Video games are an amazing medium that can take players on all sorts of adventures. However, in order to make these experiences truly memorable, video game developers need to use secondary characters effectively. These NPC characters can provide backstory, motivation, and character development for the main character that would not be possible otherwise. By using these side characters effectively, game creators can create a richer and more satisfying experience for players.
What are secondary characters in video games and Why they matter
Side characters in video games are often used to provide a connection between the protagonist and the player. It’s a lot easier for players to connect with a character they’ve seen in-game for several hours than it is for them to connect with an unseen or unheard protagonist that they control. They are an often underrated aspect of how to write a game script.
Player agency is an important aspect of video games, but sometimes, players need a little help getting into the story. For example, having a friend who is much more knowledgeable about a game or genre can make playing through it easier because this friend can point out what areas to explore and how to accomplish specific tasks. These side characters can also help make a video game feel personal for a player because they provide an outside perspective on the game world.
Secondary characters are also valuable because they can be used to enrich the protagonist’s story. Like in any medium, main characters don’t know everything about their worlds, and secondary characters can provide information that they wouldn’t have otherwise. For instance, a guard could tell a main character where to go if he finds a certain item, a merchant could tell a main character about a secret entrance if he performs a favor for her, or an NPC can give the main characters some backstory on their world. These interactions give players more information about their games’ lore and worlds as well as create more dynamic story experiences.
How to make a minor character compelling?
When designing a secondary character, it’s important to make him or her have some level of depth. If the only thing you ever do with an NPC is have them stand in one place and hand out information, then they’re not really adding anything to your game. Instead, developers should create side characters that are more than just sources of knowledge–they should be characters that people can relate to and care about.
One way to do this is by giving a secondary character a name, a voice, and a backstory. By giving your minor character a voice, you create the possibility of adding dialogue options during conversations. This gives players more agency over their interactions with NPC characters, which makes them feel like the game world is more personal to them.
If you want players to care about your game’s secondary characters, then you might want to add great voice actors to the cast. Having a voice actor deliver a line during a conversation can add another important layer of depth and emotion to that character because it makes him or her feel much more real in the mind of the player.
Furthermore, this also gives secondary characters more personality than they would have otherwise by simply having them stand in one spot and say things like “Hi!” or “Thanks!”
Other ways to make NPCs seem more real is through their body language and dialogue responses. By giving your NPC’s animations that accurately reflect what they’re feeling at the moment, you can make interactions with them feel more natural. Also, by having dialogue options that pertain to your NPCs’ moods or personalities, you create the impression that they have their own thoughts and opinions on things.
Lastly, it’s important for players to remember side characters after they finish playing through a video game. If there are no secondary characters in a game, then there’s no one for players to care about during the story. But if there are too many additional characters in your game, then you risk confusing the player and making them feel overwhelmed. The trick here is to have just enough secondary characters that they matter without being too many or two few.
You don’t have to perfectly explain every character’s backstory
Mystery is part of the allure of a video game. In the same way that players love an engaging story with plot twists, they also often enjoy trying to figure out what side characters’ motivations are. An example from Mass Effect 2 is Jack, one of your secondary squad members who lost her family as a child because she was indoctrinated by a rogue Spectre. There’s a lot of interesting things going on in her life, but the game only reveals a few key details because it encourages players to discover everything on their own.
Some mistakes to avoid
One mistake that developers make is having secondary characters constantly appear during exploration segments of video games. While it’s fine for them to show up once in a while, there should be limits on how much they interfere with the player’s gameplay experience. If players are constantly stopped because they have to listen to an NPC talk about something that doesn’t really add much to the story, then it’s going to be frustrating for them.
Another common mistake is when side characters in a video game don’t have any agency over their own lives. In a role-playing game, a character who is simply a quest giver with no backstory or feelings of his or her own isn’t going to be interesting or memorable.
If a secondary character’s only role is to give a side quest, then you can bet that most players will forget about him or her as soon as the questline ends. But if a character has depth and personality, then it makes sense for him or her to contribute something more meaningful to the story.
What have we learned from this?
By using side characters effectively, video game developers can create a richer and more satisfying experience for players.
Great voice acting, body language cues, and dialogue options can make NPCs seem like real people instead of moving pieces on the screen. Players should be encouraged to discover what motivates secondary characters themselves through exploration and dialogue choices
And finally, secondary characters don’t always need to contribute something meaningful to the story. They can also add mystery and tension for players who enjoy trying to figure out their motivations and backstory.