The lights are on
Humanity has been staring at the stars and dreaming for centuries, but it’s not easy to envision what alien life might actually look like. It’s also not easy to resist the urge to try. The designers at Firaxis have the advantage of building off an existing framework, but redesigning 18-year-old character concepts for a modern audience was still no simple task. We chat with Firaxis Lead Designer Jake Solomon and Lead Artist Greg Foertsch about the process of designing the aliens in XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
Foertsch: The first thing we tackled was the Sectoid. Everyone knows what it is, because it’s the first alien that you run into in the game. We knew that if we got that right then as we got further into the game and the aliens got a little crazier and more whacked out then I think people were going to buy into our universe a lot more.
Foertsch: We looked at the original character design and then put it away and started designing the character. These are the first images we got back. We were originally thinking about making him about seven feet tall. I was going for this really elongated look.
Foertsch: I was watching Aeon Flux at the time, and that influenced a lot of our decisions. Eventually, we came back to making him smaller. We really wanted to go with this emaciated look. At one point we talked about putting armor on him, because the one thing that is weird about him was the gun and the fact that he’s naked with a gun.
Solomon: I think it’s scarier that he’s naked. If you see naked dudes with guns, clearly there’s something not right there. That man is insane!
Foertsch: This is where we ended up. We ended up staying pretty true to the original look without really trying. We wanted him to be visible in the game, so that light shining out of him helps him become a little more visible from a top down view, especially within dark environments. It also ties into the fiction with all of the psionic powers that the Sectoids have.
Foertsch: These guys were a challenge, because he’s a giant soldier and he’s suppose to be menacing while in a green unitard. We wanted to make him so that as soon as you saw him you knew he was a Muton.
Foertsch: This was our first pass. He’s a soldier, but he’s a little bit orcish, and we wanted him to be brutal. I wanted him to look tribal and I wanted him to look physically imposing. I also wanted to take away the pink skin and green armor.
Solomon: This was a little too Orcy. For example, the human skulls on his belt – which I loved because it’s kind of awesome. You figure Mutons probably carry trophies around, but it was a little too orcy.
Foertsch: As we were looking at him, his human nature sort of bothered us, and as we got closer to the point where we were going to animate him, it bothered me even more. So we decided to make him a little more ape-like – a little more primal. We changed his proportions a lot. He’s a lot wider in his stance, and he’s a little bit shorter, because he’s hunched over.
Solomon: This is where we ended up. Design-wise the idea behind the Mutons was that these guys were the intergalactic Seal Team 6. We want these guys to be the foil for the player. They’re evil Seal Team 6. They are these elite military units that work together, so they’ll call to each other a lot and set up all kinds of flanking maneuvers. Their tribal nature gives them strength. They have an ability called Blood Call, which lets them fire up everybody around them and then those guys will be huffing and have all these combat bonuses because of that.
Next, we look at the Cyberdisc and a new X-COM enemy, the Thin Man.
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I'm curious to see their take on the other classic enemies now that we've gotten shots of sectoids and mutons.
It would appear that Gabe from The Office is a Thin Man.
I honestly think they captured the muton REALLY well, in the original X-com, they were the brute force of the Alien Forces, while the original design of the mutons is classic, they look too "human" in the new design, they look brutish and Alien, I love it.
Love the design of the Thin Man. Everything else is top notch as well, but that design is brilliant.
This game is just getting cooler and cooler, these designs are pretty great. I especially like Cyberdiscs they seem like an interesting thing to fight.
I will definitely be purchasing this game.
Amazing ! Keep coverage going, its awesome !!!
I'm really liking the design on those Cyberdisks. And that Thin Man... unhinging it's jaw and vomiting poison? Creepiness.
The slender man is in this game he's after me I know it!!!!
This looks great having us see some of the process to recreate(or create) a character for a videogame.
When I look at the new Muton... I was reminded of Anubis' Kull warriors from Stargate. Genetically engineered super soldier... looks pretty spot on to me.
When I looked at this list, I got the shivers...
I want this job. They did a bang up job on these enemy types. Really cool.
I ant this game bad Keep posting videos and dont stop
Sectoid looks awesome.
Don't like the new Muton. It looks like a typical sci-fi brute you see in modern games which has devices on his body that makes no other sense than making him look over-armored (read: big). What is the purpose of all the flashy lights on the armor for example? Why are the arms exposed? What's up with the breather thing over the mouth? Doesn't look like intelligent minds made this. The original Muton looked like it could maneuver and run very easily due to being seemingly naked. The tight-fit armor didn't seem like it offered any protection, but it did. On the entire body. It was superior alien technology, and that's _exactly_ what makes you feel like you're fighting greater minds. It doesn't need to look threatening to be threatening.
Tbh, whenever I see screenshots of new aliens in XCOM:EU I'm trying to look for aliens from the original games. And I was looking straight at the new Muton for several seconds and couldn't tell it was a Muton. "We wanted to make him so that as soon as you saw him you knew he was a Muton." Right..