A good game requires good characters. Do you remember Super Mario, Tomb Raider or Sonic the Hedgehog? These games were made in the last century, but their characters can still attract players from all over the world. Who knows if Super Mario would have been a success without a short Italian plumber, or if Tomb Rider had been a man as strong and sexy as the protagonist? In fact, the adorable characters could be the reason for the game's popularity.
Did you know that some of the most famous video game characters in the world are more recognizable than famous athletes and musicians? Unique personalities often get creative. You can beat celebrities in terms of popularity. Some characters are so powerful that they appear in movies. Adapting a video game to the big screen will increase the popularity of that game even further. There is no doubt that you need a great personality to win people's hearts in any medium.
So, how do you create a game character that makes the player wait for the game to be released? In S3ART Store, we help game developers create artistic elements for unforgettable gaming experiences. We work a lot with characters and have a large portfolio of realistic, stylized and cartoon models. After our creative journey, we've learned what it takes to build a unique and likable character. We decided to share some of our findings with you in this article. But before we get into the core principles of creating game characters, let's first talk about why characters are such an important part of any interactive narrative.
THE CHARACTER IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS THE GAME
Whether it's a sandbox game or a shooting game, every game needs a good character to entertain the player. Here's why.
Characters help create an immersive experience and encourage replayability.
Attractive and charismatic characters directly affect the overall quality of a video game. When a player loves a character and enjoys interacting with them, they will want to leave the game fully engaged.
And if you make a really good character, players will want to play the game again and again. Replayability is the main goal of all game developers. They want users to keep coming back to their products. Take the Witcher Geralt of Rivia series for example. This character is one of the 50 most iconic game characters. Geralt lives in an evil and cruel world, combining the ruthlessness of an experienced swordsman with a very witty and intelligent personality. If you don't believe us then watch this video.
The Witcher series includes 3 standalone main games, 2 expansion packs, and 6 spin-off games. Having a lot of content available for the same character is an impetus for players to play the game on Rivia's Geralt for his charisma, although Geralt is quite wild and cynical. You just have to prove that you feel it.
THE PLAYER FEELS REPRESENTED WITH THEIR VIRTUAL CHARACTER
"This character is the same for me!" This is a common reaction people have when their personalities do things for themselves. If the player can get into the skin of the character they control, the game is more likely to succeed. A good example of character development in video games is Arthur Morgan from Red Dead Redemption 2.
In RDR2, players can control Arthur as they wish. Do you want Arthur to be a bank robber and a ruthless observer? It does not matter. Or are you more interested in rescuing strangers? You can do it too! Depending on what the player does during the game, Arthur will become an evil thief or a standing man that everyone loves and respects. what you feel is right.
Here's what players are saying about Arthur and why people undoubtedly love him:
- Sometimes he's deep...sometimes he's funny.
- He chooses his own needs over his own.
- He is a man of few words, but in battle his deeds are supreme.
And how successful was the game? You may ask. 45 million units sold worldwide – it happened.
CHARACTERS CAN HAVE A STRONG IMPACT
Have you ever been encouraged to do something because of someone's words or actions? maybe yes. And who said that video game characters can't have that kind of effect? Like real people, virtual characters can inspire others to become good people or fight corruption and evil. They can also give hope for a better world.
Do you remember Link from The Legend Of Zelda and his constant insistence on defeating Ganon? He advises players to never give up, no matter how many times the darkness tries to take over. Or Raid, the Pokemon trainer. It proves that anyone can do great things, regardless of size or background.
So at this point, it's clear that memorable characters can make your game a hit. The question is: how do you build such a character? Let's find out. What makes a good game character?
WHAT MAKES A GOOD GAME CHARACTER?
As we found out, all of the game's powerful characters are living beings (though they don't breathe actual air, but you get the idea). To create a fictional character that will captivate players, you need to focus on four things: the character, the backstory, the appearance, and the character's flaws and weaknesses.
It would be a crime to leave the game characters without a personality, as only robots lack personality (most likely). When working on character design, it's a good idea to use a specific prototype.
To understand this better, let's take a look at Nathan Drake, a professional treasure hunter, the protagonist of the video game Uncharted. This character is a good example of the researcher archetype. Nate is introduced as a fortune seeker and a libertarian business professional. Known for being witty and extremely lucky in the face of danger, Nate has a deep knowledge of history and it's no wonder he's spent his entire life studying it.
Backstories help players understand the motivations and experiences that the characters had before the main story. A backstory helps create a strong bond between a playable character and the person behind the screen. And we have a good example to prove it. BB Hood, the protagonist of Darkstalkers, may seem innocent on the surface, but he is not. He has his own background that his players want to follow.
Baby Bonnie Hood is an undead hunter who dresses up as a cheerful Little Red Riding Hood to look harmless. Indeed, he is a real killing machine that laughs. Once the monster has taken the bait, it pulls out weapons and explosives from its basket to complete the job.
DEFECTS AND WEAKNESSES
Great characters are not perfect. Even the strongest game characters have flaws and weaknesses that make them more recognizable. A good example here is Kratos from the "God of War" series. Kratos is initially portrayed as a cruel and violent warrior - the former god of war has committed many evil deeds in the past. All he cares about is vengeance on the gods, and over three games (and a few spin-offs) Kratos will do whatever it takes to wreak his vengeance.
But in the fourth game "God of War" Kratos got a very unusual role - he became a father. As a father, Kratos wants to do everything he can to protect his son Atreus from the gods and other dangers of the outside world. This desire is his only weakness. He has transformed a fearless monster into a man with nothing to lose.
The world is wonderfully diverse and games should reflect that. It's good practice to create characters with a wide range of personalities, races, ethnicities, and appearances to make them relevant to real people. The game Dragon Age: Inquisition is a great example of diversity. During the gameplay, players can encounter transgender characters and characters of people of color. And it's really encouraging to see more presence of these characters across different play styles.
In short, creating a character is like creating a real human: you have to give them personality, special traits, and even food preferences. But there are also other rules that we would like to share with you.
HOW TO MAKE A CHARACTER THAT STANDS OUT: 3D ARTIST'S RULES
Game character design takes a lot of experience and skill, but more - a lot of creativity if not Megaton. This process begins with character concept design (the complete game character workflow required to create the concept and select the character style), and also includes technical processes such as character sketching, modeling, rigging, and animation.
To help you on your journey, we asked what game artists think is important when creating new characters. Here's what they told us.
COLLABORATION IS KEY
Creating believable characters is usually a collaborative process.
The work process is easy for everyone to understand - from concept artists and 3D modellers to our customer team. This is exactly what we do in our workflow. Smooth communication allows customers to develop high quality products.
Our team starts working on a character with a short concept or script, providing details and key ideas for the character. However, if necessary, you can create a character from scratch. Since each 3D artist works with the team leader and other team members, all team members manage the process at the deck level.
At the end of each iteration, we receive feedback from the customer and receive additional improvements and feedback as the pipeline progresses.
MAKES CHARACTERS EASIER TO READ, BUT LESS COMMON
In-game characters should be easy to understand, but not too generic. It's a lot more fun to create multi-dimensional characters that can wow players, but it's also important to remember that classic stereotypes like beefy beasts or skinny nerds can create instantly recognizable characters.
In our work, we balance stereotypes, distinctions, and diversity so that characters immediately give players hints of possible personalities and feel unique and distinctive. Unlike 3D artists who strictly follow the rules, we love bringing new ideas to our projects because games are essentially an art form.
GET TO KNOW OUR RESOURCES FOR THE CHARACTER CREATION
Creating stylized hair, defining its shape, and making it look natural can be tricky and time-consuming. With minimal effort, position individual strands as desired – make hair loose and flowing, tightly braided, or bouncy and curly to suit your characters’ styles.
Doesn’t matter if you are working in ZBrush or Blender, the HairSalon utility pack will help you with the task.
The eyes are the first thing we unconsciously look at, so they become one of the most important parts to take care when developing a character, and more if it has some realistic details or it's totally realistic.
Just select your favorite iris type and stamp on the provided eye mesh, also you can stamp multiple of them, so they'll mix together letting you achieve new and unique patterns.
Create striking eyelashes with this handy IMM Curve Brush. You will find a good variety of styles to play around – add top and bottom lashes to make your character eyes look bigger and more seductive.
If your project is time-sensitive, this is the fastest way to add lashes without compromising on detail.
This Multi-Alpha Brush brings hyperrealism to your art, defining the detail of your characters.
You’ll have the tools to create believable, highly detailed characters with depth and a lifelike quality. They’ll be more than just flat, featureless faces; they’ll seem tactile and relatable. Give your characters a natural look, blur the lines between fantasy and reality for a unique artistic style.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS
We hope this article has made it clear that designing video game characters requires a lot of experience and skill. If you are currently thinking of creating a character for a video game, we can help by providing you with the best resources out there. Let us help you create amazing game characters.