1. AnimalAsLeader

    AnimalAsLeader Active Member

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    Loving a fictional character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by AnimalAsLeader, Nov 4, 2019.

    Hello everyone!

    I wanted to ask you a question that probably does not apply to writing novels as much as it does apply to writing video game stories. I am a game dev myself, so this is of particular interest of me, not just for analyzing existing games, but also creating my own.

    Now, its not mystery how to establish some general emotions towards a fictional character. You want your audience to hate a character? Make them do terrible things. You want them to like a character? Make them do "good" things.

    But once in a while in video games - especially RPGs where you play a character in the world - you come across characters that are the loved ones of your protagonist. How do you make the player feel towards these characters in such a way that it at least comes close to the in-world-relationship of the two characters? For example, how do you portray a person so that not only they become a father figure for the protagonist, but also for the player?
     
  2. Foxxx

    Foxxx Knight of Resignation Contributor

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    With a father figure, it might be useful to have them guide the player. A tutorial section would be a good opportunity for this.

    I can't really think of any video games I played where the main character's wife stood-out to me. At best I can describe many of them as "serviceable".

    The problem I've noticed with this in video games, is that they kill off the wife or child or whoever in the first three minutes. Usually a cutscene, and occasionally a interactive "cutscene". I don't even care about spoiling it because there's practically zero emotional investment: Watch_Dogs and The Last of Us are guilty of this. But that's okay, since the story isn't really about the characters who die in the opening minutes. They're, sadly, just a plot device to help force-start the character's actual journey.

    The longer the game allows the player to, uh, play the game and therefore interact more with the character, the more effective it is.

    Characters I've fell in love with are ones that I get to interact with throughout the story, and learn more about them in doing so. My choices impact them, and can change them. You also have to differentiate a little bit between characters in a game like Skyrim, where you can fall in love with them in part thanks to the fact they're your companion in all your quests, from games that are more on-rails. In the former you're creating the experience yourself, whereas you're experiencing the experience in the latter.

    I think the crux of the answer to your question rests in the interactive nature of the video game medium. If there's no actual interaction other than watching cutscenes, I fail to see how it's any different than watching a movie. Not saying that that's a bad thing, and not saying that that can't work. Just an observation. Characters that are helping you in combat or puzzles, are coded well so they don't constantly get themselves killed or get stuck / glitched, respond to the changing environment, will earn way more emotional investment from the average player.

    And don't forget to show, not tell. The funny part about the cutscenes is that they're often telling, not showing. They're ham-fistedly insisting that you love this given person or whatever, and it feels forced rather than natural. Sort of like being able to tell when someone is desperately trying to get you to like them. It's off-putting. Which means I care even less when they kill them off at the beginning of the game.

    tl;dr One of the few games that made me care deeply about the protagonist and other characters is Shadow of the Colossus. You're a boy, there's a girl, and you have your loyal horse and companion Agro. That game is heart wrenching and soul-shattering, and there's like... I don't know, 5 minutes of dialogue max? That game's a beautiful masterpiece and criminally underrated.

    There's more I could say, using Shadow of the Colossus as an example, but this post is colossally long already.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
  3. AnimalAsLeader

    AnimalAsLeader Active Member

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    Thanks for the reply!

    Yeah, killing off people in the first minutes is a problem...

    As a recent example of having a loved one as companion, Im thinking of God of War, where you have a son at your side. But since I dont own a PS4, I cant really judge for myself how well the relationship is executed there...
     
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  4. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Senior Member

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    It might seem cheap, but don't underestimate the power of gameplay benefits. There's a game called Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 where you're introduced to the protagonist's childhood friend. He's a tank driver, and in the following mission, you encounter fights that are specifically suited to using a tank in. The character is catching up with his friend, while the player is adapting to fighting alongside him and making his tank a part of battle strategies. Then the tank gets its treads blown out, and your terror mounts as he tries to fend off the soldiers who are swarming him . . .
     
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  5. AnimalAsLeader

    AnimalAsLeader Active Member

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    This is what games are good at: Creating buddies. The tank driver you mentioned, Cortana in Halo, your group in Mass effect and similar games, the onion knight in Dark Souls, the dog in Blair witch ... But I would argue thats a different kind of relationship than a wife, a father, a daughter or a brother.
     
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  6. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Father figure? Make him a likable idiot.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Aceldama

    Aceldama Senior Member

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    That is highly depenent on the person. How emersed one is prone to get it or even, I'd say, the inability to distinguish between fact and fiction. Which is not a healthy trait. I know for me, there are a lot of characters I really like a lot. Like what they say, how they think, what they do; what they represent. I cannot though, in a million years, fathom idolizing a fictional character.

    A writers job with characters are to make them memerable and realistic. Relatable, or despised. I really think a line is being crossed when one attempts to create a character designed to be received as a role that only real peole can and should fill.
     
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