Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Three simple steps to your first 3D Game (Part IV)

Part 4 of 4 

Step 3

Define the main characters and props

Characters are the lifeblood ofany story. Interesting characters can electrify even the most sedateenvironments just by the force of their personalities. We connect to charactersin stories at an emotional level and the bond that this connection creates canbe a powerful motivational force.
To make your game truly engagingyou must bring your characters to life. To bring them to life you must givethem a history, a personality, motivations and relationships.

Here are two exercises that willhelp you define your characters:

Exercise 1 (Character Definition)  

Questions for you to ask yourselfwhen creating a character:
  • What is the Characters name, age,gender?
  • What does this character looklike?
  • What are the definingcharacteristics of his personality?
    • (Pick no more than 2 for ancillarycharacters e.g. intelligent and crooked and up to 4 for pivotal characters e.g.friendly, soft spoken, secretly sadistic and extremely fond of food)
    • (Pivotal Characters with slightlycontrasting traits are more interesting than uni-dimensional characters, a more grey human personality is more appealing than an outright good or evil personality)
  • Who are his friends andaffiliates?
  • What are his long term goals inlife and what are his short term goals in this story?
  • Is the character 
    • a Player Avatar (leave the character’s personalitya little open ended so that the players can supply their own interpretation) or 
    • a Non-Player Character (should betightly knit into the story and have an interesting personality)?    

Exercise 2 (Relationship Definition)

Characters must have interactionswith the worlds around them and other characters for their personality tobecome evident to the players.  Here aresome examples of the types of relationships the characters can have that can makethem interesting:

Between Characters
  • Historical: Characters have arelationship, the beginning of which, precedes the story and may be either friendlyor unfriendly
  • Hierarchical: Characters belongto a clearly defined hierarchy and usually work together for a common cause
  • Mutually Beneficial: Characters aredrawn together in a circumstantial relationship of cooperation and have nolasting commitments 
  • Mutually Destructive: Characters aredrawn together in a circumstantial relationship of contest
  • Mysterious: Characters have arelationship and refer to each other but do not easily reveal the nature of theirrelationship

Between Characters and Places

Characters may have arelationship with the place that they are encountered at by the player. These canbe of the following types:
  • Place that the Character wants toguard (may be for purposes such as protection of resources, kin or justterritorial jealousy. This kind of relationship can be conditional to make thestory more interesting e.g. A guard will accost you if you try to enter thecastle without a scroll of identification)
  • Place that the Character istransitioning through
  • Place that the character istrying to get away from

 BetweenCharacters and Props

In, what is usually, a decreasingorder of relevance to the story:

  • Props needed by a character for aspecific purpose in the story (keys, Artifacts etc.)  
  • Props needed by a character foruse (Weapons or tools)
  • Props that signify in-game wealthor progress (coins, rewards etc.)  
  • Props needed by a character forsurvival (Food, Medicines, Water etc.)


Creating a Game-for-learning onEsoteric can be a fulfilling and rewarding exercise. Hopefully the three stepsmentioned in these articles will help you get started with your own gamedesign. Simple planning with pencil and paper always cuts hours of wastedeffort from the time spent on development.

We wish you the best of Luck with yourdevelopment!

 Post questions and feedback in the commentssection. 

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