Eye color, hairstyle, body type, gender, eyebrow shape, ear shape, nose shape, lip shape, scars or no scars, face width, eye width, nostril size, fingernail length, armpit hair hue, I think I had about enough of it all.
There was a time when being able to create your own character in a console game was only a dream. In the early 90s, the very fact that you could change Ryu’s karate gi in Street Fighter II to a different solid color was met with delight. Nowadays the options are exceptionally vast. In recent years there has been many I time I thought “If I really wanted to, I could make it look exactly like me!”. I’ve never gone so far as to actually do that, but the suite of options offered in current gen games on all major platforms is really impressive. It hasn’t been talked about much just how damn limitless the character creators are within games these days, and I think I know why.
Simply put, we’ve all created a character after our own image or our own fantasy enough times now that frankly it’s gotten a little old. It started back when you named your town “Assville” in Sim City. Then the aforementioned Ryu’s gi came along, and a couple of generations later you were picking skin tone, physical build, and a few other options. It made games more personal, more tailored to you yourself, and separated your copy of the game from the millions of others that had been stamped out on an assembly line and shipped to the same store everyone bought their games from. As the years went on more and more was added to everyone’s delight. You can’t have too much of a good thing supposedly. Why complain about more options?
Believe me I’m not complaining actually. I just don’t want to do it anymore. At this point to me I treat character creation with slightly more enthusiasm than unlocking new camos for guns or bonus artwork that I’ll never look at. I’m glad it’s there, it’s just a little played out for me. It’s actually somewhat of a paralysis that occurs when I’m presented with so many options, as many games do these days when you’re creating your cyborg/heroin/mutant badass that has a tattoo from the one time they blah blah blah. I usually make a few easy decisions, maybe play with a few sliding scales, and then I want to play the game I paid for. By the time I’m exhausted with the character creator I figure whatever I’ve come up with will still be unique to my campaign, to my story, so what’s the difference? Oddly enough I also find that for all the options there are times when I can’t find the right one. I’m still figuring out why Fallout 4 went so safe on the hairstyles you could choose from. That’s one option you can go crazy with.
So overall it’s like I either freeze because there’s too much to choose from or I’m shockingly not finding what I wanted. I think today there’s just so many games that admirably put the work into character creation that you find yourself creating too many damn characters. Obviously there’s no way to transplant a general character build from one game to another. I suppose within the same company’s games (Bethesda comes to mind) and on the same platform it could work, but that sort of integration might not be worth it in the eyes of the people that actually have to code for it, and I wouldn’t blame them.
In short, I want my cake and to not eat it too. I want the options there because a lot of people still get a kick out of spending the first hour or so of a game making their character just so. I’ve fallen out of the habit, but it should still be there and the effort still put into it.