1st Edition

Virtual Character Design for Games and Interactive Media





ISBN 9781466598195
Published May 7, 2015 by A K Peters/CRC Press
256 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations

USD $78.95

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Book Description

While the earliest character representations in video games were rudimentary in terms of their presentation and performance, the virtual characters that appear in games today can be extremely complex and lifelike. These are characters that have the potential to make a powerful and emotional connection with gamers. As virtual characters become more intricate and varied, there is a growing need to examine the theory and practice of virtual character design. This book seeks to develop a series of critical frameworks to support the analysis and design of virtual characters.

Virtual Character Design for Games and Interactive Media covers a breadth of topics to establish a relationship between pertinent artistic and scientific theories and good character design practice. Targeted at students, researchers, and professionals, the book aims to show how both character presentation and character performance can be enhanced through careful consideration of underlying theory.

The book begins with a focus on virtual character presentation, underpinned by a discussion of biological, artistic, and sociological principles. Next it looks at the performance of virtual characters, encompassing the psychology of emotion and personality, narrative and game design theories, animation, and acting. The book concludes with a series of applied virtual character design examples. These examples examine the aesthetics of player characters, the design and performance of the wider cast of game characters, and the performance of characters within complex, hyperreal worlds.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
About the Author
Introduction

PRESENTATION

Anatomy and Physical Cues
Anatomy
Body Proportions
Body Type
Sex Differences
Physical Cues
Attraction
Health
Age
Summary and Activity
References

Visual and Audio Design Principles
Line and Shape
Silhouette
Color
Visual Style
Sound Design for Virtual Characters
Diegetic, Synchronous, and Empathetic Sound
Sound Motifs
Summary and Activity
References

Representation, Customization, and Transformation
Identity
Representation
Gender and Sexuality
Ethnicity, Religion, and Nationality
Age and Social Class
Customization
Transformation
Summary and Activity
References

PERFORMANCE

Personality, Emotion, and Expression
Personality
Personality Traits and the Five-Factor
Model
Individual Attitudes
Political Views
Balancing Personality Design for Virtual Characters
Emotional States
Emotions as Adaptive Behaviors
Emotion and Virtual Character Performance
Expression
Posture and Proximity
Facial Expression
Voice and Emotional State
Summary and Activity
References

Context, Story, and Gameplay
Core and Shell
Narrative Shell
Setting and Backstory
Archetypes and Stereotypes
Interactive Plot
Narrative Mode
Thematic Statements
Gameplay Core
Video Game Genres
Gameplay Design
Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics
Flow
Summary and Activity
References

Acting, Movement, and Animation
Thinking and Acting
Stanislavski’s System
Movement
Animation Principles
Animation Methods
Mixed-Methods
Animation
Summary and Activity
References

PRACTICE

Control: The Aesthetics of Playable Characters
Role Embodiment
Role Fulfillment
Role Projection
Character Flow
Summary

Cast: The Aesthetics of the Virtual Ensemble
Character Appeal
Dependency
Co-Protagonism
Summary

Complexity: The Aesthetics of Hyperreal Characters
The Uncanny
The Turing Test
Virtual Knowledge
Conclusion
References

Glossary
Ludography
Index

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Author(s)

Biography

Dr. Robin J.S. Sloan is a lecturer at Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland. Robin attained a first degree in computer arts and worked in the Scottish games industry before researching for a PhD in character animation. His doctoral research focused on the development of emotional animation for interactive characters, with emphasis on both the psychological principles of facial expressions and the creative principles of animated performance. Robin currently teaches Game Art and Game Design to students studying for degrees within the School of Arts, Media and Computer Games, which houses the UK’s first Centre for Excellence in Computer Games Education. Besides character design, his research interests include game-design processes, games nostalgia and culture, and games education.