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Evolving Archie

By Stuart Young, September 16, 2021 · Mask of the Rose

You can learn more about Mask of the Rose and watch the video on Kickstarter. We’ll be back with more staff updates like this one during the development process!

This blog is by our Art Director, Paul Arendt.


Some of the character designs for Mask of the Rose seem to arrive fully-formed. Griz, for instance, has barely changed her appearance since the first piece of concept art. Others, however, can take a little longer.

One of the toughest characters to nail has been Archie, the Scottish medical student at the centre of the game’s murder investigation. Here’s the first, very rough sketch I made of him:

Archie (Sketch)

A bit scruffy, a little bit sexy, somewhat haunted by the Fall and his own homesickness.

This in turn evolved into a more polished concept that appears in the trailer and some early promotional materials:

Archie (Promo)

However, when it came time to put Archie into the world, the first attempt at translating this concept into a game character turned out badly:

He felt lifeless, and that jacket-and-coat combo made pose changes troublesome. I wanted to recapture some of the sauciness of that original concept, so I reworked him as a buff redhead:

Archie (Arms crossed)

I changed his outfit to shirtsleeves and braces, partly because we generally encounter him indoors and he seemed rather overdressed, and partly to show off his new gym body.

This version was in the game for a while, but I never liked it much, and  our first big internal feedback session raised a couple of concerns. One was that he looked rather old – one feedbacker pegged him at 40, whereas the character is supposed to be in his twenties. The other was that he bore a certain resemblance to another Archie, the one in Riverdale.

Purely unintentional (I’ve never seen the show) but the apparent age was a genuine issue, so it was back to the drawing board. I started by taking the face above and ageing it down. Then I added some more Byronic hair, since another problem with the previous version was that he presented more 1940s than 1860s.

This is… ok, but it doesn’t really sell Archie’s somewhat mopey, emo temperament. We tried a few variations of colour and facial hair – he briefly had a moustache – before settling on some designer stubble and rather bruised eyes:

I toned down the muscles and made him skinnier, which felt like a better fit for the character – he’s as absent-minded with meals as he is with his razor. Here’s the full length version:

Archie (Final, Full)

And that’s how he stands right now. Will he change again? Who knows!

(producer’s note: he won’t).

 

2 Comments

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Riro Sep 18, 6:07am

That hair kinda makes him look like a Karen tbqh.

Diptych Sep 17, 6:06am

I have updated my Hero Forge figures accordingly! https://justdiptych.tumblr.com/post/642810891588501504/characters-of-failbetter-games-upcoming-visual