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Article - 'More Character Development II' by TheOnlyMutantPixie

An item about Game Design posted on Jul 27, 2004


A nice article discussing development of NPCs and Alternative Heroes. (WARNING: Contains one or two spoilers of FVIII)


Welcome to my second article in this series, which concentrates on developing other main characters, like the other party members, e.g. Barrett, Red XIII, Aeris etc. Basically, characters who have little influence on the main hero’s decision, like secret characters.

Before I begin, I would like to point out that this article is about Character development, not story development. The Black/white image that I was apparently painting for the amnesia ridden hero story, i.e. where the hero has lost his/her memory and tries to find out what the hell happened. I’m sorry if I implemented that but I didn’t mean to. I was just saying it is useless for character development. This will also touch NPC Development.

Ok, there is a reason why these two are combined since NPCs have so little to comment on, this would barely reach 50 words as a standalone article so I’ve bundled them together, feel honoured. First, Other Main Characters…

Alternative Heroes

Ok, Give your main party details, history, looks, legends, and weapons to equip. Grab a piece of Paper, or use Notepad if you want.
Following this formation if you want, add as much as you can, and try to fill in all fields, where possible, but whatever you do, don’t put all this information in the final release in a read me file, unless this is what you want. But it makes no sense if you have a secret/mysterious character then give away their past and everything. I’ve seen it done, even where you meet them!

Name: Anthony
Nickname: Ant the Small & Annoying
Age: 20
Weapon: Whip
Brief background: Lived in Moronic until he was 15, then decided to travel the world, was in the city of Whim at the time of the meteor strike.
Pets: None because he was diagnosed with killeverythingitis
Current Status: Single…well, what do you expect from a physcopath?
Relationship with Main Hero: On good terms with the hero but only just. Tends to be mistrusting.
Opinion of Main hero: Doesn’t really like him but wants to find out about his parent’s deaths.
Attitude: Mysterious and unpredictable.

Notice Ant has two more things to add, but the background can be as (Un) detailed as you like, or you could half arse it like Final Fantasy VIII with that pathetic Orphanage crap, half lazy can you get?

Anyway, moving on the reason the alternative heroes have more options to fill in because the hero can react to them in different ways depending on the personality, of course. Now remember all the information that you saw in my Humour article (the remake) that fits in with the personality, like a sane person isn’t going to have warped humour now, is he? Or is he? Well, no because I just stated that. Like a serious character is going to have a dark and mysterious personality with little humour, of what humour that does come out it is sarcastic.

During the actual journey

Like the main hero, characters can change as well, but to a lesser degree, which is pointless, compared to the hero. Like Squall developed feelings towards the end while Rinoa still liked him even though at times he was a total prick, just like the beginning.

Let’s say the party goes off a fight some boss for some vital information however, one of the boss’ lackeys takes one of the keys/guns/materia off the hero’s hands. The hero is totally unaware of this and continues to find meanwhile one of the hero’s party, let’s say Helen notices this and goes after the lackey who nicked it. After defeating the boss, Alex notices that Helen is missing and wonders where she buggered off to. Helen is now rotting in a hole/jail and realises that she likes Alex/another character. I actually haven’t seen a game where a character becomes gay/bisexual…could make for an interesting story, I’ll leave that up to you. But then again, when some guys who shall remain nameless see lesbians in a game all they want is a sex scene. Moving on…

Another interesting twist is that Helen realises she is in love with an NPC! Obviously you’re gonna have to develop the NPC so that they can live happily ever after (or not)

Basically, don’t go overboard on details, try to keep it the same amount of details as the hero or less, it would be easier to have less details but keeping that balance between half arsing it and over detailed is a very fine line, indeed. That is, unless you do a Zelda-esque game where you are a mute hero, who never has any thoughts or feelings, and nothing ever changes. The Npcs state the obvious all the damn time!

Remember FFVIII? Where Irvine was instantly digging Selphie? You should! It’s a great example, Irvine was talking to Selphie on the Train, then Squall entered and he walked off, and Selphie started feeling odd, Squall offered his crap advise as usual. Everyone else saw it coming Squall, why didn’t you?

NPC Development

NPCs, you wouldn’t really think they develop did you? Well, you might but the majority overlooks this part, even though they do develop NPCs. (Certain game creators develop NPCs more than they develop the main character. I’m not talking about Rm2k people, I mean Big Gaming industries, Nintendo for example.) Each Zelda game sees you as Link, at the end what do you learn? You have a master sword and you saved Zelda, so what? Has he developed emotions? Nope! In any situation NPCs run in fear, Link just swings his sword regardless of the enemy, a big fish or a chicken. He doesn’t care.

Ok, Let’s say a dragon/HUGE Chicken is running amok in a village, your NPC could run away and hide and respond to the situation in a cowardly way, or he could bring out his polished sword, saved for such an occasion and run straight and the bast – ugly creature. Saying “Ah! I’m gonna get you!” Or “Come here and fight properly!” Well, you could start with the cowardly one for the first incident and by the second attempt, he has developed so much that he has overcomes his fears and is ready to get the dragon back for killing his family. And if it happens a third time, he will be fully prepared and not scared of anything. Ok, I’m getting kind of sick of repeating this, and I’m sure you of me have to repeat this so many times.

This time however, don’t bother drawing up a list of things the NPC has done, if your game is huge and full of them, it would take forever, only develop a few major ones, like if a main character fell in love with that NPC.

I think that is all. Thank you for reading this, feel free to add comments below. Hope this helped in some way or another.

- TheOnlyMutantPixie

This article contained 1,165 words to be precise.