Character Creation Perfected: Perfect Glowing Bodies

I call this one 'Jimmy Hips'

I am so greedy. Whereas Alice musters great aesthetic appreciation for Strangethink’s experimental gamettes, my mind hungrily inclines to how they can be turned to other purposes. Case in point, I want Perfect Glowing Bodies to be the basis of a character creator in the next XCOM game, or for it to be expanded into a Syndicatelike as some neon holo-dream.

Perfect Glowing Bodies is a toy, really, but I like to think of it as a fragment of code from another reality which somehow slipped into ours. It’s the character creator tool for a game that doesn’t exist in this world, which is a good thing – because instead I get to imagine that game. As I push sliders and pull nodes, and a lurid yet elegant colour scheme flows across a symmetrically mutated biped. my mind bubbles with half-thoughts of what this contextless hero might do. That’s the moment I treasure.

Because it’s followed by a rather more unimaginative thought: ‘ooh, imagine having this much control of character creation in XCOM or WoW.’ What a good thing that would be, even if it is unfairly pinning someone else’s creation to something established. I don’t mean simply in terms of having greater control over the proportions and hues of your fightmen and fightwomen, but of the clever, simple manner means of adjusting them in Perfect Glowing Bodies. The traditional UI for a character creator tool is click-click-clicking through lists of body parts and sizes, which can be laborious and will often encourage pursuing extremes because it’s the quickest way to build something that seems ‘yours’. Or, too often, I’ll simply hit ‘randomise’ because I get bored of all the clicking and scrolling.

In Perfect Glowing Bodies, dramatic changes are achieved by minute adjustments of almost tactile graphs. It takes only the most fractional effort to create someone who looks completely different from the last guy-thing you made, but at the same time it feels very much as though I did it, rather than that PGB did it. Sure, the co-ordinated neon colour schemes are super-cool, but I’m into this because it feels far more like remixing DNA than picking from pre-fab parts.

It’s a toy. A pretty, responsive toy that other games can learn an awful lot from.

Perfect Glowing Bodies is pay-what-you-want from Itch.io here. There’s also an official description of what it’s ‘about’ there, but I’ve not included that in this post because having no context for PGB meant I was able to imagine it was about/from a whole bunch of other things.

5 Comments

  1. MrFinnishDude says:

    Truly interesting little thing. Too bad you cant do much with the model-y-ish things, or even view them from different angles. But the creation system is really intriguing

    I was just messing around with the sliders, I pressed the random button and I got a really imposing, sharp, and edgy looking character called the “Opposite Creature”. It was oddly unnerving to me so I moved one of the sliders just a bit and the shape transformed into this really smooth, soft and really feminine looking character called the “Peace Master”.
    The drastic change in character in such a small move of a slider was oddly inspiring to me, and I wished to do something more with the character, but sadly that’s not really possible. It would be really interesting to see a game with this kind of character creation for sure.

  2. Ross Angus says:

    Wow. Is this 3D?

  3. Strangethink says:

    For the curious, I made a Storify showing how Perfect Glowing Bodies evolved.
    link to storify.com

    • gorgonaut says:

      As an artist, I appreciate the potential of PGB for quick idea generation. I just have to fiddle around, and imagine these characters as people. Sometimes, the unexpected shape gives a character an unexpected background. I like it!

  4. ChaseGunman says:

    Love this Space Robot Kaleidoscope.

    One question – is it deterministic? The names don’t seem to be.