I'm in the process of drafting a story for a single player game where the player controls their own made character.
I'm planning for the game to have an emotional narrative but I cannot wrap my head around how to execute it story-wise when dealing with a player-made character.
As an example, in games where the player controls a pre-made character such as in The Witcher series, Geralt already has a predefined personality which means the writers know beforehand how he might react to certain things happening. It's not so simple when the character is a blank slate.
I could try to gamify it by allowing the player to select their personality or build their "personality" around the choices they make while playing the game. This, however, has some problems. Primarily is that it has the tendency to increase the game's scope beyond what I want. Secondly is that this is not guaranteed to work as intended because if the player enjoys killing people but feel deeply affected when they see a certain village burn down, showing the character in a cutscene with a smile on their face (basing on the player's previous actions) will create a disconnect with how the player was actually feeling at the moment.
So instead of going out of scope for the game's system, I want to see if I can tackle this from a writing perspective.
Which leads ultimately to my question. How can I present an emotional narrative when essentially the main character is a blank slate?
An approach I've thought of is having the emotional moments happen between other characters and the player is just there to witness it either as a bystander or as a 3rd party who is only marginally related. That way the player's character is not so entwined with what was happening and does not need up close representation. While this may work, I also do want some emotional moments happening involving the player character as well but I just can't figure out how to execute it.
Thanks for reading my wall of text!