Infinite Art: The Iconics

By | November 3, 2012

As we prepare Infinite Earthsfor the next phase of playtesting, our thoughts and our posts turn away from the same-old same-old rules and gaming philosophy discourse and turn instead toward art.  Art is the lifeblood of any roleplaying game:  it excites the imagination, it quickens the blood, it gives shape to dreams.

Quality art is what draws many people to roleplaying games.  I know I am guilty myself of being something of an art snob: if I don’t like the art, I put the book back down.  That’s why I stayed away from Neil Gaiman’s seminal Sandman series for so long–I did not like the art, so I didn’t stick around long enough to understand how deliberate and brilliant the art really was.

Art is powerful because it gives anyone looking at it an immediate first impression of the product it graces.  If the art does not suit our personal aesthetic, or is of generally poor quality, we tend to think (as consumers) that the contents of the product will not suit us, or will be of generally poor quality.  We don’t have to pick it up to familiarize ourselves with the words; we already have that preconceived notion, thank you very much and good day.

The important thing to keep in mind is that every aspect of a product and its packaging work together for create an impression of that product’s quality.  This is a lesson that Steve Jobs understood well, and it’s paid off in spades for Apple.  And while I am certainly not comparing us to Apple or myself to Steve Jobs, that lesson of quality is one which we here at Room 209 Gaming hold very dear.

So as we have been writing, we have also been seeking out artists to help us bring the vision of Infinite Earths to life.

Our lead artist is Juan-Carlos Ochoa of Bogotà, Colombia.  A 3D artist by day, Juan has been collaborating with us for the past two months on developing the unique look and feel of the Infinite Earths product line.  We are very fortunate to be working with Juan, as he is an extraordinary talent with great patience and a great love of roleplaying games, with a fantastic dedication to quality, as the art in this post shows.  Juan’s sense of style has informed our own sense of who these characters are and what they can do, and we treasure our collaboration with Juan.  Here’s just some of the reason why:

The Guardian

Defender of the helpless, the guardian places his own safety in jeopardy for the welfare of others.

This is our Guardian iconic.  He doesn’t have a name; none of our iconics do.  We want this to be your game, with your characters, so our iconics fill the role of showing you what you can be.  They’re not “the default characters” or “the first round of pregens” or “how you should be playing” or even “how the developers would design characters”.  This character is an illustration of what you could be, if you imagined yourself to be a Guardian.  He is not the only Guardian that could be; he’s just a man who has placed himself in harm’s way so someone else does not get hurt.

The Jack-of-all-Trades

The jack-of-all-trades is content to be versatile, knowing much about much but mastering little.

Infinite Earths isn’t exclusively a game about humans; other races also get in the mix.  Gnomes, for example, are happy people living a life of contentment.  Juan was able to capture this in his very first pass, with a gnome–also unnamed–content to travel the byways of the world, smoking his pipe and enjoying the hobo’s life.

The Performer

The performer sings and tells tales of other places and other times, entertaining all who hear her.

And the last image we’ll share this week, the Performer iconic.  Unusually for a picture of an iconic, the character is not the largest or most dominant part of this piece.  But your eye cannot help but be drawn to her as she plays her sangen, her eyes closed as she concentrates on the piece.  And you cannot help but wonder, are those birds really there, or the conjurings of her song?  Is she really perched atop some stone colossus in the jungle, or is she in a bar somewhere, imagining a wilder place?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this small sampling of the art we’re developing for Infinite Earths.  Next week we’ll talk about the art guidelines we’ve developed.  Have a great week, and see you next time!