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Character Customization
Create your own ass kicker.

Altering the statistics of your character in relation to the game the character is in. It could either be altering the stats of an existing character, or it could be making one from scratch.

This has been around at least as long as Roleplaying Games, and became a Video Game staple well beyond that genre.

The exact statistics depend on the game, but there are some general ones:
  • Name
  • Personal information (age, family, background)
  • Physical information (height, weight, hair and eye color)
  • Equipment and clothes the character is wearing
  • Attributes, often including at minimum:
    • Strength
    • Speed
    • Agility
    • Endurance
    • Constitution
    • Intelligence
  • Skills and abilities
  • The character's job (often means more how they fight rather than a profession)

These are chosen either arbitrarily, from a list of presets, or randomly (usually by rolling dice), but usually a combination of the three. These can also be changed later on if the game allows it (especially when characters level up).

Compare Virtual Paper Doll (which can overlap if that is part of the customization), Class and Level System.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Action Game 
  • Nintendo's Custom Robo series allows you to customize a fighting robot by putting together a central chassis body, a main gun, a secondary bomb weapon, a back-mounted pod launcher, and a leg attatchment.
  • Armored Core allows the same thing: fancy building Rei's Eva? Or Fokker's Valkyrie in Gerwalk mode? How about Rex? Difficult but Awesome, go to it.
  • Ragnarok Odyssey allows the player a great deal of customization: face, hair style and color, clothing, skin tone, voice, and early on in the game, even character class can be switched. The only limitation to the customization is gender.
  • SLAI Steel Lancer Arena International has three levels of character customization. Firstly, you may choose to customize your in-game internet-based avatar from a wide number of various pre-rendered appearances, ranging from simple humanoid polygons on up to photorealistic humans. Secondly, you may purchase an AI chip to help you in your fighting and join in on your conversations in the course of the game. There quite a few of them, all of them being some kind of animal and possessing individual personalities. Finally, you may also customize your SV, first by picking a company to buy the core body from, then putting your Mini-Mecha together from a combination of limbs, weapons, additional gear, paint jobs, decals, and enough Elite Tweak options to make your head spin.

     Fighting Game 
  • Wrestling games often rely on their create-a-wrestler mode.
    • The Acclaim series of WWF games popularized the CAW feature in the US. WWF Warzone had almost fully customizable appearance, and its sequel WWF Attitude had for its day an incredibly elaborate CAW feature including the first fully-customizable moveset outside Japan.
      • The Create-A-Legend mode in the Legends Of Wrestling game series was an interesting experiment, allowing any move whatsoever (even a regular punch or snapmare) to be a finishing maneuver and allowing the loading of an in-game wrestler as a physical template. Another added bonus is the fact that unlike THQ's WWE games, a LOW CAL will look just like an in-game wrestler and fit in perfectly with the rest of the cast.
    • WWF No Mercy sports a lot of customization room, but enough premade stuff that it takes a fraction of the time to make a No Mercy CAW than it does to make one on the Smackdown series.
    • One of the draws of the Fire Pro Wrestling series is the sheer number of CAWs you can have. And since Fire Pro has 2D graphics, a lot of the programming that would have gone into the graphics instead went into being able to fully program the behavior of the created wrestler, making it big for simulators as well.
      • The Trope Maker for this genre is Super Fire Pro Wrestling III: Final Bout on Super Nintendo: despite all you could do appearance-wise being palette swaps, it already sported deep movelist customization, as well as possibility to change the CPU's behavior. However, only Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium on the same console would be the milestone for the later installments.
    • Some wrestling games have actually tanked due to an insufficient create-a-wrestler mode. Yes, we're talking about you, Rumble Roses XX - a dozen different pre-made templates and pre-made movesets doesn't cut it anymore.
    • Sadly, later games (especially in the Smackdown vs. Raw series) are moving away from complete customization, preventing players from playing female characters (such as Cute Bruisers) in the story mode, and blocking any attempt to add custom patterns or objects near the crotch (and chest of female characters). Got to keep it PG, after all.
  • Several Fighting Games.
    • The Soul Series, starting from Soul Calibur III, allows you to have custom characters, via the "pre-existing moveset+new appearance" scheme.
    • Mortal Kombat Armageddon had this feature applied to almost every aspect of the fighter, including moveset and endings. The bad thing is, only one character per profile is allowed, and you may need to kill some time on unlocking additional attire and moves.
    • The sixth installment of Tekken, as well as the Virtua Fighter series starting from part four, allow the player to change the already-existing fighters' costumes. Not to mention that VR has this also incorporated for the arcade-going player character himself. Tag 2 has a deeper customization mode that has just included emblems.
  • Super Smash Bros. started featuring this in Brawl, though in that game it is only exclusive to Adventure Mode, in which you can use Stickers to boost various attributes. For the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U games, a more robust customization system is featured. All the playable characters will have customizable special moves. For the majority of the characters, these are mostly variations of their default special moves. For Mii Fighters and Palutena, however, their customizable moves are completely unique. Speaking of Mii Fighters, they are based on your Miis (who on their own are customizable), they can be Brawlers, Gunners, or Swordsmen (all three having their own sets of special moves) and they are able to have customizable clothing. Neither customizable moves or Mii Fighters are allowed in anonymous online battles. In addition, there are equipable items that, like the Stickers in Brawl's Adventure Mode, affect certain attributes of your character.

     First Person Shooter 
  • Halo: Reach, oddly for an FPS, allows you to customize your character, Noble Six, for every game mode: you can pick gender, armor colors, and dozens of armor pieces that you can purchase with credits, earned in the game for just about anything. All the changes are completely cosmetic, though dialog will change slightly depending on chosen gender.
    • This is especially funny since the first game in the series was infamous for having everyone play as identical Faceless Mooks, in contrast to most FPSs where all the character models are default options for MP, and typical servers are full of custom player models.
  • Brink has a very large customization system in which outfits are unlocked as you level up.

     Hack and Slash 
  • The Empires sub-series of Dynasty Warriors allow you to create your own warrior and edit their costume, body type, voice, and weapon style. The increase in number of custom character slots with every iteration also supports the 'have fun making as many characters as you want/can' mentality: DW4E had only four slots, DW5E had ten, DW6E had 100, and finally DW7E tops them all at a whopping 200.
    • DW4E allowed you to use original weapons, a la Soul Calibur 3, but in DW5E and DW6E your characters can only replicate styles used by the canon DW characters. Also, because its revamped battle system contained several characters with 'cloned' movesets (characters sharing weapon styles save for single 'EX' moves and Musou attacks), DW7E allowed for further, limited customization of your characters' combo strings and special attacks.
    • Another of DW7E's unique features is allowing you to set your creations as 'stand-ins' for the many, many generic officers in the game. You can't make everyone unique, as there are more generics than there are creation slots, but you can come fairly close.
    • DW7E also allowed for one to create characters with one of six "Fame" types that provide bonus stats and abilities: "Brave" (stat-buffing abilities, can be promoted to Marshal more easily), "Wise" (can use terrain-altering abilities and be promoted to Strategist more easily), "Kind" (contracts and alliances last longer, abilities that center around buffing oneself and others), "Orderly" (higher troop strength, can use more Strategems), "Affluent" (can earn more money and build special bases), and "Evil" (stat-buffs that are more powerful than "Brave" at the cost of harming allies, along with allies being more likely to defect unless they're also Evil, sworn siblings, or married to you).
  • Koei's other mainstay, Samurai Warriors, allows players to both copy existing character weapons or use a generic spear, katana, or naginata moveset. The greatest distinction from the canon characters was the use of alternate skill sets, which might not quite completely mesh with a standard moveset. Fortunately, few Game Breaker combinations happened as a result.

     MMORPG 
  • Virtually every MMO ever created has some sort of character customization. Due to the (obvious) multiplayer focus of the genre, this is done for players to make their own characters be unique to them instead of choosing from presets.
  • Final Fantasy XI allows you to use any of the game's jobs (classes) as a sub-job to the main job being used, at half the main's level, provided it's been sufficiently leveled up before. There's also the option of earning Merit Points for boosts in stats or abilities, but those are only after you reach the level cap. However, some main/sub combinations and merit builds tend to be more widely used, although one can define a character by having a less-used build.
  • Perfect World, an Asian MMORPG, has a HUGE character customization system; in addition, you can alter your character's appearance within two days of creation, and the Boutique item Makeover Scroll allows you to customize after that. Not to mention your choices in skin color...
  • City of Heroes by Paragon Studios had, as one of its main selling points, a robust character creator, and the complete separation of costume and powers. This allowed for absolutely freaking ridiculous levels of customisation, and it was no exaggeration to say you would never encounter two identical characters that weren't made so deliberately. To elaborate, There were 3 Body types, 8 sliders to adjust that body type's individual "build", 4 different areas of the costume with each around 6 subzones which you pick a item for, which was then color customized with 2 colors and a pattern for those colors, and even the attacks were customized. There were also colors you could customize and for weapon-users you could change and recolor the stick you swing around or shoot people with. Then comes recoloring everything.
    • The Mission Architect feature allowed you to create custom missions and also allowed you to use the same character creator to make custom enemies as well.
  • Star Trek Online has a massive amount of this. You are fully capable of customizing the race and appearance of your captain, of all your bridge officers, of your ship, your ship's interior (well, the bridge at the moment, with more coming), as well as the names, biographies, and abilities of your captain and all your officers. So long as you want to be a humanoid biped. The developers said this might be amended in expansions.
  • The Multi-User Dungeon New Worlds Ateraan allows complete customization, from all the general ones mentioned to far more personality traits, accents, and more; since the game itself is based on roleplay, with players able to write their own characters (within certain guidelines), this results in a wide variety of characters.
    • For instance, the available clothing and jewelry is nearly all player-made, running the gamut from concise to incredibly detailed. Though there are rules set in place to prevent immersion-breaking items, there's still a gargantuan amount of text describing all sorts of outfits and garments. Similarly, tattoos and piercings are described by players in text, as is the sight, smell, and taste of food.
  • World of Warcraft: May just be face, skin, and hair, but then you realise it has 8 (and counting) races with 2 genders, all of which have 3D models. You can make your character wear just about anything and have the final gear stats. While this isn't unique to the WoW, we are talking about a game where weapons are as varied as lightsabers to your plain old insanely large sword to a tentacle to a fish.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 has an extremely extensive character creator that in addition to allowing customization of basic features like hair style, skin tone, and eye color, allows you to fine tune your character's physical features like the shape of their eyes and face, arm and leg length, and muscle mass. The armor also doesn't obscure your character as in some other games (simply being small attachments on their costume), so your efforts won't end up feeling wasted later.
  • Korean MMO Black Desert has an incredibly diverse character creation system. In addition to the standard selection of eye color, hair, etc., it also allows custom-created hair, pupils, skin color, and extensive body morphing, including adjusting length of limbs, size of body parts, and more. All of this is done via clicking and dragging. See the trailer for it here.
  • The fictional MMORPG Magience has so many options there's an AI to help the player through character creation.

     Platform Game 
  • Cocoron offers 8 weapons, 16 body parts, and 24 head parts for when you make your six characters during the course of the game. This allows for 3072 combinations of characters.
  • Sonic Generations allows you to customize either Sonic with skills, which alter the gameplay in various ways. They are categorized under Classic, Modern, and Timeless.
    • For the sake of the fandom (or Deviant ART), however, many fans agree that it's for the best that an in-depth character customization feature not be implemented in the series any time soon.

     Racing Game 
  • F-Zero AX/GX has a create a Vehicle mode. Incidentally, most of the player-made cars can or will be better than most of the stock vehicles.
  • The Mario Kart games have been using this progressively more throughout the series. Double Dash!! let players choose between different karts for the first time, and mixing and matching racers granted access to different special items. While later games dropped the two-character gimmick, interchangeable karts remained. Starting with 7, the karts themselves can now be customized, with different options for the chassis, wheels, and glider.

     Rhythm Game 
  • In the Rock Band games, you start out by picking your character's name, hometown, attitude (Rock, Metal, Punk and Goth; this determines what moves he uses onstage), skin color, eye color, hairstyle and color, and set his physique with a pair of basic height and weight sliders. They all come with some basic clothes and instruments; new ones have to be bought later, using money earned in Tour mode.
    • However, due to memory limitations and pre-recorded song scenes, the Wii and PS2 versions of Rock Band feature pre-made characters, similar to those in Guitar Hero.
  • In Guitar Hero, you can choose the moves your character uses before the gig, after he played the song, or if he got booed off the stage.
  • The faces and hair in We Cheer, and even more so in the second game.

     Role Playing Game 
  • With video game RPGs, a major difference between most Japanese games and Western games is that Japanese games usually have pre-made characters, with some allowing limited customization with leveling up, while Western games tend to allow customization from the beginning of the game.
    • That applies mainly to offline RPGs. MMORPGs on both hemispheres will embrace this trope. See the MMORPG folder above.
  • In the JRPGs Persona 3 and Persona 4. you choose the Main Character's name, and due to the Dialogue Tree, the character's overall personality. (This doesn't effect how the characters think of you, however. At least not during Social Links.)
  • The Super Robot Wars series is understandably limited when it comes to the weaponry of the various mecha under your command, although the distribution of pilot and/or skill points and parts can be used to make Kouji Kabuto into a nimble dodger, even though he's predisposed to be more of a Tank. The Original Generation games, though, are a little freer in the availability of mechs, and at least half the weapons can be freely distributed among any Real Robots on your team, making it much easier to alter various pilots to fill a needed niche in your forces.
    • Super Robot Wars Alpha allowed you to choose from eight starting characters and then customize their name, birthday, blood type, and other details. The birthdays determine which Spirit spells your main pilots get. All eight of the default characters featured in the Original Generations series.
    • Depending on the origin of the character in question, and the various plots surrounding them, you can even customise what they pilot. Many Super Robot pilots are stuck in their mecha of origin, except for certain mid-game upgrades into something better, but most Real Robot pilots can switch into anything else in your roster, so long as it's from their series, (and thus has controls they know how to use) so you can have Amuro Ray in a Rick Dias, or Emma Sheen in the Zeta Gundam, or even put Boss into the Mazinger Z, and Kouji in the Boss Borot. Not that it's a good choice, but you can do it.
  • A little-known game called Twilight 2000 offered the ability to customize a character's entire background, choosing hobbies, career and education for the character throughout his entire lifetime. Each choice allowed the player to increase specific skills related to that choice, giving a character who has both a history and physical/mental attributes to match that history.
  • Every game in The Elder Scrolls allows changing a character's face entirely, with several dozen controls for all facial features (though more features have been added as the series developed). This means you could spend a long time getting your character's face 'just right'. Unfortunately, your face will be obscured for most of the game, especially if you choose to wear heavy armor helmets (which often obscure it).
  • Dragon's Dogma provides a deep level of character customization for yourself and your personal Pawn.
  • White Knight Chronicles gives you complete customization of one PC. While he doesn't say anything or do anything outside of battle, just seeing him get into position for a boss fight gives you a jolt of pride because you created him
  • Dragon Quest X lets you make a character from one of Five Races, and choose your character's vocation (which can be changed later on).
    • Dragon Quest IX, while only having human characters to create, has a TON of Character Customization. The player can choose skin tone, hair color, hair style, and eye color and style. They can choose the character's vocation (which can be changed later on) along with which weapons to have them use and level up with. What's more, there are over 900 Clothing Items to choose from.
  • This is one of the biggest draws in Dark Souls. You're given a choice of ten classes, eight "gifts" that can be added to your starting equipment, and have access to a powerful appearance editor with more options than you can shake a stick at. The game is also a Stat Grinder, focusing on leveling individual stats to fit your build. And that doesn't even touch on the metric shit ton of gear and spell options available in the game proper.
  • Marvel Avengers Alliance lets you customize your Agent's gender, facial features, skin tone, hair color and style, and name, though in the last case everyone will still call them "Agent".
  • Mass Effect opens with an extended exercise in face-building, followed by picking a class and distributing skill points.
  • Used in every Dungeons & Dragons-based CRPG ever written, with varying degrees of freedom. Neverwinter Nights 2 has the most extensive system. You pick a racial group (e.g. elf, planetouched), usually a subrace (drow, aasimar), put a face together and pick your height and weight, choose an alignment, a class, a patron deity (optional unless you're a divine spellcaster), ability scores, a background trait (optional), and then you can either choose from several class builds or develop your own from a list of skills and feats. Then you pick your name, age, and write a biography.

     Simulation Game 
  • Rover's/Kapp'n's quizzes at the beginnings of the Animal Crossing games determine your character's face. In the later games, having Shampoodle in your town allows you to change your hairstyle, hair color, eye color, and replace the default face with your Mii.

     Sports Game 
  • Many sports video games have a "create-a-character" mode.
  • NHL Hockey: Though players can make their own players, there also exists a way for them to create NHL players that were otherwise passed over by the game.
    • NHL '12 now allows for female players to be made.

     Third Person Shooter 
  • Battlefield Heroes, while it doesn't let you customize your character's gender, gives you total control of them otherwise. Hair color, skin tone, and background are all up for grabs, as are weapon loadout and clothing.

     Trading Card Game 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship , ever since 2009, not only allows you to create your own dueling deck, but also your own character. This includes clothing, duel disk, hairstyle, and face, rendered in 3d. More customization can be unlocked through gameplay.

     Turn Based Strategy 
  • Nearly all of Nippon Ichi's games feature this to some extent, but the really big one is Phantom Brave. Through a very complex fusion system and a level cap of 9999, your characters and their weapons can become customized to a huge extent. You can cut a bloody swath across the dungeon while wielding a starfish.
  • The disc-based version of Crush, Crumble, and Chomp! allows the player to make their own monster.
  • The twelfth Fire Emblem game, a remake of Mystery of the Emblem, lets you create a character a la the tactician from FE-7. You can choose their hair, face, eye/hair color, and their class.
    • This feature returns in Fire Emblem Awakening. However, the role your character plays in the plot is far more significant. He/she also has the privilege of being able to support with every playable character, and marry any of the opposite sex.

     Wide Open Sandbox 
  • The Saints Row series has a very extensive character appearance system that allows you to change virtually all of your physical features, including your body weight and walking style. In the 2nd and 3rd games, you can also change their voice and gender, the former of which has become famous for its literally insane levels of in-depth customization far surpassing that of many MMORPGs.
  • Darklands also pursued a complicated background-based character creation, where choosing your character's upbringing and career allowed ending up with extremely varied results. This sort of character customization naturally takes more time, but results in a character that has a reason for his particular stats. You could also customize the character's appearance as well as his coat of arms. Unfortunately, a bug in the game meant that occasionally, a character's visual appearance data could get corrupted, ending up with neon-colored hair, clothing or both.
  • The Fallout series of computer games, which are generally pretty good about making any type of character a workable choice.
  • The gameplay of Spore is based on this- the parts you use for your creature determine its abilities.
  • Mount & Blade allows you to choose your character's gender, background, stat distribution, and appearance. The first two traits determine your starting gear and some of your baseline skills and stats.

     Other 

     Tabletop Game 
  • Just about every Tabletop RPG does this, since Dungeons & Dragons set the standard.
  • The Hero System is quite literally the most customizable tabletop game in the history of tabletop games, to the point that all of the subsidiary "rule books" aren't rule books at all, but guidelines and advice on how to use the base rules in a new setting. Essentially anything that can be imagined can be given stats using basic games rules and enough time.
    • As mentioned, GURPS is second only to the Hero System in terms of sheer variety (the only thing keeping it from overtaking the Hero System is the fact that GURPS needs brand new rules that tweak the base system for every new setting and genre, while with Hero System, the basic rules don't need tweaking at all to be truly universal).
      • Not far behind either of those two is Mutants & Masterminds, Especially with the more customizable 3e "Afflictions", where their point-buy system and usage of certain cost-reducing tactics allows nearly any character to be very well recreated, even as a PC build. Granted it falls apart with Glass Cannons (Minor Offensive and Defensive Level trade offs being a glaring example), but minor houserules can fix that.
  • Risus is yet another RPG with customization potential, although it's thoroughly streamlined. Basically, you can create your own Fantasy Character Classes in only a few seconds. This is exactly as powerful as it sounds.
  • Numenera by d20 System developer Monte Cook uses a three-stage system. You pick a character class (the system uses the Fighter, Mage, Thief archetype specifically), then descriptors (e.g. "clever, tough, strong-willed, or mystical"), then a build focus.

Character LevelGaming Stat TropesConstitution
Unconventional AlignmentTabletop RPGCharacter Level
Changing Gameplay PrioritiesVideogame TropesCheck Point
Wide Open SandboxEastern RPGFeatureless Protagonist
Soul SeriesImageSource/Video GamesEvil Weapon

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