Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

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papillon
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Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#1 Post by papillon » Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:35 pm

Doing scoping for an upcoming project, which has an absolutely huge cast list. From a developer perspective, it could obviously be much easier to break it up into smaller sections... like, say, the Starry☆Sky series, which has twelve boys but they're split over four games, all set at the same school. If I split it up, the characters will almost certainly get more development in their individual games.

But I'm asking you guys as players. Is the idea of MASSIVELY HUGE CAST all in one game sufficiently appealing that I should try to do it despite the headaches? Is it easier for the player to focus on the story when you have only four or five capturable characters in the game? (I find looking at, say, Shira Oka, to be a little overwhelming because with so many options they all start to blend together. And this has more than that!) Would you feel annoyed at being presented with several games in the same setting with the same gameplay but different sets of characters?

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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#2 Post by Meems » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:42 pm

It depends. If you think that managing a huge cast would cause you (as the developer) to neglect other aspects of the game, then I would say definitely go for a smaller cast.
I wouldn't be annoyed to see more games with the same gameplay and setting but different casts so long as the gameplay and setting were interesting enough, and as long as the games had different storylines. If it just feels like an exact repeat of the first game but Alice has been replaced by Charlotte and Bob has been replaced by Dave, I'll probably get bored.

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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#3 Post by Wintermoon » Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:33 pm

I don't find the idea of an excessively large cast appealing at all. The more characters there are, the harder it is to get to know any of them.

I do find the idea of a truly epic story appealing, and sometimes an epic story requires a large cast. However, epic stories often benefit from being broken into smaller, more-or-less self-contained chunks.

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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#4 Post by Voight-Kampff » Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:48 pm

papillon wrote: Is the idea of MASSIVELY HUGE CAST all in one game sufficiently appealing that I should try to do it despite the headaches?
While this isn't from the world of VNs, I do have one word for you: Negima.

That had a million, bajillion "primary" characters.

Personally, I found it distracting. Granted, there's a substantial difference between manga/anime and VNs. But still...just how much time can one really devote towards crafting well-rounded, compelling characters if one's efforts are broken up across, say, two dozen rather than half a dozen?

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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#5 Post by Glasskitten » Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:30 pm

Charby the Vampirate! <333
Wait, that's a long-running webcomic that has all the time in the world to develop characters...
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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#6 Post by papillon » Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:38 pm

I wouldn't be annoyed to see more games with the same gameplay and setting but different casts so long as the gameplay and setting were interesting enough, and as long as the games had different storylines. If it just feels like an exact repeat of the first game but Alice has been replaced by Charlotte and Bob has been replaced by Dave, I'll probably get bored.
It's a stat-based dating sim with mild RPG, not a VN, so there's only a limited storyline to begin with.

Basically, the game idea is a school for magic, with one of three starting character options determining your base stats and who your roommates are. If it's split into three games, the general structure of the year at school and the major events would still be the same, but the people you interact with would be different, and the events might turn out differently or you'd see different sides of them.

The other thing that worries me about HUGE CAST is that if you can end up with any of them, a friendly player who wants to talk to everyone could end up with a little affection from everybody and no date! So for a lot of reasons, it seems better to me to break it up. I'm just concerned about the possibility of people feeling like they're being milked if I ended up taking what was initially an idea for 1-2 games (girls-side/boys-side) and ending up with as many as six.

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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#7 Post by Blue Sky » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:39 pm

I'd say that it's fine. Just spread the character introductions out a bit, so that you offer the player more time to get a feel for certain characters before having other ones pop up. As long as you don't dump them all on us at once, it'll be fine.

Large casts are okay, as long as they're handled well.

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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#8 Post by AllegroDiRossi » Thu Apr 01, 2010 2:34 am

papillon wrote:Basically, the game idea is a school for magic, with one of three starting character options determining your base stats and who your roommates are.
You could always make it that the stat chosen at the beginning limits the MC's available matches. For example, if the player chooses to focus in offensive magic, she can meet all the guys throughout the story, but romantically only pursue a subset of them. You could even make this more clearly outlined in the game by having them study the same field of magic, e.g. offensive, like the example. Then the story could take decidedly different turns for each subset, each guy, etc. but you could still package it all together in one game.
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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#9 Post by flowerthief » Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:27 am

I'm a big fan of the huge cast. As a player I love having so many characters to pursue and juggle that it gives me a headache. As a developer, yeah, it's a different kind of headache. If you can pull it off...
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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#10 Post by chronoluminaire » Thu Apr 01, 2010 7:51 am

I think it's better to spread them across several games.
In anime, on the one hand you've got something like Code Geass which managed quite well with its LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters; on the other hand, Negima didn't seem to do such a good job (as far as I got with it before I gave up).

In a game, I think each individual character will have more chance to shine if they're one of 5 rather than one of 20. Also the game is more likely to get finished that way!
I agree with Meems' and Wintermoon's points.
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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#11 Post by ludeshka » Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:18 am

I'd vote broken-up sets.
Huge cast just for the love of huge cast? Probably would backfire with me.
Like, you could have cameos of everyone, and then if I were, say, desperate about knowing more about one character, then I'd go get his/hers specific set, where I would know that there would be time and story devoted to that character.
Stories that tell only snipets about each character and don't develop them in depth make me crazy, and not the good crazy XD

It's just my opinion, but you were asking for opinions, so... :P

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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#12 Post by rioka » Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:46 pm

I've been thinking about something like this as well.

I think it's best to have a broken up cast or a limited cast. If not, you can make it so that the players choices affects who they interact with as someone else here already mentioned. If the player decides to join a club, then those club members become possible love interests for example.

Other than that, if you do one massive free for all, then I suggest you at least allow the player to know the who's who of people - like intro's to who's the popular jock, the cool kid, the notorious and so on and have some kind of Big Book of [strike]Monsters[/strike] Guys list (like in RPGs!!) so the player can keep track of who's who. That Book of Guys can also include stats like their likes, dislikes, blood type, birthday, mini-bio, and their schedule. You can even add a "gossip" or "info" character the player can buy data from if they're interested in a certain person.

[more thoughts on this later - gotta run for now...]

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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#13 Post by tigerkidde » Thu Apr 01, 2010 7:25 pm

I would vote for broken-up sets. A handful of perspectives may be nice, but loads of perspectives may make it difficult for character development, keep the player's focus with a character they can bond with, and the like.

I draw on Suikoden for the huge cast. There's many characters (usually 108+), but some of them lose their steam once they join your party. You never really get a chance to interact with them and they may say the same thing each time you talk to them for the rest of the game. You get a brief glimpse of these characters, can gawk at their character art, and then they slip away from interest. Then there are a fair set of characters involved in the story that because of their screentime, you can bond with them more or may even be forced to bond with them due a narrow scope (i.e. just the main character's perspective). This forced bondage can bring the player closer to the characters *I think*, but that's just me.

Dragon Force, Generations of Chaos, Spectral Force, and Brigadine fall in a similar category of huge cast, but little time or story to bond with most of the characters. Interesting designs, useful in battle, a brief bio, but nothing else going for them.

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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#14 Post by LVUER » Thu Apr 01, 2010 8:56 pm

Usually no matter how huge the cast is, in the end only several becomes "true" main characters. Bleach also have huge library of characters and the author himself said that he loves creating manga with lots of characters. But in the end, as you could read, the true main characters are only several people (if not only Ichigo).
Last edited by LVUER on Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Huge cast, or broken-up sets?

#15 Post by usul » Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:31 pm

I think the idea of having a large cast will enhance the replay value of the game. You might want to make factions (I'm thinking of Harry Potter atm) where depending on which faction your interactions will be limited to those immediately around you. You might have 2 - 4 factions and depending on which faction you chose (or are thrown into) you're limited to choose among those close to you, but you can replay the game in another faction. So that way the game isn't spread too thin on each take, but has a high replay value. If you make only two factions the game needs only twice the characters, and the backgrounds might well be 80-90% the same.

Hope that helps,

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