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FANG-TAN

Silent Protagonist Personality - It needs more depth

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by , 24th September 2013 at 12:43 AM (2679 Views)


Who's your favorite person?
◊My favorite person is Kyouhei
>◊My favorite person is FANG-TAN.
◊My favorite person is Hue.
◊Durrr Pokemon.


I'll open this post by saying that I wished the main series of Pokemon games used character portraits whenever a major character is speaking to the protagonist, so we could see their facial expressions while they're talking. Sort of like the Xtransciever sprites (and what they did for N). Anyone on this forum who has played JRPGs like Etrian Odyssey or Disgaea would know what I'm talking about. I don't mind the 3D graphics in XY, but if they instead added talking character portraits, used hi-res sprites, and moved away from four-directional movement in the overworld like every other JRPG, it would have been just as much of a jump - if not more. Even if they're using 3D models this time around and kept the grid-based movement, they could have added talking character portraits to the dialogue. There's no excuse for the character designs being wasted on a bare minimum.

Aside from that, there's an aspect of the series that I feel has gotten rather outdated as an RPG: trainer personality, specifically the Player Character. I admire Pocket Monster's use of a Silent Protagonist to help the player project themselves onto Red, Haruka, or whatever, but they could aim to try a bit harder. For example, an RPG that has impressed me with the use of the Silent Protagonist is the superb Growlanser series of RPGs. Most of the games open up with a sort of personality assessment, which I guess you could call the "Are you a boy or a giiiirl?" portion of the story without the ridiculousness, that determines your character's stat and growth. This hardly applies to the Pocket Monsters games, as the monsters are the ones who do the fighting.

However, Growlanser III, in particular, has an interesting hidden "personality stat" system that begins as soon as the game starts. All Growlanser games offer multiple choices that affect the story, but in Growlanser III they also affect the canon in terms of what personality you choose to give to your protagonist, Slayne. Choices range from good, to flirtatious, to utterly rude or evil, and they affect your "personality" stats accordingly. Your choices early in the game start becoming apparent as you progress - for example, if you choose to be too "good" or "honest", you won't have sufficient stats to pick the more rude or evil responses. You could be soft-spoken, a Squall-styled ellipses spewing jackass, or an emotionally functional human being. It's your choice. And in Growlanser, the endings and relationships with your party members are affected by your choice.

This is the proper and modern way of handling a Silent Protagonist, and I feel that for Pocket Monsters, it could provide more depth for both your trainer and your relationship with your Pokemon. Coupled with Pokemon-Amie could yield AMAZING results. It seems like XY may offer something more to dialogue choices than the shallow "Yes/No" choices of generations past, much like Skyward Sword for the Legend of Zelda games (sort of-ish anyway, Link has always been given one or two funny dialogue choices), but I feel Growlanser handles it best as a role-playing game. If they're gonna let us pick and choose a personality, at least let it show in the game

(Had they done this with FireRed/LeafGreen, perhaps they could have come up with a memory system that could transfer over to HeartGold/SoulSilver, so Red, and perhaps Blue/Leaf, could actually say something in-character to the personality you imagined them having - affected by your choices in the previous games. But alas, GameFreak seems to deem Red the canon protagonist of the first generation and its remakes.)

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Updated 24th September 2013 at 08:50 AM by FANG-TAN

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Pokemon Games , Mei

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  1. Isaac Gravity's Avatar
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    Not only that, but for Slayn and Crevanille (Main of Growlanser IV), their base facial portraits show their dominant personality trait. Those two had some of the most broad, yet awesome-hilarious line/action choices.

    I also like dialogue branches because it means you can have the character talk back to characters who damn well get on your nerves. It felt great being able to put Meline in her place as opposed to the usual anime logic of sitting and taking others crap because your Mr Uber Nice Guy.

    Throwing this out there for those unaware of the series: Wein Cruz, Main character of Growlanser II had a personality of his own and as such, talked like any old character, however, the player was given heavy power in molding how their Wein played as soon as they start the game. Not to mention his dialogue choices in general when it came to building bonds and choosing various paths were pretty rich too.

    Wein was a cool guy (and his weapon, DAT SCYTHE) so letting us have so much control in his decisions/thoughts was just the icing of the cake.

    But yeah, I felt this way since PMD. esp since in those games you actually had to take a personalty test. I'd have love to see my "Sassy" Treecko or "Hasty" Skitty (PMD 2) to act more on their claimed natures.
    FANG-TAN likes this.
    Updated 24th September 2013 at 02:14 AM by Isaac Gravity
  2. Hurricane Kishore's Avatar
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    Hypothetically , If Ash ever go back to Unova to participate in PWT then I hope he meet Mei Or She appear as rival along with other PC character .
    Updated 24th September 2013 at 02:44 AM by Hurricane Kishore
  3. FANG-TAN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isaac Gravity
    Not only that, but for Slayn and Crevanille (Main of Growlanser IV), their base facial portraits show their dominant personality trait. Those two had some of the most broad, yet awesome-hilarious line/action choices.
    Good mention of Slayn and Crevanille's status portraits. In light of that, I'll extend this idea to the "trainer cards" as well - not only should it show your badges, money, achievements, battle sprites, and so fourth - it should also contain your character's face portrait with an expression that matches the dominant personality you've chosen to give him/her.

    I also like dialogue branches because it means you can have the character talk back to characters who damn well get on your nerves. It felt great being able to put Meline in her place as opposed to the usual anime logic of sitting and taking others crap because your Mr Uber Nice Guy.
    Indeed, I very much liked this. Want your character to be assertive? Then assert yourself! Want them to be shy and soft-spoken? Then keep that thought to yourself. The choices made the dialogue in the Growlanser games really engaging and immersive.

    I'd like to also note the choices of joining with Wolfgang or Maximillian in Growlanser II. Imagine if they incorporated something similar to this in the "organization" plots of the Pocket Monsters games? They could even have a bad ending where the players could witness the aftermath of the teams succeeding in their nefarious plots just because of the player's curiosity. I find the prospect highly interesting.

    Throwing this out there for those unaware of the series: Wein Cruz, Main character of Growlanser II had a personality of his own and as such, talked like any old character, however, the player was given heavy power in molding how their Wein played as soon as they start the game. Not to mention his dialogue choices in general when it came to building bonds and choosing various paths were pretty rich too.

    Wein was a cool guy (and his weapon, DAT SCYTHE) so letting us have so much control in his decisions/thoughts was just the icing of the cake.
    Agreed. Controlling Wein's actions in Growlanser II was just as fun as molding the personalities of Carmaine (who speaks in II, unlike Red in Gold/Silver), Slayne, and Crevanille. Pocket Monsters doesn't always have to stick to the formula of a Silent Protagonist - it could mix and match between specific generations. Or better yet, the side games like Colosseum and XD could have made Leo and Ryuuto to be like Wein - talking characters with personalities of their own whose choices you could control - and the main series have the protagonists be a Carmaine-type of deal with personality customization. It would work out successfully.

    But yeah, I felt this way since PMD. esp since in those games you actually had to take a personalty test. I'd have love to see my "Sassy" Treecko or "Hasty" Skitty (PMD 2) to act more on their claimed natures.
    In some ways, I felt that the main series should have incorporated small aspects of the Mystery Dungeon series. The portraits, in particular, and there's a lot of potential for personality in those games as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Kishore
    Hypothetically , If Ash ever go back to Unova to participate in PWT then I hope he meet Mei Or She appear as rival along with other PC character .
    What does that have to do with the games? Save that for one of my anime posts. (But yes, I wished the PWT was in the anime. My precious Mei could stay out, though.)
    Leggo and Isaac Gravity like this.
    Updated 24th September 2013 at 06:03 AM by FANG-TAN
  4. Xita's Avatar
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    I'll open this post by saying that I wished the main series of Pokemon games used character portraits whenever a major character is speaking to the protagonist
    Yeeesssssss I want this so badly.
    FANG-TAN and Leggo like this.
  5. FANG-TAN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xita
    Yeeesssssss I want this so badly.
    It's something I've always wanted. It boggles my mind that they haven't done this full-time yet - they did it with the XTransceiver and N with good reception to boot, so why not full-time in XY like every other JRPG? Ugh. ;_;
    Leggo likes this.
  6. Reila's Avatar
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    No, I think their "personalities" are fine the way they are. The point of a silent protagonist is not having a personality, the player should come with one for themselves. That said, something I think they could add into the series is more dialogue options, like the ones from the Persona series. Having only "Yes" or "No" as answers for most questions the NPCs ask is a bit disappointing.
    Leggo and FANG-TAN like this.
  7. FANG-TAN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reila
    No, I think their "personalities" are fine the way they are. The point of a silent protagonist is not having a personality, the player should come with one for themselves. That said, something I think they could add into the series is more dialogue options, like the ones from the Persona series. Having only "Yes" or "No" as answers for most questions the NPCs ask is a bit disappointing.
    That *is* what I'm talking about. They are still silent protagonists. However, you build your own personality that shows in the storyline. The player has the freedom to give them any personality they want from a wide range of traits that show from the dialogue options. That's how the Growlanser games (also published by Atlus) work, and they do it magnificently.

    Again, if you choose one of the many specific choices early in the game, your personality stats would be too insufficient to choose out-of-character choices later. That's how the personality is canonized in the playthrough.
    Reila, Isaac Gravity and Leggo like this.
    Updated 24th September 2013 at 08:32 AM by FANG-TAN
  8. Reila's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FANG-TAN
    That *is* what I'm talking about. They are still silent protagonists. However, you build your own personality that shows in the storyline. The player has the freedom to give them any personality they want from a wide range of traits that show from the dialogue options. That's how the Growlanser games (also published by Atlus) work, and they do it magnificently.
    Oh really? I guess I misunderstood your blog then. I am not familiar with the Growlanser series...

    Still, giving more dialogue options can end almost ruining a silent protagonist, like in Devil Survivor 2 (Another game developed by Atlus. All Hail Atlus~). Atlus gave a lot of obnoxious dialogue options, some REALLY ridiculous ones, that sometimes it was hard to take the main character seriously.
    FANG-TAN likes this.
  9. FANG-TAN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reila
    Oh really? I guess I misunderstood your blog then. I am not familiar with the Growlanser series... Then again, giving more dialogue options can end almost ruining a silent protagonist, like in Devil Survivor 2 (Another game developed by Atlus. All Hail Atlus~).
    Refer to this again:

    However, Growlanser III, in particular, has an interesting hidden "personality stat" system that begins as soon as the game starts. All Growlanser games offer multiple choices that affect the story, but in Growlanser III they also affect the canon in terms of what personality you choose to give to your protagonist, Slayne. Choices range from good, to flirtatious, to utterly rude or evil, and they affect your "personality" stats accordingly. Your choices early in the game start becoming apparent as you progress - for example, if you choose to be too "good" or "honest", you won't have sufficient stats to pick the more rude or evil responses. You could be soft-spoken, a Squall-styled ellipses spewing jackass, or an emotionally functional human being. It's your choice. And in Growlanser, the endings and relationships with your party members are affected by your choice.
    Basically, unlike what Pokemon does, which lazily leaves it up to outside imagination, this gives a chance to project your desired personality into the actual game. It makes the game richer, in a sense.

    Growlanser III, iirc, gives you these choices for stats.

    Good man
    Self-Confidence
    Hot Blooded
    Playboy
    Gentle
    Intelligence

    Certain traits "level up" (hidden) depending on what you choose when dialogue prompts you. There are silly choices, but that's only if you choose to be silly. It's not very simplified either, you could have a mix of any of those traits. There's a fortune-teller in the game that describes your personality in full detail. It's very in-depth.
    Leggo, Reila and Isaac Gravity like this.
    Updated 24th September 2013 at 07:24 AM by FANG-TAN
  10. FANG-TAN's Avatar
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    Oh, and I almost forgot. You can even choose your Slayne's blood type and zodiac sign at the beginning of Growlanser III, and those affect your relationship with certain characters and personality stat growth also. Career Soft really put a lot of effort into developing these games.
  11. Robo-Floatzel's Avatar
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    The reason I think the Pokemon games (and a number of other games) use silent protagonists is so that they can project their own traits onto them. This allows the customization in X/Y to make a lot of sense since we are essentially making our own character out of it rather than being stuck with a default look all the time, it essentially allows us to create our own identity.
    Leggo likes this.
  12. FANG-TAN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robo-Floatzel
    The reason I think the Pokemon games (and a number of other games) use silent protagonists is so that they can project their own traits onto them. This allows the customization in X/Y to make a lot of sense since we are essentially making our own character out of it rather than being stuck with a default look all the time, it essentially allows us to create our own identity.
    That's essentially what I'm suggesting here. The difference is that your identity is being projected into the game through a varied personality mechanic, or at the very least, specific dialogue choices other than Yes/No. Many other RPGs with silent protagonists successfully do this, but I think Growlanser does it the best, and would work in terms of Pokemon.

    Simply dressing up your character and leaving it up to outside imagination is shallow (though the former is certainly a welcome addition!). I want it to be more substantial, there are more benefits to it. You don't like a certain character? Have your protagonist be snarky to them. Don't want to be honest in a certain situation? Have him/her lie out of their ass. More choices and storyline branches offer more to the imagination and your identity as the protagonist than linearity and absolute silence. They could even go the bare minimum of doing things the way the MegaTen series and its spin-offs does it with their silent protags.

    First and foremost though, they need to get into the habit of using character portraits... In a game like this, it would make the NPCs more lively.
    Leggo likes this.
    Updated 24th September 2013 at 10:09 PM by FANG-TAN
  13. Infinity Mk-II's Avatar
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    Technically, this is actually acomplished by having more situations in where what the player does, well, actually matters.

    Usually proportional to the stage in the game (i.e. many of such situations early in the game, so the game keeps track of them early on).

    Although, rather than simply and directly displaying assumptions on the player's personality, what I'd think is more powerful is that how the game and characters reacted in the future to this: You still have a silent protagonist left to the imagination, but it's no longer isolated and the actions you do actually give feedback about how you seem like to the game.


    For example, one particular thing that BW did right is that many times whenever you encountered N you talked to him. It didn't affect much, but at least what he told you would be different because of what you told him earlier on.
    It'd be something like that, but applied to a very broad scale and affecting more things.


    In fact, I think pokémon has a lot of wasted potential in this regard, considering the high customizable potential and all the things you already do in the game.



    Oh well, at least, regarding character portaits, it seems that as they've gotten to use models in specific scenes we may see them displaying some personality.
    Leggo and FANG-TAN like this.
  14. FANG-TAN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Infinity Mk-II
    Although, rather than simply and directly displaying assumptions on the player's personality, what I'd think is more powerful is that how the game and characters reacted in the future to this: You still have a silent protagonist left to the imagination, but it's no longer isolated and the actions you do actually give feedback about how you seem like to the game..
    Yes, I agree. Choices affecting the game in a number of ways would be very effective. Great example with the conversations with N.
  15. クリスタル's Avatar
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    I understand your wishes, but this "dream" is kind of like making difficulties for Game Freak and to Nintendo as well. Because both company are just not good with this kind of personality system. Just looking at all the games Game Freak had ever developed, and all the game series branded as the best sellers of Nintendo, 90% of the games uses Silent Protagonist, but just not giving any freedom for player to "customize" the protagonist, or very limited customization. This includes the well-known Mario series, Kirby series, Donkey Kong series, many of the Legend of Zelda games, Animal Crossing series, etc.

    The problem and the key point is that, the Silent Protagonist in Pokemon main game series is not really an avatar of the player, but avatar of a canon character. When you chose one gender for the protagonist, the character of the opposite gender will become a supporting NPC that exists in the game plot itself. So if you think it back in the vice versa way, the character of the gender that you chose to start your journey was also originally meant to be a NPC, so he/she is still a canon character. Although the protagonist allow some customization up to certain level, such as name and clothings, but still that protagonist was not meant to become avatar of the player. Player still watches a story that is told from a canon character's viewpoint and experience.

    If the protagonist is not avatar of the player, then better just as well giving he/she a canon personality and background story like a regular RPG such as Final Fantasy and Tales of series, where player watches a story that is told from the viewpoint of a canon protagonist.


    I'm not sure how good will this personality customizing system will be for gameplay purpose, because I personally don't like such system. Not just it makes game plot too much branches, but also too much endings. I'm not the kind of person that will play a game for more then twice consecutively just to watch the story that I had missed during normal gameplay.

    The only game I'd ever played with such Silent Protagonist and also dialogue selections that will customize the protagonist personally are Tales of the World - Radiant Mythology series and Shinokishi Monogatari - Dogma Wars. Unfortunately I don't like the plot for neither of the two games. I only appreciate the battle system of the two games.
    FANG-TAN likes this.
  16. FANG-TAN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by クリスタル
    The problem and the key point is that, the Silent Protagonist in Pokemon main game series is not really an avatar of the player, but avatar of a canon character. When you chose one gender for the protagonist, the character of the opposite gender will become a supporting NPC that exists in the game plot itself. So if you think it back in the vice versa way, the character of the gender that you chose to start your journey was also originally meant to be a NPC, so he/she is still a canon character. Although the protagonist allow some customization up to certain level, such as name and clothings, but still that protagonist was not meant to become avatar of the player. Player still watches a story that is told from a canon character's viewpoint and experience.

    If the protagonist is not avatar of the player, then better just as well giving he/she a canon personality and background story like a regular RPG such as Final Fantasy and Tales of series, where player watches a story that is told from the viewpoint of a canon protagonist.
    I agree that a set personality for the protagonist like the Tales of series would probably work just as best for an RPG series like Pokemon, where the main characters are designed to be iconic on their own, much like the various Links in the Zelda series. I've always wanted this. However, it seems that many in the fandom seem to want to project themselves onto the protagonists, such as Red, and aren't keen on the idea on him having a personality of his own. For this proposal, there's a chance of accomplishing this without sacrificing the character's personality in-game.

    If they were to have their own personality, I'd personally like it to very much be like Growlanser II, where Wein is a talking character and has a clear personality much like a typical JRPG, but you can make his decisions at various points. For series like Zelda and Pokemon, as those series go deeper and deeper into their lifespans, I feel that they should handle the concept of a Silent Protagonist better, or just drop the idea altogether and give them personality. Either way works for me. :)

    I'm not sure how good will this personality customizing system will be for gameplay purpose, because I personally don't like such system. Not just it makes game plot too much branches, but also too much endings. I'm not the kind of person that will play a game for more then twice consecutively just to watch the story that I had missed during normal gameplay.
    I don't imagine too many branches, but mostly the same game that ends up being slightly different for everyone and gives each player a unique experience. Since Pokemon is an RPG with only one save slot, I don't think branches that are too unforgiving would work well, as such there wouldn't be a "best/true" ending either. I think the way the MegaTen series handles the concept of storyline branches is best as a Mon series, and I feel that Pocket Monsters should follow that example, toned down in spirit of being MegaTen's lighter counterpart at the very least.
    Updated 25th September 2013 at 11:43 PM by FANG-TAN
  17. クリスタル's Avatar
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    Unfortunately I never played Growlanser series, not even heard of it prior to reading this blog. So I don't think I can give any helpful suggestion or opinion.

    But one thing for sure in my personal opinion is that, if there is ever a Pokemon game using such personality customization system where player morphs the protagonist's personality in various decisions during game plot, I don't think I'll play such game, because I'm not interested to such system.
  18. FANG-TAN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by クリスタル
    Unfortunately I never played Growlanser series, not even heard of it prior to reading this blog. So I don't think I can give any helpful suggestion or opinion.

    But one thing for sure in my personal opinion is that, if there is ever a Pokemon game using such personality customization system where player morphs the protagonist's personality in various decisions during game plot, I don't think I'll play such game, because I'm not interested to such system.
    It's fine. I personally wouldn't mind it if they just did away with the whole silent protagonist thing completely and give them a 100% canon personality (but obviously this will upset some people). One Nintendo franchise that did well with a talking protagonist was Kid Icarus.

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