What´s good/bad character design ? (Visually speaking)

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Lulcielid

Warrior of Light
#1
Eyes, those tiny balls, each one located in one side in the middle of your front face, they are the most common tool people uses to judge something, judgement at first glance. Judging things at face value is the easiest thing we all can do.​

When we are presented to a character without knowing anything at all about said character, How do we get a grasp of it ? We Generally (Morelikely always) go by the visual presentation of them, the colors, the form, the details, the style, etc.
We may like their design or not and whenver we do like or not we categorise it as good/bad character design. However, this rises 3 important questions:
  • What defines a character design as Bad or Good in general ?
  • Is there some kind of Universal rule stating the conditions to mark them as such ?
  • What defines a character design as Bad or Good in Videogames (main focus of this thread) ?

What I have seen on the internet, there seens to be some kind rejection torwards anything that is "homogeneous" or lacks "diversity" and thus is generally labeled as bad design.

On the opposite side there seens to be appreciation torwards anything that´s "heterogeneous" or has "diversity" and thus is generally labeled as good design.

But how true is the above ? You could have most visual appealing rainbow but have characters with the dullest writing (or the most dullest gameplay mechaniques) and vice versa.

I´d like to hear where this community stands on the matter.
 

BladeRunner

SOLDIER, First Class
Jun 7, 2014
939
632
Poland
#2
The fanbase just needs something to complain about ad nauseam. In FF15's case it's character designs and lack of female party members.
 

osaco

Stiltzkin's Apprentice
Oct 5, 2015
3
0
29
#4
for cartoon games, it's more easy to know if the character is good or not, we for exaple can't say that mario is a bad character, i think that generally the smiles are a characteristique of good character



galaxy s7
 
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JamesGoblin

Stiltzkin's Apprentice
Feb 9, 2016
5
0
116
Harare
#5
Cahracter design is bad if generic and lazy - unfortunately, almost every single AAA title today uses cliche sex/beauty patterns or just copy/pastes successful models from their past.
 

SonOfEtro

Keyblade Master
May 2, 2016
795
645
#11
Eyes, those tiny balls, each one located in one side in the middle of your front face, they are the most common tool people uses to judge something, judgement at first glance. Judging things at face value is the easiest thing we all can do.


When we are presented to a character without knowing anything at all about said character, How do we get a grasp of it ? We Generally (Morelikely always) go by the visual presentation of them, the colors, the form, the details, the style, etc.
We may like their design or not and whenver we do like or not we categorise it as good/bad character design. However, this rises 3 important questions:
  • What defines a character design as Bad or Good in general ?
  • Is there some kind of Universal rule stating the conditions to mark them as such ?
  • What defines a character design as Bad or Good in Videogames (main focus of this thread) ?

What I have seen on the internet, there seens to be some kind rejection torwards anything that is "homogeneous" or lacks "diversity" and thus is generally labeled as bad design.

On the opposite side there seens to be appreciation torwards anything that´s "heterogeneous" or has "diversity" and thus is generally labeled as good design.

But how true is the above ? You could have most visual appealing rainbow but have characters with the dullest writing (or the most dullest gameplay mechaniques) and vice versa.

I´d like to hear where this community stands on the matter.
I find that a rather unfair assumption. Uniformity in design can be a good thing, as it can help distinguish your characters in a vivid and colorful world with multiple variations in design, which is the case in XII, Type-0 and XV. It can also help convey an atmosphere, such as with the set-up present in the Digital Devil Saga duology and Valkyria Chronicles. The Fire Emblem series holds multiple examples of character uniformity being a poor thing (Fates/Awakening, Genealogy duology): it can make it difficult to fully identify with the characters no matter the writing quality. A similar example of detrimental uniformity is from Xenoblade Chronicles X.

Too much variety can be counterproductive, depending on the size of the project: if it's too large and not enough effort is put into background detail, the variety of the cast looks wrong somehow. That's something I find a little grating about the XIII series; the variety is fun, but it's also confusing as you're hit with a style overload when the rest of the world looks unusually bland and uniform. This is a problem shared, to a lesser degree, by the FFX duology and IX. An example of variety in the cast done well would be Xenoblade Chronicles, where a shadow of unified style within the Xenoblade universe was balanced with individual taste. They struck a similar balance in Tales of the Abyss and Tales of Vesperia, and played well with the style in Drakengard 3.

So personally, I'd say the middle ground is more true than either extreme. There are valid arguments for both uniformity and disparity in cast design, but there will inevitably be those who dislike either and so argue that the opposite is better.

PS: as to the XV render used in the post above, I hope they create a version with updated art soon. That's only one year younger than the game in its current form!
 

AnGer-dono

SOLDIER Second Class
Dec 27, 2014
345
138
Germany
#12
I mostly agree with @SonOfEtro, though I'd like to put forth in defense of IX and X/X-2 and the character design in relation to the rest of the world that both games had to fight with technical limitations at their time, so there wasn't a lot of room for a high variety in NPC models, but both games presented various cultures throughout the game, which I think makes up for the npc recycling.

As far as I'm concerned, I think that good character design in general is those three things:
a) striking and memorable
b) simple, but unique
c) character-appropiate

I think the first two explain themselves - the third one is something I'd divide further into two sections:
1) personal
2) contextual

So what does this mean? Personal means anything that says something about the character itself, contextual means anything that says something about this character's background. Now, of course these two are fluid - for example, someone wearing a tie can either be someone who likes ties or works in a business where ties are a part of the culture and we can't tell either of these things unless we know. An easy example are the differences in the themes of the clothing the characters in FF XIII wear - the Coccoonians wear mostly sleek, very contemporary clothing with ornaments that appear manufactured - like Lightning's necklace - whereas the Pulsians adorn themselves with more monochromatic clothing with beads and natural materials like feathers and fur. This is reflective of their cultures - and I think, this is a part of good character design too, including NPC design.

As far as bad character design goes, I'd say anything that is too "busy", i.e. too many details and variation in the character model itself. Good examples are 90s comic books with their love for straps and random pieces of armour; or just lazy - either by copying a popular template (like the "white dude with brown hair") or by being too in-your-face about the character (an issue I have mostly with anime, but it grows into jRPG at times as well).

And concerning XV: I'm not big on the amount of black these characters are wearing, out of personal preference and because I feel it doesn't give them enough of an unique look.