Editor's nook...

Characters, Revisited

  Yay!  So I did get to see CharacterLAB.  But I’m mostly going to write about what CharacterLAB does for the player and not really about the technical ins and outs of programming proprietary software. Remember last week, the stuff on layers? That’s what CharacterLAB does for you.  So, yeah, this week’s article is about fashion.

  First off, roll the credits...  The proprietary CharcterLAB concept and system was created by Van Collins, Creative Director, and Brad Lewis, Lead Artist.  The process was integrated into the game engine by Steven Davis, Senior Programmer, and the internal development tool used to construct the layered characters was implemented by Programmer Allen Halsted.

  Last week, I got to toss out questions to Brad Lewis, Allen Halsted, and Steven Davis. And these were wacky questions because I don’t know, maybe there is someone out there who really wants to go through the game as a dog.  If there is, speak up, cuz these are the guys who would be controlling such things and might actually consider it.

  In Characters Part I, I talked about character development. This week’s article is more on character maintenance. And fashion, cuz really, looking spiffy can be a goal in itself.

  There are certain elements you can not change about your player character. In Siege of Avalon, you can not change gender, right-handedness, skin color, eyesight, inventory size, and the speed in which the player character walks across the screen. Later on, in Pillars of Avalon, there will be a choice of gender. Choice in skin color is a good possibility. Most likely, right-handedness wouldn’t change because that would double the amount of artwork.

  When you first set up your player character, you have a few choices about appearance. Once you decide on hair color, hair style, beard or no beard, you can not change these elements unless you kill off your player character and start again. You start off with a pair of pants.

  As you go through the game, you may buy or find useful items. If you loot a dead body, you’ll see the transfer screen and you can decide which items you want. All the money is instantly deposited into your purse. If you want something off a party member, you just initiate a transfer among yourselves. If you want something off somebody, you can buy it if the somebody is a merchant. Mostly, NPC’s (Non-Player Characters, the folks in the game who are not you) like to keep their own belongings and aren’t prone to barter, so if you really really want someone’s armor, you’ll have to kill the guy and loot his dead body.

See the Screen Shot
Click for full-sized view.

  You get an inventory, which is the size of a big luggage. The inventory is represented by a grid pictured on the screenshot above. Basically, you grab stuff from your inventory and wear them. If you’ve got a helmet and try to stick it on your arms, it won’t work.  Only the Helmet space is going to light up.

  It’s kinda self-explanatory.  Boots are for boots.  Leg 1 is the layer closest to your skin. Leg 2 is what’s on top of it.  If you put leg armor under your pants instead of vice versa, it won’t affect your attributes but you won’t look as good. You can skip a layer if you want.

  Chest 1, Chest 2, and Chest 3 are for items such as shirts, vests, tunics, and breast plates. The layers give you the ability to customize your appearance and also, it’s just plain common sense that you might want to put some padding under your chain mail.

  If you’re an Archer, you’ll need the Belt layer for your quiver belt. Else, it’s for belts. Helmet is for helmets and hats. Gauntlets are for gloves. Shield is for a shield. Weapon is for your primary weapon, which will become raised when you go into combat mode. The Arms layer covers arm plates and elbow pieces. Outer could be a tabard or a cloak. Miscellaneous is for items that are too small to be depicted, such as magic potions or rings.  There are about 10 items per layer right now.

  If you sell all your clothing, no, you do not roam around the grounds in your underwear (hopefully). You get a default pair of brown pants (or brown skirt, for females), which you won’t see in your inventory.

  Weapons and clothes do not get damaged.  There are no “nearly new” or secondhand items. When potions are used up, they simply disappear.

  There are certain items that can affect your speed of attack or increase your constitution or "mana" (magic "strength"). For instance, you can drink a health potion. But mostly, your rate of healing is standard. If you increase your Mysticism attribute, then your rate of mana repair increases.  If you run away from your enemies, it will give you a chance to heal.

  Right now, there are over 200 pieces of clothing. Most of them are distinctly different. As to animals, there are red dogs, tan dogs, and dark dogs, and a Dire Wolf. Last I heard, horses were being created. Right now, animals are not layered, but the ultimate long-range goal is to have everything that moves layered so that their appearance is dynamically adjustable.

  The Sha’ahoul (see the story) have a different clothing set so it should be easy to tell who’s on your side. They have tattoos as well. A tattoo parlor hasn’t been installed in the castle, so I can’t say whether or not players will be able to get tattoos.

  Ah, well that took a bit to get through. I bet you’re all wondering about the naming contest. Since it’s the end of May, the naming contest is officially over, and now  we’re just going through the names. So, hopefully by next week, there’ll be a name for the zine!

Til next time,

listening to Skinny Puppy

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