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wildhalcyon

Writing for many characters

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Im currently working on an independent game design project. The game is an RPG centered in a fantasy setting approximately 200 years after a magic-infused war nearly destroyed the world. After the long period of rebuilding, the new city-states are finally beginning to stand on their own feet, and soon a rogue city-state begins conquering the other outlying states. The player controls a sort of rebellion force through which they can form their party. Part of the game mechanics will be recruiting new members to your rogue band of do-gooding warmongers.</humor cheesy=true> Throughout the course of the game I would like from between 100-250 different potential members who might potentially be recruited. I only plan on having about 5-6 "main" characters and around the same number of supporting characters, while the rest are going to be more like cameo appearances. Sound good? Bad? Any suggestions for how I ought to write dialogue for 100+ different characters who will potentially be party members?

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Sounds like Fire Emblem: Path of Radience. You should look at that game as an example. Also Chrono Cross and the suikoden series are known for having lots of characters.

Me personally, I prefer to see a few characters developed deeply than a few developed shallowly, but then I'm probably not in your target audience, you should do whatever they will like.

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Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
I prefer to see a few characters developed deeply than a few developed shallowly
Agreed. Quality before quantity, I say. Because, if you're really going to go through with this and layout basic outlines for 100+ characters, not only is that a lot of work, but you'll probably end up getting repetative characters, or some less well-designed than others, and a few that are just down-right stupid.

My suggestion to fix this problem would be to create 10 or so sort of templates that a character can fall into, either assigned randomly or manually in the game, where each template is a thoroughly thought out design of a character. Archetypes would probably be the word I'm lookin' for here, heh. Then just slap a picture/model onto that character and you're done. And yes, these archetypes will probably become repetative for the player in the game, and they may not be as engaging as the main characters, but if they're just doing cameo appearances as you say, then the player won't pay much attention to them anyway.

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The problem with Chrono Cross, in my opinion, is that the main characters were poorly developed, and the minor characters were not only even more weakly developed, but they had terribly stereotyped personalities.

I understand the desire to tell a story about a few key characters, and just about any story worth telling, true or fictional, involves a dozen or less characters (In the case of Ocean's Twelve, a dozen was too many), but also includes many minor characters who play important supporting roles, but might not share the limelight. I don't necessarily see whats wrong with giving the player the opportunity to play them as well.

To give an example of where it succeeds well, one of the most inspiring pieces of writing for me is Three Kingdoms.

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Im excited about it. I think it will work out fine. Your overall party composition won't really effect the story. There might be a few key battles where specific characters are necessary, but for the most part, any character can be used anywhere. The additional characters will have scripted "recruitment" lines when you first get them to join, but won't have an effect on the story. They'll be like the generic soldiers you can recruit in Final Fantasy Tactics.

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This is an excellent idea, just remember these 5 main characters each need something interesting that separates them in one way or another. Good luck on your project.

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Thanks for your support. I've got a very prototype map engine made now, but it can't do much and I'm wrestling with understanding OpenGL perspective and camera code in order to render everything correctly.

As for the main characters, I'm not worried too much about them, its more the voiceless masses I was concerned about, but Im working around that by essentially making them too minor to have significant roles in the story.

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First of I would like to say that the game sounds like a good one. I am normally not a fan of games like that. But I think I would play it. Because it does sound interesting. And like the other people said Quality before quanity is true. I can only say that I hope your game gets out. I really do. Because I know what it's like to want things like that. Before I go I will say this...If you do get it out, I would rent the game to see if I liked it, and if I did, Then most likely I would buy it. I am eager to see what you say or do next.

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This reminds me of shining force. If youve never played it then do. not only might you get ideas for your game but its a great game as well.

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Well personally, I vote that you spend the next ten years developing the story for all of the characters in your story. It tends to drive me crazy when there are characters in a story-driven game, and they don't have much of a story. Perfect case in point, Suikoden. I ended up avoiding most of the optional characters because I knew they wouldn't get the screen-time they need to be interesting, so I just spared myself the disappointment. But that's my peeve.

Honestly, I'd look for ways to make your large supporting cast about showing the characteristics of your main characters. Perhaps one of your main characters has a seedy past, and you can recruit a crime boss. You could explore that part of the main character's personality, not spend too much time on the supporting character, but still keep that supporting character an important part of the plot. That's my take, anyway.

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