Game Design Game Development Geek / Technical

Freshly Squeezed Progress Report: Player Character Customization and Persistence

Last week, I reported that I had started player customization for my second Freshly Squeezed Entertainment project by allowing the player to change their character’s name.

I continued the effort this week.

Sprint 6: Pre-production and initialization

Planned and complete:

  • Create save file
  • Create player character

Now that I can rename a character, I could save the game to persist that rename, which meant revisiting the save file work I had started. I changed the main menu to allow me to either start a new game with initialized default data or load an existing game so I can continue where I left off. More directly, it allowed me to test that saving and loading works while also giving me a way to reset and try again.

Freshly Squeezed Entertainment game #2's play menu screen

Next up was letting the player customize their character’s pronouns and their appearance.

Ultimately, I want the player to be able to put themselves into the game. I want more pronoun options, but for now and to get something quickly into the game, the player can choose between he/him/his, she/her/hers, and they/them/theirs. Scripts and dialogues will use those pronouns to know how to refer to you and your party members. I have to brush up on my grammar and language rules, specifically for possessive pronouns.

The most exciting part was getting to finally put some graphics into the game. I wanted the player character on the screen, especially when customizing, and so I experimented with one of my pencil and paper doodles, scanned it in, and created a digital form with highlights and shadows. Here’s a mock-up:

Player portrait demo

I like the hand-drawn look of it.

Creating a bunch of different face shapes and facial features for the player to choose from seemed a bit daunting, so I thought it might be easier if I made it very modular. I started with creating a handful of face shapes to choose from, as well as skin colors. Again, like with the pronouns, I want to provide more options, but this initial start lets me get a feel for how intuitive this selection process can be.

Face and skin color customization

Face and skin color customization

The simple facial features are just meant to make it clear that these are faces and not just weird shapes. I want to eventually put in eyes, ears, noses, mouths, hairstyles, and accessories, as well as bodies and clothing, so this customization feature will get revisited.

Even now, I have plans to replace these face shapes. I made them quickly to put together this menu to allow the player to choose between them, but I think I lost the hand-drawn look that I liked so much.

If you wanted to customize your character in a game, what would you want as an option?

Thanks for reading!

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