Do you like Silent Protagonists on RPGs?

  • Yes

  • No


Results are only viewable after voting.

CleanWater

Independent Developer
Veteran
Joined
Apr 8, 2017
Messages
655
Reaction score
753
First Language
PT-BR
Primarily Uses
RMMV
So, what do you think about silent protagonists from your point of view as a player?

Examples:
  • Ryu - Breath of Fire I, II, III and IV
  • Chrono - Chrono Trigger
  • Serge - Chrono Cross
  • Vahn - Legend of Legaia
 

lianderson

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Dec 27, 2012
Messages
486
Reaction score
391
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
They're easier to make and allow the player to project themselves more. That said, I don't use em.
 

Philosophus Vagus

The drunken bird dog of rpg maker
Veteran
Joined
May 22, 2017
Messages
300
Reaction score
4,591
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I'm sort of indifferent to them if we are discussing the traditional sense that the protagonist has no dialogue and just nods or shakes his head for interaction inbetween other characters. If we are able to include the newer definition that's permeated since voice acting became a make or break mark of quality of silent protagonist meaning a protagonist who doesn't have a voice actor speaking his/her parts then I am all for it in any game that focuses deeply on player choices, and especially when character development is a focus like games converted from tabletop rpg rulesets and the like because the voice acting severely limits your ability to vary your character type and no one is going to pay for a hundred and fifty voice actors just to try and fit most of the stereotypical character types that are most popular with rpg players in those sorts of games. Instead we end up with one guy with one personality, who seems out of place in the event we are even allowed to make choices from when they don't mesh with how he/she talks and acts in game.

That and from what I have seen such games lose all direction when companies such as Bioware and Bethesda decided to jump on that bandwagon (with the exception of the mass effect trilogy, but it only worked because the game established Shepard as a military disciple from the onset, allowing the player to develop their character outside of supervision while allowing him/her to return to military form believably regardless of the player's choice of headcannon roleplay outside of their "official" role.), and end up with a rambling mess with no coherent message as a result. VA is fine for linear games where the protagonists role is clearly defined from the start, but if you want to give your players freedom of choice nothing beats a quiet protagonist with thousands of choices in cheap, easily typed text.
 

Caitlin

\(=^o^=)/ Kitten shall rule the world!!!
Veteran
Joined
May 6, 2012
Messages
912
Reaction score
2,097
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Okay. I am aware that people seem to think that you project yourself more into a 'silent' character, but completely aware that the only reason that they used them was for memory. Today, people have it in their heads that you project yourself into a character. They, also, think that by changing your outward appearance and giving you token choices, it gives you replay ability. It does do that, either. So what do I think of silent characters? I think you can have a character have a personality, make choices and have almost a different play through than you did the first time you played. Such a game is "The Witcher series", the main character has a personality, does say things and at the same time, you can change what he says. I honestly think that silent protagonists are not really important anymore, not that I think they'll go away immediately.
 

Hero_Claive

(Phoenix Ember)
Veteran
Joined
Jan 5, 2016
Messages
149
Reaction score
88
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
I developed a love for stories by reading books at a young age, and most of the video games I played back then weren't story-based RPGs anyways. So I've never really understood the gimmick of a silent protagonist. Yes, self-projection exists, but I never actually felt like I was Crono in CT. The choices I received were trivial at best, like deciding when to proceed to the final battle or whether to accept a certain seventh character into the party (trivial story-wise, maybe not gameplay-wise).

The problem, also, is that these types or RPGs are often structured where the story is told vicariously through other characters, even though "you" are the protagonist. Like in I am Setsuna, there are character arcs for each character who joins except Endir, the protagonist. It gets to the point where he's just along for the ride. I felt the same way about Crono where even though I was clicking my way through choices, Marle or Lucca were the ones forcing the story along.

Plus, let's remember what we're giving up. A speaking protagonist gives purpose and drive to the game. They develop in ways we can see directly. They're able to develop relationships with other characters. They give substance to the story - another layer to its purpose. Like, Treasure Island could be just a run-of-the-mill novel about pirates and mutiny, but Jim's perspective and his interactions with Captain Silver makes it a tale of adventure, coming-of-age, and true desire. Why miss out on all that?

Personally, I believe silent protagonists will never be more than a gimmicky hindrance to storytelling. To some, it might even encourage laziness since it's one more character you virtually don't have to write.
 

kirbwarrior

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Nov 13, 2014
Messages
750
Reaction score
443
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
I happen to like silent protagonists a lot.
Chrono - Chrono Trigger
Silent protagonist, has plenty of character. Even though it's little, you can see who Chrono is.
Serge - Chrono Cross
Bad. I'm going to try again to play this game since one of my best friends loves it, but I just can't get past the blandness, especially of Serge.
people seem to think that you project yourself more into a 'silent' character
I know people think that and I can even see how it's true, but I've never felt it. Even in Elder Scrolls games it's not me I'm playing, but the character I made. The choices I have them pick is based on who they seem to be.

Dragon Quest 8 is probably my favorite example of this. Hero is a fantastic character. You understand his motivations, you see why he does things, you see little characterizations all over the place with how he does things. And he never speaks. He's in my top ten favorite rpg protagonists and I go back and play that game probably every year.

One thing I do is pay attention to what the silent protagonist is doing and figure out what that means of them. Link trusts telepathic messages. He's willing to use anything he can find, from bombs to nets to musical instruments. He'll strike down foes easily and will fight anything that fights him. He explores the world. He's willing to walk through various types of extremely hazardous areas and even try rash things like jumping and gliding over lava. He lets various females fawn over him without reciprocating the interests, and might even take advantage of them liking him.
 

CleanWater

Independent Developer
Veteran
Joined
Apr 8, 2017
Messages
655
Reaction score
753
First Language
PT-BR
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Silent protagonist, has plenty of character. Even though it's little, you can see who Chrono is.

Bad. I'm going to try again to play this game since one of my best friends loves it, but I just can't get past the blandness, especially of Serge.

I loved Chrono Cross at first for being the first RPG I played. The game graphics are gorgeous and the soundtrack is awesome, but after playing other games I noticed a lot of flaws in the story. They focused too much in the aesthetic of the game and forgot the basis of a RPG - The story.

Chrono Trigger plot and character development is much better than in Chrono Cross. Chrono Cross have 44 selectable characters, but they simply don't have any personality at all, neither a full backstory in most cases. The story is vague, confusing and full of plot holes.

I still love this game and I often play it again to try to see the alternative endings I didn't saw yet sometimes, but I recognize that Chrono Trigger is superior to it in many ways.
 

Lornsteyn

Sleepy Dragon
Veteran
Joined
Nov 15, 2013
Messages
352
Reaction score
447
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
The Breath of Fire Series is one of my favorites, i could play these games forever.
I have no problems with silent protagonists, maybe some decisions to make, like yes or no, thats enough.
In a game with voiceacting, a silent protagonist would not be a good idea, probably.
 

trouble time

Victorious
Veteran
Joined
Jan 2, 2014
Messages
792
Reaction score
602
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
I kinda hate silent protagonists, while i wont say ive never enjoyed a game with a silent protagonist, i tend not to enjoy them as much ad games with more defined characters.
 

Orb

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jan 29, 2017
Messages
138
Reaction score
112
First Language
Spanish
I kinda hate silent protagonists, while i wont say ive never enjoyed a game with a silent protagonist, i tend not to enjoy them as much ad games with more defined characters.

I feel the same. I don't hate them tho, I just think that there's way much more into those characters than you'll ever be able to discover, like a waste of potential

Does Link (Zelda series) count as a silent protagonist? If so... I know that part of his mysticism and popularity is due to the fact he can't (or won't) speak at all. It kinda bothers me, because I feel like his dialogues could have had so much potential. In Hyrule Warriors they got proxi to speak for him, and I though to myself: "hey, you know what? this is something Link would say, and it's cool!"
 

kwanzaabot

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Apr 6, 2012
Messages
72
Reaction score
14
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
I like the way the Golden Sun series handles it: you choose from a list of emotes, and the dialogue is implied from there. A Yes/No choice becomes "nod head/shake head" (and the character then nods or shakes his head), or in the DS version, there's "angry face/sad face/happy face" for more general dialogue.
 

Golden Fish Entertainment

Last Man Standing
Veteran
Joined
Oct 18, 2013
Messages
92
Reaction score
14
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
While silent protagonists definitely have a role, I don't personally think there's anything wrong with giving a protagonist a distinct personality and still allowing them to have choices presented via dialogue and whatnot...it's just a matter of making sure all the options "sound" like something the character would say.

Example:
Dialogue Example.png

This can still lead to branching options, when the NPC reacts to the character's "attitude" as much as what he is saying. :) Hopefully that helps.
 

kirbwarrior

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Nov 13, 2014
Messages
750
Reaction score
443
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
I don't personally think there's anything wrong with giving a protagonist a distinct personality
That's largely why I like characters I posted above. Silent protagonists have personality, you just show it in different way.
 

trouble time

Victorious
Veteran
Joined
Jan 2, 2014
Messages
792
Reaction score
602
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
I actually agree to this, for example the different ways the persona protagonists describe things shows some persobality to them, p4 guy is less gloomy than p3 guy for example. In their cases, for the most part, if you make a descision thats at odds with how theyre presented ghe other characters seem to assume you're joking or not thinking clearly. I just wish theyd actually talk.
 

Sanct

Password Unenthusiast
Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2016
Messages
14
Reaction score
20
First Language
Serbian
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
Silent protagonists generally don't make sense in RPGs, considering how much dialogue they tend to have. Making a silent protagonist is almost guaranteed to feel like a lazy cop-out and a desperate attempt to get the player immersed, which ironically enough tends to have the exact opposite effect (At least in my opinion it does)

Edit: Another thing I forgot to mention is that a good example of the immersion being completely destroyed by a silent protagonist is Pokemon Sun and Moon, in which the your player character doesn't even emote and it's really dumb
 

kirbwarrior

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Nov 13, 2014
Messages
750
Reaction score
443
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
they simply don't have any personality at all
immersion being completely destroyed by a silent protagonist is Pokemon Sun and Moon, in which the your player character doesn't even emote
I'd take personality over speaking any day. I thought it was weird they took that direction in pokemon, especially since the protagonist in 6th gen and 7th gen is just so... flat-faced? Xe don't look like a character. I noticed this most in X because your 'rival' has the same, empty look, while the love interest is full of personality.
 

KingKraken

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Apr 2, 2015
Messages
148
Reaction score
54
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Silent protagonists generally don't make sense in RPGs, considering how much dialogue they tend to have. Making a silent protagonist is almost guaranteed to feel like a lazy cop-out and a desperate attempt to get the player immersed, which ironically enough tends to have the exact opposite effect (At least in my opinion it does)

Edit: Another thing I forgot to mention is that a good example of the immersion being completely destroyed by a silent protagonist is Pokemon Sun and Moon, in which the your player character doesn't even emote and it's really dumb

I don't know. When done right a silent protagonist allows for players to immerse themselves in the game world in a much different way than if the protagonist was had dialogue. I can't imagine how Zelda games would feel if Link actually had something to say. I think a benefit of him being silent, means we can come to our own conclusions about our role in the world. Especially for exploration. I feel like being silent gives us an excuse to go adventure and find our own stories, rather than have the nagging undertones of a characters personal goals in the back of our heads.

Although I woudn't call Pokemon anywhere great when it comes to storytelling, I'd also like to think the blank slate of the pokemon protagonist falls under that same vein. They aren't really supposed to emote, because we are supposed to imprint our own feelings on the narrative, instead of being told how to feel.
 

Kes

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Aug 3, 2012
Messages
22,305
Reaction score
11,726
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
They aren't really supposed to emote, because we are supposed to imprint our own feelings on the narrative, instead of being told how to feel.

This, I think, points to a fundamental problem for devs. Unless the writing of the story and the other characters and all non-verbal clues are done exceedingly well, I, as the player, run the risk of not having any feelings to imprint. Certainly that has been my experience, where the protagonist just comes across as bland and frankly, I end up not caring what happens to them.

Also, I think it is possible to overstate how much the player gets trammeled into the feelings they are "told how to feel". I've played games where I can work out what sort of thing the dev wants, but because of factors particular to me, that is not how I feel about it. I doubt that I'm the only one that's happened to.
 

onipunk

Archmage of Procrastination
Veteran
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
Messages
252
Reaction score
161
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
Generally I dislike them, because I simply don't care in the slightest about projecting myself onto a character. I'm playing someone else's story and don't want to pretend it's mine. You think Final Fantasy 9 would have worked as well if Zidane were silent? If during the "You're Not Alone" scene he just nodded or shook his head at everything?

Silent or near-silent protagonists work in other games - Link, Samus, Gordon Freeman - but all those characters exist in mechanically driven genres, not narratively driven ones, and silent protagonists create more problems than they solve. With the benefits of modern technology we don't need to worry about memory any more (which led to patently ridiculous situations like Isaac remembering how to speak between games while Felix forgets in Golden Sun and The Lost Age) so just take the time and effort to write a character with thoughts and opinions on the world, with relationships and obligations, who feels like they actually exist within your world rather than a sword-swinging mannequin who exists only to be a protagonist. That's where immersion comes from.
 

Celianna

Tileset artist
Veteran
Joined
Mar 1, 2012
Messages
10,558
Reaction score
5,597
First Language
Dutch
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I'm done with silent protagonists, really. I think it is a lazy cop-out than to write various different dialogue to represent the player's actual train of thought, and what he would do in any given situation.

There's no reason to keep Link silent for example. Zelda is a world famous franchise, we know we're not Link. It's not going to break immersion if he talks. Of course, this is not including the purists that will go into a frothy rage once they realize Link can speak. My favourite Link is Wind Waker Link - he actually showed so many emotions! He even yells "hey" and "come on!" Why can't we have more games like that?
 

Latest Threads

Latest Posts

Latest Profile Posts

Wondering how big I can make Dorothy's skill menu before the game just becomes irredeemably bad.
Studio Blue is playing the RPG Maker game Phil Alone live now! Phil may be alone, but you don't have to be, come join us in chat!

I'm in desperate need of environment sprites and tilesets for my game. If anyone is interested please DM me im willing to pay.
All badges and prizes for the Let's Make a Scene Heart Edition event SHOULD be out. If you participated and haven't received either or both, send me a PM.

Forum statistics

Threads
109,208
Messages
1,043,070
Members
141,725
Latest member
718346584zy
Top