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December 15, 2019, 06:20:58 PM

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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperDesignHow Important is a Character Creator in a Single Player Game?
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jbarrios
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« on: November 15, 2019, 08:55:35 AM »

I've been thinking about this for some time and I want to crowd source it.

For context I'm talking about Western Style RPGs.  The kind where the player is supposed to project onto the Avatar.  Games like The Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, Gothic, Dark Souls, etc...

I've never really cared about Character Creators in single player games.  In fact I usually just go with the default choice and start the game.

How important is it to you?  Would it affect whether you buy the game or not?

Because I'm an indie dev I'm always looking for what can be cut.
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2019, 09:34:52 AM »

Hmm... I'm not sure of how important it is to me, personally.

When the character is somewhat generic (as opposed to fixed, specific characters like the Nameless One from Planescape: Torment) I think that I do like making a character that feels like it's "my own". However, one of my favourite RPGs (albeit an RPG/adventure hybrid), Quest for Glory, offers no customisation beyond the choice of class. Further, I don't think that the presence of a character-creator is one that I generally make a point of looking for.

So, if at all, I don't think that it's terribly important to me, at the least.

That said, I suspect that there are those for whom it is an important feature, whether for personalisation, representation, or even just because they enjoy the process of creating a character.

One potential compromise might be to offer a set of varied, pre-made characters. That might allow players some degree of choice and self-representation, without the expense of building a full character editor. (I think that Tin Man Games' adaptation of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain did something like this.)
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Foxwarrior
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2019, 12:08:24 PM »

I don't seek out character creators, but when presented with one I'll happily sink half an hour into making the most striking countenance possible, and smile a little when I see the character's face in cutscenes and such.
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Ordnas
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« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2019, 09:58:53 AM »

Thinking through, in multiplayer the character customization has a meaning, in a single player is just a way to increase the attachment you have on your alter ego. I think it is something that big studio have the time and money to add, for am indie can be skipped. I am also do not mind it in a game, I just use the default/create similar to the cover hero and thats all. For games like Fallout, where you see your character during dialogues, can probably make a difference in terms of likable character to some.
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« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2019, 10:20:04 AM »

As it happens, I just saw this thread on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/16pxl/status/1196482794907504641

In short (at time of writing), it's someone talking about their enjoyment of character creators, and others chiming in to similar effect.
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b∀ kkusa
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2019, 11:25:52 AM »

interesting tweet and there's some interesting replies.

Quote
If I'm forced to pick from 8 choices and none of them are cute enough I'm automatically less interested and the game has to do a lot to win me back

expectation scale from character creators has gone pretty high with the latest aaa releases (code vein is a good example even though it has coop-multiplayer).




 

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Ordnas
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« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2019, 12:54:59 AM »

Of course but if someone replies that "if there are 8 characters and none are cute", then I do not think that it will be interested in the story or in the gameplay. Depends also on the target audience, IMHO are casual gamers the ones that look at the aesthetic to decide if the game is good or not.
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« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2019, 09:22:40 AM »

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Of course but if someone replies that "if there are 8 characters and none are cute", then I do not think that it will be interested in the story or in the gameplay. Depends also on the target audience, IMHO are casual gamers the ones that look at the aesthetic to decide if the game is good or not.

Not necessarily in both cases, I think. For some people aesthetics (or representation) may simply be equally important to gameplay or story, even if they're non-casual gamers. Indeed, I'm pretty confident that I've encountered at least one non-casual gamer like this.

(For that matter, I've turned down games that looked interesting mechanically, but that I disliked aesthetically. That was one of the turn-offs for me in Dusk and Beyond Evil, for that matter.)
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Ordnas
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« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2019, 09:12:19 AM »

Ok, I agree with you, if that aesthetic is present in the 80% of the game, so for example you hate cel-shading or pixel art there is nothing you can do, and no one can judge you if you are saying "I cannot stand this game". But of you do not play the game because "you cannot modify your main character" is different: how many times you will look at your character? Think about Dark Souls, you will spend 1 hour personalizing the hero, and then 99% of the game he/she is inside an armor!  Roll Eyes
Or "I dislike The Witcher 3 because I do not like men with grey hair", it is a statement that would never come from a gamer.
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« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2019, 09:42:06 AM »

Think about Dark Souls, you will spend 1 hour personalizing the hero, and then 99% of the game he/she is inside an armor!  Roll Eyes

And yet, "fashion souls" is a meme, with players preferring equipment that looks good over simple utility.

Or "I dislike The Witcher 3 because I do not like men with grey hair", it is a statement that would never come from a gamer.

I'm... not convinced that that's true.

At the least, there's the representation issue: "I don't want to play Witcher 3 because I'm sick of playing grizzled white men. Let me play as a black person/woman/etc.!"

And again, look at that Twitter thread to which I linked above. There are a fair few people there saying that character customisation is indeed important to them.
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« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2019, 11:28:47 PM »

I click "random" a few times and then get it out of my way. Ain't nobody get time for that.
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« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2019, 11:45:17 AM »

I think I really enjoy when the character is already a character. What I mean by that is I prefer to know that the PC is someone who has its own set of values or view of the world, and I have to make the effort to understand him and what he would say in certain situation, rather than having to choose which answer is closest to what I would say.

To me it's just a way of further immerse oneself: if I created a character and I act in a way that is counter-intuitive to the context it's harder for me to believe in the world and its rules.
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jbarrios
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« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2019, 01:59:56 PM »

Thank you all for the input.  This is good discussion
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« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2019, 09:10:10 AM »

One more second-hand report, if I may: I was recently listening to The Co-Optional Podcast, and both Genna Bain (the host, for those not familiar) and that week's guest were gushing about the character-creator in some particular game (I forget which, I'm afraid), and about how much they enjoyed it.
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« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2019, 09:10:49 AM »

I think it depends on what the game emphasizes. For example, if the game focuses on enemies, settings and quests, then having a custom character works well - and I appreciate the ownership and self-expression of designing a character and seeing them in that world.

On the other hand, if the emphasis is on the main player's story, I find it more compelling to have a set character with a backstory and friends and enemies in the world. Custom characters often feel like tourists and don't feel integrated in the same way.
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