Getting In Character
When a player selects a character to play, customizes it then spends hours, days or even weeks as that character they likely don’t know where the character design came from or how many concepts were passed over to land on that one. We try to meet a number of criteria when designing characters. There are high level basics like male and/or female, mesomorph (heavy set)/endomorph (average)/ectomorph (thin) body types, skin color/ethnicity, and heads. These elements define an affinity model and hopefully within the mix of them the player finds a set that they identify with.
Beyond the basics we look at:
- Extended races. Are there aliens, hybrid humans, cyborg etc.?
- What are the function and capabilities of each individually and within a team?
- Are their clothes or suits particular to a company or job?
- Are they well funded like Salvos for Salva Co. or under funded scavengers (Renegade Co.)?
So what does that mean for design? It means that at minimum we are going to run multiple concepts for each male and female and company character. It is not unusual to create and throw out a half-dozen concepts per character.
Here are a some concepts we passed on:
Why didn’t we accept them? One, aesthetically they were not what we were looking for. Further, the exposed rivets might be an issue in space and a little to old time diving suit looking. Just some of the details that we didn’t feel would be functional enough.
Here are some accepted concepts:
When we look at the character in game play we need to think about how the design accommodates or inhibits necessary motion and activities for the different classes. Since Salvo is set in space with individual jet pack flight the suits need to accommodate the packs as well as the tools they might be using.
Salvo Gauntlet and Large Jet Pack Style 1
When we initially designed the game we had planned for each of the three suit types to apply to a single Class.
So, a Miner would have a specific suit, Operator and Demolitionist their styles. But when we looked through our player “glasses” we realized that we were likely limiting player choices and character designs. So, we extracted the suit styles from the Classes themselves in order to allow the broadest flexibility to players in selecting their character. So now a Miner, Operator or Demolitionist can have any of the suit types and we think that will work great.
Salvo Modeling and Lots of White Box Testing
The guys are writing code and testing iteratively every day now doing “white box” testing. That’s a version with stand-ins for most objects and no texturing. This allows development to play test with focus with minimal distraction of textures, effects and odd lighting. We’re looking at the physics and core play mechanics. The characters move in space with Jet Packs and need to maneuver realistically but also be nimble and able to shoot accurately. It’s a balance and we’re going to get it right.
Meanwhile our three modelers are working on hi-resolution character sculpts, asteroids, space junk and in-game locations. A couple of sprints from now we will be on to environments and animation for the cinematics.