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Sunset Overdrive's character customization is serious business

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Character customization in Insomniac Games' Sunset Overdrive will offer choices in the thousands, giving players access to an untold number of shirts, gloves, hair styles, and more in an effort to let them express who they feel they would become at the end of the world.

"Anything goes," lead character artist Gavin Goulden told Polygon. "We have a certain tone we're trying to hit, a certain attitude and feeling for when you're playing the game. There aren't necessarily many vanity pieces, and we've rejected concepts that we thought were too much, maybe too weird or different. But, I mean you can run around as a panda in our game, so we're not necessarily reserved."

In Sunset Overdrive, players step into a frantic city after the world has ended, where nobody really cares much anymore and everyone is obsessed with an energy drink called OverCharge Delirium XT. This drink turns people in crazed monsters, leaving the untainted non-drinkers to take them down.

Players will be able to build their own hero when the game launches on Oct. 28 for Xbox One, customizing their avatar's look to tailor how they feel they would dress in such a scenario. Piece options are broken down into nearly a dozen categories: headwear and other "facial attachments," hair, facial hair, shirts, jackets, gloves, pants, shoes, and tattoos for every part of the body.

Sunset Overdrive character customization options

"Having this level of customization was important for us — initially we had started looking even deeper into it, like how we could add smaller details, but decided it wasn't worth going that far," Goulden explained. "The heavier hits (jackets, full outfits, e.t.c.) get more bang for your buck — you get more doing a new shirt and jacket versus controlling the kind of buttons on your shirt. And since we're a third-person game everything you'll be customizing you'll see. It's not wasted."

All pieces are categorized into "buckets." Players will have access to Mainstream, Street, and Costume buckets of clothing, all of which include different fashion choices. While the latter is mostly of the Halloween costume variety, Mainstream pieces are a little more "normal" looking, while street-inspired clothes draw from what's cool in a number of different cultures.

"We tried to hit different notes that you'd see in pop culture, trying to have like, your hip hop guy, your rock guy or country guy, and combining them all through our systems and creating different pieces," Goulden explained.

The Street costume buckets sound like an especially involved set, with inspiration drawn from everywhere — Tokyo street fashion and punk rock looks, American and European club couture, rockabilly, classic British punk, "definitely not just what's popular in America," Goulden explained. Sunset Overdrive's artistic team was inspired by Japanese anime, the song group Gorillaz' music videos, Iggy Pop, Tank Girl, various comics... The list is incredibly long, varied and certain to house something for every taste.

"The creative directors started the project by dropping a giant pile of all of their toys on our desks and saying, 'Make this,'" Goulden said. "And it was really important for us that we give players the element of choice. Be who you want to be, it's the end of the world, and rather than focus on this sad dreary existence, you are nothing and now you get this second chance to do whatever you want and reinvent yourself.

"The laws of society are gone. Push that element, that's an important aspect of the game for us. It was worth the investment and the work."

Every costume within the game is also designed to be unisex. You can put any piece of clothing on male and female avatars. Nothing is off limits. Every element you can choose from to put on a male avatar can go onto a female avatar and vice versa, from face paint to hair to booty shorts — it's all fair game. All it takes is a little fancy scripting to make every piece available for every avatar physique.

"When it comes to design really we don't want to censor people. We don't want to overload them with constraints and what not to do and make their characters turn out a certain way."

"We mostly, on our side, just have to make a different script to [attach] one [article of clothing] to another, make it for one body type and morph it for the other body type," Goulden said. "We're not making it four different times. There's not a ton of restraint that we've had when constructing it to fit our guidelines, and there are different tuck [attach] points we need to follow. Every item is made to fit without a certain constraint so when it pushes out it combines with another [piece] and there's no clipping.

"Really, that's it, as far as designing goes," he added. "We have very obvious female outfits that worked well on males as well. [We have] very large and heavy male body type and when we put a tank top on him and a miniskirt, it almost looks comedic, because the way it fits on him is like a smaller belly-shirt. We adapt that way, but it still fits and works and looks good.

"When it comes to design really we don't want to censor people. We don't want to overload them with constraints and what not to do and make their characters turn out a certain way."