One large source of inspiration I had was from the use of flowers in games directed by Yoko Taro such as NieR:Automata where he often has a white flower in his games such as the Lunar Tear which is based on a White Moonflower (Fig. 1) (PlatinumGames, 2017).
Figure 1. White Moonflower (Badgett, 2010)
Being that Lily’s life was saved by a plant I thought it seemed fitting to have her become a botanist, someone who studies plants and strives to understand their many processes, dedicating her life to finding the plant that not only saved her but also showed her the lost colours of the world (Environmental Science, 2020).
Originally I was going to make the clothes that Lily wears heavily based on an Arum Lily flower by having a large collar of leafed materials around her neck and an asymmetrical skirt. However, when drawing the concept sketches the long curved edges ended up looking too over the top (Fig. 2).
Figure 2. Early sketches and inspiration (Arum Lily)
As Lily is supposed to be adventuring, cultivating plants and searching for the original fruit she found, I wanted her clothes to be practical. With that in mind I started to look for somewhat baggy, free-moving clothes that she would be likely to wear, such as gardeners dungarees (Fig. 3). When thinking about the combat aspect and the fact that while adventuring she may end up facing various enemies, I thought that she may have some sort of basic armour such as a leather cuirass but ultimately I settled on more comfortable clothing.
Figure 3. Character mood board
As a traveling botanist I thought that having various pockets and pouches on her outfit would be suitable as she would be likely to carry various dried medicinal plants and potions, so I added multiple pockets on her legs and belt along with a potion strap.
Using the front-on and side-on image of Lily (Fig. 4) I imported them into Blender where I started by blocking out the body using the images as a reference, checking that all the sides roughly lined up then subdividing once it looked right (Fig. 5).
Figure 4. Sketch Reference
Figure 5. Full Body front view
I followed multiple tutorials such as (Algar, 2011) that focused on good face topology so that it could be animated later on in production, creating rings around the eyes and mouth so they can deform without geometry issues (Fig. 6).
Figure 6. Facial construction
Some of the feedback I got was that the gloves and boots in the initial concept sketch (Fig. 4) felt and looked a little bit awkward, the boots looking too small, probably due to the perspective I drew them in. To make sure this wasn’t an issue in 3D I followed a hand tutorial from YouTube (Dikko 2020), making sure the topology allows for fluent movement/deformation and just manipulated parts to make it look like a glove (Fig. 7). For the boots I simply looked at multiple references for shoes, taking some inspiration from form fitting climbing shoes and making them larger than the original sketch I did.
Figure 7. Glove geometry
To create a run cycle I followed a tutorial by a channel which initially helped me learn Blender (Royal Skies LLC, 2019).
From the beginning I knew Lily was going to need some method of directional attacking that can have a colour applied to it. Originally I was going to make combat solely magic projectile based where the player would just shoot projectiles in four directions but ended up going for a more melee combat approach. The player attacks with a staff weapon that has its reach extended by a coloured attack. The staff itself is currently a placeholder and further development needs to be done on the design.
Some of the inspiration for the staff concept sketches (Fig. 8) include the khakkhara or ‘Pewter Staff’ (Fig. 9), a kind of Buddhist monk staff that is topped with metal rings used to announce a monk’s presence and frighten away animals (Blue, 2018).
Figure 8. Khakkhara inspired staff designs
Figure 9. Khakkhara staff
To help with animation and poses I used a video of real life staff fighting to make the movement as realistic as possible (Fig. 10) (Varady, 2016).
Figure 10. Combat stance rig test.
Due to the prototype not being complete the feedback that I got was mostly limited to movement and animation.
Player testers mentioned that the hitbox of the player model wasn’t very accurate as part of the mesh could clip through walls. To fix this I may create a custom hitbox instead of the square one just increase the size of the original when playing different animations.
The actual movement feedback was varied, although some thought the sideways movement felt good, others said that the jumping didn’t feel very good which was most likely due to the fact that the jumping animation hasn’t been implemented yet and that the run cycle didn’t look very smooth. To fix this I may either experiment with the speed values or edit the actual animation itself, making it more snappy and raising the torso a bit, along with implementing a jump animation with a smooth transition.
One person I showed the character design to stated that they liked the more realistic depiction of a female character when compared to some games that have female characters with either overexaggerated or oversexualised female form.
Algar J. (2011) Modeling the human head made easy [Video]. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86JiuZpbi_w [ Accessed 04/12/2020].
Badgett B. (2010) Moonflower plants: Tips for growing Moonflowers In the garden. Available online: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/vines/moonflower/growing-moonflowers.htm [Accessed 07/12/2020].
Blue A.W. (2018) The Khakkara. Toshidama Japanese prints. 20 August. Available online: https://toshidama.wordpress.com/2018/08/20/alan-watts-blues-the-khakkhara/ [Accessed 07/12/2020].
Dikko (2020) Modeling for Animation 04 – Building the Hands! [Video]. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8R0e0qh5wiU [Accessed 07/12/2020].
Environmental Science (2020) What is a botanist?. Available online: https://www.environmentalscience.org/career/botanist [Accessed 08/12/2020].
PlatinumGames (2017) Nier: Automata [Video game]. Square Enix. Available online: https://store.steampowered.com/agecheck/app/524220/ [Accessed 07/12/2020].
Royal Skies LLC (2019) Blender 2.8 animate running in 2 minutes! [Video]. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxoo_bcUZos [Accessed 07/12/2020].
Varady J. (2016) Full contact staff fight [Video]. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMjsHE5p2vs [Accessed 07/12/2020].