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September 02, 2014, 01:23:56 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeWritingWhat do successful characters have in common?
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sebaslive
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« on: February 27, 2013, 01:13:31 PM »

Based on a topic on Character Engage, what similarities do popular characters have that stand out or show the reason for their popularity.

I would say a great story, relate able personalities, but what about the core design. Can we really relate to the prince in katamari, or would you not even find him successful.

Maybe the characters aren't even as important as the game itself and the main character is a secondary experience or bonus.. (FPS) but my argument here would be with the new DMC and how it's very annoying tagging along with the new Dante. So what opinions do you have?
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2013, 01:25:32 PM »

Based on a topic on Character Engage, what similarities do popular characters have that stand out or show the reason for their popularity.
That they were in a popular game.

Other than that they're usually relatable and powerful in some way but I'm sure people can come up with many exceptions.
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2013, 03:13:40 PM »

A lot of the most successful game characters are not characters at all,
Gordon Freeman and Master Chief for example are blank slates for the player to project themselves into.
People might say they like Gordon Freeman but what they mean is they like themselves and the cool stuff that they did in the world of half-life

But as for real characters I think they always need to be
-relate-able, if they are too abstract to empathise with then they are not going to be very successful
-believable, the actions they take need to align with what rational and realistic characters would say or do, if a character starts going off and doing things that don't make any sense in the players mind then the sync is broken and it makes the character less likable.
This is why I'm really sick of FarCry 3 now, given the backstory of Jason Brody the things he does don't make sense, he outright dumps his girlfriend for no reason other than he wants to stay on a hostile island so he can kill people for sport.
If you are an ADD 13 year old, there may have been some synchronization with the character at that point, but given his backstory and what any rational human being would do, it made no bloody sense.
-interesting, if a character doesn't have unique quirks and manor-isms that make them fascinating then they are as good as the thousands of grey and boring faces that surround you and you wont engage with them.
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Evan Balster
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2013, 03:44:11 PM »

I think with our medium there's an important distinction to be drawn between player characters and non-player characters.  NPCs are subject to many of the same criteria as film characters, but with PCs you have an intimate relationship between the player and the character that can take many forms depending on the game design.

This relationship is interesting, and tangental enough that it probably warrants its own topic...
« Last Edit: February 27, 2013, 05:02:59 PM by Evan Balster » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2013, 08:18:43 PM »

A lot of the most successful game characters are not characters at all,
Gordon Freeman and Master Chief for example are blank slates for the player to project themselves into.
People might say they like Gordon Freeman but what they mean is they like themselves and the cool stuff that they did in the world of half-life

But as for real characters I think they always need to be
-relate-able, if they are too abstract to empathise with then they are not going to be very successful
-believable, the actions they take need to align with what rational and realistic characters would say or do, if a character starts going off and doing things that don't make any sense in the players mind then the sync is broken and it makes the character less likable.
This is why I'm really sick of FarCry 3 now, given the backstory of Jason Brody the things he does don't make sense, he outright dumps his girlfriend for no reason other than he wants to stay on a hostile island so he can kill people for sport.
If you are an ADD 13 year old, there may have been some synchronization with the character at that point, but given his backstory and what any rational human being would do, it made no bloody sense.
-interesting, if a character doesn't have unique quirks and manor-isms that make them fascinating then they are as good as the thousands of grey and boring faces that surround you and you wont engage with them.

Mario
link
kirby

Huh?
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sebaslive
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2013, 08:44:39 PM »

Mario, Link, Kirby. Aside from the obvious that they are all in successful games what else makes them similar.

Jackson31 brought in the point that we project ourselves into the some of the most popular game characters and this is no different. They don't seem to be much of a blank slate but each three don't really have a definite personality aside from what any typical hero has. All three are not the most talkative trio, somewhat limited color palette, and not sure what else aside from the extremely obvious like multiple games, nintendo, male and so on. 
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2013, 09:07:55 PM »

Depth. Final Fantasy VII's Cloud / Sephiroth two characters that are still well regarded in the gaming world. The game story only helped to give them the depth needed, but they are individuals that people can relate to in one side or the other. Well rounded characters with development and history. A rich character with a little thought of how they got that way can develop a character to even begin with. (My own opinion anyways)
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2013, 09:26:30 PM »

cloud and sephiroth are pretty shallow/boring as far as personalities go
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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2013, 09:34:26 PM »

Maybe cloud - but you can't deny Sephiroth's popularity, as a character he has cross gamed multiple times through Square and Square Enix, because of the popularity of FF7 and its characters it spawned 1 movie (unsuccessful because of bad marketing strategies) 2 games (Dirge of Cerberus (epic fail but many tried it cause of the link to FF7) & Crisis Core (only available on PSP, when a large portion of fans owned PS systems) The depth of Sephiroth through out the stories was the center. The character had story to him, even if you hate him it still makes him more well known. Thats a great character.
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2013, 09:39:09 PM »

Sucessful character are just perfect "mask" that allow us to project into a "role" in world where this role make sense, aka they are affordance for actions and mood. Deep character is just a kind of these affordance, not the only one.

Sucessful character are simply good concept that foster relatedness. Generally they have key "hooks" that differentiate them and anchored the role affordance. Their form follows their function.

Contrast can help making the hook stand up, for example mario is the average everyday (plumber are hard worker, justify the presence of tube in the level and also are do-er, which is all the right affordance for the action) man saving the pretty princess from the dragon (normalcy/heroic contrast), a knight would have been more straightforward and less engaging.

Role must be meaningful, it does not mean they must not be nonsensical, the mario show that despite the odd match for a plumber, it still has the right hooks.
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sebaslive
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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2013, 10:06:32 PM »

I don't know... I am starting to think the one way to make a character "successful" is to just make the game play amazing. Yes, Mario is a great contrast to his element but would it still have been just as good if he was a knight in shining armor? Link is known as a favorite and even he basically a peasant whom becomes a knight. I think the contrast idea is great and every little detail adds to the game but the point of this thread was to see what common traits our favorite heroes have and as obvious as it is to say they were in a successful game, maybe that is all it takes.
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« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2013, 10:23:42 PM »

So a really common element in most "successful" game characters, which bothers me, is that they're antisocial.  The story is written to proceed as a sequence of successes, and the player-character is demonstrated to be self-reliant.  Interpersonal interactions are mostly undertaken as a matter of necessity, and those which aren't are framed as reward-based challenges.

I feel as though we might need a better metric of "success" than the quality or financial success of the respective game.  Mario is a successful character, but in the majority of Mario games he's about as interesting as a dog toy.
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« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2013, 11:04:28 PM »

Well a way it could be based on preference as well as by mass appeal would be to just note one of your favorite characters as well as noting one thing they have in common with someone else favorite character. Hopefully a trend would start to emerge. Either way, so far what seems to be a common occurrence with the most popular (player) characters are their anti social behavior, extra ordinary abilities, shallow background(?) and design wise what I see with the big daddies of popular characters is a monochrome color that defines them.

@evan what do you think would be a good way to change this tradition? Maybe having a more organic conversation with others would break the mold but this is easier said than done.
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« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2013, 11:07:19 PM »

  Interpersonal interactions are mostly undertaken as a matter of necessity, and those which aren't are framed as reward-based challenges.


Not necessarily true, games like Elder Scrolls other RPGs have special reward and/or experience gained from helping others, in fact its a major part of other games to explore the entire world and get to know it. Necessity to explore the entire world is only a personal decision. As for the Mario I gotta agree. He was a character that became an icon first and foremost. An icon that hailed to the generations of Console gaming. Now the icons have changed as generations grow up playing Halo 4 and such. Mario is iconic but he was never really developed.
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« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2013, 01:24:45 AM »

I don't know... I am starting to think the one way to make a character "successful" is to just make the game play amazing. Yes, Mario is a great contrast to his element but would it still have been just as good if he was a knight in shining armor? Link is known as a favorite and even he basically a peasant whom becomes a knight. I think the contrast idea is great and every little detail adds to the game but the point of this thread was to see what common traits our favorite heroes have and as obvious as it is to say they were in a successful game, maybe that is all it takes.

Well sonic has plenty bad game and survive on character alone, and it is one of the stronger visually character of the bunch with a concept so unique it's hard to clone without stealing his identity.

While not a game, Hello kitty is pretty popular and is entirely base on this concept of "mask", see Sanrio theory of "social communication" and the Japanese concept of amae, sega itself is has said to use this concept for sonic.

There was a lot of excellent game that get ignored once the next good game was out because they didn't have such an identity.
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