Chatty or Silent Protagonist?

#1
Okay, I have a "Hypothetical" question for you all? clearly we are all game here. We all have our favorites, we all have our own tastes and what not. We all allow our imaginations be a bit more open then others.

So lets ask a question from the point of view of a game designer. The question i am very interested in right now? The protagonist (The Player's Character) of the story being created.

Many games tend to fall into one of two major schools of thought on the protagonist. One is the Silent Hero, seen in many games but for example lets take Gordon Freeman from the half life series. The other being the Chatty Hero, always talking about one thing or the other. Fully voiced and even allowing the player to have a large list of options to define their hero from their point of view if not a bit guided into doing what the designer wants them to do.

We all have our preferred style. Some like the Silent Hero because it allows their own voice to be the voice of the person they are guiding along the story. Others like to hear what opinions their character has based on what they choose to do in the games narrative. As for Myself, I have written two versions of my own interactive story rough draft.

One the Protagonist is very chatty and allows the player to get a deep insight of the events the lead them into the position they are now in. As the story progresses, you find that the Character is not a monster but by their own admission does not claim to be an innocent in all of it.

The other is the silent, stoic, blank slate. You hear about his past second hand, but is pretty much a blank slate for the player to project their own truth upon. The story follows the same progression as the voiced version, the same story is being told and the same endings are present either way.

So if you where designing a game and at the point where the story is being roughed out and starting to form. Which sort of character would you write?

The Chatty or Silent Hero?
From Intake Log for D-7165-68, Male, Caucasian, Age 28:
Dr. ██████ : "Do you know why you are here? Do you know how you came to be here?"
D-7165-68 : "Not really Doc. One moment I was watching the lethal injection pumps drop, the next I was still alive and here."

Re: Chatty or Silent Protagonist?

#2
I don't know, but I like the type of characters where they don't speak at all, but they have a voice. Take Miles Upshur from Outlast. He doesn't speak at all, but he screams. You can hear his emotions and the fear he feels. The developers also give him a personality through his writing and notes, but he never speaks. I enjoy these characters the most, because you can still kinda play around with their personality and start to think like them while still being yourself.
Heheh, you said a bad word.

All of you guys really are special. Did you guys know that? Yes you guys are! Each in your own special way.

Re: Chatty or Silent Protagonist?

#3
After seeing SOMA, I honestly prefer chatty protagonists because it can get you the most connected with them.

The only series that I think suits itself completely fine with having a silent protagonist is Portal, besides that, I think we should move on from the silent protagonist trope.
There's a lot more you can do with a protagonist that can actually talk.
MrJPenguin1 wrote:I don't know, but I like the type of characters where they don't speak at all, but they have a voice. Take Miles Upshur from Outlast. He doesn't speak at all, but he screams. You can hear his emotions and the fear he feels. The developers also give him a personality through his writing and notes, but he never speaks. I enjoy these characters the most, because you can still kinda play around with their personality and start to think like them while still being yourself.
Notebooks are pretty overused, and sometimes it makes zero sense. Did the protagonist just pull this notebook out of his ass or something?
I felt it was fine in Outlast because Miles was a journalist so it made sense for him to have a journal, but if in a game there's no good explanation as to why
the protagonist has a notebook and is writing down in it cause why not, that's just lazy honestly.
Last edited by Cridone on Sun Oct 11, 2015 12:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Chatty or Silent Protagonist?

#4
The silent protagonist makes sense in games like Persona 3 and 4, but other than that I don't really like the silent protagonist trope and half-life 2 seems to be a good example of it not making sense. Gordon Freeman is hailed as a hero but he has no personality what-so-ever, hindering his likability as a character. But, you now, that's just me.

edit: And to add another example, it seems to make even less sense in Persona 2. In Innocent Sin the protagonist had a pretty clear personality, a cool, silent guy. Yeah, when described like that it would make sense for him to be silent, but then we get to Eternal Punishment, where the silent protagonist is Maya, a chatty, energetic character from the previous game, making the transition to silent protagonist make no sense, especially considering that unlike 3 and 4, there really isn't a reason for a silent protagonist in the game, except for the fact that it's Shin Megami Tensei tradition.

Re: Chatty or Silent Protagonist?

#6
Frankly, a chatty protagonist would ruin some, if not most of the immersion in a horror game. SOMA, in opinion, is a horrid example. The game barely classifies as a horror game, with little to no scares, horrible AI, and is mostly just a walking simulator. Take Five Nights at Freddy, for a quick example, or Spooky's House of Jumpscares. The protagonist doesn't speak, and the game(s) are really spooky overall.

Haha, see what I did there?
spooky [email protected]
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I am one of the masterminds behind Spooky's House of Jumpscares!
Check out Spooky's House of Jumpscares! ~ Check out the FNaF Wiki!

Re: Chatty or Silent Protagonist?

#7
Psychobilly2422 wrote:Frankly, a chatty protagonist would ruin some, if not most of the immersion in a horror game. SOMA, in opinion, is a horrid example. The game barely classifies as a horror game, with little to no scares, horrible AI, and is mostly just a walking simulator.
Ok, but... what does that have anything to do with the protagonist?
Take Five Nights at Freddy, for a quick example
Or let's not, cuz it's a bad game and you should feel bad about having a positive opinion about it. Please be sure to like the correct things from now on.

But seriously though, you get on SOMA for those reasons but bring up a game that also has little scares and is mostly a sitting and watching cameras simulator. Just pointing that out. Not saying you're necessarily on the wrong side of the argument... just saying you're doing terribly at arguing it. I will agree that the horror genre uses silent protagonists a lot, however that doesn't mean the non-silent protagonist wouldn't also work, my example being Silent Hill 2, which is considered one of the best horror games by many, and the protagonist SAYS WORDS (granted, having not played it, I don't know to what extent, but it still shows that your protagonist doesn't need to be dead silent for your horror game to be good).

Re: Chatty or Silent Protagonist?

#8
Awesomeguy147 wrote:Or let's not, cuz it's a bad game and you should feel bad about having a positive opinion about it. Please be sure to like the correct things from now on.
I suggest you shut up, there's a thing called OPINIONS:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion
spooky [email protected]
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I am one of the masterminds behind Spooky's House of Jumpscares!
Check out Spooky's House of Jumpscares! ~ Check out the FNaF Wiki!

Re: Chatty or Silent Protagonist?

#9
Psychobilly2422 wrote:
Awesomeguy147 wrote:Or let's not, cuz it's a bad game and you should feel bad about having a positive opinion about it. Please be sure to like the correct things from now on.
I suggest you shut up, there's a thing called OPINIONS:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion
I'm quite certain he was joking, no need to get too worked up about it.

As for my opinion, I have to agree with Cridone, I was never really too into the idea of a protagonist who'll frequently comment on the environment or surroundings, but SOMA really did it extremely well in my opinion. Mainly because Simon was tied into the story so well and wasn't just a nameless, faceless dropped into an environment that the player could superimpose themselves onto. Other games would definitely not benefit from a protagonist like him, but it really solidified the whole game for me.

On a side note, I don't see where the distinction of this being explicitly horror-game related was made, the OP didn't specify any genre of game in regards to their question.

also, it kills me inside whenever someone compares SOMA to a walking simulator. you may give that distinction with more justification to AMFP
It slep time bunner.

Re: Chatty or Silent Protagonist?

#10
Psychobilly2422 wrote:SOMA, in opinion, is a horrid example. The game barely classifies as a horror game, with little to no scares, horrible AI, and is mostly just a walking simulator. Take Five Nights at Freddy, for a quick example, or Spooky's House of Jumpscares. The protagonist doesn't speak, and the game(s) are really spooky overall.
I'm sorry, but I-I can't. I...just...have to say something about this. SOMA and Five Nights at Freddy's are two distinctly different games. They cant hardly even be compared.

SOMA is a game where you are supposed to connect with the protagonist and sympathize with his plights because you are going through the same ordeals. You are supposed to immerse yourself in the deeply written narrative and world of SOMA, rather than expect the game to jump out at you and scare you with some cheap bullshit. SOMA is also supposed to make you give a damn, to make you care about your goal in the narrative, which further drives home the immersion and the tension.

Edit: Also I have to add that the AI in SOMA is not "terrible". The AI is varied; every enemy in the game acts differently. One particular enemy, for example, is completely blind and relies on sound to find you.

Five Nights at Freddy's is, quite frankly, a jump-scare simulator, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The game is built around the tension-building and the simple game mechanics. In this sense, a chatty protagonist would be completely pointless, and it would kill any room for interpretation in relation to the plot. There isn't much immersion or atmosphere to be had in the game (primarily because any sane human being would get the fuck out of there, rather than sit in that chair and come back to his job in the upcoming nights), with the notable exception of the fourth game (which I think is the best one).

Also, I just wanted to point this out, but it seems really unfair that you would use your game, Spooky's House of Jumpscares, to prove your point. You worked on the game, so of course you would feel strongly about it. Furthermore, isn't the game meant to be a parody of cheap jumpscare simulators?

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, shall we continue the discussion on Chatty of Silent Protagonists?

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Omniary: fuck you anglerfish can't smell
Dr. Trialtrex21: how you know bitch
Omniary: it probably could smell you though
could probably smell your fucking dank ass nasty powersuit structure gel trog ass enslaved protein bullshit sloshing in your suit from a mile away