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Put on a lizard and go for an adventure! A new game for Nintendo Entertainment System, PC, and Mac.
Put on a lizard and go for an adventure! A new game for Nintendo Entertainment System, PC, and Mac.
Put on a lizard and go for an adventure! A new game for Nintendo Entertainment System, PC, and Mac.
325 backers pledged CA$ 18,440 to help bring this project to life.

My lizard is the Lizard of Hair

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Who is the lizard rider? This question is implicitly asked by putting the character on the screen, and ultimately I have to answer it with pixels and code.

I made a decision early on that the lizard rider should be anybody and everybody, if possible. My first idea was to put in a little bit of code to randomize its palette when the game begins. I was happy with this, and I liked the implication that it's a different person each time you play the game.

I was a little disappointed, however, by the bald human figure. The limited amount of colour available to the NES is a prevailing constraint, and it's had a rather strong effect on my design decisions while making the game. I simply couldn't find a space in the palette for hair, so the lizard rider was always bald.

I wrote it off as a consequence of the limitations I had, but it bothered me. It was nagging me for months, but a few days ago I realized that I could steal the lizard's white eye colour when it had its eyes closed. This gave me a brief window of opportunity to put in some hair!

So, I've now added a few different hairstyles and a selection of hair colours. There are 227 distinct appearances for the lizard rider. I'm still straining against various limitations, but I think this brings me a lot closer to the "anybody and everybody" ideal that I was looking for.

Maybe this will seem insignificant... obviously it doesn't affect the physical gameplay, but as a visual part of the theme and implied story it's been an important goal to me.

Just for my own curiosity, I'm trying to think of other games that used a randomized character appearance. Both X-COM and Cannon Fodder used this technique in a way that strengthened the actual gameplay. In these games it let you tell your soldiers apart at a glance on the battlefield, and when managing your squad I'm sure the extra visual variation helped you remember their strengths and weaknesses. Can you think of other games that did this?

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    1. Matt Baxley on January 24, 2015

      It's certainly not random, but one of the things I like most about the game Bully is the fact that each character, even all the townspeople and other random NPCs, have a unique name, appearance, animation, and voice actor. It really adds a layer of immersion!
      This random character thing is cool. It adds more depth and replay value in my opinion.

    2. Matt Lohkamp on January 23, 2015

      Rogue Legacy did a pretty great job of randomizing character appearance / gender, and also did a pretty great job at being a cool game.

    3. Brad Smith Creator on January 23, 2015

      There are different ways to do it (customization, per-play, per-life) and they each have a different implied meaning. For this one, I want one rider per play session.

      Thinking more on other games that do it, a lot of Sim style games have a feature like this. Theme Park, The Sims, Tiny Tower, etc. This could be a really huge list, actually.

    4. Missing avatar

      Jeffrey Kaminski on January 23, 2015

      Hello,

      I really like the idea. Will the character change everytime you hit the reset button or die? Or both?

      To answer your question, another game that does this is Zombi U for wii U. Everytime you die you become a new survivor. There are a ton of them to which range from all ethnicities.

    5. Missing avatar

      Jeffrey Kaminski on January 23, 2015

      Hello,

      I really like the idea. Will the character change everytime you hit the reset button or die? Or both?

      To answer your question, another game that does this is Zombi U for wii U. Everytime you die you become a new survivor. There are a ton of them to which range from all ethnicities.

    6. Carlos Noguera on January 23, 2015

      For some reason this "small" feature really spoke to me in a way that's hard to articulate. I think that it's details like these that truly differentiate great things in life from the merely good. Thank you for adding another impressive details to an already impressive game!