Character Creation

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Character Creation

Postby DrHoo » Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:54 am

Seems to me like some people consider "role playing" to be "playing the imaginary person I would like to be." And others consider "role playing" to be "playing a person I'm not to see how I would cope if I were forced into a mold." For example, if you wanted to be a super fighter and the game let you freely specialize as you wished, you could build your dream fighter character. It might be one that was intelligent and sneaky, not just a tank. At the other extreme a game might insist on the PC being a certain gender, a certain class, have certain skills or be doomed to fail most of the time, etc., thus forcing the player into a track where he is playing a role that might be as false to him as a role in a play. Not saying it can't be very enjoyable to get out of real-life character and play such a role, just acknowledging that many people want to have a consistent alter ego meeting all challenges.
Which leads to a burning design question: how much leeway should a player have to choose his stats in the beginning? Roll the dice until he gets what he likes? Give a number of points to use in free choice from a list of available skills? Have all skills available at the start or some only after experience? Have some skills set in stone for him but some wiggle room?
Most RPG come with some built-in racial biases, e.g. dwarves are strong but ugly, elves are agile but a little weak. The racial part is rather hard to avoid and have believable differences in races. Many rule sets also have strict class biases: e.g. rangers have more martial skills without even trying, wizards have more knowledge skills. Let's ignore the race part for this discussion and stick to abilities and skills, and assume that there are no class restrictions.
How would you go about initial character creation? Is it helpful to have a general "shape" like a class package? Is it important to have completely free choice?

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Re: Character Creation

Postby Trimatirate » Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:15 am

I think that there should be huge amount of control over the player's part - it isn't a board game and rolling dice to determine stats invites frustration. I feel it should be based on the NWN model - a large range of statistics you can choose for your self within a certain limit, with some abilities or handicaps forced on you because of class (or package), or race, then a HUGE range of appearance and voiceset options. Roleplay isn't always us playing someone we want to be, it could also be based on someone we know or feel an affinity with, a there is a joy in seeming this character you know as someone else or one that you have created with a developed personality become reality within the game world. I've noticed the more freedom people have with their character creation (with enough flexibility to choose their modus oprandi, regardless of class), the happier they are, more still if the challenge is to find items to suit their ideal version of their character in the game.

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Re: Character Creation

Postby subbassman » Tue Oct 23, 2012 8:32 am

What about the "questionnaire" type character creation? (Bethesda Softworks)

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Re: Character Creation

Postby Trimatirate » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:56 am

That from the Eldar Scrolls? I've never played it, so I'm not familiar with that one.

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Re: Character Creation

Postby subbassman » Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:37 am

Trimatirate wrote:That from the Eldar Scrolls? I've never played it, so I'm not familiar with that one.


Yeah, that kind of stuff. Personally, I'm not a great fan of this method.
Fallout 3 had that too but luckily you were able to set it numerically as well.

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Re: Character Creation

Postby fallen_hero » Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:57 pm

DrHoo wrote:
How would you go about initial character creation? Is it helpful to have a general "shape" like a class package? Is it important to have completely free choice?


I like to start quickly with a given character that I can work on later und put in the shape that I like. While playing a game I often find out which skills bring the most of fun or are the most interesting that lead to new options in the game so I like it this way.

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Re: Character Creation

Postby Trimatirate » Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:37 am

It would be nice to change in the middle of the game, but I always felt it was part of the challenge to make it through with the same sort of skills and style that you started with and built towards. I quite like the classified character creation, it's just a matter of ensuring a great deal of choice within the class and attribute limits.

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Re: Character Creation

Postby DrHoo » Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:00 am

In most games there is an upper limit on available skill/ability points at the start, and your roll is a zero-sum operation; for example, if you have 6 attributes and a max of 27 ability points, you can allocate 10 points to one ability but that means you have only 17 left to allocate among the other 5 attributes. If you have prepackaged or preformed characters or "recommended choices," they tend to have the points allocated as an average, but 1-2 points subtracted from 1-2 abilities and added to another ability, so that the resulting character has 1 really strong point, 1 relatively strong point, 1 really weak point, and 1 relatively weak point. And 1 or 2 abilities that remain average. In other words, the prepackaged characters come with an analog to a "normal" distribution, where the "mode" (highest number) is whatever ability that someone decided is the chief ability for that class. This is all right, and seems intuitively "correct." As a statistician I would argue that you are always best off in the middle as much as possible. Many gamers though like bizarrely unbalanced characters it seems, with one very weak point and one very very strong one.

The method of allocating points has several possible mechanics (sorry to be so clinical but behind the scenes of the game, there are a lot of boring formulae) which in my opinion are quite crucial to giving characters flavor and players, satisfaction.

Character creation models:
1. Roll dice for random stats.The behind-the-scenes may lean on the randomness, or let it be totally random (with a set total limit). More important is whether the player is rolling for all the stats at once, or one at a time with the understanding that there will be a limit on total points.
Advantages: Very unusual characters. Disadvantages: No control, usually no way to save a character that was pretty good in case you can't get a better one with a reroll.

2. Completely prepackaged. All stats for a class or race are predetermined, or you have to pick your character from a list of premade ones. Check your category and there you go.
Advantages: quick and certain, you always know what you'll get and don't need to spend much time on the process. Disadvantage: No creativity.

3. Questionnaire. Player preferences are taken into account and a semi-random package delivered.
Advantages: Player has input. Even if the behind-the-scenes is totally fixed, it seems like freedom. Disadvantages: time consuming, still some predetermination.

4. Completely free choice. You get your points, plug them into a matrix (still zero sum) as you will, no chance at all.
Advantages: Player has complete control. Time spent moderate. Disadvantages: Inexperienced players may feel lost with too much choice.

Which do you prefer? Is there another way I missed? Am I way too safe taking the middle way?

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Re: Character Creation

Postby Trimatirate » Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:40 pm

I feel that people should be able to have free choice within the game framework - and I think the great thing about RPGs, especially if people have played the studio ones before (Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter nights, Diablo, Dragon Age, Skyrim) if that character creation is usually intuitive, as in "I've got 10 points, I need to manage my assets - what should go where to MAKE SURE I kick ass?". OR, you can have two modes - either select your options yourself, and ask the program to randomize them for you if you feel like taking a risk, and you can only do it twice - one roll, and one re-roll, which takes into account the points allocated by class or race. But since you can go back and redo the creation process if you've discovered a mistake, or you don't like what you ended up with, its a quick learning process, and the freedom from the first option won't be an issue. Obviously, a guide or tooltips will help, but no matter how well you do it, as I'm sure you guys know, there's always someone who whines that the system is too complicated or too simplistic or you give too many options or you made it cheap - usually a guy who lives with his parents and has Mountain Dew for blood. Then again, it's my opinion, you should do what you feel is best and what works, and people who appreciate the work you do will still happily play the game and adapt to the system. :)

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Re: Character Creation

Postby fallen_hero » Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:37 pm

I would preferably go with point 2 or 4. Both give you a quick way of completing the creations process so you can start out. I think most people can't wait to get the game started so it would be a fine starting method. Anyway I second what Trimatirate wrote: a guide or tooltips are good to keep people on the road and provide assistance when needed/wanted.

Besides that I recall the Tarot card sytem from the Ultima series. Seems like point 3 to me, but I think from the atmosphere it is a great thing but the long process the creations takes is boring for me in the end.

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