The creative process behind Serekh
Now available on the Asset Store, Buried Memories Volume 2: Serekh is a high-quality asset pack that celebrates the science fiction and fantasy genres, bringing technological advances in DNA recombination to the ancient and mythical. You can read about the story behind Serekh in our previous blog post. Read on to go behind the scenes and dive further into the creative process.
Developing a strong game, large or small, depends on having a dedicated team of skilled and specialized people who share a vision and care deeply about what they are making. The development of Serekh was a combined effort by Edvige Faini, the Concept Artist, and the Unity Icon Collective. Some of the most significant challenges on this project were conceptual rather than technical.
Concept: Reimagining a legend
The Kirin is a legendary beast in East Asian culture whose iconography includes many different creatures like the dragon, lion, deer, and horse with countless representations. For Serekh, the team reinterpreted the creature to integrate humanoid traits.
Beyond deciding what the creature would look like and how it would it move, the artistic challenge was to imbue it with history and personality that would come alive in the game.
Kirin design: The devil is in the details
Character Artist Maria Panfilova brought the creature to life with her exceptional 3D sculpting work. The Kirin is ultimately an expression of her technical virtuosity and deep interpretive sensitivity.
Once the concept was developed, Maria’s task was to flesh out the details, like spikes, horns, and tentacles as those all contribute to the impression of an ancient mythical creature.
The character would walk on its hind legs but also use its hands to propel itself – an ape-type body with long arms – demonstrating both animal and human behavior. It needed to look feral and aggressive but also, at times, vulnerable and cute.
To sculpt the character, Maria followed a traditional approach, sculpting the details by hand instead of using a lot of alpha brushes to stamp details. This process takes more time but results in more flow across the whole body.
It was challenging to conceptualize how to customize the character on a low-poly level. Ultimately, the team settled on a solid main body, with replaceable features such as horns, ears, tail, and spikes.
For shading, Maria’s team used Unity High-Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP); she used the LayeredLit shader to tweak the color by using the mask texture.
Kirin animation: The spirit that moves you
The combination of animation and technical work by Myles Yeo and Ng Boon Wei awakened the creature through the magic of motion.
The legendary Kirin does not represent a technological civilization; it functions on a primal level. Its only goal is propagating and preserving the species, including eliminating life forms that may pose a threat to its existence.
When the scientist Minamoto mutates into the Kirin, the large predator must display sentient and sapient traits.
Myles was inspired by wolf and lion footage – the power and weight these creatures have. But a wolf can also seem friendly and act like a dog. He struck a balance between the aggressive predator spirit of the Kirin and the intelligent scientist who can control his instinct and rage.
Environment art: Setting the scene
Liu Tianyu, Lead Environment Artist, and Johaness Reuben, Level Designer, built a physical and interactive world around the creature. They found reference points that matched the concept style, which made their work much easier.
The team decided to use tiling and trim textures, which is a quick and efficient way to add details, but also convenient for later modification and adjustment. After set dressing, most of the scenes, decals, and details helped break up the loop and monotony of the scene – for example, pipes on the wall. The connection between the platform and the corner was also created with trim textures and tiling textures.
The team used Unity’s HDRP to make materials, textures, and lighting look more realistic. The new shader is easy to use and has a lot of parameters and effects you can adjust. The use of Planar Reflection allows the floor to reflect more detail in the scene, making the entire floor look more realistic.
Soundtrack: Creating a mood
Nathan Cleary and Sophia Leader are both masters of crafting sounds and sound effects, which are vital to a fully immersive experience.
In writing for this project, and for games in general, the challenge is to create something cohesive while giving the user maximum creative freedom to manipulate the music assets. The music tracks are composed to function as one piece, but they are carefully layered with varying timbres, to evoke radically different emotions in the listener.
For example, maybe you want a simple drone and distant percussion element to play as the player is exploring that then fades into other elements as the player progresses into dangerous or unsettling territory.
We set up a mixer for the current stems to get you started, but feel free to create triggers and code to manipulate the score. You could even use the stems provided to create abstract remixes!
For a project to be successful, whether you are part of a large team or a small indie crew, you need to understand the creative concept, know how to implement it, and cultivate collaborative interchange with other passionate people. The team behind Serekh is made up of black-belt artists, masters in their fields, who have a strong sense of ownership over their work.
Every successful project has a unified and singular voice that coordinates the elements into a cohesive whole. Creative Director Alitt Khaliq has a honed intuition that guided the right visual choices to support the story.
Together the team crafted the aesthetic, emotional, and interactive aspects of the creature that inspire engaging gameplay.
Download Buried Memories Volume 2: Serekh now to start creating your own projects. Let us know if you have any questions. We’re here to help and to listen, and we would love to see your creations!
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