What's the point in allowing a reader to insert their own names, when last names are fixed?

Hi all. I don’t intend to stir up something, but I’m genuinely curious. The title pretty much says it all. Why do some authors allow readers to insert their own first name, only for the last name to be fixed? Wouldn’t it just be better to leave both names fixed in that case? Also, I apologise in advance should this be in the wrong thread.

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I think it all depends on the story. Personally I let my readers choose both their first and last name since it doesn’t really effect much besides how the other characters refer to the player. But for some games and story’s, a set last name tends to potentially lead to more lore while still letting readers personalize their MC.

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Well some authors have the mc heritage fixed so it will be strange to let’s say your family its from America but you have a italian surname.

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Just pointing out that since America is melting pot, that wouldn’t be all that strange, but I agree with your general point. Sometimes a set last name just fits within the context of the story

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It could be for the Mass Effect reason; lots of people can refer to your character by the fixed last name and that saves time. Although admittedly coding for custom names is not really time-consuming. That made much more sense for a game with voiceover.

Yeah, I don’t know a good reason offhand. Just authorial preference, where the basic rule is you can justify your decisions, and probably you should, but you are under no actual obligation to do so. Sometimes something is because it is.

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I think most authors do it to reduce the coding workload. A fixed last Name can just be written in the Text. Using a fixed first Name, provides nothing, unless the game is genderlocked. Otherwise you would need at least three names f/m/NB so ging the reader the opportunity to choose a name in their own does not make the author use another variable, because they need one even with fixed firstname without a fixed gender. So you get customization without more Work, I think thats a win-win.

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That often is because the name belong in the story, more than the player. Ex: You have parents, sibling. Or you belong to a House (Think medieval setting), ‘Oh, so you are the heir of King Arundel of House Summer?’.

No. It’s a game not a story. You give the player more agency over their characters.

The game may tell you that you belong to house Arundel. But it’s nice that my character name isn’t Charle but Sera Arundel. We get to choose, with sometimes the author giving you optional names to pick from that we may or may not pick.

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Yeah, exactly. Some games don’t give you a completely blank slate, which I tend to prefer, really, because if ti’s too blank of a slate, I end up feeling like there’s not enough depth to my MC or those around her/him.

Also, for a fantasy/sci-fi setting, you may have certain races or creatures that have naming conventions that just won’t work with “Jones” as a last name. So a set surname (if there is one) helps with setting the mood of the game, so the player knows what they’re getting into, instead of being able to pretend they’re Bob Jones the Vampire-Elf crossbreed from the realm of Proton.

Well, unless it’s a comedy, because that’d be kinda funny…

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:rofl: now, write it! I gotta know!

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Imagine a game about Being a member of the Royal Family and trying to become next royal in charge.

Having one last name fixed allow to include big lore about family and having specific scenes and scenarios tailored to those lore.

I had a game when I had that with specific scenes for each last name and changes based on the last name player choose from my list.

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I don’t mind games where my character’s last name is fixed, but it would hugely turn me off playing the game if I couldn’t pick first name–it wouldn’t feel like my character.

There’s always going to be some things set in stone about an MC, and ymmv on how much should be pre-determined vs customisable, but I don’t see the logic in “Well if one thing isn’t customisable, then other things shouldn’t be either.”

Edited to add: I usually play COG games with OCs I already had, with a bit of backstory tweaking to fit into the world. Obviously, this sometimes means making them part of a new family with a new surname, but there’s no reason they should have to change their first name.

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So can ${last_name}. :slight_smile: I agree that there are valid reasons an author might fix the last name, but in Choicescript, saving on typing time isn’t one of them.

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For me personally it is easier and more in the flow to write a word. I would have to remember each time how the variable was and how it is written properly. But that might be a personal thing or change with experiences.

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Your family name and heritage may be important in some games, even if your gender and first name aren’t. So those games may let you choose your first name and all your individual characteristics while keeping your last name set.

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Thanks for your input everyone. While I do understand The view of the majority in this topic, I will have to respect fully agree to disagree, but to each their own I guess. I will now unfollow this post, since I only wanted people’s opinion and not debate or sway people.

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Sometimes the last name is important to the story. And the first name is much more personal than the last name.

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Exactly, if you were reborn in another world, you wouldn’t be able to choose your last name (actually not even your first name, your parents would choose)

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Last names dont really matter to me, imo. First names matter because they allow me to feel like the character I’m playing is actually important to me. Not sure why, its just that first names matter more to me than last.

Personally, I’m a self-insert fiend. My name is Luke Quinn but I don’t say “Hi, my name is Luke Quinn”, I say “Hi, I’m Luke”. As long as my first name is used, I’m not attached to the full title.

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In one of my WIPs, your last name is set to Aeternus. My reasons are lore related. You are the last of the Imperial House, and the House itself is believed to be descended from Aion, the Dragon God of Eternal Time. Hence the name. Plus, it allows me to use lines like “The last of the Aeternii” which I think has more oomph than “The last of House Aeternus/any other House.”

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