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The Commander's Psyche, an open question.

blackheartgary.8605blackheartgary.8605 Member ✭✭✭
edited June 29, 2020 in Lore

Hello. I am here to ask a question. It is in the Lore section because I feel the question pertains to a lot of the lore over the years as it pertains to the Commander, and in particular, their mental state.
My question is... what Mental State do you feel the Commander is in right now?
Personally, I believe that the Commander is starting to slowly unravel. The statements Joko made about the Commander, however diabolical they sound... seem eerily accurate. Regardless of Racial origins, each "version" of the commander, with "version" being your choice in the personal story, has ultimately ended up with the Commander being "always in the forefront, always in trouble", even when the story is not about them in particular.
So? Is the Commander losing their mind? Or is it something else?

Comments

  • Fenella.2634Fenella.2634 Member ✭✭✭

    First, I think people are taking Joko's trash talking way too seriously. ;)

    Still, interesting topic. I believe in this case we should actually not discuss one Commander, but realize that they are actually at least 10 different characters who happen to share most of the dialog lines. The voice acting directions the different Commanders get seem to be vastly different, so this is surely intentional. It's also pretty consistent between different language versions.

    I have not played the entire story on too many characters yet, unfortunately, so I don't have a complete picture. However, my impression so far is that the Commander in general has been canonically going through some kind of depression for a while. I'd say it started after HoT and lasted at least through PoF and LS4. The human female character seems to have gotten better by the time LS4 ended. The asuras and norn don't seem to be too affected in general, or they are better at hiding it. The one that really stands out to me is the female sylvari, who seriously seems to be out of her depths ever since HoT, constantly angry and frustrated with everything and everyone. I had a bit of hope at the ending of LS4, but oh no, in LS5 she went right back into snapping at her supposed friends. (Honestly, I don't like playing the story on this character anymore because of this.)

    All in all, right now I don't get the impression the Commanders are unstable or getting worse. Quite the opposite. And also, I think Joko was just doing his usual thing and should not be taken seriously at all.

  • draxynnic.3719draxynnic.3719 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @Fenella.2634 said:
    First, I think people are taking Joko's trash talking way too seriously. ;)

    All in all, right now I don't get the impression the Commanders are unstable or getting worse. Quite the opposite. And also, I think Joko was just doing his usual thing and should not be taken seriously at all.

    Cut out the parts I'm not responding to...

    ArenaNet did say they deliberately had Joko getting cut off so that he couldn't be interrogated for details, but in Joko's case it's a bit of a 'he's not entirely wrong, but he's certainly not telling the whole truth either and is missing a lot of the nuance'. About the only time the Commander could be said to have had a real choice was Zhaitan - it's possible that Zhaitan could have been contained, and may even have returned to a state of relative quiescence after the assault on Lion's Arch was repulsed if the Pact hadn't started going after him in turn. But back then, we really had no clue that killing the dragons could be a bad thing.

    In Mordremoth's case, we had a few clues, but Mordremoth was just too close to too many important things to be left alone. The Exalted, who were probably the most knowledgeable about what was going on, were urging us to go ahead and kill Mordremoth despite the risks. Mordremoth was simply too close to Tarir, Rata Sum, and the Grove, and it wasn't practical to keep him contained in the long term.

    Killing Balthazar is a pretty clear-cut case of choosing the least bad option. If not stopped, Balthazar's actions were going to result in the world's destruction. The PC tried negotiation, but Balthazar wasn't listening. The consequences of killing Balthazar were, ultimately, more manageable than the consequences of letting Balthazar kill the Elder Dragons without having any replacements.

    All things considered, the PC has left a trail of chaos in their wake... but things would probably be worse if not for the PC. However, it's certainly understandable that the PC might not be so sure of that.

  • Orimidu.9604Orimidu.9604 Member ✭✭✭

    @Konig Des Todes.2086 said:
    Main issue with trying to pin down a personality of any kind on the Commander is that ANet intentionally writes the character as a blank slate. They might give some personality here and there for the context of the plot - HoT had the Commander acting like a proper military soldier, for example, while PoF had the Commander having a "I don't have time for kitten" take, but overall there doesn't seem to be an established mental state or mood for the Commander, as it seems like it changes by the episode.

    So, in the end, we can only headcanon the Commander's mental state, which I imagine is ANet's intention.

    There are fairly clear hints that the Commander is just growing tired during S4, after dealing with just too much in S3 and PoF (what with guild drama, White Mantle insanity, learning they've been kitten kitten up accidentally, and then Balthazar), but by the end of it, when Icebrood Saga began, all of that seems to have disappeared completely, and we're back to a personality akin to Season 2 - experienced, having dealt with all sorts of situations, but not exhausted. And given No Quarter, to a degree, it even feels like the Commander has forgotten some of their own past deeds (like slaughtering Inquest in a soon-to-explode facility while they're running around in a panic rather than fighting back... Sounds all too similar to a certain Searing Crystal situation).

    True to the headcanon bit. Personally (human male PC here), I feel that throughout S4 the PC was constantly wondering if everything they were doing was pointless. Each dragon faced is more powerful than the previous, and with Kralk messing with the Mists itself, and the confirmed departure of the Six (now the Five or less), the PC is surely second guessing the motivation to continue the elder dragon fight after ending Kralk's reign of terror (which wasn't even Kralk's fault for the most part).

    After S4, the PC gets a second wind. Kralk is gone, Aurene took his place, and so far everything seems kinda peachy. Then the civil war thing starts with Bangar, and the PC is desperate to prevent a second "Kralk-level threat". In addition, he's helping a friend (Rytlock) in need. Jormag's going to play to the PC's mental state for sure, that's what the whispers are all about--asking rhetorical questions like "aren't you tired" so the people confirm their own doubts and fall prey to its corruption.

  • Kulvar.1239Kulvar.1239 Member ✭✭✭

    @Hannelore.8153 said:
    It's been made very clear as the story goes on that the Commander is very tired. They get more and more irritated with people and situations as time goes on, and its hinted that the PC gets very little rest or recovery time, too.

    That said, the PC has other established traits in canon as well, such as being kind of lazy and impatient, always late to everything (sometimes even after major disasters or the establishment of entire outposts into unexplored areas), and not being the sharpest tool in the shed, like when they're repeatedly mocked by NPCs for not being able to solve puzzles easily.

    There's probably more that I'm forgetting about. But these traits make it hard to judge how everything's affected them.

    Which I hate because that's not how some characters are. Playing an Asura and being made dumb to fit the Commander narrative is atrocious.

  • voltaicbore.8012voltaicbore.8012 Member ✭✭✭

    @Konig Des Todes.2086 said:
    Main issue with trying to pin down a personality of any kind on the Commander is that ANet intentionally writes the character as a blank slate. They might give some personality here and there for the context of the plot - HoT had the Commander acting like a proper military soldier, for example, while PoF had the Commander having a "I don't have time for kitten" take, but overall there doesn't seem to be an established mental state or mood for the Commander, as it seems like it changes by the episode.

    So, in the end, we can only headcanon the Commander's mental state, which I imagine is ANet's intention.

    There are fairly clear hints that the Commander is just growing tired during S4, after dealing with just too much in S3 and PoF (what with guild drama, White Mantle insanity, learning they've been kitten kitten up accidentally, and then Balthazar), but by the end of it, when Icebrood Saga began, all of that seems to have disappeared completely, and we're back to a personality akin to Season 2 - experienced, having dealt with all sorts of situations, but not exhausted. And given No Quarter, to a degree, it even feels like the Commander has forgotten some of their own past deeds (like slaughtering Inquest in a soon-to-explode facility while they're running around in a panic rather than fighting back... Sounds all too similar to a certain Searing Crystal situation).

    TLDR; I agree with the above. I think the 'blank slate' PC should have been paired with better use of the charm/ferocity/dignity dialogue system to more clearly allow us to express our own headcanon without requiring extra voice acting or extensive writing resources.

    This pretty much sums up my take on the matter. I think the Commander is designed by ANet to be intentionally vague, so as to be compatible with a broad range of what players might want to think about their characters.

    I just think the centrality of the "Commander" role represents a huge lost opportunity to easily allow players to develop Commander personality independently. Specifically, I'm thinking of the Dignity (crown)/Ferocity (fist)/Charm (heart) system. If we weren't the Commander, it would have made more sense for us to go through the story responding and observing via these three choices however we pleased. All ANet would have to do is give us a few text choices; none of the heart/fist/crown choices were voiced in the core game, and that was fine! They maybe could have added a 4th "exhausted" and 5th "indifferent" category too. Maybe they would have had to record different NPC responses based on our choice, but at least that could be the same voice actor doing a few different lines, which seems a lot easier to manage than every player character voice actor doing 5 different responses (which is where the bigger effort/time/money problems come in, I think).

    IMO, it would have been a pretty low-cost way to offer players the choice of revealing what is going on inside their characters' heads. The tradeoff would be that our characters would have to be a step back from the action, or key scenes would be un-voiced to maintain that heart/fist/crown choice. For instance we wouldn't necessarily have that uniform reaction to Almorra's corpse, perhaps, if we proved totally indifferent or even deeply hostile to Charr/The Vigil all along. But given how they removed our characters entirely from the Fraenir cutscene, if they feel like the story can allow our characters to just disappear from key moments, why not allow us the choice to be snarky or indifferent but just not have that impact the emotional story scenes? Just... just lost opportunities, all around.

    This is yet another example of a system with potential that ANet just abandoned. I'm not saying that it's the most awesome thing ever or it's a priority of any kind, but it's just indicative of how easily ANet just gives up on stuff. A huge difference between this approach and another game I play more these days, where the devs (1) openly apologize to the player base for sucking at balance, and (2) revisit old systems to make them relevant, sometimes in very big ways. The willingness to revisit obsolete systems to have them fulfill more potential than anyone ever expected... that sort of thing is what makes a game feel viable moving forward, numbers aside. On the other hand, seeing a great game littered with the ghosts and ruins of potentially awesome systems that will never see the light of day, that just gives off a sense of a game struggling to meet its potential.

  • anninke.7469anninke.7469 Member ✭✭✭
    edited July 1, 2020

    Maybe they could give us someone to talk to (optional). A bartender, maybe? Was thinking about a friend at first, as there is on one who feels like that. But maybe someone less related would be better, so a bartender or maybe (if I go a little wild) some decently known but not too close person from the PC's race? (Maybe, idk, Kahedins for sylvari, I don't play other races much so I don't know who could work for them.) And if the Commander goes to talk with this NPC there could be several line to choose from to let us choose how much anyone's PC is affected (sorry for lack of better words, hehe).

    Edit: Or maybe we could dump it all on Lady Camilla? She's been stalking us since forever, so she knows anyway...

    Do not fear difficulty. Hard ground makes sore feet.
    All things...grow. And the blossom bothers the weed.
    Act with wisdom and axe.

  • Mahou.3924Mahou.3924 Member ✭✭✭

    The one that really stands out to me is the female sylvari, who seriously seems to be out of her depths ever since HoT, constantly angry and frustrated with everything and everyone. I had a bit of hope at the ending of LS4, but oh no, in LS5 she went right back into snapping at her supposed friends. (Honestly, I don't like playing the story on this character anymore because of this.)

    I had the same impression in how the fem Sylvari PC had always sounded so stressed-out and tensions-loaded in HoT, although I love the voice-acting (and the male Asura sometimes quite asthmatic / out of breath :lol: )

  • Hannelore.8153Hannelore.8153 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @Mahou.3924 said:

    The one that really stands out to me is the female sylvari, who seriously seems to be out of her depths ever since HoT, constantly angry and frustrated with everything and everyone. I had a bit of hope at the ending of LS4, but oh no, in LS5 she went right back into snapping at her supposed friends. (Honestly, I don't like playing the story on this character anymore because of this.)

    I had the same impression in how the fem Sylvari PC had always sounded so stressed-out and tensions-loaded in HoT, although I love the voice-acting (and the male Asura sometimes quite asthmatic / out of breath :lol: )

    Keep in mind that as a Sylvari the PC has to put up with even more discontent than the other races.

    Until LS5, pretty much everyone loves the PC and there's rarely any conflicts directed at them, only towards others. But if Sylvari, that's not the case from HoT onwards; the PC is mistrusted during the Modremoth campaign, and it lingers for a long time, too.

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  • Fenella.2634Fenella.2634 Member ✭✭✭
    edited July 1, 2020

    Absolutely. And I am sure it is very intentional.
    However, considering she also treats her own guild mates like this... And not just in HoT and LS3, but to this day. Don't know about male sylvari, haven't played recent stories with them.

  • Mahou.3924Mahou.3924 Member ✭✭✭

    I don't remember the male Syvarie to be that stressed-out. To me, he always sounds quite sophisticated and "normal", even during some high-tension scenes like when you defend Aurene's egg and you-know-who appears (compared to female Sylvari, female Human).

  • Yasai.3549Yasai.3549 Member ✭✭✭✭

    The Commander is an extremely stressed individual.

    Yu can tell by the dialogue over the seasons that there are lesser and lesser positive options (or options in general) as well as recorded dialogue that they are pretty tired, yet can't say no.

    If I play a stupid build, I deserve to die.
    If I beat people on a stupid build, I deserve to get away with it.

  • Hypnowulf.7403Hypnowulf.7403 Member ✭✭
    edited July 1, 2020

    @VAHNeunzehnsechundsiebzig.3618 said:
    why? asura ARE dumb. Lab explosions and uncontrollable golems are not the sign of genius at work.

    I'd contend that some asura can be better than that, while others are scatterbrained and overly competitive, but it was the sheer stupidity of the Inquest in LWS4 episode 2 that was dizzying to me.

    "Why yes, we do keep samples of a deadly plague that could kill everyone around in not especially secure areas, why do you ask?"
    "What's wrong with the password SM4RT3RTH4NY0U?"
    "Indeed, we have setup branding experiments in minimally secured areas and we are indeed creating a branded army (of living and undead) as we speak. Do you have a problem with that?"
    "Of course, we do pririotise sociopathy over intellect! A superior race would do that, what of it?"
    "Yes, we are testing applications of mind control using Kralkatorrik's magic. What do you mean that would put anyone we used it on under Kralkatorrik's control?"
    "What do you mean I shouldn't leave password reset emails sitting around for weeks?"
    "What do you mean we should use some kind of unique identifier to open doors rather than simplistic puzzles that a child could figure out to secure dangerous areas?"
    "What do you mean we shouldn't keep running experiments that have a ridiculously high risk of activating our own Armageddon-level quarantine procedures?"

    And this isn't even accounting for the pseudointellectuality in almost everything they wrote and did.