Getting the band together
Every hero needs a friend, and in this Editorial we take a look at the most common character types of today
Posted by Peter Ingham (Nechrol) on Aug 2, 2011 - 9:30pm EST (Aug 2, 2011 21:30)
Every hero needs a friend, a shoulder to cry on, or a verbal/literal punching bag for a scene where they must deal with their inner demons in a heart-rending cut-scene. Other characters open up the plot, make it interesting, and lend gravitas to the proceedings.
Putting over twenty-plus hours into a game nowadays without having other characters to interact with seems unthinkable. This however, mostly applies to mainstream games, people expect it, and they would not be wrong. If the protagonist spent the whole game only interacting with their right hand which had a crudely drawn face on it, it’d either be Vampire Hunter D all over again, or a more realistic portrayal of a hentai game.
When creating other characters for your protagonist to interact with, you want not only a difference in the way each one appears, but also, how they act, they require differing personalities. Said personalities usually fit in with the trope known as ‘The Five Man Band’.
Simply put, ‘The Five Man Band’ is a loose archetype used when devising how your characters will act and the role in the game that they will play. When considering each character and his or her purpose you want someone/something that will complement your protagonist.
Creating other members of the band that all act like a snarky douche makes the player want to repeatedly drive them over a cliff and laugh manically as the game over screen appears like some finally fulfilled Bond villain.
This little list is one of the most basic forms to use when starting to assemble your group of heroes.
The focus of the work, the one that is going to lead the band through the game’s hardships. Perhaps he will dole out advice (if he’s not mute) and manage to squeeze in resolving some age-old dispute between another character and his estranged mother before going off to save the world. The most important quality is that he is driven towards the cause that propels you all onwards.
Examples: The ‘Hero’ from Dragon Age, Marcus Fenix, Captain Shepherd, every protagonist ever... ever
Perhaps the most important character save for the hero themselves. They usually contrast the hero in some way, be that snarky or uttering a catchphrase after they’ve launched someone out of building while the protagonist nods approvingly. Statistically, the Lancer is the one most likely to receive a high-five during the course of the game or be the only person the hero confides in.
Examples: Morte (Planescape Torment), Garrus Vakarian (ME), Roman ‘Let’s go bowling’ Bellic (GTAIV)