I offered Ray the job of designing my characters April of last year.
Ray: Can I just tell you how excited I am?? I could barely sit still after I read your message.
DJ: Oh gosh! It’s always really humbling when people are excited about stuff I’m involved in.
Ray: I’d love to start working on these right away. How many designs are you looking for?
DJ: Two, just to start out. As for ideas, they’re pretty general so you’ll have some room to try things. I kinda don’t want to go super detailed just because I’ve never modeled anything in Blender before that wasn’t squared. Also, I’d really like if the game could run on a potato so while we’re not going low poly or anything, we’re not doing Final Fantasy shit either. I just want these guys to be readable, you know? The main thing is different silhouettes so you can actually tell your crewmates apart from a distance.
Ray: I totally get where you’re coming from. Do you have written descriptions of the characters or do you want me to throw some designs at the wall and see what sticks? Can you tell I’m excited to work on this yet?
DJ: Your enthusiasm for it is really quite thrilling, to be honest! It really gets me motivated to work when someone actually TELLS me how excited they are about it. And you know, I actually haven’t written much in the way of descriptions ’cause nothing was really concrete. But I did have some things I wanted.
So Cleo/Cairo. She’s our Dallas basically. Brains of the operation, but her heist role is crowd control so she has to be imposing. She’s is 30, black, and originally from Egypt, but her family is from Sudan. Face should be regal as fuck. Grace Jones cheekbones, yo. Very dark skin. The main thing I’ve been fixated on is giving her long curly hair. I’m thinking something like Tracie Thoms, but honestly, I’ve been unsure how that would translate into a drawing and then into a 3D model. Like, not to go on a tangent, but SpyParty did this post about how they do hair and they described it as like working with “molded clay” which sounds (and looks!) really nice graphically ’cause I ain’t about to model individual strands and I think a lot of games look like dogshit when they try, but I’m not sure how you’d sculpt a curl that tight without just making it look like an amorphous blob. Open to interpretations on this. Anyway, as far as clothes, I just need both of them in suits. Cairo’s should be neat and fastidious.
Ray: Let me send you something. You mightve already seen it.
DJ: Dixie/Sable. Ke$ha type but getting to be too old for that shit. 32, white, – YES. I totally favorited that for later reference when you originally posted it.
Ray: Okay, cool, haha.
DJ: Only thing is, hair still has to be sort of… flat? on the head. ‘Cause they’re gonna smoosh it down with their masks most of the time that you see them. Like, I want to have casual models for inside the safehouse, but the hair can’t be too big or it won’t make sense with the mask over it.
Ray: Gotcha. How do you feel about dreads for Cairo?
DJ: I’m not entirely opposed, but my feeling was that people would immediately think of Michonne from Walking Dead.
Ray: Alright, gotcha. This is gonna be so fun!!!! I’m hyped. :^)
DJ: No, we’re avoiding hype! Get off that HypeTrain right now! Board the Managed Expectations Express.
Ray: *sadly steps back on the train platform, but secretly keeps the hypetrain ticket in my breast pocket*
DJ: Here is a Tracie Thoms for you.
Kinda dreads, kinda not. Certainly never seen hair like that in a game
Ray: Yeah!! I dunno much about working in blender, but you might be able to achieve that using hair cards? My 3D experience starts and ends with a Maya intro course, haha.
DJ: Well, what I wanna do is make things in a TF2/SpyParty/Sea of Theives area. Everyone always says they want a more realistic art style for PAYDAY, but stylized is gonna age a lot better over time. But I might have to let my homage to Ms. Thoms go for that. Which, you know, if you’ve got alternative suggestions, I am all for that.
Ray: No, I agree with you, stylized is probably going to be the way to go especially with a small budget. I have faith though.
DJ: Anyway, Sable. Imagine Ke$ha if she were older and maybe did too much LSD and ecstacy in her twenties and her tits never really recovered. Wiry and weathered. Irresponsible party girl, but it’s not so cute in your 30’s. Her suit should always be a little dishevled ’cause she’s doesn’t put the effort in. I’m thinking she’s probably blonde, but red doesn’t seem amiss either. Dyed and roots showing, either way. I might fuck her teeth up a little.
Ray: Aw, hell yeah. Great character descriptions! I’m instantly in love with both of them.
DJ: I was so nervous! I’ve only really talked this much about them with my boyfriend and he’s is not so impartial.
Ray: Is it just you on the dev team? :0
DJ: Yep. Just me! Part of the whole thing of it is that I totally felt I could do a better job just by myself then the 75 people Overkill had working together. They have more now. But there are some things that I just can’t pick up quickly enough to do myself. Drawing people is one of them. I can draw pretty much anything but people.
Ray: That’s so cool! Do you have any art posted anywhere? I didn’t realize you were a visual artist as well.
DJ: Oh, I’m not! I’m just… like, most things come pretty easy to me, but I’m one of those people who gives up on things if I’m not decent at it immediately. I CAN draw things passably. I just don’t unless I need to. I do things in Illustrator every so often. Made my icon in there. Once I start needing to model props, though, I’ll definitely be posting the concept art. Pictures make for much better blog posts. Drawing people has just always been a NOPE for me. Have the same problem with music. Gonna have to outsource that when the time comes.
Ray: I feel ya on the music. Every time I’ve tried composing my own stuff, it just never sounds the way I want it to. And I’m the same way, if I’m not instantly good at it I drop it haha.
DJ: But most the other stuff I can do on my own. That’s why I always say we need to keep expectations managed. I am only one person. Talented as fuck, but it’s still a lot of work. I spent the last two years learning Unreal and mostly fighting with getting the game networked. But it is. Uses Steam names, everyone can fuck about in the lobby, not just stand there. Took me a long time to get the weapons selections to spawn right, but that’s mostly working correctly. Even has voice chat.
Ray: Wow!! That’s incredible, honestly. I didn’t realize it was that far along.
DJ: Maybe I’ll post a video of what it looks like right now later this evening. It’s very basic graphically. I’m using UE4 Mannequins for the characters, just changed their texture color. Silly white and orange weapons from a pack I bought. But there’s a lot of functionality in there, yeah.
Ray: I’d love to see it ! :^) it might also give me a better idea of the kind of framework you’re looking at for the final product
DJ: Right now I’m working on getting the Loud (SWAT) AI’s operational. Quiet AI (Guards) are already up and running. Both are gonna be pretty rudimentary at first, but I think the improvement (especially on the guards) will be pretty evident immediately.
Ray: I do want you to know I’m already doing some shape sketches for Cairo. I’m very hashtag inspired by your dedication and enthusiasm haha.
DJ: Maybe I am hiding my own HypeTrain ticket then.
Ray: ;^) Also if you ever want to hit me up for a few heists in PAYDAY, feel free. I’m not great at stealth but I do try.
DJ: I honestly haven’t played it in ages. I’d be shit. Lost my touch for the Broncos after the break I took during the MT fiasco.
Ray: Oh totally, I had the same problem. I had a dedicated group I heisted with but shortly after the MTs, we all just kinda drifted off to other games. I know they just released the Spring Break stuff though. I come back every 5 months to let off steam and listen to Dead Man’s Hand but that’s about it, lmao.
DJ: I look at the reddit every so often. There doesn’t seem to be much of interest. Just Joy and VR.
Ray: I had completely forgotten about Joy, omg. With how bad the game is on console, I would never consider getting it for Switch but… a heister that isn’t based off an existing IP… yay?
DJ: I mean, unless you count Daft Punk.
Ray: Okay, yeah, but at least she’s not like… a real actually irl person like H3H3. Or from a movie like Bohdi and Wick.
DJ: That mask would drive me insane if I was still invested. Not even a fascimile of clown. I think the H3H3 was when I decided that I was done. Like, I didn’t make that conscious decision. But that woulda been around the last time I played it. Save for firing it up to see how they handled some menus a few weeks ago. Got, like, 30 merit badges that night, didn’t even load a level.
Ray: I don’t even know what the h3h3 heisters look like, I can’t bring myself to check. Basically anything after Locke’s heists were added isn’t canon to me. Rust is on thin ice because I like Ron Perlmann.
DJ: I’ll admit, I didn’t want to like the Locke stuff, but I do. “Birth of Sky” might even be my favorite heist now.
Ray: It took a long time for me to admit to myself that I liked Locke, but once I did I embraced it. And his heists are fun. It’s nice to have a level that isn’t totally confined to a building or a nondescript warehouse.
DJ: I’m looking forward to designing levels. Suffice to say, my heisters are not drug mules.
Ray: Godddd. It always bothered me how many of the heists involved coke. Find something else to steal!!
DJ: I don’t mind it being the object. At least as far as drugs go, coke implies fun! That’s a party drug. I just think it’s boring for half the available jobs to be in various warehouses. I want to take your ass to some LOCALES.
Ray: How deep is the lore for The Take? Is there a storyline or is it more loose?
DJ: Very story! My claim to fame is writing clowntown fic. CORRECTIVE clowntown fic., at that Of course there’s a story. In fact, tonight I was setting up… I can’t remember if this is something Blizzard does officially or if it was just some tumblrpost I saw, but there was this list of Overwatch lore, in chronological order, so new people could easily catch up on it. And I was like, “fuck, man, that’s a good idea.” So I decided that build something like that officially. Runs on Twine.
I had some stories posted, but I fucked my website up a while back trying to get the wiki to play nice with everything else, and like a dumbass, I thought I had backups when I dint. Buuuuut upon that realization, I figured out a better way to tell a story I wanted to tell and also integrate my “demo update” content better. You know, like a real update event. It’ll be much more elegant in the long run. Once I rewrite them.
Anyway, the basic gist is that Cairo and Sable are employed by The Syndicate, which is supposed to be a shadow-y crime organization that offers a lot of nice benefits like get-out-of-jail-free cards and medical care in exchange for thieves working for them as, like, contractors. There’s also Uber-like elements. Peer review, etc. Problem is, while the organization used to be pretty sweet, which is why most thieves these days are members, it’s gotten too big and services and opportunities are getting to be too shitty for the cut they have to pay for them. So they decide to just disappear and start heisting independently. Basically, they are leaving what I think crime.net would have been become if given enough time. But because most thieves are now members of this organization, it’s challenging to get a proper crew together. So a lot of my dev time is going to coincide with them trying to find their new crewmates. Which I think is nice. Sort of a parallel getting together of the shit.
Ray: Oooh!! Love the concept. So it starts with two playable characters?
DJ: The game will have four when it ships. But a good heist movie always starts with two guys.
Ray: Naturally. Man, that’s cool as hell. Happy to help be a part of this ! :^))
DJ: Thank you! I’m very happy to have your help!