It’s time to shed some light behind the dusty curtains that cover the massive art department of Almost Human and take a look at some behind the scenes action. A lot of new shady creatures have been creeping around the studio walls and this time we’ll try to catch one of them. Be very, very quiet, we’re hunting Zarchtons. Zarchtons are one of the first monsters you’ll come across in the beaches of the Island. At first you’ll hear their croaking calls and before you know what hit, you realize you’ve been ambushed.

Zarchtons are amphibious creatures that are as home on dry land as in water, but they never leave too far from water, because they are dependent of water and need to dampen their skin from time to time. That’s why Zarchtons are usually seen around water, but that doesn’t limit to natural water sources. Overflown dungeons are also perfect environment for them too…

The origin of Zarchtons is highly debated topic in the Natural Science Department of the Nothampton’s University. Some say Zarchtons have evolved from fishes and some say they we’re originally land creatures that have moved to live partially in water. Sometimes Zarchtons are seen far in the open sea and they are often mistaken for mermaids. Being amphibious creatures, Zarchtons have both lungs and gills, so they can breath air and in water. Zarchtons have primitive culture system and they make use of resources from the sea to create clothing and accessories from shellfishes and other small creatures they hunt. Swimming in water and walking on land have developed Zarchtons’ leg muscles to enable them to take long leaps to help them hunt their prey and attack anyone coming to their territory…

What goes to actual development of the Zarchtons, the process was pretty standard stuff. We thought of some features and characteristics we needed in a monster and based on that data I started roughing it out. And this is what I ended up:

 
Then it was off to Zbrush to create the high resolution model using Zspheres as a base and just dynameshing the living crap out of it.

 
After the high resolution model was done, it was decimated a bit and exported to 3dCoat, we’re I retopoed and unwrapped it ending to around 6200 polygons. High resolution data was baked into normal map and rest of the textures were painted in Photoshop.

 
And finally, here’s a final posed model for Zarchton. I bet you’ll end up peeking under his skirt.

 

One of the central game mechanics in the Legend of Grimrock -series (can we already call it a series?) are puzzles. They’re a very natural pairing for an oldschool dungeon crawler like ours and it provides a nice counterweight for the exploration and combat you’ll be doing.

After we finished Grimrock 1 I thought that we might have squeezed out all the possible grid based puzzles with levers, pits, doors and traps that we could possibly muster. And I felt that way for a long time too but strangely, after wrapping up the release of Dungeon Editor for Grimrock 1 with Petri, I realized there might still be a few puzzle ideas hiding deep somewhere in the back of my head, just waiting to be digged out. Figuratively speaking of course, not literally… :)

Of course, a lot has happened that has fed the puzzle creation process somewhat. The Dungeon Editor makes it a lot easier to prototype and build puzzle ideas and we’ve also come up with some new mechanisms that can be used for entirely new styles of puzzle or combined with the old elements for a fresh take on the older puzzles.

All in all, it’s impossible to predict exactly where the next idea comes from but no matter what their origins are, they’ll end up in the puzzle_ideas.txt in my dropbox. At this moment there’s about 40 unused ideas, many of which are very abstract and probably won’t end up as actual working puzzles, but others are much closer to reality and more ripe for use. Let’s take a look how one of the ideas ended up in the text file and how I took the idea to completion (as seen on the screenshot above) and how it changed along the way.

Here’s the original notes I wrote down about the puzzle: Continue reading »

 

Couple of months ago we posted to our blog that we were looking for an artist that could help us create brand new portraits for the LoG2. We received tons of applications, 234 to be precise, and I went through all of them. One artist stood out pretty early on. He had just the right style we were looking for and his communication was great and with reasonable rates, it wasn’t that difficult to select him to do the work. So, without further ado, let me introduce Emile Denis to everybody. -Juho

Several months ago, I heard about The Legend of Grimrock via some websites and several reports on tv. I was immediately intrigued by this game with an old-school and Modern side. After testing it with a friend, I really enjoyed it!

Then, last April, a friend who works in the the video game industry sent me a link saying “hey look!, I saw this and thought you would be interested in it!”: It was an advertisement from Almost Human who was Looking for a freelance portrait artist for the Legend of Grimrock 2!

I didn’t think twice and immediately sent an email with my portfolio, then, after a few days, Juho Salila give me the definitive answer: I am selected! It’s such a pleasure since I love everything related to portraits and characters! I was even happier when Juho gave me as a reference the Baldur’s Gate’s portraits (one of my favorites games)!

So after receiving the brief, I started to work:
At first, I started with the “Human” race, keeping in mind the realistic style and the fantastic atmosphere of the game. By default, when I start an illustration or a concept, I gather a lot of documentation. In this case, since they are characters, I always start to think about the character in question: “What is his class?, is it old or young?, male or female?“, from there I like to imagine an actor or a famous person who could “impersonate” the character, just to get a clearer idea of the portrait. I always try to have at least two references (like two actors, for example) for each character to ensure that the resemblance will not be too flagrant in the end, and sometimes I use some photographic references in black and white or with a special light to give more life and volume to the portrait. From there, I started the first sketches always in black and white, then I set aside my references, I refine the drawing, and once it’s completed, I color them.

When I started working on the “Insectoids” race, the approach was a little more complex: As usual, I gather a lot of references, and then I tried to build portraits with great variety of different insects. Then, I finalized the illustrations by adding some textures and playing with the blending modes of Photoshop to find the scaly and rough effect of certain insects.
I still have a lot of work, and I know this will be truly rewarding and fun!

I would like to thank the whole team for choosing me and I look forward to seeing the final result ;)

-Emile DENIS

Check out more of Emile’s work in his blog Here.





 

Monsters are an essential part of Grimrock’s dungeons and I thought I’d share some in-depth look at some of them. Legend of Grimrock features twenty unique monsters whose shape and size range from green jelly to… well, all you who have finished the game know to what. Here I have picked three of my favorite monsters that I enjoyed making the most and still feel happy about.

Continue reading »

 

In this week’s chapter of “making of Grimrock” I’m going to talk about programming. This might be a little lengthier post and more technical and therefore probably not for everybody, so it’s fine if you want to just skim ahead! :)

First a bit of background. I’ve been programming for more than 20 years, starting from Basic on the venerable C64, moving on to AMOS, 68000 assembly and C on the Amiga, and after that I’ve been programming mostly in C++ for the past 10 years or so. I’ve also tried other programming languages such as Scheme, Java, D, Objective-C and Python (although very briefly). Today games are written mostly in C++ because it has very good performance but more importantly in my opinion because it is the de facto standard, in other words almost all libraries and tools (especially on the consoles) are geared towards C++ development.
Continue reading »

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