I’ve been studying about game design intensively for the past few weeks and came across this video today, and I’m very glad I did.
Ever since I was a child I enjoyed good story. I mean, who doesn’t? People are naturally attracted to stories because it stimulates and evokes imagination, curiosity and understanding.
So when we started talking about our next project, I knew I had to have a story to get started at least for myself, since I’m leading the project. It will be a big challenge to mash story and gameplay but it will also be a lot of fun to work on it.
Another important thing I realized today is that characters or mascots are everywhere in Japan even in games which I haven’t seen much in the US unless it’s marketed towards kids. Somehow, character business is a huge deal here. So when games, books or any kind of products are being made, a lot of people strongly consider that side of business as well. There’s even a bunch of official mascots for cities and big corporations, and it just makes me sick to see the lack of design but people are attracted to it, or maybe they just feel obligated to do so because it’s cute. It’s Japan, after all. Maybe I’m thinking too much, but I think exploitation of sub-standard’s standard all over the country for many years don’t make us improve. -Yes, I’m borrowing Jonathan Blow’s comment from this interview.- It only makes us poor viewers and people in general don’t really know how to appreciate art and design anymore and that’s a really sad thing considering all the beauty and technology we’ve created and developed in the past years. Is it only me who feels like this country is moving backwards? Some people are doing amazing and beautiful things, but majority of people don’t even care to take the issues seriously.
I think it’s a terrible idea to make a product only to get character business started. My focus is and always will be the storyline, and creating things based on it. I believe without a story, there is no meaning nor motivation to understand whatever you are making or trying to make. Ask John Kricfalusi. It just doesn’t speak to anyone even the ones making it. It becomes lifeless, and that is no way in hell “character design”.
Our company recently experienced a hiccup from a project with this issue, but I actually have an episode of my own from last year.
Our business partner who directed and produced one of the iOS games I worked on told me during the character design development that story behind a character doesn’t mean shit. Needless to say his main focus was on getting the character business started. I completely disagreed with his opinion. Not only it is disrespectful to the customers/players, it is disgrace to the whole design community in the world.
When creating characters I need to have a story that helps to develop further. Players don’t necessarily have to know the whole story behind it, but I need to in order to put life into it, which makes each character relatable and charming. Since he was very convinced of his opinion, I made up my own story and continued on. At the end he liked the way characters looked on his term, so we went ahead and released it last year.
I learned a lot from the whole process during that time and I don’t regret what I did or chose not to do under the circumstance. However, I can’t let other people walk all over the important design process just because they feel like it and they are calling the shots. Thankfully, guys in our company are pretty awesome and always willing to listen to what other people have to say, and I feel comfortable working in the environment at this point. We were a bit too young and didn’t have much knowledge or skill to convince people back then even if we knew the right things to do in our guts, and it was the experience we all had to go through.
For the next project, my soul-intention would be, No More Bullshit.