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Cardboard Utopia was started from the belief that the best, most cherished games are the ones that engage you through gameplay, story, and characters. Games that are not just flashy experiences that leave your thoughts once you put down the controller, but make you think, plan, question and discuss. These are the things that create memories for future years. These are the types of games we make.

Founded in Montreal, Quebec, the game development capital of Canada, we are currently developing a Tactical JRPG that plays off our love of classic games like Shining Force and Final Fantasy Tactics, but with a modern, boardgame twist.

The Ins and Outs of Character/Visual Design - Part 3

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The Ins and Outs of Character/Visual Design - Part 3

Erica Lahaie

Hey hi! Welcome back to our weekly exploration of the Toran Empire's character/visual design in War of Zodiarcs. If you missed last week's post, you can read it here.

Part 1Part 2Part 4Part 5

In the last exploration, I had the revelation that sheepskin jackets/Mongolian attire was exactly what I was looking for as a point of reference. Back to the reference board! I collect some stuff here and there that, being the jackass I am, don’t save anywhere. I look at some stuff online and realise that hm… They were actually a lot more armored than my mind remembers them being.

Rats. Well, the idea is there, at least. I keep “sheepskin jackets” in mind while we pick out what are the things we think seem the most identifying out of all the explorations. What could potentially say “This is the Toran army.”

We pick out some interesting shapes and ideas, but the standouts are this: the Zrinska Garda uniform pattern is still really interesting, the shawl in character 4 is interesting, and the emblem in 2 and 4 is interesting. Let’s play with those.

I stick to the shawl idea from earlier in A and B but I’m also very stubborn, so even though we kinda glazed over the last go-around’s fully-covered shawl, I try some more variations on it because I conceptually liked the idea. It would mean little-to-no armor but it makes for a more identifiable look. I also try to work the symbol in some more, something we agree needs to be a mark of the Toran Empire. Their outfits should speak for themselves but the Toran are not about subtlety. The symbol currently there, however, is nowhere near final. Just a placeholder, something I grabbed from a hospital in Black Coal, Thin Ice, a movie I had watched the night before. Inspiration comes in all forms! Or something to that effect, I guess.

We’re all really liking these explorations. A definable style is really starting to form and with some refinement, we’ll have a real slick outfit on our hands. The concern with these is that yeah: the fully covered shawl is a great idea, but they also hide a lot of the character’s neck and makes their silhouette a little hard to read in the shoulder area. There’s also still debate about whether or not the look works without shoulder pads or not, so we keep toying with that.

Well, all of these helmets look stupid but otherwise, there’s definitely a clear idea for the shawl. With some further exploration, we come to the conclusion that nah, the shoulder armor just doesn’t work. As it is now, it looks flush with the shawl and looks flat as a result. There’s no gain to having it there and, furthermore, is not entirely necessary for the unit we have in the first place. It’s better to save that for another, more heavily-armed unit. The rest is coming together, though. We generally settle on the shawl and belt explorations as well as the skirt part of the coat.

We push those explorations further and try to bust up the original sources of inspiration for all the attire. Right now, they’re good in concept but they’re maybe a bit too close to the ideas we collected at first. We want to make this our own, after all. Not just a mishmash of stuff. Some of the exploration we do past that maybe feels a little too “space cop”, especially in black and white, but the core idea remains: break up the shapes a bit, really make the shawl and armor stand out on their own.

Next post, we'll break down the elements that we established here and set our final details in stone. See you next Wednesday!