Procedurally Generated Characters you Care About

#1

Hey yall, I’m curious about what games are your favorites for creating procedurally generated characters that you end up caring deeply about. X-Com is probably the gold standard for this. For me, Football Manager is right there too, probably because I relate to the narratives in Football and its easy for me to map them onto made up characters.

My favorite procedurally generated character of all time is Massimo Bassi, a Genoese Attacking Midfielder from a Football Manager 09 game. I signed him as a 16-year-old and he won World Player of the Year at 19, and then thru 21-25. An actual human decade later, I still remember the name.

More recently, in New Star Manager, @Dapp and I were blessed with Moussa Eccheverria, a young striker who punched well above his weight in terms of goalscoring and became the heart of the team.

Crusader Kings 2, Stellaris, Rimworld, and things like that all come to mind. But I want to hear about y’alls favorite characters from those, and other, games.

3 Likes
#2

Jackie Conway, strong safety, Madden 12. Drafted him in the 7th round, had to fill in because of injury. Played fantastic, including one game where he got 3 picks including a 103 yard touchdown return. He ended up being a solid starter for about a decade for me. Just a great fulfillment of the fantasy of finding that great unknown player

1 Like
#3

I have kind of the opposite story. The first time I played Rainbow Six I was terrible at the game and would lose a few operatives every mission. If you lose enough they start just being named Rainbow 1, Rainbow 2 etc. Suddenly I didn’t feel so bad when they died because they were effectively nameless.

#4

Mort…

i guess, do Pokemon count if you dont give them nicknames? because i always get really attached to my Pokemon. also now that i think about it, i remember getting very protective of the soldiers in the original Battlefront that would follow you around if you accidentally hit the one button, and feeling like the worst if anything happened to them.

6 Likes
#5

So this is a really interesting question for me because it’s only recently that I’ve become conscious of this element of games. What’s even more interesting to me is that I had already been creating these kinds of narratives in my head.

I distinctly remember imagining, in X-Com, how Tectonic heard that Hardcore died on a mission while he was recovering in the hospital, or how the two snipers bonded and kind of had a rivalry about who was the better shot. I didn’t realize I was doing this, but watching the Waypoint streams and hearing Austin Walker talk about this stuff has made me realize how enriching it can be. When I botched a mission to the point that only one squad member survived, I instantly understood it differently.

One thing I notice is the kind of games these tend to be. Most of them are tactical or strategy games. I don’t tend to tell the same kind of stories and get attached in the same way to, say, my player character in a Rogue-like, thought I suppose that’s not the best comparison. Another interesting exception is Darkest Dungeon, which is actually likely an intention of the game design; the mechanics of the game encourage you to treat people, with all hopes and fears, as just bodies. Just more bodies to throw at your problems.

I think the strategic procgen style lends itself well to these kinds of characters because the bird’s eye view of thing leads to an abstraction that allows players to fill in the blanks. Then, the game structures underlying it will put characters in mechanical situations that can be reinterpreted as narrative. But some people in the thread have mentioned Rainbow Six and Madden, so who could say?

1 Like
#6

I think a key thing for me is a long time, within the game’s scale of time, with the characters so you can get emotionally attached, watch their skills improve and atrophy, etc. It’s a long haul ride. In football / soccer, it’s watching the players go from a youngster with potential to fulfilling that potential to eventaully being replaced by the next young star. In X-Com it’s Mort earning the title Combat Genius.

And @of_eidolons – I am the Monster Rancher stan of this forum, so, Pokemon definitely count.

2 Likes
#7

If we’re going to say that Pokemon count then I’m absolutely gonna say my Jolteon, Ballista, who I had in XY. He had both a perfect Speed IV and Hidden Power Ice, which almost perfectly covers types that resist/immune Electric. I knew a bunch of other people who had the game and did a whole lot of battling and my team was mostly just built around Ballista, and he’s singlehandedly the reason Jolteon’s my favorite Eeveelution.

2 Likes
#8

I was overly fond of my Sea of Thieves pirate, so much so that when I stopped playing the game I made her in the Sims so I could continue her adventures.

2 Likes
#9

This probably isn’t a great example because I can’t remember his name but the QB I drafted in NFL 2K5 to take over for Rex Grossman was v good. Wore #5, scrambled out of the pocket a lot but instead of going for extra yardage would throw deep balls to Benard Berrian. Won MVP three seasons in a row and was Super Bowl MVP in 2007 I think.

Dang, that was a good game. Deeply saddened that we will not get another. Watching the highlights is what makes me remember QB #5, who had a real name that I can’t remember. That’s my biggest gripe with Madden. Never feel connected in that way.

1 Like
#10

That reminds me of a star running back I had in an oooold Madden named Stacey Atwater. Played like Marshawn, basically. Carried me to a couple SBs.

1 Like
#11

I tend to love the randos you get in tactics games like Final Fantasy Tactics.

To this day I have a soft spot in my heart for the Hunter I made in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 named Bloodranz and my Viera summoner. There were both random characters I got at the start of the game and slowly trained up eventhough they weren’t important to the story.

1 Like
#12

So, there’s a mod for STALKER: Call of Pripyat called Call of Chernobyl. It’s basically a mod that combines all the locations of the STALKER games into a HUGE game that you can play both the story from, or play a mode where you spawn as a random character out in the zone. That character can be a bandit, a faction character, an army character, etc. But usually, you’d spawn with a few dudes in your small squad. It’s a perma death mode, so if you die that’s it. You spawn as someone else. Raycevick did a video on the mod if anyone’s curious:

But I remember finding myself attached to this small squad of soldiers I was tasked with, despite their AI never being reactive enough to form a relationship or give them orders. I would roleplay walking about with them, doing patrols as an Army squad only to be ambushed by a group of bandits. Gun fights in STALKER are frantic and from long distances, so I would always lose sight of my squad. I remember how happy I’d be while looting the bandit’s bodies, I’d see one of my squadies roll up and join me in looting.

I’d love it if the mod added some squad control mechanics, or a way to save your men when they’re downed, or for them to save you. I love little roleplay situations like this.

#13

Interesting! Personally, I slotted Darkest Dungeon into my XCOM zone - I wouldn’t always get attached to an individual character as they were starting out, but after a few levels? “Oh yeah, there’s Morrigan - the rock of my team and I WILL PROTECT HER.”

(I uh also didn’t get all that far in Darkest Dungeon. This may be related.)