Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
It is very easy to think of grunt characters simply as cannon fodder, for in
many cases that is exactly what they are, no matter how good their artificial
intelligence. To save on resources many of them may look alike, using the
same 3D models and textures, which adds to the generic impression given.
If a writer can somehow develop a few of them beyond the generic and fill
them out a little, the rest of the cannon fodder characters are fleshed out, too,
by implication. Overhearing a couple of guards bitching about their boss or
discussing football results expands the game's world beyond the immediate
and can suggest to the player that these characters have a life beyond their
henchmen duties.
Human henchmen are not the only cannon fodder in games, particularly
if the game is fantasy, cartoon based or stylised in other ways. In many of
these games, an ogre is simply a mindless enemy and a furry blob with no
arms has nothing else going for it beyond kill-or-be-killed. Expanding these
characters is much more difficult, but if the opportunity to do so is there, it
can be an important part of the value a writer brings to the project.
Children's games in particular can be given added value and richness with
attention to detail and care in the way even minor background characters are
portrayed. One of the important reasons films like Finding Nemo and To y
Story succeed is the richness of detail in the characterisation. Both children
and adults may become enthralled in the fullness of a story that revolves
around excellent characters and the same can be achieved with games if they
are approached with this in mind.
If a character has a speaking part, even if it is only a small one, you should
avoid calling them 'Guard 1' or 'Woman 2' but refer to them as Rick and
Mabel, say. If nothing else, giving them a name lets you see them as some-
thing more than just a non-entity and also enables the actors at recording
time to put a little more into the few lines the character has. Choose a name,
then, that will work with the lines and give a hook the actor can work with.
Interactive characters
Stepping up from the cannon fodder we get to the characters who are a little
more special.They are one-off characters, level bosses (extra powerful oppo-
nents who often appear at the end of a gameplay level or at key points in the
game), squad leaders, the antagonist's sergeants and lieutenants and the people
in the bars and shops in the world the player character is exploring. By their
very nature these characters frequently offer opportunities for the player to
interact with them - to obtain items or information that enables the player
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