How Taylor Swift and Janet Son Helped Inspire Octavia Prime

We are part of the Warframe nation

I have to hand it over to developers who work on popular games as a service. It takes a lot of work to keep the content interesting and the players interested. Some rely on exterior nostalgia to entice people to enter. Others look inside for opportunities to excite their huge player bases by breathing new life into popular existing content.

For the Warframe looter-shooter, that means reinventing Warframes with new Prime designs. Some are fairly straightforward upgrades to their original concept, like the Excalibur Prime. Others are a bit more involved, like 2022's Ivara Prime.

My current Warframe is Hydroid Prime, which I got at TennoCon last year. Within two weeks of being added to my arsenal, he replaced Wisp as my main frame, not only because he's incredibly useful in combat, but I also really dig his Davy Jones-inspired look.

Hydroid Prime debuted in 2022 and was designed by Digital Extremes artist Raymond dela Cruz. That same year, Octavia debuted and quickly became one of the most popular frames in gaming. It was only a matter of time before she got her own Prime revamp, and the developers have entrusted Dela Cruz with the task of reinventing the bard of Warframe.

“I really like the original design,” Dela Cruz said in a Google Meet interview with 2022. “It was designed by the original art director (Michael Brennan), and I thought it was just stunning. So I just wanted to fundamentally improve it and decided to go with a marching band theme, but with more dance aspects added. " 

When envisioning a marching band-themed Warframe, dela Cruz started with imagery of the cheerleaders and stick twirlers you often see when marching bands perform. But the design needed more than that. It needed a hook, and dela Cruz found one among one of music's biggest stars.

“I needed some kind of inspiration or image of what I wanted to convey,” he explained, “and the first thing that came to mind was actually – and it's kind of funny – it was Taylor Swift because she wore a marching band costume in several videos. " 

This fanfare aesthetic is something Swift has included in her performances regularly. She sported variations of the uniform in the videos for "You Belong With Me" and "Me!," and incorporated the look into various television appearances and her Fearless Tour. Also, most of his songs sound really good when played by a marching band.

With a starting point of Taylor Swift in mind, Dela Cruz began to figure out how to translate a fun and dancy fanfare concept to Warframe.

“When I started blocking the model in the design phase, I realized I needed something more distinct. So I thought of other pop culture references, and soon enough I came up with Janet Son's 'Rhythm Nation'. She sort of looks like a marching band leader, so I was really inspired by her outfit in the video, like the hoop earrings, her hat, the shape of her jacket, and the medals on her chest. Even her hair. " 

If you're somewhat familiar with the "Rhythm Nation" music video and Octavia's basic design, you can start seeing her inspiration almost immediately. For me, it's the sharpness of the Prime's shoulder plates that ties it to the overall Janet sound. Compared to the original Octavia, its Prime variant is much more militaristic, a real no-bullshit type of design.

While that probably would have been all the inspiration Dela Cruz needed, he pushed himself further and truly embraced Octavia's musical nature.

“I didn't just want to make an obvious depiction of her outfit. I wanted to mix more flavors and even musical instruments in it. So if you look closely at her earrings, they look like tambourines.

The earrings can be a bit difficult to see, but a much more glaring depiction of a musical instrument on Octavia Prime can be found on his torso. Three lines stretch from his belly to his neck as if they were the strings of a Shawzin.

“It started because usually the way it works with Primes is I look at what the default templates will give me in terms of shape, and it just seemed like it was shaped like a cello . I wanted to have something to put in the middle for players to focus on, like an ornament or something. So I started with the bridges on a cello and surfaced them almost like buttons, and then I thought, “Why not put strings to run through it? ' Then I started looking for other cello references and added tuners to his design. If you look at the helmet, you can see that I put a scroll on it like you find on a cello.

Cello references can also be found on other parts of his body, but Dela Cruz didn't want to limit Octavia Prime to just classical instruments. After all, she's launching alongside the new hip-hop and bass-inspired Bombast Instrument Pack for her Mandachord. On his thighs are ornate circular plates that mimic the speakers of a boombox, a design that can be found scattered across his body. These are present on the original Octavia, but here they are much more pronounced.

However, not all dela Cruz instruments included are represented so clearly. Some had to be toned down to keep them from overwhelming the whole design.

“Originally, when I was working on it, I modeled a real kalimba, which is this African instrument. When I put it on the model, I felt like there was too much detail, and it distracted from the rest of it so I created a simplified version which was eventually shelved. It looks more like a button, but before it was elaborate. As if you could see the individual teeth. " 

Octavia Prime will be available starting today at 11:00 a.m. PT on all platforms. Along with the new frame, Octavia Prime Access will include the Bombast Instrument Pack, the magnificent Aristei Prime Shawzin, the Tenora Prime Rifle, the Pandero Prime Pistol, the Serenedine Syandana, Octavia's signature armor and glyphs, and mods. which allow more customization options.

I expect to see a lot of players grooving as Octavia Prime over the next few months and can't wait to see what some of Mandachord's most prolific musicians do with this new beat-intensive instrument pack. At the very least, I'm sure YouTuber Buff00n will be able to create more dope-ass hits with it. As for Dela Cruz, he's already started work on his next Warframe overhaul. Sadly, that's all he could tell me, and we'll just have to wait and see what picture he gives the Prime treatment next.

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