By: The Jewphin
I remember one test I had to take which I had already failed once. I sat in the testing center nervously holding my finger over the ‘submit’ button, knowing that the second I pressed the button the computer would calculate my score and tell me whether or not I had a career. Finally, I mustered the courage and pressed ‘submit’ with my eyes closed. I opened my eyes, expecting a ‘pass’ or a ‘fail’ to appear on the screen. Instead, the first of what turned out to be eight survey questions appeared on my screen. “How was the testing center?” They were fine, tell me my score. “How was the staff?” They were fine! Tell me my score! “What did you think of the computers?” I’M GOING TO KILL YOU! TELL ME MY SCORE!
I don’t know about all six of you, but there is always a feeling of excitement welling up in me when I purchase a new game. I don’t care if it is Devil May Cry: Dante’s Emo Adventures or Fallout 4, but when I pop that game into my system a small part of me makes a little “squee” noise. All I want is to dive into the game and experience this new great piece of magical entertainment. There are only two things that can kill that excitement. The first is a thirty hour tutorial – I’m looking at you FFXIII. The second is an extremely detailed character creator.
“What do you think about the bridge of his nose?” I don’t know, it’s fine. “Should it be wider or narrower?” I don’t know, it’s fine. “Does nose A look better than nose B?” I can’t even tell there’s a difference. “Oh, I’m sorry. Rotate your character 28 degrees to the right and 34 degrees down. See that dimple? It’s slightly different in each nose.” I don’t care! He’s going to be wearing a mask the entire game anyways!
Character creators, while awesome, are the bane of my existence for a few major reasons:
- They force themselves on you right when you most want to just play the game. Most games give you the character creators before you have performed any actions whatsoever. Others tease you with some fun, then hit a breaking point and say, “Would you like to now take an extended break while you decide the placement of your character’s eyes?”
- They are stressful because they tend to have semi-permanent consequences. If Commander Shepard looked like he slept on an iron in Mass Effect 1, he’s probably going to look like he slept on an iron in Masse Effect 3. And yes, I know I can chance it at the start of each game. But at the start of each game, I am playing a new Mass Effect I waited a year for. Also, I have grown used to seeing this butt fugly character charm his way through the universe while murdering his allies.
- And this is the big one – they are becoming too detailed. You may be an artist when it comes to designing characters, but I am just not that skilled. I can’t picture the end result of my character before I start – unless I have a decapitated head (or mold of a head for those who are squeamish) sitting on my desk. So what happens if I design the perfect nose and then decide it doesn’t fit with the eyes I create three days ago? Now I have to start all over!
The first two problems are easily solved. You can allow people to create their characters online a few months before the game comes out. I know one game did this and it was genius. You can go the soul caliber route and just allow people to create characters on the side. Or you can even make it so changing any aspect of your character throughout the game is extremely easy. And when I say extremely easy, I mean don’t put the options to change your hair in a different location than options to change your eyes. That already makes it cost prohibitive to fix anything.
The third problem will require a bit more time…so I’ll give you something to look forward to next week. Well, besides our WonderCon coverage.