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I am a gamer, an artist and a hobbyist video game designer. When I'm not doodling one resource or another, I love to read books, make paper crafts (cards) and bake yummy goodies.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Character Evolution

I've just finished changing the appearance and back story of Ian, one of the party members you'll come across in Chapter 3. It struck me how different the characters have turned out from their initial concepts. So, just for kicks, here are the early concepts for the main cast you've encountered so far (I will post other characters after they become a part of the plot):

Early Alistair:
Originally, Alistair was a loud-mouthed, washed-out "hero" who spent his days drinking booze and trying to charm all the ladies. He was a pervert and completely unlikable. The introduction scene has Alistair very bitterly spilling the story of his life to a bartender and a couple of patrons. One of the patrons is an old sage who grew bored of living atop his lonely mountain. He messes around with fate and practically throws Alistair into adventure again. Alistair's motivation becomes equal parts thirst for revenge and a huge desire to be famous again. He was completely dependent on his companions: in fact, there were a couple of quests that had to do with finding ways to avoid taverns and other places that could get Alistair drunk. Since the initial concept for TUAH was to create a shallow comedy, this worked very well.
But, as the plot began to evolve into something deeper, Alistair's image didn't fit in quite so well. He was too reckless and brash to carry the audience through some of the more subtle thematic content. He evolved into someone more sensitive and clever. His reasonable and dependable nature might seem boring in comparison, but it propelled character and plot development into something much more meaningful. Because of this change, the plot twists and the ending pack a bigger emotional punch - one that I hope you will enjoy.

Early Cordelia:
Cordelia began as an apprentice warrior who kicks Alistair's butt in combat, and is then forced to follow him as a way to make amends. She had a fiery temper and spent way too much time styling her hair. She would constantly berate Alistair and force him to do side quests. Alistair drooled over her, in a completely inappropriate way (since she's 16 and he's 32). There was never going to be any romance between the two, since Cordelia finds Alistair completely disgusting and vile.
But Cordelia's back story was extremely flimsy, and her reason for joining and staying with a perverted Alistair seemed ridiculous after a while. She evolved into a much more gentle and subdued character. She eventually turned into the seemingly cliche naive girl who idolizes an older man and follows him around like a love-sick puppy. There's a lot more to Cordelia, however, and you catch glimpses of it in chapter 3.

Early Penelope:
Early Penelope was as cliche as cliche can get. She was a female, nun, healer, and had that gentle/nurturing personality that made her almost too sweet. Her early dialogue consisted mostly of "oh my!" and trying to find ways to assert herself. She was the only one who could cast healing spells, which made it so she had to be present for virtually every major area - unless I wanted to frustrate the players by making them heal through potions only. There wasn't anything really wrong about Penelope, other than she was completely boring! The rest of the female cast was strong and independent, which overshadowed her.
Penelope evolved into a more of a paladin type - very lawful and stoic. This created a fantastic contrast to the cast members who see laws as just suggestions. It also gave the possibility for internal conflict and growth.

Early Claudia:
Claudia probably changed the most out of everyone, starting with the name. In my early notes, she was named "Theresa". She was a warrior princess, a la Xena, and she joins the party because her father orders her to (after some random quest). Personality-wise, she was similar to the current Penelope. Very lawful, very mature and strong. She first started to evolve when I changed her reasons for joining Alistair's party. Rather than being ordered, she joins as an act of rebellion toward her father (who forbade her from leaving the castle). That small, rebellious streak really took off and started to shape her personality more and more. Soon, she became the fiery, sarcastic, anarchistic self. This personality suited her role and "feel" perfectly, but the background didn't. I wanted to keep her in a sheltered environment, but it was impossible to do so in an organized castle-type place. As I worked on some of the mage lore for Caeta, it seemed like that would be the perfect background for Claudia. Her role changed to that of a mage, and so did her looks. She still kept her purple/pink hair, however.


  1. Coming up with character profiles is akin to experiencing evolution at its base roots; the primitive notion adapts to its changing surroundings in a much more natural way. As I've found, it often happens that the characters write themselves, and they become something you hadn't really ever considered. Its a lot of fun!

    I'm happy how the concept of Alistair has evolved - your original concept reminds me too much of "Tales of the Drunken Paladin", which was a hilarious game, but your new concept seems to possess more originality and depth.

  2. Now that the characters have established themselves firmly in my mind, it's kind of funny to look back at their early versions.

    I'm going to write another piece like this once other characters and plot points are introduced. The story has, really, gone through quite a bit of changes. One of the biggest things is the length. It started as an epic idea that would take 75 hours of gameplay, but that's just not realistic.

    I do have to say that I much prefer the project and the characters as they are now. I'm so happy to see that others share this sentiment.