January 4, 2014

New characters: Tal and Terry


During the past month, I added 2 new characters to the game:
  • Tal, the hero friend/sidekick that helps him during the missions
  • Terry (and his brothers), the guys running the earth-ship business, enabling you to travel between the various islands.

I - Tal


While creating the new Tera island, I wanted the hero not to be alone. So I worked on a few friendly characters that may help him. I started writing down a few notes on a simple text file to have the basic style/look/behaviour of those characters. I found out that working with text files is quite nice. You don't have to write perfect sentences, you can only write a few evocative words that help you to exactly visualise a place or a character and it's very fast! I use tons of text files when I have to think about the story, characters, levels, tutorials, items, bonus, ennemies, planning, gameplay... Some are huge, other are very short, but all are "alive": I constantly add/remove/change/correct stuff.

A part of the character files, in French (sorry I'm more at ease with French when it comes to quickly write down ideas), with lots of mistakes.

For the hero sidekick, a girl named Tal who can communicate with him at any moment, I wanted a computer/mechanical geek girl, quite funny, who sometimes makes laugh of the hero (this may only be seen in dialogs, I guess). I ended up with the following character:

You may see that it's not a perfect match with the description in the file, but that's not a problem. The description is just here to help me getting started.

Of course while creating a new character I always go through the same process: concept, modeling, texturing, animation, behaviour. All are done in Blender, except the last one, which is actually coded/programmed in Unity. If you're curious about the character creation process, you can check out this tutorial I made a while ago.

The behaviour can be quite difficult to code, because it heavily depends on what the player (you!) has already accomplished. For example, when you talk to Tal, she may speak about the storm that broke the pontoon, or your last mission, or may react to something you just found. And of course, the more missions/possible actions, the more dialog lines she may say.

Tal, in game.


II - Terry 


Terry is one of the guy running the earth-island posts. You can talk to him to go from one island to the other. I wanted the kind of cool blond surfer guy with a tribal tattoo. For the concept, I didn't use a character file, because he's a quite secondary character, and I didn't have to think too much about his background. I made a simple drawing:

A simple sketch of Terry

Which ended up in 3D:

Terry the earth-island guy


For the behaviour, I was faced with a new problem: the player has to answer during dialogs (choose a destination), and has to pay to travel. So I modified the dialog system in order to add possible answers with associated actions. This complicated seriously the dialog tree! By the way, I also used this new dialog system for selecting tutorials on the thief guild island. This finally rised the dialogs to 100 lines, and the translations to 200 lines (not all translations are in dialogs).

Oh... and a rather practical consideration: Terry stays at the main island earth-island post. Thus, he can't be on every island at the same time. So, I decided he'd have brothers on each island to manage the local earth-island post. Thus I had to code some dynamic name changing according to the location.

The earth-island post of the pirate warehouse island.


III - Various stuff 


In addition to the previous stuff, I also worked on various "little" things:
  • A cutscene to present Tal, and the hero home the first time the player is on Tera Island
  • 2 additional tutorials at the thief guild, enabling you to learn how to use the Bo (to fight) and the slingshot (to shoot little stones)
  • A specific font to make the world more believable. I used it on Tal computer screen, but also on signs, and I may use it on other places as I keep on adding stuff.
  • A new interface (HUD) to see the mission list
  • Real credits, with your name inside if you helped me in a way or another ;)
  • A new skin for the website. But I think you already noticed ;)

So that's all for now. See you soon!