Opinions on making a (seemingly) "cliche" protagonist?

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lacticacid
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Opinions on making a (seemingly) "cliche" protagonist?

#1 Post by lacticacid » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:13 pm

(I know this post's title is weird but I tried my best to articulate my idea in the fewest words possible. Anyways.)

Alright, I'll go straight to the point. I want to make my game's protagonist to seem like one of those typical nervous doormat anime protagonists. At the end of the first chapter, probably, (each "chapter" of the game will contain one major story arc), it will be revealed that he is actually a high-functioning sociopath whose sole motivation for being involved in the events of the story is to relieve his boredom, and the nice nervous guy persona is just a facade he puts on (it's that personality specifically because of some events that take place prior to the story, but to sum up, he was dragged into something and decided to go along with it, which would require him to act that way).
I'm worried that having a seemingly cliche protagonist will turn off the players. I'm planning to drop hints about the protagonist throughout the first chapter, but I'm still worried.
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Re: Opinions on making a (seemingly) "cliche" protagonist?

#2 Post by Westeford » Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:38 am

One quick thought.
When members of an audience isn't interested in the protagonist, they'll usually still stick around because of the supporting cast. Characters like partners, love interests, parents, friends, kids, that one uncle that always gets drunk and hits on the hot cousin. The protagonist in these shows can't carry the story by themselves. If the main character doesn't interest the the audience then they'll usually stick around to find out more about them. The villain could also be fascinating enough for the player to want to stay and learn more.

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Re: Opinions on making a (seemingly) "cliche" protagonist?

#3 Post by gekiganwing » Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:16 pm

lacticacid wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:13 pm
... it will be revealed that he is actually a high-functioning sociopath whose sole motivation for being involved in the events of the story is to relieve his boredom, and the nice nervous guy persona is just a facade he puts on ...
Think about what your protagonist's goal is. What is he trying to achieve? Is he putting on a false front while trying to figure out his goal?

Consider how the protagonist will act around other people. Maybe some of them will accept his nice guy persona, but others will be suspicious. Maybe there's someone who doesn't think he has ever been a nice guy. Maybe he has a secret keeper. Or someone who knows his true self, and wants to change him.

Character growth is something to consider. Who is the protagonist becoming? Will the reader be able to shape his character growth through choices, or through some type of gameplay?
lacticacid wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:13 pm
I'm worried that having a seemingly cliche protagonist will turn off the players. I'm planning to drop hints about the protagonist throughout the first chapter, but I'm still worried.
I think it's wise to present some clues regarding the protagonist's true identity before it's revealed. That way, a reader can look back and see how the clues were hidden. They can re-read the story and notice additional things.

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Re: Opinions on making a (seemingly) "cliche" protagonist?

#4 Post by Katy133 » Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:10 pm

I really like this concept in stories. You may get some inspiration by looking at examples of other writers using a similar idea.

In the series Fargo, there is a scene where the character Lorne Malvo is arrested by the police and changes his appearance to look nonthreatening. Secretly, he's a very deadly hitman. The scene can be seen below. Notice how he changes his mannerisms to appear as an "unimportant," meek person, and then smiles at the police officer through the glass at the end, when the interrogator has his back turned. Malvo is mocking the police. That is how confident he is.


In the book series and television series adaptation, Dexter, the titular character keeps up a goofy persona (he works in forensics and is seen by his coworkers as an average guy), but is actually a serial killer (who hunts down other killers) in secret.

Throughout the series, Dexter has to balance between his "normal, average guy" persona and his secret life. Here is a video compilation of him coming up with excuses to his coworkers and family. (Video contains blood/gore.)


In the series Mob Psycho 100, the main character Mob appears as a unemotional, bland middle school-er, but secretly has telekinetic powers. Throughout the series, Mob eventually unleashes his powers at full force, revealing his hidden emotions. The video below talks about the characterisation very well:
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Re: Opinions on making a (seemingly) "cliche" protagonist?

#5 Post by Sadiesins » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:33 pm

This sounds like a super fun idea. The question is, who are you looking to 'surprise' with this information? Are you looking to reveal the protagonist's true nature to the reader as the ultimate holy crap moment, or are you looking to show how the protagonist's behavior toward his peers as being the ultimate entertainment? If it's the former and you're looking to shock your reader, that's going to require a different approach than if you're looking to have the reader be in on the ruse while the protagonist's true nature is instead shocking his peers as he grows more and more unhinged.

I'm assuming it's the latter. It's difficult to truly explore a character's depth if you're not letting the reader in on it. If that's the case, I would give little nods to the reader from the very beginning. Like big nods that could be explained away to the peers, such as dissecting an animal for school, except it's the neighbor's missing cat and your protagonist doesn't take biology. That sort of thing. Give the reader moments that make them stop, wonder, question just what this protagonist is truly all about, and just how far he might go. You could even have the reader's choices deciding how far the protagonist goes. The reader could be the confidant your protagonist is letting into his life. Maybe he wouldn't have gone so far if not for you, the reader, who pushed him into his true nature. It could even be that twist of, the reveal is who is the reader. I'm thinking of one of those Stephen King stories where the guy turns out to be schizophrenic, and the character he's protecting and talking to the entire time is just a delusion in his mind while he murders people for no actual reason.

You could play with this a lot given the medium of the visual novel. Different endings that fit different deranged views. All in all, it sounds like a fun idea ^.^ Good luck!

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Re: Opinions on making a (seemingly) "cliche" protagonist?

#6 Post by lacticacid » Sun Apr 07, 2019 1:49 pm

Katy133 wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:10 pm
I really like this concept in stories. You may get some inspiration by looking at examples of other writers using a similar idea.

In the series Fargo, there is a scene where the character Lorne Malvo is arrested by the police and changes his appearance to look nonthreatening. Secretly, he's a very deadly hitman. The scene can be seen below. Notice how he changes his mannerisms to appear as an "unimportant," meek person, and then smiles at the police officer through the glass at the end, when the interrogator has his back turned. Malvo is mocking the police. That is how confident he is.


In the book series and television series adaptation, Dexter, the titular character keeps up a goofy persona (he works in forensics and is seen by his coworkers as an average guy), but is actually a serial killer (who hunts down other killers) in secret.

Throughout the series, Dexter has to balance between his "normal, average guy" persona and his secret life. Here is a video compilation of him coming up with excuses to his coworkers and family. (Video contains blood/gore.)


In the series Mob Psycho 100, the main character Mob appears as a unemotional, bland middle school-er, but secretly has telekinetic powers. Throughout the series, Mob eventually unleashes his powers at full force, revealing his hidden emotions. The video below talks about the characterisation very well:
Thank you for the reply!
Oh, I love Mob Psycho 100, it's one of main inspirations actually (mostly for the overall atmosphere and some themes) and one of my favorite stories in general. But I feel like what it did with it's protagonist is entirely different from what I'm trying to do, if that makes sense? The rest is helpful though!
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