Vegas Prime Retrograde Character Design
I was tasked with designing and bringing to life a rich protagonist, antagonist, and supporting cast for the central story line of Vegas Prime Retrograde.

Contributors Stuart Templeton, Fabian Cobos, Shereena Sylvester, Beth Cartwright

Created At Open Form Games

Role Concept Artist, Creative Director, Lead Designer, Developer


The Challenge

Creating an antagonist that is both charming, cool, and somewhat irritating. The kind of villain that will be memorable.

Creating a protagonist that both has strong enough character to play off a clever villain, yet remains open enough to allow the player to help define her character traits over time.

The Solution

To meet these challenges, I created two characters: Clara and NO CARRIER. These characters, despite being on different sides of the story, share a duality in their troubled relationship with the world around them. I use this to create a space of character exploration for the player. Examining each character within the story allows for reflection on the other.

Clara, The Protagonist

The bulk of Clara's personality is derived from the player's decisions during the game, so she needed to be open enough to hold the player's vision of who Clara is. I gave her mild, yet endearing personality traits, like compassion and optimism, while avoiding polarizing traits that might impact decision trees without the player's permission.

I provided the character sketch and concept art and worked directly with illustrator Fabian Cobos to create the final artwork.

Though Clara does not visually appear in dialog, it is still important for her to appear. I used the game settings screen for this. Viewing game settings is looking inward to the game, and when the player looks inward, I want them to see Clara.

NO CARRIER, Clara's Nemesis

I modeled some of NO CARRIER's outward personality on classic anime villains, an hommage to Ranma 1/2. The villains in Ranma were often simply misunderstood or otherwise regular people clouded by a sense of self preservation or entitlement.

I wanted NO CARRIER's personality to fit into the ludonarrative in a natural way. To do this, I took inspiration from the villainous dog in Duck Hunt. NO CARRIER will hack into your COMM and taunt you while she delivers hints and backstory.

At several points, it becomes unclear as to if NO CARRIER is the villain, or if she has been malaligned. This allows the player to further explore the protgaonist Clara's relationship to the story and the world at large.

I provided the character sketch and concept art and worked directly with illustrator Fabian Cobos to create the final artwork.

Voice Actors

I wanted to bring the characters alive in dialog, so I reached out to some voice acting talent to help build the character audio. I recorded and mastered these, working with voice talent Shereena Sylvester and Beth Cartwright. This is a sampling of that effort.

Clara's voice acting has a different need to meet. Clara's voice has to help define the world and acts as an internal dialog. She lets the player know when an area is interesting, what she thinks about it, and when she is having issues that the player must fix. Here are some samples:

NO CARRIER's voice acting appears as regular dialog. It is designed to be a hybrid of anime villains and the dog from Duck Hunt. The dialog has to be a reflection on something happening in game -- Clara's success or failure, a story pivot. Stuff like that. Here are some samples:

Alpha-9's voice acting appears as regular dialog as well. Alpha-9 is an artificial intelligence, and I wanted the voice acting to reflect that. Her dialog is generated in software. I was heavily inspired by Majel Barret, who played both an AI and a medical officer in Star Trek. Here are some samples:

Result

With this team of creative talent, I was able to design and realize a strong protagonist and antagonist capable of leading a rich cast of side-characters and ultimately feeding a meaningful, character-driven narrative.