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The Asura from a Bookah’s View

By David North on September 27, 2011 | Columns | Comments

The Asura from a Bookah’s View

The race-themed weeks ArenaNet has been giving us have been a real treat.  They gave us some additional insight into the different races, allowing us players to fine tune our plans to create our characters.  I for one will be playing a Charr as my main, but I plan to have a few alts, as any self-respecting MMOer might.  One of them I plan to play is an Asura, which is the topic of the day.  His name will be Amuro.   He rides in a golem he calls Gundam.  It will be awesome. Mark my words.

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One thing I love about the Asuran Race is despite the fact that they are tiny little guys, they have this look in their eyes that says they have the will to bring you down if they need to.  I just love that combination of goofy and tough.  A couple weeks ago we got to see the concept work that went into making their unique look.  The concept artist’s first attempt has them looking like deformed goblins.  It was an interesting design compared to your basic green-skinned, large-eared goblin, but I think ArenaNet realized they needed a race that would play a larger role in the world of Guild Wars, so it must have a more unique look.

The Asura’s story was changed during game development, which required changes to the concept that transformed it into a very bizarre creature.  The concept was very well done, but to me it looked more like something from Star Wars, and not from a fantasy-based story.

The artist’s quest to create a concept that would give life to this race continued, which produced what I consider to be the first true Asuran.  What I love about this concept is that the face really tells all.  It has a “cute” look, with a hint of a person who is constantly disgruntled, yet happy about it.  The eyes give off this look that there is some serious wisdom hiding in the mind behind them.   The body structure, in my opinion, is what gives the Asura that goofy look.  All these elements combine to form a very nice concept that gives us a race that is unique and fits in nicely with the world of Guild Wars.

One article I am glad ArenaNet posted, deals with the concepts for the Asuran environments.  The element of straight lines was used very effectively to create these concepts.  Usually when creating buildings, you want to throw in some nice curves here and there, whether it’s for a window or an arch, to give some decorative quality to the piece.  But for the Asura, everything has a straight edge to it.  The artist also used this element to add decoration; giving the impression that everything the Asurans make is of the highest quality.  So all the buildings have layers to them, which creates a depth and unique shape.

Another really awesome element that gives an extra dynamic look to the Asuran design is the use of floating parts which adds some serious beef to the design.  And let’s not forget about the lights.  This element gives them a bit of a crossover from fantasy to sci-fi.  Some of the buildings have what looks like holographic projections around them, which I am guessing is created by energy from crystals.  The golems are also a group of parts that float together, being held by these glowing crystals.  So we have a group of rocks and chunks of metal, but the crystals make them look like robots.  This unique way of building gives off not just a fantasy vibe, but also one of sci-fi.

One final visual aspect of the Asura I would like to mention is not related to the concepts.  I am referring to the entertaining animations that were given to the Asura.  We were shown a small collection of animations. I especially enjoyed observing how an Asura swings a weapon.  Because they are small in stature, they must put their entire body into the action in order to actually cause any serious harm to their enemies, who most often are 3 times their size or more.   The intensity of force they display in their movements makes their actions seem far more powerful with a savage-like quality.  Even though the Asurans are a very intelligent race, they seem to have over-sized egos.   Sometimes their magnified sense of their own abilities causes them to forego using that intelligence and to engage in actions that are more impulsive.  This allows these animations, in my opinion, to fit nicely.  

Overall I am very pleased with the outcome of the concept development of the Asura because of the uniqueness of their qualities.  They even appear to have evolved somewhat since our encounter with them in Eye of the North.  It will be interesting to see how their comic relief-like nature will continue to keep the Guild Wars story diverse and entertaining.

The artist in charge of creating the Asura posted a video of him painting an Asuran character.  I won’t post a video of me painting one, but I figured that we might as well have some fun while discussing the Asura, so I sketched out my own character.  Tell me what you think about it and the Asura, and post your own character drawing or painting with your comment, if you would like to do so.

David North / All my life I've been a gamer, from side scrolling adventures to shooters, it was only a mater of time before the RPG genre would grab a hold of me. My love for games grew so much that I started to make them. It grew even more, and now I also write about them.
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