This month's development blog comes from our Creative Director, Emily Short
There are a handful of characters in Mask of the Rose that we’ve not introduced, and who don’t appear in the demo. Today, let me introduce Ivy.
Most of our characters were defined before we ran the Kickstarter, but we left ourselves room to develop a few more, to address any requirements as we wrote the game.
By the time we came to developing Ivy, we had a few pieces of critical information about the role she plays in the story, which I won’t spoil here. Aside from those, we knew we needed to add a character who was:
A Wardrobe Source. We wanted to let the player purchase outfit items from multiple characters, both for variety and for narrative plausibility. Ferret might peddle questionable and used outfits, but it’s less likely that they’d be in a position to sell new or upscale garments.
Connected with Hallowmas. Mask touches on several nascent London festivals. Hallowmas is the first in the calendar, though we don’t see much about it in the truncated scope of the demo. Hallowmas is a feast of confessions and personal change – and while it hasn’t reached anything like its final form by the time of Mask of the Rose, there are plenty of people newly arrived in the Neath who have things they need to get off their consciences.
We also wanted to introduce a character to our roster who was female, and working class. The Kickstarter left some of our character list open to backer choice, and as it turned out, the selections were male or masculine-presenting – so we wanted to add some more femme to the mix.
Griz, Rachel, and Horatia have different histories and relationships to wealth, but none of them grew up in true poverty, and Horatia inherited the house where she now keeps lodgers. And while Phoebe is a servant, she’s still living in a comfortable household.
That combination of features suggested the idea of a bohemian seamstress – someone talented and crafty, but who had really had to scrabble up from the bottom, and who might not have done it in the most respectable way.
We also saw her as someone inspired by the Neath’s strangeness and terror, rather than overwhelmed. As I told Paul, our art director: of all the characters in the game, she’s the most likely other than the player to be wearing a mushroom in her hat.
That’s still a lot less information than we can usually offer in an art brief. When briefing characters who are already written into the story, the writers can often provide reference photos for people we think look similar; sample dialogue; suggestions about the character’s posture and physicality; and guidance about their most common moods.
For this character, we didn’t even have a name – but that’s where art stepped in. Here’s what Paul brought back:
I immediately fell for this character. Her saucy smirk suggests someone who knows more than she says – and someone at home in the place London has become. Not everyone enjoys the Neath. Ivy sees its possibilities, and they give her life.