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Playtotle 001: Character Design

Referencing a GameSpot community union (prior to the site’s removal of the feature since their makeover) I formed and administered during my then-heydays, ‘Philosophical Gamers’, it was an experiment that mixed like-mindedness and philosophy (or either) with the current and general discussions within the video game medium. Since then, I’ve seen a lack of this from official video game sites/community as far as intellectual thought processes go which for me I prefer to talk about despite whatever holds them back. (Or perhaps I’m not looking in the right places, I have no idea.)

As such, ‘Playtotle’ (a refined variation of a codename in my attempt to revitalize the union ala “Project Platotle”; a play of words between Plato & Aristotle) is another experiment on my end, blog-wise this time, and has been something I’ve debated on doing for a year or two after I actively used my WordPress page since I parted with GameSpot and gaming community sites altogether. With that, I shall start with the debut topic:

Playtotle 001: Character Design

Having read this US Gamer article as mentioned on the Hart and Usagi Podcast #49, it reminded me of character designs but beyond the generalization we’re all accustomed to as far as appearances go. I sometimes think character designs in video games also have an importance as far as game design goes; regardless if the game’s design originated from the protagonists themselves. Some examples (familiar or otherwise), if I may with a grain of salt:

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AMATERASU (Okami)

I tend to find it a rarity when art, music, and story work well with the game’s design and concept; and even rarer when the protagonist you control compliments all of them. That’s what I got from the sun god Amaterasu given her wolf form and the way then-Clover (now since then Platinum Games) designed her in the final product (as opposed to the realistic look during development). Ammy’s tail brush serves purpose when it comes to the game’s objectives in ways that are consistent rather than “just because”. Even when she runs, the flowers that flourish also compliment her aspirations, among others. It was pretty obvious Hideki Kamiya and his team put a lot of thought into her design and the game’s world itself.

BANJO & KAZOOIE (Banjo-Kazooie series)

I found the duo and their merged attributes to work well with the platforming in the series. Banjo’s buff/slow/strong and Kazooie’s light/flappy/beaky tactics to be specific, respectively. Tooie took it even further by including new ideas within the original formula, especially when it came to separating Banjo and Kazooie and their exclusive movesets to broaden the concept of that game’s world. It was one of the “rare” times (for me, that is) Rare Ltd. took advantage of their characters’ designs, and it’s one of the reasons Banjo-Tooie is my personal favorite from their catalog.

DE BLOB (de Blob series)

Despite only having played the sequel, de Blob’s color-blend concept was simple and to the point. Given of the series’ plot surrounding the political struggle between grayscale world order and the colorful freedom fighters, that also brought consistency for said protagonist. Using colors to paint certain buildings, attacking certain enemies, and even blending the primary colors into secondary, etc.: I found that simple concept gave de Blob more complex as more game design ideas came about. It also expressed his “true colors” when it came to said levels’ music, implying the “variety” symbolism even further.

FLOWER PETALS (Flower)

Sometimes minimalist design choices can work to their advantage, which is something I noticed immediately when playing Flower a few years ago. The more petals you collect, the faster you go. It wasn’t just that, but the petals themselves flourished metaphors and symbolisms within the game’s narrative structure. It also was one of the few games/interactive experiences that put me into positive expressions the more petals I collected; not saying this alone will apply to everyone.

KIRBY (Kirby series)

There are a number of reasons why Kirby’s my favorite Nintendo character, and one of them is his character design. A pink light puff ball that can float with a big appetite. He can swallow items and enemies and use them at a projectile. Or he can eat certain enemies whole and transform with their respected abilities. In some entries, he’s able to mix enemies for even more unique abilities. The level design also plays a part when it comes to reaching certain goals the ordinary Kirby is not able to fulfill. All in all, it’s pretty obvious Kirby’s design was definitely created from the ground up since the series’ debut.

KLONOA (Klonoa series)

Having played Door to Phantomile back in 2012, I immediately fell in love with Klonoa’s look not just in terms of characteristics but also due to the way it served a purposed within the game playthrough. The typical conventions of platformers were there with a dash of Klonoa’s attire to support it. Using his ring to grab enemies and carrying them with your ears (or use them to stun bigger/stronger ones) and the decision to use them as projectiles in every direction or as a means to double-jump; among other things. His ears can also temporarily allow him to flap mid-air before making a nose dive (or something like that). Other than that, there’s really not much to say. Okay, “WAHOO!”

KRATOS (God of War series)

As much as I didn’t care for the action sequences in the first two games (only played them for the puzzles, whatever), I did appreciate the origin surrounding Kratos’ chain blades and how it faired with the combat. Such a concept made the fight sequences refreshing considering the possibilities you’re able to pull off using his signature weapon (then again, I find that action games tend to go about that philosophy/approach). That along with the secondary weapons and other items attributing to the Greek mythos the series since then is accustomed to. It’s hard for me to explain in grand detail why Kratos’ design fits well, but like the majority of action games, “Less Talk, More Hit”. *heh*

RAIDEN (Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance)

Regardless of this spin-off’s development history, the Blade Mode concept alone worked perfectly well in regards to Raiden in general. Some say it’s a novelty, others say it’s satisfaction. Not just that, but the whole “ninja” aspect within the character especially the developer behind the “reboot” (Platinum Games), such fluidity and agileness based on a character’s personality and traits go a long way to create a game that embraces it. Same can be said about Bayonetta; another game by Platinum.

RAYMAN (Rayman series)

Whether or not the concept is a novelty, I absolutely fell in love with Rayman’s look when I first played Rayman 2 in the late 1990s. His hair propellers (taking cues from Miles Tails Prower perhaps?) along with his hands for punching freely or to shoot projectiles, and using both in various situations. Or using the projectiles to swing on specific platforms. His design is also a tool to develop his personality and the like, but all in all Rayman’s novelty-ish(?) presence compliments the world and universe his non-attached legs set forth in.

SAM GIDEON (Vanquish)

Strange that I’ve mentioned characters from Clover and Platinum on this example of a list (maybe because I really like the way they compliment whatever they’re doing on said games? lol). Anyway, Sam for me is very interesting not just for his smart-ass personality but also for the suit he wears. The ability to slow time when needed (or if severely injured) and especially(!!!) the Slide Boost technique. Given this is a Platinum game after all, Sam’s suit personifies the reflex-centric battlefield the synthetic threats in the most extreme intense ways possible. Similar to some of the mentioned characters above, Flash and Substance within his final design mesh together beautifully; especially given the case in-game.

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Thoughts? What main characters in video games do you think their design works to their advantage within gameplay/game design? Comment away, if you like.

Until next time,

Dan

Quick Update: New artist signature

A few weeks ago I realized my previous art signature (a visual, if I may) didn’t have any personality that related to me one bit. (That and the fact I shortened my last name which made matter even more convoluted.) After playing around with some roughs, here’s the finalized version:

What do you think? Until next time,

Dan

Regarding the ‘~Natively Awkward’ hiatus…

It’s been nearly 2 months since the last time I’ve updated anything on the comic’s progress. It isn’t because I’ve little-to-no interest in it or anything of the sort given I’m eager to continue when I feel like it.

Unfortunately, my depression in the last several weeks has gotten the better of me and even though this is nothing new, such distraught feelings trying to aspire in whatever I want to pursue in while having to hear and learn of others’ successes has lowered my self-esteem and self-confidence in ways I never imagined.

And frankly, It Fucking Sucks.

I don’t mean to sound harsh by the above alone, but I just cannot seem to cope with those thoughts in mind at the moment. It’s not just that, but the fact the opportunities in my current residence, especially with the skills in mind, is very slim. I was already aware they were going to be slim prior to graduation two years ago, but I never realized how slim it really is. I also tried to get my name out by other means, but I also realized that was an exercise in futility. Maybe I’m exaggerating, I honestly don’t know at this point.

It’s because of my current state that I haven’t done anything to overcome it. To talk about it has been a struggle for me, if not at times embarrassing due to the false impression that “normal people” are only allowed to live normal lives; as I’ve been told this a few times throughout my life. What is normal? Are there normal lives? Why is it even a general fucking rule one has to be perfect in order to live a life despite that being a false justification in itself? This whole direct “meaning of life” ideology many aspire to is very odd to me, whatever that is supposed to direct to. It’s complex enough for me to realize it’s not direct or whatever the hell it is.

(Pardon if I go from one topic over the other. I accidentally do that without realizing it until later on.)

Anyway, going back to residence a bit more. Like I stated before, my hometown lacks such opportunities and since then I’ve been stuck in this residential purgatory struggling to find ends meet (I think that’s what it’s called, I don’t know, whatever). Even with freelance, it’s a struggle given there aren’t many locals I know who have experience. (Keep in mind I’m directing to locals since I can at least try to figure these out via the internet, but it’s to prove my point on the matter.)

I also realized a month prior that graphic design wasn’t for me, despite my appreciation over it and the things I learned that would help me with other endeavors. A lot of things are hanging over my shoulder at the moment, so much that I don’t even want to bother. That and the “confidence/motivative” advice I have to deal with from time to time. That has never helped me, in fact it only makes it worse for me. (Examples: “It’ll get better” and “You are amazing”, etc.)

At first I wasn’t looking forward writing all of this down (and I’m still not) but I needed to in order to imply expression over whatever I’m going through at the moment. It’s also a constant a reminder for me that depression can and will destroy one’s well-being and at the same time maybe affect the ones you hold dear and care about. I don’t know whether writing whatever I needed to write will help me in any way, but writing in general is the least I could do at this time.

Lastly (and one I constantly remind myself as well), Fuck depression. That is all.

Dan

*And I’ll try to resume ~Natively Awkward when I get to doing so.

Motor City Comic Con 2014 – Part II

Originally posted on ~Natively Awkward:

Part II contains photos during my weekend trip at Motor City Comic Con 2014. For the written post portion, see Part I.

MAY 16

Somewhere in Novi…

I cosplayed as Luigi. *heh*

Comics purchased.

MAY 17

10-ish AM

Batman.

William Shatner’s booth (We weren’t in line btw)

We meet again. :’3

Some Star Trek/Stargate stuff.

Which one’s the captain? (That or I’m confusing it with The Original Series.)

This over the Michael Bay re-design any day.

Comic Creators section (1 of 3)

2 of 3

3 of 3

Comic Wheel? Comic Deal! (A Dark Souls II-esque reference for those confused.)

Luigi lookin’ Kick-Ass (See what I did there?)

2 Lokis.

He’s MINE! (●´∀`●)

I believe they’re called ‘Wesley and the Crushers’.

The Hero Initiative booth.

That cosplay photoshoot whilst leaving…

…Then we saw a turkey. Best cosplay ever?

Kirby’s all buckled up. :3

MAY 18

Ghostbusters-something-I-guess-whatever.

Another media guest:…

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Motor City Comic Con 2014 – Part I

Originally posted on ~Natively Awkward:

MCCC 2014: May 18

MCCC 2014: May 18

Part I will focus on my experience at the Novi-based comics convention in Michigan whereas Part II will be photo gallery specific. And with that…

This would be my 3rd time attending Motor City Comic Con (or MCCC in short) given my first two outings were in 2007 and 2013, respectively. It was also their 25th Anniversary and given me and my uncle had the free time this year, we were able to attend all three days of the convention instead of one or two (again, respectively). This of course had us getting the weekend pass instead of individual tickets.

MAY 16

After the long trip from the Upper Peninsula to Houghton/Novi and setting up our hotel reservations (which was a pain given of some name-spelling mishap) we headed towards the convention over an hour later. Two hours of looking around just to remind myself of…

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