Arcaned Machine 4
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December 12th, 2010

Arcaned Machine 4

Ultimate customization of characters in video games seems a false promise to me. While it may allow me to create a character who can cast cold-bolt, pick locks and wield warhammers it doesn’t necessarily provide a game that is customized to that character. If it doesn’t, then it should limit my number of choices. At least visual customization is pretty good. Still, when I started Fallout 3 I spent about half an hour shaping my character’s face just the way I wanted it. Then for the entire rest of the game I did not see it. My character is almost always faced away from me and almost always wearing a face-covering helmet to boot. Way to go geniuses. Why not allow me to design my pancreas exactly the shape and colour I want it too? I didn’t enjoy that game very much but I did enjoy Dragon Age, which is a mature themed RPG where my decisions were not between good and evil but between one shade of grey and another. No wonder the heroes are called Grey Wardens! What are you playing?

11 Awesomes Comments!

  1. RavenBlack

    Mount and Blade is pretty good. Indie game, graphics may still be a bit rudimentary (last version I got was years ago though, so it might be better.) Reminded because it has face customisation and you actually do see it sometimes.

    For games where your character customisation actually *does* have an effect on how the game goes, the Spiderweb Software “Geneforge” series is very good, another indie game. You get experience points for avoiding fights if that’s the way you choose to go, which is a behaviour more RPGs need to emulate!

  2. Ribusprissin

    My first and second favorite sandbox CRPGs ever, Saints Row 2 and The Godfather (1), allow you to design your face and then give you plenty of cutscenes where your face talks to NPCs. Mass Effect 1 and 2 do this also.

  3. Jackson

    That’s one of my qualms with Dungeons and Dragons as a tabletop game. With the right combination of skills, stats and feats, your character can be an unstoppable force of nature. With the wrong combination, your character can be useless. Especially in 3.5, intimate knowledge of the rulebooks is all but required–and oftentimes you won’t be able to play exactly the character you wanted, just because his feat selections don’t play nice with polearms or whatever.

  4. Jackson

    On a more comic-related note, I just wanted to say: Gargyle? Made of win.

  5. ColdFusion

    It always cheeses me off when you get to pick the color of your clothes, which immediately get covered by armor or something… thanks, at least I have a good underwear color!
    Seriously I know for a fact it’s not difficult to change the color of something in a game.. That’s like the first thing you do with action replay..

  6. admin

    RavenBlack – Geneforge sounds like my kind of game!

    Ribuprissin – I’m tempted to try Mass Effect since I liked Dragon Age so much.

    Jackson – sounds like you have a crummy DM. Or a different style of play. When I DM I make sure extra rulesbooks are for colour not for power and that anyone who regrets a decision (like putting too many ranks in one skill and not enough in another) can have a do-over. Also if people really want to play a ranger who hates orcs and who uses a scimitar then there will be some orcs and magic scimitars in the adventure. Fear The Boot is a great podcast that talks about the ins and outs of how to make games fun. Start off around episode 100 though, since the first several are a bit rougher.

    ColdFusion – cool underwear is important for the maditory scene where they strip your character of their loot and you have to escape a dungeon.

  7. EveryZig

    Weird… your description of a character who uses war-hammers, casts cold bolts, and picks locks sounds uncannily like the character in the most recent RPG I am playing (Risen).

  8. EveryZig

    * by the character I mean the character I made

  9. Monex

    I was shocked because a character in the video game the ghost of a white bigot prison guard blathered on about how it was justifiable to intern Japanese Americans during World War II. The video game industry is multi-national which means that project leads game and character designers and programmers can be of any ethnicity nationality and gender.

  10. Kouban

    Considering the way a lot of games are, I’m surprised you don’t get the ability to precisely sculpt your character’s ass.

  11. Emma

    Okami, Dragon Quest IX, The DS remake of Final Fantasy IV… I play a lot of RPGs