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Thread: Player Characters and You

  1. #1

    Default Player Characters and You

    This might belong in the gaming and sports section, but as it's more of a concept rather than a specific game, thought it might be better to go here. So, in the spirit of "user x posting on topic y that should really go in blog z, but screw it," there's a certain topic I'd be interested on listening to people's feedback on. It's actually the nature of player characters.

    The reason I bring this up now is that, among other things, I've been browsing the forums of Command and Conquer: Generals 2-kind of one of those things that could go either way for me. I don't really gravitate towards modern/historical warfare that much in RTS's, but with Bioware Victory behind it...well, that seems promising storywise, but then I'm reminded of the ending of Mass Effect 3 recently...anyway, that's not the point. What is the point is that I came across a recent experience of deja vu in regards to the nature of said story, specifically, the nature of player characters in RTS. Assuming that the posters on the topic represent the Command and Conquer franchise as a whole, it seems that Tiberian Sun is a bit of a black sheep storywise, in that you weren't "commander x" viewing things from a first person, but rather playing "as" a commander in both campaigns-a formula most people dislike(d). This surprised me, as I consider Tiberian Sun the strongest C&C game storywise for that very reason, but was reminded of similar reactions to Wings of Liberty. One of the complaints I've seen raised about StarCraft II is how the nature of the player characters. In StarCraft and its expansions, you were always "magistrate"/"cerebrate"/"executor," etc. whereas in WoL, HotS and LotV, our characters are Raynor, Kerrigan and Zeratul respectively. I'd cite this as a strength, in that we're no longer a nameless character, but I've seen it cited as a weakness because of just that. That we're no longer "a" character, but playing "as" a character.

    Of course, player characters aren't confined to the RTS genre. And since I've got the time, I'd like to share some thoughts and get feedback. Granted, I'm not a guru of any one media who can speak for all notable games of said media, but hopefully the references I draw won't be too obscure.

    RTS

    I can name about three different approaches in the RTS. What, is it wrong to start with a media that's tradionally considered to be one of the weakest game medias in regards to storytelling? Maybe. Still, in all honesty, I can name worse medias out there, and I feel that the RTS genre has come quite some way in that regard. I don't think we're going to get an in-depth racing game in regards to story any time soon, nor am I going to be praising the story of lightgun games in the near future either. Anyway, back to the approaches:

    The first approach I'd say, is "being" the character, as mentioned above. Dune is regarded as the forerunner, if not the progenitor of the genre (as in the game, not novel series on which it was based) and among other things, set you up as "the" character of your house. Given a mission, kill people from other houses, repeat, etc. The early Warcraft games are another example. There was at least some progression in this, in that "you" as the character of the orc campaign in Orcs and Humans would go on to be Orgrim Doomhammer, while "you" as the Alliance commander in Tides of Darkness is implied to be Turalyon (who appears in Beyond the Dark Portal, but essentially the format remained the same. And of course, StarCraft and its expansions are another case, and I probably don't need to explain why. All in all, the position of you "as" the character is the first mechanic used in the RTS, yet apart from Command and Conquer in those above medias, is no longer used.

    Quite frankly, I see that as an improvement. Playing as "the" character has its strengths, but I don't think the RTS is a good medium to show it. You don't do anything that even hints at your character. You can't feel like a character because there's never any hint of your responses to other characters. The only time this format was ever used remotely succesfully IMO was in Tiberian Twilight, and only then for the in-universe choice you have to make in regards to allegiance. And that I'm using a game like Tiberian "letdown" Twilight as an example should...anyway, that's just me. Has the RTS evolved as a storytelling medium over the years? I'd say yes, and the shift away from this kind of storytelling is one of the reasons IMO.

    The second, and most rare approach I've seen is where you're playing "as" a character, rather than being "the" character. This seems to be the rarest one of all. The StarCraft II games are an example, as is Tiberian Sun, but outside that...I can't really think of that many. Dawn of War might qualify in some respects, in that Gabriel's log is made between missions, where you playing "as" him narrates, but...anyway, this approach isn't that common. Yet I'd still cite it at the strongest. I feel it comes off as being more realistic when we watch our characters perform, and with the lack of suspension of disbelief in regards to us being "commander x who never talks," we're able to appreciate the characters more.

    Except Westwood. Who killed the concept immediately after Tiberian Sun and tried to kill McNeil off as well. While Tiberium Wars (the novel) is very much an average one, I still give thanks to DeCandido for resurrecting Commander Badass.

    The third means is the one I think has become the most common. You're not playing "as" the character, or being "the" character, but are simply observing a story with characters in it, whereas you, the player, don't really exist. You're basically "God" if you will, directing events as they unfold. The Warcraft III games are an example-you as the player are never referred to. You're simply playing a story with characters in it, and this rings true bar the Horde campaign of Reign of Chaos, where Rexaar is your character. The early Dawn of War games, Universe at War, Supreme Commander and Halo Wars are other examples I can name of this approach.

    So how effective is it? In my mind, certainly better than "commander x and his silent camera shot." But is it better than form 2? I'm...not really sure. Thing is, Raynor had 12 years worth of material to back him up, but if he'd been thrown right out in front of us? I'd probably still like the approach, but still...

    Still, in the end, I think form 2 can work regardless, citing Tiberian Sun as an example. Form 3 is definately good also, whereas form 1...well, sorry, but I think it's really just outdated, back from the days where games as a whole were finding their feet in the telling of stories (outside the RPG genre I guess) and when technology was more limited as well.

    So yes. Question for the RTS section would be, of the three 'forms' I've mentioned, what are your thoughts? And if there's another form you can identify, I'd be all ears. I had more genres to talk about, but it was taking too long, and it's pointless to write at length if no-one's going to talk about it. If it's a subject people want to discuss, I'll be happy to, er, vent my spleen more. If not, sorry for wasting your time.

    Edit: There's also "form 4" to consider, I just remembered, whereas characters are pretty much non-existant completely. Total War, Age of Empires, Empire Earth...think these could be called examples of this area, but I'm afraid that of the RTS games I've played over the years, the realm of "form 4" isn't one I can speak on too extensively. Feel free to do so though.
    Last edited by Hawki; 03-28-2012 at 05:53 PM.

  2. #2
    Gradius's Avatar SC:L Addict
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    Default Re: Player Characters and You

    So what's mass effect? Are you the character, or are you playing as a character? Because whatever it was, I liked it. Gordon Freeman is also one of my favorites. In RTS games, I think that the "God" view is superior. It worked far better in WC3, like showing us what Sylvanas & Arthas were doing at the same times instead of just sticking to one person all game.

    Wings of Liberty was kind of strange because if you clicked on a random crew member, he would talk to the air and Raynor wouldn't actually get up to go talk to him mass-effect style.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Player Characters and You

    ...you would bring up RPG and FPS wouldn't you? Two of the largest genres in regards to this. Anyway:

    RPG

    I don't know if RPG exactly pioneered the concept of a player character, but I think it's perhaps the one that popularized it. Anyway, I think there are effectively two concepts behind RPGs, again where you are playing "as" a character, and where you are playing as "the" character. Also note I'm keeping RPG seperate from the adventure genre (e.g. Legend of Zelda), as that's a different kettle of fish entirely.

    When you are as "the" character (referred to as form 1 here), one of the most common aspects is the lack of spoken dialogue. I'm not exactly an expert on RPGs, and this is a divide I feel is more applicable to western RPGs than JRPGs, but in these games. Still, I'll use Bethesda's RPGs as an example, such as Fallout and The Elder Scrolls. In Fallout you're "the Lone Wanderer" or "the Courier." In The Elder Scrolls, you're the Dragonborn for instance. I wouldn't say any of these characters have much of a personality, as while you can deliver lines, they're never actually spoken, and we're left to guess what the character's personality is like. Some would argue this is a strength, that we can imagine our own personality as being that of the protagonist. And while this is generalizing, all these characters seem to be more of a concept rather than a character, even if you assign names to them. In Dragon Age, you're "the Warden," destined to ultimately kick darkspawn arse. In Fallout, you're "the" Lone Wanderer, or "the" Courier, etc. These are all "the x" characters.

    Form 2 is again where you are "a" character. Again, I think it's the presence of dialogue that makes much of the divide. Take Mass Effect as an example, as opposed to the other games. With those, as far as I'm aware, conversation is always in the first person bar Dragon Age. In Mass Effect, it's always in the third person. You can choose responses, but these are very much cases of specific dialogue, and spoken dialogue at that. Shepard, Hawke (from Dragon Age 2)...form 2 seems to be more rare than form 1, and the trade-off I think is that while you feel less like "the" character, you get more of a character in theirself as a result...if that makes sense. There's also the nature of the divide in game mechanics I think, how JRPGs and Bioware games tend to make paths more linear, but the stories more tight. In Bethesda games, it's more of a case of a character being put in a world, and left to explore it at will. Ultima is another example of this, at least in the early games.

    If I was listing forms, form 1.5 may exist, but it's hard to say. This stems from JRPGs, which I think mostly conform to form 2 (e.g. Final Fantasy-you're usually a distinct character from the outset, but that character is fully voiced, even back in the pre-FFVII days). Golden Sun might be an example of this, in that your character in each game conforms to form 1, and even then, it boils down to "yes" or "no" responses, or emotes. Yet these characters become fully 'voiced' later on. For example, in GS1 and GS2, Isaac and Felix are the player characters respectively. Both are practically silent in their respective games, but talk fluently when not the player character.

    Form 3 is essentially 'view of God,' if you will. I think this may have fallen out of use a bit, a) because graphics can show more detail (as in, you're not looking down on a screen and b) it doesn't get in characters' mindsets that much as the others I think. I'd cite Sonic Chronicles as an example (yes, really). Sonic is your de facto character, but you never get the sense of playing "as" him, he's just one of many. I think the early Final Fantasy games may be another example, whereas you were given a party at the start, but didn't particuarly connect to one character (I think, could be wrong).

    At the least, I'd say I like form 2 more than form 1. I can understand the appeal of f1, and it's certainly better than its RTS counterpart in that the characters actually converse on some level, but I'm more inclined to relate with a character who is more of a...well, character. Form 3 I'm iffy on, as I feel it's a form that doesn't reflect an RPG's strengths. It's more of an adventure-type game form I think, but there isn't anything explicitly wrong with it. I could cite Fire Emblem as an example, but that's more of a RTS/RPG hybrid series, and I while I'd say it mostly conforms to form 3, there's elements of form 1 and 2 at the same time.

    So yeah. Form 2 would be my favourite, ala Commander Shepard. Because while you can fight like a krogan or run like a leopard, you can't do better than Commander Shepard...unless you're the Catalyst. Damnit.

    Edit: May be worth mentioning MMORPGs (e.g. WoW) and action RPGs (e.g. Diablo). Think they're cases of corresponding to forms 1 and 2 respectively, but since the RPG elements are subsiduary to other concerns in both cases, it's kind of an unfair comparison.

    FPS
    I'll establish two points quickly. Most FPS protagonists (ala player characters) are silent protagonists...to a varying degree, and it's that variation that matters. Second thing is that I don't think there's a single FPS, or TPS for that matter (I think TPS is different enough to give it its own section if it comes to it) that has a 'view of God' style of story telling. Maybe shooter/RTS hybrids, but as far as I'm aware, every FPS and TPS has some central character that the player controls. Even if you're controlling a squad, you're still centralized. So with that out of the way, I'll go with the forms. Also note from the outset that I consider the Metroid (Prime, but also Other M) games to be more adventure than shooter, and won't be classified here. I think it's an important distinction to make.

    Form 1 is rare as far as I'm aware, but since you mentioned Gordon Freeman, I'll start with him. Form 1, as far as I'm aware, is more of a Valve-thing, for both for Half-Life and Portal. Both are essentially shooters, but they're shooters that have more of an adventure feel to them, in that there's no distinct stages, as far as I'm aware. Sure, different sections, but they don't bog down for cutscenes bar a few cases, and everything is in constant flow. I'll cite Half-Life 2 as an example, where Gordon is brought by Barney to meet...forget who, I'm going by what I've seen off YouTube admittedly. It has the purpose of a cutscene, but the gameplay mechanics are still open. The flip-side of this is that both Gordon and Chell are silent protagonists.

    Form 1 is essentially 100% silence-while other FPS protagonists have their moments of silence, these two are fully silent. Does it work? In Portal, definately yes. I think this shines through in Portal 2 the most-it's the words of Wheatly and GLaDOS that are 'telling' the story 'for' Chell, if that makes sense. It's been stated that Chell genuinely doesn't talk in either of the games, and I think it works to its advantage. Her talking would take away from the insanity of it all, and reduce the role of the other characters. Chell is the protagonist, but I think GLaDOS and Wheatley make the story, if that makes sense.

    For Gordon Freeman? I really can't say-I think I'd actually have to play Half-Life to make an honest assessment of that. I appreciate the idea behind the lack of cutscenes and the like, but all in all, I just don't feel qualified to comment. Form 1 definately works in some cases, but until I feel I can comment on Half-Life, I don't think I can say whether this is my favourite style. Also note I think FEAR could broadly fall into this category by way of the Point Man never talking as far as I'm aware, and Doom 3 would be another example but again, my knowledge is just too limited. FEAR and D3 are also different kettles of fish in that they're horror games, and too much dialogue would probably take away from that.

    I think a form 1.5 of sorts exists as well, where a character never talks, yet cutscenes exist...sort of. It's more the case of having a briefing, then having a mission with little interruption. I'd cite the early Medal of Honour games as an example-have a briefing, do a mission with no cutscenes, etc. Gameplay wise I think it's akin to form 1, story wise it's akin to form 2, in that there are clear divides. All in all, I think it's a vague area that's mostly outdated. I guess Call of Duty is an exception, where briefings are given before missions, but the gameplay itself is more cinematic as far as I can tell, where even if there aren't actual cutscenes, they have the 'feel' of them. Again, it's hard to be sure whether this is a sub-category, or a category of its own.

    Form 2 is, for purposes of categorization, what I consider to be the epitome of the FPS player character bell curve. It's the most common as far as I can tell, and has a balance between character and interactivity. Basically, it's down to game mechanics and cutscenes. In cutscenes, the character often talks. In-game, they're silent. On occassion, they might throw in a line or two in-game, but it's quite rare. I'd cite Master Chief as the most well known example-talks in cutscenes, but is silent in-game. With ODST, the Rookie is completely silent (ala form 1 in exploring New Mombassa, but we get form 3 with the other characters). AvP 2 is another example of form 2, whereas its sequel goes with form 4.

    ...Um, getting ahead of myself. Basically, I see form 2 as being the divide between gameplay and cinematic experience. 'Nuff said.

    Form 3 is essentially the "chatterbox" experience. It's like form 2, in that there's a divide essentially between gameplay and cutscenes, but even during gameplay, the character converses naturally. I'd cite Republic Commando and the flashback missions of ODST as an example. Form 4 is meanwhile full silent protagonist-the Rookies of ODST and the latest AvP, the early Doom games, Quake...some early games may harken back to 1.5, but essentially it's a case where the character is fully silent, even in cutscenes.

    You may have noticed I've withheld judgement of forms 2 to 4 where I gave judgement early on for forms 1 and 1.5. Thing is, and why I dreaded analyzing the FPS genre, is that there are so many variations, and so many games, I feel uneasy about speaking with authority. To me, the FPS genre is...a medium. The stories told are average-better than some genres, worse than others. The ways that they can be told vary. The 'feel' varies, whether you're some secret agent, a power armored super soldier, or fighting Nazis/Russians/terrorists. I think a lot also depends on the type of character you're playing as. All in all though, I think forms 2 to 4 can harken back to the RPG divide, whether you're "the" character, or "a" character. I'm not too fond of silent protagonists, but...well, whether you're exploring the demon infested hallways of Mars City, or sneaking through Covenant in New Mombassa, how much of a reason is there to talk?

    At the end of the day, I think it depends entirely on context. I generally prefer playing as characters rather than 'being' them in the FPS genre, and I generally prefer that they speak normally even outside cutscenes. But I wouldn't want characters such as the Rookies or Doomguy to start monologuing either.

    Crap, that was tiring. Still, at least FPS is out of the way, which is by far the most exhausting...hopefully.

    Either way, can probably tell more by now that I prefer playing "as" characters rather than "being" them. I guess that's the overall question I'm getting at out of curiosity-even setting aside genre, what type do you guys prefer?
    Last edited by Hawki; 03-28-2012 at 08:53 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Player Characters and You

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Either way, can probably tell more by now that I prefer playing "as" characters rather than "being" them. I guess that's the overall question I'm getting at out of curiosity-even setting aside genre, what type do you guys prefer?
    I don't really have a preference but if I had to pick, I guess I'd rather "be" (using your definitions) a character than "as" a character mostly because I've always loved strategy games and the general 'impersonality' that they bring - you can then graft your own onto it. Games that have characters that can be represented fluidly as either (which I think Gradius seems to be hinting at with mass effect) do well because it can cater to both camps - you just take what you like and focus on that because there is the option to.

    It doesn't really matter in the end especially if the universe/world that the game presents is not immersive, internally consistent, constructed/written well enough to the extent where you could imagine your real self to exist in that made-up world. Being or playing as a character in that setting is only one factor of that. Both have the potential to be well done in any game genre.
    Last edited by Turalyon; 03-29-2012 at 01:13 AM.
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  5. #5
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: Player Characters and You

    For most games, I prefer as close to realism as possible. RTS is an obvious exception though.

    When given the choice between FPS and TPS, I'd go FPS. Even if the gameplay is better in third-person similiar to, say, Batman: Arkham City, I still kind of wish for a first-person perspective.



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  6. #6

    Default Re: Player Characters and You

    I like to have both myself and other characters in the game. This was done in White Knight Chronicles and I really enjoyed the concept. Basically, you create an avatar when the game starts but your dude is just another party member for the main character. When you jump into multiplayer though, you control your avatar so It's pretty much both ways at the same time.

    In the end though, it's all about the execution. It doesn't matter for me who I'm controlling as long as the game is good.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Player Characters and You

    Wow. Nice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    The reason I bring this up now is that, among other things, I've been browsing the forums of Command and Conquer: Generals 2-kind of one of those things that could go either way for me. I don't really gravitate towards modern/historical warfare that much in RTS's, but with Bioware Victory behind it...well, that seems promising storywise,
    Questionable. As I understand it, Bioware Victory is a studio under Bioware that shares the name, but not a lot of staff. Similar to Blizzard North.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Quite frankly, I see that as an improvement. Playing as "the" character has its strengths, but I don't think the RTS is a good medium to show it. You don't do anything that even hints at your character. You can't feel like a character because there's never any hint of your responses to other characters.
    I dunno. I think that the commander's choices and interactions as a character could be implemented into an RTS. And I think Bioware is in the perfect position to do so.
    See the following prototype I mocked up with my nonexistant photoshop skills over two days.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    whereas in WoL, HotS and LotV, our characters are Raynor, Kerrigan and Zeratul respectively. I'd cite this as a strength, in that we're no longer a nameless character, but I've seen it cited as a weakness because of just that. That we're no longer "a" character, but playing "as" a character.
    Wait, what? We're playing as Raynor/Kerrigan/Zeratul?

    This probably feeds into my preferences toward player characters, but I never felt that I was playing as Raynor. StarCraft II seemed to take the view of an invisible camera that followed Raynor around. Perhaps I could choose what room he spent time in on the Hyperion, and I could interact with the characters, but I rarely felt as if it was Raynor himself I was controlling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    The second, and most rare approach I've seen is where you're playing "as" a character, rather than being "the" character. This seems to be the rarest one of all. The StarCraft II games are an example, as is Tiberian Sun, but outside that...I can't really think of that many. Dawn of War might qualify in some respects, in that Gabriel's log is made between missions, where you playing "as" him narrates, but...anyway, this approach isn't that common.
    Would Pikmin count as an example? The player controls Captain Olimar exclusively, and his journal is written from the perspective of what the player encounters. Then again, in Pikmin 2, you have similar control over three characters...

    So, to condense what you're saying (and I feel terrible for doing so, since you obviously put so much effort into writing this.) there's three types of player characters in an RTS:

    1:The player is an actual in-universe character, but is only acknowledged, never seen in-game.
    2:The player's character is an in-universe character, who is a main protagonist and/or an in-game unit.
    3:The player is God.

    Which do I prefer? I think three is the best. Some people around here might remember me whining about Blizzard implementing #2 into StarCraft II in favor of #1, but I've gotten over it*. To be honest, I don't really think that the original StarCraft would have been much different if we were playing it from Perspective #3.

    Perspective #1 doesn't work that much, I think, because the player can't see what the payoff for their characters is when they win (I.E. The Mass Effect 3 Effect) and they are fairly insulated from the consequences of their actions. If they miss a Necromorph while playing Dead Space, Isaac Clarke dies. Horribly.
    If they miss a crack-ling rush while playing StarCraft, they lose an expansion and a dozen workers.

    As for your point about type four, I think that's more of a subset of type 3. It's still a "God View", but no characters worth noting. I think that an exemplary instance of this would be Homeworld, seeing as there really are no characters, only recurring units. Depending on how you score the Bentusi vessel, of course.

    Finally, as for FPSs and RPGs, I shall stay silent for now, because the characterization in RTSs is more interesting.

    *to be honest, I was an idiot back then. And to my future self who will say the same thing about my present self: "Screw you."

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    and Halo Wars are other examples I can name of this approach.
    Halo Wars was definitely a strange case. The player is nonexistent as far as the story goes, yet whenever someone chimes in over the radio, their portrait is looking right at you.

    Maybe the player is supposed to be a mute Commander Morkev?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    So yeah. Form 2 would be my favourite, ala Commander Shepard. Because while you can fight like a krogan or run like a leopard, you can't do better than Commander Shepard...unless you're the Catalyst. Damnit.
    Kindly, this one begs to differ.


  8. #8
    Gradius's Avatar SC:L Addict
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    Those pics are awesome Quirel.

  9. #9
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Although this is fake (right?), it find it strangely odd that its the most badass thing I've ever seen in any media form in a long time.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Player Characters and You

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Questionable. As I understand it, Bioware Victory is a studio under Bioware that shares the name, but not a lot of staff. Similar to Blizzard North.
    http://kotaku.com/5888119/whats-so-b...mmand--conquer

    To an extent. The game was being made by Victory Games at first, which was effectively rebranded as Bioware Victory. However, as the interview in the link demonstrates, there's at least some level of involvement from Bioware itself. If I were to use games such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age and The Old Republic as a basis, I could certainly see some styles of theirs working, ala being in a hub space and talking to other characters. Of course, we can probably cut romance out of it-the EU has reach, the GLA has flexibility, but that doesn't necessarily mean a lovey-dovy combination.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    I dunno. I think that the commander's choices and interactions as a character could be implemented into an RTS. And I think Bioware is in the perfect position to do so.
    See the following prototype I mocked up with my nonexistant photoshop skills over two days.
    No offense to your photoshop skills, but I hope those aren't the types of decision we make. Those are the kind of decisions any RTS player has to make and in the space of a few seconds at that. Any decisions in-game I think would be along the lines of option a or b, as in what objectives to pursue for instance. Again using the above games as a basis, perhaps you could even have a paragon/renegade divide as well (save troops/civilians in city, or cut your losses and vapourize them along with the GLA scum). Or frame it in the state of mind of whatever faction you're playing as.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Wait, what? We're playing as Raynor/Kerrigan/Zeratul?

    This probably feeds into my preferences toward player characters, but I never felt that I was playing as Raynor. StarCraft II seemed to take the view of an invisible camera that followed Raynor around. Perhaps I could choose what room he spent time in on the Hyperion, and I could interact with the characters, but I rarely felt as if it was Raynor himself I was controlling.
    You make a good point, and I can appreciate your angle. On the objective level, Blizzard did state that they've effectively removed the player character concept, but Raynor being called "commander" is an effective merging of concept with the old magistrate. I'd still call them player characters in as much as that we directly control them and no-one else on their respective hub ships, and that for WoL and what we've seen of HotS, the stories are almost entirely tight third person.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Would Pikmin count as an example? The player controls Captain Olimar exclusively, and his journal is written from the perspective of what the player encounters. Then again, in Pikmin 2, you have similar control over three characters...
    I can only count on the first Pikmin I'm afraid, and only of what I remember of playing the game before I traded it in (a mistake, I think, especially how quickly Gamecube games went out of circulation as compared to the PS2 and Xbox). I'd also classify the game as primarily adventure/platform with a degree of simulation, so it's kind of moot to use the same RTS system. Still, I'd say it's more along the lines of playing "as" Olimar rather than "being" Olimar in the same way as, say, Link from The Legend of Zelda series.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    So, to condense what you're saying (and I feel terrible for doing so, since you obviously put so much effort into writing this.) there's three types of player characters in an RTS:

    1:The player is an actual in-universe character, but is only acknowledged, never seen in-game.
    2:The player's character is an in-universe character, who is a main protagonist and/or an in-game unit.
    3:The player is God.

    Which do I prefer? I think three is the best. Some people around here might remember me whining about Blizzard implementing #2 into StarCraft II in favor of #1, but I've gotten over it*. To be honest, I don't really think that the original StarCraft would have been much different if we were playing it from Perspective #3.

    Perspective #1 doesn't work that much, I think, because the player can't see what the payoff for their characters is when they win (I.E. The Mass Effect 3 Effect) and they are fairly insulated from the consequences of their actions. If they miss a Necromorph while playing Dead Space, Isaac Clarke dies. Horribly.
    If they miss a crack-ling rush while playing StarCraft, they lose an expansion and a dozen workers.
    Ah, don't feel bad. There are admittedly more constructive things I could be doing rather than acting like an expert, and it's my time to waste. Anyway, I definately agree with you about form 1. Even if something akin to a dialogue wheel was introduced, there's only so much we can gague about their character, and the emotional payoff is lessened as a result.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    As for your point about type four, I think that's more of a subset of type 3. It's still a "God View", but no characters worth noting. I think that an exemplary instance of this would be Homeworld, seeing as there really are no characters, only recurring units. Depending on how you score the Bentusi vessel, of course.

    Finally, as for FPSs and RPGs, I shall stay silent for now, because the characterization in RTSs is more interesting.

    *to be honest, I was an idiot back then. And to my future self who will say the same thing about my present self: "Screw you."
    Good point. Form 4, if it even exists, would probably be more along the lines of 3.5, if at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Halo Wars was definitely a strange case. The player is nonexistent as far as the story goes, yet whenever someone chimes in over the radio, their portrait is looking right at you.

    Maybe the player is supposed to be a mute Commander Morkev?
    I wouldn't call it that strange technically-even if you, the player character, basically don't exist, it's often the case that the characters face the 'camera.' I'd cite Universe at War as another example-if the game isn't showing two units on the battlefield interacting, then the best they can go with is full frontal communication. Course, in Halo Wars, you could technically make the argument that you, the player, are perhaps Cutter or Serina by virtue of them not appearing on the battlefield and being in the command and control hub, that any time they speak, they're 'you' speaking. Still, like the Morkev concept, it comes across as fankwank.

    (Not using "fanwank" in a derogatory sense here, just is the best term I think that exists that describes the mental process of a fanboy. I'm not immune to it myself either.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Kindly, this one begs to differ.
    Now this is photoshopping at its best. Now if only we could acquire enough paragon or renegade points to do that early in the game.

    Or, you know...actually use our paragoniness/renegadiness at the end of the game and tell the Catalyst to shove it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius
    Those pics are awesome Quirel.
    Speaking of pics, where'd you get your current signature and avatar from? Both are kickass.

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