Player made party vs. pre-designed PCs

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Player made party vs. pre-designed PCs

Postby youngneil1 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:57 pm

I am undecided right now whether I like it more if the player designs and rolls the whole party of e.g. 6 members at the beginning of the game (perhaps with two extra slots for summons, hired NPC, charmed monsters, see Bard's Tale series e.g.) or whether he rolls only one main Char and can find the other 5 (or 7) party members along the way, already pre-designed, with possibly more PCs avaiable than slots in the party, so choices would have to be made.

"Player made" has the advantage that you can fine tune your ideal party setup (class, race, attribute, skill, spell mix) yourself and imagine personalities and backgrounds for them yourself, too.

"Pre-designed" would allow to give the party members a personality known to the mod author, so he could integrate their background stories into the adventure. Also he could script for inter party dialogue and spontaneous comments of the characters. As the mod author does not know the class and race of the PC, balance might become a little more difficult (well, with "player made" party strength will vary though to a great degree, depending on the knowledge of the player about the game, the mechanics and his will to use an ideal setup).

Or perhaps a mix? Player made characters (class, race, stats...), but you have to assign each of them a pre-defined background and personality kit (these would only be possible for fitting races and classes, so you couldn't give a dwarven warrior one of the elven backgrounds) at the end of character creation? This will be lots of work though, especially fir the mod author due to all those possible combinations.
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Re: Player made party vs. pre-designed PCs

Postby Baron » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:37 am

No one like pre-made chars. No one.

Unless you have written Urdnot Wrex I wouldn't introduce a mandatory PC. I did consider a system where you could make your char then choose a Personality, which would throw in comments from time to time. But I foresee much suck with this idea.
- What if the player picks two Cynics and three Gruff Matronly Mother Figures?
- What if the player didn't identity with any of the chars?
- You would have to write ten personalities just to provide choice for 6 party members... too much work.

The mix option works quite well, for short durations. A party of four, with a couple of NPCs along for parts of the mission. It always throws some much needed uncertainty into the ranks... particularly for the predictable betrayal/ambush. Plus everyone, even the Lawful Good, loves getting a weak NPC killed and then looting his corpse.
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Re: Player made party vs. pre-designed PCs

Postby Lurking Grue » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:56 pm

Baron wrote:No one like pre-made chars. No one.

Um, I do. To a point, i.e. if it's not overdone. I liked having Iolo, Shamino and Dupre in my party in Ultimas, for example. It depends heavily on what kind of CRPG you're going to make, of course, but pre-made PCs aren't necessarily bad. They can provide the writer an easy way of conveying information and world lore to the player, they can provide plot hooks and sidequests, they can be used for commenting the player's choices and actions, etc. Also, there's the advantage of knowing what sort of characters will be in the player's party, making playtesting simpler (e.g. if you only provide one pre-made mage, then you don't have to worry about a party made completely of mages).

I will not be using pre-made PCs, though, because I doubt I'd be able to create/write them well enough for players to be entertained by them all through the game. Besides, I'm not looking to imitate e.g. Bioware's style, where the game focusses so heavily on dialogue between party-members and the main PC, that it starts to resemble a "soap opera" more than a CRPG, what with all the romances, troubled pasts, and loyalty-earning of party-members and such. Not exactly my cup of tea. But having pre-made PCs doesn't have to go to that extreme, naturally, it can be made with a more measured level of dialogue and very little party angst, and that can work very well. It's all in the writing and game design/focus.
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Re: Player made party vs. pre-designed PCs

Postby youngneil1 » Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:03 pm

I will go with a full self created party of six, too. With slots for addtional NPC (two probably). These additonal NPC will be able to comment on things or trigger sitúational dialogues. They will be temporary followers, depending on quest and campaign stage.

That being said, pre-made PC like in Bioware games can be nice, too. I refrain from using such approach right now mainly due to the extra worklaod. In further future adventures (being very optimistic here, I know) I might allow for more permanent NPC followers, probably reducing the number of player generate c harcters then (4 player-made, 2 permanent pre generated, 2 quest stage/campaign chapter based).
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Re: Player made party vs. pre-designed PCs

Postby Baron » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:17 pm

Lurking Grue wrote:I liked having Iolo, Shamino and Dupre in my party.

Dupre snores. I left him behind in Paws.
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Re: Player made party vs. pre-designed PCs

Postby youngneil1 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:53 pm

Good choice, there's only so much one can suffer when the wild men go camping together... ;-)
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Re: Player made party vs. pre-designed PCs

Postby Lurking Grue » Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:43 am

Indeed. :lol:

Between that and Iolo's banjo-playing, sorry, lute-playing, the adventures with them were sometimes a mite challenging audio-wise. ;)
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