• Welcome to droqen's forum-shaped notebook. Please log in.

(process) Emergent Characters

Started by droqen, December 11, 2021, 06:16:29 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


- Caring about what happens to a character (without authored narrative)
- What happens to the character that you care about?

Pokémon (the Pokémon)

Pokemon can faint.
- If all of your Pokemon faint, you are sent to the last Pokecenter. Also, if you were battling a trainer, you lose some money.
- If one of your Pokemon faints, you can't use them in battle anymore.
- Fainted Pokemon don't/can't gain experience points.

Pokemon can gain experience points, level up, and evolve.
- These are all good things for the player's game... When the Pokemon are doing well, they become more powerful, gain new moves, and can entirely transform state (into something more powerful and interesting in almost all cases). For a new player, these forms may be totally unexpected!

The player directs their Pokemon and is responsible for when the group goes back and gets healed.


- Why do you care about what happens to a character?
- What happens to the character that you care about?


Why do you care about a Tamagotchi? They are kinda cute and you can solve their problems for them - clean up their poop, heal them when they're sick, feed them when they're hungry.

You can play games with them for fun (I think they want to do it sometimes?), especially when they're happy (?)

If you succeed at caring for them, they grow up and take on newer and more diverse forms as their age increases. (There is 1 baby form, but I think something like 8 adult forms.) Older Tamagotchi will eventually die of old age, but newer ones will live forever.

If you fail to care for them, they will die -- You have a sense of responsibility to this thing that you have chosen to care for, and which you have played games with, but also this thing that might have showed you a new Tamagotchi adult form.


- Why do you care about what happens to a character?
- What do you care about that happens to the character?

Animal Crossing (villagers)

The villagers can move in or out, they say things about their lives and state opinions, they might appear in different locations and interact with different parts of your town or island, and their friendship with you increases and decreases. They sometimes give you gifts or ask to buy things. They also participate in various events with you, taking on various different roles depending on what's currently going on.

In earlier Animal Crossing games, they might move out if you aren't paying attention every day, and this made caring feel more vital - you had to show your connection by talking to them every day and telling them to stay, if you wanted them to stay.

Sometimes you're called upon to resolve arguments or crises. "Do I move out?" is one of them, but so is "Hey, X other villager is mad at me! What do I do?"

You care about them because they are a relatable mainstay of your town/island. Every minigame and event that happens features them in some kind of role, so they become familiar, and you can become attached...


- Why do you care about what happens to a character?
- What do you care about that happens to the character?

Shadow of Mordor (nemesis)

The game puts a lot of focus on the moments when these characters initiate combat with you, as well as when either one of you kills the other.

Some of them will return again and again to harass you, leveling up and running away or killing you or getting killed and then reviving somehow... You see a familiar face in a game full of generic enemies. Even if they're another enemy, they're not generic.

The camera pulls in and shows you their name and face, and they say a voice clip that relates to your shared history. "Ha ha I killed you!" or "Grr you killed me!" Do you care more because they appear to care?


- Why do you care about what happens to a character?
- What do you care about that happens to the character?


There are some custom authored characters, but you can also recruit new characters that grow. Mostly you care about these due to investment but I think they have some random traits too, which you might care about.

Dwarf Fortress

Dwarves have a LOT of generated details and go through a lot! They enter emotional states - rage, strange moods, etc. - like sims, but the cause-and-effect is less clear. I think what makes you care about your dwarves is that they seem driven by internal thoughts and emotions at times, and these systems ultimately lead to permanent changes to your fortress (strange moods often create artworks) as well as death (sometimes a dwarf will starve or kill other dwarves). Emotions are described, the dwarves react to their emotions, and those emotion-fuelled actions can cause important, permanent changes/effects.

Etrian Odyssey

You name your characters and stick with them through a quite long game. As characters level up - which takes a long time - you invest their skill points into different areas. The characters are vessels for time. What happens to them? Well, they can't die permanently, but you might level them 'wrong', or decide you want to try out a new class, and that means leaving behind a lot of time investment, as well as replacing them with a new face and character-class-sprite. That's interesting, I guess!


What techniques recur?

- Memorable character art/design.

- Player can customize names, character development.

- Time investment: an NPC levels up slowly and abandoning them means losing progress. (Edit: interesting. Abandoning a character, that is, choosing a new one to replace them with either temporarily or permanently, is often an option. As a result the player feels as though maintaining a relationship is a CHOICE, increasing the bond when it works?)

- Taking care of a character helps you to maintain agency, but is not directly related to progress. This is surprisingly consistent. Compare to anti-example Pocket Camp.

-- Flipside: Failing to take care of a character takes away agency, sometimes removing the player's agency altogether (character leaves or dies).

- Some aspects of the character are often outside of your control? (Not consistent, I don't know how important this is? Needs more thought.)

- The characters benefit from - and/or can only act directly as a result of? - the player's actions. (This is a strong pattern, poorly constructed.)