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Developer’s Diary: Game Characters

15 April 2014

Hello everyone!
Let’s continue with the articles on the creation and development of Transport Empire. Today you will meet some of our characters, and we will tell you how they were born.

Lynn Skytell is one of the most important game characters, and the one you will most frequently meet. She is the one who introduces you to the city of Storewell. This is why we spent a lot of time working on her persona and outlook. Lynn was intended to be captivating and to evoke the most intense interest. Who’d play a game in which the main character is graceless and irritating? So it was really, really serious work.
Our first idea was to make Lynn half-human, half-robot because she loves trains and various mechanisms. But then we thought better of it, for a robot has pre-programmed emotions which seem somehow less vivid and complicated than human emotions. So Lynn remained a girl of flesh and blood.

After we made our decision on Lynn’s character in general it was necessary to work out the details of her appearance. The question of her outfit was generally clear: as Lynn is a mechanic, her clothes must be comfortable above all. But as she is an attractive young girl regardless of her “masculine” profession, we thought it necessary to add some pretty details to Lynn’s looks — for example, striped stockings and hoop earrings. And one stocking is wrinkled all the time, because Lynn is too busy to pay attention to her appearance. 



We also spent many hours experimenting with Lynn’s hairdo. She wears goggles all the time, so we had to choose the haircut that would go best with them. We tried a ponytail and unrestrained hair, and we even put a hat on her, but in the long run we decided a braid would be most convenient for a girl who fiddles around with engines all day. So we ended on the version you now see in the game.


Speaking of Lynn, we should mention one of the greatest mysteries in the game. The thing is, Lynn’s father went missing, and his fate remains unknown — at least, for now. As the story unfolds, you will find more and more facts that will help you solve the puzzle and uncover the secret of his disappearance. As you can see, our game is not all about transport development; we have many fascinating adventures in store for you.

And, speaking of the adventures: at first we wanted to put some kind of Indiana Jones character in the game — a brave adventurer, a chin-up, wise-cracking guy who never gives up and is a true noble hero. But as the game development went on, we unanimously decided that a walking stereotype is not what we want, so the supposed Mr. Jones was successfully replaced by Hannah Lucas, the strikingly beautiful treasure huntress. 

This green-eyed she-devil is far from being a traditional selfless archeologist who wears shabby trousers and saves the world from time to time. As you can see for yourself, Hannah prefers feminine style: high heels, skirts, jaunty little hats... but the revolver she bears is a thinly veiled swipe at the fact that she is in no way sugar and spice and everything nice. You’d better not stand in Hannah’s way! As for her personal traits — well, she is obviously not a noble hero. We understood that, if we decided to break stereotypes, Ms. Lucas should not be a clear-cut good girl. That is why Hannah is somewhat double-natured. On the one hand, she is clever, brave and helps the citizens of Storewell a great deal; on the other hand, she cannot be said to have a moral compass and will never sacrifice her bottom line. So, she will help you, but only if it does not contradict her personal interests.

In many games, especially those which are related to technical matters somehow, there is always a scientist busy with scientific research. Such a person exists in Transport Empire, too — although our scientist cannot be considered a typical one. Strange as it might seem, he chose his profession out of laziness and disgust. No other jobs suited him for one reason or another, so he took what was left as his life work. Douglas Icks is an unpredictable and pretty strange character. We believe that sometimes he is not sure of his motives and aspirations himself: one minute he is eager to help you, the other he is not; he immerses himself in scientific matters and then all of a sudden he darts away for some unknown business — all in all, a strange person, really. And we thought that Douglas’ appearance should reflect his inner self somehow. As you can see, even in the first sketches where the character is just roughly outlined we were already trying to find some characteristic postures for him. Some are just neutral, while others evoke certain negative feelings towards Douglas.

Working on Douglas’ appearance, we paid a lot of attention to the details, too. First, we thought he should have grey hair — but again, this seemed somehow a typical feature of the “mad scientists” you see in nearly every sci-fi film. Well, we thought, why not make him red-haired? You’re hardpressed to remember another red-haired scientist on the spot, right? Then we thought we should make Douglas look somewhat untidy — with two pairs of glasses, patched-up trousers and only one shoe buckle; but then we decided it was not in line with Douglas’ character. He is fussy, meticulous and scrupulous, so disarray just doesn’t not suit him. So in the final version Douglas looks neat and clean. 

We had to put great effort into creating the character and appearance of Sieva, a young girl from the Tehine tribe. Sieva has unique abilities and she believes that every mechanism is a living being with a soul of its own. She can understand engines and speak with cogwheels exactly in the same way some people understand animals and communicate with them. She does not have to fidget with spare parts to figure out the cause of a breakdown, but sees it off the bat. So, we tried to reflect all these abilities in Sieva’s appearance. Her skin is covered with engineering drawings and circuit designs to accentuate the fact of her belonging with the mysterious Tehine tribe. As she sees it, the ornamentations are sacred symbols. We decided to add a lot of unusual jewelry which look like mechanical components to her clothing as well.

As we had mentioned in our previous article, Storewell’s technical development is at the level of the steam age — and, certainly, it had to be revealed immediately in our characters’ appearance. So we added traditional elements of steampunk, like goggles, monocles, tophats, a great variety of belts, armlets and unusual looking tools, like Lynn’s great wrench. Douglas’ mechanical finger is drawn in the very same style.

We hope it was interesting for you to learn of our work on the game characters. Do not forget to re-visit our blog: next time we will tell you about the game map.

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