Design Notes

August 01, 2013

Interview with a Nightmare Moglin

Alternate Reality Interview #2

The rat shank has been good to me. It is my only companion in my torment. I have named him Shanky. Nobody else understands me like he does. Before I made him, the rats were getting bolder, trying to reclaim the cell. They were unprepared for Shanky and I’s devastating counter attack. But now they’re getting organized. The other night, they just watched me. They didn’t gnaw at my flesh for sustenance, or try to bear their young inside of my potato sack. They just watched, eyes twinkling from the faint light coming from underneath the cell door, studying my behaviors and habits.

Unfortunately, they appear to be as intelligent as they are delicious. I clutch Shanky close and whisper that I won’t let them take him. After I manage to shut out the sounds of my own quiet weeping, I go to sleep hungry, not wanting to antagonize the rats further.I open my eyes, and quickly decide that I am not actually awake. For one thing, the door to the cell is open and the guards are gone, something that Alina would never be clumsy enough to allow. Secondly, I am consumed with a nameless dread, much more powerful than the usual nameless dread I am consumed with. Something is outside, waiting for me. I don’t want to leave the cage.

Suddenly I feel a sharp pain shoot of my back. I turn around. Rats. Hundreds of them, as big as hounds. The cage expands to contain the sheer volume of the enormous rodents.

I bring Shanky to bear, but I know as soon as they horde advances that if I stay my ground, I will die. I rush out of the cell, despite the months of torturous training towards the contrary. I slam the door behind me. Peculiar thing about rats: they don’t squeak like mice. They shriek. Loudly. The room fills with the unearthly wail of the titanic vermin, all of them lusting to avenge their eaten brethren. They’ll never succeed in breaching that door. I should know; I’ve hurled myself against it enough to know that it’s practically invulnerable.

I survey my surroundings. The white, sterile fluorescent lights outside of the Intern Pens are shut off, leaving the facility dark. I leave as quickly as possible, unable to bear the sounds of the rats. I arrive in the main foyer of the lab. It is eerily silent. There is not even any noise from the waterfall outside.

"You look confused."                                                                            

I whirl around at the noise. I see a pair of purple eyes staring at me. It’s Memet. That explains the dream. But more importantly, she looks absolutely delicious. I think of all the rats that I’ve been forced to devour. Tasty as they may have been, one would tire of any food if it’s all you’ve eaten for 8 straight weeks. I’ve never even seen a moglin before, but I bet they taste divine.

I surreptitiously slip Shanky behind my back. I can’t simply lunge forward. I’ve been imprisoned here long enough to know that things aren’t always as they seem. I decide to lure her into a false sense of security. I remember my interview with Dage the Evil. This shouldn’t be too difficult. I let fly with my questions. With any luck, Shanky and I shall dine upon fresh moglin.

How would you describe what it is you do at AE?

Well, I’m sort of in a transitional period. I guess that’s why this is a hard question to answer. I used to focus completely on art. I was making weapons, armor, and pets. I learned some animation. In the last couple weeks I’ve been learning a bunch of stuff about the more behind-the-scenes aspects of the game. I’ve been learning how to create quests- actually I’m doing that today.
I add items to the databases, I’ve been making ads…I’m going to be writing design notes. I did write some DNs but I think I posted them under Alina’s name. 

Oh! I also worked on updating the skeleton monster art today.

So you’re really all over the place, huh?

I’ve been all over the place recently, yeah. It’s kinda cool because it’s actually making me feel more connected with the games and what we’re doing than just focusing on the art did.

What do you do that you wouldn’t consider to be a part of your job description?

I don’t believe there is such a thing. I figure that right now my job description is “help Alina get the game out.” So yeah, anything that does that. Anything that helps the company as a whole runsmoother.
[Clean up after Notsgnal when he makes a mess with the rats. - Ed.] 

How did you come up with the concept for your NPC?

I figured everyone has a human- or humanoid- NPC, so you know, I didn't want to do that. I guess I like the idea of something that seems innocent and innocuous, but definitely isn’t. I’ve always enjoyed the concept of shape-shifters, and stuff to do with magic and dreams.

When you draw, where do you find your inspiration?

That’s one of those questions that’s really hard to answer. Literally, all over the place. Of course I look at other games for inspiration, but also movies, real life, my dreams. Sometimes stuff just pops into my head and I have no idea where it came from. The aether, I guess. But yeah, I try not to limit myself. I think that if you’re only drawing inspiration from one source, you kind of…you end up covering yourself, if that makes sense. You’re just doing the same thing over and over again, doing the same thing everyone else is doing. I try to avoid that.

How did you make your way to AE?

I have known Zazul and Nythera since college. Actually, I had a radio show at USF with Zazul. We played gothic and industrial music. At the time Zazul was the station head, and I was the DJ in charge of the gothic, industrial stuff. I think Nythera was there too for a while. When I was looking for a job, Nythera told me that there was an opening in the player support department. I applied and they hired me.  Then Alina found out I could draw, so I got moved into the art department for AQWorlds. Then Alina needed an assistant, so here I am.

What did you do before coming to AE?

Oh, geez. Um, I’ve had a lot of weird jobs.

Oh, you need to explain all of them right now.

(laughs) Okay, well, in college I worked at a winery and custom bottling place. I literally just made wine. That was pretty cool. I left the winery to work for the art department for a semester, taking care of the ceramics area, mixing glazes. I helped build a soda kiln. After that I had a job at a record store for a while. That was probably pretty normal, I guess. Directly before working here, I worked as a photo editor for a local place that does school photos. Essentially, I would edit the snot off of the kids’ faces. I’m not even kidding. That was 90% of the stuff I would have to do. Like "Oh no, he was just eating oreos," or "Oh crap, his nose was running."

When you were growing up, did you ever think that you would be in the game industry doing art?

I wanted to, but I didn’t really know how to go about it. I was really interested in doing comics and games, and I definitely knew I wanted to do art in some way. I played a lot of games growing up.

Such as…

Like the Final Fantasy franchise, Legend of Zelda, stuff like that. When I was really little, I played Pitfall for the Atari.

What inspired you to pick up and learn Flash?

Actually, I was focusing on more organic programs, like Photoshop and Painter. I ended up learning Flash for AE. I had a passing familiarity with vector programs, but I never really had a reason to focus on them. When Alina said that she wanted to see how I was with the AQWorlds style, I had to learn Flash. I picked it up pretty fast.

Outside of the Lab, do you socialize with other AE team members?

Well, Neveya is my next door neighbor, and Zazul lives in our apartment complex, so I hang out with them a lot. I hang out Nythera a lot. I’ve been known to hang out with Jemini and Samba. I actually love everyone I work with. There’s no one that I wouldn’t want to socialize with. This is probably the first job that I’ve had where I felt like that.

What does your daily schedule look like?

I wake up, I come to the office, I figure out what needs to be done, and then I triage it so I can do it in the best order possible. But sometimes things stop being things I need to work on. It's kind of like "Oh crap, we need to do this now." I don’t know if it’s really scheduled. Then I go home and if I have time to draw, I do. Home life feels a lot like work, actually. There’s always something different that needs to get done, some errand that needs to be run. So when I can find time to be creative, I definitely am, and when I can find time to play games, I do, but mostly I have to clean the house and other boring stuff like that.

If you could master a different skill besides art, what would it be?

Oh, besides art? Hmmm. Well, I’m assuming that most creative things would fall into that category.

Well, let’s say besides drawing.

I definitely want to learn 3-D art. I’ve dabbled in it before, and I kind of know what I’m doing, but not really. But that’s kind of cheating. That’s a cheat answer. I want to get better at writing, but that’s art too. Hmm…I’d like to build robots. You know, I want to get better at 3-D stuff in general. Like, I really want to make action figures.

What do you want to see happen for the next release?

Like, next week?


Um, what can I even say…I want the game to not break. No bugs in the release.

Something realistic though.

I would like to see Zazul take over and turn the entire town of battleon into a big, evil carnival.

Of all the releases that you’ve seen so far, which one is your favorite?

I was really into the Darkblood stuff.  I don’t think that’s a secret. I did a lot of artwork for the armors and stuff because I thought they were friggin’ awesome.  That’s fresh in my head because it was something I was really involved in.

What’s the most hectic, crazy, catastrophically-apocalyptic release you’ve ever been a part of?

Oooh, well there was that one release where Ghost lost internet access. He had done all of the animation and suddenly he couldn’t send it to us because he didn’t have internet. Samba and Cysero had to derp animate the entire thing. That wasn’t really my problem, as I didn’t know how to animate at the time, but being in to the Lab for it, it was obviously pretty crazy.

If you weren’t working at AE, where would you be working?

Am I dreaming, or am I being realistic?

Let’s do both. Start with your dream job.

I wouldn’t mind working in movies. Behind the scenes, maybe. I had this one class at USF. It was technically a sculpture class, but we were learning how to build stage sets and dioramas and stuff, and I would love to do stuff like that. I would love to be someone like Guillermo Del Toro, either as a director, or a screenwriter, or working on the special effects and make up.

Realistically, I have no idea what I would be doing.  I don’t even know what’s available for artists right now. I would probably be freelancing and I would hate it.

She’s talking but I’m no longer listening. Shanky can’t wait anymore. I’ve been moving closer and closer to her as slowly as possible. The time to strike is now.

"Oh wow, that is so interesting. I think tha- DIE YOU TASTY DREAM-BEAST!!!!!"

Perfection. Shanky and I leap onto the small creature and begin [Text removed because Oh my GOODNESS are your hallucinations dark! - Ed.]  It is sometime before I realize that I am not actually [Again. Dark. - Ed.] Memet, but a plushy replica of a treasured childhood pet.

"Memet? Come on out, now. Shanky just got a little excited, that’s all. He doesn’t meet many new people."

No answer.

"Come on, be reasonable. It’s not like I’m going to [DUDE. - Ed.] Perish the thought!”

A low rumbling is the only warning I get. A torrent of huge rats begins pouring with unnatural speed into the foyer. Memet is riding on top of the lead "alpha" rat.

"Onwards, my children!" She shouts.

They fall on me, all claws and teeth. I scream until it’s over.

I awaken in my cell.

I have been chained to the wall. Alina’s inquisitors are taking turns giving me their most [happy fun times - Ed.], the infamous destroyer of minds known as the "wet willy." It is beyond horrible. I wish that I was still dreaming about getting torn to shreds by giant rats. Alina watches from the doorway.

"Another interview down, Nots." She says. "Keep at it."

What? Interview? I have no clue what she’s talking about until one of the inquisitors reaches into a fold of my potato sack robe and takes out a tape recorder. He tosses it to Alina, who catches it deftly. The inquisitors undo the locks on my chain, and I frantically clean out my [wet, wet willy - Ed.] ears. When they leave, I remove Shanky from my robe, thankful that the inquisitors did not find him. I am slow going to sleep that night.


June 19, 2013

Grimskull Rumors..?

Storytime with Notsgnal

“Wet” did not do justice to the state we were in. Soaked, maybe. Drenched. I could’ve drowned a moglin in my boots. Not that I would, that’s sick. It was miserable. The only thing that gave me the slightest comfort was knowing that the other members of my party were suffering just as much as me.

Dark and Rainy

When the orange firelight of the inn came into view through the rain and the fog, I felt like cheering. All four of us trudged into the stables to change, because no self-respecting innkeeper would let us within spitting distance of the hearth, sodden and filthy as we were.

Warm Fireplace in kids games online

 We took off our armor, donned our plainclothes, and sprinted through the doors to avoid the rain as much as possible. Deidrick paid for our stay and the rest of us ordered food. We sat down gratefully in front of the hearth. I looked around. The place was pretty much empty, except for us and a hooded man, face barely visible, dressed almost exclusively in rags sitting in the corner, far away from the fire. As we acclimated to our surroundings, the rest of the party took notice of him. I turned to Hawthorne.

“What’s up with him?” I said. “He looks awful.”

“I don’t know, dude. I passed by him on the way to check out our rooms. He smells bad. Like, really, really bad.”

“Like cheese and feet bad?”

Stinky cheese and stinky feet

“No, man. Worse.”

We whispered amongst ourselves. Trist was worried about him. She wanted to ask if he was okay, we could tell. But before she could say anything, Deidrick spoke up, with his loud, booming voice.

“I want a story.”

He looked us over. We didn’t say anything. It can be dangerous to upset Deidrick. He turned his gaze on the man in the corner.

“You! Over here. Now. Tell us a story.”

Trist looked angry, but Hawthorne put a hand on her shoulder, and shook his head. Just because we’re mercenaries doesn’t mean we don’t have common courtesy. But Deidrick gets us the jobs, and Deidrick pays for our meals, so Deidrick gets what he wants. The man in the corner got up unsteadily and shambled his way towards us. When he spoke, his words came out in a choking rasp.

“Aye, I got a story fer ya, yes I do. Settle yerself, big man, and listen in close now.”

I barely managed to stifle a cough as he came closer. Hawthorne was right. The man smelled truly putrid. He leaned in close to me, and it was all I could do to stop myself from gagging.

“You,” said the man. “He used to look just like you. And if that fool boy o’ mine had never ventured near that crypt, he’d be about your age now, I’d say.”

The Story

We never had much, see? Barely had enough for the farm and the clothes on our backs. There ain’t much for a poor farmer’s boy out there in the world. Surely you know that. That’s why ya became mercenaries, I’m bettin’. That’s what my son tried to do, anyhow. Any company he tried to join rejected him, of course. What sorta mercenary company would take a boy who can’t even afford a proper sword? So he came back. Had a fire in his belly, he did. Said he had to prove himself. Next morning, I found his bed empty. He was gone, headed to the one place that was sure to get him killed. I put the saddle on my mule, and rode him near to death tryin’ to catch up to the boy. After a day’s worth of riding, I found him. There he was, at the entrance. Frankly speakin’, it was a miracle he even got there in one piece. Everyone who’s got an ounce a’ sense in their heads knows that no one who enters Grimskull’s Crypt leaves alive.

Grimskull is coming to AQWorlds the free to play online adventure game

I told him this. I shouted at him, begged him, pleaded with him, told him that this wasn’t what his mother would’ve wanted. He turned around at the door, nothin’ but the rags on his back and a pitchfork that he was usin’ like a polearm. He was scared. He started to walk back towards me, started to call out to me. And that’s when the door opened. That’s when the laughter began. It came outta the darkness and took my boy. I went in after it for hours, days maybe, but I couldn’t find my son, or the strange beast that stole him away.

We were all silent when the man finished. There was nothing but the sound of the fire, and even that seemed like a hollow, insufficient thing. A little bit of life seemed to be taken out of Deidrick.

“There’s yer story, big man.” Said the man. “Happy now?”

Deidrick shook his head, slowly. The man walked away from us, and I alone watched him go. There are still nights when I wish that I had just stared into the fire like my companions. He turned back to look at me, and the firelight showed me his face underneath his hood.

A grim Grimskull survivor

It was drawn over his bones as though it was removed, dried, and put back on again. As he turned more towards the light, I could see that he had just one eye. There was only a concave, fleshy area where the other one should’ve been. I could see maggots writhing in the empty socket, tunneling deeper into his flesh to escape the light of the hearth. He smiled at me with rotted teeth, and I looked away in horror. The man’s story was racing through my mind.

Everyone who’s got an ounce a’ sense in their heads knows that no one who enters Grimskull’s Crypt leaves alive.

When I looked back, he was gone.


June 12, 2013

Summer Story Time

True Stories bro.

Summer is here! YAAY! The sun is out, school is out, and everyone is flocking to their favorite vacation destinations.

Summer Shop has graduation gear, beach items, and surfboards

If you’re nowhere near a beach—fear not! The Summer Shop in Battleon is open for business, and you can get all kinds of summer Seasonal Rares! 5 new RARE Surfboards have been added to the shop… and also the highly-anticipated color-custom Victory Swimwear!

Artix Beleen and DarkAxe15 yell Battle On

You know what else is a popular vacation destination? The Secret Underground Lab! Yesterday, 3 of our awesome players, DarkAxe15, DeathComes2x, and TheSaucyKnave visited the Lab and we gave them the grand tour. As you can see, DarkAxe15 even gave me a super adorable pink plushie pony for me to smother with LOVE! Eeeeeeeeeeep! =D

Okay. Srsly. How could I NOT have a plushie pony weapon in AQWorlds? Problem solved!

Beleens new pink unicorn plushie weapon in fantasy game 

Since my Featured Artist Showcase Shop is like 2 weeks away, I’ll put that pinkie pony in my special shop (along with a whole bunch of other random items that make me giggle!) for everyone to enjoy! Thanks again, DarkAxe15!

When best friends DeathComes2x and TheSaucyKnave came around, DeathComes2x showed me his hilarious-to-me-but-not-so-funny-for-Artix screenshot of his EbilCorp trickeries.

Pink EbilCorp takeover in online adventure game

Well done, DeathComes2x! Furthermore, DeathComes2x posed for an EbilCorp photo and Chairman Platinum posted this picture on You can even vote on how meme-worthy it is by clicking on the pic!

EbilCorp be stealing weapons and loot

The entire Artix Entertainment staff loves meeting our fellow heroes in person! It’s so awesome playing with you guys and gals in game… but even awesome-er when we get to meet you in real life!

Wanna visit the Secret Underground Lab? Well first… you gatta find our undisclosed address. And then you gatta find the person in charge of scheduling tours. And then you gatta make it to the lab using no other means of transportation besides a dragon.

That ought to keep you busy for awhile =p


February 22, 2012

Prisoners of the Pirates

If you can't trust your family, who CAN you trust?

Drip... drip... drip... Rusty brown water drips from holes in the corrugated metal ceiling of the crumbling bunker in the SkyPirate Base where the children are kept. The thin, unceasing sound drills into her ears and would eat away at her resistance if she didn't keep singing loud enough to drive it away, Nhia thinks to herself.

And besides, it helps Jarren stay strong, too. And she would do anything to protect her little brother. Especially after the last blow from the Pirate as he brought in their breakfast. She can still see the bruise staining Jarren's cheek, spreading and growing darker as the morning passes. He didn't cry when the cuff came, and he didn't fight back.

It's too fine a line, she thinks, between not showing fear and not showing defiance. She doesn't know how long they can keep treading it.

"Nhia? Nhia? Nhia Nhia Nhia!" Jarren rapidly tugs at her ragged hem from where he crouches by the bin.

"What, Jarren? What do you WANT?" Nhia snaps, immediately regretting the harsh tone as tears well up in his eyes. What the Pirates couldn't do to him, she has, and she promises silently - again - to do better by him. To get them both out of this place.

"When ith Gramma goin' to tell the Pirates to let uth go? I dreamed of her latht night again. She wath holdin' me and thingin' to me like a Gramma thould do." Jarren's lisp only comes out when he's confused or scared, she knows.

Nhia pulls him to her and hugs him tight. If their own mother is too afraid to protect them from the DreamWeaver - she refuses to call her Grandmother - then she'll have to do it herself. But maybe... last night's Dream comes back to her in a rush.

"The DreamWeaver never held you like that, Jarren. She only makes you think she has. You've got to stop believing in her! We are nothing to her but tools to use, garbage to give to those filthy Pirates to make them think she'll keep her word." Her voice is harsh again, and she fights to soften her tone.

Jarren looks up at her, his eyes searching her own for an answer she can't give, a promise she can't make. She gives him the only comfort she can:

"We won't be here forever. I can feel it, and I Dreamed it. Something is going to change, someone is going to come, and it's going to be soon. We can hold on, Jarren. We have to." Nhia draws a deep breath and finishes.

"Dream of tomorrow's tomorrow. Hold the picture in your mind like Momma showed us. We can make help come. This nightmare has to end sometime!"

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