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Sentient|Sago
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« on: June 23, 2016, 10:00:34 PM »

I want to make an rpg game, and so one of the first things I think I should avoid is the use of cliche characters. Could someone tell me which types of characters to avoid, and what I should keep in mind when creating these characters?

Thanks in advance!
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voidSkipper
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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2016, 04:42:23 PM »

If the character makes you roll your eyes, that's usually a bad sign.

I've always liked the "shit test".

If you can't imagine your character taking a shit without breaking character, you have a problem.

Generally speaking, game characters that really suck are the ones who act stupid just to advance the plot. But that just goes back to the eyeroll test.
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2016, 08:13:02 PM »

If your character can be summed up in five words or a short phrase, or if they have a TV Tropes page that describes every detail of their personality, they're probably a cliche. Real characters have complexity.
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rj
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2016, 12:21:20 AM »

don't make anime.
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TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2016, 02:22:45 AM »

You want a lot of backstory on your characters before you even try to make them say anything.

Where is this character from? What was their childhood like? Do they have siblings? Who are their parents? What's their favourite memory? Who do they love? What do they want? What's their motivation? What are their hobbies? What are they the best at? What are they afraid of?

Absolutely any question you could answer about yourself you should be able to answer about your characters. Only then will their dialogue feel real -- because you've actually created a person, not a cardboard cutout.

Good luck!
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2016, 08:49:02 AM »

Obviously, this is just a general guideline, but a good tip for making likeable characters is to make sure they have a goal in the story. Why are they there? What do they hope to accomplish? And why haven't they accomplished it yet? This shouldn't just be a goal in regards to the plot (defeat the evil emperor, for example) but also their character. What are they missing that they believe will be fixed by accomplishing their goal?

Of course, this can lead you right into a trope, like the orphan warrior who is looking for acceptance or a place in the world by becoming a hero. But those tropes are there for a reason. They're a quick fix to the story goal/character goal problem. You can still apply the thinking to more original goals and more original characters to ensure that your unique heroes are compelling and active in the storyline.
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Zaeche
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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2016, 12:11:11 AM »

I think there's a lot to storytelling that comes through in the form of deception. At the rudest details, a character is
a) a personality
b) with a motive.

Everything the character does, says or thinks should reflect them. Everything they act upon should be to achieve their goal/motive: Frodo wants to chuck the ring into Mount Doom, but Sméagol/Gollum wants to possess it and so on. Motivations often come into conflict and that is good (they help the character grow).

To give a random example,

Quote
Angry ['personality'] Red Square has always been misunderstood and shunned by the other shapes. It wants to be more Purple [motivation] because it thinks this will help it calm down, and consequently be more approachable. In order to do so, it needs to acquire some Blueness [first goal] and find a way to fuse with it [second goal]. But its impatience make things difficult ...

Now, my incredibly one-dimensional example aside--whatever you do, just don't make your characters plot-stupid.

Edit: whoops, forgot to do a time-sink disclaimer: the link is to TVTropes, be wary. As well, personality above is is quotes because saying someone's personality is just being angry does them no justice, don't do it. I was just giving an example for want of simplicity.
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« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2016, 03:58:41 AM »

Something that would seem obvious to me but happens so often in stories (games, movies, books...) that it feels worth mentioning anyway, in case people don't really realise (or maybe it's a cliché)...

So very often does one see a mostly male cast with a sole female character in the midst, whose only character trait is "be the girl". And inevitably is the love interest of one or more of the other characters. Or that also often repeated horror that is two characters who start off fighting all the time and then end up falling in love for no realistic reason whatsoever.

Avoid these. They are painful. And very unoriginal either way. Lips Sealed
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nathy after dark
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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2016, 06:45:40 AM »

Adding to what Prinsessa said: writers (not just game writers) tend to write heterosexual characters without even thinking to include more sexual diversity. If you're part of the LGBT+ community or have friends who are, you could make the cast of your game fresh by representing groups of people we don't usually see in media. If you don't know people you can talk to, read some books or play some games by LGBT+ authors and if you feel comfortable writing queer characters into your game, go for it!
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Prinsessa
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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2016, 07:15:36 AM »

Or an even fresher breath of variation sometimes: just avoid romance or the like entirely and focus on other aspects. It really isn't needed for a good story and very often just feels so forced and unnecessary, like it has to be there just for the sake of it.

And (pun intended) people can't seem to let that go: it bothers me to no end how people are trying to read these bizarre notions into that song from Frozen, for example, when there is absolutely nothing going in the movie or even the lyrics to that song itself that would hint at anything romantic whatsoever. There is no attraction of any sort going on (there isn't even a candidate for it presented at any point in the movie!), and that's not weird—she has vastly different and much more pressing issues to care about, as she's been locked up all her life and then gets chased by a lynch mob—why in the world would anything like that be on her mind? It makes no sense. And so the writers of that movie did a great, refreshing job with that movie. But some of those watching it apparently didn't get that at all, because they're so used to this sort of stuff being in every story ever basically, that they get confused when it's absent and then try and fill that "hole" in themselves. Huh?
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nathy after dark
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« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2016, 03:12:15 PM »

Or the presence of romantic interests, but the play is asexual/aromantic and ignores them. Or characters the player can try to romance but is denied no matter what. Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2016, 12:24:23 PM »

This might or might not be obvious, but: don't try to avoid clichés just for the sake of avoiding clichés. As the site linked above (tvtropes.org) says on almost every page: clichés aren't bad. They're there for a reason.

I see lots of writing that tries too hard not to have any clichés. Unless you're trying to write a post-modern art-pour-l'art RPG with warrior leprechauns and orc wizard butterfly-rhinos who cast "blaze-spheres" instead of fireballs, please do use clichés.

Just try to stay away from clichés that are outmoded or plain stupid (see Discredited Tropes). That's a baseline. From there, you can choose how cliché you want your RPG to be — and again, don't shy away from an occasional brute Orc warrior — when it works.
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« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2016, 11:36:14 AM »

This might or might not be obvious, but: don't try to avoid clichés just for the sake of avoiding clichés. As the site linked above (tvtropes.org) says on almost every page: clichés aren't bad. They're there for a reason.

I see lots of writing that tries too hard not to have any clichés. Unless you're trying to write a post-modern art-pour-l'art RPG with warrior leprechauns and orc wizard butterfly-rhinos who cast "blaze-spheres" instead of fireballs, please do use clichés.

Just try to stay away from clichés that are outmoded or plain stupid (see Discredited Tropes). That's a baseline. From there, you can choose how cliché you want your RPG to be — and again, don't shy away from an occasional brute Orc warrior — when it works.

Amen to this.

Also, since we've all been poisoned by TVTropes already anyway, they have this page on writing an RPG. Use it as you will.
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« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2016, 09:36:57 AM »

BEHOLD! THE MAGIC OF "BECAUSE"!
We start with the key event and from that we branch out with "because" statements
(for this example we'll limit it to two branches).


                               There was a fight.
                                       |
Because Bob and Dave used to be friends but Bob stole Dave's coin collection.
              |                                         |
Because Bob needed the money,          Because for Dave this was the last
his finances are costing him           straw.
his home.
              |                                         |
Because Bob has a gambling             Because Bob has stolen from Dave many
addiction.                             times before.
              |                                         |
Because for Bob gambling is            Because Dave wanted to believe Bob
the only time he feels alive           could change and gave him many chances.
anymore.                                                |
              |                        Because in the past Bob had always been
Because Bob has suffered               there for Dave, and helped him through
extreme depression since his           some of his darkest times.
wife passed two years ago.                              |
              |                                        ...
             ...



As you can see, the benefit to this approach is that we start working our way
down to not only figure out who Bob and Dave are, but who they are in the
context of each other and their situation. We dig into their personal stakes
and how those stakes affect one another.

In game development this is pretty powerful because it can keep you from
getting too carried away with information and details that don't matter
while making sure that your characters, events, settings, etc. all fit together
cohesively.

It doesn't just have to apply to characters, either:



                  There's a dilapidated ruin in the swamps.
                                     |
Because it was built there by an ancient culture back before the area was flooded.
             |                                               |
Because they needed a place                     Because a terrible earthquake sent
to host their sun rituals.                      the waters of a great lake spilling
             |                                  down the mountains into the land
Because they believe the sun                    below.
is their god and the rituals                                 |
keep it from getting angry.                     Because the land is surrounded by
             |                                  a ring of high mountains.
Because of the frequent                                      |
earthquakes which they                                      ...
believe to be their god's
wrath.
             |
            ...



The above example is cheesy but the basic idea is that you are brainstorming in a
very connected way and building complexity out of a single, simple statement.
Maybe it is not the best way to do it, but for me it was the easiest way I've come
up with to keep the idea train rolling without it going right off the tracks.
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nathy after dark
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« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2016, 07:00:22 PM »

Quote from: JWK5
Because Bob has suffered extreme depression since his wife passed two years ago.

I like the idea of the "because" method you described, but this is a great example of a trope to be avoided in my opinion: Stuffed into the Fridge

Including characters for the sole purpose of killing them off to advance another character's development, is pretty cliche, and since it's so often a woman killed off to develop a male character, it becomes a toxic cliche.
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JWK5
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« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2016, 07:35:43 PM »

Right, but the "Bob" example wasn't exactly meant to be ground breaking cliche-free stuff it was just an example. Don't read too much into it, it wasn't the point (the method used was).
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