Ruminations on Character Design


Filed: Community, Games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, PlatinumGames

Hello. My name’s Cho, I did character design in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

I was in charge of enemy cyborg soldiers, sub-characters, boss characters, etc.


Some enemy designs.

Up until now, the world and characters of Metal Gear have been designed by Yoji Shinkawa of Konami’s Kojima Productions. I’m sure this is something most of you already know; Shinkawa-san has a lot of fans from around the world, myself included. As a designer, the biggest challenge I faced during this project was to create characters that would belong to both the established Metal Gear Solid universe and a fast-paced action game like Rising.

As a seasoned fan, I felt I already had a decent understanding of Metal Gear, but now that I had to look at things from the eyes of a creator, I went back and played through the series one more time. My time for clearing The Boss Extreme in MGS4 was 3 hours and 2 minutes, in case you want to know.

You won’t see these characters in the actual game; they were just rough ideas that helped us decide designs.

You won’t see these characters in the actual game; they were just rough ideas that helped us decide designs.

At the start of development, we were free to throw out any ideas we thought would work well with Metal Gear Rising’s world concept. This is probably the best part of the design process; ideas really seem to just flow. It is the time where anything you hit upon that you think might be good you have to push for. After this stage, you start working on basic design layout.

For this entry, I’d like to talk about an enemy cyborg named Mistral.

Initial designs for Mistral.

Initial Mistral designs

Mistral’s initial concept came from Kenji Saito, Rising’s director: “I want tendril-like-objects to come out of this girl, and
I want her to fight with them like a whip!” In previous MG titles, most female characters follow the formula of a mysterious, alluring femme fatale with a tragic past. I wanted to design Mistral in the same mold.


More Mistral designs.

Mistral done in a Mannequin theme.

Mistral done in a Mannequin theme.

I thought about having a cyborg-enhanced body, like Raiden, and a slightly sick-looking face would work best for her design. More than that, however, I wanted something somewhat perverse/weird, so I started rethinking her base design and tried something new.


More Mistral tests.

Then we put about a dozen dwarf gekko arms on her that she could detach and recombine to create her main weapon. After this was approved, we finally had Mistral’s prototype. Next, we did some fine tuning by iterating on colors and cyborg parts. Personally, I wanted Mistral to be wearing a helmet, but Saito-san said he didn’t want to hide her face, so we lost it. The final design we decided on was a more “human,” sexy Mistral.


Mistral full view.

Once we decided an overall look, we started on details. Rising is full of cyborgs and other mech-based characters that need to be carefully detailed, otherwise things fall apart in 3D-modeling.


Mistral details.

This is the final, fully approved body shot of Mistral.

This is the final, fully approved body shot of Mistral.

So there is a glimpse into our design process for a character. While Mistral is an enemy character in Rising, she is one who bears a tragic past that players should be able to feel for. I hope you’ll like her when you play the game.

It won’t be much longer until the release!
Be sure to get your hands on it.

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21 Comments Add Your Own

ZEROINTELIGENCE Posted on January 11, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Wow, this is amazing! It must have be a lot of work designing these characters and discussing about them. I would love to read more about this, about character designs, concept art, and the production of the game.

Andy Posted on January 11, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Ah cool, I love hearing things like this. What's Cho's full name? Is he an American based artist?

What kind of guidelines was he given to keep the "MG style"? I was thinking that the cyborg grunts in MGR trailer looked similar to some things I'd seen on Deviantart… (maybe Cho is one of those artists I've favorited on there? lol)

Shishio Posted on January 12, 2013 at 3:13 am

what would be truely amazing is tohave hose bosses playable somehow…

Raruna Posted on January 12, 2013 at 3:57 am

Oh man, that was really cool! Though to be honest, I kind of liked the original Dwarf Gekko arm design better. It looked really "modular", wich I think would have made more sense for this design than the more organic-looking ones in the final product given that she's apparently supposed to detach them and so on.
By retaining their clearly mechanical look, I think that would have been conveyed in a more clear fashion.

Still really awesome. Looking forward for more posts <3

Maruchan Posted on January 12, 2013 at 4:52 am

I love your style! it's soo MGS! it remembers me to shinkawa-san too!

Luffywang573 Posted on January 12, 2013 at 5:07 am

Please release an artbook for rising like the past MGS game!!!!!

LightningBoltAction Posted on January 12, 2013 at 5:26 am

Just as I thought, Kenichirou Yoshimura didn't design Mistral. I think he also didn't design Monsoon. Can't say for sure about Sundowner. Kenichirou Yoshimura needs to do a lot more on the sequel.

Matt Posted on January 12, 2013 at 5:29 am

what is that hose like thing attached down to her vagina?

Matt Posted on January 12, 2013 at 5:31 am

So actually, I noticed the hose runs from her mouth to her vagina, does she drink her urine?

Its pretty interesting/perverted so mind explaining?

Michael Posted on January 12, 2013 at 6:08 am

I like the mid-stage concepts of Mistral more than the finalised version. I feel the grey, green and orange are a colour scheme that works well together.

I like the longer hair and the asymmetry of her leg amputations; and the face-mask and how tightly the gekko arms squeeze around her torso tap into the quasi S&M vibes and themes that the series has always had in places.

The early & mid stage designs and the finalized one convey very different characteristics. But I realize your job was ultimately to help realise someone elses vision for the character. Aesthetically, what bothers me most about the final design is the neck-stretching bulk of her collar pack.

FAUNA Posted on January 12, 2013 at 6:30 am

One of my favorite aspects of the METAL GEAR saga has always been the anime-esque main enemy boss team unit. They always manage to outdo the previous title, & these characters fully live up to that. Simply incredible…

Tom D. Posted on January 12, 2013 at 7:48 am

Wow these are epic hope to see more :)

Demon Dethchase Posted on January 12, 2013 at 10:02 am

this game needs a proper sized artbook! At least 200 should cover it but if you can get more that would be great
Artbook please

Travis Posted on January 12, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Excellent insight on the creation process. Thanks for sharing!

Piscis Posted on January 13, 2013 at 8:55 am

Oh-ho… Nifty concept work! Always neat to see the imaginative stuff you folks come up with.

Roman Posted on January 15, 2013 at 6:49 am

Hey Cho, I love the ideas you have come up with for this game. You mention that you designed the boss characters. Did you design LQ-84i/Bladewolf?

Ragmana Posted on January 15, 2013 at 10:50 am

The masked straightjacket and tentacle designs look threatening and novel, but still very Metal Gear. Generic spandex Barbie doll is generic. Cho, you deserve a lot more creative license than you got!

George Posted on January 17, 2013 at 12:38 am

the designer's full name is Yong-Hee Cho, Korean working in Osaka. You can find him on LinkedIn.

Yong-hee, did 얘렁 help you write this? ㅋㅋㅋ

Mary Posted on May 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm

The Initial Mistral designs are pretty impressive! How do you do that? I am not a designer but I am really awed every time I play games. I am stunned with how game creators establish the characters and make different designs that really fit them.

Youtube.Com Posted on June 15, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Your site is indeed easy to help you navigate much too, I’ve bookmarked it around my favourites

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