In case you ever wondered who the mastermind behind the Playrix characters is, and how these characters take shape out of ideas and concepts to the actual game, this article will be of interest to you. We are about to unveil our magical recipe of creating charming, quirky and most importantly, memorable and unique characters. Trust us, it works.
Well, okay. We’re bluffing. There really isn’t a magical recipe for creating our characters. It takes all Playrix game designers and artists to do the job. Sometimes the characters
are born before the story is set in stone, and they shape it. Sometimes it’s the story that suggests ideas for characters.
This is how it normally happens. Our “Creative Minds” unit (game designers, 2D and 3D artists) gathers together to discuss a future game. It’s a brainstorming feast: all ideas
are welcomed and none are dismissed. The preliminary outline of a story is usually ready by the time of this brainstorm, prepared by the lead game designer. Then the group
talks about characters and their place in the story: who will be in the spotlight, who will be supporting the main characters, etc. There were even instances when during
preproduction and even production, the story received a totally new twist and some initial characters had to go away.
After the brainstorm, the agreed-upon characters are given to the 2D artists for further developing the concepts. It’s time for research and sketching. Time period, real world
prototypes, stylistic peculiarities, etc — everything is taken into account by the artists. The best choices are picked up, and continue their journey when they come alive with
the help of 3D animators.
Do you know Austin the Butler?
Austin the Butler from Gardenscapes proved to be very popular among players of all ages. When we were going through the user reviews on various game forums, he
certainly seemed to be the leitmotif, giving people “chuckles along the way” and making them wait what he will do or say next.
Dmitry Denisov, Playrix’s 3D artist responsible for Austin’s animation, recalls: “I wanted him to be a typical butler: unobtrusive, refined, well-spoken.” On the stage of a concept,
everybody agreed that the game’s setting (a beautiful mansion and formerly stunning garden) “asks” for a butler. How would he look like?
The tall guy clicked. His appearance and manners laid out the grounds for his humor. He definitely became the centerpiece of the whole game: he moves the story forward, he’s there for you if you need him and even if you don’t. That’s how a garden-design HOG became an entertaining comedy with Austin the Butler.
Oh, do you want to know what artists used as their inspiration for crafting Austin’s chic look? See below. Do you recognize these guys? We bet you do.
Jacques Cousteau’s secret granddaughter
Fishdom H2O was Playrix’s first ever hidden object game. It’s a spin-off of the original match-3 puzzler Fishdom, so the underlying concept was the same: playing levels to be
able to create the aquarium of your own design. However, the core mechanics changed to Hidden Object. The story unfolds in an underwater environment, and players turn into oceanologists and explorers of the sea world on a constant look-out of the hidden items.
Think underwater, think Jacques Cousteau. This world famous French scientist and explorer who studied the sea and all forms of life in water came to mind right away with
the idea of the game about sea life, which is what all our Fishdoms are. So the main characters of the story in Fishdom H2O are the young aquarist Jennifer and her grandpa
Jack. Jack is the well-known oceanographer in the story. Jack is Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Jack even wears the like of Cousteau’s signature red hat.
Now, Jennifer’s red hair weren’t necessarily to match her grandpa’s hat. It just happened. Her character was polished by Playrix’s Art Director Svetlana Sablina. “I didn’t
make her blond to avoid stereotypes”, says Svetlana. “I mean, I’m a blond so I know what I’m talking about. Our character is an overachiever with strong independent spirit.
She comes out of all difficult situations as a winner. I’m pretty sure you could name a few types from the world literature who match this description and have red hair. And
yes, I did want a color element to support the connection between Jen and her Cousteau-looking grandfather.”
Save Islandshire because I fear for my shoes! Will you be my Royal Envoy?
The glamorous King from Playrix’s first strategy game Royal Envoy, didn’t always look this glamorous. All the quirky details were being added gradually: the bright violet hair,
the outfit, his light megalomania. Later, we auditioned tens of voice talents until we picked the one who exactly understood the character.
In general, Royal Envoy characters were born out of the story which is filled with humor and irony. The only reason why the King decided to send you, the player, on a glorious
voyage of saving Islandshire is because he is concerned about the shoe-making business going down after the natural disaster.
Cedric, the player’s right hand in the game went through his own transformations, too. At first he was meant to look like Tolkien’s Gandalf wearing an old pointy hat. Then we
moved away from the wizard-inspired look and turned to the King’s court style. Cedric’s old hat became Cedric’s old wig, and a wizard became a pseudo-engineer with good
“If you tell me once again I look like Mario, I won’t sell you any veggies!”
Playrix’s next project Rustic Manor scheduled for launch in early fall 2010, features two main characters, old farmer Joe and his grandson Tom. These two are proverbial types.
Playrix’s VP of Production Igor Elovikov, nailed down the new game’s main plot basing on his own childhood memories.
In the game, Tom is send to his grandpa’s old rustic house as his parents’ desperate attempt to fight Tom’s addiction to playing computer games all the time. In real life,
some people turn this into a profession, like our VP. Tom, however, gets carried away by the colorful world of nature, summer and adventures, and eventually ends up spending the best time of his life on the ranch.
Joe is a personification of a farmer grandpa. Kind-hearted but with his own eccentricities. Our artists stayed loyal to the classical jeans overall, red shirt and a straw hat. Added
the mustache, too. Some evil tongues may say that our Joe resembles Mario. Well, that is nothing else but a mere coincidence. Mario was a plumber after all, and not old either. And definitely he’s not the one who was used as Joe’s prototype. But you have to admit, these guys do have something in common.