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Dhruin July 6th, 2010 16:23

Rampant Games - Building Character
Jay Barnson writes about character creation and some of the design choices - such as random die rolls vs fixed point-buy:

Except… there’s a little bit of our brain that loves the gamble. Look at random-content games like Diablo. Frankly, the randomized loot is half the fun of the game. It’s the same sort of compulsion that works for me in games that throw some randomness into the character creation process. Do I hit, or stand? Is this current collection of points sufficient for what I need to do? Maybe I was trying to make a wizard, but I just got some great fighter stats I should save off for another party member (in games where you play a party).
For some reason, this also appeals to me as more interesting decision-making than point-buy systems. Maybe it’s because I constrain myself too much to avoid weaknesses, and thus always end up with characters with very similar characteristics.
More information.

Malk July 6th, 2010 16:23

It would be great if developers could anticipate what characters would players make, and then make it possible for all these characters to progress through the game using their own tactics unique to that character. So, a wizard-warrior (with high strength and intelligence) wouldn't be harder to play than a usual warrior (with all points invested in strength and endurance).

LuckyCarbon July 6th, 2010 16:53

In random roll creation there's always the chance you roll a super character. Do you make the game challenging for that character but then require a fine tuned character to play? Or do you make it easy enough for a poorly rolled character ( especially for CRPGs that try to attract a broad audience ) and then make it pitifully easy for veteran character builders?

I much prefer a point buy system. After playing D&D 3.0 games like NWN it's hard for me to go back and start old games based on 2.0. I think you can build a lot better gameplay and balance if you can anticipate most characters should be roughly equal ( in theory, charisma still sucks ).

The challenge to the designers doesn't end there of course. As Malk was pointing about not all stats are created equal and that wraps heavily around the skills, spells and classes available to that character. Using D&D 3.0 and Malk's example as a reference, the fighter/mage is never as good a killer (which 95% of CRPGs are about) as a pure mage or pure fighter.

ortucis July 6th, 2010 21:09

I despise random loot and developers who add it to their PR as a "feature". Only thing worse than random loot is the random dungeons/levels.

SveNitoR July 6th, 2010 21:52

I think randomization has very good uses in games.

wolfing July 6th, 2010 23:16

the article pretty much summarizes my thoughts. I think one of the main reasons I never got into many people's favorite games (Gothics and the like) is because you don't create a character. You start as a 0-nothing and for the first few hours you're either a nothing, or you're a 'generic fighter' until much later when you find specific classes trainers. I hate that, I want to start the game as a wizard or a rogue with their basic skills. My character is 21 years old (or whatever), he should know something, the basics of whatever he is, and not learn everything suddenly in a few days after the game starts.
I don't like random rolls though. I don't want to spend 1 hour clicking the same button over and over until I get a good character or characters, or have gimped characters that might not even be able to complete the adventure (or the alternative is having stats not matter much in the first place). Point buy is the way to go. In PnP, the DM rarely let you reroll characters. You would roll, and what you got is what you got (unless you got a really crappy character), that was the balancing factor in character creation that is not present in computer games.
Although I agree that some character systems got ridiculous (Seriously, if you thought D&D system was complex, try the Arkania games), I still like somewhat complex character creation systems. It is really half the game for me. Specially in party based games, creating a combination of classes for the group, should I have 2 fighters, a cleric, a mage, a rogue and an alchemist, or should I go with 1 tank and 3 hybrids, or maybe 3 ranged characters, maybe 2 clerics or a pure healer and a hybrid cleric/mage, etc. etc. etc.

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