Carmageddon featured a rich cast of psychotic characters, each represented by a small portrait thumbnail accompanied by a short description. Back in the day this was a) perfectly adequate, and b) necessary… as we had bugger all image resolution or memory to play with in 1996. There were also other little limitations, such as a single 256 colour palette that every art asset in the game had to share.
So when we began discussing the characters in the new game, it seemed like it would be cool if we were to reintroduce the characters, we’d get to do their profile pics as full length portraits. This would give us more opportunity to develop them on a visual level; “the clothes maketh the man” and all that.
I asked our concept man Doug to kick this process off by doing us a new concept render of Screwie Lewie and his Twister. Here’s how I originally depicted the crazy mole-man in his portrait thumbnail:
I sent this to Doug, along with Screwie’s short biography: “This wacky guy favors the ‘supercar/monster truck/light aircraft/mole machine’ mode of transport. He’s about as insane as they come.”
As a character note to help visualise how I saw Screwie’s full length portrait, I also mentioned the crazy old airman out of the movie “The Mummy”, and Doug duly obliged with his interpretation of Screwie. The render that he sent me was bang on brief… but somehow it wasn’t really hitting the spot – it didn’t seem to add an awful lot to our knowledge of the character.
As usual when I’m thinking about this stuff, an idea struck me the next day while I was out walking the dog on the downs. I tend to have 1 idea a day, either in the shower or while I’m out with the dawg. I then need to have a little lie down to recover. Anyway, once I’d got my strength back I whizzed into the office and did this stunningly awesome sketch:
The idea I’d had was that because we’d never seen the Carmageddon characters “full length” before, there was no way of knowing the extent to which their Carmageddon Racing career might have had a detrimental effect on their physical wellbeing. In Screwie’s case for instance, we discover that a previous nasty twatting inflicted by Max Damage has resulted in Screwie losing his legs. And now, the psycho paraplegic is out for revenge. Well, what’s left of him is, anyway.
And when he’s not hoisted aboard the Twister and hunting down Max, he gets around in his all-terrain wheelchair, the Spack Chariot (giving us scope there for an amusing special event at some point during the game, maybe..? ;) ).
And that’s the other neat thing about these new portraits – they make it very easy to develop a simple back-story to the character, allowing us to give them new motivations and rivalries. We’ve never been too concerned with developing any sort of story arc to “explain” Carmageddon. By not doing so, we allow ourselves far more scope to just chuck whatever we want into the game! However, these little visual jokes and notes added to the characters just help to give the opponents a touch more personality.
So Doug took my sketch, and in no time at all had transformed it into a thing of great beauty:
It’s both sick AND funny. Pure Carmageddon... Perfect!
This discussion of the first new character sketch reveals something else about Carmageddon: Reincarnation. The new game will feature the return of a number of the original characters, drawn from Carmageddon, The Splat Pack, and Carmageddon 2. Of course we’ve got our favourites from the series here at Stainless – but we’ll also be running a dedicated thread on the forums, where you guys can discuss which opponents the community most wants to see again.
We’ll also be running a competition at a later date, to design a new character (and their car)… And the winning design will be included in the game.
In the next blog, I’ll be revealing another of the new characters in all their full length glory. I can confirm right now though that this babe is completely intact, and completely insane!
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