Midnight Star Dust Ascended

The Evolution of The Dust Ascended

In our upcoming sci-fi action game, Midnight Star, the nasty character featured in the teaser trailer is but one of many bad guys that players will encounter as they venture through the game. He’s a core component of the enemy lineup, and won’t actually be the guy you battle against the most, but his presence in the echelons of evil will definitely be felt.

Recently, we broke down the visual evolution of our main spaceship in the game, so now we’ll check out the various directions we went for the Dust Ascended. The reason for the “Ascended” moniker is that there are various classes in the hierarchy of Dust culture, and the Ascended occupies the middle of the road. On top of that, the Ascended are broken up into 4 sub-classes, and you will be pitted against all of them in the game.  Here, we’ll take a look at the base character…

In the early concepting days on Midnight Star, we stared throwing out tons of ideas about the physicality and intentions of the Dust.

The story called for them to be vampiric, but not of blood or life force– of other things that one who plays the game will learn over time.  We started to take early, more “monster”-ish designs and combine them with some concepts that read more mysterious, ominous and “vampire” in the familiar sense.

Then we went a bit too familiar…

We really liked the eye design being four and including an organic “X” connecting his eyes, so we explored a bunch of combinations.

Once we had a face we liked, we proceeded to explore how we wanted them to present themselves in the game. We coupled that with the technology background that we were developing for their race, and the final design came together.

This is the “final” concept for our base Dust Ascended (which you saw in the teaser).

We then modeled this evil fellow, starting with greybox approximations for what we wanted, then moving into a high-poly, super awesome version.

Next was textures– we took reference from the concept art and types of real-world materials that we want his suit, limbs, and gunsy parts to have.

Then it was time to interject personality. The Dust are haughty, prideful and vicious. Our animators brought the character to life with performance pieces like this one that illustrate how he stands, points, shoots, etc. We’ve left out the “Dust-does-yoga” poses for obvious reasons.

The character then found its way into the game itself. Nothing says “character” like a look down an alien monster’s maw. And what IS that in there?

For a CG special bonus, the leap that you glimpsed quickly in the teaser is outlined here…

…and here, with a final close-up replete with a better look at those nasty teeth (Q: wait– why isn’t that cyber-stuff inside this one’s mouth? A: Just wait and see).

He’s come a long way– and that’s just one of the baddies players will come face-to-face with in Midnight Star. Wait till you see their minions…!


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