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Article - 'Realistic Characters I Remake' by fitz_tayo

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Apr 27, 2004

Blurb

Fitz rewrote one of his older articles, this time much more in-depth.

Body

Hey this is Fitz Tayo with his Remake of Realistic Characters Part I. As the original sucked!

Just so you know, this is about how some characters are unrealistic and how you can make them more, um realistic. In this episode I will cover the many repeated personalities of the Hero/Heroine and how to make them more interesting and more realistic.

Repeated Personalities:

First things first, you have your characters, and you want to give them personalities. Before this, when making your characters, you should have already decided what their personalities would be. Otherwise your game could be a bit unplanned, but we don’t know that, only the maker does, but forget it anyway. But when deciding on your characters personalities, you have to make them seem realistic. Unless you want a weird world where random people with the Alex CharSet pop up out of no where and run off to defeat an evil demon lord with the justification that evil must be vanquished. This would make a pretty unoriginal game. So you want to make them realistic right? Well all you have to do to achieve this, is actually THINK, just thinking about what people really do, and would they do things in a certain way. If you do this with absolutely everything, well, then you probably have no need for this article. But read it any way, because I went to the trouble of writing it.

The following is a list of personalities that are unrealistic and repeated:

The natural Hero: This character is so cliché that nearly everyone now hates them. He (Girls like this are rarely seen, which is a good thing, we need less of these characters anyway) will somehow have a strangely large sense of duty and will help any one in need of help and have no angry thoughts about it, just being nice, and not wanting anything in return for it but getting things anyway. I hate this person, they seem to care about nothing but saving the people of Earth or Gaia or wherever the hell they live. He always has no opinions of his own. Think, is this realistic? Make the character get angry at things other than thieves, monsters and evil things. It’s hard to make this character better in anyway, but for those who will use it for no apparent reason, give them a personality, give them traits for certain things. For example, give the character fears, everybody fears something, right? But also, do not mistake fear for unwillingness for something to happen, you can fear a evil demon lord will take over the world, yet it is more realistic to have the character fear evil demon lords. Even better, give them a phobia, like arachnophobia (Fear of arachnids, spiders) or something, yet again, be realistic, don’t have a character afraid of open spaces, because then the hero is unlikely to leave the house unless a certain situation arises. Though I did come up with a story that could use this fear; the hero is scared of open spaces and refuses to leave the house, something attacked the house, blowing it up sending the hero flying into the wilderness, hero has to overcome fears and escape. Though this isn’t a very realistic story, it was just the base for it, really I’d need to give it a lot more background, like why something attacked the house, why is the hero afraid of open spaces. Really in a story, you need to ask yourself all possible questions, or get a BETA tester to ask you them, and make the game answer all questions somewhere in the game, whether in a side quest or in a game manual. Here I am veering off subject, so I’ll head back onto subject, or something. Really, you can use this character, there are some people who have a natural sense of duty, but you really need to add more back ground to this character to make them less cliché and more realistic.


The Chosen: These characters are always variable. They have their personalities that you can chose, but again they can have little background, so remember to add background. Then sometime in the game they end up finding out they are a clone, or an alien, or they are chosen. They always end up better than the rest of the characters, and on the few occasions they don’t in some areas, why the hell not, surely they are chosen to be the best, if that is what your story permits, truly, the chosen could be the weakest NPC in the game, yet they are the only one able to achieve a certain thing, it all depends on story. Though even if someone is a clone of the “Great Sephiroth”, they will still have weaknesses, everything does, just like fears, and if it doesn’t, it should! Chosen people are just really annoying, if they were chosen, or were made to destroy a planet, how come they start off at Level 1 with about 100 HP? I have never seen a game where an extra character is chosen, or has ultra powers. Except for Chrono Trigger (one of the best games that ever lived!) with Frog, who was meant to have the Hero Medal and everything, and Crono is just an average Joe. But Frog also starts at a low level, even though he had apparently done many things. The thing is, being chosen is all well and good, and we have found some good games with chosen ones in them, but they are getting very old, and cliché, and unrealistic, they need more background. Though I did think of some ideas that did include chosen, but I added some twists, how about an NPC being a chosen and the heroes have to protect them until they can deal the final blow? Another one is having a chosen character as the heroes rival or enemy, and having the hero/heroine being upstaged in one ending, or the hero/heroine defying all prophecies and odds, and upstaging the chosen one. This idea can lead off to a cliché story I can up with, as a prophecy is given, if the Hero/Heroine does not defeat the enemy in a certain amount of time or under certain circumstances, they will be destined to lose. Then as above the Hero/Heroine defies the prophecy and does it anyway. This is also a good way to implement multiple endings and replay-ability in turn, but it also comes up with more uses for a Night/Day Month/Year system. For example, the hero has three chances to defeat the enemy, one in January, on in May, and one in October. Using this system can add more replay-ability as the ending changes with what the time hero defeats the enemy, and whether the player is strong enough to defeat him outside of these months. Another system I came up with for this idea is the old New Game + idea, for example, it is near to impossible to defeat the enemy in January at ordinary levels, but with New Game +, the player may be strong enough to defeat the enemy. This is much like the system used in Chrono Trigger, again used as an example, for depending on what time you defeated the final boss, you would get different endings, getting them all would reveal an “Ending Gallery” of sorts. Again, I came off subject, but with a bunch of new ideas for your games. So to sum up, this character is rightly used when having a background, but is still cliché, if you are going to use this story/personality, add your own batch of twists.

The Underdog: These are people who have some sort of disability, whether it be a fear, or a physical injury. These people always end up having to confront their fears. These tie in with what I was saying about confronting and upstaging the chosen, being an underdog. Though are getting overly used and cliché in storylines. This is realistic in some ways, but usually, the underdog doesn’t have some deep hidden power. Do pathetically weak nerds awaken some dark power and beat the crap out of the burly bully? Not really. Though we all really do wish to beat the crap out of them, well I do anyway. Instead of awakening some hidden power, because you decided you wanted to make the final battle first and make it dramatic, so you rushed the game. Never do this, if you do this, you are obviously just obsessed with big, heroic, dramatic endings and the sort, I hate to criticize people I don’t really know, but if you just want to make the end of a game, then you shouldn’t be making the game in the first place. You need more motivation, but this isn’t an article on that, so back to subject. Instead of awakening a hidden power, or pushing to the limit and eventually holding out and winning, though the latter is more realistic, neither really is. Even if somebody was determined enough to do something through sheer will with no skill involved, it can very rarely happen, but rarely! What really should happen, if the character is determined enough, (If the player is too depending on how linear your game is), they should train, pushing themselves up to the limit, and then the rewards seem justified and worth it. The most common use of the underdog is not someone with a disability, or a fear, or an injury, but just through physical or mental weakness in comparison to the enemy. I have seen no games with a disabled hero, who achieves despite the restriction; this is a lot more realistic, especially if the character/player will have to train really hard to break that restriction. Although, having a disabled hero may affect the popularity of a game, some people may believe it to be a great, realistic, individual game, and others may dislike it because the hero is in a wheel chair or something. Though this may seem mean, or like the player has something against disabled people, but usually, it is not the case. The lack of games with disabled characters as heroes in them has imprinted in our minds, a natural instinct, that makes us believe something is not good, or is wrong in someway, if we see something different, unless someone is broad minded or the change interests the player. So if you are going to have a disabled hero or heroine, you should weigh up the pros and cons, and tie it in with the game.

The Undead: This is NOT a walking corpse. This is somebody who’s originally been destroyed by the Antagonist (The Enemy in better terms). Then instead of a great story of sacrifice and confronting death… the other characters revive him by some twist of fate and they heroically destroys the final boss, usually brought back from the “Other Side” by a loved one. If you are going to use this character, instead of reviving them, give them trials to do in a sort of “Hell”. And give the player the option to fail and get stuck in hell while the other characters cope with the death and beat the antagonist, or let the hero/heroin escape hell and fight the protagonist with their allies. Though if you do this, the player may wonder why you can get a game over in a random battle and not go into hell and through trials of hell or something like that, so some other system may be required. This can be disregarded if the hero/heroine is chosen, or is particularly special in some way that Lucifer, the devil, whatever the hell is in… well hell, lets them return, or try and return in some trials. Maybe the hero/heroine did a favor for some body or thing in hell, and to repay them, they let them return or bypass some eternal system to return to the world of the living. Though starting to get constantly overused in the hope a game becomes a classic, and not cliché, but more and more people are using this, undoubtedly a good story, but this can sometimes make the player feel a bit depressed for the dying character. Though, this can be used in totally wrong circumstances, if the personality is the arrogant, cocky sort of character, and the maker sacrifices them in the hope of a good review, it just doesn’t fit, an arrogant, cocky ass sacrificing their life for someone they don’t care about? Like that would ever happen, sometimes, these people forget to tie what reactions the hero/heroine take with their personality, remember that at all times.

The Loved One: Not really the character, but what happens to them, you always find the character falling in love with somebody at some point in the game, which is a tragic love tale crossed with the destroying of a demon. You also get the old story where the couple grew up together, how many couples do you know who were friends at childhood? It is very rare. To be more realistic, why not have the main character break up with their loved one or not have one at all. I know we all like a bit of romance in our games… and Romancing Walker is one of the best games in the universe because it gives choice and is realistic (apart from the whole monster thing). Why not have the hero/heroin have the chance to fall in love with one of a few characters or not at all, why not break characters up and get others together rather than just the hero or heroin. Just because you are playing as the main character and the story is centered on them, doesn’t mean others can’t fall in love but even get rejected. Give more variation and realism in your characters love lives!

Conclusion:

In Conclusion, try and give more variation and use some of the substitutes I put for each character, but remember, clichés can be a good thing, and can actually make the player feel more familiar with the game, just put the characters in different more interesting situations. But the main lesson here, is to think more about what the character does, just think, what would really happen?

Well, cya soon, or something, Fitz Tayo.