Subnautica Concept Art: Kelp Forest

Posted by acedude 10 years ago

Here on Earth, the underwater realm is rich in life and mystery. Only a small proportion of the planet’s oceans have ever been explored, and it is thought that hundreds of thousands of species are yet to be discovered. If such biodiversity is present on our own world, then just image then wealth of life that could exist on unknown ones: Worlds like that which you will explore in Subnautica.


The image above is Kelp Forest. Painted by Cory, Kelp Forest represents an environment vaguely reminiscent of what a diver might see on Earth, but with unmistakably alien features. Thin anchor stalks lead to rich foliage-like structures just below the surface, creating an underwater forest through which a player will weave.

Charlie Cleveland Cory Strader Steve An Unknown Worlds

Cory (left), Charlie, and Steve (right) discuss possible Subnautica environments

Diverse environments are one of Charlie’s key design elements. Two weeks ago we revealed Lava Zone, a concept resplendent in reds , yellows, and oranges. Kelp Forest represents an utterly different gameplay experience, and we hope that players will be able to explore many more environments. Creating believable and immersive transitions between environments has been a key technical challenge that Steve has been considering recently.

Subnautica Unknown Worlds

Animation bones overlaid upon an early Kelp forest model

The presence of two divers implies a desire for multiplayer. While it is our dream that Subnautica will one day feature multiplayer capabilities, we are determined to release a great game in a reasonable amount of time. This determination means sacrificing features that while undoubtedly cool, are perhaps not totally critical to the core gameplay experience. Some day, you might swim through the Kelp Forest with a friend at your side!


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Right now, Unknown Worlds is on Christmas / New Year break. Just before we all scattered for a few days rest, we created our eighth prototype ‘build.’ It featured our first attempt at creating the Lava Zone environment in-game. While it is far from being ready for a public showing, it was exciting for us to be dodging steam vents, watching pillow lava grow, and navigating around volcanic structures. One day soon, we hope that Kelp Forest will make it into a prototype build. From red, to green, to what next?

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.

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