Tag Archives: companions

Weekly Wyrm: Why More Male Companions?

pillars of eternityI get the concept of why games offer more playable males. More boys play video games.

I was leafing through a Seventeen magazine this morning, and it’s all about cosmetics, more cosmetics, your face, your hair, your eyelashes, your period, or the prom.

I’ve got a cute boy with lip gloss in the centerfold, but there’s no information on the proper handling of Sniper Rifles, submachine guns, or death spells.

I don’t get why most companions are male, though. Why do game developers keep the same male ratio with companions, mercenaries, or whatever?

Here are my quick counts of balls to boobs in recent RPGs. I’m using the internet, so I’m sorry if any numbers are significantly wrong.

*Recent RPG Companion Gender Ratios, Male To Female, DLC Not Included*

DA: Inquisition – 6:3
Dragon Age 2 – 5:4
DA:Origins – 4:3 (no Dog)
Pillars of Eternity – 5:3
Diablo 3 – 2:1
Baldur’s Gate Enhanced – 3:1 (only added companions)
Divinity: Original Sin – 2:2
Wasteland 2 – 9:6

As you can see, males seem favored. I picked these RPGs at random from the top of my head. This isn’t a feminist rant. I’m not demanding change. I’m just trying to understand why this is happening.

According to a poll, most players use the Enchantress in D3. You could argue that reasons for choosing a follower usually have nothing to do with gender, but no amount of anecdotal reporting can be accurate.

Do adventuring groups just seem more heroic with more men in them? I’d like to hear some opinions of some guys. Do you prefer male companions? Are girls annoying, so it’s nice to get away from them in a game?

Why are game developers designing like this?

Are game developers mostly male, so they are writing characters they can most relate to, expressing a part of themselves? This is the best argument I can think of. Is there data that shows players prefer a more capable man at their back?

I can’t find a preference poll for Divinity: Original Sin, the only game on my list with an equal ratio.

Pillars of Eternity : Re-incarnation Rampage

I keep starting Pillars over. So far, I’ve started the game over at least five times.

My first character was a wizard, but I found the wizard underwhelming, and the game hands you a wizard out of the gate anyway. I created a rogue hireling with my wizard to do traps and locks, and I ended up liking my rogue more than my main character.

So I started over with a monk, giving her points in mechanics.

I played a lot with my monk, and ended up making some evil choices. I decided I’d rather stick with the good choices, and I didn’t like how my conversation options were panning out with my character stats.

So I started over with a barbarian, so I could still roll at the front of the party and do some mechanics and tanking.

Once again, I managed to make a few choices that the game seemed to think were evil, but I didn’t interpret them that way. I created a druid hireling to go with the barbarian, and again I liked my hireling more than my main character.

So I started over on a druid with mechanics skill (not exactly thematic).

I made my first druid a wolf for knockdown, but I’m starting over one more time with the cat shifter. I’m just not a wolf fan, even if the wolf has cool perks. (The druid makes a great werewolf by the way, if you’re into the furry thing.)

The fun thing is that I’ve taken different choices with each re-run, mostly based on stats, and Pillars of Eternity has rewarded me with different events and outcomes. I’ve also played in Spanish, although the voice-overs are still English.

The druid is weak at the front of the group, but has good spells. More importantly, the druid’s primary attributes seem like the best so far for conversation choices (strength, intelligence, resolve).

I can be persistent and witty, or go for a strong paw to the face. A starting stat score of 16 seems like the perfect level for hitting those special conversation choices.

So I’m giving two opposable thumbs up for the Pillars of Eternity druid. I hope I’m finally good to go forward and explore new and more dangerous areas. Happy gaming, whatever you’re playing.

More Reading On Pillars:

F*ck Yeah, Pillars of Eternity
Using Custom Portraits In Pillars Of Eternity


Mechanics Should Serve Content

“Mechanics should serve content, not the other way around and absolutely not in MMOs.” This is a thesis statement for Matthew Gollschewski’s Soapbox article this afternoon on Massively, and I agree completely.

It’s like MMOs are turning into a toy race. To be the next greatest thing, they need to sport more prongs and articulations to be interesting.

Except Elder Scrolls, and that’s partly why I’m bucking the trend in predicting the long run will go well for them. If ESO can manage both simple *and* fun, they can gain strong appeal in the MMO market. The overcomplication complaint is cropping up more and more.

For example, before reading Matthew’s article, I was pondering how Rift’s Dream Weaving system seems like a waste of effort. Here is the premise:

Between 40% and 60% of our daily active users chase artifacts (and by chasing, I mean harvesting). When so many people are avidly hunting for something, there’s only one logical conclusion: give them more of what they want.” – Barish Orhon, November 19th, 2013

That’s dumb logic. If prospectors love hunting for gold, dump lots of gold in them streams! If elves love hunting butterflies, make rare butterflies, butterflies that can mutate into turtles, butterflies that fuse with other butterflies to make super-special freakish butterflies!

No. Elves don’t like when you mess with mother nature. You’re taking two simple things players love and playing Frankenstein. The Rift directive seems to be that more is better. That did not work in Storm Legion. Storm Legion is big and thin.

On the other hand, you have to give Trion a lot of credit for actually supporting crafting, contrary to how F2P typically kills crafting by putting all of that awesome new stuff in the store. And Rift’s niche is both pro and extra-planar, so complex magical complications do fit for them.

In SWTOR, they are advertising the PvP maps and starfighting mechanic, but do you hear about the actual game content? What is the lore and story that these new mechanics deliver?

Where is the Kessel Run? I want to do the Kessel Run and see if I can make the PvE leaderboards for speed using my piloting skill. That would be story, fun, and immersion. I don’t need more exciting ways to kill more players with bigger explosions using bigger guns.

I’m not going to go too deeply into LotRO’s skirmish system. Turbine created the best mechanic the game has to offer, and then they abandoned it for mounted combat and Epic Battles. The Mirkwood expansion is now often considered to be the sunset of the glory days of LotRO.

Hindsight is 20/20, but I think if LotRO had doubled down on the skirmish mechanic serving the storyline content like in Mirkwood, ignoring a minority of complainers and pushing the soldiers into companion status like in SWTOR, and then selling better soldiers like in Neverwinter, the game would be in a better place today. Companions are also the lore.