Limiting character building- would it be okay?


#1

So for one of my project ideas, I feel that in order to make the storyline work, I need to establish a few things about the playable character that would limit character building, and make it more of a “choose your own story” type of game. More details below.*

Do you think that this would, generally, be an okay thing if it’s established in the game description screen that these things will be the case (a la “Swords of Infinity” where it was said in the beginning that your character would need to be a man of noble birth)?

*Details:
What will be established is (this shows the level of control that I’d be implementing but the actual numbers, names, and such will probably be altered in the game)

Your character is named Jayden Harper. He is a 30 year old American campaign assistant for a politician. He works on the East coast but is from the West coast, where his family still lives. He cares a lot about his career. He has the reputation of being the “good” twin while his brother, Kayden Harper, is the rebellious one. This is reflected in how they dress. The two of them got along very well as kids, with both of them actively participating in pranks, but they have grown apart because of the distance between them.


#2

There are two things that turn me off, the fixed name and being the good brother. I could live with the last thing if the other choices have enough impact, but the name thing is kind of a deal breaker. When I play RPG the name is really important, at least the personal name.

This being said, I would probably pay for that kind of game with those restrictions if the story was good and the choices had impact in it, the game seems quite interesting.

P.S. I don’t have the spell checker in my Android, sorry for making you read it like this.


#3

Such a thing could work. Look how popular Guenevere is after all.

BUT the name Jayden feels a bit off to me for a 30 year old British man, (same for Kayden.) It’d work if they were twenty. If you have a look at http://www.behindthename.com/name/jayden/top/england-wales you’ll find that the popularity of the name Jayden is very recent.

Edited to add: I personally don’t mind having a fixed name. We don’t get to choose our own names after all. It’s just that specific name I’ve an issue with.


#4

I can do the name change thing with no issue (I just felt a compulsion to make their names rhyme, but it’s not a big deal). As for the good brother thing, I mean for it to be entirely by perception. Like the PC looks like the “good” one, got better grades, ect, but might be more of a little shit in terms of personality. Would that be alright, or is it still an issue?


#5

The name is definitely a placeholder! And I COMPLETELY forgot to mention, but the twins are from the U.S. and Jayden just moved to the U.K. as an adult. I will definitely take that into consideration with the final name, though.


#6

Why’s an American working for a British politician? Why’re you having him do stuff with British politics and not American politics?


#7

Honestly it’s a relic of a part of the storyline I’ve abandoned, and I should probably take it out since it doesn’t make sense with that part missing. Consider that part no longer a factor, I’m just going to set his job in the U.S.


#8

Here’s the thing about this question: there are a lot of answers. Some people will never settle for less than fully defining their characters down to each nose hair (and there’s nothing wrong with this. I love character creation! I’m biased toward character creation, even). You may turn these people off, but so what? Make the story you want to read. Make a game you want to play. If others like it, they will follow in time, but don’t look around to see if people will follow. Fully realize the vision you want, listen and seriously consider to helpful advice, feedback and constructive criticism, and never look around to see who’s watching.

So, basically, I’m saying go for it. Write it. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what anyone here thinks about character creation. People are different. You can only please the people you please, if that makes any sense. It only matters that you create something that can be experienced and that you enjoy and can stand by. Whenever I hear someone asks if it’s okay to do something in their writing, I can only really shrug. I know what I like personally, but that’s not really relevant to your game.

I’m not going to comb through your specific character idea because you have already gotten some good advice ITT.


#9

I’m mostly asking in order to iron out some of the issues, so I can fix them before actual development comes up, and to see if my idea isn’t so out there that the majority of people won’t be able to get past it. There are some people who are turned off by the restrictions, but they do help me second-guess how important certain restrictions are and whether they can be removed (like the name) or modified without giving too much issue. That being said, I definitely try to stick to my main vision. I just really enjoy feedback. I think it drastically improves my development.


#10

I think one of the best parts of CoG is that you get to kind of make your own personality. I don’t have a problem with a little guidance, but I think that deciding the personality takes a lot of the magic out of the story. @cataphrak did a great job of this in Sabres and Guns of Infinity, but you’ll notice how he stopped short of deciding the personality of your character.


#11

Absolutely! I suppose I’m just cautioning against you from letting any one opinion other than your own sway you too much. But, yes, I don’t think it’ll be too much of a big deal. There are a number of CoGs mentioned in here that have done very well with pre-named and gender-locked protagonists. I remember when the suggestion of a pre-defined protagonist with a set name and gender stirred a lot of debate on here, but things have seem to have loosened up.


#12

That would be just perfect for me, but you should do what you think that is better for your game. if the said limitations are an important part of the plot I wouldn’t have any kind of “issue” with them.

@FairyGodfeather presented great arguments. Guenevere is a great game and our PC has a fixed name and a gender. In the end what really matters is the execution of the story.

Like I said, if the game is good people will let slide the things they don’t love (we can’t please everyone).

The fact that the “good” guy thing is mainly a matter of perception is perfect.

Good luck with your project if it goes ahead. For myself I would probably like to read your game, with or without the said limitations. I hope to have been of service.


#13

I’ve always found that with CoG I can let alot of stuff go if the story is captivating. But I have also found that playing (let’s just call it premade for the moment) premade characters is a bit hard for me, I can do the opposite gender most times but the premade personality is a bit of a step I guess I should say. One thing I love about these games is that you can choose who you are and fixing the personality to me takes that away. Gender and name wise though, go nuts, I actually sometimes rather the stories give my character a name, saves me the trouble of being creative right then and there.

Yet, it is thou story and thou should do what thou want…edest…dest


#14

But then again, this is future proofing. We’re going to have people in nursing homes named “Jasmine” and “Justin” before too long.


#15

Stories with established (as in non-blank slate) mc’s are fine so long as the writing draws me in I’ll play it.
I’d say it all depends on how many character development options you give us after we take control of the character start playing on whether he’ll become “my mc”, or just someone whose life I’ve been invited into and who I get to occasionally influence one way or the other. Again either can work, though the second option needs better writing to draw me in.

A lot of good games on this site do, in fact restrict us in this manner. For example: in the “Lost Heir” series it’s a given you play as a crown prince and later King in the “Seven Heirs of Ophaesia” your background as the youngest prince or princess is also largely fixed, though the author there quite cleverly circumvents most restrictions that entails by giving us control of the character basically from the moment they’re born. The game most similar to what you’re attempting to do is “Guenevere” where you always play as the eponymous character who always has to marry Arthur for plot reasons.
The masterful writing of that thing draws me in despite forcing my into a role I’d never choose myself, female, princess and later Queen. Point is good writers can get away with nearly anything it is the more mediocre ones where limited control of character building and gender restrictions might make the difference between “a few hours of fun” and “meh, not to my taste”.
About the only characters I absolutely cannot play are the perpetually helpless damsel in distress Disney princess types and super-uke’s. Mind you that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for those kinds of games, just that they’re absolutely not for me.

As to the details of your proposal in particular, It’s fine just don’t make the mc the campaign manager of gay hating, bible thumping regressive politician like mr. Cruz or Carson and I’ll be fine. If you got to go Republican go with someone fundamentally decent like Kasich or even McCain.
Oh, and of course having the option for the mc to be gay or bi is a very big plus for me, as it is what first drew me to this site and community to begin with: The chance to play badass gay heroes (and the occasional villain too).

That could be one of the things you leave up to us players as customization options, whether the mc is truly the “good boy” of the two, or merely the better actor and whether he’s gone into politics to help make the country a bit better or just to amass power, influence and wealth for himself.
The only thing that seems set in stone is that he’s by necessity the more academically accomplished and intellectually inclined one.

Isn’t the mc described as being American? American naming conventions are weird anyway, so I’d say go for it.

Set background doesn’t mean there cannot be lots of customization options.

I see nothing in the authors proposal that suggests the mc’s personality couldn’t be customized to a significant degree as it seems we might already get to decide if he’s really the “good” twin, or not.


#16

He wasn’t described as American when I replied. That got added after.


#17

If I’m playing a set person - gender, genetics, family, place in history - I’d be fine with that as long as the game was well-written and had a good story. But if their thoughts are being told to me because their psychology and moral character are always the same, I’d rather just read a book.

Deciding who a character is mentally is the main draw of a Choicescript game, even more so than deciding their actions. I’d rather play a game where a character can’t affect their actions but thinks of them differently than one where they can choose what to do but not how to think.


#18

One game that doesn’t really build the character extensively but works very well is *For Rent: Haunted House"

https://www.choiceofgames.com/for-rent-haunted-house/

There’s no “choose who you are” segment in the game; the plot assumes the player is a normal person, and only real “build” choice is player gender which doesn’t even figure into the story too much. Instead of spending time customizing the character, the story calculates things like fatigue and ruthlessness based on your choices to restrict and allow further options.