Game Story:
Player Characters
by SeiferTim : 11 March 2004

This is where the fun really starts.

By Definition: A Player Character (or PC) is any character in your game that the person playing the game has control over. Depending on your game genre, you might have a whole lot of PCs, or just a couple. Usually, the term Player Character is associated with RPGs, but I see no reason, in story terms, to differentiate between Mario, Solid Snake, Jill Valentine, "Serious" Sam Stone and Zidane Tribal - they may be different in terms of game play, or programming, but for our purposes, they are the same. The PCs are the characters that the player will see, and deal with through most (if not all) of the game, so it is important to try and make them lovable, or at the very least, tolerable to anyone who might be playing the game. The player should be able to get attached to the character, perhaps even see a bit of themselves reflected in the PC. You want to decide how many PCs you are going to have in the game. If it's just going to be one character, you have an easy job ahead of you... if you plan on having several PCs, then you may need a bit more time....

I've come up with my own little method of creating interesting characters, which has evolved from my D&D and BESM-ing days. For right now, you don't want to worry too much about the technical side of the characters, such as what kind of skills they possess, or what kind of spells they can learn throughout the game - this is strictly story based information. Keep in mind, this is just my method, and you can use your own, or mix-and-match. I've just seen that this works for me.

  1. Get a Job! - Now, this may seem like an odd way to start a character, but this seems to yield better results for me. Start by deciding what you want your PC to do... Should they be a monster hunter? A soldier? Super-intelligent Zombie-slaying Monkey? Come up with something that will mesh well with your setting. Let me make an example. I want to make a platform game, similar to Mario, but with a jungle theme. I want the main PC to be a Jungle Explorer, who jumps around in the jungle fighting tigers, and things. Not the most original of concepts, but it's a start!

  2. Cool Threads - Next, you want to start to form an image of the character in your head, or if your are artistically inclined (unlike myself), you may want to start sketching out some ideas for their looks... Dress them up in cool gear, and give them a few distinguishing features. Distinguishing features are what make the character. Begin to construct an image for him/her. I read somewhere that if people can identify a character by shadow alone, you've done a good job. You may not want to put too much detail here yet, since you may change it later. For my example PC, I want to dress him up in a stereotypical lemon-yellow jungle explorer outfit. Complete with the big-yellow pith helmet. I picture his hat about 2 sizes to big, and he carries a large shotgun.

  3. Personality - Now that you know what the PC looks like, you'll want to give him/her a personality. Try not to make them too far to one extreme, unless you have a REALLY good reason for it. Some of the best PCs are a mix of 2 or more types of conflicting personalities. Such as a Gruff, Testosterome filled Fighter, with a soft spot for small furry a critters, or the Secret Agent, who's as slick as dry concrete.... Start to flesh out some of your PC's quirks and other features of their personality. Let's give our Explorer a Paranoid personality, and throw in a little bit of scaredy-cat, so he's kind a easily frightened, jumpy hunter... hmm.. interesting...

  4. A Name - Give your character a name. You can name them whatever you want, but try to stay away from silly, or stupid names. Don't name your main character in a Roman Olympics game "Bigus Dicus", or "Naughtius Maximus"... that's just wrong. It might add a bit of humor to name a non-important NPC (non-Player Character) with a silly name, but after playing your game for an hour, a silly name will just get old. Let's make our guy an Anthony.... Sir M. Anthony Wendington, Exotic and Dangerous Animal Hunter from England. Yeah, that sounds about right for our guy....

  5. Background - now you want to come up with some kind of back-story for your PC. Where did they come from? Where do they live? Who have they interacted with in the past? Who do they interact with now? This may be slightly more difficult to flesh out until you have a good idea of the rest of your story... so for now, you might just want to throw in a couple of ideas, and wait until later to add to the background. For Sir Anthony, lets say that he was a normal, happy, non-adventurous soul, until one day, at the request of the Queen, he is sent into the jungle on a quest to find a secret treasure-trove of lost gems and gold. Why was he picked above everyone else? Well , that's because his older brother, Thomas, was sent on the mission a few months earlier, but hasn't been heard of in a several weeks... of course, if his brother is an expert Jungle Explorer, then obviously Anthony should be too, right?

  6. Finish Up - You're basically done with your PC now, just add some finishing touches here, and throw some other information in that you think would be interesting... and you're done!

For the most part, those steps should help guide you through creating your PCs, the steps for creating NPCs aren't much different, but we'll go over some more information about them later on down the road. Make up as many PCs as you think would be good for your story, and then get ready for the next section!

Next Section - Part 4: Location, Location, Location!



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