Sunday, 22 April 2012

Character design.

Character design is a very complicated subject and recently some companies have been reluctant to make solid characters that are believable. For a time games companies just seemed to want to push the level of graphics in games, meaning many games were more like engine showcases than experiences. I hope that someday i would become a character artist for a big company like Valve. Their characters are always brilliant. They eek with personality, have flaws and show emotion, all these traits make them more believable in their worlds. Something that a company like Epic games have seem to forgotten, with their endless list of testosterone filled meat bags of death.

A good piece of character design would have to be someone like mario. Instantly recognisable, if you ask anyone today to name the most famous character they know, mario will most likely be their answer. But what makes his design so great? To start with, both the old and new version of mario have very strong silhouettes. It is easy to tell mario from another character from the quickest of glances. A premise that valve has taken to make sure that their characters stand out from the rest. A strong silhouette = good character, or at least most of the time. Another good piece of character design would be the use of a strong palette. What i mean by “strong” palette is not like really bright colours, but rather colours that work well together and within the environment the character will be in. So for mario bright red and blue makes him stand out from the background whilst also making him similarly bright to the rest of the environment. A piece of character design that i think is hardly used nowadays would be functionality. Many games these days choose to leave behind all functionality of a character’s costume in favour of an aesthetically pleasing one. Take Ivy from Soul Calibur 4 for instance, she is fighting against opponents that wield swords, hammers, scythes etc and what else could be more protective than a small purple bikini? well apparently not much as she never seems to get cut in the whole game, which is just ridiculous. Obviously all these points are not stuck in stone, but keeping them in mind whilst creating a character will always give them more depth. 

Valve doing what they do best. BEING AWESOME

Of course once a character’s design is finished it is then the job of the voice actor/actress and a good script  to really give them an engaging character. One of the games with the best script of all time would have to be Portal 2. Truly witty and at times actually made me laugh out loud, one of the few games to do so, i enjoyed every minute of that game. There are games though that try to be funny with their script and it can make a game fall on its face. My example being Duke Nukem Forever, Although as a whole this game is pretty much a flop, the thing i’ve always enjoyed about past Duke Nukems is the script and how it was almost purposely corny. This last installment however they crossed a line into the realm of neither corny or funny, you could feel how forced the script was and it really made me feel uncomfortable.

To conclude, character design is a very tricky subject. There are so many different attributes that constitute a good character that it takes a lot of experience and knowledge to be a good character artist. I personally believe that through good character design you are able to add another level of emotion and believability that some games miss out on.

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