Posted by Matiaz_Tapia (269 posts) -

Some insights on the creative process ( I hope)

Hey guys, I've been meaning to write up something like this for a while, but the reasons always come up as self-serving or unnecessary. Now more than ever there's a lot of talk about what makes a good character and while I can't answer that question with full confidence i could offer some insight on the creative process so you can judge for yourselves.

Now I'm both not a writer nor an english native speaker, so I'll do this mostly with pictures. This stuff was made as an activity of sorts on another forum ( art forum) The idea behind it was to draw an interpretation of certain tarot cards. In this case, the first is an 8 of cups, the second being the moon.

If you know anything about tarot, you will probably conclude that this is not the right way to interpret this cards. They either don't look the part of have gone into themes that just don't represent them. Or perhaps you like them and think the meaning is , in fact, represented faithfully. ( this are fairly old at this point, like 2010 )

My intent was to be clever, but i subconsciously exposed some aspects of my personality into them. Good and bad. Now, not to go into much personal detail, I thought ink the ink fish where a cool idea for "purity". My reasoning for leaning towards this is mostly because I consider myself a sack of shit most of the time. This is not something that I WAS thinking on adding to the picture at the time, a monk and fish made of ink was enough of a cool idea to me….But then the fact that I chose a monk, the part where I made him something that approached my ideal self is something I didn't anticipated as being significant, yet it was. Again, not necessarily to others, but just to self in retrospect. The monk leaks filth in order to be pure, locking this filth into jars.

The moon, in the other hand is something I really want to talk about. What makes a good female character, people have asked…specially lately. What I can tell you in full honesty is that I made an effort to not make a sexualized character. If you need to understand why , you need only to refer to how i felt about the monk. My intent was making a cool concept of the moon, a good interpretation. But I was caught in the part where I chose a woman ( or two) as the representation of it. I don't mean to hide the aspect of my own self that makes me a miserable, lonely man, and even if that was my intention, I would look at it and think that is what ended up on the drawing as symbolism.

This is what I intend to explain.

I can't speak for everyone, because it happens in different levels. But we as creators have a very difficult time separating our own self from the work we produce.If Male, making a male character tend to be in service of making our ideal self ; Making a female character tends to be in service to creating someone we would like. Our ideal. It's the same for artists, writers, actors, etc. It can spin into other aspects of the self of course. But for the most part, the part that involves you as a gamers is our most ideal and our less ideal. Hopefully we can produce someone interesting that lies in between too…But that's simply the reality of an industry where a project either succeeds or dies, taking everyone involved along with it.

Now, on the topic of video game characters, the process is a bit more different than that. Normally we can put our all into a thing, resulting into something that is hopefully interesting. When it comes to something made on the creative process of video games, people who draw the art have no other input that the "look" of something, then a writer has a minor input on that in order to fit their character, then the game designer has input on that in order for it to fit into the game, then investors have a mayor input on what the character should be for the sake of the product and finally the art director has the responsibility to organize it all into a cohesive thing. To sum it up, what get's to your eye holes is usually a convoluted mess ( not all the time, thankfully)

Even in that factory-like process, it's almost unavoidable that people will try to push for things to fit their ideal. There's valid reasons behind each step, but people cannot deny their conciseness to spill all over the place…And this is the beginning of something I truly wanted to share with this community, the part where we are all men.

It involves my most nightmarish issue to deal with up to this point. Female characters. Now, I'm not a writer ( you can tell by now), so I'm going to recklessly reiterate the part where we all make out ideal. In the case of problem solving, out ideal solution, and we do this while putting our own perspective as a priority only to consider other's as an act of empathy and compromise ( sadly). The reason this is a nightmare is because everyone has a completely different ideal solution and perspective for this kind of problem, different taste if you will. Yet, we have a truly difficult time separating our dudeness from the problem, so we all make girlfriends, daughters or sexual fantasies out of this characters…the last one being the part we can all agree on, sadly. For male characters, is similar, but it's less of an issue because there's less separation between our self and the character. It can be a douchbag meat head, but we all know what that is, we can see it in ourselves as something we are or wish not to be ( fully knowing that it's something that lingers in out nature) As dumb as a male character might be, it can always be oddly profound and relatable. Even when we attempt to get a negative reaction.

For female characters, we can only observe and guess. But that's not the biggest issue. That is that we are not able to see this as a problem, because it does not affect us. We get what we want, because this AAA industry is made to satisfy the needs of either males or everyone in general.

This is something really important that I'm hoping to communicate…We lack perspective and live in an environment where we do not want it any other way. Girl games don't mind this…There's nothing inherently wrong with a guy liking a girl. (Or a guy liking a guy, but one thing at a time)

I cannot help to think that most of our impulses (and forgive me for including you ) are sexual in nature when it comes to female characters. That we resist change and pretend everything is ok because we have no invested interest on changing what is already ideal for us, guys. At the most, most of the discussion always lingers on " the type of girl we like" in one form or another. This is a switch that is incredibly difficult to turn off…I would not expect anybody to find "the" way to toggle it back and forth, but if it helps in any way, or of this "insight" is of any value to you, it would mean the world to me for dudes to recognize that switch is there…And we need to let girls give us their perspective for a change.( Not that that doesn't happen already)

I don't wish to be negative of course. I had the privilege of working with a really talented writer who had similar concerns, I believe. He found a way to make it work….and this characters will be there for you in the near future. I am very proud of them, and I couldn't possibly have done it without him or the team I work for, so this is in no way a criticism towards them. My point is that there's still much to be done, please don't think it's all ok or think it's all going to hell in regards this particular subject., but try to look at it from a completely different perspective if you aren't already.

Oh yes, there's also this guy…I did not do much since it was just a touch up of the older model. Also most people hate it! But yeah, this guy happened. Again. I didn't made it happen, but I helped on trying to make him appealing at the end of the project in a superficial level. Sorry.

Not sure If I made a point at all, but if not, enjoy the pretty pictures, assuming this are considered to be pretty to begin with. More for both pretty pictures and some experiments on the subject....without all that compression : http://matias.cghub.com/

#1 Posted by Matiaz_Tapia (269 posts) -

Some insights on the creative process ( I hope)

Hey guys, I've been meaning to write up something like this for a while, but the reasons always come up as self-serving or unnecessary. Now more than ever there's a lot of talk about what makes a good character and while I can't answer that question with full confidence i could offer some insight on the creative process so you can judge for yourselves.

Now I'm both not a writer nor an english native speaker, so I'll do this mostly with pictures. This stuff was made as an activity of sorts on another forum ( art forum) The idea behind it was to draw an interpretation of certain tarot cards. In this case, the first is an 8 of cups, the second being the moon.

If you know anything about tarot, you will probably conclude that this is not the right way to interpret this cards. They either don't look the part of have gone into themes that just don't represent them. Or perhaps you like them and think the meaning is , in fact, represented faithfully. ( this are fairly old at this point, like 2010 )

My intent was to be clever, but i subconsciously exposed some aspects of my personality into them. Good and bad. Now, not to go into much personal detail, I thought ink the ink fish where a cool idea for "purity". My reasoning for leaning towards this is mostly because I consider myself a sack of shit most of the time. This is not something that I WAS thinking on adding to the picture at the time, a monk and fish made of ink was enough of a cool idea to me….But then the fact that I chose a monk, the part where I made him something that approached my ideal self is something I didn't anticipated as being significant, yet it was. Again, not necessarily to others, but just to self in retrospect. The monk leaks filth in order to be pure, locking this filth into jars.

The moon, in the other hand is something I really want to talk about. What makes a good female character, people have asked…specially lately. What I can tell you in full honesty is that I made an effort to not make a sexualized character. If you need to understand why , you need only to refer to how i felt about the monk. My intent was making a cool concept of the moon, a good interpretation. But I was caught in the part where I chose a woman ( or two) as the representation of it. I don't mean to hide the aspect of my own self that makes me a miserable, lonely man, and even if that was my intention, I would look at it and think that is what ended up on the drawing as symbolism.

This is what I intend to explain.

I can't speak for everyone, because it happens in different levels. But we as creators have a very difficult time separating our own self from the work we produce.If Male, making a male character tend to be in service of making our ideal self ; Making a female character tends to be in service to creating someone we would like. Our ideal. It's the same for artists, writers, actors, etc. It can spin into other aspects of the self of course. But for the most part, the part that involves you as a gamers is our most ideal and our less ideal. Hopefully we can produce someone interesting that lies in between too…But that's simply the reality of an industry where a project either succeeds or dies, taking everyone involved along with it.

Now, on the topic of video game characters, the process is a bit more different than that. Normally we can put our all into a thing, resulting into something that is hopefully interesting. When it comes to something made on the creative process of video games, people who draw the art have no other input that the "look" of something, then a writer has a minor input on that in order to fit their character, then the game designer has input on that in order for it to fit into the game, then investors have a mayor input on what the character should be for the sake of the product and finally the art director has the responsibility to organize it all into a cohesive thing. To sum it up, what get's to your eye holes is usually a convoluted mess ( not all the time, thankfully)

Even in that factory-like process, it's almost unavoidable that people will try to push for things to fit their ideal. There's valid reasons behind each step, but people cannot deny their conciseness to spill all over the place…And this is the beginning of something I truly wanted to share with this community, the part where we are all men.

It involves my most nightmarish issue to deal with up to this point. Female characters. Now, I'm not a writer ( you can tell by now), so I'm going to recklessly reiterate the part where we all make out ideal. In the case of problem solving, out ideal solution, and we do this while putting our own perspective as a priority only to consider other's as an act of empathy and compromise ( sadly). The reason this is a nightmare is because everyone has a completely different ideal solution and perspective for this kind of problem, different taste if you will. Yet, we have a truly difficult time separating our dudeness from the problem, so we all make girlfriends, daughters or sexual fantasies out of this characters…the last one being the part we can all agree on, sadly. For male characters, is similar, but it's less of an issue because there's less separation between our self and the character. It can be a douchbag meat head, but we all know what that is, we can see it in ourselves as something we are or wish not to be ( fully knowing that it's something that lingers in out nature) As dumb as a male character might be, it can always be oddly profound and relatable. Even when we attempt to get a negative reaction.

For female characters, we can only observe and guess. But that's not the biggest issue. That is that we are not able to see this as a problem, because it does not affect us. We get what we want, because this AAA industry is made to satisfy the needs of either males or everyone in general.

This is something really important that I'm hoping to communicate…We lack perspective and live in an environment where we do not want it any other way. Girl games don't mind this…There's nothing inherently wrong with a guy liking a girl. (Or a guy liking a guy, but one thing at a time)

I cannot help to think that most of our impulses (and forgive me for including you ) are sexual in nature when it comes to female characters. That we resist change and pretend everything is ok because we have no invested interest on changing what is already ideal for us, guys. At the most, most of the discussion always lingers on " the type of girl we like" in one form or another. This is a switch that is incredibly difficult to turn off…I would not expect anybody to find "the" way to toggle it back and forth, but if it helps in any way, or of this "insight" is of any value to you, it would mean the world to me for dudes to recognize that switch is there…And we need to let girls give us their perspective for a change.( Not that that doesn't happen already)

I don't wish to be negative of course. I had the privilege of working with a really talented writer who had similar concerns, I believe. He found a way to make it work….and this characters will be there for you in the near future. I am very proud of them, and I couldn't possibly have done it without him or the team I work for, so this is in no way a criticism towards them. My point is that there's still much to be done, please don't think it's all ok or think it's all going to hell in regards this particular subject., but try to look at it from a completely different perspective if you aren't already.

Oh yes, there's also this guy…I did not do much since it was just a touch up of the older model. Also most people hate it! But yeah, this guy happened. Again. I didn't made it happen, but I helped on trying to make him appealing at the end of the project in a superficial level. Sorry.

Not sure If I made a point at all, but if not, enjoy the pretty pictures, assuming this are considered to be pretty to begin with. More for both pretty pictures and some experiments on the subject....without all that compression : http://matias.cghub.com/

#2 Posted by JCTango (1362 posts) -

@Matiaz_Tapia: Man... love your artwork here... thanks for your insight on how you create your characters! Hard not to design characters based on ideals or archetypes - I think that's just how we as human beings tend to think about things... and it's not entirely all that bad - helps us distinguish concepts and things into categories that we can wrap our heads around.

#3 Posted by Deusx (1905 posts) -

Great blog post! I love how you detailed the decision process for video game character design. You are a pretty good artist!

#4 Posted by Matiaz_Tapia (269 posts) -

Thanks guys!

@JCTango: Is not entirely that bad, like you said. But I believe most people already know how to distinguish those concepts. A good next step would be to create something new and interesting out of that understanding. To make an example out of a popular thing...a ninja turtle. Now I don't hold any irrational love towards ninja turtles, but it was an interesting concept. Much more than a mutant turtle or a ninja on their own.

#5 Edited by JCTango (1362 posts) -

@Matiaz_Tapia:

Yeah :) I hear ya. Some of the more compelling characters that I've run across these days have more than one or even two aspects about them - some are a mix of various archetypes worked into one.

LA Noire for example (at least for me), I found Cole Phelps as a character to be pretty interesting - on the surface he's stoic and by the book - you'd think he's a typical hard-boiled detective. As the story progresses you find out that he was a horrible leader during the war; his inability to command his troops effectively cost them their lives - and yet he lived... by cowering away. With the way he's handling himself in the post-war years, you'd think he's doing it to prove himself to be better than how he was, but then you find out he's a philanderer. In the end though, he redeems himself by sacrificing his own life to save another - one more deserving than his own.

I think that's why I find anti-heroes and anti-villains so interesting... they're just full of nuances and convolutions. That's not to say that one dimensional characters are worthless though - they do serve a role to a story.