One of the most important aspects of any game is the design of its characters. While a title may have brilliant gameplay and an engaging story, players are unlikely to engage with it unless there is an eye-catching protagonist or villain who can initially draw them into the world. Most famous video game characters go through an extensive process of evolution and alteration, with artists constantly changing their creation to come up with the best iteration that they can.
While this is usually a very deliberate method, sometimes other factors can play a huge role in deciding on video game character design. The answer as to why particular characters look the way they do can often come down to a collection of bizarre reasons. Whether it is a strange inspiration for a particular protagonist, an accident that led to the creation of popular villain, or even technical limitations causing certain elements to be introduced to a character, designers occasionally just sort of stumble upon the ideal appearance for their creation. Here, then, are some of the strangest reasons behind video game character design.
Although he is arguably gaming’s most famous and popular character, Mario was designed fairly quickly. In fact, certain elements of the character were chosen to allow Shigeru Miyamoto and other developers to quickly render the plumber into the game with relative ease.
For example, Mario wears a hat because Miyamoto didn't liking drawing hair. The hat also saved designers from having to animate the character's hair. Mario was also given a mustache, as his original sprite was too small to include a detailed mouth.
It could be argued that Lara Croft was the first real sex symbol in video games. The Tomb Raider star became infamous for her notoriously large breast size. While you may think this was a design choice from the very beginning, the character only got her huge boobs as a result of an accident by artist Toby Gard.
When he tried to increase the size of Croft's breasts by 50%, he accidentally enlarged them by a whopping 150%. By the time he had realized his mistake, other members of the team had already seen the model and decided it should stay as is. Thus, an enduring nerd fantasy was born.
The pink blob that is Kirby was originally created by Japanese developer Masahiro Sakurai in the early 1990s. However, the character’s final design was initially only intended to be a placeholder sprite so that the team could work on gameplay while a better design was drawn.
As development progressed, Sakurai became more and more fond of the placeholder graphics, and felt the simplistic ball-like appearance served the character and game well. In the end, it was decided that the design would stay in the final version of the game.
Out of all of the characters and creatures in the hugely popular Minecraft, perhaps the most dreaded and familiar to players is the Creeper. While they have a very distinctive look, their appearance was largely the result of a coding error by game creator Notch. When trying to insert a pig into the world, he typed in the dimensions incorrectly and that led to the model being disfigured. Liking the look of the new creature, he simply changed the coloring of it and turned it into the Creeper we know today.
"The creepers were a mistake" he said in a documentary. "I don’t have any modeling programs to do the models, I just write them in code. And I accidently made them (the creepers) tall instead of long, so it was like a tall thing with four little feet. And that became the Creeper. As opposed to a pig."