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Swipe This!: The Guide to Great Touchscreen Game Design by Scott Rogers

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Chapter 7: Action Guy

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If arcade games are about nostalgia, then action/platform games are all about character. Some of the most memorable characters in gaming are from the action/platform genre: Mario, Sonic, Rayman, Master Chief, Kratos, Nathan Drake. However, as I write this, some touchscreen game characters are becoming as recognizable as their console game cousins: Angry Birds, Om Nom, Barry Steakfries and Swampy. These game characters come in all shapes and sizes but share one thing in common: They are all built the same way, with these three shapes:

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These basic shapes are the building blocks used to draw anything, be it a person, a monster, a tree, a car, or a house. But they’re not just boring, inanimate shapes. Oh, no. Shapes can be used to convey personality. Hey, look: Here comes a posse of cowboys:

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While all these cowpokes wear a 10-gallon hat, sport a mustache, have squinty eyes (probably from staring into the desert sun for too long), and have a handkerchief around their neck, they all have different personalities. They look stupid, heroic, wicked, or stoic, all depending on their shapes. Early animators (we’re talking 1930s here1) discovered this trick and used shape ...

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