Customizable appearance: How important do you find it?

How important do you find the ability to customize the appearance of the MC and how important do you find it that these customizations have importance in the story.

Or would you rather let your imagination handle the appearance of the MC?

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I think it can go either way. I have fun adding in details like hair color, eye color, skin color, etc, but I don’t blackball a game just because it doesn’t include those features.

I guess it depends on what story you’re trying to tell!

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Doesn’t usually make any difference to me unless it in some way effects how the game plays out.

Post deleted by ArcanaCero.

In my opinion, I kinda prefer character customization since it let me have a better insight of my character’s appearance. But I don’t mind if games doesn’t include it, it just means I have to imagine what my character looks like.

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I always like to have a few basic appearance options. For instance, hair color, eye color, height and weight are always nice. And then I always like hearing descriptions of my character.

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That would depend on story, plot, characters, the MC, etc.

It’s up to how much rapport the author wants to build.
By giving those options the player will surely get more attached to the character and you will be able to put more personal detail into the text.
However you will also build the sensibility of the player, making him more sensible to your interference in the building of the plot.

Thank you so much everyone for replying this fast and I think that I’ve made up my mind as for how to handle customizable appearance in my current project.

Unless there’s a strong reason, I don’t think there’s any reason to ever even mention what the PC looks like. Why limit it when you can just not describe it and let the player be the PC (or anyone they want through the PC)?

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If the game is going to make a big deal out of your appearance then I wanna choose it but if it’s something that’s never mentioned then I don’t care either way.

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I usually don’t like MC apperance customization in choice games because it’s usually justt picking meaningless options out of a list and makes the introduction more drawn out and boring for no reason. If there is apperance then it should matter, but I don’t like racism,sexism, discrimination or anything that makes someone hate themself because they don’t look a certain way.

I also find customization of apperance limiting sometimes and it breaks my immersion if I wouldn’t pick any of the options. You would have to include pink eyes, purple eyes, rainbow hair, albinos,Cruella De Ville skunk hair and a lot of other options. I remember playing a superhero wip where I didn’t have the appropriate choices to describe my custume and that broke my immersion.

The best way to do apperance is to let the MC use their imagination or use very broad generalized non-discrimatory terms discribe the MC and have that impact the story. For example, a small person can crawl through the doggy door if they forget their keys.

Apperance custimation could be useful for fantasy games where a character doesn’t know what elves look like or whether they are short or tall. A person could have a better idea of the MC if they know whether their dragon self is a tiny lizard or huge building crushing beast.

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Same thing here, I usually don’t care about customization at all because these choices are often meaningless and probably won’t be mentioned more than once or twice in the story.

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I don’t find it particularly interesting to specify my character’s appearance, and it slows the narrative down. I prefer the nebulous “you”.

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I don’t like choosing my appearance for the same reasons that @Sovereign2Lilith has said. Usually the options I want aren’t available. Besides those choices generally feel like they’re fake choices. Even if there’s a variable for it I’m all too well aware than when, for instance, the romantic interest says “I love your BLUE eyes and your BLACK hair” it’s because I’ve chosen those options and the game doesn’t actually have any understanding of what that means.

I’d rather just imagine my character how I imagine them.

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I use really general appearance options in Blood for Poppies, but it’s actually plot relevant and somewhat ties into the greater mystery. But that said, they’re still very minor options and the game really doesn’t have any understanding of what “black” hair or “tan” skin actually means beyond the {hair} and {skin} color variables displaying it in the text, just as @FairyGodfeather said. It’s flavor text. This is why I tend to eschew appearance options in a lot of my games. In many cases it’s just more pointless words, and IMO a good story only says so much as it must. Every aspect of a good story must work to benefit the story as a whole. Appearance options can weigh the beginning of the story down before the player even has a chance to get invested. It’s much better to use that space and those words to create an atmosphere and to draw the player in.

I have a fondness for background and personality options, though.

On some level the inclusion of appearance options requires the player to work with the writer by conforming their character to the narrative, and that’s actually okay. Due to the limitations of the medium, a game is a bit of give and take on both the part of the reader and writer.

I disliked the appearance options in Creatures Such as We. Granted, it’s a very good game in many respects, but the appearance options were so weirdly specific that it dragged the beginning down. And I don’t recall ANY of the options having any mention or impact later on at all. I love how inclusive the game is, and it was inclusive of genders, orientations, ethnicities, etc., before other CoG games caught on. But, the options were very, very specific and probably due to their specificity it was difficult to integrate them into the game or to give them any real impact. I remember choosing my exact country of origin from an exhaustively long list. I even got to choose my exact make up, and honestly it wore me down and I just wanted to get into the narrative. It was too many words for something that didn’t actually mean anything.

In short, less is more. I like appearance options when they mean something, but otherwise they’re wasted space that could be used on narrative and drawing the player in.

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I don’t like appearance customization scenes, because they usually break the immersion. They feel like answering a survey instead of role-playing in a game.

If appearance doesn’t affect the game, I prefer to just imagine what the character looks like without having to make any choices about it.

However, if the character is unusual, such as a fantasy creature or an alien, it might be interesting to read the appearance choices to see what the writer thought the character could look like.

Y’know…

Being realistic about it… a lot of games don’t take a very realistic approach to appearance. Basically what’s been mentioned- a ‘blanket’ reaction to an appearance choice. But, let’s face it, for an author, that’s a -lot- easier to code.

Then again, there are those of us who are massochistic. XD I want to create something more immersive. So for example, if you choose to be bald in my game, there’s a character who would go all stammering-from-emberassement at you because they find that -really- attractive. But you wouldn’t get that particular reaction from that character with any other hairstyle/color. And then… on the flipside, I have a different game where you don’t choose your appearance at -all-. You choose your name, and that determines your appearance. Instead, you choose your attitude/personality as you go along. But specific things about your appearance are still mentioned, creating immersion. The two games are practically at opposite ends of the spectrum on regards to character creation.

I think, a general consensus from people is not that you should or shouldn’t allow customization… it’s that, if you allow customization, it should be meaningful. I’ve been playing the WIP Gwenevere just recently, and in that game… you don’t even know how you look. It’s basically however you imagine it. And yet it’s a brilliant story (so far as I’ve gotten)- you’re creating the personality as you go, without regard for the appearance. But having an appearance can give a player a sense of … how to say… ownership. “This character is my character, there are others like it, but this one is unique, an extension of me.”

The thing about making appearance matter, though- it’s a lot of extra work. Which doesn’t make it a bad thing to do- just that it should be considered before starting. There are a lot of different approaches and none are wrong; it’s the skill of the author implementing the creative vision that makes it come together (or not).

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The ability to choose the MC’s appearance can be a nice addition if it’s written well, for example if some ROs and other NPCs react slightly differently if the MC has their preferred look or if the MC can impersonate someone if they have the right appearance, but just having to customize appearance that doesn’t get mentioned again it’s kinda pointless.
If the MC’s appearance has no importance to the game, I don’t mind if there is no customization, but then it’s better to have nomention of the MC’s appearance at all, just leave it to the reader’s imagination.

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Not very important. I like it when I’m able to “see” the characters in the game from their descriptions, but I don’t particularly mind if I have a default appearance. I appreciate being able to play as female, but otherwise I’ll go with whatever the author has in mind.

If my character is black, or a redhead, or plain-looking, or has double-D boobs? Just tell me, and I’m fine with playing that person. Appearance does affect experiences, so sometimes having a defined appearance will take a character in a different direction. That’s more interesting to me than playing the same person a dozen times.

But then again - I can see characterization differences where they might not exist. Giving a pre-set character a different name might change my whole perception of them. While replaying KOTOR, I formed a sophisticated ethical system that matched my character… when actually, all the game keeps track of is “Dark side” and “Light side”, not your specific philosophy about politics or alien relations or love.

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