“Praetorians are the most respected of leaders in all the Empire’s army. Given command of the most state of the art equipment they are held to a very high standard and many collapse under the pressures of their responsibility. White hot flames burst from crevices of their Lorica armor, few can bare the heat when standing toe to toe with a Praetorian. Their short swords licked by alchemical fires possess the ability to slash and burn through any enemy troops”
We have a lot of concepts for Cairn that we haven’t been able to share until now. The reason for this lack of updates has to do with the death of our artist Rodrigo Petunio and his widow not wanting to kick them over to Embalmit. But after a lengthy and expensive court battle we finally came to settlement after we paid a hobo 50 bucks to break into her house and steal them for us.
Well… the real reason is much more boring though: we’ve been a bit lazy and/or busy with other things and haven’t got around publishing them, so none of that actually happened (maybe the hobo part). Plus you know, I’m still alive and stuff.
I was at first approached by Adam, the mild mannered reporter by day and programmer during lunch breaks, to work a set of illustrations for the game which had me relatively detached from any input in the game (back when I was a desperate freelancer, not too long ago). At the very start it was 5 concepts for 5 units for the Thermocrats, back in the days when the project was just known as Pipeburn (things have changed over time). There was a very detailed description as Adam was familiar with concept art creation, given his volunteer stint at Reaper Games. There was early on a strong Roman aspect that he wanted mixed with Steampunk and a few layers of molten metals and sparks thrown in.
Adam’s description for the Praetor was really good so there no problems in coming up with a concept. The first thing I thought of was a rugged face that had been shaped by war. After WW2 a lot of the movie heroes had this “man’s man” type of feel to them. It’s hard to conceive how it came to be, but the chiseled face the likes of Charles Bronson proved extremely popular back then.
In a way I think it’s better for the narrative to have a character with a rugged face. The character is already presented from frame one: he’s been at war, he’s seasoned, he’s seen death, maybe has a grudge, etc. Once the face was solved, the rest of the character came easily. Sparks, lots of detail. I also sketched out a bit of other armor pieces for the Praetor, including a few prospective swords, shields and possible helmets to boot.
For the lorica inspired armor I used a few images as reference such as real armor, movies, etc. This went through a few iterations for alternatives, in case the original armor I had sketched didn’t take.
I think the sword had to be a mix between a real sword, a lightsaber and a flamethrower. The idea was that they would be powered by focused alchemical fire. I’m not sure about the usefulness of a flaming sword in real life except for the coolness of it.
Since again I didn’t really know if Adam would want the Praetor to go helmet-less or not, some prospective helmets were drawn for it.
This early draft was well received, but we decided to have more from the character, namely a shield and a helmet for it. So shield and a helmet it is. I also fixed a lot from the character that I wasn’t too happy about (a few details here and there). I kept the rugged face though, for what was worth.
Adding more details into a concept usually helps to make it less boring. Particularly the style, which is Steampunk, is very detail oriented in a fashion that it looks more complex than it really should be, but with some logic to it. So for example the flame sword is powered by the glove, which is fueled by 3 spheres filled with alchemical fire. A lot of the suit also has this feel of fire protective layers on top of other layers.
A few prospective shields were quickly drawn to accompany the newer Praetor (why was one of them Voltron inspired? man this was so long ago). Most of these concepts will probably not make it to the real game, we have to also account what we can do with our budget. Also, for example, the Voltron inspired shield is a terrible idea, but we had to put it in paper first to know why it was such a terrible idea.
The final final step was to work the concept up for a prospective 3d artist. However after a month or so I joined Embalmit as a full time artist, my only condition was for me to draw all of these up as sprites instead of 3d units, since I’m a big fan of the sprite based RTS games. We all agreed that it would make the game a bit more distinct too.
Tune in next week, when we discuss the remaining troops of the Thermocrats, incluiding The Bolter, Pyro, Stag, Flame Deux and a mecha warrior we may or may not include in the game.