Diversity of environments is a key design feature of Subnautica. We want Subnautica players to be able to experience vastly different and beautiful ‘biomes’ as they explore the underwater world. Of course, no underwater world would be complete without a coral reef!
Cory painted Coral Reef Zone 3 to the team visualise what a coral reef biome might look like. Creating an ‘alien’ coral reef is quite tricky, because by their very nature terrestrial coral reefs already look quite alien!
We also need keep our desire for diversity of coral life in check: Each new life form is a new model that needs to be created and put into the game. There are financial, performance, and time expenses involved with each one. If you look closely, Cory’s artwork acknowledges this by attempting to re-use elements in consistent but non-fatiguing ways. The most obvious example of this is the red sea grass, which gives a definitive ‘look’ to this particular area.
As in previous concept art, a player-controlled submersible vehicle makes an appearance. Such vehicle will allow greater mobility than larger submarines, appropriate for the narrow canyons, low passes and frequent obstacles of a coral reef. Players might want to ‘anchor’ their larger submarine at a safe distance from obstacles, and make closer examinations with submersibles stored in onboard submarine ‘hangars.’
Coral Reef biomes are likely to be the starting biome for players, occuring nearer the surface and presenting fewer existential threats than deeper, less welcoming areas. Speaking of which…
Over the past few weeks, we have been posting lots of concept art. But here is proof that we aren’t just drooling over Cory’s pretty pictures! The image above is from a test of our ability to generate terrain consistent with concept visions for a volcanic biome, such as this one. While it is not an in-game screenshot, this exciting image does hint at the level of graphical fidelity we are trying to achieve in Subnautica.
Each week in December and January, we will release a new piece of concept art, and discuss that piece’s implication for Subnautica gameplay. You can chat to Charlie about gameplay, Steve about tech, and Cory about art on Twitter any time! See more concept art here.