I work with friends on a project that connects legends - Commandos, The Magnificent Seven and ... Seven Dwarfs!
I am writing this article as a short story about creating our characters, which are the most important element for these games. Everything else is reflected in their abilities. Weapons, environmental benefits, interaction with enemies. These three elements form their possibilities in the game and it is important that they overlap as little as possible.
From the beginning, our seven dwarves tended to be classic fantasy warriors. At the time, it looked like you wanted to find inspiration and start looking for pictures of dwarves on the Internet. Even though we have a hammer left, I think it's a standard size and the ax is much smaller on the other hand. :)
But in the end, I think it turned out well and we have a great group of veterans, renegades and criminals.
A short history of...
The idea of creating an RTT game is in my case connected with the idea of creating my own games. The reason is the first Commandos and the first Desperados. On the other hand, the continuation of the Commandos confirmed my decision not to use the theme of World War II.
Yes, the first Commandos created a subgenre of games. But the WWII brand is detrimental to this small group of games. Although Tiny and his band defined what such a game should look like and actually how it should be played, they defined something much more important. We call it the narrow specialization of the characters.
It was hard to play Commandos if you couldn't use firearms. Removing this logical thing made the game a hardcore affair and a real challenge. In the sequels, this logic was corrected, but also the game was simplified. In the final, therefore, it is not good to have characters with the same fighting skills, because the importance of their original abilities is lost.
The dream project
My first idea for a Commandos-style game was definitely not about dwarves. In my opinion, the best model for such a game is a characters from LXG. A plethora of characters who would need to set proper rules.
Invisible Man a a Mr. Hyde certainly shouldn't use their abilities all the time. Mina Harker as a vampire is dependent on movement in the shadows. The sniper and gunslinger slightly reduce the possibility for the Monster Commandos sticker. But it is unreality for most of the characters that is excellent material for a similar game.
Seven Dwarfs & Twenty sources of inspiration
Dwarves were born a little harder. Half a year ago, there were seven demonstration characters for a D&D or fantasy game. Even though we know we need seven specialists, we always ended up with dwarves in two groups - warriors and mining specialists. The last two were soldiers for quite some time - Berserker and Defender / Tower.
The first character was invented a long time ago. Dark Walker - mining explorer with a trained owl. The combination of a speleologist and a rock climber created an excellent figure for overcoming vertical obstacles and making the owl a deadly animal. If you recognize a character named Silfax, you are right.
Other characters are a matter of course in these games.
The obligatory member of the group is a sniper - Poacher. He also started as a soldier, but after the gradual rebirth of dwarves to badass, a former hunter was born, who is currently a hitman and probably most closely resembles a film legend - Leon.
Another mandatory figure is a strong man - Pillar. He was for a long time a member of the Royal Guard with a huge shield and mace. The character left the military origin last. In the story, he was to act a bit like a narrator defending the deeds of seven dwarfs. In the end, however, his mudding on paper did not look good, so we made the strong man a character not very wise, but loyal and kind.
Berserker was to have the ability to trigger seizures with drugs that caused various types of attacks as well as an increase in abilities. I know, I know ... but the fight against fantasy clichés has been long.
Most of our characters were already out of classic stories. Eventually, we dusted off Commandos and Ice Breaker was born. A combination of a Viking and a Shaolin Monk. A diver and hunter trained for long dives into the depths of the icy oceans.
And what about specialists - experts? Already in the first set there were three - Pharmacist, Alchemist and Engineer.
Doc is ultimately a combination of a spy and a poison expert. At first it was supposed to be an old but still active spy. After all, he is a veteran with nightmares. He acts as a narrator and is the commander of the gang.
We ruled out the presence of a dwarf woman at the outset. Doc serves similarly, but his techniques do not include a seductive smile or an exposed thigh. From the embarrassing character, an experienced killer with a unique distraction technique is very interesting in the end.
Sparkler still has one big dilemma… Gunpowder. So far, we are considering both options, but rather it will be a coward without the possibility to kill, but with a bunch of effective tricks. Due to the handling of explosives, we preferred to turn the mining specialist into a refugee from a distant region, who is actually a wandering magician and, in the worst case, a fraud.
The Engineer gave us the most work. We knew that when it comes to dwarves, there must be a character who represents their technical maturity. But how do you use your knowledge of building machines and monuments, secret recipes for alloys with incredible properties for such a game?
If you come up with something you can write to me :)
Forger is finally the Inspector Gadget in the fantasy version. He understands everything and can even minimize it to pocket size. For greater use, he got a mechanical arm that can switch to different modes. They share a past with Doc.
The Parvificent Seven was to be a group of heroes. Then it was supposed to be a group of mercenaries helping two brothers in revenge. And finally, DarkWalker and Pillar are criminals. Why did we decide this way? Because a group of honest fighters cannot have a kill score of 120 per mission while talking about the weather.
As a group of outcasts, they have better opportunities to develop the story - maybe it's money or revenge. And maybe they can do something right… Coincidentally!
At the end
Of course, this is a characteristic of the characters, and their further development will involve skills and environmental benefits. In half a year, however, we gradually created a group of characters that easily inspires us to use the environment in the design of levels.
Finally, I would like to add that if you make video games, they should be your last source of inspiration and not your first.
If you want to know more why our dwarves are from the Caucasus, why we want to tell their story episodically or why it is difficult to fight clichés, watch us …