Creating the NPCs of Project: Velyria
The story of Project: Velyria is, at its core, one of survival. It is the story of a group of colonists pitted against monstrous foes without an end in sight. But fighting monsters and exploring tunnels can only carry a story so far. We knew the meat of the story would have to be in the game’s characters.
When we began designing characters for Project: Velyria, we knew we wanted a rich history for the world. We wanted to establish prior connections between the NPCs and to outline their previous lives on the Homeworld. That history could then be used to dictate their actions, reactions, and beliefs. This decision, to give the NPCs a greater than average depth, helped further define the mission and conversation systems. Missions wouldn’t only move the Player Character’s story forward, they would also advance the stories of the NPCs.
Broadly, NPCs can be separated into one of two categories: Story or Side.
The Story NPCs are central characters to the main story-line. They are given a chance to grow and change over the course of the game, developing relationships with each other and with the Player Character. You can read the Colonist Records of two of Project: Velyria’s Story NPCs here. Side NPCs, on the other hand, are more one dimensional. While they have still present strong personalities, their wants and needs err on the simpler side. Many Side NPCs are not reoccurring characters and the missions they present are not essential to the completion of the main story-line.
To interact with NPCs and claim missions, players must navigate through Velyria’s central base which is divided into twelve sectors, each with its own set of NPCs. There, players are able to hold conversations with the NPCs of that sector. The conversations are branching, and may reward the player with items, missions, codec numbers, or general information about key plot points. Conversations help give the missions context in the world, allowing characters to react to the progress made by the Player Character.
The physical appearance of the NPCs was the very last thing to be designed. Our artists were tasked with designing the NPC portraits (you can watch the illustrative process on our Youtube channel). The writers’ ideas for the characters were used as a springboard for the initial sketches. Each Story NPC was given an appearance to match their personality, history, and class. While all of the Story NPCs were given their own unique designs, the Side NPCs couldn’t be afforded that luxury.
As we wanted to represent a diversity of body types, each main class was illustrated sixteen different ways. We wanted to avoid restricting any particular body type, sex, or gender to one type of role in the colony. Even though the Homeworld is not Earth and the colonists may not be very humanoid under their suits, our players are on Earth with human bodies and we believe they deserve to see themselves represented in the game’s characters.
The above Side NPC portraits are in the line art stage of the illustrative process. The portraits are not final and are subject to change before the release of Project: Velyria.
In summation, Project: Velyria’s NPCs and story compliment one another. While the bare bones of the plot were in place before the creation of the NPCs, the NPCs themselves have had a significant impact on the narrative. By allowing the plot to change alongside the characters, we hope we will have created a story worth playing.
Click here to read Project: Velyria’s introductory story.
Click here to watch the announcement trailer.
We did a thirteen-hour livestream event on March 8th and this is the second of two NPCs that our very talented illustrator worked on during the event.
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Original music track is “Mechanical Marvel” by Aaron Paul Low (APL) on AudioJungle.