Custom vs Default Character Names

Do you name party members in RPG's or do you leave them with default names?


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Ragpuppy87

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Lots of classic RPGs gave players the option to name the party members they controlled during their adventure. In Earthbound you could leave Ness as the default name or name him "John". In Final Fantasy 7, you could leave Cloud's name alone or name him "Spike" etc. I'm curious as to how many people actually used this option however. And do you prefer being able to do so. I'm trying to decide whether or not to have the feature in my own project. Thanks for any feedback and opinions.
 

AssumedPseudonym

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I’m sort of split on this one, actually. Sometimes I’ll change the character names, sometimes I’ll stick with the defaults. The latter seems to be my usual leaning the further I get into a series — I don’t think I ever changed a default name for any Final Fantasy game after my first playthrough of FFVI, for example — but if it’s my first foray into a new series, I’m as likely to sub in a custom name as leave it as is.

I voted default.
 

spillycup

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idk i absolutely love it when game devs give me the option to name things or main characters.. like i never name them after myself (which is what i'm assuming a lot of early devs were intending when placing this feature into their games) instead i give them weird theme names that i think are cute or funny. idk for some reason it helps me feel a little more invested in the characters and their fate

i recognize i might be the minority in this though
 

ScorchedGround

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Depends on whether or not these characters are important to the game's story progression.

If they are important to the story in any meaningful way, they should have fixed names.

If they are "only" there to aid you in battle and/or to give some dialogue/comments here and there, then I don't really care either way.



My reason for that is simple:

What is the point in naming crucial characters? If you can name them in any way you want, you imbue them with your own personality and thus they lose some of their own personality. This in return will lessen their impact on the story and make them less believable because they act "in your name".

If the character has no impact on the story, they likely are not that interesting to begin with and then it's a nice touch to give them some personality on your own accord.


 
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gstv87

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only fitting for something like Pokemon, where you capture what gets to become *one, distinct, unique, Pokemon out of the lot*. Your Pokemon.

for characters who are supposed to have a backstory, it goes against the identity of the characters.

the only exception is being able to name the main character, even if the character is supposed to be defined and has a name.
 

tiabuni

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I am not interested in self insert characters, so not being able to rename a character doesn't mean anything to me. If they come with a predefined name, that is what I will name them.
 

lesbrarians

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I'm fond of being able to rename the protagonist that the player is playing as, where there's a certain degree of roleplaying involved. In the cases you've mentioned, of renaming characters like Cloud, I'd keep their names as is. If there's any kind of predefined character with a name and a backstory of their own, I like to keep them as the dev designed them.
 

Ami

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i choose both (though i'm not select one of them),depending what character we have to control
  • for default,i'm strongly fond with this one,as long those name are fitted behind their personality,power & origin of them
  • it also same with custom one,i can input the name as long as we like. sometime,it's weird when you add the weird name into your favorite & those cool character,too
 

Prescott

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I usually change the name of the character if it's a brand new game without any established lore. If I'm playing a Zelda game, for instance, I'll always name the character Link. If I'm playing the new Pokemon, the character will be named whatever I want.

In terms of game design, it's important to realize what kind of relationship you want between the player and the character(s). If you want for them to be a character that the players projects themselves onto, enabling naming the character is the way to go. If you want things like voice acting and a rich story development with the character that you want the player to be observing and playing through, then I think keeping their name static is a far better option.
 

User636

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Personally, I always did appreciate it when games let me choose the names of the characters while also providing a default name. So what I'd recommend is provide both default names and an opportunity for players to choose their own if they so desire.
 

TheoAllen

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I only name characters when I can customize my character, at the very least, in appearance. Because I have a personal library of character templates. Or if there is a strong reason to name my character, for example, you have to fake your name for plot reasons.

Other than that, I stay using the default name. I don't even want to change it, even if the default name is "player".

There is nothing wrong with adding an option to rename the character though. That could be fun for some people who have fun naming their character using a weird name. And then a serious scene is ruined because of it, in a good way.
 

ATT_Turan

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I've always found it a kind of lame feature. To me, if you can just name the characters whatever you want, it seems like the writers don't actually consider them to be important to the story. If they did, they'd be telling me "This is the story of Terra and Locke," not saying "Here's a story, but it can be about McShinezHair and FartBlaster...y'know, whatever."

Plus it's so often shoved into the story dialogue in a lame way that disrupts your immersion. You know, how Crono's mom is all, like, "Oh, what was the name of the girl who's been your best friend since childhood?!?!"
 

RachelTheSeeker

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Unless the character is supposed to be a blank slate, or have a lacking personality, I prefer default names. I will say, it is fun to name characters in games after your friends, OCs, favorite characters, etc that would fit the base character.
 

kirbwarrior

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Generally speaking, I'll go defaults on the first playthrough, then change it on later playthroughs. However, if I have to hunt the default name online (such as Secret of Mana), then it's the other way around.

But I'm entirely fine with it not being there. And;
If they are important to the story in any meaningful way, they should have fixed names.

If they are "only" there to aid you in battle and/or to give some dialogue/comments here and there, then I don't really care either way.
I feel like Final Fantasy Tactics and sequels do this well. Important characters (other than protag) are fixed, recruits are your choice, and the latter has zero effect on the story.

Mind, some way to differentiate save files is key. Mario RPG has you give a name that only matters for the save file (and a neat throwaway line). If the only way I can easily differentiate between different playthroughs is character name, I absolutely will use it.
 

DawnStar

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I used to change the name of the MC only and leave the rest of the cast with their default names, except in games where you're asked to name the characters and offer no defaults, like some DQ, SMT or Etrian Odyssey games.

I'm not fond of the idea of naming everyone however you like, if the writer names someone in a way, it can have a meaning, for example where they came from or what they represent in the story. I for one tend to name my characters with something that relates to them or the feelings of their parents in naming them.

MC is an exception of this since you're intended to role-play as him/her, so sometimes it makes sense to use a name you can identify them or yourself with.
 

orochii

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Based on [absolutely nothing], 9 out of 10 times, giving the option to the player has no effects on the story, despite them calling the protagonist Assface. Even less when you take into consideration the fact that most people are so uncreative, insecure or just plainly uninvested in the story/characters at that point of the game that they just go with default names.

Still, if you want to name Cecil "Andy" or "TojSUX" should be your call.
 

Conflictx3

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if you ask 20 year old me and younger, custom names hands down not even a second a thought. but as a lazy 31 year old, custom names are a chore, i usually end up decided between 1 of my 5 favorite made up names or stress for 10 minutes over creating a new one which i have no idea why because when i talk with friends about said game we have to resort to the default names for the sake of conversation anyway.

my biggest crime is FF7, i played the original 3+ times and me and my brother LOVED the names we came up on the first playthrough we used those name for EACH playthrough. TO THIS DAY I still accidentally call Cloud "Smoke", Barret "Mad dog", and Red XIII "Abnormal" if I don't think about it first. :ptea:
 

freakytapir

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I think custom names in narrative focused games lose something. A name in a story should mean something. It should be thematic, fit the lore and setting, carry symbolism.
And it also makes it easier to market if your characters have a recognizable name.
No elves champions named 'Joe' or 'CntNugget69420blazing' please.
'But it's a single player game.'
'Then who are you trying to impress.'
'But it's me in the game.'
'No, it's not. It's never really 'you''
 

ImmortalDreamer

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I like to feel like I'm apart of the story rather than just watching it, so I almost always rename my MC if I'm given the option. Other than that, I usually keep the default names for any other characters.
 

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