This post includes my journal sketches as well as images of my final work. Most of my research is covered in my previous posts and my final reflect is in my previous post (process 4)
This post includes my journal sketches as well as images of my final work. Most of my research is covered in my previous posts and my final reflect is in my previous post (process 4)
My profession for this design is actually *spoilers* a Pianist.
So for this design, I looked at musical notes and piano sheets.
This inspired me to use musical notes as a typography for my design.
I designed the letters in my name to look like musical notes and as a background, I used the lines of a piano sheet, which is a familiar representation to most people. I threw in various musical notes along with it, but at a lowered opacity so it does not distract the viewer from my name.
But I wasn’t very confident about stopping with just this idea. I wasn’t sure how to move forward with this profession, so I just kept it and now the task was to try to make it more interesting.
I tried to apply these techniques to my work. But I think it still did not look very good or inspired.
I had yet to clean up the design, but just by looking at it, I think it looked worse than the first design honestly. So I was back to the drawing board.
I then had a breakthrough when I looked at the work of other artists:
I then decided to try experimenting with merging piano and typography. And this was my first design:
I wondered about applying negative space but I wasn’t too creative with going about it so I just kept working on it.
I then tried focusing on using the black keys as the main typography, having letters in them.
Then I thought, why not just make the typography as the actual black keys? I played a bit with the rotation of one of the white piano keys to create the letter ‘A’ with the negative space, and modified the black keys a bit to show the other letters.
I couldn’t decide which design emoted better. I felt like the first design was more clean and simple, but the second design was more clear and direct.
This assignment exposed me to typography and how we can use it to communicate ideas. It really made me think about how we perceive things – like when I think about gardening, what’s the first thing that comes to peoples’ minds or my mind? We all have different perceptions of things, but sometimes there are common things or objects that pop up in our heads when we hear about something.
So aside from learning about typography, it made me think about how we perceive things, and how we associate images with objects or ideas, or semiotics in other words.
As for typography, I learned more about using kerning and tracking to make my typography look better, either more dense or less cluttered, which I applied in one of my designs (see Process #3). We can play with the distance between the alphabets, change the way the text is displayed – make it curvy and playful, or make it straight. It’s almost as though we were giving the text itself a character.
I also learned that there are different styles to typography. Some designs are more image-based, while others are more on the typeface.
We can make our own fonts, or we can use others’ fonts and modify them. Not only that, we can even add designs into the typeface itself. We can subtract or add negative space, play with lines and shapes to communicate an idea through the words.
I also learned about how colours can help in communicating with the typography. Using green as a background helped to assist the typography and show that it is something plant-related (Gardening). Of course, this only works if the typography itself is already able to communicate Gardening very closely. The colours merely help to confirm that idea, strengthening it so that the audience won’t be too doubtful.
Oh, one more thing I learned was that ideas can still change during execution. While executing my piano design, I was constantly changing and tweaking things digitally even when I had sketched out my rough idea. I think this applies to a lot of the work we do here. We may think we have a very clear idea in our minds, but when we actually execute it, we may find a lot of things that we can improve on, flaws in the design that we may have never thought about until we make it and show it to other people. So yes, the design process is full of iteration, as people say.
I suppose that’s all for this assignment. As a bonus, I actually stumbled into this really interesting article which made me really eager to learn more about typography.
This is actually part of Research but I did not know where to put it, so here it is!
Above are the concept designs for Folk Tale, a game. I have never played the game, but came across their design process while researching about typography.
This forum post by the game developers talks about how they designed the game logo, and it inspires me as a game developer because I had to create game logos as well, but back then I had no prior knowledge about typography.
Their post is very informative, and it goes through how they added an outline to increase readability, how they removed foreign elements that distract the viewer. Moreover, they talk about how they manage to convey the art style of their game through the design of their logo, as well as how the addition of a ‘sword’ portrayed the genre of their game (adventure).
It really wow-ed me, and I think this is a very good post that I think aspiring game artists should read. I hope that we will get to come across more of such material because it’s interesting to look at the processes of other people too and learn from them!
In this post I will talk about how I decided on the font, colours, and symbols for my 3rd design.
When I was looking for fonts for my designs, I accidentally stumbled across this font.
I immediately knew that this was going to be the choice of font for my next occupation, which is a game developer. I liked the blocky clean feel and the lack of anti-aliasing, which gives this font a very pixel-art feel which is representative of olden retro games.
I did some experiementation on how the font would look like under different settings, where I modify its size and scale effect.
A smaller font size at high scale results in more ‘pixelation’. But when overdone, I feel it decreases readability.
On the other hand, a lower scale effect coupled with a high font size results in a more cleaner and sharper appearance. But it may look too close to a normal font as the eye will not be able to tell apart the individual pixels making up the typeface.
After some experimentation with how ‘retro’ and ‘pixelated’ I wanted the font to be, I found a suitable size and stuck with it. It was easily readable, unlike the extremely pixelated version. So it was neither too pixelated nor too clean, and I decided to work on this sizing for my design.
Here is a sprite from the game “Space Invaders”, a very classic old retro game that was very famous back in the dawn of arcade games, one of the earlier forms of video games that reached out to the masses.
And of course, there’s Pacman which everybody is able to recognize.
I next looked at colours. Because I am doing the style of old classical retro games (and not recent hyper realistic games), I look at colours used in olden games, way before even Mario.
Because of the limitation of technology, the colours used back then were very limited. The more commonly used colours are composed of ‘pure’ colours in the 8-bit spectrum like cyan, magenta, red, green and blue. So unlike the games we see today, older games didn’t really go all out with a variety of colours because they had a limited colour palette. Nevertheless, they could still be very colourful, I just had to know what colours to use.
So for my design, I decided to restrict the colour palette that I had. But of course this does not mean I will just be restricted to just black and white.
The downside is that these colours are usually overly bright and glaring as they are very striking colours, just like how Space Invaders looked.
Learning about Tracking vs Kerning
I also had to take note of spacing between the letters. This was the first time I was actually looking into tracking or kerning for typography as it is something I never thought about. We always take such things for granted when we read typography. I also found out that they are two different things, and learning that was something very new to me.
Coming from a game developer background, I did a little bit of reading into this topic, which got a little technical. I know that to display bitmap numbers in games, there are different “widths” assigned to each number, as certain characters are wider than the rest.
But back to typography, adjusting the tracking of a text can create an overlapping effect, or extend the spaces between too closely spaced alphabets to make the typography less dense.
Why I adjusted kerning and not tracking
I could also use tracking to make the typography more spaced out overall, BUT the reason I did not adjust the tracking is because my intention was to only give more space to specific letters, and not the entire typography as a whole. Changing the tracking would overdo the spacing for certain letters, making the spacing very uneven across the typography. Nevertheless, I did play around with ‘tracking’.
In my case, because I was adding graphics to the side of the letters ‘a’ and ‘w’, it had the unintentional effect of squishing my typography and make it look overly dense. It did not look very good:
So I had to play with the kerning and customize the distance between these letters where appropriate, while keeping the kerning of the other letters the same.
There are two versions of the same text above. At the bottom is the old typeface with its default kerning, and on top is the adjusted typeface where I spaced out the letters ‘a’ and ‘w’ because of the extra detail I added at the side of the letters. This gives those letters more room to ‘breathe’. It’s a subtle change to make the typography more readable.Mini reflection:
I think it’s great that I finally not only understand what the terms ‘tracking’ and ‘kerning’ mean, but also know their differences so that I won’t be so new to these terms if people mention them.
I am one with the force, and the force is with me. That is a memorable quote from the latest Star Wars movie, Rogue One, and it’s about what went through my mind when I worked on my next typography, which clearly is something fictional, yet rather cool to be if it could be a reality.
There’s tons of cool Star Wars typography, even in merchandise. Here’s a Star Wars pendant:
Here’s one that I really like:
The title of the work is “Ackbarpography” and it was created by artist Carl Mitchell, a designer and illustrator. What I found cool was that the words in the typography is a memorable quote said by this character in the movies, and has a little bit of comedic value to people who have watched the movie and recognize this character/quote. I’ve looked at ton of Star Wars typography while working on my own design because it is interesting, though most of them do not fit what I am looking for.
(too many to list them all here)
But enough of that, back to the assignment!
I started off by looking up on how space looks like in Star Wars. Unlike the colorful space photos provided by NASA, which shows the Milky Way, or some distant colourful galaxy or nebula, space in Star Wars is very simple and classic. It’s just stars shining on empty space. It’s very clean.
So I followed this simple design and chose it as the background for my typography.
The very first Star Wars movie is a very classic movie with a very simple story, and I wanted my design to convey that simplicity and classic style too. So I then emulated the font used by the Star Wars logo, which you can see above, to produce this:
I used negative space to imply the beam of the lightsaber, cutting through the words, and added the silhouettes of Anakin and Obi-wan Kenobi fighting each other on the top. Both characters are (or were) Jedi, and their lightsabers clashing convey the occupation perfectly.
The idea of Jedi is that at the bottomline, they are powerful warriors who use swords. However, apart from the silhouettes of the two Jedi, this design did not seem to communicate the idea of “warriors” very well as the main focus is on the typography.
So I began working on another design. The trademark of Jedi is their laser swords, also known as lightsabers. It is something easily recognizable, and it conveys the idea of Jedi being fighters/warriors very well.
I did a simply draft, using just the lightsaber beams. It looked a little bit too plain, and I wanted to give the idea of them being fighters. In Star Wars, there are Jedi and Sith, the good and bad guys respectively. They use different coloured lightsabers, so I decided to add colours to denote that there are two sides – the bad guys (represented by red lightsabers) and the good guys, represented by green and blue.
The idea is to make the lightsabers of different colours clash with each other. Now it was time to add the lightsaber hilts.
Most people recognize the simple, single beam lightsaber, but there are actually different lightsaber types (S-shape, C-shape, T-shape) that can be combined to produce the typography I want. Of course, being a Star Wars fan, I already knew that there were different shaped lightsabers, but I still went on and researched about the different lightsaber types anyway, so that I can produce interesting typography with it.
By combining the different lightsaber hilts and beams, I can produce a believable typeface made of lightsabers.
In the end however, it was commented that this design looked rather childish, and I also felt the first design looked more classic and professional, so I went back to touching up and improving the first design.
The comment I got was that the lightsaber beam isn’t very obvious even though the negative space implies it is there, it looks more like a black lightsaber, so I went back and filled it with an actual beam. I also added some planets which kind of look like the Death Star in the movie, but that’s just a secret reference for those who know Star Wars anyway!
As per title, this post is about my process for my first design, the gardener profession. I’ll start off with my artist research.
The work above is by artist Sabeena Karnik who uses both typography and paper art. Karnik is skillful in paper sculpting and uses paper to produce astonishing work. The work above captivated me because it reminded me of one of my professions that I am trying to do, which is Gardener. However, this design may be too flowery and it may end up being mistaken as a florist so I also look at other designs by other artists.
Above is another one of Karnik’s work, which was created with the theme of Christmas and New Year.
After looking at other artists, it was time I created my own typography. This was my very first design:
Unfortunately the comment I got was that it wasn’t clear enough and the choice of font I had used was just too common (and thus possibly overused). So I went to look in a different direction.
This is a typography by a different artist that looks like it could fit a gardener. I liked how the typography is composed of vines and made up of these little things that sprout around. I decided to use this to create my next typography, by using vines and other gardener-like shapes (Leaves, Seeds, Stems) to make up my typography. So I got to work and produced something. Below is one design I had done for my gardener typography:
Aside from looking rather plain, I realised that I could try to apply a suitable background to enhance the typography.
Next, I looked at how backgrounds assist to communicate its theme or message.
Gareth uses bold typography with witty copy and simple photography as the background for their gardening business. Looking at the typography above, it shows how much the background enhances the typography.
I tried a realistic looking background like Gareth but it obviously did not fit well in terms of the style as it did not match, so I did some experimentation.
I then tried something simpler, just having two very distinct colours to represent the grass and the soil. Then I added a bit more detail (lights and shadows) to the typography to make it stand out more. It made the typography better. The comment I got from this design was that it did not really communicate the idea of gardening very well. Even though I used twigs, leaves and seeds or vines, which to me seemed like gardening-like items, it was not very clear overall. Ultimately however, I decided to see if I can push myself to come up with something better, so I tried to look at other artists and references.
Below is another typography inspiration that I spent some time looking at:
I thought it was great to use a tree. I felt it represented gardener much better than a mix of flowers and various plants that may make it look too flowery and distract the profession from gardener.
I also liked that it looked as though the typography itself was really sprouting up from the soil.
I wanted to execute something similar, but tweak it so that the typography is merged more into the tree rather than as alphabets that are floating above and not really part of the tree aside from colour and style. So here was the first draft I made.
I made the typography not only seamlessly stick out from the branches as part of the tree, but made it similar to the bark and colour of the trunk.
Here is another version of the same design, but this time I wanted to incorporate the idea of it sprouting from the ground, and when people think about gardening, one of the most common terms that come up is “seed”. When you are a gardener, you plant seeds that sprout into trees, so I put a seed there. However, the comment I got for this second design is that the seed is too distracting from the typography, and draws attention away from it. It also makes it look like the tree is just planted out of nowhere, with nothing to really anchor it down. So I went back to the first design.
The comment I got from the first design however, was that the tree looks very barren. It looks as though I was a really terrible gardener to have created something like that. It looks as though the tree was dying rather than flourishing. And that’s why the title of this post is as such.
“Why does your tree look so barren? It makes you look like a bad gardener!” – Mimi (2017)
So I added some leaves!
Now I really look like a gardener! And a good one at that, because my tree does not look like it’s about to die. But everything blends it a little too much – the leaves and its branches might be a little too similar in colour. I wasn’t sure if the typography would stand out enough.
At this point, I looked at colours. Now what are some gardener-like colours? I wondered. So I went to research.
I managed to find this image of a person gardening and I felt that the striking colours really made the image stand out. Because of the style I used, I think it is better to use such colours, and make the tree look more saturated.
I remember a comment I got was that the typography looked like it was like a children’s book illustration, like a tree that is associated with a kind of fairy tale, so I believe going with that idea, bright saturated colours would help enhance this effect and enhance the visuals. So alas, my final design:
I tweaked the background to be a little more dull than the previous (just subtly), so that the typography stands out against the background rather than the other way around.
That is all for the gardener profession. Hope you like it!
Note: This post is purely for the fan-fiction only. For details about the world I chose, thought process, research and developments, please refer to this post.
Heads up: This fan-fic is pretty long.
Daylight strew into the room. My eyelids fluttered in the golden morning light as I got to my feet. Muffled voices could be heard from outside my bedroom. I edged closer to the doorknob, gently clutching it and pushing the door ajar.
“He’s all grown up, Elden!” my mother yelled. “You need to let him make his own decisions!”
“It’s not easy being an adventurer!” my father shouted in return. “He’s just fifteen!”
An ‘adventurer’ was what they called those who went to University to learn powers and gain special abilities. I had heard about these unnatural abilities. The more common ones that existed were telekinesis, the ability to move objects with one’s mind, and elemental control, the ability to control water, fire and the like.
I had heard about these legendary “adventurers”. They go out to fight the war with the monsters, creatures which had plagued our world since the beginning of time. Their origin was never known, but their numbers constantly grew, and the University was seeking out the most talented individuals to become adventurers to fight these monsters and stand up for the human race.
There was a catch – not everyone could graduate from the University with such powers. You would be given only three years to learn from the Masters, and if you were deemed weak at any point, you would be expelled and have your powers removed.
But I had no fear.
My parents’ argument with each other had intensified to the point that they did not notice my presence. I moved closer, my feet shuffling across the icy cold wooden floor. I looked into my father’s unfaltering eyes as he argued with my mother. Even though I had always been doubtful about this decision, I mustered with as much confidence as I could to speak.
“I won’t let you down!”
He turned his gaze towards me, shifting his attention from my mother to me. There was a long pause and my eyes met my father’s for the first time in what seemed like months. We never communicated much as he had spent much of his time in Ossaris.
My father was one of the few adventurers who had mastered a third tier ability, the strongest ability that one can learn. Less than a hundred of such adventurers exist in the world. Many others struggle with handling a second tier ability, much less master it. I never saw my father or any third tier adventurer in action on the battlefield, but from the stories, I heard they could slay twenty monsters in one swoop. He had even been to the sacred altar. I looked at my father – a legend, standing before me, and there I was as a normal kid.
My father sighed, breaking the silence. I knew he had much to say, but he held back.
“Just go son,” his voice tainted with affection unlike his previous harsh words directed at his spouse. “Your mother is right.”
“It is your life, your destiny. You don’t need us to decide it for you,” he added, trying to sound gentle despite his rough voice.
He turned towards the door, leaving me and my mother alone in the house. I was unsure of what to say to break the tension that still lingered in the air.
“Go now, or you’ll be late,” my mother bent down, passing me a good luck charm to keep me safe and ushering me toward the door.
As I stepped out, I saw my father had long gone. I looked back at our home. It was a simple wooden house like the others in the village of Riena. Our village was situated far from The Wall, an artificial barrier that guarded our land from the monsters and the war beyond it. Even if the barrier were to fall, it would take days for the monsters to even get to us. My mother had always preferred to lead a peaceful and simple life of farming and growing crops for the villagers, in stark contrast to my father.
As I thought back about him, I wondered about when we would next see each other. Hopefully by then, I would have something to show him, an ability I could be proud of.
I arrived in the University. The weather was perfect, almost as though it recognized the importance of the day. Thousands of students were walking into the compounds, all dressed formally like I was, eager to become adventurers. I blended in with the crowd, following them toward the meeting point for all new undergraduates – the Pantheon. We would all be undertaking a huge responsibility.
Ahead of us were several buildings. It felt surreal to finally be here. Looking around, it was unlike any other school. For one, it was huge, composed of several buildings. The grand nature of the university was unmistaken. But one particular structure stood out amongst the rest. A slim, tall white structure jutted above the sea of buildings that surrounded it, its tip piercing the clear blue sky like a huge needle that stood out from the ground. The Pantheon.
I looked down at my feet, thinking about what the rest were feeling. Anxiety? Nervous? The school fees did not come cheap, and I would be a disappointment to my mother if I-
“Hey! Watch where you’re going!” a voice pierced my thoughts. My shoulders tensed. I looked up, noticing an angered teenager staring at me. He was about my age. He was tall and slim and had raven black hair. He then turned to look at my feet and my eyes shifted to a bottle lying on the ground in front of me. Its contents, likely some sort of soft drink, had spilt all over, staining the white and reflective tiles of the ground.
“I-I’m sorry!” I uttered timidly, losing my train of thoughts.
He picked up his bottle, wiping his hands against his shirt. His anger seemed to dissipate when he looked back at me, as though I was instantly forgiven when he recognized me as a new undergraduate.
“So you want to be an adventurer?” he asked. I nodded.
“Well, that’s what I’m here to be as well,” he smiled. “My name’s Dan.” He extended his hand toward mine. I let out a soft sigh of relief.
“You can call me Zack,” I shook his hand.
“Come on, I know a shortcut to the Pantheon. Follow me.” He ushered me forward, as we cut through the crowd and entered one of the buildings. It was mostly empty, save for a few people. Dan led me down an escalator which took us to an underground passageway. It was brightly lit and there were several doors to our sides, lined up on the walls, possibly leading to classrooms.
“So where are you from?” he asked.
“Riena.” I responded.
“Wow, that’s really far. It’s nowhere near the edge of the mainland where the war is, isn’t it?” He asked.
“Yeah, it’s really peaceful here and-”
“Oh really?” he cut me off. He turned to me and I bit my tongue.
I paused, slightly intimidated by his sarcastic tone, unsure whether he was trying to be rhetorical.
“Sorry, don’t mind me.” He turned away sheepishly and apologized. “It’s just that most of the villages I knew had fallen to the monsters. It seems there is nowhere safe.”
“Yes, who knows when the war will end?” We continued to walk and along the way shared about the various lifestyles we led.
“Have you seen your timetable?” He asked, changing the topic.
I slung my bag to the front, reaching in to take out my timetable. He glanced over as I pulled it out. “I have Ms Wong’s Element Mastery classes on Monday and-”
“Woah! We have the same timetable!” Dan exclaimed.
“Really?” I exclaimed, eyes widening. “That’s awesome!”
“So what are you choosing to major in next year?” he inquired.
“Major? You mean our specialisation?” I questioned.
“Yes, they are merely going to build on our basics and foundation in our first year. Next year, we get to choose one of three majors, each one led by one of the three Masters who founded this school.” He continued. “There is the Master of Light who teaches enhanced senses as first tier abilities like super strength and an eagle’s eyesight, then you get to manipulate radiation and electricity as second tier abilities and finally you get to create force fields and control energy as third tier abilities. Then there’s the Master of Magic, who can control fire, water, earth and air as first tier abilities, and get cool stuff like invisibility as second tier abilities, and then telekinesis as a third tier ability. Lastly there’s the Master of Anamorphism. You get to grow animal-like features like having claws as hands, then learn self-regeneration like healing as a second tier ability and finally anamorphism, where you get to fully transform into any animal and become an invincible beast as a third tier ability.”
“I’m going to major in Magic next year,” Dan chuckled.
“I don’t know yet. I’m not even sure I can make it past the first year.” I mumbled. “The training looks tough.”
“Oh you will.” He added. “It’s not that hard. You’ll see in the ceremony later. The masters are going to perform a really cool showcase. You can find out what you like.”
Every new student was seated in the arena. Rows of seats surrounded the center of the arena where a huge stage was constructed. Eight concrete pillars surrounded the stage, supporting nothing in particular. Four of the pillars had been completely decimated, as though knocked down or demolished by a wrecking ball. The remaining pillars were all damaged in some way, either chipped off or decorated with black scorch marks and deep scratches. No doubt a ferocious battle had taken place here.
No later did the welcome ceremony begin and three figures walked onto the stage to introduce themselves.
The Three Masters, just as Dan had mentioned.
The first figure was clad in a white robe and introduced himself as Legren. He wore a silver mask that concealed his identity and donned a long robe that extended from head to toe. He wore white gloves and shoes that covered his skin, leaving no part of himself exposed.
The second figure held a staff in one hand and called himself Gulfro. It was a long rod, intricately carved out of sturdy metal, with strangely coloured jewels attached at its tip where the rod was curved to form a sort of hook like shape. The jewels seemed to emit a glow that seemed to resonate the power of its wielder. He wore a wizard hat and had robes similar to the first figure, but was in blue. He had a white moustache and a beard which he stroked eloquently every so often.
The third figure was dressed lightly and told the audience that preferred to be addressed as Rogue, which stirred some laughter. One could see his arms and legs, which looked almost too hairy for the average human. He looked much younger than his counterparts and his ruffled hair seemed to portray the opposite of what we would expect from a Master – a wise, old man with a clean and neat appearance.
Without warning, Gulfro lifted his staff and a ring of fire surrounded the three masters on stage. Four bolts of incandescent flames shot from Gulfro’s staff toward Legren. Legren lifted his hands, surrounding himself in a force field bubble. The flames hit his protective bubble, dissipating instantly. Meanwhile, Rogue began to transform. His arms began to bulge out and expand as did his legs. Brown hair engulfed his form as his face took the shape of an animal. He had taken the form of a ferocious bear in a matter of seconds.
Gulfro lifted his staff once more, chanting a sort of incantation. Nearby, one of the concrete pillars was lifted off the ground and was hurled toward Rogue. Raising his paws, Rogue sliced the pillar in half with his claw just before it could hit him. The pillar divided into two, scattering away from him and producing a cloud of dust as it skidded across the sand.
Legren waved his hand at Gulfro and bolts of pure energy erupted from his hand. They glowed a ferocious yellow and lunged at high speed toward Gulfro, who rolled out of the way just in time. Bursts of lightning then erupted from Legren’s fingertips, illuminating the arena.
Then, an invisible force lifted Rogue into the air as the huge beast was suspended in midair, a sight that looked surreal enough to look like a glorified magic trick. Rogue was then released and slammed into the ground forcefully. I could feel the earth beneath me shake ever so slightly as vibrations rippled through the ground from the impact.
Rogue stood up, revealing wounds on his knees from the fall. Before blood could ooze out from the wounds, the wounds began to close, patching themselves up with new skin and eventually covered with the same brown fur that matched the rest of his body.
Legren then discarded his robe. “Thunder spear!” He roared, putting his hands together to create an electric spear out of thin air. The spear crackled with electricity, pulsating with unstable energy. Sparks constantly leapt out from his materialised spear. He rushed toward Gulfro who took out his staff. They both clashed, Legren’s spear hitting Gulfro’s seemingly indestructible staff. Rogue transformed back into a human, save for his arms which remained as claws. He leapt toward the other two masters and the three clashed. A blinding light engulfed the center of the arena as disturbed sand erupted from the ground, shrouding the masters from the audience.
Nothing could be seen in the dust. The arena was filled with the sound of crackling electricity. As the smoke cleared, the ring of fire surrounding the masters disappeared, revealing the three masters standing back in their initial formal stances. They bowed to the audience.
Cheers erupted from around the arena as they stood up and applauded.
I looked at Dan, who was seated beside me, clearly excited and cheering for the Master of Magic the whole time.
Two Years Later
“You’re back.” My mother stood eagerly at the dining table, laying out the dishes for dinner. There was a wide spread of food, but my eyes were fixated on a letter on the table.
“From dad?” I asked, pointing to the letter. My mother nodded, clearly as excited to read it as I was.
Two years had passed and my father had yet to return home and stories spread of the growing intensity of the war that raged on in Ossaris, which was where my father was sent to. He wrote back once a month and it was always a joyful moment to get to read his letters every time.
We both settled down on the table next to each other. Pulling out Dad’s letter, I saw his familiar handwriting. His words were always blocky and bold, the letters themselves leaving deep markings on the paper that dug into it. To a normal person, it would look as though one had exerted a lot of strength on the pencil to write this letter.
“He’s going to visit us next month!” My mother exclaimed, her face bright with glee. She continued to mutter his favourite dishes that she would prepare. I leapt up in excitement, for it meant I had a chance to show my father my new abilities and what kind of adventurer I had become.
“How’s your studies? Time flies… I can’t believe we are in our final year now.” Dan wrapped his arms around my neck, pulling me over to him. “Heard you got top in your class again, isn’t it?”
Dan had become my best friend in school, and we had moved on to study in our majors. He studied magic while I followed in my father’s footsteps and studied light. We had both earned our place in the top 5% of the cohort and had advanced to study in third tier abilities. We only had a few months left before we would graduate. Fewer than a hundred students had the privilege of getting to learn third tier abilities.
“I hope I can master the third tier ability.” I said hopefully. “My father would be proud.”
“Listen.” Dan abruptly gripped my shoulders. His grip intensified as he breathed heavily. I could feel discomfort as he squeezed my arms. He pulled me close to him and looked intently into my eyes. I was stunned by his sudden actions.
“The war is closer to us than you think. The monsters are growing more intelligent and the University is underestimating their intelligence! Worse, they’re not doing anything about it!” His voice was almost menacing. “But I’m going to do something about it. I’m not going to stop after this year. I’m going to master the fourth tier and stop everything.”
“The… fourth tier?” I asked. It was never spoken of before.
“The Land of Frozen Flames. That’s where the knowledge of the fourth tier is kept. They can’t hide this secret forever.” He laughed.
“The Land of Frozen Flames… you mean it’s inside the Altar?” I looked at him in astonishment. The altar… it was a place the best and strongest of the third tier adventurers went to seek knowledge and perfect their abilities. I thought of my father for a moment. Did he know? Had he known about the secrets within the Altar and kept it from me?
“Your father is a liar.” Dan merely smirked, as though he had read my thoughts. “I’m going there to get the scroll that contains the knowledge of how to master the fourth tier ability. The monsters have taken over that land and the University has kept it a secret from all of us. The masters are selfish… they intend to keep this power for themselves.”
“That’s not true, we have to ask the Masters what really is going on in the Altar.”
“Don’t bother!” Dan yelled, frustrated. “Let me show you.”
He put his hands on my shoulder and began uttering an incantation. I felt a strange energy surround me and my consciousness almost slipping away. The world around me became a blur and the only thing I could see was Dan’s eyes. I could see rage, anger, frustration.
Then, my consciousness slipped back and I looked around me. Dan let go of me as I fell to the ground, dizzy from the strange experience. I struggled to stand on both my legs. I was no longer at the University. I was now someplace else. It was no longer concrete I was standing on, but soft fresh grass which reminded me of my village.
“This is Banesevek,” Dan sighed, “or what’s left of it.”
“Bansevek had used to be a bustling village. Many villagers and traders from the city came here to trade. It was safe, protected by the barrier created by the University.”
“Wait, isn’t Banesevek a 2-hour journey from our University?” I enquired. “How did we get here within seconds?”
“Teleportation.” He smirked, almost happy to look at my confused face. “It’s a fourth tier ability.”
“You went to the Altar?!” I exclaimed, still slightly dizzy from the teleportation.
“Teleportation and telepathy are just merely the most basic of fourth tier abilities.” He proclaimed, a tone of arrogance clearly in his voice. “Back to Banesevek. This was my village, my home, and it was destroyed by the monsters. And it’s all the University’s fault!”
“You can’t blame them…” I said.
“They assured us that the barrier was reliable! They were so confident that they did not even assign any adventurers in this sector” He cried. “But the barrier fell due to a careless design of the barrier. I lost my parents and my home, and I swore that day, that I will become an adventurer and right all the wrongs! Whatever happened to Banesevek will befall the University!”
“You better not tell anyone about this. Seeing that you’re not with me on this, then I shall do this alone. If you change your mind, find me at our usual meeting place in the forest. I’ll give you a long time to think about it.” He laughed. There was a flash of light, and Dan was gone. In the distance, a downpour ensued as petrichor filled the air. It was a long trip back to the University.
The master stood before me. The two hour long bus ride had dropped me off at the University.
“Greetings, Zack.” Legren stood before me, his robes draped behind him as he walked toward me.
I explained everything to him, about Dan, about him going to the altar.
“Dan isn’t being completely truthful with you, Zack. The Altar had never fallen to the monsters. It has always been under the University’s safekeeping. We kept it a secret from all the students except for the best of our adventurers. Your father was one of those who knew about the true power that the Altar really contained.”
So it was true, the Altar contained secrets of the fourth tier abilities.
“But Dan, he killed the guards and nearly all our finest third tier warriors. A few of them survived but a dozen of them who were protecting the scroll and the altar from monsters were killed that day.” I listened in horror as he continued. “The scroll isn’t ready for the world.”
“It’s time I showed you this. You must be prepared for what you are about to see.” I wondered in curiosity at what he meant.
He raised his hands, his fingers gently sliding underneath his mask. There was a soft metallic click as he unlocked the mechanism that held his mask in place. Slowly, he removed his mask, letting it drop to the floor. I stared at his face, forcing myself not to be repelled by what I saw.
His face was disfigured, his left eye missing from its socket and his mouth crooked, a deep cut extended to the right side of his face while the other was battered with scars. What was left of his nose was a mere protrusion of flesh jutting out in a crooked angle. In certain places, parts of his skin were peeling, revealing the vulnerable flesh underneath.
“I look like a monster, don’t I?” he groaned in a deep voice that made it seem as though he struggled to utter those few words. It was the first time I had heard his voice without it being muffled by the mask he always donned. He chuckled, before bending down, picking up his mask and putting it back, concealing his face once more.
“It’s a permanent consequence of when I was still an adventurer trying to master the fourth tier ability. When I learned of what it could do, I wanted to master it. I trained and trained until I was the most powerful adventurer. I could single-handedly beat every one of my comrades in a spar. I thought I was ready. But this power… it’s not for us to control. It has its own living force and it will consume you like a leech that latches onto its prey with its hook. I had to pay a heavy price for acquiring this power and it took me decades before I could lead a normal life once more.”
“But I can teach you the fourth tier ability,” he glared. Even though the mask concealed his expression, I could somehow tell he was looking directly into my eyes, dead serious about what he had just said.
“That’s impossible!” I smiled awkwardly. “I’m barely even coping with using a third tier ability.”
“But you’re still young.” Legren argued. “I was 40 years old when I tried to learn it. Though I had the power to learn the ability, my body was way too old. You are powerful enough and your body is still growing. It can still accept and tame such high tier powers while you’re still at this stage. Unfortunately, this means that Dan is also able to learn the fourth tier ability and once he does so, no one can stop him, other than another user of the fourth tier ability.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t.” I looked away, my eyes darting toward the horizon by the window. “If you want me to kill my best friend, I won’t do it.”
“You have to destroy Dan before he destroys the world.” Legren explained. “While you have been studying here, the Masters have studied you. You were the only one to pass the test at the Cave of Unrest.”
“No, I will not fight him.” I turned away flustered. “There has to be a way. I can convince him. I’ll tell him everything you told me! My father will know what to do. He’s been to the altar.”
“It is already too late,” he bellowed. “Dan has already gone down the path of darkness. Zack… I don’t know how to say this, but your father… is gone.”
“What?” My attention turned back to him. “Gone? What are you-”
“Your father was one of those killed at the altar. Dan disguised himself as one of the Masters and resorted to forbidden abilities to kill those who were at the altar that day. We have identified your father’s body and…”
Tears swelled up uncontrollably in my eyes. I could not bear to hear anymore. I ran out into the rain and disappeared into the forest. I tripped over a rock, falling onto the mud-soaked ground. Tears trickled down my face, merging with the heavy raindrops that fell from above.
How could he? How could Dan do this…? I could not forgive him. Perhaps, the Master was right. Someone had to stop Dan.
I took my weapon and ran off into the forest to seek Dan out.
It was not long before I found Dan.
“So, you have changed your mind?” Dan asked slyly.
“Stop this Dan!” I screamed, my voice still choked on the tears.
I drew my weapon, the Omega Orb, an object that was said to enhance my abilities. The Master had slid it into my pocket earlier, saying that I would need it.
“The Omega Orb? You went to the Masters? You betrayed me Zack!” He yelled, clearly aggravated by what he saw. Then, he smiled.
“And now you want to fight me?” He laughed, a slight hint of irritation in his voice.
“You really think you can take on me?” He retorted. “You have no idea how strong these tier four abilities have made me.”
“You killed my father!” I snapped.
“Sacrifices had to be made, Zack.” He muttered in a calm tone that merely angered me even further. “Surely you have to understand that.”
I was overwhelmed by emotions. It didn’t matter to me anymore if I lived or died. I just wanted to kill this monster and bring justice to my father. I clutched the orb, unleashing a stream of energy bolts directed at Dan. He darted to the side, dodging it easily.
I watched as the raindrops around me began to freeze and crystallise into sharp knives made of ice. I lifted the Omega Orb and concentrated my energy into a ball before releasing a shockwave just as I saw the knives turn and speed toward me. The shockwave destroyed most of the knives, but two knives continued to make its way toward me. I narrowly managed to dodge one, but another grazed my cheek, leaving behind a bloody cut on one side of my face. I barely had time to tend to my wound when I saw a fiery spear moving toward me at a high speed.
“Force Field!” I uttered, casting an energy bubble around myself. Dan’s flaming spear hit the bubble, but did not dissipate. It continued to burn and had begun to pierce through my force field, creating cracks. I stared wide eyed as the flame destroyed my force field and slammed right into me. I had a moment to react before I created a weaker energy guard around my chest to shield myself before the flames came into direct contact with my skin. My energy guard deflected the flames but the impact sent me flying a few feet away before I skidded into the mud, blood staining the soil beneath me.
I was exhausted and my energy depleted. It was then that I realised I could not move. Dan has used his telekinesis to freeze me in place. I lay helplessly on the ground. He lifted his staff. I could hear the roots of a nearby tree being forced out of the ground. He had uprooted a nearby tree and moved it over my body. I lay flat, looking up at the tree that hovered dangerously over me. Small twigs snapped and fell around me as the tree blocked out the moonlight while raindrops continued to splash on my face as cold wind pierced the silent air around me. Dan looked at me, ready to release the tree and let it crush me, but I could see he was hesitating. I closed my eyes.
I thought back about the two or so years we spent at the university. Dan had always had greater ambitions than me, about wanting to make the world a better place for everyone. I respected that. I was so upset about the loss of my father, but failed to see that Dan had experienced a greater loss and for far longer than me. Perhaps I was not a good enough friend to him. I didn’t try to understand what he was going through. I knew he wasn’t exactly a popular kid in school and was occasionally ridiculed by his peers, yet I didn’t check to see if he was doing okay every now and then. I was not a good friend.
In that moment, a huge bear emerged from the forest and pushed the levitating tree away from me and into the direction of Dan. I could see Dan’s face showing fear for the first time as he teleported out of the way.
The bear stood over me, then transformed into Rogue. In the distant, I saw two figures emerge from the trees, their weapons drawn as they stood in a battle stance.
Dan was across them, his weapon drawn as well. Dan and the three masters locked eyes with each other intensely, neither willing to make the first move.
Then, Dan turned his gaze toward me. I heard his voice in my head, almost as though he was whispering into my ear despite standing at least thirty feet away from me.
“It’s not your fault, Zack. You were the best friend I could ever have.”
I looked in his direction, and Dan was gone. His words continued to echo in the air before fading off in the loud and heavy drizzle of the rain.
Legren rushed to me and pulled me up from the dirt while Rogue began to heal my wounds.
Legren then put his arm on my shoulder.
“Now, your real training begins… Zack. You have to go back to the Cave of Unrest immediately.”
Dear reader, thanks for taking an interest in my fan-fic and reading all the way to the bottom. I think I had too much fun writing it that I got carried away and I honestly wished I wrote something shorter and simpler because I was too ambitious with this. I misunderstood the brief and thought we had to be as detailed as possible to describe the world so that the reader is able to imagine it, so yeah. Sorry if it was too long!
This is just a post on my process. If you want to read the actual fan-fiction, please go to: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/a160106/fan-fic-adventurers/
I decided to use Jerome’s world for my story. I made a list of what this world is about to expand on it in my story. But in summary, it is a world where:
I thought it would be interesting to make this world a little bit more fantasy and expand on the fantasy aspect of this world. I also wanted to create more depth in the world – the concept of having monsters and an ongoing war. The separation of abilities into “lower class” and “upper class” gave me the idea of having different tier abilities, which reminded me of games, mostly MMORPGs and RPGs which often use a similar kind of tier system for skills and classes. So I decided to look at them and they are where I drew inspiration for this fan-fiction and have classes be the university’s “majors”. It helps that I played such games too and want to become a game developer myself.
So I added a few things into this world:
Having sat in Ruyi’s 4D lessons for the first two weeks, I learned a bit about developing characters so I decided to try and apply what I had learned.
My goal was to portray Dan as a character who grows in power, but begins to lose his morals along the way:
I did some research on two things. The first was that I wanted to look at what kind of abilities the people in this world can learn. What kind of cool powers should I give them? Aside from looking at superhero films like X-men, I also looked at games for this since it is something close to my heart.
I had not played Ragnarok before, but I had heard praises about it. At the same time I wanted to know what made it good for its time. I did a bit of reading and it seems that people mention that the game has very unique skills for each of the classes, which I felt could give me ideas on what kind of ‘powers’ the characters in this world will have.
I also took a look at this list, which lists down the members of X-men and what powers they have to draw some inspiration for my story: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_X-Men_members
As for realism, I learned in class that it helps to do some research about the topic to help make your story more believable. I wasn’t sure how realistic superpowers could get, but here is an article that I had read, titled “7 Awesome super powers ruined by science”.
I actually read it for fun initially because I thought the title was interesting, but aside from its comedic content, it may help me slightly in crafting my story. As the article’s title implies, it is about whether super powers could be a reality. Is it something real and scientifically possible, or would the laws of physics simply disallow it? For example, super speed may not be possible in our world due to inertia squishing your internal organs from the G-forces that act on your body. But of course, for the sake of the story, it would not have to dive into such scientific details.
WARNING: This part below contains SPOILERS and may ruin the experience of reading the fan-fic if you have not read it yet. It is advised to read the fan-fiction first if you have not before proceeding!!!
I think I spent a lot of time on the introduction chapter compared to the rest. At first I wrote that the parents of the main character were both normal farmers who both supported the main character to become an adventure. But I later went back to tweak it after having an idea that the father should be a very powerful adventurer, and have conflicted thoughts about whether his son should be one and therefore create a bit of conflict between the characters. To add on to that tension, I wrote it such that the father never saw his son often, which creates a new dynamic in the relationship between the two characters. I think it was a good change because otherwise it honestly would have been quite boring without any kind of dramatic tension between the characters and become rather flat.
I personally liked the idea of there existing a “godly tier” of powers (the fourth tier), which are much more secret and mysterious than the default three tiers of powers explained in the first chapter of the story. I think it also ties in well with the world revolving powers and there being lower class and upper class abilities, which is why I decided to incorporate this as part of story.
I also changed the order of a point in the story in the last minute. Rather than having Dan learn about the fourth tier abilities AFTER being confronted by the main character, Zack, I changed it that Dan would learn teleportation and telepathy earlier, and have him use teleportation on Zack to introduce the existence of fourth tier abilities to the story to let the audience believe it is not just a ‘legend’, as well as showcase its power. I think it also had the cool effect where if you re-read the part where Zack was thinking about his father, and Dan immediately talks about this, it slightly changes how the story is read when you now realise that Dan was able to read Zack’s mind all along, and that part make more sense when you realise it.
Despite all that, there are still plenty of improvements I can still make. Some improvements I think I could have made was to develop the friendship between the two main characters (Zack and Dan) more, and develop their relationship more like showing how they spend the three years together, so at least there is a reason to believe in their friendship and see how strong it actually built up because I wanted to portray them as best friends. I also wanted to show Dan as someone who would gradually ‘trail’ toward the dark side by doing some things immoral along the way, but did not manage to convey this in the story effectively. I wanted to write another chapter for this fan-fiction, but I want to go for quality, plus I ran out of time. Even if I DID have the time, I would rather use the time to refine what I have, rather than add on a new chapter.