The one year game develpoment duel
Jan

27

2015

The Character Creation Process

One of the most enjoyable parts of the game development process so far has been creating characters. Using my imagination to discover how they look, what abilities they have, where they’re from, and how they talk is immensely satisfying. Largely due to the efforts of the illustrator and animator I’m contracting, the first character of the game was just fully completed. I’m extremely happy with the outcome and thought I’d share with you the process of how he came to life.

Step 1 – Rough Concepts

I love fantasy books, and my game characters draw a lot of inspiration from some of the characters I’ve read about. I knew one the first characters was going to be a samurai or a knight, so I had the artist draw up some concepts for a samurai-knight. I gave the illustrator, Scott Pellico, a written character description and he quickly came up with these rough concepts.

concepts_01

I wanted armor to show, so I told Scott #6 was the closest, but to try again with some more armored examples. Scott came back with these concepts.

concepts_02

None of the concepts were exactly what I was looking for in a samurai-knight character, but I was really liking parts of a lot of those characters. At this point I decided that I would go with two characters instead of one. One character would be a samurai and the other a knight. The first character would be the knight and he would be based off of #3 in the above image.

Step 2 – Final Concept

Now that I knew that I wanted a knight character and what he should look like, it was time to create a finalized character. I wanted him to have a more traditional helm and shield, which Scott added here:

concepts__samurai_04

That’s what I’m talking about! Now that the concept was decided on, a series of turnaround images were created to show the side and back of the character.

ortho_knight_01

The reason I needed the turn around is because even though my game and character animations are in 2D, I decided to have a 3D animator create those animations. The logic behind this decision was that creating the base 3D model is time consuming, but building animations and exporting them from multiple points of view is quicker than hand-drawing 2D animations. I wanted about 9 animations per character, so I thought it would be more cost effective to do them in 3D. It was a little bit risky on my part, I’m pretty happy with what came next.

Step 3 – 3D Modeling

Now that I had the turn arounds, it was time to send them off to Dustin Bolton, the 3D animator that brings the character to life. I gave Dustin a list of animation sequences to create and he made them a reality. I honestly have no idea how 3D modeling works and what kind of powerful magic he performs to make that happen, but here are some pretty cool screenshots of his process.

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Step 4 – Implementation

After Dustin worked his magic, he provided me with a series of animation sequences in .png format. I built a bunch of sprite sheets with those .png files and brought the characters to life in-game. You can see the awesomeness that is The Guardian Knight in the animations below.

3 of you did not hold your tongue!
  1. Glad you like the design and you’re right, he does look like something out of Mulan.

    As to Corona, I’m a big fan of them and I think they’re probably the best choice for a beginner who needs to actually write custom code and needs customization in their app. Game salad may be even easier, but they might not offer all of the functionality of Corona. Unity has a bit of a learning curve and Cocos2d would likely give you a lot of problems if you don’t have any programming experience. If you plan on programming, Corona will also be tough at first, but there are some great tutorials out there. I used http://masteringcoronasdk.com when I was starting out and it helped a lot. Feel free to email if you have any questions.

    • Thanks for the masteringcoronasdk.com rec. I’ve been looking for something like that. Lua, in particular, is not the easiest language to learn about online. There’s surprisingly little about it out there, from what I’ve found.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to reply. Have a great week.

  2. Hi Chris,

    Gorgeous character design. The characters remind me of one of my favorite Disney movies of all time, Mulan. I was wondering, I’m thinking about writing a 2d iPhone/Android app for my family business with my wife, and I wanted to ask what you thought about working with the Corona SDK. I’m not a programmer, although I can code in HTML and CSS. I thought that Lua might be something I might be able to handle.

    How do you feel about Corona overall? Does it feel like the engine is a major limiting factor in your work on this game? Do you know how Ryan feels about it too?

    Just curious. I’ve also been looking at Unity and Cocos2d, and another small outfit called Gamesalad. Our app ideas usually involve access to device cameras, like the iPhone’s camera and Camera Roll, and I didn’t know if Corona would allow for things like that.

    Kind regards, and best of luck on your current project and future endeavors.


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