Enemy Design

Posted by Amir on April 9, 2010

Our friend Greg Kasavin, who we worked with at EALA, has started an awesome blog about games and narrative featuring exactly the kind of  insight and wit that made him one of the sharpest developers we’ve ever designed with.  His most recent post covers video game villains,  the “bad guys who overcompensate for their flat desires with huge lifebars.”

He covers notable bad guys from Bowser to Mike Tyson and even the garden-variety undead in Plants vs. Zombies about whom he observers “the zombies are sincerely hungry for brains — you’d want to give them your brains if you didn’t need them.”

Is Mario the only game with an awesome jelly fish enemy?
Is Mario the only game with an awesome jelly fish enemy?

This is all relevant because we’ve been thinking a lot about antagonism, antagonists and enemy design.  It’s true – our game has enemies – you heard it here first.  I have learned from enough Will Wright talks that a lot of the best game designers take their inspiration from places outside of games.  With that in mind, and probably thinking too literally, I went to the “Extreme Mammals” exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences to comb mother nature for our very own set of goombas, zombies and cliff racers. They wouldn’t let me take pictures inside so instead I ended up sketching pictures of improbable primates and prehistoric armadillos.

Nature creates highly affordant creatures

Speaking of inspired creature design, Max from Unknown Worlds – the guys working on Natural Selection 2 – played our game recently at Thirsty Bear in San Francisco.  Thanks again, Max!

Max, one of the founders of Unknown Worlds

Natural Selection features a fair amount of "extreme" flora and fauna

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