Thoughts on two playable protagonists?


#1

I have a general idea for a story which is centred in the middle of an ongoing war between humans and the uncreatively named non-humans. I have two playable characters that both have their own unique story and paths that the reader can follow, but their paths will intertwine throughout the story.

A general overview of these characters and the paths they could potentially go down would be as follows:

Character A is where you play as the bastard (illegitimate) child of the Queen who waged the war. Despite the unpleasant circumstances of your birth, you still have a valid claim to the throne where you can influence the land as a monarch. Or, alternatively, you could step down, allow someone else to take the burden of leading a war-torn Nation and salvage your own path, meeting individuals and making choices that can shape your world in the smallest of ways.

Character B is where you play as a non-human, a former soldier in the Queen’s army who was forced to flee after the war began. Now a resident of the sanctuary, a home and safe haven for all those persecuted by the Queen, you can choose to lead your kin into war and take back your freedom, or alternatively try and return to your home, hoping your loyalty in the army will give you a pardon. If you’re feeling particularly devious you can even work as a spy on the Queen’s behalf.

Both characters, aside from their obvious differences in species and environment, are entirely customisable.

My issues are

  1. How do I naturally allow the player to choose a path to go down without it boiling down to a very simple choice of or similar to ‘choose Character A’s or Character B’s path to follow’.

  2. Due to complicated nature of having two unique characters and their own unique paths, no matter how much their stories intertwine, would it simply be easier to create two games showing each side of the story?

  3. I do have the option of condensing the two characters’ stories into one, which allows more breathing room for me as the writer, but before I even consider that, I’d prefer to know what a potential reader would prefer; two separate games with the potential for more in-depth choices regarding your past and romances, or a long winded game with the potential for a completely unique playthrough the second (or even third and fourth) time around.

For all who take their time to read this and reply, thank you, any and all feedback is appreciated immensely!


#2

@Lauryn

The intro vignette could be centered around the Queen and her outlook of the war and politics.
Depending on if she wants the war or feels like this war is inevitable, the player could then follow the non-human path, assuming the Queen’s intolerance of other races, or the bastard path, because the war was started because non-humans know of the bastard child, and will never dignify an illegitimate child as heir.

There are some games where two players are required to advance the story. How about this… no matter what path you choose, A or B, you can only advance one to a certain checkpoint before having to advance the other. Advancement in one would require advancement in the other, but only your primary choice would be able to “finish” the story and solve the world’s problems, the other would just end up being a supporting character.

One way you can do this, if you choose to have both stories mesh into one, is to have the two different main characters actually be the same character, only they are completely unaware of their other identity because of reasons (insert plot here).

It would be neat for a non-human soldier to actually discover that they are in fact an illegitimate heir to the throne (maybe they only appear non-human because of an object, i.e. a necklace or a ring) and then has to decide if they want to destroy the kingdom or save it.

Similarly, one way for the bastard to become legitimate would be to fight in the war against the non-humans and lead successful campaigns. If you have the aforementioned object that lets you appear as a non-human, you can go on infiltration missions and become a spy inside the non-humans camp. The problem is whether you can stay true to your original goals, or if you end up becoming swayed by their cause and switching sides.

What do you think?
Please let me know if this helps.


#3

I considered using questions/choices regarding political viewpoint and stance as a means to determine which character the reader plays as, the general division being, if against the war, the reader follows the non-human route, if for the war, or at least understands why it should happen, the reader follows the human route. However, I was worried about restricting the reader in terms of personality choice, whereas on the other end of the spectrum, I understand there is such a thing as giving too much freedom in these games to the point where it seems more about character building than storytelling.

That suggests instead of making only one character playable throughout the duration of the game, you can play both, essentially having a main character and a side character? That wasn’t an option I’d considered beforehand, so thank you, I’ll definitely look into seeing how that would work!

This idea was one I’d considered briefly, but it was quickly quashed by my fear of falling into the typical tropes and cliches that are found when it comes to writing royalty, for example, royalty that is unaware of their heritage be it for reasons like amnesia, or given up to adoption when younger etcetera.

Yet, considering it a little more and with the ideas you’ve provided, it does seem like a plausible idea to pursue instead. One unique character that could become either of the original characters depending on the choices they make would certainly simplify things and completely destroy the issue with separating the two characters.

I can’t thank you enough, you’ve definitely helped me consider options previously thought unavailable to me and expand on the ones I had vaugely established, so, again, thank you!


#4

This sounds like a really interesting idea for a story. I think it could be done very well in a variety of ways, but to me, I think it would be more interesting if you played both characters in the same game.

Say, you begin playing as Character A, then after a brief introduction, you switch to Character B. You could use events in the game where the two characters are in the same place at the same time as opportunities to switch from one character to the other. That way you get to play both characters, and you get the play-length of both stories. :blush:


#5

( reader’s point of view)

  1. as being a reader I would find the plot very appealing if you would state their character histories In a " magical " way like for non human - I worked for years for them , I have given my best for them , I was loyal to her now this is what I get . I refuse to be abandoned , I refuse to become helpless - I refuse to GO. And at the end I would like a simple choice so that at the end the ultimate choice will be mine.
    2.It would be but less fascinating for a reader if it gets divided but if combined it would be tiresome for you ( I would love to see such app but everyone knows it would take at least 9 - 18 months for it to complete depending upon length of it.)
  2. I as a reader want a good story no matter 1 or 2 app if it is possible in two make it two if in one you got a cake on which everyone will jump as they will see it ( in one I have to pay once :slight_smile: ) but still I would not recommend it as a complete game from one point of view is better than a incomplete game from two point of views

#6

I have to say I would play the hell out of a CoG with two possible protags. I live for that kind of thing.


#7

I’d have to agree with @Avery_Moore on this one haha. I personally would enjoy it the most if we get to play as both characters in the same playthrough, with the choices we make as each character affecting the situations the other finds themself in. Wouldn’t mind not being able to switch freely between them though, a fixed change from one character’s perspective to the other’s every few chapters/chapter would work well enough.

Definitely sounds like it would be harder to write than usual though.


#8

I also think the idea of playing both characters at once would be interesting. There aren’t many games where you get to build up (or just play as) two different people with different lives and goals. It would be a good to vary the gameplay and spice up the content - a bit of a parallelled storytelling where the two characters or their stories eventually meet/combine in one final showdown. Man, just the thought of it makes me excited… The closest thing I can think of is from the WIP Children of the Gods, where the MC goes back to a past life of theirs, and you control their choices and stats. It was short and a little limited, but it’s still in progress, so… It was a neat concept, and it’s not done that often. :slight_smile:


#9

It would be an interesting difference to play two characters simultaneously, I’m just worried about giving the reader too much freedom by being able to control two of the most influential people in a war who are on warring sides, if that make sense?

Out of curiosity, if it were to be done where you could control both characters, how much freedom would you prefer to have with say, the design of the characters. Would you like to name them, choose different personalities and love interests etc, or would you prefer things to be a bit more solid and set in stone?

(Apologies for the late-ish reply by the way, I got a little caught up on a side project!)


#10

I’m afraid I don’t quite understand what you mean by explaining their histories in a ‘magical way’. Are you saying that it should be written in first person, as, say for example in diary format? If not, please correct me as I’m a little confused as to what you’re getting at.

Regarding your second and third point, depending on how complicated the coding becomes it may have to be split into two, but as of now, there is a good chance it will stay as a singular story.


#11

Personally I don’t mind having a few things decided beforehand as long as it makes sense and provides the characters with a sense of personality and, well, character. There are certain things I wish to customize such as names and general personality (and gender, unless a gender-locked MC makes sense with the setting). It offers a sense of replayability to allow the reader to choose different aspects of the protagonist, even if it doesn’t go to the extent of re-shaping the entire character. Too little customization might make it feel like I am reading a book, and I don’t play Choice of Games just for the enjoyment of reading. When it comes to looks, I like having options, or at least have a given appearance that is still vague enough for me to imagine them for myself. An example would be the Way Walker University series, which decides your appearance based on what homeland you choose. It gives you a description of complexion, hair color and such, but it doesn’t specify things like length of hair, height or characteristics like freckles or scars. It kept it short and simple and give me just enough to imagine my character properly. A series that doesn’t delve into appearance at all (I think) is the Lost Heir series, where it’s more focused on personality, skills and relationships. There are many ways to design a character; it’s simply a matter on where to put the focus. :slight_smile:


#12

I don’t plan on having gender locked characters (or romance options), as personally, it feels like cheating the reader out of a romance and makes the game seem less realistic, but of course, that’s just me.

I’m all for allowing the player to customise a character, the focus probably being on personality and/or political views, along with some customisable features regarding the non-human aspect of character B. However, my main issue if I go through with allowing the reader to control and customise both characters, is allowing them to make pivotal choices for both and follow the story without being easily able to fine-tune the choices to get a favourable outcome, as the two characters are essentially against each other. It’s almost like playing both sides on chess, as you control both sides, you could easily pick and choose which outcome to get.


#13

You could allow the player to choose through a series of decisions (such as where their political views regarding your created setting align) that will determine who they play as.

The biggest problem you’ll have with this is length. It’s already a time consuming process to create a game with branching paths. When you make a game where the paths branch so drastically and so soon, you’ll end up writing a lot more because you’ll want to also have a decent amount of interesting choices for the player later in the story. Not to say it wouldn’t be good or enjoyable–it’s just a huge task that you should be sure you’re up to. If this is your first try at making a game like this, I’d recommend against it for the time being in favor of starting off with a smaller project.


#14

That was the way I was considering doing it initially, but I’m still unsure on how flexible the characters’ political views should be. One idea was to have them be set at the start to accommodate selecting which path you’ll take at the start, with the option to slowly change depending on the reader’s choices throughout the story.

At the moment I’m currently working on two projects, one being this game, and the other being a much smaller one while I get used to the coding mechanics of choicescript. I’m aware that it’ll take a long time to complete this game, much longer than that of the average game here, but it’s a project I’m willing to take on.


#15

I think it’s possible to include a wide range of political views. As long as something is the deciding factor, you can provide a sliding scale on both sides. You’ll just have to make sure not assume things about the player and what they’re thinking.

What were you thinking regarding character interaction? Would you be writing two separate stories with different characters?


#16

Oh yeah, of course. It’s dislikeable when the game tells the reader how or what they’re supposed to think as opposed to letting them choose. The political view will be somewhat set for the beginning, but in the end, the political view will be entirely shaped by the reader’s choices and actions.

The stories will be relatively different depending on which character you chose, but there will be points where the two character’s stories will intertwine, where they will meet and talk and whatnot, which is why it would be difficult to make both characters playable in the same playthrough.


#17

Well, it’s easier said than done, especially when considering our own views and biases. And will the player get to choose how to interact with the other character, or are they set scenes? It would be really interesting to show random, out of context moments of the other path (doing so without giving anything away, of course).


#18

Agreed, hopefully once I post a demo/beta version, I should be able to get people’s input on what choices and views to add if they feel I’ve left anything out or would’ve preferred a different choice.

The player would be able to choose how they interact with the other character, which will in turn affect their relationship and in certain larger choices, may even affect the end outcome of the game. There will be a few similar scenes if you went through both routes, just to see what it’s like for both sides.

Say, for example, there was an attempt at a peace treaty, that scene would be available for both characters so you can see what both characters point of view on that were, and the influences surrounding their decision.


#19

I think whichever method you decide to go for, it could be an interesting thing to explore. I am kinda fascinated, and I look forward to see what will come out of this. :slight_smile:


#20

magical way means that those words should impact on me so the choice would become really hard and that is what I call magical ( it takes you to there as if all this is happening in front of you )

yeah first person
I am looking forward for this book
PS: Make it one if you can.