So, I feel kind of bad. I recently noticed two things:
My previous two Blade & Soul preset posts get a surprising amount of traffic – in recent weeks, they’ve consistently been my most popular posts
The actual preset files for those two posts apparently did NOT survive my web hosting change, so said posts are almost useless D:
I’ve mentioned it a few times, but I had some kind of electronical curse placed on me over the summer – my motherboard, PS3, and phone all died within about a week of one another. A few months later, my SSHD crapped out. Not even a month after THAT, my GPU died. The result of all that nonsense? I lost my entire preset folder in August, so I don’t have backups of the missing presets. I’ll leave the posts up as ideas fodder for people, but unless it turns out that someone who grabbed either of the presets before the file disappeared wants to give me a copy to reupload here, they’re not real presets anymore.
Let’s try and make up for it with some new, actually existing Blade & Soul presets, huh?
Since the FemGon post was far and away the more popular of the two, my first new preset that I’ll share is another female Gon. Meet Spiced Ale, so named because, uh, that’s what I was drinking when I made her.
I feel like she vaguely reminds me of someone, but I can’t quite put my finger on who she resembles. If anyone has an idea, let me know!
Ms. Winter Booze here was born when I started playing around with a potential rework for my Yun Force Master. While I love me some Yun (my Force Master, Kung Fu Master, Blade Master, and Gunslinger are all Yun), I had a moment of thinking it might be fun to reimagine her as a Gon. While I’ve decided against that, I did end up falling into the character creation abyss anyway and coming up with a female Gon preset that I actually really like – I just have absolutely no use for her as my deck is already full. So I’m releasing her here on the chance that she can either be someone else’s character as-is, or at least serve as a base for tweaking if she’s kind of but not really what you’re looking for in a Gon preset.
If she looks kind of interesting, read on for her preset and a bunch of silly screenshots that pass as my attempt to show her off!
NOTE: The preset file, out of all the images in this post, was somehow the only file that did not survive the web host transfer – and unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until after my motherboard died and I lost all my old presets (hadn’t thought to ever back them up before).
I’m leaving this post up in case she does appeal to someone as I do go into some detail about how I made her, but the preset itself is missing. I’m sorry!
Hello everybody! I’m back with another Blade & Soul preset post!
This time, I’m uploading a female Gon!
If you follow me on instagram or twitter (or chat with me in-game), you may know that I recently appearance changed my Destroyer. I loved her old look, but something about it just wasn’t quite right for me. Female Gon tend to have a pretty classic face shape, and while my initial Destroyer preset was made with the thought of making her a bit more “Jin” in build (so she’s quite petite compared to most out-of-the-box female Gon and I actively avoided any of the more popular FemGon hairstyles, etc), I did keep that particular trait. But at some point I got it into my head to play with the character builder to see if I could make a Gon with more unique facial structure and less default Gon to as to make my Destroyer feel a bit more personalized.
I ended up totally falling in love with my new “just for fun” preset experiment and paid the money for the appearance change voucher, so I’m going to release my old Destroyer preset here just in case anyone likes her enough to use as their own – or, at least, as a base/jumping off point for their own creation, if not using her exactly.
So… I have trouble with Lyn character creation. It’s taken me no less than, like, 6 iterations to finally create a Blade Dancer that I’m happy with (I decided I wanted to go super-teeny for her, and man, trying to make them look somewhat proportional when they’re super shorties is REALLY hard – their absolute smallest head size is still pretty bobble-headesque), and just last night, I decided to finally overhaul my summoner.
She was super cute and smol af, but I revisited a lot of her aspects when making the aforementioned Blade Dancer with the thought that I’d keep my BD on the molecular level and then go back and use a character re-customization voucher to make my summoner “grow up” – as it were.
I’m totally thrilled with my summoner’s new appearance, but I felt like I’d release my old summoner Blade & Soul preset here – for posterity, because she was a cutie pie, and/or in case anyone might want to use her, or at least use her as a starting point.
So here’s my old summoner, having a photoshoot in Hogshead Pastures~
(To see the rest and access the preset, please click the read more if you’re looking at this from the main page!)
If you’re friends with me for any long period of time, one of the things you end up having to deal with is how much I like video game music.
I source this love to being a pretty sheltered kid – I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio, but I was given pretty much free reign in regards to soundtracks. Disney movies, of course, were a big favorite for me (I still sing a certain song from Mulan to myself every time I encounter Attila in Civ 5), as well as various Broadway shows (while I never made the jump to being a true theatre kid, I went through a Phantom of the Opera phase like so many others) and instrumental movie soundtracks. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not musically inclined at all, really – I played both oboe and cello briefly but the combination of ADD and my instructor’s palpable frustration with my short-term memory being garbage caused me to throw in the towel pretty quickly. But the few times I could manage to figure out a song on my own when fiddling around with a piano or keyboard? Always, always movie-related. I’m pretty sure my mom got tired of my showing off my attempt at the Indiana Jones theme on her piano to any unsuspecting visitors!
So despite my lack of technical talent, I still saw the world in terms of how it should be scored. My best friend and I spent huge amounts of our time in middle school trading soundtracks (she introduced me to Star Wars first by way of its score, and when she got me to play some Sonic game with her the only thing I was interested in was using my tape recorded to capture some stage’s bgm that I found particularly attractive) and making lists of how we’d soundtrack particular situations, people, etc. We were lucky enough to be in an “advanced” English program together that actually allowed us to make radio plays and short movies with our classmates, and I’m pretty sure we annoyed the hell out of our classmates when we demanded to put in the extra work of background music for some scenes. I still remember the look on one kid’s face when I told him I thought we should edit in a particular Jackson Browne song as the audio for a scene about some video we were making for class. I think both due to the fact that I was a 12-year-old suggesting a Jackson Browne song (hey, my dad was OBSESSED with him and that love turned out to be genetic) and the fact that I was voluntarily suggesting more work. Heh.
Anyhow, all this is to say, that it was probably completely unsurprising that when I started playing video games in college, one of the aspects that could hook me on a game was its soundtrack. Years later, my friends still have to deal with my nerding out over the music in a new game and spamming their messenger with various youtube links to whatever tracks have caught my fancy.
After doing this the other day with regard to some music in Blade & Soul (ohgod I love the faction pvp music so much), it occurred to me that I could totally inflict that habit on unsuspecting readers here, too.
And thus, this post is born. I’m thinking I’ll do a few posts for variety – favorite character themes, favorite battle themes, favorite ambient background themes, etc. But this one, the first one, will simply by my overall top fifteen video game tracks of all time, with one caveat: only one pick per game. Otherwise this list would be way, way too weighted towards the Tales Of and Shin Megami Tensei series.
So if you know me at all, you know that I’m one of those weird people still playing Skyrim.
I currently have about six playthroughs with various flavours for each one, and just this morning, I’ve finally decided to do a full-mage, all cloth armour, Necromancy/Conjuration/Corrupted Restoration type of character.
Meet Velvet, so named because her eyes were initially blood-red and thus: red velvet. I’ve since changed them to bright green to better match the alteration defense spells and the symbols on her outfit. I do this kind of thing a lot.
But this post isn’t about Velvet, though perhaps I’ll document some of her later adventures. No, this post is about my new friend, the newest light of my Skyrim life, M.H.A.R.P.I.N. – as in one of skinnytecboy’s Carry On Skyrim followers.
In my typical (and yes, I know, bad modding practice) style, I like to add boatloads of mods before I start a new playthrough and then sort of just encounter them all naturally as I wander around Skyrim. The best encounters happen when I’ve totally forgotten about a mod’s presence, you know?
In this case, I was taking the long route to Saarthal on my newbie Necromancer (I’d used Live Another Life to start her at the College of Winterhold) and was taking the long route in order to avoid a prowling Nazguul (I’ve learned the hard way that the Witch King spawns right on the road to Saarthal and passes through Winterhold and I will die if he even looks at me) and suddenly got hit with an eerie voice echoing “keep moving forward… keep moving forward…” near the base of the Shrine of Azura.
So it looks like my instinct to avoid any and all character/plot spoilers for Tales of Xillia just in case Namco decided to localize it turned out to be right. This past week, the upcoming English localization for Tales of Xillia was announced by Hideo Baba. It was also said that if Xillia does well in its 2013 NA/Europe releases, they’ll be strongly considering giving us the upcoming Xillia 2 as well. So all in all, excellent news for English-speaking Tales fans!
Tales of Xillia is a deviation from the classic formula in that it allows you to choose which of the two lead characters you want to focus on – you’ll experience differences in the plot and certain enemies based on your choice. I’ll probably play both paths, of course, but I plan on going Jude’s route first – from watching his gameplay videos, he seems to be a martial artist with extremely high agility, which is basically my ideal Tales type. Or for more of a Tales reference-heavy way of saying it, he looks like the artes of Senel Coolidge (Tales of Legendia protagonist and one of my all-time favorite video game characters to control in battle) with the ability to run in, hit the enemy, and be across the field before said enemy can react (a trademark of high-agility types like Tales of the Abyss swordsman Guy Cecil, another of my favorites). He also gets a cute Leon Magnus costume, so, uh, yeah. I think they basically crawled into my brain to create my perfect Tales character when Jude was conceived – not that I’m complaining. At all.
Milla Maxwell, on the other hand, seems to be more of the classic Tales ‘Magic Swordsman’ type. Think Kratos Aurion and Zelos Wilder from Tales of Symphonia, Flynn Scifo from Tales of Vesperia, or really any of the Tales of Destiny characters that wielded Swordians in battle. These characters fight with a mix of flashy offensive sword attacks and equally impressive magical skills to allow them to exploit enemy’s elemental weaknesses – some even have healing abilities in their bag of tricks as well. These types tend to be incredibly versatile in battle, which may explain why Milla seems to generally be the more popular of the two leads – at least from what I’ve seen on YouTube.
Speaking of Flynn Scifo, if you were one of the many who played Tales of Vesperia and enjoyed it (or just read Mento’s review of it and thought it sounded interesting), you might be happy to know that the English dub of the Vesperia prequel movie has been released and its now available for purchase at Amazon.
Tales of Vesperia ~The First Strike~ covers the incident that lead Vesperia main character Yuri Lowell to leave the Imperial Knights – an event that was briefly alluded to in the game a few times, but never really expanded upon. While the plot largely focuses on Flynn and Yuri (Flynn is actually given far more backstory here than he was in the game, so my fellow Flynn fangirls/boys should take note~) and some new characters, you’ll also see cameos from a few other familiar faces.
Overall, the movie is very well-done and quite interesting if you found Vesperia’s characters and world even a little bit compelling. There are some voice acting changes for the recurring cameo characters – for example, Rita Mordio is no longer voiced by Michelle Ruff, but by Luci Christian instead – but Sam Riegel and Troy Baker do return as Flynn and Yuri, respectively, which is nice.
So all in all, not a bad time to be an English-speaking Tales fan – let’s hope that NB keeps up with this streak of actually localizing things, because that dry period in between the original Vesperia (Dawn of the New World never happened, shut up) and Tales of Graces F was pretty sad for all of us non-Japanese speakers!
That’s why, in the interest of getting more things localized down the line, I hope that if any of this looks even remotely interesting to you, you’ll pre-order Xillia (whenever it becomes available to do so) and purchase (rather than torrent) the Vesperia movie. NB has basically said that money talks or they walk in this situation, so let’s do what we can!
I did warn you all that I would occasionally leave my RPG comfort zone for something a little more faster-paced and visceral. Sega’s Binary Domain is a near-future (2080! Mark your calendars!) third-person shooter that follows a “Rust Crew” – a SWAT-like task force from a multinational organization called IRTA that monitors and enforces a global law that prohibits human-like robots – as they traipse across a Tokyo that’s been largely devastated by the rising sea level caused by global warming. They’re on the hunt for Yoji Amada, a rogue Japanese robotics manufacturer that has evidently been creating “Hollow Children” – a group of robots that wear an ersatz human skin and are incognizant of their own mechanical origins, sort of like Rachael the Replicant from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.
In fact, a considerable amount of influence in this game seems to come from the movies. Creator Toshihiro Nagoshi takes a leaf from fellow Japanese game developer Hideo Kojima’s (of Metal Gear fame) book in how he uses popular movies as his muse for much of the narrative beats and set-ups in his games. That’s not meant to be pejorative, however, as he does this as every bit as adroitly as Kojima, putting his own unique spins on rather goofy American action movie tropes. With Binary Domain, we have clear allusions to Blade Runner (the hidden people robots, previously utilized by Kojima for his seminal work Snatcher for MSX and PS1), the I, Robot movie (much of the regular robots’ almost Apple-like design), the Terminator series and AI: Artificial Intelligence. That isn’t to say Nagoshi didn’t draw from literary sources as well; there are also many references made to Isaac Asimov and his legendary laws of robotics, including the Frankenstein Complex – though many of the automatons you meet seem to disregard the “do no harm to humans” rule.
The strongest source of inspiration comes from Nagoshi’s earlier and perhaps more notable work with the Yakuza series. The Yakuza games are also guided somewhat by the movies that inspired them and a recent foray into third-person gunplay for the series (in its non-canon Dead Souls spin-off) seems to be a lead-in to this new IP from the developers. It’s rather telling that at one point in the game, you’ll fight some disturbing prototype Hollow Children that move and act just like the zombies from Dead Souls.
As for the game itself, there’s plenty of non-story elements with which to vouch for it as well. All of your enemies are mechanical, with a significant range of different appearances and functions – most are militaristic in nature, either as fodder grunts or massive machines of war, though some are repurposed from more mundane tasks, such as a scorpion-like crane lifter robot. An aspect the game frequently plays around with, especially with its bosses, are the immense size of some of the robots. An early foe is an enormous spider-like robot that was originally built to fight off warships on the massive seawall that Tokyo is now enclosed in. Though the game is rife with a few unfortunate “convenient rocket launcher” set-ups, these bosses are handled quite well, excepting a few that have too much health that drag their battles on a tad too long.
I should clarify what I said earlier about this being a visceral shooter, since there’s clearly not much in the way of gore. What I’m referring to instead is the amazing visual and aural feedback you get from pinging bullets off a robot’s outer core, as shrapnel will fly off on every successful hit. You can clearly see the damage you’re causing and the deteriorating state of your opponent with every bullet. Sounds grisly, but keep in mind that there is nothing to separate the robots you’re shooting with the tin cans you might practice on – these robots are revealed to be utterly without conscience or empathy, unlike a few others that might raise question marks, so there’s nothing holding back a squeamish player. What’s more, the game has a bit of fun with some of the unique characteristics of the robots – a head shot is no longer an instant kill, but rather a means to disable and confuse a robot into attacking its companions. After playing this game and marvelling at the range of cool enemy ideas on offer, I did wonder why more games don’t use robots for their innumerable antagonistic forces. Maybe the Star Wars prequels have turned everyone off?
Binary Domain’s other major distinctive feature is the team trust aspect, as well as being able to communicate them verbally with a microphone and rather temperamental voice-recognition software. The way you answer your comrades’ questions and display your prowess in battle will either raise or lower their trust in you, which in turn is dependent on how willing they are to accept your commands. They may not acquiesce with you asking them to put themselves in danger to cover you, but if you’ve taken the time to impress on them your ability to lead, they’ll follow you to Hell and back. Maintaining a high trust level with everyone is also instrumental in getting the best ending available. It’s a master stroke in rewarding players for displays of amazing skill and displaying empathy towards their myriad companions both, and yet another example of the game’s stellar feedback.
The game isn’t perfect though. The AI of your companions is rarely what you’d call hypercompetent, as they’ll often either ignore the enemies or get themselves into a critical state and will even walk in front of you while you’re firing – the resulting friendly fire knocking down their trust slightly. It’s aggravating, but more or less expected in these squad-based shooters. Your comrades are also a collective bunch of mildly offensive cultural stereotypes, which may speak more to the deliberately daft action movie veneer the game wears than anything else. You have a sarcastic Brit, boisterous Americans, a taciturn and serious Chinese sniper and a polite yet slightly condescending French operative. They’re fun characters to spend time with, but they’re not going to be winning any awards for cultural sensitivity any time soon.
Overall, I found Binary Domain to be an utter delight. I’ve played enough third-person cover-based shooters to become thoroughly enervated with the format several times over, but Binary Domain offers enough to set itself apart. It drags a little, sure, but like its contemporary Vanquish (by Platinum Games) it’s filled with so many minor triumphs that it is elevated above its Western-style asinine action movie conventions. Speaking of which, it’s entirely possible Sega’s making fun of Epic Games with this game. Given its quality, I think they’ve earned the right.