Friday, May 2, 2014

Dragon Age Origins - Undead - Arcane Horror

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Fantasy game art from Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition (Dragon Age: Origins, the Awakening expansion, and all official Downloadable Content).

Arcane Horrors are corpses of mages possessed by Pride Demons -- the strongest demons from the Fade in the world of Dragon Age Origins.
From Codex entry: Arcane Horror:
Demons, of course, have no form in our world. When they enter, either where the Veil is particularly thin or through blood magic summoning, they must take possession of a body. When a pride demon takes control of the corpse of a mage, an arcane horror is born. Although they appear to be little more than bones, these are fierce creatures, possessing not only all the spellcasting abilities of a living mage, but also the capacity to heal and even command other animated corpses.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Character Generation and Related Mods

Fantasy game art from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Probably the first thing to realize about the appearance of characters in Oblivion is that we are more bound by resources than in the real world.
By this, I do not mean just computer power, which directly affects such issues as how smooth curves can be or how nuanced textures can be presented. By "resources" we must also take into account available talent and time to prepare the necessary game elements. For each face and body type or "mesh", every item worn must be fitted so that they will display properly in-game. If there are too many substantially different meshes, clearly the work starts to multiply very quickly.

010 imperial city arena district 012

In the picture of the sleeping gladiator above, you can see an example of "clipping" that can inadvertently occur when different objects in the game: For the most part her armour fits tightly enough around her body to look properly worn, but if you look carefully at the belt near her bellybutton you will notice that some allowance was made to ensure her body doesn't end up occupying the same space as her belt.
Something that could happen as a result of two meshes colliding is visible in the lower left corner, where her fingers have poked through her shield. In any case, these issues are so minor as to mostly be overlooked in the course of normal gameplay, and it is generally not useful to exhaustively test every situation.

Faced with the issue of limited resources, it is not surprising that for the most part, meshes are re-used whenever possible, and differences made up with textures.
You can think of meshes and textures as a parcel providing the "mesh" over which wrapping paper tightly wraps. Instead of changing the box, we can try to fool the visual senses to seeing contours and textures by choosing the wrapper. Or, we can make changes to the mesh that can simply be recalculated instead of actually having an entirely new mesh. So, for example, if you consider the pictures below of a younger and older woman, and focus on the outline of the face instead of the face itself, you will notice that it is essentially the same shape.
female High Elf 09 female High Elf 10
sf2 female 58
The consequence of using stock body parts, however, is that some parts don't go along with others. For example, a generic adult body doesn't necessarily fit every face. Maybe it will do for youthful 20-somethings and fit 30-somethings, and maybe hot 40-somethings, but only once the character in question is 50-something or has a worn, haggard look, then the stock body will simply look out of place. Spellforce 2 suffered from this, where every woman, young or old, had an athletic build and firm, gravity-defying D-cups -- as illustrated in the picture on the right, of a grey-haired elderly woman in armour.

Buxomness isn't emphasized in Oblivion, so an acceptable solution was found in demurely clothing everyone and pants, long dresses, and sleeves abound. Mods such as Colourwheels Sexy Oblivion Overhaul show off a lot of skin, and the result looks anywhere from odd to disturbing on such characters as old beggars. If you want a perfect world where every woman has a hot body and well-endowed chests, then combine Colourwheel's mod with the Hentai Gentlemen's EyeCandy Body, commonly known as HGEC. For male characters, Robert's Male Body Replacer is the standard.

Heroes of Might and Magic V - Story Arc 2 - Hammers of Fate


Fantasy game art from Heroes of Might and Magic V.




Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dragon Age Origins - Dragon - Archdemon

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Fantasy game art from Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition (Dragon Age: Origins, the Awakening expansion, and all official Downloadable Content).

SPOILER WARNING - Scenes from the ending of Dragon Age Origins.

The Archdemon Urthemiel is the dragon of the Fifth Blight and the focus of Dragon Age: Origins. Archdemons are ancient dragons once worshipped as Old Gods. They have been corrupted by the darkspawn taint. The first of them, Dumat, is said to have ultimately been responsible for the events that originated the darkspawn corruption.
When slain, the soul of an Archdemon escapes into a nearby darkspawn and uses that body to remake its own, thus rising again and again.

From Codex entry: Abomination:
The false dragon-gods of the Tevinter Imperium lie buried deep within the earth, where they have been imprisoned since the Maker cast them down.No one knows what it is that drives the darkspawn in their relentless search for the sleeping Old Gods. Perhaps it is instinct, as moths will fly into torch flames. Perhaps there is some remnant of desire for vengeance upon the ones who goaded the magisters to assault heaven. Whatever the reason, when darkspawn find one of these ancient dragons, it is immediately afflicted by the taint. It awakens twisted and corrupted, and leads the darkspawn in a full-scale invasion of the land: A Blight. ... [The Grey Wardens'] tainted blood bound them to the archdemon, and they could hear it, feel it, as it died and was born anew, its spirit drawn to possess the nearest tainted creature. The darkspawn were mindless, soulless, empty shells of flesh that could be bent and remade in the dragon's image. But a man... a man's soul was not so malleable. When a Warden's hand struck a fatal blow against Dumat, the Old God's spirit was drawn not to a darkspawn but to the man who had slain him. In that moment, the souls of both the Warden and the archdemon were utterly destroyed. And the dragon rose no more. The Blight was over.


The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Characters - Player

Fantasy game art from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Here are pictures of assorted customized player characters (PCs). They typically use modded hair, body types, skin, clothing, and gear.

Heroes of Might and Magic V - Story 1, Campaign 6, Mission 5 - Zehir's Hope

Fantasy game art from Heroes of Might and Magic V.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dragon Age Origin - Dragon - High Dragon

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Fantasy game art from Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition (Dragon Age: Origins, the Awakening expansion, and all official Downloadable Content).

High Dragons are female dragons that have survived the centuries required for full maturity.

From Codex entry: Dragon:
A fully mature adult female dragon is the high dragon: the great monster of legend, the rarest of all dragonkind. These dragons hollow out massive lairs for themselves, for they need the space to house their harem of drakes as well as their eggs and the dragonlings.
High dragons are seldom seen. They spend most of their time sleeping and mating, living off the prey their drakes bring back. But once every hundred years or so, the high dragon prepares for clutching by emerging from her lair and taking wing. She will fly far and wide, eating hundreds of animals, most often livestock, over a course of a few weeks and leaving smoldering devastation in her wake. She then returns to her lair to lay her eggs and will not appear in the skies again for another century.

When a very large creature (such as an Ogre or a Dragon) is killed in melee combat in Dragon Age Origins, there is a special "death blow" animation. Below, we have included stills from the death blow animation, as well as a video of combat with a High Dragon ending in the death blow animation (start watching around 5:10). The combat movie was recorded with a console cheat command that protects the warrior from being killed in order to demonstrate high dragon capabilities and the death blow animation.



The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Characters - Female

Fantasy game art from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Almost all the characters here are customized with Tamriel NPCs Revamped (TNR), which uses Oblivion resources to personalize each character (hair, face, clothing) according to their role and voice in the game. Some characters were further customized with new hairstyles and eyes made available through COBL, which builds on TNR, sometimes with drastically different results. Together, TNR and COBL replace every one of the characters that exist in the original Oblivion game. You can inspect the samey-looking original characters at the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages.

Most characters also differ from standard Oblivion in their dress and visible gear. TNR makes changes, which we have also overridden with a mix of Banes Diverse Guards, Banes Guilds United, and the Cyrodiil NPC Remodeling Project (CNRP), which re-outfits characters in Bravil, Bruma, Cheydinhal, Chorrol, the Dark Brotherhood, and the Fighter's Guild.

Where the female characters wear armour that came with the original game, the armor has been modified with Colourwheels Sexy Stock Armour and Clothing Replacer, which gives women everywhere short-short skirts and sexy armour. We manually disabled the short skirts but kept the armour changes.

Some characters wear capes, rings, and necklaces. Various mods can do this, but the most pervasive change can probably be done through a Wyre Bash "tweak" when building a "Bashed Patch" (a special type of mod generated by the free Wyre Bash utility). Visually, results vary -- For example, necklace chains look quite badly done because of the generous amount of space provided to avoid clipping issues with the character's neck -- and for some of the screenshots above, we had this option disabled.









Heroes of Might and Magic V - Story 1, Campaign 6, Mission 4 - The Alliance

Fantasy game art from Heroes of Might and Magic V.

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S1C6M4 The Alliance



The cutscene where the heroes convince Isabel to try the ritual was prepared, but not actually used in the game.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dragon Age Origins - Dragon

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Fantasy game art from Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition (Dragon Age: Origins, the Awakening expansion, and all official Downloadable Content).

Mature female Dragons are distinguished from dragonlings and drakes by having fully formed wings. Very old dragons that have reached the final stage of maturity are known as High Dragons.

In the Awakening expansion, two red-coloured dragons (dragon thralls) are encountered in the Silverite Mine.

From Codex entry: Dragon:
Female dragons take much longer to mature than their male counterparts. They too undergo a metamorphosis of sorts at adulthood; But while males lose the use of their forepaws, females actually grow a third set of limbs specifically to serve as wings. Young females travel great distances looking for a suitable nesting site. Because of their nomadic habits, these are the dragons most frequently encountered by man.


The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Characters - Male

Fantasy game art from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Almost all the characters here are customized with Tamriel NPCs Revamped (TNR), which uses Oblivion resources to personalize each character (hair, face, clothing) according to their role and voice in the game. Some characters were further customized with new hairstyles and eyes made available through COBL, which builds on TNR, sometimes with drastically different results. Together, TNR and COBL replace every one of the characters that exist in the original Oblivion game. You can inspect the samey-looking original characters at the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages.

Most characters also differ from standard Oblivion in their dress and visible gear. TNR makes changes, which we have also overridden with a mix of Banes Diverse Guards, Banes Guilds United, and the Cyrodiil NPC Remodeling Project (CNRP), which re-outfits characters in Bravil, Bruma, Cheydinhal, Chorrol, the Dark Brotherhood, and the Fighter's Guild.

Some characters wear capes, rings, and necklaces. Various mods can do this, but the most pervasive change can probably be done through a Wyre Bash "tweak" when building a "Bashed Patch" (a special type of mod generated by the free Wyre Bash utility). Visually, results vary -- For example, necklace chains look quite badly done because of the generous amount of space provided to avoid clipping issues with the character's neck -- and for some of the screenshots above, we had this option disabled.









Heroes of Might and Magic V - Story 1, Campaign 6, Mission 3 - The Triumvirate


Fantasy game art from Heroes of Might and Magic V.

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S1C6M3 The Triumvirate

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dragon Age Origins - Dragon - Drake

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Fantasy game art from Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition (Dragon Age: Origins, the Awakening expansion, and all official Downloadable Content).

Drakes are juvenile dragons that have begun to show shoulder spikes that will ultimately become wings in females. Male dragons never develop their wings and remain drakes. Often, several will form the harem of a female dragon, helping her lay a great many eggs.

From Codex entry: Dragon:
Male dragons never develop into the winged monsters of myth. At most, their forelegs grow vestigial spurs where wing membrane might have been.
Once they have fully matured, males immediately seek out the lairs of adult females. When they find one, they move into her lair and spend the rest of their lives there, hunting for her and defending her young. They will aggressively defend her nest, and many would-be dragon hunters have been lost to their fiery breath and crushing blows from their tails.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Daedra Shrines

Fantasy game art from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

The Daedric Princes are an alternate pantheon that is not as popular as the Nine Divines, but worshipped nonetheless. They differ markedly in their more active and yet aloof role with their worshippers by offering deals to pilgrims -- rewards for performing a service -- instead of intangible blessings for following their tenets and living a virtuous life.
Several Princes have a shrine in Cyrodiil where small clumps of followers gather, and where the player can visit to make a deal in exchange for a powerful artifact. (One of the Nine Divines, Kynareth, also has a shrine in the style of the Daedric Princes, and we have included it here.)

Heroes of Might and Magic V - Story 1, Campaign 6, Mission 2 - The Liberation

Fantasy game art from Heroes of Might and Magic V.

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S1C6M2 The Liberation