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Game Design Story Question


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In all of the Spiderweb games, the characters that you play are always created by you essentially from scratch. This includes not only stats and traits and all that stuff, but also their names and their personality. The extent that Spiderweb games have given your characters personality is through the responses during dialogue. This is probably because the game has no idea what kind of personality to assign to your characters because you were the one who created them, so it's best to just not try talking about it.


This lack of personality always bothered me. While I may have created the characters, I don't really have anything planned out for them in terms of the way they would act socially or something like that. I'd want to be surprised by what they do; let the game run wild your characters' personality.


So much blandness can be fleshed out through the reactions of other characters to your actions and not only your dialogue. For instance, if your female mage stopped a drug operation in a town by killing everybody involved, she would be infamous in the town as a dangerous person and the game could tailor passing dialogue to meet that response. "Shhh! It's Adelia! Keep you head down and keep walking, maybe she won't notice us."


Or on the other hand you could also describe somebody by their combat statistics. If you gave your manly character a lot of strength, I would assume he looks fairly beastly and at least 'thug-like' (even if he might be fat and strong). If you gave your rogue female archer lots of dexterity, somebody in passing could mention how lithely she moves and wonder out loud how good she was at dancing.

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Blades scenarios sometimes do this. I think Nobody's Heroes assumed some things about your characters' characters, so to speak. Several other scenarios do.


Jeff doesn't, but the GF games attempt to respond to the choices that you make, which is at least partially requiring you to develop a kind of personality.

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Ultimately it comes down to what you're willing to invest time in when developing a game. When making a responsive world, you have to code for every possible situation on a case by case basis. You're adding a lot of content, and most of it won't be seen on any given playthrough. At some point, the creator has to decide if it's worth spending time on atmosphere when the same time could be used to develop a new town or dungeon, content that's playable on every playthrough. This is true for all games, but especially true for ones with only one developer, like Jeff Vogel or the Blades designers.


A responsive world is nice to have, but creators usually focus their limited time on other facets of the game.

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if (strength < 5)
print "Pffft what a puny little thing :-D "
if (strength > 10 and < 15)
print "Hmmm not bad you know :-| " // wow ipb has syntax colouring and stuff
if (strength >15)
print "Wow look at those muscles :-O "


It would probably be something like this. I can see why Jeff wouldn't want to add stuff like that for every single character stat, but even a little well-placed humour from some of them would have been nice. I believe the only stat that's most checked for like this (during the dialogues) in Geneforge is Leadership.

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