Tuesday 1 November 2016

My Raziel cosplay at London Comic Con October 2016

As it just turned 20th anniversary of Blood Omen and 15th of Soul Reaver 2, I wanted to do something special. This October´s London Comic Con provided a good opportunity to do so and was my first where I have actually participated as a cosplayer. The choice what to cosplay was pretty obvious right from the start to me - what better choice than my favourite wraith himself?

My first obstacle was how to recreate muscle like tissue on top of my own body. I have seen other cosplayers do protruding muscle suits, but I have felt this would be too difficult to achieve in my first cosplay idea, so I had to find a work around. Looking around on ebay, I have discovered that there is a tank top and leggings with a muscle structure already imprinted. The issue was that they did not come in blue and painting spandex is not really possible either. However, I put a transparent blue stockings and top to make it appear blue/purple. The wings themselves were not as difficult, but it took some time to discover which kind of material would do best for them and how big should they actually be (I had to cut out like 5 pairs in the end until I was finally happy with the result).

After I had the wings done, I had to figure out how to attach them to my back without attaching them to the net top. I have decided to try and use a coat hanger held onto a belt on my chest, which turned out to work well and kept the wings posable and easily removable. For the hands I had to order custom tri-fingered gloves. I covered my arms with two wristwarmers on each side to form a string of brown bandages and for the upper part I have cut up a tube bandage into two pieces and just tied it around my arm. I´ve put the golden armbands on top the wristwarmers.

The boots were one of the bigger challenges that I had to rely solely on myself, so I have purchased cheap used boots which suited the style. The huge issue was how to create the protruding exposed double toes, which are so specific about Raziel. I have thought about it and to make the boots durable and not awkward when walking, decided to just paint a dividing line between the toes, rather than attaching something which can easily fall off. I think it came out alright in the end. Since the original boots were pure black, I purchased Angelus leather colours and applied three coats of bronze paint. The bottom part I have painted blue to indicate those are Raziel´s feet and used a lighter blue to draw the muscle going in between the toes. After the paint was sealed in, there was still a missing piece. The plates which are at the front of the boots, right above the toes, had to be cut out of the raw leather and attached with glue.

The cowl was a custom made item and was one of the most expensive items on the list. The craftsmanship of it and nice material make up for the price, though. The only problem which I faced on the convention and in general was, that while moving my head around, the cape would slide down, exposing my chin, so I have added a rubber band to the top circle of the cape so it will stay in place and I can freely move my head around.

The head itself was a challenge and I was contemplating using face paint or a mask, but a mask won because of how practical it was. I just bought a simple plain white mask,cut it up and painted it with acrylic colours. The colours were a bit damaged while I was wearing it, so a quick repaint and sealing the coat will do the trick. For the hair I purchased a black wig, which was quite cheap but fulfilled its purpose well. For the eyes I have ordered zombie eye pre-scription contacts, so I could walk around and still see sharply (I´m shortsighted). It was quite difficult to put them in at first (still takes me several tries to insert them in and out) but I got used to them. After I got home from Comic Con, I have discovered I had a balaclava, which would have been great to cover up my lower jaw, so I´ve used that for the newer shots. For the ears I have bought two pairs, one full on ears and the second pair just stick ons. Stick ons proved more practical in the end (just cut out ear slots in the balaclava so my ears can poke out and stick on blue ears can be attached).

Overal, making this cosplay was a lot of fun but even more fun was posing for people and walking around acting as Raziel, trying to do my best impression of his walking, gliding, fighting, etc (did a little "glide" down the stairs with my wings up at the end on my way to the cloak room). Looking around and breathing was a bit difficult but I knew cosplaying comes at a cost of some discomfort. Totally worth it and thanks goes to all the fans who took a picture of me and appreciated my cosplay, you made me really happy! I´ll definitely attend another comic con next year.

Cape: 40
Wig:  8
Ears: 3
Contacts: 30
Armbands: 2
Boots: 10
Raw leather: 15
Angelus paint: 30
Bandages: 3
Gloves: 15
Wrist warmers: 6
Mask: 2
Aquarel colours: 3
Belt: 4
Coat hanger: free
Wing fabric: 10
Blue leggings+top: 8
Muscle suit: 10
Torch materials: 8

Total estimate: 200 pounds
Time needed: 1-2 weeks

Thursday 11 August 2016

New footage of SR2 Dreamcast version and BO1 Saturn version

Thiago Paulino just reported to me an exciting new find! The playable Dark Forge Dreamcast Demo of Soul Reaver2 and trailer for Saturn version of Blood Omen. Too bad the player playing SR2 demo could not figure out the shifting mechanic and in the BO1 video you can see the slightly different hud made for Saturn version. Thanks Thiago!

Tuesday 2 August 2016

Modding in Blood Omnicide

Since Blood Omnicide supports modding, it is possible to swap out textures or even build new levels by using the tools provided with the game. With the help of Vortex, we have created a small patch for the Pillars which includes SR2 style symbols. Installation is simple, just drag and drop the files into your Kain folder. If you do not want to use the mod anymore, simply delete it from the folder. If more mods are created for the game, this post will be eventually updated, so check back here in the future.

Blood Omnicide v0.1 released!

Blood Omnicide has released its newest version 0.1 and now includes gameplay from the beginning until Nachtholm. It includes all the cinematics and gameplay features. It also contains a handful of modding features such as a map editor. You can also choose from a new style of soundtrack or the old one. For the full experience it is recommended to own a CD or an image from PC/PS versions of Blood Omen, but you can still play a shorter preview version if you do not owe them. There are certain things which are still buggy but it is overall an amazing experience to see BO1 in full 3D setting. Enjoy!

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Print your own Swindlestones

Swindlestones are a very addictive minigame from Steve Jackson's Fighting Fantasy series called Sorcery. I have recently reviewed the first three parts for pc and found the games highly engrossing. I have never played any other text adventure before, but this one exceeded my expectations! If you too are a fan or just would like to try this minigame out, I have included a template which you can print out and play with 8 sided dice just like you would in the game.

Finished paper Swindlestones

You can even play with regular 6 sided dice, just the combinations possible will be much higher. If you have never heard about this game before, the rules are pretty simple. You and your opponent need to get the same amount of dice each (2,3,4,5, etc.) and throw them on a table. You both cover the numbers you got on top with your hands and then you take turns to try and guess the total amount of certain dice quantity, for example two ones, three fours, etc. Your opponent must raise the bet by saying a higher amount/quantity each time. If you think that your opponent does not have what he claims to have, you can say "call" and force them to reveal his hand. You then count the amount of dice present on the table from both of your hands and if the player guessed less amount of dice than they are on the table or it was a false call, they automatically lose one of their die. You keep playing until one of you has no dice left. It is not very dissimilar from poker but a  more simplified version, yet tons of fun! When playing Swindlestones in Sorcery, each bet is accompanied by a line of dialogue you can use to taunt or confuse your opponent and it can add an extra layer of fun trying to roleplay in real life.

Swindlestones in Sorcery part 2

Put the following template in a word/otp document, crop it to 83% (worked best for me) both vertically and horizontally and print out on a thicker paper. It will take about 30 minutes to make 10 set of dice.


Tuesday 26 April 2016

Soul Reaver OST v7

I have went back and refined the last version of the soundtrack and produced a much more compact, "mini" version, if you like. This version is half the size of the v6 OST and contains only single looped tracks as opposed to the double looped versions in the previous one. The reason behind this was, since the Necropolis appeared to have two loops which are slightly different, it seemed all the rest had the same setup. However, after doing some research, I have come to a conclusion that this was not the case for the rest of the tracks, whose second loop was identical to the first and thus redundant. These new single looped tracks can be easily looped within the same family (Underworld, Necropolis, etc.) or just looped flawlessly on their own. There are also some other slight changes which you can find in the read me file. Hope you enjoy!

Note: This is an outdated version, see below for the latest.

Friday 8 January 2016

Raina's Legacy of Kain Figure Collection

As long as a single one of us stands, we are legion.

After many years of hoping I will own at least one Raziel figure one day, me and Bazielim collected all nine published figures. With each new one we got, there was an excitement to be finally able to hold them and pose them to take some pictures, we wanted to find the remaining. As all the figures are collected now, I have decided to write the differences between thems for anybody who would like to own them or just to know their specifics. Ben Lincoln already wrote his impressions of the figures found here. Rarity is judged on how likely you are to find one on ebay, not in comparison to figures from other franchises.

Rarity ratings:
*: Common
**: Uncommon
***: Semi-rare
****: Very rare
*****: Extremely rare

BBI Kain
Height: 22cm
Reaver length: 18cm
Accessories: throne, Soul Reaver, purple bolts
Packaging: Box (first series) or blister pack (second series)
Overall Rating: 6/10 - Most accurate Kain figure you can get

BBI Kain was based on Kain as seen in SR1 intro and is very accurate in many regards. He is made out of a durable plastic and has lots of joints. Both his legs and arms have 4 joints each and the head and torso can also be rotated. His left hand is in permanent clutching position to hold the Reaver and his left hand is semi-opened. Kain´s face has a big angry grin, which is a bit over the top. Kain is also wearing Vorador´s earring, which looks like the incarnation from Blood Omen and is blue. His hair is plastic and sticking out in the lower middle part, as if blown by the wind and held together by a golden band at the end. The scar on his chest is present, but vaguely visible. The cape seems a bit short and is bearing the early double prolonged Razielim symbol as seen on one of his concept art and early model. The boots are especially well done, with lots of tiny details and the correct colour scheme. However, his toes are unnaturaly prolonged for some reason, but at least he has gaiters at the bottom of the feet, which hold the open boots in place.

Kain can be stood up on his throne with the Balance Pillar behind him (though it is torn off too early, so no symbol) and the purple bolts can either be attached to his hands or the throne. They fall easily out of the throne stand though, so be careful.

The Soul Reaver is made out of a very light material. The blade itself curves nicely, but it does not have any details on the surface, is missing the greenish tint in the middle and the middle line is not black like it should be. The fangs are incorrectly fused to the beginning of the blade, while they should be protruding outwards instead. The nose has a bit thicker opening than it should. The crossguards have stripes only on one side.

Note: The box is incorrectly labeled and contains pictures from the Raziel BBI figure.

 Kain standing on his throne.

Razielim symbol on his cape

BBI Raziel
Rarity: *
Height: 20 cm
Staff length: 21cm
Accessories: Underworld stand, Razielim staff, torch, souls, removable cowl
Packaging: Box (first series) or blister pack (second series)
Overall Rating: 7/10 - Affordable and accurate figure which can be commonly found

This version of Raziel was modelled directly after the Raziel renders as seen in the SR1 intro. It is the most accurate version of him in that regard. His skin colour and overall bones and muscle structure are very precise to the render. His arms and legs both have four joints to turn around but only his upper torso can be rotated (only horizontally though). Otherwise the quality is on the same level as on BBI Kain with the joints. His boots are also very detailed and matching colour. The straps on his hands lack a bit of material detail in comparison to the NECA Raziels.

Raziel comes equipped with the staff and a torch, so you can pose him to hold them in his iconic style or both at once. He has holes in both of his hands to make holding easier and his right thumb is posable. Holes in his feet make it possible to insert him on his Underworld stand firmly. The souls which come only in the boxed version can be put into the stand.

The biggest minus of this figure is the hard plastic cowl, which can only be inserted one way (comes in two parts which fit into each other). Unfortunately, it causes Raziel to have a fixed look and he is unable to move his head as a consequence. I´d suggest swapping it out for a cloth one (if you can sow or just use a substitute). The wings (claimed to be „life-like“) are very close to the original render, look good and are made out of soft rubber. However, they are very loosely attached to Raziel and can easily fall out. I´d recommend glueing them into the holes on his back so you can do some cool poses with him.

Note: The blister pack does not come with either the stand nor the souls.

 The yellow bits are the souls

 Wings detail.

 No cowl on.

BBI Lieutenant Raziel
Height: 20cm
Sword length: 16cm
Wing length: 18cm
Accessories: Removable wings, sword
Packaging: Blister pack
Overall Rating: 9/10, Very accurate face detail, must own for vampire Raziel fans

Lieutenant Raziel figure is one of the best LOK figures. He has high quality detachable wings and a cloth cape with Razielim symbols. He is accurate in terms of his armor (except that the knee pads should be silver, not golden, and his fingers should be red not white), but other than that his face looks similar to the render FMV. He carries a sword adorned with runes which was specifically designed for this figure. This figure seems to be based on the concept art of Lt. Raziel, which explains the inclusion of his nipple and right shoulder pad being slanted.

Note: Despite what the picture on the back of the packaging shows, this figure does not come with a scythe and shield. It seems that was part of the prototype which did not make it into production as a boxed version was never released and a more economic blister pack was mass produced instead.

BBI Spectral Raziel Limited Edition
Height: 20cm
Reaver length: 17cm
Accessories: Underworld stand, wraithblade and a coil, set of hands casting the Fire Glyph, Melchahim staff
Packaging: Limited edition box
Overall Rating: 8/10 - Extremely rare figure with unique accessories

The limited BBI Raziel was sold during Comic Con 2003 and only 3000 were made, so if you own one, consider yourself very lucky. The figure itself is nearly identical to the regular release of BBI Raziel, except that his claws are brown colour, not white, and his cowl is in the soul sucking revealing pose. Unlike the regular BBI version, however, it has some really cool looking accessories. You can swap out Raziel´s hands for the ones „holding“ the flames of the Fire Glyph, which does look really good. There is also a green wraithblade included, which does look like the in-game one but is being held like a saber. It even has the coil on Raziel´s arms, with one end being able to be attached to Raziel´s thumb. The last accessory is a very accurate looking Melchahim staff, which is much more sturdier and heavier than the Razielim staff found in the regular version. The wings are a bit more stiffer and thicker than the normal BBI Raziel and it comes with an Underworld stand as well.

Note: This is the only Raziel figure which does not come with a torch.

Fire Glyph!

NECA Material Plane Raziel
Rarity: ***
Height: 18cm
Reaver length: 14cm
Accessories: Material wraithblade and coil, torch, replacable hands
Packaging: Blister pack
Overall Rating: 7/10 - Good, exceptionally done cowl!

This figure is a mixture of Soul Reaver 2/Defiance Raziel. It features a very well done cowl which can be removed by popping his head off. For some reason, the head does not pop back into the neck joint though and frequently falls off, which makes posing him difficult. He has some strange white highlights on his legs and pelvis and was given white toes nails which should not be there either. The wings on his back are attached via a ball joint which makes it easier to pose than BBI Raziel, however, when they are down, they must overlap each other (like bee´s wings). I am not a big fan of the material he is made out of as it feels too rough on touch. The wraithblade is attached on to his finger and is made out of bendable rubber material (you have to be careful not to lean it too much otherwise it might stay bent). The figure has replacable hands – one set with movable fingers with holes in them for attaching the torch and the other pair is static for attaching the Reaver. Overall, however, it is a nicely done figure and very articulate.

NECA Spectral Plane Raziel
Height: 18cm
Reaver length: 14cm
Rarity: ****
Accessories: Spectral wraithblade and a coil, torch, replacable hands
Packaging: Blister pack
Overall Rating: 10/10 - Must own! The see-through plastic material is top-notch

You might have expected that the spectral version of the NECA Raziel would mostly be the same, but this is not the case. He is made out of entirely different half see-through material which adds a really nice effect (including the wings), especially when posed against the sun. The material is nice and soft to touch as well. The figure is tinted green to represent the spectral realm and his cowl comes in a stretched position for soul devouring. The torch is half see-through as well, though they forgot the flame should be blue, not orange/red. The Reaver comes in green and is basically the same as the material version. His head does not pop off this time, which is really good and you can easily pose him into quite a lot of positions. Possibly the best Raziel figure you can get.

Rarity: *
Height: 18 cm
Reaver length: 20 cm
Accessories: removable right hand holding lightning bolts, Soul Reaver
Packaging: Blister pack
Overall Rating: 4/10 - The worst out of the released LOK figures, but worth it if you are trying to collect them all

One of the most common found figures along with BBI Raziel is NECA Kain. Labeled as „the good (Lara), the bad (Hitman) and the ugly (Kain)“ in the slogan of the first NECA Player Select series figures, he surely fits within this description. The figures was based on the in-game Kain from Defiance and was painted in the same colours as the 3D Kain model. First thing which stands out is that he is green, while he should be golden yellow instead. The second thing is his face has a very over the top grin, which I assume was a try to mimic one of the official posters for Defiance. However, it does not make him look menacing, but rather goofy and the prolonged ear/crown pieces give him almost troll like visage. The figure does not have many joints (his arms have joints only on his shoulders) with his legs fixed in place and overall gives an impression of a statue. The cape is plastic and shaped to appear to be blowing behind him. Unfortunately, Kain´s symbol on the cape is upside down and the cape´s size is overexaggerated. At least the scar placement is correct. His right hand can be swapped out for a one holding a bolt of lightning. The left hand is folded in a grip where the Soul Reaver can be inserted (the cap on top of the hilt must be unscrewed first). The Soul Reaver itself appears to be very well made, with lots of nice details but the colouring seems off (the hilt is brown instead of being golden and is too long) and the skull itself is too small.

BBI Dumah
Rarity: ****
Height: 25cm
Weight: 650g
Accessories: Removable helmet, glowing eyes (requires batteries)
Packaging: Box
Overall Rating: 10/10 - This figure towers high above the others – it´s huge and very detailed! Get him!

Dumah is indeed grand in size and weight (not even BBI Kain is his equal in this regard). This is a pretty hard to find figure, so if you come across one, you won´t regret buying it. It´s attention to detail is great in every regard – from the decorated armor plates, shoulder pads and knee pads (he is missing his clan symbol on the back of his hands, though). He has quite a few joints too, so is pretty well posable. The removable helmet uncovers his war painted face and dreadlock like hair beneath, both details which were impossible to spot on the low resolution textures of the original 3D model. The hair part includes the light up eyes and can be removed in order to insert/remove the batteries. The switch can be set to two modes – lights are continuously on when holding the button on top of Dumah´s head or stay on once you press the button until you press it again (better option for taking pictures). Note that you can´t press the button while he has the helmet on, you have to remove it first. Due to his size he does not come with any other accessories or a stand.

Note: His box differs from the other boxed BBI LOK figures - it´s much taller and promotes the limited edition Spectral Raziel on its sides.

Raziel statue by Studio Oxmox
Rarity: *****
Height: 29cm
Weight: 2kg
Accessories: Spear, wings
Packaging: Box
Overall Rating: 9/10 - This statue is the rarest one on this list and usually very pricey, recommended to the hardcore fans!

This rare statue is made out of polyresin. The box itself does not state who is the manufacturer was but only that it was made in China. The box features a unique Raziel render with a winged shadow behind him (found only in German ads) with a cathedral for a background. The statue comes in with two detached wings which need to be glued into place and a wooden spear (both very delicate and fragile). Raziel is standing on a coffin with the Reaver engraving on top of the lid and has the Soul Reaver logo on one of the sides. The statue itself is pretty accurate, though Raziel´s skin colour is green and his toes are too far apart which looks weird. Other than that, details are very good and it is an excellent addition to anybody´s collection. The spear must be handled with care so it does not break and the wings, once glued in, prevent the statue from being transported in its original box, so bear that in mind. It is unclear as to how many of these have been produced in total but it is the rarest item on this list. The Oxmox website lists the client as Eidos Interactive, Germany and that it was made by Studio Oxmox, sculpted by Marc Klinnert. Other website claims the statue´s retail price was €52,00.

Here are some shots with all the figures compared:
Battle of Kains, who shall succeed?

 NECA figure face off

 Material plane Raziel vs Spectral plane Raziel

BBI spectral Raziel vs NECA spectral Raziel

We shall test your thesis, Raziel.