Creating a unique and relatable character identity is essential to immerse players into the game's world and keep them engaged. Finding an identity for game characters was not an easy task.
In this blog entry I will explore the process we followed to help us get where we are at today. It was not neccesarly in this particulary order, but I wish it had lol.
Defining Letalis's World and Story
From scratch, our vision was:
- Create a Gladiator's RPG with Permadeath
- Be like Pokemon in terms of game logic, character variety and game skills
- Endgame content in your face from the start
- Huge map to explore, plenty of hidden secrets, puzzles and rewards
We set the game in a medieval era, similar to the real one but taking some liberties to innovate while being familiar - The world is ruled by Caesars, people from noble families who own and manage the entertainment industry which consists of death matches between Letalis at their Colosseums.
To move a bit away from the slavery concept (which Pokemon also falls in), we made Letalis a Gladiator kind closer to Vikings. Letalis train all their lives with only one goal in mind: to fight at the Colosseum, for Glory or Death! But training is not enough! They need to catch the attention of a Manager to become part of their team and access these pricey matches.
Managers are also nobles who profit from the entertainment industry, but in most cases, without the resources to own and manage a Colosseum.
Back to Letalis, as they win/survive combats, the Manager might reward them with an iconic armor matching their Fighting Style!
We keep moving back and forth with these concepts until having our final seleccion of eight different Fighting Styles - each with its own strength curve, special skills and advantages/disadvantages.
"Who beats who" like you have in Pokemon with Fire vs Grass vs Water was not as clear for Letalis Fighting Styles - we even couldn't get away with a color code to help us. With this restriction in our hands, what we did was to apply key elements to the armors to differentiate them. From left to right we have: Centurion, Triton, Leviathan, Bandit, Highland, Templar, Valkyrie and Ronin.
Letalis do not get their armor until reaching Rank 10, and there are multiple sutil differences between a same class and between the Letalis gender (male/female). Here are the Centurions for the vanilla Letalis:
We manage to achieve a way for players to diferentiate them from other Fighting Styles, what also recognize their Rank tier and Style between the variations.
And Fighting Style is only the tip of the iceberg since Letalis also have a Personality which impacts in how they grow by ranking up and the special skill they will gain, some useful for combat and others useful to explore the world.
And that is not all!!! Letalis also have a set of hidden traits when created, turning them into one of a kind every time! The chance for two Letalis to be exactly the same is 1 in 65536 (the truth is that I have no idea, but it is very unlikely thanks to all the variants we have).
Finding an identity for game characters was a critical part of shaping our world.It was an iterative process and we still do not know if this is going to be the final iteration! We are not afraid to adjust if necessary.