City of Heroes Dev Diary: Giant monsters
PC Gamer routinely features Developer Diaries: tales of what goes on behind-the-scenes in the development studios making your favorite games. In this entry, City of Heroes' Art Lead Gilbert Martinez explains the concepts behind the artistic design of the three giant monsters that players will have to battle in the upcoming "Issue 21: Convergence" update. Let us know what you’d like to see developers discuss in future diaries in the comments.
One of our goals for the new Praetorian incarnations of Hamidon was to raise their threat level while keeping them tied visually to the original blob-like mass players are familiar with. We felt that it was important to design these creatures in a way that emphasized their power and scale and made it clear that they are worthy of going toe-to-toe with the all-powerful Tyrant. We evolved them, made them more mobile, and gave them more sentience so that they could continue to play an important role in the lore of City of Heroes Freedom.
The task of concepting the Avatar of Hamidon fell to Bill Balzer. His initial sketches were inspired by the look of the Devouring Earth enemy types, and featured vegetation, tangled wood, and other organic elements as a kind of armor. The big visual link to the original Hamidon is the incorporation of the jelly-like substance at the core of this creature. For his solid bits, we chose a dark, charred wood material to give him a sinister edge. Cheryl Austin worked closely with the environment art team to match the materials and textures used for this creature with the ones developed for the Underground Incarnate Trial. She was so successful that when designers Chris Behrens and Tim Sweeney put this creature into his lair for the first time, they thought the Avatar wasn’t there because he was so well camouflaged.
To the skies: the Seed
After two terrestrial versions of the Hamidon incarnation, we decided to do something different for the Seed of Hamidon in First Ward. We developed the concept of the Seed as a flying fortress-like mother ship that could rain death from above. We explored many different kinds of shapes before we ultimately chose a wide, crab-like form that felt organic but still threatening and could loom over characters in a menacing fashion. We applied the same kinds of materials used on the Avatar, for consistency, and added appendages to provide the movement that makes him feel alive. These include a tail that sways behind him as well as several tentacle-like protuberances along his back. Colin Brown from the animation team re-purposed tech developed for the Failed Seer bosses to make the tentacles even more eye-catching.
Surprise attack: the Shivan
At the end of our new Galaxy City tutorial for City of Heroes Freedom, you are faced with a terrifying menace: a gigantic Shivan. We gave the Shivans a new look to match the devastation and chaos of the destroyed Galaxy City. Since the Shivans absorb the contents of their surroundings, we incorporated rebar and other dangerous objects from the environment and a glowing, veiny material that pulses with danger. Players can thank Sean “Dr. Aeon” McCann for this new scout of the Coming Storm. We asked ourselves, how do we introduce players to City of Heroes Freedom and blow their minds? Dr. Aeon’s answer: a fight with a giant monster! Why? Because it’s cool! But be warned, we have far deadlier opponents waiting for you in future issues. Start preparing!