As a reader, I like to be able to visualize characters, especially major characters, in terms of their general physical appearance. As a writer of linear prose, I usually have clear mental images of the major characters in my stories. I will tend to include physical descriptions, although economically. When (trying to) write IF, customizing the PC’s physical appearance is a dilemma I keep coming back to.
Adding lots of physical traits for the reader to choose can make character creation longer and clunkier. It can also seem superfluous if the descriptions rarely appear in the text of the game itself. Maintaining 3-6 variables that I barely use… is work. On the other hand, sometimes parts of character creation serve to help the reader define their PC, rather than to affect gameplay or flavor text. I think that’s legitimate. So having the player pick out their PC’s skin and hair color, height, etc. is one approach.
What about balancing PC and NPC descriptions, especially in cases where a lot of significant characters are family members of the PC? I feel like lots of readers get stronger impressions of the NPCs in these games, partially due to the “blank slate” nature of the PC. Does giving family members of the PC canonical physical descriptions detract from the ability to customize the PC too much?
To wrap up this overly long ramble: supposing the PC’s parents both have canonical appearances, and the character setup allowed you, the player, to choose which of them your PC more resembles. Is it worth trying to write and code this? Or is physical customization only worth the trouble when it’s complete and allows you to make the PC look exactly how you like, e.g. like an idealized version of yourself?
I think my lack of ability to “self insert” on IF protagonists is starting to be a real hindrance to writing.