Designing the character

Since its my first try on creating all the art myself, I opted for a simple level and character design. After drawing up multiple silly stick figures I started re-iterating on how these designs could work in pixel art. While I seemed to find a couple of cool designs and was able to make them look, in my own view, awesome… I started to notice that animating these designs would be a bit too difficult for me. And back we went to the drawing board.

I already had some tiles drawn out with their mechanics written down and started to draw my character on top of it. This gave me as a beginner a lot more of an idea on how detailed and how large the end result had to be. First a silhouette, then basics like hair and skin, add some clothes… VOILA! I transformed the stick figure design to an awesome protagonist, which also wasn’t too complex for me to animate as well.

Stages of creating the protagonist

Animating the character

Cool protagonist, check, some example level tiles, check, mechanics of said tiles, check. Next bullet point on the list: “What would need to happen to the character to give the feeling that the players choice actually matters?”

Since I started off with the theme of “Secret Agent” I already looked back at the wonderful traps used in movies such as James Bond and Austin Powers. What could a secret agent be without the danger? Maybe a toy store clerk… To add a sense of danger I opted for using “deadly” traps instead of adding blood and guns. I wanted to keep my target audience towards teens and adults but did not want to exclude children, because who doesn’t want to be a secret agent (I sure do). This also meant that I had to create a separate animation for each trap that I added to the game. More traps = more animations. To make sure I had a decent reference animation I recorded myself with my phone acting out how the character should move.

Once I had my reference material I could finally start animating, right? Not really. Before pushing several hours into animating the protagonist I looked up several tutorials on how to make good pixel art animations, how to make the legs look “realistic” instead of spaghetti-like, how the animation changes based on its speed or length, … all things that need to be considered before making it. After all that work and finally giving it a go, I myself can say that the end result speaks for itself and it has become the basis for my own part in the art of my future projects 🙂

The finished spritesheet for the protagonist

If you have an interest in trying the project, you can send me an e-mail. Do note that I currently only can give alpha access to Android users. And if you don’t have an Android device, why not give me a like instead on Facebook for now?