While deciding on a art style for Snow Angel we went through a number of revisions. However, the one thing that became clear as we began working on the game was that we wanted our environments, characters, and aesthetic to evoke the same feelings that a player got from playing classic platformers, like Mario and Sonic. Back in the old days, characters were created to be visually distinct and different from one another. This served a number of different of purposes, all generally beneficial to the game and its characters. The first purpose was creating a visually distinct character allowed the character and the game they inhibited to stand out from the crowd. Furthermore, the focus on a primary character allowed said character to be more relatable and important to the player. Finally, from a purely mechanical perspective, it made the character easy to distinguish when playing, making the game more approachable and fun. At our first pass at the game, we did a pretty good job of making a distinguishable character in the form of a baby penguin:
Now, for the purposes of a game jam, this did a pretty good job of helping the player understand their role in the world, as a crying baby penguin (even from large distances), is easy to spot. However, after we had time to look at our game outside of the jam, we realized that while the character was nice looking, it ultimately did not completely serve the purpose we had intended: to create a iconic character. After all, while a baby penguin is easy to spot, it is still a standard penguin. Therefore, we brainstormed on ways to improve the initial design.
Here is a rough draft of what we were thinking. We thought that we needed to make the art more exaggerated, wild, and slightly chibi. After all, we were not making anything resembling a realistic penguin game, so it was only natural that we go a little wild with the design of the character.
Here is the current penguin, which we have named Ziggy. Now, this is clearly without his crazy hair and backpack, but the differences between the original and the updated version are clear, as Ziggy is more rounded and even cuter. With additional changes (additions to his overall style), we eventually hope to achieve an iconic player character.