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Changing Main Characters during game?

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This idea popped in my head and I was curious how you all would feel if you played something like this. Say your a player on some scorched earth scenario thing. You basically are a weak piddly human kinda left behind... etc etc etc... Say a guy from an alien race came down saved you... and the storyline kinda shifted to his viewpoint. As to where instead of controlling the piddly human, you are now controlling this alien guy that has his powers and skillset etc etc etc. Would you mind this? Or would it be a ''weird'' anomily leaving you for the rest of the game... "Hewy why the hell did that happen?" I''m kinda curious what a players reaction would be. I myself can almost find myself detracted away form the storyline from this. Do say that the piddly human is only in the game for say the first 30 mins. My purpose for doing this is to allow the introduction of the actual main character... Into a world thats already been painted for the player. He knows of the despair and the hardships and how just a mere human would struggle desperately to survive. This also creates the sideeffect of accentuating the alien characters strengths. (he is going to be the one to save the world.. rid it of baddies..etc etc) Just curious on your thoughts. Would this twist in perspective bother you? Thanks... -DD

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I think it is distracting, the player will think that you are wasting his time player a deadend character. Maybe you can introduce the back ground through the intro movie? Or play as the alien hero who observes the inefficiency of the humans?

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I, personally, don''t like to play games where a character I''ve built up over time suddenly ceases to be in the game. If I''m going to play the character long enough to get a feel for the world and everything in it, I''m going to have a sense of building him up that I won''t want to lose.

Maybe have the alien guy exploring the world instead, possibly via a probe or something that has the chance to recur?

Or have the human helping the alien, switch him to a secondary, but still playable character?

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It''s doable, but you''d need to carefully make the transition. For example, you may want to start the game with a black screen with white text placed at some odd artistic place saying the name of the human and maybe some numeric indicator or something else that would give the player a grasp that he;s going to change characters later on.

Incidentally, Metal Gear Solid 2 tried that switch characters situation, I''m not sure everyone took it so well.

Also, FF6 Did it. That one worked better because of the scenarios, where Locke and Sabin got some time in the light.

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Hell, I didn''t like it when Starcraft did that to me. I got pretty attached to my Terran guy, especially the Ghost girl, and hated switching to the f*cking Zergs. The Protoss weren''t too bad, but I didn''t really care.

However, Faradhi''s idea has merit. Maybe be able to switch between the two for different things? Day of the Tentacle (old Lucas Arts) had you switching between three characters, even though you started off controlling only one. I loved the game and connected with all three.

Yeah, and Inmate''s right about being very careful, and maybe letting the player have an idea that he''s going to switch.

-Geo
(Red eye)

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If the character is built up a lot the player will not just want to lose him. This can be worked around by giving the next character part of the previous character''s power. The easiest way is heritage I think Fire Emblem 4 did a great job with it.

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I thought about directly passing stuff onto the next character, but couldn''t think of any way to do it beyond simply transferring items, which wouldn''t work too well if the alien has advanced technology...

Oooh, possibly have the alien possess the human''s body... Then you''re working to keep the human alive, with optional get rid of the alien. Possibly leave the player with the knowledge that the human they leave behind gained the alien''s knowledge. Or go back to the human near the end?

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In my opinion, the cool way to use multiple viewpoints would be to switch back and forth between a set of characters. This would have three advantages:
1) You don''t ''lose'' your character, you''ll get back to him/her later on.
2) You can use this to change the pace of the plot. If a character needs to get to a certain place with no important plot points happening underway, switch to another character. Then, when you get back, the character will have arrived at the destination.
3) Cliffhangers. You can keep the player captivated by ending a ''chapter'' with a tense situation, then switch to another character.

Betrayal at Krondor had you playing two different parties of characters. Eventually, the parties would meet, of course.

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I also don''t think that playwrs will want to give up a character that they have taken a long time getting used to and training. I think the idea of perhaps switching between characters as they complete different tasks is a better idea. A second possibility, as somone suggested, would be to have the alien take over the body of the character, and even give the player the option of keeping the alien within, or to try and remove it via some external method.

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This is like what happened in Metal Gear Solid 2. They got rid of Solid Snake and no one was very happy.

People really wanted to play as Snake and they only got the short(ish) Tanker mission. I suppose you probably could find some way to do it right, but be careful.

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If this is some kind of RPG, see that the human gets back on active party, problem solved.

If it''s an FPS or 3rd Person Adventure (3PA?), then see to it that the human still has a role, like rescuing the alien, or performing in puzzles, etc.

Point is, to keep the players from being angry about losing the human, you can play games with the participation rates of the characters and let the players feel that each character was evenly used. That is unless the story calls for the human dieing. Then I can''t help you.

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Thanks for the replies guys... also... the examples. A few of those examples didn''t even come to mind.. Starcraft.. or the seperate FF6 missions. I''ll ponder some more... I''m still in the rough outline writing stage. I''ve got ideas... and... i''m trying to connect things i want, and give some things a ''fresh'' light.

-DD

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Simple..

Call the first stage a ''tutorial'' and allow the player to use the human to get used to the interface (explain how everything work''s in it) then at the end of the tutorial have the change take place and let the player start the actual game with the alien.

That way they won''t miss the human as they only really used it to familiarize themselves with the controls (at least i wouldn''t - some people are strange but then thats there problem).



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maby you cold intergrate the two characters together, i.e. they both join forces, as the human and the alien have things to gain from the deal:

The human: survival and a position where he can have some power and have new technology(maby a colony of humans survive, not just one).

The alien: All of the knowledge from the humans of the world and, maby, even some technologies and things that the human has/can do that the alien cannot/does not have

For example:

The alien may not have a ability that we,as humans have.

I hape this was usefull

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Another game that did that which I liked a lot in the old days was Dragon Warrior 4. You named the main dude at the very beginning, and then suddenly you go into chapters 1-4 where he doesn''t even appear and instead you''re playing various other guys. In the end chapter everyone all got together for one big showdown with the bad guys, and by this time your main char was grown up because it took so long to get through chapters 1-4 heh.

Anyway, you could very easily have your human and your alien perform different functions. For instance if there''s any human settlements left, your human will hafta interact with them because the alien would probably just make them run or shoot him. Also maybe your alien is too big to fit into some places, even if he does have super-technology. Or maybe your alien has to hibernate, or can only survive in the planet''s atmosphere for x amount of time without having to go recuperate in his ship, etc. etc.

Oh and another thought. In the Mana/Evermore games, you frequently have to leave one guy in one place, and then go bring the other guy into position to do something else, and keep switching back and forth. (For example one guy has to stand on a switch while the other guy goes through the door the switch opens.) It''d be fairly easy to do something like this, and add lots of puzzle opportunities if that''s the type of game you wanna make.

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