Aug 272012
 

Manyara in her adventuring outfit.

Manyara has gone through a redesign since she last appeared on this blog.  As her character has evolved her style has changed as well.  Character design is one of my favorite parts of working on this project.  I expect this process to continue throughout development, as I’ll need to make all the aspects of the character, from visual design, to writing, to gameplay all fit together into a believable whole.  This includes thinking about how characters will change depending on their experiences during a particular playthrough.

Story-wise, I think we all prefer characters with some level of mystery or hidden depth.  Still, I appreciate the value of using visual design sometimes to make it easier to identify a character’s role in gameplay.  For example, I intentionally gave Nia a more “neutral” look as she will have different development paths depending on the player’s choices.

Manyara, on the other hand, hopefully now looks like the swashbuckler she is at heart.  I originally envisioned her as someone who was bored with her life and didn’t feel sufficiently challenged being a small-town guard.  Of course, people who don’t like their job tend to move on given the opportunity…

Special thanks to Fuzzimo for the leather texture!

Aug 162012
 

I just got back from the “Business of Africana in the Popular Arts” panel at Onyxcon!  It was great to learn from more experienced artists. Even though they didn’t have someone who worked in video games, I found that most of what was said applies to me as well.  This was also my first experience doing any real marketing for Nia’s Journey, although I actually hadn’t planned on it at all.  Next time I’ll have to bring flyers!

One of the biggest questions I left thinking about was how I define success?  Each of the panelists had their own perspective on this topic, and now that this game is moving forward more rapidly, it’s something I need to consider.

For Nia’s Journey, my goal is for players to feel like they are part of the adventure.  I want to make a world that feels real, regardless of the technical limitations of the RPG Maker engine.  When I first started working on this, my motivation was to make a game where people of color, and especially women of color could see themselves represented as leaders and heroes, instead of as sidekicks, token characters, or most commonly, not at all.  Representation is still important to me.  But somewhere along the way, I realized that I’m capable of doing much more.  When it’s done, Nia’s Journey won’t be known for being a “Black” or “Afrocentric” RPG.  It will be known for having pushed the genre forward.

Aug 122012
 

Nia, with a mischievous expression.

Nia’s Journey wouldn’t be the same without its “star” Nia.  I can’t tell you too much about her yet — her story is still being written.  Her journey begins when a simple errand takes an unexpected turn.  She will soon find that sometimes a single decision can change everything.

As with many RPGs, making choices will be an important aspect of how you play the game.  However, in Nia’s Journey, it won’t be only your own choices that matter.  Nia’s actions also have the potential to influence others, who in turn can influence one another.  There will be many times when Nia has to anticipate or respond to the consequences of her friends’ choices as well.  Does that sound interesting to you?  Let me know in the comments section below!