In the first part of this article, we’ve pointed out the questions you need to ask yourself when creating a game character and answered some of them based on our experience with Jack from our mobile action game Uprising. We’ve discussed where does the action take place, what’s the origin of the character, what does he look like, how did he got trapped and what’s his attitude to the situation. Now let’s move on to the rest of the questions.
Who is helping him?
Well, being alone might have some benefits, but that’s not a game about loneliness. The world is still in the early days of post-apocalypse, so Jack’s former squadmates should still probably be somewhere around. So, as support for Jack, we introduced the main protagonist from the main Rise of Colonies game – Matt Denvers. He is Jack’s former squadmate and battle comrade. Supporting characters are necessary for better and deeper protagonist presentation. The way Jack speaks to Matt, makes jokes about him and takes his jokes helps the player better understand who Jack is. Matt is a virtual character to whom Jack chats over the radio once in a while and the one who helps Jack with power strikes or in-game abilities if you like.
It is quite a simple story presentation with voice-overs but that’s fine – it is not reasonable to make full-scale animated cut-scenes with a casual game budget.
How does he defend himself?
Now that we’ve got a character, a story, an attitude, and comrades, let’s give the guy a gun he deserves.
It is actually not only about guns, but also about the environment. When he escapes the facility he finds himself at the barricade of garbage, metal plates and wood. The reason why the barricade is here is not disclosed in the game but, as a game designer, I know that the employees of the facility tried to barricade the entrance to give personnel enough time to evacuate with valuable data.
Of course, since we are talking about the research facility of one of the leading corporations, players are expected to find some hi-tech toys left at the barricades. These become available as Jack progresses through the game. He is not a very intelligent person, so he’s just glad to find and use them to his advantage without asking too many questions.
Jack’s guns include 3 main weapons with different control mechanics: a pistol, an automatic rifle, and a rocket launcher. While the game is set in the future, we could assume that there will be some advanced weapons like laser pistols or blasters. But our Jack is keen on old things like natural human powers, friendship and strong will, so he would gladly use traditional firepower as opposed to the modern one. That’s why we gave him traditional guns and moved hi-tech stuff to the toys section.
Jack’s toys are out of scope for this article, so they will be covered in one of the other ones dedicated to ROC: Uprising game.
Where does he go after the game?
So, how does the story end for our character? You’ll need to know that from the very beginning in order to prepare your players for that. You don’t have to reveal all the details throughout the game, but having protagonist successfully resolve story crisis, having a happy end and all that stuff and then walk the character into the sunset as the camera shifts to the sniper rifle scope aiming at his back will not be tolerated by player. If it is a bad ending, it should lead to that bad at game’s key plot points without those spikes like “they lived happily ever after until one day everybody died”.
Regarding Jack, we have a sequel planned for his further adventures, so he is definitely going to survive the game as does Matt, since he is the main protagonist of another game title, taking place roughly 3 years after the events of Uprising.
This is a close-to-final screenshot of the game:
So, let’s sum up this long read and outline the main items that make believable characters:
- Character Legacy – it is about the world he/she lives in and his/her life. He/She can’t be a person from nowhere, sudden surprises just won’t work out.
- Motivation – he/she has to be certain of the things he is doing and why he is doing the things. Actions and events that lead to in-game character behavior should be clear.
- Attitude – a person’s character should also have a mentality, not only visuals – the way he/she moves, the way he/she speaks also helps character development. That’s one of the reasons why generic “walk, jump, run” animations from the internet and stores won’t work here.
In the end, it all comes down to developing a believable environment with characters that fit gameplay mechanics well.