Tiny People, Tiny Posts – An Asura Week Review

Asura Week is over and it was a … revelation to me. A short race means a reasonably short blog post apparently, but maybe I’m just used to the long blog post the sylvari week brought us. Think of it what you will, this race week still gave us some information, and something for me to ponder about. And that is a great accomplishment, looking at the fact that the asura sometimes use words that make a story a lot more complicated.

We began the week with what I call “The Origin of the Asura”. Matt Barrett told us in a, what I believe to be short, blog post how the asura came to be what they are today (in Tyria).

Originally, the asura were a creepy golem-like race who lived at the edge of society and stole technology from the more advanced races of Tyria. Now, a race that looks like that can hardly be accepted as bright and friendly, now can they?

This picture gives me a strong Utopia feeling. His clothes remind me a lot of the Aztec theme that was to be implemented in the campaign. To be honest, I would’ve loved to see the unfinished campaign. The theme really spoke to me and the chronomancer was a profession I really wanted my hands on. I would love to know how ArenaNet implemented their time shifting feature in the game. Another thing that spiked my interest is the bits of the story that were revealed. The time-hub city, the thing about time being destroyed. If you could grant me one wish, it would be to give the world this mysterious campaign with Guild Wars 2 still being developed.

Now back to the asura. Their role changed, for some unknown reason, from crawling, stealing creatures to a new, cute yet alien and underestimated smart race. This meant that the asura needed to change appearance. The artists originally came up with this, but found it wasn’t cute enough and was still a bit creepy.

One day, Matt came to work and started drawing the next drawing, which is apparently cuter and less creepy. This picture would become the basis for the asura design.

Now, you can tell me what you will but to me, the second drawing is far less creepy and way cuter than the last one. Still, to me the asura are a mix of the second and third drawing, which is good because I wouldn’t want to play an asura that looked so … sexy *cough*.

And at the end of the post, he gave us an example of how he draws the asura. I watched the whole video and asked myself, once again, why I can’t draw like that.

That same day, Jeff Grubb gave us a short story named Mr. Sparkles, A Tale of the Asura. It tells the story of a company of travels, set out from Ebonhawke, making its way through the Shiverpeaks to Lions Arch. Among them are the asura Flummox and his assistant sylvari Sareb. Jeff says that it’s an old story, but still fits in the current lore. What happens basically is that the company is threatened by a group of Jotun and that our smart asura uses it’s almost broken golem to attack and eventually blow up the Jotun that stand between them and Lions Arch. However, he asks for some stuff from the other travelers to make his golem work again and in the meantime takes the necklace of a mysterious women, a necklace that meant a great deal to her. But he didn’t use it to repair his golem, he takes it as compensation for the loss of his golem. Luckily the sylvari assistant gives it back to the girl and uses the lessons of the asura against him.

The second day, we got a look at the buildings of the asura. Their building need to be three things: massive, have a cave-like feeling and need to have electricity sparkling all over it. Every motif, every line has a function and channel vital energy to different parts of the building. Don’t go looking for them in-game thou, because they aren’t there. It’s just to give it all a meaning. It’s all inspired by Hindu temples and I can, again, see some left-over from the Utopia campaign.
Their machines and decoration, on the other hand, are all inspired by some early machinery, something you would see in a “Frankenstein”-type movie from the 1950s. It’s all meant to be very dynamic and electric-like.

The same day, we got a nice and entertaining column called “Hey Bookah”, where all the stupid humans got a brilliant answer to their stupid question. I’m not going to tell you all about that, just go read it over here.
Wednesday, we learn more about the asura culture. They are all about their technology and their inventions. They suffered a hard defeat when they were driven out of their underground lairs, but they have fought harder than any race and became the biggest race in Tyria, Rata Sum being a testament to it. When they talk to other asura, and when they want to intimidate “lesser races”, they use big words that only other asura (maybe not even them) can understand. Sometimes it comes in handy, sometimes it’s just annoying.
Now, the last thing you expect from a race so smart is that they still have emotions, they should’ve evolved above that by now. Now, of course they have emotions. What would they be without emotions. When an asura makes a mistake, the whole family will be disgraced and this causes emotions to sometimes heat up a bit around the house. This also applies to the relationship of lab partners or assistants or students. And nothing less is expected. They never take it personally, it’s all about becoming better by all means.

The official web page was also update that day, and we got a good look at Rata Sum. Although it now seems a little less confusing, it’s still pretty big and complicated. Of course, the beauty of the city can never be matched, not even by Divinity’s Reach, and we would expect nothing less from the brightest race of Tyria.

On Thursday, the asura got more feeling with a blog post on animating them. Basically: they needed to look ridiculous and exaggerated to match the strength of the other races. “It’s not because they take themselves serious that other races do”. And to be honest, how can take a little, fragile dwarf serious when he tries to swing a hammer two times its size. Maybe they’re like ants.

And Friday, Ree took us for a spin and taught us more about the society of the asura and gave us another short story.

The asura were apparently even greater before the rise of the elder dragon They say they had six cities at least as large as Rata Sum in their underground territory, but contemporary races are doubting these “legends”. If it’s true, the asuras’ losses are almost too great to comprehend, but the race is active and ingenious so they quickly made up for their losses.
Their race is led by the Arcane Council. It is said to contain the most brilliant asura of their time, but that’s probably just something they say to other races. In fact, an asura rather spends it’s time working with machines and inventing stuff then leading the race. They don’t have any political ambitions, and the Arcane Council usually consists of those who were to slow to decline or find a way out of the offer.
The life of an asura is, in my eyes, very simple. They start working as their parents assistants as soon as they can (isn’t that child labour), and as soon as they argue to much with their masters (or parents, call it whatever you like), they are send off to work for a master in one of the three Colleges their society is based on (they’re send off to boarding school) and when they’re done with their training, they set out to make their own name with their own inventions and are ready to join a krewe of their own. At least, they’ve managed to reduce interpersonal relationships to a shade of their former glory. But say what you will, an asura will always stay loyal to his former masters and praise them whenever they can. Even after all the insults.
Now, the asura are divided, in some way, in three Colleges: the Colleges of Statics, Dynamics and Synergetics.
The College of Statics is the most solid and conservative of the three. They like to make sure everything will work and preserve as much as possible.
The College of Dynamics is the complete opposite. They will try to improve everything they can and apply new things and inventions wherever they can. Something that blows up isn’t bad as long as you have learned something from it. They are fast and active and will never let something go unchanged.
And last but not least: the College of Synergetics. They are a rather mysterious College and often their teachings aren’t comprehended by anyone outside of their College. They study raw magic and the shaping of it, rather than the solid foundations the other Colleges built upon. And although they can make the biggest break-through, they don’t often go testing they’re theories outside of their laboratories, they just stay theories, which leads to the questioning of the effectiveness of the College.
And we also learn about The Inquest, a big, what is considered to be, krewe of asura who resort to horrible means, like using ‘lesser’ races as test subjects, to discover new things. Unlike the other asura, who love to share their inventions so the world can see how clever they are, the Inquest doesn’t share theirs with the outside world. Only the Inquest gets to know about them, and sometimes not even them.

And with that, we conclude the information we got during the asura week. Or NOT.

Although I liked the information and the race, something bothered me. The screenshots.
We all know how polished the game looks and how awesome their environment can be. But what happened with the asura environment?
When you look at the screenshots that were released during the week, we, or at least I, can see some … mistakes. Unpolished details, something that ArenaNet isn’t known for, pop in and out of these pictures, and I’m not happy with it. To give you all a few examples.

Look at his armor. Whereas other races have a more polished armor, with jewelry that looks like jewelry attached to it, this asura has an amour with what I assume is jewelry that looks like it’s painted on the armor. Is that an asura thing?

There are several things wrong in this picture.
First, look at the grass in the background. That looks like it’s painted on. Normally, there are little blades of grass sticking out everywhere, giving it a more polished look.
Secondly, the building seems to just stick out of the ground. Where is the basis? I know it’s hard to get what I mean, but for some reason the buildings we saw so far don’t seem to just stick out of the ground.
Thirdly, the pavement the monster and the asura are standing on. Where is the relief? Again, it’s painted on.

And the last one. Again, the pillar just seems to just stick out of the ground. Although, I have to say the relief is fine in this one.

To be honest, some of the pictures remind me of a “Theme Park Inc”, a game I used to play 10 years ago, and World of Warcraft. Guild Wars 2 should have no connection to World of Warcraft. It needs to be Guild Wars on crack. Or steroids. Or a combination of those two. Or more.
I know the game isn’t finished yet, and when I look at the video of Rata Sum I’m just baffled, but the faults just don’t work for me.

Setting aside all of that, we just got our last, short but cosy and much anticipated race week. And nothing to soon too, because a few days ago a rumor that CLOSED (thanks for the emphasis, Martin) beta would start (or already have started) in November, and ArenaNet didn’t deny it, so we can say that the release might not be far away. Let’s just wait and see, but I’m 99% certain I won’t have to go to GamesCom next year to play the Guild Wars 2 demo…because I’ll be playing the game on my computer.

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