How to establish a villain as a serious threat?

Your favourite type of villain/antagonist?

  • Pure evil through and through

    Votes: 4 11.1%
  • Evil, but with a backstory to back up their actions

    Votes: 19 52.8%
  • Misunderstood

    Votes: 1 2.8%
  • Rival

    Votes: 2 5.6%
  • Force of nature

    Votes: 1 2.8%
  • Other...

    Votes: 9 25.0%

  • Total voters
    36

Htlaets

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One way is to have the villain interrupt the attainment of a main character's goal. Whether that be their overarching goal or completely throw a particular mission out of whack, having the villain's goals intersect visibly with the player's goal will cause the player themselves to have to pay attention.

Say, for example, the player is doing a multi-part quest to explore some ruins and retrieve an object (Perhaps an artifact to un-petrify a statued friend, as a random example). Things go as planned for a while then all of a sudden the villain and their forces bust in and change the objectives and progression of the quest entirely. All of a sudden, the on-level monsters you've been facing are no longer a particular threat, but rather the villain's over-leveled forces have to be avoided. This forces the player to have to think about the villain's goal on a mechanical level and interrupts the flow of a quest that was going on track before that point.
If you want to make a villain seem imposing, make sure the player comes across the result of the villain's deeds frequently - and make sure the player can really sense the hurt that was left in the villain's wake, not just a throwaway comment or two about how bad the bad guy is. You can see it happen, but you don't have to - often arriving to see the aftermath is pretty good. Having the villain hurt (but not necessarily kill) someone close to the main party is especially effective.
Agreed. You could also have a party member's relative/village/group/etc. be the victim, fatally, even.
 

Finnuval

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All good advice already given. All i Will Ad to it - cause i havent Read it in here yet - is this :

Have the antagonist not Care for the player. The player is no threath to them (atleast not yet) and the antagonist has better things to do then meddle with An insect like them. Whenever there is interaction between the two have the antogonist act that way instead of some games where the only thing the big Bad seems to focus on is the protag. (Unless the player is a tool for the antagonist but even then have them view the player as such, a tool to be user not yet a threath)Later when the player does Become a threath to the antagonist this van be shifted to a more obsessieve focus on the player instead.

Combined with the advice already given that should create a more imposing and treathening evil then Just a big baddy.

That's my two cents anyway
 

EpicFILE

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There are many ways.
In my opinion the most threatening antagonist is the one
who's as powerful as the protagonist
(the protagonist needs to be powerful to begin with).

Like Professor X and Magneto.
Or Light Yagami and L.
The threat doesn't come from the difference of power.
But from the fact that both sides have an equal chance to win.
It makes the dynamic more unpredictable and intense.
 

Finnuval

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the protagonist needs to be powerful to begin with).
I personaly dont think this is necassery tho this
But from the fact that both sides have an equal chance to win.
Certainly is.

Also prof X VS Magneto has the added benefit of Them being best Friends - which kinda shakes things up from the start xD
 

gstv87

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give them a motivation and make them do the impossible.
"No way he's gonna come *here*, we're too well defended!"
"Surprise, motherf%$&!"

most of the time, the villain is not scary for what they say, but for what they don't say.
you never know what they gonna do next, ESPECIALLY if they've turned the tables on you the first time.
if you expect A and they do B, you're shocked.... if they set up A, you expect B, and they go for C, you've effectively lost any way of predicting them.
but you don't want them to be chaotic, because random chaos is grounds for immediate determination to stop them.... they MUST be stopped so they don't do any more damage, at whatever cost.
if they're not chaotic but methodical and every action has a reason to be, you start wondering what they'll do next and why.... which effectively hinders your ability to do anything significant because you don't know if the hero will do more harm than good.
 
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Mr. Detective

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1. Be attractive
2. Be strong
3. Be evil in a cool way
4. Kicks the heroes' ass often
5. Write cool dialogues
6. Profits

Vegeta, Vergil, Wesker, etc. are serious threats when they appear and very evil, yet they have a huge fanbase. Sex sells.
55.gif


Uhm... maybe this has more to do with making memorable villains, but I think these points still stand for making them terrifying.
 

orochi2k

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The protagonist's kittens can be the most adorable villain. :kaojoy:
They keep distracting the protagonist from doing the important world-saving business.
 

ave36

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Reaves Gerrard from my game, Legend of Terra Firma, is touted as a classic dark messiah type villain once his evil nature is revealed. But as we learn of his viewpoint and motivations, we come to know that he is a different kind of villain, worse than expected: a nihilist who rebels against both light and dark. It was assumed that he will fulfill the prophecy and restore the realm of the Dark Gods, but he hates the Dark Gods for manipulating his fate and wants to kill them all, same as the Light Gods. And he does.

There are three introductions to Reaves:

1. The first fake introduction, when he's a reasonable rebel, an inspiring leader, a guest party member and a mentor figure for his younger brother, the protagonist;
2. The second fake introduction at the end of Disc 1, when the prophecy is revealed and Reaves shows his (seemingly) true colors by single-handedly murdering three of the six Gods of Light;
3. The final introduction at the end of Disc 2, where he delivers a "The Reason You Suck" speech to the Dark Gods and proceeds to kill 5 of 6.
 
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Tai_MT

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This might be weird to hear but...

The most effective "villains" for me in video games aren't all the traditional ones we typically get.

Short list of villains I've found effective for me over the last... 20 years or so of gaming?

1. Gary/Blue from Pokemon Red/Blue.
2. Kefka from Final Fantasy 6.
3. Saren from Mass Effect 1.
4. Logain from Dragon Age Origins.
5. Vaas from Far Cry 3.


So, why did I find any of these effective?

1. Gary spends a lot of time being a "hotshot" in the game. That is, he's better than you and he KNOWS he is. He does little more than throw childish insults at you, but it is highly effective because he is a very high hurdle you need to clear multiple times in the game. Even better? He ambushes you after many gauntlets to put your weakened team through its paces. He doesn't fight fair. He calls you weak. He calls you lame. And, his team is almost always a LOT stronger than yours, especially on a first run of the game and you're playing "blind". He will roflstomp you at nearly every encounter and this act alone makes you hate him. Every encounter of him I felt a simultaneous dread of "oh no, we gotta fight" and "I really freakin' hate you and wish you'd go away". Even the final act of the game, after barely squeaking through Lance and his OP dragons... you're immediately thrown into battle against Gary. One final ambush and he will curb stomp your team if you don't play very well or have leveled up quite a lot. Beating him finally gives you the ability to deliver his "comeuppance", where his own grandpa is like, "well, you lost the moment you won and that's pretty sad... you don't even treat your Pokemon like partners, but as tools for power, so you lost." Very satisfying to watch someone like that go down.

2. Kefka is just a deplorable human being all around. What's more? He's crazy... his superiors know it... and they endorse it. They didn't have to put him in charge of Terra. They didn't have to send him to Doma Castle. They did it because they knew what he would do. He puts a Slave Crown on Terra to get her to obey him. He poisons an entire castle to break a siege by poisoning the water. He wants destruction for the sake of it. He evades you at every opportunity. But, he does horrific things you simply can't stop. Every time he shows up, you don't know if it's going to be a comedy segment or a "watch the horrors" segment. He smashes all the "best laid plans" and betrays any and everyone. I wanted him dead by the end of the game.

3. Saren, himself, isn't that effective as a villain. What makes him effective is that the bureaucracy is protecting him. You are stone-walled at every opportunity to put him down and get his status revoked. He is given absolute power to do whatever he wants and all he has to do is hurl insults at you and the Council backs him instead. Saren is an obviously "corrupt cop" and everyone in the setting knows it and accepts it, except his bosses. Does the Council launch an investigation at the accusation of him? Even when eyewitness testimony paints the guy as the one who committed a crime? Nope! "The testimony is invalid, 'cause the guy giving it is a criminal". Nevermind, that the guy doesn't give a name. Nevermind that the guy had no idea it was a Spectre. He saw what looked like two people who knew each other have a short conversation before one shot and killed the other. We don't even piece together that it was Saren until later. But, nope! The guy is a criminal, so his testimony is invalid! The entire game is getting a corrupt government to police its corrupt cops. Why do you think they sent a rookie Spectre on the job to track him down and bring him in? Saren is a highly decorated and exceptionally effective Spectre, and they sent a rookie who doesn't know jack or crap about any of this to go bring him in. In short, the Council is protecting him and hoping you don't succeed. Saren is so effective because the people backing him make him pretty much untouchable and his guilt is known across the entire setting to pretty much everyone.

4. Logain is basically just a dictator. Being a dictator isn't enough. He's also insanely stupid and antagonistic for no reason at all. He deliberately loses a battle at Ostigar against The Ancient Evil that is known to DESTROY THE ACTUAL LAND SO IT NO LONGER SUPPORTS LIFE just because he is afraid of another nation invading them. He then declares the warriors who's only purpose in the world and in the setting is to destroy THE ANCIENT EVIL... that they are enemies of the state and need to be killed and wiped out. He endorses slavery and governmental corruption that allows the nobles of his country to do the same terrible crap he saw his Hated Enemy do from the nation he's afraid of invading them. He does this to "secure power". He ignores active threats against the country and concentrates entirely on securing the throne for himself and does a crap job of even doing that. He even poisons leaders who won't back him. He's just out to make life as hard for everyone as possible and only because he's AFRAID. He doesn't know what to do about that fear, but he'll do any and everything until something works! He flails around like a small child and just hopes things work out. He does anything he can think of no matter how much it would weaken his own country and make it easier to take over by an invading force. He's a coward. Even worse? He's raised an offensive and annoying daughter who is just out to grab power as well. She's an ineffective leader to the point that she admits to being forced to rely on YOU to put her into the throne. This is a woman who not only admits needing this, but then betrays you a couple hours later when it looks advantageous to do so. Logain isn't a good ruler and he's put his daughter to be in position to be even worse than he is. Chronic Backstabbing Syndrome runs in that family.

5. Vaas is just charismatic. He teeter totters between intelligent and unstable from one sentence to the next. No matter what he's telling you, his voice, tone, and line delivery basically forces you to respect him and to listen to him. Top that off with him just engaging in cruel ways to kill people (and attempts to kill you) and he comes off as fairly dangerous. Finally, the icing on the cake is that he's really just conflicted between embracing the modern ways of the world and the fun that is (he's a thrillseeker at heart) and listening to his sister and obeying the old ways. Only one of those ways lets him truly be himself while the other sees him be completely subservient to his sister. Vaas is just out for a good time and doesn't like when things don't go to plan. He's not so much evil as he is a cog in someone else's machine and he's torn between wanting to have a good time and the love he has for his sister. Though, he does enjoy killing too, as it seems to be a rush for him. Everything is about that adrenaline rush for him.
 

The Stranger

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4. Logain is basically just a dictator. Being a dictator isn't enough. He's also insanely stupid and antagonistic for no reason at all. He deliberately loses a battle at Ostigar against The Ancient Evil that is known to DESTROY THE ACTUAL LAND SO IT NO LONGER SUPPORTS LIFE just because he is afraid of another nation invading them. He then declares the warriors who's only purpose in the world and in the setting is to destroy THE ANCIENT EVIL... that they are enemies of the state and need to be killed and wiped out. He endorses slavery and governmental corruption that allows the nobles of his country to do the same terrible crap he saw his Hated Enemy do from the nation he's afraid of invading them. He does this to "secure power". He ignores active threats against the country and concentrates entirely on securing the throne for himself and does a crap job of even doing that. He even poisons leaders who won't back him. He's just out to make life as hard for everyone as possible and only because he's AFRAID. He doesn't know what to do about that fear, but he'll do any and everything until something works! He flails around like a small child and just hopes things work out. He does anything he can think of no matter how much it would weaken his own country and make it easier to take over by an invading force. He's a coward. Even worse? He's raised an offensive and annoying daughter who is just out to grab power as well. She's an ineffective leader to the point that she admits to being forced to rely on YOU to put her into the throne. This is a woman who not only admits needing this, but then betrays you a couple hours later when it looks advantageous to do so. Logain isn't a good ruler and he's put his daughter to be in position to be even worse than he is. Chronic Backstabbing Syndrome runs in that family.

The one thing Loghain proves himself competent at throughout the entire game is lying. He's meant to be this big hero from the past. A reliable sort who was born of common blood, but he comes across as arrogant and stupid as the rest of the nobles you meet.

The old saying "the apple never falls far from the tree" is especially true when looking at his daughter, who seemed to inherit his masterful ability at lying. This is someone who claims to be on your side, but should your refuse to help her will turn on you the moment she sees her father's troops.

Loghain thought he could defeat an Archdemon on his own with greatly diminished forces. Some tactical genius. xD

It's even more personal if you play as the human noble, because he shelters the man who killed your mother and father, and who robbed you of everything. Man, the human noble origin really was my favourite.

I guess his weird mix of cultural hero, incompetence, arrogance, lying, corruption, and other such things made him a decent antagonist. If it weren't for him, the game would've ended right at the start.
 
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