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Character Design in Video Games: Types, Classes and Characteristics

By Starloop Studios | 29 July, 2021

An excellent video game means much more than a great story, fun gameplay, or creative levels. All this would be in vain if the characters were missing. An extraordinary gaming experience is created when all the elements of a video game come together and complement one another. However, it is no surprise that characters have a central role in this play.

As in all stages of video game development, teamwork is the key to developing great characters. Firstly, game designers and writers will create the characters story while captivating the characters motivations. In the next step the character concept artist will meticulously develop their initial character sketches, while incorporating digital art elements.

It does not seem that long ago in which characters were introduced to the world in a pixelated cartoon format. However, due to major development in technology especially in recent years, two-dimensional characters have turned into heroes. Today’s characters are so brilliantly constructed boasting realistic components, they now have the ability to inspire emotions.

What is character design in a video game?

The characters design is a phase in video game production, through which a game designer creates the entire concept, style, and artwork of a character from scratch. The process is very complex, and usually begins with the artist analysing the character’s personality traits in order to bring him to life. Character design can heavily differ between 2D games and 3D games, as each type of character has specific design requirements and characteristic needs. For example, 2D animation is still considered the more traditional style, whereas 3D characters are more dynamic and express better movement in video games.

Character design is one of the most important aspects in video game development. Those who do this job must have talent, intuition, a set of developed skills, and a high level of creativity. Through their work with video game characters, game artists must ensure the characters simultaneously belong to the game’s fantasy world. Artists must establish a unique personality and a visual aspect that expresses their characters physical attributes.

The design process for video game characters includes many elements within the drawing process involving the principles, the theory, and the execution. Through character design, the creative team has to lead the game’s story to a recognizable interaction between players and the video game. This has the role of generating emotions and immersion. At the same time, the characters must be attractive, and the players must identify with them. Finally, in development and game design, the team needs to know who the final player is, in what context the characters will be used, and what technology is available to create first-rate characters.

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What types and classes of video game characters are there?

Something which has caught the minds and hearts of players is Role-Playing Games. Every individual has their own unique personality, and with video games, players can choose a character to match their particular traits. Some of the standard RPG classes are:

  • Fighter / Soldier / Warrior
  • Assassin / Ninja
  • Mage / Wizard
  • Archer / Hunter / Ranger
  • Berserker
  • Cleric / Priest / Enchanter
  • Necromancer / Shadowknight
  • Summoner
  • Dancer / Bard
  • Dragoon / Lancer
  • Blue Mage / Jack-of-all-Trades

What is the relationship between the genre of the video game and the characters that appear?

Video game genres are usually defined by the way the player interacts with the game. For example, a first-person shooter remains a first-person shooter regardless of whether the medium is science fiction, western, fantasy, or military. The most popular video game genres are action, adventure, role-playing, simulation, strategy, massively multiplayer online games (MMO), and sports.

It is understandable that each type of video game has its specific type of character, which suits the missions they must fulfill. For example, action games present players with physical challenges such as reaction time and hand-eye coordination. Because the main character navigates through various levels while avoiding obstacles and fighting enemies, the Fighters or Ninja class characters fit best.

Another example is the strategy game, where players must develop military and civilian structures in the game. They build and maintain resources such as bases while spawning combat units to defeat the opponent. A suitable type of character here could be the Cleric / Priest / Enchanter class.

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What are the characteristics of character types and classes?

Fighter / Soldier / Warrior – These are usually the most powerful character classes in video games. Well established in attacks and combat, these power characters have the strongest set of assets to support them. For example, they have the best weapons and armor, high health score, attack, and defense. This characters’ class is usually chosen by gamers who prefer hack and slash-style gameplay. Two subclasses of warriors are the Paladins or Knights, who are usually the right side of the game.

Assassin / Ninja – This character class has a more subtle approach, unlike warrior’s brute force. They use specific skills, such as stealing, to complete missions. Their abilities revolve around smaller and faster weapons. Assassin / Ninja characters slip easily and have no problem finding places to hide. Players who choose this character class prefer a more cautious but chaotic gameplay style at the same time.

Mage / Wizard – These characters do not usually have traditional weapons but use spells to fight or defend themselves from attacks. They usually have the weakest armor because their strong point is fighting from a distance by throwing spells. Wizards can cast both attack and defense spells and regeneration. Mage subclasses are also the Clerics / Priests / Enchanters, Necromancers / Shadow knights, Summoners, and Blue Mage / Jack-of-all-Trades.

Archer / Hunter / Ranger – These characters most often use a bow and arrow as weapons. Players can use this beneficial trait in both long-distance combat, as well as close combat in which it can cause serious damage.

Berserker – This character class is represented by some monsters that use devastating blows which are designed to proceed quickly and do catastrophic damage to other players.

Cleric / Priest / Enchanter – Subclass of the Mage, they help a lot in the diversity of the characters in the game. Most specialize in buffing, de-buffing, cleansing, and crowd control.

Necromancer / Shadowknight – These characters in games and spread diseases such as plague and supplement the burst damage in the team.

Summoner – Also a subclass of Magiclor, these characters can do multiple damages simultaneously. They are used both for attack and for defense.

Dancer / Bard – These characters are usually used strategically. Through specific dances or instruments, they have the role of stopping enemies’ attacks or making a hole in their defense.

Dragoon / Lancer – This class of forceful characters specializes in pole-type arms and is associated with fighting dragons, hence the name. 

Blue Mage / Jack-of-all-Trades – These characters can learn enemies’ abilities and bring damage more serious than average

Nowadays, game artists have complete freedom to turn their wildest imagination into gaming art characters, but on the condition that players identify with them and find them captivating.

The world of reality has its limits, but our game artists’ creativity is boundless. Our passion for gaming and understanding how to a great character should drive us to support our clients with the best game art solutions in all production stages.

Contact us and schedule a free consultation with one of our Starloopians.

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