Ruminations on Character Design

METAL GEAR RISING

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.

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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.

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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.

006

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.

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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.

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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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Designing Bayonetta 4 – Luka (And a Special MTV Announcement)

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Community, Games, PlatinumGames

Hello all. Character designer Mari Shimazaki reporting in.

We are now less than one week away from the Japanese release of Bayonetta. When the game comes out, I’m really excited about going to a huge store close-by and spreading out all the copies of the game! (A bit of a nuisance to the staff though…)

And now back to what has been sort-of the groove of my blog, explaining the design choices behind one of Bayonetta’s characters – this time the man chasing after Bayonetta – Luka.

Luka_front
Luka_back

When I first drew Luka, I designed him as a bit more “adult;” however, as he is on the receiving end of the sassy Bayonetta’s jabs, I thought that he should be a bit more of a brazen youngster, which is how he ended up as you see him above. Even though he is freelance, he is still a journalist, so he wears that staple of modern masculine armor, the suit. And then there is his favorite camera, which may or may not be a Leica. To chase after Bayonetta, he also has his spy tools-of-the-trade, all secreted neatly away in his gloves, boots, etc.

Since he is rather light on his feet, I wanted to make sure you picked up on Luka’s movements by giving him a nice, long scarf. Putting something moving on these active characters to pick up on their motions is sort of a by-the-book design cue in Bayonetta. Also, Kamiya-san likes scarves.

Unfortunately, it has been a long time since I designed Luka, so I’ve forgotten a lot of the small details and motivation that went into his look.

A glance at Luka can tell you a lot though: He is a bit of a metrosexual, paying attention to his cologne, etc. He is the type to get carried away, as he loves the girls, and would be prone to saying that there is more than enough of him to go around to one-and-all.
But despite all this, Bayonetta is the only women to whom he is openly hostile. Obviously, he must have his reasons…

How will their relationship develop during the game is something you will just have to play to find out.

To switch gears now, I have an announcement to make.

I think you are all aware of MiChi, the Japanese singer who recorded the song played in the background of Bayonetta’s Japanese TV commercial. Well, MiChi is going to appear with Bayonetta on a special program to be aired by MTV Japan!

MTV’s Bayonetta Special will air on MTV Japan on

Wednesday 10/28 4pm-5pm (Premiere airing)
Thursday 10/29 9pm-10pm
Saturday 10/31 5am-6am
Sunday 11/1 4am-5am
* This schedule is subject to change.

Bayonetta herself is going to be the VJ for the show. MiChi will be her guest, and you will get a look into the making of the Something Missing track, as well as their thoughts on what it means to be a strong woman.

I even drew up some special art that you will get a peek at during the show.
It is a tie-up illustration between MiChi, who was kind enough to make the song for us, and Bayonetta. I can’t post it here, so if you want to check it out, make sure to watch the show.

(NOTE: Higher resolution versions of the concept art in this post can be found on the PlatinumGames Inc. Flickr Page)

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