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character development

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Before gathering up a development team, try to take the game beyond the "cool idea" stage.

You will need to complete the plot. Most (90%) of the characters should be defined in RIGID detail (with the most important dialogues written), as well as descriptions of ALL rooms in the game. Beginning, middle, end, and obstacles along the way - those should be in place. You don't need all the solutions for overcoming those obstacles yet, but you will need to know which parts and puzzles will be the hard ones, and which will be the simpler ones. Most importantly: YOU MUST HAVE THE GAME ATMOSPHERE FLOWING THROUGH YOUR VEINS LIKE MAD! That feeling is the source from which the characters, room settings, and dialogues spring.

"Here endeth the lesson."


What do you consider as defining a character in RIGID detail, Scarpia?

Not everything is defined for my game, so I'm not really trying to get more members at this point. Right now I have to define enough to give enough work to the members I've got! Later, I'll probably need a 3D artist for backgrounds, maybe a programmer. The team is fine for everything else.

If I could remember the quote right, I would refer to the beginning of a book by Milan Kundera. He claims that characters (in books in his case) do not necessarily depict real life people, rather do they reflect feelings or moments. Thus, one of his characters originated from "a rumbling in his stomach", and another from the german sentence "einmal ist keinmal", roughly translated "once is nothing".

That could be considered "rigid detail" to Milan Kundera, as these simple descriptions, to him, would describe a person's very essence. An artist or animator would probably not be able to extract the same depth of the characters.

So "rigid detail" is variable, depending on the team, the character, and the situation overall. In case of an adventure game character, I would say an entire page of text (hand--written) is minimum for a core character. Then again, we would all know exactly what I meant by a simple description like "eager youngster with a guybrush-ish wannabe-mad-scientist attitude". That sure sparks an adventure-gamer's imagination, doesn't it?  :P

All depends on the context I guess.


Gotacha. Thanks.

I hadn't thought of doing an "essence" description... that may be useful if I want people other than me to write for the characters. ;)

Precisely. The essence of the character is crucial if you want depth (which isn't the case in most adventure games) or character consistency (which *is* the case in any GOOD adventure game).

By consistency, I mean the fact that every action, sentence or choice made throughout the game by the character reflects the same consistent personality. Having the character's 'essence' sketched out from the very beginning ensures that the whole team will be able to know by instinct the character's reaction to any situation that might arise.

A (fairly elaborate) 'Essence description' could be:
[*] How old is he?
[*] How old is he mentally?
[*] What is his favourite thing to do?
[*] What is his LEAST favourite thing to do?
[*] How does he see himself?
[*] What is 'wrong' with him? (everything goes)
[*] What are his dreams?
[*] Everybody has a secret. What is his?
[*] What is his mood initially?
[*] Does this mood change at any point, and how?
[*] What does he think of the PC initially?
[*] Does this view change at any point, and how?



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