I would like to begin by quoting from Akashic Records: Case Studies of Past Lives:
“During Lemurian times, we referred to the different kingdoms as The Wolf People, The Bird People, and so on.”
Back in 2005, I worked on a story that required me to learn about Lemuria as well as Atlantis. That was how I found out about the Bird People. Myth or history? No one knows, but I used this knowledge as a loose inspiration for The Last Birdling.
Here is artist Tooaya’s sketch of Bimonia:
Once Bimonia came to life on paper, plenty of questions surfaced as a result. Why would the Birdlings and humans speak the same language? Where did they get those clothes from? At the start of our tale, these two races have already shared a long history. While no one enjoys info dumps, there should at least be hints to these answers.
Tooaya brought up some excellent questions as well. If Bimonia’s wings are too big, wouldn’t she be crushed by her own weight? Since Birdlings need to carry that extra load, how would that affect their height? Perhaps ironically, a fantasy setting is the one place where we cannot explain things by magic.
Visual novels feature sprites that can be reused throughout the script. That said, it is important for the characters to be expressive, preferably never showing the same face for more than a few lines.
Or in Tayo’s case, have a change of clothes:
I started Persona 5 recently. Ann and Ryuji have been in school uniforms thus far, so when they show up in casuals, my engagement level goes up because of the fresh look.
In Cursed Sight, we followed Gai and Miyon from childhood to adolescence. The pattern repeats in The Last Birdling, and while this is for story reasons, it also provides an opportunity to showcase new sprites.
Though it can be hard to notice, Sasa does in fact visibly age in the story, too. In retrospect, I should have been more courageous with how much she changes.
Out of all the characters, Bimonia’s mother provided the most challenge:
Guys, this is where I need to make a confession. The above sketches are fine, especially that one on the right. Instead, we settled on this design:
Why? Because it is the reality of production. When we present the Birdling mother in a screenshot, she should command respect and not look too dishevelled. While none of my games so far have adult content, by no means am I some snob in a fight to create “real art”. The realities of character attractiveness, especially the main cast, affect me also.
To finish up, we had to determine how tall each character is compared to the rest of our cast:
I want to save the surprise, so some of these characters have been greyed out. Since the Birdlings are physically superior, let’s offset that by making them shorter than most humans. Airin is in fact the tallest character in The Last Birdling. Tayo is taller than Bimonia even as a child, so she is on her way to carry her mother’s tradition.
Thank you for reading!