Welcome back, readers!
I know it’s been a while, but as you may remember from my second installment of “In Relation to My Work: How Video Games Spur My Creativity” from July 10, the topic of interest was character development. Well, this time around, we shall examine something that’s not too distant from that particular subject: video games that allow the player to create his or her own character. As per the whole theme of this mini-series, we investigate how both current and future writers can glean at least a smidgeon of inspiration from video games to help them in writing their own works, so it shouldn’t be of any surprise that this specific topic would come up on our radar. That being said, there are four games in particular—or, at the very least, four kinds of games—that I shall be talking about in this article, all of which allow gamers to test the potency of their creative juices by giving them the option to create their own characters. Using these games as examples within the discussion, I hope to demonstrate how a given video game’s character creation system can help writers put their imaginations to the test and learn to use the templates provided by the games themselves to create original characters that they can in turn use as characters in their own work, given that they also take the time to sever the ties they may have to whatever preexisting material already exists within the game in question (i.e., feuds that a player’s created wrestler might be having with a given wrestler-based character within a given wrestling game). Without further ado, then, let’s dive in and see how this process works.
Initial Character Design
To begin with, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from any given video game with a create-a-character feature, it’s how to use that which the game gives me to design my characters and to not let technical limitations or other restrictions prevent me from piecing them together. After all, even the most advanced create-a-character mode in video game history has its boundaries, but just because such boundaries exist doesn’t mean that the player has to confine his or her imagination as well. After all, he or she can still use and combine whatever bits, pieces, odds and ends the engine has available to come up with any number of potential characters to play as in the game. All that really matters is whether or not the player can still think “outside the box” and arrange these very elements accordingly to come up with a well-rounded on-screen avatar. Such is the process of using templates with these modes, as it’s all about choosing the right combination of characteristics to help ensure that your character is ideal for the task that lies ahead of him or her. To understand this process, one need look no further than a fun little lesser-known action platformer from 1991 for the Famicom (the Japanese version of North America and Europe’s own Nintendo Entertainment System) called Cocoron.
While I’m sure that there are certain gamers out there who dismiss Cocoron as being a “rip-off” of the Mega Man games because it, too, is a jump-and-shoot action platformer that has a variety of weapons to utilize against the enemy as well as a stage selection screen, the fact of the matter is that most gamers who have been fortunate enough to play it love it for what it is on account of readily recognizing and getting into its simple yet engaging concept. The premise of it is straightforward enough to understand: You have been invited to the Dream World by the wizard Tapir to partake in a quest to rescue Princess Rua from the “evil forces” who have captured her. Standard fare, of course, except for one interesting twist that I personally have yet to see in any game from this genre predating this one: You, the hero, are allowed to create six different avatars—each with its own head, body, and weapon—that you can take control of during your little rescue mission. However, aside from aesthetic appeal, each head and body has its own unique Hit Point total and Weight Value that affects how much damage the avatar in question can take and how well he or she can maneuver on the playing field, respectively. Additionally, certain bodies have traits that make them more useful in certain situations in comparison to other bodies, such as the Jet and Wing bodies with their hovering capabilities and the Tank body with its incredible traction that allows it to “stick” to slopes, which other bodies slide down regardless of the substance a certain slope might otherwise be made of. Each Weapon (referred to as “Arms” in the game) has a Weight Value of its own, which in turn contributes to how light or heavy your avatar is, as well as an assigned Damage Value and its own particular attack pattern that is particularly notable for when the weapon is powered up. For a more comprehensive list of the heads, bodies, and weapons available in Cocoron, please consult the lists below.
Hero: 156 wt, 12 HP
Ninja: 112 wt, 8 HP
Robot: 289 wt, 16 HP
Alien: 200 wt, 4 HP
Fighter: 333 wt, 16 HP
Monster (Animal): 245 wt, 12 HP
Ghost: 67 wt, 8 HP
? (Miscellaneous): 23 wt, 4 HP
Armor: 433 wt, 24 HP; obviously the most durable body in the entire game
Wing: 101 wt, 8 HP; can hover in the air for a short period of time
Jet: 499 wt, 16 HP; can hover in the air for a long period of time
Cyborg: 301 wt, 20 HP; lighter weight than Tank bodies and every bit as durable, but still ends up sliding down slopes just like all the other bodies
Boat: 234 wt, 12 HP; can float on milk (Cocoron’s equivalent to water)
Buggy: 167 wt, 16 HP; faster ground movement than most other bodies
Tank: 367 wt, 20 HP; can stand steady on sloped surfaces as if they were flat
? (Miscellaneous): 34 wt, 4 HP; relatively fast bodies thanks to their reduced weight and (if I remember correctly) are known for their admirable jumping capacity
Parasol: 71 wt, 3 damage; short- to medium-range projectile that floats upwards to strike airborne targets
Boomerang: 93 wt, 4 damage; short-range projectile that predictably returns upon being thrown; adds an additional boomerang that can attack enemies at an upper-forward and down-forward angle when powered up to levels 4 and 5, respectively
Shuriken: 141 wt, 6 damage; long-range projectile that, once powered up to levels 4 and 5, respectively, can launch behind and directly above the wielder as well as in front
Ball: 43 wt, 4 damage; long-range projectile that can’t pass through walls (unlike other projectiles), but can roll up slopes when launched at them and, when powered up at levels 4 and 5, can fan upwards at higher degree angles to hit airborne targets
Pencil: 25 wt, 3 damage; long-range projectile that, when powered up to levels 4 and 5, can strike targets on higher platforms
Crystal: 167 wt, 3 damage; [painfully] short-ranged grenade that can split off into two separate chunks that fly off in a “V”-shaped pattern that can—once powered up to levels 4 and 5, respectively—changes into an “X”-pattern and a full eight-directional asterisk pattern
Flower: 116 wt, 3 damage; short-ranged grenade weapon that increases in both blast radius and blast duration with each and every level
Melody: 11 wt, 3 damage; long-range projectile weapon that travels in a relatively slow wave pattern across the screen
Upon becoming familiar with these tidbits, the player is then charged the task of creating the ideal “rescue squadron” of alter egos, starting with the first created avatar, whom he or she deploys to one of five possible regions as marked on the Dream World map: the Milk Sea, Trump Castle, Ice-Fire Mountain, Star Hill, or the Fairy Forest. Once the boss of that region has been neutralized, the player is allowed to create another alter ego, whom he or she then deploys to one of the remaining four regions (lest, of course, he or she wants to continue using a previously created avatar) to defeat the boss located there. This cycle continues until all five bosses have fallen and the player has six avatars under her control, after which the rescue mission for Princess Rua begins. Sounds simple, right? It can be—assuming, of course, that you’re familiar with the layout of each of the five stages (as well as Rua’s location once all five bosses have been neutralized) and of the final gauntlet that awaits you after you’ve saved Rua and discovered the identity of the fiend responsible for her abduction. The question remains, then, as to whether or not you personally know which exact bodies, weapons, and even heads will benefit you most on your quest. For example, which regions require a Jet or Wing body to cross successfully, and how much better is the Jet body over the Wing body—and, consequently, vice versa—for those regions? Similarly, where would a Tank or Buggy body be handiest to use? Against which enemies, bosses included, are certain weapons most effective? Which head should a player equip to provide a given body a decent allotment of health, yet not weigh said body down to the point where it becomes utterly useless in platforming, which is a key element in this game? Such is what the gamer must keep in mind when developing the avatars he or she requires to rescue Princess Rua from the clutches of evil. Of course, should he or she do just that and end up winning the game…well…what’s left for your heroes to do?
The answer to this question is actually pretty simple: Create a new adventure for them to embark on—not in the game itself, obviously, considering that the adventure the programmers have given you has already come to an end. Rather, provide the taskforce you’ve created a whole new mission to accomplish within a fictitious universe of your own design. After all, Cocoron is a game that embraces creativity and the power of imagination, and as a means of celebrating that theme, why not formulate an entirely new setting for the characters you’ve created to roam within, complete with new threats to thwart and dangers to avoid? It doesn’t even have to mimic the Dream World in the game, either. In fact, the more unique and differentiated your own setting is from Cocoron’s Dream World, the better—particularly if the regions of your universe share themes similar to those of the characters you’d created to play as in the game. For example, if you’ve managed to create a kitsune ninja character using the fox Monster head and equip him/her with the Shuriken, why not create a continent within your world where the culture mirrors that of feudal Japan? You could even stretch the boundaries of what you can create with the templates the game provides you with and add additional characters with an archetypal Japanese flavor to them to your party—ninjas and samurai, primarily, but possibly even a draconic warrior or a ghostly mystic as well. Then again, based on the nature of some of the heads and bodies that are available to build characters with, perhaps it’d be easier for some gamers to create an action rescue team that has more of a toy theme attached to them and as such operates in a world that’s more or less one gigantic toy land of sorts. Heaven knows just how many robots, action figures, and even clown dolls one can create using the heads and bodies provided in the game’s create-a-character feature. Heck, even the weapons have natures that have more of a “Create Your Own Action Figure” feel to them, from Balls and Pencils to Parasols and even Melodies. Regardless of whatever theme your new setting has, however, its purpose as the new stage for your created characters’ adventures remains the same, and soon after you create it, you’ll be able to flesh your heroes’ missions out from that point on, from the villains they must conquer and all the devious problems they instigate for your protagonists to any and all additional characters with whom your heroes interact with and non-enemy-related challenges that they must overcome. Who knows? You might even want to tweak your original characters to both more readily stand out from the mere collection of pixilated body parts they might otherwise be within the original game and more appropriately fit this new environment you’ve created for them. Not only can you give each protagonist a unique personality and assortment of character flaws, but you can also grant him or her an additional ability or two that he or she could put to use in whatever adventures the team sets forth on, such as keen survival instincts or a sharp mind for puzzle solving. The only stipulation in this case would be to keep in mind the temptation to overpower your characters and make them nigh-invincible—a common flaw in many a work of fan fiction that destroys any room for conflict for your protagonists, which is one of the key elements to any good story. I’d go into further detail about character development (and plot development, for that matter), but doing so would defeat the purpose of the next two sections of this article.
Once you’ve gotten the initial design of each character down pat, the next step to develop your character’s persona. As I’ve mentioned in my second installment of this discussion, it takes more than great graphics and keen in-game abilities to create a memorable video game character; it also takes personality and, if applicable, a little bit of backstory. After all, it’s not always enough for a gamer to be able to move a character across the screen and perform such standard tasks as collecting items and defeating enemies in order to become invested in said character, no matter how well amassed his or her pixels are or how seamlessly his or her polygons are fused together. Sometimes, it takes a little something more, and when I say “a little something more,” I basically refer to a lot of things—his or her interactions with other characters in the game, for example, or the words that come out of his or her mouth randomly during gameplay or even the poses and/or facial expressions he or she makes during certain parts of the game (i.e., a victory pose he or she might strike after defeating a certain opponent or reaching the end of a given level). This is even truer for literary characters, who—save for as illustrations on a book’s cover or within certain books’ pages—remain invisible to the reader’s eye and as such require strong, identifiable social and mental traits in order for the reader to identify and connect with them. This point can very well be illustrated with the following exercise.
Let’s say, for instance, you’re playing a platformer such as the NES classic Adventure Island by Hudson Soft or Sky Taxi by Alawar Entertainment for the PC and feel the need to relate the actions of the protagonist as you’re playing as him or her in either a brief essay or a short story. First off, try writing the essay and offer a direct recount of everything the protagonist did while you were controlling him or her, be it collecting items, unlocking and/or entering doors, racing to the finish line of the level you were playing, or battling the boss at the end of that very level. Don’t even bother narrating what would surely be going through the protagonist’s mind at the moment, either, or whatever he or she would surely say during the course of his or her adventure. In fact, completely disregard whatever story had already been written for the character by the game’s creative team in the first place; just discuss the facts of the experience. Next, try writing the short story and retell your gaming experience in a third-person narrative style. Better yet, write it as though you yourself were the protagonist and were detailing the adventure as if the events occurring on your monitor were happening to you. Now, once you have both the essay and the short story written, have someone you know read both works and determine for himself or herself as to which work provides the more enjoyable reading experience and for what reason. Chances are that the reader will choose the short story over the essay. Why? Well, chances are it will have something to do with characterization—the idea that unlike in the essay, the short story will provide the subject of both works (i.e., the protagonist in the game you’ve played) with various traits and mannerisms that you more likely than not would have neglected to give him or her in the essay.
This same principle proves true when you create a character of your own within a video game or for a book. Sure, a unique and interesting appearance may make the character look appealing, but in order to really give him or her a life of his or her own, you’ll need to give him some kind of personality. Luckily, there are some games with create-a-character modes that allow gamers to give their created characters certain features that emphasize how they behave during gameplay. One such game that comes to my mind is the PC classic The Sims (also for the Sony PayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube) by Maxis and Electronic Arts, which allows the player to not only create various character models with the heads and bodies that it provides, but also to develop each created character’s (or Sim’s) personality based on how Neat, Outgoing, Active, Playful, and/or Nice the gamer wants that particular Sim to be. Whether the player chooses to allot a specific number of personality points to each of these five traits or select an astrological sign (Libra, Vertigo, Aquarius, etc.) to assign a behavioral archetype to predetermine these traits for him or her, the end result nonetheless determines how the designed character behaves in the game and, as such, how he or she coexists with his or her fellow Sims. Turning on the Free Will option in the Options Mode naturally allows the gamer’s Sim the ability to think for himself or herself, thus further allowing him or her to witness how his or her creation interacts with his or her environment and satisfy each of his or her eight needs (Hunger, Comfort, Hygiene, Bladder, Energy, Fun, Social, and Room). Such autonomy is essential, too, for allowing the Sim to behave on his or her own without having to rely on the gamer to constantly issue instructions on what to do, where to go, and so forth, therefore making in-game character development that much more organic and, in a sense that much more interesting to witness over time. Granted, there are still some decisions that the player must make in order to keep the Sim alive and help progress his or her story. After all, a Sim who neglects his or her most immediate needs—particularly Hunger—can indeed actually die in-game if not instructed and not given the free will to feed himself or herself, and there are certain events in the game (e.g., accepting a wedding proposal or deciding to have a baby) that the player is expected to make on the Sim’s behalf. Even with that in mind, however, the daily goings-on in the lives of the gamer’s created characters can provide decent novel-worthy if handled right. I’m not even talking about the short biography that the player is allowed to give each of his or her Sims during the creation process, either, even though that, too, helps establish who each Sim is and give potential audiences an idea of how each Sim will interact with one another. Rather, what I’m talking about is how each Sim’s personal story unfolds day by day and how he or she relates not only to such objects in his or her own household as bookshelves, television sets, fish tanks, and computers, but also to his or her housemates (should he or she have any) as well as to any other Sims living in the neighborhood. Imagine the stories that can evolve from such simple things as, say, a dispute between housemates over whose turn it is to take out the trash or the budding relationship between the hard-nosed introvert living in the single-layer house at the end of the street with the sloppy yet charming girl next door. Simple though these events may be by themselves, they are nonetheless potent enough in their subtlety to provide the groundwork needed for some potentially attention-grabbing stories. All the author really needs, then, is the creative potential to weave these singular events into a complete, cohesive, consistent narrative with a definite plot flow and a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Once he or she is able to do that, he or she should be able to create a work of literature that is sure to grasp readers’ attention and maintain their interest throughout, and all based on the attentive development of a single character (or single select group of characters) at that.
Okay, so we’ve talked about how video games’ create-a-character modes can teach authors how to create likeable, memorable characters not only in terms of appearance, but also in terms of personality. This therefore leaves one final aspect about character development that that these modes can teach authors about when it comes to creating unique characters for potential stories, and that is developing plots for which such characters are suited. This final aspect has been lightly touched upon in the past couple of sections already, but here is where we’ll expand on this notion by taking what we’ve learned so far and examining it deeper. After all, once a gamer has established how his or her created characters both look and behave, it should become easy for him or her to determine the nature of the plot that involves said characters. Now, I’ve already used Cocoron and The Sims in examples where the gamer can take pre-established elements of his characters and craft a worthy environment and plot around them, so I find it only fitting to use the likes of the WWF/WWE series of games as made by the not-too-distantly defunct THQ as well as Namco/Namco Bandai’s very own Soul Calibur series as subjects of interest in our investigation of how the plot of a brand new story can evolve from the creation of characters.
On one hand, we have THQ’s WWF/WWE series of games, a long lineup of wrestling games that places just as much emphasis on the theatrical aspects of professional wrestling as it does on its physical nature. Even in the very beginning with the likes of WWF SmackDown! for the Sony PlayStation, these games have presented players with the ability to witness, influence, and later on fully craft storylines for the wrestler of their choice, starting with SmackDown!’s Preseason Mode. In this mode, a gamer is able to take an original wrestler that he or she had previously created via the game’s Create-a-Superstar Mode and have her spend an entire year earning his or her spot on the World Wrestling Federation roster (See the following GameFAQs.com walkthrough by DoubleH for more details.). As the created wrestler’s story progresses with each match that he or she either wins or loses, his or her journey takes a turn down a different path and offers the gamer different choices to make pertaining to certain alliances that his or her wrestler may be able to forge. Not only that, but winning certain matches provides said wrestler with a chance to gain certain character bonuses along the way while losing said matches brings about the chance to be penalized in a like fashion. Say, for example, I’ve been able to make it to WrestleMania and have my custom wrestler manage to win every single match thus far, including the Royal Rumble. Let’s also say that I’ve thanked Paul Bearer the previous month for the advice he’d offered me on how to defeat Mankind and the Rock in the handicap match that I was booked in that month and afterwards thanked the Acolytes for the compliment they’d given me once I’d beaten the odds and came out on top against the duo known as the Rock ’n’ Sock Connection. However, the game has chosen not to award me with the traits “Paul Bearer +” or “Acolytes +” for my favorable responses towards either of those two parties. Well, guess what: Now that I’m waiting to take on Mankind in a steel cage match, which just might be his chance to exact revenge upon me for making him and his buddy the “People’s Champion” look like chumps for not taking down the new guy in the locker room in a two-on-one situation, along comes the Undertaker prior to my steel cage semi-main event to ask me if I could help soften up Stone Cold Steve Austin prior to their WrestleMania main event singles match. Well, it just so happens that I prefer my character to be a babyface of sorts, so I refuse to make a heel turn and help out the ringleader of the Ministry, thus angering him and falling prey to a two-on-one beat-down from him and Paul Bearer in the backstage hallway prior to my steel cage match with Mankind. Next thing I know, I’m battling “Mrs. Foley’s baby boy” inside the confines of a steel cage and barely manage to pick up the win, and after all is said and done and WrestleMania comes to a close after the Undertaker’s main event match against Stone Cold, I finally end up with the attribute “Paul Bearer –.” Worse yet, because of the pre-match assault that Paul and the Undertaker had given me, I also rack up the attribute “Weak Back,” thus marking a nagging injury my character has suffered on account of my refusal to gang up on a fellow wrestler with whom I’d yet to have developed any issue with.
Such is how plot development works in video games. Regardless of whether or not the characters involved have been custom-made by the player, whatever he or she does with them in the game influences how the story that they are a part of progresses from beginning to end with some examples obviously being greater than others. It is thus by paying attention to the working elements of these experiences and applying said elements to his or her own original work that an aspiring author can learn how to create his or her own story for the characters he or she creates from such video games as the ones described in this article. After all, while it’s easy—and, for that matter, tempting—to simply take the story that the game gives you for a created character and replace all the trademarked personalities, places, organizations, and so forth with those of your own design, the process offers little else other than a transparent mimic of the original story that offers just enough ground for critics to dismiss you as not being a serious contributor to the literary world. As such, it is strongly recommended that gamers who aspire to become authors learn to take what they create in such video games and develop something entirely different from what the game in question provides them with. To illustrate what I mean, let’s take a close look at Namco’s very own Soul Calibur III and its Create-a-Soul Mode.
When creating a custom character in Soul Calibur III’s Create-a-Soul mode, there are thirteen possible “jobs” (i.e., callings) to choose from: Assassin, Barbarian, Dancer, Gladiator, Knight, Monk, Ninja, Pirate, Sage, Saint, Samurai, Sword Master, and Thief. With the exception of the Sword Master, each of these character types is permitted to utilize one of three distinct custom weapon disciplines (as described in the following on-line guide by DynamoDT on GameFAQs.com) of one of two distinct “souls,” which use the same move sets as certain original in-game characters. The Sword Master, in contrast, can choose any of the seventeen possible custom weapon disciplines, yet has no access to any of the soul disciplines. Needless to say, then, it’s quite probable to create a complete roster of brand new characters, each with his or her own distinct weapon discipline, from the choices provided in the Create-a-Soul mode. Granted, playing through the game’s Chronicles of the Sword mode only broadens these choices by unlocking additional options that aren’t automatically available at the very start of the game, but even the initial choices should be enough for first-time gamers to work with. All a gamer really needs, after all, is his or her imagination and a keen mind towards balance between good and evil characters, and after a given amount of time and an undeniable amount of trial and error, he or she should be able to create a full lineup of weapon-wielding heroes and villains around which he or she can construct his or her own unique story. Imagine, for example, a story involving a young Mafioso employed by his godfather to recover a family heirloom that had been stolen by a rival gang and donated to a local museum of ancient history. However, once the Mafioso manages to locate the heirloom in question, a member of the gang who had stolen the weapon in the first place intercepts him and engages him in a fight. Next thing the two rivals know, along come the museum’s security officers, who try to break them up and apprehend them, but not before a powerful magic awakens from within the heirloom that envelops the rival gangsters and takes them back in time to a day long before a time either of them had even known—a time ruled by the law of the blade, where might made right and the best warrior reigned supreme in securing whatever it is that he or she sought. To make matters worse, the realm that serves as the gangsters’ new surroundings is in a state of upheaval, where two or more factions are vying for power and prestige over the other. From this point, many a question can be asked. Which faction, for example, will each of the two gangsters side with during this great war? Will they be able to set their differences aside and work together at long last, or will their feud escalate beyond their simple respective missions and prompt them both to each side with one of the two opposing forces? Not only that, but how will either one of them venture back to the present? Furthermore, can either of the gangsters trust the allies they make along the way in their quest to escape this new reality they’ve stumbled upon? All are questions that I’ve no doubt will come to mind, should a reader chance upon such a story, which takes the familiar theme of alternate realities/time travel and puts a twist on it. However, whether or not the reader will want to discover the answers to such questions depends on how well the author can present this very story with the help of its players, which he or she had created himself or herself with the help of the Create-a-Soul mode in Soul Calibur III.
In short, having a character creation feature can be quite the boon for any video game on account of how it can stimulate gamers’ creativity. Such features are especially a boon for prospective authors in that they can learn some valuable tips on how to create characters of their own for their own stories as well as fitting plots within which such characters can engage in. I’m quite proud, too, to say that I’ve played plenty of games that have create-a-character modes programmed into them, as these modes have performed well in teaching me the important essentials of what goes into composing the ideal character for a work of fiction—not just looks, either, but also personality. Hopefully, there are other video game players out there, both casual and hardcore, who have had experiences with such games similar to mine and have learned the very lessons I myself have which they in turn can put to use with whatever projects they themselves choose to work on, be it a novel, a short story, a motion picture, a television series, or a video game of their own. After all, solid, well-rounded, identifiable characters are a key element in any good story, no matter what form that story may take, and having such memorable characters within it helps the story itself become that more timeless in its own right.
At any rate, thank you all for reading this third installment of my discussion on how video games inspire my creativity as an author. At this point, I have only one more article left in this miniseries that I intend to produce, although I cannot make any promises as to when I’ll be able to write up and post it. Regardless, stay tuned for it, and feel free to check out the previous two articles in this miniseries, if you haven’t already (or if oyu’d like a recap of what I’ve covered so far under this title). Also, as always, be sure to check out my author page at Smashwords.com and my Author Central pages at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and to stop by for future installments in my “In Relation to My Work” segment at later dates. Until next time, then, happy reading!
Dustin M. Weber
PS: As mentioned above, here are the links to the other parts of this miniseries:
Part 1: June 30, 2012
Part 2: July 10, 2012
Part 4: March 26, 2013
PS: All games discussed in the article above are properties of the following developers and publishers:
Cocoron © 1991 Takeru and K2Multi Creative Team
The Sims © 2000 Maxis and Electronic Arts
WWF SmackDown! © 2000 Yuke’s Co. Ltd./YUKE’S Future Media Creators and THQ, Inc.; WWF brand © World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.
Soul Calibur III © 2005 Namco Ltd./Namco Bandai Games
All rights reserved.
All images used hail from the following sources:
Cocoron images from Let’s Play Cocoron video series by DeceasedCrab (YouTube)
The Sims cover art from Wikipedia
The Sims images from Let’s Play The Sims video series by AndrewArcade (YouTube)
WWF SmackDown! cover image from GameFAQs.com
Soul Calibur III images from SplitPlaythru: Soul Calibur III (086) How to create Kos-Mos by SplitPlaythru and Harley Quinn in Soul Calibur 3 by SirWilliamAlmasy
All opinions expressed in this article, however, are those of the author himself.