Shadowrun Returns - Update #52, Chris's Dev Diary
There's a new dev diary published on Kickstarter for Shadowrun Returns. The topic in the diary goes over art, character models and painted portraits.
Character Portraits: Up Close and Personal
It is in the portrait that you will see a lot of detail and psychological depth in your character. As of this writing, there are nearly 200 player portraits in Shadowrun Returns. When our portrait artist, David Nash, started painting we put a special emphasis on the inner life of each character. To give you some idea of what I mean by that, here are some early portrait notes I pulled from an old e-mail, “Male elf, the handsome grifter. He’s the double-crosser, the guy who is always one step ahead of his enemies with a trick and a quick one-liner. He can move easily from the highest society to lowest gangs and seems to know everyone… He will shake your hand and promise you an honest deal even as he is stealing the watch off your wrist.” And one more example, “Human female, the brutal survivor, she was orphaned at a young age and has survived on the streets by making the hard decisions that others would flinch from. There is nothing -nothing- soft about her.”
The In-Game Model: Your Runner in Action
Complementing your portrait is the in-game model, which has to succeed in a completely different way. In the game environment details can get lost, or, worse, make the character look muddy and hard to understand visually. In Shadowrun Returns your character will have access to over 30 different gear sets (we’re still putting the final touches on the last few so we don’t have a final number yet), and we have designed each to immediately communicate an idea about your character in the isometric environment. Mike did a great job in Update 48 explaining how we get our (pretty small) characters to pop visually in the game environment. Check it out if you are interested! Here I want to talk about how those gear sets influence the look and feel of your character during legwork and combat.
At the beginning of the development process we were thinking of gear sets as exactly that: sets of gear that a character might wear. We realized pretty quickly, however, that that wasn’t quite the right way to think about it. Given the zoomed-out isometric camera the gear sets weren’t something a character might wear, the gear sets were characters. I reworked some of the concepts, looking for that big visual punch. We found that once we started concentrating on distilling the clothes and gear down to the very essence of an idea, that defiant Shadowrun individuality really started to show up in game. It became pretty clear that we were on the right track when we started spontaneously referring to each set with nicknames like “Street Monk” or “Slick Mage” and everyone understood each other. All those names are just our internal shorthand; the gearsets aren’t tied to your archetype and you will be able outfit your character as you see fit from the in-game vendors.
Putting it all Together: Alchemy
And this is the result when you combine the portrait and model on the character creation screen. Once you choose a gender and metatype, you will be able to select a portrait. We have assigned each portrait a corresponding skin color, hairstyle, beard, hair color, and (where applicable) set of horns so as you scroll through the portraits your model will update to match your selection. But let’s say you want a little more control over the look of your character… no problem! you can unlock the model and the portrait and toggle through a variable (say hair color or style) for the model by hand. In addition to working up lots of cool visual effects for the game, technical artist Steven Rynders has collaborated with AJ Bolden on the engineering side in order to make sure the system handles all the different elements.
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