Blank Slate vs. Preset MC

As I ponder at my whole-script of code, I realized that I’ve set up a char-gen system that’s pretty flexible and far-reaching.

And I don’t think there’re any topics that directly addressed this, so my apology in advance

Most IF puts you in a character that is usually blank: they don’t show many emotions, they simply do what needs to be done, they’re indistinguishable and generic.

I wonder. Should you have given the chance, would you try to play as a character with preset personality? And if you’re writing one, how do you handle it?

I’m not talking about preset MC where the MC is established to have a name, bit of backgrounds, and their own quirks. MC I’m referring to at here is :facepunch:t4: you as the MC, the Player Character.

In term of ChoiceScript model, this is what I have in mind:

What kind of character do you wish to play?
   #A jerk
   #Stupidly silly and shameless one
   #Cold lone wolf (but with a heart of gold)

Mhnn… I dunno. I think it is just as much work in terms of writing and coding to make personality stats instead, let the player built their char, and change the dialogue accordingly.
It boils down to *ifs in the end.


I like to define my character as I play, so I prefer an inital blank slate that becomes its own unique character as I play , just like in many role playing games. See all the unique Guens in the Genevieve WIP for a good example of this.

Almost every game has a defined MC, so I’d only play a defined MC in visual novels or games, since images would restrict the creative character design and character builders are kinda hard to code and design. Text games should be unique and show more customization and avoid defined MCs.

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Yup, surely there’s the coding side which the author should pay attention to, but let’s talk as the of the player/reader or the designer, here.

I personally not a fan of personality as opposed pairs, for a lot of reasons. That’s why this “preset MC” thingy is what I’ve come up to discuss. I think by selecting a preset personality, the player will have to commit to their choice. This can be used as a guideline for the player to play their character, as well as avoiding the case of “I want to be this, but I don’t want my stat bar to go this.”

But I’m not opposed to opposed pairs, though. It’s just the early part of the story can be a 'lil bit wonky since the character is not defined, yet.

Granted that some VN treats their MC as “you” (2nd person), I usually find them like a “vehicle.” A device where we can see the plot resolves through a perspective of the main character.

I don’t know, perhaps I’m a little too narrow at here.
I’m thinking of a main character that is so customizable to a level of RPG character, not the one with a set background and quirks.
A roleplay, you might say.

As a non English speaker,may I ask what opposed pairs means?

Nah, I’m referring to CScript opposed_pair stats.
Something like this

Oh,as a reader,I hate that lol

The problem with preset personalities is that they assume someone who, for example, is meek is only meek.

Even someone who is meek will have braver, more outspoken moments. And people react and act different to different situations and people. So if you’re going to be writing those kind of responses, I usually say let the player choose how their character would react in that moment, and choose from the responses as they come. Sure, maybe you have a hidden stat that adds in a little comment like “feeling unusually comfortable around X” or “in a moment of bravery” to acknowledge that this is one of those deviating moments, but otherwise I find that when playing a preset personality the MC begins to feel… flat. Or maybe that’s just me.


So, I suppose the diversity of the “responses” are still there, while the meekness is just a flavor text?

Something like

Sensei is hitting your friend!
   #Stay put
      *if meek
         You clench your hand and look away. The cry of your fellow dojo-mates
         is loud enough. You'd like to sympathize, but...

         You can't imagine it.
         You're afraid.
         You don't want to be in their position.
      *elseif jerk
         Nah, they deserve it. A good lesson for the others, too.

   #Stop it
      *if meek
         "Enough!" A sudden cry leaves your lips.

         Sensei relaxed his posture and ceased the punishment, turning to your direction.
         His eyes are sharp, and without words, you know that he demands an explanation.

         "It's... not their fault."
         Tears roll down your cheek. And you can't help but stand up in their defense.
      *elseif jerk
         "Sensei..." you call out to him, casually as usual.
         "It's not their fault."

         Sensei lowers the rattan cane and slowly turns to you.

         "It's not their fault, nor mine. It's not of a particular individual."
         You take a deep breath, "It's our fault. We failed to comply your orders as a pupil."

         Sensei walks several steps toward you.
         "And you know the consequences." The rattan is tapping against the floor.

Welp, turns out that I wrote a whole scene just for this example :stuck_out_tongue:


Assuming you plan to have more than two personalities, what you wrote is just half of a scene…

Alternatively you could let us define us through our choices.

#Stay put because you’re afraid
#Stay put because you secretly hate your friend
#Defend them despite your fear
#Ask to share the punishment

This way, we’re reacting primarily according to the situation, and not a fixed disposition. Personally I find that more immersive, but to each their own.

Not opposed to having a preset personality if it makes sense, like something in their backstory making MC the person they are. Even then, it would be nice to have room for character growth.


I personally don’t mind the possible work that might come up with it. It’s an experimentation for me, too.
Let’s ignore the author’s side as a writer :raised_hand_with_fingers_splayed:t4: :sweat_smile:

But honestly? I actually like what you proposed.
It feels more… freedom. Them choice, hrmm. :fist:t4:

Hmm. Currently, in my story, personality is handled via scoring.
Just like your example, except that I have something like *set score_meek +1 and so for each option.

I think what I’m trying to avoid is having the player to act inconsistent and out-of-character.
You see, if you give the player all the options, they can choose whatever they want to be…


I don’t mean that freedom in choices is a bad thing, but this can bring harm to the narration and the experience itself. Character development is a quality that I strive to its best, but having your character established as meek earlier and make them do a chicken dance at a party all of a sudden is a bit… weird?

It can be interesting when you think about it :thinking:

The question in your example here, is WHY they would want to do a chicken dance. Are they drunk and are a silly drunk? Is there someone at the party they really want to cheer up? Do they have a secret hobby of chicken-dancing? Letting out stress after averting the end of the world? All of these could drive a meek person to do the dance, and also further define the character. As RenaB mentioned above, no person can really be summarized by one single trait.

I don’t know. Can someone really be out of character if there isn’t a character to start with?

In the case that it really make no sense for a meek character to do something, why even give us a choice? There could be a scripted event for a meek character and another scripted event for a not-meek character.

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