Using input text for character customization

I see that people tend to have a list of options and an option for the player to type in whatever they want for what color their hair or their eyes are. I want to get people’s opinion of how I used it and if they prefer the regular way or this way.

Instead of having different options for each item I decided to just put in an input text box and tell players to give a description of their character’s appearance. By doing it this way there is less coding to do and I hope that player’s will be able to paint a better picture of their character in their head.

For example when I get to the part of the game where I customize my character I just type in that he has neat black hair, brown eyes and wears a leather jacket and jeans. Instead of a list of options for each item: hair style: long, short, medium, hair color: black, brown, etc. The player can be as detailed as they want to be about their character’s appearance.


I don’t know if it’s just me, but having an unskippable text box in a CS game tends to put me off. This is my personal opinion of course, but I’m always frozen when it comes to a text box for names and such, so I feel like it would be even harder for me to type a description of the character.

Also, doesn’t that text box mean that the character’s appearance will not make an impact throughout the story? :confused: I usually prefer that the character appearance is mentioned at least once afterwards so that it feels like the choice matters. I’m not sure if it’s possible to code a robust enough text parser in this situation.

I don’t mean to discourage you but personally, I’d prefer the list of options. :sweat_smile:


The main danger this bears are three things I’d say:

  1. People not knowing what to put in
  2. their input causing grammar hiccups
  3. I have long ebony black hair (that’s how I got my name) with purple streaks and red tips that reaches my mid-back and icy blue eyes like limpid tears and a lot of people tell me I look like Amy Lee (AN: if u don’t know who she is get da hell out of here!).

I’m with @EclecticEccentric.
Input of cosmetic details makes me think that they won’t matter at all, that the game really don’t care about the character. And, it would drag me out of the story, beause I suddenly have to figure out what to write, how it’s supposed to be written gramar-wise, etc.

Okay, now I want to read a game, where all the npc’s are ridiculous fanfiction type characters…


Thanks for the input. I was thinking of letting character appearance customization be optional since some people might not feel like customizing their character at all. And if they do choose to customize I’ll try to see if I can fit it into the game at least once.

As for the text box, I’ll probably just use it for the color of the hair and eyes so there is less typing things out code wise and people won’t get stuck.

wait what i only see two problems here what

jk, i just kind of unironically love My Immortal

To answer your question @Djin I don’t hate it when an author gives your a text box to write whatever you want, but the way they’ve been used have been…not the best.
You could of course add it if you like without issue, but many people will have similar ideas.

Although the main reason why I wouldn’t suggest it is because of grammar issues. That’s kind of it. Otherwise it’s just personal preference.


I’d still suggest to give a couple or 3 pre-written options in addition to the text box.


I´m pretty sure, that no programming language could filter the information given in the textbox. So the description itself would be quite meaningless. There are possibilities to seperate information given all at once, but they need to be structurized, what would make matters much more difficult and errors are granted.

I personally would fill such a textbox with nothing or the word something, becaus I know how my Char looks like, no one else will read the text, and as a box will never be mentioned again, so why should I care^^ Just my opinion, others might feel different.

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Definitely. I personally hate having unskippable text boxes for customisation variables, especially for things that don’t contribute to the story beyond a few words in the stats page. If I’m trying to read something in a crowded train, I tend to enter even character names as aaaa bbbb. Not something you really want for immersion tbh.

Also, you’ve got to watch text boxes for some types of words if they begin with vowels if you plan on using them in the text as it can change the structure to sound right (ie a vs an). For example if you say “What colour is your shirt?” and someone writes “orange” for the rest of the book it’ll get referred to as “a orange shirt” (which is probably me being pedantic but personally annoys me to the point that I have *if statements for things like that if I allow preset choices that begin with vowels, but if it’s a freechoice text box it’s hard to do anything about.)

If you want to use one, probably ideal is to give a few options with the option to write something else.
What colour is your shirt?
Something else-> redirects to the text box.


Just thought of something else, if you use it that way, it’ll make the option almost meaningless as there’s no way you can use those traits anywhere else in the game so you’ve got to wonder if it’s worth including at all. (ie no way to know what colour people said their hair, clothes, eyes etc are.) Might be better to set a few stats provided you’ll use them and then have an “anything else you want to add” option, otherwise just have a “do you want to write a description for your character (won’t affect the game) yes/no choice” and let anyone who wants to write something go for it but don’t make it a mandatory choice.


I’d suggest doing something more like this

Code stuff

#Brown hair
*set hair “brown”
#Black hair
*set hair “black”
#Blond hair
*set hair “blond”
#Red hair
*set hair “red”
#My hair is dyed, much to the disapproval of my teachers
*set dyed 1
*set rebel %+6
While dyed hair isn’t banned, you doubt it’ll win you any points with the teachers
#Blue hair
*set hair “blue”
#Green hair
*set hair “green”
#Pink hair
*set hair “pink”
#Rainbow hair
*set hair “rainbow”
#Enter my own
*input_text hair

So when I use ${hair} it’ll use the colour specified, this allows me to use their chosen colour in text, for example if I set hair to blue, the line

“I really like your ${hair} hair”

would appear as

“I really like your blue hair”


I think this might complicated things more in the long run if you intend to use them in some type of description. Recalling the variable ${haircolor} is much easier than figuring out how to do that when they input it all in a text box, at least in my opinion.

Tbh a lot of the time I’m lazy and don’t want to have to think for myself and write stuff into a box. I’d much rather have someone do it for me so I can pick and choose like the filthy freeloader I am.

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Thanks again for the input I’ve decided to just drop it and stick with the normal way.

It’s not a necessarily bad thing. Just a reminder to be a conscious designer; how would you put things that way, and why.

Like a proverb from an old man I know, “load your gun with bullets before going to the battlefield.”

Text box inputs are only good for purely cosmetic choices where you’ll display it but not check it. I wouldn’t generally recommend using it too much even for those; it’s basically blind mad libs and even when the player is trying to put in a suitable value there’s no guarantee how they’ll format it. When I run into input fields that aren’t just names I often enter some kind of compound descriptor that ruins the flow of the sentences it’s used in. If you’re doing it, have it be done like names where there’s a list ending with an option to write your own, so you have an idea what’s expected and setting appropriate.

Then I type a Japanese family name into your fantasy Europe first name field, but that is entirely my fault and I know what I’m in for. It actually violates the romanization standards used by the Japanese government, in fact, so really it technically shouldn’t be supported even if Japanese names are expected.

So my second paragraph raises the question of “what should I do to allow for names of any culture?” Unfortunately there’s not a great answer; there’s no universal way to handle names. They can have one part or at least five, and five isn’t some firm upper limit. A single text box allowing any character and input of any length is a universal solution for full names, but it’s unwieldy and not viable if the character has family members. I’d generally suggest having a family name field (last name in Europe for most cases; Japanese puts it first in kanji/kana for Japanese names, last for European and in official documents using romanji) because usually family members share part of a name (no guarantee; patronymics for instance) that you’re going to want to position consistently with the part that’s fixed, and then have another field for the entire rest of the name. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s as good as you can get without introducing a lot of complex conditionals. This assumes your setting uses firstname lastname as the standard; if you have a different standard you’ll need different base logic.