Hey Zoobsters!


We had our Character Design Contest a few months ago and we wanted to give an update on where we are on this and share some images from the process of the character being made! We spoke with our Art and Game Design team to tell us more about this exciting project!


As a reminder this was the First Place winner of our community Character Design Contest; Max the Raccoon. This was made by José Vitor de Sousa.


What are the first steps you do when creating a character?

When concepting a character we focus on two fronts:

  1. Interesting animals that can bring diversity to the game, from different regions and species
  2. New mechanics that can create dynamical gameplays and will amaze players! We also like to think how this character is different from the rest and how it will enhance the Zooba experience.


Where are we currently on Max the Raccoon?

On the art side, we wrapped up the final character concept and lore, defining the character’s backstory, personality, and relationship to the other members of the Zoo. The initial concept that we got from José Vitor was quite good, and the adjustments made by our team were minimal (adjusting proportions, fitting the colors to the game’s palette).



What are the challenges you face when creating a new character?

When the design team starts working on a new character, we need to look for gaps in the game mechanics. We can’t make an animal that has the same skills as another one but better, so it’s always a challenge to come up with new solutions that won’t be the same as existent ones. We also usually face technical problems that we always get over!

For the art perspective we need to find new shapes and colors to make that character unique! As the number of characters increases it becomes harder and harder to do something that stands out as NEW! Fortunately we have the whole variety of NATURE and all its animals to give us lots of INSPIRATION!


How long does it usually take for you to create a character from the beginning to the end?

From the art side if we had a single person dedicated to building a character from scratch, it would take 240 days. But here at Zooba, we work with several teams tackling the character on different fronts. And since many of the activities are concurrent, we can finish a character in up to 3 months. After the art team is done from there the other teams involved take a few more months and prep to have everything ready for launch!



How do you work on finding the perfect color tone on new characters?

In order to do that we have a big line up where we have ALL the characters we did so far! This way we can know right away if we are creating something that has already been done before – we don’t want to confuse our players with characters that are too similar! In the end we need to balance THAT with also how that animal looks in NATURE! We want you to be able to recognize what it is very quickly! 


How was it getting started on your first community created character?

It was really fun! One aspect we had to consider was that we already had a Raccoon created in the Zooba World in our sister game SUSPECTS. Our decision was to keep Max unique but mention her (Roxie) in his lore. I wish we had time to write a comic about the two of them meeting and causing trouble in the ZOO!



Can you share more on why you do character expression sheets when creating new characters?

Characters expressions help us understand more about the character’s personality when creating everything related to them, like emotes, animation, skins and so on. It works as a guide for the art director and all artists involved in the character creation process. The character artist often looks for inspiration in the expression sheet when building the character’s face in the 3D model.

The animators get inspiration from when creating the expression bank for each character. The expression and action pose sheet, weapons poses, in-game views of the character are just some of the deliverables made during the early stages of character development.



Why do you use other character references when bringing a new character to life?

When we create a new character, we need to be able to see how he fits with the whole cast, both visually and socially. We use other character references to make sure the character seems to be part of Zooba’s world and to understand their relationships with other characters as well. 

In the example illustrated above, the concept artist suggested some options for the character’s proportion, using as reference the other characters that are already in-game (this is what we call the characters’ line-up). In addition, each character must stand out from the others in the game. This differentiation is made through each character’s shapes, colors, and acting.


Can you give us any teasers regarding his Lore or his Gameplay?

Regarding his gameplay we don’t want to reveal too much so players can get the surprise when he comes out! But we will share a bit of the lore so you can get an idea of what to expect from Max!

Lore: Max is fun and friendly and playful and has already walked off with the change in your pocket. He hides in the bushes, sneaks out, takes something, and then sneaks away. He’d get away with it, too, except he laughs delightedly, which alerts his victims. He’s a good sport, though – he returns what he takes. Max most wants to perform the most amazing heist – stealing the fountain from the zoo’s center… if he can find an accomplice.


When can players expect to see Max the Raccoon in-game?

Max is expected to be released for the end of the year! You will have to wait a bit longer to see him, but trust us it will be worth it!


And that’s it, Zoobsters! We hope you enjoyed learning more about where we are on Max the Raccoon and the process it takes to bring a character to life! Check out our Facebook Group and Discord Server to join the discussion with our community of players!


See you at the Zoo!