VIDEOGAME WORLD BUILDING #2 RUNES: THE FORGOTTEN PATH
EPISODE #2 - NIARA
Welcome back to our Videogame World building series. In this series of articles we analyze the key aspects of Runes world Building; the second episode is about one of the main characters of the Game: Niara. In the last article we wrote about the archetipes upon which we built our characters. Videogame world building is possibly the second most important aspect of a videogame. How many games hooked you up because of their compelling stories and detailed lore? So, without further ado let's start!
VIDEOGAME WORLD BUILDING: ARCHETYPES
As discussed in the previous article we built a lot of our world and story on the work of Chris Vogler. We discussed a little about our Hero, but a good adventure is not good only for its protagonist. There are a series of relationships and roles within the hero's world that are the mirror of the hero's psyche. Simply put: you get to know more of the hero through the other characters. That's where the seven archetypes kick in.
But, let's examine them more closely:
The Hero is the protagonist or central character. His primary purpose is to separate from the ordinary world and sacrifice himself for the service of the Journey at hand – to answer the challenge, complete the quest and restore the Ordinary World’s balance. We experience the Journey through his eyes.
The better version of the hero, or how the hero sees himself. It is basically what the Hero aspires to become.
The Mentor provides motivation, insights and training to help the Hero.
someone who travels with the hero through the journey, serving variety of functions
Herald characters issue challenges and announce the coming of significant change. They can make their appearance anytime during a Journey, but often appear at the beginning of the Journey to announce a Call to Adventure. A character may wear the Herald’s mask to make an announcement or judgment, report a news flash, or simply deliver a message.
The Shadow can represent our darkest desires, our untapped resources, or even rejected qualities. It can also symbolize our greatest fears and phobias. Shadows may not be all bad, and may reveal admirable, even redeeming qualities. The Hero’s enemies and villains often wear the Shadow mask. This physical force is determined to destroy the Hero and his cause.
Tricksters relish the disruption of the status quo, turning the Ordinary World into chaos with their quick turns of phrase and physical antics. Although they may not change during the course of their Journeys, their world and its inhabitants are transformed by their antics. The Trickster uses laughter and ridicule to make characters see the absurdity of the situation, and perhaps force a change.
Threshold Guardians protect the Special World and its secrets from the Hero, and provide essential tests to prove a Hero’s commitment and worth.
The Shapeshifter represents uncertainty and change, reminding us that not all is as it seems. They may be a character who keeps changing sides or whose allegiance is uncertain. They act to keep the hero (and us) on his or her toes and may thus catalyze critical action.
A typical Shapeshifter is a person of the opposite sex who provides the love interest and whose affections vary across the story. Other characters may also be shapeshifters, including Mentors, Guardians and Tricksters.
RUNES CHARACTERS: THE MASKS
A very important element about Runes are the masks. In the early phases of development we focused our energies on gameplay and immersion, but we soon realized that the only way make Runes the game we wanted it to be was to have a rich story. We started the game a couple of years ago. It goes without saying that our skills were just starting to build up. We tried to avoid having humanoid characters by using animated objects instead. As a result, deeply attracted by our own theatre tradition, we chose to use masks.
Luckily, later on, we decided only using masks was not enough, so we conceived bodies for the characters and started working on their physical appearance. Buying a mocap suit made our work a lot easier. But we still liked the mask concept so, either way we stuck to it.
all the characters are part of the Hero psyche, that's why we thought a symbolic element like a mask coul help us convey their traits.
NIARA: THE SHAPESHIFTER
We wanted Niara to be trustworty right away, yet we wanted her to have an eerie aura. Her presence is meant to be soothing and reassuring, but an edge of savagery and an arm plagued by a mysterious evil are meant to keep the player on guard. She will help the Leth during his quest, but her motives are not obvious. Last but not least, among the characters she is the only one connected to the physical world. A Detail that doesn't really make sense in Oblivion.
Our route changes brough us back and forth to and from the drawing board. Every character we worked went through lots of interations, but in the end we finally found a character that got us satisfied. Once the appearance was right, we started working on voice and animations. We worked a lot with our MoCap actors to give the animation the right mood, but after months of work we can say we are very satisfied of the result.
We hope you enjoyed this article as much as we enjoyed writing it. If you want to keep up to date, subscribe to our mailing list and wishlist our game on Steam.