A game where Character Creation is the Whole Game

Fans of old computer RPGs will doubtless agree that best part of many was the character creation screen, where you get to fool around with portraits, characteristics and classes and all the other little details.

I wondered "what if a whole game took place in a classic 8/16-bit style character creation screen?" So I made a prototype browser game called Character Creation is the Whole Game.

When you spend one of your allocated points, your character ages and automatically experiences the adventures that in life might have resulted in greater strength, wisdom or skill. Random events take place -- dungeon plunges and hauls. Stat choices would lead down different paths of life: with clever balancing to epic jobs and rewards, and mediocrity to those who dumbly max or spreading . And eventually you die or retire or become King.

Y'all helped me fix the worst bugs—thanks go especially to Charles Julian Knight—but it still needs plenty of work. It's playable and kinda fun, though, and the Github repository is here for anyone who fancies improving it.

It's coded as plain HTML and javascript, using the browser DOM as the engine.

The big problems with it are as follows:

1. The pixel art images for the little character sprite sometimes don't work well. It's all javascript asynch-related stuff (images not loading until after the code tries to show them) that's just kind of beyond my ken. Right now it just waits fixed periods in hope that the assets will load in time. Works about 90% of the time... (**UPDATE**: Thank you to [Charles Julian Knight for tackling this](https://twitter.com/charlesjuliank/status/834290669741043712)!)

2. The paths from rags to riches are just a tangled, unbalanced mess! It's sort of fun, but there's not much feeling of a unique inexorable fated journey through life.

3. There are just little bugs here and there that I'm not a good enough coder to kill. Why does it sometimes let you go into negative points to spend? That sort of thing.

4. I can't decide if the pop-up "want this job?" things should even exist. I kind of suspect that they should be determined by your choices and just play out in the normal text box. So the only thing you ever do is click to raise and lower stats.

5. It Needs lots of little pixel art pics for the various stories and options that pop up.

That said, I think I've made a fairly neat and tidy game/story system under the hood to explore and hope that it'll be explicable and interesting enough to game dev reader(s) of Boing Boing to want to pick up.

Notable Replies

  1. Of course back in the pen and paper days (You kids get off my lawn!) the saying among Traveller players was "You haven't lived until you've died during character creation."

  2. Gamma World has completely random character generation and when your character comes out completely hopeless there's a rule that lets you take your character behind the barn and shoot it.

  3. I'd be inclined to double-down on that. The world becomes increasingly bizarre and surreal as your character's negative dexterity becomes the locus of a reality warp, or something, acquiring character traits such as Spicy and Analogous.

  4. Well, no idea if I did well or not. I certainly took advantage of negative points, and how for some reason when you go down on points you seem to get two back. But here I am:


    and how for some reason when you go down on points you seem to get two back

    D'oh, it took me writing this to realize I hadn't actually exploited that strategy. Ok, my highest so far is 410 gold, 3118 experience.

    I realize there's probably some kind of calculus to work out the optimal number of times to decrease your stats -- decrease too much, and you retire with points still left in the bank.

    Ok, ok, last one:

    I achieved Lord High Chancellor or something along those lines, but then I increased my Charisma last, and for some reason this made me a bandit, so that was the title I ended up retiring with.

  5. My inability to end the game having developed no skills and fulfilled none of my potential really breaks suspension of disbelief.

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