How many heroes do you use?

Pix3M

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What are pros and cons of using having more or less support characters? Larger project scope and more difficulty to balance are the main cons I can think of with having more heroes but what are the benefits?
 

palatkorn

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To begin with, I would use only 2 characters or one, because having 4 initially made the action look messy. And not step by step
 

KakonComp

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More heroes usually means more personalities to write, which can't always be easy for a single indie dev to do. I personally like a smaller more tight knit cast of characters, especially if the game takes the time to allow them to interact with one another and form camaraderie and/or rivalries.

Characters make a story to me, but even with multiple writers, too many actors can feel a bit much. Someone always gets left out, and I tend to end up rooting for them partly for that reason.

Current project though I have more playable characters than I'm used to; wish me luck, friends.
 

RCXDan

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I always start with something small like 1 or 2, since the best way to ease the player in is by being simple.

Maximum headcount for me is 13 or so, but I tend to keep below 10 playable characters on average.

The benefits of having a large cast is that you can have a lot of diversity. All these weirdos who've decided to come together and fight for a common purpose and/or just because they like each other tends to be an uplifting experience.

Of course it'll get harder to balance the game the more players you have.

Like KakonComp said, the more characters you introduce, the more the attention divides between them not only in gameplay but in story too.

Being smart with how you write in characters tends to lessen this effect... like tying events to be relevant to more than one person so we see how these two work together, etc.
 

The_Sarah

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More cucumbers I don't know.
 
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gstv87

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let me sideline the question with this tangent:
I seem to have a thing for making characters based on people I knew and the experiences I lived with them.
not long ago I picked up PES2012, and it comes with a team customization tool. I've never been into sports games that much, and was having a hard time beating the tournament, so I figured "what the heck, if I can't break it, might as well bend it.".
so, I went to the customization and made a new team based on the kids I had gone to school with.... there's no gauge to measure someone's physical performance at something, so I eyeballed it based on what I remember their performances to be, when playing with them: some were more aggressive, some were more skilled, some were better team players, etc.
I had to translate that to numbers to use it in the game's rating system, so I averaged the game's already existing players and adjusted my table accordingly.
when I pitched the resulting team against the top teams of the game (the likes of Barcelona, Inter, Manchester, etc) they outperformed them all, so I went back and just shifted the whole balance down a notch, as it was, without changing anything, until they were just right.
random numbers, based on my own guesstimation, loosely based on people I knew, some of which have never and will never meet together in real life.
now, the kicker was: the game has a randomizer that boosts or caps each player's performance before each match, to mimic exhaustion, or injuries, etc.... and now every time I come up to the management screen and find out I have to shuffle the formation for the next match because I have no wings, or my striker is down, or I have a real boost on defense so might as well put the rookie goalie in because there's no risk, *THAT* is where the real fun is.
being able to come up with crazy combinations of players, who at first glance don't look like they gonna work, and seeing it come through, 3-0.
and you really feel the hole in the team when you have a player down, because not all of them play the same, and none of them can be everywhere in the field, ever.
and that's with a roster of 25, having substitutes to spare, and still sometimes *I have no substitutes*

It doesn't matter how many heroes you create.... just make sure you make them unique enough, to really feel the lack of even *one* when they're down for whatever reason.
 

AkaneFukuyama

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.. This time around, I have planned of.. 100+..

But in terms of Main Casts, I have like.. 10-20+.
Of course, ALL of them are just PLAYABLE (at least temporarily..)
For example, you're in this CHAPTER, and in this chapter, you go to this area where some of those
playable characters are natives/residences from that area..

The Game I'm building is ARC-BASED, and by ARC-Based, I mean.. It's like Six continuous stories are all cramped into one game (making the most of the 999 Map Limits lol)

At the very last arc, all those 100+ characters come together..
.. And since the kind of game I'm building is heavily story-based, Changing Equipment of those
characters are not allowed (I'm not using LEVEL SYSTEM so it isn't a problem balancing the stats for me anyway)

As for the and Con..

.. Well let's just say story-wise, it's difficult to create a back story for each of those characters, which is
why I'm taking my time writing it a little slowly..
 
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AkaneFukuyama

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A hundred playable characters?!

And here I was thinking 14 for one game was too much. I salute your bravery and ambition. :kaopride:
Thanks!
To quite tell the truth, since it's Arc-based, there are times when some, if not ALL of those characters won't even appear in the next or future part of the story.. They just... sit there in the ACTORS database..
So sometimes, I feel as though it's a shame that I wrote a backstory for a certain character but won't be seeing that character grow.. (at least he/she was mentioned once again in future parts of the story)
 

Dororo

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The benefits are:
A ) More engaging combat by party combo
B ) Metagame by selecting different party members
C ) More time with the game by the need of levelling up all the roster and find all the equipments
But mostly...
D ) A lot of games simplify the chapters structure by having, for each character, and introduction chapter and a development chapter. You can practically write a story by just having an easy main plot (defeat the evil!) and have a sequence of recruiting-development of party members. ChronoTrigger did it, FF6 did it, Legend of Dragoons did it and I don't remember what, but surely did it.
 

RCXDan

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Dororo made good points, especially the equipment part because I adore hunting for ultimate equipment for my characters.

But this one I feel can help us the most:

D ) A lot of games simplify the chapters structure by having, for each character, and introduction chapter and a development chapter.
If you want characters to get their limelight you gotta give them "tutorial" areas that highlight their strengths and weaknesses.

That way we can get to know them more than if they're just dumped on us without any real fanfare.
 

Kupotepo

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I would go against the preconceived notion around here if I understand you correctly. Non-combat characters are still interesting and lovable. The characters are not required to have a role in the battle like @KakonComp said the character is interesting. The players will keep playing your games.
I play the RPG game and there is one combat protagonist. And the rest of the characters are tagging along.
I like that game because of the funny characters and interesting stories. Despite, having a basic hit and damage one skill battle system, I still like the game story.

@AkaneFukuyama, yeah more people use the chapter break or arc system.

In the current project, I have only one main character and the rest is tagging along, but mind you, I have a character arc mini-story. I mean it is making sense. People like to travel together in an unknown or unsafe place. When the tagging along characters have no interest in travel along with the main protagonist, they are free to leave.

The benefits of a large project:
  1. You can make your game into the narrative of interesting worldbuilding.
  2. You can have as many characters, but you will get benefit by learning about how to research the characters and worldbuilding.
  3. Support characters will make your game amazing if they have personalities, should affect the story in some way, and should influence the character.

One strange thing happens during the game developing call the execution and the pace of the game which is unpredictable of what the end result of a game making.
 
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twosnakes

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I'm trying 5 fully fleshed out characters. Hopefully with proper character arcs and shared screen time. It is a challenge for sure.
 

Nohmaan

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My rule of thumb is:

Highest Number
(Max Number of Active Party Members * 2)

Lowest Number
(Max Number of Active Party Members * 2) - 2

where Max Number of Active Party Members > 3

This means you can split into 2 parties and you don't have just one guy no one uses hanging out the whole game or when leveling you have some options for variety when swapping members around.

Not every character has to have an individual story though, pairs of characters can have arcs together without much issue.
 

AkaneFukuyama

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I would go against the preconceived notion around here if I understand you correctly. Non-combat characters are still interesting and lovable. The characters are not required to have a role in the battle like @KakonComp said the character is interesting. The players will keep playing your games.
I play the RPG game and there is one combat protagonist. And the rest of the characters are tagging along.
I like that game because of the funny characters and interesting stories. Despite, having a basic hit and damage one skill battle system, I still like the game story.

@AkaneFukuyama, yeah more people use the chapter break or arc system.

In the current project, I have only one main character and the rest is tagging along, but mind you, I have a character arc mini-story. I mean it is making sense. People like to travel together in an unknown or unsafe place. When the tagging along characters have no interest in travel along with the main protagonist, they are free to leave.

The benefits of a large project:
  1. You can make your game into the narrative of interesting worldbuilding.
  2. You can have as many characters, but you will get benefit by learning about how to research the characters and worldbuilding.
  3. Support characters will make your game amazing if they have personalities, should affect the story in some way, and should influence the character.

One strange thing happens during the game developing call the execution and the pace of the game which is unpredictable of what the end result of a game making.
Yes, that's true.
I could not agree more with this, because of how much I love Worldbuilding..
I remember thou, when at first, I just started out with one main character for prologue of the first story,
and the numbers keep increasing by one in each new chapter of that story, finally got a total of 7 characters (6 playable, 1 non-playable but REALLY important to the story..)

It worked like this: Somehow along the way, those NPC became more and more important to the story as I focused on the player getting to know each one..

The Game I'm currently making is a rather personal one as it's more on the EXPERIMENTAL Stuff , especially when it comes to characters, since I'm still learning how to write properly..
 

Ami

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back then,i make 17 actor for my unfinished project. it has 8 chapter.

1 is the main character which he/she have the own purpose,then 2 are join (male and female). when the chapter is ended,the 2 of them will leave you (say thanks to solve the problem)

as the story progressing (chapter by chapter until the climax) the 16 actors will join to fight and save the world.
 

Wavelength

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Moving to Game Dev General Discussion as this discussion has mostly focused on the production and general quality of roster sizes, rather than mechanical aspects like balance.

I've gone with rosters of 6-10 (playable) characters in most of my games and planned games, usually with at least a few important non-playable characters that also have a role to play in the entire story.

One of my games has only 2 playable characters, but it's meant to be a very fast, forward experience (and it's only ~3 hours long), so I didn't want to spend too much focus on developing multiple characters, nor too much time on the player having to select actions for 3 or 4 battlers each turn in combat.

I think the most characters I ever have together at the same time is 7 - really, above four or five, it can be difficult for anyone except the most talented writers to make each character continuously feel important and integrated in the story. Way too often, in games where a large party is traveling together, what I see is:
  1. The plot (or, even worse, an NPC) dictates that the player has to do something
  2. The main character (or your newest character) confirms that he will do that thing
  3. The other characters that have been hanging around for a while either:
    • Say absolutely nothing and do absolutely nothing
    • Say "Yes! Here's what I think! We should do that thing!", essentially saying the exact same thing as the main character but in a different voice - essentially adding nothing to the scene
That's not even meant as an indictment of the authors who make this mistake - it just illustrates how incredibly hard it can be to keep a party of eight characters all feeling relevant from wire to wire.

Where I have casts closer to 10 playable characters, I tend to only have a few of the characters together at the same time. Sometimes that means I as the designer am deciding who will be present at a certain point in the plot; sometimes it's more flexible like "choose two characters to take with you" and I have to put a ton of time and effort into making sure that every possible combination of characters flows well yet feels at least somewhat unique.

Trails in the Sky provides a great example of why this small party format works well and also why the large party doesn't - for most of the game, you have a max of 4 characters in the same place at the same time, and they truly act off of each others' cues and form clear and sympathetic relationships, and each character's actions play an important role in why the events play out as they do. In the one part of the game where you have the entire cast available, though, it becomes very obvious that everyone's dialogue except Estelle's and Joshua's is just boilerplate text slightly modified based on which character is saying it.
 

MerlinCross

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Thanks!
To quite tell the truth, since it's Arc-based, there are times when some, if not ALL of those characters won't even appear in the next or future part of the story.. They just... sit there in the ACTORS database..
So sometimes, I feel as though it's a shame that I wrote a backstory for a certain character but won't be seeing that character grow.. (at least he/she was mentioned once again in future parts of the story)
Reminded of Suikoden
 

Sword_of_Dusk

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I begin my game with just two characters. As the player goes through each plot beat, they will slowly gain new allies until hitting seven characters total, which is the max. I'm well aware that writing for a bunch a characters can be tricky, but I believe in my writing skills.
 

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