Character design: Villain profile


#1

Hello guys, i just wanted to ask a few questions :DD

How is the perfect villain in your opinion?

What are the characteristics that you appreciate most in a villain?

What feelings should a villain make the reader feel?

What exactly should be the appearance of a villain look like? and why should he/she look like this?

Which is the best villain in the COG games in your opinion and why


#2

A motivation. I don’t do well with ancient evils bent on destruction for the sake of it. Petty malice. Eeevil! If there’s no gain, no motive, then it makes no sense. Money, power, revenge, those are all classical tropes that work for a reason, because they’re sensible.

In the above vein, the reader should have an understanding of the villain’s motivation. Not necessarily sympathy, though that can work (eg. Magneto). But it all making sense is obviously really important to me.

Capable. Capable of beating the protagonist. It’s that simple. If Goldfinger just had had the sense to shoot Bond in the head, he’d have won. The protagonist should only be able to overcome the antagonist through cleverness, conviction, sacrifice… not because the antagonist has a momentary lapse of judgment.

It actually doesn’t matter. A nondescript man in a generic blue suit with brown shoes can be just as well-presented as a shadow monster or a dramatic supervillain.


#3

Which is the best villain in the COG games in your opinion and why

Definitely prodigal from herofall. And why? I just love her, ended up romancing her😍


#4

Ahhh, good ol’ fashioned villainy.

I’d like to think the perfect villain is intelligent, whimsical, and has a (relatively) just cause. Y’know - Liberate the world form some ‘oppressor’ or whatnot, but doesn’t hesitate to shoot down some innocents for the benefit of the many (Kane, from the Tiberium Wars, I’m looking at you); a crime lord working in the interest of her family, and doesn’t care about who else it hurts; the monarch who is willing to sacrifice all for something ridiculous.

I feel that a good villain characterises fortitude, motivation and decisiveness. I always imagine a good villain doesn’t waste time by hesitating when meeting the hero. She just takes a shot and moves on with her life.

My favourite villains usually inspire feelings of empowerment and general badassery in me. Super bonus points if I’d rather side with their cause than the hero’s.

I think a style that suits their personality and modus operandi is in order - just like anybody else. If my villain is the type to have delusions of grandeur, I’d have him styled after an elaborate upper class. If my villain utilises mass propaganda and religious/political fear, I’d include some symbolism in her appearance and embodiment. The heartless, killing machine I’d style with only the necessities for his work, and act only to achieve goals - no unnecessary mannerisms or baggy pants.

Overall, I think a good villain should be alive in a dynamic world, pursuing their own agenda even if the hero fails to show up. Logically, they’d guard their secrets and only involve people they trust, so the hero shouldn’t even catch wind of them until their plans are in action.

I agree with @Spire:

All that said, Anti-heroes, in my convoluted opinion, only mar the bad name of good villains, and should go sit in the corner and think about what they’ve done.


#5
  1. Capable. I want the heroes to have to struggle to be able to defeat the villain, not just waltz into his lair like the own the place and blow it up. Or maybe the villain doesn’t understand the how his actions will effect him later, that makes him incapable of planning correctly, so all the heroes need to do is sit back, and let the villains schemes harm him somehow (this would never happen, because the heroes always need to do something, but it would make a lot more sense if they just left the problem alone in some situations)
  2. Motivation. More specifically, good motivation. Anybody can create a villain that is evil because he “just it”, but it takes a talented writer to make us understand why the villain does what he does.
  3. Confusion. In my opinion, a good villain is someone that does horrible things, but can justify himself in such a way that even the reader stops to consider whether the heroes of the story are right, or the villain.
  4. Honestly it doesn’t matter, as long as they aren’t too over the top about it, because that can be cheesy.
  5. I honestly can’t remember any true villains in CoGs besides the heroes rise series, and I didn’t like any of those ones. Most CoGs and HGs usually have you dealing with the consequences of your choices, though if I had to pick one I consider a villain, I’d pick Thomas Upton from Tin Star. His reason for doing what he did was so believable, and he almost pulled it off.

#6
  1. It depends on the story for me. An all out-battle focused story needs a different villains than a spy story. But in general a good villain is tough, tricky, but NOT unbeatable.
  2. Competence. As the others have said, a villain that isn’t competent/capable is not a good villain. They should pose a challenge to the heroes. And NOT just cause the plot demands it. (see below)
  3. Satisfaction when the hero wins. There’s nothing wrong with tragic backstories but a good villain should make the reader go ‘great motive, still murder’ instead of ‘they have a point’. because, no screw that.
  4. Agreeing with the ‘it doesn’t matter’. Though do refrain from the ‘they’re so hot you want to forgive them everything’ nonsense some writers do…
  5. Best villain? The M/Patriarch from Hero Unmasked. They’re the kind of villain that makes you go ‘WHAT?!’ when they are revealed and suddenly everything they did when you encountered them as someone else before gets a whole new meaning. E.G. If the mayor turns out to be the M/P the encounter in the catacombs, especially when you hear something down a corridor, becomes all the more unsettling cause suddenly there’s the implication they were NOT looking for the Swashbuckler but had been messing with your captured twin. Likewise, as there’s also the possibility that your twin had been held in a Dockerstown warehouse, the encounter with the reporter can also become this. OR the statement the reporter makes about the Mayor, should the reporter turn out to be the M/P. Look at them trying to throw you off the track.

In addition to the above, I’d say the worst kind of villain in CoG games are those that are unbeatable unless the plot demands it. They know everything about the hero, can counter everything thrown at them, play their little games, and actually just succeed with things because the author refuses to account for the MC showing plain common sense.
If you, as author, can not create a villain that can’t succeed without the universe bending over backwards for them, you should practice writing more, because those villains are, honestly, an utter bore. Also, especially in these cases, refrain from the tragic backstory. The villain is boring enough, don’t try to milk the tears.


#7

Personally i do like myself a good tragic backstory as long as its done well


#8

point taken. But I see it common that Tragic Backstory ™ boils down to some sort of checklist of horrible things happening to the character, often not making much sense in the setting.


#9

These are all really good questions that’re very hard to answer. I’ll start off with the question about the villain’s appearance because I don’t feel like that question has an answer. A villain can look however you want them to look. They can be tall, well-built and tower over everyone they speak to. They could wear a terrifying costume. They could be a beautiful seductress or an adorable little child. It all depends on the character.

As for character, I think a lot of your questions are very similar, so I’ll answer them all together. There are many different kinds of villains I like. Villains who’re witty and calculated and do a really good job of convincing people they’re not villains. Villains who’re sympathetic and have good intentions, but their methods for achieving their goals are questionable. Then there’s villains who’re impressive because of how down-right detestable they are. Personally, I think the most important thing for a villain to be is memorable. We’ve all seen a million cookie-cutter villains who’re just evil for the sake of being evil and who want to take over/blow up the world because… That’s just what villains do. They’re a dime a dozen and nobody remembers them.

The best thing a writer can do is establish a past, personality and goals for their victims and do a really good job conveying all three. If they’re cruel and merciless, there should be a reason. Maybe they were taught that mercy was a sign of weakness as a child? Maybe the last person they showed mercy on ended up betraying them? Either way, like with every character, their actions and motivations should be explained.

One more thing I will add is that authors should consider that even the most evil people in the world rarely consider themselves villains. Even Hitler saw himself as a hero. :yum:


#10

There was a very interesting discussion on this in another thread, which I highly recommend checking out:

It touches on these three questions, mainly, as for your other questions:

I believe that there can’t really be a set answer to this. It depends on the world you’re building. For example: A Medieval-era story’s villain should most likely not be a cyborg, meanwhile it might seem odd if, in a cyberpunk sci-fi, the villain comes out in old knights armor with a plain steel sword and shield. (Unless, of course, you’re going to somehow go medieval-sci-fi in which case, by all means.)

Hmm… well, I suppose I would have to say Study in Steampunk has the best villains. I enjoy the fact that you can switch sides once you realize the truth about Woodward, and then later try to take down Callahan once you find out about his plans as well. Both of these played with the idea of the MC following someone who he believed was right, or at least a lesser evil, and in the end coming to his own conclusions and learning the ugly truth of both organizations.


#11

Perfect. Duh.

Being ticklish.

I have no jokes for that one. So I’m gonna use confusion fu.

Beat

Apples.

what-does-it-mean-when-cat-wags-tail

I’d run like hell if I met it in a dark street. Heck, I’m already doing it when I’m in broad day.

(Yes that’s literally the first pick you get when you search “cat” on Google)

The protagonist in Choice of the Cat. It’s mere existence is enough to scare me.


#12

This is just according to my own taste:

  1. Calm and capable. They know what they’re doing and they carry it out with skill.
  2. Conviction and tenacity. They believe in their cause beyond anything else.
  3. Fear (you don’t want the main character to be in the same room as them) but also empathy
    (the perfect villain to me is one who is the hero in their own story).
  4. I don’t really know but, whatever it is, it has to make sense for their character. If they prefer theatrics over practicality, their outfit should reflect that. If some previous event was the catalyst for their actions, perhaps they keep a memento of it (e.g. dog-tags of a fallen friend, that sort of thing).
  5. I usually tend not to remember the CoG villains.

#13

What are the characteristics that you appreciate most in a villain?

Villains should have a motivation for what they are doing and is competent at their job of villainy such that they can defeat marauding heroes. They also need to behave in a manner that is appropriate for their world environment.

What feelings should a villain make the reader feel?

The villain’s job in any story is to entertain the reader, present a challenge and ultimately be defeated. That said, I don’t like villains that do stupid things - no monologuing, no ridiculously complex death traps, no being so invincible that the hero must obtain Epic Sword of Boss Slaying +10, and I really don’t care what the tragic backstory is. I would prefer a villain is just comfortable with being a jerk who kicks puppies for fun but not taken to the extreme of there practically being a checklist of all the horrible things he does for fun.

While the villain should have a motivation for what he does, he shouldn’t feel beholden to the player to let me know what that motivation is unless he’s trying to corrupt me to join him.

And unless the villain has a double identity where they know the player character personally without the player knowing who the villain actually is, the villain shouldn’t seem to know way too much about the hero or be constantly one step ahead. Any romance with this type of villain should always come with extra consequences. The one COG I’ve played that does this is (major spoiler) Thieves’ Gambit, where if you decide to romance Bouchard after discovering his other identity, it will result in your long-term associate Reg to turn on you and become an enemy. This is your fault because teaming up with Bouchard is a major betrayal and slap in the face to your prior partnership with Reg.

What exactly should be the appearance of a villain look like? and why should he/she look like this?

It doesn’t matter for the most part so long as it is appropriate to their setting. However any villain that has a secret identity where they’re successfully living a double-life (even if you the hero only encounters them as a villain) should not be ridiculously good looking. Anyone that is incredibly successfully keeping a low profile about who they are is also not going to be drawing attention to themselves with their appearance. People are going to remember seeing the incredibly hot guy/girl, but not necessarily someone that looks completely ordinary and in no way special.

Which is the best villain in the COG games in your opinion and why

The player character in Grand Academy for Future Villains just because I love how this game doesn’t take itself too seriously and in some respects, seems to poke fun at villain stereotypes.


#14

It depends on what sort of story you’re interested in telling. However, my suggestion would be very similar to the advice you’ll hear about writing ROs. Don’t set out to write a villain. Instead, write three dimensional characters, give the player reasons to interact with them and allow the player to form their own emotional responses.

Above and beyond that, my preference is for antagonists with credible motivations and at least a few redeeming qualities. Irredeemable evil works well for certain genres of fantasy and horror, but even then I’d be tempted to throw in a few more nuanced antagonists as well.


#15
  1. Yeah, I guess as others put it motivation is important. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with playing a villain who is purely evil or ax crazy and just wants to destroy the world or something like that. When I read a book or watch a movie etc. I often end up asking what the villain would feel if everything would go according to their plans and they would succesfully reach their goals. Then what? Could they be happy with the world they created? Would they feel satisfied? Or they are simply crazy enough to not care about all that? Money, power, revenge sound good enough as motivation even if a bit generic or maybe it doesn’t even has to be something so self-centered: like they could have the same goals as the good guys only their methods would be what makes them a villain (as mentioned before Magneto is a good example for this).
  2. Competence. I don’t think I could say anything on this matter what wasn’t said before.
  3. I think it would be important for the reader to understand why the villain does the things they do. Unless we are going for the mindlessly killing nutjob type villain, which would be boring imo.
  4. It’s just me probably but I would prefer playing a villain who looks more like an average human rather than some kinda monster.

#16

A villain that is actually competent and tries to get things done. There’s so disappointingly few of those in most stories… Including my own, probably. :thinking:

Subtlety is a good one. I like villains that are able to keep their villainy on the down-low, messing with the hero in indirect ways. The kind of villains that “technically” didn’t do anything wrong.

I don’t know. Kind of depends on what feeling the author is trying to convey. If the villain is an utter piece
of garbage, it might be hate and vitriol, but if it’s a more sympathetic villain, it might be sympathy/empathy, sadness, etc. In the long run, as long as the villain can make the reader feel something, the villain was a success.

Doesn’t really matter. There was already a good answer earlier about how their attire should reflect their personality and modus operandi; that’s probably the best answer, I think.

Honestly, a lot of CoGs don’t even have a villain, come to think of it. But I guess if I had to answer this, I would probably say Alexander Zusak from the Lost Heir trilogy. He’s definitely a background villain for most of the story, but despite doing some reprehensible things, @Lucid gave him a surprisingly sympathetic motivation that I couldn’t help but feel for, to some degree or another.

Not to mention his subtlety. While he does just go balls-to-the-walls evil by the end of the second book, I did like how in the first book he essentially managed to indirectly gain control of practically the entire kingdom. Technically, he didn’t do anything evil at all. He just survived a terrible attack on the castle and managed to rally the remaining nobles (all of which were nobles that coincidently shared his beliefs. Huh, what a coinky-dink.)


#17

Though it has been said before (in parts) a good villain should be positively frustrating. Now, that takes skill from the writer, but the best kind of villains are those that either

A. Are untouchable, because while it’s clear (to the hero) that they are evil, there is NOTHING the hero can do to prove it. Sometimes these villains mock the hero for being unable to do anything, sometimes they keep their public profile and don’t even care about the hero. But there has to be a clear explanation as to how the hero knows, and how everything fits together (the lack of this is why Victon is as much as a bore as Prodigal is. sorry HR fans, but the villains there are criminally (hah!) underwritten)

B. The villain that leads the hero to doubt they are a villain at all. While not necessarily making friends with the hero, they still throw them offtrack till the big reveal.

Again, both these things take writing skill.


#18

There really isn’t such a thing as a perfect villain. All characters in any story will have some quality that every reader will find less than desirable for whatever role they happen to play, including any villains. At least, that’s my experience. Even character I invent myself never turn out completely perfect to my standards.

Competence. A villain doesn’t feel like a threat unless they can accomplish their goals effectively.

No general answer can be given to this, because it depends on what the author wants the villain to make the readers feel.

Well, nothing too outlandish or inconsistent with whatever the setting of the story is, because that can distract too much from what is happening, but ultimately, I think the appearance of a villain is one of the least important aspects of them.

[quote=“Blazefox, post:1, topic:31980”]Which is the best villain in the COG games in your opinion and why
[/quote]
My favorite villain in the COG games is the scholar you can play in Choice of Alexandria who kills off the entire royal family (mostly indirectly) and ends up ruling Alexandria. You can make a very nuanced villain, because to achieve that goal it’s not necessary for every choice you make to be villainous. I like it more than the other games that have you playing a villain because in that game being a villain is a choice whereas in games like Diabolical or The Grand Academy for Future Villains you are already locked into being a villain.