What do you want in a protagonist?

There’s a thread in the “adult-content” group about what kind of romantic options we’d like to see in a CS game. It’s a fun topic, and not too “adult.” I recommend checking it out.

It got me thinking though. I’m much more interested in who I get to be in a game than who I get to romance. So I thought I’d ask here what kind of protagonists we’d like to see in CS games.

What kinds of choices about your character are important to you? What kind of options would you like to see within those choices? What is something that really helps you feel connected to your character?

One quick note:
I know that that gender is a huge one. It is for me too. I know I have a lot to say on the subject, and I think other people will too, but before we get to deep into it, it’s worth mentioning that there already is a thread specifically about the gender options we want from our protagonists.

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I would want them not to bore me. Easier said than done sometimes, especially since making them too pre-defined ticks people off and runs the risk of having the protagonist do or say a bunch of things the player themselves don’t like, but too much of a blank slate and they feel so empty that there simply is no there there.

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I want a strong, stubborn and resillient (did I spell that right) protagonist. Their actions speak louder than their words and that they are always merciful to others, even at the expense of their own lives…

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PLAYER AGENCY that’s what matters most to me. If a character is totally preset and totally defined is a book I could love as a book but no as Interactive fiction.

The fact i am certainly writing a fan fiction that is exactly all i am criticising is not lost on me lol. But I believe to learning make a engaging and deep characters with different goals and mind One has learn to make One working and how planning everything.

Still even if past is set in the character future and how see it should be Ours player tp decide. A clear Example is Fallen Hero our past is set but how we seen it and how deal with everything is ours to decide.

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Not a total blank-slate, won’t be fully overshadowing by other characters. With a backstory, and I don’t mind some highlights, but what important is,

And I personal love some angst, depress, struggling, dark or shadow backgrounds…

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Give them a predefined personality, voice and story! Too blank and I never make it past the demo because I’m not sure why I should care.

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Since this thread doesn’t seem about the MCs appearance customization I’ll avoid talking about that.
No total blank slate for me either but leave me place to create the MC I would like to play.
I mean a preset backstory explaining where the MC came from is preferred, but I like more freedom with my MCs personality and I’d expect this to appear in game and not to be left to my imagination as the case is with blank slate MCs used in older CYOA books/games based on those.
Also as it was already discussed in another thread I’d want my MC to be on te same level as the NPCs regarding how interestingly they are written. No Awerage Joe who is just out of place among all the other more impressive NPCs, but also not a too overpowered one compared to everyone else just bc they are the MC.

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I agree however there are cases where a totally blank state could be really interesting always plot is consistent. I always had that idea Imagine a game where you wake up in a hospital not knowing who you are and nobody knows you either and the story trying to life and recovery trying to discover who you are or just living your new life. In a mystery or horror blank state could be spot on to increasing mystery and terror.

However most of genres a totally blank state is not the best.

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Strong and kind of evil

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I always want the ability to shape and influence the morality of my MC, I hate playing games where the morality is set to one model of morality or heavily favors one character type. If I don’t want to be the typical morally self-righteous chosen one Protagonist type, I shouldn’t be forced or pressured by the other characters to be someone or something I’m not. Now if the game is about a protagonist who has a personality that’s similar to Superman or Captain America than that makes sense or a villain who is known for their pragmaticism and ruthlessness than that makes sense. But if it’s a game where we are supposed to be allowed to shape our character and decide how they act in whatever situation they’re in, than I’m very angry when the game doesn’t allow me to choose my morality.

I’m confused, do you want the ability to shape your protagonist into that ? Or do you want your protagonist’s personality shaped like that from the start ?

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This plot reminds me of something I saw in an anime. Some high school kids were doing a play were the main character wakes up in a hospital without any memories of who she is, people who knew her visited her but since they all had different impressions about her it just left her even more confused about how she was supposed to act. In the end she decided to not care about who she was in the past rather just go with what she feels right in the present.

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For gender, class and race to mean more in the game so as to encourage replay-ability, outside usage of sexism or racism of course.

I think a mix of games where the player is either quite open ended like in the Life Of A games by Lucid and more predefined characters that are all interesting is fine. Depends on what sort of game it is.

And also less cliche ways of picking your gender and sexuality, ideally. We seem to be getting a lot of games lately where the player suddenly gets asked such things very suddenly and awkwardly by an NPC.

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Could you elaborate on what you consider the importance of gender, class and race in a game ? Do you mean the importance of diversity being represented in games ?

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Basically having distinctive scenes and situations when you play as a male or female character? For example in Choice of the Vampire. I realise the risk of it limiting content for certain players is possible, or run the risk of scenes involving sexism, but there’s also the case for different situations and scenes in game and so encourage more players to replay with characters outside their own genders or otherwise.

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I would say…

Dialogues , story (Or goal), and npc as well as the setting…all shape who is the mc .

The dialogues give you a voice after all . While I have yet to see peoples talk about those, imagine if your mc spoke in the same tone . they are always HYPED! (like meh lol sorry, I drink too much coffee :sweat_smile:)

Dialogues shape you, give you different reactions as well . You can be an asshole, you can be caring, you can be indifferent .

The setting are important as well . In the sense, of the atmosphere, how it is painted . Biggest issue with stories, is that you can’t See for one the said setting, but you don’t have the freedom to go anywhere . You follow the story . Hence why it is important . Why we like some stories better then others…

And setting do more then just paint a Kitchen where you were told to do the dishes . The setting can send you to the past, the futur , a parallel world…and you gotta dress up the part for it .

The NPC are important to help shape you up as well . They are like a mirror you are standing before . Where your word bounce back, and you get you reaction . Does that look good ? If someone storm off at what you said, your dialogue had impact . If someone laugh, you know what personality you just picked . If someone punch you, you know what will happen next .

I always though that the replayability, should never be tacked on Gender or Orientation. I think the replayability, should be tacked on something else . Like different outcome, differents choices, different ending . Add to that, a game can have all those ingredients and still suck in the end and nobody would play it more then 1 time .

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I’m gonna chime in and say that one of my favorite things to choose is getting to choose my character’s origin. Especially when it has some effect on my character’s later journey. Whether it’s a whole playable chapter like in DragonAge: Origins or “The Lawless Ones,” or something simpler where you just make a couple choices about who your character was before the story really begins, it always grabs me and pulls me right into the character.

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BG2 for exemple locked the class and the guild you could join . So that added replayability . You could make a new character and join the Thief Guild, then you could make a cleric and join the Temple .

Mass effect 3, in Omega DLC added something for the Engineer . Granted, it was one lousy scene . But would’ve been nice if it was like that for every class from the beginning . I remember alot of peoples asking if anyone notice you are an Adept in MEA…and no…nobody care lol .

Of course these are exemple of 3D games, how do you translate that in a story . Well you can do it at least with class . And your chosen weapon .

You can also do it with your stat, sneak and Hide or Barge in and bust a door .

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If it’s well written then sure choosing origin/backstory is nice. Lawless Ones is a good example or how MCs background in ZE:SH impacts things, like how other characters react to you (doubting your leadership abilities if MC is too young or becoming startstruck if MC is famous). But I also liked the Fallen Hero approach where the backstory was quite specific but we could shape MCs personality. I think being able to shape the personality is the most important, I don’t like if MC is just locked as the heroic type and the game judges me if I pick one of the not so typically “good guy” choices. Sure it’s fine to play like that sometimes, but most of the time I want to play a realistic human who makes good and bad decisions too and isn’t a moralistic role model.

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I like the idea of having control over my character’s backstory and abilities, but one of the most important factors for me in my character is the option to choose what kind of person that they want to be.

What I mean by this is I want to be given choices all throughout the stories that depending on which of the various options you choose, helps to make your character more or less ‘good’ or more or less ‘evil’.

I’ve always liked the idea of our characters being able to make themselves the villain if they want to, or at the very least having the ability to manipulate events to serve their own (selfish) ends as opposed to only caring about helping others. I like having the option to be the good guy, but I also want the freedom to choose how much of a good or bad guy you want to be. Being the protagonist doesn’t mean that you have to always be the good guy; there have been many villainous protagonists across all forms of fiction. Although I don’t want to be stuck with just being evil, I want the main character to be able to gradually and consciously choose the path of good or evil - or perhaps even a mixture of both! - and be able to influence certain characters who share similar ideals/desires to work with and support the MC as they embark on whichever path they choose. Maybe having to choose between the friendships of certain characters (e.g. whether to side with the ‘good’ or ‘evil’ character) can be interesting plot points to pursue.

I say this partially because I sometimes like making my characters into power-hungry schemers who want to take over the world, but I digress. :joy: What do you guys think?

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Same here only the other way around. Also let me be a lesbian without gushing over good looking males (looking at you The Martian Job).

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