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Player Characters

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Creating my own mainly, or starting out with a set character but allocating skill points (or whatever) as I see fit as the game progresses (a la No-One Lives Forever 2, even though it's not an RPG).

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I like being able to customise my character, but don't really mind if the character is pre-created. In the case of having pre-created characters, it may be preferable to give a few options; several set characters which you can choose from.

The good thing about having a character not created by the player is that you can better customise the story of the game to exactly suit the character in question.

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I'm a customisation freak, so I prefer to make my own character, or at the least have a large variety to choose from. It's a bit harder to base a good story around this type of character, but when done well it's a lot more powerful as I have a greater sense of possession over the character if it's one I built myself (I have a few stock character types I reuse from game to game).

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Quote:
Original post by Kazgoroth
The good thing about having a character not created by the player is that you can better customise the story of the game to exactly suit the character in question.



Exactly my dilemma... My design team is currently debating about this. We want to have a very personal story experience, but in order to show the player character in pre-rendered cut-scenes (ala FFX), we would need to have a set player character, and in doing so we would be cutting out a lot of player customization from the game, which isn’t vary conducive to the experience we are trying to create here.

Darkan

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Quote:
Original post by Darkan_Fireblade
Exactly my dilemma... My design team is currently debating about this. We want to have a very personal story experience, but in order to show the player character in pre-rendered cut-scenes (ala FFX), we would need to have a set player character, and in doing so we would be cutting out a lot of player customization from the game, which isn’t vary conducive to the experience we are trying to create here.


You can still have some customisability even if the appearance of the character is fixed; in Fallout you could only choose two different appearances (male or female), but the skills of the characters could be radically different.

But if your main protagonist has a fixed background and a fixed personality type (to go with your story), it might be best not trying to squeeze customisation in there if it weakens the story. Customisable characters is something that needs to be integral to the story design for it to work; if it's something that doesn't fit then it's probably a better idea to go with a predefined character to make the story stronger (in my opinion).

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Here are some things you could do (listed in the order of desirability for me):

1) Run a pre-rendered CG where the player character is rendered in real time and matted in. Possibly an ultra-high resolution player character, even.

2) Run all the cut scenes as animations/scripts in-engine. Warcraft III did this, for example (as do a lot of other games).

3) Screen the customizable parts of the player character (armor color, for example) in a separate channel, and composite in the right color at movie playback time.

4) Render a number of different versions of the cut-scenes with different major choices (blonde vs brown, leather vs steel, etc).

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I say it sort of depends on what type of game. A Diablo-style game is better suited towards customized characters, but realize that your story WILL suffer. Menu-based RPGs like FF X are better suited to pre-created characters, and if the writers do their job the story won't suffer.

A work-around might be letting the player choose from a variety of characters with differt abilities. Its been the standard fare for adding an element of customization without the sacrifice of bad plots.

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