Hey Panda Peeps!
I’m Vintage Panda! I joined the Sad Panda writing team in July, and since then one of my favourite parts of my job has been getting to participate in the creative, collaborative process of coming up with potential new characters for our games Crush Crush and Blush Blush!
As anyone who’s played either game already knows, we Pandas truly believe love comes in all shapes and sizes. That’s why we strive to offer our players a buffet of beaus and beauties as diverse as they are. So whether you’re into cute catgirls, smouldering sexy doctors, girls/boys next door, or literal bears in lipstick… we want all of our players to find that special someone(s) to fall in love with!
Which is all to say, coming up with new characters is crucial!
So how do we go about it? Well, first and foremost, we listen to you! That’s right, you, our Panda Peeps! These games are for you, after all, so we take your waifu wishlist (hehe) very seriously. Whether it’s specific player requests for a character with a certain body type or background, or just paying attention to commonalities in what characters get lots of love in Vote-A-Flings and LTEs, we’re definitely listening!
We also look to pop culture in anime and beyond for character archetypes we think would make good love interests. What about a dashing spy for Blush Blush, or a scrappy steampunk junkyard mechanic for Crush Crush? Pirates seem to be having a Moment on social media, so what about a sexy swashbuckler? We also follow our own interests: as my name suggests, I love all things vintage, so how about a 1950s sitcom housewife or a prohibition era gangster girl?
All these one line character concepts go onto a spreadsheet we call the Pitch Deck. Building on the seed of the idea, we come up with a clever/appropriate character name, use the ole image search to slot in a few inspirational pictures, then get to work fleshing out the character beyond that initial sketch.
Here, our archetype is further developed into an “elevator pitch”, aka, what you’d say about them if you lucked into an elevator with a higher-up and wanted to sell them on your idea before they reached their floor.
On Crush Crush, “Buff warrior princess” thusly becomes Hildr: “A Valkyrie. She’s tall, she’s strong, she’s sexy and feminine but can fight and drink as well as any of the guys. Boisterous, loves battle and glory and weapons and passionate loving.”
On Blush Blush, “Cultured silver fox/Zaddy” becomes Professor Darcy: “The English professor. He’s a sexy well-spoken gentleman with a poetic streak, a charmingly distracted mind, and leather elbow patches on his tweed coat.”
Now, since both Crush Crush and Blush Blush are dialogue-heavy games, we like to write a few potential sample lines that serve as a quick snapshot of how the character might speak, how they’d flirt, or how they’d make the player laugh.
To give you a glimpse, here are a couple of potential lines for a Blush Blush pirate:
“I came ashore to pillage that booty! Nah, just kidding… or am I? I will take whatever valuables you have on you, though.”
“Why do people here keep asking me why the rum is gone? How should I know? I don’t have time to be micromanaging the ship’s provisions!”
Or how about that 1950s housewife I pitched for Crush Crush?
“I’m hosting a SupperWare party later. It’d be a gas if you came!”
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fast or anythin’, but I sure wouldn’t mind a little backseat bingo with you!”
“Gee! If I knew you were coming I’d have changed into my party apron!”
Finally, we figure out how these new characters might fit into the game. On Crush Crush, that means deciding how the player might CRUSH the character. On Blush Blush, we come up with what hilariously appropriate or delightfully unexpected animal they might be turned into. We also make some notes on what their dynamic might be with the player and how the arc of their relationship might develop over the course of the game. Do they start out adversarial and warm up, or is it more a friends to lovers kind of vibe? Do they come in hot and heavy then their feelings slowly turn more tender, or are they shy at first then gain the confidence to be more open with their heart?
At this point, though, these are just rough ideas to get things started. Because what comes after the Pitch Deck is the Character Brainstorming Session, where all the Pandas get to weigh in and work together to shape these little lumps of character clay into fully formed figures! And much like your favourite reality TV competitions, not all of them make the cut…
But if you want to know which characters make it through to the next round and who faces elimination, you’ll have to tune into my next post!
Until then, we love you so hard!