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'robotron: invasion' prototype

\ (unreleased) \ Project lead

Facing the traditional 'down time' between development cycles and recognizing the need for a faster prototyping and proof-of-concept process, I created and lead the development of this new UE3 3rd person shooter.

Focused on reducing development costs to show that prototypes could be created quickly and cheaply, I cut costs for the demo by reusing existing software and content assets.

Created in only 6 weeks, this fully playable demo was well-received throughout the company. At one point marketing suggested making it a light-gun game for the Wii - that would have been fun. Unfortunately it was then that the economy imploded and Midway went bust.

In addition to my position at project lead and de facto executive producer, I also acted as art director and game designer, which included hands-on development of gameplay, scripting, and interaction design.

I directed the creation of the concept art based on my vision for the project.

The concepts were more to define the world, and show how we could quickly change existing assets into something that looked new and different.

The concepts were created by Midway's Concept Central Group.

The focus was on nailing the atmosphere of the game world.

The heat-shimmer and other effects helped add to the sense of alienness.

Here are shots from the playable demo level. We were able to get large numbers of enemies onto the screen at once by making sacrifices like simplified AI and removing shadows. The fast paced arcade gameplay meant the player usually wouldn't notice these issues.

My art direction called for extensive use of UE3's screen effects to simulate the environment being invaded by nanomachines from outer-space. Or something.

See that suit of armor? That's what lets the player fight the bad guys. And when you die (which happens frequently), your extra life (a different person, thanks to Wardrobe) runs up from off-screen, dons the armor, and continues the fight. All those people you rescued in the original Robotron? In this game, those are your extra lives.

Lots of heat distortion. The environment was also color-coded, blue areas meant the bad guys were around. Naturally the player runs straight for those areas.

Like in the original, people get turned into bad guy robots. This time, the environments would also change, become more angular and mechanical over time.

There was a definite survival-horror edge to the game, with lots of body-modification horror, notably people strung up in cocoons, twitching and making noise as they were converted to robots. Making these kinds of changes to characters originally wearing street clothes was one of the bigger art tasks.

Here was the gigantic final boss monster.

Here was some in-progress work at creating more finalized versions of the robots.

More concepting: this guy represents someone barely infected with the nanovirus...

Whereas these guys are further along in the conversion process.