Breakdown behind the scenes – Part 2 – Characters and story

SPOILERS ALERT! If you’ve not played Breakdown yet go do so before reading these posts as they contain, amongst other things, a full walkthrough!

Continued from part 1…


Ethel (nameless at the time) was the first character I drew. Top tip – aliens are really easy to draw because you don’t have to worry about proportions. As I drew him I started coming up with a bit of backstory to add to his character, like him having a rubbish grade in some science subject that made him the most qualified crew member (and therefore rather full of himself). I also decided I wanted humans on the ship as well as aliens (and a human as the main character would be easier to relate to). Humans and aliens working together on a space ship? That’s a bit like Star Trek… Add a Star Trek-like shirt, badge and joke about lack of trousers and the game’s premise started to fall in place…


Norman was the next character. Another alien because they’re easier to draw and its easier to motivate yourself to draw hard things (like people) when you’ve already got other things done on the project. Different shirt colour because he’s a different type of officer, though I hadn’t decided what yet. I used contrasting ideas in his design, heavy-set and muscular, but very short, which lifts him from just being another background character. Meanwhile I started thinking about the Star Trek red-shirt – the extras who’s only purpose is to die instead of the main characters. What if the main character was a red shirt, sent in to do the dirty work because the other characters couldn’t be bothered?

(Another idea, which I would have loved to put in but got cut because I didn’t have the time, was that the ship would be filled with dangerous items. Doing certain things – trying to pick up sparking wires for example – would kill the player. However instead of the game ending like Sierra games used to, you’d get a new character – who looked identical to the original – taking over the quest and inheriting all the items you’d picked up. Kill yourself in enough different ways and you’d unlock a secret ending.)


A ship is nothing without its captain, so that was the next character I drew. Like every good parody captain he would appear to be strong and heroic, but never do any work (and he’d probably flee from the first sign of danger). Sticking with the Star Trek parody I made him bald and came up with a joke about him having his head polished by a subordinate. I liked this idea and raised it in the design from a background joke to a part of the game. Now all I had to do was come up with a good use for a can of polish…

To be continued…

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