Here are samples of characters I’ve designed from a handful of projects. Each project had different needs and required different strategies to craft meaningful characters that would allow the player to explore lore, narrative, and game play mechanics.

Vegas Prime Retrograde: Character Design Strategy

I was tasked with designing and bringing to life a rich protagonist, antagonist, and supporting cast for the central story line of Vegas Prime Retrograde.

I created two characters: Clara and NO CARRIER. These characters, despite being on different sides of the story, share a duality in their troubled relationship with the world around them. I use this to create a space of character exploration for the player. Examining each character within the story allows for reflection on the other.

With a small team of strong creative talent, I was able to design and realize a strong protagonist and antagonist capable of leading a rich cast of side-characters and ultimately feeding a meaningful, character-driven narrative.

Clara, the Protagonist


The bulk of Clara’s personality is derived from the player’s decisions during the game, so she needed to be open enough to hold the player’s vision of who Clara is. I gave her mild, yet endearing personality traits, like compassion and optimism, while avoiding polarizing traits that might impact decision trees without the player’s permission.

I provided the character sketch and concept art and worked directly with illustrator Fabian Cobos to create the final artwork.

Though Clara does not visually appear in dialog, it is still important for her to appear. In addition to appearing on the title menu, I also have her appear on the game settings screen. Viewing game settings is looking inward to the game, and when the player looks inward, I want them to see Clara.

NO CARRIER, the Antagonist

No Carrier

I modeled some of NO CARRIER’s outward personality on classic anime villains, an homage to Ranma 1/2. The villains in Ranma were often simply misunderstood or otherwise regular people clouded by a sense of self preservation or entitlement.

I wanted NO CARRIER’s personality to fit into the ludo-narrative in a natural way. To do this, I took inspiration from the villainous dog in Duck Hunt. NO CARRIER will hack into your COM and taunt you while she delivers hints and backstory.

At several points, it becomes unclear as to if NO CARRIER is the villain, or if she has been maligned. This allows the player to further explore the protagonist Clara’s relationship to the story and the world at large.

I provided the character sketch and concept art and worked directly with illustrator Fabian Cobos to create the final artwork.

Note: Clara and NO CARRIER appear in both dialog and barks.

A Supporting Cast

Supporting Cast

In addition to the two central characters, I also created the crew to Clara’s previous deep space vessel. The crew exist as NPCs to drive the story while also creating pockets of familiarity and safety for Clara.

The core crew are left-to-right: Franka and Mieke, the brash twins (left), Logistics, the no nonsense mission captain, Clara (center), Jackson, Clara’s closest friend, and Alpha-9, the stasis medical imprint.

Where the Logistics and Alpha-9 exist to drive the player through story-driven mission content, revealing deeper lore, Franka, Mieke, and Jackson interact with Clara creating moments of introspection, building spaces for the player to consider who Clara is on a personal level. Jackson and the twins represent the inner battle that Clara has to reckon with between her hopefulness and her frustrations.

Again, I worked directly with illustrator Fabian Cobos to create the final artwork.

HVCKGNOSYS: Character Design Strategy

When designing HVCKGNOSYS, I created two characters to serve as the mouth-piece for the central story, each acting as a bookend to the game play experience. Xeno Steiger, the handler, initiated the gameplay hacking challenges by introducing story as player motivation while April Rayne, the news caster, closed out each game sequence with a story-based snippet to indicate a win or loss.

Xeno Steiger, the Handler

No Carrier

The core challenge for creating Xeno Steiger was that the character needed enough depth to be interesting enough to carry conversation while being shallow enough not to overpower the game play. Xeno’s main function is to deliver conversational lore and to provide information about the gameplay, in the form of “OPSEC.”

Steiger is intended to be a cyberpunk character and his personality is inspired by a few punk icons, like John Lydon of the Sex Pistols and Dave Vanian of The Damned. I wanted to visually communicate the gray area within which the handler works.

Note: Xeno Steiger also appears in dialog.

April Rayne, the News Caster

No Carrier

April Rayne is the bookend to Xeno Steiger, appearing after the completion of a level, offering a narrative-driven description of the win or loss. Rayne isn’t intended to exchange dialog, so the opportunity to explore her personality is minimal. Rayne features no branching dialogs and acts purely as a response the mission success. To achieve this, I based her off of newscaster talking heads, taking inspiration from parasocial relationships.

Rayne’s primary function is to tie the result of game play to the mission narrative and exposition that drives the story.