So far in the blog we’ve showed some of the environment and weapon concepts for Natural Selection 2. You may be wondering what the players are going to look like in Natural Selection 2. We were also wondering this, which is why we tasked Cory with doing some new concepts for the marines in Natural Selection 2. Here’s the first pass, which is essentially the marine design from Natural Selection, with one major difference:
The major difference of course is that this is a woman, whereas all of the humans in the original game are men. We’ll come back to that in a second, but first a little more about the concept. Off the bat, we knew there were a few things we wanted to change about the original helmet design.
Firstly, we wanted to uncover the eyes and show as much of the character’s face as possible. While the original design is distinctive, masking half of the face weakens our connection with the character’s humanity. Secondly, since Natural Selection 2 is a sequel and takes place chronologically several years after the first game, we want to give all of the designs a sleek and exciting new look. With that in mind, we felt the helmet design needed some streamlining to make it feel less bulky and more technologically advanced.
Finally, we wanted the headgear to support avatar customization options. In terms of the design, that meant that we needed to be able to swap out the helmet for some other type of head gear, while still making the marine’s equipment plausible. Namely, an integral component, like the tactical computer and heads-up display, will need to be present regardless of what headgear is chosen, so the role of the helmet itself needed to be downplayed.
We’re not committed to character customization yet since we’re not sure if we’ll have the art resources to do full customization of your avatar’s appearance. But at the most basic level, we’d like to at least provide gender selection, which is why we decided to work with a female model in the concept stage. Hopefully we’ll be able to go beyond that for Natural Selection 2 or a future add-on, so we wanted our new design to allow for that.
With those goals in mind, we asked Cory do some new variations on the helmet design. Here are the seven additional designs he came up with:
We picked bits and pieces we liked from each of these variations and sent Cory back to the drawing board (literally). One new idea we introduced at this stage was adding a blue holographic HUD to keep the connection with the distinctive blue visor from the original game. Here are the full images of the final design:
These are two variations on the headgear you might see in-game. The left image shows the full helmet. On the right is just the basic computer/HUD module. In this design, the armor plates that make up the helmet are snapped onto the base computer module that’s firmly strapped onto the head. Since helmets are hot and uncomfortable, you often see soldiers in war films remove their helmets during lulls in combat. In our Natural Selection fiction, we imagine that soldiers could snap off these armor plates in a similar fashion when they need a breather (Cory also came up with a cool retracting design in variation #8 that we ultimately didn’t use). Keeping them modular also means that damaged armor plates in the helmet could easily be replaced while preserving the expensive electronic parts.
But that’s just the fiction of the universe; in-game what this design means is that we can give players the option to customize their appearance with a full helmet, a mohawk, a military hat, a bandanna, or whatever else we want. The holographic element keeps an evolutionary connection with the original visor while giving us a step forward in the marine’s technology. And the face is uncovered, so we’re happy with this design. In the modeling stage we’re planning on emphasizing the shape of the armor plates to give the helmet a more unique silhouette, but for now we’re done concepting.