Finished another piece for my personal project. Trying to pick up the pace on these. There's only one more intelligent species to do. Anyways, I thought I would talk a little bit about my thinking as I forge this new world IP. And I am thinking about this as an IP more than just as a game world.
I like to make lists so here's a list of rules I've had in my head while I work.
1.Do not set out to make these scary. These are not monsters. These are aliens to us rather than monsters. They must appear to be practical rather than just designed to be cool.
2.Think of their silhouettes/proportions in relation to each other so that I won't repeat myself.
3.Think of each character as a song. What's the hook? What's the thing that people will remember and summarize to friends. This also ties into how I imagine them functioning in-game. Why choose this race over this other race?
4.Try not to add personality into these race concept images. I know a lot of games create their races around archetypes and they seem to continue across all sorts of variations but still cling to stuff established by Tolkien. How many times have you played a game where there was a short and sturdy race that might as well been called dwarves and slender and sensitive races that might as well been called elves. Then there's the ever-present half-orc race that's in every game and the standard personality/culture. If I think of it as a video game, I don't want players picking their race because of the personality they want to play but rather because of some puzzle related reason. For instance a player might want to choose race X because it would allow access to extreme cold areas or extreme hot areas or subterranean areas or underwater areas or sky areas. So as I work I'm trying to think of what part of the game-puzzle does a race allow players to complete. The game revolves around exploration though so ofcourse I think about it this way.
5.How does the race scale? By that, I mean, how would it translate to other mediums. How would I animate this? How would this work in a comic book? How would this work as written subject matter only? This has been the trickiest thing to keep on my mind and the most difficult to stick to. It brings me to the conclusion that their faces have to be relatively earthly. Typical things like eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and opposable thumbs become a requirement when I have to imagine doing narrative pieces like sequential storytelling where viewers would have to quickly understand the expressions of characters.
6.Do it. Regardless of anything else, do it. I'm trying to build an IP that is all about exploration and the unfamiliar. Nobody is going to care. People want to see more of what they know. They seem to want the familiar. "MOAR werewolves! MOAR vampires! MOAR orcs!" Nobody is going to care about my funny little alien races in a fantasy setting and those are trying to stick somewhat to the familiar. I suspect people will care even less when I get into the animals,ecology and strange environments that try to veer sharply into the unfamiliar. I have to stick it out though. I love this stuff. I REALLY REALLY love this stuff. There aren't enough clients out there interested in commissioning the sort of stuff I want to do. So I have to make it happen on my own. Hopefully the sum will be greater than the parts and the right people will find it and I can do this kind of subject matter constantly. So I'm going to keep hammering away at this. More to come soon. One last race before I move onto creatures and environments.