As I enjoyed creating my first characters immensely I decided to continue this project and design more characters. My initial thoughts are to create a few more characters and create a short animation exhibiting there special moves that make them unique. I have learned from last time that it is far too time intensive to create every animation for each character unless it is going to be put into a game, as such I am just going to focus on the most interesting animations and focus more on the character design and storytelling elements.
As I had already completed a lot of design ideas during the initial project I had a lot of ideas for extra characters that I could just dive straight into developing now. To give a sense of the story I want to have another orc character and at least one monster as I like the idea of it being similar to D&D where a band of heroes go out to defeat a monster. As such I want at least 5 characters to be ‘heroes’ with the other 3 being somewhere between neutral and evil characters. I could always apply the alignment system to the characters after they are finished. The ideas from before that I will focus on are these archetypes:
- orc male
- boss monster
I decided to focus on my second orc character first as I have some interesting ideas on how he could work. As in my lore orcs have the ability to manipulate metal I thought it would be fun if the character controlled a metal golem that he controls. As such he could play like a grappler such as Zangief or Potemkin even though the actual orc is small. As my ideas for the orcs was that they would like in a similar way to native Americans I played around with some tribal tattoos which I liked and played around with lots of different body shapes for the golem. After playing with the ideas of having the orc be a child controlling a large golem I instantly fell in love with the design. I looked at a lot of images of golems, robots and statues for reference, as well as grapplers such as Zangief for the silhouette. However I felt like tattoos wouldn’t work anymore as it may be inappropriate as well as harder to do on a smaller sprite. I also decided that a ball shape suited this new design better. I decided to do a few quick sketches on what the animations may be.
However I decided to take a break from this to focus on the next character. This character is the sorcerer and I didn’t want it to be too much of a stereotypical wizard as such I did lots of research into the tropes so I knew what to avoid. I had no ideas about gender for this character however I knew that I wanted at least 2 or 3 women on the roster so that it is diverse. After playing the video game Nioh I got the idea of the mage having a familiar which would make it unique. An initial design that I liked was for the familiar to be a giant snake that could be rode etc. However after struggling with a digital drawing I had the idea to change it to a floating eye like I remember from an old game I played. I really liked this design. Gameplay wise I could have the eye fire lasers and fly.Additionally I thought it would be interesting to have the character as a black woman as it is more diverse and not a typical design.
I had a difficult time designing the ranger character as I found it difficult to come up with a design that was both unique and still functional. As such I decided to instead try to make an interesting silhouette with many different layers and lots of hair to create visual interest. The design I eventually came up with was is very drab but with a bright red scarf to add visual interest. In the lore I could argue that it is enchanted and thus aids with stealth in some way that can be shown through gameplay. The character would be one of the few focused on purely ranged zoning play, similar to guile perhaps. Possibly with movement tools outside the rest of the cast.
The next character I had an idea for was a merchant who has other people fight for pay. This idea went through a number of iterations and a variety of different designs, including being a dwarf, however when I decided that my orc character would be a child I still wanted a male orc and I thought it could be an interesting narrative idea to have him be a merchant who disguises his heritage. It makes sense as he could sell any metal tool of any shape as he could mould it on the spot for bandits or anyone who doesn’t mind trading with the perceived enemy. For the visuals I mainly took inspiration from characters such as the merchant from resident evil four or a character from hunter x hunter. In terms of gameplay I had an idea of him being a very hard hitting slow character who tries to to use metal manipulation as it may give away his cover.
Next up was the concept for a cleric character that I almost chose for the first project, my idea for this character is that he creates a weapon and armour out of magic which would affect his gameplay style as he switches between them, however after some tests I realised it would be quite difficult to make it look magical, plus I already have an armoured character. As such I played around with a number of different designs, one of which I loved. My idea here stepped away from cleric into more of a mercenary role. The character is an orc hunter and is thus armed without metal. Using thick wooden armour to stop piercing blows and using a wahammer that would invalidate any armoured foes. I feel like the design looks epic and would be fun to animate him as a brawler using savage attack yet restrained on defence. After doing research into real world wooden armour I loved this idea even more.
For the final character my initial idea was to have some kind of necromancer skeletal lord that would summon undead minions to fight for him, however we already have a lot of human sized figure so I thought it would be interesting to interest to go for a more typical monster. As such I looked at a number of mythical beasts before looking at demons and finally settling on a fire elemental. However I thought this was a little narratively bland and thought it could be interesting to have him as a green skinned ogre, like the orcs, that also has flame powers. My thoughts were that this connection might be a reason towards the animosity between the races. In my designs I thought it would be interesting to always depict it as docile, to show a creature that is very destructive through its starting fires but with no ill will. Regardless due to its danger it needs hunting, thus requiring the heroes.
Now that I had designs for each of the characters I uploaded them onto my iPad and began making the sprite at the same scale as my previous characters. I wish that I had made the characters larger earlier to be the same size as the 3rd strike sprites as it gives a little more freedom. However I made do and came up with six great designs I’m very proud of. Many of the characters went through a lot of changes at this stage as I saw ways to improve or fix problems that came up. The character that changed the most is the mercenary character whose armour went through many changes to improve both the silhouette and also the functionality of the design. One aspect that I lament is that I wish the golem was a little bigger though its a hard balance as I still want it to be smaller than the ogre which I can’t make bigger for gameplay hitbox reasons.
At this point I begin the designs for the character select screen which took a lot longer than I expected to get to a point that I was happy with. Probably because this is a very graphical challenge. My ideas went through a number of variations until I was happy. After being stuck for ideas I saw a piece of work by an illustrator on Instagram where he used old book border designs for a piece which inspired me to do the same which gave it the fantasy feeling I was looking for. As such I looked at a number of styles that I liked and eventually produced a design that I am very satisfied with. I decided to have the sprite, character portrait and the small icon for each character on the page. At this point I realised that I had taken on too much work for this project and would have to put away the idea of creating any animations. For the character icons that the player would select I took the sizes from 3rd strike that Allowed me to get a good amount of detail into each face. I wanted to, between the three image, give the viewer a sense of the characters personality. For the large character image I initially used the images I had created for this purpose in my book, although after continuing with this in a painterly way it didn’t look good at all. As such I decided to revise my plan. I instead decided to have a dynamic gesture for each character against a blank background. As such I thought that the idea place for this would be to look at highlight intro poses from overwatch as they are a masterclass in character design. I took a few that I thought would be relevant for each character and drew them up. I liked the generic ones most, however a couple looked too much like the original and didn’t feel like my own characters so I changed them and felt a lot better about the design and the personalities. However I didn’t like the blank background so I thought it would look good to have a map behind them to give hints about their fantasy world. I used old British and lord of the rings maps as reference but created the iconography myself. I wanted to get a sense of the narrative between the civilised and tribal areas, though in the end these got covered for the most part by the characters. I felt like the characters looked a little bland so I added a highlight and shadows to each character and felt like it really added depth to the image. There were many tiny tweaks that were needed, such as things being out of line but I finally finished it when I remembered to add the icons for the players’ cursors. For the names I decided that the heroes would have German names and to separate the races I would give the orcs Spanish names. I felt like native american or African names would be too blatant. I am very happy with what I have produce and definitely learned a lot, though it is a shame that I didn’t complete the animations like I intended buit this is likely a project I will continue after leaving.