I’m working on characters right now for Brainsss. One of the issues I’ve run into is designing for clarity. We want distinctive enemy types that the play can quickly identify so that the player can make an informed decision on what action to take.
The problem with iconic characters however, is that the characters may all look the same at some point. We’ve all played games where we’ve encountered the same 3 enemies over and over again.
The quick solution is to add variety to the characters. Unfortunately, by adding variation, often times, you end up breaking the character types. In essence, you’ve made a clear idea less focused.
For the zombie game we’re making, I’m going to try to take a hybrid approach. So we have several enemy types: civilians, police, soldiers, medics, etc. The civilians will have an entire slew of variations. There will be males, females, old folk, and younger kids. They will be wearing all types of clothes. The civilians in our game represent the fodder, like the grunts in Halo.
All the other enemy classes will not have variation. These classes are more dangerous to the player than ordinary civilians, so we want them to be quickly recognizable. The fiction is that these enemy classes are wearing uniforms, and by definition, uniforms are there to make people look alike.
I’m not sure if we’ll be able to pull it off. The biggest problem I can foresee, is if one of the civilian variations looks similar to a different class of enemy. For instance, if the soldiers wear green, and there’s a civilian with a green suit, visually, these characters may conflict with each other.
This is something I will have to watch out for in the future.