23 October 2010

Text Based RPG: How to Create A Compelling Character

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Many different kinds of people are attracted to text based RPG games, and this is a great thing because it leads to a variety of interesting characters to interact with. This is what makes the worlds of text adventure games so much more realistic and fun than any other kind of text based RPG.

But with so many different characters running around, it can be difficult to "break into" text based games with a new character, especially if the online text game is well-established. Text based RPG games are so much fun because of interaction with others, and so the kind of character you choose to roleplay can dramatically change your experience within the online text game.

But fear not, online text game players! While there is no strict formula within text adventure games about what kinds of characters will have others lining up to roleplay with you, there are definitely some tried-and-true guidelines that can help make your character fun to play and accessible to other players within the text games, and keep your character's friends, family, and even enemies coming back for more!

1) Define Your Character's Goals

At the very heart of every entertaining and realistic character in an online text game are goals and opinions, as these are what meaningfully anchor your character to the online text game world.

Now, in developing these things, it helps to begin by asking yourself some basic questions: What is my character's ideal world like in this online text game? What means more to her than anything else in the text games? What things does she see as important in the world - as unimportant within the text based RPG? What does she enjoy doing above all else in the text games? Questions like these will help shape your character's sense of purpose, and give you goals to work towards in text adventure games.

As a side note, make sure to consider what you find fun about the online text game when beginning to develop your character. While roleplaying obviously involves taking on a role that is different from your everyday self, you're not going to want to stick with a character if you as a player don't enjoy doing some of the same things that your character would.

2) Get Real

Now that you've got an overarching goal and a general concept for your character in the online text game, it's time to think about her personality.

To begin with, I recommend boiling it down to something like this: One thing she does exceptionally well and one glaring flaw within the online text game. A strength gives your character a sense of worth and helps her to become noticed and valued in organizations, which are often your main source of roleplay and emotional investment in the text games. A glaring flaw creates internal obstacles and makes your character realistic and interesting within the text base RPG. This can lead to developing fun quirks or even more roleplay opportunities (it may be counterintuitive, but roleplaying loss can actually be one of the most fun experiences there is in a text based RPG because it forces your character to face her flaws).

Of course there's more to a character's personality than a single flaw and a single strength, but I find that clearly determining one of each will give most new characters a good mix of flexibility and direction within the online text game. This allows you to roleplay consistently while still giving you enough wiggle room to find a niche in whatever organizations your character may join.

3) Don't Be A Narrator

One of the most common mistakes I'll see in text based RPG games is the over-eager roleplayer who will spout off pages of exposition about his character's history at the drop of a hat.

Let me be blunt: You don't need an intricate history. I can guarantee you that the most interesting thing about your character's history is not the history itself, but how your character feels about it. In the early stages of roleplay in text online games, most players would much rather hear an anecdote, a telling remark, and then move on with the conversation.

If you do choose to create something intricate, however, remember this: other players will often need to be invested in your character before wanting to hear her life story. If you go off on a tangent, it can be very alienating for the other player and his character (unless you are specifically asked; many text based RPG games do have a requirement where you'll get to share this in the earlier stages of gameplay).

Always keep in mind that your character's background should never be a substitution for solid goals and an engaging personality in text adventure games. Let that shine through first, and then the background will come out naturally; it should complement your roleplay, not comprise it.

So there you have it! Although there are almost as many ways to go about creating a character as there are characters themselves, this is a solid and reliable method that will give you the perfect mixture of depth and flexibility for a brand new character in a text based RPG - have fun!

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