Matters Of Scale

When is big too big?

A story should grow as it develops, but too often a story can peak too soon and then the climax that follows ends up feeling… well, anticlimactic. Can you have a war in the middle of the book only for the final showdown to take place between hero and villain in a cave somewhere? The stakes could be higher, but the grandeur is lost. When you’ve bested a dragon, can rescuing the princess from the stumpy lord who you passed her onto be just as awesome?

Scale can be an important thing to plot ahead of time when preparing any new piece of work, be it the dramatic impact of a scene, the ramifications of a particular deed, or even working out how to leave yourself somewhere to go when you still have a long way to the finish line.

Dramatic escalation

In any narrative with multiple dramatic moments there should be peaks of excitement and tension separated by lulls of recovery. You simply can’t keep building tension, fear or whatever emotional pinnacles you’re pursuing, your audience will get bored of the constant rising drama. “Oh, somebody else has died? Who’s nex- oh her! And now everything’s on fire. Great.”

Extra Credits detailing escalation in Star Wars
Extra Credits detailing escalation in Star Wars

In between there must be time to process each event as it passes, a release of tension so that the viewer/player/reader can be built back up, and perhaps further this time. Horror films, slashers in particular do this exceptionally well, each kill is followed by more of the confused and terrified teenagers trying to work out what’s going on in that mysterious old diamond mine, as shadows creep along the wall, strange creeks, plans are made that will inevitably lead to one person being separated from another, or an ominous door to be opened and then BANG! Or possible crunch.

This kind of story structure is essential, and not because it’s a familiar and safe format but because the contrast of rise and fall makes each event so much more incredible, and the “come down” gives us a brief moment to feel satisfied before we start the cycle again.


Level 1 is practically the same in any fantasy RPG. Goblins, kobolds, giant rats, basically nothing much taller than waste high for a few levels until you can take on something as big as you are, then on to the dragons and whatnot, the big scary things with glowing weak points. The largest thing you’ll face at that stage is another person. Now here we must surely be able to make a few changes. Escalation in terms of threat needn’t only be represented in terms of size, but in terms of cunning or the threat represented.


For example, when you’re faced with a dragon your choices are fairly obvious. Point the biggest, meanest, most damaging thing you have at it and pull the trigger. But when your nemesis is little more than a face in the crowd with the power to bring a nation to its knees, you can’t be so forthright in your approach.

Where size really matters is when your protagonist is concerned. As time progresses and situation demands, guns should get bigger, magic powers should get more epic. While in game terms your character may only be chasing larger numbers, it helps a lot if they’re represented by a bigger boom, making the development more abundantly obvious. Perhaps it isn’t their individual power that matters, but the influence they have over others, the size of their group, their army, or the power to change a nation, which brings me to my final point rather neatly…


Many times we see a story about one very particular and seemingly insignificant thing turn into something far more dramatic. Harry Potter can be held up as a prime example, the mystery of the Third Floor Corridor being so very Enid Blyton in its make-up, becoming a step along a path towards open and highly climactic warfare, with clearly marked levels of importance along the way. With each book something more important is at stake: The lives of students, an escaped convict, international relations, soon the very magical governing body becomes the focus of attention.

There are only so many times you can save the world. It’s ok to save the farm first, or even save yourself for now until you get the bigger guns to come back and save the world, the galaxy, or even time itself. As the drama increases, so too should the burden of responsibility on your characters, the amount of power they wield in terms of both combative strength and political sway contributing to the tension, the drama, and the scale of the plot.

Cosplay update – Open Discussion

Today, I admit I don’t have enough pictures to show you anything of a WIP post… But whilst I work on getting pictures on my work in progress, let’s have an open discussion about all that is Cosplay! This is a post that will (hopefully) encourage you to join in the discussion of Cosplay and what it means to be a Cosplayer.

I don’t have nearly enough of my costumes done right now, so I’m keeping this one short and sweet. Pictures and posts following my costumes will swing by next week when we’re really down to the wire (again!)

Today, I thought I’d ask some interesting questions to you, the cosplay and indeed the geek community. Consider this a Cosplayer Highlight, where the audience is going to participate and let us know what they’d do. So without any further adieu, I’m going to ask some questions. I’ll answer the questions and also pose them to you as well.

Cosplay can even bring the silly out of you.
Cosplay can even bring the silly, childish joy out of you.

Q: What do you think the most important aspect of a Cosplay is?

A: Enjoying the character. The costume is nearly secondary (Very nearly). You see, whilst having the best costume in the world is awesome and really helps to boost you as a cosplayer, it’s not as much fun to go around in the best costume in the world, if you can’t interact with people as if you were that character. My Original Character (OC) Oskar, is one of the costumes you might have seen me post the most about. Not only am I proud of what I’ve made on there, but I love how easy it is to move around as him and to catch people off guard. He’s a funny little guy, who I can’t help but use to bring a bit of fun to any event I attend. People usually ask for pictures with him, anyway!

Q: What’s the most important skill to learn in Cosplay?


A: Whichever skill you need to know to make your costume. Whilst it’s all well and good turning and saying the most commonly used skill (Sewing), which is indeed an important skill to have in your repertoire, you can do just as well without knowing sewing what so ever. If you want to make armour, you could potentially make it all out of cardboard, foam, worbla (if you had the money!) You name it really. So in terms of individual skills, I’d almost say the most important skill is to learn to learn.

If I had to pick a specific skill that has helped me the most: It’s pattern making. From clothes, to making patterns for props, that has been the one thing that’s stood out for me as the most useful skill. I’m still learning… But if you would rather digitise this process, there is software out there for you.

Q: How old is too old for a Cosplayer?

A: Now, I’ve heard this question used a lot and I have to admit – I almost find it offensive. I didn’t start Cosplaying until I was 23 which is considered a little bit older than most would start Cosplaying. I had wanted to do it from when I was around 13-15. I was heavily into anime, loved me some comics – I was a typical geek who used to love to read and watch. Problem was I had no feasible means to start. Now, I find the question almost offensive because I once was told: “Aren’t you a little old to be playing dress up?” I felt it was such a weird thing to ask, so I retorted to the lady “Thanks for your concern, however this is my form of a hobby. I must ask back now, what is your hobby?”

Weirdly, she had no answer… It was a bit of a strange situation. I turned the question back on her and she couldn’t give me a proper answer. I always believed people need hobbies and passions in their lives. It’s what motivates me and drives me… So as an extra question to the age question: What’s fandom without a bit of colour?

Q: How young is too young for a cosplayer?

A: Stop.

Read above.

Change the words in my answer from “Old” to “Young”.

Next question.

Q: I would love to begin Cosplaying but I am not very creative. How can I get started?

2015-07-16 10.31.33
Creativity comes in all forms.

A: For those who don’t know much about me, I’m not really the most creative of people. I try my best, but I’m not going to lie: I struggle to see a lot of things in the same way that a creative mind sees things. I’m always concerned that my lack of creativity would result in me not getting projects finished. I’ve not finished many costumes, the more that I think about it… But I’ve finished enough. The way I got started was by looking up cosplayers who have done my favourite costumes and try to understand their thought process.

If you’re the sort of person who tries to be the best from the first costume, then you might want to buy a costume and practice being the character over the crafting. If you were confident in the crafting, but not the acting, why not make some things and just walk around in these things for a day?


Well, that’s it – Let me know your answers to these simple questions. Sorry today was a short post and sorry if you were expecting pictures. They are on their way, but just… Not yet! Let me know what your answers are below, over on Facebook or Twitter.

Top 10 Dead Characters in Gaming

Top10 Banner

What a weird name for a Top 10, right?

I mean, it’s all well and good that this is a Top 10, but are we really going to celebrate those times you die in a game? Well no, we’re not. This Top 10 is dedicated to those characters that start the game dead.

That’s right, they’re dead before things happen in game. Nevertheless, these dead characters are important to their respective games and franchises, so we feel like they all deserve to have a tip of the hat as it were. Without delaying you from this awesome list any longer, here we go!



Top 10 Dead Characters in Gaming

10. Carlos Calaca – Guacamelee!


The big bad guy of Guacamelee! imposes his way to number 10.

Originally a human, Carlos made a pact with the devil himself by selling his soul to win a competition. Well, the devil tricked him and yes – this makes Carlos a bit angry. So he exacts his revenge… By turning the devil into a chicken.

Now, an undead who’s in the land of the living, Carlos is looking for a way to bring the lands of the living and the dead together so he can rule over both.

9. Jackie Estacado – The Darkness


The game based on the comic book series begins with the legendary line “I remember the day of my 21st birthday. That was the first time I died.” Jackie is kept immortal by the inherited power of The Darkness, a demonic force that not only serves as a devastating weapon, but also rebuilds the body of the host if slain.

It’s debatable whether or not Jackie Estacado is dead, but he undoubtedly deserves a place in our list for one hell of an introduction.


8. Sandro – Heroes of Might and Magic


Sandro is one of the few characters to appear (at least by mention) in every single version of the Heroes of Might and Magic series. Now in its’ sixth title, the necromancer has made a triumphant return to the game (albeit as a separate entity with the same name – and indeed nickname – to appeal to fans) after a brief disappearance in the fifth, but even then held no small influence on the games’ storyline.

Cunning, diabolical, and completely skeletal, Sandro became the focus of his very own expansion campaign in HoMM 3: The Shadow of Death; and again in HoMM 6: Danse Macabre.


7. Aiden – Beyond: Two Souls


Jodies spiritual partner throughout the game is Aiden, who you later find out is *BLEEEEEEEP SPOILERS*. Ahem, excuse me.

Aiden is really impressive throughout this game, as you don’t see who Aiden really is until right at the end of the game (in any physical form, this is) and he has direct influence over the entire game. He is able to interact with the lands and if you have a player two plugged in at the time, player two can be Aiden! I felt this was an excellent mechanic that could really have done with having more exposure.

If the lovely 1001-Up are reading this, I would have put Jeff here, but sadly Aiden had more of an impact on the story. Jeff is a personal honourable mention of mine!

6. Kain – Legacy of Kain


A magnificent anti-hero, the saga of the vampire Kain tells of his growing narcissism, how his jealousy caused him to destroy his greatest lieutenant – Raziel – and cast him into the abyss and creating his mightiest enemy.

Kains’ death at the hands of an assassin begins the series in which he plays both protagonist and antagonist; in the final instalment (Defiance) alternating between the two as the game progresses. At all times however, he is an arrogant and self serving tyrant.

5. Sorin Markov – Magic: the Gathering


The vampire Planeswalker of Magic: the Gathering makes his mark at number 5.

Ascending into the status of a Vampire Planeswalker, Imprisoning the Eldrazi at Zendikar, leading vampires. Yeah, Sorin has a pretty impressive resume. Players who go against a deck with Sorin in it will feel the effect of his presence very quickly. Just hope he doesn’t keep draining your life with his sangromancy!

4. Sir Daniel Fortesque – MediEvil

Sir Daniel Fortesque

When one of the main features of you is that your head comes off and you can put it on little scuttling hands so you can scout around the place, you know you’re pretty much dead. Well, yeah in fact Sir Daniel is brought back from the dead to fight off the evils that are plaguing the land!

Hence the name of the game. MediEvil. See? There’s a reason for everything. This game was hack n slash action greatness… Pick up number 2, at very least. That game rocked my childhood and it’ll equally rock yours.

Plus, you get to run around with big ol’ guns and swords. What more could you want when dead!? Oh, yeah: You get to end number two by going back to your deathly slumber with your kick-ass sidekick by your side!

3. Cave Johnson – Portal 2

Cave Johnson

Do you know who Cave Johnson is? He’s the man who’s going to burn your house down! With the lemons!

Although he never appears, Cave Johnson – former founder and CEO of Aperture Science – is an integral part of Valves’ Portal 2. Through his voice-over guide through the old test chambers in the second half of the game reveal his declining health, how his insane ideas put the company into deep jeopardy, and the origins of GLaDOS herself. His exposition and ranting is also rather important to the very last puzzle in the game, so pay close attention.

2. Vecna – Dungeons & Dragons


For many years Vecna has been a member of the Dungeons & Dragons pantheon. Once a mortal man turned undead through arcane prowess, turned divine by cunning manipulations and powerful friends. His legend is a long story in its’ own right, but now he spawns a wealth of undead-inspired campaigns and famous in game stories.

Most famous for his missing his hand and eye which are themselves artifacts that feature in every core rulebook, Vecna is perhaps the most famous NPC to grace the game.

1. Manny Calavera – Grim Fandango


The smooth talking salesman from the game directed by that smooth talking developer, Tim Schafer. Manny Calavera has a crummy job and is looking for that one lead in his life. He’s looking for his own ticket on the number 9, but we decided to give him the ticket to our number 1 spot instead.

Friends with a demonic mechanic, making enemies who are the dead equivalent of the Mafia, riding around in hot rods. Running hotels, fancy suits… Manny Calavera is truly a man’s man and a ladies turn off. Just like how we all want to be in the real world… Wait, what?!

Shooting, crime, deception, you name it – it’s in Grim Fandango. It’s a classic adventure game that’s due a remake.
… Any time soon.

Honourable mentions

Sheesh, even in death we’re not giving these guys a break.

On the plus side for them, they still get a mention as they are pretty damn cool dead characters, so at least it’s not all bad news. They just missed out on the Top 10 for various reasons, however we’ll probably explain why in their listings.

Probably, because you know: These guys are dead already, I’m sure they won’t mind if we “accidentally” forget about them!

Dry Bones – Mario

Dry Bones

One of the most lovable dead characters in existence, Dry Bones doesn’t quite make it to our top 10 list but still gets a mention. Sheesh, not even in death does this little guy get a break!

Dry Bones, albeit has been around for some time, is not important to the story in any real way. Sure, there may be one or two games that promote Dry Bones to a more “important” role, but even then: It’s merely a role. Dry Bones is never a star, but it doesn’t stop Dry Bones being absolutely adorable and when if I die, I’d like to look like Dry Bones. Although I’d like to not have the weaknesses of Dry Bones while we’re in fantasy world.

Ronan O’Connor – Murdered: Soul Suspect


Ok, neither of us have played Soul Suspect yet, but the idea of playing a guy investigating his own murder appeals more than enough to get Ronan O’Connor onto our list. The opening scene depicts his traumatic entry into the haunted world, complete with bullet holes opening in his chest as Ronan watches his body being perforated to ensure the job is done.

I’m a fan of the noir genre, and investigation games especially (Diskworld Noir being a firm favourite of mine) so this is definitely on the to-do list. Maybe then Ronan can rest in peace on our Top Ten.



Well, that was our Top 10 dead characters in gaming. I hope you enjoyed our list as much as we enjoyed making it!

Come on you gaming veterans out there. Tell us how wrong our list is, or tell us where we’ve done good. Let us know who YOUR favourite dead characters in gaming in the comments section below. Who knows, perhaps we’ll like your suggestion so much that we include them on our list!