Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Desiging a Modular Character

Inspired by some ideas I have had cooking for the opening sequence to my current project "Aldea Lenta," I started some work on the character design for the main protagonist. Though he doesn't have a name (yet) and I'm almost certain the design will eventually change, I am happy with the direction I have so far. This character is an android who moves throughout his environment primarily by riding along rails (someone's been playing Portal 2). The design has to be simple, bold, and expressive. Simple to fit in and animate well with the restrictions of a 16x16 grid. Bold to stand out amongst the rails and all of the background clutter. Expressive to show character emotion visually without text. So far all of these criteria are properly dealt with, but I still see some issues. The character's rectangular body is almost too basic and it is really difficult to convey the idea of a screen within a space of about 80 pixels (though I am hoping animation can aid in that).

Okay, after loading that image up, the design is really, REALLY simple. The eyes are inspired by similar designs from the Mario series. Of course I can't just post this up here saying, "Hey guys! This is what my HARD work for the day has led to." The really interesting part about the character is his interior; all the bits and pieces that are put together to create his body. These things include energy tanks, processing cores, frames, and a protective layer. It is all detailed in the sketches and the sprite sheets. When designing the game the character's modularity could lead to new interesting gameplay concepts. What if the character lost one or more of his vital parts in the middle of the game? How would it affect the way he functions and the way the player controls him?

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