Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Blog Banter #66 - Escape From Originality

Blog Banter #66
Caldarification
The art team has been working on many art assets recently and there has been talk of the "Caldarification" of Eve related art. Recently examples have been the WIP images of the Thrasher class destroyer redesign and the citadel. Do we need to keep the lines between the races designs clear cut or is some blending of more generic sci-fi styling a good thing? Should Matari be flying/floating scrap heaps? Should Gallente be 'all about the bass'? Or is a bit of generic sci-fi styling needed to bring new life to our important internet spaceships even if it leans a bit to Caldari?
-Drackarn 
When I first saw the title of the blog banter I squinted and made all sorts of grumpy noises. I thought that it was going to be a love song about Caldari. Then, I did the logical thing and read the entire topic and snorted a bit over Drackarn's poetic license with word usage. However, I did agree with him. In fact, I felt quite strongly about the topic.

My project of documenting Eve's history has given me an insight into the game that I never expected to have. I've constructed the games development from the words of the developers instead of the purely technical approach of looking at the items released. In their words I see hopes and dreams and I often see those hopes and dreams change and come crashing down.

To that perspective is added my access as a member of the CSM. I have had the chance to sit down and directly challenge the art director, as politely but pointedly as I could, over the direction of Eve's art. I wasn't satisfied with the answers that I received at the time. I am still not.

CCP has decided itself to keeping Eve fresh and beautiful. Unlike so many games, where the still shots are beautiful and artistic and the trailers are gorgeous but the game play is something else, Eve plays like it looks. I often take photos of planets and architecture. I play with the lighting on images and hover over that perfect shot as a fleet falls out of warp. I find Eve to be a visually satisfying game and often feel myself humming to the simple pleasure of the graphics.

And then there are the ships of Eve. I find a lot of the ships to be quite unattractive. The organic look of Gallente ships turned me off when I first started. They looked like they have been grown out of the side of something. I wanted to fly Amarr simply for the startling, golden hulls and the fierce bird of prey aspect that some of the hulls had. I loved the wedge shape of the Hurricane and the dragonfly shape of the slasher is one of the neatest looking hulls. I thought it was neat that the ships were so different.

I also thought that they were a bit dumb. I never understood how the weird big engine with two smaller engines on the Exequror worked. Some ships were lumps and bumps and some had no form that my eye could settle on. But, I loved that individuality. I din't understand it but I loved it.

I mean, the Myrmadon is some type of bird/dragon thing. I always expect it to spit fire from its beak or the head to slide back like an Egyptian god.

But time passed and the models started to change. Graphical updates are a constant. Colors, textures, and shapes have come a long way in twelve years. Asymmetrical hulls started to be phased out and evened out. Curves gave way to lines. Shapes that were downright weird morphed into a more classic feel. Center cockpit, two wings for stability in the space air(?), jets, tapered tips and sharp lines.

I hated it.

One reason I love science fiction and high fantasy is the creativity of it. To take what is normal perception and kick it into the corner while wrestling a new reality into place appeals to me. The every day is just that, every day. The escape and creativity draw me. It may sound odd that I could find something repulsively ugly yet appreciate it for its uniqueness and originality but I do. I love what I dislike because it is unmistakable and wantonly unique.

The new hulls are very pretty but they are also generic. There was something about the gift of asymmetrical hulls that inspired me. I oddly enough have come to love it. My minecraft buildings reflect it and drive some people crazy because I don't try to build in perfect balance. I no longer try because there is something real and natural and flawed but not that I started to appreciate because of Eve.

Four years ago I would have called myself a lover of symmetry. Today, I no longer have that opinion. And now, I've watched Eve's ships become symmetrical with the faintest of nods towards their asymmetrical origins. I've watched them become pretty and common.

In writing, a woman who is not pretty or classically beautiful is often referred to as handsome. It means she is striking and attractive but not in a conventional or common way. There are oceans of pretty faces and one cannot remember one for another. I am reminded of when I go to a restaurant sometimes and there is a sea of blond heads. All of them dyed. All of them dyed well. All of them dyed blond. It is so extreme that the occasional brunette stands out like a beacon even though the hair color is utterly common.

I only paint my nails blue. I wear vibram five finger toe shoes which cause me to get insults in public. I like my ships unique even if they are ugly instead of so genetically pretty I cannot see one for another. Let my Vagabond be a dragon with its frilled ruff of explainable solar panels. Let creativity offend the eye and heal the soul. It is not about maturity it is about conformity.

Now the Thrasher hull sits on the chopping block. Its been shaped like a fish for a very long time.  It may be whimsical but it is unique. Now, its going to turn into generic rectangular spaceship with sharp bits. I cannot express my distaste for that future. Nor can I express the loss of that hull. A Thrasher is a Thrasher and the hull is always a Thrasher. Never would I question it but in the murky future of angles and lines, geometric shapes and subtle symmetry I do not know if I will be able to recognize one by sight again.

And that will be a great loss.

10 comments:

  1. Totally agree. The loss of asymmetry, individuality and quirkyness really makes me sad. I think the first was the scorpion back in 2010 http://media.moddb.com/images/mods/1/16/15429/scorpion_models.jpg. Sure, the new one looks nice and the old one looked weird as hell but to my eyes, the new one lacks character in comparison. Same with the Moa. Now they seem to be doing the same to minmatar hulls. I actually like the new thrasher model but I love the old one, having spent so long in Minmatar militia possibly makes it more iconic to me that others but I will be really sad to see it go.

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  2. I Generally agree that the asymmetrical hulls added a uniqueness not seen in other sci fi games however I think by nature over time as people interact with other cultures we naturally adopt aspects of one another's design either in asthetics or function. This is how I choose to see the graphics changes. As long as I can still identify with the original design in the model I'm ok with believing that some crossover in design will occur after all if we look at a modern car often there are many models of the same car all are different but also somewhat similar to each other. To not allow things to change this way I feel is detrimental to the feel of the Eve universe being truly alive and changing.

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  3. I would like to put in a bid for a retro setting. And still fly my favourite three queer engined Exeqeror. The new folding engine art reminds me the opening credits to Star Trek Voyager.

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  4. "Let creativity offend the eye and heal the soul."

    Quoted for poetic truth.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. [Deleted kuz I kant spel...]

      The reason human beings tend to create symmetrical stuff is because we are symmetrical beings. I can almost guarantee if we were asymmetrical beings we would tend to create moar asymmetrical stuff. We generally only make things asymmetrical when the engineering of form following function takes precedence.

      I myself as an engineer and tech vastly prefer symmetry to the "Woa! That musta been some wreck you got into!" look of asymmetrical ships... Plus, the angle and position of many of the drive units on asymmetrical ships SERIOUSLY look like they would simply cause the ships to violently spin instead of actually flying in a straight line anywhere... (take a hard look at the Svipul in shortshooter mode... I mean really??)

      I seriously doubt the laws of physics have taken a holiday in New Eden just so we can fly weird (and to me, fugly) ships...

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    2. "I seriously doubt the laws of physics have taken a holiday in New Eden just so we can fly weird ships..."

      I'm going to guess that you haven't taken a look at the technology Chronicles recently, then. We have FTL travel with no relativistic effects, fly through space that (apparently) obeys the laws of fluid dynamics, and we build neural implants out of the shattered remains of working perpetual motion machines.

      Trust me, the laws of physics are on a beach somewhere with a drink in one hand and a pretty girl on their arm, and they are NOT taking New Eden's calls at any time in the forseeable future.

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    3. In a universe with 3 different modes of faster-than-light travel, I don't have a problem with unbalanced engine locations.

      Superheroes in comics used to have bold colours and strong design elements. However, in order to make them fit the grown-up movie goer, Wolverines yellow costume and bad mask changed to side whiskers and a very generic black leather look.

      Superman and Batman lost their "underwear on the outside" look.

      Recent changes in graphic design seem intent on lowering themselves to a common denominator. Black and tight is good. I despair to see how bland the new Dr. Strange costume will be.

      As for Eve ships - Gallente should be organic, curved, grey metal state of the art and expensive (looking) as hell, smooth, adaptable, flexible. Amarr are carved, ostentatious, arrogant, gold metal, historic, proud and gilt-ridden (heh). Minmatar are piecemeal, but pure function. the feeling of resistance, of bones, sinew, muscle, and blood vessel, but without the covering of skin, and smoothing fat. Caldari are what we have in almost all these new ships - flat, planar, hard edged, angular, Military-Science complex, spartan.

      I love Eve's ships. They are bizarre. Not natural. I found the Sister of Eve ships too "star warzy" - too regular looking, but I'm slowly getting used to them. Thank goodness the Nestor is strangely assembled, otherwise I'd hate it.

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  6. I love my Vibram toe shoes, they have gotten me through countless miles of trails. Sad to hear that anyone would comment ill of them, all I can figure is that they most likely have no idea what they are talking about.

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  7. Some asymmetry is nice, but overall I like symmetry more. Probably because I grew up with SciFi where most spaceships were uniform globes. It's hard for me to remember sometimes to not see asymetric ships as just an anomaly.

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