Game Philosophy: Multiple Characters

Lets make this a week special or something where during the week I post daily. Meaning after November 12th, I’ll take a break and simply post whenever I feel like it again.

Without further ado, here’s another:


Today’s topic:
Multiple Characters

We’ve already covered on how to write game characters, but now we’re going more into the gameplay direction. Mainly multiple playable characters within one game.

Now usually games do either one or the other.
Either they both play exactly the same but just have a different skin, or they play totally different making it seem like you play two different games.
See, to make it work, you got to have a balance.

Sure, you want to make the other playable character be a new experience, but that doesn’t mean you should mess with something that already works.
In contrast, just because some fanboys can’t handle change doesn’t mean you should friggin listen to them. I mean have you SEEN what they make on Deviant Art and

You know, the worst part is how this is actually one of the better works…

The key to all this is the phrase “Less is more”.
You see, to make an additional character really work would be to build his core basics around the original character, but give one, at most two, key differences. Those small key differences will make a big difference already.

For example, you make a game about a Sorcerer.
Let’s call the game “Sorcery”.
And the gameplay is based around the Sorcerer being able to summon Dragons for short bursts to use as attacks and help with platforming.
He can jump, run, hit with his cane, etc. and is able to amplify those moves with his Dragons.
Jump and use the Dragons and they will carry you for a millisecond which effectively works as a double jump.
Run and use Dragons and they’ll rocket you forward which effectively works as a dash.
Hit with the cane and use the Dragons and the cane will shoot Dragon Fire.

Then you make “Sorcery II”.
You add a new playable character, who’s not a Sorcerer, but a Knight.
Now would you:
A- Give the Knight an ability which resembles the Sorcerer’s power that fits with his title of Knight.
B- Give the Knight the ability to summon Dragons too.
C- Make the Knight’s Campaign a totally different genre where it’s a Beat-em-up.

If you chose B or C, please slap yourself.
See, A works because you can make a difference without altering the gameplay so much that you can’t recognize it anymore.
The Sorcerer uses Dragons, which makes him have lots of reach considering he can Dash, Shoot Dragon Flames and Double Jump.
The Knight could use something like, I don’t know, the power of the wind. He can still Dash, he can slash Wind Blades to simulate the Sorcerer’s Dragon Flames, but he can’t Double Jump.
Instead, maybe give him a Whirlwind attack if you use his Wind Powers during a Jump.

That one difference is able to give players a new experience in itself.
Since the Sorcerer is able to use the Double Jump, that means he’ll be able to take the higher paths of the level, and is more based around reaching the goal as safely as possible.
The Knight on the other hand has no Double Jump and instead gets an additional attack in it’s place, meaning he won’t be able to take the higher paths, but is able to take on the stronger enemies on the lower paths.

It gives you two different levels in just one.
Plus it shows how the characters are within the gameplay, without having people being forced to re-adjust themselves too much to play another character.

Plus it adds balance to the characters. Remember that, Capcom?

See, you don’t need to change a whole game just to make something a “New Experience”.
A sequel is a new experience. Doesn’t mean it always has a totally different gameplay (usually).

A good Game Idea’s potential is usually unlimited, and new playable characters should be used to tap into that potential, not detract from it.

Now if you excuse me, I’ll now write down the design document for “Sorcery”. Some day this will be GOLD!

Published by Huy Minh Le

Huy Minh Le is a Video Game Enthusiast, Movie Lover, Writer, Content Marketeer and regular TvTropes reader! His studies in Game Design, Art, and Writing has led to a very creative, yet analytical mind.

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