One of the next prototypes on my list of things to do was to look at planning the potential character customisation for Bell Jar. We had a clear idea that the style we’re going for is rustic and High Fantasy so I took this into account when thinking about the design of the character customisation.
To begin with, I started looking at some High Fantasy examples of character customisation and what better place to start than Final Fantasy, FFXIV. Below is a video of Millie and I working through the customisation options. We began by making an example character and then after this, we thought about the 5 Days game idea we came up with and thought it would be a good idea to make him into what we imagined him to look like (or as much as the game could let us). Images of the example character can be found in my sketchbook, the video below is just the 5 Days character.
For notes and documentation process for FFXIV, see Sketchbook 2, purple tab labelled Char Customisation Research, pages 93 – 108.
We both imagined the protagonist to be quite a tall and bulky man as he is a literal body farmer and so he has to have the strength in order to take body parts off and out of people. (I know that sounds awful, please check my Idea Generation Document for the expansion on this game). In terms of the hair, we both seemed agreed on him having cropped hair as he would need to make sure it’s not in his face or eyes as this could be a hindrance when assassinating people.
In regards to the face, you’ve got to be pretty tough or mean looking to have to do this job to get out of debt so we tried to go for a big jaw, angry and weathered. Another interesting element to the 5 Days guy, (let’s call him Dave for ease) is that the game is about synthetic body parts so we chose for Dave to have different coloured eyes – one to symbolise his bionic eye. This option was pretty cool and one I haven’t seen in many games with character customisation; something like this could prove useful for our game. Maybe a part of customising Dave could be that you can choose what parts of him are synthetic and maybe each option gives you different perks?
Due to only having 5 days to pay off his debt, we tried to make Dave look as tired and over-worked as we could by giving him bags under his eyes and a redness surrounding them too. This seemed to work well to get across the idea that he is under stress. I will be looking to use this character customisation as inspiration for the character when it comes to storyboarding the opening cutscene later on.
The other games that I looked into included Dark Souls III, Destiny, Skyrim, Mass Effect and finally Diablo III. I felt most of these offered similar themes to that of Bell Jar and I also wanted to see what variations the different games had for inspiration when creating my own character customisation for Bell Jar.
For a more in-depth analysis of Dark Souls III see:
Sketchbook 2, purple tab labelled Dark Souls III, pages 109 – 115.
For a more in-depth analysis of Destiny see:
Sketchbook 2, purple tab labelled Destiny, pages 116 – 120.
For a more in-depth analysis of Skyrim see:
Sketchbook 2, purple tab labelled Skyrim, pages 121 – 124.
For a more in-depth analysis of Mass Effect see:
Sketchbook 2, purple tab labelled Mass Effect, pages 125 – 127.
For a more in-depth analysis of Diablo III see:
Sketchbook 2, purple tab labelled Diable III, pages 128 – 130.
Above is a short clip I took of The Slaughtered Calf Inn in Diablo III. The interior of the Inn is similar to the sort of look and feel that my team and I’ve been thinking about for one of our current projects, Bell Jar.
I had this idea when I was playing Diablo III and showed the team to see what they thought. We’re all in agreement that this sort of rustic, fantasy style is something we would like to portray in Bell Jar. The lighting and colour play a massive part in this so this will be something to bear in mind when progressing forward.
After doing some research into character customisation in video games already out there, I feel more confident with being able to design a range of ideas in order to fit our game idea, Bell Jar and its themes. I will be looking to start the design process soon and I am hoping to be able to possibly code something or at least get some pseudo code written.
See Sketchbook 2, purple tab labelled Char Custom Concepts, pages 135 – 143 for concepts of what the character customisation screen could be like.