Degree of Character Customization

What do you prefer to be customizable for a character?

  • Name

  • Class/Job

  • Skills/Spells

  • Stats/Attributes

  • Equipment (aesthetically)

  • Gender

  • Race


Results are only viewable after voting.

Frostorm

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Just wanted to get a feel for everyone's opinion on how much character customization is too much...

Also, should party members be customizable as well or just the main protagonist? Or perhaps preset characters are more your thing?

I currently allow the 1st 4 choices in the poll to be customized in my game. I'm pretty much trying to create "Theorycrafting: The Game" lol.

Edit: Added gender & race options to the poll for political correctness lol.
Race can be anything from Human ethnicity to Elves/Dwarves/Orcs/etc...
 
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The Stranger

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Depends on what kind of game you're going for, and whether your characters are pre-defined or player created. If they're pre-defined with their own backstories, goals, etc, then I think even naming them is too much customisation; a protagonist named Ass kinda ruins immersion. :p

If the characters are just player avatars, then you can pretty much allow full customisation.
 

Frostorm

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Depends on what kind of game you're going for, and whether your characters are pre-defined or player created. If they're pre-defined with their own backstories, goals, etc, then I think even naming them is too much customisation; a protagonist named Ass kinda ruins immersion. :p

If the characters are just player avatars, then you can pretty much allow full customisation.
Lol names like "Ass" reminds me of playing Pokemon...people come up w/ some absurd shȋt sometimes.
On the other hand, just cuz a game is very story-centric w/ integral character relationships doesn't mean you can't allow customization. The Mass Effect series is a great example of this. I actually played female Shepard, even tho I rarely play female in games.
 

The Stranger

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That's a good point. I think Mass Effect worked so well in that regard because, no matter how you customised your version of Shepherd, it was still Shepherd. I think ME 1 let you give them a unique first name, but it didn't matter because it was never used.

Do you plan on having a choice between male and female versions of your main protag?
 

Frostorm

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It would be nice to have gender options, but it will depend on if I can get the sprites/assets made since I'm not very strong in the art department to begin with...
 

gstv87

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agreed with Stranger in most points.

if your story is about the world, then the character is left to the player's choice.
if your story is about the characters, then too much customization can collide with your planning.
 

Kes

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I agree that too much customisation can undermine what you are trying to do with your story.

For example, in my current project the player can rename the characters - but they are given a story driven reason for doing it, if that's want they want to do. Their classes (not jobs) are completely story driven, so changing e.g. the mercenary into something else literally knocks the foundations away from my story, as he needs to be a mercenary. The same for the other characters. That therefore precludes certain things about skills - though the player chooses which skills to learn/upgrade in the order they want, having learnt a few in the normal way. Again because of story reasons, changing race or gender would be nonsensical.

There is, therefore, limited use for a poll on the subject, because the only real answer would have to be "it depends on your game". Blank slate, skeleton story, and yes, you can have as much customisation as you like. A project like mine, no, doesn't work.

If you want to discuss the particulars of your game, however, that's fine - you can do that in Game Ideas and Prototypes. Also, I'm not sure that this is a mechanic as such, seems more like General Discussion to me.
 

TheoAllen

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If I'm able to rename my character, I want to be able to change the appearance. If I'm unable to change my character appearance, I'm going to use whatever the default name unless it has a strong story reason why I have to name my character. And vice versa, if I'm unable to name my character but I'm able to change my appearance, I'd just use the default appearance. However, I don't think I've seen this case

Skill/spells customization is alright if the game can be beaten in multiple ways and less about META. So I could build a meme build for the entire games for fun. And it would be better if it is not a linear game.

I don't like stat attribution, most of the time I have to live with my bad choices. And the game usually doesn't give me clear information on how should I build my character (how stat works, how the next area is going to be, what encounter, and all). If I can reset the stat distribution, it probably fine.

For equipment aesthetic, it is only important in 3D games in which literally the one that keeps me playing is just to look at my character when the entire game is just slog of grind or I've done it many times (Skyrim). I don't think I would care about it in 2D games, probably except Starbound.

For Gender and Race, it is basically the same as the equipment. It is aesthetic.

Now for story-driven based games (especially in linear games), I don't want to customize. I want you to walk me through a scenario of what happened to this character. I don't want to see my Original Character walk through the story I don't want them to experience. And by original character, yes, I usually customize the look based on the character I have and named the accordingly (even better if I could build and behaves like them). Which is why it requires both appearance and names to be changeable for me.
 

ave36

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I have two dimensions of character custimization: Class abilities and Avatar junctioning. The former is a rather rigid progression of abilities, but you can change the order in which abilities are learned. You can't change class, for example, Oscar is a Black Knight who casts Blind, Silence and Gravity, and Mira is a Paladin who casts Cure, Protect and Haste, and you can't do anything about that.

However, you also have summon monsters (the Avatars) that can be junctioned to any character. Each provides a character with a secondary line of skills independent from class. For example, if you junction Barlog the Fire avatar to Oscar, he'll gain the ability to use Fire 1-3 spells, and if you junction Maelstrom the Gravity avatar to Krible the Battlemage, he'll gain the use of Gravity 1-3. Using Avatars, you can fine-tune your characters' abilities.

You can input names for every character and every Avatar. It's not a voice-acted game so why ban it?
 

xabileug

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Everything.. Aesthetic for MC does not matter much. Visuals for equipment are visual aids and show of status quo, if you got a legendary equip, it will be cool if you have change appearance and costume.

For game mechanics, it is a must especially for strategy games. if you dont have much strategy, simple game, dont need that much variation, generic spells will do.

FFTA offerss much customization for generic characters. this adds to the thrills. Every customization you stated is exhbited in every MMO.

Good games have fewer attributes and equipment slots.. people dont actually read much anymore.. and the AUTO function is the new trend! If you are going to have multiple class change.. they should have function in the game mechanics and story line. you dont need much class swapping to make a good game. I prefer games with equipment customization and custom skill combinations.
 

Wavelength

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I chose Skills, Stats, and Equipment Aesthetics.
It's pretty obvious why it's nice to be able to customize a character's skills and stats - it gives you the opportunity, as the player, to decide how a character plays! Depending on how flexible these systems are, it can also offer a big, welcome element of strategy and skill expression in a genre that doesn't provide a ton of that.

Equipment Aesthetics are also a lot of fun to play around with. Not always worth the developer's time and effort, but if it's feasible, it's almost always a nice little touch.

So, why didn't I choose any of the others? I feel like a character's Name, Class, Gender, and Race are just too intimately tied to that character's identity to be changed or customized without losing something. For example, a character's Gender and Race should have an effect on their upbringing, on their viewpoints, and in most societies, on what and who they know. To just make something like a character's Gender completely customizable to the player's will... I think it would make it much, much harder to build the character's identity in a strong, coherent way. Name might be a little more surprising - it's something I liked to customize when I was younger, but as I've become a more mature gamer, I've found that a character's name - the way it sounds, how common or unique it is, whether its root words mean anything - do a lot to define the character's identity as well. Finally, while flexible Jobs/Classes can be fun and cool, Class is something that I think heavily defines a character's identity and background - I conjure up a very different image when I think of a Knight, a Thief, a Sorcerer, and a Medic. If a character can just become any of these at will, it turns them into formless goo as an identifiable character. They no longer have their own unique style.
  • I want to be very clear that this does not refer to games where you create a 'blank slate' character to represent yourself (the player)!! In games like this, by all means you should make Name, Class, Gender, and Race customizable - certainly at the beginning of the game, and perhaps even throughout it.
One additional customization I really like is Equipment - obviously most RPGs let you change your equipment through the game, but I really like the ones that let you customize and choose between lots of different viable equipment. Replacing your Bronze Sword (+5 ATK) with a Silver Sword (+10 ATK) isn't customization, but if you're choosing between a weapon with +10 ATK, a weapon with +6 ATK and +5 DEF, a weapon with +15 ATK but -20% chance to hit, and a weapon with +2 ATK that resists all statuses, and each of those four seem like they might be a good option, that's a fun and interesting choice that the player gets to make for their character.

P.S. I do agree with @Kes that on the margin General Discussion might have be a slightly better fit, but having fixed vs. customizable stats or skills is enough of a Game Mechanics discussion topic that I don't mind letting it stay here.
 

pasunna

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when I younger I like elder scroll very much
wow these customizable super cool
and take hr to make my owns character

but now a day that I'm very busy
I just choose class and skip to start playing
(even skip tutorial...)

so customize had something to do with your target age/personality audience
and if it had less value to gameplay/visualize
it just show on wall text in status page
then just leave it a lone is more good
 

Basileus

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This will depend heavily on the kind of game you want to make. A lot of Western RPGs are built around self-expression and creating a huge number of possibilities for unique playthroughs. JRPGs tend to have pre-made characters and linear stories with few branching paths, but with customization available through the gameplay mechanics. It really comes down to this: Is it the story or the gameplay that needs customization?

Some people want to make their character look like themselves and will take an hour to do so. This works in a game where the narrative is based on the player's choices. But many others just want to jump right into the game and don't care about cosmetic options. If your story is not affected by the customization options, then the only reason to care about them is the gameplay. If these options do not have noticeable effects on the gameplay either, then it's probably not worth the time to make them.

Also is this just customization during character creation? You can avoid issues of delaying the start of the game if these options are part of the core gameplay. This seems to be more common in JRPGs with class/job/stat/spell customization being done through the mechanics. Stuff like class changing systems, skills learned by using equipment, weapon augments that affect stats/spells learned, and whatever Final Fantasy 8's Junction System was.

I like having the option to spec into different weapons for each character. I like to master classes and mix-and-match the abilities to find fun combinations. I like to influence my characters' stat growth with augments and things.

You don't need to give me the options before the game even starts. Name/Race/Gender can be neat if it affects the story, but I don't mind not having it in a linear, story-heavy game. But if you don't give me options to customize Class/Stats/Skills/Attributes during the game then I will probably not like your game that much.
 

Frostorm

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You don't need to give me the options before the game even starts. Name/Race/Gender can be neat if it affects the story, but I don't mind not having it in a linear, story-heavy game. But if you don't give me options to customize Class/Stats/Skills/Attributes during the game then I will probably not like your game that much.
I agree, customizing Class/Stats/Skills/Attributes are pretty much a minimum requirement for me nowadays.
 

Tai_MT

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Generally speaking, unless your game is more of a "sandbox" in which you're just giving me tools to play in that sandbox with... I don't really use or care about customization all that often. If you want me to play as a guy, girl, or an Ewok, I don't care.

Now, if the point of your game is something more akin to the Fallout series in which you're given a sandbox and a plethora of ways to do every task in that sandbox that only awaits my personal preference for doing things... Then I generally want as much customization as possible.

I am perfectly happy being given no customization other than what I equip on my character, provided that the point is to tell the story of this particular character or party of characters.

However, if you're giving me an extreme excess of customization options, then I sort of expect you're letting me decide what the story of the game is instead (since I'm essentially playing myself at that point).

With that being said...

I allow for options 3 and 4 in my game... to a limited extent. Everyone gets the same skills, no matter who is playing. However, they can "upgrade" those skills a few times during the run to cater more to their playstyle or what they see as most effective. The "upgrades" are limited and "stack", but are otherwise not all that unique. They are largely a choice between two different upgrade paths. What the paths are labeled and their purpose depends on the skill. Likewise, each "class" has several playstyles that can be utilized and every single skillpoint acquired in the game is placed by the player. You obtain items that raise values of stats that can work on every party member and the player is meant to be using these to determine a playstyle for each character class. There are non-viable builds with these skillpoints. It is possible to waste them. But, with the vast majority of stat increases coming from equipment anyway... you're not losing much except the ability to "min/max" with improper placement. Stat points are limited in nature and are accrued by completing quests only. There are only so many in the game, so you use what you get.
 

Willibab

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All of the above...AND BEYOND!... Because i love sandbox/simulation rpgs :p

I also like story brances so you can customize the story itself (to a certain degree ofc) with skill systems like fallout nv.

This is why im having trouble creating games, i want a much choice as possible.
 
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velan235

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for sandbox/simulation/open-world game,IMO most customization should be accessible by the player as much as possible.

For game with constructed story/linear game (mostly JRPG):
I would go for Skill/Spell, because skill combination really open up an option to do lots of things in many way, also skills is not as punishing as stats customization (and usually skill setup is not permanent for the run)

I'm not really a fan of stats customization because you potentially break the game or break the run (because of optimal build / meme build), also if the game challenge is opted to "even the worst build could beat the boss" then the difficulty would be dropped really low (I love artificial challenge from game)

If you only give minimal customization (like only name), IMO it's better to just give me a setup from the developer instead.

costume/skin/anything aesthetic is a nice touch but not really change on how I see the game (I'm more focused on the mechanic and story/lore for linear progression game)
 

RachelTheSeeker

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Picked all except Stats and Equipment aesthetics. For self-inserts, I feel Name and Gender at the top priorities. Class is second-place, followed by Skills/Spells at third-most-crucial. Race selection can be fun, but it depends on the game world and how balanced picking a race is. I like being able to use races regardless of starting stats anyway; I don't stealth or steal in Bethesda games, so my Khajiit are always melee with some casting.
 

Aesica

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I didn't vote for anything because this depends entirely on the type of game you're making.

If you're telling a story with pre-established characters (Terra, Locke, Celes, etc in FF6) then really none of those need to be customizable. I appreciate that the game lets you (in a sense) customize skills and stats, but it's not at all necessary. You can rename them too, but that's unimportant and I never do it.

If you're making, say, an elder scrolls game, then I want to be able to customize everything.

Now, as for my current game, I'm doing the following:
  • Customize ststs, but "soft" (as in, none of that can't-undo-stat-buying-on-level-up garbage. I mean your gear selection determines stats, and you have 4 open accessory slots for this reason. The main character especially can be equipped to be more magic-oriented or physical oriented.
  • Skill selection on level up. Skills are bought by skill points that you gain by leveling up, so once you hit, say level 3, you can buy Thunder or Ice instead of being forced to learn Fire the traditional way.
  • Names. There's a "Keeper of Names" in every town that acts a lot like FF4's Namingway. Talking to her lets you rename anyone in the party, but they all have default story names. You even get to name one of the NPCs, but that's just for fun.
 

PauloHPBender

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I like to give my game's characters the same treatment that is often given to Heroes on MOBAs; they have their own stats and skills, but different equipments allow different builds.

I know that the topic seems to be more focused on a richer customization, but being able to adjust each character's gamefeel to fit your playstyle while maintaining their concept has been a very funny and challenging endeavor.
 

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