Yeah, it’s Momonga Monday again! This week we finally zoom in on the hero of the game, Momo.
Momo is a momonga, a Japanese Dwarf Flying Squirrel. These little creatures are nocturnal squirrels living in Japan. They have a gliding membrane which is used to float in the air. When this membrane is not used, it is pulled close to the body – this turns them into little fluffballs. Momongas live in trees on mountain slopes, and are insanely cute. They feed on nuts, seeds, leaves and the like. They nest in tree cavities and are rarely seen on the ground.
Above: The momonga, a.k.a. the cutest animal alive.
A little rascal meets the real world
As a young boy, Momo was a little rascal. He loved to play and perform pranks on the elders of the village. His mother’s favourite words were “Momo! Get back here!”. He is an explorer, but is a little naive. He has no experience with the big bad real world out there, and lived happily in his little village.
This ignorance was smashed to pieces when Momo’s village was attacked by Kuton. Kuton’s owls took all of the momongas: In one night, Momo became the only Momonga living in freedom. Momo was rescued by Panda, and has determined to rescue the others. He wants things to get back to normal, even though he has no clue of what he is getting himself into.
Above: The owl attack, and the origin of Momo’s scar, in an early sketch.
Momo is extremely agile. He can float in the air, roll like a ball, and run like no-one else. This nimbleness saved him during the raid. Momo has a radiant blue mark running from his forehead to his tail. This mark is the result of the wound inflicted by general Kuton during the raid. It turned blue after Panda healed it.
Character Design Process
After we dumped the radish and fluffball variants of Momo, we started looking at flying squirrels. In particular, I remembered a picture from CuteOverload with insanely cute little hamster-like creatures sitting in a tree. I did not know its name, so after browsing through 20+ pages, there it was in all its glory: The momonga. We knew that this would be a great hero for our game.
With the general appearance set, Jimmy started design on the other momongas and village. We added cultural elements to the tribe: painted fur, sticks, flags, tents. Momongas are spiritual, gentle creatures who live in harmony with nature.
Among all the momongas, Momo is the hero, and he needs to be recognizable. We kept him as basic as possible, his only real distinction is the radiant blue line on his back:
Finally this translates to the 3D models, and we needed several iterations for that as well:
Above: Early version of Momo in 3D. This model was based on early sketches with a semi-realistic look and feel.
Above: Wireframes of Momo, first and second iteration with Jimmy’s new style.
That wraps up this Monday. Stay tuned for next week – there will be more goodies coming your way!
- Derk & Peter