For quite some time, I’ve associated my online presence with a specific picture that I found a while ago. Several things drew me to the picture. First of all, it was a ranger/archer of the race of man. Do you know how difficult it is to find a fantasy picture of an archer who’s not an elf? Secondly, the man actually could pass for my in-game character, physically. Although Braxwolf in LOTRO has a pony-tail (a choice I made originally thinking that a hunter who spends time outdoors would most likely have longer hair, but would need it out of his face to avoid distraction), the dark locks spilling over the avitar’s face could easily be explained by the rage of battle pulling Brax’s hair out of it’s usual place:
The picture above even inspired part of my back story where Braxwolf loses a key Gondorian skirmish due to his un-channeled, unresolved anger. If I’ve been one thing over the last couple of years, it’s consistent. As a matter of branding, I’ve used the picture on just about everything LOTRO that I’ve been involved in, from Twitter to LOTRO Players. Visual cues and familiarity are very important in branding. I wanted to make sure that if someone stumbled across my YouTube page, even if they didn’t remember my name, perhaps the picture would trigger a “hey, I’ve seen this picture on Twitter..” type of reaction. This seemed like a good idea, and it probably did help with people becoming more familiar with my gaming persona, but it has really proliferated! It struck me the other day that I probably don’t technically even have permission to be using the image, and at this point I’m not even sure where I pulled it from. So, I made the somewhat difficult decision to start taking steps to “re-brand” my Braxwolf sites. So here is the part where I unveil my new avitar image (symbol)!:
The new image features many new aspects of my character while keeping with some of the feel of the old image. The animal obviously represents the “wolf” family name used by my main, Braxwolf, his brother Borowolf and their late father Kanewolf. The rage present in the previous picture can still be felt in the eye of the wolf, but in a seemingly more controlled and powerful way. The sphere behind the wolf is the moon, which is not only associated with actual wolves, but adds a somewhat dark and mysterious aura that most rangers posses. Encircling the moon is a beautifully carved bow, the hunter’s weapon of choice. I received several color variations of this image, but decided to stick with the orange hue for now, if for no other reason than I’d like to keep some other familiar aspect of the old brand. I may pull out some of the other variations along the way, but for now I’m sticking with this one.
One of the coolest things about this new image is that it was created by a member of the LOTRO/gaming community. I was given express permission to use it wherever I wanted if I liked it enough. Liked it? Are you kidding me? This is far beyond anything I had pictured previously. How this person was able to encompass so much of my character just from reading my back story description and asking me a few simple questions is beyond me. I am once again blown away by the talent that exists in this community. So, to this person – and you know who you are – I can only say thanks again. I was so excited when I saw this picture that I couldn’t even wait for this blog post to come out before replacing my old image on the LOTRO Players News podcast tonight. So, for those of you who tuned in, you got a sneak preview before the “official announcement”
Over the next several days, I’ll be replacing the old picture with this one. It may take a little while as I’ve pretty well plastered it around cyberspace. While I was originally hesitant to approach this endeavor , I’m now very excited for a new chapter to begin.