I have run through all sorts of iterations of the player’s representation and decided to try a new angle over the holidays. I have always attempted to distinguish the player’s sprite/token from enemies through visual language. The player’s sprite receives a broader colour palette, while the enemies use very few colours. Enemy tokens are depicted standing on square bases, and I had tried placing the player token on a large, round base. Again to offer a subtle cue to the player’s eye that helps filter the hierarchy.
An issue I ran into was how to illustrate various equipment mixes that the player would utilize. If the player sprite was a complete standing figure, I was left with less room to illustrate said equipment. I was also left with perhaps a too-literal visual story of the player’s token being largely depicted on too-equal terms with the threats encountered, and that felt as though it would be harder for the player to establish a thematic connection to the character they controlled.
The idea I’m running with now is to depict the player as a token of the character’s bust. Armour would be overlaid like a paper doll, and handheld equipment would simply be shown without regard for realistic limb posing, saving space and allowing for any sprite I like to be placed in front provided it remains within space limitations.
Because the sprite now has a large percentage of its pixels devoted to a face, it immediately takes on a higher importance in the player’s eye. It is obvious at a glance that this token represents a player and cannot be misplaced in a horde of monsters.
I’m going to move away from this iron-age aesthetic for equipment. It made a convenient shorthand for the purposes of this test and mockup.