Planning a videogame character
Hello friends! Welcome back to Interactive Project Blog! Work goes on at our studios and while games come to life and new concepts flows we dream big about great videogames and then a question arose…
How do videogame characters come to life? Which mysterious and magic process creates a game character from nothing?
We had no idea, so we decided to consult Carmine Pucci!
He was happy to illuminate us on this delicate matter and explain what goes on and what are the needs to actually end up creating a videogame character!
First of all, you need a story. And when we say story we don’t mean you have to have a plot organized 100%, think that sometimes a character is created and it’s so cool that story changes to accommodate her/him, anyway… you need a game universe before planning anything. So you first need to plan a game genre and some basic game’s mechanics.
Then you start thinking about characters… Yes! Characters. As Carmine explained us there is no single character created alone, what comes to life is a whole set of games characters, so the main process looks like this:
World -> story -> characters: main + contest characters
Once the various characters are decided a phase of research starts, in this phase every character has its own study.
Every character has to have a story, thus it is studies a background of the character:
- Who she/he/it is?
- Where she/he/it comes from?
- What she/he/it has done before?
- Why is she/he/it in that place at that moment?
- Which were she/he/it background and adventures?
The character than is studies in order to be inserted in the aesthetic of the game, eg: if it is a fantasy game it is decided race, functionality of the character, dressing.
Usually the physique is studies according to a role, eg: a thief is skinny and agile, a warlord tall and muscled, and so on. However there might be exceptions in which the build depends more on a “role” and a psychological characteristics, usually this is given to a side character. For example if there is a guild of thieves, the main character is small and agile and maybe her/his friend is very tall and robust not because in this case he is a thief but because he has to represent a category and pass the idea he is a “safe harbor” for the main character.
Once the characteristics of the body are decided then it is time to study how he is dressed. Dressing must be made on the base of the games characteristics thus have to be integrated and in line with the game’s universe though “particular” to give the main character iconic distinction in the game.
“Uniform the character but make it unique” said Carmine.
Dressing must meet the characters’s character. An example is God of War, where the initial armored soldier is then transformed in the Kratos we know today where a missing armor and naked torso contributes to give him the feel of the dark antihero we know.
In other cases the distinction might be softer giving the unique feature through palettes or unique elements like Dead Space plates which are found on Isaac Clarke armor and not on others’.
One important thing to plan is the functional component of the dressings. It is pretty unlikely that a medieval-full-armored knight would double jump up on the roof of a house.
Some add on may be done for the purpose of showing the past of the character or the mission.
For example in “the last of us” the main character has badly reduced dresses and they change only three times according to the season (and not because of the need for clean dressing).
Usually some dressing is not shown in the gameplay but only seen in in the cutscenes.
Depending on the game universe than dressing has to be studied. For example for fantasy games every armor might be done by different materials. This usually occurs in gdr games where the characterization is drawn according to different classes” and the character style is then decided by the player who chooses the class and the armor to wear.
At last the character is then studied in the way he/she/it moves. Usually movements, are coupled with some psychophysical characteristic of the character. Imagine Cat Woman in the Arkam city saga which moves in a way which resembles a cat one.
One last thing to take into account is the “growth” of the character, not only on a physical level (in some games depending on the armor the character grows (or less) their muscles, or they get a scar,…) but also to render a psychological maturity gained after the adventures through the game. A deep study should be made to render this on a physical level, in the expression of the character, some dressing moods or in the way they walk.
Seems fairly complicated but taking care of all these aspect is what makes the game a great great title!
Electronic Arts, (2015), Dead Space Games, EA, retrieved: http://www.ea.com/deadspace
Playstation, (2015), The Last of Us, Playstation, retrieved: http://www.thelastofus.playstation.com/
Forte, L. (17/10/2011), Recenzione di Batman Arkham City, Spazio Games, retrieved: http://www.spaziogames.it/recensioni_videogiochi/console_multi_piattaforma/12277/batman-arkham-city.aspx
Ishaan, (4/01/2011), God of War Character Concept Art: Kratos Before and After, Siliconera, retrieved: http://www.siliconera.com/2011/01/04/god-of-war-character-concept-art-before-and-after/