What makes characters attractive to the player?
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April 27th, 2011, 11:23
Obviously, a highly subjective thing.
Personally, I really enjoy plausible characters - even if I can't fully relate to them. As long as their motives make some kind of sense in the end, I can appreciate most characters for that alone.
I don't like "over-the-top" characters unless there's an obvious humor element. Characters like HK-47 in KotOR worked well, because it was about humor and not meant to be taken really seriously. Also, it was a droid.
I despise characters that are there to stand out and make an impression right away. This reminds me of modern TV-shows where they have to "sell it" in 5 minutes. Most intelligent beings have nuances and they have positives and negatives. A good example would be the dwarf character in Dragon Age 2 - that just SCREAMED for attention. Bioware have gotten steadily worse in that way, but they were never really good at creating fully realised characters.
Bioware's idea of a hero is one with supreme morality except for that one time when he accidentally got drunk and sad a few bad things to his parents. It's my firm belief that pretty much all human beings are balanced in terms of their good sides and bad sides - but based on what their experiences have been.
There is no such thing as a "true hero" - unless his conditioning allowed for that to happen, and even then - there will be significant downsides. As a race, we simply don't have the resources to do everything right in all ways.
Naturally, I like characters that push the "norm" as long as the writing supports it. I like how Geralt is a plausible hero - because he's modified in a way that works within the low-fantasy setting. The writer(s) obviously made a great effort to establish how his abilities were enhanced and at what cost.
As you can imagine, I absolutely despise JRPGs for their characters. Little school-girls with huge eyes and LEGO hair - begging to be raped by demons - just don't do it for me. I guess I'm not into that particular fetish. I've played maybe 20-30 JPRGs for anything from a few minutes to a few hours - and without exception, it's the characters that take me out of the games first. The whole thing just doesn't make sense to me, and I can't relate to any of it.
To me, there's nothing easier than to write the extreme. Writing about Gods and Demons and the destruction of worlds is what I consider incredibly boring. It's all "out the ear" writing and you can do it as a 10 year old.
No, I much prefer writing that has its core in reality - and with the maturity to understand how intelligent beings operate and what their motives are.
I CAN enjoy black/white universes like Tolkien, if it remains consistent and is otherwise loyal to its own world. If characters all behave according to that specific universe for very specific and well-detailed reasons - I can accept that it's not really like my own world. It just has to make sense, is all.