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Characterization or customization: Bioware's dilemma

Justin Kemppainen, Minnesota Games Examiner, writes:

Dilemma, of course, being not necessarily the case, perhaps it was more of an issue of simple choice. In any case, the beans were recently spilled about Bioware's upcoming sequel to the very popular (and excellent) Dragon Age: Origins, specifically how the characters would be structured.

Instead of the "Origins" type of storytelling (multiple different beginning scenarios based upon race, class, and societal standings), there will be one, and only one, situation. Boiled down to its essence, Hawke will likely take the route of Commander Shepard in Mass Effect: customized to a certain point: most likely choose male/female and class.

With this decision, there's a virtual certainty that the amount of choice in the character built for the DA: II will be much more limited, as there will be full facial expressions and voice acting.

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2655d ago
Darkstorn2655d ago (Edited 2655d ago )

Fascinating question - do you make characters CUSTOMIZABLE, creating a bond between the character and the player that is mostly physical, or do you effectively 'CHARACTERIZE' the entities in the game and give them realistic feelings, thoughts, and mannerisms?

My opinion is this: in terms of immersion, customization is the way to go. It gives the player a sense of ownership over their character and a greater connection to NPCs and those around them.
However, from the perspective of relating the experience that the game offers to the outside world, then characterization is the way to go. Take Metal Gear Solid 4 or Uncharted 2 as examples. I don't think either game would have benefited from being able to create your own character or 'customize' your persona. The powerful aspects of each game stemmed from the characters themselves making choices that the player couldn't control.

Bioware is well-known for offering a great amount of customization options, but nonetheless it will be fascinating to find out how Dragon Age II turns out if it indeed does go the way of Mass Effect instead of the more open-ended Dragon Age/KOTOR route. Will players feel more connected to their characters, or will we respond differently to existing stereotypes and well-known idiosyncrasies?

Panthers2654d ago (Edited 2654d ago )

That depends on what kind of story you are trying to tell. If it is very personal based on the character you are playing, I feel that customization can take a lot away from that. You cannot create an iconic character, such as say Cloud or Solid Snake, if you have character customization.

However, if the story is based more on the world around you rather than you yourself, then I am all for character customization.

Either way the player is going to feel a strong connection with the character they are playing, just in different ways.

brianpk802654d ago

Characterization all the way.

Obama2654d ago

It's hard to give a character CHARACTER if you get to customize him/her. Most obvious example is dragon age origin where your hero feels like an empty shell.

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