Irrelevant Characters & Creators

Have you ever played a game, thinking, “Wow, my character seems to have no effect on the world around him/her?”.  You walk up to an NPC, and they behave oddly for someone of your race/class/gender?

This woman NPC totally wants to get in the female character's panties.

This happened to me in Divinity II: Ego Draconis.  I created a sultry female character, ran up to guys hoping for some flirting action, yet there was no option for flirting.  However, when I interacted with women, the women would flirt with me, or I would have an option to flirt with them.  Now, I didn’t plan on making my female a lesbian.  And it’s incredibly frustrating to find that the game so blatantly leaves a double standard for male versus female characters.  I can just hear it, “Well of COURSE the male characters have to flirt or be flirted with women NPCs.  But female characters?  PSH.  They don’t need to have the same options with men, of course not.”

I did just go on a bit of a rant.  But honestly, what was the point of letting me choose my character’s gender if the world around me doesn’t respond appropriately?

This just brings to light an issue with irrelevant characters, or irrelevant character creations.

Please tell me where the custom character is in this scene?

For example, take White Knight Chronicles.  You go into this whole process of creating a character, but when you get to the game, what does your character actually do?  Hardly anything.  They basically just sit in the background watching.  By default, you’re given control of someone ELSE, not the character you spent a bunch of time making.  Look at all the cool powers… that some other character is doing.  Essentially, your character in White Knight Chronicles is irrelevant.  You could have played the whole game without them.  They didn’t contribute anything to the story.  What was the point?!  “But… but… you got to make someone!!  Isn’t that cool enough?!”

There’s also Two Worlds II, in which you create a character to control throughout the story.  Two Worlds II also has an online component… but the character you created for the story mode isn’t able to cross over to the online mode.  You have to create a whole other character for online gaming.  WTF?!  “Why on earth would you want to take the SAME CHARACTER over from story mode to online?!  That just makes zero sense.”  **EDIT** Wadoobie claims this is so people won’t beef up their character in story mode, then cross over into online mode.  However, why didn’t they just include some sort of limitations, so you can still take you main character over to online mode, but you can’t have all the awesome armor or stats or something?  Or only have players evenly matched at the same level in multiplayer?

Be warned:  Dragon Age 2 spoilers below.  Do NOT read on if you haven’t finished DA2.

You're looking at the face of a terrorist. And someone integral to the storyline. Not Hawke.

Even Dragon Age 2 has a case of an irrelevant main character.  In the third act, the actual person who brings the clash of mages versus templars to a head isn’t your Hawke.  Nope!  It’s Anders, the brooding mage who is a stickler for the belief that mages should be free.  He’s the one who builds a bomb to blow up the chantry.  As he states, “I removed the chance of compromise, because there is no compromise.  Basically you were just as surprised as everyone else when the chantry exploded.  You may have had a hand in it, but you more than likely didn’t mean to and therefore weren’t any more relevant to the destruction of it.  And that’s the turning point of the story between mages and templars.  What happens from there on out is battle after battle towards the end of the game.

End Spoiler

Characters and situations like this certainly make the player feel disconnected from the game, to say the least.  Honestly, if the game Divinity 2 forced me to be a man, but still have the options to flirt with women, I’d be much happier than the current ‘I’m a girl but I can only hit on / be hit on by women’ situation.  In White Knight Chronicles, the overall question is, “Why did you make me create a character when it doesn’t do one damn thing?”.  For Two Worlds II, it takes the player out of the game to force them to create another character, and leaves them wondering why they can’t just use the initial character they created.  Even in Dragon Age 2, the events seem like my character had nothing to do with the story.  In that situation I was left feeling like my character didn’t deserve the title ‘Champion of Kirkwall’, because she really had no involvement.

What’s the worst pointless character you’ve ever encountered that gets you all fired up?  Be sure to leave your opinions in the comments!

-Kat

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Comments

Posted On
Jun 27, 2011
Posted By
Asperity

I’m not sure I’ve ever played a more blatant example than Hawke of a character who’s irrelevant to the outcome of the main plot. Though on thinking about it, in DA1, it’s not like we had a possible ending where the archdemon didn’t get killed. Which is sort of like Anders-is-always-gonna-apslode-the-Chantry.

I’ve really got to play through a romance with Anders and see an ending where Hawke doesn’t knife him. I just can’t stand the random chatter from Anders when you do go through a romance with him. Fenris? He says nice things. Anders just goes on about how it’s all gonna end in tears. Blah.

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Posted On
Jul 06, 2011
Posted By
Calamitybird

True, but we were only pretty recently spoiled in that respect. Up until about a decade ago, I was a pretty big Final Fantasy fan, and it never even occurred to me to be disappointed by the fact that, really, I had no effect on the plot whatsoever. Pick a character? Nope. Affect the plot? Nope. Choose the characters’ names, fight the battles and open the chests; otherwise, sit back and watch the story. It’s why KoTOR really blew me away.

I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed when I hurried on to my second playthrough of DA2 to find out what would happen if I sided with the templars, only to discover, uhhh, not much. So it goes back to old style of telling you the story. But, it’s a beautiful story. And you do get to choose a lot of the details of how you experience it.

And just for Kat’s amusement, because I have a history of disagreeing with her on these things – I hated Fenris’s emo, selfish ass, and I have yet to be able to bring myself to play a game where I DO kill Anders (though I did watch that on YouTube, and it wrenched my heart). Was he a terrorist in the end? Yes, but worse things have been done for far less just causes in the scope of history. Wars have been started and cities have been bombed. In all cases, somebody made those choices. He’s still a genuinely passionate and tragic character.

Fenris gave me +15 friendship for blackmailing a grieving father in front of him. Ew. Oh, and slept with me and gave me the “it’s not you, it’s me” routine while fleeing my boudoir. Following his entire romance/character questline gave me some sympathy for his character, but not enough to justify his attitude. 😛

As far as the minor, everyday reactions go, I don’t think I’ve played a game that handled it better than Oblivion. Who I chose to be, from gender to race to playstyle, had a distinct effect on how people reacted to me. It was quite impressive. Can’t wait for Skyrim. 😀

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Posted On
Jul 08, 2011
Posted By
kattiki

Oh don’t get me wrong, Calamity, I romanced Anders and loved it. Not as much as Alistair, but who could live up to him? And it surprised me to no end by what Anders ended up doing. However it’s just such a strong case of “I didn’t do this but I get to suffer the consequences”, and that’s something we’ve come to expect the OPPOSITE in BioWare.

But honestly, any sequel to the much-loved Dragon Age: Origins would be a hit with me. I pretty much feel that BioWare can do no wrong.

-Kat

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