David Forest
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Hello again, and welcome to this second entry in our artist diary series! This time, we’re going to learn more about Eko, one the four playable characters in Tidal Blades: Heroes of the Reef!



But first, some backstory about the city in which the game takes place. The city of Naviri was founded some three centuries ago, long before the sacred order of the Tidal Blades even existed. In that era, the tropical coast bordering the Droskani desert was a significantly more treacherous place. Giant mudcrabs, vicious seahounds, and countless other monsters from the depths roamed free, emerging from the ocean as they pleased for an easy meal. Needless to say, no one dared linger for very long. But fruits in the region were plentiful, and, occasionally, nomadic tribes would pass by to replenish their supplies.

One day, a young turtle warrior strayed away from her clan during an expedition and disappeared into a narrow cave system. When she failed to come back, a search party was rushed inside. Making their way down the flooded tunnels, they eventually reached a large cavern and suddenly stopped dead in their tracks. To be true, they weren’t exactly dead, but rather frozen speechless. More interestingly, this speechlessness had nothing to do with the well-being of the lost turtle - who was having the time of her life - and rather everything to do with the dozens of tiny, pink creatures assembled around the youngling, poking her gently with their long black sticks, their hundred dark eyes now staring intensely at the newcomers.

A colony of betalods was certainly a unique sight. No wonder, as this species was thought to be extinct for hundreds of years. What the turtle clan had just found in the depths of this cave system were the very last 46 betalods still alive. Little did they know, but this young turtle’s thoughtless escapade had just changed the course of history.



The reason betalods were so rare had everything to do with their intellect. They were by far the most cerebrally-gifted creatures to have ever lived, capable of computing in seconds what others would be barely able to comprehend. Unfortunately, many ill-intentioned souls had tried to use this power to their advantage, which is why the betalods rapidly disappeared. Knowing this, the leader of the turtle clan, who was wise and benevolent, reached out to the betalods with a proposition unheard of at this time: an alliance. Clearly, the betalods were struggling to survive. On the other hand, the turtles were among the strongest of races. Together, they could claim this dreamland, fight the monsters back, and settle down so everyone could finally prosper. The betalods agreed and hence the city of Naviri was born.

Many centuries later, the alliance still stands. Generations upon generations of betalods have succeeded, treated like kings inside their protective biodome right in the heart of the Citadel of Time. There, working closely with the Arcanists and High Engineers of the Citadel, they explore the boundaries of time and space and develop new technologies to help the city protect itself against the never-ending threats of the sea.

Our first character, Eko, is one of these younger betalods. And she’s definitely not like her kin. While most betalods would never think of venturing out of their protective dome, Eko has more ambition for her life than solving infinitely complex calculations for the Arcanists. What she wants is to explore the world and see the Fold with her own eyes. Heck, she’ll even win that Tournament if that can prove to all the naysayers that a betalod can strive on its own. What she lacks in strength, she more than makes up for with her mastery of shell devices and unmatched cerebral power.

It is unclear if this stubborn confidence will translate in solid wins in challenges, but if one contestant is to be followed closely during this tournament, it is undoubtly Eko. For all we know, the audacious mastermind might be on her way to become the first betalod Tidal Blade in history.
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Karsten Kutterer
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May I ask why you have chosen to create a new "race" called betalods when they look almost exactly like an axolotl? I'm just curious since you did use a race that is recognizable and kept its name as such: turtles.
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David Forest
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kutterek wrote:
May I ask why you have chosen to create a new "race" called betalods when they look almost exactly like an axolotl? I'm just curious since you did use a race that is recognizable and kept its name as such: turtles.

Interesting question! The names weren't easy to settle on as the world of Tidal Blades is a bit of a mixed bag. In contrast with Disney's Zootopia, for instance, which only features animals that exist in our world, the world of Tidal Blades has both familiar races like humans, turtles and crocs, as well as many new species that look like nothing here. The nagi (pronounced nag-ee), to name one, look a lot like humans but have gills and fin-like hair. Some other species are directly inspired from familiar animals but have some of their attributes greatly exaggerated, such as the droska, a beetle the size of a rhinoceros which is used by human tribes to pull caravans through the desert.

So more to the point, I guess betalods could have been just called axolotl and it would have still made sense since they look so alike. But since we wanted to emphasize their super intelligent, near-magical nature, we took the artistic liberty to give them a novel name. Hope that answers your question!
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Matthew
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kutterek wrote:
May I ask why you have chosen to create a new "race" called betalods when they look almost exactly like an axolotl? I'm just curious since you did use a race that is recognizable and kept its name as such: turtles.

I'd never heard of nor seen a picture of an axolotl until this post. Turtle, on the other hand, is an animal I'd consider extremely recognizable.
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Karsten Kutterer
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Frotze wrote:
So more to the point, I guess betalods could have been just called axolotl and it would have still made sense since they look so alike. But since we wanted to emphasize their super intelligent, near-magical nature, we took the artistic liberty to give them a novel name. Hope that answers your question!
Great answer! Your response makes a lot of sense and it will be fun to discover more of the Tidal Blades world and its unique inhabitants. I've loved following Tidal Blades and look forward to backing it.
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CardBoard Bear

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it's either an easter egg or a subconscious switch:

The character who is named Axl looks almost identical to the champion Ekko of league of legends. look at the punk hair, the time manipulation theme, the attitude, the age, and the gauntlet on the left hand.

The character who is named Eko looks like an axolotl.

see: the axolotl is called Eko, and the Ekko clone is called Axl.
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David Forest
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CardBear wrote:

it's either an easter egg or a subconscious switch

Truth is it's rather a mix of fun trivia and coincidence.

Very early in the process, we didn't have a name for all the characters yet and while doing a brainstorming session with Ian Moss and Jon Gilmour, Jon wrote Axl as a temporary name for the mage-type character because we described her looking like an axolotl. We thought the name sounded pretty cool but ended up giving it to our street-punk character instead.

As for that Ekko character, we don't play League of Legends so it's really just a coincidence if Axl's personality ressembles one from that game.
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CardBoard Bear

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Frotze wrote:
CardBear wrote:

it's either an easter egg or a subconscious switch

Truth is it's rather a mix of fun trivia and coincidence.

Very early in the process, we didn't have a name for all the characters yet and while doing a brainstorming session with Ian Moss and Jon Gilmour, Jon wrote Axl as a temporary name for the mage-type character because we described her looking like an axolotl. We thought the name sounded pretty cool but ended up giving it to our street-punk character instead.

As for that Ekko character, we don't play League of Legends so it's really just a coincidence if Axl's personality ressembles one from that game.

ah OK so Axl was actually initially for the axolotl, and the name was indeed swapped.

as for the appearance of Axl, it's a remarkable similarity. if you've never seen Ekko, just look at this picture. it's not just the punk hair, but also the same smirk on the face, and the same left forearm on the knee. uncanny!

https://ddragon.leagueoflegends.com/cdn/img/champion/splash/...
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