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-   -   What makes characters attractive to the player? (https://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13172)

GothicGothicness April 13th, 2011 12:43

What makes characters attractive to the player?
This is something I have been thinking about recently. I am also thinking about it for Tactica.

What makes characters in RPG's attractive? Is it that I develop unique characters myself, is it their cool personality, is it perhaps how they look? or what background story they have? Or something else?

Personally I found that either I enjoy characters because of their personality, J-rpgs are usually superior in flashing out characters, and have much better characters in this way compared to western RPG's IMHO.

As for western RPG's I strangely find that I get much more attached to my wizardry 8 characters ( which I created and they don't really have any story or background ). Than I do to most bioware RPG's / other western RPG's where they have a story. Probably because I think a lot of these characters are kind of boring and unrealistic.

Besides you have the lovely stat in wiz 8 showing how many they killed how many times they died and such a things. It is just fun to see how my feary alchemist has by far the biggest kill count. While my Valkyrie warrior didn't even die once…..

Betrayel at Krondor is an exception though, I loved the characters in that game, probably because they are made by a professional writer who knows how to get the characters right.

I would also like to expand this to NPC's and enemies.

I found that the characters is probably the single most important for me, to like a game or a movie these days. Of course depending on what kind of movie / game it is.

Alrik Fassbauer April 13th, 2011 15:07

To me, it's their personality to a huge deal.
Plus, everything that makes them odd, and *not* forgettable.
A "fairy alchemist" in itself is something very odd to me : Which games offer these combinations ? And fairies as playable characters at all ?

In the town of Cologne here in Germany - and elsewhere, too - there's the kind of person which is an "Original". The keeper of Boo would be such a person : Not necessarily a good person, but standing out (sometimes even literally !) by eccentric, but at least non-standard behaviour, voice, gestures, hobbies … you name it.
Cologne examples would be Tünnes and Schäl. Tünnes and his ounterpart Schäl are in fact invented puppet figures : They have never lived - yet they became THE "Originals" of Cologne !
More "Originals" of Cologne (in this article partly portrayed by actors) : http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kölsche_Originale

Every major town has these "Originals". Nowadays they tend not to be seen, though, because in bigger towns newspapers etc. just don't notice them.
In smaller towns or even in villages, where "everyone knows everyone", "Oiginals" become known much, much faster.

Edit : There's also the danger of exaggerating a character in his description as an "Original", by the way, that's the only danger I can see right now.

crpgnut April 13th, 2011 16:04

As far as looks go, I absolutely hate characters that have facial tattoos. I don't like any branding, but facial branding is really bad. I feel sorry for cattle that get branded, and yet humans do it to themselves on purpose. At least most of them don't use a huge hot iron! I've noticed tattoos have become extremely popular, at least in the USA, in the last 15 years. Same goes with piercings all over the place, like the freaky mage dude in the Witcher. Gross!

Alrik Fassbauer April 13th, 2011 16:31

I agree : I don't like tattoo on the face.
I'm okay with other body parts, however.

There is a single exception in my rule : This : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tā_moko

Pladio April 13th, 2011 16:45

I'm not sure why, but the characters I remember from RPGs are:
Diego, Gorn (big axe), The old ghoul in Fallout1/2, the Hashishin in GIII, Brotherhood of Steel Fallout, HK-47 KOTOR, Mandalore KOTOR (big gun), Mutant NPC KOTOR, Butch in Gothic, damn him for punching me.

Probably some others too, but I guess those are the ones that stick out… I would always remember HK-47, I think he was amazing… Good humor, history and you need to get all of his pieces to make him work, makes him even more valuable. The old ghoul with a tree growing on his head in Fallout was great too and would have been good to see him more.

I want a new KOTOR :(

Also, I think a 'history' book that gets written as you progress in the game is really good. Like in MM7. It's really fun to read about your adventures through the eyes of a party 'scribe' :)

I can post some entries to show what I mean if you're interested.

GothicGothicness April 13th, 2011 17:15

yes, go ahead with posting… I actually want a bard or some such to play a part. Wizardry is the only game I know where the bard is truly unique for being a bard.

blatantninja April 13th, 2011 17:20

It's personality and story primarily for me. Visual is somewhat important too (for instance I thought Iomen in BG was too cute to not have in my party), but I enjoy characters that my relationship to them builds throughout the game based on how I interact with them.

Pladio April 13th, 2011 17:31

I thought there was a bard in Betrayal at Krondor …Maybe not to play. I only played part of it a long time ago so I don't remember.

Here are a few excerpts : Might contain spoilers for the story!!!!! Be forewarned !

This is once your party gets to Harmondale.

Lord Markham has asked me to prepare this history of Castle Harmondale and its owners so that future generation will not forget the great events that transpire here. I hope I can remain true to this task. As key events occur you can count on me to write them in this book as faithfully as possible, be they for hood or for ill. It is not my place to judge what transpires here – merely to record.

May Providence smile upon us!

Wendell Tweed
Court Historian

June 7, 1169

Good new! After some light skirmishes and plenty of spying and manoeuvring, both sides of this silly war have decided to call a truce until a suitable arbitrator can be found. My lords have been chosen to select the arbitrator. The future of relations between Erathia and Avlee now rests squarely upon my Lords’ (so far) capable shoulders. I am sure their decision will be a wise one.

Peace, Elves Win

My lords have chosen Lord Devon of Sleen as the arbiter for the Treaty of Harmondale.

Unable to agree to a proper division of land, the negotiations swiftly ended, and the war resumed. Many, many deaths later, the war officially ended with Avlee firmly in control of Harmondale.


Warlocks and Minotaurs

Acting at the behest of our new allies in Deyja, my lords have brought a set of valuable soul jars necromancers need to complete the Ritual of Eternity to Kastore, chief advisor to Lord Ironfist. The Warlocks of Nighon are capable alchemists, but incompetent defenders. From the telling of it, taking the soul jars was so easy that I doubt our new enemies in Nighon can mount a credible counterstrike.

Getting tired of copying from the book, but it basically goes on to tell the whole story of the party. Well, all the major events, not the tiny subquests or whatever, but the main storyline, whether you follow the side of Good or Evil in the game.

crpgnut April 13th, 2011 17:43

I thought the gnome bard in NWN2 was pretty decent and he was also a nice buff caster for combat. In NWN Deekin was cute, but many hated him.

dteowner April 13th, 2011 19:16

GG, how much time do you spend with each Wiz8 character picking the "right" voice? While I think the key to getting attached to characters is lots of opportunity to develop them (just like raising kids), having some mechanism to give the toons a unique personality seems like a rather important icing on the cake. It seems rather trivial given that there's no real effect on gameplay stemming from those choices, but the combinations of race, class, portrait, and voice make every toon unique—every baby looks different.

Know what I've always wanted for Wiz8? Additional voices. I want a female voice that screams "Shaniqua" and a male voice that says "Billybob's brother Darrell". I want Monty Python and Mr. Bean. I want Courtney Love and Julie Andrews. Give me "Sham-Wow" and "Ancient Chinese Secret". To hell with political correctness and give me some personalities. The beauty of it is that you're not really talking that much additional code. Each voice set has maybe 20 lines and I'm sure the program is set up with generic pointers. You're talking tremendous extension to the game without that much effort.

I spent literally hours going thru online custom portrait files for NWN back in the day. Does something like that matter to the gameplay? Of course not, but you're going to be spending lots of time with your "game baby" and he/she needs to look right.

Think about how Sammy and Jaz play Morrowind. Their equipment choices are based on looks. Crazy! I'm too much of a spreadsheet gamer to lose my optimized gear arrangement because the color's wrong, but I've got a ton of respect for the way those two develop an image in their head and then bring it to life in the game. And for all the countless, and I mean countless, flaws in Morrowind, they made it possible for Jaz and Sammy to individualize their babies in ways that had absolutely no impact on mechanics.

Pladio April 14th, 2011 05:25

I'm not like dte… I don't care much for the voices unless they're annoying me, the portraits are only mildly important to me. I played all of MM7 and while the portraits did serve as some fun, I would probably not have noticed if they were just blobs of color representing characters either.

Alrik Fassbauer April 14th, 2011 14:56

This is a character you'll remember forever : Eilif of Drakensang 2

crpgnut April 14th, 2011 16:41

Hmm, I've played the River of Time, who's Eilif?

Alrik Fassbauer April 14th, 2011 18:54

This woman ;) : http://www.blutschwerter.de/f4-das-s…idsdottir.html (This is a discussion about her)
Other picture (a screenshot, actually) .http://drakensang2.wikia.com/wiki/Da…onnerfaust.jpg
Another picture of her (and her group of Thorwalians) : http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_e0leTAVmZG…ifs+Schatz.bmp (The same picture in a PDF "demo" of a pen & paper solo-adventure : http://www.dasschwarzeauge.de/filead…z_Vorschau.pdf )

Fenris April 14th, 2011 19:56

Eilif ? A typical Thorwalian and Thorwalians are streamlined Vikings ;)

For my Player-Character I can create something like a Fighter/Mage in D&D; a Sword in one hand, a fireball in the other and I'm happy; it also helps when I'm not shoehorned into a nice do-gooder; that irked me enormous in Drakensang 1 and even a bit in DraSa 2; I prefer the fake bioware-Choices in this Case ;)
Let me at least play an impolite Mercenary; if there are consequences for this it's even better :)

Loyality is what impresses me most with NPCs; i.e. when you went into hell in Baldur's Gate and your Party would stand beside you, even if they don't have to - Loyality that has to be worked for (but not simply flatter them enough) is even more interesting (like in MotB).

The last time I was impressed was when I captured an evil Jailor in DraSa 2 and decided to kill him (he had no mercy for the innocent prisoners, so why should I risk to let him live ?) and got a *lot* of complaints from two of my three companions. Especially the high moral values of Kano, a Rogue/Cleric of God of thieves and merchants, surprised me.

wolfing April 16th, 2011 02:00

back to the original topic, to me personally I don't like characters with 'too much attitude'. When it's overdone then it loses believability. Good characters that are not stupid, that can bend the rules a bit here and there, and evil characters that are not 'a cute kitty… KILL!' but more subtle about it.
Basically, characters that are believable. Just because the game is set in a fantasy world that doesn't mean the characters need to be extreme to the point of ridiculous.

Pladio April 16th, 2011 07:03

I agree with wolfing there.
Part of what I enjoyed in MM7 and disliked in KOTOR. The evil side in KOTOR was usually just kill or steal whatever you can while the good side was help every single person on the planet, no matter what.
In MM7 being evil meant helping one of the factions, which usually were just more selfish and cared not for other but for themselves. Unfortunately the gameplay didn't allow for much of the non-killing part, but the story made more sense.

Alrik Fassbauer April 16th, 2011 18:10


Originally Posted by Fenris (Post 1061063440)
Eilif ? A typical Thorwalian and Thorwalians are streamlined Vikings ;)

But not THAT SIZE !!! ;)

Jaz April 25th, 2011 15:57


Originally Posted by dteowner (Post 1061063254)
Think about how Sammy and Jaz play Morrowind. Their equipment choices are based on looks. Crazy! I'm too much of a spreadsheet gamer to lose my optimized gear arrangement because the color's wrong, but I've got a ton of respect for the way those two develop an image in their head and then bring it to life in the game. And for all the countless, and I mean countless, flaws in Morrowind, they made it possible for Jaz and Sammy to individualize their babies in ways that had absolutely no impact on mechanics.

Wow, you actually remember this? How flattering :).

While I enjoy well-written predefined characters (like in JRPGs… just like GG said), I get most out of creating my own from scratch - and I'm not talking about stats here. I play around with visuals a lot (the more options the better), and once I made a character I think I might like, his or her backstory starts to emerge in my mind; this in turn is what makes me decide on my char's path in the game, on their actions, reactions and, of course, the equipment they use. In Daggerfall, for example… if I can have a hot Ohmes-Raht Khajiit fighter, why would I cover them with armor if they can wear thongs instead? What, amor helps in a fight? Then fight better so you won't need it! Hehe. And why would I use a Daedric blade if the green Orcish blade fits my dress better? Forget the +2 bonus. Style is more important. Especially if it says something about the character.

If it's about predefined, prefabricated characters, then choice usually is a 'looks first, specialty second' thing for me. I mean, I just started to play Drakensang; while I actually like to play Battlemages, my final choice here was between the female warrior and male burglar because I liked their looks. When sonny asked me which character I picked and I told him 'The burglar', he just said, 'I should have known. You love to take other people's stuff in games.'
And here, too, I use the equipment that fits a) my characters' specializations and b) looks/demeanor.

Well, in short I'd say visual customization options are important for me, or if I can't have those at least give me a host of chars to choose from.

xSamhainx April 25th, 2011 17:44

Oh definitely, my characters have to be desktop-wallpaper worthy or I'm simply not happy ='.'=

Of course I like better gear stat-wise, but my crippling superficiality has another benefit as well - it keeps the game challenging long after my toons would have been omnipotent had I min/maxxed them to death. I'm so totally against always doing the "right thing" as far as skill choices, gear choices, companion choices, dialogue choices, whatever. So boring, what a downright chore trying to figure out the rubix cube of a perfect playthru.

Throw caution to the wind, use that cool looking standard issue inferior fire sword instead of the God Sword of Fury. Use the weapon or armor that means something to your character because it was their deceased companion's, or they won it an a particularly nasty boss fight. What would your character use?

No, I'm in it for the fun of seeing my virtual creation alive and making their way thru their world, and of course looking great whilst they do it.. To me, that's a key component of "role-playing"

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