I’ve recently completed a job assignment to design characters and create a world for a video game for the casual game market entitled “Gem Troll.” The commissioning developer was Halifax’s Silverback Productions.
Producer Willie Stevenson consigned me with the task of creating a world and characters with a bare minimum of instruction. He said he wanted to give me a minimum of direction to see what he could come up with on my own. The instructions were “create a game world with a big troll-like creature and little fairy people.” Willie later attached the name “Sprinks” to the fairy people and the world of the Sprinks was born!
They were really happy with the concepts I developed and have allowed me to share them here.
Here’s a breakdown of the creative process to get to the final designs:
After a brief initial meeting with Willie I went away and stewed with the idea for about a week before I put anything on paper. Then I began to sketch out some rough concept sketches. I came up with about four completely different concepts with troll and fairy type creatures in a variety of locations and designs.
Some were set in the typical ‘magic forest’ setting and others in more bizarre locations; like south pacific jungle islands or New York City junk pile. We sampled concepts from several of the worlds and finally settled on a world that would be located in an abandoned greenhouse on a rooftop in the Bronx.
The intro line for the world was ‘Once upon a time in a distant corner of the abandoned greenhouse…’ Although I tried a number of variations, it was the first few sketches that captured the essence of the world.
The inspiration for the world came from many sources. There are elements of various 80’s TV properties such as Smurfs, Fraggles and a nameless set of plastic toys that I found in a toy store in Milan Italy when I was ten. The demographic is an older crowd and so I wanted to inspire the nostalgic feeling of those 80’s characters.
But one particularly powerful inspiration came from Rien Poortvliet and Wil Huygen’s book ‘The Secret of the Gnomes’; a book that I grew up with and in many ways still see as a masterpiece of world and character concept design. In my sketches I tried to capture that same sense of magic that I felt when reading about the gnomes.
It went beyond just stats and cool pictures; there was a sense that the gnomes had a completely different sociological perspective of the world. That was the thinking I tried to inject into the Sprinks; what makes them different as a ‘people.’
The essence of creating a truly captivating fantasy world comes with the ability to see that world with a genuine sense of wonder. I’ve developed hundreds of different properties and designs over the years and each still has its own special meaning and power for me that I’d gladly pick up to re-work or continue developing because each one has a psychological core that goes beyond pictures and stats.
I see the process of developing and creating worlds is an Art form (capital ‘A’) onto itself even if those properties are not developed into any other form. From a well conceived universe a thousand games, movies and TV shows can be developed.
Thanks to Willie at Silverback Productions for allowing me to share this here.
All images ©SilverBack Productions 2009
The World of the Sprinks:
Once Upon a time in a distant corner of the abandoned greenhouse...
More on my website: www.forrestallstudio.com