A game by Heather Logas and her friends

What is courage?

One thing that has been a big stumbling block to me during the creation of BYCYE has been the design of the character creation sequence. At this point, character creation has been through so many revs that I couldn’t even tell you just how many. At this point I think I have it to where I want, but I’ve still been stumbling over some of the details.

The big problem is this — what is compassion? Or courage? Or law-abiding? All these things, which are the key stats that BYCYE uses to shape its story, are kind of relative. The character creation in its current form is your character in a coma remembering their life. I had questions for players to answer that went something like this:

“You remember the most courageous thing you ever did:
1) Watched a scary movie at a slumber party
2) Pulled a baby from a burning building
3) Asked your high school crush on a date
4) Left home for the first time”

Ok, so maybe watching a scary movie as “the most courageous thing ever” isn’t that brave. But what about the other three items? Who’s to say that asking a girl out takes less courage than pulling a baby from a burning building? Maybe a character has no fear of danger, but a huge fear of social awkwardness. Maybe the character couldn’t wait to leave home — or maybe it really was the hardest thing they ever did. How can I rate these items with numbers from most courageous to least without understanding more about the characters’ backgrounds or mindsets? And how can I collect that kind of information without blowing character creation out into a HUGE process?

I’ve been struggling with this for months (which is why the character creation is a big fat placeholder on the demo page). But maybe I have a solution.

Compare the above passage with this:

“You’ve always considered yourself to be:
1. A very cautious individual.
2. Hesitant to take risks
3. Fairly brave
4. Astoundingly courageous”

Obviously there are plusses and minuses here. On the plus side, I am leaving it completely up to the player about whether they consider their own character to be brave or not, without filtering through my ideas of what it means to be “brave”. On the minus side, there is a lot less character to this way of writing. It feels less story-like and less rich. It doesn’t blend seamlessly into the rest of the story.

So I’m not sure if I’m going to drastically change this again, but here’s where character creation is now. Its not as “cool” but I feel that, overall, it will produce the results that I want and that players will expect.

Comments, thoughts appreciated

One Response Subscribe to comments

  1. Sue

    Just to let you know that I am thinking about this.


    Sep 15, 2010 @ 6:48 am