I hate the Baron. Of all the assets that have gone into the game none have cost me so much time and have paid out so little. It’s not that he looks fundamentally bad, he just doesn’t look right for the game. He doesn’t have enough character. He doesn’t meet the aesthetic style I want for my game. He just does not fit. Despite my best efforts he’s also riddled with topological errors and issues resulting from the high poly bake. So what do I do now?
My plan right now is to cut my losses. Despite how much I hate the model it’s close to being done, so right now I’m going to rush it into game and use it as a placeholder. Then some day when I’m less sick of the Baron I can go back and try again from scratch.
But all the time that went into the Baron is wasted if I don’t learn from my mistakes. So, what went wrong here? What can I change? Well, for starters I rushed into modeling. I didn’t have a great plan for what the finished model should look like. I mostly scraped a bunch of images of other Baron Samedis from off the internet together and used those for reference.
I started the Baron with a body I generated in Make Human much like my original zombie, but unlike my original I didn’t do a pass in modeling software to alter the proportions and general body shape. When I started work on the modeling for the head and especially the clothes, I made countless mistakes. I combined meshes that should not have been combined, like the eyes in the head. I had geometry that was just wrong, for instance I couldn’t put seams in the coat for UV mapping where I needed because the edge flow just wasn’t there.
There are a lot of practical modeling lessons I learned by doing it wrong on this model, and those I’m fixing as i gain experience, but I need to take a better approach to how I plan important characters for my game. I need to fundamentally change my workflow for creating characters so that I don’t end up in this situation again. Before I even start imagining the looks of a character I need to get a good feel for who that character is.
There’s not a lot of writing planned for Project Zeds. There isn’t main narrative or story line. You’re basically just playing out the zombie apocalypse, but even so the characters need to be well written, and well designed. So from now on I’m going to start each character’s design with a Character Chart, and I’m going to start right now.
I’m pulling this idea from Tim Schaefer, a long time video game idol of mine, who wrote a great article on how he designs characters. The full article can be found here ( http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/9782 ). Unfortunately I believe it’s locked behind the “Broken Age” backer pay gate, but the main idea of the post is that before he uses any character he fills out a character chart and fills out a simple backstory for them. He defines a character chart as “a basic profile of the character, asking questions about their basic stats, and personality.” The idea being that even if these attributes don’t directly make it into the game at least thinking about them will help flush out the idea of the character in my mind. So I’m going to give it a go and I’m going to use the very chart he uses in his article. And so without further adieu I announce my next character, the first human hero character …
The Doomsday Preacher
Note: Human heroes aren’t always the good guys. They are just non-zombies.
- Name: Brother Jeremiah Jones
- Age: 52
- Gender: Male
- Nationality / Ethnicity: Caucasian
- Parents: Deceased
- Siblings: None
- Location: Rural Alabama near the edge of Florida
- Religion: Cult-ish offshoot of southern Baptist
- Class: Lower middle class
- Marital Status: Single / celibate
- Education: Graduated High school, no college
- Fat / Skinny: Skinny
- Tall / Short: Average Height
- Strong / Weak: Weak
- Hair Color/Style: White / unkempt
- Style of Dress: Black Preacher’s pants and shirt, clerical collar, wide brimmed black hat.
- Attractive / Repulsive: Repulsive
- Unusual Characteristics / Markings / Disabilities: Crazy large eyes with small pupils. Very fair skin.
- Speech (Accent / Pitch / dialog tags): Strong southern accent. Loud commanding voice.
- Temperament ( Cheerful / grumpy): A fake cheerful that jumps to anger without notice
- Social Skills: Strong among his flock. Weak outside of it.
- Ambitions / Desires: Strong ambition to grow and lead his flock
- Hobbies / Obsessions: Strong obsession to spread the word of the coming end!
- Special Talents: None
- Self Image: Strong self image. Looks positively on himself.
- Emotional Baggage: Some baggage as a result of a strong puritanical upbringing.
- Secrets: Many. But they may never be revealed!
- Smoke / Drink: Neither
- Self Destructive / Defeating: Neither
- Mannerisms: Small twitch in his right eye on occasion
- Intelligence: Above average intelligence
- Strong / Weak: Strong personality type
- Leader / Follower: Leader
- Mean / Kind: Mean. Attempts to appear kind.
- Right / Left Brained: Right Brained
- Brave / Fearful: Neither
- Graceful / Clumsy: Neither
- Seeks Attention / Isolation: Seeks Attention
- Funny / Serious: Very Serious
- Mellow / Energetic: Energetic
- Humble / Arrogant: Arrogant
- Obedient / Rebellious: Obedient
- Favorite Music: Gospel hymns.
Background/Synopsis: Brother Jeremiah Jones had been convinced for some time now that the world was about to end. He had spent every minute of every day proclaiming as such. Condemning sinners from the pulpit as well as the picket line of the funerals of the unclean, no one was safe and everyone needed to hear it. Evil was everywhere and the world was rife with sin. Unbaptized children, adults committing the heresy of other religions, Jeremiah counted down the days till a great fire would wash the earth of these wicked people. So convinced that the world was to end that he had built his entire life around that one coming moment. You can imagine his excitement then when it actually did…
Well, that was fun. Hopefully this helps flush this character out a little more. Check back soon for more updates on the doomsday preacher Jeremiah Jones.