Saturday, September 17, 2011

That Darn Celestia Wallpaper (And Back to Normal)

Hi, everybody! It's good to see you again!

So, as you all know, it's been a good two weeks now since I've posted, and a week and a half since I've tweeted, or even played Wizard101. Sorry about that. The past two weeks have been incredibly hectic for me, between finishing summer assignments which I procrastinated on a bit too much, starting my Junior year of high school the day after Labor Day, and adjusting to all my new classes (three of which are AP). Today is the first time in a little while where I feel truly relaxed; I have finally made sense of my world once more and am ready to reintroduce more leisurely and/or recreational activities such as blogging. Things are slowly getting back to normal :)

Anyway, a few weeks ago, as you may or may not recall, I mentioned something about a "wallpaper review." I didn't care to be particularly clear in that post about what I really meant by that, but in fact my meaning was this: a one-off criticism of one particular world wallpaper about which there was quite a bit of hubbub last year, but which ultimately, in my opinion, was somewhat of a disappointment at the point of its final reveal. You guessed it (or you read the post title). It's the Celestia wallpaper.

Was awesome when we didn't really know anything about CL. Not so good now.
It occurs to me that the people at KI, wonderful and clever people though they are (Happy 3rd Birthday, Wizard101!), didn't quite think the whole wallpaper reveal gimic through. The gradual reveal of each character present in the wallpaper from silhouettes lasted over several months- six, to be exact- from April to October, when Celestia was released. This means that Kingsisle was likely still working on much of the world as they conducted the reveal, with detrimental effects. Okay, maybe not detrimental, but I am a little worn out from the past two weeks and don't want to bother to think of a better word.


Anyway, allow me to go over some of my grievances with this wallpaper, which in many ways does not at all accurately reflect Celestia. We'll start with the most obvious one: Thurston Plunkett is not even present. Well, not exactly. As many of you may remember, Plunkett started out in the Test Realm looking like the droopy-faced prospector beagle in front of the mechanical man Praxis and the robot fish. Not a very flattering look; I was quite relieved when they changed him to a Balestrom-style frog. Granted, this was after Celestia went live, so a part of me can pardon KI for never making the change, although seeing the frog version of Plunkett standing proudly in front where the lantern-holder is would have been nice. Even better would be Edith Benchly, who is standing a little too un-prominently behind the lantern holder on the right. After all, it is Edith who first greets you when you enter Celestia Base Camp for the first time, and sends to you on your adventures in all the various areas of Celestia. I'd even go for Thornton Lewis (who can be found in the District of the Stars) in front; he was one of my favorite characters, and he did seem to have a slightly larger role than most of the Marleybonian NPC's. But what is with the lantern holder? The only NPC is Celestia of that design is Captain Fogg- who, as his title suggests- is captain of the airship SGS Explorer which the Marleybonians reached Celestia by. He is found at the back of the wrecked airship in the Floating Land; his role does not extend beyond Pierce Stanson needing to know he is safe and sound, and giving you permission to take submarine parts. He does give a single side quest, but it is nothing more than defeating a few mobs. Early on during Celestia's time in the Test Realm, Pierce Stanson, the main character for the Floating Land was also a lantern holder, but his design was changed within the first week or so to a more generic design which actually comes from Marleybone as opposed to being unique to Celestia. I don't know if one of these two guys had role that was rather significant to the CL storyline as a whole back in April 2010 (the lantern holder silhouette was obvious from the beginning), but they obviously don't now. I have a feeling there were a few members of KI who were secretly cringing as Fogg was filled in in the weeks after Celestia's release.

The background with the wooden platform isn't very accurate, either, but that's insignificant enough that it doesn't bother me. I did, however, expect to see a little more done with the submarine to Stormriven, given its prominence in the background. Whatever happened to the "Boat Ride to the Krokosphinx" instance concept? The submarine was a perfect opportunity to create something like that; I was a little disappointed when I went through to Stormriven the first time and realized there was nothing. That should be a patch the next time the Test Realm comes out; if they can create Grandmother Raven and Malistaire cutscenes, and Krokotopian Boat and Marleybonian Balloon Car ride instances, they can do one for the Submarine to Stormriven.

But I'm getting off topic. That has little to do with the wallpaper.

There are a few other things that bother me; all having to do with character placement and prominence. First off, what is with all the little critters surrounding the characters? I know they are all Celestia pets (aside from the Red Gobbler), but what is the point of including them in the wallpaper? All they do is take up space, but they were included because they were a good way for KI to keep the reveal going after they realized Celestia would not be out in August like they had thought and had to add in some characters. Then there is the fact that you have three different types of crabs, which do represent that aspect of the Celestia story well, but where are actual Celestians, or even the Morgantine soldiers and Shadow Weavers? I don't see Alaric Moonsunder, Karolack Nightspinner, or Vassek Shadowspike anywhere. Instead, the wallpaper is inundated with underwater mob creatures who have little significance to the storyline- a Water-Lurker, a Crustacean Clawcutter, a Water-Maton, Blue Bart. I like the Piscean, although he could stand to be a little closer to the front, and I like Praxis, because he is a good representation of Celestia's steampunk theme, and I admittedly became twice as excited about the world when he was revealed. The prospector Marleybonian works too, because the divers in the Grotto have that design, and Queen Calypso works. As I said earlier, I would have really liked to have seen Thornton Lewis, though, even if he was not at the front. And one of the two orange crabs could go; they are both obviously crabs of noble standing- the only difference between them is their outfits. Pierce Stanson would be nice to see, as would a water-mole such as Tupa Taua. A steam-trowler wouldn't be bad, either, but only if there was room. More necessary would be a Stellar Protector like Thule Landshaper. One of the great things about Celestia is the seamless combination of four more or less unrelated themes: Underwater, Steampunk, Astrological, and Tropical. But when two of these themes (the latter two) are completely absent from the wallpaper, there is no way it can be considered a good representation of the world. Okay, I suppose you could pass on the Tropical and still be good; I did like the surprise associated with discovering that there actually was an above-water area in Celestia. But the total absence of anything relating to Celestia's legacy, to the grand and intelligent world that it was before the Storm Titan flooded just doesn't work.

I know I must seem awfully picky to have written so much in the course of criticizing a wallpaper of all things, but you must understand: a wallpaper like this, which is designed to promote somthing, in this case, Celestia, is more like a movie poster than a picture for your computer desktop. It embraces that which is Celestia and tries to generate interest and excitement about it. It does this, but it is not accurate, and, as a result, one if left feeling confused when that dog in the captain's uniform, standing grandly and prominently at the front of the group, lantern in hand, seemed so cool and epic, but ultimately has barely anything to do with the story. Also, a quirk of mine is that I have this imagined scenario which I like to entertain, in which, following my putting the wallpaper up on my computer, the other members of my family (none of whom play Wizard101; I am the only one), walking by, look up and notice the wallpaper, and briefly wonder what it is all about. Not that this would generate enough interest that they would start playing or something, but it would at least get them to stop and use their imaginations for a moment :)

Is there anybody else out there who feels like I do about the Celestia wallpaper? I've always been curious to know!

Thanks for reading! It's good to be back!

Until next time, Ponder on!

P.S. I may have a little surprise coming up for you sometime this week. I'm still deciding if it is ready to be released, or if it needs a little more work first. Regardless of when it comes out, I think you'll all greatly enjoy it!