Superfluous Physical Attributes


In my (soon, Apple willing) forthcoming game, there are no hair/eye color or other customization options. They wouldn’t fit well with the gameworld, so I’ve left them out. But I’ll still stick up for the “superfluous” customization choices in theory, for the same reason I stick up for other fake choices.

The character I’m interested in co-creating doesn’t live on a stats screen, but in the reader’s imagination. Anything that adds a brushstroke to that imagined MC can be worth it, whether or not the game “remembers” it – because of course what matters is whether the reader remembers it…

Yes, one nice thing about CS is the ability to echo earlier choices. But each time you do that, it takes work. That blond hair callback – is it really worth the coding time? Maybe, maybe not. Just like maybe it’s not worth a callback for every time you tell the game how you felt about the choice you just made.

Some readers jump straight from this fact to argue that those choices were meaningless in the first place and should have been left out. Others – like me – would say that as long as they contribute to a clearer mental image of the character, they can be worth it. Many choices are worth writing whether or not they come with a stat or a callback.

So no: there’s no consensus.


Hmmm… pretty hot talks happening at here.
Perhaps, I should get a popcorn and sit by.


Or not!

Hmm… :thinking:
I’m not sure on which camp should I side on, so I’ll be on my own at here :innocent:
I’ll write what is my view about this topic.

So, unlike @Havenstone’s (upcoming, Apple willing) game, on my currently planned WIP, I plan to have a lotsa of issues: sexism, racism, gender inequality, “Ha! You’re small you can’t lift that thing”-ism, and such.

And I’ll put character generation on a… pretty much on the beginning of the game (although I guess I can allow some leeways on this one).

That being said, the player won’t know the issues they’ll face in the game beforehand.
Yes, they’ll be creating their character, not knowing what are the consequences of what kind of char they’re creating.

You’re a small person? Too bad, the badguys will ridicule you. Female? Your dudes will underestimate you (at first). Non-binary? Quarter of the world will oppose you. Generic white-male? Well… you should be okay, I guess…

I don’t intend to make a perfect-peaceful-utopia fantasy where your character is the special snowflake. No. You want that title? Fight for it. You want to be acknowledged? Show it. You want to be the hero of the prophecy? Prove it.

So… yeah.
TL;DR, my char-gen section should be quite useful and its stats will be used often :upside_down_face:


Unless you’re a tall “generic white-male,” in which case you are this gameworld’s special snowflake? :slight_smile:

Even if you mix it up so that your gameworld is a bit less familiar than the four examples you gave (and I assume you plan to, since you say the players won’t know the consequences of their choices), it still looks like you’re going to offer the choice to be privileged or non-privileged to varying degrees across all these attributes. And unless the consequences are randomized, people will know by their second or third playthrough what to expect.

So – unless the examples you gave are withholding a major surprise – they’ll be able to choose whether people demand they fight for it, show it, prove it. The reader can pick the privileged side of the -isms you intend to bake into the game.

Nothing wrong with that – I’m doing it in my perfect-peaceful-dystopia fantasy too, where you can choose to play as a noble or a slave. It just sounds like it’ll be an incongruous fit with a “fight for it/show it/prove it” attitude.


I don’t have a very visual imagination, and if offered appearance choices I prefer broad strokes rather than smaller-scale specifics like hair/eye colour, as I find it easier to picture. I like how in Thieves’ Gambit you choose between descriptors like “A rumpled, impish man with a wicked grin.” or “A fresh-faced boy-next-door type; appearances can be deceiving.” I like being able to define the appearance tone, while being free to imagine specifics.

For things like attending parties, wearing a disguise, or other situations where clothing could affect social standing (or practicality), I enjoy being able to define what the main character is wearing - it’s a good opportunity to say something about the character and what they consider important.


Im actually enjoy being able to choose what my character looks like, even if it doesnt impact anything storywise. It just helps me picture my character better.


Welp… yeah, I guess being “generic white-male” will make you special snowflake :thinking:

And yuss… I like surprises! I mean, who doesn’t like to get a gift even when it’s not your birthday?
Now, it’s just the matter of whether can I make a good surprise or not :sweat_smile:

I think I made a mistake by mentioning those four examples :"
Oh well, what’s done is done.


Look forward to seeing the actual examples when we get there. :slight_smile:


I kinda like having a little customization, even if it’s not used. It lets me really get into my character and get into the right mind set for the game. Then again character customization has always been a selling point for me. I will always appreciate the customizations better when they get used (two that comes to mind are Samuri of Hyuga and Freak: Admits the Neon Lights.)

I actually kinda hate when games go for a long time before letting me pick my name or gender. I feel like I’m not part of the story yet, just watching the story take place. It makes sense if your character isn’t part of the story yet, like the first chapter is about your parents or just world building, but if my character is there I want them to at least have a name so they arent just a blank slate in my mind.

I don’t mind if other customizations wait a bit (hair, eye color, ect), espcially if there’s a story reason, like how you get your hair cut in SoH. However the sooner the better for names and gender, in my opinion.

(sorry about the edit, I posted too soon)


ponders It COULD play into the romance options, for example. Like, if you have a character that won’t be interested in you if you are taller than them.
Or if your description matches with a preset one of some NPC (instead of having the NPC look according to your description) a new path might open up as people mistake you for them.


Ooh! :astonished:
This is interesting, although the work required to plot it out can be… big.
But still, that’s interesting! :thinking:


Yeah, but depends I’d say. Study In Steampunk e.g. does something similar if you get down to it, with the various paths you can take. They overlap, but nevertheless you got something kind of similar. Just that in this case you can’t as such ‘choose’ which path to take.
Imagine, for example, a detective game. Depending on what you look like at some point the game might branch into people starting to suspect you or you run danger of becoming a victim yourself.


Personally I think being able to customize your character is important even if those customizations have little or no effect on the story. Just making those choices helps define my character. Honestly I prefer a good detailed character customization right near the beginning of the story because. It helps me to picture myself in the action.

A story can work without much customization, (I’m thinking of the great WIP Guenevere) but that works because the player’s character is still very specific, and well-defined. What really doesn’t work for me is when my character, me in the story, is the character I know the least about.


This might however lead to a problem for other players. If there’s only a certain pool to pick from (even with an input option) some might find it too restrictive compared to a basic description or non at all.
Not to mention some might be irked that a lot of wordcount is spent (as I think someone said before) on things that have little to no relevance to the story.
If a total wordcount is given with let’s say 200,000 and it turns out that in total 50,000 or more are spent on superfluous bits… it might be seen as a bit of false advertisement.


I can really only answer for myself. I don’t have a great grasp on what makes a CS game broadly appealing. I know for me I’d take 50,000 words in the life of a character I’m excited to be of 200,000 in a character I barely know.

Maybe if the author didn’t want to define the choices open to the character they could give us a moment outside the narrative. Where the author spoke directly to the reader and told us to imagine our character now, and lock it our minds. Of course that has to come with the promise that nothing coming the rest of the story is going to contradict the choices we make at that moment.

I think that’s what the character customization is for me. It’s permission from the author to imagine our character how we want within the limitations of the story.


And it can have, as said, the exact opposite effect to other players. Some might even feel belittled if there’s a permission/prompt from the author to imagine the MC. Be it directly stated or due to extensive input options (that might not make a difference)


Well, I honestly don’t give a f*ck whether is superfluos or not. It’s my line of story, so I like to create my character. I think choosing an option makes the image more clear in our heads, like writing an idea and reading it instead of just thinking about it.
Let’s think about books for example. Sometimes it takes forever to the author describe the main character so we just make something on our minds, for example a blond and blue-eyered boy, and then in the middle of the book we find out that the character has green eyes. It’s a minor detail, of course, but the author for some reason decided to put it. You went through half book imagining him with blue eyes and it all went just fine, but then the author wanted to put an colored-eye scene from nothing. It still not relevant to the story at all, but it’s a detail. Maybe some CoG authors aren’t sure if they’ll put scenes like that or not, and just to be safe than sorry, make the appearence options.
Besides that, as somebody said already, it’s also a representative matter, but if everybody is really like everybody… I however think that is “unrealistic” even on fantasy terms. I mean, sure, they can all have the same hair colour and skin but what about their heights and weights? Hair length?
I personally like to customize my character, always. It doesn’t really bother me if it won’t be relevant, although I do want some more references to our eyes or hair.
I think the best option would be just create an option “I want a full customization” and an “I’ll just input my name”, so each player can pick whatever they prefer. But of course, it’s your game after all, if it bothers you to create the appearence customization if you’re sure you’re not using them… it’s your choice. Maybe half will like it and the other half won’t.



I feel like the appearance of the character doesn’t define the character, unless the setting is very prejudice about appearance. I like having the options to be manipulative or kind, because personality defines a character more. If I defined Walter White from Breaking Bad (or any other character) as a white man, that wouldn’t tell you anything about the character.


If there’s customization in a text game, I want it mention and not introduced in a awkward manner. I hate it when the narrator or I mentions it because then it feels like I do think about my appearance doing something that the character probably does daily and should put no thought into. So I usually prefer that someone else mention it but then you need a character who would be like that or some kind of document and etc…

I want it mentioned, the friends/romances/random people/one night stands to have preferences and my appearance is commented on.

If not, then I don’t really see a point since I can just imagine it and it will have no effect on the story with nothing contradicting it.

But the way I mentioned would also mean a set of choices which obviously wouldn’t include every group which would prevent being inclusive, not that I mind really. No one’s all inclusive in the first place. But other’s feel strongly about it so :man_shrugging:

I don’t mind describing NPCs they’re not me, they’re static, their appearance is much more likely to have dialogue or thoughts built around it.

Regular games, I love customization though since I’m visually looking at them (All my guys better have a Metal Gear Solid level butt). And having the option to be silent is also a great benefit to me.


This entire string of replies makes me want to do two different things:

Set an obesity stat and make a RO who’s a closet feeder. If you’re skinny they’ll send you packing but if you’re in the middle they’ll keep pushing sweets on you until you’re obese.

Have an intro with incredibly detailed physical attributes, allow you to set them then kill that character off and introduce a generic detective trying to solve the murder as the actual protagonist.

Expect something more serious in about 8 hours.


Well, one of the things about inclusivity is that it’s not easy to see the point when you’re already included in almost everything by default. :roll_eyes:

Regarding character customisation itself, I don’t really mind one way or the other, although I do understand why people do want (and indeed enjoy) it. I would advise not to base too much on it though; if an RO won’t romance me because my MC has red hair, I’d feel pretty annoyed, even if there was another RO who exclusively romances red-heads. A slight preference, which is combined with other factors, including relationship value, is fine, though. (I understand this is how @Snoe is doing it in their game.)

Expanding this, I feel that character customisation should never have a large impact on the game. I don’t want different endings based on my eye colour or height, although occasional mentions would certainly be a nice way of acknowledging that I had made those choices (and, let’s face it, the latter would be much easier than the former). More importantly, I feel that the game should not discriminate against any MC; straight, white guys shouldn’t have a much easier time than everyone else (even when that’s unfortunately the case in the real world).

I think I already saw a WiP like that. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: