How would people feel about a defined protagonist

So normally in the series we go wild about choice but it also makes me think of the old actual Choose Your Own Adventure games where some of them you really did play an incredibly to define character. You still doing today’s gaming so how would people feel about playing the fine Persona in a choice of game series?

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Me, being picky and not too rich, remain picky with what games I pick up, this not playing most hard pre-defined character games. Some will say ‘you’re losing out on so much’ but that’s my choice (and finances, ha!).

So, in most cases, I pass on it. Was less important to me as a kid, though. Now, if I at least don’t get to pick my own gender I will in general pass on it - except for Batman and Spiderman. :grin:


The only problem is that it would probably limit what choices the player could actually make. It certainly isn’t impossible to make a compelling interactive story out of a set protagonist, but it tends to limit the amount of variation in the story.

The advantage though, is the protagonist will avoid the whole “blank slate with no characteristics” thing right out of the gate.

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Summary, in case you feel like scrolling past: definite characters have their place, and you can use them as viewpoints. But, you can easily define a character only partially, still shape the kind of story you want, and not rob the player of a significant amount of choice.

There have been cases where you still had a vast amount of choice, but had a more defined, less blank slate protagonist. I’m thinking of Samurai of Hyuga. While the game does have its downsides – trying to decipher which choice lined up with which social trait, especially after you have your spirit animal, is a bit of a chore – on a whole it brought a flavor to the protagonist and their interactions that I found refreshing.

In the case of a more defined character, it’s important how they are defined, and to what extent. The protagonists of 3Games, for instance, are unfortunately too same-y in overall personality, in spite of their different origins, rendering its main gimmick of multiple viewpoints kind of pointless (to me, at least). Samurai of Hyuga’s protagonist is defined by their cynicism, but the fact that you can freely decide how that cynicism expresses itself, or how deeply it runs in the character, is what turns the protagonist from a blank slate or a preassigned character into an interesting, dynamic sort of… thing.

Another thing to think of, does the story benefit from having a tangible and definite character? After all, plenty of books have been sunk over their protagonist. And, how much leeway does the character give the player to define their actions? I’m thinking of Geralt of Rivia, who manages to have definite personality traits, but still has enough internal conflict to him that most of the main choices make sense regardless of what you choose.

Ultimately, though: a Choicescript game comes down to choices. Too many games on both sides give a more or less linear train of events with little to no variation (Empyrean, as much as I like it otherwise, fits the bill), or are stuffed to the gills with fake choices that are later invalidated by the story’s own conceits (Heroes Rise is absolutely infuriating on that account). You need, at the end of the day, to give the MC a fairly major impact on the narrative that doesn’t boil down to hopping on a train and pushing a few buttons at the end. Who your MC is matters less than you being able to at least switch to another track in the middle of the ride, even if it’s just a detour.


I agree on that… In any game, of any kind of platform, I always think the most open and customizable the character creation and development is, the better… And I normally avoid define/set protagonists (hence why I rarely feel like playing J-RPGs).

That would be the case in regards to Co/HG’s too, but, I came to realize that, limiting as it may be… when the story can compensate for it, the games may end up as tasteful and as amazing as they would be otherwise :smiley:… Powerhouse titles like the Blades/Guns of Infinity and A Study in Steampunk showed me that! A daring path, but one that can be surprising, in a positive way, if taken in the right way!


For me it’s not a case of whether they’re better or worse than cyoas with customisable mcs, the appeal is totally different. But I’ve played divided we fall, as well as the various COG short stories I talked about recently on the short story thread with pre defined mcs, and divided we fall is one of my favourite games. I’ve played games from other sites with pre defined mcs too, and honestly I can even prefer them over games with non pre defined mcs if I find it easy to relate to the mc, they are likable etc. Though if I don’t get to play as female I probably wouldn’t play that game tbh.


I don’t really personally like them unless there’s an amount of customization with them. Samurai of Hyuga I liked, it’d be better if it wasn’t heroes rise style railroaded.

Though I guess you could also include people who usually aren’t (and what they are affects personalty)

The things about them they were already fully developed literary character by the time the games were made. FYI I am reading the books right now they’re amazing. Start with Last Wish then move to Sword of Destiny and then go into the main series.

There are some set protagonists that are well-done, the ones that still let you define the character’s actions despite their personality. I think that even if the story calls for a set protagonist, we should always remember that it is the power of choice that we are exploring. If a set protagonist can only act in one way, it sort of invalidates the point of having an interactive game, especially in this medium. While games with only one route can be rewarding due to the skill in which the player guides them through the world, we have no way of providing the same thing through text.

But there is also a big difference between a protagonist with a set personality and those where everything is set and all that remains for the player is to choose the “correct” choices for the character.


I think it all depends on the type of game for example I played Lisa the painful on the joyful and both the characters are incredibly set but they give you choices. The choices you make don’t even change necessary that narrative too much but it’s reflective both in dialogue and how your party interactive and other NPCs. Your role playing at least in this game scenario their Redemption or damnation for everything they love plus there’s mechanical aspect of the gameplay that reinforces both sides. I’m personally never been a huge fan of a blank slate character I really enjoy playing at the fine individual hell I don’t even need choice in my game as long as it’s good.

Let’s thinks another thing for a second you have no control over the characters choices and cutscenes or dialogue their personalities is set. But if you lose a battle get injured etc those game action moments have a huge impact on the narrative.

I agree with this sentiment. If your choices have no impact on the character at all, well yes I can see how that would be frustrating. You are truly just “going through the motions” at that point. But if you can affect their relationships or perhaps tweak their worldview, I can see that being plenty rewarding enough. In fact, it might be MORE rewarding for many readers to “turn around” a cynical down-on-their-luck character than it would be to build a more bland character from scratch.

And just a small point, but I do think it would be easier to market a story with a set character with set appearance just because you can actually use images of the character in promotional material, and you can use the character’s name as a hook or as the title or whatever. I use a lot of art in CCH (lots will be included in Part 2!) and it’s a little frustrating to feature all the other side characters but never be able to show the MC. They end up being a “blank mask” or something.


Well I love Geralt (witcher) Dante (dmc 3-4) and Drake (uncharted) but I hate Lara Croft and Ezio. If you know how to creat cool and unique MC - go for it.

The more complex your story - as in, the longer it is and the more it branches - the more and more the incentive an author has to either

  • ground more facets of the protagonist in the story (a defined protagonist)


  • leave facets about the protagonist unwritten or to the domain of fake choices (a player-projected protagonist)

This is because the number of branches an author has to write is an exponential function of the number of branches they have already written; or, more plainly, the more permutations on the protag that are explicitly written into the story the more the author must write to service those in the other branches of the work.

Both of the above avenues tend to minimise branching and thus reduce the workload of the author; the former through meaning the author only has to write one set of text, the second through meaning the author need not refer to these attributes at all outside of choices that do not influence the trajectory of the story (only the player’s interpretation of their character and story).

Sometimes the former is necessary. I try to tend to use the latter whenever I can; it activates the player’s imagination (which is what we want) and even better it uses the player’s imagination to enhance the story.

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I’m glad this thread was made. Both my MCs are fairly defined right out of the box, but I had pondered at least making the names customizable. However, that seems disingenuous, since whatever MC you don’t choose would still be their default name on your playthrough. So if Fiorella is Fiorella when you’re Alexi, shouldn’t she also be Fiorella when you’re Fiorella? But reading about people actually passing up a story just because of a predetermined name gives me pause. I don’t know if I feel strongly enough about this to alienate a segment of my potential readership.


I must admit, I have a semi finished shorter choice story (which needs to stay that way, no more multiplying large WIP’s I’ve got enough) I dusted off the other day which probably wouldn’t take a lot of work to finish off, but it’s written based on the ancient Greek tragedy of Oedipus who is a defined character. (For anyone who knows it, yes the ending would be modified the ending somewhat to be more PG.) Anyway, it’s been sitting there because I was concerned that would discourage people from reading it if I ever put it out there (shorter story + defined protagonist), so following this conversation with interest :slight_smile: .


But when you look at it like this right you got to think what is this legendary King of Thebes known for. And normally do stories are cautionary tales or at least two example a character traits that is both thier strength and downfall. The Achilles anger, Odysseus’s cunning, or Oedipus perception. Especially when you’re dealing with classical Greek Heroes there to define by particular traits along with their social status in society both of Heroes and leaders.

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