Category Archives: Characters

#WriteTuesday – Podcast Recording has Begun!

Last week, we unfortunately had someone drop out of the podcast I’ve been co-writing at work.  That meant we had to shuffle the cast a bit, which resulted in me being bumped from one of the side characters (Charlotte) to one of the main characters (Kaitlyn).  And we’re recording some of the Kaitlyn scenes Monday (ie yesterday)!

Cue me freaking out a bit.  I’ve been ready to play Charlotte for months now.  While writing the script, I could picture her voice in my head.  I knew her.  I could nail her dialogue.  But Kaitlyn was written for someone else.  While writing I was picturing her as the other actress, trying to tailor the words to her.  And suddenly Kaitlyn is me!  What do I do???  I’m not Kaitlyn!!!  😨

Well, one of the best things I did in the middle of freaking out a bit was message an actor friend of mine for some advice.  What do you do if you’ve been preparing for one role and suddenly given another one.  He sent me the most wonderful reply (thank you again, Kevin!!!) telling me to find the commonality between me and the character, and make sure I bring myself to the character.  So with that in mind, I spent a few days trying to figure out who Kaitlyn is as a character and how exactly we can connect.  And then I started playing with the dialogue a bit (that was an idea I had based off talking to my friend Scott about how Anthony Hopkins prepared for Two Popes), trying to deliver the lines in a way that is still me (I’m not going to lie, I also tinkered with the dialogue here and there if I had trouble saying something as it was written, too).  Between all of this, by Saturday night, I felt like I had a feel for Kaitlyn’s voice.

Kaitlyn’s character has changed a little bit in the process.  We originally wrote her to be more monotone and sarcastic, particularly with her humour.  But now that I’m the one delivering the lines, especially opposite the other main character, Darryl (who is absolutely ridiculous; he’s voiced by my co-writer, Derek), the monotone sarcasm felt hollow.  I found myself delivering a lot of the lines with a hint of laughter and light teasing instead of sarcasm as I was practicing over the weekend.  So the podcast is going to have a different Kaitlyn than originally envisioned, which will hopefully be ok!

Thankfully recording yesterday went really well.  Lisa, (another co-worker who was doing the recording), said Derek and I sounded really natural – the dialogue flowed well and sounded like a conversation (bonus points for our writing! 😉 )  We actually recorded more than we thought we would yesterday, which was another bonus – I can’t wait to hear the finished product! 🙂

It’s going to be a bit though before it’s available; while the scenes that just feature Derek and me are done, we’ve got a few more recording sessions scheduled.  There will be one for my character’s monologues, a few for a few other character monologues, plus a few involving almost the entire cast!

I’ll post more updates on this project as I have them. 🙂

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Designing Hostile Takeover’s Pearl

The final character in Hostile Takeover is Martin Ryker’s assistant, Pearl.

Pearl

Pearl designed by Shaun Ellithorpe

Pearl was an interesting character to develop.  She started off as a joke in the very early stages of our planning on Friday night.  Originally named June (she was renamed at the request of one of the volunteers running the venue here in Thunder Bay), she was going to be a character who gave you random hilarious side quests. We talked about a filing mini-game, where you had to file things for her because being a ninja isn’t your day job.  Or while you’re hacking into Claudius Capital’s servers, you would need to find someone in the company who would be a good match for Pearl’s daughter or granddaughter.  Of course none of these ideas made it into the game (we only got the very first level into the game, and that doesn’t even have all the basic functionality we wanted in it).

While the mini-game idea was out, I wanted to keep Pearl in the game in some form.  We also ran into the problem of communicating the level objectives to the player (while the other three levels didn’t make it in, most of them all had slightly different objectives for you to accomplish before you could open the elevator and progress upwards).  Having her helping Ryker break into Claudius Capital gave an easy way to both have some story and to communicate objectives to the player.

I had a fun time writing her dialogue (only a little bit of which made it into the game).  I knew she was going to be a bit older from the get-go, so I spent a bunch of time on Saturday reading over Golden Girls quotes to get an idea for her voice.  She has a bit of a playful air to her dialogue, which is at odds with Ryker’s more stoic and short dialogue.  I also went through and removed words like “okay” and “intel” in favour of things like “great,” or “details.”  The result is that she sounds like a genuine regular person rather than a professional intelligence officer, which is exactly what I was going for.

A slight snag happened while trying to figure out why your assistant would help you break into another company to frame them.  I hit on the idea that she was an ex-Claudius Capital employee.  I thought that she was fired by the CEO and replaced by a younger woman, hence her own desire for revenge against the company.

When we were later thinking about the setup of the game (and how Ryker really isn’t the “good guy,” we thought it was a bit ludicrous that he had an assistant.  We talked about changing Pearl into his aunt, but by that point it was too late because the story screens were already added into the game calling her his assistant.  And with being down to the wire on our 48 hours, we had no time to change it. And so she remains his assistant.

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Designing Hostile Takeover’s Michael Claudius the 3rd

Michael Claudius the 3rd was an interesting character to develop.  I knew while designing Martin Ryker that Claudius was the villain Ryker wanted to take down.  The problem was that Ryker himself isn’t exactly the “good guy” of this story.  I knew he was pretentious (he makes sure everyone knows he’s from old money with the whole “the 3rd”), but that was about it.  Then on Saturday, Shaun showed me this picture he’d created:

Michael Claudius the 3rd

Michael Claudius the 3rd designed by Shaun Ellithorpe

Yeah, that definitely doesn’t look like a good guy.

I wanted Claudius to have the first name “Michael” because it is supposed to mean “Who is like God?”  I took that literally in the sense that he is very full of himself.  His last name changed a few times, starting out as Costas, or Costel, changing to Constantine, and finally settling with Claudius.  The three previous names all mean “constant” or “steadfast;” I was initially thinking of using “constant” in the slogan for his company.  But somewhere along the way his name changed to Claudius (I believe that was at Shaun’s suggestion, but I can’t remember now).

Claudius Capital was an interesting thing to name as well (and I can’t take final credit for it – that was Shaun’s suggestion as well).  I had to look up investment companies to see how they are named first.  A lot of companies have a form of “invest,” “trading,” or “brokers” in their names.  So I was going to name his company “<his name> Investments.”  But then Shaun suggested Claudius Capital, which has a nice ring to it.

claudius capital banner

Claudius Capital banner designed by Shaun Ellithorpe

I didn’t worry too much about Claudius until Sunday, when we decided to make a trailer for the game, and later the Twitter page (we came up with the Claudius Capital slogan while making his Twitter page – I’m still not sure who in their right mind would actually invest with his company with that slogan!)  As I mentioned the other day, we used his Twitter account to justify some design decisions/lack of functionality for the demo.  I didn’t pay too much attention to voice, other than letting him make ridiculous and over the top pronouncements using hashtags.  He also has no dialogue, so I didn’t have to worry at all about his voice in the game.

All in all, Claudius was a fantastic collaboration.  He wouldn’t be who he is today without the help of my team (esp Shaun)!

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Designing Hostile Takeover’s Martin Ryker

During the NGDC, we knew we were making a guy who was a “trader by day, ninja by night.”  But it was up to me to flesh this guy out.  So the first thing I did was come up with his name.

Martin Ryker

Martin Ryker designed by Shaun Ellithorpe

To come up with his name, I went looking for names that meant things like “swift,” thinking he’s supposed to be a ninja.  I settled on Ryker, which means “fast” or “strider,” and Martin, which is derived from Martis, which is rooted in Mars, the god of war.  I thought it was a fitting name because Martin is waging his own war against Claudius Capital.

Once I had his name, I had to start thinking about Martin’s backstory.  For this, I mainly started asking myself questions like “what’s his job?” “How did he end up working at his company?” “What company does he work at?” “Why is he framing the other company for insider trading?”

Working through these questions, I named the two companies (which is also how Michael Claudius from Claudius Capital came into being).  I also had to figure out why Martin was a trader rather than a ninja (the whole team agreed that being a ninja would be the first choice here).  It was a little before we were packing up at the library on Friday night that I solidified his backstory: the other company had bankrupt him, and he was looking for revenge.

Since the NGDC was only 48 hours (and everyone lost a few hours due to technical difficulties), I was extremely grateful that I managed to have Martin’s backstory figured out all within the first night.

So on Saturday I worked on his dialogue a bit.  While I had his backstory, I had a bit of a hard time nailing a voice for him.  In the end I tried to go for more of the more “strong silent type” of character within the game. I kept his dialogue short and snappy (you can see a few lines at the beginning of the demo, when his assistant Pearl is telling him what to do – he has very short replies).

I later had to write dialogue for the trailer.  Since Martin is the one talking through the entire thing, I had a harder time keeping with the whole “strong silent type.”  Overall I thought his dialogue was alright.  If/when Hostile Takeover is made into a longer game, I’ll take another stab at nailing his voice down.

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Meet the Memories NPCs

I have created and named the NPCs you will encounter in Memories. Here they are:

Picture of Memories NPCs

 

I don’t know for sure at this time that these will be all of the characters in the game (plus Briana).  But these are the ones I think I’ll be needing. I decided on the design of most of them over the last week, but I didn’t name everyone until last night (with the exception of Bella and Briana); it was rapidly becoming very tough to write dialogue without names.

I always try to give my characters unique names so there’s no confusion as to who is who.  I tried to choose names with an Irish or English  origin, in the hopes that the names will sound similar (and tie the characters together geographically).  But in this case I also decided to give people from the same families names that start with the same letter.  I think the names are, for the most part, different enough; I just hope that this won’t confuse anyone who plays the game!

Ten of these characters were created with RPG Maker VX Ace’s built in Character Generator.  The other five were chosen from the characters that come with the software.  You may actually recognize Wulfric from Tears of the King; I chose the same model for the Tears woodcutter (seen in the video in my Jan 2 2016 post).

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First Characters for Memories

When I last posted, I talked about how I have only a rough idea of the plot and characters for Memories.  Over the last week and a half, I have done a bit of work on some of the main characters, who I had determined were a set of twins.  At that time I didn’t have a clue what they even looked like. But I played around with the Character Generator in RPG Maker VX Ace, and came up with some designs I was happy with.

So first, here is Briana:

Briana portrait

Briana is the real main character twin; she’s the one that the player will get to control.  As a character she is very hard working and focussed.  Briana’s name means “strong” in Irish.  She’s in many ways the opposite of her twin sister, Bella:

Bella portrait

Bella is going to be a very important NPC character for the game.  At this point I don’t think she’ll be player controlled at all, but that may change as I build the game more.  Bella is much more vain and more of a dreamer than Briana.  Bella is often associated with the French word bell, which means beautiful (think Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast).  According to sheknows.com, in other languages, it has other meanings, but often has “beautiful” as part of the meaning (ie Spanish “beautiful; devoted to God;” Latin “beautiful, loving, lovable, graceful;”).  As an American name it means “intelligent,” and the Hebrew name means “devoted to god.”

As twins, it was important to me that they look very similar, but they had to be a bit different as well.  An easy way to differentiate them is with their hair – they both have different hair styles.  Their mouths have the same shape, but Bella has a small beauty mark on her chin that Briana is missing.  Bella also has thinner eyebrows than Briana.

These are the only two characters I’ve made so far.  But they’ve been a great start because I’ve already been able to start putting together some events for the game!

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#WriteFriday – September 18th

Since last week, I began working on the Fairy Forest map for Tears of the King.  I decided to make it a bunch of smaller maps like Secret of Mana’s Haunted Forest.  I’ve built the main parts of the map, with a path that connects them all from the entrance (which connects to the Mountain Forest) right to the Fairy Grove.  Beyond that though, I still have a lot of work to do on it.  The map is going to have a whole bunch of teleports, and I need to figure out where the other paths will take you.  I’m currently thinking most of them will just bring you back to the starting part of each mini-map, but some will take you to secret areas.  Since none of that is in place right now I will not be sharing a screenshot with you; you’ll have to wait until it’s all done to see it.

So today I started thinking about some of the characters in the game, particularly in the starting village.  I have an idea of what the two main characters of the game are like, but wanted to flesh out the minor ones a bit.  I also ended up playing with Game Character Hub, a program a friend bought me on Steam for Christmas.  I used it to build the main character for Tears.  Here she is:

Anna Face

After using Game Character Hub, I did end up just using the character generator that comes built into RPG Maker VX Ace for most of the other characters I created today.  I realized that, at least for the portraits, Game Character Hub basically just had the exact same graphics as the character generator, so it made more sense to just make everything within RPG Maker.

Here’s the other main character, who I ended up calling Eric because that’s the default first character that RPG Maker starts you off with (and it started to stick).  Of course he looks nothing like the starting Eric character.

Eric Face

Over the course of the evening, I ended up making five other characters (and I used two pre-made characters as well).  They’re all in the starting village.  Because I was adding the characters, I wanted to make sure you could interact with them.  So I added the starting functionality to everything, too.  The dialogue will need some fixing up, but all the basics are now in place for the very beginning of the game!

I just realized I’ve never taken a screenshot of the starting village.  Here it is, scaled at 1:2 because it’s a bit too big for 1:1.

Starting Village

I also added in functionality for one of my key items (one of the ingredients you need to collect), the mushroom.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually mentioned it before, but the main story of Tears involves collecting a series of ingredients to create a potion.  The ingredients are scattered around the island that Tears takes place on.  Adding functionality to the mushroom was actually what started me on building characters and adding events to the game tonight.  In the case of the mushroom, you can pick it up both before and after you talk to the witch.  At this point the witch doesn’t say anything important though – she’s still got the same place-holder dialogue I gave her from two years ago.

Thinking of dialogue, I was planning on writing everything on Scrivener then transferring it over.  But that’s seeming a bit unwieldy at the moment, especially since I’m already playing with switches and whatnot.  So I’ll probably try to write everything in RPG Maker for now, and see how well that works.  I’ll probably have to use Scrivener for Untitled StoryNexus Project, whenever I get back to it because that’s going to be much, much bigger, dialogue-wise, than Tears and I’ll want to make sure everything is perfect on it.

So I think the very next thing I need to do is fix the witch’s dialogue up so it actually works with the story to this point.  Once that’s done, I’ll either get back to the Fairy Forest, or start work on another map.  I’m rather excited – I’m almost at a point that I can get friends to start play testing a bit!

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#WriteFriday – August 28th

Yeah, this is a bit late…

I ended up writing outside in my notebook on Friday.  I had determined that I needed to either firm up the plot of Tears of the King or else work on characters.  I sort of ended up doing a bit of both, depending on where my thinking took me.

I can’t remember if I noted it here or not, but my characters for Tears of the King don’t currently have any character (by that I mean I have vague ideas for what they’re like, but they need a lot of work).  So with that in mind, I started looking at the king because in some ways, the game sort of revolves around him.  He still needs a lot of work (for one thing, I still haven’t named him), but I now have an idea of where to go from here with him.

Beyond that, I did do some work on the plot, which in this case is very much tied to game development.  I wanted to figure out what was going to be where in relation to the witch house hub.  Like I said, I was kind of going back and forth between characters and plot, but once again I have a bit of an idea of where to go from here.

Oh yeah, earlier last week I also worked on map building for the game.  I now have my first new maps since 2013!

Here’s the interior of the cottage I made on my “Mountain Forest” map (that’s the one I showed you last time).

Fishing Interior

And here’s a cave map I made (which you also get to on the Mountain Forest).  I’ve scaled it at 1:2.

Mountain Cave

This last map is the one I’m proud of.  It’s the one I’m considering the first new map since 2013 because it took a lot more work to make it than the cottage interior, which basically involved me looking at the village houses I made back then.  I made a slight switch to the Mountain Forest: there’s now a river running out of the lake that goes into this cave (hence the small waterfall in this map).  This map is going to serve a couple of purposes – there’s an item you’ll need to get on one of these islands, plus there’s a way up onto the mountain from here (which is going to be needed later in the story).

From here, I basically just have to keep going on both the map making and on hashing out the details for the game.  I’m not sure if I’ll be doing much this Friday because I’ve got some plans; if I don’t write anything then, I’ll make a point of doing some more work on this game over the weekend!

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#WriteFriday – April 24th

A couple of days ago, I tweeted the following:

What happened was that I decided to work on my StoryNexus project a bit prior to #WriteFriday.  My plan was to sit down and build the three main non-playable characters (NPCs) for my game.  And as I sat down to do so, I realized that two of the three characters had pretty much become their own entities.  They honestly did have a relationship between them, and there were ties to the third character as well (who was not as defined).

So yesterday during #WriteFriday, I was thinking I would do what I termed some “game design-y” work.  I was hoping that I had a good enough handle on things that i could start laying the groundwork for the actual game.

That didn’t quite work out though.  My basic plan is to have the three characters  who are each heading up one of the three factions.  I came up with three preliminary stats, one to coincide with each of the three factions (I say preliminary because one doesn’t seem quite right, but it’ll do to help me get started designing and writing this game). But then I decided that I really should name my characters and factions.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that naming things is not a strong point of mine.  I can come up with a great character, but it takes me FOREVER to come up with the perfect name for them.  So when I decided to name all three characters AND all three factions last night, I should have known that probably wouldn’t be happening.  But I did luck out and manage to name all three characters.

Hilariously, in doing so, the “relationship” between two of my characters managed to morph again.  When it did, it actually made naming those two somewhat easier because rather than being lovers, they were siblings.  I say somewhat because now I only needed one last name.  Of course, that one last name needed to fit both characters.

With those two characters suddenly being siblings, a lot of other things (in their back stories) kind of fell into place.  I knew where they were living.  I knew exactly what had happened between them .  And I knew how the third character fit in with them.  So all in all, yesterday was a very good #WriteFriday.

The next thing I’ll have to do is actually name the factions.  It’s not much fun calling them “Faction A,” “Faction B” and “Faction C.”

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Speak Out With Your Geek Out: Role-Playing Games

I’ve been an avid pen and paper role-player for many years now. And in many ways, role-playing for me goes hand in hand with Magic: the Gathering. My first foray into role-playing was rather disasterous. My brother had piano lessons once a week at a friend’s house. The two of us went there every week after school for maybe two hours; I would hang out the entire time with my friend, and my brother would join us when his lesson was over. Normally we played Magic, but one day my friend really wanted us to try the Paladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game. It took us weeks to build our characters. And then when we were finally ready to play, our very first encounter with bandits killed our characters! Needless to say, we didn’t try role-playing again for a very long time.

Several years later, someone at school invited me to try role-playing using MERP (Middle Earth Role-Playing). Character generation went much smoother with MERP and my character didn’t die in my first encounter. I don’t really remember much of what happened, other than using a magic ring to levitate onto a building so I could shoot arrows at the bad guys in peace. For me that game didn’t last more than a few sessions, but it did serve to get me interested in role-playing.

So the next time I was at the Bookshelf, the place where my brother and I played Magic every weekend, I decided to look for MERP. They didn’t have any of the MERP books, but they recommended Vampire: the Masquerade. I ended up walking out of there with Vampire: the Dark Ages, which is what I used to run my first game. Since that time, I’ve played and run games in many of the major role-playing systems, from White Wolf’s Storyteller System (Vampire, Mage, Hunter and Werewolf), the Storytelling System (I’ve only played Vampire: the Requiem once but I have all of the core books), Exalted 1st Edition, Dungeon’s and Dragons 3rd Edition (both 3 and 3.5), MERP. Palladium (both Fantasy and RIFTS), Shadowrun and more recently GURPS. I don’t play as much as I used to, but I am still playing with a small group of friends. Having tried many role-playing systems over the years, I know which ones I like and which ones I’m not very fond of. I’ve also discovered that I don’t like getting bogged down in rules debates; I’m there to have a good time and help tell a great story.

And that is the thing that a lot of people don’t realize about role-players: they are there to hang out and have a good time. Sure, there are plenty of examples that I can cite where friends got caught up debating the rules, or where they are sighting different stats in an effort to make the best character. But the real fun comes from recounting your adventures. Off the top of my head, I’ve been a Water Cleric who believed in sacrificing things to her god (the aptly named “Fish God”), a beastial vampire who could become a swarm of bats, an alien mercenary hired by the Empire, a half-human fae who could blend in with her surroundings and a super wealthy woman who is actually a god. I’ve travelled through space, fought monsters and used magic. And through it all I’ve been surrounded by good friends with whom I can later recount my adventures with in all their glory.

Role-playing certainly isn’t for everyone. But if you have an active imagination and some like-minded friends, role-playing gives you the freedom to go anywhere and be anyone.

If you enjoy role-playing, what are some of your favourite memories from your own adventures?

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