Exploring Delores II

by Gary Winnick
Jun 08, 2015

So, effectively Step 1, would be defining your character, typically in text as we did in the previous post. This can be as loose or complicated as necessary depending on the character and their place in the story. Once again, keep in mind this is an evolutionary process, and should grow and refine itself over the course of the project (at least this is how we like to work) as you develop from your first outline, through final design and implementation.

It used to be in the good old days when we had a character to design, we'd head off to the library or the newsstand to see what kind of visual reference we could manage to find. Magazines and books were the cornerstone of the materials we used.

When I first worked at Continuity Associates  (Neal Adam's studio) we kept a big file cabinet dubbed ‘The Morguefile' where in alphabetical order file folders were painstakingly (by hand) filled with magazine clippings, photocopies and sketches on every subject from Armadillos to Zebras and everything in between. We'd also hit the streets with a sketch pad to draw and take notes of anything in the real world that could be useful.

When we started at Lucasfilm, one of the truly amazing resources was the Main House Library, on site we discovered one of the world's premier visual resource libraries; which completely made sense when you had folks over at ILM needing to figure out how to make convincing replicas of something like a rickshaw from 1940's ShangHAi. That amazing Library complete with spiral staircase and stained glass ceiling dome (somewhat immortalized in Maniac Mansion) was pretty much the go to place for all our visual needs during our time there.

Today, obviously the internet has effectively changed this process forever, although there was something to be said for the visceral experience of going out into the real world to gather  visual reference, it was a costly and time consuming experience.

Using google image search I can just type in "women's fashion 1980's".  Additionally, how else could I reach out to a group of enthusiastic backers to get all these great thoughts images and links. Please keep in mind that this is a snapshot of all the materials gathered to date, and may not include everyone's comments at the time of this post, however we will continue to review and add anything new to the Delores Database.

Once we have everything assembled, we'll go through and review and prioritize all the descriptions and images, boiling that down to (hopefully) a number of key character traits and visual components we feel best portray Delores- which will lead us to the next logical step to sketch a number of more refined character drawings. This next stage will need to be much more directed, possibly yielding a half dozen examples, that the final version will be refined from.

- Gary

Christopher Griffin - Jun 08, 2015 at 11:49
Great post -- sometimes the Internet makes me sad, because it has effectively replaced so many other things that came before its commonplace usage.  We have so many apps, that when used properly, have removed the need for us to remember anything.  Can't remember what this song is?  Shazam it.  Don't know who that actress is?  IMDB it.  Why do men in Turkey wear Fez hats?  Look it up on Wikipedia.

Sometimes I actually get sad, because I fear that my sons will have virtually no sense of wonder, since any question they have can be quickly answered with a few taps on a touch device.  Will that harm creativity in the long run, by removing any reasonable amount of time that other alternatives could be considered to the world's problems?

</sentimental tin foil hat depressing line of thought>

Peter Campbell - Jun 08, 2015 at 18:08
I disagree, because without an archive,  whether it's physical or an infinite, always ready for immediate access digital one which is what the internet is, we then end up with speculative theories and purple monkey dishwashers.  The internet preserves, stores and restores things that may be forgotten and things that have been forgotten.  A sporting event that the tv station would throw into their vaults never to be seen again can always be found by someone who (yes illegally) uploaded onto youtube or a torrent, so instead of people just talking about it, the real event can be seen repeatedly on the internet instead of just that one time on tv.  Look at how much we've learned about Maniac Mansion in recent times because of the internet that we would otherwise know nothing about unless we ran into, recognized and started talking to Ron or Gary at a grocery store or shopping mall and started interrogating them about the game lol.

Ron Gilbert - Jun 08, 2015 at 18:12
_unless we ran into, recognized and started talking to Ron or Gary at a grocery store or shopping mall and started interrogating them about the game._

I recommend against this.

Peter Campbell - Jun 08, 2015 at 18:35
LOL, out of curiosity, has there ever actually been a time other than at a game convention where you've been recognized in some random public place and someone's been like "Hey, I know you, you're Ron Gilbert!  I've played some of your games before!"?

Ron Gilbert - Jun 08, 2015 at 18:52
A few times, but never based on see me, it's usually when I buy something at a game store using a credit card. A lot of people don't know what I look like since a) I've lost a ton of weight in the last 3 years and b) I don't like to have my picture taken or narcissistically appear in videos in chance I get.

Marco Lizza - Jun 09, 2015 at 05:53
> Sometimes I actually get sad, because I fear that my sons will have virtually no sense of wonder [...]

I understand you point of view, but I feel my daughter to be very lucky since her curiosity could be always satisfied. (almost) Every single question can be answered in a couple of seconds.

I have no fear her sense of wonder to be safe enough. ;)

Peter - Jun 08, 2015 at 14:25
Why not a comedy character like Molly from the CBS Sitcom Mike & Molly ???

Peter - Jun 08, 2015 at 15:27
It would be also very cool if you could have a nerd lady like the girls from Big Bang Theory, like Amy Farrah Fowler...

Derrick Reisdorf - Jun 08, 2015 at 14:38
I think you're on to something with that last one- the jeans and hair and (jean jacket?).

fan of The Eagle's Nest - Jun 08, 2015 at 17:57
Well she does have the aura of being intelligent, independent and part of the 80s. She is sorta like Velma from Scooby Doo crossed with Andrea Elson from "ALF", with some elements of Ally Sheedy from "Wargames"

Mario Torre - Jun 08, 2015 at 14:50
I like a lot the first example you posted, it looks to me perfect for a mid '80 young programmer. I think programmers don't [necessarily] live in a vacuum, beside playing classic video games, most [of us!] enjoy listening to music and have some favourite bands, probably some exponent of the counter culture, after all every programmer out there wants to change the world somehow - in fact, I would say that every programmer out there aims for World Domination(TM), isn't it true? - For a mid '80 american I would say something like the what "will be soon" grunge culture (which started in the mid '80). Even if this is still too early for when this story is set, post punk and new wave are great examples and right to the spot for the time, so those could be a couple of points to consider for the design. But your first drawing in this page really nails it already in my opinion! A movie that is a great reference of this counter culture is Donnie Darko (set in the late '80 though).

Mattias Cedervall - Jun 08, 2015 at 17:46
The girl/woman with short blonde hair (in front of a brick wall) is so hot! <3

Nacho Fernandez - Jun 08, 2015 at 17:53
The more I follow the blog, the more I like how the posts are written. You manage to make us feel part of your train of thoughts and connect us with what it was like to write games back in the 80s. Thank you for that. By the way, I feel honoured to have how I saw Delores included in the collage, even if this is as far as my idea goes.

Estranged2 - Jun 09, 2015 at 05:16
How do you plan on matching the style of the characters to the new backgrounds?

Ron Gilbert - Jun 09, 2015 at 09:48
They work quite well, actually. We're committed to keeping the basic look of the characters and adjusting them and the background to make it all work. These two images are only tests Mark did not final background and I have faith Mark and Gary will figure this out.

longuist - Jun 09, 2015 at 17:26
Good to hear that. I like both styles and merging is definitely not easy. While you work on this i will work on my drink. Cheers!

natalija - Jun 09, 2015 at 09:52
Whan are you going to post your next dynamic podcast?

Ron Gilbert - Jun 09, 2015 at 09:59
We'll do one on Friday. Last Friday I was in the middle of moving back to Seattle, so things were nuts and I don't have internet.

natalija - Jun 09, 2015 at 09:56
*When are you going to post your next dynamic podcast? I love them!

mr. T - Jun 09, 2015 at 10:58
I think a well collected visual library could still hold it's own today, for productions that need careful and demanding research. I'm pretty sure most of visual imagery lies still in libraries, attics and generally on paper form.

I wonder what will happen to the concept of personal library in the future when more books are being read digitally and there might not be use for shelves full of books. It's not that magical though to browse one's file directories and click on files when compared to going through stacks of actual physical books, blowing off dust and turning pages that have turned yellow as decades have passed. On the other hand, perhaps both these forms will keep existing as each have their pros and cons.

Glorious music of the day - The Dig OST:

Jammet - Jun 10, 2015 at 08:06
The soundtrack this is really ... so amazing. Gets me emotional;  I was going through a hard time when I played that game, and the mystery and adventure of it really ... helped carry me through. I'm a fan of that game as much as Monkey Island. And I think this is one of the most underrated Adventures of all time.

I wish there would have been something like this again. There is nothing else like The DIG, generic as some people call it, I wish there had been a sequel. I've enjoyed the book though.

mr. T - Jun 11, 2015 at 06:42
I played it just a year or so for the first time and loved it. The atmosphere of the Dig is really unique and beautiful, just like that soundtrack. A small crime really is that the most talked about thing have been the production challenges. I wish there was a sequel too or something to carry on the spirit of the game. I haven't read the book, maybe I have to add it to my reading list.

Zombocast - Jun 09, 2015 at 17:08
I wouldn't mind creating a rough scetch for a charactor, but I don't want to provide "too much/too little" detail. Can we get the dementions of the suggested space we have to work with, or a website that has a template?

Zombocast - Jun 10, 2015 at 01:50
Here's my take on an early 20's female stuck in a small town in the mid 1980's .

I think this short video really captures the essence of  "Delores". Enjoy... and "lets get some Comics!"

H. Frisenette - Jun 10, 2015 at 05:58
I really like the look of the first one! She is graphically interesting, and seems to have a multifaceted personality. Plus she fits the profile in there earlier post perfectly.
Congratulations on the move Ron. Being in a place you like can mean everything.
And also congratulations on losing all that weight. It's not that you looked bad before, but now you're seriously a downright hunk. :-)
Now comes the tough part of keeping it off. We'll be watching you. ;-)

DanVzare - Jun 10, 2015 at 09:27
Some very nice examples there. I'm really looking forward to seeing how she comes out in the end.
It seems as though most people are leaning towards either the super geeky or the laid back cool girl. It makes me wonder which one she's eventually going to end up like. Perhaps a mix between both?

Joey2Go - Jun 21, 2015 at 19:08
With all this talk of inspiration for character creation and references behind them, I have a big question.  What were some specifics that led to the creation of the Maniac Mansion character cast?
Dave, Sandy, Bernard, Razor, Wendy, Jeff, Syd, Michael or the Edisons.  

Any insightful or humorous sources that inspired some of those classic characters?
No obligation to all of them of course; just the ones that are most noteworthy.