As a supplement to the Game Design with Timlah series that’s currently ongoing, I thought I’d do a simple post to show the sort of style I’m going with for the game that still remains unnamed.
I’ve previously written about how I’m having 2D characters inside of a 3D world. So I got to work to design one of the 2D characters from the game and explain how the design of the first character will make life easier in the long run to design many unique characters. For the record, I am still just a hobbyist and comments about the aesthetics are welcomed – But please give me some constructive feedback with this.
I thought back to my days playing around with sprites from many years ago. I would start small, just changing a few basic colours to make a new character and learning how using black as an outline colour is pretty effective at defining the shape of a sprite. Then I’d change whole sprites, from a simple sprite of an angel to giving it a sword or something of the sorts. I was just a child back then, give me a break!
So now, I’m designing a character entirely from scratch and I need to make it sustainable, as otherwise each character could take a whole day to design. I want to make the characters realistic, not fantasy… And I thought about the Chibi style of art, which is so dominant in 2D RPGs, especially ones made in RPG Maker.
Large head, small body… But I didn’t want to follow that exactly, as I’m not making an RPG. Instead, I’m making a point and click adventure game. So I want there to be more emphasis on the emotion of a character as they talk… Which means what better starting point is there than looking at the antagonist of the game?
Warning: This is not Freddy Krueger pre-burns… But the first picture sure looks like it. I have since changed his top so he isn’t as Freddy like.
This is the antagonist. He’s a bit of a smarmy git, with a smug attitude towards life and people. He believes that he can get a hefty sum for his swag, stealing the Sacred Stone of The Faith. Look, we’re now piecing some of the story together in these articles! He’s a robber, a simple minded robber who just wants to make a quick buck from his theft.
He’s smug. He’s smarmy and he has a hat. I will likely be working more on the way the body looks, but the head I’m actually quite happy about. Of course, I have to make a whole sprite sheet for this fellow… but as you can imagine, that’d take some time. So how can I make sprite sheets for all characters who will be animated (See: All characters), without taking a whole week to design each and every character?
You make a piece of the sprite just once and then add a design on top. Then from there, you can use invisible layers to make some edits to an initial design, allowing you to make everything relatively quickly. Of course, not all bodies will be the same. There’ll be some difference in some of the bodies: Some stockier, some slimmer, some male, some female. So I’ll be making several “generic” sprite sheets, which can then be copied and worked on individually.
I will also be working on more detailed face portraits. Although I am making a point n click adventure game, I want an overlay. When characters talk, I could go down the Monkey Island route of just having text appear above the heads with colour to define who is the person talking… But I always found that approach a little bit messy. Instead, I want to take from my experience of RPGs to make a proper text box appear. Along with that, I want face portraits. Hopefully I’ll have some of these ready within the next month or so.
I’m not suggesting for a second that I’d have every character in the game with its own face portrait, as there is going to be a good number of characters. But all of the major characters should get their own portraits. Here’s one of the antagonist for the game:
Please be blunt with me… Is the simple body too simple? Should I put more time and detail in the bodies, or is it okay to leave them as such? I want to make the world feel really big and I want the people in the game to feel really small… I also didn’t want to go down the Chibi-Style route… As I think that is best left to an RPG. I’ve since learnt to lower the ears (as his ears were far too high up) and I’ve changed the colour of his top to start to make him look less like Krueger.
As always, comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter and let me know what you think needs to be done – or if you think the emphasis on facial expressions in a point and click adventure game is a good thing! I’m not going to lie to you all: I am no game artist. But… This is a start, right?