I took a some time last week to step away from the code and work on a little concept art to address one of the challenges that we faced when building the prototype that we demoed at GDC: too much awesome in all the wrong places.
Ok, picture this:
The regional distribution and processing warehouse for the AIOMI corporation occupies the southwest corner of one of the hundreds of non-descript industrial parks that encircle the city. AIOMI security has logged exactly two incidents at this facility in the last six months — one involved a would-be vandal and the other a particularly persistent working girl. A lone guard, rain-soaked and miserable, slowly patrols the warehouse perimeter. He is the the world’s most powerful cyborg kill-bot super-soldier.
Wait, he’s what?
I felt that one of the places where we misplaced awesome was our enemies — it simply doesn’t feel right if rent-a-cop-style guards are clad head-to-toe in black sci-fi armor like some sort of robot special forces team. These are low-level working class guys. At the same time, I knew that we couldn’t make them look too weak — even if a guard is no match for your agents, he probably still thought of himself as pretty tough when he was getting dressed that morning.
Before I started sketching, I noted two things that I definitely wanted to address:
- Guards should have relatively minimal corporate investment. When your enemies are working for an hourly wage, it is unlikely that they have the best equipment. That meant that bionic limbs couldn’t appear to be state-of-the-art, armor would need to be minimal, and things like optical implants for auto-targeting were non-starters… these guards would need to wear goggles or go natural.
- Guards are definitely human. The lack of armor goes a long way towards communicating this, but I wanted to make sure to keep much of the face exposed (even with goggles) and to explore the possibilities of a short-sleeved uniform. The key, I felt, would be to show enough skin to make it clear that you are dealing with a human adversary.
Of course I know that my programmer art isn’t going to be turning heads on the CGTalk forums anytime soon, but that isn’t the point — working through visual details made me think more deeply about the concept and how to communicate it. What I ended up with was an enemy that felt a lot more “real” than those we had in our prototype — which was exactly what I needed.