Ottservia

What makes a support conversation good or bad?

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title says it all. What is the difference between a good support and a bad support? Because I hear all the time how there are so many bad supports character X has or how many good supports character Y has. I was just wondering how you all gauge the quality of a support. Personally a good support has to do one of three things.

1.  Explain a character’s backstory and use that backstory in a way to help aid in character development or growth.

2. Use either or both characters’ core traits be it a gimmick, what they like or dislike, hobbies, beliefs, values, etc. to help aid in strengthening their relationship or character development or growth. 

3.Use either or both characters’ core traits be it a gimmick, what they like or dislike, hobbies, beliefs, values, etc. in a unique way for whatever purpose be it serious or comedic but the characters must remain consistent with what is established about them through the story or other supports.

 

 If a support can do at least one of those things, then I will consider it a good support at the very least. Now that’s not to say a support can’t have all three. I mean the three things I listed do go hand and hand and are at least somewhat interchangeable. So what do you guys think?

Edited by Otts486

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Whatever fleshes out a character, particularly in/through their motivations. If a character has no driving motivation in their scenes, then it's hard to remember why they're even in the army/game at all. Seeing development in either character and/or their motivations is essential for making the last conversation have any sense of pay-off.

In terms of structure, supports often follow a very quick 3-act structure that ideally convey motivations in increasingly more meaningful ways. The first often presents a pretty basic premise, commonly in an "I want" format (not unlike a 90's era Disney film):

  • Character A: I want [seemingly important thing]
  • Character B: I will [help/not help] you with [seemingly important thing]

In our B support (Act II), our characters open up a bit more due to some kind of challenge (which might have them in opposition), with some kind of insight being dropped:

  • Character A: I still want [seemingly important thing] because of [meaningful motivation]
  • Character B: I think [trenchant insight] about you and/or [seemingly important thing]

And then the conclusion to the primary issue, one way or another, with something gained for both characters:

  • Character A: I've learned to value [other important things] more than [seemingly important thing]
  • Character B: You have changed my understanding of both you and [seemingly important thing]

Bottom line is there needs to be growth for there to be a pay-off, and growth comes from some kind of conflict being addressed.

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I don't believe its as cut and dry as that. If the interaction between two characters does something  interesting for them or displays a different dynamic for them than normal I think it should be fine. The main thing that makes a support bad to me is when a character acts out of character for the sake of having a friendly support conversation with someone. I know @Otts486 is a fan of Peri and I'm not trying to pick a fight but that's the problem with the vast majority of Peri's supports; her support partner has to act out of character and completely condone the behavior of a big psychopathic toddler just so that the support can eventually end up in marriage or be funny. If Peri had supports that seriously looked into her past and didn't just try to be lighthearted I would find her supports to be better.

So really what I value in supports is if the interaction between the characters is true to who they are and brings about something interesting like the dynamic between the two, their personal beliefs, their past etc.

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The things that are most important to me is

1. how genuine the relationship feels.  That's probably a bit vague sounding, so I'll put it another way:  Can I see these two characters actually getting along?  Is their relationship sweet and cute to me?  This goes for both platonic and romantic supports.  It's for this reason I love Roy/Wolt so much, for instance.

2. Nobody should be OOC - aka the problems with PeriTM.  If for the support to work the world is bending over backward, it's bad.  

3. Do I feel like I walked out of the support knowing more about the characters than I did when I walked in, and does this new information make sense (as a tie in to #2 on this list)?  

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49 minutes ago, Johann said:

Whatever fleshes out a character, particularly in/through their motivations. If a character has no driving motivation in their scenes, then it's hard to remember why they're even in the army/game at all. Seeing development in either character and/or their motivations is essential for making the last conversation have any sense of pay-off.

In terms of structure, supports often follow a very quick 3-act structure that ideally convey motivations in increasingly more meaningful ways. The first often presents a pretty basic premise, commonly in an "I want" format (not unlike a 90's era Disney film):

  • Character A: I want [seemingly important thing]
  • Character B: I will [help/not help] you with [seemingly important thing]

In our B support (Act II), our characters open up a bit more due to some kind of challenge (which might have them in opposition), with some kind of insight being dropped:

  • Character A: I still want [seemingly important thing] because of [meaningful motivation]
  • Character B: I think [trenchant insight] about you and/or [seemingly important thing]

And then the conclusion to the primary issue, one way or another, with something gained for both characters:

  • Character A: I've learned to value [other important things] more than [seemingly important thing]
  • Character B: You have changed my understanding of both you and [seemingly important thing]

Bottom line is there needs to be growth for there to be a pay-off, and growth comes from some kind of conflict being addressed.

I will agree with the fact that a character needs motivation and a reason behind that motivation to be a good character however I don’t think there absolutely HAS to be growth for a support to be good. I mean there are plenty of good supports where the characters hardly grow/change at all like take the support between male robin and owain for example. Neither character actually grows or change through the course of the support chain but it does use what is established about each characters to create a fun and whacky scenario that’s hilarious. On top of that we do learn a little something about Owain in the A support. It isn’t growth but we do learn something new.

38 minutes ago, Modamy said:

I don't believe its as cut and dry as that. If the interaction between two characters does something  interesting for them or displays a different dynamic for them than normal I think it should be fine. The main thing that makes a support bad to me is when a character acts out of character for the sake of having a friendly support conversation with someone. I know @Otts486 is a fan of Peri and I'm not trying to pick a fight but that's the problem with the vast majority of Peri's supports; her support partner has to act out of character and completely condone the behavior of a big psychopathic toddler just so that the support can eventually end up in marriage or be funny. If Peri had supports that seriously looked into her past and didn't just try to be lighthearted I would find her supports to be better.

So really what I value in supports is if the interaction between the characters is true to who they are and brings about something interesting like the dynamic between the two, their personal beliefs, their past etc.

I wouldn’t say I’m fan of peri. In fact my opinion of her is mostly on the neutral/indifferent side of things. I just think she’s not as poorly written of a character as people say and that she gets a lot of undue hate. If you’re referring to my “in defense of peri” thread then I did say that was probably the worst aspect of her character and something that really needed to have been handled better. Honestly that thread was also a way for me to release some pent up frustration regarding how people objectively judge a character.

Otherwise I completely agree with you. What you said goes under the last two things I listed a good support should have. Using what is established about the characters involved to help develop them or their relationship further.

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Its good if it portrays characters acting as relatable human beings and in a manner that fits with their established character + fleshes out their personality (i.e. Eliwood/Hector, Fiora/Kent, Matthew/Jaffar, Louise/Erk, Vaida/Wallace, Karel/Dart--conversations I haven't looked at in years but just remember coming across as smooth and feeling like real conversations, not contrived script. )

Its bad if it portrays characters in a way that makes them come across as tropes and anime cliches and dating sim fodder--no semblance of anything that feels like a genuine person you can get invested in.

If its good AND it also happens to develop otherwise unexplored lore or feelings or aspects of the character (i.e. Canas asking Renault if he believes morphs have souls, Oswin discussing the history of House Cornwell with Priscilla, etc.)--great. All the better.

But that isn't strictly necessary to have a good support.  You just need people acting like people, not like cartoon characters. 

 

Edited by Shoblongoo

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Does it make sense, given the context of both characters and past conversations?

If it does, I'll probably like it.  Nifty bonus if it builds on the existing character (see: Tharja's supports).

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