What's a "Character-driven campaign"?
Among the popular campaigns many of them like Transcend, Sync and Blue Planet are refered to as "character-driven campaigns", in which characters are extremely important in terms of plot development and immersion.
Typical features of CDC campaigns:
- The player sends messages, unlike in any other genre of campaigns;
- Briefings, Command Briefings and Debriefings usually feature the player's thoughts. In normal campaigns, there simply are references to tactical situations;
- Many of the missions serve as simple "bridges", meaning that they work as links between a mission and another. They usually consist in short chats that end up with jump sequences, red alerts, and such;
- The player's party (which is various—may be formed by spacecraft and/or ships) travels a lot throughout the campaign, jumping from system to system and/or from certain locations of a given system to many others;
- The connection between the party and the main authorities (like Command) are minimal or nonexistent to boost the feeling of loneliness;
- The party sometimes meets far larger hostile forces, like overwhelming squadrons of bombers, and survives raging battles against them (often by retreating);
- Or, in other instances, the party consists of a self-sufficient and well-equipped military force that can hold its own but must flee when outmatched.
A good character-driven campaign often requires well-planned cutscenes and the creation of vast amounts of scripts. Some character-driven campaigns focus less heavily on tactical gameplay (such as Transcend or Sync), while others, such as Blue Planet, feature advanced FREDding as well. In general, character-driven campaigns require more work on the FRED level because of the sheer number of messages and events required.
Good CDCs also feature mods, and managing them requires at least some basic tabling skills.
Why would I create a CDC?
There are many campaigns of this kind, but their number is expected to increase giving the success of the already mentioned Blue Planet and Transcend.
Character-driven campaigns are a good way to tell original stories and "escape" from classic military experiences in which the player has to do certain things with poor or nonexistent degrees of mystery and adventure.
Obviously, this kind of campaign would quickly become boring if they start to be developed in numbers.
What about plotline choices?
A debate about the plot of Blue Planet: Age of Aquarius clearly showed many aspects of CDC developments. If the plot goes well beyond what is expected in the FreeSpace universe, it's quite likely that some of the choices in terms of plotline development might not be shared by the community as a whole.
When creating a campaign, think about the plot since the very beginning. Before adding anything that might be considered exaggerated by certain community members, think if it's the case to do so.