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Article - 'Character Confidance and Originality' by Guest

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Aug 9, 2003

Blurb

A mixed gamemaking article from MrY that focuses on the confidance of characters, and what you can do with confidance to make a better game.

Body

Welcome to another of my occasional gamemaking articles! In this article, I am going to be covering one aspect of character-making that can help you gamemakers out a lot with making powerful dramas, and that is the emotion called confidance. Also, I am going to branch out a bit on making original character traits, as well as making characters realistic and relationship webs. Don't expect this article to take a long time, but please do expect to learn a few things on how confidance and lack of confidance can both help you make awesome stories.



Overconfidant Characters

Confidant characters are typically overconfidant as well. These characters are usually those in favorable positions, as well as evil, early in the game, a la evil generals with massive armies, or unstoppable madmen with insane powers. Thus, you can make your games more refreshing and original by having a good, heroic character whose character flaw is overconfidance. Or, why not let the party suffer a crushing defeat from an enemy they thought was weaker? In short, overconfidant evils are cliched, and overconfidant goods are underused.



Unconfidant Characters

Unconfidant characters are the exact opposite of overconfidant characters. Usually, unconfidant characters are the underdogs (and rightfully so :D). Also, in order to tie the player in further with the game, feelings of despair are given by unconfidant heroes facing up against supposedly-unstoppable foes. But, why not experiment with this a bit by having unconfidant enemies instead? An enemy that cannot accurately judge just how powerful the hero seems more human, as well as wise for not making quick judgments.



Mix it Up

Try to have villains that are unconfidant, and see how the end product comes out. If you don't like it, you just have to edit one or two hours' work, and you benefit by firmly establishing what works and what does not for your particular game. This also applies for heroes and virtuous characters, in that occasional overconfidant ones will be a fresh face to RPGs. Basically, if you use the opposite of the cliches in your character design, you will most likely come up with original ideas. The hard part is actually making it all believable.



Make it Realistic!

You must make certain that, if you do use these anti-cliches to try to make your characters more varied and original, you must implement them correctly! This basically means that you must learn how people generally think emotionally, something you can develop from playing RPGs in your free time and reading novels. You must also develop a good understanding of fluid dramatic dialogue, for all the times when the villains may admit their fears. I warn you now, trying to learn good dialogue from RPGs may only lead to you picking up long-used cliches! Rather, you should try reading novels and especially taking mental notes of just how dialogue in real life sounds. If you can pull it off correctly, having characters interrupt each other makes for much more dramatic, lively dialogue, meaning more realism.



Relationship Web

If you wish, you can try building a Relationship Web of all of your characters to help you comprehend how they'll act between each other. What does this mean? Well, let's say that my fake RPG, 'Quest for the Child of the Gods of Murder Locked Under the Final Dungeon of ' , we have two characters named Larry and Jim. So, to begin the Relationship Web, we'd write their names down on a blank sheet of paper, and draw a line between them, like this:



Larry----------Jim



Now, what is their feelings of each other? Let's say that Larry hates Jim for not doing the laundry, and Jim secretly loves Larry for his manly figure and intellectual ways of thought (And I agree, that DOES sound weird :o). Now, we just edit the line to indicate this:



Larry--hate-><-love--Jim



Do you get it? Then, with more than two characters, the web may look like this:



Larry----------Jim



----------------Harry



And so forth. You just place lines between them all and write their relationships. Simple, aye? From this next diagram...



Larry----------Jim



----------------Harry----------Mary



You can assume that Larry simply has no relationship with Mary. Why? Well, it is possible to draw lines to Mary from Jim and Harry, but not from Larry. Using this rule and all the others mentioned, you can use the Relationship Web to create a simply but effective universe of all the characters in the plot, who they know, and what they think of those they know. Nice idea?



Finishing Touches

Make sure when you finish your storyline and plot that you review the characters and make sure their feelings are correctly placed. Next, make sure you read through it all again and determine whether all the characters' actions are deserved and correct, according to their moral compasses and their courage.



Conclusion

Thank you for reading. I hope you've learned a few things about confidant characters and relationships between characters, as well as how to make the characters seem more realistic and original.