Soulcalibur 6 Custom Characters – (part 5)

A collection of custom characters I designed using the Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. As a fiction writer the Soulcalibur franchise has proven to be a useful tool for visualizing my characters and seeing what looks good and what doesn’t. Most of these pictures however are just interpretations of others’ characters. Enjoy!

(To see some of these custom character creations in action, check out my Youtube channel playlist Soulcalibur VI Custom Character Battles)

Gambit from X-Men. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Gambit from X-Men. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Gambit from X-Men. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Gambit

 

Venom from Spider-Man. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Venom from Spider-Man. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Venom from Spider-Man. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Venom

 

General Sweet Mayhem from The LEGO Movie 2. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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General Sweet Mayhem from The LEGO Movie 2. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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General Sweet Mayhem from The LEGO Movie 2. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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General Sweet Mayhem from The LEGO Movie 2. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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General Sweet Mayhem from The LEGO Movie 2. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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General Sweet Mayhem from ‘The LEGO Movie 2’

 

Mr. L. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Mr. L. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Mr. L

 

Phantom Ganon from Zelda. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Phantom Ganon from ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’

 

Ariel from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Ariel from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Ariel from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Ariel from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Ariel from ‘Vampires Vs. Dragons’

 

Monica from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Monica from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Monica from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Monica from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Monica from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Monica from ‘Vampires Vs. Dragons’

 

Akame from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Akame from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Akame from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Akame from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Akame from ‘Akame ga Kill!’

 

Esdeath from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Esdeath from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Esdeath from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Esdeath from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Esdeath from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Esdeath from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Esdeath from ‘Akame ga Kill!’

 

(part 1)

(part 2)

(part 3)

(part 4)

Soulcalibur 4 Custom Characters

Soulcalibur 5 Custom Characters

 

See some of these characters in action on my YouTube playlist,

Soulcalibur VI Custom Character Battles

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Top 10 Mid-Series Shake-Ups: part 2

Today I’m finishing off the list of Top 10 Mid-Series Shake-Ups by going over numbers 6-10, because that’s how math works. Again, I’ve put them in order of most frequently used (by my reckoning), which is not the same thing as best or most recommended. If you missed the first 5 you can check them out in my previous blog post. Happy writing!

 

  1. A hero turns villain.

Nothing causes a shake-up quite like a character becoming (or turning out to have always been) a villain. Especially when it is a beloved character. It is also one of the most difficult twists to do right. Audiences invest a lot of emotion into well-written characters, and sudden changes or reveals of such a drastic degree can throw a lot of that investment out the window.

One of the most infamous failed attempts at this was when the Marvel comics revealed that Captain America had been a Hydra agent all along. Not only was this way outside of his known, established character, and not only did it go directly against everything he represented, but it was also inconsistent with known facts about the character’s behaviour prior to that point, making it clear that this was a recent decision by the writers and not something they’d had planned from the beginning. Since pulling off this kind of twist hinges on consistency, I’m going to provide the link to my blog post where I discuss Consistency in greater detail.

Put simply, your character’s reasons for turning (or having been secretly a villain all along) must line up with known aspects of their character in order for it to make sense to your audience. There are plenty of ways to make “the wrong side” feel like a legitimate choice for characters, especially if they have tragic stories where they are more likely to make desperate choices. If you want the character to remain at least somewhat sympathetic, then you will have to present their reasons as being justified, at least in their own mind.

If the character has been a villain for a while, then you will need to be careful with scenes that show their inner character, so as not to either give anything away too early, nor have them clearly thinking and feeling a certain way that contradicts the coming revelation. This is easy enough done if you avoid using their POV, which, in writing, means never narrating a scene from their perspective but always someone else’s, and on film it means you avoid or severely limit scenes that show them on their own. If they are being secretive about whose side they’re really on, then of course they will act like one of the good guys while they’re being watched, but when they are on their own they have little reason to put on a show, and of course if the narrative is from their perspective then the audience should know what they are thinking.

This kind of twist offers a lot of opportunity to show how other characters react and adapt, not only to the shock but also to the changing dynamics. Do old friends now have to fight each other? If it is a beloved character then you may want to have them switch sides again, and rejoin the forces of good. Wisdom will be necessary to decide when the time for that is right. Do it too soon and it will feel half-assed and half-hearted – not really having any meaning. But wait too long, have them go too deep into the dark side, and they may no longer be a beloved character. If you do plan on bringing your character back into the fold then give your audience time to deal with the initial shock, get used to the new normal, and build anticipation to see the character’s return.

 

  1. Change of leadership.

This can be one of the more uncomfortable changes to go through, both for your characters and for your audience. Leaders tend to be among the more popular characters – not the team captains like Cyclops or Leonardo, but the coaches like Professor X and Splinter. The relationship between leaders and their team tend to parallel the relationship between parent and child. Both your characters and your audience come to think of them as father/mother figures, and so, losing them tends to feel like losing a parent. And having them immediately replaced by another feels like suddenly having to deal with a new step dad before even having the chance to mourn.

Even less popular leaders (or worse, the leaders of the bad guys) are a big part of the overall feel of a series. When leadership changes, the characters suddenly have new dynamics to navigate, new expectations, new challenges. It can be an interesting way of forcing your characters into situations beyond their comfort zones, or just to see how they handle different kinds of pressure.

The leader does not always have to die to be replaced. Sometimes they can just be fired by somebody higher up, or step down if they feel they’ve made an unforgivable error. They can even be rehired later on if you only want the change to last for a season.

If the character coming into leadership is someone who has already been around for a while then the change can be less scary (or more, depending on the character). And if they were already second-in-command then the transition can feel much more natural. Changes will still occur in how the characters interact with each other under the new power dynamics. Coming into power tends to change people, bring issues to the surface that they didn’t realize they had, often having to do with their own experiences with authority figures. So keep that in mind when deciding how to approach character development, and whether they will succumb to their issues or rise above them to become stronger.

 

  1. Coming out.

Depending on your audience, this will either cause a drop in ratings or an increase, so it is always a calculated risk, but it is one of the more popular twists in modern storytelling since the LGBTQ community is still struggling to find a significant catalogue of characters they can personally relate to (since the community is itself so diverse).

Whichever character you do this with would by fact of the matter have to become more vulnerable and open with their comrades once they choose to reveal this information. Sexuality is very deeply tied to a person’s sense of identity, so for secretive characters to come out will force them into a very uncomfortable place, if this character is normally very open about things then you will have to come up with a (believable) reason why they have tried to keep it under wraps.

Before going down this road, see my post about Consistency, as it may help you avoid some of the credibility issues that some writers face when having their characters come out. I actually don’t recommend ‘coming out’ twists unless it’s something that the writer has had planned from the very beginning. Making this kind of change to a character part way through a series tends to come across as ingenuine. It is always better if this is something that you as the writer already knew about the character well in advance rather than something done just for ratings, since changing a character’s personality and then pretending that it’s not a change causes a loss of credibility as a writer, followed by a drop in audience faith.

Also, since inclusivity is the issue, I recommend researching which groups are not being represented as much in the media. Gay and bisexual orientations are the most common for characters coming out because they are the easiest changes to apply to a character without having to change too many other things, but if this is something the writer has been planning for some time then it shouldn’t actually be a ‘change.’ I don’t hear about a lot of hermaphrodite characters, but that’s clearly a born condition and something challenging to live with, so more characters with that condition would greatly help the diversity of characters in the media.

 

  1. Kids.

So your characters who have had engaging sexual tension for ages have finally hooked up/tied the knot/become official and now all of the fans who were bugging you to put the two of them together will finally shut up about it, right? WRONG! Because now those characters need to have kids – which you can also drag out for ages if you are so inclined.

Children are one of the clearest signs (and enforcements) of character development. They show that certain characters have matured and (if not) they force those characters to learn responsibility pretty quickly. They also tend to symbolize hope, since characters who don’t see much of a future for themselves may not bother to have kids (if it’s a matter of discussion). In a series, it also gives the audience something else to look forward to. Babies on long-running series literally grow up before the audience’s eyes (or at least the character does, even if the actors are repeatedly replaced). And child characters, by nature, have more character development over a shorter period of time than most mature characters who are already more set in their ways.

Depending on the medium of your story, you may have full control over when characters have children or, if working with live actors, you may find all the sudden that you have to improvise with the story you had in mind. Although there are always other ways of hiding a preggie belly, like just having the character disappear or sustain an injury and have to take time off work for a while, keep your audience in mind and consider if actually having the character pregnant at the same time can work for the story. You may be pleasantly surprised by audience feedback.

 

  1. Time jump.

I don’t mean this as a science fiction thing – unless you’re writing science fiction in which case maybe you can get away with it. Sometimes the storyline of a series reaches a certain plateau – all conflicts have been resolved, all threads have been tied, and all the characters are in a place you don’t really want to move them from, at least for a while. If you’ve got all that going for you then it may be time to just end the series. But if you’re not British, or you simply love writing too much, then ending the series just because you’re on a high note may be the farthest thing from your mind. In that case the right move for you may be to jump the story ahead a few years, months, or decades depending on the scope of the overarching story.

As a series shake-up, this has many benefits. It allows you to make quick character changes that would normally take several episodes or even seasons to develop believably. Most notably it allows you to ‘age-up’ any children in the series and see what they’re like as older children or even adults. It even allows you to introduce new babies, perhaps even from romances that were nowhere near happening in the previous episodes. Characters who were injured or incarcerated could be ready to get back to action after so much time has passed, and characters who have been training in one form or another could have mastered new skills by now.

If you had any characters ending the previous era in a positive state, like finding new relationships or enjoying retirement for example, a time jump also allows those characters to actually have the time to enjoy those things (from their perspective) before the new sets of challenges arrive. And fans who care about these characters and want to see them happy will appreciate that, even if it doesn’t last forever.

Make sure your time span is consistent along all characters though. Characters who were already on the older side of adulthood may not be as nimble as before. A major time jump is always a balancing act for finding the right time to do it. You may want to introduce or raise up a bunch of new characters but you may also lose some long-time favourites in the process. So consider it carefully.

As one of the bigger shake-ups that you can do, there is equally major risks and major rewards. That much change can make the audience excited to see what’s new, but they may also feel lost if too many of their favourite things are gone. Be sure to give them some anchors. I recommend taking at least one fan-favourite character and putting them in a position of wizened teacher (as long as it’s not completely against their personality). Seeing that character become something of a mother/father figure among the cast might help further the sense of home and make the audience feel more comfortable in the new era.

 

And that’s the list! Have any other ideas for mid-series shake-ups that I didn’t cover in this list? Let me know in the comments! Catch the top five on this list if you missed the previous post. And if you’d like more insights on writing in general you can check out my blog posts on writing starting with the Core Concept, or check out The Storyteller’s Handbook on Amazon.

 

Cheers!

 

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Top 10 Mid-Series Shake-Ups: Part 1

When writing a long-running series, sometimes significant changes must occur to give the audience a sense of newness and the passage of time, or just to make sure things don’t get stale. There are a number of different things writers can do with a series to shake things up, and as with most decisions a writer has to make, there are pros and cons to consider for each option. It is the mark of a skilled writer to know what sort of changes work best for the story, work best with the audience, and fit best with the writer’s plans as to where to take the series in the future.

I’ve made a list of Top 10 Series Shake-Ups so you can look over them and decide what sounds best for your series at any given time. I’ve put them in order of most commonly used (by my reckoning), which is not the same thing as most recommended. Frankly, more originality might be preferable if you want to keep your audience on their toes, but consider each one and decide for yourself what best fits your ongoing story. Since I’m going into a bit of detail with each one I’ve divided this list into two posts and will finish off the list in next week’s post.

 

  1. Kill off a major character

Seeing how someone faces their own death sometimes says as much about their character as how they faced life, and can go a long way when trying to communicate certain messages to the audience. Death is the final stage of character development. Though it takes quite a bit of care to kill off your characters right. As we’ve seen from how audiences react to the deaths of characters on popular shows, there are meaningful deaths and there are frivolous deaths. If you have written your characters well, then your audience will have invested a lot in them emotionally, and you’ll lose the trust of your audience if you don’t seem like you recognize (and appreciate) the investment.

If you are writing live-action, then sometimes character deaths are forced upon you, due to an actor’s contract running out, actual real-life health issues, or public scandal. In which case your audience is probably already aware that they’ll be losing a character ahead of time, but they will be turning to you to bring some sort of meaning and perspective to that loss. One of the most common reasons to kill off a character (or bonuses, if you have to do it anyway) is to establish audience hatred for a villain, by having that villain be the one to kill the character off.

This can be coupled with other shake-ups as well, to add further meaning to the death. Killing off a leader would obviously lead to a change in leadership. Killing off the protagonist, though often the most devastating, forces a change in the focus of the narrative, and the building up of other, secondary characters as the audience searches for a new protagonist to root for.

Of course, as with most seemingly permanent changes, you can usually do a 180 on a major character death if it isn’t sitting well, but this trick tends to annoy audiences, and lowers tension moving forward. After all, if even death doesn’t mean anything in your story then what do the good guys have to fear anymore?

As I’ve said in The Storyteller’s Handbook, “A good way to balance things out is to have the character come back not quite the same. They’ve got cyborg enhancements. They’ve got some serious emotional scar. Their powers are changed. Or have some great sacrifice on the part of the living characters in order to bring the dead character back.” In this way, you make sure that the ‘death’ the character went through was still a death in some sense, by making sure certain things are never the same again.

 

  1. An unlikely romance

Gossip time! Romances in stories are a positive thing in general as it creates the potential for future relationship milestones and things for your audience to look forward to; like first kiss, first night together, the proposal, marriage, kids, watching those kids grow up, and then those kids having relationships. It’s even more interesting and stirs up audience excitement when it’s an unlikely romance. This is especially popular when the two characters can’t seem to stand each other. The interesting thing about relationships is the fact that they happen at all. Relationships are challenging, complicated, and messy. Throw in a couple who are natural opposites of each other and it becomes even more entertaining.

People in relationships (or on the look-out) tend to be encouraged by these stories as well, because if so-and-so can find a way to make it work with whats-her-name, despite all of their differences and all of their struggles, then there’s hope for anyone.

Writing each relationship in a way that is believable is more of a challenge, if you don’t have personal experience like your own relationships or friend couples to draw inspiration from. After all, the more unlikely the relationship, the less likely that you’ve actually witnessed similar couples in real life. You don’t necessarily have to explain why the two are in love, because love is a crazy thing to begin with, you just have to show that they are in love.

I think the best expression of opposite characters displaying love for each other (though it’s a bit of a dirty word) is “compromise.” What is a character willing to give up for the sake of the person they’re in love with, even if it’s a seemingly small gesture? How are they stepping out of their comfort zone, and is the gesture being returned? Little things like this have a big impact on the audience believing that the couple can actually make it.

 

  1. Newly discovered power

This connects very closely with character development. If your hero has the same set of powers (and the same finishing move) for the entire run of a series, without ever learning anything new, then audiences will become bored and you will also lose credibility, since, why hasn’t the villain learned how to counter-act this power yet? If both sides of a conflict remain completely stagnant in the types of weapons and tactics they’re using then it isn’t realistic to what combat is really like. Of course, the same issue doesn’t apply if you know that you’re writing exclusively for younger children, since each member of that particular audience will have moved into a different category before they realize the story is not going anywhere.

It is important however for new powers to fit the personality of the character discovering it, or else audiences will want to see them change back and essentially (regress). A way to spin this, though, comes to us in the example of Spider-Man’s black suit which, when audiences complained about the change, was later revealed to be an evil symbiote that was also changing his personality. By adding that twist, the writers were able to market the change back to the classic suit as Spider-Man sticking to his true self. You can sometimes pull off a similar twist if you find that audiences are not responding well to something new.

Another variation is to have the new power be identified as something negative from the start, or at least something questionable. New is often unknown, and there’s a general fear of the unknown. As long as the powers don’t feel completely out of place with the world you’re writing, you don’t even have to divulge the source of the new power until later. You can use this uncertainty to add tension to the story. Or if you want to go the route of the power definitely and obviously being bad, such as the One Ring in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then forcing the character to use it sparingly, or not at all, can be used to further develop the character’s personal strengths.

 

  1. A new enemy

The biggest surprise to an ongoing conflict is sometimes to resolve the conflict – have your heroes actually achieve a definitive victory over the enemies they’ve been struggling with for so long. But if your series is still going then you’ll need another conflict to take its place – a new main villain or evil group. Sometimes it’s fun to introduce new major villains while the old ones are still an active threat, thus creating a rivalry between the two evil forces and a three-way tension with the heroes. Either change can make audiences wonder what’s going to happen next, and add some exciting tension.

When introducing new villains, it’s important to make sure that their feel and style are distinguishable from the other villains, otherwise you end up simply replacing one conflict with a carbon copy of itself and audiences won’t buy it as anything actually new. One of the biggest criticisms for Star Wars Episode 7 was that the Empire had been replaced by the exact same thing with a different name, thus rendering the defeat of the Empire in Episode 6 as ultimately irrelevant. You don’t want to lose the sense of tension by making changes that don’t actually matter.

Shows that do this well tend to introduce villains that put a twist on the kind of threats the heroes are facing, sometimes an immunity to one of the heroes’s greatest strengths, thus forcing the heroes to improvise and devise new strategies for facing these opponents, all of which also forces character development. When The Walking Dead introduced the Whisperers, it meant that a zombie was no longer just a zombie, and it forced the heroes to change their approach to taking on their most common enemy. Game changers like that are a major shake-up for a series and can leave the audience wondering what will happen next.

 

  1. Change of scenery

Everyone appreciates a change of scenery now and then. If your story takes place in the same few locations for too long then a change of scenery could be a fairly simple way to shake things up a bit. This could mean where your characters go on missions, or it could be home base, or even their personal homes. If your story is set in the real world, for example, in a particular U.S. state, then cycling through other states could be a way of gathering interest from audiences who themselves reside in those states.

If the setting is a central part of your story however (like Brooklyn 99) then doing a long-term relocation to another district would be going against the core concept of the story. A change of scenery in that case would be better as either a temporary switch, or a spin-off concept. And as with most shake-ups, the kind of new places you send your characters to can create some interesting challenges for them – learning to live in the city or the country, learning to survive in the desert or the snow.

A long-term change would also mean that the overall tone of the story would change drastically depending on the nature of the new environment. Remember, a big chunk of your audience uses your stories for escapism, to be a part of your world for a few minutes or a few hours at a time, and your setting has a huge impact on whether your audience feels comfortable or excited by being enveloped in your story.

 

I’ll finish off this list in the next blog post.

 

You can click on these links for more posts on writing love stories, writing villains, or how to avoid tension-killers.

You can also check out The Storyteller’s Handbook on Amazon for more in-depth info on writing stories in general.

Cheers!

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What I’ve Been Up To Lately

It seems like a good time to keep you guys updated on the goings on with my various projects. There’s been a lot of change over the past year or so, and some of it is pretty exciting.

 

 

Firstly, as some of you already know, I recently published a 2nd edition of Singularity. This is something I’d been wanting to do for a while, to reformat the book to a more compact design, using less paper and making it more affordable in the process. I’d always had other projects on the go and, since I have trouble focusing on more than one thing at a time, this idea of a 2nd edition was always lower on the to-do list. But the five-year anniversary was the kick in the pants I needed to do something not just to enhance the product but also to celebrate it.

 

 

This year also marked the publication of my first book ever done during NaNoWriMo. Vampires Vs. Dragons was more of an experimental project, seeing if I could start a full-length novel from scratch and finish it within a month (including any editing and revision) entirely on my own. And I’m happy with the results (bizarre as the book may be in some places, let alone the premise itself).

I enjoyed the process so much that I already have another story in mind for this year’s NaNoWriMo, and I’m looking forward to the prep work beginning in September.

 

I’ve also spent the last few years working on one particularly long fantasy novel which (I think) is finally in the last draft of editing. Hopefully to be available before the end of this year, if I can avoid thinking of more things to add or change. This particular project is one that started as an objective of having one fantasy world that I could use as a template to base other fantasy stories off of, so that I’ve got a common language for how certain kinds of fantasy creatures operate. (In fact, some notes I already had written down for this story were used as reference when writing Vampires Vs. Dragons, making the process of establishing rules quite a bit easier.) But the problem with world-building of that magnitude is that it does make the first book in the series take quite a bit longer to complete, because it’s not just the individual story you’re telling but entire species, cultures and languages to boot. Which is why this project has been on the go for a few years already, but if all goes well I’ll be able to share it with you guys soon.

 

In keeping with my goal of getting a new book out each year (roughly), I’ve been working on other projects as well while this larger one is in the works, and NaNoWriMo would help me achieve that goal much more easily if I do it consistently, which is my plan moving forward.

 

Perhaps the biggest change since the last time I posted a general update here is that in 2019 I began a Youtube channel, presently simply called “Benjamin Collier.” To date, the channel is 100% videogames. To start I was posting recorded fights between custom-made characters on the game Soulcalibur VI, which I still do, even taking requests from viewers who want to see me try to create certain characters to battle each other.

All that required was using the Capture feature built into the PS4, transferring the data to a stick, then onto my computer to upload. The next step for me was figuring out how to trim and splice videos using my laptop’s built-in video editor.

That’s when I began “Skyrim (But I’m A Wuss)” – a series of videos starring a Khajiit named Mr. Floofypoopsington Jr. on his never-ending quest to avoid getting into fights. Skyrim Let’s Plays have no shortage of variety, but so far I haven’t seen anyone take the Wuss approach, something I think I do a pretty good job of.

The next step from there was to purchase a microphone and start adding my vocal commentary to my gameplay, and I’ve been slowly working up the courage to let people hear what I sound like. I recently posted my first commentary video when I did an “unboxing” of the latest DLC for Soulcalibur VI shortly after it dropped. And I’m also started a series called “Battleborn (A Farewell Playthrough)” as I tackle the game’s story mode one last time before the servers go offline and the game becomes unplayable.

 

So yeah, it’s been busy, slow, fruitful, surprising, and a bunch of other things. I can look back and see quite a lot of work behind me and look forward and see a lot of potential. Some of it is daunting, but mostly exciting. I’m trying to learn from each experience and carry those lessons forward into future projects. And I guess as I get a bit older it gets a little easier to see how each step leads me to where I’m supposed to be.

 

I hope y’all are doing well, and you should be hearing from me again soon. Take care!

Posted in Gaming, My Books, Personal, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Singularity – 2nd Edition

This year marks the 5th anniversary of my space exploration mystery novel ‘Singularity.’ To celebrate, I’ve just put out a more compact 2nd edition, and I’m making it available for 40% off the standard price until the end of July. So if Space and Exploration sound appealing to you during this time, then grab yourself a copy! Follow this link to purchase from Amazon.ca

For more info on this novel, check out my original release blog post from fiver years ago!

You can also read an interview with the main character on lynnecollier.com

And check out the Playlist if you like to follow along with songs while you read!

Posted in Bite-Sized, Images, My Books, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Soulcalibur 6 Custom Characters – (part 4)

A collection of custom characters I designed using the Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. As a fiction writer the Soulcalibur franchise has proven to be a useful tool for visualizing my characters and seeing what looks good and what doesn’t.

I had recently discovered the internet creation ‘Bowsette’ and all her related designs – basically a variety of Super Mario enemies (and other creatures) re-imagined as princesses – so that got my creative juices flowing enough for a whole post dedicated just to those characters (my second one now). Enjoy!

(To see some of these custom character creations in action, check out my Youtube channel playlist Soulcalibur VI Custom Character Battles)

Thwompette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Thwompette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

SOULCALIBUR™Ⅵ_20200511191401

Thwompette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

SOULCALIBUR™Ⅵ_20200511191804

Thwompette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Thwompette

 

Fuzzette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Fuzzette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

SOULCALIBUR™Ⅵ_20200512020720

Fuzzette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

SOULCALIBUR™Ⅵ_20200512020816

Fuzzette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

SOULCALIBUR™Ⅵ_20200512020500

Fuzzette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

SOULCALIBUR™Ⅵ_20200512020159

Fuzzette

 

Bloopette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Bloopette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

SOULCALIBUR™Ⅵ_20200511194214

Bloopette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

SOULCALIBUR™Ⅵ_20200511194427

Bloopette

 

Clowncoptette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Clowncoptette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Clowncoptette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Clowncoptette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Clowncoptette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

SOULCALIBUR™Ⅵ_20200511191015

Clowncoptette

 

Giga Bowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Giga Bowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Giga Bowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Giga Bowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Giga Bowsette

 

Dry Bowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Dry Bowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Dry Bowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Dry Bowsette

 

Meowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Meowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Meowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Meowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

SOULCALIBUR™Ⅵ_20200512014543

Meowsette

 

Bowsette Wedding Tux. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Bowsette Wedding Tux. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Bowsette Wedding Tux. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Bowsette Wedding Tux. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.

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Bowsette (Wedding Tux)

(part 1)

(part 2)

(part 3)

(part 5)

Soulcalibur 4 Custom Characters

Soulcalibur 5 Custom Characters

See some of these characters in action on my YouTube playlist,

Soulcalibur VI Custom Character Battles

Posted in Gaming, Images | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Soulcalibur 6 Custom Characters – (part 3)

A collection of custom characters I designed using the Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. As a fiction writer the Soulcalibur franchise has proven to be a useful tool for visualizing my characters and seeing what looks good and what doesn’t.

I had recently discovered the internet creation ‘Bowsette’ and all her related designs – basically a variety of Super Mario enemies (and other creatures) re-imagined as princesses – so that got my creative juices flowing enough for a whole post dedicated just to those characters. (CAUTION: Potentially frightening images if you are easily freaked out by creepy eyes.) Enjoy!

(To see some of these custom character creations in action, check out my Youtube channel playlist Soulcalibur VI Custom Character Battles)

Bowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Bowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Bowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Bowsette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Bowsette

 

Booette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Booette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Booette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Booette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Booette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Booette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Booette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Booette

 

Yoshiette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Yoshiette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Yoshiette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Yoshiette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Yoshiette

 

Chompette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Chompette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Chompette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Chompette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Chompette

 

Piranhette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Piranhette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Piranhette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Piranhette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Piranhette

 

Dry Bonette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Dry Bonette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Dry Bonette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Dry Bonette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Dry Bonette

 

Rexette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Rexette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Rexette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Rexette

 

Bullette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Bullette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Bullette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Bullette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Bullette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Bullette. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Bullette

 

(part 1)

(part 2)

(part 4)

(part 5)

Soulcalibur 4 Custom Characters

Soulcalibur 5 Custom Characters

See some of these characters in action on my YouTube playlist,

Soulcalibur VI Custom Character Battles

 

Posted in Gaming, Images, Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Vampires Vs. Dragons’ Playlist

This is a list of songs (or instrumental tracks) that were either mentioned by name in the novel Vampires Vs. Dragons or that I listened to for thematic inspiration as I was writing. There’s quite a few more classical tunes that would fit traditional vampires and gothic environments, but as for the citizens of Sanctuary I particularly attached to the bands Linkin Park, Evanescence and Muse, combining a post-apocalyptic metal theme with gothic styling.

For dragons I had a harder time picking a specific band to associate with them, but I leaned toward large orchestral tunes with a lot of heavy brass and violins. The soundtracks to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films helped with that.

Other classical songs like ‘The Sound of Silence’ might be too soft to fit with the vibe of Sanctuary as a whole, but I can see some of the more aristocratic vampires collecting such songs and playing them almost ironically as antiques. Other gentler songs like ‘Fall From Grace’ and ‘Summer Paradise’ are mentioned for their relation to the former lives of these characters, as glimpsed briefly through dreams/visions.

I confess that ‘Summer Paradise’ is perhaps on this list simply because the radio version got beaten into my skull so severely, which is why I specify the “no rap version” in the list. In the no rap version there is a pregnant pause after the word “heartbeat” and after hearing the song so many times I thought “There’s a story there. I want to know that story. And if that story doesn’t exist then I need to write it.” (This is a common occurrence with me and songs.) The rap version fills that pause with “quick time, quick time, girl,” which doesn’t carry the same weight.

I’d like to note that not all songs on this list (or the reasons for their inclusion) are necessarily reflective of my personal tastes. A side-effect of writing novels is that your characters will tend to have a mind of their own. I would play ‘Sound of Silence’ just because I like it. And in contrast to Ray’s feelings, Johnny Cash happens to be one of my favourite musical performers. I don’t know what’s wrong with Ray that he doesn’t like Johnny Cash. That guy’s weird.

I’ve placed the songs in relatively chronological order as far as the scenes I associate them with, or the time they were referenced. I should mention that the songs ‘Bleed It Out’ and ‘Broken Crown’ both contain strong language.

 

‘Bleed It Out’ by Linkin Park

‘Supremacy’ by Muse

‘Tinfoil’ by Linkin Park

‘The Sound of Silence’ by Simon & Garfunkel

‘Mysterious’ from the One Punch Man soundtrack

‘(Ghost) Riders In The Sky’ by Johnny Cash

‘Delia’s Gone’ by Johnny Cash

‘Warg-Scouts’ from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey soundtrack

‘Fall From Grace’ by Amanda Marshall

‘Forgotten’ by Linking Park

‘The Passage Of The Marshes’ from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers soundtrack

‘Under Hill’ from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey soundtrack

‘Summer Paradise (no rap version)’ by Simple Plan

‘Final Masquerade’ by Linkin Park

 ‘Wet My Scales’ from the One Punch Man soundtrack

‘Out of the Frying Pan’ from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey soundtrack

‘End of the Dream’ by Evanescence

‘Broken Crown’ by Mumford & Sons

‘My Last Breath; by Evanescence

 

More on Vampires Vs. Dragons on my previous blog post

 

To check out the book on Amazon, click here.

Posted in Music, My Books, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vampires Vs. Dragons

 

I feel I should preface this book release with the fact that I get excited by new and interesting ways of telling a story. The novels that I tend to write more quickly and passionately are the ones where I know there’s some sort of challenge involved in the writing itself. That’s a big part of what drew me to write Singularity. And it’s the context for how I decided to write this new novel.

When I came up with the idea of a war between vampires and dragons, I thought it sounded interesting and fun but if I was going to do it then I needed a different approach. I had heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) many years ago, and had always been intrigued by that idea but knew I needed a different kind of project to try it out on, something where I was totally comfortable being experimental. The two were made for each other. I decided to do this whole thing in one month, starting from scratch, with no professional editing and doing only what editing and revisions I could do on my own before the end of the month. And so, after one month of prep, filling my head with as much inspirational vampire and dragon related material as I could find, I engrossed myself in the story for the whole month of November, threw everything onto the keyboard, reached 50,000+ words, and then did only what editing I could in the time allotted.

I spent all of October gaining inspiration for this story. (Good timing!) I already had the basic plotline in my head but needed more ideas as far as characters and seeing things from their perspectives. Some movies I wasn’t able to find in time, like Blade, Interview With A Vampire, and Queen of the Damned, but I had seen those films before and remembered enough from them to carry over the elements that inspired me the most. I was very happy to be able to rewatch What We Do In The Shadows, a dark comedy that actually lists a lot of the things vampires have to deal with, like the need to be invited into places. On the dragon side I watched How To Train Your Dragon and The Desolation of Smaug. But a lot of inspiration actually came from the video game Skyrim, which was the only game I played for almost all of November (briefly switching to Fallout 4 for environmental inspiration). Not only does Skyrim give a lot of insight into the ways of vampires and dragons alike, but it’s a game where, if you play your cards a certain way, you can become a vampire who hunts dragons. It was perfect.

This is also a darker story than I would normally write, so I’ll mention to parents that this is not written for children. I tend not to get too graphic with things, but this book does contain elements of horror, violence, and adult situations (and reference to songs containing strong language). As well as having an overall darker tone than most of my books. As I was deciding the setting, based on the core concept (the premise) I decided on setting the story in our world because I wanted to include all standard strengths and weaknesses of vampires and if I went with a fantasy world then I would have to explain why the cross is a weakness for creatures who have never heard of Jesus. And since a war between vampires and dragons would be hard not to notice, the story couldn’t be set in the modern age or any historical age, which meant going post-apocalyptic, which is a new genre for me.

As a natural perfectionist I knew the one-month challenge would be difficult. I can always find things to fix, or improve, even on projects that take me multiple years to complete. The limited time meant stepping out of my comfort zone, editing only what seemed essential, and not making any further changes after December 1st. It was quite a different writing experience. It was exciting, frustrating, liberating, heartbreaking, and overall fun. I hope you have fun reading it!

 

To check it out on Amazon, click here

To see the Pinterest board for visual aid, click here

 

 

 

Posted in My Books, Storytelling, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soulcalibur 6 Custom Characters – (part 2)

A collection of custom characters I designed using the Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. As a fiction writer the Soulcalibur franchise has proven to be a useful tool for visualizing my characters and seeing what looks good and what doesn’t. Most of these pictures however are just interpretations of others’ characters. Enjoy!

(To see some of these custom character creations in action, check out my Youtube channel playlist Soulcalibur VI Custom Character Battles)

Darth Maul from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Darth Maul from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Darth Maul from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Darth Maul from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Darth Maul from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Darth Maul from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Darth Maul from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Darth Maul from Star Wars

 

Luke Skywalker with Yoda from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Luke Skywalker with Yoda from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back

 

Rey with BB-8 from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Rey from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Rey from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Rey from The Force Awakens

 

Kylo Ren from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Kylo Ren from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Kylo Ren from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Kylo Ren from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Kylo Ren from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Kylo Ren from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi

 

Tuskan Raider from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Tuskan Raider from Star Wars. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Tuskan Raider from Star Wars

 

Elsa from Frozen. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Elsa from Frozen. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Elsa from Frozen. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Elsa from Frozen. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Elsa from Frozen

 

Thanos from Marvel Comics. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Thanos from Marvel Comics. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Thanos from Marvel Comics. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Thanos from Marvel Comics. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Thanos from Marvel Comics

(Due to the available equipment this design is armed with the double sword he wielded in Endgame as well as both versions of the Infinity Gauntlet (although the left and right hands are reversed))

 

Corrin (Female Version) from Fire Emblem. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Corrin (Female Version) from Fire Emblem. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Corrin (Female Version) from Fire Emblem. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Corrin (Female Version) from Fire Emblem. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Corrin (Female Version) from Fire Emblem. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Corrin (female version) from Fire Emblem

 

Winged Warrior (Female). Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Winged Warrior (Female). Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Winged Warrior (Female). Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

SOULCALIBUR™Ⅵ_20190302213027

Winged Warrior (Female). Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

SOULCALIBUR™Ⅵ_20190221083558

Winged Warrior (Female). Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

SOULCALIBUR™Ⅵ_20190221082856

Winged Warrior (Female). Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. benjaminfrog.com

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Winged Warrior

(An original design usable as concept art)

 

(part 1)

(part 3)

(part 4)

(part 5)

Soulcalibur 4 Custom Characters

Soulcalibur 5 Custom Characters

 

See some of these characters in action on my YouTube playlist,

Soulcalibur VI Custom Character Battles

Posted in Gaming, Images, Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment