This devblog, I’ll be talking about the process behind designing the Corrupted, the main enemy type in Life’s Impetus.
Corrupted are monster formed by corrupted souls, souls that were not successfully delivered to the Fountain of Life. Corrupted seek only one thing: life. This is why they seek souls and try to imitate life by taking on human form. But what they do not know is that any soul that they touch becomes corrupted too. No matter how many souls they gather, life is something they’ll never obtain.
Basic Rules for the Design
Before actually getting started with the design process, I first set some rules to define what I wanted the design to be like. The two rules were these:
- Human-like Form: I think I’ve mentioned it before, but the animation technique I use for Life’s Impetus is called rotoscoping, which consists in tracing live footage. Since I’m the only actor (and I can’t really do anything weird) I had to stick to enemies I could act out.
- Simple Design: Since I’m a one-man team, I have to keep to techniques that help ease the work and let me go faster. Rotoscoping is one of them (although to be honest traditional animation wasn’t a particularly time saving decision…), and the other was to keep enemy design as simple as possible. To avoid this from becoming boring though, I would have to make sure to be interesting with simple shapes.
I honestly took a long time to find a basic idea I liked for the Corrupted. I went from games like Zelda and Kingdom Hearts, to old Miyazaki movies. I messed around a lot with different ideas, but I didn’t manage to decide on something until I rewatched my favorite Miyazaki movie: Spirited Away. I honestly had avoided it at first because I didn’t really think it’d have anything of interest (most of the creatures I remembered were just… weird), but I found something perfect at the beginning:
These may not have had a human-like form, but I loved the idea of black shadow people with blank eyes. With this in mind, I started the first sketches.
Developing the Concept
These first sketches were made while I was watching the movie. After that, I developed the idea a bit more, trying to aim for something that fit the rules I was talking about earlier. For these first drawings though, I did not aim to make it scary; just eerie. After some time of working I developed some concept art:
While these designs weren’t exactly bad, they just felt… cartooney. Exaggerated proportions and little resemblance to actual humans made these guys not as scary as they should be. So, I headed at it once again, trying to solve these problems. The result was this:
Getting better, definitely. I did my best to make these design look more powerful than the ones before, and I achieved that mostly by making them more human like. I also experimented with different body types, as you can see. The other important detail to note is the markings these enemies have, which indicate which attribute they belong to (a gameplay mechanic I came up with after the first designs). These obviously could be better though, but I was particularly unhappy with them when I first finished them; they were too still too bland. They had strength, sure, but they weren’t weird or just simply interesting. Thus I worked on a bit more, and while I don’t really have any pretty concept art to show, I got a result I liked a lot:
Thanks to some pointers and help from @RPGgrenade, I managed to push the designs to their max. One of the important things I had intended for but didn’t really achieve in original designs was asymmetry, something that’s always creepy. The other important decision I made was to always include a few human features in each Corrupted (like the chest in the left one or the hands in the right one), which helps differentiate each type besides making it creepier. The final detail that you may or may have not noticed was that now they have small, creepy pupils. I loved the blank eyes to be honest but the pupils add so much power to their stare that I really had to keep it.
Now, I’m working on animating the first corrupted. I hope to be able to show it soon!
Which games have enemy designs that you really like? One I really looked up to while designing the Corrupted were the Shadow Beasts from Twilight Princess.