Thursday, November 28, 2019

Look Around You, Art Is Everywhere

I was digging around in the depths of my files yesterday and I came across a whole load of screenshots I'd forgotten. Since it's coming up to the end of IntPiPoMo and I just knocked out three long-winded posts in a row, I figured I'd give myself and everyone else a break with some pretty pictures.

Rift has to be one of the best MMORPGs I've ever played for taking landscape shots. The eponymous rifts, the stunning weather effects, the numerous, mysterious ruins and monuments and the rich color palette all lend themselves to virtual nature photography.

It also has more bleak, downbeat, lonely zones than just about any game I can remember. There's a huge amount of open space, much of it moorland or desert. There are, famously, no cities. It feels like a world coming to the end of its time. Maybe that's more appropriate now than ever.

Allods, by contrast, is bright, cheerful and does cities brilliantly. It's also hugely underrated and probably the MMORPG I most wish I'd stuck with and played to a higher level. It's still going so maybe that could happen yet.

The mittel-europa, art deco, constructivist montage works magnificently, especially in a genre over-stuffed with this kind of thing done badly. So many imported games use the Imperial Palace motif but almost all of them look like movie sets where no-one could actually live.

One reason Allods visuals work so well is that the artists get the physical and emotional scales just right. The buildings are huge and imposing but the doors, the windows and the rooms are human-sized. There are parks and bandstands and restaurants and advertisements. The whole place feels like it could taken straight from the pages of a National Geographic photo essay from the 1930s.

Not all imported MMORPGs look like they've been blown up to double size on a cheap color copier. Twin Saga looks far more beautiful than any game featuring guinea-pig mounts, houses on the backs of turtles and giant, bubblegum pink pussycats has any right to look.

It's another game I wish I'd played more of, although in Twin Saga's case the shut-off point came from ramped-up difficulty rather than dodgy monetization issues. I was going great guns until I hit a leveling wall in the 50s. Maybe I should just make a new character and start over. That never gets old.

Perhaps the most frustrating title among games I'm not playing as much as I feel I could be is Dragon Nest. As the screenshots here suggest, it's a quirky, characterful setting, painted in rather blurry brush strokes but oozing with personality and charm.

Unlike Dragon Nest M, the mobile version, which is brash, loud and garish. Which would be bad enough, but the PC version is still running in some territories, just not the one I'm in. Grrrrrrrr.

That's probably enough pictures for one post. I could go on for a while. Quite a while... My screenshot back-up file is 36GB. More than 30,000 files. And that's by no means all of them.

Sometimes I think the main reason I play MMORPGs is to take screenshots. I am a virtual tourist, first and foremost, after all. And a virtual travel writer.

Since it's Thanksgiving, even though that's a holiday not celebrated here, let me give thanks to the countless, unsung, uncelebrated artists who created all this wonder we take for granted. Not for them the kudos and reward of exhibitions or auctions, let alone the gravitas and honor of retrospective documentaries and movies about their lives.

I've always loved commercial art - advertizing, posters, spot illustration - and I guess video games are just the latest in a long line of work-for-hire exploitation. If you can call doing something you love and getting paid for it being exploited.

We're just lucky there are always people whose need to express themselves artistically outweighs their desire to be recognized for doing so. Thanks, to them all.

IntPiPoMo running total: 119


  1. With a title like that I thought this post was going to be about Occupy White Walls for sure. :P Can't say I'm disappointed with the actual content though, as I heartily agree. Big corporations may not be our friends, but many of the individuals working on the MMOs we play are pretty damn amazing.

    1. I really should play OWW more. They had a survey recently that I completed, which made me realize that the main reason I don't play it is because it only allows you to have one gallery - and I feel I've finished mine. I'd have to delete it and start over, which I don't want to do, so I just don't play at all.

      Odd reply to your comment but that's what it made me think of!

  2. Those Allods shots look very interesting. Maybe I should look up what that game is all about one of these days...

    1. It's a very good WoW Clone with non-optional PvP at a fairly early level (by which I mean you can only level in contested zones after a certain point) - or at least that's what it was when I played it years ago. It may have changed...

    2. It also seems to be the most "expensive" f2p game I've seen so far.

      Also I've a lot of issues with the way they ported Allods to the Western market. Translations aren't that good, we get updates months later than Russian servers do and some content does not get ported at all for some reason.


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