We sat down with Gianna “Gigi” Ruggiero, lead artist on Record RunTM, to talk about how she developed the fun and varied cast of characters in the game. Gigi attended Ringling College of Art and Design for Computer animation, and has a background in film animation as a concept artist and texture painter. You can see more of her work at: www.giannaruggiero.com and www.giannaruggiero.tumblr.com. Gigi joined Harmonix in 2012; in addition to Record Run, she has worked on concept art for Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved and character designs for another unannounced project. This week, we’re taking an in-depth look at…
Gigi’s background is in console games and film. She found she had to take a new approach when designing characters for a mobile game. “[In console games] you always see the character, but in mobile games the character is tiny on the screen and you really have to account for that. I focused on creating characters with large features, and using bright, repeating color schemes that make the eye dance around the character and stand out from the background.”
On her process for designing Ronnie Joggins, the punk runner that players see first in the game, Gigi says “we wanted to include a range of musical genres in the game…the Punker was the first character I created. I wanted to represent punk culture in a very real way.” For inspiration, Gigi drew on the ‘80s punk scene in the US as well as the emerging scene in Cambodia, which references punk’s 20th-century roots.
“I wanted all the characters to have some fashion sense, something iconic about them – they’re dressing to impress and stand out. Punkers’ jackets are their own thing – hand painted, with custom studs and patches. Ronnie’s jacket needed to be something he made himself,” Gigi notes.
Gigi describes the alternate identity that each character transforms into in Groove World as the character’s way of thinking of him- or herself internally. Gigi wanted a big, noticeable transition that still related to the character and their genre. “I wanted to do something iconic to represent this hard-core angsty culture, so I thought of this flaming skull head.” Ronnie’s alter ego Sidd Scorch developed from there.
A character’s personality is as important as their design, notes Gigi. “Are they happy, lovable, quirky? What is it that gives them that pinpoint personality? The punk is very dorky even though punk music has this rebellious quality – he’s missing a tooth and has goofy face shapes and I love him for it! I have a soft spot for people with missing teeth…”