I’ve been had big ideas for AXRIA’s story since its creation in 2008 (8 years now!), the overall scenario has changed and evolved drastically from time to time. Sometimes the story took a dark approach, sometimes it took a family friendly approach. But now i’m at a point where i don’t care, i just want to tell the story i want to tell.
Previously i’ve been making AXRIA as a video game to tell the story i’ve had in mind, but it has been through some serious development hell for numerous reasons. Video games don’t have to tell a story, but i was thinking since this is a story driven project, it didn’t necessarily have to be a video game. At least not for now.
So my approach now is to make a hand-drawn comic (graphic novel). I’ve went for this as drawing is close to my heart and doesn’t require the same production weight as animation or game design.
I’ve had experience in making comics before (AXRIA Retro World, AXRIA Tale of Zythora). Now in fairness, Retro World was very beta-stage visually speaking, and Tale of Zythora was left on a cliffhanger. I’m aware of what to do about it, and combine what i’ve learnt from that with what i know now.
I’m currently in the pre-writing stage. I often doodle ideas for scenes, and sometimes try to visualise them through short storyboards. Yesterday i was designing a map of Moonlight island, where the story is set.
Map draft of Moonlight Island- AXRIA © Angus Beer
For the video game version of Axria i had ideas for the major locations (levels) that Sarah (the protagonist) would go through, and had ideas of each location’s backstory and the characters that lived there. Now that i wasn’t approaching this as a video game, i felt more freedom in writing individual scenarios when Sarah approaches each location.
It was something that i feel just worked, as i’ve had ideas circulating for these locations for years, but now it felt like i was on my way to bringing out their stories. For instance the snowy village (now named Sunsnow Haven) was just that, a snowy village.
However now i’ve devised a story around it; the axrian species retreat from their home city after a virus breakout, in Sunsnow haven they realize the virus dies off in cold locations. They begin to live there in fear they’re unsafe elsewhere on the island, but tensions grow as not enough axrian survive the harsh weather.
This is just the groundworks, but i feel i’m onto something. Most of these locations were made from unconscious decisions, and now it feels like i’m finding where they could’ve been inspired from. That or i’m finding new inspiration toward them.
Some locations were inspired by places i’d visited before or works of fact & fiction.
Blocking – AXRIA © Angus Beer
Planning each Chapter – AXRIA © Angus Beer
At the moment i’m basing each chapter on what happens in each location, I feel as if there will be plenty of content to fill each one. I made rough writeups of scenes i can visualise in my head, writing sentences or bullet pointing them.
Some sentences are left vague often so that i’d expand upon it later, i sometimes write over these kind of papers.
I’m now using the ‘blocking’ technique to highlight the text that relates to each chapter, and i then made small thumbnails to illustrate the main event of each chapter. I like to think them as covers.
Storyboarding. AXRIA © Angus Beer
I hope to use the blocking technique to create storyboards like these- this particular one was made without writing up the scene, but thats ok as i feel i’m quite flexible about it.
I like to make these storyboards more presentable by having an appealing colour for shadows. And I try to make it as informative as possible with the ‘shot’ descriptions and movement arrows. You may notice the pan-down arrows as i was still deciding between animated film and comic. None the less i feel i’ll stick with this scene as i feel it will tell a lot about Sarah’s character.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind : The Original Storyboards © Studio Ghibli / Tokuma Shoten
I’ll be honest in saying that these are inspired by the way Studio Ghibli storyboard their movies (yes this will be a comic, but i feel it’s just as valid). Even though they’re rough sketches they’re still appealing to look at. And they’re informative to others on the production team.
I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from Studio Ghibli and especially Hayao Miyazaki’s works, not just technique but story and character wise too. I would love to write about my influences sometime. But i digress.
So that’s what’s been going on recently. I’ve been hitting some roadblocks recently which is why i’ve been absent for so long, but i’m recovering. I feel that it’s ok to go smaller scale when things don’t work out otherwise.
Thanks for reading, and i appreciate your patience.