The design of Monumental Failure is hugely influenced by the design philosophies of local multiplayer games. That doesn't mean it's exclusively multiplayer, you can play it solo, no problemo! But, let's say you have some friends over, maybe you'll have more fun if you split the screen and fail together!
Anyways, one of the design ideas we are appropriating is character customization. In a multiplayer game, getting the player to customize and familiarize themselves with their characters imbues an immediate connection with their characters. This is especially helpful to combat the "I was looking at the wrong character/screen" problem people often experience with local multiplayer games.
When I started working on implementing character customization I wasn't sure how I would introduce the user interface required to allow the player to set their customization. I started with examining what the player could be customizing.
We have 4 different character bodies, and while it would be possible to let the player pick which one to use, I use the different body types to help clarify gameplay elements within the levels. This means the player won't choose body type and will instead be customizing the whole "team" of characters.
The characters have three attributes that can be swapped around, their skin color, their clothes color, and their hat. It felt important to us that the characters' skin colour stay relevant to the culture they are representing. That leaves us with just the hat and clothes colour to customize.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that character customisation happens right around the time a player "presses START to join". This doesn't really make sense for Monumental Failure. Loading four characters in to a menu would make for a pretty crowded user interface. Additionally, not knowing your characters skin tone until you load a level would provide ambiguity to the characters finalised look. Not ideal for would-be fashionistas.
This implies that character customization should happen after the level has been chosen, and if the screenshots haven't made it obvious, that's exactly what I did!
This provided the additional benefit of having a pleasant character vignette to introduce each level, and even better, introduced a "Ready Up" feature. When the level loads, you have to press a button to start instead of being thrust immediately in to the gameplay. Honestly, that sounds like something I should have introduced a while ago :-P
I always find it to be a rewarding experience when the solution to a design problem is arrived on by this kind of deduction. Using design constraints and philosophies brought me to a unique solution for Monumental Failure's customization problem. A solution with benefits greater than the problem it solves.
Thanks for reading,