Week 01: Research and Preproduction
In preperation for the module start, we were told that our preliminary research and ideas should be taking shape, and that we must pitch 5 ideas to our supervisor. My core idea is a sandbox-style game, heavily inspired by the Lego Marvel video game series. The game would prioritise expression by allowing the player to customise their character heavily with different clothing pieces, hair styles, and body parts. Whilst this game is supposed to envoke "cuteness" and has elements akin to a "dress-up" game, its design is actual in service of a much larger Action-RPG idea I have been designing and envisioning for years. This game would feature a lot of mechanics that I wished to implement in the larger project (modular characters, customisable colours, 'superpowers', etc) that, despite appearances, are heavily based on RPG elements in regards to the character creation. The game also draws heavy inspiration from a Marvel-themed sandbox level I made in LittleBigPlanet some time ago, which is itself based on the Lego Marvel franchise. The rationale was that it is much quicker to make something you have already made before and so more content could be implemented.
Before the project officially began, research was undertaken to conceptualise my project. Since the character would be the main focus of the game, I started with character studies of games such as LittleBigPlanet (Media Molecule, 2008), Lego minifigures, and the 'Chibi' art style. The purpose of this was to understand the importance of propotions, as well as how likenesses can be captured with simple lines (in the case of Lego and LittleBigPlanet characters). For my study, I looked at the characters from the LittleBigPlanet level I made as they included different scales. I also looked at allometry of Sackboy and how the head scales differently to the rest of the body to maintain the cuteness.
This was the first test to capture likeness. Iron Man is easily identifiable from the colour scheme and beard, whilst characters without facial hair needed more complex body textures and more specific hair. The boxiness of the charactes would create a fairly unique-looking game and the simple geometry means that less detail is needed to achieve the same likeness as the brain fills in the missing details.