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  • Writer's pictureXeo Lye

Debtzilla - Game Design Diary Part III: Hero Design

When we first conceptualize the idea of "Wall Street meets Superhero" theme for Debtzilla, we were extremely excited about the character designs for the game. First and foremost, we wanted to include financial legends such as Warren Buffet and George Soros in the game. However, one of the biggest problems with this roster of financial gurus is that they are mainly US based and almost dominated by males, which is in conflict with one of the key philosophies in our game design which is to embrace diversity. So we decided to stretch our search beyond the scope of just financial legends and increase our scope to cover business and political titans, which in recent years, have immerse influence on the financial markets. With that in mind, it is now easier to fill our hero roster with heroes of different genders and from different continents.

After selecting our candidates, we now have to flesh out their heroic powers and identity. The designs are inspired by popular culture heroes from different eras and nations ranging from Pokémon, Kantai collection, Marvel, D.C., Back to the Future movie series and from fables such as "One Thousand and One Night". There are so many other stories I will like to incorporate ranging from the Chinese literacy "Journey to the West", Japan's famous web comic "One Punch Man" and even Indian mythology. However we are limited by the reality of game balancing and design, and can only work with six at this moment in time. Curious with the results, we proceed to work with our illustrators and smash the best of the financial world and pop culture together. The final results received two thumbs up from our fans and strangers alike.

With basic premise in place, we decided to give the heroes some background stories. The problem with the current roster of economic influencers is that they are too rich to fit in with the lore of the game. The premise is that the heroes are Spider-Man dirt port and needs to borrow money to fund their superhero activities. Since Debtzilla takes place in an alternative universe similar to Wongamania: Banana Economy, we came up with the idea of an alternate future for these characters, when something goes wrong during this lifetime and they are no longer rich. We started to brainstorm all sorts of ridiculous scenarios on what could go wrong in their life (exposed to radioactive bananas, cursed by Debtzilla) which turn their lives upside down and now have to work like an average person in order to finance their vigilante lifestyle.

We also designed powers that represents their influence and actions in the real world. For example, both the Debt hulk and Tweetman have powers like an anti-hero as their real life counterparts are polarizing leaders loved and hated by different parts of the world. One of our favorite heroes is Tweetman and he is inspired by the anti-hero love-hate relationship between Batman and the citizen of Gotham. And there is of course this piece of news...

In the game, we have designed Tweetman with anti-hero like powers. His immerse power is driven by sacrificing the citizens of Banana Republic, which players are suppose to protect as losing all citizens equals to losing the game. Of all the heroes play tested, he is one of the favorite heroes among the play testers as players have to make difficult choices with this hero.

Heroes are fun and dandy, but what is a good superhero story without a roster of interesting and unique villains? We are not going with the usual bank robbers, orcs and aliens. We are going to smash famous financial disaster, people and brands with pop culture and let's see what we will get!

Stay tuned to our Debtzilla designer blog post: Villain Design!

Check out our other designer blog post on Debtzilla.

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