by Mark Tucker, Lead
Designer for Dungeon Runners
The creatures in
Balzack's Burrow are a mix of technology and organize beings.
Being one of those legacy projects that's inherited more than its share
of resources (code, system architecture, networking, music and artwork)
over the years, style="font-style: italic;">Dungeon Runners
has had a lot of art to draw from for
its vast selection of nasty, oddball and frankly freakishly hideous
monsters. Of course, after awhile we’ve nearly run out of all
the stuff we can easily use or steal. More and more we’ve
internally developed new creatures, sticking with the concepts and
themes we’re familiar with. As our team grows,
you’ll be seeing many more strange and horrific creatures to
deal with, as well as some surprising ones we’re still
keeping under our hat.
All sorts of
information gets passed along to the concept artist.
Let’s focus on the actual process of creating some of
Runners’ monsters however. Recently for the
Balzack’s Burrow the design team required some new
mutant-type creatures that had a mix of technology about them. We may
have certain requirements for any particular creature, like relative
size, variety of attack types (meaning we’d be able to re-use
the creature with slight variations depending on what they do), and so
forth. We take all of this helpful information and hand it off to the
When the concept art
is finished, then the fully fleshed out monster gets created.
Strauss, our externally contracted concept artist, develops a
series of quick sketches, and we pick out the ones we like, or bits and
pieces that we like, discard the rest, and go through another round
until we get what we like. This can take quite a few iterations before
we’re satisfied. When that happens, we ask the concept artist
to do a polished pencil image, which has a lot more detail, which we
also comment on and there’s some back-and-forth going on.
From there we’ll go to “orthos”, where we
draw the side, back and front (and sometimes the top-down) detailed
to-scale profiles. A lot of the three-dimensional modeling is based on
what we get with the orthos.
Obviously, the creatures don’t just show up in the game as
detailed black and white wireframe models (though that could be really
cool). Before they go into the game, typically we’ll go
through a series of color studies, which are similar to the pencil
sketches in that we’re applying colors to the polished images
to see how they look and what works best. However, since we already had
a color scheme set up for mutants we skipped this step. Finally, the
concept artist will apply a full detailed paint-over of the pencil
sketch, which will serve as a reference when we’re texturing
Once the model has
been created, then it gets put into the game to see how it
After the creature is
thrown into the game, then its up to the players to slaughter them!
At this point it’s time to get cracking on the modeling. The
modeler creatures a three-dimensional model of the creature with 3DS
Max, which is then textured, rigged, and fully animated. This can also
be a long process, depending on the complexity of the model and what we
require for full animation. We’ll stick the model into the
game and see how it looks. Maybe the colors are off a bit when you
compare it to its fellow mutants, the scale doesn’t look
quite right, or the animations are too rough.
As with the other major processes of creature creation, there are quite
a few polish passes to get everything just right before we move on to
the next stage, which, in this case, is to let the designers stick them
in a dungeon and let them get slaughtered. That’s where our
Mutant Spitter and Wasp come into play, as you can see in the
Do you think you could create a monster
for a game like Dungeon Runners? What are some of your ideas? href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?p=205068#post205068">Let
know on the forums!
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