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October 2015

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Dr. McHavok Process

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Each character for Diabolical! started as a sketch and Dr. McHavok was the first.

mchavok_sketch

When I joined the project, Evan and I frequently met to talk about the game. Among the topics of conversation were my responsibilities as the character designer. We had a general idea of the kind of villains we wanted to include. Evan had even begun work on a Mad Scientist, but initially these were basic concepts. By continuing our conversations, the villains began to grow. They started to take on more personality and depth.

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In Dr. McHavok’s case, we asked ourselves questions like:

  • Where is this character from?
  • What is his backstory?
  • How did he become a villain?
  • How did he acquire his skill set?

By asking questions like these and filtering them through coffee fueled, comedic riffing sessions, we turned a general Mad Scientist into Dr. McHavok: The Scottish Mad Scientist. This would become our formula for creating the remaining Diabolical! characters.

After our discussions, I used the ideas Evan and I came up with and translated them into digitally painted visuals. This was an iterative process, as every time we met, we came up with more ways to strengthen the characters.

mchavok_process

Though some of these deeper questions may seem irrelevant to board game characters, it defined the visual voice of Diabolical! and helped solidify the overall tone of the game.

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Beginnings…

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Like every good villain, Diabolical! itself needs an origin story. I figure our first blog post is a good place to start.

The genesis of this game started back in 2012 when by chance I ended up going to the Dallas Comic Con with a buddy of mine after some friends kindly offered me some tickets they couldn’t use. At the time, I was living in Mountain Home, Arkansas and we made the eight hour drive overnight in an old van shared with some other convention-goers. This was my first comic con and I was absolutely blown away by the creativity and ambition I saw there. Additionally, I got to meet Felicia Day, making it basically the greatest day ever.

Pictured: An overly excited Evan and a confused / stern Felicia Day.

Pictured: An overly excited Evan and a confused / stern Felicia Day.

While there, I went to panels, saw awesome cosplay, met some amazing artists, and just generally found myself surrounded by incredibly passionate and creative people. Being a creative person myself, it was truly inspiring to be able to steep in the imaginations of so many talented people for two full days. On the drive back – another overnight eight hour haul to be home in time for work – it was a mixture of inspiration, sleep deprivation, and excessive amounts of Red Bull that got me talking to my friend about the idea for creating a board game. Strangely enough, today is the exact three-year anniversary of that drive back.

At the time, the concept going through my head was about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse bringing about the end of the world. It would be a card game with decks themed for each of the Horsemen: War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death, and the goal was to be the Horseman to bring about the end of the world most effectively. I worked through these ideas quite a bit before coming to a couple conclusions:

  1. A game where your goal is to bring about the end of the world seemed a bit too dark.
  2. A game about the Four Horsemen wouldn’t feel right without exactly four players, which seemed too restrictive.

At this point, I decided to shift the theme away from the Four Horsemen and more generally towards the concept of villains trying to take over the world. This felt like a much better starting point as it left a lot more room for exploration and gave itself the opportunity to be more lighthearted, which is something I think is important when dealing with an “evil” theme.

Like many side projects, this game came and went over the next couple of years. A lot of that time was spent trying to get myself up-to-snuff artistically to be able to create art assets for the game. Below you’ll find a few images from my initial work which will probably make you as thankful as I am that James is doing the artwork for this game.

Flash-forward to earlier this year, when James agreed to do the artwork for the game. This was huge because it allowed me to really focus on game development while also giving the game the quality of art that it deserves. At that point, we put together a plan for how we wanted to pull this off, and now we’re setting it into motion.

One day, we shall rule all! *maniacal laughter*