Dec 07 2012


Something’s been bugging me about Cardinal Quest 2 for a while. Yesterday I fixed it.

Gender and skin tone are now customisable.

The concept I’m trying out is that you can have an explicit choice of gender in character creation without the outcome necessarily having an explicit gender. See, it’s a single player game. You know what your character’s gender is – you picked it! If the sprite itself is ambiguous, that’s fine. The characters don’t need to be strongly coded to one gender or the other… I’m thinking they just need to be different, so you can tell you’ve made a choice and the game’s acknowledged that choice.

So I’ve gone for a mix of character designs where some have strong gender signifiers and some don’t, roughly in line with their culture or needs. Practical Fighters slip on bulky, figure obscuring armour; weapon-despising Pugilists, their physiques a defining part of their identities, prefer to travel light; flashy Wizards wouldn’t be caught dead in a muddy field looking like commoners. And so on.

This is perhaps a bit experimental. Choices in games tend to have obvious consequences, so one which has less obvious consequences than it could have might be interpreted as broken rather than making a point. I think I’m OK with that though.

If you’ve got any comments on the character designs re: gender or skin tone let me know. This is something I really want to get right and I’d appreciate pointers. 🙂

5 Comments on “CUSTOMISATION

  1. People love customization of characters, i would suggesting adding more options 🙂

  2. Speaking specifically about gender, though similar remarks probably apply for skin colour too, this is awesome! It’s rare enough for games to acknowledge that players might want to play a female character, even rarer for them to acknowledge that you might want an avatar that’s androgenous or otherwise less stereotypical. It’s also brilliant when games acknowledge that, say, a female fighter archetype will likely have large muscles and want armour that actually protects their vital organs. Much kudos.

    I think this choice does have an obvious consequence – speaking personally, being able to pick a character that either reflects who I am or who I want my character in the game to be flavours everything else about the game and allows me to build a much more personal narrative from the experience.

    A recent example – Planetside 2 lets you choose a head for your character on creation as its one customisation step. It’s easy enough to say ‘well, that’s pointless, I never see my face and no-one in game will either during general gameplay’ but honestly, I think it’s brilliant. It gives you a connection and some form of backstory to your character in a game that really, is all about the little stories (since you can’t ever ‘win’ as such). Little touches like this might not make any difference to gameplay but they can certainly make the whole experience richer. And the best part is that even if you never see the consequence of the choice in the game, you can be aware that you made it, so they’re not even necessarily that hard to implement.

    Honestly, I don’t think all choices necessarily need to pay off explicitly in a game because the context they put future choices in can make a massive difference to the player’s experience. Players want to believe their choices have consequence so they’ll interpret mechanically identical events in different ways even if you didn’t design that in :).

  3. catalyst: Thanks, that’s exactly the spirit in which I’m hoping people will take it 😀 Planetside 2’s a fun example and you’re right, it definitely had that effect for me.

    Liam: it’s already getting a bit crowded but I’ll have a think about what more I can do 🙂

  4. Awesome man!! Can’t wait to play this game. Also, you just added 50% more to your target group since women now have an option 😉

  5. I LOVED the demo. I’m clueless WHY this game didn’t succeed on Kickstarter????

    Anyway happy to see you still developing the game!!!

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