Character Design – The therapist
The therapist is like a blank canvas. He is white, middle age, not particularly ugly nor attractive. He is wearing a standard shirt, average jeans. During the cut-scenes, opening each session/mission, he’s only doing mundane actions, nothing noteworthy or interesting. He is a silhouette, living his life in the background.
Every part of this non-player character’s design is done with the aim of denying him any personality.
The player does not know the therapist’s name, his personality if he has a family or any form of pet.
The screen is divided into three sections: a view of the patient on the left, a view of the therapist on the right and the dialogues text box at the bottom.
The character’s art style of the game is inspired by Lichtenstein’s work. The lines and shadows of the characters are bold, the colours vivid, the facial expressions exaggerated.
The environmental art is, contrasting to that, composed of messy and immobile black and white sketches. The universe fades and bequeaths the central place on the stage to the human. But not any humans or any characters: the patient.
While the player progresses in the game some noticeable changes operate within the therapist character’s design, he becomes less and less animated while, in opposition, the patient seems more and more alive.
Purpose of the character
The art style and specific gameplay of the patients mini-games are used to convey their narrative. In the same way, the apparent simplicity of the therapist design will allow the player to focus on the patient’s quirkiness.
Moreover, having a therapy session as the setting of the game is a way to introduce a wide range of urban legends and thus their characters. The therapist is pushing the patients to express their feelings, to tell their stories. It is an easy way to test the water before diving into the narrative.
Attitude of the character
The therapist is expressing himself with clear and simple sentences. He is talking in a pragmatic way, without any sort of feelings or judgement. His body language seems controlled. He is sitting up straight, one hand placed flat on the table, and the other holding an unbranded ballpoint pen. His only facial expressions are:
- Subtly raising an eyebrow
- Tilting his head to listen
- Smiling in a polite way
- Neutral face
What follows is an extract of the first cut scene in order to show how the character is acting.
INT. LEVEL 1 OPENING CINEMATIC
Consultation room. The size of the room is average. The blinds are closed, some sun rays infiltrate the room. A desk in the middle, two black comfy office desks. The desk is tidy. A notebook placed in the middle. A bunch of marigolds is in a tall grey pot, in a corner of the table. The carpet is also grey. There are two shelves, placed on each opposite walls of the room. A dining trolley is next to the door, with some cups, a coffee maker and a biscuits box on it.
THE THERAPIST enters the room.
Walk towards his chair and drop his bag next to it. He opens the blinds then goes make himself a coffee. He waits for his coffee. Standing, straight. There is a small smile on his face while he is pouring his coffee. He goes back to his desk. Sits on his chair. Take a sip. Frowns as if he burns himself. He puts his coffee on the table. Look at his watch then look at the door.