MC Character Background Development Questions

Hi everyone, I’m new to the site and I’ve been spending the past few days reading and catching up on the forums here. Boy, there is a LOT of stuff going on here! If any of you have a few moments to spare, I’d like to ask a few questions of y’all to get your opinion. Pardon me if this is something that has already been asked and/or talked to death (if so, please let me know where that thread is!).

On the subject of MC Character development, how do you feel as readers (or writers) about pre-made backgrounds? Imagine a list of different ones and each one affected your stats in different ways. Is that something that would be okay with you, or is it taking your choice too far out of your hands?

Thank you so much for taking the time to at least read my post! Looking forward to your feedback, making your acquaintance, and learning more about the community!


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One of the ways games like Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven by @JimD allows you to create your character is to pick a list from a bunch of premade backgrounds. That said, ZE:SH also allows the player to “handcraft” their character as well. Having a bunch of premade backgrounds is a perfectly viable way of doing it, given that this particular way supports the game/story you’re trying to write.


Oh yes, I remember that! I read it awhile ago. Thank you for reminding me.

To speak more specifically on my question, perhaps an example of my coding would help you get a clear understanding of what I’m looking at.

*if nationality=“Ascean”
#My mother works for one of the top corporations in Ascea. She’s not a CEO or anything; she actually is one of the market analysts. My parents split shortly I was born and I don’t know my father very well. While my brother dreamed of joining one of Ascea’s prominent PMCs, I wanted to follow a more traditional route of joining a megacorporation to earn my citizenship.
*set knowledge 5

I’m working on two other options for the Ascean nationality that vary on the stat boost it gives you. Would this be taking away from the reader’s experience too much by providing too much detail? Obviously, this is all just a WIP. Thanks again for looking at it.

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Predefined backgrounds are sometimes part of the plot, so they are not avoidable. I personally don’t see a problem with that, what is more important is that you give me the choice to define how the MC sees their past (if it matters, if not just don’t mention it). Not the what but the how in a certain way.
Part of that is that while you don’t have to let us decide what kind of family the MC has you should let us decide the relationship to those characters or at least not assume too much about it if the relationship doesn’t play much of a role anyway (though in that case I guess you don’t need to define it to begin with? :thinking:). Generally you shouldn’t just assume the relationship the MC has with other characters (except you really can’t avoid it, but really that’s something that will annoy (some) people).
Just generally don’t assume too much about the MC’s feelings/emotions.


If you read the latest CoG official release; Eagle’s Heir, there are preset backgrounds crafted. In their case, your mother could have been: Bavarian, Polish, Haitian or Egyptian. All are well thought out and historically possible yet beyond choosing that background, there is very little that changes with the story.

I think in one scene, my MC was able to speak German to some Austrians, but other then that choosing Bavarian seemed more cosmetic then not.

If you do decide to craft backgrounds you should provide the depth for the MC or it will be seen as cosmetic and worth little.


I personally have a relationship Hate love with preset backgrounds When they are well done as In Zombie Exodus Safe Haven and Choice of a rebel I love them , they rich your experience and role-playing. However, most of games do it terrible wrong and damage totally the experience ruined my game to the point of stopping reading in first chapter.

The biggest error you could make is this,Like you are from x background you are this and this and think this and you love tomatoes and peppers. m PERDON ME IS MY CHARACTER. I have to have freedom to select what I want and my personality. The fact I am Spanish doesn’t mean I dance flamenco and do bull fighting. No preset should determine my future or my character and what I think about my pre set past.


Sounds a bit like Dragon Age Origins to me. I like the idea. I don’t think it would be taking the choice out of the player’s hands, because you’re giving them a list of backgrounds to choose from. I think Choice of the Vampire had something similar, so you could have a look at that game for inspiration. :blush:


I think this would provide too much detail if it were presented to the reader as part of a choice. You could have the first sentence of that paragraph as a choice, then if the player selects that choice, you bring them to a new screen with the extended description, and a second choice whether to confirm or go back to the previous menu.

To add to the above comments, I personally don’t mind backgrounds like these, since i have a different MC for every game and varying backgrounds keeps things interesting. They can help flesh out the character better. (And it might make thing easier for the author as well.)

That’s just me speaking personally though, i mainly read/play these for the story and stuff, and depending on the book, i honestly might not mind if i didn’t even get to choose the name of the character. (Well, as long as it isn’t terrible. Don’t take my advice on the name thing, probably everybody would be annoyed by that.)

Nah, I understand your point you see a cog as a normal book. And that’s a fair point. I see it as a Interactive novel and with that more similar to a game. A good pre set background should appeal both type of readers. Give to you enough base to have fun reading it and being enough flexible to give playersroom to create their own characters. If there is too restricted only readers would buy the game.


Yup, I’d agree that that would be best :upside_down_face:

For me, it’s what you decide to do that’s important, and like @Sammysam said earlier, how the MC views their past.

EDIT: Here comes the “that that”. It’s one of the things I annoy myself with.