Intrepid Explorer: Wraith

The next foe on the checklist was a ghost type enemy called a Wraith. Again, we started with basic parameters--it needed to be a shrouded figure that carried a lantern--and I applied different ideas from there. The lantern is the weak spot, and the player has to break it to 'kill' the Wraith for good in the game.

Here are a few scribbles from the trusted sketchbook just to get some basic ideas down.

A ghost can really be anything you want it to, so I experimented with a few different looks, angles vs. curves, etc. I was also trying to think of an interesting way for it to carry a lantern. A few ideas resurfaced in the Photoshop stage and others were changed completely.

The first design is a personal favorite. The bulbous mass on a thin stalk was actually a shape for a creature I'd had in mind for a while prior to this assignment, but it felt like a good fit here and I was finally able to put it on paper. I thought it was a bit more terrifying than the other silhouettes, almost humanoid but not quite. I also liked the idea of having the lantern hang from the roof of its hood as it lumbers along.

The second iteration was more based on how the enemy would be programmed. I was thinking the lantern would be protected on the inside of its body most of the time. When it approaches Jarred, it has to open the zipper on its stomach to attack, simultaneously making itself vulnerable by exposing its weak point. To be honest, I really hate enemies like this in games--you can only attack them right before they attack you--but they do their job well most of the time, much to my dismay. As far as appearance goes I think the curly bubbly look takes away from the fear factor a little.

The third one evolved as I was working on it. I knew I wanted a hunched over enemy, but apart from that I played it by ear. Somewhere along the way I replaced the lantern with the ghost of a canary sitting in a cage for some reason. I guess as long as it gives off light and can be destroyed to defeat the Wraith, it doesn't matter too much what it's carrying. I was also able to try out a cloud brush I had been meaning to use for a more hazy effect near the edges of the cloak. It might look a little too helpless though, I could swear there's a little old lady under that cloak.

The fourth design is pretty much the standard idea for a ghost foe, nothing outlandish but it remains recognizable. I wanted to try out something more directly alarming in terms of a color scheme. Something a bit more hostile that would be more prone to attacking you from afar.

We've still got one last enemy to cover. Next time I'll explain why it's a bad idea for Jarred to stand near water for too long.

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