Evolving Piqha

Piqha started as digital creatures that live inside the computer who were characters for a game I made when I was a teenager.

I later decided they were not, in fact digital, but were some kind of psychic mollusk, and noted that they had many, many advantages as a creature design:

They are basically faces with feet and stylized shells. Easy to model in 3D, easy to get a wide range of character styles while keeping to the core concept.

Piqha are my creatures. Like the muppets of Jim Henson and the Whos of Seuss. In addition to being very marketable and very personable, they feature a lot of things I like. Basic shapes. Big, expressive faces, Marvin Martian style glowing eyes in an orb of darkness. Cool armor effects. And crystals. Gotta have glowing crystals everywhere.

Including landscapes.

So last year, I revisted piqha and thought about them. Are they bugs? Can they have hands? Everything is better with swords, after all. I experimented with psychically controlling the swords and with giving them hands. I also tried squattening their bodies to make them work more like toads and goombas in Mario, where the body takes up the hit box pretty well and the feet just kind of exist to show movement.

Thing is, I liked it both ways.

Then I wondered how they fit into my made up cosmology with therians and virtualloy armor and so on. I realized I had an already existing race, the gremlins from the United Peoples of the Cosmos, that were similar in many ways. I could just shuffle the lore of the two species together and viola: I know everything there is to know about the piqha.

Made a template and drew a bunch of piqha variants to suit, for use in RPGs, maybe, kinda sorta?

And began working on how the piqha work as creatures. Their biology, fleshing out their history given what I already knew.

Had a bit of a breakthrough when my mom got me a cockatiel, and I realized that I could get the hand dynamics I wanted by folding the hands behind, like a bird’s wings, when not in use.

So the piqha are genetically engineered slaves, created for the purpose of serving as starship components. (Warning, that story is at least as dark as it sounds. Needless to say, I don’t plan on lingering on the backstory when making books for little kids.) Starships that have crashed with surviving piqha have resulted in fantasy societies of free piqha springing up.

Created a vast number of piqha illustrations for Christmas, where I explored Piqha nature.

Last couple of days, I’ve gone ahead and created a sculpt of a “real” piqha, to settle once and for all how all the various parts work. Technically, this guy is to scale with my Awesome Moments puppets.

And today I’ve decimated the sculpts and rigged them so I can pose them, and created a reference sheet, so I can see how piqha biology actually operates, before I simplify it to a cartoon character.

As ship components, their shells are aether in various forms. The helmets don’t actually come off (though the mask portion opens so they can eat). They have hands that I can enjoy drawing when I want to use them, but fold back like a bird’s wings when not in use. And the shells can have all sorts of fanciful shapes.

Using Piqha

So far, I’ve put a ton of work into piqha, but I don’t use them anywhere.

Technically, I can use them everywhere. I can remake Jump the Shark as a Piqha. I can remake Hat Trick as a Piqha story.

The notion has been toyed with.

I have considered and dismissed it. Hat Trick is more iconic with animals. Jump the Shark already exists and is fine. Though characters from each as piqha will make perfectly acceptable background ornaments to piqha-centric stories.

Awesome Moments will not work as piqha. Not really. Sure, I can have it as a pageant reenacted by piqha. Maybe I’ll try something like that out some day. But really, it’s supposed to be a straightforward presentation of my faith, as is, only having such ornamentation as is justified by the Scriptures. Not a Precious Moments “This is being reenacted by toddlers” kind of dealio.

With Awesome Moments being huge, I’m considering starting a series of small projects. Kids’ Pulp formula books starring Piqha. Maybe try to make stories out of my contempt for modern media moguls. It worked for Dreamworks, and for Lewis Carrol (everybody remembers that one book where he makes fun of maths he doesn’t care for; nobody remembers his other stuff).

Ideally, both to make money, and to develop my skills, I should spend a period of time cranking out books as fast as possible. Making fun little episodic stories with piqha seems a good way to do that. But I never get around to doing that.

Well, let me think about it.

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