< Piro >
Friday - June 8, 2001
Gee, two rants in two days.
I wasn't actually planning to abuse your sensibilities with a Shirt Guy Dom strip today, but the stick-figure personification of me as a kodama with a rattling head amused me to no end. Besides, it's been a while since we've been dom'd.
There are two reasons i bailed on the strip for today. The first is that largo and I hadn't finished fine tuning the script for it, and it's one of those strips i want to do a good job on. No, it's not the start of Chapter one, that will be sometime later next week, it's something else. :) By 10:00 pm i figured there was no way i was going to get the damn thing done without staying up till 3 in the morning, so i kindly asked Dom to fill in for me.
The big problem with doing something like this 3-a-week comic is that it tends to leave little room to freely pursue inspiration when it hits. For the most part, the structure provided by the comic schedule is a plus for your art. It forces you to draw when you don't really feel inspired, and often is in itself enough inspiration to create something halfway decent. As I sat down to try scribbling out the drawings for what was going to be friday's comic, i kept finding myself doodling on this sketch instead.Once i had patted Dom on the head and sent him off to do offensive things with his trackball, i took the time left in the evening to colorize the sketch.
The inspiration for this drawing actually came to me when Largo and i were at E3 a few weeks ago. The folks at Bioware had invited us to come over and sit in on a demonstration of Neverwinter Nights, their long awaited D&D based RPG game. Now, i'm not a big player of RPG games, never really have been. When i was in high school, i used to dabble in D&D, but it was really more of an excuse to hang out with friends and eat bad frozen pizzas with those little crispy onion things on them. Largo is the big Neverwinter Nights maniac - the mere mention of the game makes him salivate and get this frightening, eerie gleam in his eyes. I went into the demonstration with an open mind, frankly, wondering what to expect.
Honestly, i was astounded. You see, the gameplay for your typical visual novel or dating simulation involves complexities that deal more with story structure, cinematic presentation, portrayal of character and statistical back-ends that attempt to transparently guide the actions of the girls and other characters around you. The games tend to have long, linear paths that vary depending on the paths you pursue. The hard thing is - the protagonist tends to only gain parts of your personality - the rest is hard coded. It's always annoying when you have to select an action that is not something you would normally do. When you are dealing with dynamic story telling of this nature, it's just not possible to avoid these problems. Neverwinter Nights was fascinating because it was built around the concept that you would create your own worlds and your own scenarios - and the interface to do this was incredibly robust. In around 10 minutes, they had put together a fairly complex dungeon scenario and populated it with stuff and monsters, and then proceeded to plod around in environment that was rendered beautifully. I was also surprised by the ability to customize your characters - clothing, armor, look, etc.
The feel of the game is great. It has remarkably smooth flow and sensuality to the way the light of torches and other magical items are rendered. The little details, like arrows sticking out of your character after he'd been shot by goblins was fascinating. The visuals for performing spells was also quite remarkable. I'm looking forward to playing this game. I used to work on making level maps for Quake, but found the process to be long and arduous - the folks at Bioware have developed a system that really seems intuitive and easy to use. I just hope that we don't have to put the comic on a 2 month hiatus when the game finally does come out. :)
The illustration i did last night was inspired by one of the production illustrations for the game itself. As you probably already figured out, Largo and Piro get so immersed in the games that they play that it isn't unreasonable to actually draw them *in* the games. Largo doesn't change much when you set him in a game environment - dress him up and he's good to go. Piro is a little more complicated. Like many players, Piro tends to play female characters - hence the existence of 'piroko', his online gaming alter-ego. I've found that it's quite fun to place Largo and Piroko in gaming situations, and this is one of the better drawings of such recent attempts.
I should also mention that this is NOT the final version of this sketch. In fact, i will be producing a much more fine tuned and detailed version, including Largo and perhaps another character that I will be turning over to Merekat to color (if you frequent the Art forums, you know who she is). She has a wonderful 3d style and professional grade to her work (duh, she is a pro ^_^) that i think will produce a very nice final image, very much in the same vein as the original image that inspired it. One of my goals is to improve my coloring skills, and Merekat (who doesn't live that far from me - I had a chance to hook up with her and Thien last weekend - i was 3 hrs late getting there, but it was fun meeting you guys. ^_^) Anyway, Mere and I will keep you posted on the status of this little collaboration - should be fun.