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…
Record Run’s character design began with a unifying concept that didn’t make it into the final game, but still influenced some characters. “Initially I envisioned all the characters as high school students,” reveals Gigi. “I wanted to give them all backstories.” She mapped out ideas for other characters who fit that vibe, including “a female wrestler who wore the headgear, and a kid genius who was so brilliant he was in high school at age 8.”
The game’s resident goth and metal enthusiast, Tina Tommy, was part of this collective. “I liked this idea of a girl whose parents forced her into cheerleading but she’s totally not into it – she’s alternative and listens to really heavy music. Backstories help because they give you more interesting things to design on a character.” Gigi adds “I think sometimes people are scared to develop characters with negative attributes,” but a good backstory can make this approach pay off: “The cheerleader is this grumpy girl, but it makes her more likeable because she’s more real.”
Gigi wanted Tina’s style and alter ego to highlight her personality and strength: “I wanted to do something that broke the cheerleader stereotype.” Gigi notes that the Groove World characters changed a lot during development: “originally, they were wacky!” One early pass at Tina’s Groove World design was a witch or sorceress, but it didn’t feel right for the game.
Eventually Gigi hit on the idea of a gargoyle: “It’s Gothic architecture, so it fits with her theme.” The Groove design is tied to Tina’s regular state by its tattered cheer skirt.
“We learned a lot from making the original Groove characters,” notes Gigi. It only took one concept pass to settle on Tina’s second Groove world character. “She’s a little Carrie-inspired – a zombie prom queen princess.”
Asked for any final thoughts on Tina, Gigi says: “She’d be my brooding buddy!”
This Record Run sketch diary is part of a series. Check out Part 1 here, and stay tuned for the next installment! To learn more about the game, go to www.RecordRun.com, follow us on Twitter @RecordRun, or visit us on Facebook.