Dumb question, but why can't we have our cake and eat it too?
Why does a player-created party have to be one-dimensional and have no personality? Why can't I do something akin to Fallout Tactics where I recruit "people" (read: character portraits and/or voices) into my party, tweak their stats/skills and then be able to level them and adjust them as I please as I play the game?
It doesn't even have to be that rigid; the point is to have party characters that have some personality, and I don't see why I can't be in charge of creating them and then having a character that's interesting to play with.
Another option/alternative could be to have backstories generated somewhat randomly based on character generators for PnP RPGs. So you could easily have backstories for party characters without having to sacrifice player creativity.
Want a squad of snipers or ninjas? You can get that, but still have personalities from the party characters.
Anyways, just some ideas -- I'm sure the rest of you have better ones.
Edit: Someone else proposed a mechanic for accomplishing this. So maybe this thread is better served for discussion on whether or not party members with personalities etc.. are a "must have" (or not).
Since I'm also the first poster, I think I should articulate a few points on my position: I think that it's a necessary and important aspect of the game for me to have player-controllable NPC sidekicks who have their own personality and story to them. I think it's been argued over and over again that Wasteland 2 should build on lessons learned from both the first Wasteland and the Fallout series (pre-Bethesda). I also think that some lessons can be learned from other successful RPGs of recent times: the KOTOR series, Dragon Age 1 (specifically), and the Mass Effect series.
Some games that managed to pull off aspects of this that I've played are Fallout: Tactics and Jagged Alliance 2 -- both games let you level your sidekicks as you liked, but all of your party members had their own personalities -- even if the games weren't really geared towards exploring your party members' backstories.
For die hard fans of the original Wasteland who see Wasteland 2 as an exact sequel, maybe there should be a "Wasteland One" retro mode where you can turn this off -- but for the rest of us, maybe this is an important aspect of the game that would be a big deal for us.
Ultimately, I'm not expecting a blockbuster production, but I would like to have a group of rangers that have some more personality to them beyond whatever stats/skills I tweak or pump into them. I'd like to see some dialogue between them and the "main player character" (if that distinction even really exists), as well as other characters in the party (player-created or recruited).
Thanks for your consideration.