As promised, I thought I'd continue discussing the development of our project a little more. Much to his dismay, Jarred's going to have some things getting in his way on his journey. To start off with developing the enemies, Harry sent me a list of his initial ideas in a document, citing sources of inspiration and a description of the enemy's function and appearance. Other than that, I was again asked to use my own judgment in coming up with an appearance that would best fit the parameters of each design.
The Wendigo is basically your walking dead type of foe. If it gets close enough it'll tear you limb from limb. And as already mentioned, Jarred's not made for fighting, so we wanted an enemy that would really convince you to run from it. It was supposed to be humanoid in shape, but much taller and more frightening. These were some sketches I had before even going to Photoshop.
Humanoid forms that are familiar enough to be recognizable but distorted enough to look uncanny are some of the most terrifying things. I was trying to work out which parts of the human appearance to alter and which parts to leave fairly normal looking. By simply changing the scale of some parts like fingers or arms, things were starting look weird pretty fast. The next step was to come up with some more specific iterations.
I had the ReDeads from The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker in mind when I worked on the leftmost design, in terms of the coloring and swirly patterns on the body. I was also thinking of how the player would be introduced to this thing during the game. From what I know, Wendigos inhabit nearly pitch black environments. I was thinking this single strand of hair and a pair of glowing eyes would be all you could see of it in the dark; you're left wondering what the rest of this thing looks like, until it's too late.
The second design veers in the skeleton direction as opposed to a zombie. This was also more of an attempt to create a predatory enemy that would deliberately hunt you down, rather than something that attacks whoever happens to be walking by. I have mixed feelings on the overall appearance, it gets the job done as far as being an undead thing you'd want to run from, but I think some parts are too confusing or awkward to be memorable.
The third prototype is my favorite by far. Here I was basically thinking more in terms of someone that had been reanimated by magic, with horrendous results. Would the player be able to outrun something that doesn't, well... run? This was another attempt at something that would be difficult to make out in dark environments. One of the things I really liked about the movie Super 8 is (spoilers.) that we never see a clear shot of the monster's complete appearance until the very end. We're given carefully orchestrated glimpses--a glistening appendage that might be a tentacle, or a reflection deliberately obscured by cracked glass--until that point, while the rest is left to the darkest parts of our imagination. Giving the audience hints of what something might look like can be a lot more unnerving than spoonfeeding them every last detail.
For the fourth design I was going for more subtle horror than outright. I was thinking more in terms of a past adventurer who, like Jarred, set out on a journey to search for this artifact but failed and ultimately paid with their life. In hindsight, making their clothes more similar probably would have heightened that effect, but I included a pickaxe and light source to hint at this connection for the player.
Overall, I think Harry was pleased with the ideas we were able to generate from these alone and they gave us a lot of room for discussion and refinement. I've still got two other enemy types to cover, so next time we'll take a look at some restless spirits.