Mortal Kombat X is out and will be digging through some older work. This is the concept sheet for the horse Quan Chi uses to ride into battle. It was done summer of 2014.July I believe. It was labeled the "Demon Goat Horse" by IGN and people seemed to dig it which was exciting. It began as more of an alien design but was eventually reset to be much more horse like. The work on this creature was particularly memorable because of the deadline and the juggling of tasks to get it done in time.
(Final concept sheet for Quan Chi's Demon Horse.)
Along side this concept we were developing a couple of snakes for the background of the jungle stage. I was working on these two concepts side by side in the early stages. Having two tasks to bounce between can help keep things fresh and delay any fatigue from staring at the same thing too long. The demon horse went with a design that was closer to "reality", so I decided to try to do the same with the snake. The designs are a bit too simple and looking back at it, I could have done better in pushing design within the constraints.
(Final concept sheet for jungle snake.)
The plan was to debut Quan Chi with this horse in a trailer along side a particular event (forget which one as there were many where we would feed the media with content). Meanwhile, there was a jungle snake and drone I was developing. It was a drop everything and focus on the horse kind of deal, as there was only a few weeks to concept, sculpt and texture then pass it off for engine prep (by the awesome 3D artist Jesse Graybeal). I had to let go of drone which was already being developed in the 3D phase. However, I took a risk and promised both the snake and horse done by the deadline. It was a challenge which required long hours but it was a great learning experience. It got done with the insight and critiques from my awesome co-workers Pav Kovacic, Ian Nuad and Jonathon Sabella.
(The plan for my subtools in ZBrush. I find that this approach helped speed of the 3D phase immensely. Understanding my sub tools, where to save time and what needs the most attention before even stepping into ZBrush.)
It came down to the wire and during the final days all I could do was occasionally bother Jesse to see it in engine, or see how the glowey parts look, or how about the skull, is the skull working? Jesse really knocked it out of the park and improved the creature with his shader work and texture clean up. The month was a blur and before we knew it we hit the deadline and delivered. It felt good, even though on the day it was due we found out the Quan Chi debut was switched for a later date.
It felt like getting the rug pulled out from underneath you but that happens. I was annoyed but the silver lining was the team having more time for polishing and animation. In reality, it was a very small part of a much larger machine that needed react quickly to sudden changes in the road. So keeping the proper perspective is important as there is always more work that needs to be done.
(The thumbnail sheet for the newly reset task. The original thumbnails were too alien and would have created overly complicated rigging and animation for a creature that didn't play a big enough role to justify the complexity.)
(Snake thumbnails, the original plan was to develop a second one with eithe 2A or 3A, but other things came up and they fell through the cracks.)
Part II will show the sculpt for the Demon Goat Horse as well as the improvements which were made in engine by Jesse Greybeal. This is the first of a handful of posts so maybe occasionally click on it if you see it on your feed and are bored somewhere. Below is some footage of the horse in game: