Tag Archives: character

Finding a Voice for Wulfric

Wulfric sprite and face graphics

Wulfric

Meet Wulfric, the huntsman from Memories.  Wulfric was unique out of the whole cast of Memories characters because I just couldn’t get a feel for his character.  Like Alexis, Alea, and Albert, Wulfric was one of the pre-made RPG Maker VX Ace characters (he’s the one I always seem to use for huntsmen-type characters).

When I was originally choosing the characters for Memories, I decided that there should be a huntsman character of some sort.  My reasoning was that Memories is fairy-tale like in many ways, and fairy tales often have a huntsman in them.  And that was it; like so much of Memories, I really didn’t have much of a plan and just kind of went with everything that came to mind.

Wulfric was always one of the first characters that the player got to see, but that was pretty much the extent of his role in the game.  He’s the one who found the avatar (player character) wandering around and brought her to the house where everything takes place.  Once he did that, he disappeared from the game entirely.  When I figured out an ending for Memories, I added him into it, just to make him more present in the game (plus it seemed fitting that he was at both the beginning and the end of the game).  But I was never sure if it was fitting that he was there, rather than someone else.  But it did put him into the game more, so I figured I might as well leave it as him for now.

Once I started working on the characters’ voices though, I knew I had a big problem with Wulfric.  I couldn’t get a feel for him.  His role was more important than Alexis, so I didn’t think I should cut him from the game (and if I did, I don’t know who could have replaced him.  So I needed to figure out what his character was like, including why he is here (and why Edric would have hired him since he has no family connections to any of the other characters).  I found this article on A Writer’s Perspective that talked about the importance of medieval huntsmen; while I admit that this was the extent of my research, it sounded good enough for my purposes, and underscored how Wulfric would have been an important part of the household.

But it still didn’t help me with his voice.  I started thinking more about what his character might be like.  I came up with some ideas, like how he’s a loner, and how he butts heads with Albert, the butler (Albert doesn’t like that Wulfric is able to do whatever he wants outside of the house; Albert likes to think of himself as in charge of everyone).  But that didn’t really help me in terms of how he sounded.

And then I stumbled on this graphic thanks to Pinterest, which talks about minor character development.  In the point about character voice, it mentioned that some characters talk in short sentences; that ended up being the key to finding Wulfric’s voice!

Once I had a tentative feel for what his dialogue would be like, I started implementing it, playing around with it until it sounded right to me.  I also added him to the game a bit more; in one of the rooms there were wood piles that were supposed to increase as time went on, implying his presence.  Instead I explicitly put him either in the entrance way or around the wood piles in the house to show that he’s actually bringing stacks of wood in.  This also helped with another problem: I realized that there was nothing happening at the front door when you went  there (originally there was supposed to be a small scene with the wizard, but it wasn’t triggering). Now Wulfric and his piles of wood block the way so you can’t get to the doors to leave.

With that done, I then had to decide if he was the one who should show up at the end or not.  I ultimately decided that job should fall to someone else, and so Adalyn (Lyn, the housekeeper) took over from him.  I’m happy with this change; it seems like a much more fitting role for Lyn. 🙂

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#WriteTuesday – Memories Feedback Acquired!

My friend playtested Memories over the weekend!  Overall he liked it (he called it a “nice, heartful story”). 🙂  He found a few mechanical things I needed to fix, like how locked doors would open, display the text “the door is locked” then close (he helped me fix that!) and how the ending was a bit weird because after the credits it said “Game Over;” together we figured out that you could send the game back to the Title instead of using the Game Over command, so I’ve implemented that instead.

He also said he really liked how you get more and more dialogue options with NPCs as you unlock more emotions, so I’m super glad I got some of that implemented before he playtested!

So since then, I’ve been working on implementing more of those dialogue choices.  I think I’ve got pretty much everything in place now (there are still a few places where there isn’t a dialogue choice, but I don’t really think they’re needed).

Over the weekend I also noticed a problem with my naming scheme for all the characters.  Here are their names again:

Picture of Memories NPCs with names

When I designed this, I tried to have people who were related to each other have names with the same starting letter.  I thought I did a good job of this, but I just noticed that the wizard name (Edric) starts with an E, just like my mother daughter combo of Eireen and Ena! 😦  Unfortunately, these names are kind of ingrained in my head now; I took a look last night and couldn’t find anything else that worked for any of them.  So in the end I decided to leave them as is.  Whoops!

So now that the dialogue choices are all in place, I need to actually go back and make sure the dialogue works for each character (and that each character actually has their own voice).  Once that’s done, I think Memories just needs a better name then it’s pretty much finished! 😲

So how’s your week been?  🙂

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#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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