Masatsugu Saito talks main character design in Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Nintendo has posted a new piece from Masatsugu Saito, the main character designer for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. In it, Saito discussed how he went about creating the designs for the likes of Rex and Pyra.
Saito shared some particularly interesting notes. For example, Monolith Soft wanted the characters to have something that would blow in the wind like a camp “to express the atmosphere of the field.” He also personally requested that the characters “have their personality reflected in how they walk”, so each one has slight differences.
Here’s the piece in full:
Hi, everyone. My name is Masatsugu Saito. I am in charge of main character design for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I have been given the opportunity to write about main character design through this development blog, and would like to discuss the thought process that went into these characters, broken down across a few blog posts.
I first heard about plans for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 around February 2015. First, I structured an outline of the characters by reading director Takahashi Tetsuya’s plot. Then I participated in screenplay conferences with Takahashi Tetsuya, Takeda Yuichiro and Hyodo Kazuho to start expanding on my character drawings. Rex and the other characters seemed very lively in the screenplay and plot. Their emotions were very clear, and every word they said was very moving.
It was at this point that I decided the characters should be modelled simply and clearly. One way of doing this was with a design that emphasised their eyes. Putting emphasis on their eyes allows a variety of emotions to be expressed during cut scenes, and makes it easier to see the character’s expressions, even when they are far away.
I also gave the characters some obvious colour coding to make them easy to locate from afar in fields that are packed with detail. Rex is blue, for example, while Pyra is red, and so on.
The development team requested that the characters each have something that would blow in the wind (e.g., a cape or scarf) to express the atmosphere of the field. I wasn’t able to do this for a few of the characters (including Rex, Dromarch and Tora). For these characters, the subtle movement of their hair or other features helps give a sense of the air around them.
One request that I made was that each character have their personality reflected in how they walk. I think their personalities come through quite well. Especially Poppi α, who you can easily tell is artificial. The other characters also have some slight differences in how they walk and run, which is something I’d like you to look out for while you play.
Next time I will go into more detail about designing Rex and the other main characters.