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01 September 2023

Skywatch #11 - The Shrimpy Monstrosity from the Floating Islands: Nautilus

It's Skywatch time, or should I say it's Nautilus time?

As the title suggests, this week we're introducing our Nautilus creature to you in all its glory. We've shared some concepts of the Nautilus with you already, back in Skywatch #5, but today we're giving you a full look at how our Nautilus has shaped up, from early concepts through to its current stage.

Early Concepts

First up, let's revisit some of those early concepts of the Nautilus, sketched by our super talented artist, Rebecca. In the two early pieces below, Rebecca did some early sketches and exploration of larger island fauna. You can see the beginnings of what would ultimately become the Nautilus as we know it today.

In the top image above, you can see the top left and top right sketches quite closely resemble what would eventually become the Nautilus. In the second image, you can see some of the reference material that Rebecca was using for inspiration. The top middle, top right and bottom creatures in that image all feature characteristics that would eventually go on to be included in our Nautilus creature.

Below you can see some more early concepts/sketches as Rebecca further explored the idea of a tall, long-legged island creature. Rebecca explored a few different ideas for the creature as you can see - a more insectile version, a version inspired by an elephant (complete with tusks and a trunk!) and of course, the shrimp version which was ultimately what was taken forward. The left most concept in the bottom image below is very close to how our Nautilus ended up, even down to the stripe patterns on its back.

Detailed Concept

Below is a more detailed concept of the Nautilus with colour. This is ultimately how our Nautilus turned out. The 3D model of the creature as it will appear in the game is very close to this in appearance, other than some slight differences in the creatures leg anatomy.

Greybox Renders

With the decision taken to move forward with the Nautilus (affectionally referred to internally as our naughty boi by this point) it was time for our 3D artists to get to work on bringing those concepts to life. Below is a first look at one of the early greybox renders of our Nautilus creature, with a character greybox included for scale.

And below is a more recent higher detailed render that's closer to the current model. As you can see, there's a higher level of detail and certain aspects of the creatures anatomy have been smoothed out or adjusted slightly compared to the earlier greybox render (adjustments to the leg spikes, more organic tendrils etc.)


With the Nautilus modelled, our animation team could begin working on rigging and animating the creature. Quite a bit of work on our creatures that can carry across to others had been completed by this point (e.g. the creature pathing, as demonstrated in Skywatch #3) but the Nautilus presented some unique challenges, being the first large island fauna the team worked on, which meant that some of the earlier work had to be modified or redone entirely due to the scale of the creature.

In the video clips below, you can see some of the Nautilus' animation states and some work on the creatures walking and turning animations.

The following gifs further demonstrate some of the Nautilus' animation states. It goes without saying, but all of these animations are a work in progress. The spit attack especially, as we're still working out what kind of ranged attack makes the most sense for the Nautilus.

Roar and stomp attack animations
Roar and stomp attack animations
Vulnerable idle animation loop
Vulnerable idle animation loop
Vulnerable state back to neutral idle reset animation
Vulnerable state back to neutral idle reset animation
Spit attack animation WIP
Spit attack animation WIP

In the video below, you can see a more recent animation we've been playing around with, which is the Nautilus' eating cycle. The Nautilus will occasionally stop and look at the ground, which is a cue that it's looking for bugs. When it finds a tasty morsel, it will stomp at the ground and eat its prey.

Final Render

Below is a look at the final detailed render of the Nautilus - this is how the creature will appear in the game, with the usual caveat that like everything else at this stage of the games development, the Nautilus is subject to change. As you can see though, it's very close to the detailed concept we showed earlier, right down to the colour scheme and stripe patterns on the creatures body.

The video below shows the textured Nautilus in action. This clip was us testing different walking paces and experimenting with how the Nautilus would chase the player when aggro'd.

And that's everything we have to show of our Nautilus creature for the time being! But wait...

Bonus - Baby Nautilus?!

Wait... did we say 'baby Nautilus'?! Yes, yes we did!

The baby Nautilus was originally just a doodle by Rebecca and wasn't intended to be a gameplay feature, but it went over so well with the team that it's being put into the game!

Below is a look at the original concept pieces that saw the little shrimplet win the hearts of the team.

After the team saw Rebecca's original concept, they decided that it needed to be put in-game. Rebecca got to work on fleshing out the concepts, which you can see below.

The gameplay mechanics of the baby Nautilus are still in the design stages, but it's likely that it will serve as an ingredient for cooking recipes (sorry to any vegans in our community!) perhaps not in the form of a shish kebab though.

Baby Nautilus Render

Below is a look at the greybox render for our baby Nautilus.

Baby Nautilus Animations

And below you can see some of the basic animations we've already started working on for our little shrimplet.

UV mesh and rigging ready for animating.
UV mesh and rigging ready for animating.
Idle animation.
Idle animation.
Bounce animation.
Bounce animation.

Finally, below is a look at a 3D printout of the baby Nautilus. This was done by Andy, one of our developers who does some 3D printing in his spare time. D'awww, isn't it just the cutest? I know, I know... baby Nautilus merch when?!

And that's all we have for you this week. Hopefully you've enjoyed this reveal of our largest island creature so far. We've kept some things back, such as how you'll interact with the Nautilus and what it's purpose will be in-terms of gameplay mechanics, we don't want to spoil all the surprises, afterall! But hopefully this Skywatch post has you excited to meet this giant land shrimp once the game launches.

Until next time, wishing you safe and clear skies, travellers!