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Friday, July 19, 2013

Concept101: With Good Intentions


Boochbeard used to be in Avery's Court for a limited edition testing event. Other than that and the tutorial, he doesn't make many appearances. But today, he and Gandry will play a vital role in decoding what a concept change means.

Seeing a concept change after it's release is extremely uncommon. In fact, I probably couldn't tell you one time we've seen it happen other than this one, which tells you that it's significant.

See, originally, the concept of Boochbeard and Gandry running through snakes and traps (used as a loading screen in-game) has Gandry shooting a green snake. There was clearly an explosion of gunpowder.


Of course, the actual hit is masked by the smoke of the shot.

Important of End Goals

I talk a lot about intentions. I firmly believe that even if something is conveyed incorrectly or doesn't work out right, the original goal is more important anyway.

KingsIsle has good intentions, regardless of the direction they're going. They pride themselves in being a game that can excite the whole family, but also be completely safe for children. That's why Pirate101 can't be perceived in any way as a game that could encourage shooting or first-person shooter games.

With this in mind, they needed to eliminate this snake being shot. Sparkthrowers - that's how guns work in the Spiral!


The above concept is the one currently in-game. As you can see, Gandry has the same gun with a burst of electricity rather than a propelled bullet. The snake was swapped to red and moved slightly, other areas covered, and the new concept put into action.

While the old one still exists in places, I assume it'll eventually go. KingsIsle has to maintain that kid-friendly feel. Even if that means changing things up a little... kind of like using a non-existent slingshot in a video instead of a gun. Their intentions are good.

A Burning Question

... no pun intended. The change in this concept was pretty big. Like I said, there aren't very many times we see concept art release and the art itself changed. Sure, we sometimes see the in-game translation differ from the art, but not in this way.

It raises kind of a curious question - were sparkthrowers originally loaded guns? Pirate101 has been in the works for years and years. Did the original concept of a Musketeer involve actual and realistic guns, pistols, cannons, etc.? And at what point down the line did that idea change?

It's very possible. Even the developers admit that the target audience for this game is older than that of Wizard101. Perhaps a line was drawn, and bullets were cut in an effort to keep a certain level of kid-friendliness. What are the chances otherwise that a minor concept would be specifically altered for the game?

Concept Credits

I know that Nik did some of the newer loading screen, but I believe Dave Greco did these original ones. Dave is the Lead Concept Artist at KingsIsle Entertainment. You can read his blog HERE. Learn more about KingsIsle and their products at http://kingsisle.com/.

What do you think? Were Sparkthrowers originally regular guns? 

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!

14 comments:

  1. I remember the old one too! I thought it was weird that they changed it, but completely understood. Good explanations!

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  2. I am pretty sure Pirate101 was an "escape plan" when they realized what their target age group for Wizard101. When the game came out for example I was in fourth grade. I was excited by video games and Wizard101 was perfect for a 9 year old at the time. As time moves on, they realized quickly that their hardcore players like myself being a now 6 year player, are growing up. Pirate101 being released, in for me 8th grade, was a nice upgrade for my interest or I would have quit the games altogether. Pirate101 was more of a game to take in past players but interest them in a new way, with a familiar look but things like storytelling, guns, independence and actual death that are for a more mature audience. In older interviews they have said "Oh we will never have death in any of our games" Pirate101 changed that and although I felt it appropriate to not just be the same kiddy game Wizard101 is, I felt really surprised to see them make a world of no hope and all death with Azteca. Their child friendly game went a turn for the worst. Honestly I don't think they were meant to be firearms from the get go, being an alpha player for Pirate101 the guns looked much different then but it still fired out fire, lighting and sparks like today. The real question I have about Boochbeard is the model and how that changed. In our fansite kit to this day, Boochbeard has a different model than in game. This was really surprising seeing the model I have become accustom to on the website turn into something different the first time I saw him in alpha. This is just my theory.

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  3. I was one of a few people that got an email from Tom early after the announcement, I only know a few other people but it was mostly official sites and people important in the community as well as friends and families of KI.

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    1. Wasn't that early stages of beta? I joined not two or three days after that when more options opened up.

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  4. No no, an email was sent out before beta keys were even a thought, it would send you to a quiz with your computer specs, account info, person who recommended you, and a few other things. A couple days later you were granted alpha access. I went through 4 character wipes. It sucked.

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    1. Wow, that must have been very crowded in a small time space. Because again, I was in beta not a week after the game was announced if I recall correctly.

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  5. When the game was announced it was still in early alpha. I don't know exactly what you mean, beta didn't start until late that May. I still have the email, and it wasn't crowded at all. It was literally maybe 200 people on all the servers. Alpha was very exclusive from what the email stated and that was about a week after the annoucement of the game. Are you sure you have the correct time frame, because even early beta wasn't even a thought during the annoucement. Once beta keys were rolled out during summer it was a little bigger but each realm and stuff was mainly a solo game. I knew maybe Kelsey and Paige at the time but those were the only people in the community I knew.

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  6. Not May of beta, I just rechecked beta started early July for most people.

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    1. With the NDA having been lifted, I'm sure many would appreciate some pictures! ;)

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    2. I have some Alpha pictures with Nick and I saved. Lots of pictures of stuff that didnt make it into the LIVE game.

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  7. I can only give images of the email itself, my beta and alpha photos were lost when my computer was wiped in June. Justin Shadowblade has a couple from early beta but it was mainly funny glitches that happened. So sadly I can't provide alpha images but I would ask Kelsey or something if they have any.

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  8. Wow, you guys got into Alpha? Cool, I joined Beta on late August (24th), won it from a raffle, did the game changed very much on the process Alpha-Beta?

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    1. I joined in beta as well. I think the only people who really got to play much of Alpha were the fansite owners.

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