Sunday, 23 March 2014

SolForge - The Making of "Nesh, Wind Giant" (Guest Article by Snack, Play, Love and Foodstuff Finds' NLi10)

Crowd-funded projects (Kickstarter etc) are definitely on the rise at the moment, and are a great way for smaller games which may never normally see the light of day to make their way onto our gaming tables.  The more money a backer pledges to a project, the greater the reward, and one of the more popular rewards offered by game creators is your likeness on a card/model/box etc.  We've happily backed a few projects in the last few months but have never gone in for a pledge level like this, but fellow blogger and friend of Games & Tea, NLi10 of Snack, Play, Love and Foodstuff Finds, has been through the process from start to finish.  Here's his tale of being immortalised in  digital card form!

On August the 2nd 2012 while watching the SolForge live-stream for the final count down I decided that the game and the community were interesting enough to increase my investment from one of the low tiers to one of the high ones.  I wanted the prize on offer (At Club1980 drafts are free...) and couldn't make use of the GenCon tickets on the layer above so it seemed perfect.

I resolved to forget about the game for a year and when the new Magic core set came out that summer I'd begin to wind down my activity and spending on that and reap the savings.  I'd looked at the lower tiers when signing up but come the e-mail asking for pictures on March 13 I'd pretty much forgotten about the 'Your likeness on a card' tier.  At the time I'd joked i'd give the honour to someone else, or that I'd try to get one of my cats on the card.  When it came up though I thought it would actually be cool to see this through.

My first contact was Eric - the concept writer for SolForge - and he laid out what we'd need to provide.  Over the next few messages I stated that i didn't really care which faction, but gave two real ideas.  The first was job based, I work in infection control so how about a Nekrium guy whose job it is to do the reverse.  The second was based on my partner and I going on long walks in the British countryside.  It was from one of these walks in Wales that we got our source pictures.  I created a Tempys shamenesque character called Nesh (a northern dialect word I picked up at uni) who is more at home on remote ridges than the battlefield.

I sent over 4 pictures with some fully body and close ups that I'll spare you but these two capture the essence.  A guy who is more of a tactician than a solider.  I mentioned that I'd prefer equipment more than weapons to that end, and I mentioned that I'd love scale birds.

Time passed.  Many more hikes were done (including Norway - I think my card would have been a little different with those pictures used!) and it became Jan 2014.  Eric got back in touch saying that Anton (the artist) required some more close up shots at varied angles so that he could get the faces right.  Naturally I panicked about this and eventually managed to get some I was reasonably happy with, for example this one.

This is my deliberate attempt at an enigmatic face.  This is harder than you'd expect when home alone and having to resort to selfies.  Many digital photographs were deleted that day...

It was in response to this that I received my first idea of what the card would be like.  Pleasingly this sketch had the file name of "Nesh - example", which was the name I'd given to the write-up in the original e-mail discussion.  For me it helped to visualise the character, but I'd no hope of becoming a unique named character as that was a much higher tier.

I did as instructed and copied the pose (long arms come in handy for these selfies I tell you!) and sent it off.  Note the cereals in the background - FoodStuffFinds till I die yo!

At this point I was getting excited.  I showed the initial pic to a few fellow players and they agreed it looked pretty cool.  Eric mentioned he's seen the final versions and that he thought they looked cool too so all was good.

Time passed.

Set 2 was announced as being "in March" and the end of the month rapidly approached.  As the preview cards came up I wondered at each time whether I would recognise myself.  On the morning of March 18th I had to be at work early for a conference and didn't check anything digital until I was in the car on the way there (being driven I might add).  There was the usual tournament stats post up which had been linked from the forum, and I just happened to notice a new card had been previewed below...

Thundergale Invoker appeared to be a Tempys card like mine was from first glance, and it involved wind...  I had a zoom in and then a rather large smile on my face!  I couldn't explain out loud in a car with work people, but tweets and messages were sent to those in the know.  Much was said about me sending naked pictures to StoneBlade (I didn't :p) but everyone agreed it was indeed a good likeness.

The article here detailed the cards abilities and it seemed to fit in with the kind of play style that I have.   Essentially it allows you to move your pieces around with the power of the wind if you played them in the right slots.

I immediately messaged Eric after work to say thanks to both him and Anton and to ask permission to write this experience up for posterity and to beg for some of the art that went into the process.  So I've included a few of the more exclusive key pieces here but to save on the Games & Tea internet I'll host the majority back on my regular blog.

 Here we see three of the original pictures I sent in, alongside what I guess is the very first concept sketches for the card.  This includes the original idea of looking out at the action from afar, suiting up, and entering the fray.  The wind gauntlets are particularly cool, looking decidedly like something from the Dynasty warriors series.  While this makes the CosPlay harder, I think that it's a great idea.

Before I finish up here I'd like to thank StoneBlade in general but specifically Eric and Anton for taking the time to make something that I am very happy with.  If this much effort went into all the players vanity cards then that's a lot of extra work.  I look forwards to discovering who all the people behind the faces are over the next few weeks and continuing to aggressively draft 'me' and then getting sad when the creature dies.

But hey - there are plenty more copies to draft and play, and we'll always have those scale birds, right?

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that's so cool! And a great write-up, too. I'm glad you're happy with how the card came out. :)