Aliens and space have been always an inspirational resource to create interesting characters and incredible background stories around them. Undoubtedly, films like the war of the worlds (1953, Byron Haskin), Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979), the thing (John Carpenter, 1982), Predator (Jhon McTiernan, 1987) and Star Wars saga (1977, George Lucas) have inspired games or created their own franchise. As in films, extra-terrestrial characters can be friendly or foe but always had added an incredible amount of creativity in their conception and creation, making sci-fi games one of the most extended and anticipated games in the industry.
Aliens have always been an easy and common resource to create enemies that the whole humanity can target as an enemy. They are weird, very different from humans, normally ugly and nasty but what is more important they don’t have any controversy or polemical debate attached to them so it’s less probable that sensitive consumers complain they being killed. This makes them the perfect enemy for shooters like Halo (Bungie, 2001). On the other hand, the hope of not being alone in the universe has always made wonder how other alien civilizations would be, would they be peaceful or they would be menacing. Would they be primitive or more technological advanced than us,… All this wondering has created an immense amount of lore for aliens cultures specially in very narrative games like role-play or strategy games that explore not only the aliens as an enemy but also as an ally or even an ancestor or creator of human life. Is very common to find an stinted alien race that has leaved behind a very complex technology that has being impossible to copy completely by humans but nevertheless, it has helped them in some way, maybe travelling faster or improving their own technology. We can find examples of these aliens in games like Mass Effect (BioWare, 2007) or Endless Space (Amplitud Studios, 2012).
As no one has seen an alien, character artists can be very creative on the process of creation as there are no constraints that limit their imagination. It can have numerous limbs, strange heads, look like lizards or insects or something else. Nevertheless, if they are a civilized race there is a tendency to make them looking humanoids, straighten, with two arms and two legs with more or less the size of a human being. This is probably due to our selfish anthropocentric conception of the world that we can only imagine intelligent and civilized beings looking or having some similarity in shape or behaviour with us. That is why the majority of game characters are humanoid or use tools and weapons similar to ours.
In my project case, our group decided to use aliens as an exterior, dreadful and menacing race that has attacked a human research space station. What they make more intriguing for the player is knowing why? from where they come? Or what they really want? I wanted to embed this ideas in the characters design making look very strange,… not showing face features like eyes or noses or having them covered with weird masks, having deformed and bestial features like long legs, lesser fingers than humans or having very numerous rows of fangs which would make them even more menacing.
My main reference were Alien, taking a similar face without features, the elder race from Warhammer 40k making the alien ponytail looking like the banshees hair and Warframe to make look them a bit organic technological based creating tubes and plates. I also used others artists aliens concepts in order to improve the details of my models and get some ideas like the shapes of the head or proportions. I think, my concepts are not very complex and fit with the preconception of humanoid looking stereotype but I feel they achieve their aim that was be strange, menacing and out of this world.
Warhammer 40,000 | Games Workshop Webstore (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <https://www.games-workshop.com/en-AU/Warhammer-40-000 > [Accessed 11 June 2017].
Shacknews (n.d.) Xenomorphs, Banshees, and Other Terrifying Video Game Aliens [Online]. Shacknews. Available from: <http://www.shacknews.com/article/94340/xenomorphs-banshees-and-other-terrifying-video-game-aliens > [Accessed 11 June 2017].
Joho (n.d.) The Best Games Inspired by the ‘Alien’ Franchise, Ranked [Online]. Mashable. Available from: <http://mashable.com/2017/05/19/alien-inspired-games-ranking/ > [Accessed 11 June 2017].
Aliens Throughout Gaming History (2017) Green Man Gaming Blog, 19 April [Online blog]. Available from: <https://www.greenmangaming.com/blog/aliens-throughout-gaming-history/ > [Accessed 11 June 2017].