Dev Blog

Development & Artwork Updates


RPG Character Creation

Categories: Aether Story Pixel Art Game Dev
Written by thephantom on Nov 06 2018

A multiplayer RPG needs character customization. At least I think so.  Without character customization all players will look like each other and then you have no identity and no chance to even attempt to role play.  So designing a character creation system that allowed you to customize how you looked was important.  However, we are a small indie studio and do not have the budget to draw hundreds of unique animations or options.  The solution was to use a paper-doll system of layering several images on top of each other to create as many different choices as possible.

The first step was to decide how our hero classes would look like.  Each playable class will have a unique costume appearance, and while you will be able to change this costume later in the game, we needed the starting costumes now.  Here are the design ideas for our four playable classes:

Starting Class Costumes: Ranger, Sage, Trickster and Warden

I then took these front-facing design concepts and animated them in the four walking directions, with three frames per direction.  This process took around 30 minutes per costume to animate the 12 frames in total.  With this done it was time to get them into the game.

To get the new characters into the game I had to extract all the layers of the sprites into their own images.  The image layers used to create our character graphics include:

  • Body - a non-detailed "naked" body base
  • Eye Whites - the eye whites that do not get color tinted
  • Eyes - the eyes that get color tinted
  • Face Style - beard or make-up options
  • Costume - the clothing
  • Hair - hair style that can be color tinted
  • Costume 2 - used to add elements of the costume above the hair, such as for hats

That is a total of 7 image layers.  The main reason there are so many layers is so we can tint and change colors of each layer separately to allow for further customization by you and for our NPC creation. 

With all the layers as their own images it was time to get the new character creator in game.  The goal for the first Alpha demo was to allow you to make your own character and walk around the town.  So having a character creator in game was important.  And that is what I worked on next.  Allowing you to custom create your own personalized, unique character.  Here is the temporary interface that is functional:

With currently 4 classes, 4 skin tones, 7 eye colors, 8 face styles, 20 hair styles and 7 hair colors, that allows for over 140,000 possible combinations!  Surely one of these combinations will fit your personalized character you wish to play!  Here is a GIF of me going through the randomize option for 10 seconds, which gives you an idea of the thousands of possibilities:

While this design process and pixel art drawing sessions were streamed live on Twitch, many viewers expressed their desire to be a female with a beard, or a male with make-up.  So why not.  You are able to mix any of these face styles with any gender. That is why if you watch the GIF above you can sometimes catch a female with a beard or a male with make-up. Fun!


Want to try it for yourself?

Keep your eyes open for the first Alpha build. It will allow you to create your own character and reserve your character's name on the Alpha server. 

If you are interested in playing the Alpha be sure to:

  • Sign up for the website and select your interest in Alpha testing
  • Verify your account email and await for you to be a lucky player selected to play the Alpha
  • Skip the line and Donate at least $20 and get guaranteed Alpha access, Beta access and pre-order the first Chapter of the game, all as a gift for supporting the game's development

Thank you for reading and be sure to leave a Like and comment below.  Let me know what kind of character you want to create!


Like 172


Nov 06 2018 at 06:58 PM

shieldgenerator7 says

im just a grumpy old fart and now i can make a grumpy old fart char to match my style back in my day, we were our own "character creators"!

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