Robyn HUD: Start of Production

January 20, 2017

I first started working on Robyn HUD back in March of 2016. At that point I had a set of characters, a story I wanted to tell, and a vague notion of the game that went something like, “it’s a story focused stealth/heist game where you play the eye-in-the-sky computer expert helping to guide an AI thief through various challenges.” Since that time I’ve been playing around with various prototypes and developing the technical programming foundation to make an actual game. And figuring out what that actual game is (a story-based stealth strategy game, for the record). Oh, and I also released Sleuthhounds – The Halloween Deception in there, which took up months of time. All of that (except the Sleuthhounds bit) has been the pre-production for Robyn HUD. Now, finally, almost a year later I’m ready to enter production proper.

So what does entering production proper actually mean? It means that, while there are still some technical things to sort out, most of the tech and the game design is complete to the point where I can begin creating game content in earnest without worrying about having to constantly revise it due to technical considerations. Put more simply, it means I can begin making the game.

[Early prototype Robyn character model.]
Early prototype Robyn character model.

Throughout pre-production I’ve been using a rough placeholder model of the AI thief character Robyn. However, as she’s the character players will interact with the most in the game, I’ve wanted to rebuild her model to more accurately represent the character as she will finally appear.

[Quick design sketches for the Robyn character.]
Quick design sketches for the Robyn character.

The first step was to play around with a few quick character sketches. Aside from helping to get a feel for the character these were also useful for determining the overall visual look for the game. I wanted to go for a more comic book / graphic novel look as opposed to a “gritty” realistic look (after all, the last thing the world needs is another “gritty” realistic looking game).

[Design guides for the final Robyn character model.]
Design guides for the final Robyn character model.
Click to view larger.

Entering into production on the model, the first step has been to draw good views of the character from the front, back, sides, top, and bottom. These show very much what I want the final character to look like in game. They’re drawn in such a way so that they can easily be imported as backgrounds into 3D modelling software to use as guides in creating the actual 3D model. I’ve used the colouring from the earlier design sketches to help delineate the different components of the character to make it easier to model.

It’s not hard to notice that the reference images are lacking one key aspect: the head. Heads – especially faces – are tricky to draw and even trickier to model due to all the changes of direction they have. My current plan is to build the majority of the model as depicted in the reference images. Once that’s done then I’ll prepare similar references specifically for the head at a larger scale so I can incorporate more fine detail than the body images actually require.

Development tasks always take longer than expected. That said, I am planning to have the body of the character model done in time to highlight in the blog next week. And on that note, I’d better start doing some character modelling.