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Article - 'Personality Development' by Marcus

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Jan 14, 2004

Blurb

An article by Bakusan on how to create interesting personalities for your characters.

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Personalities are some of the most important yet hardest things to create in a game. Without a personality, a human is simply like a cardboard figure. Bland and boring to talk with (although that was a bad simile because cardboard figures don't really talk). In this tutorial, I will go over the simplest ways to add life into your characters.

Personalities.
There are several types of personalities and everyone has some combination of them. While I'm only giving out the basic personalities, please make note that there are several more and you should not feel limited to adding these to a character.

Gloomy: This personality trait is reflected by being overly depressed and generally negative. These types of people are shy, don't like being in the presence of others, or speak in a negative tone.

Typical quote: It does not matter what you do, we are all going to die sooner or later.

Greedy: These people covet something, whether its money, love, someone else, or some kind of possession. They are generally self centered and only care about themselves although they sometimes mask their lust for a particular item.

Typical quote: Leave me behind. I'm not going until my pockets are stuffed with this gold.

Foolish: These people are clumsy, absent minded, or typically humble. They are not exactly dumb, they just rarely pay attention to their surroundings and "leap before they look."

Typical quote: How was I supposed to know they were sincere when the villagers said "Don't touch this idol or invoke the mighty wrath of several dead gods of ultimate destruction?"

Bluff: The typical personality of your typical thief. These guys have a sly tongue and know how to speak to a person in a way that can manipulate them. They are generally liars and give out false information to benefit themselves.

Typical quote: I'll give you 100 pieces of copper for your 5lb. block of gold.

Cheerful: Your typical cleric in the generic rpgs. This type is always optimistic even in the most serious situations and generally acts as the parties cheerleader.

Typical quote: Lets not give up hope now, the city is just over that ridge!

Timid: These guys are shy, sometimes humble, and generally lack self-confidence. They think of every situation as dangerous and think about their surroundings before taking action.

Typical quote: I don't think I can leap that gap. It would be a better idea to make a bridge of some sort.

Arrogant: These guys love themselves and everything about themselves. They think that they are the best and everyone else is flawed.

Typical quote: Do you really think you can best me?

Wise: These dudes know the ways of the world and how to survive in it. This does not mean they are exactly intelligent, it just means they have more common sense then others.

Typical quote: I don't suggest touching that. It might prove to be your downfall.

Temper: this guy has... well... a short temper. They can be nice but simply blow up if put under enough stress.

Typical quote: If you don't stop that annoying whistling.... I'm GOING TO BE FURIOUS!!!!

Snob: I know many people at school who are like this. They are similar to arrogance in that they love themselves, but they also rebuff and hate others for not being what they are.

Typical quote: DON'T TOUCH ME! I'm very important.

Changing personalities permanently and temporarily: When changing a personality temporarily, do it in moderation. A temper person might blow up in front of his friends but he would act nice or cheerful in front an important figure. Just remember not to go overboard with it. Changing a personality permanently should only be done rarely. Also, it should only happen if a serious event changes that personality. If a persons family is murdered, house burned, girlfriend raped, and his arms cut off... that's a personality changing event. But if a character eats a hamburger and enjoys it, that usually does not warrant changing a personality.

Applying personalities and using them: When applying a personality to a character, choose two or three. Having one usually makes a character shallow (although I do know a few people with the personality of a brick wall) but giving them too many makes them complicated and hard to write about..

Conversations: Here is an example of creating a good conversations using your new knowledge on personalities.

Alex: Arrogant, Temper,
Thiefy: Bluff, Greedy, snob
Healer: Cheerful, Timid
Gandalf: Wise, Gloomy, Arrogant

Bad conversation:
Alex: Hey look, a dragon. Lets go slay it!
Thiefy: Yes, lets do that. I will steal its treasure.
Healer: I'll heal you guys when you get boo-boo.
Gandalf: I will cast magic-missle.

That was lame and boring. There are lots of games (mostly amateur) that do this and it makes me laugh at you and your pathetic skills.

Good conversation:
Alex: Alright, here is the plan. I'll go up to the dragon and flex my mighty muscles. Thiefy, you run around it and apply your back stab skill. Healer, heal me if I get any ouchies (which I doubt due to my enormous amount of hp), and Gandalf... just cast whatever spells you might remember..
Gandalf: I don't think we should make a direct approach, especially if the dragon uses its breath attack.
Healer: Don't worry about that, I have the spells to heal you guys unless the developer decides to kill you off permantly.
Thiefy: I rather not waste my talents on such a small task. Let me take the dragon head on.
Gandalf: Does it matter? We are all going to die here anyways.
Alex: Shut up old man! I had a good plan going. Lets just follow it and I'll make sure you get some of my share.
Thiefy: Sounds fine to me, I love shinies.
Gandalf: Very well, at least I'll be accompanied in that beasts belly.
Healer: I'll heal you if things go bad.
Alex: They won't for my great sword shall cleave the beast in one HIT!

While that conversation took the personalities to the extreme, it was much interesting than the first one and could be excellent if coupled with poses and seen on screen.

Closing: I hoped you enjoyed this... or understood personalities more. While I'm not trying to limit you on what you can do when making a book, video game, or motion picture (for you budding developers), I just thought that this would be a nice guideline if you did not understand or needed help giving your character an extra boost in being interesting.