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It’s not What You Know, an Evening Post

August 13, 2012

Dear Reader,

Surprise!  It’s much later than usual.  It seems that while I was guaranteed that I did not have any meetings in the afternoon today, I, in fact, did. The time I’d set aside to write my post was instead spent filling out inane forms to prove that I am, in fact, and employee who wants health care benefits and some form of retirement.

To be fair, it’s a problem I’m glad to have.

The topic I’d planned to write earlier on is, once again, a comparison between WoW and The Secret World.  This time, though, I want to look at the figures that populate the world, that turn it from a place where we play to a place where we live: NPCs.

Stop and consider the most striking NPCs of WoW.  A few might come to mind, but, to be honest, they’re probably faction leaders, expansion bosses, and the like.  Rarely do we have simple quest givers who really make an impact.  I can name a few, sure.  There’s Crusader Bridenbrad, who you valiantly work to save but who dies anyway, a tribute added by the developers to a friend who’d succumbed to cancer.  There’s Chromie, whose persistence through the expansions and tiny potence make her (him?) stick in your mind.  I suppose I might include Millhouse Manastorm, too, simply for his zany personality and memorable voice.

Three come to mind for me, and I’ve played 9 and 80/85ths characters.  And one really only sticks because I did outside research about a very poignant and unusual questline.  The other two, well, they’re gnomes, so they have that going for them.

I can name almost every quest giver in Secret World, by name, give you some description of them, and provide a bit of their backstory.  It’s gotten to the point that almost every quest giver I meet is my new favorite.  From the mysterious cowboy, to the mad author, to the truly mad CDC agent, to the dancing insurgent, to the mummified businessman, every NPC I interact with entertains me.

We all might have had laughs about Mankrik’s wife (until we realized how sad a story it was), and we may have those truly amazing individuals among us (there are many, but Rades was the first on my radar and hard to top, as he can take an island with two questgivers and turn it into a buddy story) who can flesh out these NPCs, but really, WoW questgivers are frequently just a blip on the playdar.  They give us our laundry list of tasks and reward us with goodies, but the level of interaction is slim.

I like the NPCs in the Secret World.  I dislike the villians; they are truly vile.  That, in and of itself, is an accomplishment, since other than humor, and the very occasional moment of sadness, WoW did little with literally thousands of questgivers, and TSW has already hooked me with the 30 or 40 I’ve met.

Some might argue it’s about the cinematics, and I’m not foolish enough to say it isn’t, but Star Wars did not have the same effect.  A lot of the NPCs were just “another military dude in need” or “another borderline jedi.”  They lacked the depth of characterization that’s made the NPCs of the Secret World something special.

Right now, Nassir is probably my favorite, but it may be Marienne Chen or Said.

Who’s your favorite NPC – in any MMO – and why?


Stubborn (and exhausted – a 5 1/2 hour day became an 11 hour one)

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Krel permalink
    August 13, 2012 9:44 pm

    This is a fun post. 🙂 My favorite has to be Eleanor Franklin, aka the Crazy Cat Lady. I want to kick back on her couch and smoke a few cigarettes with her.

    Fun fact – there’s thirteen cats that live there… and when you go back in time (minor spoiler, I suppose, I just spoiled ya if you already read that 😉 ) you find the same cats wandering around. Her problem isn’t just ghosts… it’s immortal cats, too.

    Other favorites have been Carter, from the Academy. She’s obviously the sanest person there… but still nuts. 🙂 Said, because there’s nothing like a 3000 year old dead guy in a suit.

    • August 14, 2012 6:54 pm

      I noticed some of the cats in the cutscenes, but didn’t bother to note their names. My buddy, though, thought he’d stumbled on to something when he “noticed” (this may be erroneous as it did not pan out in the 3rd vision) that one of the cats specifically was “always pointing at the quest objective.” He’d noticed that it was the same cat in each vision, I think without registering that it should have been long dead many times over.

      It’s little things like that which really broaden the game world. Carter, too, is one of my favs, but she’s apparently almost everyone’s fav, so I didn’t mention her. Hell, she got to be on the cover of the first expansion due to player interest. Perhaps they don’t realize she’s only 16. Otherwise, it might be creepy!

      Thanks for the comment, and I’ll look for you in game!

  2. August 14, 2012 5:18 am

    Hehe, I did actually write a post two months ago about why I thought SWTOR’s random NPCs are more memorable than most. 🙂

    • August 14, 2012 6:57 pm

      I remember that post, and I agree. SW did a better job than most games at making their NPCs memorable through cutscenes. However, as the game went on, I felt more and more of them were similar characters in similar problems that needed similar help. As a Jedi Consular, I swear that every planet had a military leader who was dug in after a failed campaign or an Empire invasion and needed us to dig him out. The most defined characters were our companions, and a case could have been made there for their supremacy, except that the companion rep system (I can’t remember what it’s called) was implemented so poorly. The characters surrounding Nadia Grell, for instance, stick with me, including her father, the dude they were supporting, and so forth. Still, for the most part, they weren’t quest givers. They were something else entirely, and I just feel that TSW did a much better job.
      Thanks for the comment!

  3. Pardoz permalink
    August 14, 2012 5:59 pm

    Other MMOs have NPCs? Only half-kidding, but TSW’s are in a league of their own. Much love for The Buzzing (do they count as an NPC? They don’t just narrate the lore, they send me text messages sometimes), There are also the obvious choices, like Moose, Madame Roget, and Said, but I think I’ll cast my vote for Emma, who just wants her teddy bear.

    • August 14, 2012 6:58 pm

      Oooh… I don’t think I’ve met Moose yet. I’m looking forward to it, now; nor have I met Emma, whose description now scares me a little. I suppose that does remind me of one WoW NPC, the little dead girl in Eastern Plaguelands. Still, I can’t remember her name, even though she got updated in the new content and I’ve done EP quests 3x since.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • RimeCat permalink
      August 15, 2012 7:58 am

      Pamela Redpath. It’s still a good quest chain but was much more powerful, emotionally and intellectually, before the Cataclysm revamp. Honestly, the most interesting WoW NPC dialog, to me, is the random chatter of the 7th Legion in Dragonblight. It’s all throw-away dialog but it actually does a good job of setting the tone for the area.

    • August 16, 2012 2:50 pm

      I remember that dialogue too, from when I first went through on my Paladin when Wrath first came out. I remember the desperation and dedication of the team trying to keep the nearby city from falling. Good memories.
      Thanks for the comment!

    • Pardoz permalink
      August 15, 2012 2:04 pm

      You’ve probably met Moose – he’s the biker in Kingsmouth near the Sheriff’s Office with the unrequited love for Deputy Andy and the talent for home-made explosives.

      I’m not sure if the other factions get the teddy bear reference for Emma – I suspect it may be a Dragon thing. You’ll meet her in Transylvania in the course of the main story mission.

    • August 16, 2012 2:54 pm

      Yes, quite right, and actually somewhat damaging to my theory that the NPCs are memorable. Damn! (:
      Seriously, though, I do like the NPCs in TSW a lot more than in WoW, and the density, too, I think matters. The simple numbers of NPCs in WoW mean that the memorable ones can’t be nearly as significant a part of the population as the cardboard cutouts. In TSW, that’s not as true.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. August 15, 2012 12:07 am

    LOL, what a cool thing to ask! I wrote about my favourite NPC, and he’s in World of warcraft – an ogre named Lunk. He’s a pacifist, anti killing, and I loved his approach to life and questing! I dislike killing in general (especially mindless killing for quests) and it was an awesomely different outlook to the game. I think I would wear a shirt that said FAN OF LUNK. Hmm idea!

    • August 16, 2012 2:49 pm

      Ah, Lunk. Is he the fellow sitting around in Dalaran? I remember a large Ogre there who eventually sends you to seek out the Ogri’la Ogres, all of whom are peaceful and just trying to survive while demons push in from both directions. He’s a very memorable character; I agree.

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