January is traditionally a month of planning, organizing, and looking back at the progress made in the last year. It is no different for us – unfortunately in our case designing and planning are handled by the same people so we have a bit of a bottleneck here. This is why the progress in the design department was temporarily slowed down. Luckily, the art department is doing great, and pushing things forward so we always have some pretty things to show 🙂 

In the light of some recent design changes, we have decided to revisit one of the alien families and do another round of concepts. The changes are of course aesthetic but they also result from our desire to have a tighter, strictly defined art style and to be better prepared for animating the models in the game. 

Take for example the alien family we call Stick-Insects (a work-in-progress codename and subject to change as this name doesn’t exactly convey the terror we aim for ;-)). Here it is as it was designed some time ago:

And here is the new, design:

As you can see we are moving towards more spatial “3d” style paper folds. In our opinion, they look better, especially in animations and under many different and dynamic lighting conditions. Still, the old designs are cool so we will probably try to use them in the game as well. 

Another, more technical, benefit of the new designs is the similar leg setup. You can see that the old designs each had unique legs (different amounts of joints, etc). This meant that each of the aliens would have to be animated separately by hand. Our artists would have to prepare multiple animations for each alien to step over different types of terrain (or programmers would need to code different IK-setups). The new designs have a unified leg setup so the animations can easily be reused between different members of the alien family. Be it hand-animated or procedurally generated. At least that’s the idea. It’s a great example of how aesthetic design can influence the amount of work needed to be done at later stages of development.

But that’s not all! We’ve also started brainstorming different ideas for the mobile outpost and for the dropship that will carry your troops to the battleground. These are all very preliminary sketches. Next month we will reveal which direction we decided to pursue.

Take care and stay safe!