Game Character Design: Classes and Characteristics

Unforgettable video game experiences happen when all aspects come together, including art, gameplay mechanics, story, and game character design. Great video game character design is borne of teamwork between different departments – excellent writing, second-to-none concept art, and seamless insertion into the game’s world and story.

Modern video game character design strives to instill emotion in players by helping players understand the character’s motivations and place in the story through the words the character says, their visual design, and their actions. Far-flung from gaming’s humble origins of sprite-based characters who can’t speak or express emotion, players these days expect top-notch video game character design.

What is Game Character Design?

Game character design is a phase of the overall game development process, where a game designer will conceptualize the game’s characters from scratch, including initial sketches, visual style, and distinct visual qualities. Working in league with artists to bring them to life, the character design process often begins with the designer analyzing the character’s personality traits to devise potential design ideas. Character designs can vary wildly depending on the game and the art style it employs, whether it’s stylized or adheres to a hyperrealistic aesthetic.

A critical of game character design is that they’re recognizable to players, whether they’re a villain, ally, or something more ambiguous. This can be accomplished through subtle and obvious visual design choices, such as a villain possessing a facial scar or through the use of color in their attire. These attributes lead to enhanced levels of player immersion and character believability.

Classes and Archetypes in Game Character Design

Video game character design often produces characters who adhere to distinct archetypes or classes seen in various media over decades. Role-playing games (RPGs), in particular, tend to possess a large number of archetypes for the player character, villains, allies, and other notable characters.

These archetypes are presented to players as selectable character classes that each have specific game character design traits. These include heavy armor-wearing and melee weapon-oriented warriors or fighters, magic-using mages and wizards, warrior priest clerics, rogues and thieves who are masters of stealth and sneak attacks, hunters and rangers who use long-range weaponry and animal companions, and much more.

Video Game Character Design and Genre

Game character designs are closely related to the game genre in which they appear. Genres are largely determined by how the player interacts with a game. For example, a first-person shooter tasks players with playing from a first-person camera perspective while defeating enemies with ranged and melee weaponry. Because of the wide range of game genres, settings, and visual styles that each game can have, every game tends to be populated with relevant character archetypes.

For example, action games present players with a series of physical challenges, from platforming to shooting and melee combat. Because of this, players are more likely to encounter physical action-oriented archetypes such as fighters and warriors. RPG games tend to have the largest array of character archetypes due to typically in-depth combat systems that support multiple playstyles.

Game Character Design Archetype Characteristics

Among the wide range of character archetypes and classes available, players will usually find common characteristics among them including the following:

Fighter/Soldier/Warrior – Fighters are traditionally powerful physical warriors who wield two-handed weapons or swords and shields while wearing powerful. These warriors are usually the first to enter the fray of battle, defend their compatriots, and tackle enemies head-on.

Rogue/Thief/Assassin – These characters wear lighter armor and employ stealth tactics to silently defeat their enemies. They hide and strike at opportune moments, while also using their sneaking abilities to steal from their enemies.

Wizard/Mage/Sorcerer – These magic-wielding characters use the arcane arts to shoot fireballs, summon icicles, shield themselves and their team, and summon temporary allies. Typically characterized as a physically weak class, they use their superior intellect to defeat enemies with devastating magical attacks.

Ranger/Hunter/Archers – Rangers, as the name suggests, are masters of long-ranged attacks using bows and crossbows with limited melee capabilities. They can often use traps and summon animal companions to compensate for their primarily ranged-only offensive capabilities.

Reach out to Magic Media to learn more about our extensive gaming industry services, including art production, 3D modeling, full-cycle game development, and more, in addition to our services for entertainment and tech projects. Contact us today, and let’s create magic!


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