How much customisation?


#1

I’m curious what my fellow CoGgers think about how much the player should be able to customise?

It’s a given in the official CoGs to be able to choose the gender of the MC. But games like Sabres of Infinty and Vendetta have set male MCs whilst others like Heal, A clueless teens guide to the supernatural (originally) and Guenevere have set female MCs. This doesn’t bother me personally as long as the story interests me

From your own POV as both a player/game designer what do you think you should be able to change?

Gender/Name/Age/Sexuality/Background etc? Also should these be superficial or actually affect the game?


#2

It depends on the game itself like a story about a werecow you dont need much customisation
But in a romance game it might be usefull to have a lot of customisation


#3

I concur with @PORT3R, but I think that you should always be able to choose gender, and name at least.


#4

I think there is no limit to how much customization there is as long as it has to do with the character and not something random like someone else’s thoughts on something or the name of a dead character. Just make sure you keep MC’s name and gender (with exceptions) customizable.


#5

Male/Female should be optional, only insofar as that is appropriate for the nature of the game, otherwise genderlock it, - I greatly dislike CoG’s policy on this. Ideally, if it is a choice, it should change more than just the pronouns (Which is one of the things I dislike about CoG’s policy, here).

Name I think is essential to choose, since it brings people into the story, - and satisfies the need for choice games to be interactive.

Age is only needed if it is a specific factor which can be introduced.

Sexuality is pretty essential, since most games have a romance option. Whether customising one’s own sexuality automatically customises the gender of other characters is another issue, - for the record I hold it shouldn’t.

Background is too broad for one to comment on, without context.

Hair and eye colour, etc., I could not give less of a shit about.

Ethnicity needs to be context-relevant and consequential to avoid becoming akin to hair and eye colour.

Religion choices are underused, but would also need to be consequential; Even if the consequences are limited, it would add a fair bit of flavour.

Political choices, however, really do require a specifically political element.

…Yeah, ‘consequentiality’ is rather key to all choices, with the possible exception of name and gender, which are useful for the flow of the story: It saves people saying “Them” when they could say “He” or “General Balthazar Fluffkine.”


#6

When it comes to customization in my game, I have name, gender, race, feat and magic planned. Only feat and magic affect gameplay in a meaningful way; the other three are purely aesthetical and so far unimplemented.


#7

It depends. Ideally I prefer a choice of gender and sexuality, the rest I don’t particularly care about. I’d also rather the game doesn’t assume white as ethnicity unless there’s an extremely good reason to.

I even like preset names, be that choose from a list, get a surname, or have the whole thing chosen for me. It saves me having to find a name that blends in with all the other names.

I like having a set background, it gives me more of a sense of character and involves me deeper in a story.

In both Slammed, and Heroes Rise you have a preset background. The whole game builds upon this. I really liked that aspect, it gave me more a sense of being involved in things.

That said, the first game I did make didn’t allow any customisation of the protagonist, you just got to choose the actions. I prefer protagonists with something of a personality of their own, rather than bland boring blank slates.


#8

@FairyGodfeather “I’d also rather the game doesn’t assume white as ethnicity unless there’s an extremely good reason to.”

Which games are you thinking of?


#9

What about games like Apex Patrol that don’t even mention gender, and leave it neutral?


#10

I like as much customization as possible, but if I don’t get to at least pick my gender and write down my name(I.E an input_text command), it’s difficult for me to play since I feel like I’ve just stepped into the shoes of someone I don’t know.


#11

Top of the list- name. You have to be given the chance to insert yourself into the game somehow, and allowing us to create our name is the easiest way, even if it’s just your first.
Gender to a certain degree is important, but if it doesn’t change the story then what’s the harm in allowing people to choose? Apex patrol as fantom used as an example didn’t even meantion gender and to tell you the truth I didn’t even notice…
Race… I think only needs to be customizable if important to the story, like if your talking about different species and not just colour then sure that would be cool.
Background again is only important if it adds to the story, adds to the character(stats if not the story then).
Sexuality I think is important IF you plan on adding Romance options.
Religion and politics are also only need to be mentioned if it’s important to the game aswel.

All custom options if possible would be great if it effects the story/stats at least, it all adds to atmosphere. Something as simple and unimportant as eye colour- if you somewhere in the story someone comments how beautiful/cold looking your grey eyes are, cool. But if they don’t then you need to ask yourself- do they even need to be mentioned? Or - what’s the harm in adding them if it doesn’t change anything.


#12

I think that it’s important not to presume sexuality regardless of whether or not there are romantic options in the game.


#13

@FairyGodfeather I asked you a question.


#14

@FairGodfeather Don’t get me wrong, I hate the idea of being asked my sexual preference out right(eg-are you into male, female or both). It’s a horrible way to do it. What I’m saying is, if there’s Romance options, I’d like it to be just that, options, free to choose and not locked into something that’s not me- straight, homosexual, whatever.


#15

I think the best way to go about sexuality would be to give the NPCs a fixed sexual preference and then just let the player go for whoever they want.

As far as other customisation options go, aesthetic stuff like hair colour I leave to the player’s imagination. I’ll only ask them to specify something if it matters to the gameplay; like, for instance, gender, which does change some aspects of my game apart from simple variable switches.


#16

I need choice name and if historical accuracy allows it gender, And i want they explain me some sort of background i could choose between Slammed choice of deathless are great examples and let my choose some kind of karma like evil personality.


#17

I think that customization actually hurts the game.

When I write, I try to capture everything in a scene with words; to do this, I believe it is necessary to be able to visualize everything happening as clearly as possible.

But every single scene in a CoG, if it contains a male/female protagonist, becomes a hurdle the writer must overcome. To successfully re-use a scene for both male and female characters, some details must be amputated, details which originally added tremendously to the flavor of the text.

If a writer decides to just use a scene for male and female protagonists anyway, regardless of whether the scene is actually interchangable; you get almost-funny but still infuriating scenes such as the one in the Choice of Romance Series where the queen supposedly effortlessly picks up her male lover and throws him onto the bed, which described the queen in rather masculine tones…

To clarify, I’ve got nothing against what happened in that scene, but the tone which describes the scene seems to have been written for the female protagonist with a male lover only. Adding “customisation” is a poor facade at best, and I think it would have been better if the writer simply railroaded everything to be played from a female perspective with a male lover if the writer didn’t wish to write different scenes for every possible sex and orientation.

In concept, the idea is good, but in reality, unless CoG is willing to put a lot more effort into writing the games (At least 4 different versions of every scene, for straight male, straight female, homosexual male, and homosexual female protagonists, not counting the love interest of said protagonist), the writing will either be:

A) Hindered by the necessity to make the scene work for all situations
or
B) Unable to cater to certain character builds and make the scene suck for such builds

So, I think that CoG have a nice concept, but what comes out isn’t always very well-made. Customization should be allowed whenever possible, but definitely not when it endangers the game.

Edit: Reading through other replies, I find that Drazen’s case seems very similar to mine… and his is also more concise.


#18

I love customization if it affects the story, even if it’s only in certain details. Is it a hurdle for the writer? Maybe. But I like writing, and I don’t find it annoying having to write different details that appear depending on the character’s choices and appearance.
Does your character have long hair? Maybe your adversary will take a hold of it and pull it during a fight. Does it have any disabilities? They will be noticed by the other characters. Is it a woman in a “men’s world”? Is it black? What kind of family does the character have? Are they rich? Are they poor? Does the character even have a family?..

It can take a good amount of time, but it’s worth it.


#19

I agree totally with @Aquila if writer doesn´t want write a non linear storyline in a game about CHOICES, well just write a linear story. This games have to offer some kind of freedom and about a woman carry a man efforcesly i practiced lifting weight so i could pick bf and drop in bed sadly that was years ago but you know what i mean also queen is a black magician and kill people so all this is ridicule… I could torn a man into pieces but i couldnt use my magic to help lifting him. Typical Machism , a woman has to be shy little and scare rat ready to a man dominate her … we are in 2014 not in 1214 guys


#20

@Wyrmspawn, maybe I’m misreading you, and if so I apologize… but your saying “I think that CoG have a nice concept, but what comes out isn’t always very well-made” seems like a misunderstanding to me. That makes it sound like you agree with what they’re trying to do and the problem is that they’re doing it badly.

But it sounds to me more like you actually disagree with one of the concepts at the heart of CoG (something Drazen explicitly recognises in his own diatribes). They’re deliberately doing something that you seem to find “infuriating.”

The ideology of CoG, clearly expressed in its games, is that men and women shouldn’t face significantly different opportunities, in games or in life. So when the core CoG authors make games set in alternate worlds, they won’t have the differentiation you crave. Not because it’s hard, but because they don’t believe in it.

AotC in particular is all about ensuring that the tone of any scene stays the same regardless of gender or orientation. The authors have gone to some pains to create a world in which the things we consider “feminine” and “masculine” are simply about power rather than gender - and yes, in that world some readers’ preferred character builds don’t work, because they don’t fit the setting.

For the CoGsters to do what you’re suggesting would go against the whole point of the game. You’re of course entitled to not like what they do… but then like Drazen you should attack CoG’s vision directly, rather than suggesting that the problem is that they’re not putting the work in.

(Also: pretty sure that one Choice of Romance scene didn’t involve anyone throwing anyone onto a bed, but the queen pulling you up from a balcony where you’d been sneaking or something. I’ve tried and failed to find the actual code; it’s a pretty obscure scene for the fuss it’s inspired, and I can’t help wondering how many other people who’ve commented on its “tone” have actually read it. @P_Tigras, can you help us locate it before the collective memory of it becomes even less accurate?)