So, I’m kicking around an idea to make a game, and have started writing up a quick character creation chapter disguised as a prologue. Now, I’ve toyed around with the idea of players choosing their in game appearance, since that just seems like a nice, indulgent little touch to give players. But then I thought about all the work I’m making for myself just with sheer narrative scope, and I forced myself not to add more work on top of that unless it was relevant.
I.E. everytime I think about making a choice in the game, I ask myself, “Is this going to effect the story in any way?” and if the answer is “Nope” then I don’t make the choice. That said, I also then thought about ways that I could make character appearance relative to the story. Maybe have characters (especially love interests) comment on them, maybe it influences people’s reactions, things like that.
In particular, since the game narrative takes place more or less over a lifetime, it might be interesting to have players do something like change the way they cut/wear their hair, and characters could react to that choice by commenting that the PC seems more grown up, or perhaps less innocent.
Then I the idea came to me. What if, instead of letting the players directly choose some appearance options (hairstyle/scars/clothes/etc), I instead offer them story choices, and the circumstances those story choice offer in turn determined some aspects of the player’s appearance.
For example, there’s a choice in the game that determines where the player spent a few years of their life on their own as a kid, the wilderness, the city, or a crashsite. In this example, if the player chose to live those years in the wilds, their hair would be longer, and a bit unkempt, and most of their scars would have been given by class and teeth. If the player chose the city, their hair might be shorter, and instead of a multitude of claw and bite marks, they’d have a few knife wounds, and wear their hair a lot shorter.
I’m worried though, that it might be jarring to a player to just tell them what they look like, so I’m hesitant to apply this. And, afterall, I could just run with the “player appearance doesn’t matter to the story” approach.