Tips on Making Catchy Video Game Characters

Tips on Making Catchy Video Game Characters

image credit: Polygon
image credit: Polygon

In a previously published article here on Youngstown Game Devs titled ‘Why Character Design and Animation Is Important When Developing Your Game’, it was discussed that “successful game development has successful character development at the heart.” Characters are the very soul of video games, and, without them, players can’t relate to them.

But not all game characters are created equal. While there are thousands of video game characters, only some are considered legends like Super Mario, Sonic, Samus Aran, and Link. These characters are known throughout the world due to some key traits that we’ll discuss further in this article. If you want to create characters that will be remembered throughout the ages, here are some ideas for you.

Define Your Character

image credit: Know Your Meme
image credit: Know Your Meme

This is quite possibly the most important of all the tips listed in this article. Who is your character and why is he/she acting like that? Ever wondered why Batman’s character is one of the most successful DC creations of all time? Because people can relate to what he is going through. His parents were shot in front of him while he was only a kid. Not being able to move on from the incident, he became the perfect foil for Gotham City’s underworld. Batman is defined by his sorrow and vengeance, and people who have experienced pain and suffering like Batman live vicariously through the comic book character. Creating a backstory for your characters really helps define their character and gives players important insights into their past and ultimately helps the player become more invested in the character.

Be as unique as you can

image credit: TechnoBuffalo
image credit: TechnoBuffalo

Just how many rolling hedgehogs or some plumbers battling turtles and flying fishes have you seen in video games? The likelihood is that there aren’t any except for the classic Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario series. The reason why these two characters are so popular is that their game developers thought about making unique characters that no one has ever thought of before. There are plenty of cliché games about knights saving princesses and superheroes battling aliens. But a rapid hedgehog and an Italian plumber? Not your standard game character. Hence, why they’ve never been replicated.

No matter how casual or hardcore your game is, be unique in creating your characters. For example, avoid using cliché characters like leprechauns, dragons or other overused mythical beings that the gaming market has become saturated with due to the popularity of Game of Thrones and many Hollywood films of the same ilk.

Be creative and make something that people have never seen before. Entertainment platform Foxy Bingo rose to prominence by creating a character to front their brand that resonated with their target audience as well as stood out from the usual fluffy mascots we see aligned with games. The unique Foxy, as he’s commonly referred to by his adoring fans, has become synonymous with the brand and is easily identifiable among some of the more generic gaming logos. The way Foxy communicates with the brand’s community of gamers has also made him a vital component to the gaming provider’s overall business. But what’s also worth noting is how they were able to give his design a fresh look. Foxy got a new look in 2015 that helped the character relate to a younger generation of gamers while still resonating with a mature demographic because the campaign used Judy Garland’s Foxy as its soundtrack. This is a lesson to all gaming developers on how to create cross-market appeal by rejuvenating a character’s appearance.

The Visuals

 

image credit: Wikia
image credit: Wikia

Once you’ve conceptualized a unique character, think about the design. The character’s unique personality must also be accompanied by fresh visuals. For example, don’t be afraid to use bright colors for men. The usual color of a man’s character in video games is black, brown, and red. But are you familiar with Natsu, the character in the anime Fairy Tail? The color of his hair is pink, and he has millions of fans around the world. Natsu’s character fits all of the aforementioned tips: he has a clear backstory that people can relate to, unique character concept (a human who grew up under the supervision of a dragon), and visuals that standout from the crowd.

There are plenty of other things that make up a memorable character but these three variables will certainly get you on your way to creating a distinctive and kickass video game character.

This is a guest post written by Jonathan Davies.


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Youngstown Game Developers is a free game development resource center and indie game development network to help you meet other indie developers and give you the resources you need to help you get your game into the market. If you ever have any questions about game development, ask us and we will write an article just for you.

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