Impressions of MMO Art
By Kei Beneza (dividelife), OnRPG Journalist
Have you ever seen a nice poster or banner that made you want to play a certain game? Are you playing that game simply because of the eye candy characters and environment? Thought so. Much like animation and movies, art plays a huge role in gaming. You could say that due to the mundane experience in this world (even with the inclusion of our everyday fantasy world of humans and orcs), developers need to come up with concepts that seduce us (forgive me for the term) into immersing ourselves in their newly created world. Why exactly do you feel the majesty of a certain dungeon or boss fight? Why do your characters look stylish despite their unorthodox armor? How do they keep everything fresh anyway? Let’s see.
A Fine Example
One of the reasons why MMOs are so addictive is that in general they give us a form of reality, but it is an enhanced reality. Art serves a big role when we pick our desired MMO games. When Dragons and Demons become too old and dull, what would become of our alternate virtual world? This is perhaps one of the hardest tasks faced by artists who play visionary. That is why art is of such high importance when creating and developing games. When elves become too old, dark elves spawn, and when they lose their charm, blood elves are born. The resemblance may seem uncanny to some, but it takes a true visionary (or a true artist) to make them feel and seem different despite the similarities.
Concept and Presentation
Creating a concept isn’t as easy as grabbing a few characters and putting them in an awesome dungeon; in fact, even if you have a rich lore and an epic soundtrack to go with it, the game still has a chance to be a huge failure. It’s not easy to come up with something that appeals to most gamers. This is why we tend to see a lot of elements being used over and over again, hence what we have come to know as “rip-offs”.
Still Not Good Enough?
Don’t think spamming the same elements does much good though. Due to the sickening repetitiveness of certain content, a lot of games undergo numerous revisions to come off fresh. One good example would be the diverse set of names given to a single archetype. We have mages, elementalists, magic wielders, and enchanters. What’s the difference anyway? It takes a real artist to mold a fossil into something new and awesome.
What About a Wee-bit of Anime?
Anime or Japanese animation has revolutionized the whole concept of game art. With bug eyed characters who look anything but proportional, anime characters have also changed the whole idea of beauty when it comes to games (those Disney princesses don’t stand a chance). You could say that both male and female beauty has been redefined completely. In the anime concept, males are taken to a whole new level of metro sexuality, gradually thinning the line between male and female. I’m not sure why girly boys are hot… whatever rocks your boat I guess. Females on the other hand only need to focus on their cuteness factor. Although I find it incomprehensible, anime girls tend to be a lot cuter when they look like little girls. It’s technically the same as the western view of a hot chick; the only difference is their preferred age LOL.
Their mode of dressing has changed as well, along with the idea of thin people being as strong as buff men. This artwork has made its way into countless MMOs, making them stand out despite the shared concept. A medieval setting with anime artwork? Why not? Seems to have worked really well for Ragnarok Online.
Hook em’ With Fanservice!
Sometimes, when things get too hard, some games resort to “turn ons” to hook their audiences. Yes, art can also work at a sexual level, which is practically why you dudes are using female characters. Fanservice can make any game good despite its lack of content. As long as the players are happy checking out their lady character’s arse, the game can be classified as good. This results in the creation to of sexy well endowed beauties that now flood the MMO scene. I bet those mages didn’t look THAT kinky back then (didn’t they?). The armor sets today are quite preposterous if I may say so myself. Most players seem to love the whole “the less you wear, the stronger you are” concept, which is yet another break away from the whole fantasy armor factor. Since characters today respect style as a symbol of power (possibly due to anime references where the armored guy knows nothing but brute force), this new method of armoring characters seems to have appealed to most gamers.
If you think that’s all, think again. Remember Evony Online? LOL need I say more? As long as there’s a hot babe holding a signboard with your game’s name on it, you’ll never go wrong.
Negative Side: Artwork Covering Up Sucky Games
While some games actually have elements that match their great artwork, some MMOs (I refuse to name them, but allow me to cast my first stone in the air) have artwork that has no connection with the game whatsoever. One good example would be the loading screen from certain games. I’ve played a certain 2d game for years now, and I still don’t understand what type of armor set that character in the loading screen is wearing. I mean sure, the image has been used in banners and has attracted a lot of people, but must they actually trick people into thinking that such an armor set exists in the game just to hook them?
MMO art is everywhere
From the land you worship, to the spells you cast. Art serves as the medium that holds the games we play together. It lets us enjoy games more by continuing to make the line between fantasy and reality more defined even as it continues to get thinner. This means that no matter how much we get used to this alternate world, they’re always sure to come up with something that will continue to keep us in awe.