Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Elements of game design, part three: character

I believe characters to be a major part when designing a game as is with books, films or a TV series. From the top of my head and to be brief, a cool protagonist in a game is Kratos from god of war, who defies the gods and rips his enemies to pieces, Tidus from Final Fantasy X, a cheerful, loveable character who isn’t always perfect. Funny characters, Wario from the Mario series, the enemy and totally everything opposite from Mario himself but has enough public interest to have his very own series of games developed to suit his rude characteristics. Evil characters, Nemesis from Resident Evil 3, muttering only one word and relentlessly following you throughout the whole game makes you shudder every time you turn a corner thinking he is going to pounce on you. These are just my examples of successful character design that everybody would remember and talk about with others, pretty much leaving their mark.

I think characters need a good voice actor who doesn’t try too hard and really captures the situation they would find themselves in. I cannot stand the squeaky squirmy voices you get in many cartoon anime series or games. However, when they gave the sonic cast voices in their very first full 3D game, Sonic Adventure, even though the voice acting was not perfect, the right type of voice was given to each and at the time I loved it. Sonic had that cool teenager voice like, dude. Knuckles had a deeper voice to match his tough mysterious personality and appearance. Amy was bloody annoying squeaky, high pitched kind but now you can’t imagine it any other way. Moving on, I love English period dramas in general due to the amount of effort put into creating costumes, portraying how living life was in the past and defining the large difference between a noble and a peasant when it comes to the characters. Those in power held their head firm, a body part never out of place and spoke with intensity for example, Elizabeth in TV dramas. This sets the image in which you can imagine how important a certain character is. Are they back up their words? What was this person’s past? Can I trust them? Reading a script is the starting point of where you can imagine your character is heading but it would be up you the actor to fully take on this person.

The kind of story that gets me excited is when it’s not so direct or even though you know who is evil, there is a valid reason or a background as to why they are committing devious affairs, so some viewers/gamers may take sides. Mystery, surprise and an extremely cool character is who I love. I would love to see them suddenly change or make a decision that shocks everyone or has a dark secret. If I was to write a script they would have to be natural and have overlapping arguments, not ok I’ll wait for you to speak then make my move because life isn’t like that.

The feeling of the character portrayed through appearance and appealing to certain audiences, facial and clothing-wise caught my attention in the passage where some developers talk about their work on the early next gen Ninety-Nine Nights xbox game as it can be expressed more as the budget for games increased. Mizuguchi also explained how it is difficult to bring games and drama together being game developers. It brings me back to the course and makes me realise how important watching films are as recommended by tutors, as I am sure a lot of us who start year 1 just want to make cool games with nice models and art but it is a good deal more than that. We all need to think like script writers, whatever role we take.


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