WildStar Wednesday: From Concept to Creature, Part 1

Written by Robert "Robeardo" Land on September 14, 2011

Do you hear an ominous clanging closing in on you? You'd better watch out, that might be Metal Maw on your tail! Welcome to our first WildStar Wednesday - exclusive content, breaking news, and in-depth information, only on the official WildStar site every Wednesday!

Those of you who were with us at gamescom (in person or in spirit, watching our live feed) will remember our live-drawing event with Senior Concept Artist Andy Cotnam that resulted in the boss Metal Maw being created. Andy took suggestions from the audience and drew, in real-time, what they wanted to see. Then, from the live feed, the name Metal Maw was suggested by the user Echo, and a boss was born!

Those of you who weren't there (and why weren't you?) can experience the event in a couple of ways. If you head over here you can watch Chad Moore and Matt Mocarski's recap (and see a little bit of Andy in action). And if you want to see where we left Metal Maw after the event, he's right here. We'll wait while you get caught up.

Are we all on the same page? Good.

So, now that we've gotten to this point you may be saying, "What happens next?" I'm glad you asked - because we're going to show you! Over the next few months, we will to take you through the process of bringing Metal Maw to life in WildStar. We'll talk to the people involved and you'll get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make this boss the killing machine he is destined to be.

The first step? We need a finished concept - and that's what Andy has been working on! We'll let him tell you his process himself. Andy?

"To begin, I just wanted to thank all the Wildstar fans out there who participated in this little experiment, both the hundreds of people gathered around the booth there in Cologne, Germany, and those who participated via the live feed and Twitter. I'm not going to lie, this was nerve-racking. I worried I was going to get behind the desk there in Germany, pick up my Wacom, and forget everything I have learned about creating concept art in front of a crowd of thousands. Getting back to California and looking back on what I was able to do in that 25 minutes, I feel that is exactly what happened. I really painted myself into a corner with this guy and it would take some thought to turn Metal Maw into the creature the fans wanted when they created it at gamescom.

Right from the start, before I dove back into fixing my little mess, I needed to anchor Metal Maw within one of the many and varied factions or environments that populate the world of Nexus. Luckily for me, the Frankenstein'd, metal-grafted-onto-an-unwilling-organic-host thing going on in the original sketch fits pretty well into the modus operandi of the Eldan. They are responsible for the mysterious experiments and dangerous technology you will be encountering all over the planet, so Metal Maw could easily be some kind of water-based leviathan that has been modified by Eldan science into a twisted, nuclear-cannon-backed land-walker.

PROGRESS 1: Now that I had a cultural touchstone to pull from, I start into the stuff that was bugging me the most, which was easily the way I designed the generator/cannon backpack. Then I moved the rockets off the sides of the arms, and turned them to run parallel to the forearms. Next I added a lot of meat under the chin, and fleshed out his face a little.

PROGRESS 2: Here I separated the arm rockets from the forearms even more, and simplified the big floppy feet it had before into mechanical claws. I also worked a little on the tail fin section and started fleshing out the exposed mechanical spine that has replaced its original.

PROGRESS 3: Really wanting to convey the 'Dead Tail' idea I had at the end of the gamescom session, I decide to start adding areas of decay all along it's body, especially in places where the grafted Eldan tech meets the original organic form. I start exposing ribs and showing some of the ruined flesh underneath. I really want to sell that this isn't an upgrade on this creature, but a bane. Or, even worse, the original creature may be gone entirely, with all that remains being the Eldan tech that puppets its corpse. I also change the face drastically, abandoning the original idea of a clear glass dome where you could see some of the original creature's skull and eyes to an enclosed faceplate.

PROGRESS 4: I add some length to the neck, and return to the original idea of having areas exposing some of the creature's skeletal structure, visible through a fluid filled glass enclosure. I expand on this, and using the new neck length, show some of the spinal column as well.

PROGRESS FINAL: Here is the final version of Metal Maw. I tightened up on most of the tech, added a little color variation in some of the fin extremities and gave it some much needed fish scale texturing along the body. The second vignette to the right has a quick idea of how the generator/cannon looks as it readies to fire, and I also resurrected the faceplate, which could be used as a variant on this guy.

Well, I think that's it. This was a really fun experiment for me. Thanks again for all the suggestions that went into getting Metal Maw on his way, and stay tuned for more on this guy's progress as he makes his way into the game."

Thank you, Andy! I know I'm looking forward to taking this guy on in-game! I must say, those of us here at Carbine find it fascinating the community is so excited about creating something that's going to kick their asses. But that's why we love you so!

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