Hey everyone in this post I’m going to talk about creating a new character and then adding it to the game. This thread is mainly a suggestion to the developers and also a couple of tips I wanted to share that can make this whole thing work. I’m making this post also because like many others I think that 3 careers per class are enough to complete the character, that more careers are overkill, and that we would prefer an entirely new character in the game.
Making a new character
Making a character is a cakewalk. Slap in a generic design on the table, shape it, twist it, make it and it’s done. Now, what about making a rich character that fits the universe well, is fairly lore accurate, and is so fun to play with that you just want to buy it? A fair warning, I will be referring to Vermintide 2 a lot because I really liked it and Darktide seems to be going in a similar direction. If you played the game you know how important the personality of our playable character matters. Each one of the heroes tells their story either by reacting to what’s happening around them and also in the casual banter with each other. And that is exactly what makes the characters fun, what makes them unique and believable. Sometimes they can even feel relatable despite being in a different universe. A character with personality and a character design is what makes a character shine
What’s so hard about producing a new character
I talked about making a character, but you also need to produce it. What do I mean by that? What I mean is polishing the character, putting the design and the written pages of concepts into the game (A playable, voiced model that is rigged and fun to play). I am going to skip the process of modeling the character because there is only so much you can say about it, and don’t get me wrong. It’s no easy task to create a good-looking model that hundreds of thousands of players are going to love. You know, no pressure (lol). Anyway, with how headgear and heroes looked in Vermintide 2 I’d say we can sleep at ease. Everyone knows you need a model of a new character because that is obvious. What not everyone realizes is how much work also goes into voicing a character and also making fun and engaging abilities that are different than others.
Now listen closely everyone because this thing alone may be the reason we never got a new character in Vermintide 2 besides additional careers. What made the characters of the series special is the interaction between them. Sure there’s plenty of characters in coop games, there are also a few games where they actively react to the environment and describe the world around them. Now, what makes the last game a true gem is how deep the characters are. They don’t just talk about stuff around them but mock one another, joke, casually talk, and even mention their past. Now that is impressive! We also have a friendly fire system to prevent careless shooting, and guess what? The annoyed characters stick it out to other characters and talk you down when you hit them and not the 3-4 meters tall meat golem they’re fighting. On top of that, there are also voice lines for when you’re fighting, for when you’re low health, for when you’re down, for when you’re out of ammunition, for when you’re alone, for when you’re you want to be freed, for when you’re fighting multiple enemies, for when you’re not fighting enemies, for when there’s an ambush, for when you’re hit, for when you’re just generally in a fight and even when there is nothing happening and you’re just running around. Now that is a crazy amount of voice lines. Very responsive characters make each mission and campaign feel so lively and responsive. Now all of this is amazing but that is a LOT of dialogue can we agree? There. That’s the hard part. Every character has all these jokes but also the interaction with every other character. It’s almost like a spiderweb of voice lines connected to different characters. Now imagine trying to add a brand new character. Emperor protect because this will seriously need a pipeline to work.
A pipeline is a system or a production schematic to help produce something. A character pipeline for modeling looks something like this (this is heavily simplified):
2d concept art > low poly model > attaching a skeleton > animating the skeleton > hi-res and hi-poly model > adjusting hi-poly model > polishing what we have + other minor things along the way > final game model that is animated.
If you paid close attention to this you might have noticed something. There is not a single mention of voice lines or any sounds really. That’s because I gave an example of a linear pipeline and because a good character deserves not only a pipeline of a model but also another pipeline for sound designers. If I were to design it, it would probably look something like this (this should come after deciding the personality and tone of the character so that it’s no secret what is the direction to go with this character):
Writing key voice lines >> Writing voice lines of reacting to the world >> Writing monologue voice lines >> Deciding how many screams/grunts do we want for combat and environmental damage >> Writing voice lines of characters mocking/joking about other characters >> Writing voice lines of two characters having a conversation between them >> Writing more and more detailed voice lines to expand the number of them so they don’t get repetitive after playing for the game for a long time >> Handing the script to the right voice actor > Mastering the voice lines in a program of your choice
This dumbed-down pipeline shows a bit of work that goes into and that’s just the basics. Ideally, you want deep conversations with relatable and funny jokes, characters talking about their stories and mentioning their distinct features. Vermintide 2 has lots of great examples of this, for example when a character who is blind with one eye gets called a “one-eyed” or “blind” by others. In this same way, you could also joke about the dwarf getting lost and not being able to see him anywhere since he is so short. This is something that makes the characters feel alive. Not a fake cookie-cutter “reloading”, “follow me”, “ouch, it’s me, stop shooting” voice lines. Having a voice line pipeline help to create all the needed voice lines and allows the developers for revisiting them later and adding new ones if needed with ease.
I’m talking about good character diversity and not pushing political agendas so please do not make me regret listing this point in my post. The diversity I want to talk about is of course the diversity of character personality but also the visual one. In Vermintide 2 we had had 5 different characters of 3 races. Three characters being human, one elf, and one dwarf. That is already some cool variety to have. Now, what if I told you all of these characters show who they really are with each of their voice lines?
Saltzpyre comes off as a judge, jury and the executioner sentencing scaven to death by the name of Sigmar and then impaling their heads with his rapier. Comes off almost fearless, unlike the rest of the team lacks of humour and compassion towards others. He’s here to make things right, hates heresy like nothing else in the world. The perfect inquisitor. My favourite.“I spend my blood willingly”, “Sigmar bless this shot!”. Iconic.
Kruber is a very proud knight that always serves the Empire putting it first. He comes off as a nice kind, friendly companion who cares for everyone involved (besides the scaven foe of course). One of his career skills is a “Morale Boost” for a reason. After playing for a couple of hours you quickly realize he’s a real gift and treasure to the team. “Alright, come on then!”, “By Taal!”.
Funny guy Bardin. Always makes jokes while being very proud and knowledgeable about his ancestry. He’s also very kind to other characters but his patience has a short fuse. He’s there to help and to settle his grudges. His humour has no end just like his love for ale. I’d say it’s a comedic relief character but here it would be an insult to the developers. Fantastic hero. “Come on, wazzoks! A dawi awaits you!” “I’ve a grandmother hits harder than that!”
Sienna, the fun auntie everyone loves. A sharp, smart and intelligent wizard with a quirky sense of humour of her own. This old woman loves to poke fun of her age calling her companions “darlings”. Definitely addicted to fire magic A true underrated character who is a great complement to any team comp. “I’ve some real red-hot moves, darlings.”, "Ahhhh! No! Too much flame! "
Kerillian, the grumpy cat. A very prideful elf with an ego through the roof. Mocking both enemies and teammates no matter their performance. Always aspires to be the best and makes sure others know their place. Calls the rest of the pack mayflies, again loves to belittle them. Very negative character, when she finally complements you, you feel amazing (she doesn’t lmao). "Another kill. You see, mayflies? That’s how it’s done. ", "Help me! Are you blind? ".
All of the character traits I just mentioned can be noticed by just hearing the voice lines between slicing hordes of enemies. If you can represent your characters well without needing to direct to a piece of lore to read then you’re doing well. I’m hoping Darktide too, will maintain the same level of diversity and complexity. It’s a real pleasure to see characters so well developed. It’s a real challenge to top it but why not try to stride for perfection ^^.
I talked about this topic in a post reply but I feel a need of putting it here too. If Darktide did well then you could make the Darktide a platform for future content releases just like we have Total War: Warhammer 2 that is doing the franchise justice despite having lots and lots of additional paid content. This way there would be no need for rebuilding the game again and calling it Darktide 2 like it was with Vermintide series. Instead, you could try making it work as the Total War team did. Pushing out paid dlcs for what people love seems to be working wonders for them and they’re not slowing down. Besides doing big story dlcs in new locations you could also add a few character packs since the 40k universe is so massive. As more and more people would get hooked on the game the profits will only grow. And with a couple of campaigns people would love to try out new characters. I think 12/16$ or 16/20€ would be a good starting price for a brand new character. This is a new fps and we hadn’t seen one in 40k in a decade now. The hero packs are also a long-requested feature and a great opportunity to satisfy more people wanting their favorite character in the game.
That would be all, thanks to everyone for reading, if you have any more tips and suggestions for character creation leave them here. I was going to post my character concept in this thread but im not that far of breaching the 2,000 word mark. Cheers everyone.