In response to "Who Needs Friends?" from The Escapist forums:
That was an interesting read with some good points, although I do disagree with the claim that people will stop reading or switch off if your character is a loner who initially has no friends. That's just not true. The Man with No Name in A Fistfull of Dollars, John Rambo in First Blood (the book, not the film), two examples of interesting, loner characters off the top of my head. The mysterious drifter is a classic character archetype for a reason.
Introducing old friends is a problem in games where you determine the personality of the player character.
Unless you make the friend so generic that they could be friends with just about anyone, conflicts will be inevitable. This solution only really moves the problem around, as now you have a generic boring PC who is friends with a generic boring NPC.
I cannot really see a way to give a RPG main character pre-existing friends with personality that feel real and interesting. Perhaps if you tracked the PC's personality in the early game, and then introduced a "friend" from their past who made sense given the choices you had made?
If you say to the player: "This guy is your friend", and you cannot stand the guy, and feel it would be in character for your PC to hate him, this will undermine whatever personality you try to give your character, rather than reinforce it. Of course, the situation you describe, a character who by all rights should have friends who does not is equally jarring.
Imagine if you were trying to play through Fallout NV as a Ghoul-hating Bigot, and the game insisted introduced a Ghoul character from your past as a friend.
RPG's must allow the player to create the PC's personality from scratch. Giving the PC pre-existing friends will define some level of canonical personality. This is why the "Mysterious Drifter" archetype is popular. It provides reasonable justificatiuon for the PC not having any connections with the game world, and allows the player to define their character however they please.
Where the PC has canonical personality, friends should be used to define and explore their personality.
- Mr Jack
In response to "Myth-takes and Other Oddities" from The Escapist forums:
Funny sidenote, you know how the did the recall? They all took a trip to the factory and replaced the CDs by hand.