At this year’s GDC, creator Odaka of the Danganronpa series gave quite the entertaining and informative presentation on his storytelling process for the games.
Of course he decided to start off the conference with a bit of humor:
This is referencing the sluggish sales for the portable in North America and was meant simply as a humorous ice-breaker. After that, he went into the process of his story crafting.
First he states that players experience both the story and game mechanics through the characters, making the latter an incredibly important resource in game making.
Next he states that every character needs “Subjective Love,” aka a personal love given to them that allows them to develop and grow. This also allows for players to choose their own favorite because of that love shown to them during development.
There are three categories that Odaka uses in his character creation: Backbone, Appearance and Personality. Backbone is their trade or specialty, Appearance is physical traits and Personality is set behavioral patterns.
We see that his characters tend to have a mix of those categories that are unusually and break the mold, so to speak, going by the Ultimate Martial Arts woman with a feminine heart or the aggressive baby-faced Ultimate Yakuza.
Then there’s Ultimate Pop Sensation Sayaka, who seems to be the standard traditional high school girl: sweet, straight “A” student and a homebody. This is shattered by the next slide, showing her actual role in the game:
It’s quite interesting seeing how even those categories can deceive players in character motivations and actions. Funny enough, that darker side was actually foreshadowed in a conversation with the protagonist, in which Sayaka revealed that she had to commit many unsavory acts to gain her fame.
As stated, these unexpected developments enrich a character’s story and personality because it gives them hidden layers, making them much more flawed and human.
Finally he ends the conference with a talk on character death and how that affects players who bond with them.
In Danganronpa, characters die constantly and unpredictably, making it more painful to get close to them during Freetime since you have no way of knowing when they’ll die. Odaka actually stated that this was the reason he developed this system in the first place.
He couldn’t resist ending it with a “Let’s Buy the Vita” punchline in the end, though. You can check out the gallery of slideshow screenshots below, if you’d rather see them uninterrupted.