I really like this continuing trend with Japanese games and character creation

Specter Von Baren

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I'm really not a fan of a lot of games with character creation. I like stories and characterization and games that gives you a lot of customization of a character will usually have you be nothing more than a mute puppet.

A continuing trend over the past five or so years with some game like 7th Dragon and Labyrinth of Refrain (Great games, go play them) is giving you a choice of premade avatars that can have their colors changed and also letting you pick a voice for these avatars.

Giving me some customization so I can make the characters feel special but still being able to give them character by having them be preset designs feels really good for me.
 

Squilookle

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I guess that must be why Saint's Row 2 and Mount & Blade still get the best balance for it.
 

Saelune

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Having character customization doesn't mean you need to be a mute puppet. Look at Mass Effect, Fallout 4, and even the Godfather 2 game of all things.
 

Belaam

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Squilookle said:
I guess that must be why Saint's Row 2
About the most fun I've had in a game was when a co-worker and I made extremely faithful representations of ourselves in Saint's Row 2 and played the entire game in co-op mode. A couple of overweight, middle-aged high school teachers running amok made an already funny game absolutely hilarious.
 

Something Amyss

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Squilookle said:
I guess that must be why Saint's Row 2 and Mount & Blade still get the best balance for it.

But Saints Row 2 has an incredible amount of depth in character creation. You can even completely change your avatar down to gender, race and voice, mid-game with no consequence. In 3 qnd 4, I even used the same character to get the cheevos for playing as a man and a woman. Those games have less freedom, but still far more freedom than many character creators, and still the ability to go from being a Crow wannabe voiced by Laura Bailey to a rapper voiced by Nolan North asnd lierally nobody notices.


Which brings me to the real problem....

Saelune said:
Having character customization doesn't mean you need to be a mute puppet. Look at Mass Effect, Fallout 4, and even the Godfather 2 game of all things.
The ME series and Fallout 4 are good examples of why the "mute" part of the equation isn't really the important part here. These characters are voice, but they're animatronic puppets with all the depth of cardboard (least, far as I bothered in FO) and a sort of limited impact on the environment. Even that limited level of choice necessitates the characters have all the personality of cardboard to accommodate the play style of Saints Shepherd and Asshole Shepherd, or...whatever the PC was called in THIS version of Fallout. I forget. They made Boston boring.

This is why the problem isn't the character generator. Saints Row 2 was an example used, and it works because you're always playing a sociopath amoral killer. The boss has a pretty awesome level of customisation, to the point you can play someone who isn't strictly on the male/female binary, but my playthroughs feature the same basic character and personality. They're always going to be a dick to Pierce, they're always going top mutilate people over a slight in their cut, they're always going to go after Dane Vogel. Even where the individual dialogue for a specific voice is slightly different, the responses are always the same.

A static character can be fleshed out or flat, but without far more work than a Bioware game, Space Jesus will always be flat, save maybe in those few moments when you choose Saint or Ass. But they're still robots, and the impact of the choices you get in the tradeoff tend to be trivial. I mean, unless you're really into that decision about which character you have a stilted softcore sex scene with, I dunno.

People associate character creation with "play your way" style games, which, with VOs have become more limited than they've been in generations. For contrast, AC Odyssey doesn't have a character creator, limiting you to being the interesting one or Alexios, and you still run into the same sort of "choice" issues of ME. The Kassandra who commits a major act of murder in the story is otherwise, the same as a Kassandra who leaves said person alive. Arguably, there's slightly more consequences because several choices impact the ending, but this is something that used to be common in VGs, and doesn't change the "vanilla hero" problem. A similar problem existed when InFamous came out, and while you could choose to be good Cole or Evil Cole, they were basically the same guy with different flavoured lightning.

All moral choice systems usually do is force the protag to be more generic than Genericy McGenericFace. And that's not inherently bad: most of us have been playing games since the default was generic hero beating generic bad guy because reasons. It is, however, a bad case for defending created characters, because the moral choice/freedom systemm is what causes the problem the topic is complaining about.
 

Squilookle

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Something Amyss said:
The ME series and Fallout 4 are good examples of why the "mute" part of the equation isn't really the important part here. These characters are voice, but they're animatronic puppets with all the depth of cardboard (least, far as I bothered in FO) and a sort of limited impact on the environment. Even that limited level of choice necessitates the characters have all the personality of cardboard to accommodate the play style of Saints Shepherd and Asshole Shepherd, or...whatever the PC was called in THIS version of Fallout. I forget. They made Boston boring.

This is why the problem isn't the character generator. Saints Row 2 was an example used, and it works because you're always playing a sociopath amoral killer. The boss has a pretty awesome level of customisation, to the point you can play someone who isn't strictly on the male/female binary, but my playthroughs feature the same basic character and personality. They're always going to be a dick to Pierce, they're always going top mutilate people over a slight in their cut, they're always going to go after Dane Vogel. Even where the individual dialogue for a specific voice is slightly different, the responses are always the same.

A static character can be fleshed out or flat, but without far more work than a Bioware game, Space Jesus will always be flat, save maybe in those few moments when you choose Saint or Ass. But they're still robots, and the impact of the choices you get in the tradeoff tend to be trivial. I mean, unless you're really into that decision about which character you have a stilted softcore sex scene with, I dunno.

People associate character creation with "play your way" style games, which, with VOs have become more limited than they've been in generations. For contrast, AC Odyssey doesn't have a character creator, limiting you to being the interesting one or Alexios, and you still run into the same sort of "choice" issues of ME. The Kassandra who commits a major act of murder in the story is otherwise, the same as a Kassandra who leaves said person alive. Arguably, there's slightly more consequences because several choices impact the ending, but this is something that used to be common in VGs, and doesn't change the "vanilla hero" problem. A similar problem existed when InFamous came out, and while you could choose to be good Cole or Evil Cole, they were basically the same guy with different flavoured lightning.

All moral choice systems usually do is force the protag to be more generic than Genericy McGenericFace. And that's not inherently bad: most of us have been playing games since the default was generic hero beating generic bad guy because reasons. It is, however, a bad case for defending created characters, because the moral choice/freedom systemm is what causes the problem the topic is complaining about.
You sound like you've given a lot of thought to this subject- your writing is great. If you've got a moment I'd love to hear your thoughts on how a game could best avoid flat characters when customisation and moral choices are involved. How would you go about designing a game so it avoids these pitfalls?
 

Specter Von Baren

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The inherent issue with moral choice systems is morality. People do not make choices in the mindset of "should I be nice or a huge jerk?" The problem following that is that you can't have all choices have a "correct" choice because there are positives and negatives to all choices and even if there IS a correct choice it will not always be at all clear WHY it is the correct choice and you also need choices that don't have big changes like what drink your character likes l.

All of these problems though cannot be solved with the scope of the games they are used in. Only text adventures can really do this because all you need to do is write an adventure with multiple outcomes and don't need to make music or graphics or gameplay systems. So the only solution is to greatly reduce the scope of your game so that your manpower is put into the choice system.
 

Meximagician

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It's funny how even small customization touches can do that. Tales of Xillia gave you little more than static accessories that could be colored and tacked onto the character skeletons, but somehow seeing Alvin without the tan hat I gave him looks off to me now.
 

Specter Von Baren

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RelativityMan said:
It's funny how even small customization touches can do that. Tales of Xillia gave you little more than static accessories that could be colored and tacked onto the character skeletons, but somehow seeing Alvin without the tan hat I gave him looks off to me now.
That reminds me of how Max from Dark Cloud 2 has a cover outfit of blue overalls and pale yellow shirt but both myself and seemingly ever one else that has played the game prefers his secondary starter outfit of green overalls and pale green shirt. He just looks better in green.