Character Creation Should Take 5 Minutes, No More, No Less

I love creating a character whenever I start a new role-playing game. I also love stressing myself the hell out over it. I find the question that they often pose — How would you like to play this game?fundamentally ridiculous. Man, I don’t know! I’ve never played this game before! I truly don’t get how anyone is supposed to have their general approach to a game more or less figured out before they even get a taste of it, but that’s how games work. I suppose they work pretty well, given that I usually just go with what sounds cool and it ends up being OK.

However, there are still so many points I get hung up on well before I can even start the game. What fantasy species I want to be, what character class, what subclass, the skills I want to be good at — I hate committing to all of these things and planning out a set of character choices that complement each other. At the same time, part of me loves it — building a character that’s unique to your sensibilities is one of video games’ biggest pleasures.

A couple days ago, I came up with a compromise entirely by accident. I had downloaded the PlayStation 4 version of Baldur’s Gate II and wanted to just get right to the action so I could see how well it controlled on a console. So I blew through the elaborate, Dungeons & Dragons-style character creation in that game with a series of snap judgments, taking no more than five minutes to decide my fantasy race, class, subclass, name — everything.

The character I rolled, Dauphine the Half-Elf Dragon Disciple — isn’t one I likely would’ve put together had I thought more about it. She’s got a Chaotic Evil alignment, something I tend to avoid. I have no idea what dragon disciples do — normally I’d look over every class ability. Her spells are a loose assortment of interesting-sounding things I have no idea will prove useful. And I can’t wait to play as her.

The trick here, I think, is not getting too much into your own head. You know what you like and what you’re interested in doing, so you should trust yourself and get out of your gut’s way. It’s often said that people don’t really know what they want — we gravitate toward the familiar more than anything else, which is why it’s easy to get excited for a new Star Wars movie you’ll like just fine even though there are loads of potential new favourites just sitting right there on Netflix, unwatched.

Taking risks can be scary — games require so much investment, and it would be awful if a choice you made ruined the experience. But risks can make things exciting in a way you’d miss if you just went with your usual.

Give it a shot. Next time you boot up a new game that gives you the option, spend five minutes tops creating a character. Surprise yourself a little — it might change your experience for the better.


Comments

    Alex, I've spotted an error in the article. It keeps saying five minutes instead of five hours. People could get dramatically the wrong idea from this mistake.

      eh to be quite honest, it usually takes me less than 5mins to create a character because i have no fucking idea on how to create a character that doesnt look a fucking deformed mongeloid had sex with a retarded inbred redneck and the child was that sin against nature

        The worst is spending an hour getting it right then seeing how shit it actually looks in the opening cutscene.

          Mass effect Andromeda reference.

            Any Mass Effect reference? I was constantly having to reroll in the original again to make minor adjustments to my gal. And then the character transfer had issues when 3 launched and I had to go through re-perfecting my classic Domino-esque look. (Minus the black patch over her eye)

            In Andromeda I ended up just using the stock character after enduring a few missions with my abomination.

          Dragon Age Inquisition, when your Inquisitor grimaces in pain in the first scene.

          Lost track of how many times that sequence has sent me back to the drawing board.

            haha No matter how good your character looks that scene makes them look like an inbred monster

          for sure.
          gotta quit and reset without a doubt.
          If I don't like how they look in the opening, that's the only way.

        I used to have the same issue until someone suggested a simple solution. make sure any sliders are in the middle. It creates a symmetrical character that takes off the rough edges

    No thanks, I'll stick to spending a stupid amount of time making my character and restarting a few times because he/she doesn't look right, infuriating my missus so much she goes to bed to watch movies.

    I just think these games are not for you, gentle author.

    Five minutes, nah, five hours more like it. These characters you are going to spend hundreds of hours on, it’s a drop in the ocean

    If a character creation takes less than 5 minutes it's not character creation, it's character choosing.

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