Arcade character art
The author has worked as a game copywriter and leader of a seven-person “textual” team for five years
In the third part of a series of articles about his methods of work, I will tell you how to create interesting characters and make players believe in them.
Now I want to share a method for developing game characters that will reduce the time for creating interesting stories. I'll make a reservation right away: first of all, the article will be of interest to those who have recently been in the industry.
Arcade character art is one of the cornerstones of story drama. It is usually closely related to the script structure approach. There are a lot of options for the structure - from the classic three-act, to the light extremism of John Truby. And then there are the approaches of McKee, Gulino, Schechter, Snyder, Propp - thousands of them.
But sometimes it is much easier and more fun to start not from the scenario plan, but from the behavior of the characters themselves: in this case, the plot is born from the behavior of the characters in various situations. At the same time, in my opinion, there is no need to paint the biography of the protagonists on a dozen sheets. Speech will be a key driver of character and story development.
This gives a lot of flexibility in the development of mobile and browser games, where the requirements for the development of the plot are simpler and its role is not as important as in complex projects like The Witcher. In addition, you need to take into account the specifics of the development of such games: everything changes very often and quickly - right down to the core gameplay. Therefore, flexibility and simplicity are very important if you do not want to rewrite the entire lore from top to bottom four times in a row.
Before you start creating your characters, you need to prepare well. A few simple principles will help you with this.
Understand the setting
This is important at all stages of working with game texts.
If in a game about pirates of the Caribbean, the main characters communicate in the language of the Silicon Valley pirates, the players have a dissonance that can spoil the experience of the gameplay.
Study the specifics of the setting in order to lay additional details in the personality of your characters: their speech, appearance, behavior.
For example, in Stormfall: Rise of Balur, the Chaos Lord Balur speaks a mixture of Orcish dialects. This made the character really juicy and added depth to the game world.
In the article with tips for game copywriters, I brought up the topic of frames - this is a very useful tool for checking for compliance with the setting.
Play your game
A key principle for success in the gaming industry.
Spend at least an hour every day in your games and another hour in the best projects of your competitors.
If you do not play your game, do not understand where and at what moment the characters will be shown, how this will be related to the gameplay and what target action the player should take, then the Inner Writer is likely to break free.
Keep the Inner Writer in check
Sometimes game copywriters complicate things where no one else needs it. Especially for the player who wants to enjoy the game, and not wade through the footcloths of abstruse text.
Keep it simple. Remember: you are not writing for yourself, but for your target audience. The characters must help the player perform certain actions in the game - complete the tasks of the training campaign or complete the story mission.
Choose sources of inspiration
Correctly selected references are important not only for artists, but also for copywriters.
Gathering and studying information is the first stage in the development of lore and main characters in a new project. Usually there are dozens of thematic films and TV series, many games, a good stack of non-fiction literature and a huge number of articles and videos. Sometimes it is necessary to seek advice from specialists in various fields - for example, historians or the military.