Dark or Light

Near Nudity & Nightmarish Creatures

Tim Eisen Posted:
Columns 0

For far too long MMORPG characters have been limited to generic male/female 1-5! Worse yet is how objectified those limited options tend to be! My characters have a rich multi game history that goes back many years. I like to have enough aesthetic variety to help reinforce it. I am happy to see Soulbound Studios daring to go where to few have by representing a wide array of body types, not just the idealistic ones we get force fed by the media!

Given one of the above ladies seems to have found some human growth hormone or be utilizing testosterone replacement therapy (which is odd considering it’s a woman) but hey, forget how she got swole (or yoked if you so prefer) and appreciate some bold variety that the genre has long lacked! That said it’s not all beautiful curves. Looking at the detail of early images I can’t help but wonder how much of that makes it to launch. Those graphics look great, maybe too great for their own good? For a starting point I’m pretty satisfied with what Soulbound is doing with bodies and how they will relate the to the story of a character.

As the story of development unveils itself I’ve noticed (much like their games) each studio has a distinct personality complete with a sense of humor and skills that are unique to the talent under their umbrella. Soulbound is no exception. I’ve noted that they excel at taking seemingly friendly if not downright cute animals and making them into the things of nightmares!

One of my favorite design techniques is making clever adjustments that totally redefine what we already know be it a game mechanic or, in Soulbound’s case, the Pteroguin aka “Terrorguin”. Like the Canis Rabbit before it we have an inconspicuous creature (a penguin) evolved into something that would be absolutely terrifying!

On the other end of the spectrum we have the concepts for the Flower-Cup Porcupine and Domino Fox. I’m ok with them being cute but I don’t feel like they are quite on the same design level as the Canis and the Ptero. They look like solid starts but they need some more time in the oven to achieve scrumtrulescence the latter two have. In all four creatures it looks like Soulbound is utilizing evolution to a degree. I don’t know if that is the case but I hope it is as I think it brings a more realistic feel to their creatures and eventually that will translate back into the biomes from which they dwell.

Speaking of dwelling, Jeromy (Soulbound CEO and many other things) seems to have a knack for polarizing ideas, or maybe its just that in the social media era every idea is polarizing? His proposal of using board game mocks ups to test out game mechanics seemed to make sense to me, at least for some testing. If they built a full color production model board game to test stuff out I wouldn’t be impressed but I think there is value in working out concepts on simple paper samples before you try to create them digitally.

I’d think the old goose quill and compressed tree pulp strategy works especially well with MMORPGs like Chronicles of Elyria (COE) that so heavily lean on the stalwart shoulders of the MMORPG genre’s pen and paper ancestors. If 6 months goes by and all we have is some really sweet scaled down handmade models, I’ll be concerned!

At this stage it’s cheap, easy to do and best of all it doesn’t have human attachment the way a more deeply engineered testing system would. That means it’s easier to change or remove without all that subconscious attachment driving developers to make it work because of subliminal reason X or Y. Trust me attachment bias happens to artists more than most of them realize. Just to be clear I see this technique as a base level pre-production tool. Like I said if it becomes a distraction it’s a problem.

Whelp that is all I’ve got this week. It’s a pretty low key column because the updates were pretty low key which was a nice change of pace from the worldsplosion that some of the prior ones have been. I love the lengths Souldbound is going to in order to explain their ideas but these more bite sized progress snap shots have been a nice change of pace. What? I’m an Altaholic, I like variety. “W-T-F you didn’t even talk about the Tour of Titan’s Steppe vid!”

What can I say, it looked great but to be honest I’m not sure how to take it? Concept art I get, we are seeing the foundation for creations that can (and will likely) change quite a bit before launch. The video was exciting and full of pretty stuff but at this point it’s hard for me to read too far into it considering how much of it remains untested as a full MMORPG concept. I can say I like the art direction and the movement but for now I’m going to take a wait and see approach on something that graphically intense. In no way is it a bad thing, it’s just not a thing I’m looking at beyond an early world test slice. When I see all of that plus 200 players having a bloody battle while the castle burns in the background I’ll be one down right giddy MMORPGer! Right now I watch it, enjoy the visuals and fantasize about a PVP laden future!


Tim Eisen

I roleplay a wordsmith that writes about the technological and social evolution within the game industry