Character Creation as 'core' gameplay

CSJCSJ Posts: 22Member
Now, this is something a lot of people would have noticed within games, especially RPGs (and primarily 'western' ones). Those 'character creation' screens we see at the start of some games have become hugely complex. Processing power and coding requirements have soared accordingly and it's questionable as to how much of the budget is spent on both this and associated graphics content (like NPC generators) rather than what was intended as 'core' gameplay. You could spend hours maknig abominations (and some people do) instead of playing the 'actual' game or the rest of its content.

I'm curious as to whether attempts have been made at turning this on its head and instead making the whole game a big character creation exercise. The closest sorts of mechanics I'm aware of are some games like Fable, or GTA: San Andreas, where some player actions alter the appearance (and gameplay) of their in-game avatar, albeit to a limited extent, but having that become the main focus is a big leap from that.

For an example idea that I've recently had pop out at me; what if you started the game as a blank outline, then as the game progressed, you 'learnt' new things about them, causing new physical (and behavioural?) features to appear - depending on player choices?

I'd be surprised if at least one attempt hasn't been made in this direction.


  • lightlight Posts: 290Member
    I maintain that the hollowing in Dark Souls was a huge part of what made that game so aesthetically powerful. (Let's not forget about Fashion Souls, either.)

    That's the only thing I'm aware of that comes close to what you're talking about. Unless you want to count the part where Samus takes off her mask at the end of the game or whatever.
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  • EdibleGreenTeaEdibleGreenTea Posts: 35Member
    I would also like to chime in and say that most of the fun from Tomodachi life was making miis of you, your friends, your family, pop culture figures, and what ever else you could think land watching them more or less play out a surreal Japanese sitcom/soap opera mixed with a virtual pet game. (at least that's why I enjoy it.) 

    Seriously, the first miis on my island to get hitched together were a Tumblr SJW and a Reddit MRA and they love each other and their child, Mr. McTip very much. It's hilarious.
  • vlademir1vlademir1 Posts: 428Member
    I've seen it done in experimental homebrew tabletop RPGs where character creation is a whole game in and of itself which you play before the actual campaign begins.  I've not seen it done here professionally nor all that well at the end of the day, but it is a thing.

    Binding of Isaac kinda does what you're describing in the final bit, though in a manner where you mainly start out fairly normal human looking and mainly become more monstrous in visage with each item you pick up.
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  • nujumkeynujumkey Posts: 296Member
    I can kindof imagine a parent simulator, you create your child, select some hobbies or philosophies of the child, and the game will generate events based on what you preselected.
    Otherwise, not sure how far you could take the character creators influence
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  • CSJCSJ Posts: 22Member
    @nujumkey I'm pretty well-versed in that particular branch of 'life simulation' games; I mentioned Alter Ego in a different discussion, though what you describe is more like the Princess Maker series. Fun games, but that (sub)genre tends to be weighed down by being stat-focused to the nth degree.

    @vlademir1 heh; reminds me of how chargen in Shadowrun can span multiple sessions. There's also some perk or such (iirc) that you can pick that allows you to play as someone with amnesia; you throw out the character sheet, the GM gives you a blank one and you have to fill it out during the game as various things become relevant.
  • taps1992taps1992 Posts: 161Member
    Old topic, but I've put some thought into this character creation mechanic (or more appropriately, character customisation)

    Imagine the playable character is a shapeshifter who was wrongly convicted of some crime, a murder or something. And they have to go through a whole whodunit style investigation, but with each group that they have to spy and/or interrogate information out of, they have to shapeshift into a different person as to not get caught.

    This could be especially pronounced if the world that they inhabit in has many different fantasy species (with the shapeshifters being one of many) and that in order to truly blend into one specific clique/group, the players have to have some constraints to what kind of customisation they would do so that the playable character does not look out of place, and that there are penalisations for looking too monstrous or strange so it subverts the intent of the character creation mechanic. 
  • desolation0desolation0 Posts: 176Member
    When you say "make character generation the core game loop" it seems many folks jump to incorporating making your character yours into the game and spreading it out throughout a regular game. It doesn't take all that for character generation to be the core to the play for me. Just give me tons of options, both costume and play style, tons but not unlimited number of character slots, and an audience to see my creations. That's how I ended up spending as much time and having as much fun making characters in various online games as I did playing any of the particular characters.

    The reason for limited slots, say 50, being able to make every character shorts me out to making only one and focusing on the game. Give me a high limit and I'll fill them all even if that character will never see the light of day.

    If something has a huge impact on looks and play style, like starting in a different zones and getting different quests because of your chosen race, I end up going for one of each regardless of aesthetic. One of each class, or male and female of each race, a particular faction per server, etc. Instead, give me freedom to look and make a backstory without being tied into gameplay. Let me pick and mix powers to create my own flavor. Make looks completely divorced from lore so I can do my own thing. Let me write my character's backstory down somewhere and share that with people.

    The two video games most noteworthy for this happening for me were City of Heroes and DC Universe Online. I don't think it's any coincidence that both are super hero fantasies. COH was far more freeform, while for DCUO the creativity was making unique characters match the template power set themes. I've also created characters for Shadowrun and other tabletop games that I may never actually play, but still love the creations. The background lore gives tons of nooks and crannies you can fit a character into and have them fit but still be unique.

    An audience is key, even just an implied one like the tabletop characters I'll never actually play. I just want to know that my characters will have a place and mesh with the setting if they ever were to come out of storage and be seen by others. Given a videogame with online component, it's not that I expect other players to care about my character, but that I have a cool story for them if they ever do.

  • Brother_NerdBrother_Nerd Posts: 50Member
    So, I've actually got a forum game idea that I've been slow to follow through on, but is definitely in this genre. The basic premise is this: I shape a character outline [blips of speach and mannerisms tied to styles of clothing, hair, etc], and then let people walk in, pick up one of said characters, and start telling US why the character is this way.

    There's still a lot of fine-tuning to do, and my constant self-doubt is so not helping, but hey, if the forum stops going down for so long at a time, maybe I'll get around to trying it.
  • galdon Posts: 259Member
    It suddenly occurs to me, character creation was a core gameplay aspect of Spore in its first two parts. The idea generally being to collect new body parts and evolving regularly to redesign and improve your character with new parts and DNA available. 
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