decisions, whereas Kreia believes in subtle, reasoned manipulations so that no one will know it was truly you who controlled them all along. Jolee is pretty obviously a good guy, while Kreia’s philosophy is only really “gray” because the writer says so.

        EDIT: @Couscous, perhaps it was you who said this before? Haha no idea. Also, one of the things that seems to often be missed about the original trilogy is that Luke only actually won when he ignored the old Jedi and their admonitions against connections and exhortations toward violence. For a long time in the EU, the Jedi Order he started took its guidance from him, not the old Order, and that organization was far better at fulfilling the “white” side of black and white, only starting to really get muddled after the prequels and NJO came out.

        1. guy says:

          Yeah, even if you outright refuse to bring her anywhere Kreia is still everywhere. At least with most of the annoying Obsidian characters, you can strand them at base and not talk to them again for most of the game.

    2. Couscous says:

      “the Jedi were all dumb or actually evil”

      The Star Wars movies pretty much make that argument without Lucas seeming to know it. Star Wars Episode I, II, and III do a very good job of showing the Jedi as stupid and/or evil in spite of Lucas’s intent. Knights of the Old Republic 1 does a good job of arguing that the Jedi are stupid and/or evil as well. Even the Clone Wars TV show makes them look kind of shitty and causing Ahsoka to leave.

      The problem for me is that the sort of black and white morality Star Wars works usually go for mainly works when what is supposed to be white doesn’t look a bit like garbage or just stupid, and the Star Wars EU and the main Star Wars works kind of failed at making the Jedi look very white. Basically, I start getting annoyed when a work has both stupid evil in the form of the dark side and also stupid good or actually kind of shitty good in the form of the light side.

      I think there is a reason why the most beloved Star Wars films had very few Jedi and that is because doing decent black and white morality is hard and often becomes pretty unbelievable when characters falling from white to black happens oddly frequently. Morality is subjective so a writer can easily make something he thinks is really perfectly moral that another person sees as amazingly messed up or hypocritical. This isn’t a problem for astory where there aren’t many details about the morality of the good side outside of being sunshine and kittens, but I feel like it starts to fall apart when it doesn’t become a vague entity that can be filled in based on the viewer’s own morality but instead becomes much more fleshed out and thus likely to seem grotesque to a person with even a bit different morality. This was one of the huge differences between the original and prequel trilogies for me. In the original trilogy, the Jedi Order was some vague good thing in the past instead of an extremely messy thing in the present like in the Prequel Trilogies that comes out looking pretty bad to me but not to George Lucas.

    3. lurkey says:

      And what I really hated about Star Wars was the notion that the Force makes you good or evil. This is so juvenile and stupid, like a 5 year old saying “It’s not me who broke the vase, it’s the cat/dog/Grandma/evil goblins made me do it”. It’s avoiding responsibility for your own actions at its ugliest, because all the things you do? It’s not Force. It’s you.

      So, yeah. KOTOR2 really resonated. Even if I am kind of fond of the IV-VI trilogy in slightly dismissive way.

      1. John says:

        Where do we get the notion that the Force pushes you toward ethical extremes? There’s a sort of slippery slope associated with the Dark Side, sure, but nobody ever so much as hints that using the Force to to good deeds will doom you to do good deeds forever more.

        Have you ever stopped to consider just how vague the phrase “forever will it dominate your destiny” is? It doesn’t necessarily imply that one Force-enhanced bad deed will cause you to spend the rest of your life kicking puppies. It could just as easily imply that you will have to live with the consequences of your Force-enhanced bad deeds for the rest of your life. I mean, suppose Darth Vader had survived Return of the Jedi. He might technically have have been a good guy again but he would have had at least two decades of evil deeds hanging over his head.

        1. Micamo says:

          “Literally interpret Yoda’s fortune cookies no matter how stupid or nonsensical that interpretation would be” is pretty par the course for the EU.

        2. Chefsbrian says:

          It could be just as much about what people expect of you, and how they act to you, that could set that fate.

          Step down the dark side, and kill a bunch of people in a moment of anger, and whats the response? Your cast out of the Jedi order, and possibly listed as a dark agent to be killed if possible. You fight to protect yourself, your seen as more evil for striking down jedi, ect.

          Similarly, go and protect a world, be good, and the people may become complacent. You stop one disaster, and then they ask you to stop the next. The republic was seen as fairly dependent on Jedi forces for their military leadership throughout the prequels and games.

          Its not just what you want to do. Its what people force, or press you into doing.

          1. Syal says:

            So, the Force… is actually the social force, peer pressure.

        3. The reason it’s assumed that your adherence to the sides of the force are fairly fundamental to what kind of saber-swinger you become have a lot to do with the fact that using the Dark Side seems to be like exposing your body to the core of a nuclear reactor, eventually. Your eyes change color, sometimes deformities develop, and if you’re a female dark sider, you start dressing like you shop at planet Ballgag.

          Why wouldn’t one assume that using the light side wasn’t having the opposite effect on Jedi? They seem to have long lifespans (barring duels and accidents) and not a single one of them is ugly outside of their species’ physical norms.

          1. John says:

            The long-term symptoms of Force abuse may include damage to the skin and eyes or the death at your hands of those you once loved most. Caution, may be habit-forming. Use only as directed and only under the supervision of a licensed Jedi Master.

            Actually, in the first two prequels, Palpatine doesn’t seem to exhibit any of the symptoms that he or Anakin display in the third film or a Dark Side PC displays in Knights of the Old Republic. Perhaps the symptoms really aren’t that serious.

            1. guy says:

              It happens rather dramatically in the third film when he starts really lashing out with it; the novelization implies he’d been using the force to conceal the effects and the reflected lightning ruined that.

            2. Except it’s never clear if he always looked like that and it was “revealed” in the fight with Windu or what. If Force Lightning does that to you, why use it? Why didn’t it disfigure Luke as well when he was being zapped?

              It was poorly thought out. Even so, Anakin’s eyes changed color, and just look at every other Sith Lord ever.

        4. guy says:

          Personally, I think the Dark Side being a supernaturally corrupting thing is plenty well implied in the original trilogy. Because if it isn’t supernaturally corrupting, then what was Palpatine playing at? Why would he want Luke to kill Vader, if there wasn’t some supernatural effect of doing that which would put him in a better position than if he just personally killed Vader ahead of time?

          1. John says:

            Palpatine’s a bastard is what. Dude’s evil.

    4. DrMcCoy says:

      One of the things that I hated about KOTOR II was that it really didn't feel like Star Wars, it felt like the writer abusing the Star Wars universe to make their point

      And that’s exactly why I love KotOR2, because I…don’t have a favourable view of Star Wars. Or George Lucas. Lucas needs someone to constantly whack on his fingers, otherwise we get stuff like Ewoks and Jar Jar.

      KotOR2, on the other hand, actually thought through what having the Force in the universe means. And out came Kreia, who, despite having awful methods and who drank far too much of the Ayn-Rand-koolaid, has a point I really can’t deny. The Force, with the Jedis and the Sith being two sides of the same coin, poisons everything, and being a muggle in this universe just sets you up for endless, helpless suffering.

      Out of the two KotOR games, Kreia is by far my favourite character, just for how excellent she’s written.

      As for the BioWare vs. Obsidian spat…I like both. I like the cheesy Nathyrra romance in NWN HotU and I like the forlorn atmosphere in NWN2 MotB. I like BioWare for its epic fantasy escapism, and Obsidian for making me feel and think (*).

      (*) I could write books about my love for MotB, and how much I identify with Akachi and the Crusades against the Wall of the Faithless.

      1. Otters34 says:

        I don’t get that at all. I mean, unless you’re talking about the Expanded Universe and prequels, in which case I guess that’s kinda true. But the Force is just like technology. Electricity, for example. With it doctors can bring you back from the brink of death, or a torturer can burn out your nerves with it. It’s the connection of living things to each other and the world around them.

        Is the implied and unintended morality of Star Wars’ metaphysics weird and janky and logically incoherent? Sure. Is it satisfying to know somebody else can write intelligently and at length how that is? Sure. But that doesn’t really mean much or any good. The little people don’t fare well in any universe(read some Doc Smith, it’s gut-bustingly horrifying how callous his leads are), there’s always a vaguely fascistic(or at least self-righteous) undertone to most sci-fi and fantasy, and anything that makes people more than ordinary folk is always to blame for when they go wrong.

        And calling the Jedi and Sith “two sides of the same coin” is just plain silly. One of these groups of people is consistently shown as NOT wanting to take over the universe and bend it to their whim. Sure they’re both able to manipulate the Force and have standardized laser swords, but one is explicitly a destructive perversion of the other, as exemplified by its most famous member using his connection to the universal will to kill his helpless underlings.

        By far the weakest part of Knights of the Old Republic II is its fixation on disproving a childish view of morality and ethics. You don’t get any points for that, it’s not even useful as a primer on real moral ambiguity since it’s so bent on not making one obvious mistake.

      2. Regarding the muggle thing: At their height, what was the population of force-users in the galaxy?

        I ask because while there are loads of Jedi in the prequels and a seemingly endless number in the EU, there were few enough that after the events of Episode III onward, nobody thinks Jedi exist, in spite of many individuals who must have lived through a time when the Jedi were a thing on Coruscant, if not elsewhere. Even worse, we have races with life spans far in excess of humans, yet a mere 20 years after the Jedi temple gets sacked, everyone who even knows what a Jedi is assumes they’re a myth.

        1. guy says:

          The total galactic population of Jedi as of Episode 2 is around ten thousand, though presumably there’s many more force sensitives who never got to the temple; if they didn’t happen to bump into a Jedi or do something sufficiently obviously force-based for people to figure it out they probably wouldn’t get recruited. The EU indicates that children born on Coruscant were sometimes taken to the temple to see if they could become Jedi, but obviously that would be pretty impractical for people in the Outer Rim.

          1. That makes the whole “balance of the Force” thing make even less sense to me, as well as the whole Jedi/Sith apparatus.

            You have countless worlds with hundreds of species, and the use of this mystical wizard-power boils down to a binary set of institutions? There should’ve been loads of variety in philosophy, fighting style, weaponry, motives, etc. And if “balance” means “kill one side,” how could that ever remain as even a remotely stable condition? Force users should always be popping up.

            I get that this is a simple hero-journey tale, but it seems to me that the only way you could have a Jedi/Sith setup is if Force users were extremely rare and both organizations were actively recruiting every single one they could find.

            1. guy says:

              Well, they are extremely rare and both sides generally try to actively recruit. There’s 100-1000 planets per Jedi. The EU also has a number of additional organizations of Force users, but they aren’t galactically relevant, and the dichotomy is inherent in the Force itself so when the chips are down they’ll tend to align with one of the groups. Probably the most notable one is the Nightsisters of Dathomir, who are Dark Side and often get promising members recruited by the Sith.

              There’s a lot of people and some entire species that are mildly force-sensitive, which may manifest as bonding with animals (one of the planets in KOTOR 2 has a bunch) or mild danger sense, or being exceptionally good at reading people. They’re not going to be using lightning or lifting X-wings, though.

        2. wheals says:

          Star Wars is basically in the opposite situation from Fallout 3: It should have been 200 years, not 20.

      3. djw says:

        Yes. MotB is awesome. It’s awesome in spite of (or maybe because of?) all of its plot doors.

        1. Otters34 says:

          What was your favourite part? Mine was the scene at the tree with Okku.

          “Spirit, be my witness: I am no slave to this hunger.

          1. guy says:

            Man, tough call.

            The Evil ending is undoubtedly the most spectacular scene, but I really liked Gann in the sunken city, applied metaphysics in the Thaylan Academy, and the Fugue Plane in its entirety.

            Also? None of your party members are assholes! I mean, One-Of-Many keeps begging you to kill everyone and add their voice to the chorus, but he/they are not unpleasant on a personal level.

            Plus if you hate them anyway, you are entirely permitted to kill all of them and turn their souls into an awesome necklace to solo the game with.

            1. djw says:

              I tried to play through with One of Many, but I felt so guilty about killing Okku that I had to go back and let him live.

          2. djw says:

            Its hard to pinpoint any one scene for me. It was more the slowly dawning dread that I felt as I realized just what that wall was all about (I was unaware of it from Faerun lore prior to MotB). It appealed to me in the same way that a good HP Lovecraft story does, and I really was not expecting that at all when I started the game.

            The game did a good job of showing that the “enemy” was impossible to defeat, and yet worth fighting all the same.

            It helped that all of the NPC’s had very good motives for sticking with you, even if as a gameplay contrivance they still behaved like a murder committee.

      4. ehlijen says:

        Sure, but deep philosophical analysis of what odd concepts mean was never the point of star wars.
        It never decided whether droids were sapient slaves or fake AIs that could suffer pain because their builder was an ass.
        It never thought through what having literal super heroes would do to a society.
        It couldn’t decide whether speciesm was a thing the good guys or the bad guys did (in the original trilogy, the only speciest slurs come from Liea).
        It clearly also had a fairy tale arc, ending with ding dong the witch is dead, despite the fact that the galaxy was surely still in turmoil.
        It couldn’t even decide between fairy tale royalty trappings and modern good guy democray trappings.

        And that’s fine. That’s what fairy tales and non-subverted superhero stories are for. Not everyone liked DARKNESS NO PARENTS being played straight. Not everyone liked KOTOR2 saying ‘star wars is wrong’.
        Was it interesting? Sure. Was it a bad fit for the franchise? Unsure. It certainly wasn’t really for those who wanted more star wars, but did it have to be?
        It was divisive though, and in a way, that actually marks the really interesting works.

        I liked both, but apart from interface improvements, I consider KOTOR1 to be superior as a fun game.

        1. djw says:

          I agree with most of that. I like them both too. I think that if Kotor 2 had actually been finished it would have been the better game, but even that would be down to personal preference.

          I did think that the crafting in Kotor 2 was much better than Kotor 1.

          1. John says:

            Why was there crafting? Why? And why were there so many utterly randomized loot drops? What is this, Diablo?

            And if you must have crafting, the decent thing to do would be to implement it in a way that makes sense. Do any of the cut content mods fix the part where it always uses the PCs Repair skill to break down items no matter who is actually using the workbench?

            1. djw says:

              Why does it have loot at all? Why does it have levels? Is it possible that our hobby includes lots of pointless features that are nevertheless entertaining (to some people) in most games?

              I agree that the repair issue was annoying.

              1. John says:

                I have a confession to make. I am a compulsive crafter and gear-monger. I spent a lot of time crafting and evaluating alternate armors in KotOR 2. But you know what we don’t see in Star Wars films? People slaving away over workbenches for hours on end.

                1. djw says:

                  We also don’t see Jedi killing everything that moves, and yet that is a gameplay staple.

                  Perhaps it shouldn’t be. However, the “movie” genre and the “game” genre are two different places and it is not unreasonable to expect differences between them based upon that fact.

                  Whether the gameplay is good or bad is something that should be evaluated on its own terms, although I do think that it is fair to at least ask that it not conflict directly with the story the game is trying to tell.

                  If Obsidian had removed looting and crafting from the game altogether it might have made a better game (I don’t miss it that much in ME2 and ME3) but the outcry from fans would have been immense.

              2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Is it possible that our hobby includes lots of pointless features that are nevertheless entertaining (to some people) in most games?

                Except most of the time its not entertaining.Does limited inventory add something meaningful to an rpg?Unless it is an open world survival game(like fallout),the answer is no.Does money add something meaningful to an rpg?Unless it has a (well developed) skill concerning merchandise and trading the answer is no,and it will always end in the same manner:Complete and utter breaking of the economy.Do racing minigames add something meaningful to an rpg?Considering that not once do you have a skill to improve your racing capabilities,the answer is no.Etc,etc,etc.

                And yet making an rpg(making of any modern aaa title really)has devolved into simply ticking off items on a list without ever thinking about how they would complement the rest of the game.Its a shame really.

                1. djw says:

                  Limited inventory is a tough call. It is immensely annoying and immersion breaking to have to run back to town to sell your loot. However, you have to look past the question of just where you are putting all that crap that you pick up if you want to have unlimited inventory.

                  Generally I prefer the infinite bag space as a convenience feature. On the other hand, I did appreciate the Witcher 1 commitment to realistically handle your inventory. I actually think it is to bad that they abandoned that for subsequent games, although I can understand why they did.

                  1. djw says:

                    By the way, what are the commands for quoting?

                  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Any game where you can carry more than a single set of full plate armor (the one you are wearing) is not realistic.Heck,even carrying more than half a dozen leather armors is problematic,no matter what bag you put them in.

                    Personally,I would discourage looting in any rpg that is not focused on survival,or at least limit it to knick knacks(gems,books and such).If you kill someone who is wearing an armor,chances are that youve damaged said armor beyond any repair.So why loot it?

                    To quote use the blockquote command.

                    1. djw says:


                      To quote use the blockquote command.

                      I’m pretty sure medieval battlefields got looted by the victors (or anybody else nearby) pretty quickly. Even broken armor is valuable. That said, it is not realistic to carry all that loot and then fight another battle.

                      It would be interesting to have a game where you can hire an arms bearer to loot the dead for you and hold all your extra gear while you fight.

                    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Battlefields were looted,sure.Still are in fact.But they are looted either for useful stuff(boots and coats when the weather is cold)or knick knacks(hip flasks,watches,money,…).I mean why would you carry a bunch of coats with you to sell later,when you can just get the money,and the one coat you will put on?

                      And yes,having a way to store all your loot is a good idea.But does it change the game in a meaningful way?I mean the number of shit Ive sold in witcher 3 is astounding,and it broke both the economy and the feel of the game.Constantly geralt(and others)would talk about hardships of being a witcher,having to risk life for money,when I would just hop onto a boat,cruise the waters for a bit,then haul a shitton* of smugglers loot to sell for orders of magnitude more than I would earn from a witcher job.

                      *A literal shitton.I would overencumber myself by 100%,or more.Which just further broke the feel of the game,seeing how your inventory is defined by saddlebags,yet being encumbered would slow geralt down,but not roach.

                    3. djw says:

                      In Witcher 1 you could only carry something if you had a place to attach it to your gear. All gear sets had locations for the two witcher swords (obviously) but you usually could only carry one or two other weapons.

                      If you found a better weapon you had to drop the one you had on the ground. If you were super anal you could run back and forth between the battlefield and the nearest merchant and sell everything anyway, but it was just not worth it.

                      As a consequence, your income came almost completely from contracts.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Sure, but deep philosophical analysis of what odd concepts mean was never the point of star wars.

          That is true for the originals.But the prequel trilogy clearly tried to “explain” many of the concepts with its midichlorians,with its “roger roger” with its “handmaiden,clean this brave droid”,and other pointless(and often stupid) stuff like that.

          1. ehlijen says:

            It tried, yet I would consider its spectacular failure on that part to be a good reason as to why it shouldn’t have been done.

            Midichlorians didn’t need to exist. The force wasn’t treated any differently; the story was still about personal desires and actions.

            Why are there prophecies about what a bunch of bacteria want? What does it mean to the universe that microscopic life can grant superpowers and aims to direct the actions of more complex beings? That’s not explored anymore than the nature of the force was in the original trilogy.

            Why do slaves own droids when droids are meant to be individuals capable of earning honours? Or is every 9yo boy allowed to basically create life?

            The prequels didn’t really explain or explore any more than the originals, they just changed the things they didn’t bother explaining and exploring.

    5. guy says:

      I always feel like KOTOR 2 changed the rules, created a story that only makes sense with the changed rules, then tried to convince everyone it still applies to the original rules. As presented by pretty much all the prior EU, trying to be a Grey Jedi is at best exceedingly dangerous and quite often simply a brief stop on the route to becoming a Dark Jedi, because the Dark Side is actually a thing and it will distort your motivations if you draw on it too heavily.

      1. guy says:

        It feels to me kind of like if Dragon Age’s mages had instead been psykers in a WH40K spinoff. Both settings have demons in extradimensional space shaped by human thought, and they’ve both got people who are born with the ability to use the extradimensional space for supernatural effects, but who can be possessed by demons. They both require the people with these powers to be taken away for training, and execute people who refuse or who aren’t good enough*. But there’s a key difference that makes me support Mage revolutionaries and Ordo Hereticus acolytes: the possession mechanics are different.

        In Dragon Age, demonic possession either requires another mage making it happen or the consent of the possessed mage. In WH40K, the Imperium layers tons of safety measures onto their Sanctionites and Astropaths, and they still get routinely possessed because Chaos forces are in the general vicinity. So in Dragon Age, the Circles are pretty much counter-productive, while the Black Ships are a brutal but effective solution.

        The Imperium justifies its continued existence on pragmatism, because for all its staggering atrocities, it’s still an improvement on being overrun by its enemies. You can still argue against it on moral grounds, but creating a story where it’s ruthless and unnecessary is not cleverness, just strawmanning.

        *Well, WH40K uses them as blood sacrifices to power their FTL and prevent demons from overrunning Sol.

      2. ehlijen says:

        Agreed. Given how the light and dark sides in most of Star Wars are handles, I always thought ‘Gray Jedi’ was just a self delusional way of saying benevolent Sith.
        A gray jedi places their own views and opinions above all and shapes the world as they see fit, just like a sith would. They just happen to not be jerks (for now).

        But the way the force is described it goes even further than that:
        Trust your Feelings? That’s what a Grey Jedi would be doing. So what makes them Gray and not light, or even dark?
        Pretty much just whether they’re in harmony with the force. If a jedi isn’t, they’ll do selfish things, make arrogant decisions, and eventually fall to the dark side. Only a pure jedi can trust their feelings and end up as a light side person.
        That’s pretty much what all of star wars seems to say on the matter.

        You can’t be good simply by not being evil. You need to really be good or you will end up evil.

        This is shown well in Bastila: She thinks she’s light side because she obeys the council and isn’t a sith. She defines herself as ‘not evil’ but for the force, that’s not the same as ‘good’ which she simply isn’t, and that’s why she eventually falls.

        1. guy says:

          I do think that Star Wars supports the Grey Jedi as someone who uses both sides of the Force, directed towards good ends. It’s not like the Dark Side instantly takes people to full Sith. But it’s an extremely dangerous thing to do, because the Dark Side is the slippery slope incarnate. One of the instructors on Korriban has gone most of the way down that path; she became a Sith because she wanted the power of the Dark Side to help slaves, and says once she learns to set aside her compassion she’ll be strong enough. You can call her on it, ask her if she’ll still care about those slaves when she casts aside compassion.

  10. James says:

    The Wrestler for people who don’t know was Randy Orton and the phrase was from his theme song called “Voices”. Randy is in the sad place of “just go wrestle shaemus again on the mid card.


  11. Wide And Nerdy says:

    By the way, in reference to Episode 6, you guys haven’t encountered Neelix yet (at least if IMDB is accurate). His characters are on Korriban and Manaan (the latter in the secret underwater facility, he’s one of the first NPCs you meet down there.)

    1. Hector says:

      I knew that voice sounded familiar!

      To confess, I like Ethan Phillips and can’t really blame him for how awful Neelix turned out. Star Trek is a series where too many good actors have just died due to horrific writing and/or direction. But every time that voice turns up it reminds me of Neelix.

      1. Shamus says:

        I really hate Voyager, but I never blame the actors for that one. In fact, I think the Voyager cast was one of the best.

        Which only makes the disaster that much more unforgivable.

        1. For the polar opposite, watch the final season of Enterprise (but not the finale, unless you want to rant at the TV). The writing gets really, really good and shows what the program should’ve been shooting for from day one. The problem is you then notice how bad a lot of the cast is…

          1. RCN says:

            It also doesn’t help that Enterprise has a total of one character written as competent in the entire crew. And the Captain ain’t it.

            Damn, Archer could have read a rousing speech written by Lincoln and Napoleon, he’d still sound like a wimpy coward with no interest whatsoever in the crew’s wellbeing.

            1. guy says:

              Yeah, Reed is the only guy on the entire ship who seems to be qualified for being an officer on a exploration ship in potentially hostile territory. There’s one episode where everyone except T’Pol comes down with a severe case of SPACE MADNESS! and begins obsessing over whatever they happened to be doing at the start. For everyone else, this involves trivial matters and they accomplish nothing of value. Reed invents and installs Red Alert so the captain can bring the ship to combat readiness with the push of a button as well as new security protocols to protect against shapeshifter infiltration, which was a known concern at that time.

              1. RCN says:

                I can only imagine how aggravating it would’ve been for Reed to seeing to the safety of a crew under someone as mindbogglingly incompetent as Archer.

                There are several episodes where Archer makes abundantly clear to everyone around him that he’d personally murder every single one of them and their families in order to save his dog. And I’m pretty sure his dog is something around 10 or 15 years old already.

        2. James says:

          I don’t hate voyager, in fact i like it the most, but i know what you mean entirely. so why do i like it? its the Star Trek i grew up with when i was small. its “my trek”.

          The Paris/Kim dynamic is perhaps the best the series has ever had.
          Robert Picardo is phenomenal and had a role that was all about self identity.

          1. Tell me how much you like the episode entitled “Threshold.”

            1. James says:

              that was dreadfull, just endless dreadfull

    2. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Continuing Episode notes. In Episode 23 and 24, there’s an intermittent low hum noise that keeps making me think my phone is on vibrate.

      1. Supahewok says:

        Oh, so that wasn’t just me? I thought my phone was maybe on the fritz…

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Same.I was wondering why my table was vibrating,and I thought that it was just my subwoofer doing some weird shit for no reason.

  12. stratigo says:

    I don’t know, the most recent obsidian game (Well, actually Armored assault’s their most recent, but you know what I mean) only has one insufferable jackass as a companion, and his writing is pretty darn amazing. The rest are generally friendly and nice.

  13. Micamo says:

    I have a bit of a different perspective: I’m a big fan of the style of story that’s about exploring the mind of a very flawed and broken protagonist, because the author wants to use the character’s flaws to say something. You’re not supposed to empathize with, root for, or even remotely like these types of characters in these stories.

    That’s sorta how I view the Obsidian Asshole type of companion: It’s this type of character explored through the player’s interactions with them, rather than through that character’s perspective directly as you’d normally see in a book.

  14. Rick says:

    After three or four runs through KotOR II, I came to the realization that most of my problems with it are that I hate Kreia. I would like the game much better without her in it.

    I acknowledge that, based on the story, there wouldn’t be a game without her in it. I stand by my statement.

    1. John says:

      The game spends most of its time treating Kreia as a wise old mentor only to reveal at the end that she’s evil–not a surprise–and that her master plan is to . . . well, they talk about how she wants to destroy the Force, but that makes no sense. She’s like the underpants gnomes from South Park, except Obsidian wants you to take her seriously and care about what she thinks of you.

      1. Thomas says:

        Her being evil isn’t a reveal :p They constantly cut to “Kreia being evil” throughout the game, and if after Kreia does her stuff you go “OMG Kreia’s evil?!” Atton basically tells you “No shit sherlock, what gave it away?”

        It’s her plans and your nature which are revealed. Up until then you don’t know where her cards are.

        1. John says:

          Yes, hence “not a surprise”.

      2. djw says:

        I always chalked the nonsensical ending up to the fact that the game wasn’t finished yet. Maybe I am being too charitable in that regard, but in my head-canon the ending would have made a lot more sense if they had released 6 months later than they did.

        1. John says:

          I think a lot of people agree with you. I just can’t bring myself to give the game credit for things it never actually gets around to doing.

          1. djw says:

            I agree that the ending was a bit nonsensical. I liked the writing for the rest of the writing, so I was willing to give them a pass on the ending. If I hadn’t liked the rest of the game I wouldn’t have gotten far enough to find out that the ending was gibberish :P

            1. John says:

              Despite all my griping, I’ve finished the game multiple times. I think I have an RPG problem. I may be addicted to numbers-go-up.

              If you can ignore the bugs, the game is pretty good on a moment-to-moment and planet-to-planet basis. It mostly falls apart at the end, when the space-vampire, kill-the-force stuff kicks in. From what I hear, the cut-content mod (mods?) make the ending more dramatic but don’t fix the “the Force is now D&D Space Magic” problem.

              1. djw says:

                Hahahhah, addicted to numbers go up indeed. I finished NWN2 multiple times due to that addiction, and it had some very bad plot points.

                In Kotor 2 I liked what they did with the Force, but I suppose that is a matter of taste.

        2. Syal says:

          I think the ending would have made exactly as much sense (all the bad guys are aspects of things the Exile has been struggling with since the Mandalorian Wars, and are all defeated by the answers he’s found), it just would have been more polished. I give the game a lot of slack, but Malachor 5 being the final world contradicts both the Exile’s and Revan’s backstories and was never going to be a good setting.

  15. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Regarding the paladin joke, I believe Mumbles said “Grey Paladin” then one of you (I think Rutskarn) said Grape Paladin, then you later realized that the middle between blue and red was purple like a grape.

    1. Shamus says:

      And to spoil the joke: Titling this episode “Great Paladin” was deliberately “mis-hearing” her yet again.

      1. ehlijen says:

        I know Jolee can be a bit stern at times, but did you have to call him a ‘Grave Paladin’?
        Or was that a jab at how old he is?


        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          No,he said grain paladin,because of how old and grainy he is.

      2. Wide And Nerdy says:

        Hey! Spoiler Warning!

  16. Lame Duck says:

    I think Bioware’s likable but shallow characters would have been fine if they hadn’t continued to use the same characters in game after game.

    1. Thomas says:

      That’s one of the problems with shallow characters. There aren’t many of them by definition and they get repetitive quickly. Bioware has slowly starting moving away from it at last. A couple of DA:I characters were both interesting and not archetypes, which was a record for Bioware (okay maybe Mordin). I still can’t get over the fact that Cassandra wasn’t another Carth snorefest.

  17. Nyctef says:

    Spoiler Warning: High-brow commentary about video games (and monkey noises)

    I love you guys :3

  18. manofsteles says:

    “I think that's why New Vegas is my favorite Obsidian game: The companions are optional and my enemies all stay at the other end of my gun.”

    The New Vegas characters as a whole seemed less buggy to me (note: I didn’t buy it until after Dead Money came out); I wonder if the fact that they were optional, and thus weren’t nearly as closely tied to the main quest or the DLC had anything to do with that. Could their relative modularity have made it easier to playtest and debug them?

  19. Bropocalypse says:

    I like to think this sort of banal debate(one dev’s fans vs another dev’s fans) will soon die out due to cheap development costs. Eventually it’ll be like arguing over which snowflake is better.

    1. manofsteles says:

      Hopefully, that will be the case. As Shamus pointed out, it’s possible that mid-budget games with the scale of KOTOR will be more common in the future as better dev tools hopefully allow them to be made with smaller teams and smaller budgets. I think one of the reasons we gamers keep arguing about which dev is better suited to a type of game because many of our favorite games are horrendously expensive to make (and thus not enough of them come out to satisfy everyone).

      1. djw says:

        Sadly, I am much more cynical than you. I think gamers argue because gamers are human and humans argue about any pointless thing that they possibly can.

        I will rebut arguments on this point with smug satisfaction.

  20. Blovsk says:

    The other side of the Bioware vs. Obsidian debate is that Bioware do a number of things really consistently badly in their games. Their dialogue is largely flat, not character driven and your available responses are really limited. Similarly, Bioware usually have no idea how to make enemies use the combat systems they’ve set up and have very lightweight encounter design – KOTOR 1 is a prime example where the systems aren’t terribly deep, the encounters aren’t really designed in such a way as to get you to use them and the enemy AI won’t make use of most of them anyway, so the depth that could be there just isn’t.

    Meanwhile Obsidian games have historically had lots of bugs and half-finished content but there’s just so much more bloody thought and effort put into it that their failures are invariably more interesting than Bioware’s best work.

    tl/dr KOTOR 2’s dialogue is better than KOTOR’s by about the same amount as KOTOR’s is better than Skyrim.

  21. shiroax says:

    Was I playing KOTOR2 wrong? I was buddybuddyBFFs with all my team except Kreia and HK (edit: oh yeah, and that other gangster robot that I forgot was there), and like 30% of them wanted to hump me. I really don’t get what you’re talking about.

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      I laughed.

      I wish Bioware/Obsidian/Bethesda/whoever would just give you the option to romance or FWB your entire party in one massive cuddle pile.

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        Yes. Saints Row 4 approach all the way.

    2. John says:

      We’re–or at least I’m–mostly talking about Kreia. She may be just one character, but she monopolizes the dialogue and content of the game.

      1. shiroax says:

        I disagree. I just tell her to go back to the port fuckoffroom, roll my eyes if she tries to speak and go off to get Handmaiden naked or get creeped by Spikeguy or exchange fun war crimes anecdotes with everybody else.

        1. John says:

          Unfortunately, that doesn’t help with the unskippable cutscenes.

          1. guy says:

            Or Korriban. The entire planet.

            You know what offends me most about her on Korriban? You lose influence for looting corpses because that spawns monsters which attack you and that you kill for XP. Note that you killing things for XP is an in-universe thing that Kreia knows about. Most of the items weren’t that good, I just wanted to kill monsters for XP.

            1. djw says:

              You can unlock her bonus conversations and bonus abilities by lowering her influence enough. In fact, that is the easiest way to do it.

              1. Syal says:

                I thought the easiest way was the infinite influence glitched quest.

      2. Alex says:

        G0-T0 or whatever its name was was another one, if not as obnoxious as Kreia.

  22. Destrustor says:

    I never really disliked the Kotor 2 companions in general, mostly because all my hate was entirely focused on G0-T0.

    Oh man, screw that guy. He’s an openly-hostile smug jerk who takes your entire ship hostage for his own personal gain, and offers absolutely nothing good in return.
    I never once took him on my party, never even let the game auto-level him, and never spoke to him for any reason. I don’t even understand what he could do that’s so different from the other two (more interesting and fun) droids that he was justified to even have in the roster.
    I’d have paid full-game price for a DLC containing nothing but a side mission to get rid of him.

    Can anyone enlighten me on why he needed to exist, and how one could possibly tolerate his robotic assholery?

    1. Couscous says:

      Players weren’t supposed to hate G0-T0 with him only being on the party because of blackmail?

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        I never used him. Fuck GOTO. Tell me why we couldn’t space him?

        1. Couscous says:

          He threatened to blow up the ship.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            So I could take him down to a planet and leave him to die?

    2. John says:

      G0-T0 is an okay-ish boss, but an utterly pointless party member. He should have been cut. The ending of the game would have made just as much sense and dragged a lot less.

    3. djw says:

      G0-T0 actually had a good point, which was that the Jedi-Sith war was destroying peoples livelihoods and it needed to end so that people could rebuild their lives.

      Also, he was not originally a gangster:Earlier in the game it was mentioned that a droid intelligence was purchased to manage the Telos rebuilding project, but it disappeared. G0-T0 was that droid. He interpreted his orders as “fix the republic” but due to all of the red-tape and bureaucracy of the republic he could not both fix it and remain within the law. That is why he joined the Exchange and operated as a “gangster”. I will admit that I don’t completely comprehend how he intended to use crime to fix the republic, but then I am not a “droid intelligence”

      1. guy says:

        I cannot respect the pragmatism of anyone who thinks Sith and Jedi victories are interchangeable.

        1. djw says:

          I don’t think G0-T0 comprehended the consequences of a Darth Nihilus “victory”, but setting that aside, I think that continuing the war was worse than any downside that would occur if the Sith won.

          I doubt that Malak or Sion would have made particularly nice rulers for the republic, but you can be certain that they would have defended “their” stuff from the Mandalorians (or any other outsider). The Jedi, on the other hand, allowed the Mandalorians to commit genocide.

          1. guy says:

            The Sith are liable to exterminate planets in one of their endless internal power struggles, much like they do during their external battles. The Jedi refused to fight against the Mandalorians on the basis that if they did the Jedi they sent out might fall to the Dark Side and become a worse threat than the Mandalorians, which seems fairly sensible to me on the basis that they were objectively proven completely correct.

            1. djw says:

              Since it is apparently not difficult to convert Jedi to Sith I think that G0-T0 should focus his efforts on exterminating them both.

            2. Viktor says:

              Jedi who went out on their own to face war without any support from their teachers and who were facing unknown severe punishments if they ever returned fell to the dark side. We can’t know what would have happened if the Jedi had provided a support structure and counsel to Revan and friends like Jedi are supposed to do.

            3. djw says:

              Also, it is not clear to me whether Malak murdered more people than the Mandalorians would have if they had continued to go unopposed.

              1. Otters34 says:

                Well the Mandalorians don’t have any society or culture besides fighting, so just waiting until they died out trying to kill all life in the universe would worked. The Sith could come back over and over again.

                1. guy says:

                  I think the Republic military would have eventually rallied without help; it’s not like the Mandalorians had the Star Forge.

                  1. Otters34 says:

                    Actually that reminds me of the biggest pet peeve in space operas: people being good at fighting being assumed to also be good at war. In reality those two things could not possibly be more different, and when stuff like the Mandalorians show up there’s always this serious hand-waving over how they got to be this way or how they can possibly remain like this. The Klingons and krogan also have that side to them, but they at least have balancing factors(ruinously back-stabbing politics/hoary cultural strictures, an engineered and enormous infant mortality rate, etc.)

                    But the Mandalorians just come off as idiot bullies who don’t actually understand what they’re doing, and just want to feel powerful by defeating something strong enough to fight back but not enough to hope to win. If they represented some kind of radical philosophy that wanted to break the stagnation of the galaxy in fire, not caring what got blown up just so things didn’t stay the same for ANOTHER thousand years, that would work great. People good at organizing, leading, making good snap judgements, at doing all the stuff that’s so vital in war and hard to find a place for in peace, would flock to this once in a lifetime chance to BE somebody. Maybe the there are some true believers like Canderous, who really does want to enjoy challenges in life and doesn’t mind losing to a worthy foe, but ultimately Mandalore just wanted to give people something to fight and die for, even if he had to become space!Chinghis Khan to do it.

                    1. Benjamin Hilton says:

                      The only defense I can muster against this is that supposedly the majority of the Mandlorians are like Canderous. If you have Canderous with you he always calls out the one’s you fight for being cowards attacking the weak, and disgracing rue Mandolorians. That’s why he never take’s issue with killing them.

                2. djw says:

                  Lots of people die while you are waiting for the Mandalorians to burn themselves out.

                  Also, I am not sure why you would assume that nothing like the Mandalorians would happen again. We have many more examples of warrior cultures conquering their neighbors from our past on earth than we have of sith outbreaks.

                  1. Otters34 says:

                    Putting aside how literally all of those people would have died anyway, probably in way less awesome/horrible ways than being murdered by soldiers or bombarded from space, there’s the problem of how in the EU literally all wars since the Great Hyperspace War are because of some asshole Sith thinking “You know what would cement the power of our religious cult? A big old war!” Since those dumb Sith twins on down dark Jedi and Sith have been bogarting all the star wars, with hardly any rival powers managing to get a knife in pointwise.

                    In the reverse of our history, where religion takes a backseat to politics most of the time, and often gets co-opted for political ends, the Sith religion has been the driving force of the Galaxy’s background radiation of aggression, with political aims bending to looney supervillain schemes that would get it kicked out of L.O.V.E.M.U.F.F.I.N.

                    I wouldn’t be too worried of something like Mandalore and his Mandalorian Friends showing up too often.

                    1. djw says:

                      It does make you wonder whether or not Kreia might have been right after all…

                    2. Otters34 says:

                      She at least is in KotOR II. From the way things just happened to fall out, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was following the will of the Force all along. That’d be a delicious irony.

                    3. guy says:

                      I feel fairly confident that actually destroying the Force to end the Jedi-Sith conflict would be kind of like stopping wildfires by getting rid of the atmosphere. People can be blocked from sensing or using the Force, but it’s still there. It seems like a supremely bad idea to destroy something that is created by and connected to all life, and it’s notable that the one time Kreia supposedly cut people off from the Force herself they outright died. Though admittedly I’m of the opinion that she actually just used Life Drain and lied to you about it, since she kind of lies constantly.

    4. Lachlan the Mad says:

      G0-T0 has an extremely interesting backstory, it’s just virtually impossible to squeeze it out of him because his influence options are strange, and you need to pay attention to some dull side conversations to get the full impact. I’m going to spolier tag it:

      On Telos Station, the Ithorians say that the droid brain which was meant to be running the planetary restoration went missing. They blame Czerka for stealing it, but Czerka know nothing about it. What actually happened was that they programmed the brain with the extraordinarily broad directive of “save the republic”. The brain deduced that it couldn’t save the Republic from where it was sitting, so it took control of a droid and stole itself. G0-T0 the droid isn’t controlled by Goto the human; G0-T0 and Goto are the same droid, and the hologram it uses is just a bluff. Goto claims that it is attempting to save the Republic through various means, most of which have to do with restoring the morale of its people. For example, it wants you to get the restoration of Telos up and running again, but doesn’t care whether Czerka or the Ithorians are running it; it wants there to be a military-religious order to defend the Republic, but doesn’t care whether that order is the Jedi or the Sith.

      Note that I’m not saying this backstory redeems Goto into the BEST CHARACTER EVAR. He’s still a dickhead, and a lot of his actions seem to contradict his supposed directive (e.g. becoming a crime lord or preventing the destruction of Malachor). I’m just pointing out that, like every KotOR2 character, there’s more to G0-T0 than meets the eye.

      1. Oy vey.

        Someone read Asimov’s stories about R. Daneel Olivaw and the Zeroeth Law of Robotics, I see. It’s a pretty blatant copy-pasting of R. Daneel’s directives. Just replace “Republic” with “humanity.”

    5. Grudgeal says:

      I liked G0-T0. I think he’s written in to provide the POV from someone who is in power yet unable to understand Jedi philosophy — a pure politician concerned in the Jedi/Sith war from a materialistic POV.

      Considering ‘he’ is an AI blind to the Force and not in a position to know a lot of things your character does, he sort of makes sense in that, from G0T0’s limited assumptions, the Sith and Jedi are two religious orders tearing the galaxy apart. Also the stories on how it built a persona around gangster cliches are amusing.

    6. tremor3258 says:

      G0-T0 being most useful on the planet you just finished to get him is one of the most bizarre gameplay decisions I’ve seen – he’s smug, arrogant, and pretty much mechanically useless.

      I like to imagine my Exile and Atton trying to figure out how to fit him into the Ebon Hawk’s reactor core.

  23. guy says:

    Yeah, I really don’t like the whole antagonistic characters whom you must keep around for no reason thing. I’d much rather have any number of flat characters with a major hero-worship crush on the PC, because they’re at least pleasant to be around and never make me want to take them up on their suggestions of imprisoning them on the ship when I’m unable to do that for no adequately explained reason. I thought Quara was at least amusing sometimes, and I could at least respect the warlock’s commitment and goals*, but Bishop was just a terrible person you had to keep around for some reason.

    *If you don’t have enough influence with him when you meet the final boss, he has a fantastic line: Whatever the faults of the one we follow, we are here to kill the King Of Shadows, not listen to the chattering of one of his servants, Garius. I have had my goal for decades, and I did not burn in the Hells in agony to give up to one such as you.

    1. djw says:

      I liked the Warlock, once I got over how he murdered his grand daughter. It should have been possible to murder Bishop, or lock him in jail or something.

      That said even Bishop didn’t deserve the Wall of the Faithless.

    2. lurkey says:

      I kind of assumed Charname didn’t really have much say in keeping them around. It’s not like s/he could forbid Bishop to haunt the town’s (apparently only) tavern, and him being in the party meant just that — he hangs around in the tavern, it’s not like they’re sharing a bedroom all the time. And I would always prefer this to hero-worship little cult, because nothing kills immersion better than a bunch of NPCs basically wearing “Our purpose is to fellate your ego, player!” labels.

      1. guy says:

        I’m confident you could throw him out of either the tavern your uncle owns or the tavern in the castle that you personally own. Or you could at least stop inviting him to your war councils and letting him run around critical defensive installations unsupervised.

  24. Arrow says:

    Kreia can be pleased, you just have to be subtle, manipulative, and most importantly, neutral. She will hate you if you are either to light or too dark, which unfortunately works against the system. Obsidian should have created a bonus for being full neutral like the complete light or dark side bonuses to incentivise this play style.

    1. Grudgeal says:

      Kreia also gets pleased if you treat her as a teacher — that is, follow what she says and think about them (requires intelligence and wisdom, and frequently checking in on her). I managed to keep a full Light Side character with full Kreia influence for most of the game, though admittedly that’s because I never brought her outside the ship where she would get annoyed with my Saintly Jedi act.

      I think my main issue with Kreia is that she seems to hold as a philosophy that battle and conflict tests people and makes them stronger (keeping in mind that most of the things she tells you are lies, or at least half truths) — but half of the time you lose influence by challenging her views.

      1. tremor3258 says:

        That’s a good point – Kreia often follows a philosophical version of the Echani philosophy on combat… but she’s a really, really sore loser.

        I do regret even if you get the influence and ask her history, you can never really confront her on Kreia’s previous failures as a teacher or ask about The Plan she’s working towards.

  25. acronix says:

    I actually thought that the jerk companion was a Bioware thing. Jaheira in Baldur’s Gate 2, Morrigan in Dragon Age, Miranda in Mass Effect 2…

    I think the only jerk companions from an Obsidian game I can think of are the ones from Neverwinter Nights. But then I haven’t player Alpha Protocol or Kotor 2.

    1. Corsair says:

      The difference is that they managed to competently execute having a disagreeable, difficult companion in every game -except- Mass Effect 2.

    2. lurkey says:

      I’d say it’s more party-based RPG thing, because people have different tastes and chances are that someone’s favourite would elicit “Ugh, kill it with fire” reaction from another. So not really Obsidian or Bioware thing, just people thing.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        While true,it doesnt negate the fact that company A makes more people go “Ugh,kill it with fire!” than company B.So the obsidian v bioware thing is not invalid as long as you realize that your view is not shared by everyone.

  26. Metal C0Mmander says:

    So since someone has to be the guy that talks about Jolee poorly it might as well be me. While I haven’t played with him a lot I don’t remember a lot of time when if you are doing something he likes he will actually go ahead and congratulate you. The only time that comes to mind is during the last conversation with him where he gage your light side and dark side and he finally say it straight that he isn’t judging you.

    Even then each time he played devil’s advocate it still felt slightly mean-spirited to me and this wasn’t helped by the fact that I couldn’t tell him exactly why I did the things the way he asked me to do them. But those are the limitations of the medium I guess. And to be fair it’s very possible I misremembered what little I actually saw of Jolee.

  27. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So many comments,and the only mention of alpha protocol is “I never played it”.For shame obsidian fans,for shame!(especially krellen)

    Anyway,alpha protocol is great when it comes to “companions”.You can make them hate you,or like you,whichever you please,and whatever side they start on(your helpers or your enemies).And no matter which you choose,you get an in game bonus.Its awesome.If only there wasnt the fighting in between all the glorious conversations,that game wouldve been perfect.

  28. Daemian Lucifer says:

    By the way,the whole obsidian vs bioware thing is stupid anyway,because everyone knows that its black isle studios that has the best companions.

  29. Dt3r says:

    Obsidian is ugly and nihilistic? I never got that impression. Then again, I play games from Eastern European developers so my calibration may be off. Obsidian looks like Candy Land next to Ice-Pick Lodge games.

    1. lurkey says:

      Obsidian looks like Candy Land next to Ice-Pick Lodge games

      Yeah. All two of them. ;)

      (I know there’s also “Knock Knock” which is weird but not dark, and “Cargo”, which I never played but it looks positively cheery and upbeat.)

      Anyway. I am also the fan of Eastern European game making (“Turgor” being my mostest favoritest game ever more or less), but I wouldn’t dismiss Obsidian’s talent of doing ugly and depressing, “Dead Money” in particular does it exceptionally well. *

      * That was obviously not a complaint or diss but the opposite thing.

  30. RCN says:

    Hmmm… that’s only three party members from NWN2. Though you could also argue that Neeshka is often being entirely counter-productive to the party and the player, but then again her character is that her demon part doesn’t allow her to open up completely to other people and once you rescue her ass enough times she finally starts actually trusting you.

    Qara can burn in a fire, as far as I care. She’s the embodiment of all things I hate about Sorcerer players (there’s no problem that can’t be solved with enough fireballs!) taken to the extreme (that orphanage is on fire? Well, after a few fireballs there won’t be any more orphans in need of rescue! Problem solved!). Heck, besides everything else she’s also a bully in the academy and has no qualms into murdering random people for no reason.

    Bishop is a bit more redeemable, but overall I would also like the chance to get rid of him. He’s got lots of quarries in the party and literally everyone hates him, but that could also be said of Qara. But I could actually see where Bishop came from with his opinions, while Qara spends most of her time just being stupid evil (despite the “neutral” in her character sheet).

    Ammon Jerro, though, I felt was a tragic figure. He does kill his granddaughter on accident, just to pile on the enormous list of failures in his quest against the King of Shadows. He’s the guy to whom everything went wrong in his adventuring career and had paid the consequences for it, with all that was left being finishing what he had started.

    Though I understand how one can hate him. He is very counter-intuitive to handle in the game. In order to get the other companions to like you you have to always agree with them without question, but Jerro you need to challenge his views for him to eventually open up.

    Also, I don’t see how anyone can really hate Khelgar or Sand. Khelgar is more or less always up and willing to do some heroing and has a silly quest to become a monk because he got his ass kicked by one. Meanwhile Sand is a coward with a heart of gold with a quick wit. Also, he despises Qara and everything she represents, so I instantly liked him.

    But Obsidian really ups their ante with MotB. Even One-of-Many is interesting and curious to be around, even though it is a life-consuming wraith who revels in suffering.

    1. guy says:

      Quara vs. Sand is great, yeah. I love when they meet in Sand’s shop. He makes fun of her, she threatens to burn his store, he replies by mentioning a spell on the building that will suck her life out if she tries, with a snide line about how she probably hasn’t read the book it’s in.

      The spell doesn’t exist, which Quara would know if she actually read books instead of insulting wizards for needing to.

  31. Grudgeal says:

    To me, the characters in KotOR II felt more like real people who actually have an agenda in following you, and therefore have less need to ‘like you’ as a person. Which is why they came across as more surly and unpleasant. I mean, half of the party clearly don’t want to be around you at all and are sort of compelled to be around you. Also, in light of the whole ‘wound in the force’ bit, it sort of makes sense — they don’t want to, they’re unconsciously compelled to.

    In KotOR I I’m still a bit confused as to why, for example, Carth and Canderous are still following you around after you reach Dantooine. I mean, Carth would presumably want to go back to the Republic and Canderous would probably want to go find a fight somewhere. I mean, it’s easy to imagine Carth has orders to keep Bastilla safe and Canderous wants to follow you because he sees you as a walking sign saying “come at me bro” to every worthy fight in the galaxy. But having that added in-game, just a line and a bit of characterization, would have been nice.

    1. djw says:

      A very good explanation for Canderous could have been that he saw Revan once across a battlefield and he therefore already knows how much of a badass you are but alas, that is not how they played it.

    2. John says:

      You can actually ask Carth why he doesn’t go back to the fleet. He says that finding the Star Forge is more important.

      I’m not sure why Canderous sticks around after you get to Dantooine. He’s a mercenary and it’s not like you’re paying him.

      1. Shamus says:

        Canderous gives an awesome explanation for why he’s part of your crew… but only after the Big Twist. It’s actually one of my favorite lines from the game.

        But between Taris and act 3, he really has no reason to stick around, especially if you’re leaving him on the ship.

    3. Grudgeal says:

      Incidentally, KotOR II isn’t entirely free from that point. Mira has the same problem — it’s implied the Jedi master on Nar Shadaa hired her to protect you, but it’s not made clear enough. Ultimately it’s because she’s a Force Sensitive and gets pulled into the maelstrom with the rest of them, but until you learn that she feels the most ‘out there’ of all of the party. The droids follow you out of programming, Bao-Dur and Disciple out of loyalty and redemption, Hanharr and Atton because they’re compelled to, Handmaiden and Visas out of loyalty to their masters, and Kreia and G0-T0 to monitor you and guide you towards advancing their own agenda. Mira… Is just there.

      Although that may just be because I don’t like her very much at all.

  32. Steve C says:

    What’s the line? It’s going to be months before we get to that point and I’m going to forget.

  33. Darren says:

    The appeal of the Asshole Party Member–if done right–is that there’s usually some reason for them to be an asshole, and some kind of repercussion or revelation about it. If nothing else, you get consistency that can be perversely fascinating in how it deviates from the norm. Durance in Pillars of Eternity is by far the most interesting party member of that game, thanks largely to the fact that he takes his fanaticism to its logical endpoint.

    If you want characters that you’d actually want to spend time with in real life, Obsidian is pretty bad for it. If you want characters who are demonstrably different from any functional human you’d encounter in the real world yet still logically consistent within the work of fiction, then Obsidian has you covered.

    Although with the departure of Avellone, who is the most responsible for those characters, I suspect we’ll see Obsidian tone it down quite a bit on the Asshole Party Member front.

    1. guy says:

      This might just be a personal thing, but I find that interacting with one of those characters in a BioWare/Obsidian game feels much more like associating with them in real life than watching them in any other media does. Though I guess I mostly like them only when I feel they have a point, and obviously I tend to pick options I agree with.

      I suppose I should note that I don’t just want a circle of sycophants; I largely prefer characters who have a genuine individual personality that gets along with the one I play, and wouldn’t respect me if I took crazy options. I also like Sten a lot, even though he basically spends every conversation criticizing everything you do. It helps that his criticisms are largely valid; the plan is an insane long shot even though it is basically your only option.

      1. Darren says:

        A party of Sten, Morrigan, and Shale is a pretty bracing team in Origins. It’s also hilarious and riveting.

  34. Someonething says:

    So Chris Avellone said in an interview that he recently started feeling that he promoted some bad habits in RPGs, one of which is “unfun companions”. Reading that made me think of this.

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