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The Ardent Monthly Ledger - Issue 6
September 11, 2015

latest_news
equinox

Coming Soon: Equinox!

That’s right, it’s just a matter of days now until the Equinox event zone, in all its scorching, blazing glory, descends upon the Seven Realms. The Oases of Anuk’Amon, with its vast dunes of sand, royal blue skies, deadly Pharaohs, and so many other exotic delights, is soon to arrive.

You can expect new outfits, new toys, new pets, and increased danger! Tick-tock…


latest_news

Have you ever wondered about the music in Villagers & Heroes? Where do so many of those gentle acoustic melodies, or entrancing symphonic pieces come from that so uniquely match the personalities of the zones in our game?

His name is Kevin MacLeod, and for several years now V&H has been fortunate enough to be able to incorporate countless pieces of this incredibly talented musician’s work into the game. (Close to 100 tracks, in fact, within Villagers & Heroes, are all Kevin’s!)

did_you_know

How did Mad Otter come to be so lucky? Like so many others, we owe it all to this musician, who, because of his utter distaste for the current copyright system, decided to distribute all of his original music free of charge to any and all who might desire to use it on his website: Incompetech.com.

He asks only for credit, nothing else. The result? Artists, filmmakers, game devs, web entrepreneurs, You Tube video makers, and the list goes on and on, are all able to create their own projects and see their visions fulfilled with genuinely beautiful music, and without having to go through a series of often insurmountable hurdles to do so.

Kevin is a hero in the world of independent arts, so much so, that a feature documentary film is currently being made about him, the funding for which came from Kickstarter — many of the donors themselves, having been those who had utilized Kevin’s music for their own projects in the past. (Royalty Free: The Music of Kevin Macleod)

And it’s not just struggling indie artists who appreciate Kevin’s work. Acclaimed film director Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Departed) was so impressed with Kevin’s music that he featured it in his 2011 film, Hugo.

Villagers & Heroes owes an enormous debt to this talented musician. Thank you, Kevin MacLeod!

You can also listen to Kevin’s music (for free) at: https://soundcloud.com/kevin-9-1


interview

Player: Rhea
Server: DE
Class: Warrior

rhea_interview

How long have you been playing Villagers & Heroes for, and what first drew you to the game? I’ve been playing Villagers & Heroes for nearly 4 Years now. I started playing in December 2011. I don’t exactly remember how I got to know it, but I started because I was sick during the holidays and I had to stay at home the whole time. I’m very addicted to this fantasy-stuff, books, movies, whatever. The “Mystical Land”, the music and the characters – I was thrilled since day one. :)

What is one of your most memorable experiences in the game? There were lots of unforgettable moments in my 4 years in the game. Nice ones, sad ones, funny ones… I don’t think there is an emotion the game didn’t let me feel. But I think the most memorable was, when I met the people from my first guild. I started playing with the hunter and it was pretty frustrating because I hardly managed to do something on my own. If I didn’t meet them and got help I wouldn’t be here anymore. Fortunately, an independent game with the hunter is possible now.

Halloween is coming up. What sort of new costume would you love to see added to V&H? I would really like to be a zombie like I know them from “The Walking Dead.” Rotten flesh, missing or pitted body parts, tatty clothes… I won’t be good looking but very scary.

What is your favorite zone in the game, and why? I love the look of Shiverspine. The snow-covered landscape is just beautiful in my eyes and I feel like at home. For the rest, I like the Drom or the Fungal Caverns of Basido. Maybe they are a little frustrating in the beginning but after you found your way it goes like clockwork. What I like most on the Fungal Caverns is, that you are busy for a while without changing the zone.

What activities do you enjoy when you are not playing the game? As a dutiful Swiss, I certainly spend the days in winter as often as possible in the mountains. Snowboarding is one of my favorite hobbies and in my free time, I work as a snowboard teacher for kids. It’s a pleasure to teach them something I love this much. As long as there is now snow, I spend my time with my friends or a good book.

snowboarding

How would you describe your play style? (More combat oriented or crafting? Solo or party…? Heavily involved in guild activities?) ?) I love to play in a group, but I have no problem with doing some bounties by my own from time to time. Mostly, I play as a pair with Isdurit, who is in the same guild – our play style is a perfect match. Crafting is an important part of the game. It’s so much more fun to dash trough the realms with self-made gear. My guild is like a second family to me. The most of us play together for at least 2 or 3 years and every new member fits in perfectly. That’s why I love to support all of them, no matter what. Bounties, elders or crafted or collected stuff they can’t get themselves.

Rumor has it that you are studying to be a lawyer. As an avid gamer, do you have any interest into going into the field of entertainment/media law? Or maybe not at all? Yes, that’s true. :) I’m planning to become a lawyer for family law, maybe for criminal law. I had to write a seminar paper about media law last year and it was – excuse me – dull as dishwater.^^ But if someone ever has to sue someone in Switzerland, then I’m your man. Ummm, woman. :)

What features would you most like to see added to Villagers & Heroes? The companions are already a great feature. But I would like to see, that the companions are able to take some functions during a fight. It would be great to train them so that they get stronger and learn new skills.

Occasionally, players have said in the past that they often talk to their in-game friends in the V&H world on a more regular basis than they do their real life friends. What’s your take on that? I think, that this is accurate regarding to some of my friends. I certainly talk to my friends in V&H when I’m online, and mostly I log in once a day. But it’s the same with my flat- or classmates. If I don’t talk to a friend very often, the conversations are longer and more informative instead.

What is your snack or beverage of choice while playing Villagers & Heroes? ? I would like to eat M&M’s or Maltesers the whole time. Actually everything with chocolate^^ But I have to admonish me more than once to avoid that I eat too much chocolate 😉 My favorite beverage is Rivella, but I think only the Swiss know it. What a pity^^

Everyone has a favorite quote, be it from a book, film, writer, historical figure, etc. What’s yours? Michelle Obama said: “Just do what works for you, because there will always be someone who think differently.”

And that is how it is. No matter how much you try or even play-act – you can’t please everybody, so you better do it the way you think is right.


latest_news

Outfits! How exactly do they come into being? How do our artists take an image in their heads and transform it into the colorful attire your toons are wearing today? Fortunately, our very own Mad Otter artist, Ryan, is here today to describe the process she goes through when designing and implementing character outfits in the game.

Ryan:

The first thing I do is think about what is being asked of me. For the Reborn starter outfits, for example, the main guideline was that they needed to look good, but couldn’t look like high level gear. I also wanted the gear to make sense – the fabric and design used should be simplistic and/or have a reasonable backstory. Then I start by brainstorming. I pull out fantasy books, look for inspiration on-line, ask the Otters for their thoughts, etc. Once a few ideas begin to form, I begin drafting (sketching) them down by hand in a sketchbook.

design_behindscenes

As soon as I have nailed down a design that I am happy with, the next step is to grab the texture files, open them up in Photoshop, and start digitally painting. Most of the time, I get the basic shape drawn in, and then I bring it into my Max file where I can view it on the 3D model. It’s a back and forth process. Working on the textures. Saving out the file. Viewing it on the model, and then making adjustments based on what I see until I’m satisfied. This can take a long time, and I tend to explore other possibilities. Sometimes an error or doodle that I do for fun, leads to the finalized version I keep.

warrior1_behindscenes

Once I’m happy with the texture, I bring it in-game to see how it looks. Rarely does it look great on the first try, though sometimes it does. Often, I find that the game drains a lot of the color and detail I put into my work. It is pretty disappointing at times when I can’t figure out a way to make those details pop out realistically.

I also have to keep in mind both the female and male versions of the outfit at the same time. I want the outfits to match as closely as I can possibly get, so if I am working on a male outfit and went through a process that I know will be hard to recreate later, I’ll switch over to the female and redo what I had done while it is fresh in my mind.

warrior_behindscenes

The Warrior starter outfits were the easiest, and the most fun to do. (Assassin was pretty fun, too! As well as the Ice Wizard.) But for the warrior, I only had to make some slight adjustments to the original design, and once that was done everything flowed together very smoothly, and I was ready to tackle the other classes! It did set a standard for the rest of the outfits, so some designs had to be revised to look stronger.

firewiz_behindscenes

Fire Wizard, on the other hand, was probably the hardest outfit for me. I had drafted down a soot covered robe, but I thought of taking it a step further and made the outfit smolder with embers. It drove me nuts. I desperately wanted fire, to make it seem like this outfit was burning due to a mistake the low level Wizard caused. However, it wasn’t reading well and the outfit looked much abused. It wasn’t a nice starting outfit…so Chris pulled me from my madness and I made the nice simple red robe you see now.

The hardest thing about the whole process is coming up with the final design. I really want to try to make something the players would like to wear. When I hear positive reviews after completing an outfit, it is a very wonderful feeling and a bunch of the pressure goes away. When people aren’t as happy, I try to learn what the cause was. I often rely a lot on the Otters and my own judgement. I don’t know how many times I have asked myself: “if I was running around in this game for hours, would this outfit still be pleasing to my eye?”

Sometimes I’d lurk online with my friends and listen to their chatter, especially when the topic of outfits came up. Some class outfits were greatly influenced by their conversation. I remember one friend remarking how warriors tended to be a favored class because all their gear looks great, while everyone else wore rags and patches in the beginning levels. That made me determined to try and make all the clothing as strong as or better than the warrior outfit I had made!


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