Idea 3 – Character Development

Initial Idea:
The last idea I had came about as a sort of combination of the first two, it was partly down to watching a friend play the demo of Mass Effect 2 and the character creation section. It was not the section itself that inspired me, but rather the idea behind it. The character in question here had been close to death having re-entered the atmosphere of a planet without much protection. There was enough left to rebuild him using their technology, at this point the player gets a say in what they look like and other such things as they doctors work on the character in the medical lab.

That got me thinking, that often you see and dictate attributes such as psychological, physical or stat based on a character that is essentially a blank slate. This essentially gives the player some sense of ownership over that character by deciding those attributes using sliding bars and a series of menus. Yet this does seem to be in nearly every type of game these days, and many hours are spent using this feature, from single player games to massively multi-player online games. It has also proved to be very popular as otherwise games like the Sims wouldn’t be as successful. However it is mostly the same way in which this character creation screen is presented, from Oblivion to Guild Wars there are always the slide bars for physical attributes and stats for abilities. It is not a very true representation of how people become people. Not that video games need to be true to life, but as graphics get more ‘realistic’ wouldn’t it be nice for the gameplay and mechanics to start to match that as well. (While hopefully still maintaining a sense of entertainment and fun of course!)

Developing the Idea:
Well it is not like there haven’t been games that explore character and their creations in games in more detail before, but I still thought this would be an interesting subject to tackle that still fits in with the brief and stretches my abilities a bit. Also just for fun I am going outside of my comfort zone as well and see if I can create an ‘evil’ character and a ‘good’ character. What I find interesting is that some people are exposed to the same or similar events in life and one person takes it okay and another takes it badly. This then has a knock on effect as to who they become and the personality they have. Yet there is also the debate about nature and nurture and their effects on the mind and personality, what creates it? Can someone be inherently bad or good? Or is it down to what we experience and what we take from it? All vast psychological questions, however it might be fun to tackle the surface. As this would be a character creation from the other side, it is the players interaction with the character that reveals to them what character they are going to have, and depending on the order that the player chooses to pursue the events and what he reacts to will dictate the overall personality of the character.

Sketching out the idea for the interface.

A quick sketch of the idea for the character creation screen that would be interactive.

The two different ways in which this could interface, a simple version of a face with a translucent brain overlaid on top. Different sections of the brain would be highlighted as the mouse rolled over them and then as the player clicks through the different sections subtle and small changes are made to the face until the expression has changed to one of stereotypical ‘hero-type’ or ‘psychopath’ type.

The other interface is a little more complicated but detailed, as the face would be in the middle and then there would be a strand of DNA – to represent nature, the brain – to represent experiences and responses, and the heart – to represent emotion and nurture.

Reference images for the different interaction areas.

Reference images for the hear, brain and DNA, the areas that control the characters appearance and disposition.

The idea would be to do the slightly more detailed version, and ensure that the sections were actual sections of the brain and heart, to give a sense of realism to the best of my ability. (That and from what is understood from a psychological and neuroscience point of view of course!)

Analysis of Idea:
It would be really nice to be able to pull off the full version of this idea, however I do believe that my Flash skills and time constraint might stand against me here. This is the idea that I would most like to do and the most interesting from my point of view and I believe will also be liked by the target audience. (The class and lecturers.) However I do believe a small scaled back version must be made first to not only ensure that it is possible to program in Flash but is also within the realms of complete-ability within the time I have.

So I intend to start with a demo of a face changing when different sections of a DNA strand are selected, and build up from there. Meanwhile I shall carry on with research into different meaning and areas of the brain and the nature/nurture debate in the event that the full idea can be realised.

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