Chapter 1. Designing Your Character
PLAYING A COMPUTER GAME is in some ways very similar to reading a book or watching a film: It is pure escapism. For the duration of the game, the player becomes the hero. During these few hours they step into another world, leaving worries and troubles behind. The overall design of the hero plays a key part in the player's distraction; a good design, combined with a good story, can encapsulate the player, immersing them fully in the game. A bad design will only serve to shatter the illusion, which could single-handedly cause your game to fail in the marketplace.
So where do you start when designing a character? This depends o the project. If you are working on a licensed project, a cartoon for example, or a comic book or movie license, you will be supplied with all the relevant materials to help you create your characters. These materials might include various models and color sheets, or even photographic references.
In theory, not having to worry about character design for your game could save time and work, but in reality you will find that the licensor will want the 3D version of their creation to stay true to its original style and design. Accomplishing this will involve a great many submissions of your artwork to get feedback from several people. First, you must be happy with the piece, and then your immediate managerthe lead artist on the projectmust approve it. The work will then be passed to your art director before it is finally presented to the client. And it's not done yet: The client may have to pass it around among a few colleagues before you receive any feedback. All this can turn out to be a lengthy process and will ultimately mean your having to make plenty of minor alterations before the characters are "signed off" as complete.
If, on the other hand, you are developing a product independently, all the character designs will be developed in house. Passing through fewer people means approval times will be shorter. This also means you will have more creative freedom, as long as your project managers are happy with the result.
In this first chapter I will share my own thoughts about the character design process, and in particular my ideas about designing the two main characters that we will develop as we work through this book.