Creative process: character design or discovery

In Uncategorized on 2008-11-13 by Kyle Maxwell

When a player starts a new character, the creative process sits somewhere on a spectrum between designing a fleshed-out background and creating a skeleton to ‘discover’ the character over time.

As an example, I preferred the latter for Joron, a character in Star Wars Galaxies. When I originally created him as a throwaway character to explore a new server, I decided I wanted a smuggler from Nar Shaddaa. In order to avoid the standard “my parents are dead” syndrome, I decided he was raised by a single mother who did a spectacularly poor job. Then I figured out why he was on Tatooine, and since I was much newer to RP then, I used the old new player tutorial where you got rescued by the Empire, ran around on their ship, and dumped in Eisley. Everything else developed naturally over time, whether via RP or cooperating with other folks looking for hooks for their own characters.

Conversely, with Kudon in EVE Online, I got very detailed. I started with the focus I wanted: a Minmatar combat pilot. From there, I looked at the background that fit him during the character creation, wrote a story or two that defined how he got his start, and directed his skills towards his concept. The process was far less organic and far more engineered. While I enjoyed the time I spent writing, planning, and fusing, he didn’t stick with me as much as a character that developed “on his own” over time.

Even if a player lets his character develop, usually he has some sort of concept in mind, be it nebulous or detailed. Sometimes that comes from some other famous character or person, or what seems to fit the class / profession that the player wants to use, or from the player himself.

Much like in writing, the overall process likely varies tremendously from player to player (and even from character to character). Sharing our approaches can lead to more interesting, deeper characters and greater immersion.

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