Archetype Update Focuses On The Centaur May 21, 2015 11:10:41 GMT -8
Post by Chrissy The Blesser on May 21, 2015 11:10:41 GMT -8
ARCHETYPE UPDATE: THE CENTAUR
Centaurs are kind of a hallmark for me, actually. I've included Centaurs somewhere in every game that I've ever done. Generally, I have a fascination with "half-breeds", man/animal hybrids, like Centaurs, Minotaurs, Birdmen, Deermen... Of them, Centaurs are probably my favorite.
In terms of fantasy literature, my first love was Narnia -- my mother introduced me to Narnia in grade school, and I was hooked. (FWIW, Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Magician's Nephew are still in my Top 10 list of fantasy books). There are a few elements of Narnia that tend to creep into every world I create: talking animals, half-breeds, fruit from the Tree of Life.
My next big Centaur-related influence came during college when I was playing a turn-based tactical RPG called Shining Force. The SF take on Centaurs was really cool, because instead of the traditional "archer-ranger-druid" thing, they made their Centaurs knights and paladins and had them (generally) fight with massive lances. What a cool idea! I love the contrast of this creature with an animal body or head, which by definition implies a more bestial or savage character, instead being more "high fantasy" -- that Arthurian "soaring towers, epic ballads, high chivalry" feeling where the characters are more noble and civilized -- romantic, even -- than their human counterparts.
The Shadowbane Centaur culture was a blend of Arthurian and Roman. For Crowfall, I thought it would be cooler to go full-on Imperial: civilized, highly advanced and enlightened, incredibly well-organized, and brutally expansionistic.
Here, Character Artist Eric Hart models the armor for the Centaur as Jon O'Neal, lead environment artist, encourages him in a completely non-creeper sort of way.
How is that reflected in their look and style?
Well, the Roman influence on the armor is rather obvious. Beyond that, though, we wanted the details to showcase the fact that these guys are the top of the cultural food chain. We went over-the-top in terms of ornamentation: the armor is functional, but also shines like the sun. The lines are clean, the metal is brilliant, the colors are bold and strong, the beards are tight and well-groomed but still harsh and proud and strong.
Contrast the Legionnaire with the Knight or the Champion archetypes, who are presented in a much more "blood and mud" style that you would expect to see on Game of Thrones. The metal on the knight's armor is dull and scratched and tarnished and battered. The colors are faded and inconsistent. It's almost like the humans are trying to emulate the civilization (and the nobility) of the Centaurs and failing to live up to that standard.
Is the backstory important to the character?
Absolutely. To make these guys really imperial, you can't just have them dress the part. You have to actually give them an empire! I want that arrogance and strength to come across in their dress, in the way they hold themselves, in the way they move and fight -- everything.
The challenge, of course, is this: how do we give them an empire, without that empire becoming THE major threat of the story? It's hard to write, "Oh yeah, and also, there is an empire btw" -- it doesn't really work that way. You either HAVE an empire and presence permeates the story completely (ala Star Wars) or you set your narrative so far away (geographically far enough away) as to render the empire irrelevant (or, more typically 'not relevant... yet').
In our case, I found an easily solution: the Hunger.
Eric passes the models over to Senior Concept Artist Allison Theus. Allison consults a number of reference sources to find the textures and colors needed to bring Todd's beloved Centaurs to life.
How did the Hunger factor in?
What would happen if a volcano had swallowed Rome instead of Pompeii? Or the devastation started with Rome and then swallowed up one province after the next until nothing was left?
The Hunger gives us a perfect solution to give these guys what we want (i.e. the personality and manner that comes from ruling the greatest empire in history) without forcing that empire to be the foundation of our narrative.
I want a (very real) justification for the Centaurs to be hugely prideful -- allowing them to look down on all the other cultures as barbaric and uncivilized (and to be fair, they aren't wrong) -- while sidestepping the need to weave their culture into the game as a ubiquitous political force that would have to be woven into every area, and every narrative.
What happened to the Centauran Empire?
So, the idea is: the empire was very real and just as powerful and influential as they claim. It was incredibly expansionistic and seemed unstoppable.
Until the Hunger spread through it like a disease, destroying one world after the next.
That also adds a nice wrinkle to their arrogance. Now, in addition to talking about the greatness of the empire, they get to play the game of WHAT IF -- "if not for the Hunger, we would surely have conquered EVERY world." It's the same type of argument you might have with an athlete who, through some misstep of fate, was denied the greatness he was destined for ("I would have been the Champion, if that ref hadn't screwed me.")
Would the empire have conquered every world?
Maybe yes, maybe no. We'll never know, but you can imagine how the Centaurs must feel about it.
Did any of the Imperial worlds survive? Will players be able to visit one?
Given time and budget -- absolutely. I would love to explore the architecture of the empire. And from a player standpoint, it would be incredibly cool to explore a haunted imperial world, to repair and defend the ruins of a Centaur city... and, of course, to fight off an undead army of Hunger-infested Centaur legionnaires.
How do you like the look of our Centaur? Is this an archetype you’d like to play? I look forward to discussing it with you on the forums.
J. Todd Coleman
Final product, the proud and noble Legionnaire.