Game Development: Character Introduction–Marcus and James

With The Regret of Vitrerran demo in its final stages of completion, I think it’s time to talk about the two characters you’ll play as. It’s also just been awhile since I’ve written about the writing aspect to our no-longer-so-little game, and that needs to be fixed.

So. Marcus and James! I really like these characters. Their surprisingly comedic, which isn’t a direction I had thought either would take. But they have this amazing back-and-forth that’s one part sarcasm and one part sorrow. Both characters have lived less than ideal lives, and they cover their true feelings up with biting jokes and outright insults. They don’t like each other. At all. But they also have a begrudging respect for each other’s abilities, and they share a camaraderie in being outcasts.

Like all the characters I’ve worked on, I created Marcus and James only after I designed their home, in this case Mount Nefisigg. Mount Nefisigg (and Castle Alboiss) is the lofty dwelling of King Midus and the only knights of Vitrerran. It’s biting cold, corrupt, and filled with self importance. It’s also a place of high invention with a host of powerful mages.

So, let’s talk Marcus first.

marcus

When I first truly started writing bios and dialogue, I was reading A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin, and the influences of Westeros are most prominent with this knight and mage pairing. I quite enjoyed Martin’s reduction of the knight as just a glorified soldier. Sansa hopes to find a “true knight,” but none exist.

I took that idea and flipped it around. Marcus is a “true knight,” but he’s the only one. He’s noble, he respects the ideas of chivalry, he places the life of his king above his own, he’s knowledgeable about the outside world, and he’s good with a sword. He’s also old, a dying relic, and he is not respected by his peers or…well, anyone really.

Even his king thinks of him as nothing more than a scapegoat and tool.

Marcus has lived a hard life, and he’s grown sarcastic (and perhaps bitter too) towards the way the world has become. He knows everyone around him is corrupt, and despite his best efforts to fight against that corruption, he knows he’s losing.

In a sense, I both respect and feel bad for Marcus. I respect his steadfast connection to values that he thinks are now obsolete, such as his loyalty to his king and country. Neither respect him. Yet I feel bad for Marcus, because I think he might eventually crack. Viterrarn is a chaotic and cruel place, and Marcus is only one man.

marcus_sprite

When it comes to Marcus’ design, I left everything up to Joe. We’ve had arguments over some characters, and we’ve had struggles over other aspects of visual design, but Marcus featured no such hassle. Joe wanted to include some kind of fur lining to him, because Castle Alboiss is located in a snowy mountain, and that seemed fine to me. Other than that brief talk, I had no input on the character.

When I first saw a completed Marcus, I just smiled and said, “That’s him.” No drama is boring to read about, but when it comes to designing a massive project, the less drama, the better.

Onto James then.

james

Foils are fairly standard when it comes to creating basic drama in writing. Caud and Pakasoph are opposites, and that makes them fun to write and read. Marcus and James are the same. Marcus is the chivalrous knight, and James is the spoiled son of a wealthy lord. Marcus worked hard for his power while James was born into it.

James thinks himself better than everyone around him. He’s pompous and self absorbed, and honestly, a little irritating at times. To make matters worse, he backs up his smug attitude by being better than everyone. You don’t just hate him for being a prick, you also hate him for being right.

But knowledge and magical prowess are all James really has. Oh sure, he has money and a certain inherited power thanks to his father, but his father is not well liked and that sentiment has carried over to himself. Like Marcus, he’s an outcast. But while Marcus has slowly turned sarcastic, James leapt upon the trait as a coping mechanism right away.

James is a gifted mage, truly good at what he does, but he also never wanted to be a mage. He was given a talent he has no use for, though his king wasn’t about to let that talent go to waste. James sees himself as a prisoner inside a school, and he sees being the most powerful mage as the key for him to escape.

james_sprite

Similar to Marcus, James’ design was left up to Joe and had little input from me. I wanted James to look nice, to look wealthy, but what that meant was up to Joe’s interpretation. I may have requested more purple to his coloring, purple being an expensive fabric and an obvious sign of wealth. Regardless, I love how he came out.

I recall Joe saying he was difficult to execute properly in our art style, but I don’t recall which aspect of his design was truly the most problematic. I’d imagine his head and hair though. Those are always hard to draw no matter the art style.

Marcus and James’ quest is one that was thrust upon them. Neither wants the job, but their king has given them an order, and Marcus will see all of his king’s orders completed. That being said, their journey thus far has been quite comedic, as you’ll see in the demo, and I’m hoping their ending is a happy one. Having not written it yet, I can’t say for certain.

For more information about The Regret of Vitrerran, please visit http://www.dualwieldsoftware.com/

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