Games for Writers: Metal Gear Solid 3 – Snake Eater

For the third entry in the “Games for Writers” series, I thought it would be best to go the same route I went with Metroid Prime; I wanted to show writers a game that did something specific. A game that writers could learn from as much as enjoy. With that in mind, it wasn’t hard to choose…

First Thing’s FirstG4W-MetalGearSolid3-SnakeEater

As far as the Metal Gear Solid series goes, I feel Snake Eater was honestly the best. At least when it came out. Outside of delivering the most exciting sneaking gameplay (what with the loss of an extremely convenient radar), Snake Eater also had very versatile gameplay; you could sneak or run-and-gun, starve your enemies or put them to sleep, even face a boss or take a sniper shot at him after a cut scene and avoid the confrontation altogether.

To boot, Snake Eater had a surprisingly moving story and gripping characters who developed naturally – a feat of which both Sons of Liberty and Guns of the Patriots fell short.

But What Makes It a Game for Writers?

It’s simple; I can sum it up in two words: Time Paradox.

Part of the reason why the gameplay is so awesome is you don’t have the advanced tech from previous installments. That’s because Snake Eater is a prequel that takes place in the 60’s; you play the villian of the first two games, Big Boss, back when he was Jack. And that’s the point really; I knew that Jack had to survive because he had to be in Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2. Regardless of knowing that though, I was still not only engaged by the plot, but genuinely worried for Jack’s safety.

This isn’t a small achievement for writers. George Lucas did an awesome job of making sure we couldn’t possibly care less about Darth Vader’s life before he became Darth Vader (in actuality, he made most of us start pretending Vader was just born with that suit on). Snake Eater never disappoints in this respect though and manages to never, ever drop the tension. Even when Jack is put in complete jeopardy, you don’t just shrug – you wind up being worried that he’s going to die. And perhaps even more of a success, you remain engaged in Jack’s struggles with other characters even when you know they won’t die either.

How’s It Done and What’s to Learn?

The key here is also simple: good writing. A staple of any good story is the author’s ability to put his characters into believable jeopardy. Honestly, unless a story is aiming to be different, there’s just about a 100% chance a protagonist is going to survive whatever is thrown at him or her. Trying to write around extremely solid (heh… sorry) evidence that your protagonist’s going to be fine can be even tougher.

So pick up a copy of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and see how it’s done. Learn just how far character interactions, depth, and diversity of plot can go to intrigue an audience and keep them guessing no matter how certain they are that everything’s going to be just fine.

Game for Writers: Metroid Prime

I know it’s been a while since my first entry in the Game for Writers series. I can only say that I’ve been busy editing and taken the delay to make sure I presented a good second entry. After much debate, I’m glad to say I finally settled on a second title that I can faithfully call a Game for Writers. And that game is…

G4W-Metroid Prime

If you haven’t played Metroid Prime, you might be saying, “Really?” If you have, you’re probably saying “REALLY!?”

In reply to both, I say, “Oh yeah. Really.”

This is for a few reasons. First off, I have to say that Metroid Prime has a story that’s interesting enough to be a driving force behind gameplay. That said, here are a few details about the game:

Factor the First: There Is No Dialog in Metroid Prime

None. Unless you count the grunts Samus makes when you get hit. PS- You don’t see your protagonist’s face either–at least not until you beat it with the right prerequisites. Otherwise, you’ll only see her when, say, you’re underwater and fire a shot at a wall in front of you; the light will reflect Samus’ face on her visor, and more likely than not, you’ll jump out of your short shorts at the bright, blue eyes suddenly filling your screen. But that’s it.

Factor the Second: The World Building Involved in Metroid Prime Is Deeper than Any World Building in Any Game I’ve Ever Seen

It’s just completely true. One of the biggest complaints about the Metroid Prime series is rooted in the creative depth of the worlds you explore. You can scan a lot (not everything, but definitely enough), and when you’re done, you’ll know pretty much everything about the fauna of Tallon IV (and a lot of the flora).

I may have forgotten to mention that you can also scan a bunch of architecture. Yeah.

I have to digress and add this to forestall argument: from playing any of the games, can you tell me anything about the critters native to Halo? I’m sure you could tell me about the Flood, but what about the animals, lacking sentience. Is there anything like a dog on the rings? What are the birds like? If you actually have an answer, did you get it from reading a Halo novel?… Okay then. Cause, I mean, I can tell you this about the bloodflower on Tallon IV:

The Bloodflower is able to eject toxic spores. Toxins are poisonous even to the Bloodflower itself. Three mouth-nodules protrude from the stalk beneath the flower, each with a rudimentary brain cluster and the ability to spew toxic fumes at anything with a five-meter radius. The spores ejected from the Stigma at the center of the flower are sufficient to kill this creature if they explode in its vicinity.

Aaanyway, moving on…

Factor the Third: All of the This Is Achieved Almost Exclusively with Epistles

That’s right. Letters; well, not exclusively letters, but written accounts. Journals, science experiment logs, memos, other forms I’m forgetting, and, most importantly, your suit’s data logs obtained when you scan just shy of the entire world.

So, how did they do this? How did the team at Retro Studios hold gamers’ interests in a dialog, flashy cinema, and explosion-heavy society without spoken word? The answer is a ton of writing. Not exclusively; the art style, graphics, and especially the environmental effects went a long way towards making everything visceral. But there’s a great deal that’s only transmitted through Retro’s extensive writing and cunning execution.

A Plot in Small Pieces

The mystery of why Space Pirates have landed on Tallon IV starts to be revealed by their field reports and experimental logs, all expertly placed to work with the game’s pacing. Retro gives us a Space Pirate log where they say something along the lines of, “We’re going to start excavating at this location.” And then, perhaps when you’re knee deep in that location, you’ll find another entry saying, “The Hunter has followed us to the site. She must know about Metroid Prime,” to which, of course, you as a gamer say, “Ohhhhhh… So they’re looking for Metroid Prime… Man. Where’s the next log?” As I said before, you wind up being extremely motivated to continue playing because of this approach, and the plot winds up being revealed in such a way that you can’t help being engaged and fascinated.

Although this was actually an easter egg, it was the best example of an in game log that I could find.

A Spoonful of Subtle Detail (aka Awesome) Makes the Mythos of Samus Aran Go Down

Going beyond that, however, the fear and reverence the Space Pirates show in their entries for “the Hunter” gives players an oddly satisfying illustration of how bad ass Samus Aran is. Coupled with details like the science log where Space Pirates document their attempts to mimic her Morph Ball ability (which allows all 7 feet of Samus to roll up into a tiny ball [PS-No, their experiments don’t go well at all]), we’re given a pretty solid idea of Samus’ lore; no one really knows how the hell she does the things she does, and for lots of people, that’s pretty scary. At the very least, the Space Pirates think so.

In the end, all they and the players know is that she has ancient armor that allows her to do amazing things, and that if she doesn’t like you, you’re pretty much screwed. Oh, also, that when she’s blowing you, your tank, or your sentient tank to pieces, she’s going to be completely quiet about it.

The Depth of Tallon IV

The scans of enemies with your visor do the rest. Just as the example above does for the bloodflower, your Scan Visor illustrates a ton of the enemies and environments you go through, layering all of it with as healthy a helping of wonder as logs and data entries do for Samus’ reputation. Yeah, sure, you’re going to be scanning a lot of enemies, but you’re also going to wind up feeling like you really are exploring an alien planet. You can scream lame from the rooftops if you want, but I stopped shooting certain creatures because they were just creatures foraging or protecting their young, not douche bag Space Pirates.

What does all of this mean for writers, however? How would playing this help you expand your repertoire? Simply put, I think it would seriously expand any sci-fi or fantasy writer’s mind. The sheer devotion to the world, the execution of the plot, the approach to a completely silent protagonist-it all makes for an extremely unique experience that gamers shouldn’t pass on and writers definitely shouldn’t miss.

6 Degrees of Bad Fantasy

Most mornings, when pretty much everyone ever is still asleep, I’m shelving in the Sci-Fi / Fantasy section at my job and listening to an audio book on my iPod. It’s a new thing for me, listening to the audio book, but it’s something I enjoy… Well, something I enjoyed until I decided it would be a good idea to finish a series I’d run out of patience with. Out of respect, I won’t name names. But I will say that listening to book six of it resulted in the following list. Directly. Enjoy. Or if you are an amateur Sci-Fi / Fantasy writer, pay attention.

1) Sass and Snarky Characters

Fantasy novels are a lot like real life in the sense that sassy, snarky characters are only fun for so long. You meet one in a tavern, let’s say, and someone says, “Gendalin [just roll with it] is the best sorcerer EVAR!”

Then Gendalin says, “Yes, I am Gendalin. I was trained in the Bog of Eternal Win by the Super Mages of Uberstan. Who are you?” they spit, because, hey, you’re shit.

And you / your character says, “I’M the strongest sorcerer to train at the Bog of Eternal Win since Uberstan himself!”

The next few pages are a battle of “wits” that’s full of snark and supposed to be cool. There’s taunting involved, posing, and always some show of skill, and in the end, both characters look like stupid children and you’re supposed to be impressed. Oh, and one of them agrees to teach the other. Or (very, very often) in the case of mercenaries, the client pays up to the sellsword who’s just threatened or outwitted them. In the end, the scene is something that’s entertaining for minors in the same way as manga. To say it in other words, you just wrote manga. Congratulations.

“I’m the best ninja EVAR!”

“No, I am!”

“Oh yeah? Here comes my new attack!”

“Oh yeah? I’ll counter it and destroy you!”

It’s like third grade all over again.

I hope you’re proud.

2) Exaggerated / Unrealistic Reactions

When someone walks into the dining hall and says that they have news, everyone in the room freezes. Literally. Everyone is that tense. They all completely freeze, the warrior with a chicken leg dangling in front of his open mouth.

Does that sound right to you? No? That’s because it’s not. Because you’re not writing a cartoon. The warrior keeps eating, perhaps becoming more withdrawn. The wizard or sorcerer runs his eyes over everyone and nods for the message to be brought to him. The young protagonist awkwardly lowers his fork and it clatters against a glass. Perhaps someone takes a sip of water. But they all just don’t freeze.

In the same way, characters don’t have what a fellow amateur writer, Robin Solis, dubbed “tea parties”:

Character A: “The giants are destroying our house!! What do we do!?”

Louis: “Well, there’s that ship right there. Ya know, maybe that’d be useful?”

Character B: “The ship! Ah ha! Let us away!”

Narrator: “And so they ran for the ship, leaving the safety of the house to hurry as fast as they could when Character A stopped them for a chat.”

Louis: “Wait-what?”

Character A: “So we’re really setting out to sea?”

Character B: “Why, yes, my boy! To sail and salt! To freedom!”

Character A: “But will the ship truly sail?”

Character B: “It may not! We may be trapped on there! But we have to try!”

Character A: “Ah… Freedom!”

Giant: “Could you pass the sugar, please?”

Character A: “Oh, yes, certainly.”

Meanwhile, in reality:

Character A: “The giants are destroying our house!! What do we do!?”

Character B: Is already halfway to the ship. Possibly already there because he’s saved absolutely every breath for panting so that lactic acid doesn’t smother his muscles.

Character A: “Oh, right.”

Narrator: And so it was that Character B saved himself while Character A took a tree trunk to the face.

3) Forced / Stupid Character Quirks

A rogue character always rolls a pair of dice in his hands. Always. The singer always hums an appropriate tune that everyone knows is appropriate, every time, in every situation. Character quirks are fun, sure, but not if they happen constantly. I do voices – it’s one of my quirks. Sometimes I slip into them without realizing it, but most often I do them to be funny. If I did them all the time, everyone would hate me. Everyone, including myself. But I don’t do that and I can’t; I wouldn’t want to and it’d be too much work to keep up. It’s the same way I can’t constantly muss my hair, and the same way the rogue can’t always roll those damn dice.

4) Songs

Some fantasy authors, man, they love their songs. So much so that I totally skip over them every time now, unless it’s an author I haven’t read. But even authors I love tend to annoy me with their songs. That’s because sometimes authors go AWOL, putting in as many five-page long songs as they can. More often, though, I skip songs because they just aren’t worth the read; they usually don’t contribute enough to the story to warrant inclusion. Sure, songs are an easy way to add mysticism and romance to your world, but that would be the easy way. The easy, tired, obvious way. And besides, hey, we’re not song writers. Let’s be honest. We’re fantasy writers, so let’s just do that instead and stop pointing to ourselves and saying, “See? I can write one too, Tolkien. Hooray for me.”

Naturally, there are exceptions. Patrick Rothfuss’ Kvothe from a family of traveling entertainers and musicians, so you’d expect music to accompany his story, and it does. And Rothfuss makes his songs genuinely heartfelt by tying them to the drama of Kvothe’s life.

But when we get to page 80 of a generic fantasy novel and our young hero sees his first monster and remembers that it’s from a song and then all of the elves in a 100 mile radius pluck up out of bushes with lutes and, in unison, say, “This song?” and start into a two page ditty, you’re officially wasting everyone’s time.

5) Living Out Your Weird, Sexual Fantasies in Your Writing

Okay… Still not naming names. Just saying… I’ve read a protagonist getting tortured by a dominatrix with a magical, pain-inducing dildo for over a hundred pages… Just don’t do it.

6) Repetition

Okay. This one just… isn’t specific to sci-fi or fantasy, but it’s so, so important. You could make the other offenses all you want as long as we don’t have to listen to them twice. Easy trade.

Now, I’m not accusing anyone of being an idiot; authors don’t commit this travesty on purpose. They often repeat themselves to keep their readers informed, but it’s a thin line between recapping and belittling or annoying your audience. The author of my current audio book is a big time offender. In one chapter he expressed a character’s thought on some of his followers, saying something roughly like, “He didn’t tell them to stop. He owed them. So many had died for him already, and so many more would before he was through.” Not a half hour later, the narrator spat just about the same phrase, perhaps a few words off but exactly the same thought. My reply was, “Yes. Dude, seriously, I got it. It’s cool.” In short, it drove me crazy, because I was, in fact, talking to an audio book.

Imagine events like that happening more though; imagine being reminded continually that this character is sassy by having her sway her hips (and always sway her hips). Or imagine the pure frustration when someone reminds you for the eighth time in 2 chapters that the dark powers from the north were growing, and hey, you can totally tell from the way this magical stone glimmers. As if you forgot. Already. After a while it’s like walking into a wall, full speed, over and over. The same wall. Also, it’s grey-completely uninteresting. Imagine how all of that makes you feel, and then make sure you don’t do it to anyone else with your writing.

Fantasy NYC: Lev Grossman signing at Borders at Columbus Circle

From the start, Lev Grossman, the author of The Magicians was disarmingly awkward.

Well, not from the start. He eased into it, if such a thing is even possible. But still, it was disarming. I’d spent the previous night absorbing the first 100 pages of Grossman’s first fantasy novel and feeling dwarfed by it’s prose. It was real, familiar, and bold, and it almost immediately made me think that I should’ve written something as sharp of wit. A look at his website didn’t improve matters;  it was a clean, grey slab of modern design, solidly professional. So I expected someone stark. Someone completely calculated.
And that’s not at all what I got. Clean cut and fashionable in his blazer / Justice League T-shirt combo, Grossman walked onto the stage and gave us a quick outline of the night that included a 30 second awkward pause after his reading.

It made me feel better. A lot better. This was my first venture in my initiative to hear as many fantasy authors speak as I could, and I hadn’t been excited to find a group of peers who weren’t peers at all. Instead I found someone I could talk to.

Even though, again, I was completely awkward when the chance arose.
“Awesome shirt. Where’d you get it?”

“Online.” I offered no more than that. Aside from an intimidated smile. This is the problem with meeting celebrities I actually admire; I’m sure I’d be comfortable talking to Tori Spelling for hours. Well… not really. But you understand. It was depressing.

But I still got a lot out of the night. If unintentionally, Lev Grossman’s talk about his struggles with his career after college, a major theme in The Magicians, was incredibly inspiring. I told him as much in one of the fleeting moments of lucidity I had when I was directly in front of him. It’s harder than people think, being a writer. Especially an aspiring one. You spend so much time on your own, working on a project that you know might fail, despite how incredibly confident you are about it. You miss events, cancel hanging out with friends, forfeit job opportunities. You watch those friends advance their careers just by going to work. And all the while, you convince yourself that it’s probably easier for other writers. Perhaps others graduated from Columbia, landed a job in publishing, and pumped out their first novels at the same time.

But then you find out that maybe they didn’t. It took Lev Grossman four years to get The Magicians published. And this was after trying to figure out what to do with a degree in Literature for a long time. He’s 35 now. I’m 28. Suddenly, getting published wasn’t something I was struggling to achieve. It became something I’m doing.

Lev Grossman’s The Magicians marries fantasy and reality in a way that shows us the absurd beauty and horror of both. If you haven’t read The Magicians, definitely do so. It will not disappoint, especially after the story repeatedly veers away from being what you expect.

Games for Writers: Silent Hill 2

When I got serious enough about my writing career that I started feeling guilty for spending a bunch of my time playing video games, I started to rationalize my pass time by calling it research. Example:

“Yeah… I can play Final Fantasy XII today because, hey, maybe it’ll give me some inspiration.”

Not the worst logic. Until it’s applied to something without a strong fantasy element, like Bionic Commando: Rearmed.

Or, ya know, Hexic.

But there were times where I felt justified. There were games that had sound stories and characters that I’m glad I didn’t miss for the impact they’ve had on me not just as a fantasy writer, but a writer in general. In retrospect, I call them Games for Writers.

And when I thought of blogging about them, there was no competition for which came first.

G4W-SilentHill2

Okay. I know. You’ve probably seen the movie and know how lackluster it was. Or you didn’t see the movie because you thought it looked horrible or because you played the first game and either quit early or (God forbid) beat it and discovered that the story made no-and I mean NO-sense at all. Ya know what? On all counts, I don’t blame you. Seriously. Both game and movie go off the deep end with weird, mystic, hell lingo that took many viewers and gamers right out of the experience.

Silent Hill 2, however, was nothing like that. From the start, it’s story, characters, and mood grab you and never really let go.

You play as James Sunderland who’s received a letter from his wife, Mary, who died years before the game starts. In the letter, she urges him to come to Silent Hill, the resort town where they spent their honeymoon, where she’s waiting for him. Needless to say, an amazing hook.

It only gets better when you start playing and the fog sets in along with Akira Yamaoka’s eerie music. It creates enough intensity and dread with its mood that it’s easily a lesson in setting and tone. And also, because it can get so, so far out there, it doubles as a huge, huge lesson in originality. One that keeps going for the rest of the game.

But I think where things really pick up is when you meet Maria, a woman who looks exactly like James’ dead wife but acts nothing like her.

Suddenly, the situation changes. Cinemas and dialog become more interesting and frightening; James might be falling for Maria. He might be forgetting about Mary. But either way, the game does something surprising. It stops being about a town that’s cursed or a gateway to hell or whatever. It starts being about James. And Maria. And Mary. And the other people you meet in town, all scary in their own ways because each of them seems like they’re the worst in us. So then, Silent Hill 2 becomes about us and the terrible things we do. Yes, there are monsters you have to kill and puzzles to solve, but they don’t get in the way of the story the same way the story doesn’t get in the way of Silent Hill 2 being a game.

I won’t go on and spoil anything, but I will say that Silent Hill 2 is definitely worth a play for writers, especially if they’re already gamers. There’s a surprisingly intense and original emotional journey here that too many people have missed.

The Editing Process

Around when his eyes start to sting and his head begins to throb, Louis realizes he misses the writing process and very much prefers it to the editing process. Fondly, he remembers that the former was like this:

-Louis sits down at his computer and rereads the pages he wrote the previous day (or the day before that, or the one before that, etc.).

-He then remembers what he wanted to happen next. He contemplates the next pages, running them through a complex, mental filter.

-He then starts awake and remembers that he decided what he wanted to happen and how best to execute it around when he dozed off.

-Ready now, he starts. With “Then.” Or no-wait. “But then again.” Ah yes. That’s right. “But then again.”

-Satisfied with this start, Louis gets up and locates a snack.

-He returns to find “But then again” and sighs deeply.

-He starts awake again and realizes he needs to brainstorm.

-He lies down on his bed to do so.

In contrast, editing is a far more constant and steady business that is frighteningly portable (like Pokémon), so that it can dominate your life even when you think you’re safe (likePokémon).

And so, Louis squints at the red mess of a particularly bad page and realizes that there are no snacks. There is no “brainstorming” required. There is only the deed, so glaringly simple now (as it is, in fact, simply transcribing corrections from his massive hand edit to his computer).

But then again…

Character Design: Why Bother?

I was sitting in class at City College once, not taking notes – drawing instead. One of my peers looked over and asked what I was doing. I turned my book so she could see a sketch of one of my favorite main characters.

It wasn’t enough for her. “Who’s that?”

I told her and she asked, “You draw your characters? Why?”

Now it was my turn to be confused. “Why wouldn’t I?”

Writers are taught that in prose, it’s a clever tactic to leave the physical appearance of characters to readers. Give them guidelines – simple descriptors that create an image of the kind of person someone is. You could say, for example, that Rock Stout had golden hair, perfectly curled, and wide teeth that almost glistened when he smiled they were so white, and from that we’d generally get that Rock Stout was an ass – or probably an ass.

The same occurs in Fantasy writing. The simplest description in the world is “he had a chest like a barrel.” I’d almost be worried about quoting someone specifically, but this has been said in so many ways in so many stories that I believe it’s impossible to quote anyone specifically with this, and – furthermore – I’m not saying this descriptor is a bad one. The point is, we get everything we need to know from that phrase: this man drinks, laughs loudly, probably uses an axe or warhammer, probably likes wine and whores, is possibly a black smith. It’s simple – about as simple as Rock Stout’s description. Likewise, our hero can be simply described as “usually the tallest head in a room” and again, we get the idea.

The question then is, why bother doing more than this? Why devote as much time to character design and artistry for a media that barely needs it?

The answer is simple. Because I don’t want this to happen:

My... God.

This is the US cover of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s The Gathering Storm. And, sadly, it’s probably the best cover for the series so far, or among the best.

Now, let’s see what happens when, Seamas Gallagher, who takes his time and, more importantly, cares, renders Rand Al’Thor:

Kind of totally way better.

So, what am I saying here? Is it that all fantasy writers should spend time trying to draw and design their characters? That even if they do, the artists assigned to do their cover art somehow will – or will even try to get it right? No. What I’m saying is that when War of Exiles is released, if it has a cover that looks as off base as this –

This book is not about a waterfall. It's - wait... Are those people?

– you can come back here and look at the awesome character sketches and art that I’ll have up by then until the pain stops and the tears go away. Mine and yours.

Where to Start?

I’m embarrassed to tell you exactly what hooked me into writing fantasy.

Embarrassed because, in retrospect, it’s shameful. Most writers will tell you immediately that they were turned by Tolkien, or someone very similar. While I feel such a start has it’s disadvantages, it’s definitely based in literature. And that’s good.

Because I got my start with J-RPG’s. Please, please don’t stop reading. I know, I said it and I’m sorry. I should’ve warned you. Well, warned you more. I just thought it was best to come out with it.

But it occurs to me that you may not know what “J-RPG” means and that’s great. Hold on to that. First,

Disclaimer: I’m not in any way married to the visual or narrative style of J-RPG’s. In no way is my writing just a vessel for convoluted plots that revolve around progressively larger weapons and star extremely pretty, teen characters with unfathomable hair.

That said, “J-RPG” stands for “Japanese role-playing game”, a genre of video games that’s only different from manga in two ways:

1. Manga is more often not set in fantasy worlds.

2. You can play J-RPG’s.

This poses an interesting question, I bet: How does such a start lead to a credible career as an American fantasy author? Alone, I would say it doesn’t. But following it up with plenty of sci-fi and fantasy literature creates a different perspective on things.

Yes, it is a bit embarrassing to have begun with J-RPG’s, but I often feel now that if I hadn’t, I’d be writing about orcs. The heroes in my stories would inevitably run into old mages who would send them on a 400 page long horseback journey. Not – and I stress – not that those things are terrible; dragons for example, are awesome, and someone like Brandon Sanderson can blow your mind with their approaches to magic. However, a basis in J-RPG’s can put everything on an interesting slant. Do there need to be dragons? Does there need to be that old wizard? Does my hero have to have a special power only he can pull off? But also, conversely, with tempering from American fantasy, do my characters all need unfathomable hair?

And, of course, such questions lead to more questions. Does my hero always have to win, unharmed? If my hero and his entourage win, will they be happy? Is it more believable for love to come out of nowhere or for it to, perhaps, be something my characters can – and do – miss?

The end result of all of this questioning and tempering is necessary, I think. At least it is to the kind of author I want to be. A different author, with the kind of style and visual artistry you would find in… oh… let’s say this picture.

Here, Ayami Kojima has rendered a stunning Alucard as he was in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Notice that he’s not simply wearing a doublet.

Now, this kind of style and a more serious, realistic tone?

Come on. You know you want it.