Charas-Project

Off-Topic => Creative arts => Tutorials => Topic started by: Phayre on April 18, 2007, 08:38:11 PM

Title: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: Phayre on April 18, 2007, 08:38:11 PM
I've noticed that many demos and games include flat, featureless characters whose only purpose seems to be "Oh, look, a mage" or "Oh, look, guy with sword". This is not a great way to go about things! Why? Here's why you need great characters in your story. I'm gonna use a bunch of different RPGs as examples.

1. Characters are the gateway into storyline. Good story is driven by the characters, not external circumstances. It is he character's reaction to a situation that makes it important, not the situation itself. Example: FFIX's Zidane's attitude is different than say, FFVII's Cloud's. In the face of kind of similar situations (faced with the guy who's been messing with your life and trying his bestest to make you miserable), they take very different actions and thus drive their stories in different directions.
2. Relating to characters makes a player care about what's happening. For example: when baaaaaaaaaad stuff happens in Tales of Destiny (which you probably haven't played..... oh wells), the characters have been fleshed out enough so that you actually give a damn. Makes you want more to keep going with that wretched boss, yeah?
3. Good characters bring an added element to gameplay. Sure, a hardcore gamer will go for the strongest and fastest characters, but the first time through, a player might get attached to a sucky character *cough*VINCENT*cough*. Use the sucky character and access nifty storyline points, or stick with the big guys and kick some ***? Or maybe train that suckmaster to a decent level and get both? Ah, replay value......

Now, how do you make interesting characters? It's not that hard--- it just takes some thought. Just remember that every character should have depth, not just a pretty face and a bigass sword. Here's alittle checklist..... make sure every main character and the villain(s) have these:

1. Name
Duh. Names are important, silly. Unless of course it's one of those lameass nameless hero dealies...... but I'm not gonna cover those. That's a different kind of character, more of a pseudo first person experience. Some names are symbolic; others are just names. Things to keep in mind: the sound of a name gives a feeling to a character, as well as its meaning. You can make names that fit the character, like Ace for a slick gambler, or total opposites, like Agatha or Gretchen for a gorgeous young woman. Also keep in mind the theme, time, and place of your game. It goes without sayng that somebody named Jim Bob Jones doesn't belong in, say, feudal Japan.
A good place to look for character names is behindthename.com, which provides meanings and origins for most of its names, as well as organization by association of the name.
2. Backstory
Everyone has a past. Whether it's important to the main story or not, you should know why your character is the way he/she is. You can reveal it in the main game, in a sidequest, or only kinda allude to it. Just make sure you know it!
3. Motive
You can't just make somebody join your team "because it's the right thing"..... or because you lack the nifty ability they happen to possess. That's kinda dumb.  There are all kinds of reasons for somebody to join the party, from "Mr. Villain Man killed my mother, raped my sister, tortured my brother, and stole all my cookies" to "Wow, Mr. Hero Man, you're pretty hot!" Of course, these both suck, don't use them. Make sure that if one reason gets canceled out (like if the person joined to save their sister and the sister gets saved), another one makes itself known (like the hero owes them money...... I dunno).
4. Personality
Make sure your characters are different in personality. Don't make everybody the same! A good character can't be described in just a few words, like "annoying guy with crush on heroine" or "kickass girl with axe". It's good to have multifaceted characters, like a cheerful heroine who's really bitter and just tries to hide it.
5. Relationships
How do your characters interact? Does Jim Bob hate Mary Sue because she's from the village that beat his in the foosball championship? Does he ever learn to like her, or do her nasty foosball taunts drive him mad? Are there crazy love triangles involving the hero, the villain, and their much disputed teddy bear? No, seriously. Make your characters interact.

Next post: The Don'ts of Character Building
Feel free to comment on this stunning installment of How To Make Interesting Characters!

All tips are gleamed from writers' workshops, textbooks, classes, and experience. Yes, making RPGs should be like writing a story.
Title: How To Make Interesting Characters: The Don'ts of Character Making
Post by: Phayre on April 18, 2007, 09:29:50 PM
Here are a few common lameass things people do while making characters, and why you shouldn't do them. In no particular order, some with examples:

1. Infodumping: Mass "characterization" in the form of flooding a game/story with information, often about a past event. Example: The entirety of Dirge of Cerberus. Don't let anyone talk you into playing it, folks.
Why Not: Your player should never sigh and roll their eyes in a game, and hours of pure "storyline" cause just that. Not to mention, after a while the player stops caring. If you pack too many plot twists and character revelations in one place, they lose impact.
How to avoid: Space your storyline out. Leave some stuff out. If it doesn't matter all that much, cut it. Be merciless.

2. Archetypes, not characters: If you can describe your character in two or three words (dark brooding prettyboy, optimistic heroine, altruistic hero), you might have this problem. It's great to start with an archetype, but make sure there's a twist and a reason(ie dark brooding prettyboy who loves puppies and is dark and brooding because he was forced to massacre them.......... dunno, use your imagination, I'm just gonna be goofy)

3. Overangsting: Regardless of a character's problems, nobody wants to hear them whine about it all the time. That's not the best way to show their plight, anyway.

4. The altruistic hero: This is one of two tired hero archetypes. Shake it up! Too many heroes do things because they're just "good people". Being a "good person" is not a motive. It's a character trait, I guess, but usually not enough to put your life on the line for a quest to save the world or the hot chick. Examples: Zidane (FFIX), Sora (Kingdom Hearts)

5. The apathetic hero: Another cheap easy way to make a hero is to make him/her apathetic, antisocial, and generally an ***. This allows for easy development, sure (hero learns of the power of love and all that, yeah yeah whatever)......... and nonsensical story. Nobody is THAT apathetic. At least.... not anybody you'd care about. If you want a grumpy growly hero, at least make better development. Keep them apathetic, or make the whole thing an act. Examples: Squall (FFVIII), Cloud (beginning of FFVII) (these are good examples to follow because they go in directions other than "Oh, your love has made me better and such")

6. The random flat character: Most RPGs have somebody who's just.... there..... doesn't contribute to the story, has little personality, but has a "necessary skill". Examples: Bruiser (Tales of Destiny), Barrett (FFVII..... seriously, what does he contribute once Sephiroth comes into the picture? NOTHING BUT NORTH COREL). This is something to avoid! No character should just be a toss in. Every last one should be important!

That's it for now for don'ts. Stay tuned for How to Make Interesting Characters: Building Your Hero!
Title:
Post by: DragonBlaze on April 19, 2007, 07:44:11 AM
So far so good. :)

This is a nice tutorial, only thing i have to say is that you could expand a few things. Like the backstory part for example, it was one or two sentances saying that you need a backstory cuz its important, you could actually talk about that a bit more. Unless you planned on doing that during one of your later segments.

But yeah, over all, its a very good tutorial.
Title:
Post by: Phayre on April 19, 2007, 10:46:14 AM
I'm probably going to go through things like that one by one in depth. The first post was just a massive overview of things you need.
Title:
Post by: Moosetroop11 on April 19, 2007, 12:17:29 PM
Yeah, looks good! Your examples are goofy but that doesn't detract from the tutorial or make it harder to understand.

keep it up :)

( I'd have to disagree about Barret, but only because he was in my party so he always had something to say :p)
Title: How To Make Interesting Characters: Building Your Hero
Post by: Phayre on April 19, 2007, 12:24:39 PM
Many people seem to think that characterizing the hero is not as important as fleshing out your other characters. This is so wrong it's not even funny. A player should not be able to overlook the hero. Even if he's not as cool as the guy in black with a bigass sword or as funny as the candy-high thief girl, he needs to have depth, motive, backstory, and personality, just like everybody else. Don't skimp out on your hero! The guidelines for creating a good hero character are a bit more, well, directive, than others. For example, would FFVII be as good if Yuffie was your hero and Cloud just kinda hung out in the forest, waiting to pounce on you with his incredible powers of angst? Er..... no. Would Fire Emblem (the first released in the US on the GBA) be as awesome if your three heroes were Lucius, Matthew, and Serra? Well, Lucius and Matthew, sure...... wait, no, no favorite character biases, sorry. No, it wouldn't. So why do Cloud and Eliwood make good heroes? It's not because of their awesome spiky hair or swishy cape. Here's what a good hero has:

1. Connection to the Villain: Every really great hero has a very important reason that he/she (we're gonna use he cuz I'm lazy) is involved. Usually this entails a connection to the villain that is revealed later in the story. For Eliwood, the nasty villain man whose name has escaped me because I haven't played in years is responsible for the disappearance of his father. Cloud has the whole yucky Jenova connection in addition to Sephiroth's past eeeeeeeeevil deeds. Keep in mind, though: neither starts with a quest to kill off the main villain! One thing should lead to another. Connections that start with things like "he killed my daddy" or "he burned down my hometown" need to grow into something more direct that hits the hero even more personally, be it the villain's attempts to force you to kill off your own party members or his insistence on systematically destroying everything around you. Make the connection evolve with the story, or else it will get old. Revenge is powerful.... but not as powerful as some RPG makers make it. Try fresher approaches, like maybe the hero and the villain were partners in a dangerous mission, but the hero had a change of heart and the villain kept going.

2. Varied Inter-character Relationships: The way other characters react to your hero is very telling. For example, if the hero's best friend is the admiring, gushing heroine, but the battle-hardened soldier hates his guts, it could mean several things. Maybe your hero likes to give the impression that he's more awesome than he is, prompting the featherbrained heroine to think he's all strong and brave, but the soldier knows better and is disgusted by the hero's bloated ego. Or maybe the heroine is attracted to the hero's simple innocence while the cynical soldier resents the hero for still being so naive. This adds to your secondary characters, as well. Make sure the relationships are varied. Not everyone's going to love your hero (in other words, don't make every girl fall for him), and not everyone's going to hate him.

3. Backstory: Contrary to popular belief, the "mercenary with no past" is a really, really boring character. Everyone has a past, even if they have amnesia or whatever. No one starts saving the world the second they're born, unless you count the Jesus, who is not an RPG character as far as I know. ^^ Anywho. Before all this trouble in the world started, what was your hero doing? What was his childhood like? If he has a gift/power, how did he discover it? What secrets is he hiding? Backstory is vital to good hero-making, and the gradual revelation of the backstory and its connection to the main story is essential. Of course, there's no need for your hero to go on a tangent in the final battle with the villain about how he always did love those chocolate chip cookies before the chocolate chip mountains were attacked by rabid weasels, or whatever other useless detail you want to add. Heroes should not wax poetic about their trials and tribulations; instead, they should become known as the story and backstory collide in places. Backstory is also a great place for bizarre plot twists, like when you find that something you thought you knew about the hero was a lie, or something he did in the past comes back to bite him.

4. Specialness: Your hero should be special. No, not like Barney. There should be something they can do, or they know, or whatever, that no one else does. This is often shown in heroes with awesome magic or strength, or knowledge about a past event. It also tends to tie into the villain somehow, like maybe the villain is the oatmeal raisin cookie master and the only way to stop him is with the hero's chocolate chip beam.

More on this soon...........
Title:
Post by: SaiKar on April 20, 2007, 01:29:16 AM
Quote
Originally posted by Phayre
Dreadfully sick of all things KH


Just started playing it today. It's fun. <_<

Err, right, characters. I like your theories. I differ some key points (I don't think Cloud is all that, sorry) but generally approve of what you're doing. One of these days I should get back to tutorial writing.
Title:
Post by: Phayre on April 20, 2007, 12:30:37 PM
I'm not saying Cloud is the be all end all. Squall is., cuz he's my avatar man and Cloud isn't anymore *grin* No, I'm lying. Much of Cloud's characterization is done in one dreadful chunk of Disc 2 and is never heard of again. Using Cloud as an example cuz I tend to remember FFVII better, and he does have a more multifaceted character than some. He's a great example for traits and all, but not for how to reveal them. Sorry for the Barret bashing; I'm still very bitter about North Corel. ^^

Anywho..... more on how to make interesting heroes! Hoorah! And using maybe kinda different examples that people can still relate to! Wait.... all my favoritest RPGs are either Final Fantasy or generally unheard of..... CRAP! Okay, scratch that.

5. Likeability: If you hate any character's guts, it probably should not be your hero's! If he's a jackass, he should be a lovable jackass with reason for being a jackass, This is where RPG heroes often fail--- too much jackass, not enough reason. Heroes should have faults, cuz nobody likes a guy who's just all awesome all the time. Well, maybe they do, that's up to them. In a hero, though, you want kickass with issues. The issues get solved as the game goes on, prompting.... gasp.... character development, hurrah! *does the character development dance*More on this on the next item, which is.....

6. Healthy Dose of Kickass: Sure, you can have a hero who's a spineless wimpy wimp who spends his time being useless while your other party members kick some villain tushie. That would suck, though, wouldn't it? Heroes need strength, be it in magic, speed, physical attack, whatever. However, the strength of their character is equally important. Any hero who spends a good chunk of their time angsting, whining, or generally slowing the party down needs some help. A hero needs to be able to deal with his problems. Yes, there should be struggle, but if the hero spends too much time waffling about his past horrible deeds or his premature midlife crisis (who am I? where am I going? aaaaaaaah!!!!!), the player will most likely stop caring as much. Maybe not complete apathy, but there is nothing more annoying than a hero who never learns to be even somewhat "heroic". Problems that cause massive hurtage to the hero can be spaced out to lessen the blow, or put into one wretchedly painful burst. Either way, make sure you keep the character intact and don't reduce him to a long string of "woe is me".

I think this is all I have to say about heroes for now..... maybe more on that soon. The next installment will cover side characters and all the wondrous things you can do with them. Hoorah.
Title: How To Make Interesting Characters: Creating Fun Side Characters
Post by: Phayre on April 24, 2007, 08:23:30 PM
This tutorial covers (or begins to cover) the basics of creating what I will call "side characters", referring to characters who join your party but aren't the main hero or important NPCs. Keep in mind that this will NOT cover villains, secondary villains, or minor NPCs. We'll ghet to those later. ^^
Okay, let's think for a second of your favorite RPG. Anywho. Now take that game and think of your favorite "good guy". Go ahead! Chances are, it's NOT the hero.
Why? Well, here are a few reasons.....
1. There are a lot more side characters than heroes. Statistically speaking, it is more likely that your favorite character is a side character.
2. Side characters really have more variance than heroes. Qualities that a hero should have don't have to show up in a side character all the time.
3. Side characters can provide comic relief in times of stress, or contribute to the hero's development.

Those are our reasons...... but..... ummm...... go do something else while I take a break and concoct the rest of this.  :D
Title:
Post by: Meiscool-2 on April 27, 2007, 03:38:41 PM
Cool topic. I read most of it and got a few ideas :D
Title:
Post by: Phayre on April 28, 2007, 01:23:25 PM
Okay, so yeah, side characters are important. They're also, in my opinion, more fun to write (er.... code? program? ummmm.... nyeh!) than the main hero. As I've said earlier in the tutorial, all side charactersand important NPCs should contribute something other than "Oh lookie, I have a better magic stat than yours!" or "My sword is BIGGER than yours, BI-ATCH! And MORE RANDOM CAPS LOCK!" Yeah.... that's kinda fun.... but not really. It's too easy and boring to just stick with the typical categories of RPG characters. Here's a list (I just love lists; don't you?) of common ones I've seen.......
1. The wimpy, whiny, bonk-you-with-stick, usually (not always) female mage-type.... tends to fall in love with main guy if female, otherwise has no romantic attachments)
2. The almost-as-annoying money-hungry thiefy type
3. The smug, arrogant loner with a dark and painful past, often a prettyboy
4. Older, stodgy guy who sticks to what he knows
5. The rebellious princess who's never been outside the castle walls..... I hate this one, if only because real princesses don't just sit there in the castle and angst ^^

I'm not going to expound any further on cliches, given that Bluhman (I think) wrote a whole thing on them. Go read it. It's fun, but reeeeeally long. The key to making great side characters is to know why they are what they are, and to not just settle for a quick burst of "characterization".

-Side characters should have relationships with each other as well as the hero. The way characters interact shows a lot about them.

-Side characters have backstory, too. You might not find out about it within the main game, but maybe in some obscure sidequest involving the character. Obscure sidequests should be reserved for characters whose personal lives don't pertain to the story at all..... not for those who, oh, I don't know, were closely involved with the parents of the main villain and do nothing but occasionally angst about their roles..... *jabs Vincent with sharp stick*

-Important NPCs (like the residents of Hollow Bastion in KH2) should have personalities and stories too. Its fun to see how your characters relate to these people.

-Comic relief characters should do more than just provide comic relief. Everyone has a personality beyond the humorous comments they make. Otherwise it's boring.

-One of the best ways to create an interesting side character is with a mix of the ordinary and the unexpected. Use contrast, like maybe they're a badass secret agent who doesn't know how to shut up, or maybe a demure, softspoken gardener at the Temple of Happy Peace And Stuff who pulls a knife on anyone who steps on her flowers. Hehe.... badass flower lady..... fun. This can be used to create humor or cruel irony, but it makes for the beginnings of interesting characters.

-You should know your side characters as well as you know your hero. In writing and theater, people often make intense lists for characters, so they can decide everything from the character's favorite kind of pizza to the hospital they were born in. If you want to get really deep with your people, this is a great strategy. Otherwise, focus on more immediate things. Do they have any scars? How did they get them? How did they learn to use their magic/weapon? Where did they grow up? What were their parents like? You'd really be surprised how something that seems so useless can bring up intriguing new ideas for your characters.

Next up: ....haven't decided yet.
Feel free to post your characters and I'll help you figure stuff out.
Title:
Post by: A Forgotten Legend on April 28, 2007, 05:37:30 PM
Looks good.  I like how you are explaining the side characters need stories too thing.

I don't know why, but for me, I usually have 80% of characters have some great impact on the storyline... don't know why...
Title:
Post by: Phayre on April 29, 2007, 11:07:16 AM
Not EVERYBODY needs massive impact on the main storyline..... but there should be absolutely no random throw-ins when it comes to playable characters. If they can't contribute anything in sidequests/main story, personality, relationships (and no, one dinky little who-gives-a-damn detour doesn't really count), et cetera, they shouldn't be there. For example (I'll use my game-in-progress, Ember Sky):
Ember Sky needed a white mage..... desperately. Thus, I created Evariste. Although he dowsn't have a whole lot to do with the main storyline, his interactions with secondary hero Caolan help flesh both out and drive the story and Caolan's character development. (Yay run-ons! In your face, second-grade language arts! HA!) He also has a more cheerful, optimistic attitude than most of the other characters, creating a great foil (ha! that's what I'll cover next time! foils!) to characters like Caolan, but he's not just all bouncy-happy-whee all the time. He's also stubborn, short-tempered, and incredibly self-righteous. There you have it-- although Evariste here doesn't contribute to the main plot points a whole lot, he helps drive character development and provides a lighter touch.
Next time: foils! Yay!
Title:
Post by: blaman on April 29, 2007, 12:44:45 PM
Great tutorial! Some really good advice and tips here. Keep up the good workd. :)
Title: Foils--- Not Aluminum, Not Fencing, Not Algebra.....
Post by: Phayre on April 29, 2007, 01:10:14 PM
....or anything else you can think of foil-wise. I'm going to explain to you the concept of foils in characters development, and how to effectively use them.

First off, what is a foil? A foil is a character who exposes and emphasizes traits of another character by doing something opposite to that. Many examples include protagonist/antagonist foils:

Cloud/Sephiroth
Although the characters here are very similar, it's the differences in their characters that pit them against eah other and builds personality. The world does Cloud wrong; he decided to save it anyway. The world does Sephy wrong..... hmmmm..... Meteor sounds like a good idea.

Or perhaps protagonist/rival foils.....

Ash/Gary
You thought I was going Squall/Seifer, didn't you? Ha, tricked you. Ash, the hero, is all for love and friendship and all that crap, while Gary is all individualistic and nasty. They play off each other and spend most of their time bickering, but in the end they're kinda friends..... I guess..... it's Pokemon, so everybody's friends. ^^

But..... those foils are kinda really boring. Anybody can do hero/villain foils...... so let's expand. You can use foils to more subtly emphasize traits of your main characters. Maybe they clash; maybe they learn from each other. Who knows? It's up to you. Some examples of commercial RPG and other foil characters.......

Squall/Rinoa
Using the heroine as a foil to the hero tends to be a favorite for Square..... but anyway. Squall is presented as a loner, Rinoa as sort of a free spirit (a damn annoying one, if you ask me...... grrr...... there's gotta be a Gameshark code to leave her in space.....). The contrast in their attitudes makes them each seem more extreme (against Rinoa's happy cheerful crap, Squall's seriousness seems more pronounced, and vice versa). As the game progresses, their viewpoints head more towards a happy medium.

More on foils next time. Off to play Pokemon Snap, cuz I'm a loser. And Professor Oak knows nothing about photography...... did you know that?
Title:
Post by: Moosetroop11 on April 29, 2007, 02:01:29 PM
You know what, I'm actually thinking about my characters and how adding a few moments here and there could help convey their personalities better by reading some of your posts. There's some good, common sense tips here ^.^
Title: Wild Arms 2 parody characters
Post by: Rikou on April 29, 2007, 04:23:18 PM
Ok, you said you wanted characters, so here are the mains of my Wild Arms 2 parody RPG (Fans of the game will notice that these characters are similar to it's characters; that's why it's a parody!):

Main Party Characters;
Alex Backstrom: A 18-year-old teen with a gentle demeanor, he does his best as a ranger (type of local protection force) to help others. However, he constantly questions what makes a hero, well, a hero. He has a strange innate fighting ability, and his combat skills betray his personality. Even odder, he has a mysterious being inside of him that tries to make him kill anything and everything in very gory ways (Though he harnesses the being's power later on to transform into a 'hyper form' of sorts). He has a close friend in a young girl, Rena Thodge, at his home town of Perol. He was raised within a normal family, until at the age of 12, when his family was murdered by Mercs for a mysterious reason.

Chuiko Sonnet: A 15-year-old girl with a happy-go-lucky attitude, she dictates the mood of the party. Her older brother, known only as Garland, was a great magician, and in fact better than her at everything. While she has the ability to surpass her brother, she's abit too clumsy to harness her true magic capabilities, and suffers for a major lack of self-confidence. Even worse, she's like a bad-luck charm to the party, and even herself. Despite all that, however, she never let's anything deter her, and keeps on goin'! She is the youngest of the legendary Sonnet family, who have been strong magicians for generations.

Hugo Whalen: A 26-year-old man with a cold and calculating mood, he is the strategist and powerhouse of the party. 5 years prior to the beginning of the main story, Hugo was arrested by his fellow comrades because he had been framed for killing the squad captain, and his own best friend. Fighting for years, Hugo had to've been one of the best soldiers alive, and became a war hero. He belives that when there is peace, "heroes" like him would only bring more suffering, so he accepts his fate and becomes a death row inmate. Hugo doesn't hesitate when it comes to violence, and he can at times be sort of a pyromaniac. He thinks of Alex as a hopeless fool hoping to be a hero, and dislike Lilka because she constantly gets them into trouble. His upraising is unknown, but he claims that it was nothing special.

Raziel, Alex's Access Form: A mysterious being, and the very thing that tries to make Alex kill others. He contains immense power, and harnesses the hatred and darkness of those around him to destroy his foes. This is the very being that tried to destroy the planet 1000 years ago (storywise), and here, he's the main villian, but for now, Alex has full control over him (which pisses Raziel off to no end). This is kinda like Naruto and the Kyuubi (Nine-Tailed Fox), but whatever...

Major Side Characters;
Ricardo Dumont: A mysterious man who supports Alex & co. on their journey, he provides help (As well as comedy and perverted jokes). He doesn't look like much, but the heroes soon find out he's only part of a much bigger story...

--

That's all for now! Ricardo needs to be thought on alittle more, though..
This isn't completely accurate to Wild Arms 2, since I'm only about 6% through, but it's good enough for now, right? And besides; this way, it won't just be a WA2 clone, now will it? I kinda started getting lazy near the end of Hugo's bio.. *gets punched* :blue-eye:  Damn critics...
Title:
Post by: DragonBlaze on April 30, 2007, 08:40:42 AM
You have a very nice tutorial going here, i'll add it to the recommended tutorials :)
Title:
Post by: Dele on May 01, 2007, 01:35:21 AM
Changing things now to make my main character seem less blah. Thanks.


PS:  :firefox: Just got rid of Internet explorer 4 nights ago. To hell with that lol. <3 Firefox. Anyways carry on!
Title:
Post by: Phayre on May 01, 2007, 07:43:08 PM
1. I've been reccomended! HA! *happy singing* Glad I could help poke holes in your characters...... it's all for the greater good, my friends, all for the greater good.
And now..... for my first official Character Poking! Yay! *happy dance with the singing*

I haven't played WIld Arms (yes, I'm sure it's blasphemy..... go play Tales of Destiny, sillies), so I'm not gonna go into that little aspect. But..... here we go on the other stuff....

Alex Backstrom:
Name: Seems like just a random name, sort of doesn't fit with the idea I'm getting from your game. (Isn't the hero of WA Rudy or something like that?) Maybe look up the meaning of WA's hero's name on behindthename.com and do a play off it (like if you were doing an FFX ripoff, go from Tidus to something with a water meaning..... or something....) or try for a connotation involving his struggle. Alexander (I'm assuming that's the full name) is associated with Alexander the Great, is rather common, and means "protector of man". Is this your Alex?
Backstory: Nice backstory and character struggle. I like it muchly (and am interested in your story already, silly me ^^), although I know you just nabbed it for your parody. Well, whatever. Go with it. Make sure to add little things, like family and stuff. I like that he has a logical job other than hero man. How did Raziel get in him? Is this a WA thing I should know about? *is puzzled*
Personality: I like that he has questions about the role of a hero and all..... but try and get past that too. Every RPG hero and his dog has hero insecurity, except for jackasses like avatar man Squall, who just angst all the time. ^^ Add more personal struggles, even past his nasty beastie and all. Nasty beasties are cool, but they probably aren't his only problem. Moving on now.

Chuiko Sonnet:
Name: ....Sonnet??? Chuiko Pain-in-the-arse-to-write-poetry-form? I know RPGs often have last names like that, and maybe it's another WA thing I don't get..... but I don't like it. As for Chuiko.... is that Japanese? Sounds Japanese. I'm not saying you did this, but randomly choosing cool-sounding Japanese names tends to seem out of place. Especially with the last name Sonnet.
Backstory/Personality: I like the familial relationship here. What's this Garland like? He sounds cool. ^^ Dictates the mood of the party..... what does that mean? Is she one of those awful contagious people who spreads sunshine wherever she goes, or does she impose her moods on others forcefully? As far as cliches go, Chuiko is in danger of falling into the cheerful, clumsy heroine type, or the awkward but awesome type, neither of which are fun. Make sure to flesh her and her cool brother out more. ^^

Hugo Whalen:
Name: When I say HUGO, you say GILCHRIST! HUGO! *waits.....* I said, HUGO! *....* Damn. Somebody say Gilchrist and get it..... I'll love you forever......
Anywho..... *is a TOD geek today*
Maybe it's just my own personal connotations, but both Hugo and Whalen seem like names for a very serious old fat guy. (.....Whalen?!) Maybe reconsider, something with a stronger feel to it.
Backstory/Personality: Keep in mind that "pyromaniac" does not mean "Oooooh, fire is pretty; I'm gonna go light a match and stare at it for an hour." That's just weird. As for the whole framed traitor thing...... have you played FFXII? If not, don't, but if yes...... Basch..... you don't want to make another Basch, because the world WILL disown you. If this isn't part of your parody, change it somehow to freshen it up. It's a common idea in games and literature. I also don't understand his reasoning for staying on death row (would they have a death row in this time/place? unless it's recent past, present, or futuristic..... probably not!) Could you expand on this for me?

Raziel:
Name: AWESOME NAME. Can I steal it? Please? *grin* Sounds sort of angelic, like something in Milton. Is it from Milton? Hmmm.
Backstory/Personality: Uhhhh..... I don't have a lot to work with here. I think it would be cool if when Alex is under Raziel's control, he exhibits Raziel's mannerisms and personality occasionally in addition to the "kill stuff" ethic. In my novel, one of the characters created an alternate personality for when he has to kill stuff, and when he goes into it, it's like he's a different person. Alternate personalities are fun to write, but hard to do well.

I'm not gonna touch Ricardo. Not enough there, really. ^^ *punch* Yep, I'm a critic.
Don't take what I said wrong. It's all just opinion, yadayadayada, blahblahblah. Do let me know if I helped you at all, and others are welcome to post until I think of something else to write here.
Title: How To Make Interesting Characters: Mannerisms!
Post by: Phayre on May 21, 2007, 03:49:23 PM
Another stirring installment!
Mannerisms are the way your character moves, speaks, reacts, et cetera, at least for my purposes here. They can really give a feel to a character, even if the character has no real significance. It can make an unimportant person memorable. Note: Most examples are corny, as always, but they get the point across, I think.

Let's take a totally incidental made up guy. His name is Gideon Montgomery Jones. Gideon here is the member of an elite class of swordsmen. He's boastful and arrogant, and he hates people who don't respect his prowess.
Fair enough, right? Nah, not really. It bored me just writing that. How can we demonstrate this better? Let's start with speech mannerisms.
To me, Gideon Montgomery Jones sounds like a snobby name, and he seems like a snobby guy. To show that, let's go beyond NPCs going, "Oh, look at that goddamn snob, Gideon, woooooo!" That's lame. Instead, let's make Gideon talk like a snob. For example, Gideon is at the inn. It's full. What does Gideon say to the innkeeper?
1. "But I really wanted a nap..... couldn't you make some room?"
2. "Aw, shucks. I'll go down to Billy's inn, then. Dang."
3. "Kick those idiots down there out, then!"
I think 3.

Another aspect is word choice. Made up person 2, Mimi Draper, is a loud, brash young girl from the backwater village of Ketner. How does she say, "Which way to Muskrat Town? I need to buy some eggs."
1. "I do believe I'm lost. Can you direct me to Muskrat Town? I am in need of eggs, with which I shall bake supremely delicious cookies!"
2. "I needs me some eggs. Which way is, uh, Muskrat Town?"
3. "Like, OMG, where the heck is Muskrat Town? I TOTALLY need eggs."

Is she a hick? Choose 2. Is she more educated than you'd expect? Choose one. Is she a valley girl? Choose 3. It really depends on your character. Not everyone from a backwater village is a hick.

Do keep in mind that my examples are exaggerated. They shouldn't be this pronounced, but they should be noticeable. Comic relief characters can be more exaggerated. Try this little guide:

1. Longer, complex sentences for more educated people.
2. Slang for a young or "cool" person, or outdated slang for a wannabe-hip adult
3. Apostrophes to leave letters out and create an accent ("Oh, look! It's 'arry Potter!". Not to be overused. Play 9, check out Conde Petie. Great example of accent spelling.
4. Use more intricate wording for some characters, but don't just pull out a thesaurus. Use words you really know, both context and meaning.

Movement is hard in RPG Maker, so I'll cover facial expressions. If you're using custom facesets and changing the faces with the character's emotions, be careful. Not everyone gets mad the same way, for example. A tough guy might furrow his eyebrows and grit his teeth, whereas a whiny girl might squeeze her eyes shut and scream. Think about your character's personality while making expressions. Every last one should show their personality, not just their emotions.

Next.......... I dunno.
Title:
Post by: A Forgotten Legend on May 21, 2007, 04:57:54 PM
Bravo!
Title:
Post by: drenrin2120 on May 21, 2007, 06:40:21 PM
Very well thought out. This is all very good! Give me ideas for when developing characters, which is one of my weak spots.
Title: How To Make Interesting Characters: The Guide to Badass Brooding
Post by: Phayre on June 19, 2007, 05:52:16 PM
Yay, an update.
All right, so I was thinking as I worked on the story for Ember Sky, about how to create a dark character with a bad attitude and a usually troubled past. You know the type: FFVIII has Squall, FFVII has Vincent, ToD has Leon, KH has Riku..... yeah. You get the picture.
I wanted to have a darker sort of character as a foil to a happier, more carefree character. Thing is.... how does one create such a character without delving into extreme angst?
First, let me explain what I mean by angst. Angst, as most people understand it (not a technical definition), is continual brooding, sulking, and pessimism over something that has no bearing on the current situation. For example:
Mark van Markymark is an orphan. When he was younger, he witnessed the brutal murder of his parents. He then wandered around, alone, for years upon years, building up an intense hatred and bitterness about the world. He joins your party, but everytime the main character mentions anything regarding family, love, or relationships, Mark gets a sad, fangirl-bait look on his face and whispers, "I don't know anything about.... love.... sniff...."
Think about it. You would be very sick of Mark in a matter of minutes.... unless of course you're a screaming fangirl. In which case, go away.

It is perfectly fine for a character to feel and exhibit sadness, despair, bitterness, worry. They're human emotions, and without them, the character would be strangely flat. Thing is, you don't want them to display it all the time. There needs to be some anger, surprise, even *gasp* happiness.

In order to make a truly "badass" brooding type, rather than a simple wishy-washy angstmuffin, you need to first determine the cause of their bitterness et cetera. Maybe they can see the future, and have seen something horrible that they can't stop from happening. Or maybe they are responsible for a horrendous crime, but they are torn between coming forward and facing the penalty or getting away with it while someone else takes the blame. These have both been done.  In order to give the character a darker feel, this incident/circumstance should play a role in their personality. Yes, they can be more low-key, maybe not smile as easily as other characters. Do not, no matter what, refer to their predicament at random intervals. Try not to make everything they say seem so steeped in angst that you could drown in it. For example:
Arla Shang is a battle-scarred ex-soldier. She accidentally shot and killed her best friend, Jack Benimble, who had once taken a bullet to save her. Yeah, that could get pretty angsty. She's with you on your massive spaceship, the Jorgenheimerschnitzelpoof. You ask her where you should go next. Tell me, which seems more like something a real person might say:
"It doesn't matter. Anywhere we go, the past.... the past will always.... follow...."
Or....
"I don't care, okay? I'm busy."
Both could fit her character. The first one, however, is insanely stupid.
More later. I have stuff to do.
Title:
Post by: Roland_Deschain on June 22, 2007, 12:39:04 AM
Hey, Phayre, d'ya mind if I expand on the Badass part of the tutorial? I mean, I make games with said type of hero, so I have a few things you didn't mention...
Nice tutorial, though! :D

Title:
Post by: Phayre on June 22, 2007, 08:56:18 AM
You can post a description of your character as an example, for those who learn best by example.
Jeez, RD, stop being so dang helpful.
I'm going to continue my little rant now.


A lot of the dark, brooding feel in a character is created by how they speak. Yeah, you're gonna get a brooding sort of feel from a guy in black or whatever, but it'll seem more realistic if he talks "darkly" as well. Try the following:
1. Use ellipses (...) before some things they say to indicate a pause for thought. Don't do this on everything, or else it just seems like evrything the say is "...ANGST", and you don't want that. Also try, but don't use too much, a simple "..." when the person has nothing to say.
2. Use larger, or simply more elegant words to create a brooding poetic type character, but don't make them speak as if they're reciting bad poetry. That's stupid. For example:
"Come dawn, we press on.",
"We're gonna head out in the morning.", or
"When the fair golden orb of fiery rage lifts her crackling chin to the cruel, cold sky, we shall rise like stars of glory and roam like freed pigeons towards our treasured goal.........."
#1, alhtough it uses common words, has an elegant, quiet feel to it, whereas #2 sounds fairly commonplace. #3 sounds like the stuff you hear in high school creative writing classes. Ick, what a horror show. This kind of BS is fine for a parody character. Always think critically about what your character says. Does it suit them? Does it make sense? Do you know anyone at all who would say that?

Another note on the brooding type: pretty boys are not the only people who brood. In fact, they have no more reason to be brood-y and dark than your main heroine, or the crazy old guy who lives in the cupboard of the airship. Brooding prettyboys are all well and good. They're also known as fangirl bait, and having an army of screaming fangirls to do your bidding is never a bad thing. A quick list of "brooding prettyboys", so you can see how common this is if you haven't already caught on (note that this is all ripped from experience with my insane fangirl companions, who glomp anything that angsts)
Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter)
Vincent Valentine (FF7)
Squall the avatar ma--- I mean, Leonhart (FF8)
You'd be surprised at how many teenage girls consider Auron "pretty" (FF10)
Leon Magnus (Tales of Destiny)
Riku [Rikku? Ack.] (Kingdom Hearts)
There's at least one in every anime I've ever seen. You know, the wiry whiny type who spends his time sparking dirty fanfics on the internet.
There are a few "prettyboys" on the list who have earned their book/game/series more screaming fangirls than it deserves. So yes, if you want screaming fangirls, make yourself a brooding prettyboy. (ES has one, mainly by accident. -_-) They will make pictures of him, stick the word "Bishonen" on his face, and claim that they have rightfully caught him and are training him to help them become a Bishie Master. It's scary.

If you're going to have a brooding character, try some other things. The following character types are rarely made darker:
1. The heroine
2. An older guy
3. A little kid
4. Actually, females in general....

Always make sure there's a reason, though. Don't just throw in some darkness.

Other traits of a brooding character commonly include sarcasm, cynicism, apathy, loneliness, and stubbornness. If your character has traits like this, it's fine and dandy. Perhaps use them to show growth? For example:
FFVIII's Squall starts the game being a quiet, nasty SoB. Through his interactions with some brighter, cheerier characters, he retains his core qualities (quiet, somewhat cynical), but becomes a little more outgoing.
Small steps like this are excellent, especially in this type of character, because you don't notice it all the time. Maybe when the person starts their game over, they meet the character again and they say, "Hey, I don't remember him/her like that. Wow, they changed." Or something. Stagnant characters aren't fun at all.

More later.
Title:
Post by: Roland_Deschain on June 22, 2007, 10:11:52 AM
Okay! Alex, my character in Abyss, is a good example of a dark, brooding badass. He's not whiny about his past, although he does have a few evident regrets (I can't say them yet, that's a HUGE spoiler). While his life has not been up to snuff, he does express the different emotions in his own vague way. He expresses happiness with sarcasm, anger with threats, sadness with silence, and most other emotions normally.
He is not, nor does he ever have a reason to be, lonely. He may seem quiet, but that's only because he's planning how best to kill you if you betray him. His major flaw is paranoia, although his quick temper and moderate arrogance do hold him back a bit.
Also, Phayre, keep up the good work!
Title:
Post by: Yhtomitsu on June 29, 2007, 04:02:26 AM
good tutorial many new people coud learn from this
Title:
Post by: Phayre on July 17, 2007, 09:41:48 AM
Everybody loves that bloody name, Alex. Jeez, I don't get it. Why not Alexander or Alexei or something? *sigh*
Anyway....
To counter the mini-tut here on dark characters, here we have a bit on happier characters.
Every story needs a bit of sunshine. Even the darkest, grimmest of stories needs someone who starts out optimistic and innocent, if only as a foil to show how dark things really are. Many of these cheerful charactersnd up being annoying, especially in non-professional games and stories. They're all bouncy-bouncy candy-high, and don't seem to do much else. Can you avoid this? Well, sure.
Your first step is to figure out why your person is so optimistic. Perhaps, as is often the case, they haven't seen as much as your other characters, and thus don't understand how bad things really get. Keep in mind that such an innocent character would be easily scarred, however. In the face of hardship, they would break very easily.
For example:
Happy-go-lucky Misa (what? I don't watch Death Note.... *hides) has never left her happy village of Grapesodaville, until she goes to a private school in Root Beer City (i love soda....). On her way to the city, her party is attacked by bandits. Despite the fact that no one died, one of her guards was hurt. A sight like this would send innocent Misa into hysterics.
Some examples of innocent characters who undergo change:
Terra (FF6)
Aeris (FF7)
Rinoa (FF8.... hey, everybody knows Final Fantasy, it seems)
Dagger (FF9)
Yuna (FFX)
Those are just Final Fantasy examples, but it's a common motif in literature. However, video games tend to make the innocent character female. It's annoying. Males can be innocent too!

On the other hand, a character may be optimistic because they've seen worse. A character who's lived a hard life may be used to hardship and would be able to maintain a facade of happiness. Few people use this in stories, but cheerfulness can be a way to cover up pain.
For example:
Jack McSweeney's family was murdered before his eyes. His village was destroyed, and he was almost killed. He hates talking about the incident, or even thinking about it. Subsequently, he has blocked it out. He still remembers it, but forces himself to be happy, knowing that life could be much worse.

More coming.
Maybe.
Title:
Post by: ellie-is on July 17, 2007, 10:16:57 AM
Awesome job phayre! This tut is one of the best tuts I ever read! Congratulations! :)
Title:
Post by: Phayre on July 17, 2007, 01:19:40 PM
Thanks muchly. *grin*
Any topics anybody wants covered? Characters for me to jab?
Title:
Post by: A Forgotten Legend on July 17, 2007, 01:50:20 PM
A way to counter Roland's Tutorial.

lol.

I like Grapesodaville (Firefox is giving me that it should be spelled : Brazzaville).  and Root Beer City.  They would go great in a comedy.

Thanks, this helped me with my Anna and Braeden characters' future.

Since they are the ones who are the happy-go-lucky ones.  I think.  I haven't gotten too far into their past yet.  Well, Braeden's anyway.
Title:
Post by: Phayre on May 23, 2008, 01:23:56 AM
Holy CRAP, more tutorial. It's probably not what I said I'd do, but feh. I was thinking about this the other day.

How To Make Interesting Characters Part I-have-no-idea: Using Effective Visual Cues

So I've spoken about how it's not just prettyboys in black who angst. Well, despite this shocking fact, visual cues are very important to a good character. Their appearance, even in sprite form, is the first thing your player will see, unless you carefully throw in some foreshadowing. More on that some other time.

Now, I'm not much of a spriter or an artist, so I'm not gonna go into the technicalities of utilizing my advice. I'm only going into basics, not face shape and all since this is mostly for spriting purposes. However, there are definitely some tips that can help you visualize a character whose appearance fits JUST RIGHTEH!

First, think about the personality and background you've figured out. And not just your archetype. Think really hard. How neat is your character? How much money does he make? Is he happy and optimistic? Shy and lonely? Think about what you associate with those traits.

For example, Lorenzo Morris is the heir to an insanely wealthy businessman. He's a bit of a rebel. He enjoys the company of t3h lAdiEz. What do I think of? Well-dressed and fashionable, with a mildly unconventional haircut, wearing mostly black to be "hip".

But that is so dull, isn't it? Try playing with preconceived notions. What is Lorenzo's rebellious side showed in the way he dyed his hair bright purple and grew it down to his knees? Or what if he dressed like a hobo so no one would think of him as a rich boy? Little twists like this can add an element of interest to a character right away. the key is to have the appearance fitting enough that the player gets a suggestion of personality, but there is enough inconsistency to surprise and interest them.

A more interesting example than Lorenzo: Melinda Snow has always lived in a poor household. She is quiet and reserved, and has very little confidence. She barely has enough money to put food on the table for her 4 children and ailing husband, but when she's around town she wears seemingly extravagant clothing to hide her shame so no one thinks to pity her. Her hair is mousy brown, just the right shade for shrinking into herself when she needs to.

Another important element is color. The same rules with inconsistency apply. You can also play with double meanings in the symbolism for color. Some common associations:

Black: darkness, mourning, evil, mystery
White: light, purity, innocence, blankness
Grey: monotony, ambiguousness, indecision, boredom, bleakness
Red: blood, lust, love, fire, anger, passion
Orange: vibrancy, vivacity, happiness
Yellow: optimism, honesty, friendliness, electrity
Green: wealth, life, vitality, positivity, nature
Blue: tranquility, air, water, sadness
Purple: elegance, royalty, nobility

You may have your own ideas about what you think of when you think of color as well. Try incorporating bits of surprises, using dark colors for a cheerful character or something, to add some unexpectedness.

Also, keep in mind that some things are highly overdone. You'll be hard pressed to find an RPG player who sees a silver-haired villain and doesn't go into One Winged Angel straight away. If you're going to use a visual archetype, try and shake it up a bit at least.

That's all for now... I think.


Title:
Post by: Moosetroop11 on May 23, 2008, 01:51:40 PM
*Takes notes in order to win the contest*
Title:
Post by: A Forgotten Legend on May 23, 2008, 04:43:37 PM
lol
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters
Post by: Phayre on June 28, 2008, 07:38:04 PM
Yes, do take notes. Notes are good.
Any suggestions for the next installment? I was gonna do heroes vs. heroines, but Zerlina's got that covered.
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters
Post by: Uberpwn_w00t on June 29, 2008, 03:07:00 AM
Wow. I just read everything. Everything from page 1 to page 3. Everything. I have to say, this is great. Lots of useful information.

And I thought I knew everything about good character crafting/development. >.>

Actually, now that I think of it, I need to show this to a friend of mine, he´s into writing and literature, and I think he would find this enjoyable.
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters
Post by: Phayre on April 30, 2010, 03:15:18 PM
Holy mother of something delicious. There is more. And yeah, I decided to cover heroines.


How To Make Interesting Characters - Don't Forget The Ladies

I've chosen this topic because I know a lot of you are fellows, and there's always a gender bias in writing. Face it-- we know our own gender better than we know the other. I know from experience-- it is very easy to make generalizations with characters, and female characters in RPGs are very frequently bland archetypes.

Everyone seems to think they know what's cliche and what is not when it comes to female characters. Of course, avoid the damsel in distress archetype! That's elementary school stuff!
Unfortunately the adamant refusal to give into this archetype has resulted in one equally awful: Rebellious Princess Chick.

Now, you don't have to be a princess to be an RPC. You can be any female, who just REFUSES to do "girly things", insists on doing everything like the boys (and doing it better), and even crossdressing to get into the No Girls Allowed clubs. You know the RPC very well. She's popped up in nearly every fantasy book written since the 1970s, because OMG SHE IS SO PROGRESSIVE.
No. She is flat, tired, boring, and predictable. Do not stick the RPC in your story and expect her to be loved.

Just like all of your other characters, your heroine needs legitimate motivation. At the same time, men and women do not think or act in the same fashion. You can't write a guy, stick boobs on it, and call it a heroine. No, that is ineffective. Females, more than males, tend to be relegated to simple archetypes with little variation. We have the dreaded RPC, the Damsel-in-Distress, the Strong-Willed Quiet Chick, Spunky Annoying Chick, Mystical Magic Chick, Badass Angry Chick, No-Purpose-Other-Than-Gravity-Defying-Chest-Chick. . . think hard, you know you've seen them.

The tendency is strong in both classical literature and modern pieces to associate women with magic, nature, and the occult, stemming from various mythologies-- think Mother Nature, Artemis, Hecate, the medieval notions of witches. While this is fascinating-- it is overplayed. These show up in games as super-powered mage girls, survivors of ancient races, mysteriously gorgeous cyborgs, reincarnations of goddesses, chosen maidens with magic amulets. Think hard-- there aren't many male characters given these roles, are there? And when you think of the females who are, aren't they often interchangeable?

In order to really create an interesting female character, challenge yourself to think of her beyond other female characters you know of. Don't make her with Arwen or Samus or Zelda or Yuna in mind. Work from the ground up, keeping your setting in mind. It's fine if she does end up fitting an archetype mentioned, but never force your character into that. Experiment playing with gender roles. Try a matriarchal society (that isn't in a magic temple or elf village). Navigate the ideas of warrior women around inevitable things like childbirth and motherhood.

But most of all, don't work to "resist" other archetypes. Again-- start from the ground up. Making a character just to play off a well-known cliche is fun, but gets boring very quickly, as demonstrated by our good friend the RPC.


Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: Zerlina on April 30, 2010, 10:32:22 PM
Nice! I'm glad you wrote this because there are so many male game makers, film makers, and authors, that female characters often get shafted or else earnestly miswritten.

I also had a tutorial up a while ago that's related to this in case anyone's interested on reading more on female characters. Combine your knowledge and you can't lose! http://www.charas-project.net/forum/index.php?topic=23202.msg251002#msg251002 (keep in mind this was written in high school)
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: SaiKar on May 01, 2010, 01:10:56 AM
I've spent a disproporitionate amount of my RPG storywriting trying to make interesting female characters and I'm not sure how fair this is.

I think you can "get away with" giving the girls stranger backstories than you can guys because making a strong female character makes her cool but making a weaker male character makes him pathetic. You can't have a guy with a magical amulet, not because the magical amulet is an inherently bad plot device (it's a bit overplayed, but that lends to it being a good, if overused, plot device) because guys are supposed to rely on their own strength, not fancy jewelry. It's a similar problem with making male spellcasters - there's a really fine line between doing it right and just making them seem wimpy. But with female characters, the sky is the limit. People will accept weaker female characters because genes are against them on that one and they'll accept stronger female characters because it's (even in progressive today's RPG age) still fairly refreshing.

Another big problem is that these RPGs are still battle engines with a storyline attached. Sooner or later you gotta take your chick into combat. If she's good with a sword, she kind of falls into your RPC, even if she has a perfectly good reason for being good with a sword. If she's a magic user, you'd call her a mystical magic chick. I mean, short of rewriting the entire concept of how RPGs do combat, it's going to be hard to avoid every chiche.

Which bring me to the other point - it's not like guys dodge these any better than girls in most storylines. I swear, if I see one more mercenary with a heart of gold (Locke, Cloud, Squall, Zidane easily come to mind from Final Fantasy but it's easily the most common main character) I'm gunna scream. Or a big, kinda dumb, slow but strong guy. Or a sassy guy. Or a womanizer. It's no better on the other end of the Y-chromosome.

But I think most of the problem I'm having right now is that this is about 95% "don't" and 5% "do", with the "do" being summed up with roughly "do something else." I realize the goal here is to avoid chiche stereotyped boring characters, but you didn't really tell people how to actually go about doing this. Your few suggestions seem to revolve around emphasizing the girliness with things like childbirth, which isn't really easy RPG material. "brb guys for 9 months, gotta have a baby. Don't let the world end while I'm gone!" To say nothing of actually bringing sexuality into the otherwise fairly sterile RPG environment - seems like a dangerous road.

You say "You can't write a guy, stick boobs on it, and call it a heroine." but, well, the alternative isn't very appealing either. People are people and a lot of people have the same motivations. I'd much rather see this approach to storywriting than people just assuming all girls have to be weak and boring and all guys gotta have a sword that's obviously compensating for something.
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: zuhane on May 01, 2010, 07:01:17 AM
My character's quite interesting :D
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: Prpl_Mage on May 01, 2010, 06:52:36 PM
I agree fully on both of you.

In fantasy novels girls tend to have one of two roles. 1 is the girly girl who needs saving and likes to weep. the other one is the warrior chick who tries her best to be as strong as any man, likes to make fun of the protagonist for being weak and is basically a rude guy but a girl.

But I can't say that I avoid all the problems there is. Most of the time my females are more responsible than the males. It mostly comes from how we raise women today but still.
Sometimes I make them moderly, but it's more like gransmotherly in the end though.
Sometimes they act like guys, and are just guys with long hair and boobs, why not? Girls don't need to be girly and neither do they have to act like Zell in FF8- christ.

And making them mothers just adds a kind of bad taste unless their kid is dead or captured. Why would she decide to travel the world with your party and try to save the world from evil by collecting the magical crystals? Doesn't she have kid back home who could use his/her strong-willed mother? And no, you don't bring your kid with you on the journey to save the world. That would be a foolish move.


Well, the way I see it. Both sides have their stereotypes, men should be cold and enigmatic OR hero'wy and goody good. Girls are either damsels or over-powerful anime characters.
It's only natural that the background of a character becomes one of your stereotypes of what a [gender] is. We want a healer with a troubled past, we make her female, since females usually live through troubled pasts. Or at least people feel sympaty for girls and claims guys with uncool troubled pasts to be wimps.
So yeah, a lot of this is affected by our own prejudices - and we don't want to create characters that players can't relate to.
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: drenrin2120 on May 04, 2010, 08:24:55 PM
I think a mother with a kid back home would make an interesting character because she's controversial. The player would be asking all those questions, "She's got a kid to take care of, what is she doing?" Of course it would be up to the writer to give a damn good explanation.

And honestly, the only problem I have with this tutorial is when you say players should have to connect to the characters. Eh, I just don't agree with that. I think if the player doesn't like a character because they can't relate with the character: well maybe the player's just unimaginative or shallow. Characters that are hard to relate to that we would quickly regard as being a "bad idea for a character", such as the mother, could make for some of the more interesting characters and bring a story down fresh paths.

This is a great tut though, I read the whole thing and loved pretty much everything you had to say. Once again, years later, I feel I may have let my characters' personalities fall to the way-side. But they'd probably suck a lot worse now if I hadn't read this tut three years ago. (or however long it is)

Story and character development can be very exciting. :) Too many people take it for granted.
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: Roland_Deschain on May 04, 2010, 08:37:55 PM
I find myself compelled to respond to Purple.
As far as gender cliches go, I try to avoid them whenever possible. Examples, all female characters: One is a manipulative bitch who controls just about everything from behind the scenes. She pits everyone against each other and, oh yeah, she's the leader of the hero's faction.
Another is a knight, and not of the cliche amazon variety. She's a peasant who got sick of being bossed around, and so stole a sword, shield, and armor and decided to join the army. Her motivation is best described as "boredom."
The third and final is an assassin. She was "saved" at a very young age by her mentor, who she perceives as a god. She's loyal to the extreme, and apart from quoting scripture very often, has a big lack of personality. This is due entirely to zero social interaction for years and being put through intense training so she could be basically invincible.

See guys? It's easy to come up with unique ideas for characterization!
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: A Forgotten Legend on May 04, 2010, 08:56:10 PM
You've pointed out everything that is done, so what kind of things can be done to help it?  Specifics maybe?  Still an interesting read though.
Title: Re:
Post by: TheRebelMage on July 06, 2010, 04:27:17 PM
Thanks muchly. *grin*
Any topics anybody wants covered? Characters for me to jab?
I need help in making a good villan. Care to help? :-[
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: A Forgotten Legend on July 06, 2010, 09:27:01 PM
This topic was last posted in by me on May 04, 2010, 08:56:10 PM.  Uh... thats like 2 months ago.  Topic kicking is bad.
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: TheRebelMage on July 16, 2010, 07:10:58 PM
This topic was last posted in by me on May 04, 2010, 08:56:10 PM.  Uh... thats like 2 months ago.  Topic kicking is bad.
Woops! My bad.
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: zuhane on July 17, 2010, 10:31:08 AM
I completely agree here. I despise games with characters that go:

"Let us travel to the east and enter a castle and talk to the queen."
"I agree with that statement."
"I hate my life."

They're soooooo boring! You might as well just not include any dialogue! Make characters funny, angry, annoying - anything!
Just stop making those cliché main characters who have confidence and like adventuring, then the quiet girls who like healing
people, then the really moody character who barely speaks. BORING! RUBBISH! BEEN DONE BEFORE!

I'm being serious when I say I won't play your game if your characters suck! Such an important aspect. Probably why I love
Disgaea and Team Fortress 2 so much. The characters are great. Then again, I do love Final Fantasy 10 for some reason :P

In fact, I'm going to add to this!


Extra thoughts:

When designing your character, draw them out on paper. Write all aspects of that character out. This can include childhood
dreams, phobias, nightmares and experiences. Write about their personality type, give them a starsign and follow that general
pattern. Make them stick to a personality and do it well. Bring up their past throughout. Also, make characters form certain bonds
with certain characters. Don't just have a party of drones - make some characters clash or get along, fancy each other or bitch behind
each others' backs! It all adds to the fun.

Give characters catchphrases and shyness. Imagine you're them. Would you really say "We should travel to the generic, crap town to
the south"? Or would you be more likely to say "Come on then, guys. Are we gonna head off or what?"? Remember, you want to make the
characters realistic and interesting!!!
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: A Forgotten Legend on July 17, 2010, 03:06:10 PM
...You made me think Phayre had posted.  Jerks.

Although, pleasant read, Zuhane.
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: zuhane on July 17, 2010, 03:18:55 PM
...You made me think Phayre had posted.  Jerks.

Although, pleasant read, Zuhane.

Awwwww... thanks! Wasn't Phayre a bully? I can't remember.
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: ellie-is on July 17, 2010, 03:29:52 PM
No, she was that hot chick. :p
Never actually saw her, but she's a girl, I'm a nerd, so I would probably think she's hot
Title: Re: How To Make Interesting Characters - HOLY SHIZZ AN UPDATE
Post by: A Forgotten Legend on July 17, 2010, 04:36:53 PM
Her, Roland_Deschain and I all had this team for a little bit for storyline help.