What options matter to you beyond name, gender, and sexuality?

It’s fairly standard to choose your main character’s name, gender, and sexuality in CoG games. But in this thread, @FairyGodfeather noted that they also like having control over whether or not the main character is willing to drink alcohol or eat meat. That seemed really reasonable to me, and I can understand how a player would feel very strongly about controlling those aspects of a character.

But giving the player explicit control over those aspects isn’t standard in CoGs. So I started wondering what other options are possibly being overlooked by authors.

What about you? When you’re playing a CoG game, what aspects of your character (or your character’s background) do you really want to control?

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Appearance is really important to me and controlling the personality of my character so he doesn’t do things I don’t want him to do.
Feelings towards other characters(I want to decide how I feel about other characters it shouldn’t be predetermined)

I think that covers it for me

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Truthfully, I don’t even care about those three choices so long as it’s well done (although I do care about the third more than the other two)

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I like being able to choose my name. Gender and sexual orientation matter less to me in most games, as long as they are portrayed believably.

I like choices that ask for feedback on what the MC thinks, or how the MC feels, about a situation. Even if it is a fake choice, it still helps me to engage more actively with the story.


I’m with @Doctor in respect that those options don’t much matter to me. I approach CoGs as more book than game so I can slip into a main character that isn’t customized at all just like I can read a novel where the MC isn’t anything like me. As long as the subject matter is interesting, well-written, and not terribly preachy, I’m good to go. I like sharing an author’s vision and being able to make meaningful choices that push the story along but I don’t have to see myself as the one making those choices. If the options you mention are available then fine, if not then no foul.

P.S. Romance makes my eyes roll so far back in my head, I can see my own neurons firing so any options with regard to how that affects a character is meaningless to me. But I seem to be in a vocal minority in that respect.

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Oh, please let me have the option to be smart and reasonable. I hate being forced to be upset over things that could be gracefully handled with proper communication. Conflict should be more substantial than plot-demanded misunderstandings!

Tldr what @BabbleYaggle said.


@FairyGodfeather Ah, cool- I hope you’ll like my game, then, because I’ve added choices regarding both not being a drinker if you so choose, and being a vegan if you so choose. :slight_smile: (Already added 'em before this thread got posted up, but I’m glad to know it’s something people will notice and appreciate)

And, @cvaneseltine Personally… I like having control over my character’s personality. I know that it just isn’t possible to code every sort of choice possible… but even so far as, in an example, the Telltale Games, selecting a few possible options that tend to stick to understandable traits a person might have… I like that. Going hand in foot with that would be choosing what your character does, or doesn’t, do. Actions. I guess I don’t mind if this is dumbed down to ‘good’ and ‘evil’ choices, but I tend to like it even more if there are those, but also the ambiguous grey-zone of not really knowing whether you’re doing the right thing or the wrong thing.


Personally, I prefer selecting stuff that’s fitting to the game plot, setting, etc.

Like if I’m playing a soldier, it would make sense that there are shooting, hand-to-hand combat, age, unit, and other soldier-related stuff.

Or if I’m a movie star, I should have personally, charm, notoriety, age and other movie star-related stuff.

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I would like options for my background or origin story. People are so hugely affected by the past and the circumstances of their childhood, and in most games you’re stuck with one origin. So I get to choose my gender, sexuality, and name, but I automatically have two loving parents that I have happy, filial feelings about? Totally throws me out of the game; that’s not my experience, and it ceases to be a character I can fully relate to.

In general, I don’t want anything about my character to be assumed or taken for granted. Is it assumed that I must be jealous if my lovers like someone else, that I must be horrified by violence, that babies and love stories make me emotional? Does my character really love dogs? If there is no reason why the character needs to have these traits, why force a player to be them? If the answer is “because the author assumed everyone feels this way”, you just lost some of my interest.

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Usually all I need is gende,personality and name, but back stories are always a bonus, especially if they effect later gameplay (I.e, a character who grew up in a hunting community uses thier skills to track someone later in the story)

@shawn_patrick_reed I hope you do it organically, when the subject comes up during the game, as opposed to a preloaded answer 20 questions about your character before you get started.

@Sashira What about in games like Heroes Rise when your character’s background is absolutely essential to the plot, and it’s clearer that you’re not playing ‘you’ but a more predefined character?

For myself, in such cases, while I may not have control over the exact facts, I prefer being able to choose how I feel about them. So, in Heroes Rise case I’d have liked to resent my parents for never being around, always dumping me on my gran while they went off and did super-hero business, risking their lives, not spending enough time with me. I’d have liked to have been able to resent all of that, as opposed to holding this idealised view of my parents and their relationship to each other. I’d have liked to have remembered arguments between them and hated them for constantly breaking their promises to me because they’d to keep rushing off to do hero stuff. But things that are more a matter of perspective, than they are of changing the specific details, if that makes sense.

Because I think the Hero’s story very much needs that their parents are premier heroes, and that they’re then forced to be raised by their gran, and that they had a lot and it was all taken away.

I’ll admit that was another aspect of Psy-High (I really did enjoy the game) that I just couldn’t relate to. The game kept telling me I was poor, but I really didn’t feel as if the character was poor, and I had just such a total disconnect in relation to that. But again I could understand why there was a predefined family with your predefined past, since you were playing a teen still living at home.

Yep. And assumptions that if I want a relationship with more than one person, I’m going to do that by lying to all of them, going behind everybody’s back until I’m forced to make a choice between them. As opposed to actually being upfront from the start about not being monogamous. And likewise the game assuming that an exclusive marriage to one person and OMG babies is the end goal of any relationship.


A big one for me is substantial dialogue options, especially those that can actually effect conversations. I also want to be able to decide what my character thinks of something, even if it has no effect, as @BabbleYaggle said. Especially with characters… forcing me to like or hate a person from the beginning is so off-putting.

Well, it’s just my personal preference, but I enjoy it when I can see myself in the character I’m playing. I usually can’t get into games where I have to be someone else’s idea of a hero (which I think “Heroes Rise” did very well.) I liked the whole Heroes Rise series, but one thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the predefined family unit. Your parents are important to the plot, so it makes sense to include those characters for everyone, but your relationship with them? If you tell me that I love and miss them and they were the bestest parents ever, that throws me out of the story while I recall why that is unrealistic for me.

So yeah, what you said about facts being separate from feelings. I hate it when I’m thrown into a set relationship with a character, whoever they are - childhood buddy, parents, first girlfriend, etc.

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Same here. For me to overlook the lack of choice with regards to things so major to the plot it takes spectacular writing.

Heroes Rise and Sabres of Infinity and two of my favorite games here, but the fewer choices during primary character ‘creation’ are notable.

Personally, I love the option to further change minor things like weight or eating habits, but they aren’t that major to me, and certainly don’t negatively impact my willingness to purchase a game.

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@FairyGodfeather As organically as possible. You’re on the judges panel for CScomp, right?

It can be rather hard to set the very beginning in a choice script game. Before you’ve given the chance for the MC to establish their character and personality, you kinda need to do a little bit of deciding for them- although hopefully still leave it open enough that later on, it won’t actually seem weird if the player establishes a personality that isn’t entirely in line with how you have to put things at the beginning.

As an example- in my game, right off the bat, you’re introduced to an extremely attractive female character. So- later on, you have the option of organically making yourself not interested in women (whatever gender you are)- but there’s still going to be a beginning where the game is describing to you this NPC as extremely attractive. At the beginning, as an author, there’s no way to tell if your MC controlled by someone else is going to be attracted to that character or not- but it has to be considered a possibility, - and a possibility that you won’t. It’s really tricky to balance that. Still, I believe in the organic approach of character creation, too- but hopefully this also helps explain a counter-argument for why character-creation bombardment at the very beginning might have upsides, when thought about from the author perspective.

@Shawn_Patrick_Reed No, I’m just a cheerleader over there.

Wrong thread for this, so I won’t discuss it in depth, but that’s actually one of the things I dislike. When every single female character is described in terms of physical attractiveness, and subscribe to a very narrow set of physical parameters. Whereas the male characters run a diverse array of appearances, young and old, fat and thin, ugly and handsome.

And when the text will wax lyrical about how beautiful a female character is. It feels very straight male-gazey to me. So I suppose that’s something else I want to have an option on, whether I spend a whole paragraph reading about ogling some attractive woman, or not.


@FairyGodfeather Happens on the female side, too, a little bit differently. I guess… how to put it… I can understand how some people don’t ‘see’ physical attractiveness for people, and rather ‘see’ people in terms of the beauty of their personality, but I’m a fence-sitter. I definately feel more attraction, personally, to a woman with a personality that I like, but yeah, I am personally always aware of physical appearance for my own sense of immediate attraction. Taking things from perspectives that are not my own is something I want to do, but could be approximate to a student writing an essay on sailing in the 18th century, without ever having stepped foot on a ship. There’s an -attempt- at what it would be like, but actually experiencing it would give a more empathic feel - not that anyone alive has sailed in the 18th century… Alternative sexualities would be akin to this for me. I can pretend to understand them, in writing, and possibly even do a -really- good job at times, but in reality, I’m writing about something I only understand from an outside point of view.

I do think you can acknowledge a person’s attractiveness regardless of being sexually attracted to them. Speaking as a demisexual person, appearance is more aesthetic for me than sexual. Like, ‘oh what a beautiful person!’ That doesn’t necessary mean I want to jump their bones asap, though.

Like @FairyGodfeather says, it can feel very straight male gazey though if we spend 500 words talking about what a bombshell a female character is (They’re always bombshells! Always!). Personally if I meet a fellow lady, my first thought isn’t ‘what an incredible bosom!’ So that could, admittedly, feel weird if that’s my MC’s inner monologue. :sweat_smile:

Derailing though. I think it’s cool when female characters can form strong female friendships. They are the best.

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@SwanMaiden No disagreements at all. Demisexual is a playable option in my game, too. (organically) I hope that I get it right. :slight_smile:

I figure women occasionally get jealous of another woman who they feel are more attractive. Well, maybe not every one, but that it does happen ‘somewhat commonly’. I know straight guys often notice how attractive a woman is right off the bat, even if that is also ‘somewhat commonly’ and not all the time, and hopefully, even a gay guy could appreciate a really attractive woman being attractive, just not in the ‘jump their bones’ sense.


I think the key to handling a situation like this is to describe the character’s appearance without describing how the main character reacts. Two quick examples:

“She was six two, with ebony hair, equally dark eyes, and the kind of figure that makes modeling agents reach for their cell phones.”

“At first, his long blond bangs obscure his face, but when he registers your presence, he looks up and smiles. His eyes are the purest green you’ve ever seen, and his even white teeth look like something out of a toothpaste commercial.”

In both examples, there are indications that both characters are conventionally attractive, but there’s no indication of whether or not the main character is actually attracted.