One huge concern was imagining an interesting character to fill the main role, the protagonist. Not only for the narrative, but also for the visual aspect.The story required to be told from a point of view of the misadventures of a fourteen year old student (or so) who may not have had the best time at school. I had a lot of movies in mind from the 80’s -that usually took place in typical american high schools – to which most of us didn’t go to, but nevertheless, seems very familiar- and at the same time, a lot of memories from my own school time, so, the idea was to make a mix between reality and fiction that could be universal enough to get the attention of the biggest possible audience.
Another important decision to make would be obviously his sex. For cost and time reasons I couldn’t afford to have two animated characters (a boy and a girl) for the player to choose from… so masculine or feminine, I was on the need of having at least 150 sprites (each sprite is a position of the character drawn by hand.
For example. walking to the right needs at least 8 sprites) that push me to have to take the good. From this point on the main character started to evolve little by little and soon enough it was clear that it was going to be a boy, but surprisingly his physical aspect was a little hard to develop. The story needed someone that looked like an antihero, not much athletic, clumsy in general, but at the same time with sharp and a acid way to look at the world.
My sister Lo Lang made some illustrations that were magnificent, but soon revealed to be complicated to take it into action. It was a long struggle, it took several month of trial and error. During that time we tried with different possibilities and various artists help me in that research. As situations started to develop I realize that my guy was missing something…the drawing were fluid and looked nice, but I wasn’t convince by the too-nerdy and loser look that had taken. With almost all the animations finished and of course, not to brag, I was feeling in the shoes of the director Bob Zemeckis, when he had to film back most of the scenes from Back to the Future because the original actor didn’t had the lead role he was looking for.
My main character had turned into the Eric Stoltz of the point and click… so one morning I sent to the recycle bin hundreds of sprites that were ready and started the search for another look for Meeno Estucco, even if it meant more hours of work and a big frustration feeling… And, believe me, that would not be the first of a lot of similar situations. As I was discovering that making games is not a pie!
Fortunately it was the right decision to make: some days later the new designs for Meeno were capturing the real essence of the character, the attitude and the movements I wanted to see on the screen. Everything was rocking on and..it was then when i remember that i needed two versions of the character, one with school uniform and another with daily clothes. And as they said said in the old days, it was time to go back to the drawing board!