Character Names

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sievr:
Here's a zany idea, the Japanese: let me choose my own character if you're going to make two of them anyway. Granted, in this case, I wouldn't be excited for either choice. I don't particularly want to be a snowy-haired fairy OR a meth-addicted bodybuilder. But it's a little insulting to have Japanese people deciding that the juiced up bodybuilder is the natural pick for America.

Exactly. You already spent the development money on both models anyway.

Plus, here's a hint Japan: Western RPG players love choices.

I'm not a great fan of the Black and white games, but as I recall when someone dies in it you hear the whisper "death" as they die, around midnight, this actually changes to your name.. which freaked the shit out of me the first time, I thought I was dreaming or something.

I like how Mass Effect handled it. You pick a first name, but everyone just calls you "Shepard" or "Commander."

And Qqq%kblk is obviously pronounced "Quack Black"

To be fair to Mass Effect NPCs, when do you ever actually tell them your first name? I think most of them just assume "Commander" IS your first name.

I'm reminded of Baten Kaitos, a great RPG for the Gamecube. You didn't name the protagonist, you named yourself, since you served as a "Guardian Spirit." On occasion, the characters would face the screen and, in a wonderfully fourth wall-breaking moment, ask for your opinion or advice, the game offering two or more responses. It even had mechanical consequences: The characters' trust in you would determine the frequency and power of potent Spirit Attacks.

Unfortunately, the voice acting (which had other issues as well,) fell on its face when the time came for a character to say your name. Instead of using a voice synthesizer, the dialogue would just have an uncomfortable pause, as though it were one of those videos parents buy their 6-year olds with blanks for their picture, name, and favorite food.

I apologize for the unnecessary gushing over a pet game. :P

Spelling and pronounciation has always been a sticking point. This topic goes back quite a bit, as this old BBC video shows:

I think the only reason Mass Effect/ Me2 lets you enter a name is to help you differentiate between saves. That game could really do with less pussy footing around. Every character made using the character creator looks retarded, naming you abomination to have it simply pop up on menus is a bit redundant.

I guess people would cry foul but i think they just think these tools don't really enhance some games.

Pah, empty babble. We don't care about this! Tell us how Awesome Space Game: The Game is coming along!

EA's NCAA series does this. I don't know if they have a really good synthesizer or they just had the announcers sit in a booth for hours recording every name possible, but they'll say the names of any new players you create.

bjj hero:

Jacob.pederson:
Codemasters Racing games have been just recording a bunch of names and letting you pick from a list, So my adoring racing fans have been calling me by my first name since GRID :)

Thats a nice idea and better than most but the list of names does tend to be a little Eurocentric. I happen to be named Rez so it never worked for me.

Veldt Falsetto:

Name a popular western action game where the main character isn't just a bodybuilder who has lost his gym that doesn't take all it's gameplay influence from japanese games and I may reconsider that westerners just want either muscles or floating hands with weaponry (because every character who isn't muscles has no personality) .

2 Words... Commander Shepherd.

My prefered choice is a relatable charecter, at that point it doesn't matter what his/her name is. Sqeenix seem to think that letting you choose your name gives them more Role play points. It's odd as that is normally the only choice you get to make all game, the rest is linear and predetermined.

No...he may not be as muscular as people from gears of war but he's still in the same vein though I have to admit at least Mass Effect gives you a personality to work around giving Shepard some character but he's still pretty much a grizzly muscular generic man of western games

boholikeu:

Veldt Falsetto:

boholikeu:
Am I the only one that thinks it's ridiculously funny and a little depressing that Square Enix apparently thinks the only thing holding them back in the Western market is the muscle mass of their protagonist?

I'm beginning to think that Jun Takeuchi is right: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/100722-Capcom-Producer-Japanese-Industry-Has-No-Hope-in-Hell

Name a popular western action game where the main character isn't just a bodybuilder who has lost his gym that doesn't take all it's gameplay influence from japanese games and I may reconsider that westerners just want either muscles or floating hands with weaponry (because every character who isn't muscles has no personality) .

I don't remember Niko Bellic being particularly buff. He seemed to have a pretty normal build to me, and GTA4 is pretty much the poster child of Western "macho" games.

Anyway, I'm not saying that Western games *don't* have muscle-bound heroes, I'm just saying it's pretty funny that some Japanese developers apparently thought that was the *only* thing holding them back in the Western market.

Meh Niko's kinda muscular but he's also a thug, Rockstar did put some soul into him but you had to do the boring 'hang out with people' thing to get to it

What would you say is then? The most common complaint in Square Enix games are about the characters, if you were subtly looking through forums as a Square Enix exec the most obvious change would be make our men manly.

Jhales:

Veldt Falsetto:

Name a popular western action game where the main character isn't just a bodybuilder who has lost his gym that doesn't take all it's gameplay influence from japanese games and I may reconsider that westerners just want either muscles or floating hands with weaponry (because every character who isn't muscles has no personality) .

The cast of Team Fortress 2, except for the heavy, also Left 4 Dead 1 and 2. It's really good to see Valve giving character to their characters, instead of silent protagonists like Gordon and the girl in Portal.

Aside from Left 4 Dead (I can't really talk about it, not played it) All these are just floating hands with weapons. Does anyone in TF2 talk or have a backstory? Gordon has backstory but that's it, Chelle may as well be anyone else (though she is a girl so I guess that's something new)

The character actually said Twattycake? That's awesome.

I named the dog in FFVIII "fag" so everytime Rinoa's special ability would trigger, it would say "Fag Rush!" I had no idea the name of the dog would show up anywhere so needless to say the first time that happened I got a good laugh for a min.

Veldt Falsetto:

Meh Niko's kinda muscular but he's also a thug, Rockstar did put some soul into him but you had to do the boring 'hang out with people' thing to get to it

What would you say is then? The most common complaint in Square Enix games are about the characters, if you were subtly looking through forums as a Square Enix exec the most obvious change would be make our men manly.

That's part of the reason why it's so funny. Like you said, it's like some half-witted exec looked at a couple of forum posts and thought "Of course! All we need to do is change the protagonist for the Western version! I'm brilliant!".

Meanwhile, anyone that's done more than a cursory browsing of the whole issue knows it's a bit deeper than that. People complain about the lack of choice and the over-reliance on cut-scenes. They complain about the JRPG genre feeling like it hasn't changed since FF7. Yes, they also complain about characters, but the complaints aren't limited to effeminate men. There are a lot of complaints about whiny protagonists, and irritatingly peppy supporting characters as well.

Now, I don't think Square Enix should listen to all these complaints. Developing your game based on irate forum posters is never a good idea. However, it doesn't take a genius to see that the manliness of their protagonists is not the only thing holding them back here. Personally, I think that rather than trying to make their games more "Western", they should just try to make them less "Akihabara Otaku". Heck I wouldn't even be surprised if that helped their sales in Japan too, as well as in Western countries.

Playing Final Fantasy games for a second or third time, faced with the opportunity to rename the characters, I would name each and every one of them Balls. Juvenile, yes, and needlessly confusing, but it kept me entertained during all the familiar pages of dialogue. I'm easily amused.

The Legend of Zelda games always have you name Link and, sometimes, his horse, which seems fair enough because Link is just a cypher, and beyond being a super-heroic agent of fate his only personality traits are general all-round competence and a fetish for dressing like Robin Hood. It wouldn't work for, say, Mario, who may be irritating but isn't anywhere near as bland. I never found it particularly immersive, but then I, for some obscure reason, get embarrassed naming characters after myself and therefore tend to call him things like Lonk. Or Plink. Or Cunt.

Veldt Falsetto:

bjj hero:

Veldt Falsetto:

Name a popular western action game where the main character isn't just a bodybuilder who has lost his gym that doesn't take all it's gameplay influence from japanese games and I may reconsider that westerners just want either muscles or floating hands with weaponry (because every character who isn't muscles has no personality) .

2 Words... Commander Shepherd.

My prefered choice is a relatable charecter, at that point it doesn't matter what his/her name is. Sqeenix seem to think that letting you choose your name gives them more Role play points. It's odd as that is normally the only choice you get to make all game, the rest is linear and predetermined.

No...he may not be as muscular as people from gears of war but he's still in the same vein though I have to admit at least Mass Effect gives you a personality to work around giving Shepard some character but he's still pretty much a grizzly muscular generic man of western games

Well have to disagree. The only thing he has in common with Phoenix is that they are both professional soldiers. If Shep is muscular I'm now flattered, I have the same sort of definition from martial arts but I don't do any weights and am smaller than a lot of the guys I train with. In ME your backstory, your actions and attitude, even face and gender are decided during the game. If he ended up like Phoenix its because you chose to be like Phoenix. You can't pin that on Bioware.

I read your feed back on GTAIV and again I disagree, I was impressed that rockstar used a normal looking eastern European as a protagonist rather than all of the Americans we get fed.

I could go on but you will kepp calling them the same. Alone in the Dark, Kane and Lynch, Thief... if you dodge the whole space marine genre theres other stuff out there.

Be honest, you're hanging out for a middle aged, Indian, fat lady in a wheel chair. I cant wait to play her too but wer're not getting that from west oe East.

The_root_of_all_evil:
"Qqq%kblk."
Pronounced Trippel-Kew-*eyeroll*Kay-Blick. Exactly how it looks ;)

that's funny... every pronunciation i try seems to come back to "cockblock", which is perfect. lol

bjj hero:

Veldt Falsetto:

bjj hero:

Veldt Falsetto:

Name a popular western action game where the main character isn't just a bodybuilder who has lost his gym that doesn't take all it's gameplay influence from japanese games and I may reconsider that westerners just want either muscles or floating hands with weaponry (because every character who isn't muscles has no personality) .

2 Words... Commander Shepherd.

My prefered choice is a relatable charecter, at that point it doesn't matter what his/her name is. Sqeenix seem to think that letting you choose your name gives them more Role play points. It's odd as that is normally the only choice you get to make all game, the rest is linear and predetermined.

No...he may not be as muscular as people from gears of war but he's still in the same vein though I have to admit at least Mass Effect gives you a personality to work around giving Shepard some character but he's still pretty much a grizzly muscular generic man of western games

Well have to disagree. The only thing he has in common with Phoenix is that they are both professional soldiers. If Shep is muscular I'm now flattered, I have the same sort of definition from martial arts but I don't do any weights and am smaller than a lot of the guys I train with. In ME your backstory, your actions and attitude, even face and gender are decided during the game. If he ended up like Phoenix its because you chose to be like Phoenix. You can't pin that on Bioware.

I read your feed back on GTAIV and again I disagree, I was impressed that rockstar used a normal looking eastern European as a protagonist rather than all of the Americans we get fed.

I could go on but you will kepp calling them the same. Alone in the Dark, Kane and Lynch, Thief... if you dodge the whole space marine genre theres other stuff out there.

Be honest, you're hanging out for a middle aged, Indian, fat lady in a wheel chair. I cant wait to play her too but wer're not getting that from west oe East.

Ok but to me those guys are kinda big buff manly men compared to the amount of weedy or overweight people around. I mean to me Shep and Niko are the same size as Nier is, though I will take your point on Alone in the Dark (not played the others) Carnaby's old now but he's pretty trim for his age

boholikeu:

Veldt Falsetto:

Meh Niko's kinda muscular but he's also a thug, Rockstar did put some soul into him but you had to do the boring 'hang out with people' thing to get to it

What would you say is then? The most common complaint in Square Enix games are about the characters, if you were subtly looking through forums as a Square Enix exec the most obvious change would be make our men manly.

That's part of the reason why it's so funny. Like you said, it's like some half-witted exec looked at a couple of forum posts and thought "Of course! All we need to do is change the protagonist for the Western version! I'm brilliant!".

Meanwhile, anyone that's done more than a cursory browsing of the whole issue knows it's a bit deeper than that. People complain about the lack of choice and the over-reliance on cut-scenes. They complain about the JRPG genre feeling like it hasn't changed since FF7. Yes, they also complain about characters, but the complaints aren't limited to effeminate men. There are a lot of complaints about whiny protagonists, and irritatingly peppy supporting characters as well.

Now, I don't think Square Enix should listen to all these complaints. Developing your game based on irate forum posters is never a good idea. However, it doesn't take a genius to see that the manliness of their protagonists is not the only thing holding them back here. Personally, I think that rather than trying to make their games more "Western", they should just try to make them less "Akihabara Otaku". Heck I wouldn't even be surprised if that helped their sales in Japan too, as well as in Western countries.

Choice doesn't bother me, infact I'd prefer a solid story set in stone, everybody's different but I agree with the cutscene thing, MGS4 is really bad for that and FFXIII, I see you use the word feeling, I'm a big jrpg fand it may feel like it hasn't changed but it really has, a lot, FFVII and FFXIII have hardly anything in common gameplay wise, the people who say they haven't changed haven't played.

I'd say I agree with you there too but heres the thing, all media has to stick to a stereotype be it space marine thugs, effeminate whiney emos, geeks, jocks, ice queens whatever, and all media does stick to stereotype, every character you can name in tv, film, game, print are somewhat stereotyped and Japan are just playing on relatable stereotypes from their culture, that gives it a slight otaku vibe regardless, so less westerners get it just as western games aren't as well loved in Japan because they don't get the culture or characters

I think that EA sports mixed with a synthesizer in some way if I remember it correctly. I remember me and a friend playing like NHL 2004 or something, naming one character of "Animal Mother". We were shocked when the commentator screamed "ANIMAL, SHOOTS!"
Maybe they have "rendered" a couple of names like Forsberg, Jagr and such, ah well I don't know.

In Dragon Quest VIII people just call the main character whatever they like, and just skip over the name chosen in the beginning of the game even though it is written in the dialog text below.

miraclefilms:
Actualy, there have been a lot of advancements in voice synthesizers. We're very close to the indistinguishable to human speech.

Check this links:

http://www.loquendo.com/en/demos/demo_tts.htm

http://www2.research.att.com/~ttsweb/tts/demo.php

http://www.acapela-group.com/text-to-speech-interactive-demo.html

The first and the third link provide Finnish choices for voices and the ones in the previews in the first link sound OK but in the third link when you write something in the box it sounds kind of weird. The English voices sound pretty good though.

kakan:
I think that EA sports mixed with a synthesizer in some way if I remember it correctly. I remember me and a friend playing like NHL 2004 or something, naming one character of "Animal Mother". We were shocked when the commentator screamed "ANIMAL, SHOOTS!"
Maybe they have "rendered" a couple of names like Forsberg, Jagr and such, ah well I don't know.

Animal was one of the prerecorded nicknames in the game. The game chose it automatically if the player's name had animal in it. I usually put Animal as a nickname for some of my players.

Years ago on Front Mission 3, I changed the main character's default name to (First Name): SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Last Name): YOU IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! for a laugh, resulting in lines such as "Hey SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!, do you know what you're doing?" and "Hey Colonel YOU IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Veldt Falsetto:

Ok but to me those guys are kinda big buff manly men compared to the amount of weedy or overweight people around. I mean to me Shep and Niko are the same size as Nier is, though I will take your point on Alone in the Dark (not played the others) Carnaby's old now but he's pretty trim for his age

You're right don't tend to see the over weight or weedy from east or west (mage types tend to be the exception). It makes sense in that you are always running, diving, fighting, climbing you would be athletic. You have to be in shape to do that or be able to suspend belief that tonnes of fun has cardio for days like Rufus in SFIV. It would be interesting to play something like devil may cry/god of war where you have to wait for lunchbox to get his breath back after every other combo or hopping over an obstacle. He could even be sick if you spend too long sprinting, I've seen it with new guys at the gym.

I like the idea of having the game read your name back to you when you first enter it. That way you get instant feedback as to how the synthesizer is going to sound. Does it really matter if the computer reads your random string of characters back to you and it sounds like a sneeze? I think not, as long as the sound of that sneeze amuses you. Conversely, if you're deadly serious about perfect pronunciation of "Twattycake", the game could allow you to modify the way it's spelled in a separate field (allowing for some phonetic manipulation) until you achieve the desired results.

I forgot where, but I read somewhere before that the original character for Nier is actually the older version, they changed it to a young protagonist because it wasn't received very well in the Japanese testing group.

Belladonnah:

Divine Miss Bee:
"Every member of your party in Nier has white hair, it's like a delivery of fetish gear got mistakenly delivered to the geriatric ward."

speaking of punctuation, that comma needs to be a semicolon.

(inner monologue: i can't believe i just grammar-trolled yahtzee. i feel accomplished, yet somehow unworthy.)

You could at least correct the grammar on your post, specially upper cases, so you don't allow him the pleasure of fighting back!

my grammar is correct. my lowercase letters indicate speaking softly.

I agree with how voices in games have actually made them lose something. Take the wwe wrestling games for example, the story modes were waaaaaaaaaaay more interesting back when they didn't speak in voice, not only because the events in story mode were more randomily generated, but it spent less time stroking diva wrestlers (and by diva I mean the guys not the whores... I mean woman 'wrestlers') egos and spent more time making a good game =P

You have been gone from GB for a long time, Yahtzee, if you think that saying "my duck" makes you sound like you're from my native Yorkshire...

That's a Derbyshire colloquialism.

Veldt Falsetto:

Choice doesn't bother me, infact I'd prefer a solid story set in stone, everybody's different but I agree with the cutscene thing, MGS4 is really bad for that and FFXIII, I see you use the word feeling, I'm a big jrpg fand it may feel like it hasn't changed but it really has, a lot, FFVII and FFXIII have hardly anything in common gameplay wise, the people who say they haven't changed haven't played.

I'd say I agree with you there too but heres the thing, all media has to stick to a stereotype be it space marine thugs, effeminate whiney emos, geeks, jocks, ice queens whatever, and all media does stick to stereotype, every character you can name in tv, film, game, print are somewhat stereotyped and Japan are just playing on relatable stereotypes from their culture, that gives it a slight otaku vibe regardless, so less westerners get it just as western games aren't as well loved in Japan because they don't get the culture or characters

Well, I live in Japan and I love the culture, but still I hate the irritating anime stereotypes you find in most JRPGs. I suspect many other people here in Japan feel the same way, too, because the last report I read said RPG sales are down here in Japan.

It's perfectly possible to make a game feel "Japanese" without resorting to otaku stereotypes. If you don't understand how this could be possible I suggest you expand your knowledge of Japanese culture. I think you'll be surprised how much more there is to it than angst-ridden effeminate heroes and super-stylized over-designed monsters/robots.

boholikeu:

Veldt Falsetto:

Choice doesn't bother me, infact I'd prefer a solid story set in stone, everybody's different but I agree with the cutscene thing, MGS4 is really bad for that and FFXIII, I see you use the word feeling, I'm a big jrpg fand it may feel like it hasn't changed but it really has, a lot, FFVII and FFXIII have hardly anything in common gameplay wise, the people who say they haven't changed haven't played.

I'd say I agree with you there too but heres the thing, all media has to stick to a stereotype be it space marine thugs, effeminate whiney emos, geeks, jocks, ice queens whatever, and all media does stick to stereotype, every character you can name in tv, film, game, print are somewhat stereotyped and Japan are just playing on relatable stereotypes from their culture, that gives it a slight otaku vibe regardless, so less westerners get it just as western games aren't as well loved in Japan because they don't get the culture or characters

Well, I live in Japan and I love the culture, but still I hate the irritating anime stereotypes you find in most JRPGs. I suspect many other people here in Japan feel the same way, too, because the last report I read said RPG sales are down here in Japan.

It's perfectly possible to make a game feel "Japanese" without resorting to otaku stereotypes. If you don't understand how this could be possible I suggest you expand your knowledge of Japanese culture. I think you'll be surprised how much more there is to it than angst-ridden effeminate heroes and super-stylized over-designed monsters/robots.

Actually I agree but from my experience with stories in all forms of media, it's really hard to appeal to a mass audience without using some form of stereotype to make it easier for the masses to mentally digest and to make people relate to the characters easier, for example more people are going to be able to relate to and understand a very stereotypical character like Hope from Final Fantasy XIII but if Hope was very different, very average and not at all stereotypical in his feelings and actions, the audience would find it very difficult to understand what's going on in his head without a monologue every 5 minutes just to tell you. Stereotypes, no matter how much I hate them, are really necessary when it comes to mass marketing and since video games have gained a bigger target audience the stories and characters have to become more generic so that everyone understands and can feel the same about certain things. It's a shame it really is but that's how it ends up in everything that gets popular, the more people that expect something to be good, the more the developers have to make everyone happy, and you can't do that without making something that both the masses and the individuals can understand, it's a hard thing to do :(

STILL no update on Space Game.....

Yeah Mr.Yahtzee is writing the exact thought down I had about ten years ago, regarding the reading out of the custom name. Considering I was 11 then ... video game developpers seem to be a slow progressing species. But yeah, most voice synthesizers are pretty shitty in action (I believe the whole scripting stuff is only a couple KB in size and the additional syllable audio files wouldn't exceed 5-10 MB's either... so that can't be the reason) - they're great to have fun with though, so the robot idea is great. But only one game could get away with doing this.

I personally have no problem with the main character having a predefined name, especially if that means it can show up in the voice acting. It certainly doesn't limit the level of empathy, only I imagine a player could be more likely to go about thinking "okay I am James from SH2 now, so what would he do next? - Oh, I know, he'd wonder what that shadowy figure was, so he'd follow it slowly" (at least that's how I always play these games, in a more cinematic way, especially when there are friends watching as I play) - in the other scenario, with a custom name, players probably get a feeling of "Allright, that's me there, and I will now run around and smash stuff cause I want to"

I guess both is OK and depends on the type of the game. The only thing that does suck imo is when you can actually customise your character with custom skins etc. to look like you, and then people will still greet him with "Hey C.J., how's it goin?"

Yahtzee Croshaw:
How exactly would you say the name "Qqq%kblk?"

Well, seeing as how it's giberish, I can pronounce it however I please. I'm going to go with the way we now pronounce "fudge". That okay with you?

Man, how I would love to hear my Shep be called by her first name. Sure, it won't really add anything much to the game, but still, I think it would be kind of cool to hear Kaidan call my Shep Roslyn rather than Commander and/or Shepard all the time.

Ah well, guess I'll just stick with giving people stupid names in Fable 2:

Veldt Falsetto:

boholikeu:

Veldt Falsetto:

Choice doesn't bother me, infact I'd prefer a solid story set in stone, everybody's different but I agree with the cutscene thing, MGS4 is really bad for that and FFXIII, I see you use the word feeling, I'm a big jrpg fand it may feel like it hasn't changed but it really has, a lot, FFVII and FFXIII have hardly anything in common gameplay wise, the people who say they haven't changed haven't played.

I'd say I agree with you there too but heres the thing, all media has to stick to a stereotype be it space marine thugs, effeminate whiney emos, geeks, jocks, ice queens whatever, and all media does stick to stereotype, every character you can name in tv, film, game, print are somewhat stereotyped and Japan are just playing on relatable stereotypes from their culture, that gives it a slight otaku vibe regardless, so less westerners get it just as western games aren't as well loved in Japan because they don't get the culture or characters

Well, I live in Japan and I love the culture, but still I hate the irritating anime stereotypes you find in most JRPGs. I suspect many other people here in Japan feel the same way, too, because the last report I read said RPG sales are down here in Japan.

It's perfectly possible to make a game feel "Japanese" without resorting to otaku stereotypes. If you don't understand how this could be possible I suggest you expand your knowledge of Japanese culture. I think you'll be surprised how much more there is to it than angst-ridden effeminate heroes and super-stylized over-designed monsters/robots.

Actually I agree but from my experience with stories in all forms of media, it's really hard to appeal to a mass audience without using some form of stereotype to make it easier for the masses to mentally digest and to make people relate to the characters easier, for example more people are going to be able to relate to and understand a very stereotypical character like Hope from Final Fantasy XIII but if Hope was very different, very average and not at all stereotypical in his feelings and actions, the audience would find it very difficult to understand what's going on in his head without a monologue every 5 minutes just to tell you. Stereotypes, no matter how much I hate them, are really necessary when it comes to mass marketing and since video games have gained a bigger target audience the stories and characters have to become more generic so that everyone understands and can feel the same about certain things. It's a shame it really is but that's how it ends up in everything that gets popular, the more people that expect something to be good, the more the developers have to make everyone happy, and you can't do that without making something that both the masses and the individuals can understand, it's a hard thing to do :(

While this is true, I don't see how it gets them off the hook. Yes, stereotypes make it easier to market a game, but they also typically cheapen the story.

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