The first one I would like to show is Ayla. She started out as an electricity character called Glint. Ronimo artist Olivier made these awesome concept sketches for him:
Glint's power is that he can move through enemies and damage them while doing so. That is basically exactly what Ayla's Rage mode does, and thus Glint slowly evolved into the Ayla we know today.
Glint's other skill didn't make it into Ayla, as often happens: elements from ideas are combined and morphed until they work, have synergy and are fun. This scrapped second skill is Static Discharge: a fixed amount of damage is spread over all enemies in the vicinity. For example, if the base damage is 100, then if there is only one enemy near, he gets 100 damage. If there are 5 enemies near, they each get 20 damage. So this skill is area of effect, but does not stack damage like normal area of effect skills do. Interesting idea, but so far it hasn't made it into an Awesomenauts character.
Glint is an example of a character that immediately started out with a name and a visual idea. More often however it begins with a pure gameplay concept. An example of this is the character that was internally called the "Bird". He was called this way because he could press jump while in the air to stay up there, just like a bird would flap his wings. From this Awesomenauts players can probably deduce who the Bird became: Vinnie & Spike.
When the core gameplay of the Bird was starting to look good, our art team picked him and started sketching. The first design they wanted to go with is this awesomely crazy alien, drawn by Martijn:
In the end they ditched this idea as well and the Bird transformed into... a flying pufferfish. WUT?! Yes, our artists sure can think outside the box!
Some other examples of characters that evolved a lot during their development can be found in two of my earlier blogposts: Sheriff Lonestar and Genji
Since characters often start out as pure gameplay concepts, there is no proper name for them. Instead something descriptive is chosen by our game designers as their internal name. These working titles are kept internally, so if ones looks up the names of the characters in our settings files now, most go by a completely different name than what they ended up with. These names give a nice indication of what our designers might have first had in mind.
To wrap up this blogpost, here is a fun game for avid Awesomenauts players: can you deduce who each of these characters are?