How many characters should a game have?

The question is as the title proposes.

So I’ve been messing around with a choice script short story I wanted to write before starting with my bigger projects. As it’s a short, I don’t want any too expansive plot, world building or too many characters.

As of now I have four characters, two of which are RO (Note that what I am writing is also a romance-ish game).
Do you believe two characters are too few? If they’re fully fletched out and individual, would it matter that there are not four different archetypes of RO to choose from like in many popular CoG and HGs?

I don’t particularly like gender selectable characters, but I would need to make my two RO gender selectable to conform to everybody’s tastes.

Do you think I would benefit from adding a third RO and have them all be genderlocked (except maybe one)?
I just want to avoid making a character just to make a character, yk

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Write the number of characters you think your story will need, and don’t subordinate any part of them or the larger story to the need for ROs, because there is no need for ROs. A story can be great without any romance, you don’t need to satisfy everyone’s tastes, and even if you made the characters gender-selectable, they wouldn’t satisfy everyone’s tastes anyway, because that is impossible.

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Trust that instinct. :slight_smile:

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The number of characters in a story often depends on the story itself and the wishes of the one writing it. On my end, I don’t think two characters outside of the Main Character (MC) is too few. Having a character for each ‘archetype’ isn’t essential, but it is a prevalent dynamic. As long as the character ROs are fleshed-out individuals that exist outside the realm of “I exist for the romance only,” I’m happy.

I’m in the same boat, storywise.

The main story I’m working on has a total of six characters in it that are named, including the MC. Beyond the MC, the five remaining characters are thus: two are the parents of the MC (who are not shown until much later outside of a few small areas), two companions of the MC, and an enemy of the MC.

The companions will likely be romanceable. I’m writing them to be either male or female, for a bit of variety, but I’m also ensuring they’re not the “same person.” So, in a way, the two companions is more along the lines of four characters instead of two because the male and female versions of these two companions are different people shaped in different ways by the things they’ve gone through.

In the end – write the characters you want.

It’s your story. No one else’s.

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Sounds a lot like mine yea😌
I agree with a gender selectable character feeling like two characters in one, that’s why I want to avoid it. I think I’ll add a third character for diversity. I don’t yet have a female character of MCs age, and I’d like to see how her opinions as a woman would affect MC.

I think it is very easy for a story to become monotone if the characters are few and they don’t have much diversity (gender, background, relation to MC etc.)

Thanks for your responses everyone

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Gender-selectable characters are hit-and-miss with me.

From my experience, if a character is gender-selectable, that character is the same character and the only difference is how they’re addressed by the main character and a slight name change. A romance scene will largely play out the same way with a few differences to account for the different gender, and maybe the heights of the main character and the RO (if coded in).

For my two ROs, this is something I’m hitting at. The way the story is already being set up is that choices really do matter. Scenes play out differently from one to the next with very little repeating text, and once I introduce the Companions – that’s where things will get fun.

Neither of the companions has any relation to the MC, but their backgrounds and motivations will change depending on their gender. Their lives will shift to account for the fact that they would have had different experiences growing up. And their experiences as a male or a female will alter how they view things like romance and their expectations of themselves, of the MC, and the people around them.

My favorite comment I heard was this: a parent has two children, and raised them both.

The children, however, had two different sets of parents because the parents who raised the first child are different than the parents who raised the second. Time and experience shape a person, and we are not the same five years from now as we are today.

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I think this is a very interesting topic in relation to gender selectable characters. I understand why some authors wouldn’t want anything but pronouns and name changed for their character, but I find it so immensely more fascinating if the gender selectable part of them actually makes a difference.

I do, however, also find it hard to execute properly. Good luck with yours!

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If you can first decide which archetype list you’re utilizing. Not that I wouldn’t love to see a story with the 201 archetypes, but that’d get confusing fast.

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I wrote out some general advice, but I decided I first want to talk about your story specifically. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with only two ROs. Especially since it’s already a small cast. I wouldn’t say no to the additional RO, but I wouldn’t do it out of obligation. If another character doesn’t fit, then don’t sweat it.

If they’re the same gender, or if they both have a specific sexuality, then it might be difficult to get people to read it if they don’t fit into that spot. But if it’s a guy and a girl, willing to date whoever the MC is, then it should be good

The general advice I wrote first:

I think the number of characters (particularly ROs) depends on a few things:

  • What kind of story is it? Certain genres and settings allow for more characters than others.

  • Is there a role for the character in the story, other than being an RO or a friend

  • Are all the characters getting confusing, or do they fit comfortably in the narrative

And for ROs specifically

  • Is there a similar (but not necessarily equal) number of ROs for different players? If a straight man has 2 options but a straight woman has 5, it seems a little off. But 2 vs 3 is totally fine

  • I think making ROs gender-selectable and/or player-sexual removes those problems, but some people think it takes away from the characterization. So it depends on what you feel for your characters

  • There’s nothing wrong with 2 or 3 ROs. If your story only fits 2 ROs, that’s completely fine

  • I like having at least 2 ROs that I can personally romance, and I think that’s a fairly common opinion.

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It’s up to your own comfort, but I’m planning to have specific scenes to address the gender selection while leaving it otherwise untouched. The changes in gender don’t need to mean that it’s constantly pushing the character any which way, a few sentences here and there implying a difference in intent can be enough to imply their motivations are a little different.

I’m of the opinion that you don’t really need any characters outside of the MC at all if you find conflict within, but that is a hot take I suppose.

I think just writing and then if there is a reason to adding a character then should be enough yah know?

Response to @TheChaosArchivist :

You know, on the surface, when I think about it I realize my ROs kind of fit these. For now, at least.

Response to @Ananasjuicebrik :
To be honest, a small prequel story that is in the style of the prologue following the Immortal before the event seems like it could be fun and also interesting. The Immortal just doing their thing in the middle of nowhere.

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It’s personal preference but personally i like to have a lot of characters to interact with but at least 3 major characters who are constantly around the mc and at least 3-4 ro’s who we can interact with. I also enjoy games where we have family members and pets, it just feels more fun that way. I wish a lot more games especially royalty or medieval games would allow you to have children.

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That sounds like a nightmare.

For the archetypes, I’m referring to:

  • the moody/more aggressive RO
  • the gentle/sweet RO
  • the more flamboyant/happy all-the-time RO
  • the angst/emotionally constipated RO

I’ve seen these four in nearly every story I’ve read. Like the RO’s general personality is built around these aspects. And while I do love them, a few more than others, it can get rather predictable.

There’s no disagreement there. I have to figure out exactly how I plan to code in those sections without giving myself a migraine during the process. I, too, find it so satisfying when I find an RO who actually changes from one gender to another. Like, they respond differently to the MC. Granted, I do like it when RO is taller or shorter than the other version of themselves.

That would be an interesting thing in a story, especially if it’s one where royalty or medieval settings are a focus. Dynasties are focused on children to carry on their lineage.

I don’t think I’ve actually read any IF where there isn’t any characters but the MC. Might look into that.

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The only game i can think of would be in sword of rhivenia, i think the author said in the upcoming books there would be children and of course we have our choice of adopting the little girl.

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@Anna_B Thank you for the input, and fine points you make. I will def take them into consideration

A complete steam of conscience IF sounds interesting🤔 but also couldn’t easily be very long winded

A good point, that one.

If a character fills a role that needs to be filled, it’s certainly a good idea to add them in if none of the others characters can’t fit the role. If they never appear in the story again after that moment, I only hope there is a reason. Read a story once, not an IF, where a character was introduced to add a bit of conflict and vanished.

Reviewer noticed and asked what happened to that character.

Next chapter, someone in the story asked and the response was something along the lines of them being taken out by a rouge spell someone was developing.

I couldn’t help laughing at that.

The ‘for now, at least’ has me smiling. I keep wanting to see a (:smiling_imp:) icon next to it.

In my project, one of the ROs is a criminal that has the Bad Boy vibe going on. Has a lot of “dominate” energy going on. Now I just have to tweak things a bit where it isn’t a caricature painted to look like a character and make that RO into an actual person.

That could get very long-winded but would be a concept to play around with. With it focusing heavily on the thoughts of the MC, it would be fun to see unfold if done well.

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Could also be a survival story, the MC stranded alone in the wilderness. Or something. I think? I don’t think I would like that (in a videogame, sure, but there’s no gorgeous level design in text format) very much, but it would be an option.

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Response to @TheChaosArchivist :

Read a story once, not an IF, where a character was introduced to add a bit of conflict and vanished.
Reviewer noticed and asked what happened to that character.
Next chapter, someone in the story asked and the response was something along the lines of them being taken out by a rouge spell someone was developing.

This is very funny, what I meant was more along the lines of ‘If you reach a point where you feel there is a gap, like maybe the dynamics of the group are a bit weird, or something, maybe shifting those things using the conflict to justify a new character coming in would work?’ Or whatever. I’m tired, shit. I was coding for like 8 hours earlier lol.

The ‘for now, at least’ has me smiling. I keep wanting to see a (:smiling_imp:) icon next to it.
In my project, one of the ROs is a criminal that has the Bad Boy vibe going on. Has a lot of “dominate” energy going on. Now I just have to tweak things a bit where it isn’t a caricature painted to look like a character and make that RO into an actual person.

To be honest, I hadn’t even considered them fitting any ‘tropes’ while I was making them so I didn’t even consider that their first impressions fit the archetypes. I don’t want to spoil anything so no more details on that but you get the idea me thinks… :smiling_imp:

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In a situation like this, there would have to be a heavy emphasis on the wilderness itself and the creatures inside of it. Give them a life of their own. In traditional fiction, this isn’t too uncommon. In stories like these, the environment is a character in and of itself. It’s alive, it’s moving, and it plans to kill the MC one way or another.

In IF, it would probably be harder to pull off.

I did eight hours of writing yesterday for a second project I’m working on with a friend. It has a far larger scope than the main one I’m working on. But I do agree with your point. If dynamics are odd, sometimes adding in another character can help. Or maybe the MC can be the one to smooth things over?

Also, glad you found the scenario as amusing as I did.

And now I’m laughing. :rofl:

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I like the idea of making a character of something that isn’t traditionally viewed as one. In the game this whole thread is based on, the main character besides the PC is a houseplant lol. I wanted to play around with what we accept as a person, and so inspiration struck me when reading The Little Prince. A plant that is alive and sentient.

I’m not sure yet how to write them, but they won’t be lacking in any way in relation to the other RO, I hope

So that I’m not misunderstanding, I would like to clarify.

There is the Main Character, whom the Players control.

And there is another main character that isn’t controlled by the Player that’s a houseplant.

Did I get that right?