Tuesday, March 31, 2009

On revealing Aduna's character

Protagonists in video games have often been cut from three cloths. Representative extreme examples are an AFGNCAAP, a Dialog Tree climber, and, well, "normal" characters - lads who have prebuilt personalities and everything, and the most choice who have about what they say and do revolves around their purchasing habits.

jRPGs often mix all three to a weak tea - offering silent protagonists who sometimes maybe get plot significant nods or shakings of the head, while all their constant companions do your talking for you. Frankly, that's combining the worst bits of all three in my book. Bioware is frighteningly infatuated with dialogue trees. Most games place your character in one of these molds, or fail to do something interesting outside of them.

Well, I think we oughta try to assault the status quo a bit with Aduna. What I'm almost certain I want is to allow the player choice in who Aduna is, while maintaining in the narrative that her personality is static. That is to say, the player decides how Aduna's always been, not how she developes as an entity in Ganeden.

What I'm not so sure about is what form this choice should take. I've had three ideas:

1) Direct player choice. Ask at various junctures: what does Aduna think about her potential to control people in Rith? How does she respond to her source's eventual birth and her corresponding termination? How does she view Rith as a whole?

2) Choice by player action. Take some data about how the player's been playing Aduna and Co. and calculate her choices based off of that. On the one hand, that'll allow the aforementioned goal to be implemented all the more invisibly and (possibly) successfully, but on the other hand players may feel robbed of direct control of their avatar - and they may not know how to explore other branches of the plot.

3) Random choice at each juncture, favoring paths as yet unexplored. Not liking this one, as it seems to be just a worse version of 2) - but it's one which resolves my second complaint about it.

What do you guys think about all this? It's 1:00 AM and my sleep cycles a little screwy, so I'm not even sure I'm making sense right now. Anyway!


1 comment:

alex said...

Alright I got an idea, it just took a bit to get the gears turning.

I think there should be some kind of branching tree of possibilities, but determined by player behavior as in #2. I don't think the robbing of direct control is an issue, as long as an informed player can easily play to a specific direction (see Warning Forever or STALKER).

Now what I do think would be interesting, and preserve the illusion of her always having been some way, is if parts of backstory depend on these decisions. What if, at any point in the game first has to present an NCP reaction, bit of history, or other such thing that would indicate her personality, the game calculates it from behavior and locks it in?