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Do you think a talking protagonist with an established personality would work in a Pokémon game?

MassiveShock11

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This one of the weirdest ideas I thought of for a Pokémon game.

As you probably guessed, I'm not really a fan of silent protagonists in games, and Pokémon is one of those games. Though I understand that we're supposed to self-insert ourselves to the protagonists in a way that they're just our avatars with our thoughts and mindset, I felt like the games should try giving the protagonists dialogue and personality of their own in future games.

My opinion on this concept? A bit mixed.

PROS:
  • The protagonists would be more memorable and sometimes relatable with their newfound personality of their own. Bonus points if the Pokémon game they end up in is story-rich a la B(2)/W(2).
  • It would be a decent choice for a change of pace formula-wise.
  • Increased immersion for people who like fleshed-out characters.
  • The protagonists won't look soulless IMO, especially if they also fix the weird Sun & Moon thing involving the protagonist's face constantly smiling for some reason.
CONS:
  • It destroys the "the protagonists are us" concept I mentioned earlier, decreasing immersion on people who like self-inserting themselves into games.
  • I think it would affect gameplay experience of one of the target audiences of Pokemon: kids. Correct me if I'm wrong, but kids usually like thinking that the Pokemon protagonists are them--which is the main concept behind the protags being silent.
  • It just feels... uh, I cannot pinpoint the exact word. Let's just say that it would take a while for a part of the community to get used to this change.
  • Though our concept protagonists would have dialogue and personality of their own and we obviously still have control over certain aspects of the game such as Pokemon roster, customization to our characters, dialogue choices, and the like, there is a slight possibility that it might mess with our high control over gameplay. Not sure, really.
So, what do you think of my concept of Pokemon protagonists with established dialogue and personality? Also, if you like the concept, what do you think would be a good personality concept for protags?
 

PkmnTrainerV

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It would make it possible for players to end up hating the protagonists, which isn’t really something a developer wants to happen...

The current system works well imo. Just fix the soulless expressions from (U)SM.
 

CynthiaLover

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I agree with the above. Besides, a character having a set personality can backfire badly. Look at Ratchet from Ratchet & Clank. In the first game (2002 game), he was a very selfish, angry, and stubborn character who would've ditched Clank if he didn't still need him, which earned him a lot of dislike from critics and such, so they changed him (along with his voice actor) in Going Commando to a more heroic, loyal, but still headstrong and adventurous character. So, if they tried to give the PC in Pokemon a set personality, it could very easily backfire if they pushed him/her in the wrong direction. So, it's probably better that they don't do that for a Pokemon PC, as, remember, the games are for kids, so it gives said kids the chance to feel like a hero or something along those lines by giving them an avatar that they can determine how he/she thinks/acts. While I'm not against a character with a set personality, as it can make them more memorable, given how long this franchise has gone without doing that, and they still rake in the high praise (and money, of course), I think it's probably better for them to not tamper with it. As they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
 

BlueWaves

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How about choosing a nature for a speaking Avatar? That way, they could put a speaking Avatar with some personality customization. The natures would be the same as Pokémon of course.
 

CynthiaLover

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That adds another wrinkle in the works. Even for master game programmers, that would take days, if not longer, to customize each and every line of dialog specifically for each nature. There are 25 different natures in Pokemon, that means there are 25 different ways a PC could speak in a game. And each and every line would have to be custom-made for those natures for each and every situation that the PC speaks in. That takes a hell of a lot of programming. Even just giving a PC a single nature and any written lines outside of "Yes/No" scenarios takes a lot of skill to program and design. And, considering that Pokemon is technically an RPG, which has very difficult programming to begin with, and requires every detail to be pin-point perfect, that can really add up a lot of unnecessary time in developing a game. And remember, game companies have one goal in mind: money. While some will put in the extra time and care into a game to better sell it, like the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, which actually got delayed so it could get the extra love and care the fans wanted, it still eats up a huge amount of time and energy. And game companies want their product out as fast as possible so they can rake in the dough. So, you have to see it from this perspective: game companies want their money and fast, so any unnecessary "details" that would just slow that down are cut right away. While I would be all for it, it not only would require excessive amounts of extra programming, coding, and countless hours/days/weeks to customize just right, but also it would slow down the game's release, which would slow down the money intake rate for the company.
 

MassiveShock11

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It would make it possible for players to end up hating the protagonists, which isn’t really something a developer wants to happen...
I agree with the above. Besides, a character having a set personality can backfire badly.
I can see your points. Giving personality to a character has the potential to ruin them, and trying to do that in protagonists of games where they are supposed to be silent adds to the high stakes of this idea.
So, it's probably better that they don't do that for a Pokemon PC, as, remember, the games are for kids, so it gives said kids the chance to feel like a hero or something along those lines by giving them an avatar that they can determine how he/she thinks/acts.
Oh, yeah. Kids are always a factor involved when considering ideas for Pokemon games. Though part of the demographic buying the games are teens and adults, kids are still a force that makes the games run.

What the older audiences--or part of them--would like may or may not damage kids' experience, and vice versa. Messing with the game's difficulty, increasing the story focus, and this "talking protagonist" concept are examples, I think.

Oh, I almost forgot. If 100% talking protagonists may not work, maybe they should approach the idea PMD-style? In Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, PCs are still silent, but we can see their thoughts. It's sort of a middle ground--giving some established personality to the protagonist while keeping the "make the players feel like a hero" concept working.
 

Rocket Zigzagoon

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Unless they want to make a sidestory/spinoff, then a protagonist with set personality would work in such scenarios. Otherwise, no.

Silent protagonists (mostly voiceless) works in a free-roam-based environment, which core Pokémon games have such elements. Because free-roam-based games have larger liberty on character freedom, having spoken speech would restrict some freedom of a player character's decisions.

If you want a set personalities for the silent characters, there would be some kind of backstories that would render them silent.

However, I would want a villain who's a silent antagonist which barely talks or doesn't talk at all. That would make a more-interesting dynamic.
 

MassiveShock11

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Silent protagonists (mostly voiceless) works in a free-roam-based environment, which core Pokémon games have such elements. Because free-roam-based games have larger liberty on character freedom, having spoken speech would restrict some freedom of a player character's decisions
Are you saying that main Pokemon games would risk being too linear if protagonists talked?
 

Arcanine10

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I think the only way this would work without massively pissing off certain people in the fandom, is if you got presented with multiple choices when needing to give an answer. A certain answer increases a certain 'social skill', developing a certain personality as you go.

This way, you still have some sort of 'self-insert', cause in a way, you decide the protagonists answers, while you also still have some sort of 'personality' worked into there.
 

Kyriaki

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We could have a personality test at the beginning like the Mystery Dungeon games.
 

Kyriaki

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But those tests help determine what Pokemon you'd be. How would it be applied in Core RPGs?
Maybe give different reply options per personality? The talking lines of the protagonist could be slightly extended from what we had up to this point, but not go full dialogue. There could be several variants of how you introduce yourself, for example, and the lines don't necessarily have to go beyond that.
 

Esserise

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If I thought they had a quality of stories in mind that actually merited a speaking protagonist, then I'd be all for it.

But as it stands within the current formula, I really don't like anything that disrupts my immersion/freedom of imagination. While we're at it, can I say that I wish they'd let you pick your protagonist's age? I feel like the fact that you're forced to play as a prepubescent child is kind of limiting to the whole self-insert aspect. I mean, usually the games at least have the consideration to not mention it in very explicit terms, but it was kind of awkward for me when playing SM and Wicke asked specifically if I was 11 years old and my choices were, "Yes, that's correct" and "How did you know?".
 

Cainhxrst

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If I thought they had a quality of stories in mind that actually merited a speaking protagonist, then I'd be all for it.

But as it stands within the current formula, I really don't like anything that disrupts my immersion/freedom of imagination. While we're at it, can I say that I wish they'd let you pick your protagonist's age? I feel like the fact that you're forced to play as a prepubescent child is kind of limiting to the whole self-insert aspect. I mean, usually the games at least have the consideration to not mention it in very explicit terms, but it was kind of awkward for me when playing SM and Wicke asked specifically if I was 11 years old and my choices were, "Yes, that's correct" and "How did you know?".

My thoughts exactly. I wouldn't mind a speaking progtag (even though I don't think it's likely, as they've been moving more towards the protag just being a blank slate for customization) if the story was written in a way where the character more actively took charge and wasn't just passively reacting to everything around him/her. SM is a pretty good example of this imo. There's a bigger story focus, and I think the writing is better than previous games in general, but the protag is kinda just. . . there. It seems more like lillie's story and the protag is just there for the ride.
 

Rocket Zigzagoon

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Are you saying that main Pokemon games would risk being too linear if protagonists talked?
If handle incorrectly, the storylines might risk too linear if they put in a talking protagonist. If handled correctly then the story might be even more interesting, like in Grand Theft Auto (which's also a free-roam-based game).

Nonetheless, there would be also good backstories if you would want a protagonist with set personalities.
 

techitisJ

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I think having having the player character be silent is better for the series. It does allow for that great "the protagonist is me" feeling that you get. I do think the recent SM did help fill a little bit of the lack of personality in the player characters. There were a lot of fun, sassy responses you could give to NPCs in that game. I will never forget seeing Kukui up on Mt. Lanakila and being like "Yo you're in an open lab coat and shorts aren't you cold?"

Though don't have the characters always smiling all the time, even in the smaller cutscenes. It's kinda weird...

I also do personally find it more memorable this way, just in my own experience, because instead of making the player character me I try to make them their own character. I always name them something I have never named a trainer before, and I let them tell their own story (that's why I like to use a lot of team variation too). Yes, some personality traits tend to stick between quite a few of my trainers, but they all have parts that stick out with them. Little pieces iI can remember that make me so happy to think about. So personally, I'd rather them stick to the more silent protagonist.
 
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Tbh the way I would see Pokemon tackling voice acting in general would be to (to put it in a way) go with what Team Persona at Atlus did with Persona 5's protagonist.
In that case, I mean keep our main protagonist mute, or quiet, but the other characters around him/her voiced in certain cut scenes. Persona 5 (well more so Persona's series in general) does this the best, and it would make more sense that way as that way it won't take away the aspect of you being the character in the story, while adding more life and depth to the other characters, as well as make those cut scenes a bit more bearable.
Anyways that is my 2 cents on this matter. Cheers!
 

colours

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I think the biggest issue with any kind of "talking protagonist", so to speak, is really two words: effective dialogue.

... I suppose that's worded strangely, but the gist of it is that Game Freak would have to write the protagonists' dialogue in basically a near-flawless manner, which I feel to be extremely difficult if not outright impossible mostly because there will always be a personality type that doesn't vibe well with a group of people, not to mention cultural differences and the like, so it'd be difficult trying to figure out what would work with Japan that would be ok here in the West, etc.

It'd be messy, to state the obvious.
 

Bolt the Cat

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Yeah, they're definitely trying to make the protagonist feel like an avatar for the player, so I don't think they'd go for that. The only thing I can think of that would fit that is if we could voice our own characters via microphone and the NPCs could react to what we're saying, but that's not likely to be realistic for a long while, we'd need major improvements in AI to really pull that off.
 

PkmnTrainerV

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Yeah, they're definitely trying to make the protagonist feel like an avatar for the player, so I don't think they'd go for that. The only thing I can think of that would fit that is if we could voice our own characters via microphone and the NPCs could react to what we're saying, but that's not likely to be realistic for a long while, we'd need major improvements in AI to really pull that off.

Not to mention people with speech impediments or accents not supported by the games would have a really hard time enjoying them.
 
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