It’s the start of Sylvari Week! Kristen Perry begins with a shebang as she tells us how the player-controlled humanoid, plant race was designed and re-designed. I, personally, am just amazed. It’s another example of working and re-working things in that ol’ iterative process until it feels right. Perry did it at night on her own time!
The original design was not any more evocative of plants or nature than some forest elves. Perry mentions that they never seemed to hit the trifecta of noble, beautiful, and plant. Their visual design always felt like fae at peace with nature. I loved their story as it seems to stem largely from sidhe mythology, but they were about as interesting as elves to the eye. Or, rather, humans that were slightly different.
Now they feel alien. Something about them is not quite right. It doesn’t feel like an obvious, natural creation, like making yet another anthropomorphic race. The plant-grown sylvari feel unnatural, and that is why I think Perry hit the design straight on. They should be unnatural. They aren’t a culmination of evolution or even magical…uhh.. offspringing. They are weird. Perhaps unliked.
In so many stories about the sidhe and other noble fae, we are told that they have otherworldly beauty. Strange beauty. It rarely made sense to me. I usually went along a supermodel-ramped-to-eleven route in my mind, but I think the answer is something more along the lines of Medusa. Alluring and repulsive at the same time hits the mark, and it works great for the sylvari. I think that this design will especially appeal to both men and women gamers, whereas the old “elvish” design might not have appealed to that tough, CODBLOPSy guy.
I can’t believe the “stock” of the sylvari can rise much higher after this start, but, once again, I am waiting to be surprised.