How much customization do you prefer in your HG/COG? Does YOUR character’s appearance matter? Or can it be abstract and in your own mind? Height? Weight? Body type? What all matters to you? Go nuts! Tell me everything.
Name, gender, stats, that’s it. Since I’m blind, I have no problem with my imagination, so anything extra is just a fun bonus.
The character customization poll discussed here is a good place to start.
Just a reminder to take nothing discussed there as gospel as these are people’s opinions and not facts.
I don’t care much about physical customization. I don’t mind it, but since I’m not able to form a mental image of my character, it really doesn’t do much for me. I care a lot more about customizing personality, skills, values, beliefs, etc.
I enjoy having as much customization as possible, especially if it actually gets referenced in the game.
But the most important thing is to not have the game assume things about the MC’s appearance, and especially not based on their gender.
Don’t tell me that just because my character is male, he is muscular with big hands and short hair.
There can of course be plot-relevant appearance specifics, scars, strange eyes, etc, but try to get those established early, so the reader don’t get attached to a different look for their PC only to be told they are wrong.
Don’t care for it myself. Just let me pick a name and gender, and I’m set.
I’ve always been of the opinion that if the customisation has no actual in-game effect (as in the vast majority of cases), it offers absolutely no advantage over just imagining your character—it hardly takes much effort to make a mental note like, “my character has X hair colour, Y eye colour…” and so on. It brings with it only potential downsides: tedium, lesser freedom, and inflexibility to name a few.
…Now with all that said, I do of course know that not everyone shares my perspective. I have no problem with authors adding customisation for those who do enjoy it, just please make sure you include an option to skip it!
I like having customization. It helps “solidify” the image of my character in my head otherwise it will always be blurry or I will forget how I imagined them at the beginning, during the game.
My imagination is trash, so character customization helps a lot. Skin tone, hair color, height, eye color, etc. help me create an image of my MC in my head (even if, to be honest, most of the MC’s I customize look similar to each other). BTW, I absolutely love it when the game mentions my MC physical characteristics during the mid-game.
I generally always enjoy more options than less. Even if it doesn’t get referenced much, having the author set some options that fit within their world gives me an idea for the norm and opposite.
I admit, I do tend to feel attracted to character options that are stated as unusual, though I can’t quite remember which game I played that had such, I think samurai of hyuga? But I think that ties into wishful thinking of being special.
That said, I think bare minimum I need a name or lack there of, as well as age and gender. If I have those, then it is enough to get myself immersed in the story.
Wondering now what a game where characters don’t have any names in-universe would be like.
Regarding customization: My goal as an IF writer is to provide customization which is relevant.
With frequent call-backs, plot impacts, and other such devises, my aim with customization is to allow as much flexibility to connect with the reader’s imagination as I can.
As a reader, customization options can build a stronger bond with the narrative that is happening. Even if the MC protagonist character is not a blank slate, a customization option can strengthen my tie to that character.
Thanks everyone for the responses. I think I’ll go ahead with some of the description concepts I’ve been muddling about with in my head.
Also thank you @Gower for noticing that hellacious spelling error in the title. I’m going home now. I must be drunk and I haven’t even drank any alcohol.
Name, pronouns, gender at the very least. I’d like skintone, hair color, and eye color, but it’s not a must for me. The lack of descriptions of skin, eyes, and hair won’t stop me from imagining what the main character looks like.
Thanks for this thread!
One game I was really impressed by in this regard is Teahouse of the Gods (which is also lovely in general).
There, the customization process let you define your knowledge of Chinese, your actual ethnicity/background, and what people usually assume your ethnicity/background is. These aren’t just arbitrary choices, either, but actually affect how people treat you-- which I thought added a really neat level of nuance to the game!