Mayor Holus and the other NPCs

Lore and Story
I posted the text below as a comment on some other thread, and thought maybe it would belong here. Does anyone ever think more deeply about the less prominent NPCs and who they are? I like to think about these characters this way because it makes the game more interesting. I can't stand NPCs like Leah because they are forced into repetitive modes of expression simply because they have to remind you who they are and what they do until they play a role at some point in the story.

Context is that someone had said that the NPCs have no flavor:

"what are you talking about. holus the mayor is one of the most well developed characters in gaming, perhaps even modern literature.

the physical and outwardly comical struggle that he has with his cart is a metaphor for the game as a whole. underneath his flippant commentary however lies the abject pointlessness of his Sisyphean outlook on life. this fundamental despair should be familiar to most players. his frustration and uselessness in the face of terrifying and inexplicable end times is haunting, especially for a man who may once have had redeeming factors as a magnanimous leader with a dark side. his uneasy descent into cowardice and subservience after once being a trusted figure in a town full of rapscallions and veiled horadrim has echoes of Miller's Willy Loman: a proud man out of breath and facing his own mortality. our hero chides him as an afterthought as he is left to cower in bastion's keep, an anti-climax that could only be written by Updike or Pynchon. holus the mayor may yet reveal his worth, but he, like all of us, is running out of time."
You can pull anything from everything and give it meaning. His cart is a Pokemon-esque roadblock first and foremost.

It sucks how basically all the quests are funneled through Leah/Cain/Tyrael/Adria only. Since the AH > Basically anything sold by vendors, have no quests to give out, and have no extra lines outside their stock phrases, Diablo 3 really marginalizes minor NPCs for the most part.
08/08/2012 01:07 PMPosted by Donbot
You can pull anything from everything and give it meaning. His cart is a Pokemon-esque roadblock first and foremost.

Yes, but we must first of all understand how communication works in a video game, most of all an RPG style game.

Imagine a character in town. You walk up to him and he says "Did you hear about the cave to the east? Nobody's ever made it out of there alive." What is he really saying? "There's a cave to the east with good loot in it."

Now, imagine a character standing outside a cave. You walk up and talk to him, and he says "I wouldn't go in there if I were you." What is he really saying? "This cave is difficult, make sure you're stocked up on potions before you go in."

This happens all the time in video games. With careful planning, a programmer can tell you everything they want you to know about their game simply by what the characters say. This is an example of an event where he tells you he can't get out of the way until a certain quest has been completed.

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