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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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.


I agree with this. It detracts from important characters when you can name them whatever you want, especially if they have a well-known established canon name.
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.
This is a very good point. In Pokemon, being able to name your Pokemon makes each one feel like an individual, and from a more pragmatic standpoint, it makes it easier to tell apart two Pokemon you have that are of the same species. It's like naming a pet. There may be other cats that look and act like your cat, but giving it a name distinguishes it and makes it yours.
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.
These are also good points. I've seen a few examples that can have that cake and eat it too, where they are avatars for the player and also have distinct personalities, voice acting and story development. Robin and Corrin from Fire Emblem immediately come to mind.
 

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