Character Creation is the Whole Game (Analysis)


This neat little microgame by Rob Beschizza is a pretty fascinating idea. You’re assigning points to six ability scores D&D style, but each time you add a point, your avatar goes on an unseen adventure and returns with gold, XP, loot, and, potentially, a promotion of some sort. The goal of the game is, apparently, to achieve as much as possible in your short life (much like life itself, I suppose!).

I appreciate it as a bit of a study in minimalism. Character creation is probably half the fun of any RPG, as the complex character options in various tabletop RPG’s and, well, anything there’s a Monster Factory episode on demonstrate nicely, and turning it into a game in and of itself is a nice bit of elegance.

Lessons Learned

  • Fit as much as possible into a single action. No sense in complicatin’ things up.
  • Building a character is inherently rewarding. Envisioning your fictional avatar is a fun toy in and of itself.
  • Discovering hidden options adds replayability. With a game loop this short, the ability to add to different stats and experience subtly different stories adds some replayability. If the game wanted to enhance this aspect of itself, it might make unique endcards for the higher-ranking achievements (I got up to Warlord while I was playing, which is a neat title, but it’s the same job screen you see above).
  • Clarity helps the experience. First few times I played, I didn’t realize you could go into negative points or reduce your scores, and the various careers or paths you follow aren’t really differentiated, leading to feel pretty samey in practice.