From the story draft, I knew I needed a "cast" of villagers/characters to be able to fulfil the narrative. I took some time to draw conceptual sketches of ideas for personalities and roles of these characters. Although it probably isn't extremely important that minor characters have strong designs, I think it's important that they convey a somewhat realistic, natural warmth - and an overall sense of community and life.
I noticed in my research that slice of life/simulation games often reached an audience with more impact when the characters were down to earth and portrayed as genuine unique individuals that could connect with the player. It is the importance of a character feeling 'real'. A character that has a life, thoughts, and feelings of their own - is one that can be meaningful and believable. Things to consider in designing and writing the characters beyond conceptual sketches are the elements of:
I also generated some further concepts for introducing more game related ideas to the interactive comic, such as the inclusion of profile cards, skill levels, titles, moods, ranks, and having a visible inventory. Not all of these ideas will be necessary but they are heavily inspired by current simulation games. Levelling up skills, gaining new titles, upgrading a tool, improving a friendship - these are achievements in a game that can mirror real life. A player can find themself basking in the virtual sense of progression and can also practise transferable skills and obtain transferable knowledge. They may learn the consequences of their choices and interactions, how to express themself (customisation), a sense of belonging and purpose, or perhaps they just love working towards achieveable goals and self betterment. Negative experiences can teach valuable lessons, and positive simulated experiences can influence perspectives on real life achievements and progression too. It is for this reason that these seemingly cosmetic features have much purpose. (Image 9 on the slideshow)
Development compilation for Pixel Plasters.