Do you play dynamic main characters?


#1

Just to be clear I’m not talking about tabletop PCs, or stories where the author gave you an MC that was automatically dynamic such as in Fatehaven. I’m asking if people here have ever voluntarily made your main character’s personality change in response to events in the story. If so then in what games (mostly focusing on CoG/HG) have you done it, and was there anything about the way the story was told that encouraged you to make your character dynamic such as encouraging the MC to have flaws or providing choices/stats in such a way that allowed you to change personality during the story?

For anyone who is unclear on the definition, a dynamic character is one that undergoes some sort of important inner change over the course of a story. I think its worth noting that a deep and complex character is not automatically a dynamic character, nor do they need to be.


#2

Most people base their characters personality around themselves, or someone they aspire to be, or just anything random to escape the boringggg normality of life.

Most people (me) tend to stick to either good or bad purely because normally being dynamic doesn’t help in game.

But in Fatehaven the plots twist made me stop liking my RO,
But in general I keeps my characters to just one personality throughout, unless a major plot twist or event occurs.


#3

I think it’s very hard to play a dynamic character in choice games-- at least in a way that feels satisfying.

First of all, the way most games use your personality as a game mechanic makes it difficult to change things. Then there’s the fact that if a writer wants to create the opportunity for a truly dynamic character, they’d have to, you know, write all the different possibilities. And that’s a lot of work.

It’s been done though. Guenevere does this very well, I think. Your personality isn’t the stat, it’s your reputation. Your personality is defined by how your character feels about things, and Jean allows you to change it at the end of the part. I think that’s very clever! Choice of Robots does this differently, but still satisfyingly, by letting you change your goal at your dad’s funeral.

This is getting long so I’m gonna shut up and finish :smirk: If the option is available and it adds something, then I always choose to be dynamic! It’s just more interesting. But most of the time it doesn’t make sense gameplay-wise.


#4

It could be interesting. KOTOR will at one point pretty much force you into one of two personality types. I started trying to play as a smuggler just doing it for the money, but nope…
That’s not the most subtle example though I still think it could be done well - giving a character who starts out not caring about something a chance to change their mind and start getting invested; giving a previously squeaky-clean good character a chance to lose their morals after something bad happens to them.


#5

I agree that is a bit difficult to successfully play a dynamic character, mainly because traits are made very black and white and stat checks punish those who try to play in between. I think as a writer it would be interesting to limit stat checks in a game and make things more situational.

Guen does a great job of letting you define how you feel about things and they can change without punishment throughout the game. I do kind of wish it was more subtle, but it is very good regardless.


#6

That’s a problem for me. As much as I like to think of myself as a creative, social, emotive person, I’ve been playing video games for most of my life and there’s a part of my brain that’s always calculating ways to win any game that has a “best” outcome. The only time I’ll ever just choose the decisions that feel right to me is when I’m playing a game that’s entirely a narrative experience, one in which there either isn’t a stat check or, if there is, failure only puts you on a different path instead of a lesser one. This is not to say that I won’t try to play a character that feels right to me–I always try to do that, which is why gender and orientation options are so important to me–I just won’t deviate from the perceived stat priority once I choose one that fits my personality. If it’s presented as a game, I play it as a game. If it’s presented as a story, I participate in it as a story.

Now, all of that said? I prefer purely narrative experiences for exactly this reason. Creatures Such as We is my favorite CoG game, and it didn’t even have stats, let alone stat checks.


#7

I’m not sure about any COG/HG (or I can’t remember if they had a dynamic character) but in dragon age inquisition I made my character believe they were chosen for a holy purpose, but around halfway through the game I let them believe that what happened to them was just a mistake. (But my characters are usually good)


#8

There are a few CoG games that let you play a dynamic character, or even encourage it. The excellent Study in Steampunk has several pivotal decisions that you can make, and it’s possible to change directions, or even motivations, a few times during the story. I think the game handled it very well, actually, particularly in giving the MC some very strong reasons to change.

I felt that Metahuman, Champion of the Gods, and also the somewhat older Star Captain and Broadsides both allowed a lot of freedom in the MC’s motivations and opinions.

I do find that, as @fairlyfairfighter mentions, I tend to play dynamic characters in games with a major plot twist or reveal.

It’s very true that complexity and dynamics are two very different, and not necessarily parallel, MC traits. My most complex MCs (Tin Star and Waywalkers, I would think, off-hand) also happen to be my least dynamic ones.


#9

I find that most of the games that are pretty big and could have dynamic character don’t allow for it because a “good” or “evil” stat in the game is the only way to achieve certain things. In Life of a Wizard for instance, you need to be strictly evil or good if you want assistance from the Gods.


#10

While that’s true, you have to be almost perfectly neutral in Wizard if you want to be a Druid and receive the relevant benefits with the role . . .


#11

Playing dynamic characters IS fun, but as some people have already said, not sticking to one ‘type’ usually ends up biting you in the ass or makes your character seem inconsistent.


#12

I feel like there’s a small gap in the market here?


#13

Though it’s also one of the only games that also offers an achievement for being dynamic – Fallen Angel, I think it’s called? Where you’re Very Very Good at the beginning and then manage to turn yourself Very Evil at the end.

I agree that a lot of the games out there right now incentivize playing your stats as consistently as possible, and you get punished for ending up in the muddy middle. (I’m probably going to do this in my game, too). Fairmath lends itself to this kind of game dynamic.

But recognizing the excitement of having a character change recognized and rewarded in the text… maybe more of us authors should follow Lucid’s early example and have some recognition written in when a character who clearly and strongly was one type up to mid-game then changes gears.


#14

There aren’t many games out there that allow you to feel like your character is just one of the many, not many CoG and HG games do this since, like many others have stated, its all based on stat checks. I guess one game that allows your character to be dynamic is Samurai of(?) Hyuga(?), your character can be pretty flawed and still badass but even that game sorta limited you to you stat checks, at least at the boss battles I think.
Edit: also forgot to mention that in SoH you can switch up your character’s personality from time to time if you felt like your MC would learn a lesson or something, but again, there were stat checks so if you tried to level a personality type too late it would end in your MC being hurt.

I’m really trying to think of games that let your chracter to be part of the many but nothing’s really coming to me…

The way I see dynamic characters just means that, in games, you don’t have to cater to all of the npcs needs just to have a perfect ending. Good exmaple would be the Mass Effect series, yeah, you can tease the line but in the end there were these Paragon and Renegade options that gave you nice rewards or the better endings of the situation you’re in.


#15

Worth noting that one of (if it’s not still the) most popular series on this site is Heroes Rise. And in HR, you had damned well better not be dynamic - you are expected to play to your archetype at all times, or the game will punish you with poor Legend (which can lead to a poor performance in the ending) for not doing so.

@Havenstone: Choice of Rebels seems like it’ll reward playing to your abilities (as in, Charisma/Combat/Intellect), and being able to take a flexible approach with regard to interpersonal relationships. Pardon my cynicism, but I suspect that National will be a superior stat in the early game, but that a switch to Cosmopolitan later on (for example) will be ultimately more helpful to a rebellion outside of Shayard’s borders. So there’s somewhere to encourage dynamism - or pragmatism.


#16

Brief story time:

In the ‘good old days’, when I roleplayed (for I used to, you see- the table top variety) I was spoiled by a VERY talented gamemaster, and very personalized sessions (at most, three players + gamemaster). The stories encouraged dynamic character growth, and as I say, I got rather spoiled on that. I tend to expect reaction to dynamic character growth- but it doesn’t always happen. So, when a game does reward dynamic play, I love that. The tricky part is it requires the change to be noticeable- like enough time spent playing one way for the change to actually feel like a change instead of a decision.

So… the story I’m working on, my WIP Monsters- reacts to your character dynamically. At least, in as much as I can make it. Stat extremes are both rewarded and punished- creating a case for playing the middle ground. I don’t feel that I have enough into the game yet to create truly dynamic scenarios, but does strongly encourage dynamic and reactive play, and as your character changes, the story changes. They sort of feed off each other- I don’t want to force dynamic play, either- just allow it to be possible, and noticeable. As I say, though, I think true character evolution takes a long time and I don’t feel I have enough to truly feel out an emotionally invested dynamic change in one’s character. But the game itself being dynamic- yes, I very much attempt to make it so because I value dynamics as something ‘real.’

I think the most dynamic character I’ve played in a CoG game, not talking about my WIP anymore, is probably either Community College Hero, or Choice by Gaslight. Actually, wait, I’ll add Slammed! to that. The Lost Heir (1 and 2) and Choice of Robots both reacted dynamically, but your character still felt ‘the same’, and The Lost Heir did push stat-based play. Tin Star is an odd duck, it’s very dynamic but doesn’t actually feel noticeable in that dynamic-ness in one playthrough and the character doesn’t seem to undergo any major changes. At least by my opinion. Ooooh, Way Walkers is actually rather dynamic, jogging my memory. There it feels like your character is actually slowly growing. Though I haven’t noticed a truly dynamic moment yet in those games, there are a couple that come close. Choice by Gaslight is probably the best I’ve seen at dynamic possibility, though I don’t want to give away any spoilers- even in tags.

I very much value dynamic play- I’d like to see more of it, though I don’t think it’s wrong to play a well-developed, non-dynamic character. It’s more like, real dynamic moments can create a HUGE emotional response if implemented right.


#17

My character for the Infinite Sea series is probably fairly close to being dynamic in the sense that he’s changed between idealism and cynicism a couple of times. In my head, the change is due to some of the key events and battles in the games, especially the Battle of Blogia. My character was all about honor and mercy before the battle but he’s grown more bitter after.


#18

Brialliant as always, with in a in depth anaylis,.

As a slight aside: Was one of my favorite pieces in judging, and when @Lordirish starts up the next CSComp I’ll be more than happy to chip in again.

But back on to topic. I saw KoToR mentioned, and that is a prime example of a dynamic story and character. What most authors tend to miss is that the story evolves around the character(MC) and grows from the choices that they make therein. This is not a bash against our wonderful story tellers, but an insight; instead of ultimately narrating the story to a predefined goal have the story evolve around the MC towards the goal and having their action have impact on the story outcome.


#19

@Pace675 Thank you. Kind words. :slight_smile:

You know- I don’t know if anyone has tried it yet, but one of the most dynamic games I know of currently is ‘Torment: Tides of Numenera’. (it’s out on Steam) Though still in beta, the whole story is about, essentially, your main character growing and discovering who they are. It’s also a spiritual successor of the old ‘Planescape: Torment’ game, which was dynamic. Pillars of Eternity also has dynamic elements, though it sortof takes a while to see them. Which makes me think- some of the most dynamic games I can think of are RPGs. From the old Final Fantasy games to Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. Heck, practically any JRPG. And then. Undertale. The whole game changes to fit your character playstyle. It’s weird, but, the radial-choice RPGs… like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, feel less dynamic… because they aren’t. They give more illusion of choice, and it does feel deep- but not dynamic in the same way. On the flipside- The Witcher: Wild Hunt, there’s this choice near the beginning of who you choose for Geralt between his two romantic flames, and the story completely branches right there. That’s probably the most dynamic -moment- I can think of, at this time, in a game.


#20

Great topic, and an important aspect that I feel that many choice-and-consequences games ignore. There are many games that give you multiple endings dependent on how your PC changed the world, but few that do the same for how your PC him/herself has changed (at least while allowing your player to retain a semblance of control over that change – many JRPGs have good character arcs, but those arcs usually develop with little input from the player).

The new game I’m working on is actually an attempt of mine to allow for that sort of arc in a CoG game. It has a system that allows the player to adapt a set of initial “Character Beliefs” for the PC, and allows the player to change these beliefs by spending “Reflection Points” earned in the course of play. The game will keep track of how dynamic the PC actually is, in the sense of how often these Character Beliefs are changed over the course of the game.