Research into the importance and role of character design (Unit 9 1.1)

To advance my understanding of character design and the meanings conveyed by these designs I will be analysing the key features of two contrasting characters. By understanding character design I will be able to develop characters of my own and I will be able to make informed decisions during the creation process. In order to understand the meaning behind character design I must first deconstruct the individual aspects and conduct research. To start with I will consider the shapes that form characters. Bradley (2010) discusses the meaning behind different shapes such as squares, circles and triangles in designs, he states that each of these shapes conveys very different meanings. He suggests that circular designs invoke feelings of warmth, comfort and energy, he describes square designs as stable, solid and secure and he mentions that triangular designs represent action and aggression. This research is relevant to character design as characters are designed with the meaning of these shapes in mind, their designs will often focus on one of these shapes in particular in order to invoke the feelings which I previously mentioned.  Colours play a large role in our perception of characters, according to Rikard (2015) lighter colours such as white tend to convey positive themes such as innocence, goodness and safety, this contrasts strongly with the meanings conveyed by darker colours such as black which invoke feelings of negativity, grief and death.

The first character I will be analysing is Kirby of Kirby’s Dreamland (Nintendo, 1992). The appearance of Kirby conveys a lot about the kind of character they are, the rounded, curved shape of their body suggests that the character isn’t threatening at all. This is supported by the work of Bradley (2010) who states that circular shapes invoke feelings of warmth and comfort. Kirby’s colours are quite light and cool which suggests they are quite a positive character, Rikard (2015) states that pink conveys feelings of friendship and passiveness. Their appearance matches well with their personality, Kirby is a cheerful and innocent character and this is reinforced by the lack of any sharp or pointed features. Kirby’s movements are quite bouncy and floaty, this fits well with their laidback personality and their unintimidating appearance. Kirby’s voice is high-pitched and almost childlike, these align well with the themes conveyed by their other key features and further solidify Kirby as an innocuous character. Children are the main audience of Kirby games and thus the character must not have an inappropriate appearance, the light tones and round shape of Kirby create a character which is suitable for younger audiences. All of Kirby’s key features work together to create a cohesive theme which is suitable for the audience, none of these features are out of place for the character or its intended purpose.

The second character I will be analysing is Metal Face from Xenoblade Chronicles (Nintendo 2010), this character is far more sinister and antagonistic than Kirby, this is conveyed primarily through their form and colour. Metal Face primarily consists of blacks and reds. According to Rikard (2015) black has many negative connotations such as fear, death and grief, they also suggest that red invokes feelings of rage, malice and wrath which are appropriate for a deadly adversary. The long, sharp claws make Metal Face appear more dangerous, this is in part because the claws are reminiscent of the claws of a dangerous animal, this is reinforced by the feral poses that Metal Face often adopts during combat. Triangular shapes make up most of Metal Face’s form, Bradley’s (2010) work suggests that their sharp and jagged aesthetic would convey aggression, speed and power, this ties in closely to their movements which are extremely swift as they jet through the sky. Metal Face has a very rough voice, they often speak in a mocking tone, referring to their adversaries as insects or maggots. This is a good representation of Metal Face’s personality as a whole because they act as if they are above everyone and everything else. Their mocking tone combined with their large size and great combat ability makes them seem like an insurmountable opponent, this is very appropriate as they are an antagonist throughout the game and serve as a target for the player to overcome. Metal Face is appropriate for the audience because Xenoblade Chronicles (Nintendo 2010) is a game which features death and danger throughout, so Metal Face appearing this deadly and threatening is suitable given his role. There is a strong correlation between Metal Face’s characteristics; their mocking, dark personality combines well with their dangerous appearance, which in turn relates well to their swift and deadly movements.

By conducting this research into character design and by analysing these two contrasting characters I have advanced my understanding of the key design elements and how they relate to each other. This knowledge will allow me to work on character designs of my own, I will also be able to understand the reasoning behind various design decisions I am making such as character colours and form. One of the aspects of character design I researched is the theory of colour, I looked into the meaning behind each colour and considered how this can relate to the designs of characters. Part of what I learned is that darker colours have connotations such as negativity, death and grief and that lighter colours have connotations such as positivity, innocence and purity. I also researched the theory of shape and the meaning of circular, triangular and square designs. Circular, curved designs are more comforting, square designs appear more sturdy and triangular designs appear more aggressive and swift.

References:

Bradley, S. (2010) The Meaning Of Shapes: Developing Visual Grammar. Available at: http://vanseodesign.com/web-design/visual-grammar-shapes/ (Accessed: 20 September 2016).

Rikard. (2015) The Psychology of Color: A Designer’s Guide to Color Association & Meaning. Available at: http://www.zevendesign.com/color-association (Accessed: 20 September 2016).

HAL Laboratory (1992) Kirby’s Dreamland [Computer game] Nintendo UK.

Monolith Soft (2010) Xenoblade Chronicles [Computer game] Nintendo UK.

Nintendo (2011) Kirby. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirby_(character) (Accessed: 3 October 2016)

Nintendo (2010) Metal Face. Available at: http://xenoblade.wikia.com/wiki/Metal_Face (Accessed: 3 October 2016)

Lego Batman Character Analysis (Unit 9 1.1) (Unit 10 1.1)

To understand how to design characters with specific target audiences in mind I will be considering how the Lego Games redesign worlds and their characters to make them appropriate for their target audience of children. I will look at one character in particular and examine how they diverge from their original design and how this makes them more appropriate for a younger audience. By analysing how the character is changed I hope to learn more about what makes a character appealing for a specific target audience.

The Lego Batman games are created with a target audience of children, this is apparent from the low age rating of 7. Lego games are consistently adapted to make them more suitable for their young audience, considering the source material the Lego Batman games only have minor themes of non-realistic violence and sometimes minor themes of fear. To adapt the Batman universe to be more suitable for children the creators have used brighter colours as well as the classic Lego figures for the humanoid characters. The bright colours and simplistic shapes make the characters less threatening. During the games level of violence is kept very low, any weaponry in the game is exaggerated and unrealistic, when a character is attacked there is no blood and when the characters are defeated they simply fall to pieces. Lego games consistently adapt the original content to make it more suitable for children, often using bright designs and comedic scenes to make even darker aspects of their film-based games suitable. Even the earliest film-based Lego games such as Lego Star Wars: The Video Game adapted graphic scenes to make them more suitable, this is a trend which continues throughout the Lego game series.

In the Lego Batman games all characters are redesigned to fit the Lego style, this includes giving them the iconic Lego character form and making them more suitable for children. Batman’s design has undergone some changes to make him more appealing to children, most notably his cowl is exaggerated and rounded, the simpler, curved shape makes the design more appealing and less intimidating for younger audiences. The idea that curved shapes are less threatening and more safe and comforting is supported by the work of Bradley (2010) who discusses the meanings conveyed by different shapes. His eyes are also replaced with a solid white colour from behind the cowl, this is simpler and clearer than showing his eyes behind the cowl and results in a more impactful appearance. As with almost all characters in Lego games Batman has the uniform body type of a Lego character, this means that he doesn’t have an overbearing stature and he has a relatively squat and square form. Overall, the redesign of Batman for the Lego games makes his much less threatening and changes his design to seem simpler and more impactful which is important for younger audiences.

By looking at Lego Batman 3 and the design of Batman in particular I have deepened my understanding of how characters can be designed for specific audiences and how their designs will differ between these audiences. This helps me understand how to create characters of my own with a specific target audience in mind.

References:

Traveller’s Tales (2016) Lego Batman 3 [Computer game] Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Bradley, S. (2010) The Meaning Of Shapes: Developing Visual Grammar. Available at: http://vanseodesign.com/web-design/visual-grammar-shapes/ (Accessed: 20 September 2016).

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (2016) Batman. Available at: http://www.superherohype.com/news/377127-batman-return-to-arkham-delayed-indefinitely#/slide/5 (Accessed: 10 October 2016)

Warner Bros. International Enterprises (2015) Lego Batman. Available at: http://www.superherohype.com/news/377127-batman-return-to-arkham-delayed-indefinitely#/slide/5 (Accessed: 10 October 2016)

Audience analysis and character redesign (Unit 9 1.1, 1.2) (Unit 10 1.1)

In order to better understand how to design characters I will analyse the importance of the audience of a character and then redesign the character for a different audience. I will explain why the character was suitable for it’s original audience and then discuss how the design could be altered to make it both appealing and appropriate for a different audience by considering the previous analysis.

Metal Face is a part of the game Xenoblade Chronicles (Nintendo 2010), the audience for this game would be mid-teens with an approximate age range of 14-16. The game has multiple playable male and female characters, this widens its appeal to both genders and none of the themes in the game exclude either gender. This is reinforced by the importance of roles that both genders of characters play in the story. The game was initially released in Japan and was later released in Europe, the game is considered niche as it has a relatively small audience. Most of the audience would have interests in adventure and combat as these are central themes to the game, danger in particular is a theme which relates strongly to Metal Face. For Metal Face to be redesigned as a more child-friendly they would need a new appearance, the target age group would be reduced to approximately 7-10. Similarly to before the character would be in a game targeted at both genders. The interests of the audience would remain the same but the element of danger would be strongly pulled back.

The first aspects to change when redesigning Metal Face’s appearance would be his size and shape, to make the character more suitable for younger audiences I would greatly change these features, to start the body shape would be redesigned to look more like a human. I would then remove most of the intricate details as simpler shapes appeal more to younger audiences, but the most important identifying features such as the mask and the claws. According to Rikard (2015) colours convey a large range of emotions and are a core consideration when designing, with darker colours generally conveying negative emotions and lighter colours conveying positive emotions. The colours across Metal Face are generally dark and threatening with a focus on red, gold and black, these could be changed to become lighter, the black could be replaced with a grey, the red could be switched with a less threatening blue and the gold could remain as it is the least negative colour. It is possible that the red could be toned back and remain as it helps define his appearance and role as an antagonist. One of the main ways I would redesign Metal Face would be to change the character to be a human child in a metal robotic costume with a mask which resembles Metal Face’s original mask. The mask would have to be more rounded and have less spikes to make it more appropriate for children, the bottom half could also be missing to leave the bottom half of the child’s face showing as this humanises the character and makes them more relatable for children. To continue with this theme the voice of the character would be younger and more like that of a child. They would also use much less violent language as the language Metal Face originally uses is inappropriate for children. An example of the body type that the redesigned Metal Face would have is that of Beast Boy (Teen Titans Go, 2013). In this series Beast Boy has a relatively large head and simplistic, colourful features, this kind of style would be the most appropriate for a younger audience as the head to body ratio makes the character far less threatening. Part of the reason for this is due to the meanings conveyed by shapes, Bradley (2010) suggests that round shapes are more comforting, square shapes are more stable and triangular shapes represent aggression and speed, with this in mind the redesign of Metal Face would have to be primarily focused on rounded shapes, yet still use enough sharp, triangular shapes to convey that they are an antagonist. Another example of colour palette and design would be Meta Knight from the Kirby games. Meta Knight has a mixture of dark and light colours in an effort to convey that they are an antagonist while remaining child-friendly. The redesign of Metal Face would use a similar style to this by not using an overbearing amount of dark colours, yet using enough to convey that they are an antagonist.

By conducting this analysis of audience and by redesigning the character with this in mind I have improved my understanding of character design in relation to a target audience, this will aid me when I design characters of my own. The target audience must be a core consideration when developing a design for a character and this analysis has helped me deepen my understanding of the techniques involved in appealing to specific groups of people through a visual design.

References:

Teen Titans Go (2013) Cartoon Network 23 April.

Nintendo (2010) Xenoblade Chronicles [Computer game] Nintendo UK.

HAL Laboratory (1993) Kirby’s Adventure [Computer game] Nintendo UK.

Bradley, S. (2010) The Meaning Of Shapes: Developing Visual Grammar. Available at: http://vanseodesign.com/web-design/visual-grammar-shapes/ (Accessed: 20 September 2016).

Rikard. (2015) The Psychology of Color: A Designer’s Guide to Color Association & Meaning. Available at: http://www.zevendesign.com/color-association (Accessed: 20 September 2016).

Nintendo (2010) Metal Face. Available at: http://xenoblade.wikia.com/wiki/Metal_Face (Accessed: 3 October 2016)

Comparison of the Lego And Street Fighter audiences (Unit 9 1.1) (Unit 10 1.1)

I am going to compare the audiences of Lego Batman 3 (Traveller’s Tales, 2015), Street Fighter 5 (Capcom, 2016) and Mortal Kombat X (NetherRealm Studios, 2015), this will allow me to understand what makes each of these titles appropriate or inappropriate for a particular audience. By comparing these titles I will deepen my understanding of how to design content with a specific target audience in mind which is vital to creating any character concepts.

The Lego and Street Fighter audiences do have some overlap, both are focused on multiplayer experiences and are full of bright colours. Both types of games are filled with action and combat, however both have a comedic feel rather than being serious or dark. Both series also focus on diversity, in either series you will be able to play a wide cast of characters, they are also created to appeal to a large amount of people. Lego games are suitable for almost anyone in the world and Street Fighter games represent a large variety of nations which helps widen it’s appeal as people can find different characters to relate to in each series.

Although similar in concept Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat X have different audiences as they are more appealing to different groups of people. Street Fighter has a colourful and lighthearted world, the characters themselves are visually appropriate for everyone aside from some sexualisation of female characters. Mortal Kombat X contrasts to Street fighter in several ways, the world is dark and gruesome which makes it less suitable for children and less appealing in general to many people. Mortal Kombat X features violence to a far larger degree than Street Fighter even though they are both fighting games, the video Mortal Kombat X – All Fatalities (deathmule, 2015) shows many examples of extremely graphic finishing moves. Kubas-Meyer (2015) describes the violence in Mortal Kombat X and says that “Blood flows freely” and that “bones snap in vivid detail”. The critical arts in Street Fighter 5 are far more flashy and spectacular and incorporate no blood or x-rays of broken bones, this can be seen in the video Street Fighter 5: All Critical Arts (Supers) (NowGamerTube, 2015). Overall the games appeals to slightly different audiences due to the visual content of the game, Mortal Kombat X appeals to a more mature audience due to the more graphic violence whereas Street Fighter 5 appeals to a wider range of people due to the brighter colours and more diverse cast of characters who are from around the world. Due to these differences I can conclude that Street Fighter would be more appropriate for the Lego franchise than Mortal Kombat X.

The audiences of Lego and Street Fighter are much closer than that of Lego and Mortal Kombat X, however there are still some issues that must be considered. The Street Fighter series, although less graphic than Mortal Kombat X still contains excessive violence, this means that if Street Fighter is to be redesigned for children it must tone back on some of the more violent moves. Another issue is the sexualisation of the appearance and behaviour of some female characters, this will already be reduced if the characters are recreated as Lego figures, however this is still an issue that needs to be considered as overly sexual characters are not suitable for a target audience of children.

In opposition to this, Street Fighter’s bright colours and diverse cast make it a great fit for the Lego universe. The bright aesthetic is very appealing to children and the variety of characters means that players are more likely to have a character that they relate to. The lighthearted nature of the Street Fighter series is also a great fit as all Lego games are lighthearted and comedic in an attempt to appeal to children. The action filled combat is another important aspect, Lego games tend to have a low level of violence anyway so translating Street Fighter’s combat shouldn’t be a large issue.

Lego Street fighter Venn Diagram.png

This Venn diagram I created shows where the Lego and Street Fighter franchises are similar and where they are different, by looking at these we can determine how appropriate Street Fighter would be for Lego’s audience. For example both games are suitable for a wide range of ages, however Lego is games are suitable for practically every age, however due to violence and suggestive themes in the Street Fighter series they are less suitable for very young audiences. I believe that the many similarities between the two franchises mean that Street Fighter could easily be made into a suitable Lego game.

By evaluating the audiences of these three games I have deepened my understanding of what makes a game appropriate for it’s audience and inappropriate for others. I have also considered what would be necessary to redesign the Street Fighter series for the Lego franchise as this increases my understanding of why certain designs appeal to to specific audiences and how they can be changed to suit a different demographic.

References:

deathmule (2015) Mortal Kombat X – All Fatalities. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YxPFw7lfY0 (Accessed: 4 October 2016).

Kubas-Meyer, A. (2015) Mortal Kombat X: The Most Violent Video Game Ever? Available at: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/19/mortal-kombat-x-the-most-violent-video-game-ever.html (Accessed: 4 October 2016).

NowGamerTube (2015) Street Fighter 5: All Critical Arts (Supers). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IDFux4btJQ (Accessed: 3 October 2016).

Traveller’s Tales (2016) Lego Batman 3 [Computer game] Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Capcom (2016) Street Fighter 5 [Computer game] Capcom.

NetherRealm Studios (2015) Mortal Kombat X [Computer game] Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Capcom (2016) Street Fighter 5. Available at: https://cracked-games.org/street-fighter-v/ (Accessed: 10 October 2016)

NetherRealm Studios (2015) Mortal Kombat X. Available at: https://gamerant.com/mortal-kombat-x-e3-preview/ (Accessed: 10 October 2016)

Character and Audio (Unit 9 1.1) (Unit 10 1.1)

Audio is almost always a core feature when conveying information about a character in video games, it can tell the listener a lot about a character’s personality. This has been true since even very early games, however technical limitations lead many early games to use voice in a very restricted sense or to not use it at all. I am going to compare the voice work of Ryu in Super Street Fighter II (Capcom 1993) and Street fighter V (Capcom 2016) to examine how far voice work in gaming has come and why it has changed so much.

The first video I will be looking at is Super Street Fighter II VOICE COLLECTION (ChikikyoKONAMI, 2009), in this clip Ryu’s voice work is very limited, the lines are quick, short and low quality. When creating the game the developers would have used a small amount of short voice clips as this would save on space which was extremely limited for early games systems. Due to the limited amount of voice work Ryu’s character is not very well conveyed, his voice lines do little to separate him out from the rest of the male cast such as Ken. Overall these voice lines aren’t unsuitable for Ryu, however they do little to define him as a character.

The second video I will be looking at is Street Fighter V: Japanese vs English Voices | All Characters [Launch] HD (ADAPT Chance 2016), in this video Ryu’s voice work has been expanded a lot, he speaks full sentences rather than only making grunts and saying the names of certain moves. By speaking full sentences the listeners get a much greater sense of who Ryu is, the voice lines in this clip convey a sense of a gruff, determined and respectful fighter. This kind of depth could not have been conveyed before due to the limitations of technology, however modern games make great use of technology to convey personality through voice.  The quality of the voice work is also improved due to the advancement of technology, in the past audio files would have to be very limited in size to save space, however in current times game developers have many less restrictions when working with audio. The samples that used in this game are chosen because they convey a lot about who Ryu is as a character without outright telling you facts about him, he conveys his personality through his tone and the types of things he says. Overall I would say that these voice clips are far more suitable for Ryu as the performance conveys far more about his personality than the voice work in Super Street Fighter II.

By doing this task I have advanced my understanding of the advancement of voice work in video games and my understanding of how voice work is used to convey personality. By knowing this I will be able to develop voice work of my own with the knowledge of it’s importance and what factors are important to consider when trying to convey character through a voice performance.

References:

Capcom (1993) Super Street Fighter II [Computer game] Capcom

Capcom (2016) Street fighter V [Computer game] Capcom

ChikikyoKONAMI (2009) Super Street Fighter II VOICE COLLECTION. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMmKUTxLms8 (Accessed: 9 October 2016).

At first I found myself strapped for time with the speed drawings, I was too focused on the detail of the character, on the second set of speed drawings I found it easier to focus on the important aspects such as the overall outline of the character’s form. When doing continuous line drawings I found that my experience with the speed drawings aided me in understanding how the outline of the character formed, by focusing a lot on the form of the character I was able to quickly develop the basis of a character sketch which could then be easily developed upon.

For this task I created some drawings demonstrating my custom character taking heavy damage, using a heavy attack and performing their critical attack. Below each image is an annotation which describes what each image is and what’s happening in the drawing. I found that my drawings displayed what I wanted well but could be improved, for example the proportions between images were slightly inaccurate as the different body part change sizes slightly.

I believe that a Lego Street Fighter game would adapt the series to become more appealing to the casual audience, especially a younger demographic who may not have previously appreciated the complex controls. A Lego Street Fighter game could adapt some of the existing mechanics and make the game more accessible to a wider audience similarly to how the focus attack mechanic was implemented which was an easy and rewarding maneuver to use without detrimentally affecting higher level play. The bright and exaggerated designs of a Lego Street Fighter game would help very young audiences enjoy the story of the Street Fighter world without having any dependence on the player having a high level of understanding of the game mechanics.

References:

Capcom (2016) Street fighter V [Computer game] Capcom

Jarvis, M. (2015) Capcom targets ‘newer, younger, eSports audience’ with Street Fighter V. Available at: http://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/capcom-targets-newer-younger-esports-audience-with-street-fighter-v/0158783 (Accessed: 10 November 2016)

Nussbaum, K. (2014) Reinventing the fighting game genre, and appealing to a new audience. Available at: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/KennethNussbaum/20140321/213684/Reinventing_the_fighting_game_genre_and_appealing_to_a_new_audience.php (Accessed: 10 November 2016)

Martin, M. (2016) Why Street Fighter V Is More Than Just a Game. Available at: http://www.redbull.com/us/en/esports/stories/1331779658839/why-street-fighter-v-is-more-than-just-a-game (Accessed: 10 November 2016)

Moore, B. (2016) The Turbulent Growth of the Fighting Game Community. Available at: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/features/16915-The-Turbulent-Growth-of-the-Community-Around-Fighting-Games (Accessed: 10 November 2016)

  • How does your character fit, adapt or subvert these themes? Why is this relevant?

The fighting game genre is a highly competitive genre with a large focus on 2 player combat, the games are typically fast-paced and rely heavily on the skill of the players. The games generally have large casts of characters who each individually boast a deep level of complexity. According to Ack (2011) “as time has gone by, fighters have become increasingly complex” which can be beneficial for the competitive scene of the genre, however Ack also states that this complexity can mean that “players new to the genre feel it is too complex”. Titles within the fighting game genre also incorporate specific command inputs for each character which allow the player to perform a variety of moves with differing levels of complexity and power. My character would fit these themes as they will have attacks of differing complexity, they will have a heavy punch as well as a Critical Art which is an advanced type of move. My character is also designed to fit with other characters of the series whilst still remaining unique and individual which is important as fighting games rely on large, diverse casts of characters. This is relevant as my character must fit mechanically and visually with the genre, otherwise they would be a poor fit for any fighting game.

What is the appeal of these games? Why do you think people play them?

I believe that the appeal of the fighting game genre typically lies within the aspect of striving towards mastery and competing against opponents of similar skill, devoted players will typically dedicate themselves to learning specific characters until they have a strong understanding of the previously mentioned deep level of complexity. Features like a ranking system and the competitive esports scene encourage and reward players for mastering characters and taking on opponents of high skill levels which further solidifies the idea that competition and mastery are the primary appeal for dedicated players.

What are the key conventions/characteristics of the genre?

  • How could you use these to develop your character/concept?

Titles in the fighting game genre typically have large, diverse casts, my character would be designed in a way which fits in with the world of the fighting game whilst also having a unique appeal both in design and gameplay mechanics. According to Ack (2011) fighting game characters must be as mechanically balanced as possible with regards to the rest of the playable cast with the only exception being “boss characters” or a “joke character”. Subverting this would generally result in “harsh criticism” so my character would have to be on the same level as the rest of the cast mechanically whilst not being too iterative of other character playstyles. Typically fighting games are one versus one fights, so the character’s playstyle would be based around that, there is no need for my character to have moves which benefit an ally near them if the only other character they will ever be near is a single enemy. Another key characteristic of the fighting game genre is the input command, these commands allow players to input a combination of controller inputs to perform powerful moves, the complexity of an input often correlates to the power of a move, for example a basic punch is an easy input for a basic attack, but powerful moves such as Street Fighter’s critical arts require complex button combinations for much greater effect. I can use this knowledge to develop my character by designing a variety of moves with widely differing complexity as this is a staple in the fighting game genre.
How have other developers followed or adapted these characteristics for new interpretations of the genre? What can you learn from this?

Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. (Hal Laboratories, 2014) series is a fighting game series which currently allows for up to 8 players in a match with various team setups such as one versus one, 4 opposing teams and free-for-all. Due to the variety of styles of match the game allows for the player to heavily customise match settings, for example there is an item which only has the use of healing a teammate, in a one versus one match the players will have no use for this item so they may choose to change the settings so that this item doesn’t appear whilst all other still do. Super Smash Bros. also adapts special moves by making them based on one direction input and one button input whilst also being based on the current state of the character, this makes the moves far simpler than typical fighting games with a focus on the positioning of the character over memorisation of button combinations. This simplification also makes the game more appealing to a casual group as the button inputs are universal throughout the cast with the only memorisation being what the resulting move is. From this I can learn that simplification of existing mechanics and universal input styles can make a title far more accessible for newcomers to a series, having many of the inputs be universal throughout the cast makes Super Smash Bros. a very accessible game with a low skill floor when compared to other fighting games.
What are the key gameplay elements?

  • How does your character fit, adapt, or subvert these elements?

As I previously mentioned the fighting game genre is highly competitive and features at it’s core moves with both complex and simple inputs, many fighting games also have a large cast of playable characters which allow players to play in a large variety of ways. I can use this information to develop my character, if I want my character to fit into a fighting game it must be unique when compared to the rest of the cast, characters in fighting games are designed to offer varying play styles so my character’s design and mechanics must not be too iterative whilst still fitting the theme of the game, for this reason my character will have attacks and movements which are similar to existing characters yet are different enough that the character has it’s own appeal when compared to other members of the cast. At a basic level my character would fit with the core gameplay elements such as having a bar of health and having a range of animations both for using attacks and for being hit by an opponent.

Identify examples cited in the article that could help you develop your character/concept?

  • In what ways could they help inform your ideas?

The primary way this article helps inform my ideas is with regards to diversity of character design, the article mentions that fighters have large, diverse casts, so if my character is to be suitable then they must be appealing in a way which no other member of the cast is. The article also covers inputs for attacks, this is relevant for my character as I must consider both simple moves and complex ones as fighting game characters always have a large and diverse movepool. Combining both of these elements my character must have a fighting style which isn’t to iterative of another cast member, if two characters are almost identical in moves then there is less appeal for each of them individually, so my character must be unique to the rest of the cast both visually and mechanically.

 

Ryu Pose.png

 

(Right-Click and select Loop to have the video repeat)

(Right-Click and select Loop to have the video repeat)

 

(Reference video used)

 

Overall I am happy with the outcome of these animations, I had no issues developing the idle or the Hadouken. The Hadouken was more complex to animate but I had no issues and in the end I was satisfied with the animation. By doing this task I have further familiarised myself with animation, in particular working with a rigged character and assigning keyframes for different bones based on template animations.

Ryu Silhouette Screenshot.png
Ryu Pixel Art Silhouette

Before adding the colour into the pixel art I defined the outline of the character as a silhouette which served as a base to work off of. By creating this silhouette I was able to focus on the form of the character without concerning myself with details such as colour and perspective. The pixel silhouette was based off of reference images of Ryu

ryu-reference
Ryu Idle Reference Image

Overall I was happy with the outcome of this task, by separating the task into two halves of making the silhouette and then colouring the design I was able to focus on the different core aspects of the character without any confusion. The size limitations of this task meant that I had to carefully consider the form of the character and how each pixel of colour could convey a slightly different meaning, for instance the arms were made of three different shades of the same colour, the darker and lighter highlights were used to give a sense of perspective.

References:

Science Buddies Staff. (2014, October 22). Power Play: How Does Animation Timing Affect Your Perception of Game Action?. Accessed: November 22, 2016 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Games_p024.shtml

 

Birdie Pose.png

 

 

(Right-Click and select Loop to have the video repeat)

 

I had some issues with this task, the animation was more complex that the previous ones and this meant that I had to coordinate more movments at different times. I was still happy with the final render even through my difficulties, though there are several aspects I feel should be more detailed. I feel that I could have improved on the hand details and animated the fingers more as in his idle Birdie repeatedly clenches his hands.

Overall I am happy with the outcome of this animation, I only had a few minor issues but the outcome was satisfactory. By doing this task I have further familiarised myself with animation, in particular working with a rigged character and assigning keyframes for different bones based on template animations. I also developed my ability to transition from a repeated short animation into different animations and then return to the loop.

Similarly to the previous pixel task I created Birdie from Street Fighter in a 16×16 format, the overall picture is 24×24 and the blue guidelines display the 16×16 section. The original sprite is designed to fit within the 16×16 area and the outside areas are for animating the character as they will leave the smaller area when they perform actions. For this task I attempted to animate one of Birdie’s signature moves.

The colours and the exaggerated form of my pixel art help to make the character more recognisable even though the 16×16 style limits the amount of detail available. By using strong colours I can make the design more vibrant which helps make the design more memorable and recognisable. Using 3 minor variations of each colour allowed me to convey a sense of depth in the characters design, it also allowed me to separate different areas of Birdie’s body, for example the flesh tones of Birdie’s belly and arm overlap, to make each stand out from the other I used a darker shade on the inside of Birdie’s arm and a lighter shade on the outside of Birdie’s belly.

Birdie Pixel Screenshot.png
Birdie Pixel Art

One again before adding the colour into the pixel art I defined the outline of the character as a silhouette which served as a base to work off of. By creating this silhouette I was able to focus on the form of the character without concerning myself with details such as colour and perspective.

Birdie Silhouette Screenshot.png
Birdie Pixel Art Silhouette

This is a 3 frame pixel animation of Birdie’s special attack, the frames are; Birdie’s idle pose, Birdie reeling back before the move and then the apex of Birdie’s headbutt. To do this I had to use a lot of the techniques learned in the previous task, primarily the considerations of different tones of the same colour to distinguish the separate areas.

Birdie-Bullhead-Animation.gif
Birdie 3 Frame Attack Animation

The video below is what I used as a reference, I took screenshots of the 3 main keyframes in the attack’s animation and created pixel silhouettes which match them to use as the basis for my animation. When creating the 3 frames of animation I had to consider the form of the character so that I wouldn’t stretch them too far or make it seem like an unrealistic transition.

I am happy with the end result of my work and I believe this was a good way to build on what I learned from my previous task. This work has helped me consider form, colour and motion in a limited format and will be useful for my future projects which cover character design and animation. As this was the second task of its kind I found it much easier to work with the limitations, I worked more quickly and the I found that the quality of the final design was better than with the Ryu task, in particular I found it easier to use colour highlights to convey perspective and make the character look less flat.

References:

DrewTony’Z (Nov 12 2015) Street Fighter V – Birdie Move List. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcgm119v-Js (Accessed: 22 November 2016).

lego-4

lego-1

For the final designs I tried two slightly different designs, they had different hairstyles and the shirt is worn differently, but the base design is quite different. I am the happiest with the longer-haired design with the more open shirt, after this stage I will work to recreate the design in a cleaner digital format which can then be used to aid in the creation of the final 3D design.

Here is the refined version of my previous work, it was recreated in Photoshop. There is a reference in the top left for the colour codes used in the image, this way the reds of the image are all the same red for example. This can also be beneficial for future production as when I am texturing the final model I can use these colour references.

Lego Character Digital Design In Progress.jpg

To make this I used a template of a blank Lego form and altered the outlines, filled the areas with colours and added details such as the face and the muscles under the shirt. For some parts of the design I used a graphics tablet, the eyebrows and the mouth in particular required more detailed line work which couldn’t be easily achieved with the brush or pencil tool. The details on the trousers which make them look loose and baggy were also achieved by using the graphics tablet as they allowed lines which were thinner at either end.

Before animating my Lego character I had to texture them, this work was heavily based off of my Photoshop digital design. I created the textures in Photoshop based off of the unwrapped UVW templates of the key areas of the character’s body. Below are the textures which I used and then what the model looks like with them applied. To accurately apply the textures to the model I had to assign the designs for different aspects of the character such as their face and the emblem on their back to the corresponding location on the UVW template. I could do this by going into the UVW template modifier on 3DS Max and highlighting any part of the template which would highlight the relevant polygon.

 

Lego Character 3D.png

Overall I am happy with the outcome of this work, the textures are applied just fine and there are no real issues. Now that the character has been textured I can move on to animating the character based off of animation reference videos which were edited in Adobe Premiere.

Before I could animate my character in 3DS Max I needed to record reference videos for my animations, these would be taken from two viewpoints and then synced in Adobe Premiere. The videos were based off of my previous drawing work where I drew the different moves of my character. Below are the final reference videos.

 

With these reference videos I can animate my character in 3DS Max, the way I can use these videos is to import them into 3DS Max as a material and apply them to a plane which matches the aspect ratio of the video, this can be seen below in a screenshot of me working on my idle animation.

Lego Idle Multiview.png

Overall this task went well and set me up appropriately to animate my character in 3DS Max. The only issue I had was that the second viewpoint for the Critical Art reference video didn’t record so I only had one viewpoint to work with.

For this task I chose to dub audio over my attack animation render, the first stage in the process of creating audio for my video was to decide what noises would be appropriate. To do this I looked at Lego games and Street Fighter to see what kind of sounds were used, in the end I decided to use three different sounds, one for the motion of the arm, one for the impact of the hit and one which was the vocals of the character attacking, these can be seen in the table below which also shows how I made the sounds.

Sound Asset List.png

When recording sound I had to monitor the levels of the audio which was being recorded, I had to tweak settings on the recording device to ensure that the audio being recorded wasn’t peaking, but was also audible. The first sound was the swiping, swooshing sound of the arm moving quickly for the punch, this was a relatively simple sound to make. To make this sound I recorded a coat hanger being swiped through the air, the way that the coat hanger was held affected the type of sound it made and I decided that I preferred a shorter snappier sound for the swipe.

Audio Screenshot.png

The second sound recorded was the impact sound, this was recorded by punching a balled up leather glove, the intention was to create audio which was reminiscent of skin being hit. This sound was quite high pitched and sounded very snappy, this wasn’t bad but I thought it was too high-pitched so I went into audacity to edit the audio, I edited all of the audio tracks, but this one in particular needed me to tweak settings such as pitch and speed to produce the desired effect. I also used the envelope tool to make the sound fade out slightly after the initial impact.

 

The final sound I created was the vocal sound of the character when they were punching, for this I wanted the noise to sound like a “hah”, the sound also had to be very forceful whilst fitting the character. For this I recorded one of my classmates and directed them so that I could get the type of audio I desired. I was happy with the resulting audio, but I decided to edit it in audacity to increase the pitch to make them sound slightly different to what I had recorded. I did this because I thought a slightly higher pitched voice fitted the character more than my initial recordings.

Audio Dub Screenshot.png

After recording all of the audio I used Premiere to dub the sounds I had created over the attack animation video. To do this I imported all of the audio files as well as the video file into the program and then tried to synchronise the audio tracks to the motions in the video. The end result of my work can be seen below.

Overall I’m quite happy with how this work turned out, I think that the sounds are appropriate and add a lot to the initial video. The only part I had any doubts about was the impact sound, I felt it was strange given that the character wasn’t hitting anyone and even if they were I felt that I could have used a slightly different type of impact sound. I was very pleased with the swipe and the vocal sound, the swipe felt like something out of a cartoon which made it feel very fitting for a Lego character, the vocals were also very accurate to what I had envisioned, part of what I believed helped make these sounds so good was the amount of takes we did. By recording many variations of the same sound I had a lot of options to choose from when I edited them in Audacity.

 

Advertisements