Designing A Main Character That's Accepted

“Sup” every one! Lol.

In this topic I want to talk a little about Main Character design. I’m sure you all know the design of a Main Character in a game, especially an action game, can make or break the entire game itself. In action games (and others) you focus on the Main throughout the game usually, unlike some “RPGish” games where you play multiple characters.

You would think a Main character could be just about anything or anyone. While that may be true, uninteresting Main Characters can quickly lead to a game that’s uninteresting. So what matters with a Main Character?

Sex, height, weight, color, weapons…or gear? It all does really, but there’s a tight rope to walk on with all that. What tight rope? As a developer you know what you’re aiming for but at the same time you have to be aware of what gamers might except and might not except.

An example of this is Kratos for God of War. The developers started Kratos off with a lot of armor. They didn’t feel the look was right so they started stripping away on everything until they ended up with the no armor version (GOW1).

Color was also a big issue with Kratos. He was suppose to be a purple looking or violet color, but instead the Developers went with Red…why? Why was the decision made to have a bald Kratos instead of one with hair. I personally thought some hair on Kratos, like Raziel from legacy of kane, would have been “kewl” as hell.

Hair can be a pain in the “azz” to work with and that’s one of the reasons SCEA did not go with hair for Kratos. Another reason was the fact they were looking for a brutal looking character and Bald guys seem to look more brutal than guys with long pretty hair.

Really…how much should a developer stress over a Main Character’s appearance? For me, I’ve always felt graphics in any game should fit the world the developers are trying to bring to life (and story for that matter). I experienced that when I played FF7 years ago. The game’s graphics didn’t blow me away back then, but The game’s visuals were perfect for FF7 and that made the visuals perfect anyway! That game to me is still one of the greatest ever made by developers’ minds (if not the one). Everything was so fitting.

I feel Main Character design is within the same concept. If you’re developing a modern day shooter, why would the Main Character Look like he’s from year 4020? Imagine a futuristic shooter where the Main Character looks like a pharaoh of ancient Egypt?

That would look awkward but at the same time, maybe that’s how those characters are suppose to look according to the story…? You can see now why I say Main Character design is like walking a tight rope. In order to not blow my current project by designing a bad Main Character and to make a character that’s fitting to the game world and story, I decided to stick with my concept of graphics fitting the game world and story.

Since my game takes place in Ancient Egyptian times, my Main Character was designed to look as if she is actually from that area. She is also a Queen and thus given the look of a ruler. I wanted a female warrior that would not only look sexy and feminine, but one that would look strong…but not TOO strong!

I feel a female character with super bulging muscles would be a sight for sore eyes. Hell, gamers complain now about Chung Li’s legs for street fighter. So many players of that game have said her legs are away too big.

I feel I’ve achieved the right muscle tone for my Main Character. She is 6 feet 6 inches tall in the game and weights approximately 150 lbs. Her body has good length with muscle tone similar to a woman that goes to the gym and keeps her self in shape, but not over doing it. I’m not going to say too much here about my title overall since it’s still in development.

Since we’re talking ancient Egypt, children of the Nile type of setting, my Main Character has a tan and appears to look as if she’s from Egypt by skin tone.

My sexy heroine’s armor… What armor? Should she even have armor being an Ancient Egyptian female? That’s where research comes in. Way back then women of course did not dress like women now. In fact, a lot more was exposed back then and you know what I mean (heh heh!).

Yes my Main Character has some armor, but it’s at a minimum. What little armor she has was cleverly designed to fit her body and add to the sex appeal attribute. Her outfit really does expose a lot of skin (even her pubic hair!), but I avoided showing any vital areas of the female body (for game rating purposes later).

Yes, you can see her breast because they are covered by a sheer like cloth, but the sheer is not so thin to the point you’ll see her nipples. You can see the dark skin around the nipples, but that’s it. You can also see what I like to call, “Butt White”, which is just tan lines (and white on ‘azz’) in today’s terms.

Similar to the reasons SCEA did not want to add hair to Kratos, I did not add the “loose leaf” garment that was suppose to be around my Main Character’s waist/hip area. I did add long hair to my Main Character, but once again…I don’t have to deal with animating it bouncing around because my Sweetheart has a head piece similar to ancient Egyptian Pharaohs.

Also like SCEA, I wanted to go with the Color red somewhere in my Main Character’s color scheme. Red just looks f’king brutal and “kewl!” But I decided to give gamers something new with Main Character color schemes. Red is used so much, so I went with the colors of multiple greens, black and gold. If you ever play the game, you’ll see why different greens were a perfect choice! The only Red the character has is the Red from her hair that’s seen inside her head piece and her pubic hair. Yes, she is a natural red head (lol).

My Main Character’s eye color is reddish as well. Some may see the eye color as a brownish orange as well. I designed my Main Character’s breasts to look natural. What I mean by that is…bra’s were not a thing of long ago, so my Main Character’s sheer like cloth that covers her breast does not support like a bra. Her breasts are in a natural hanging position (but fluffy, not nasty flat) and yes they flop about as she moves her body. The bouncing around effect was done with a minimum, since I did not want a gamer’s eyes glued to her chest the whole game.

She is not a super skinny looking character but at the same time, she is not a fat looking character either. At 6 feet 6 inches, I gave her that perfect slender look…where she’s thicker in all the right places. I didn’t want a female character with some super huge butt either, so I “bubbled” her instead. Why so tall you asked? I wanted Princess too look serious and like a bad “azz”, so she’s a big “beech!” Not some little frail thing who bends to the will of man.

One of the things I look to do with my models when creating them is add detail directly to the mesh instead of using bump mapped textures for it. My Main Character’s body cleavage is at a minimum with the low poly version. However, I will be converting a higher poly character version which will have greater defined body cleavage and gamers will have a choice of which version they want to run with (I’m a performance freak, sorry).

Main Character weapon design… That’s a “biggy.” I honestly felt Kratos’ weapon choice was a huge reason GOW1 was able to impress me so much (and others). It shouldn’t have because Rygar had a similar weapon too, but it was a shield like weapon and he only whipped one around, not two. Giving Kratos a similar weapon but going with blades and doubling the fun was a major change and it paid off big time.

One thing I do NOT want gamers to do is try to say my game is another GOW clone. Really… That would be insulting as hell! That ‘s why I’m trying to make sure no elements in my game are GOW like. I’m a originator…I do my own work! Which is exactly why I’m introducing yet another first time ever weapon style! I’m really hoping my choice in weapon concept does what Kratos’ blades (derived from Rygar) did for GOW…blow gaming freaks away!!

Because of my Main Character’s weapon style, the combat system is a three part system. She is a woman after all so how much damage you expect her to do by swing a weapon? I like to be realistic some when it comes to stuff like that. Players will be able to combat enemies up close or from a distance given the weapon choice and three part battle system. Melee attacks from Princess will only do so much damage, but yet she does huge amounts of damage…? How? Why? That sweetness is a part of my character’s concept! Players will have to use everything to stay alive in this one. She’s awesome!

Main Character personality is another decision to make. My Heroine is pissed! I mean really! If your entire clan was imprisoned along with yourself for two years and during that two years your home was taken from you and your name was made a mockery…I’m sure you’ll be ready to “roll heads” the moment you break from your prison!! But don’t think that’s the storyline! This game’s story is deep and not that simple!

My Main Character is not just any kind of female character. She is a figure of Ancient Egypt folklore so to say. Probably one of the first games that features a character of this type (when completed). Oh she’s human… I know I made it read like she’s not human, but she is…and a little more. In fact, she was born somewhere in lower Egypt, according to her Bio. Princess takes “chit” from no one! She is a kick your “arse” first ask questions later kind of gal!

All in all, I tried to set up my Main Character to fit the game’s world and story the best way I could. It’s all going to come down to “Fun Factor” in the end…that I know. Planning “Game Flow” is not easy and requires a “chit” load of work from you if you’re the graphics designer.

If any of you have ideas or concepts you feel every Main Character should incorporate, please feel free to “share the wealth.” Don’t keep all that good knowledge to yourself…hand it over! :laughing:


My inner Street Fighter fanboy must inform you it’s spelled Chun Li. :stuck_out_tongue:

Now, then:
As for how much the main character in a game matters: It does, a lot. However, many times, like with Gordon Freeman, the main character is somewhat “boring” (remember, he’s a physicist :slight_smile:). Other times, like with the Doomguy (Gordon too), the main character is almost given no personality or backstory, so the player can identify with them a little more.

But since you’re referring to RPGs a lot in your OP, I’m guessing your game is also an RPG. Even then, lots of popular RPGs have protagonists with little to no backstory and character (Link, for example).

The point I’m trying to make is, even RPG protagonists can have little to no personality or backstory - it (if done correctly) can help the player to identify the hero more.

EDIT: Post #100 for me! :smiley:

Nope. I’m developing a hardcore Action title. As for character background in my works, Protagonist and Antagonist both will have full backgrounds.

In fact, I don’t like to leave holes in my stories when developing a game. In other words, there’s reason and background for everything; even if everything isn’t going to be addressed in the game and those things are usually things that are insignificant anyway.

Players will only know so much about the Main Character’s background to start out with but will gain more knowledge as they play. Upon beating the game, players will unlock full access to hidden background info for characters.

My Main Character is too unique to not give a full background. Once a player experience her, they’re going to want to know why she’s the way she is…I’m sure. My title won’t be a typical hack and slash game. No no my friend…

My Main Character is more like an X-Men with the ability to hack and slash! I feel players will enjoy a Character that brings so much ability to combat instead of just swinging a stupid blade all game. My enemies will all have strengths and weakness. You won’t be able to kill them all the same way.

Enemy AI is something gamers complain about too…so I’m kicking gamers’ “azz” in this one! My Enemies will not stand there and let you go after them. They’re going after YOU! I’m sure future players of this future title jaws will drop after witnessing their Main Character get picked up and tossed through three statues by a vicious enemy.

There will be some first time ever battle effects in my game as well. Really…I don’t see why developers of major companies didn’t come up with some of this stuff long ago; but I’m not going to be upset because they didn’t (heh, heh!). Their loss, my gain.

A lot of gamers now reference games with stories and any kind of main character as a RPG (Role Playing Game), but really…RPGs were more like the Final Fantasy series. I referenced God of War in my opening post, which would be a Hardcore Action game. MMOs are Action RPGs I would say.

For those of you who love technical stuff, check out my render.analyze call.

239 total nodes (including 0 instances); 0 LODNodes.
41 transforms; 7% of nodes have some render attribute.
93 geoms, with 39 GeomVertexDatas and 4 GeomVertexFormats, appear on 40 GeomNodes.
36676 vertices, 36676 normals, 0 colors, 34844 texture coordinates.
GeomVertexData arrays occupy 1983k memory.
GeomPrimitive arrays are redundant, wasting 1 k.
39773 triangles: 7476 of these are on 2204 tristrips (3.39201 average tris per strip).
32297 of these are independent triangles.
42 textures, estimated minimum 16849 texture memory required.

This game area is at the beginning of the game, in an open environment where there’s desert, structures and mountain range. Graphics are not complete so there will be more in this particular area later; like trees, bushes, statues and of course NPCs. fps is 60 at the moment.

Keep in mind that the less you reveal about the main character, the more easily people can identify with him/her. In some games (like Halo), the character’s head isn’t even made visible for that reason.

That’s more an option or developer’s choice. Depends on the game really. I’m not a Halo fan, but I’ve heard it’s pretty much a shooter. If that’s the case then there’s no surprise the main character doesn’t have much background.

Some games like to make you feel like you’re that character. Shooters are known to do this. Another example would be the game Fear 1. If you play the demo of that game, you start out in a room which looks like some technical headquarters somewhere and you’re looking at other NPCs and the room around you through the eyes of this unknown person.

That unknown person is YOU! In fact, the NPCs are having a discussion at the beginning and are planning an operation. The only thing that is revealed about the main character, you, is the fact you’re a rookie and you’re suppose to be good at what you do.

Take a game like God of War 1 and things are more traditional. The Character Kratos is not YOU! He is Kratos. Little is known about Kratos at the beginning of the game but the more you play the more you get to know about Kratos. At some point in the game you learn of everything about him (except for some darker secrets).

Deadspace 1 is another game like your Halo I guess…because the Main Character isn’t really known much. In fact, you don’t see the guy’s face until the end of the game. The developers really tried to make you feel like you’re in this character’s pants as well.

The thing about Deadspace 1 is, you’re so caught up in trying to survive and get out of the situation you and the others are in, you really don’t have time to wonder about the main character. In fact, I never wondered about the main character the whole game. I just thought he was darn ugly when he did take his helmet off at end game.

Rather or not a Character’s background is kept hidden or gradually revealed are all Developers decisions based on story and setting. I don’t think any game requires it, but think about this… If you have a hardcore action game that starts out with some character running through a door and hacking away on everything and that character’s name and background is never revealed…

What’s to relate to? Nothing. You have some character that came out of nowhere killing up a storm. Questions will raise there my friend. Who is the character? What’s his name? What’s his purpose? or better yet…what’s his “trucking” problem? Why is he on a head hunt? Did someone do something to him? Why? What for? What was to be gained? What was to be lost? Why am I killing with this character!


Lol! :laughing:

Not much of a story behind that character there and I would say that’s one boring character. Unless the hack action is good! You can actually build on a character with background. I created a game probably just about ten years ago but never released it. In this particular game, my main character was a(n) extremely sinful man who had done so many terrible deeds.

You learned this on the opening movie of the game because I wanted you to know it and because it set something else up. This character of mine was being redeemed by the Gods. For his punishment, the Gods sent him around the world on a mission to end a werewolf like plague that was spreading across the globe. The main character laughed at this redemption and gladly took on the job just to get the Gods off his freaking back.

For a character with so much blood on his hands you would think His punishment would be worst. You would think the Gods would have just sent him to hell…right? But that’s just it! This particular character’s redemption would also seal his fate. A person playing this game would have never predicted the ending of the game, but yet once they saw the ending, it was perfectly justified for all the evil things the main character did in his life.

Now if the gamer would not have known about the main character’s sinful ways or the fact he was being redeemed at the beginning of the game and throughout, then the ending would of seemed cruel, unjust and out of place with the story itself. Key world here is “story.” Character backgrounds or not, really does depend on the type of game and story.

I wish I would of released that game… The combat system was “kewl!” :slight_smile:

Below is a link that leads to the old box art for that game I made about a decade ago. The graphics for this game were anime and “N64ish.” Sharper than N64 really. The game was very colorful and well done visually for that era.

I never released it because by the time I finished it, the gaming industry had raised the bar on graphics.

I don’t even remember the graphic engine used. It was open source. Not that powerful, but good. I do remember the APIs were very well documented and very well written. The APIs were even organized based on what they did.

I went back and dug through old files on my server and found a few old screenshots of that old game I made.

I hate the fact I don’t have the game because the original PC the title was stored on fried out and the data could not be saved.

This was just hype art work here:

This was done way back as you can tell from the graphics. In that time and era, these graphics would have been top notch; but like I mentioned, by the time the game was done, the gaming industry found away to produce better graphics.

That showed me how fast graphic technology can change. Although, I wouldn’t expect visuals to get any better than they are now and days unless hardware changes. There’s an end to everything.

It’s only a matter of time before graphics for games maxout. Developers are going to have to rely on what made games great to begin with more… “Fun Factor.”

Hi there,

I am sorry I don’t want to crush your dreams, but I don’t think those models could be considered well done in any year, let alone 5 years ago.

You seem to have a lot of confidence (AKA big ego) which can be good if used properly, but in a community setting it just comes off as arrogance. My advice to you is let your work speak for itself, there is no need to be posting comments saying I am such a talented artist and so forth. This will only deter people from providing you with constructive and honest feedback, and that is what will really help you to improve your work.

I do hope you take this to heart, and look forward to seeing your project develop.

I was going to look at the pictures, but that is the worst image host ever.

That just goes to show you how people love judging you.

The graphics are more than five years ago. They were done when 3D polygons where just getting started. 3D itself was justing beginning to roll well.

The game already had a publisher as well, but when the gaming industry raised the bar on graphics, I refused to publish because new technology was coming out.

I believe I stated that old game was made around ten years ago (or longer). 3D hardware wasn’t even that great back then.

I can assure you my friend…my current project can complete with any title on the market right now. Just as that old game years ago was good for that time and era as well.

In fact, there was nothing like it on the PC platform at the time. Having textures that rich and performance both is one of the things that impressed the publisher since technology was limited.

Don’t try take your shots at me from looking at something so damn dated. I can assure you’ll end up looking silly in the end, especially if I were to post my “today’s times” graphical content.

That’s like looking at Final Fantasy 1 and saying Square Soft sucks, but in today’s times, Square-Enix still produces high graphical games with the best of them.

Go back and play Final Fantasy 7 then tell me how bad the graphics were. That game sold millions of copies because back then, even those graphics were considered good. The old game I made passed FF7 visually overall. You’re not looking at CGIs when viewing my super old out data work, you’re seeing actual game play.

I myself am a long way from my early stages in game development, just like all other developers who developed back in those days.

Looking at those dated graphics just reminds me of how far I’ve come and how long I’ve been studying game design.

No wonder I know where I’m coming from and produce content that looks like a million bucks. Practice makes perfect as they say.

If you’re fustrated with your own work, which is usually the case when someone attacks another (especially over dated material), try studying some 3D modeling videos or reading some books written by developers. It might help you out.

It was tough for me when I first started 3D modeling, especially back then. But now we have way better 3D apps and graphic engines so the skys are the limits for me.

:laughing: Crush my dreams… :laughing: What dreams? It’s just a matter of time before I publish my first title. As long as the gaming industry don’t take off again with graphic technology, I won’t back out this time. :wink:

Peace. 8)

This is nothing personal, I am offering you some serious and honest advice that will help you get the most out of this community. You will not make it far by embellishing everything.

Serious advice on what? That game was beyound old man… What part of that do you not understand? You have a serious problem from what I can tell. Or you’re not reading my entire posts.

Given the fact it caught a publisher’s eye way back then, it wasn’t too bad. Games like that weren’t even suppose to run on PCs because of the limitations in those days.

Get a clue already.

I’m not working on anything that looks like that now…that I promise you. Being a user of P3D yourself, you should know one could do 1 million times better than that old stuff with Panda. Given the 3D modeling apps we have now as well as 3D technology in graphic cards…

Wow… I’m surprised. Shame on you.

I actually had some material that was even older than that stuff I posted, but given how some people confuse/judge old dated material as if it was made in today’s times…I won’t post anymore dated material from years ago that I might find on any of my old PCs.

That’s why I’m not posting my current project. I don’t want anyone feeling that I’m trying to boast. Really, every one should of figured that out by now.

Would be nice if we could get back to the real TOPIC here.

There will be no more personal attacks or other emotionally charged responses to this thread, or I’ll lock it.

regarding the images, if you say top notch back then, i would guess on 1996 ± 2 jears with the new development dropping in beeing directx 5.
the actual “in-game” screenshots , which appear to be a renderin, look pretty good (at least the one outdoors with the rock and flowers).

about the actual character of your game. you already figured out your heroine should be athletic but not a bodybuilder type. from my (limited knowledge about ancient egyptian clothing) you probably want to go with 2 different outfits. One for combative , and one ceremonial/formal. later one being a long robe or dress. the combat outfit is a bit more tricky, given the climatic circumstances of egypt most soldiers had no ,or only light armor on the torso. thin transparent clothing doesnt belong in the combat outfit either. strudy cloth or leather would be more suited. about the lack of invention of bras in ancient egypt. even without the modern bra’s you can’t fight with out any kind of supportive equipment there. it would not only be a hindrance but also be painful and might cause injuries such as broken capillaries. given you go with light body armor, design a supportive piece of clothing also providing light protection. if not, at least wrap some cloth firmly around it to prevent worst. or… come up with something on your own but fighting like that is a no-go.
about how to deal damage. a princess sure aint a berserker but there are more ways to fight than just yield a giant warhammer. for an athletic female i would suggest something like stick fight, daggers, or other not-too heavy weapons for close combat. focusing on speed , agility and timing instead of brute force. for ranged combat archery is a must, very elegant on top of it.

That old game of mine was developed on a PC that didn’t even have a graphic card…that’s how far back it was done. I used my onboard graphics controller. In fact, when I did try a graphic card, I only lost fps, so I went back to the onboard graphics controller. That’s a red light that should tell anyone 3D back then was early dawn.

As for my current project’s Heroine:

She doesn’t really have on armor in the truest sense…I just use the world “armor” because I figured you all could relate to it. She’s a ruler…or was a ruler you could say and still is, so her outfit would be the best of the best material for those times. Back then they had those Khopesh weapons that were made from bronze, but was later change to iron. So having a weapon that appeared to have some blade was possible, other wise I would have been stuck with wood or something. Lol! As for the Heroine’s sheer like cloth. One, it’s not that sheer like and two, I figured I could get away with it since there has been so many Egyptian movies made depicting those women with partially see through cloth covering their faces. Once again, it’s something that can be related to so it can be accepted. It’s like Kratos carrying weapons on his back with no holster…!? How!? Lol! It’s a game, you can get away with it. :laughing:

This Character of mine is not a sweet clean woman, so the long dress look was out. In fact, the Princess’ hands are stained with too much blood according to her Bio. What I wanted to do was create a “scandaless” look for the Character. I want to make a gamer say, “OMG” when they see her because in that time and era, her style of dress might of gotten her stoned to death…or fed to the lions. She and her followers are warriors and they’re not virgins, if you get what I’m getting at. So dressing her like a good girl was out of the question.

My game Environment however is not like a lot of Egyptian games now where everything looks so colorful. We’re talking an era of mud bricks drying in the sun, so I tried to create an environment that would depict those ancient times as best I could. Hell…I practically re-created Giza. The great pyramids and the Sphinx are there, but that level of the game is a night time level, so You wouldn’t see the Sphinx all that well in the dark. The Temple of the Sphinx is there along with that other one…can’t remember the name of that King, but you actually infiltrate that temple in the game.

My version of those temples were enhanced for the enjoyment of the game, because it is just that…a game.

Almost forgot…speaking of leather; the Princess does have leather on her sandals. :smiley:

I guess on her head piece and waist for that matter.

Found another old screenshot. I wish I still had some of the better ones to show instead of these. These do not do the game justice, even for that era of time.

There was this old shaman woman in that game, kind of like the know it all witch type NPC… Her visuals up close were stunning. Back then anyway and for comical graphics.

Even that Box Art shot is not the final one. I lost my best screens when I lost my sweet little old master piece (sigh). :cry: I was able to get these screens several years ago from an old email between me and the publisher. Good memories for me.


I liked this guy myself…

Did you do that? “Kewl!” Given if it was made way way back.

Looks like the FF7 characters. :laughing:

Since you posted some of your older work, It’s only fair that I show something of mine from back when I first started getting into game design.

This is like the first of the first character concept I ever made, so it’s super old! Keep that in mind.

StartledX.jpg - 0.31MB

I’ve actually showed this piece before long ago to others.

Oh, incase anyone asks…that screenshot there is a render. I never used that concept for any of my characters, so it’s like a lost concept I guess. Took a long time to piece that elf together and to get it to look like that at render.

Actually that is your model that I posted. I dug it up from an old blenderartists thread that you started under the name Nugman Nugster. It reminds me a lot of this thread for some reason… … me-Quality

Sorry to disappoint you, but you’ve dug up the wrong guy. Let this be a lesson for all members who just want to shoot someone down. I take it you got that Screen Name, Nugman Nugster from the screenshot I posted and then typed it in your search browser…

Guess what smart guy? The whole world is on the internet and no one person would ever own a screen name. I used that screen name years ago in the 90s on a website I’m sure does not exist anymore. I’ve also tried to use that same screen name on other websites later, but could not register it. Why? Because someone else already had it.


Get a clue!

I’m sure you all have experience that one. That’s like me typing in some random screen name in my search box and the moment something returns, I’m going to assume the data that returned is related to one particular individual that use the internet.

That is one of the most retarded things someone can do.

NO, your image is NOT my work!

And NO, I do not use the screen name Nugman Nugster anymore because of the problems I had a few years ago trying to register it on different sites. Screen Names are random text guy… Thought you were bright enough to know that much.

I’m done here. That shows me what kind of individuals I’m dealing with here in the Panda Community. Jealousy and Envy won’t get you anywhere, especially if some out dated material got your blood flowing.

Hell, your art work posted don’t even match mine…WTF? That should of told you something there.


Close this one down RDB (or RBD…sorry)

PS, my actual screen name back then in the 90s was nugman_nugster. It wasn’t two words. But I guess you where looking too hard and not thinking…