The Crossing

Now back to Goblins, and (more or less) to reality.

Looking towards actual future games, the two that I’m most excited about are Skyrim and Mass Effect 3.

These days, I only play three or four games a year. Three really good games – played at length, and to my full enjoyment – is about my saturation point.

(This doesn’t include Mario-ish stuff, by the way, or most of the games from my childhood through which I can progress, now, more or less blindfolded [and with one hand tied behind my back]. Partly because those sorts of games don’t hold my attention like they used to, anyway.)

In Part 2 of this series, I spoke about why games with a character-generation element (games that allow you to change your character’s appearance) can have meaning beyond mere vanity. It never bothered me when I was younger, being stuck in the role of a Lara Croft, or the standard rugged-handsome late-teens-or-twenties white dude. But it does now, even in relatively reasonable circumstances. I’ll still play an above-and-beyond game like, say, Red Dead Redemption. I’m not totally lost to all reason. But past that I really have trouble caring.

You know my thoughts on Mass Effects 1& 2, so my looking forward to the third game goes without saying. I can’t wait. There will be tears.

And Skyrim. I haven’t been this excited about a game since I was 13 or 14, reading previews of Final Fantasy VII in Gamefan Magazine. Do you know how excited that is? Guys. I can’t even tell you. It is a feeling beyond language. It’s mass fucking hysteria, here. Maybe they’ll eventually release screenshots of some bedazzled swimsuit armour, and that will ground my expectations back to reality, but for now I’m just assuming, casually, that it’s going to be the best game (Marian-wise) ever, short of something I could magically design myself.

Speaking of armour, the quilted set above isn’t, of course, actually part of the game. But – all fantasy RPG developers take serious heed – quilted armour is THE BEST THING. You heard it from me first.

(Quilted canvas armour from the Eyewitness Medieval Life Book)

17 Comments

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17 responses to “The Crossing

  1. Krazmo

    Heeee! I went for Garrus too!

    I loved how charmingly awkward he was, although the writers focused a bit too much on the physical aspects of it I thought. Ahem. Mordin’s medical advice was a fun bit of dialog, too. Right up there with “Scientist Salerian.”

    Gotta check out Skyrim and Red Dead now.

    Thanks for this fun and enlightening series of posts! You rock!

    • Marian

      Yeah, the lead-in dialogue was a little on the “so, we should totally bang each other?” side, but all the charming awkward stuff was excellent. And I loved all things Mordin.

  2. What? No love for Dragon Age 2? My pal works for EA (distributes for Bioware) and it is supposed to be, per the parlance of our times, DA BOMB!

    • Marian

      Oh, yes. I have the, ahem, “signature edition” long pre-ordered. I should have mentioned it as well. It’s probably going to break my heart with much dreaded, unavoidable cleavage armour, but I’ll probably love it all the same.

      • Gentleman Goyle

        As an aside, one of the things I found very amusing with DA: Awakening was how Anders (the male mage) got just as much exposed flesh as the female mages when he put on a set of rather revealing mage robes. So I suppose you could say it was an equal opportunities offender on that one.

        • Marian

          I can’t quite agree with it being an equal opportunities offender, but I’m with you in that it’s the cases of armour showing full-coverage on men vs. partial coverage on women that get me really annoyed.

          Certainly Bioware, including the DA team, is better than most, and I gripe about it mainly because I enjoy their games, whereas most other games/series I view as a complete lost cause. DA2 actually looks more promising, armour-wise, so I’m hopeful that my personal needs will be tended to somewhat. Now all I want is for breast-sliders to be a standard feature, and I’m a happy woman.

      • Yeah, it is clear now !… From the very bgneniing I did not understand where was the connection with the title !!….

  3. So finally finished reading all the game design posts, fantastic stuff really. Loved your points on the all important character creation process and the need to let players feel unique and defined in their digital avatar. Definitely reminds me of what was promised in FFXI and then later on in FFXIV (which I understand you played a bit.) I spent some time in FFXI and really enjoyed it, mainly for the desaturated landscapes and a really well written storyline. Also the social aspects, that was nice too, makes normal games feel emptier by comparison.

    MMO design is certainly hard and the old standbys of grinding levels in everything (Want to make potions? Make 10,000 juices, then make 10,000 slightly better juices, repeat, ad nauseum, forever.) needs to be adressed. Basically how do you keep people playing your game (for a long time) without the oh so dated fetch quests and grueling advancement of your crafting skills? Some of the other posters have referenced Demon’s Souls which is a superb action RPG. Much more action then RPG. Its strength was in its combat system which was rewarding because it was hard, but it achieved this rare ephemeral thing “Fair Hard”. Gotta balance the carrot and the stick. Make things challenging without killing the soul or requiring obscene real life hours to be consumed in mindless repetition. Surprised no one mentioned Nier yet though as that is another quite odd and brilliant gem of a MMO like single player game with one of the greatest stories in quite some time.

    Anyway, really really enjoy your site and your well though out posts. You art continues to remind me of the best parts of older Akihiko Yoshida other classic Nintendo Power Magazine mainstays. You really push some awesome illustration nostalgia buttons.

    • Marian

      Definitely – I bet designing MMOs is one of the most challenging things in videogame development (balancing the carrot and the stick, indeed). I’m sure that they’ll evolve beyond the current grind-centric thing, one way or the other, and I’m eager to see how that goes.

      It sounds like I really need to get myhands on Demon Souls, somehow. I think some friends of mine in Seattle might own a copy – I’ll ask them about it.

      And thanks very much. I remember those old Nintendo Powers with fond nostalgia, so maybe there’s something to that.

    • I¡¯m dlgheited that I’ve noticed this weblog. Finally something not a junk, which we go through incredibly frequently. The website is lovingly serviced and kept up to date. So it should be, thank you for sharing this with us.

  4. Hey! I was wondering (unless you’ve gone over this all in the past and I’ve just totally missed it…) if you’d ever do a post about the tools you like to use (or at least talk about it in the coments).
    I mean, I’ve read that you use really big paper, and you’re partial to markers and traditional mediums, but do you do some digital work or touching up?
    I’m really interested in what other people use, medium-wise, especially since I’m months away from my degree in illustration and am only now getting into working with the computer, although I wasn’t very talented with traditional stuff either.
    Like, I think how Brandon colours his pages is interesting and comes out looking sharp, but your art has this warmness to it, and nicely, sort-of muted colours.
    Sometimes it just seems (or maybe it’s a bit of brainwashing) that a computer is the way to go these days.
    I mean, I used to think I’d want to do everything with a tablet, but now I realise that I really don’t, aside from maybe the occasional digital painting.
    And I’m interested in doing my colours and touching up inking on the PC, but I also worry about making things too sterile.

    What do you think of technology, mediums, and it all>?

    • Marian

      This would be interesting stuff to write a post about – I might do that. I’ll give you some quick answers for now, though.

      Size-wise, it depends. Hchom posts are just small sketchbook drawings. Comic pages I do 18″x24″ whenever I can (usually for my own work), but if I need to draw them quickly and/or scan them multiple times, I’ll work on standard 11″x17″.

      Medium-wise, it’s usually a variation of this: I use a light brown Col-Erase pencil for the initial pencil layer. On top of that I use copic markers or paint, either in full-colour, or a variety of warm and cool greys, etc. Then I do the final line with a black coloured pencil (Prismacolour has the best lead – softest and darkest – that I’ve found), and sometimes also black crayons if I’m working very large.
      Then I scan the page in and colour it. If I’ve already done full-colour, I’ll just tweak it in photoshop – do some “overlay” or “soft light” layers, and fix any little (or enormous) mistakes.
      If I’ve painted in monotone, then it’s sort of as if I’ve done the shading already, and all I have to do is place some flat colours on top (I often do this for comic work, as it’s more cost-effective, and I don’t have to decide between cans of beans or marker refills).

      For my part, the less work I do on the computer, the happier I am, and the happier I feel with the results. Mostly it ends up being a balance between what I can afford (materials are insanely expensive, alas), and what I like the look of, and it varies pretty widely project to project.

      That wasn’t such a quick answer after all, but hopefully that helps!

      • Hey! Sorry for the super-later reply!
        That was really interesting. Definitely have a bit more insight into your artistic thought-process.
        For the longest time, I guess I had convinced myself that digital was the way to go, but after starting an Illustration class this semester, I’ve kind of been convinced otherwise (at least for me, or at least convinced that it’s not crucial to go digital). This has helped me think about my own art more.
        Thanks a lot.

  5. Kirk

    I haven’t touched a video game since my birthday last October, and that was Band Hero. Before that it was the newest Legend of Zelda game for the DS, and it’s been way longer than last October since I played it last. Pretty much the only video games I play anymore are the free ones I’ve downloaded onto my phone.

    One question popped into my head while reading this latest entry, though. What’s your all-time number one favorite childhood video game? Mine is hands-down Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest. It was supposed to be re-released for the DS I don’t know how many years ago, so you can imagine my utter heartbreak when Nintendo scrapped that plan….

    • Marian

      I loved Simon’s Quest (though I had to play it at my friend’s house). Night and day mechanic. Village with stores selling shiny things. All it needed in order to be perfect was some ponies.

      My favourite childhood game. Hmm. It depends where I cut off childhood, I guess. Maybe a tie between Zelda: Link to the Past, and Secret of Mana (though that’s verging on pre-teen)? I still own and sometimes play both cartridges.

      • Kirk

        The interesting thing about “Simon’s Quest” is that it’s become the template for almost every new Castlevania game that’s made. I mean, look at “Symphony of the Night” and all the DS releases. They’re almost ALL based on the mechanics founded in that game.

        I hate to say it, but “A Link to the Past” is actually my least favorite Zelda game; my favorite is probably “The Adventure of Link.” What can I say? I’m a sucker for games that break the mould. Haven’t played “Secret of Mana,” though I have played “Secret of Evermore” and “Final Fantasy Adventure,” which were very similar.

        Another great game from my childhood: “Warsong” for Sega Genesis. SUCH a fantastic military strategy RPG. Check it out if you can find it.

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