Saturday, 13 August 2011

Guild Wars 2: Sylvari Week Summary

Sylvari week has blasted onto the Guild Wars scene with a vengeance. I don't believe there has been a reveal more anticipated, and I don't believe there will be another one quite like it until the game hits the shelves. The sylvari went under a tarpaulin in the back of ANet's grand workshop a long while back, since then we've heard the whizzing of circular saws, smelt the burning scent of singed plantlife and heard the unmistakable sound of a power drill being taken to a geranium but nothing more than little snippets of info has been leaked to us. The past week has seen a cornucopia of new info on the race, and I'm here to snip it up, lay it out and stick pins in it so you can oggle in wonder:

Day 1: Kristen Perry does the BIG reveal in "Designing and Redesigning the Sylvari". This article could have been written by a blind monkey using wax crayons crudely constructed from his own earwax and we would have lapped it up like it was Tolstoy; such was the anticipation for the release of the redesign. Fortunately, it was an incredibly well written piece, and it was really interesting to hear about the great depth of thought and research that went into producing the sylvari we see today.

From the building of the torso; whereby the primary growth socket on the back sprouts the leaves which construct the shoulder, arms and other musculature and is mirrored (think the two ends of a lemon or a banana) by an opposing divot on the belly button. To the beautiful faces; where jawlines are constructed by vines and leaves and where, relatively unlimited by a human bone structure, Kristen and the design team were able to build brows out of twisting myriads of leaf and bark.

She also touched on how they designed sylvari clothing and armour in much the same way. Rather than saying "let's make a dress out of leaves" they asked "if this dress was to grow naturally, what would it look like?". So, the clothes also tend to flow out of a central "growth socket" much like where a leaf attaches to a stem, or a flower's petals are attached at the centre.
She also breifly talked about the more gnarly elements of plantlife which a sylvari might emulate. Rather than going down the summery green route, you might want to choose to go more wintry  - with bark, roots and branches being the prevailing theme in that palette.

Day 2: Angel McCoy (doesn't that sound like a TV cop name? "Dammit Angel, you're a loose cannon!") with "The Sylvari Soul". Now, there was a craptonne of information in this article and it took me a long while to read through/listen to it all - and I thoroughly enjoyed it but, a few days down the line, the thing that has really stuck with me is: FRICKEN BRITISH VOICE ACTORS! Or at least British accents. It was a brilliantly refreshing sound to hear - almost like having soft cheese gently massaged into my earholes (particularly after all I've heard over the past week has been a drunken and drug addled slurs of an angry riot mob and the pustulous rantings of angry Daily Mail readers). Thankyou ANet, I am a happy-Will.

 Day 3: Video: "Growing the Sylvari"

Day 4: The update of the sylvari GW2 page. Not a lot of new information, maybe a little on how the cycles affect the sylvari. But mostly, I was there to see the tour of The Grove (and the AMAZING Soule score that went with it which I've listened to a number of times since)

Day 5: Ree Soesby talks about the Nightmare Court in "Dream and Nightmare". Once again Ree deals with the darker side a race with her lore-post on the final day. We already know a little about the Nightmare Court, but this post really blew things wide open. We found out a little bit more about how the Nightmare Court go about their dastardly ways and I have to say, it's pretty fricken evil. Essentially, they see the teachings passed on by Ventari's tablet as a millstone around the neck of the sylvari race and they want to free their people from the moral bindings which hold the society together. They do this by committing terrible and horrific acts upon sylvari and non-sylvari alike, hoping that the memories of their evil acts will filter down to the Pale Tree and into the Dream of Dreams which each sylvari experiences as they are growing in their pods. 

Ree also covers how the cycles of day affect the sylvari, and how each sylvari is supposed to be changed by the part of the day they were born in:
Those born in the cycle of dawn are keen talkers and diplomats. Those born in the cycle of noon are skilled combatants and prefer action over talking. Those born in the cycle of dusk are thinkers, riddlers and philosophers. Finally, those born during the cycle of night are loners, secretive and silent.

As with all the final day posts, Ree weaves the story of the first of the second wave of sylvari newborns (after the "Firstborn", the first 12 sylvari to have been born from the Pale tree, there was a period where no more were born for a long time) Cadeyrn and his eventual descent into the ranks of the Nightmare Court. If the upcoming "Sea of Sorrows" Guild Wars novel is anything like the past few stories we've heard from Ree, then it will be epic on a whole new scale.

Sylvari week was the time of reckoning for a lot of GW fans. The time when we could finally judge whether the months of redesign for the race had really been worth it. I have to say: ANet talk the talk, and BOY do they walk the walk. I was on the fence between a number of races when it came to my main character. But I'm almost 100% sure that it will be a sylvari after the events of this week.

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