Jump to content
Double Fine Action Forums
Sign in to follow this  
Kalavinka

What did you think of Vella and Shay, personality-wise?

Recommended Posts

I was a bit surprised to find that there was a bit of criticism from players finding our main characters uninteresting, so I wanted to see how many people think that.

Personally, I don't have a problem with games that only give me a few hints about my character's personality. I loathe the "mute protagonist", mind you, and I don't think it REALLY makes it any easier for you to step into the character's shoes, but with BA I felt we were given enough clues in the characters' speech nuances, the environments and people around them to make up our own ideas of what these guys are like.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oddly, the more I think about it, the more they were my least favourite characters in the game. Shay in particular was just worn out and depressed. Vella wanted to overthrow evil, but never seemed massively invested in it.

That's kind of... the whole of my impression of those characters, in two lines. I feel I could say more about Car'l than either of the main characters. Weird.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is not that I would like to know more or less about them.

Vella is very normal, except that she is not stupid while she also lacks even the slightest amount of doubt or fear.

Shay is a more interesting, because he is pretty naive and you get the feeling he should not trust Marek the way he does.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I liked how Shay was still fiddling with the baby toys in the "bridge" section. Even though he's bored, he's still playful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a good litmus test how good the characters are.

Describe the characters without saying what they look like, without saying what costume they wore or what their profession is, describe them like you are describing to someone that never heard or played the game (shamelessly stolen from a Plinkett's review of Star Wars)

E.g.

Han Solo - Dashing (or wannabe Dashing) Rouge; Scoundrel; Bad Boy; Cocksure; Thief with a heart of gold - Good Character

Princess Amidala - ... - Not a character

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Vella is a curious person who is frustrated by a society that doesn't encourage curiosity, and where people blindly accept what they're told, and this comes through in a lot of her dialogue and reactions. She's a good person, but she has a truculent streak and a slightly guybrush-like sense of mischief when breaking the rules. This gives her the ability to fight, but also is the most selfish part of her.

Shay is also frustrated, and bored, but isn't brattish. His main weakness is that he's very naive, probably because of the way he was brought up. He very much wants to be a real hero, rather than the pretend one he's been told he is his whole life, but right now it's for selfish reasons, he thinks that breaking the rules is fun rather than serious and necessary, even more than Vella.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Both are rather boring.

Could you imagine more interesting characters like from a Vance, Asimov, Lem, Gerrold, Farmer, Banks, ... universe, i mean in a video game?! Most story driven video games suck because if you're used to reading books then there is such a difference in quality between what books and video games offer in practice, videos games often tend to be embarrassing in comparison. But quite some video gamers are unexperience when it comes to good literature, so that they don't notice such differences.

Anyway many things which are right in Grim Fandango are wrong in the DFA.

Which brings me to play testers. Wasn't there a time when everyone was ranting about those focus groups games were adapted to and both gamers as well as devs were kind of unhappy with the results? Now DF used play testers. Who was in charge of selecting them and what were their qualifications for an adventure game or were they needed to direct the game away from an adventure?

I don't know but i have the feeling that a number of things went wrong with this project. Somehow DF is trying to do their best to fix things within a limited range but there are aspects beyond what they can/will do, at least for the first act, maybe for the whole game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think either are boring.

To me Vella reminds me of a rebellious princess, though she isn't one literally. She is a fearless action girl that hates to be trapped in the everyday workings of a society. She questions the traditions and fights against those that she deems unfair. She also seems to be a bit on the rash side.

Shay is pretty much a sheltered child. He is bored of the tedious repetition of his 'parents' and decides to try to break some rules to prove he can be a hero even in the real world. This desire to be a "real" hero leads him to fall under Marek's influence, much like Pinocchio falls under the influences of the bad boys and ends up duped.

I don't think this game can't be improved, but it's a really fun and nice game as it is. I'd love if there was a way to look at something and get some info on it, BUT I don't know if it would be worth the effort. Maybe if there was a static item like that heart in Dishonored that gave little hints about people's past and present state. Maybe some kind of whistle that told truth about people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's valid to leave an opinion here and then come back and revisit your earlier opinion, especially if it changes. And I have a feeling it will. I like both of them so far-- Vella does have a "rebellious princess" feel to her, given her situation. And I think I'm more sympathetic towards Shay than some other players do, perhaps, especially since I've been in a similar situation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At first I thought they were pretty flat characters, but on my second playthrough I really took the time to explore every possible option available to me. As it turns out, you get a lot more of the sense of their personalities when you try and do the wrong thing: There's tons of funny dialogue when you try and give random objects to the wrong people, or use items in the wrong place.

For me that's when I really got a sense of their personalities. Yes, I think they're still subtle (as opposed to broad), but they're very defined.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think it's valid to leave an opinion here and then come back and revisit your earlier opinion, especially if it changes. And I have a feeling it will. I like both of them so far-- Vella does have a "rebellious princess" feel to her, given her situation. And I think I'm more sympathetic towards Shay than some other players do, perhaps, especially since I've been in a similar situation.
Yeah, I mean who among us hasn't been trapped alone on a spaceship with coddling computer parents?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are overbearing parents that behave in the exact same way. I've seen it happen. I can relate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I liked Shay a lot more than I expected and I liked Vella less than I expected although I did still like her. Going in I was set to be much more engaged with her because I liked her character design and she sounded much more active and likely to have more verve. In the end I found her fairly flat although I preferred her world and characters far more. I wanted her to be more aware about herself and more endearing and to have a more active sense of humor. I don't know, more Robin Hood lik? Fun, and smiles, and wit and dashing swashbuckling. I would have also liked her with some more flaws which was a thing I liked about Shay. If she had been bullheaded, bold or daredevil-like to the point of it being a bit TOO much then maybe the dynamics of her personality would have felt more complex. There were certainly hints of doubt or worry about whether she might have caused the destruction or death of her family but not much of an ongoing theme that her force and adventurousness was balanced against a legitimate alternate point of view. None of the people in favour of feeding girls to monsters seemed to have a legitimate position in the way that Shay's mother might have had one to me. Also there didn't seem to be a possibility/ambiguity of Vella being really wrong. I assumed that I would identify with her more but that didn't manifest.

I was expecting to maybe find Shay whiny or unlikeable but in the end, under the surface, I found him much more nuanced and nice to hang around with. My favourite adventure game protagonists - Guybrush and Simon the Sorceror - have a nice mix of haplessness and incompetence along with a snarky edge and a genuine sense of humor. I didn't enjoy Shay quite at the level of either of those two but he was closer to them. I liked that under his jaded 'I'm a grown up!' surface and sarcastic comments he was obviously sweet, wide-eyed and naive and even affectionate and loving while still frustrated towards the yarn buddies at times. I also believed in his jokes more and they felt more natural when delivered by him. I wish that there was more ambiguity and love in his relationship with his parents but I also think that will likely come in part 2. He felt more genuine and authentically his age with all of the attendant contradictions. I preferred his voice acting by a lot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think they need to build in Act 2.. In Act 1 they are breaking free from there respective dead ends... Vella basically raises to be a sacrifice can't really be that interesting to start, same with Shay being locked into a ultra safe kids fantasy..

Vella at least questions her role in life.

Shay is board... and WAY too trusting of Marek, again Act 2 should be very different for him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For what is worth, Marek seems to regard Shay as a friend, so he isn't 100% evil.

Vella is both brave and rash, but without going into spoiler warnings, she did manage to both Punch Out Cthulu and her first reaction after boss battle is a typical Punch first, ask questions later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I liked that both Vella and Shay have very normal personalities. That is to say; They reacted to things in the same way I think I would've reacted. Other than that Vella represents the fun and Shay the serious side of the game. Which makes for nice contrasts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shay in particular was just worn out and depressed.

For me this was only in the beginning, after meeting Marek and when he starts sneaking around there's a new energy and a smile on his face.

I think an important difference between Vella and Shay is their level of maturity. Vella chooses to escape, conscious of the fact that this action will endanger her family and town. Immediately upon her arrival in Meriloft she takes responsibility for her action by searching for a way to return to Sugar Bunting and to fight Mog Chothra.

Shay wants to escape and break free to help the 'endangered creatures', but I agree with KestrelPi that it was more for (all the right) selfish reasons. But he actually hasn't got a clue of what he's doing! Which we can blame both on Marek's deception and Shay's naivety.

I'm so curious what he will do when he realizes what's been going on!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I picked "too subtle" but in a good way...

These characters ARE stuck in a routine all their lives, so it's understandable they'd be kinda bored/depressed. When they decide to challenge this, they become very focused on the goal at hand, so it's understandable that they'd seem kinda distant... focused people usually are like that.

What I find most interesting is how unexpected this happens at the end of Act 1. They suddenly have this huge amount of expression, like "WTF is happening!?" and it's so true to real life: when you finally "break free" it's usually not what you expected!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is great! Very accurate.

Vella is a curious person who is frustrated by a society that doesn't encourage curiosity, and where people blindly accept what they're told, and this comes through in a lot of her dialogue and reactions. She's a good person, but she has a truculent streak and a slightly guybrush-like sense of mischief when breaking the rules. This gives her the ability to fight, but also is the most selfish part of her.

Shay is also frustrated, and bored, but isn't brattish. His main weakness is that he's very naive, probably because of the way he was brought up. He very much wants to be a real hero, rather than the pretend one he's been told he is his whole life, but right now it's for selfish reasons, he thinks that breaking the rules is fun rather than serious and necessary, even more than Vella.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I put this in another thread somewhere, but i feel their characters are defined well enough, but in the excentric and interesting world we have in DFA they are just very 'normal' and don't have a lot of personality too them. On the one hand this is nice because it makes them easy to relate to them, but on the other hand: would you wear a T-shirt with shay's head printed on it? Don't think so... would you wear one with homer simpson on it: yes please!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's also useful to consider the voice-overs and how they have influenced the personalities. To my ears, both Vella and Shay sound relatively monotone, especially Vella. Had I played the game with the just text I might interpret them to be more expressive. Still, it's understandable that they'd sound that way, so it's not a complaint that they seem to lack as much expression as other characters, but for me it kinda made it hard to "care" for them as much as the others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think a thread like this even would exist, let alone be filled with one after another attempt to summarize (or really, justify) a character's traits, if BA had characters of a quality on par with Guybrush or Manny.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...