Archive for the ‘ Character Art ’ Category

Kill them all campaign

Riftforge is an online RPG with tactical combat. The campaign raises $2730 to develop three end-game campaigns that culminate in an epic boss battle.

November 14, 2013 – Riftforge, an ambitious fantasy online role-playing game, has launched an Indiegogo campaign. The $2730 will be used to finish the game by adding two grand campaigns as well as a special super-monster campaign.

Riftforge has been in development for four years, the last two in open playtest mode. It has a quarter million beta signups and over 44,000 Facebook fans. The game features tactical combat in over a hundred handcrafted missions. In addition to the singleplayer content, Riftforge has an active multiplayer Arena.

“We have built a modern game that pays homage to 90’s RPG’s like Baldur’s Gate, the Ultima series, even Final Fantasy Tactics,” said Krasimir Koichev, Riftforge’s Producer. “With the Indiegogo campaign, we’d like to give our fans the ultimate choice: which enemies they want to kill in the epic end-game confrontation.”

Riftforge is the game world’s central location. It is a hub structure that seemingly exists out of space and time. With the new content, players will be able to go through the Rift to explore three new warzones and interact with their inhabitants. True to genre conventions, the majority of those inhabitants are both hostile and dangerous, thus the “Kill them all” slogan.

Riftforge features:

  • Deep and engaging tactical combat, within a familiar turn-based system
  • Three powerful, yet balanced RPG archetypes
  • Rare, elite, and epic units with over 70 unique skills
  • Free-to-play Arena and extra missions available for gold or cash

About Riftforge
Riftforge is a cloud-based roleplaying platform for gamers passionate about tactical combat. The game client is HTML5 and the platform is accessible on all devices with a modern browser.

Indiegogo campaign trailer:

Press release distributed by: GamesPress

Riftforge beta
Facebook fan page


Sources of Inspiration, part I

When it comes to fantasy unit design, I find three constant sources of inspiration:

  1. Historic – that is the most obvious and often works flawlessly. Make your choice from Varangians to Teutons to Tartars. The big downside is avoiding cliches and meeting the player expectations. For example, making Teutons to be light-armored archers will surprise your players a lot!
  2. Word combos – sometimes a cool word combo will trigger associations for a unit design. Most often, I’ll keep the coolness for the name itself and the description will twist it a bit around. For example, the Gutrippers are one of Riftforge’s elite assassin battalions. However, the description states that they started as kitchen help before moving on to active duty (but the nickname remained).
  3. Music – for a long time, I’ve only focused on cool names and here rock and heavy metal come in handy. From the Ironmaidens to the Blackhearts (Joan Jett’s band) to Harvesters of Sorrow. Unfortunately, I have a problem with all of these – they are too literal, so the direct association breaks the immersion.

So music is relegated to inspiration about LOOKS!

Yes, punk rock becomes tribal, black leather becomes cultist/savages, and disco… Well, I’m still processing disco but it’s hard to top disco when it comes to flamboyancy, so it shouldn’t be hard to place it with a highly-individualistic race.

Exercise One: Here’s an over-the-top punk-rock-new-wave band from the 80s, see if you can find a place for it in your game design.

Now tell me you’ve already thought about putting a ripped pantyhose on the face of a character. No? Well, now you know it looks great. For the record, I first heard Sigue Sigue Sputnik in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, so sometimes it takes 20+ years of movie watching experience to pull off a single unit.

Fantasy Art Styles

Jon Schindehette has an interesting post over at the WotC site about art style, specifically when it comes to armor. He ends with the following conclusion:

Armor should look appropriate to the culture, environment, materials available, and technology, first and foremost. If the armor doesn’t pass that test, then it doesn’t matter whether it is being worn by a man or a woman.

I agree with his sentiments, but more importantly, I like his visual guide to the three general art styles when it comes to fantasy characters and their armor:

Once you have this guide, it’s really a piece of cake to figure out that Blizzard are fond of fantastic realism. Even Diablo 3, which previously sported a dark, gothic style, has now been transformed into another WoW when it comes to over-the-top fantastic realism with cartoony colors.

For Riftforge, we have chosen the third style. It requires a lot more effort on the part of the artist but when done right looks so true that Renaissance painters turn green with envy.

Pandaren Monk or Kung Fu Panda?

With the recent announcement of a new World of Warcraft expansion, Blizzard has confirmed my belief that their transformation from a cult game company to a mainstream one is complete.

Blizzard wants to be the Disney of video games now. Also, they also want to move their sinking (subscription numbers wise) flagship to shallow water somewhere in the Yellow Sea.

How did we come all the way from Ultima Online to Kung Fu Panda? When did the MMO players changed from nerds to… children?

Of course, Blizzard are the (only) one who know the exact demographics of the current WoW players. So their going in the way of cartoons is anything but accident. Will TITAN feature talking cars?

I blame Angry Birds. In selling $200 million worth of cartoony graphics, Rovio has proven there’s money to be made from bright colors and simplistic gameplay.

Does that mean that you cannot have an RPG for grownups now? Will online games become synonymous pre-pubescent adventures? Not, if I can help it! I’m taking the “no pandas” pledge on behalf of Riftforge.

Wrath of Heroes

I played Warhammer Online for 2 months when it first launched. After a few server merges, I gave up the game. It was too much like WoW… except the PvP scenarios were a ton of fun (and gave XP).

So imagine my delight, when I learned that Mythic is working (putting the finishing touches) on a MOBA/DOTA.

Update: It takes the classes and skills from Warhammer online and pushes them into a Blood Bowl. They decided to reduce the number of skills to five, we followed a similar course with Riftforge’s skills!

Kindle RPGs

Have you “played” any of those fantasy RPG books back in the day? I know I did my fair share of them.

Thanks to Bat in the Attic, I discovered a new way to enjoy Fighting Fantasy books – on Kindle!

Kindle will roll the dice, manage your character sheet, etc. It is combining the ease of use of a computer RPG with the traditional book format.

Recommended book for $4? Get The Warlock of Firetop Mountain! It comes with the original B&W artwork so it’s a little art gem too.

Diablo classes review

Looking back at the original Diablo, it is still a source of inspiration when it comes to character design.

Mostly because of production constraints, Blizzard has opted for a very minimalist approach to character design. It boiled down to the three classic RPG archetypes:

Role: melee, bruiser, tank (Riftforge equivalent: Guardians)
Summary: Excellent defense, moderate but sustained damage to a single target

Role: fast movement, burst damage (Riftforge equivalent: Raiders)
Summary: Burst physical damage with highly positional combat, speed is her defense (kiting)

Role: magic, nuker, AOE (Riftforge equivalent: Rangers)

Summary: Versatile skills with AOE and nuking choices, highly dependent on mana, very fragile

In the sequel (Diablo II), Blizzard added the logical hybrids:

Paladin (warrior sorcerer)
A warrior with some AOE spells (auras)

Necromancer (rogue sorcerer)
A ranged damage dealer specializing in damage over time spells (poisons)

Assassin (warrior rogue)
A melee class with high burst damage (combo moves)

Obviously absent is the healer class, a staple in every recent MMO. However, as I have written before, there’s no place for a dedicated healer in a game that is mostly about single player. Also worth mentioning is the fact that because of the combination of bosses and hordes of minions, both single target and AOE damage are required for quick progression.

Diablo classes, art circa 1996