For me when I play a good game I feel that I’m involved in what’s happening, a crucial part is the development of your main player character or in games like this, of the characters in the game. The more involved your character are the more important it is for you to succeed and it gives a very special feeling to the game.
Imagine when something happens to one of your Pc’s that other of your characters asks about them in the base, or when they are hurt and in the infirmary they get visits from their friends and you can hear part of the dialogue between them. It doesnt really need to be a lot, but having a friend sitting besides a npc while recovering ( or dying ) from a serious wound is nice. It adds something special to a game and you get more involved inn achieving the advancement you need and when sacrifices are done you do it for the greater good…
This also translates to combat, having dialogue that helps define each character as things progresses and getting to know your team is important, also there could be different strategies and uses of dialogue like “military almost no words dialogue with mostly physical symbols to act right” and the use of internal chatter from commander to soldiers on how to approach a situation. When our characters do this on their own with their own kind of personality ( which we could configure on the run while they develop ) it would definitely make the game more unique and important for many of us players (or at least me )
To do anything like that would be a monstrous undertaking, and even Firaxis XCOM who like to throw fluff like that (our strategy layer is a bit barren - lets have Chosen and faction leaders talk at you all the freaking time!).
I am not capable to imagine this being pulled out well. Either the pool of voices and lines would be fairly limited, breaking the illusion of character development anyway, with repetitive lines being more of an annoyance then an enhancement, or it would take a pretty major amount of writing to develop multiple possible personalities with various possible interactions, and multiple VO recordings. And considering this would need to be reactive writing the whole thing would probably end up bland anyway.
Something like that might work well, if there was a limited pool of units with predefined looks, personalities, backstories etc. Trying to give this kind of definition to a blank unit sounds like a waste of time and resources, bound to end in failure.
No amount of writing or VO will make me care for those characters, if gameplay isn’t compelling. If gameplay is compelling, then VO isn’t really relevant.
I’m with @Wormerine on this one: such an idea could be done, but it’s way way way too much work. It was done on such games as Fire Emblem, but there all units had already developed characterization and backgrounds.
Well, I do understand that we have come as far/long into development that adding such an issue is “impossible”, however talking about what we love about character development and customization making each character unique is something important for me personally and I’d guess some other people like that as well.
The old Baldurs Game games had an underlying system where your choices in dialogue could impact your personality, Playing as an Lawfull good character and doing Evil stuff would change your character and could make him neutral or even evil, so you could loose your Paladin status…
Sure, we are not talking about implementating such a system into this game, to be honest I don’t know how the characters are used between mission, if at all.
You are comparing a story driven RPG to a mechanically strategy game. Baldur’s Gate is a story driven adventure, with pre-written, pre-defined and for the most past linear companions (yes, even your PC is a pre-defined character with some leeway to make space for your imagination and choice of class/race). The focus of the game is on your party, and therefore a lot of attention has been given to them, and your character. While it is game, in which you can loose your companions permanently, it is not expected that you will do so - they are not a resource to be utilized.
Those are two different genres of games. It is not that it is too late into the development - what you suggest is creating a completely different game. Putting that much focus on individual soldiers would clash with the amount of soldiers you are expected to manage (keep in mind that what we saw in BB is just to test mechanics - even early mission are supposed to use many more soldiers then Firaxis XCOM, and that amount is to increase as the game goes on) and the fact that they are just one piece of this strategy game.
I understand that you are not asking for cRPG companions in PP, but I believe that to achieve the effect you ask for, is something none RPG managed to do. Add writing and mechanics and thing can go very wrong, very quickly. See Deadfire, and it’s relationship system, and all the clashes the authored content has with the mechanical engine that runs it - and the system in question is far simpler then what you proposed, and it’s done by a studio which worked on those kind of companions for many many years. If you are looking for a story driven adventure, then simulation driven strategy game probably isn’t the best place to look for it.
What you propose is cool, but it sounds like a game by itself.
And a more constructive note:
There are cool ways of acknowledging game events and relationships without resorting to implimenting dedicated writing. While I based XCOM2:WotC for too much reliance on meaningless fluff, it has introduced some cool features as well - I think “bonds” are neat, as well as positive and negative “traits”. It helps to memorialize events which took place in the game. I am firm believer in cross-interaction between various systems - it brings certain unity to game design. If “character building” mechanics can become part of strategy and tactical layers, that would be ideal. I think in this type of game, it is better to introduce something abstract enough, so players can interpret it in their own way, and build stories around it, rather than adding story content yourself.