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I look at character backgrounds like "yea"

Historiez  

106 members have voted

  1. 1. Should the game feature character histories / traits?

    • Yea, I like em like Arcanum, all creative and whatot
      73
    • Yea, I like em like Dragon Age, with an intro and that
      22
    • Yea, I like me like NWN2, highly negligible
      8
    • Nah mang
      3


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So we don't know much about the game as of the time of this post, but we can safely assume that (a) we will be creating a singular character as a PC and (b) we will be a "Watcher" of some sort.

 

We don't know how the game will start, obviously. It could go one of two ways. One, you have a lot of control over character creation but your past as a character is either fixed and part of the story (BG games) or not even really bothered with at all (Elder Scrolls games, IWD). Two, you show up in media res, a grown-ass man / woman / myconid, and you have some control not just over the appearance and skills of your myconid, but your myconid's background. Usually it's something like NWN2, which were sort of akin to minor Fallout traits, giving negligible bonuses and penalties to stats, and maybe eliciting a comment from someone once or twice. But there are exceptions: The content for each Origin in Dragon Age was pretty substantial, though it has less bearing the more you go on in the game.

 

My personal favorite, though, was Arcanum's system. You went beyond mere socioeconomic and personality-based backgrounds toward the weird and fantastical. You could be a Frankenstein's monster, a magician's assistant, an idiot savant. No original game content was made for any of them (though that could change in a revisitation), but they were outlandish and what's more, they generally affected your stats in dramatic and often unchangeable ways, as well as put you in weird situations no one else would be in (freaking out in the sewers as a hydrophobe, for example). As such, they could substantially change the game.

 

Does the hivemind agree that character backstories are cool things to pick and choose for a character, provided he/she/zhe is not set in stone from the outset? Perhaps you can choose what it is you were doing when you were conscripted into the Watcher role, as it sounds like you were.

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The backgrounds in DA:O were a fantastic idea that ended up destroying the the entire game's experience for me, like building an amazing new weapon only to be slain by it - once the origin stories were over it felt like I was teleported to another game where the name was the same but everything else was different, everything after that point for me was just a slow-motion train crash.

 

Now obviously they weren't going to write six separate games - though SWTOR is kind of that - but the point I guess is that the background needs to be self-contained enough, and for the most part resolved, such that the events of it don't detract from the game's primary plot. No fresh vendettas or recent injury, I feel a background should be, to the character's mind, a part of ancient history. Now I forget what NWN2's implementation, and only remember Arcanum's vaguely, so I can't really split the two. I guess a fresher memory would be something like Mass Effect's, though not in the disappointingly few options but in terms of their impact: the past is the past, and you've for the most part put them behind you.

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I favor the NWN2 and Fallout approach. Unless they can throw enough money at writing and implementing these choices to make each option influence the entire game, I don't see how it can possibly get any better than that. Having a few key conversations where my character's past experiences affect the outcome are always nice. Being able to define personality traits in a way the game recognizes and provides feedback on are also great. Sadly, between identifying characters based on race, gender, and potentially class, these details often get left by the wayside.

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Since Arcaum is another one of those games that I started but never got very far in, I have no real knowlege of what that example means. I'm not a very big "role player," in that most of the time when I'm playing, I'm playing ... myself. So if background/past is largely ornamental, it's not terribly important to me to have it. If it's stat enhancement of some type, I tend to just see it as that ... a stat/skill choice. I know, I'm lacking in imagination sometimes. :lol:

 

But it would be interesting/I would enjoy it if there were a myriad of background/past choices to choose from, and that your choice had an effect on the game in a way more profound than a NPC comment here and there or even stat bonuses/negatives. I'm not sure Obsidian has the timeline or resources to have very many of such depth, however, and I'm not sure having just a few options would feel satisfactory....vs. having a lot more "stat only" options but little effect on the gameworld itself. But yes, I would enjoy it/it would be cool, I think.


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Dragon Age origins idea was nice in theory, but takes too much design effort. Some origins were amazing and had impact later in the game which felt nicely connected, and some were pure meh.

I prefer Arcanum old school backgrounds. Doesn't take much effort and puts in a lot of flavor.


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They're always a nice touch. I did like the Arcanum ones, though I do think that background choice shouldn't be too outlandish unless there is a link to the story somewhere. If it just jiggers with your stats then it should be fairly tame.

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I liked the pen & paper 3E FR version, where you made a sort of geographical / socio-economic decision which impacted on your likely choice of weapons, bonus skills etc. So a fighter from a big city ruled by wizards would have different funkiness going on from a fighter who came from a small rural village run by priests. It ties stuff into the setting.

 

Having said that, I liked Arcanum's system much more than the game itself. Choosing traits allows you to decide a character archetype (I like the way SPECIAL does this too) that are distinct but not overpowering, so I voted for that.

 

I think you could mix both. So if I wanted to be a fighter who was an urban remittance man lady-killer with a low-level drug habit and the ability to cast some spells, so be it.

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I can't say I didn't like the Dragon Age Origins, so my vote goes for that. Since I was never able to start Arcanum without crashes or bugs, I can't really say much about that one, other than the music is fantastic. NWN2's approach is fine enough, DA:O's probably wasting too many resources.

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I liked the into in Mount & Blade. There were so many options with so many different combinations. You got to choose your heritage, childhood, teenage years and current profession all in a neat little setup. Everything affected your stats, but not to a huge degree. You could still mold your character into whatever you wanted, so it pretty much just gave you a nice boost to what you wanted from a gameplay perspective, but you weren't punished for going for strictly roleplay choices. Also, I enjoyed the descriptions of each option.

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My personal favorite, though, was Arcanum's system. You went beyond mere socioeconomic and personality-based backgrounds toward the weird and fantastical. You could be a Frankenstein's monster, a magician's assistant, an idiot savant. No original game content was made for any of them (though that could change in a revisitation), but they were outlandish and what's more, they generally affected your stats in dramatic and often unchangeable ways, as well as put you in weird situations no one else would be in (freaking out in the sewers as a hydrophobe, for example). As such, they could substantially change the game.

I liked the into in Mount & Blade. There were so many options with so many different combinations. You got to choose your heritage, childhood, teenage years and current profession all in a neat little setup. Everything affected your stats, but not to a huge degree. You could still mold your character into whatever you wanted, so it pretty much just gave you a nice boost to what you wanted from a gameplay perspective, but you weren't punished for going for strictly roleplay choices. Also, I enjoyed the descriptions of each option.

Is their someway we can fuse these two ideas together? That's what I think would be the most awesome, imo.


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DA2 was nice in that you had family members, friends, a HISTORY and not just somebody without a past or any connections. I would like to be able to choose my history in setup, like saying if I was an orphan or family, if I had brothers/sisters/ my relationship with them, friends, if I have a fiance, if I was raised on the street pickpocket, or raised by a mage..etc, giving you bonuses and/or penalties. When you finish, you get a nice intro text (maybe a nice art piece showing the world you came from) explaining who you are. However, I want your choices to matter more than simple words to help your stats. I want people to react to your choices, and I would love to have NPC's make appearences (does not have to be long, maybe a quest or two), like if you say you have a sister, she will show up asking for help and/or checking up on you, if you say you were raised on the streets pickpocketing for an old thief but ran away, the thief hunts you down and asks you to help him with one more job...etc. Just something to give your character some background and not just have him/she be the nameless one with amnesia.

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I like it when you have several background options, if they're done well, that can be worked into the main story fluidly - without feeling tacked on. Only, I must insist, only if they're well done. Otherwise what you imagine can often be much better than something tacked on.


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I would mostly like to choose background traits for my characters like say thay you had religious upbringing which would give bonuses to things that would make sense like lore or healing, or would unlock dialogue options or have npcs react differently and such.


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I never finished Arcanum but it was always so intriguing. The backgrounds were very cool.


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