Saturday, 17 March 2012

Characters in games

Character design in games is another point that can make or break a game. An un interesting character that doesn't look appealing can ruin a good game.  Ofcourse Character design is subjective to the individual player ( This doesn't only have to be the protagonist by the way but could also be NPC'S and or the antagonist.). Good game design however promotes earlier emersion and more realism/believability.

Here you find some bad character design

* Would you really go into combat like this ? Beside making a fool of yourself it's also way too easy to stab yourself and/or to fall over because of the high heels.

* I admit i havent played the game ( Zelda apparently) but it makes me wonder what i'm looking at... ?

An example of WAAYYYYYY too much details making it looks cluttery

Stereotypes are also beside overdone a way too easy excuse for originality

*Panics*What is this thing called good character design then ????

Right here goes, good character design is:

- A character that goes with the story
- A character that blends in with the environment

- One that can tell you a story of it's own rather than depends on text ( It's often the small things that do it)
- Talking about small things.  Adding a ton of details won make your character design a lot better, infact it makes it look messy and "hard to read" 
-  An original character. Noone is looking for another character based on Mario, Gordon freeman or an overly ( and exagerated) bulky marine... Oh wait.. kids can't have enough of those these days ( * cough* gears of war * cough* )
- And a last personal one.... static characters. If there's anything i hate more it's static character's that have no emotion or anything to it. Animate your character different, texture him different or if you have to remove an arm and add a second head but anything to prevent it from looking like the other characters. ( To me it often becomes a blur and i start confusing names and such)

Here are some examples of good character design. It's based on my opinion and therefor can be argued. However i will explain why they are good character designs in my opinion.

 Team fortress

Team fortress is a good example as each character has it's unique silhouette and are therefor easily recognizeable.. The style is nice and suits the environment, the fact that each character has a small rim light makes it easier to see the characters in dark environment and therefor makes hiding a lot harder and the game more dynamic ( Solving gameplay issues in character design ! )

Gordon freeman / Halo
Gordon Freeman just like halo are 2 "faceless heroes" there are more examples than just these two but having a faceless hero in a game is another way of emerging players. Due to the lack of personality the player has an easier time identifying itself with the character. I.E Gordon Freeman never talks and you never get to see him. There's a picture of him in the half-life main menu and somewhere a small photo ( VERY pixelated) but beside these things you wont see or hear him. He doesn't make decisions for him so the only way the player get's identified is when NPC'S actually talk to you however this enhencing the story elements and there for been a good decision. It's the same for Halo except for this time your a marine and wear a mask and who is under the mask is unknown ( as far as I know)

* Gordon Freeman being a badass ! And master chief both heroes without a face 

This character was chosen for a specific reason. Shell is not a faceless hero. In portal 1&2 you CAN see shell due to the portal mechanism but the way she has been designed really blends in with the environment.  Considering in portal you sometimes have to make long jumps and am a "test subject" she wears a suit that can't get in the way during acrobatic stuns and has 2 sort of jump pads attached to her boots to enhance her ability to jump/fall. Valve has clearly thought this through and i can appreciate that.

When i said a character doesn't have to be overly complicated i think this would be the best way to show it. One of the most simplest character designs. An Italian plumber that became world famous in no time.

Mass effect
I chose sheppard from mass effect not so much for the character itself as this is customizable and changes through the game but for the gear. When designing a character it's important to think what environment it would be in/going through and what actions it would need to perform.  Mass effect has an efficient yet elegant armor design that suits it's purposed well and i think is there for a good example.

Sex sells !??!

This has been a discussion on facebook a while ago and i think applies to character design.
Does it make good characters ? No.. however as a character designer your often paid to design certain characters and if the target group demands or has a large interest in overly big breasts and poor armor design ( cause after all going into battle in your lingerie would make sense wouldn't it ? ) you're going to have to life with it.  Even though it has its charms there's plenty of other ways to make people look attractive female. Here are some examples of how it could also be done.

No comments:

Post a Comment