The design of the player characters was the first to be accomplished, since they were the most important ones. For design and gameplay simplicity, both Tom and Jon have the same appearance, but different colors, blue and red (and similar colors), respectively. The choice of colors to define the two protagonists is obvious: always and in many different areas have been used as opposing colors, competitors. Besides, they also part of 2 / 3 of the RGB color system, whose importance is well known.
This makes also the game more flexible, allowing more players to be added in the future.
Speaking about the physical characteristics, clothing and hairstyles, these characters are in accordance with the ordinary parameters of a kid of this age: they’re physically normal and balanced (not fat or thin, not tall or short), their clothes are relaxed and “trendy” (could been used by any kid of his age). Regarding their haircut, the size of their hair is particularly important for its physical definition, as it emphasizes their body movements. The decision to cover one eye was born on the general idea that all the characters in this game would show well-creased face characteristics with the least possible visual information … in this case, one eye and one eyebrow is enough to capture their expression (besides that having hair covering the eyes is “cool”).
Just as a curiosity, it should be mentioned that these characters were based in a stylized way on a real person: a nephew of one of the authors of this game.
When the bullies were introduced, the idea of a tinier leader came up. In order to make design easier, Sam was introduced, which uses the same drawings as the player characters, but with a gray color (inducing a more negative aura).
These are the actions of these two main protagonists. The way they move, the way they tag, the way they clean each other tags and the way they throw items to each other is very important since it is through these animations that these characters communicate and interact in the game, and formalized in motion what we as users want them to do. Thus, in addition to being made effective from the standpoint of the mechanics of the game, these movements had to be appealing enough to try to frame the user as much as possible within the game. If in the case of animations for the movement of these characters, the investment was to create more relaxed and fluid movements, in the case of the other three actions (tagging, cleaning and throwing) the intention was to give them more dynamic to cause impact on the gameplay. In the case of the tagging and cleaning actions, the use of props (a pen and a big rubber) through which they produce these actions, was introduced… and those props were intended to be as expressive and humorous as possible (that’s why the size of the rubber was exaggerated). In these three dynamic actions the facial expression changes: for example, the tongue-out expression (to suggest that someone busy with what he is doing) and a kind of a pesky air (through the eyebrow to accentuate the look). A common place to create more drama was used, similarly to many cartoons: the sweat drops. As already mentioned, the way the hair reacts to each movement it’s very important to reach more realistic and dynamic features.
These movements are the reaction movements of Tom and Jon, are the animations about how they react to what the other characters make to them … and so, they’re also important to the general mechanics and for the game immersive conditions. The animations of reaction of these two protagonists are four: the “falling” (when they get KO by the action of other characters), the “slipping” (when they slip into the food that Fatboy character drops), the “fainting” (which happens after the falling) and the “rising” (so they can return to the game). Indeed, in terms of creation they are only three, as the “slipping” is no more than an version of the “falling” action. It should be noted again the importance of hair fashion of these characters to increase the visual intensity of these animations. As for the “fainting”, it was important to introduce not only the look coiled already used in the “falling” action, but also a pair of birds flying over the character’s head, as iconographically are associated with the physical states that we intended to portray in those animations. It is necessary to refer the interaction with the user caused by the direction the characters look at (directed at the user) in these animations, as well in the other “actions-movements”.