EQNext Art Director Goes on Defense About Character Design

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Art Design & Appearance, EverQuest Next, EverQuest Next Landmark

eqnext-artdesign

Just as any tissue paper will inevitably be confused with Kleenex, and any photocopier technology will — sooner or later — be referred to as a Xerox, it seems any high fantasy MMO will eventually get painted with the “it looks like World of Warcraft” brush. But in the case of EverQuest Next, are those comparisons fair or even appropriate?

Sure the Kerra (Vah Shir?) have big shoulder armor and smooth features, but the similarities seem to end there. The characters are lithe and thin, not chunky like WoW. Further, the large, expressive eyes are far more akin to Disney or anime than any other property. It’s a character style that is built for Storytelling, but have the team gone too far? The stylized appearance of the Tony the Tigeresque Kerra has polarized the EQ and EQ2 fanbases, leading a number of players to discount the game before it’s even in Beta.

With the EverQuest Next team working so closely together for the last few years, yet isolated from the rest of SOE, no doubt they have built bonds of friendship which are like family. So when players reacted negatively to the character design, Rosie Rappaport, EQNext’s Senior Art Director, came to the defense of the design team like a mother hen.

After the jump, her tweets on the subject:

 

 

 

Since only two fully realized races have been exposed thus far, Rosie offered this:

 

 

 

Further, she cited examples where she feels that expressive eyes and stylistic appearances are preferable to straight realism.

 

Rosie must be a fellow fan of Extra Credits (lessons on Game Development) because she also tweeted this video:

 

Rosie really wanted to bring the point home about how important expression (through in-game emotes and SOEmote, for those players who choose to use it) will be in EQNext to understand how a character or NPC feels, rather than “Hail Dialog”.

To do that, she posted what most would consider an extreme example on the zany, silly side, demonstrating how infectiously expressive characters can be. Alas, this video sure won’t do anything to assuage fears that EQNext will touch on anime themes and styles. If you can get through it, that is.

 

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Comments (114)

  • Surve

    |

    I get stylized. What we have seen so far just looks more like preteen animation. The current demos lack even the edginess of the typical 13-17yr old amine audience.

    Seeing a few more races would help. Also seeing just how much detail this animation supports might make a difference. For example if the female wizard’s robe shows cloth wrinkles and “clingy-ness” to her body model or the armor plates on the Kerra show independent movement, I could be bought over.

    From what has been presented so far I just haven’t a lot of significant detail within the stylistic framework.

    Reply

    • Beacat

      |

      I finally realized why I’m so upset about the cartoons. When most of us play we really want to be able to do the things we can do onscreen. Cartoons have been jumping over building and such for years, and are generally associated with children. But when I can imagine it’s me on the screen (IE: looks like it COULD be me with a perfect body and beautiful face, etc.) then it’s exciting and really enjoyable. I don’t want to be a cartoon, and most folks I know don’t want to either. It’s just not something we want to do when we grow up. Saying “you’re a cartoon” is a put down in any society today. With the video graphics available today, I find it hard to think the designers can possibly think we’d be impressed with that kind of rendition. The graphics of the world were blurred and less than realistic too. Maybe they would do better to go back and look at EQ2 and then see what they can do better, instead of falling back to cartoons and anime.

      Reply

      • Zoshun

        |

        Beacat said:

        I finally realized why I’m so upset about the cartoons. When most of us play we really want to be able to do the things we can do onscreen. Cartoons have been jumping over building and such for years, and are generally associated with children. But when I can imagine it’s me on the screen (IE: looks like it COULD be me with a perfect body and beautiful face, etc.) then it’s exciting and really enjoyable. I don’t want to be a cartoon, and most folks I know don’t want to either. It’s just not something we want to do when we grow up. Saying “you’re a cartoon” is a put down in any society today. With the video graphics available today, I find it hard to think the designers can possibly think we’d be impressed with that kind of rendition. The graphics of the world were blurred and less than realistic too. Maybe they would do better to go back and look at EQ2 and then see what they can do better, instead of falling back to cartoons and anime.

        Utter truth.

        Reply

        • Inquisitor d'Hauk

          |

          Completely Agree.
          Look at “jolena” and the look at this http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Belle_(Beauty_and_the_Beast)?file=Belle2.jpg
          Or this
          http://mgcat989.deviantart.com/art/Disney-Female-Characters-317448699

          I’ sorry but I don’t want to play a Disney Princess or Disney Prince Charming
          I want to play an aged veteran with scars and missing an eye. Instead I’ll have to play a Large eyed featureless big mouth Disney Prince, and the only options I’ll have is eye color and hair style/color…
          The game play had better be the best ever or I’ll not bother and VOTE WITH MY MONEY. Been playing EQ since 1998 and EQII since 2004, and I know they don;t care about 1 person, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that feels this way.

          Reply

          • Steve

            |

            I agree totally…

            I immediately feel like I am watching Alladin with my daughter every time I see the characters in this game. I am soooo very dissappointed with these graphics.. like really dissappointed. Will not be playing EQN. No way..

            Really? that is the best you could do for graphics. really?. Yea i’m pissed. Been an EQ player since 2000 and all I can say is Wow. What a dissappointment . 2014 and we get cartoon graphics.. un f’ing believable!

            Reply

      • Vinven

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        This. I prefer having an actual realistic type models like in Lineage 2, Rift, etc. Not creatures made out of clay, like the original EQ2 models. If it wasn’t for the more realistic asian models I’d never touch EQ2.

        Reply

    • Jaw

      |

      You hit the nail on the head. Having studied MMOs from an anthropological perspective, one of the keys to having players continue playing a game is the connection that develops with their character and their sense of self. At some point, the character and the player become one, and it is this point of transformation that the game company will have the player hooked.

      Reply

  • Alawi

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    I don’t mind the Disney-esque characters but they have to be tuned down or modified a lot – I don’t want to feel like I’m playing an animated cartoon a la Don Bluth’s classic ‘Dragon’s Lair,’ we need some realism – surely there must be a middle ground between MMO typical animated characters and way too cartoony ones.

    Reply

    • Zapphod

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      Ha Dragons Lair that is exactly what it reminded me of the second I saw it, been trying to remember that name since the unveiling.

      Reply

  • Cliff

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    I’m not sure why it has to be playable for decades but hopefully the edgier look will tone down the cartoon look. I’m not sure the whole emote thing is worth the trade off, usually in 3rd person mode you’re too busy banging on creatures to care who looks like what. As long as our hardware can max out the game then it will surely be a must play game for EQ people.

    Reply

  • Aelious

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    I get the feeling that alternate models, like SOGA, will pop up or that there will be something like the old “Age” slider to make characters more gritty. I personally think that once players get in EQN for a week or so the artstyle will blend and be enjoyable for them. The “Uncanny Valley” video specifically was fantastic at explaining what’s going on here.

    Reply

    • Beacat

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      I’m sorry, but I don’t think any amount of aging is gonna convince me I want to look anything like the cartoons we saw at SOE. They were so totally FAR BEHIND the realism we enjoy in EQ2. I don’t think any amount of time playing a game with toons that look like those would convince me I was enjoying it. I’m just devastated about it. I was so ready to be blown away by something even better looking than EQ2. In my opinion, it was a total fail with the graphics. No one I know plays with emotes going…..we never get close enough to see faces when playing in 3rd person and I’m not interested in playing 1st person. That part of EQ2 has been a fail for the majority of us. Simply not something that really works with the way people play the game. All my opinion of course.

      Reply

      • Blah

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        Realism? EQ2? Lol?

        Reply

        • Ron

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          I totally agree. EQ2 characters are simply cartoons more in the vague shape of “real” than EQN. For me, EQ2′s human-like characters are further down the Uncanny Valley than the EQN characters are that they’ve shown.

          Likely what’s happening is that different people have different ranges for their own personal Uncanny Valley.

          Reply

      • Steve

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        I just wish they would have used the Unreal 3 Graphics engine or the one from GW2.. Anyting is better than what is in place now. I also don’t care about emotes..

        Please don’t tell me we had to sacrafice a top notch graphics engine for facial expressions? I would be happy to wait another 2 years for EQN if they decided to use a totally different graphics engine. As it stands right now, You could not pay me to play this game.

        Reply

        • Kurt

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          I totally agree. SOE had better change the graphics or they are going to lose big money. Very few people will want to play EQN as it now is.

          Reply

  • Charn

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    I’ve heard people say they want photo-realism, I’ve had people tell me it’s too Disney and they would have preferred more anime styling . . . but in the end, it doesn’t matter. No matter WHICH style you choose, there are people who will love it, and those that will hate it, and everywhere in between.

    In the end, though, more than anything else, one formula I always go by in a video game is:

    game play > graphics + aesthetics

    I actually, STILL, every so often, bust out and play the old Rogue video game (if you’re unfamiliar, you can search Google or Wikipedia for Rogue video game).

    It was an old DOS game with ASCII characters . . . but it was still fun. And that’s what it’s going to boil down to in EQN or any game – if it’s fun enough to play, graphics aren’t as important, whether you like the graphics and aesthetics or not, fun is what (most) people are looking for in their games.

    I just hope the game play IS that fun. THAT is the announcement and demonstration I want to see, ’cause that will determine if I stay with the game (trying it is a given) no matter what it looks like.

    Reply

    • Pipsissiwa

      |

      I agree entirely, I too play a range of old roguelikes, most of which use ascii characters as standard. I also play a ton of other old RPGs thanks to the DRM-free joy that is GOG.com, most of which have hideously dated graphics but terrific gameplay.

      All that said, for an MMO that a player potentially commits to for many years, it does help if the player likes how their character looks.

      I adore how my main assassin ratonga looks – I’ve spent a long time getting her just right. As a huge rat/mouse pet owner and fan IRL I find it relatively easy to imagine what a real bipedal one would look like, and EQ2′s try is pretty close. It avoids being cutsie. I’m proud of her, and not just her stats/gear. If I didn’t like the character graphics I’d be less emotionally attached to her, which surely SOE want us to be to help us keep playing?

      Reply

  • Nicolos

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    I love the character models. Some minor tweaking could be done to the Kerran but I loved the human. I much prefer stylized to the “realism” of EQ2′s claymation models.

    Reply

    • Lempo Of Everfrost

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      The claymation models of EQ2?
      OMFG

      Reply

      • Kryvak

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        The human-based races weren’t the greatest, but all the others were pretty cool. Froglok, ratonga, kerran, troll, sarnak, iksar… those were all great IMO

        Reply

      • Kichwas

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        Yeah – claymation.

        The EQ2 models were fugly from having a sort of weird plastic photo and clay look to them.

        These new EQ Next models are perfect. Very stylized and action feeling.

        Reply

        • Ranuka

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          Totaly agree with you.

          And EQ2 race was’nt so realistic that peoples claim to be, let sony unveil a couples of more races and you’ll see peoples changing their mind.

          Reply

  • Bonechip

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    I just really hope they do not have super huge weapons you see in alot of games. Weapons so huge there would be no way to possibly wield them.

    Reply

  • Lempo Of Everfrost

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    Rosie really wanted to bring the point home about how important expression (through in-game emotes and SOEmote, for those players who choose to use it) will be in EQNext to understand how a character or NPC feels, rather than “Hail Dialog”.

    Really Rosie?
    So the NPC’s are going to act accordingly to how the characters facial expressions are? If you keep coming to an NPC that you have an active quest/task whatever from after a time is that NPC going to show a facial expression that conveys he is getting tired of waiting?
    The SOEmote feature is going to be about as useful in EQNext as it is in EQ2, it may draw in a small subset of players that want to get together and stand around making faces at each other.

    Alas, this video sure won’t do anything to assuage fears that EQNext will touch on anime themes and styles. If you can get through it, that is.

    When I read it was the Backstreet Boys I couldn’t even bring myself to press play, of course the anime characters would have saved me from that had I gotten ‘Rick-Rolled’ on the artist.

    Reply

    • Aelious

      |

      Really Rosie?
      So the NPC’s are going to act accordingly to how the characters facial expressions are? If you keep coming to an NPC that you have an active quest/task whatever from after a time is that NPC going to show a facial expression that conveys he is getting tired of waiting?

      No, that’s not what she is saying. NPCs will have the same models as characters do and the expression will show just as well when they emote. The NPCs can “feel” differently depending on situations and if you watch a Storybricks demo video it shows that an NPC can therefore act differently.

      That’s where EQN may become very interactive depending on how SoE can get NPCs to interact directly with players expression wise. The devs said the world will remember what you did and act accordingly. If your standing is bad with a faction those NPCs may have a visible scowl when talking to you. If you improve your faction they may smile while talking to you. It’s a relaying of soundless emotion and would add a lot of immersion IMO.

      That’s the difference Rosie was talking about. You’ll be able to tell an NPCs mood, or maybe your standing with that NPC, by how they look at you, not just what they say.

      Reply

  • thait

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    I like the human model, think it looks fine. I’m sorry if this next part offends the EQ next team but that kerran model is…bad is the best thing I can say.

    What’s confusing is that the team had two kerra designs to draw from, the Vah Shir and the Kerrans of EQ2, and yet seem to have ignored both of them for a different design instead of simply updating them.

    Granted that’s just the way I see it and there is probably some players who will like the new model. Just irritates me since I had a Vah Shir in EQ and a Kerran in EQ2 and if this is the end look for the Kerrans in EQ3 I will have to stick with other races instead.

    Reply

  • a_shrubbery

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    Their PR squeezed every last drop left out of EverQuest nostalgia with their “Tell your everquest story”, and now they act surprised that the audience they were targetting isn’t the one they are building the game for ?

    While EverQuest is a high fantasy game, the character models were clearly built by artists who have a great knowledge of anatomy. The art style has always been very much in the same genre as Keith Parkinson, which is nowhere near the “cartoony” aestethic that many current games go for.

    I don’t buy either the explanation about original EQ models. Much of the aesthetic decisions back then were dictated by the limits of the hardware. When we had more polygons, we were graced with EverQuest 2. Which still included the butt ugly trolls, ogres, and the totally-not-anime ratongas and frogloks.

    They clearly changed the aesthetic. I don’t like it personally. I can see it’s brilliant and masterfully done but it doesn’t connect with my EverQuest 1 & 2 experience as far as I’m concerned.

    It’s not just a matter of expressiveness, the aesthetic’s implicit message is that the characters are living in a happy happy world devoid of darkness or suffering. It’s a currated experience were everybody is beautiful and lovely and nice.

    Reply

    • a_shrubbery

      |

      It’s this “currated” feeling that comes through the models of not just characters but also all enemies, that put me off Guild Wars 2.

      Look at the original concept art:

      http://news.mmosite.com/content/2011-09-12/guild_wars_2_matt_barrett_tells_you_the_design_process_of_asura.shtml

      And then look at what they have become in the game:

      http://nlgo.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Asura.jpg

      I understand that the aesthetic is completely relative to the viewer, that there is not one that is truly “superior” to the other. However when it comes to the sense of immersion and urgency and danger which is part of many EverQuest memories, those are conveyed by a certain aesthetic I think.

      Reply

      • Feldon

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        Yeah exactly. The concept art looks pretty good. Kind of an alien race that you have to get to know before you will trust or care about them. The eyes are animalistic or even beady. In no way “cute”.

        Fast forward to the in-game screenshots, and they’ve got gigantic Disney Eyes [tm] and super-cute faces so that the game’s developers don’t have to do any work for us to “fall in love” with them. We’ll just instantly trust them as a sprite-like race with huge heads. :(

        Reply

        • Kurt

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          I brought 2 GW2 characters to level 20 and then quit playing. I was deeply disappointed with the graphics. I am not playing another cartoon game. It is why I have never played WoW.

          Reply

      • Landiin

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        Wow, why did they change them? The 1st screens are so much better. Are they marketing all these games to preteens?

        Reply

    • maxine howard

      |

      Well put a_shrubbery!!

      Reply

  • Makya

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    I sure hope the EQNext team sticks to their guns and creates exactly what their experience with multiple games tells them will be successful. EQ2 character design is quite different from EQ and I remember plenty of discussions similar to this thread when EQ2 first launched.

    EQ and EQ2 aren’t going anywhere. If you want that style of game, continue playing it (I will still be playing EQ2 for quite a long time I’m sure). In order for EQNext to be successful it will have to stand on its own and not be “like another MMO”. From what I’ve seen them produce so far, I trust that they have the skill to do so.

    Reply

  • viperx

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    I was at first hoping for photo realism … Yet after seeing the footage i really like their art direction and can see how it will expand the capabilities of them to create a lively fantasy world filled with vibrant colors.

    Reply

  • Kruzzen

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    The game does remind me a lot of the old dragonslair and space ace type games. The cartoony look is ok, but not amazing. I like the expressiveness, but it is way to early to tell until I can see the other races. People say aethsetics are not the end all of the experience, but I have deleted countless toons because I did not like the way they looked. The ideas I have seen so far are impressive, but in the end we will see how many actually wanna play in a cartoon or are looking for something a bit more realistic. (lol, as far as a fantasy game goes.)

    Reply

    • Lempo Of Everfrost

      |

      I also thought that the outdoor look, and the blocks that the structures in Feerrott were very reminiscent of Dragon’s Lair. I think that was more of an effect of a lower quality video, hopefully full HD will look better.

      Reply

      • Ashlian

        |

        You’re all exaggerating the degree of exaggeration. None of the art comes close to the level of camp and kitsch of Dragon’s Lair. I can say this with assurance as I’m currently sitting in a room with a working arcade version of Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace. Not even in the same ballpark unless you’re talking the stylized cartoon one.

        Reply

        • Landiin

          |

          I agree with you, and while not as good they do have the same feel. I think that is what most people are really saying. They quality isn’t as good but the look and feel of EQN makes you think of DL and SA.

          Wish I had them games still, good memory games and fun to play.

          Reply

  • Froak

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    i agree with thait, the human models looked fine to me, but the kerra model left me speechless at the reveal. it doesnt look cartooney like WoW but more animated like pixar. it just looks goofy to me, and i can’t really see much facial expression coming from that face. i understand the reasoning behind the general style but i was really hoping for something more along the lines of the kerra in the concept art released not that long ago. this leaves me with a doubt about the look of ratonga or froglok…. which they better have *shakes fist*

    Reply

  • Noctew

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    I’m okay with the character design as long as there are some customizations and not all armor is as over the top as this kerran’s.
    As some people on the forums noted, EQ2 also has some armor with giant attachments to the shoulders – an unfortunate sideeffect of the fact that EQ2 has so many different models for the different races/genders/SOGA combinations that the only way they could bring in lots new armor models whithout huge effort was to just attach parts to the plain armors of 2004 – but also more realistic armor/clothing styles. I’m sure for the presentation they intentionally picked such an over the top design for the warrior, just as they dialed up the particle effects in the combat demos, and more “normal ” armor will be available.

    Reply

  • Froak

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    also… the dwarf and ogre sketches looked great as well

    Reply

  • james

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    The lion and not a tiger face is the thing that through me lol.. They have alot of xp behind them and if they have fun playing it i am sure i will.. The only other thing that made me double take is the really nice work they did on the landscape getting it to look so real then in walked the lion.. hee hee kinda shocked me a bit but i am sure there is plenty of looks to be applied to a char so no worries here looking forward to playing it

    Reply

    • Loch

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      As soon as I saw the lion head, I immediately imagined that they were going to do all the big cats (Tiger, etc.) instead of just different patterns. Hopefully that’s where they go with it and they just chose to show the lion because it was so “different”.

      Reply

  • milliebii

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    I think the problem with the Kerran Lion is where they started from not the stylised look. If they had started with a human face painted as a lion and styled from there it would have worked better. Styling a lion’s head clearly has not worked.

    Reply

  • Saltydbs

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    I personally am like the one above who said gameplay > models/graphics for me. It’s why I can tolerate going back and playing EQ1 a good bit.

    To each their own though, however I think the graphics of the actual landscape should more than make up for some lacking character models. I almost fainted when I saw the sunrays video of Ferrott lol.

    Reply

  • Mermut

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    I wasn’t hoping for photo-realism, but I never even imagined they’d go disney meets anime with a bit of sunday morning cartoon thrown in :S

    Reply

  • Keene

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    I love the look, and realize what they are going for. They don’t want to have to completely redesign a game anytime soon, and it’s a fresh and compelling direction to take the game.

    Being able to direct resources at improving the existing game through content instead of having to work on the next game is going to make Next a game they’ll be able to keep running for years and years without it getting tired.

    If you don’t think EQ2 is tired, why do you think the level 85 / 280 AA easy buttons are coming? Why do you think there’s so much business to be had from powerleveling toons? The fact the world hasn’t changed at all (expanded yes but it’s the same) 9 years after launch is the reason. Next having a dynamic world that’s always different is going to be fantastic.

    Reply

    • Mermut

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      What does a game being old have to do with going from a fantasy-realisitc look in art design to a very cartoony art design? I don’t see any relation between the two.

      Reply

      • XK

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        Mainly because there is none.

        Reply

    • Landiin

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      How does a realistic looking character get old to look at? A cartoon character would get old to look at faster then a realistic one to me, maybe I’m crazy /shrug.

      Reply

  • Hanokh

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    Why make a photo-realistic world where individual bricks in a building can be customized and then make Colorform characters to go on top? The vast majority of time spent in game is spent staring at the back of your own helmet. Who cares what facial expressions are possible? As Lempo stated already is this what SJ is looking for: /1 (30-39) LFG … Just want to make faces together.

    Reply

  • milliebii

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    Have you ever thought about what information SOE Emote is sending back to the server? (Dont get paranoid here or put on your tinfoil hat).

    Your facial expressions are real time data that reflect how you are enjoying the game while doing the various activities it is another large volume of data waiting to be mined to allow design improvements. The facial expressions on your avatar are just the tip of the iceberg.

    Reply

    • Mermut

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      Simple solution for those with tin foil hats.. no video cam ;-)

      Reply

      • Pipsissiwa

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        That’s my policy too.

        Maybe (/puts_on_tinfoil_hat) EQNext will require a webcam to be on, in the style of the new Xbox and the Kinect ;-) .

        Reply

  • Mortam

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    I am very happy with the art direction they have taken. As shown many times in the past, going for realism will always fall short, and ages the game really fast. EQ1 and EQ2 models looks simply awful by today’s standards. Sure the new models they look like a pixar movie – and pixar movies have made $billions.

    If done correctly a stylized look can almost be timeless, Just look at some of the old Disney movies.

    I think SOE is going in the right direction here, they could even take this style and drop it right into an EQ movie , a la pixar.

    Reply

  • Syah

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    What I find a bit disturbing in the art style is that it looks like a mix of 2D & cell shading. The feeling I get is that we are going back in time with regards to graphical quality.
    So it’s not so much the style (even though I would prefer something less Disney-like) but the odd impression that 3D is lacking…

    Reply

  • Skwor

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    I have seen several comments about game play and SOEmote.

    First I think anyone posting here pretty much gets the game play > graphics. That is a given. We should not be willing to sacrifice graphics for game play this early in EQN’s development stage. I think if we are already doing that now EQN is pretty much screwed.

    Secondly if this stylization is being driven by the desire to rely on SOEMOTE as a key selling point for EQN we are equally screwed. Does anyone really believe SOEMOTE should be a key selling point and driver for the game and therefore determine the nature and quality of the graphics? I mean seriously?!

    As I said before I get stylization but what I have seen so far looks flat and more like it belongs on Nick Teen. Problem is there is likely not significant micro transaction potential for SOE in the 13-17 year old market.

    Reply

  • Revekk

    |

    Well, I really love the environmental art and I do like the female human model without reservation! As far as the kerra, I am a little confused. I always thought they were more like tigers/leopards but I only know them from EQ2. I don’t think I’d mind the lion type head if it wasn’t about half the size of it’s bicep on it’s arm. That doesn’t make sense to me scale-wise.
    Other than that I really like the way the animation is going.

    Also did anyone here play Bioshock Infinite? While the world wasn’t really Disney or cartooney they did do the same exaggeration to your companion’s Elizabeth’s face. It really made her feel more “alive” than a realistic proportioned face.

    Reply

  • Revekk

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    Sorry one more point.
    Do you know why Disney has been doing the same kind of human faces, and stylized animals with large eyes for 80 plus years?
    Because it works. basically that’s the reason.
    Pixar does it digitally now.

    Reply

    • Kruzzen

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      Disney is targeted at kids. I am hoping this game is not targeting at disney level kids. At this point I ant to see the other races. The human character looked pretty cool. I wanna see what they do with the rest. Still a lot up in the air to decide if I like it yet. Heck, I still wanna see the interface. It seems they are building it more for a PS4 at this point.

      Reply

      • Saltydbs

        |

        I know it isn’t Disney but I still watch Looney Toons?

        I watch Spongebob on occassion

        I watch a lot of “cartoony” type characters on TV.

        Pretty sure most of us play these “fantasy” worlds to get away from real life.

        It’s ok though I’m sure EQ2 is realistic with graphics, just go back to playing your fae’s…/rolls eyes.

        Reply

        • Mermut

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          Fantasy and cartoon are not the same thing. I enjoy watching some animated movies, but again, animated doesn’t always mean they look like cartoons. And even the cartoon animation I enjoy in movies doesn’t appeal to me in game. I don’t want photo-realism either. EQ2 has a style that is frequently called ‘fantasy realistic’ that spans the gap between ‘what makes sense and is feasible’ with ‘what looks good and fits into a fantasy environment’.
          Some of us find one-handed weapons the size of houses and eyes the size of dinner plates a bit too ‘unfeasible and over the top’ to stomach.

          Reply

          • Hoot

            |

            It is the samething.

            Prior to the 2000′s, fantasy was usually considered something you grew out of by the time you were done with high school or during your later college years.

            Hobbit was originally a book for children. LOTR was originally a trilogy of books intended for the older teenager demographic.

            Saying it’s too cartoony is just insecurity. Plenty of games use various designs that are labeled as “cartooney” such as Zelda’s Wind Waker, No More Heroes, Rachet & Clank, Super Mario Galaxy, Team Fortress 2 ect. Yet they’re some of the best games out there.

            And EQ2 never did have a realistic approach. Qeynos was designed as a two dimensional DisneyLand tourists attraction. And Freeport was designed around a comical mustache twirling villain from an 80′s Saturday morning cartoon show.

            Reply

          • Mermut

            |

            There are cartoons that have nothing to do with the fantasy environment and fantasy environments that look nothing like cartoons.
            In what reality does that make fantasy and cartoon the same thing?

            Reply

    • Feldon

      |

      Large eyes is the easy way out. It means the artists and animators don’t have to do as much work to make us like the characters. See my comments above about the Asura race.

      Reply

      • Kruzzen

        |

        I like the large eyes and the expressiveness. Not a prob at all there. The kerra snout sticking out so far was not really that cool to me. Just seems off. I love the flowing animation and want to see more. As far as the rest is concerned, the main thing I did not like was how similar it looked to dragons lair and space ace. They were like playing a cartoon. I am not really interested in playing in a cartoon. Hoping there is a bit more edge to it. :) Of course I am basing my thoughts off of a very very short demo with no actual play time. Guess will see how it goes. I think the game has great potential, but there are still way to many questions up in the air at this point. Bring out the next screenshots. I wanna see more. :)

        Reply

    • Kurt

      |

      One of the reasons I do not watch Disney movies. I despise the graphics.

      Reply

  • Loradio

    |

    I think the character models looked fine. They need to brush up some detailing and animation effects but all round not bad.. THEY ARE GOING IN A GOOD DIRECTION. I for one applaud Rosie and her team, and hope they read this. KEEP IT UP! Give us characters that are easily animated! Oh and full body SOE emote!!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    Reply

  • Taladorm

    |

    While the character art is not the only issue I have with the game.
    I am not impressed by what I’ve seen so far, especially the Kerran.

    Call me old fashioned but I’ve always enjoyed the steady progression of graphics from one generation to the next. Each generation building and refining on the previous. This is most clearly present in the concept/intro movies for each game. The movies are well above the actual ingame graphics but are a hope of the future games possibilities.

    For example the EQ1 intro is well above the ingame graphics but is met or exceeded by EQ2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym9hIEbnijw

    The same can be said for EQ2. They have achieved the environment and dynamic movements as seen in this video in EQN, but going with a timeless/cartoonish character detracts from the overall effect.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6obAk_RtNtY

    My hope is that they can/will dial back the characters to better reflect the games roots. I know some people above have said they like the new art direction but would they be upset if EQN looked like the EQ2 video above?

    Reply

    • Safanah

      |

      I was so hoping EQN would look like the EQ2 intro :(

      Reply

  • Kichwas

    |

    For every person who is ‘put off’ there’s likely one who is driven to the game because of this art style.

    I would actually guess there will be 10 driven towards it for the stylish art for every 1 driven away.

    They are right: these aesthetics age better.

    Stylized look that gives every character a sense of emotion will help people identify with the world and with their characters.

    It avoids the uncanny valley effect that near killed EQ2.

    Everything will feel both alive with dynamic energy. Even if you’re sitting there AFK, you will feel engaged.

    Take a lesson from Walt Disney… when he first started animating he found his work felt ‘stiff’ and distant as he labored very hard to make motions match those of real life people – an arm gesture, a nod, a wink, a walk cycle – all the parts moved just like a real person.

    And the result looked very unreal.

    So he developed a style now used the world over, over-doing every gesture by just a tad. Even a wink would involve more of the face and last a little too long.

    - Suddenly people were lining up to watch something that felt to them, very real…

    Read Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics” – its a book ANYONE working in ANY visual art medium, not just comic books, should read.

    - It shows how some basic things, like using less detail in a face, enable a wider number of people to identify with the character rather than merely observe the character.

    - “Anthromorphization” of an illutration makes it come alive much more than recreating reality does. Taken to its extreme, this is why Picasso’s works are famous.

    Being too real becomes alienating. Being “cartoony” allows a medium to “show” rather than “tell” what is going on, and in that, to “show” twice as much action as is actually there.

    This new art style… it works. We’ve nearly a century of animation of visual media since Disney to back that up.

    Reply

    • Feldon

      |

      Just because something is popular does not mean it should be the template for everything. America Online was the #1 ISP for a while. It was also terrible. Walmart is terrible. Facebook is popular but certainly not the best. EverQuest II’s darkest years were when they were copying World of Warcraft.

      You seem to be arguing that there are only two successful road for character design:

      • A) copy Disney, with the gigantic puppydog eyes, thin bodies, and improbable waists
      • B) super-realistic zombies that fall right in the middle of the Uncanny Valley

      I reject this argument. There are MANY other choices for compelling character design other than these two.

      I think going the route of gigantic eyes is taking the lazy way of getting people to fall in love with characters. This is one of my many problems with the movie Avatar. Instead of making us like these characters through storytelling and character development, we were manipulated into liking them with specific body and facial features. James Cameron hired a psychologist to help design the characters.

      Reply

  • Slambit

    |

    The human model we were shown stretched it as far as i like, the kerran model is just so far over the top its silly, she can say eq1 was stylized aswell so we should love this too.
    Well i absolutely love the original eq1 model with animations, they had imo, the right ratio of cartoony – realism, helped along with weapons that looked like they might actually be makable and more importantly useful.
    Take a look at the class video where they cycle through the 3 2handed classes, one of them has a sword almost as wide as the character swinging it.

    Tl:Dr = they took a corporate jet across the line into cartoony land :sad:

    Reply

  • Pipsissiwa

    |

    I don’t get the point of the SOEmote thing – I was utterly underwhelmed when it came out for EQ2 – played with it for about 5 mins, thought ‘very clever’, then turned it off never to turn it on again. I have never played first person, and only in the most cramped dungeon does my view zoom in enough to see facial expressions at all, let alone in any detail. Maybe in EQNext it will be different, but I hope players won’t be forced to pay attention to expressions, it could get annoying (as per LA Noire – doesn’t always convey properly).

    The Kerran in the vid looks so cartoony, I hate it. I too was hoping for something more mature and impressive, not to mention realistic given what so many other new games are already producing. That Kerran design is better suited to a game for teens and below – I guess perhaps us aging RPG players aren’t particularly wanted any more. I fear for Ratonga looking like Remy from Ratatouille, assuming they even make it into the game.

    Reply

    • Froak

      |

      I don’t get the point of the SOEmote thing – I was utterly underwhelmed when it came out for EQ2 – played with it for about 5 mins, thought ‘very clever’, then turned it off never to turn it on again. I have never played first person, and only in the most cramped dungeon does my view zoom in enough to see facial expressions at all, let alone in any detail.

      this is deff why they chose the art style they did. in eq2 you do need to be right in front of the person in 1st person view to see expression. in eq next you will be able to see from a greater distance because of the over sized mouth/eyes/eyebrows etc. as part of the whole no exclamation marks they explained it as you can walk through a town and see someone in the corner that looks upset/sad and you can talk to them and find out why, exploring the content instead of just – oh hey, that NPC has a feather.

      pixar characters are very expressive and even to adults its easy to grow attachments to said characters. i am hoping this will be the case for eq next. however i very much agree with you on the kerra. that was going a little bit too far in the opposite direction.

      Reply

  • Hoot

    |

    I’m not the biggest fan of the art style. For me, I was hoping for more on the lines of character modes akin to The Witcher or Elder Scrolls. Nevertheless, a change is worth praise and I’m glad EQNext is changing up the style.

    The people who are complaining the most just want EQ1 all over again with updated graphics. They want the same overdone formula and pattern. Rinse and repeat. The irony here is that they absolutely hated the revamped graphically improved EQ1 zones such as Desert of Ro, Commonlands, Innuthule Swamp, Misty Thicket ect (not talking about Freeport). So what do they want? Well for the most part, I guess its to relive a part of their life that passed away well over 10 years ago. You can’t relive your first time experiences people. Move on and accept it.

    Reply

    • Mermut

      |

      Actually, in this thread nobody is saying they want the GAMEPLAY in EQNext to be the same as either EQ1 or EQ2. We’re not even saying that the graphic style should stay the same… just that we’re not happy with the change they’ve chosen (Disney meets anime with huge eyes, gianomrous armor and weapons and totally unrealistic body proportions).
      Displeasure over art design does not mean we want the same game.

      Reply

      • Hoot

        |

        Did I ever bring up the term ‘gameplay’ in my comment? No, I did not.

        My comment was more of a general view of the outcry going on be it from the EQ1, EQ2, or P99 forums.

        And when you make the statement; “Disney meets anime with huge eyes”. I sport quite a large collection of anime dvds. I watch a lot of it. I’m not sure what your experience is with anime, or if you just base it off a very small selection of what became super popular in the US, but I can’t see any resembling notion that there is an anime influence in the design of the characters. Huge eyes? Yeah, that’s something almost any piece of animation does, be it the Simpsons, K-on, or some Disney movie.

        Reply

        • Mermut

          |

          “The people who are complaining the most just want EQ1 all over again with updated graphics. They want the same overdone formula and pattern. Rinse and repeat”

          That doesn’t sound like a comment on art, but on gameplay. If that’s not how you intended it, I apologize, but that’s how it read to me.

          Reply

    • Kurt

      |

      I never played EQ1 but I still do not want these crap graphics.

      Reply

  • Froak

    |

    Feldon, do you know of anyone that might have audio/video/transcript of the sunday panel for EQNext? it looks like everyone has posted all their video but no one seems to have stuck around for sunday.

    Reply

    • Feldon

      |

      I haven’t seen any video of the Sunday EQNext panel. Sorry.

      Reply

  • Scrappy

    |

    Neither model looks very cartoony to me at all. I think they look great and can’t wait to see more. I actually thought the human looked quite realistic (aside from the exaggerated facial features). The body proportions look right to me. I can’t really tell on the Kerran because the armor completely obscures the body for the most part. Luckily, i’m sure there will be tons of armor models to chose from and hopefully they won’t all be gigantic like the ones shown.

    Reply

  • Shylock Starsgard

    |

    I was hoping for a more realistic style, but it took me all of two minutes for me to warm to these models. Once they showed the wizard in the world and animated, I was totally sold. This overall style is awesome. It doesn’t look kiddy to me, even though the closest comparison would be Pixar movies. If you compare them side by side, these characters are more realistically proportioned than most of Pixar’s characters.

    I would like to see other options for the Kerra face. Particularly something along the lines of EQ1 Vah Shir, (I was a VS Bard back in the day). I never liked how they looked so skinny and fragile in EQ2, so I’m glad that they went for the more powerful look for them this time around.

    Overall, it’s not what I was expecting or hoping for, but I’m impressed nonetheless. The haters need to get over it or move on to another game, because SOE is not going to scrap the whole visual style just because some people are to insecure to play anything stylized.

    Reply

  • Tabri

    |

    SOE is using the word stylized to try to avoid the fact that they will be alienating for the most part the entire EQ community to bring in little kids to pay their paychecks now. This game looks like a kiddy game, Disney characters, minecraft, smash brothers blowing stuff up seriously? They will be basically using the Everquest name due to that name being their biggest yet out of anything they have made to help bring in the revenue. I saw the red circles this will be an action based cartoon game. Sad day for all of us Everquest veterans there just isnt enough of us for them to cater to us anymore.

    Reply

    • Saltydbs

      |

      ^^^ Is an EQ1 vet, 30 yr old male, father of 3. Love the look of the game and the ideas and will be playing it.

      Reply

      • Blacktop

        |

        The hole play style en graphics appiel to me, the fact you can build your own stuff end be creative, its like lego’s, you build and play with it and the best part is, now you can destroy it too

        My name is Blacktop i’m 36 years and i’m a EQ2 vet :)

        Reply

  • Torgaard

    |

    I’d kinda like to see a happy medium. I too was a bit let-down by the SOE Live reveal of the character models. Way too cartoony in my opinion. But as soon as I saw them, I was ready to cut Sony some slack for some of the reasons Rosie Rappaport was talking about, but mostly for how much time it would save artists and animators in the years to come. Do you want a developer spending 3 weeks working on the dragon in the next content release, or 3 months? Ability to run the game on a variety of computers is also hideously important, and a simpler, less poly’d character model is gonna go a long way there. It’s a huge part of why *cough* other games have done so well and thrived for so long. But I dunno, if I had my cake and eat it too the folks at Sony would go back to the drawing board (pun totally intended) and bring us a little closer to the stylized peak of the Uncanny Valley. Rosie’s link to the YouTube video may have sorta backfired a bit in that regard, because using that graph as an example; I think EQnext is only halfway up that “stylized” peak just before the valley. It’s too stylized. It’s too inhuman. At least for a game like this. As others have very intelligently stated: I don’t see myself as a cartoon, I don’t want to BE a cartoon, and there’s gonna be a disconnect from the game if I’m forced to run around for hours on end as a cartoon. I fear I will eventually lose interest.

    Reply

  • Makya

    |

    I really haven’t minded the look of just about any game I’ve ever played as long as the style is consistent and the gameplay is fun. This includes many, many games from the early computer days when faces were made up of just a few pixels/characters. It really doesn’t matter once you are immersed in the game. I like what I’ve seen of EQNext so far and look forward to seeing more in the near future.

    I can only hope that those saying they won’t play a “Disney style” game when they haven’t yet played the game actually stay away. Maybe we’ll have less complainers (the ones that always have a complaint about anything and everything) in the official forums when EQNext is released. I’m not holding my breath on that though :smile:

    Reply

  • Silzin

    |

    I like all of the races that I have seen except the Kerra. I think there is an anatomical problem with them. They just are not Human enough. They took a Quadra pedal Creature’s Hear and pasted it onto a Bipedal Body, and this just does not work for me (And I think a lot of others). There are some significant changes between a normal Quadra pedal’s Skull and a Bipedal’s Skull. These primary changes are in the jaw and nose. I am ok with the proportions it’s just the structure of those parts of the face that turn me off. I think if they just morphed the Kerra’s Head so the Upper/Lower Jaw and Nose was not so elongated but more humanoid then it would probably work a Lot better.

    I know there are some Races in EQ2 that have the elongated Snouts that the EQN Kerra have and it loots “OK” on them, but it’s not all the way out there just a full Lions Head is, Or I think it’s not.

    I really think it just boils down to a proportioning of the Great Cat facial features and the human facial features.

    Reply

  • Tabri

    |

    @blacktop @saltydps I said for the most part not everyone I am glad that you two like to play with Lego but I personally do not. I play EQ because its a fantasy/ rpg not an action/Disney game. I will just now go play a real rpg somewhere else and finally exit the EQ community or if there is enough left on EQII stay there.Judging by the comments here looks like the majority also do not like the direction soe is going with the brand name EVERQUEST they need to change the name of the game if its not based on the original in my opinion. Sticking some EQ lore into a Disney action game does not make it Everquest.

    @Makya oh dont worry I wont be in EQN to complain I am just stating fact here now

    There is a huge difference between toning down the graphics and sticking with the Everquest name and theme and going completely Disney into an action minecraft game which is not Everquest in the slightest.

    Reply

    • Saltydbs

      |

      It’s their title, the game can be whatever they want lol. They had stated that it wasn’t a direct copy of EQ lore in the first place anyway. If it’s something you have no interest in playing, why are you still on this site then? Don’t play it and move on. Same goes for anyone instantly disregarding a game just based on 2 character models and a small bit of scripted combat imo, move along.

      Reply

      • Feldon

        |

        It was advertised and marketed as a spiritual successor to EQ. Then we get the artwork and combat and it’s nothing like EQ. Also with regards to telling people to “move on”, I’m pretty sure I get to decide what are valid topics of conversation on this site. ;)

        Reply

        • Saltydbs

          |

          Wasn’t in reference to who can/can’t post on this site or share their opinions, was in reference to the fact if you aren’t going to play the game then move along to something else…as in another game etc.

          A successor does not mean spot on like the prior product lol. Especially when they had stated many times it was like nothing we had ever seen before and that they were looking to “change the genre.” Not going to do that with a copy.

          Reply

      • Kurt

        |

        I am sure SOE is happy to have you telling potential income to move along. Of course they do not want to know what many potential players dislike about the game. There is no way they would even want to think about making changes that might net them more money.
        Making more realistic models will lose them no players. Leaving the graphics as is, will.

        Reply

  • Billzbub

    |

    I will probably stick to EQ2 because EQN is turning out to be an MMO version of Mortal Combat with Disney characters. The art by itself isn’t enough to put me off, but the art plus only having 8 buttons shifts the game into the realm of little kids. I can understand why they are doing it because it opens the game up to a much larger audience, but it really isn’t a genre that I enjoy.

    I would really love to see all of the cool features from EQN inserted into a game as complex as EQ2.

    Reply

  • milliebii

    |

    [sigh] @saltydbs I guess we are still here because we were ready for a new game based on the “Everquest” franchise, we had our hopes raised by all the nostalgia advertising and talk from Smed about “our loyalist fans” …. and then the reveal. As others have said Disney characters and League of Legends combat. Then we get silly questions on the Everquest Round Table like ” How do you feel about modern concepts like guns and Ninjas in EverQuest Next? ”

    Should have been completely obvious to everyone, old EQ/EQ2 players are going to say no, newer players will not see the problem.

    That is it in a nutshell, for those that have loved EQ/EQ2 for fourteen years are disappointed,shell shocked and embittered. Newer folks are excited by changing the game to something like a console RPG.

    So much promise, so little delivered and rather than being playable this year, it just might manage to be released next year, but more likely 2015.

    …. and the EQ/EQ2 diehards sit here hopefully looking for the updated game we were promised.

    Reply

    • Saltydbs

      |

      I’m lost as to when/where the updated EQ1/2 game was promised? Maybe I seriously missed that lol.

      I still play EQ1/2 quite regularly myself and find them just fine, especially the EQ1 progression servers. Wonderful idea there. A diehard fan of the EQ franchise and see no issue with going a new direction and not sticking to the same path. Regardless of all that we have seen two character models and some scripted gameplay with minimal display. We know very little about the game just main aspects and not much in depth details. To make a decision based off those factors is a poorly made decision in my mind, but that’s just my opinion and my route of thinking. As of right now I like the direction I see the game going from what little information was given, but only time will tell what the game is actually like and will probably take some playing to find out.

      Reply

      • Mermut

        |

        Most times things go in a ‘new direction’ in same franchise they don’t jump genres. From what we’ve seen EQNext isn’t going to be an RPG, it’s going to be a fast-twitch combat action game.
        Fast-twitch action game is a valid genre.. but it’s not a good successor to a more strategic RPG.

        Jumpy bouncy combat where you fight along-side but not ‘with’ other people (ie group dynamics) is not my cup of tea and, frankly, the last tine I expected from EQ.

        The ideas with the emergent AI and other backbone things like that are interesting… but not enough to keep me engaged long-term in a genre that can’t hold my interest.

        Reply

        • Saltydbs

          |

          “EQN isn’t going to be an RPG”

          Really? lol. RPG = Role Playing Game and you’re basing it not being a rpg off of the combat. The combat that is seemingly more roleplay, as the AI is to actually act somewhat human and think, than just standing there and “shouting” at the mob as a tank to “pay attention” to you and the mob just idiotically stands there. Yup current system is more RPG than EQN combat /rolls eyes.

          “Fast twitch action gaming is not a good successor to a more strategic RPG.”

          Action combat first off would be the term you’re looking for. Second, the most “strategic” gameplay I’ve ever faced in my MMO career to date is Tera. Which is an action combat game very similar to EQN. Standing there as a tank and keeping threat and doing most of the fight mechanics while the rest of the group just chills at ranged doing dps or healing isn’t near as tough as everyone actually having to participate in the fight and perform/know the mechanics.

          Reply

          • Mermut

            |

            I said nothing about if the combat was harder or easier.. just that jumpy, bouncy console style combat that relies on the players ‘statistics’ rather then those of the character is a very different style from a role based rpg style where the characters agility, not mine, determines if the character avoids an attack or not.
            I’m not saying that console style action combat lacks merit or a player base, just that it is a different genre from EQ2.

            PS If the tank is the only one actively participating in your group, you’ve pulled some duds. Just because players aren’t jumping their toons all over the screen doesn’t mean they’re being ‘passive’.

            Reply

          • Slambit

            |

            He hath spoken, obey or perish in flames, ie dont bother mermut :smile:

            Reply

          • Feldon

            |

            It really is a huge genre shift though from EQ/EQ2 to EQN. EQN almost looks like a 3D platformer. It’s hard to watch that combat demo and not see parallels to the likes of Crash Bandicoot.

            Reply

  • Marvis

    |

    I would not exaggerate the importance of the last question. EQ2 had a lot of “modern” stuff that were introduced through gnome technology for example.

    Reply

  • baarbossa

    |

    Reminds me of god of war…sadly it doesn’t look like a game most of us will play even though it is being “built for us.”

    Reply

    • milliebii

      |

      Yes there are a great many paradoxes in the way EQ Next is being presented and built. The original topic is one of these.

      Why produce a game that is constantly touted as being the next generation in MMORPG play and then produce an art style that looks more primitive than the last generation?

      Why market a game both by title and PR campaign as being the next great game for Everquest fans and then tell us over an over again that it is not Everquest?

      Why produce a game aimed at crafters (if this is in fact the case, just repeating what others have said) and then produce a League of Legends style combat system?

      Why produce a game where what you do has “consequences” and make much of the role playing aspect and then produce a multi-class system that cuts right across any idea of a character with a history?

      The only thing I can think of is that there are deep philosophical divisions within SOE about what this game actually is.

      Reply

  • viperx

    |

    They were going to make eq3,but figured out it would only compete with eq2. So, instead they decided to build a game that competes with wow,aion,gw2, and any other type of fantasy artistic type mmo. Dont discount there art stlye though from my experience these type of graphics take time to get used to, but they do grow on you. Think avatar world vs real world, which one looks more advenerous and amazing.

    Reply

    • milliebii

      |

      Loathed Avatar, thought it looked ridiculous, the plot line was inane and the characterisation was wooden. A stupid pastiche of other peoples bad ideas.

      What was your point again?

      Reply

      • milliebii

        |

        I just saw the dark elves in the PAX presentation, kind of makes the Avatar reference prophetic.

        Really what are they thinking of? I really thing this art director should have been on the layoff list. Can we have a different one please?

        Reply

  • Mmofan

    |

    They apparently scrapped the two prior versions of EQ Next. I hope they scrap the current versions as well. EQ1 is so overdue for a sequel and it is clear that EQ Next is EQ Not.

    Reply

  • Kurt

    |

    The cartoon graphics have killed this game for me before it has even launched. Why is SOE making a game with worse graphics than its predecessors? Cartoon graphics are not timeless. They are annoying.

    Reply

  • MIragian

    |

    I will likely wait to see how it played as I can cope with a huge variety of graphics. My wife however took one look at it and it was doa for her.

    Reply

  • MIragian

    |

    Oh and I agree that this does not in any way shape or form to me resemble Everquest anything. It’s cartoony minecraft possibly set somewhere near Norrath. But that’s as close as that gets.

    Reply

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