Skywatch #5 - The Wildlife of Foundation: Part 2 - Creature Concepts
UPDATE: Please note that due to some technical issues with our website, we have replaced any animated gifs with static images within this post for the time being, so don't be concerned if you see any references to gifs only for the images to display as static. We'll try to use video clips in-place of gifs where possible going forward.
Welcome to this weeks Skywatch!
Today's post is particularly image heavy, so we apologise in advance to those of you with slower internet speeds or bandwidth limits!
In the first part of our "Wildlife of Foundation" feature a couple of weeks back, we showed the detailed process of creating our deer animal, from the initial concepts right through to in-game implementation. One of the questions I've seen pop up a couple of times since then, is just how engaging will our PvE creatures actually be for players? In this weeks wildlife post, we want to give you a glimpse at the concepts for some of the other creatures that you might encounter in Lost Skies, to demonstrate that we're 100% committed to making our animals not just unique in appearance, but also rewarding to interact with. We want all of our creatures to have their own identities.
A small caveat before we begin - unlike our deer, some of these concepts may not be taken forward, so don't expect every creature you see in the concepts below to appear in the game, but you can definitely expect to encounter some of them on your travels!
A lot of the creature concepts in this post were made by Rebecca, who is one of our artists and we wanted to highlight her incredible work. A lot of Rebecca's ideas start out as simple doodles like the ones shown below, which reminds me of being back in school, doodling in my text books. Even these simple doodles already have a great deal of thought put into them though, as you can tell from the notes.
Once a design starts to stand out, Rebecca will take it beyond the notebook doodling phase and start to elaborate on the concept. Whilst still simple sketches, you can see how some of the concepts below start to take on a bit more detail, with the more promising concepts receiving some colorization.
The team categorise each creature design based on their characteristics, which enables creatures of a specific type to share certain animations, e.g. all flying creatures will exhibit similar behaviours, though there will be differences too, in regards to attack VFX etc.
This ultimately means that once we've set up a rigging and animation process for a certain "type" of animal, we can cut down on the developer workload for future creatures of that type by having them share the rigging. In the screen grab of our creature Miro board below, you can see some of these classifications. So for example, all deer creatures would be classed as Cervine.
Some of our more complex creature types would require more than one rigging + animation subset however, this is to avoid creatures exhibiting unnatural looking behaviours based on their body type - e.g. even though the manta is technically classified as a flying creature, it should look very different in motion to say, a flying beetle creature.
Our concept artists and the team choose which designs to move forward with and start to iterate on them even further. One of the earliest creatures that was taken beyond the concept phase was our deer, which we of course detailed in Skywatch #3. We've also started to develop some of our other creatures beyond the concept phase now as well, a few of which you can catch a sneak peak of below.
First up, here's a look at our first critter creature. Critters are the smaller animals that will inhabit the world of Lost Skies. Right now, the only critters that have been concepted are our airborne bird-like creatures, which you can see below, but there will be other critters in the future.
Rendering work has actually already started on one of the bird concepts from above, with number 2 from the first image having been taken forward to the next stage, the progress for which you can see below!
And below is a look at the early rigging and animation work that's in progress for our bird. The first image demonstrates our 3D artist trying to achieve a nice and natural looking "fold" effect on the wing, without requiring a model swap, which is what a lot of games use for birds when they're not in flight. The second image shows some of the early work on our wing flapping animation.
Next up is an early look at our cave dwelling creatures. Current concepts for these creatures have them as mostly insectile in appearance, with beetles and arachnids providing inspiration for their designs. The current model is a heavy work in progress, but below you can take a look at the concepts and early renders for these creatures. Bear in mind that the models shown below were super early in the development stages (once again shown alongside our much older character model) and were mostly useful for scaling purposes, but it gives you an idea of what these creatures might eventually look like once they're in-game.
You've already been introduced to our first herd animal back in Skywatch #3, but below is a brief reminder of our first deer creature, from early concepts to the current male and female models.
But we've also now started work on our new deer variation, which will have different behaviour and animations to our OG deer. Take a look at the early concepts and current render below!
And of course, the former Worlds Adrift players within our community will be familiar with our manta. There actually aren't too many new concept pieces of the manta for Lost Skies, mostly because this creature is based off of the manta from Worlds Adrift, just with some minor alterations, but below you can see some of the newer concept art for variations of this creature, as well as the current model. The plan for our manta is that they'll come in a range of striking and vibrant colours and patterns.
And finally, here's a brief introduction to our lumbering creatures. Most of these creatures will be large, land-based creatures - intimidating to behold, they're remnants of a bygone age.
Introducing the Moose
First up, our long-leg or moose creature that's currently being concepted (name not final). Below you can see one of the initial concept pieces for this creature, as well as a super early blockout model. This giant animal may look docile, but make no mistake, their incredible bulk makes them a dangerous force should you upset them.
Introducing the Nautilus
And finally this week, we have the pleasure of introducing you to our land-shrimp creature - the Nautilus (or Nauty Boi as he's affectionately come to be known by internally)! This creature looks straight out of a horror movie, with an intimidating, spindly-legged appearance that will no doubt send shivers down your spine the first time you spot one in the wild.
And that's everything for this week! We can't wait to show you some of these creatures in more detail as we begin to take some of them forward and progress them. As we said above, we want the creatures in our world to each offer rewarding and engaging gameplay experiences, and we hope you're excited to see more of them.