Say Hi to my Haida Hydralisk

I offer no apologies for the title of this blog post.

Anyway, I've been learning to draw in the traditional Pacific Northwest Coast style. I've sketched art from museums and books, read Bill Holm's
Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form, and now I've finished my first piece in that style:

This is a picture of a Hydralisk, from the game StarCraft. It is depicted in a traditional Northwest Coast Native American style, closely approximating the formal Northern style of groups such as the Haida of the Queen Charlotte Islands. The Hydralisk is curled up inside an egg, waiting to hatch.

Thus, Haida-lisk Incubation.

I painted it in Photoshop, which, as it turns out, was a very poor tool for the job. This art style is extremely unforgiving of sloppiness - not good when all you have is a tiny tablet and a whole lot of pixels to push around. In the future I'll be using a vector-based program like Flash for my Northwest Coast art.

So look at it, save it, print it, show it to your friends, whatever.

I'm quite happy with it. In my opinion it's the first decent Northwest Coast design I've made, and I liked it enough to print it out and frame it on my wall! :D

Hope you like it too. ;)

Yes, it's a hydralisk from StarCraft, just like my origami hydralisk. Actually, I had originally planned to make a larger picture where the hydralisk is transforming into a lurker as it bursts out of its egg. I'd still like to do that - I can just use this basic design and add a big scary lurker to it. No promises though. :)

I've recently found an artist on deviantART, tarkheki, who does some really nice Northwest Coast art, including a couple rendition of characters from Pokemon in addition to more traditional subjects. I guess I'm not the first to draw a game character in this style then. :p



Yeah, not quite. But strange and scary and awesome enough to inspire the possibility.

What am I talking about?

You know how in my last post, I mentioned that there's a lot of people in the game industry who don't know what's going on, and a few who are looking in the right direction? Well, Dan Cook of Lost Garden is one of those few. Just read his latest article, Constructing Artificial Emotions: A Design Experiment.

The basic idea it proposes is that to incite a particular emotion in someone, you provoke in them some physiological change, like an elevated heart rate, and then provide symbols and environmental cues pointing to a particular emotion as the cause of the arousal.

Does that sound weird? Don't rely on me to convince you of the validity of the approach - read the article. I don't know whether it works or not, but it sure is intriguing. Have you ever heard anything like it being talked about in game design before? I haven't. There has been plenty of discussion about emotions in games, but Dan Cook's ideas on the subject are the first I've encountered that are weird and different and simple enough to have a chance at actually working.

You may not agree with everything in the article, but I assure you, reading it is a refreshingly thought-provoking experience. This guy knows what he's talking about - he touches on so many points, gets things (certainly understands social motivations)... Well, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Not much more I can say. Check it out, it's worth your time.

Another guy who really knows what he's talking about is Ian Bogost, in his book Persuasive Games. There are always tons of discussions cycling around forums and email lists about games as art, and serious games, and games for education and all that. But then once in a while someone comes out and just says it all, whose words rise far above the tangled mass of uninspired chatter, gleaming in their purity and truth, shining... soaring...

Yeah, anyway, well Ian Bogost is one of those people, and Persuasive Games is a book that says the right things. It's not exactly a thrilling read, and it can often ramble on, but man, those ideas... If you don't want to spend your time wading through stagnant forum discussions and you want to see the future of games, look no further than Persuasive Games.