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Accessible Fan Art; or, PONYPONYOMGPONY

June 7, 2011

Squeezybabe the Gnomepony doesn't know she is tiny.

Work time productivity amongst the Warcraft Twitterverse took a nosedive on June 2nd, after the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Pony Creator flash program from GeneralZoi  of DeviantArt was introduced to an unsuspecting local population. Dozens of ponies flooded the nets, almost clogging several crucial tubes usually reserved for news about Justin Beiber. The Twittersphere seems to have regained balance after its Equestria-infestation, but questions remain.

What is appealing about self-created fan art? How does reimaging one limited digital form into another, even more limited digital form, deepen our possession of a self-created digital identity?  How does artistic accessibility reflect the appeal of World of Warcraft in general? Does magic really make friendship all complete? Most importantly, how cute are these ponies, guys? Oh-my-god, ponies!

Here’s a pony, there’s a pony. Everywhere a pony pony.

Customization, or  What You See Is Probably Not What I Intended

Player characters in Warcraft are an odd mix. They have highly differentiated basic body types, but lack the micro-customization that has grown very common in modern video games. Each profile shape in Warcraft is visibly different, even at very small resolution – even “similar” body types are radically different in proportion, color, or profile.  Across a battleground, there is no mistaking a gnome for a goblin, or a troll for a Draenai.

Embersilk's Goblin, Pipilotti

It’s a very different emphasis than a game like Rift, which has 6 races which are all rather humanoid, and come in interchangeable shapes and proportions. On a macro visual level, choosing High Elf versus Kalari is not nearly as clear cut as choosing between a Blood Elf or a Night Elf’s body in Warcraft.  From a distance, I personally had a great deal of trouble differentiating the races in Rift. In World of Warcraft, the lack of customization in body features combined with cartoonishly differentiated profiles is a strong visual decision that positively impacts play style.

Yet within these 20 body types, there is limited customization available for facial features and no customization available for body shapes or sizes,  often leading to justified critiques about visual monotony and normalizing “unrealistic” body types.  This makes Warcraft feel mildly out of date, or cartoony, compared to modern games that offer custom options for everything from eyebrow tilt to a full million color palette for eye color. Even my cartoon Mii on the Wii has dozens more options than my Tauren.

This impacts players because there is no way in game to perfectly realize your vision for your character. In an RPG, your character has no concrete appearance except what is player generated.  In Warcraft, you have a pretty basic template, that you share with millions of others.  This is, I believe, a huge motivation for drawing or commissioning fan art of player characters, along with the relatively low-fidelity graphics.  I am fascinated to see if there are equal quantities of out of game fan-art for games with more customization and higher graphical fidelity.

So I promised this would be about ponies, didn’t I?

Here are self-portraits from Perculia and Catulla from Flavortext.

In game, Catulla and Perculia are virtually identical. They have the same hair color, style, similar lips, and the same tattoos.  In RP, they are highly differentiated by their traditional costume – glaives and a demon hunter’s blindfold versus a Shen’dralar’s robes and antler motifs.  Given an endless array of choices, they would look nothing alike.

Yet using the pony generator, each player’s vision for how she sees her character is rendered differently, while maintaining similarities. Both share shaggy two-toned hair and identical tails, and soft night-elf colored pastel bodies. The taller Cat has softer hair colors where smaller Perculia is bold and neon.  Reacting to the unknown, Perc is perhaps angry and quick to resort to violence when it suits her purpose, where Cat is more restful and contemplative of the changes wrought by the Cataclysm.

The Pony Generator takes the types of visual diversity available at character creation and the barber shop and flips them. Only one body shape or pose is available, instead of 20, but it can be muscular, large or small. There are very limited options for accessories, instead of literally thousands of pieces of armor available in Wow. Infinite colors are able to be generated, but there are no more hairstyles than are available to Goblins.  As Perculia explained, “Having the few choices forces you to analyze how you frame your character–the sky isn’t the limit. Perc had no blindfold option, so instead of trying to literally copy how my in-game toon looked, I had to think about her personality.” At its heart, the Pony Generator is a very limited tool, which provides only a few elements for personal expression.  Having to translate the things that make your character unique in game, both visually and personality-wise, into this new medium forces you to redefine your idea of why you chose the in-game model you did.


Cerylia Dawnwing and Annorith

Here are two ponies from LadyLatias and Riththewarluid. Both have chosen the same elaborate style of pony mane for their equines, yet to one woman, the hair symbolized her blood elf’s elaborate twisted updo. For the other, it was visual shorthand for her human warlock’s prosaic top-knot bun.  To reverse the idea, I think it’s fascinating to think that the same in-game hairstyles we choose may similarly represent vastly different platonic ideals of haircuts, let alone the things we cannot choose at all in game – a very tall dwarf, a muscular female blood elf, a Tauren with curly hair.

Cynwise Ponies by Norm, Ilaniel, and Cynwise

Another fascinating look at perceptions of in-game personality and physical appearance comes from multiple people generating art of the same toon.  Cynwise, of Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual, has published many in game screenshots, and has shared several realistic pieces of fan art that portray Cynwise the character as the human female she is.  His photo-realistic conception of his toon, as drawn by traditional fan artists, is public knowledge. Yet when three pony versions of Cynwise were made, all three were vastly different. I had no idea that in the player’s mind, Cynwise the warlock had thick wavy hair, and would never have asked if it weren’t for PonyChat2011. A community using this same new language to translate the appearance of characters might be a fun and illuminating way for say, an RP guild to learn more about the visage and personality of their players.

Accessibility; and Visual Art and Fiction in Fandom

Part of the reason that World of Warcraft is massively popular is that it is highly accessible to new players.  The game does not assume great experience in video game navigation skills, honed reflexes, or an extremely expensive gaming system.  For a beginner, it requires no peripheries like gaming mice or headsets, it requires no addons, it requires no manual or online database.  Of course, as a player becomes more advanced, they can add to their experience in all these ways, but they are not necessary to play or enjoy the game.

Ilaniel Pony has Druidic Antlers

Artistic  endeavors are not necessarily the same. Some people do not have the hand-eye coordination to draw straight lines, or the training to accurately copy a complex shape like a body or face. Many people do not have the expensive devices needed to create or share digital art of high quality – art programs like Photoshop, drawing tablets, or high resolution scanners.

There is also a great deal of baggage in our culture that “art” is a thing that only a few select people with magical amounts of talent do, and the rest of us should not even attempt to copy. Young children do not have this impulse or training – all crayon drawings of mothers with no arms are treasured. We typically learn in adolescence that art is in a museum, and only some of us are “artistic”. The rest of us just doodle, or sketch, or hide our post-it note stacks when our boss comes into the office.

Fan fiction is a great democratizing force because it is understood to be written by “normal people” and not a separate species of “author”. People are reluctant to create, or share, their fiction but not because they feel fundamentally unable to create it. Yet far more people are afraid or uncertain how to go about representing their character visually.  You see this affect in commissions – it’s very common to hire a paid artist to create visual art of your PC, but I’ve never seen someone pay an author to write fiction or poetry about player characters, in Warcraft, other MMOs, or in P&P RPGs.  I’d love to see it if you know an exception, though! (It seems that in younger, especially female dominated, fan circles there is less taboo against producing and sharing non-professional quality art, though most of the examples are art of existing characters like Harry Potter or Twilight’s cast.)

The Pony Generator removes the barrier to entry in defining and sharing art in the same way appearing as a level 1 in Brill democratizes computer gaming.  There is no way to create a “bad” pony, or a poorly constructed one, since the flash style ensures smooth lines, sensible proportions, and evenly distributed colors.  There is no fear of your pony being substantially worse or more mockable than your guildmate’s or your fellow blogger’s.

But just like downloading Omen improves your playstyle, adding additional visual information to the ponies allows people to continue customizing their pony. It’s not necessary or superior, but it’s interesting (and adorable.)

Here are two ponies which represent female Draenei.

Visper: Cranky Goat and Millya: Fireballin'

The first is @Outbirk’s pony portrait of Visper. Hi, Visper!  Visper’s overly self deprecating player, Snack of The Dungeon Runner, portrays her excellently in fiction but hasn’t shared any self-generated visual creations.  Meanwhile, Vidyala of Manalicious is not known for IC fiction but has decorated her blog with fantastic and adorable drawings. She has the talent, practice, proper tools, and the confidence required to produce high-end visual folkart.  Also, WHELP ON HEAD.

Visper’s pony has obvious visual signifiers – the Draenaic colors, the horn, the dark straight hair. Meanwhile, Vidyala’s additions are able to customize the pony and make it obviously a Draenai, and fairly obviously a fire mage.  But the most poignant differences are innate to the generator – the expressions on their faces reveal very different personalities in very different situations.

Contrast and Context Analysis

Glorwynn Lightbraid and Raziel

Many people were driven to create ponies, or scenes, which more accurately reflected their character’s nature or class. Rosaamarilla, of Heavy Wool Bandage,who plays a dwarven paladin, added holy sparkles to her cheerful,tiny pony. Miri’s male blood elf paladin Raziel chose a blue body color to symbolize his T11 gear, and stylized coiffure and smug grin to represent his vanity.  Both are player/artist short hand for “paladin”, and reflect vastly different ideas of what being a paladin means to their character.

Druidic Representations

My Normpony reflects her tauren race through her coloration and her horn, and her druidic class through her orange accessories.  She’s also personalized more specifically through her Cutie-mark, of the Restoration leaf, and an in-character joke. Elendryn, Sillermoon’s druid, used elongated ears, eyebrows, and custom eye-tattooing to signify “Kaldorei”, but used Mark of the Wild to symbolize her druidic roots.

Displayed together as examples of different races’ Druidism, both ponies become clearer examples than either would be alone.

Concluding thoughts

Jibbi of Argent Dawn (@reylish) Hurrrrs

Outside of the wow community, none of these ponies would be recognizable as Warcraft tributes, of course. Yet it’s through context that they become more unique and representative.  Religious folk art, for example, is meaningful largely in the context of religious practice, common visual shorthand, and shared experiences.  Native North American art lacks meaning unless one knows which animals tribes the creators revered. Medieval Christian art evolved a highly complex series of gestures and accessories to provide identification to various saints when artistic methods were never photorealistic and many of the people viewing the art would have been illiterate.  The cycle of modern “Fine” art is incomprehensible without an understanding of the modes which came before it – Impressionism is only revolutionary when seen as a departure from the Romantic and Realist schools of the 19th century. Post-Modernism is literally meaningless without a functional understanding of Modernism.   The limitations of a certain genre of folk art does not inherently make it meaningless to its creators.

Final thoughts:  Ponies are really awesome and fun. Sparkle Ponies are $25 but these ponies are free. You should make some ponies. Warcraft is fun and community is fun, and sharing personal creations is part of what makes the Warcraft blogosphere so compelling and welcoming.   The Warcraft universe is sometimes unsure what the place of Player Characters truly is, with us, at best, playing nameless backup to Lore figures or simultaneously and identically performing the same quests on rails.  A tool which helps people feel ownership of their character’s appearance and personality, and further invests them in that story, is precious, and an easily accessible meme that gets people talking and sharing creativity is a valuable, if light-hearted, addition to the blogosphere.

Ponies? They’re awesome. Go ahead and post a pony if you feel like it. And check us out on twitter for more fun conversation at @FlavorTextLore, or Narci at @Druidis4Fite! Huge thanks to everyone who made ponies that didn’t get featured.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2011 5:49 am

    What a great post! It was a very entertaining and thought-provoking read! How interesting it truly is to see how people can express their characters through such a simple yet expressive medium as a… pony creator! 😀

    Everyone featured has such cute and creative ponies to express their vision of their characters. That was such an amusing day… when ponies took over my Twitter feed. xD Love your take on the whole phenomenon! Great job!

  2. June 7, 2011 5:54 am

    “A tool which helps people feel ownership of their character’s appearance and personality, and further invests them in that story, is precious, and an easily accessible meme that gets people talking and sharing creativity is a valuable, if light-hearted, addition to the blogosphere.

    Warcraft is fun and community is fun, and sharing personal creations is part of what makes the Warcraft blogosphere so compelling and welcoming. ”

    Hah, well done — it took me almost 2000 words to say what you said in a handful. I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between self-generated art vs self generated fic, and why one is more prevalent than the other, too.

    I find the paradox of PC identity in WoW really interesting — as we’ve all addressed, WoW is so limited in terms of character customization ingame, yet that doesn’t put us off. We continue to play it in droves, and arguably expend even MORE effort (and potentially money) shaping and defining our characters through other means. I mean, there’s a whole meta-RP culture surrounding WoW that fascinates me. Even people who don’t consider themselves “RPers” will comission an LJ icon or similar of their toon, and I bet a lot of those same players are having fun with this pony generator right now. People are very possessive of their characters–look at what happened with RealIDgate, which threatened to strip us of our constructed identities.

    I’d also like to know what the fan art communities are like surrounding other high-fantasy MMOs, such as Rift or similar.

  3. June 7, 2011 6:02 am

    ALSO (APPARENTLY I AM NOT DONE YET). Anyhow, to turn the point about Perc and I being twins on its head — our real-life friendship is entirely based on the fact that we caught each other’s attention via wow_ladies on LJ because of our characters’ similar appearance. We started chatting, found out we had a lot of common interests and hey, fast forward to today.

    We both had a pretty heavy influence on each other in terms of character backstory, as well. Sure, I’m a druid and she’s a rogue, but we’re both pre-Sundering ladies with strong ties to Dire Maul/Eldre’Thalas and the highborne community there. Our characters were actually faced with some similar situations in their past, but dealt with them differently (which, if you know us personally, is also reflective of some IRL parallels we both share). I always wonder how Cat’s story would have shaped up if I hadn’t met Perc.

    (And re-reading this comment, I find it like how I inadvertently switch between the first and third person when referring to Cat. Telling!)

  4. Norm permalink*
    June 7, 2011 6:09 am

    I’m glad you thought I was coming from a useful parallel path rather than stepping on your toes. Your Folkart posts have been so insightful. It’s an incredibly helpful way of framing fan art without using terms which inherently diminish its merit.

    I am definitely interested in what commission rates and explanations are like in other MMOs – I’m sure people commission P&P RPG characters all the time, rather like the furry community, where there is no pre-existing model for your character. But how about LOTRO? Rift?

  5. June 7, 2011 6:28 am

    No, I agree. I take real issue with how certain types of art are dismissed as derivative because of their content. And don’t get me started on the “are video games art??” debate. I think it a RT from BrainyGamer (I THINK) that said something like “Art is weird. Games are weird. Things are weird. Get over it.”

    I was a bit leery of starting the series because I was concerned about issues of appropriation (fandom and subculture do not equal ethnicity, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere), but at the same time it’s a community that is very real, and the concepts around which it is based have had some very real (and positive) effects on others’ lives.

    I agree wrt LOTRO/Rift — this also touches on some issues Lani was talking about and I’d like to hear her thoughts, as I know she plays MERPS!

  6. June 7, 2011 7:16 am

    I’m honestly surprised at how short I think Cynwise is compared to everyone else’s idea of her. What’s interesting is that that doesn’t make it canonical! Each viewpoint has some validity, too – one of the reasons I enjoy commissioning art is precisely because I enjoy seeing different artists’ viewpoints of the character.

    This is a great post, Norm. And not just because it has OMGPONIES in it.

  7. Poeryth permalink
    June 7, 2011 7:29 am

    If it helps you guys any, I’m as inclined to make a pony for my Rift and Dragon Age 2 characters as I am for my wow character. Same with commissioning art. I love art commissions, the only reason I haven’t gotten one for my Rift character is lack of money. I think part of the fun is how people interpret my character– I have many pictures of Poe, and she looks different in all of them. I think part of it is that the artist’s personality leaks into the picture and affects the result, and that’s part of the fun.

    I can post comparison pictures of both Poeryth and Poe pony, Teela from Rift and Teela Pony, and Veena from DA2 and Veena pony if you want. Mostly cuz I wanna show off my ponies. XD

  8. Norm permalink*
    June 7, 2011 7:29 am

    @Cat I don’t think the series has walked close to appropriation at all. For one thing, gaming culture IS a subculture we’re immersed in, though admittedly only one small part of it, so there’s no false representation. For another, I don’t think there’s anything disrespectful about your analysis. I felt a little weird comparing it with religious art but the small, limited symbolism which requires some inside knowledge to interpret is very clear. It’s odd how there are echoes of stained class in fanart from these very basic things to the incredible artwork you featured in your last #Folkartproblems post. Possibly just because they’re an easy touch point for a common idea (codified symbolism), or because of how much they’ve influenced people subconsciously?

    @Cyn I was surprised Cyn is short in your mind, too! That’s “dwarf” height for ponies in my head, so maybe under 5’0 for a human, and I always assumed Cyn was of average height. And of course my idea of “that tall a pony is this tall a human” is … noncanonical in the extreme. I’ve always seen her with very thick straight hair, almost stereotypically Asian. (It is also totally confusing writing a post about you where both you and your character are known only as Cynwise.)

  9. Norm permalink*
    June 7, 2011 7:37 am

    @Poe – Please, feel free to show off your ponies! I’m especially fascinated by why people choose the options they do – did you find yourself prioritizing different aspects amongst the different franchises based on what’s unique about each character or world?

  10. Fallah permalink
    June 7, 2011 9:06 am

    This is such a great post. I love that you actually turned out some great analysis of the WoW community from a fun day with a avatar generator 😀

    I also loved seeing your Norm pony early-on that day: it was so obvious to me that she was a Tauren druid. The 3 versions of Cynwise were really interesting to me as well.

    And of course, I love that you customized Elyndren for me!

  11. Poeryth permalink
    June 7, 2011 9:32 am

    Hokay! XD *cracks knuckles*

    First is my wow main, Poe. her armory picture compared to her pony.

    Poe is a death knight, who was with the scourge from the very start. (I have a fondness for integrating the lore of each Franchise into my character’s personality, which is why I tend not to recycle names) As such, she’s actually very eager to please, both because of the very deep brain washing she underwent during her time in the scourge, and due to the fact that technically she’s alive (hence I tried to give her skin some pink), as she made the choice to join the Cult of the Damned of her own will. Poe’s M.O. is to make herself the smallest threat possible, which is why I gave her big eyes and a smile, but not a toothy one. However, her personality and history are very much affected by her time in the scourge, nearly defined by it, so of course I had to give her the somewhat plate looking hoof adornments with the bright blue gems to reference that. I picked the messy at the top, smooth at the bottom hair because it was the closest I could find… I tell myself there’s a pony tail there you can’t see (beside the pony’s tail that you can see. XD)

    She’s small for a human, but as a plate wearer so she’s fairly muscular, and I tried to show that in her pony as well.

    If I weren’t so lazy I’d throw a skull on her butt. 😉
    Then we have my Rift main, Teela, and her pony.

    Teela is an easy going rogue– her “souls” being a bard, a blade dancer, and a night blade, she likes to sing bawdy songs and get into trouble, so of course her expression is a silly mischievous one. She’s died and it didn’t stick, to quote a part of the game, and so she’s fairly carefree, for someone running around in a world that’s on the verge of destruction. One of my favorite parts of Teela’s model is the accentuating make up around her eyes, so I tried to hint at that with the eyelashes, but they also hint at her coquettish, playful nature, so it works rather well, and does the hair that again, was the closest to the hairstyle she has in game that I could find. I couldn’t really find any accessories that matched the style of Rift however, which is okay because Teela doesn’t really wear much, liking to have as much ability to freely move as possible. Once they introduce poses to the pony maker, I made remake her, since this one is the one that least feels like it fits the world, I think because the Eth culture isn’t very western European in style, and the pony accessories are more western European/American culture based. Or at least they make me think of that.

    She’s a dancer, so while she has some musculature, it’s not as bulky as Poe’s.

    She’d have a flaming dagger on her butt, or maybe a lute.

    And finally, my favorite Dragon Age 2 “Hawke” Veena and her pony.

    Veena is a mage in a world where the prevalent religion claims that mages are proof that the Maker (their major god) hates the person who is a mage and that their souls are tainted. Mages in Thedas are for the most part marginalized and oppressed, with your options if you happen to be one being 1. to hide and be a fugitive/apostate mage 2. to be locked away in a tower away from the rest of society. The girl has been told all her life that something is wrong with her, and unlike Poe, who tries to convince everyone she’s not a threat despite her bad choices, Veena is angry, because she didn’t choose to become a mage. I tried to show that in her expression. I also tried to hint at the mage champion armor from the game with the boots and cuffs, though I went with gold rather than silver because it suited the character’s personality more, as her magic is much more fire based, and I had already used the silver cuffs for Poe. Amusingly enough, she and Poe have the same tail, and I didn’t notice until I was done, but it suits them both.

    as a magic user, she is not particularly bulky. I’m not sure what she’d have on her butt either, maybe a staff or flames.

    I think I pretty much prioritized similarly on each aspect, but the different worlds, the cultures in said worlds, and the… feel, for lack of a better word ,of each world definitely affected the choices I made, because they formed the characters I’m trying to portray.

    I love this. XD I just wrote 800 words about my pixelated characters as ponies. XD

  12. Poeryth permalink
    June 7, 2011 9:36 am

    I just realized that my link for the actual picture of Veena is broken. Here’s the proper one:

  13. June 7, 2011 9:56 am

    Great post! Visper and I discussed briefly about the WoW fanfic community the other day (I’m still trying to convince him he needs to dive in and share his great works). This is an interesting analysis, to say the least. I’ve often thought of getting art of my character, Lizzia, commissioned but never have I thought of getting a story commissioned. I’m not a great fiction writer, but I’d probably be super entertained by a story of her.

    Also: Lizzia, the cackling Night Elf druid & her Pony disguise. (I just realized that Lizzia’s hat is set to display in the Armory. You can see her sans helm here.)

  14. Norm permalink*
    June 7, 2011 10:22 am

    @Poe – Thank you for sharing! I can definitely see each of your characters in their ponies. I hadn’t noticed how DA-y the wrapped booties were if you made them into leather. I wrote four straight pages about ponies, so I don’t thnk 800 words is unrealistic! 😉

    The pony accessories are western-culture-based, though I hadn’t thought about it as such before – the aethetic of the show is targetted at young western[ized] girls (though obviously the appeal has been surprisingly broad] so it makes sense that a generic pony generator would feature similar items.

    @Lizzia – It had never occurred to me to commission writing, either, though I’ve always had a lot of fun weaving together backstories with my friends for our various characters and love it when my characters have cameos in their fiction. I don’t think the point is to be “great” or not, but simply to create for the joy of it. And Lizziapony is so tall!

  15. June 7, 2011 10:33 am

    @Norm-arci Lizzia, to me at least, and I share that one trait: We’re both tall. Maybe Lizzia’s height is a self-projection? I also find myself drawn to trolls and tauren and likewise deleting every gnome I’ve ever created.

    I’d also probably try writing a backstory for Lizzia, but I’m terribly intimidated by all the great fanfic writers out there. I’m not a very eloquent or clever author. WTB confidence!

  16. June 7, 2011 10:45 am

    The things I miss from not being on Twitter! Now I know what to do with the rest of my afternoon, while the servers are still down….

    Speaking of Harry Potter as another community that generates a lot of portrait fanart, and Ponies, five or six years ago, when I still had a Harry Potter fanart site, I did “Potter Ponies” for April Fool’s Day. I’ve since taken down the site, and I don’t have the files on the harddrive of this computer, alas, or I’d share the pictures. It’s not quite the same thing as this, but I think some of the ideas of representing a character’s personality and identity in an extremely limited palette of shapes (and, to a lesser extent, colors) that I used when I made the Potter Ponies are very similar to what people were doing with their WoW toons in these examples.

    I also think it’s interesting how some ponies are more literal and others are more figurative. The Pipilotta pony, Cerylia’s pony, Ilaniel’s pony, and the Draenei and Druid ponies seem to be quite literal translations of the character’s appearance. The Catulla and Perculia ponies, the Cynwise ponies and the Raziel pony seem to be more figurative interpretations of the character’s personality. My first go at making a Kamalia pony has turned out very literal.

  17. Poeryth permalink
    June 7, 2011 1:12 pm

    @Norm To clarify, my comment about the Westernized accessories wasn’t meant as complaint or a negative comment, it hadn’t occurred to me either until I got to my Rift character, since her particular culture is very Middle Eastern influenced with touches of Roman and Asian culture, and I couldn’t find anything that felt right.

    @kama Yeah, I can see how some people are more literal than others. I’m definitely very literal when it comes to my chars’ appearances, as can be seen by how I tried to match their actual hair and skin colors. It probably explains why I don’t like using actors or real world people to represent my characters, too. There’s always something off.

  18. June 7, 2011 2:22 pm

    Well, we can’t just leave a challenge hanging like that!

  19. June 7, 2011 3:25 pm

    I assure you, self loathing is a form of self deprecation. (thank you for the nice words, Norm. =D )

  20. perculia permalink*
    June 7, 2011 6:39 pm

    I love your art historical paragraph towards the end. The tendency of art history to appropriate cultural traditions, define it as ‘high art,’ and turn snooty at the existing culture has always bothered me. Hey, that’s why I argue a purely art historical analysis doesn’t further aesthetic development in my thesis!

    I had a post on LJ (I think before we were friended) where I posted some links to MLP-generator type art that inspired Perc, various online paper dolls and generators. Of course, there’s a whole backlog of books that I can point to for fic influences, but the spark that created Perc was a series of goth KiSS paper dolls made for C7 (Nightshade and Betony), where I stumbled upon some motifs I liked before I was confident and pretentious enough to go out and take ownership of larger cultural things. I’m tempted, after the archaeology series is done, to write up those LJ notes and turn them into a post. Like I said in my email to you, MLP are an accessible way to share character observations, yet people get shy when sharing longer analyses (looking at you, Snack, for fic shyness). I think I should start practicing what I preach, stop thinking that a public character analysis is narcissistic, and write up the sort of article I seem to be looking for.

    To touch upon Cat’s point with our IRL friendship–we were very much into taking creative screenshots of our characters and posting them to WL at the time, which could be a parallel to people first thinking about their characters via accessible fanart like MLP. I think our similar aesthetic made us start talking, and then experiences related to art and college were a further development.

    I’ve noticed I switch between first and third person a lot when writing about Perc. I think for The Greater Mysteries, the section involving Perc is written both in a different tense and POV. It’s also the most personal, so woo, armchair therapy analysis.

  21. June 8, 2011 2:17 am

    Personally and honestly, I find it extremely easy to distance my character’s appearance in-game from what he or she may actually look like. While born after the heyday of Text Roguelikes and interactive fiction, nevertheless my introduction to collaborative roleplaying wasn’t through MMOs or MUDs but forum, play-by-post games. As such, the appearance of a character- aside from the occasional shorthand you can glean from it (IE, chances are if a non-elf has white hair, said character’s going to be rather old) is utterly inconsequential. I’ve got written descriptions of most of my roleplaying characters that may not be perfectly in-tune with their in game appearance, I honestly can’t remember them and definitely don’t pay much attention to them. To me, as a writer, I find my character’s speech patterns to be the most distinctive parts of my characters, as I feel they color their interactions with the world far more than how heavy or how bright their eyes shine are.

    On a side note, I really just… don’t get the pony resurgence. It’s beginning to scare me a bit.

  22. June 15, 2011 7:40 am

    Since several folks have asked, I’ve assembled a lot of the Cynwise Fan Art I know about on a page on my site:


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