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In search of the Xyl

Discussion in 'Pavlos' Corner (The Art Forum)' started by pavlosg, May 19, 2015.

  1. pavlosg

    pavlosg Art Director
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    Greetings screenlings !

    Time has come to explore the Xyl. As you may be aware already, the Xyl are humanity nemesis: they have been hunting us down for centuries now. Although we have succeeded in fleeing time and again, our final stand might come soon -so we have to prepare, and know our enemy.

    The information Steve has supplied me about the Xyl is scant, and I am completing the holes with ideas of my own. I want the aliens to be fleshed out thoroughly: they might be wholly different from us, but that does not mean they are not entitled to their own set of motivation, biology and ultimately, wider goals.

    The Xyl are 'insectoids', Steve wrote in the earliest draft of the game design. That does not mean a lot, since insects are endemic to Earth: my guess is that Steve meant that their culture is mostly marked by eusocielity -that is, the specie is made of castes of both reproductive and non-reproductive individuals working in tight cooperation. If you are familiar with Frank Herbert's "the Hellstrom hive", you might have read how humanity itself could go that way -but I digress.

    The Xyl are thus ruled by eunuchs, with the chemically neutered workers assuming the brunt of the work and fighting, the females being the powerful overseers and commanders, and finally the males that have regressed to a parasitic stage. Indeed, males attach themselves to females and fuse with them -it is not uncommon for a successful female to sport a couple of dozen of males attached to her sides. Sometimes, a hermaphrodite 'goliath' will be borne, with both the female and male reproductive set of organs. This last creature is most fearsome, and might give us a hint at what the old Xyl males looked like before they genetically regressed.

    The Xyl's homeworld is unknown, but the most common theory is that is must be a low-gravity porous rock-and-ice world. Xyl's anatomy indeed still show vestigial or regressed digging limbs as well as ventilation sub-limbs (used in confined spaces by the females in order to ventilate their eggs). It is unknown for how long the Xyl have left their underground habitat for the surface.

    Now that the Xyl have been introduced a bit, let's explore their looks. Here below are a few concept drawings. The study is in an early stage, so the shapes might differ a lot.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Is there any you particularly are fond of ? Why ?
    I will keep on posting concept studies of the Xyl race until we hit the metaphorical jackpot, so stay tuned.

    P.
     
    #1
  2. pavlosg

    pavlosg Art Director
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    Good day everybody,

    I attach below some more Xyl concept art.

    [​IMG]
    Above is an alternative version of the original concept #2, while below lies a sort of mix between #1 and #3.

    [​IMG]
    ... the search continues !

    P.
     
    #2
  3. pavlosg

    pavlosg Art Director
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    One more for the road,

    [​IMG]
    P.
     
    #3
  4. bmorris2

    bmorris2 Alpha Tester
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    I thought they were cybernetic insects. Yeah, found the quote "The terrifying cybernetic insect-like assault Xyl were over 20 feet tall and were interested in only one thing: breaking humanity's will to fight."

    Also:
    "A breakthrough came in 2494, when scientists had accumulated enough data to finally determine that the Xyl's cybernetic parts could be used to broadcast a 'kill command' to all Xyl."

    I'd like to see more robotic insect
     
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  5. dirkgently

    dirkgently Lord of Statistics
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    I like the texture and the asymmetry on the first iteration. Making them deformed-looking and difficult to visually 'read' I think adds to their weird alien-ness.
     
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  6. pavlosg

    pavlosg Art Director
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    Thanks Dirk,

    We are hotly discussing the Xyl with Steve. How 'alien' can an alien become and still make sense in the game ? And there is the good old issue of having to 'look' alien and menacing. Nobody in his/her right mind would design an alien looking like a teddy-bear fighting us to utter extinction. But at the same time, you often get prejudiced with appearance: how disgusting do we ourselves look to lifeforms from another planet ? The soft parts, the hair, the way our teeth show when we speak, the little pink fingers and the long skinny limbs and oh my god, the eyes ! ...
    I know that if I where an insect-looking alien with tons of legs and a shiny chitinous shell, I would reach for my disintegrator as soon as I glimpse a human !

    Dune was great without aliens: it was making difference within the specie. Herbert used other techniques in the 'Dosadi experiment', Hal Clement too in his novels (I love this guy). The Xyl should not just be a destroying or unifying force, but another culture. We might not understand anything about it, but that does not mean it does not exist !

    We are juggling with some traits of the race at the moment, and we will share with you the evolution of the idea. Stay tuned !

    P.
     
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  7. Ashbery76

    Ashbery76 Minor Viceroy

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    They all look very bio and not cyber at all.To fit the lore they should be more like machines than bugs.
     
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  8. Texashawk

    Texashawk Developer
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    Ashbery76,

    We're working on the look. The next versions will have more cyber parts. I think Pavlos wants to get the general look down before adding the artificial parts. In addition, there are several 'class' of Xyl that will have more cyber look (specifically the terror soldiers)

    -Steve
     
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  9. pavlosg

    pavlosg Art Director
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    ...exactly Steve !

    And being cybernetic does not mean that you have to move around with a tin can over your head :) Most cyber-extensions, implants or else are rather discrete, from extra limbs to extra sensor antennas to the downright invisible nanomachines and the rest.

    More concepts below:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    ... I wanted to explore other designs but felt I was wondering away from the insectoid look too much...or not enough. Below is the concept 2 reworked with more cyber-looking external parts. It seems that it is this version (improved a tad) that will win... except if you guys and gals voice your disagreement and vote for another concept !
    [​IMG]
    So far, we can tell the Xyl has an extra pair of mandible/ limbs, some sensor antennas on the back (where the atrophied egg oxygenators used to be), some servo-assistance for the main limbs, plus lights for fast communications. Over the abdomen are perhaps fuel cells or chemical storage of some kind (perhaps for the acid projector used to dig limestone caves on their homeworld).
    As always, any feedback is welcome, even if it makes me break down and empty a bottle of whiskey !

    P.
     
    #9
  10. dirkgently

    dirkgently Lord of Statistics
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    It might be more threatening and spiderlike if you replaced the underslung abdomen with a bulbous one on top, as in some of the other concepts, whilst keeping the long, spindly legs. If you do that, you might want to do something with the head to make it fit with the changed lines of the creature - make it wider and shorter, maybe. You might also want to give it two 'thumbs' on each hand, just to up the alien quotient.

    The cybernetic parts are cool, but they feel a little clean. The Xyl are alien, so their design priorities are going to be different to ours - I would suggest dirtying it up a little, introducing asymmetry, and adding parts that deliberately break some of the natural lines of the creature. Maybe some hint of mechanism along with the cybernetics might add something, depending on the creature's role.
     
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  11. pavlosg

    pavlosg Art Director
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    hey Dirk !

    I can tell you that I factored all of your remarks, fused several of the design above, and the results are awesome ! It is just a drawing for the moment, I must ink it, scan it, color it and I will post it tomorrow. It is indeed menacing now, and with the large abdomen, it is very easy to add cybernetic elements. Plus, I can re-use other parts of creatures I did for research to make variations (sex, age, pregnancy, sub-race and so on).

    I feel we are very close to a shape that should satisfy most, if not all of us.

    Once we get past that stage, I will start modeling the creature in 3DS max/ sculptris, paint it, rig it, and then animate it. Hehe. I wonder what kind of noises it will make: a mix of hisses and very fast clicks ?

    P.
     
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  12. dirkgently

    dirkgently Lord of Statistics
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    Sweet. I'm imagining it sounding like a cross between a circular saw and a dial-up modem.
     
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  13. pavlosg

    pavlosg Art Director
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    Hahaha almost :)

    Here's our villain. I will make variants of it soon. My guess so far is that it is a mature female -non-egg bearing-.

    [​IMG]

    Take care and have a nice day/ evening all,
    P.
     
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  14. dirkgently

    dirkgently Lord of Statistics
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    This is really nice, but at the risk of splitting hairs, is it now too spider-like? Would it be possible to quickly put together a version using the legs and shoulder joints off version 2C? The idea being that they have a bandy-legged, legs-extended gait that supports their weight better than the spider gait, in the same way that dinosaurs brought their legs under them and thereby outran their spread-legged competitors. When they work on something, they position themselves over and slightly behind their work object, rather than facing it chest-on as humans tend to. Perhaps when tunnelling, they travel 'down' relative to their body, with their legs bent spider-style - forelegs bracing the top of the tunnel, rear legs bracing the bottom, arms digging, and abdomen trailing behind - a posture that lets them change direction without having to worry about gravity. (The face might then curve backwards towards the bottom, so there's a pair of eyes looking down, with the mandibles at the back, perhaps feeding straight into the neck...) The image I have in my head has something of the water-tower about it, which is kind of weird, I know, but it makes a kind of visual sense if you shorten the thorax - the body is then streamlined for digging and travel through narrow tunnels (slicked with ALIEN SLIME for ease of movement), while also being able to 'gallop' across open terrain.
     
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  15. Ashbery76

    Ashbery76 Minor Viceroy

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    Agreed much to spider like.Aliens should look Alien.
     
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  16. pavlosg

    pavlosg Art Director
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    Hey !

    You do realize that this can go on for an eternity, right ? :) This is the later iteration: the last variants might very well be included as individual, sex or racial variations among the Xyl: I like the idea of the specie having variations. The color is a purple-ish, but it looks also good in blue or green. Matches the eyes.... or not ;)

    [​IMG]

    I will start a poll concerning the Xyl designs: everybody should vote so that a solid trend may emerge. After all, we need a threatening, ominous and alien threat, don't we ?

    P.
     
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  17. dirkgently

    dirkgently Lord of Statistics
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    It could indeed... I keep thinking 'Move the abdomen forward! Narrow the top of the head! Adjust xyz by .1%!' Perhaps designing aliens by committee isn't the best solution :p
     
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  18. Ashbery76

    Ashbery76 Minor Viceroy

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    They should be more like the shadows in B5.Insectoid but Alien.
     
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  19. Texashawk

    Texashawk Developer
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    I like 2C and 9V. They are very different, I know, but they both seem menacing in a different way. Exciting to see an iterative, collaborative design process! That said, we're going to start working on the economy and faction system soon. Please continue to share feedback - we really do listen (as you can see!)

    -Steve
     
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  20. pavlosg

    pavlosg Art Director
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    Well I think it went rather well, and I am glad since I am a firm believer in collaboration -we also have now at hand enough secondary material to work on Xyl neutrals/ males/ hermaphrodites.

    Thank you for the feedback, all of you !

    In some weeks, you might even catch a glimpse of the first Xyl modeled in 3D, who knows :)

    P.
     
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