“How do you come up with your characters?” is a common question that NieR creator Yoko Taro gets, and he had a lot to say about his process during a recent seminar at the SEA Summit in Singapore last month.
Here’s a bit from 4Gamer’s report of the event:
The lecture started out with the question “What’s the first thing you think about when creating a video game character?” so Yoko Taro decided to break it down into parts to detail his thought process for coming up with characters.
The first thing that Yoko Taro thinks about when creating a character for a game is “budget” and the second part is “length of time” that he has to put into it. He explained that most issues can be solved if you already know those two parts.
His next step is knowing the “marketplace” to get an idea what is in demand right now. Is it a battle action game, or maybe an RPG?
The following step is the “balance” that he has to think about for things such as the number of characters, gender ratio, and so on. In terms of budget, Yoko Taro says that 100 characters would be a little difficult, so somewhere between 3 to 5 is better.
The fifth step is you, the “fans.” This is where he thinks about whether it is best to have the appearance of a recurring character from a past game, but also, Yoko Taro said that it is also important to “betray the expectation of fans,” as in do the unexpected.
Next is “game content,” where he might think about how it’s fun to make a character with four arms if it’s for a battle game, but also how it might cost more to make something like that.
The seventh and final step is “drama.” This isn’t just about the story, as it’s the part he decides on the character’s personality, hair color, outfit, and more. Yoko Taro said that this “drama” part might be the work that first comes to mind when thinking about character creation, but it’s actually his last step. Yoko Taro explained that this is the step where he actually starts on the character after all the previous requirements have been met.
He explained that if you start with the “drama” step first, you might not be able to make what you want due to budgetary reasons and the character might not be what you wanted. In a nutshell, it’s about “meeting necessary requirements first, then freely coming up with ideas.”
NieR: Automata is available on PlayStation 4 and PC.