Sunday, June 17, 2012

Phantasy Warrior Advance

Many years ago, a very good friend that I was living with starting putting together his own webcomic.  I was quite impressed with the idea and wanted a piece of the action.  As I had no artistic skill, no partner to work with, and very little in the way of hope, I cobbled together a very crude comic based on sprites that I had found from old Final Fantasy games.

When I began, I had a definitive idea as to what I hoped to accomplish.  I imagined a classic looking console role-playing game that seemed to be suspiciously affected by a lack of budget.  Of course, that idea did not necessarily translate all that well and most of it just ended up being a series of jokes about whatever games I had played throughout my life.  I did fifty "issues" of the comic before concluding it.  It was absurd.  It was ridiculous.  But, it was fun to do and I learned a lot.

A few years later, I started a similar process, trying to tie a much bigger story to the whole thing while trying to find a way to integrate the original comic into something new.  I was not sure what it was I had hoped to accomplish but I worked at it.  I experimented with new artistic methods, new images, and new potential ideas.  I even began using peculiar art techniques as applied to output photos from The Sims 2.  In the end, I never got especially far with it that time, but I did end up with a growing database of sprites that I had either extracted from various sources or began crafting on my own.

It does have a certain Pokemon look to it.
I actually took another "stab" at the process some time afterward, attempting to integrate all of the different ideas into one coherent story (again).  Of course, that effort seemed to last less time than the previous, but I did manage to take some measurable amount of content out of the process.  The story was set in an actual console game and the main character would be a sort of "Captain N" style transport from the real world into the game work.  Most importantly, I finally created an iconic cover for the fantasy game in question: Phantasy Warrior.

When I started, I wanted the box to look like something that you would expect to see in the early days of the Nintendo Entertainment System (Famicom).  I spent a lot of time looking at old Nintendo game box art, trying to capture the iconography and style of that art.  Honestly, it was surprising to discover how bad most of it was.  However, it gave me a solid idea as to how my potential box art should look.

The end result was actually arranged in Comic Life by plasQ (which, comically, I cannot recover).  Although all of the individual images were done in either Adobe Photoshop or occasionally Adobe Illustrator, I found it "easier" to do comic-style layouts in Comic Life at the time.  I did not have sufficient experience working in Illustrator or Photoshop to accomplish my layout goals, so I relied heavily on the software package provided by PlasQ.

Writing bad copy is tough, as it ends up.
I also created a back cover, using the same kinds of old Nintendo game boxes as models.  I hoped to capture the flavor of some of those old game boxes, including the astounding hyperbole ("a fantasy world beyond imagination!"), really uninformative screen shots (even framed to look like a classic CRT perspective), and a game description that says very little about what will actually go on when you put the game in your system.

One of the elements I spent a great deal of time on was the "Adventure Series" marker that appears on both the front and back covers.  The first few sets of Nintendo games had quasi-informative symbols on the cover that were meant to inform you of what kind of game you were purchasing.  It took me a while to find out what kind of game a RPG would be but I finally found an image of the Metroid box cover, one of the last ones before they eliminated the symbolic system.  As it ends up, Metroid was an Adventure Series game, as contrasted to an Action Series or a Sports Series.  I felt this was the closest and best I would get so I did my best to recreate the symbol for inclusion on my box cover.

The reason I spend so much time introducing the background behind the Phantasy Warrior comics I throw into the blog is that the comic as it appears now is actually heavily influenced by the work I did before.  In fact, although the comic does tend to have a certain amount of geek humor, a lot of the "story" relates back to what I did the first time around.  Although I do not intend to fully re-release the original comic, I do expect to reference elements from it (as appropriate).  It seemed appropriate to start with the epic packaging I did for the game back in 2008-09.

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