"The enormous tyrant is the end result of alien evolution, a hulking behemoth capable of demolishing human defenses and quickly killing anything not wearing a battlesuit. It's nowhere near as mobile as the other aliens, but due to its size and great strength, it can best be thought of as a living tank. Its charging attack knocks back humans and constantly deals trampling damage, and it can even crush humans and their structures by falling on them."
"The alien that was to become the tyrant originally inhabited the grassy plains and savannas of its homeworld, where it subsisted on a mostly herbivorous diet. Its powerful legs allowed it to accelerate its enormous body into short bursts of terrifying speed, not only easily sending potential predators flying for a great distance, but also providing a means to challenge rivals prior to courtship displays. Packs of tyrants roamed the grasslands freely, the very earth trembling beneath them at every step. Endless conflicts between family groups kept the species strong, and the number of tyrants at a sustainable level, much to the relief of other inhabitants of their world.
Unlike many of the other alien forms, the tyrant was not encountered until several decades after the invasions began. Many other civilizations had fallen to the overwhelming swarms the hivemind was capable of mustering, but humanity, with its highly developed technology and usage of artificial intelligence in combat roles, proved too strong of an opponent. Something larger was needed, a creature capable of taking blows the lesser aliens would find lethal and returning them with even greater force."
As the original Tyrant model from Tremulous was quite iconic of the game, I felt it important not to make this redesign too radical but instead aim for more of an evolved modern day interpretation. As it is the most advanced and powerful alien within the game I also felt it was important to push the reptilian and insect features further than some of the lesser aliens. Exaggerating contrasting features like fleshy reptilian skin with a hard segmented carapace really helped to sell the creature as something otherworldly.
The smaller set of arms originally influenced by large predatory dinosaurs were added for functionality as the Tyrant has limited flexibility when bending forward due to its heavy armour. I wanted to be able to sell the believability of the Tyrant as a real creature so making sure he could actually get food to his mouth was crucial. The smaller arms helped solve this issue. By design these arms could tuck in close towards the chest, allowing the larger scythe like claws room to sweep out towards the target. Eventually the little arms also allowed for some amusing idle animations, for example: The Tyrant picking its teeth.
The modeling process started by blocking out the major forms in Zbrush using zspheres. The head, mandibles, torso, body, legs and arms.etc were kept as separate subtools so I could manage a consistent amount of detail throughout the model. As I was aware the final low poly model would utalize mirrored UV's I was able to create the sculpt using symmetry throughout the sculpting process.
I blocked out the major forms and underlying anatomy through several passes using layers so I could adjust the intensity accordingly. When I was happy with the medium detail sculpt, further detailed passes were added using the same technique.
The next step was to retoplogise the high poly model into a game ready low poly mesh. Maintaining an effective mesh topology for use with UV unwrapping, rigging and animation, while keeping within the given polygon budget is probably the most challenging part of the modeling process. I was given a budget of 10k tris and successfully managed to create the final model within the budget using 9.7k tris.
After unwrapping each piece of the low poly model I baked out the necessary maps (AO, Cavity and Normal) using both low and high poly models in Xnormal. With this model I felt it easier to create the diffuse colour in Photoshop instead of using polypaint directly in Zbrush. The maps were then edited, AO and Cavity were applied directly over the diffuse colour using multiply and overlay filters and further maps such as specular and emissive were created directly using Photoshop.
"The first encounter between humanity and the tyrant occurred during a boarding action, a battle from which only a single distress call survives. It is from the terrified words of the human captain that we learn shotguns and painsaws, standard fare among crewmen, were nothing against its toughened hide. A few loud stomps drowned out the captain’s screams, followed by a bloodcurdling roar and the sound of the ship’s computer being torn into shreds.
Typically encountered towards the end of an assault, the tyrant towers above all other aliens, its weaponized arms longer than the bodies of most of its fellow creatures. There is no subtlety behind the tyrant, no thought behind the sheer force it is capable of utilizing. Armor is torn apart as if it was paper, and entire skeletons are fractured within moments when the tyrant slams its opponent against a wall. As if mocking the thought of its enormous body being easy to aim at, the very same bulk crushes anything unfortunate enough to be underneath it. To go alone against a tyrant is suicide, at best."
Maps Used: 1024x1024, Diffuse, NRM, Specular, Emissive
In-game screenshots shown above have been taken from early alpha footage of Unvanquished. Special thanks to Kharnov, Ishq, Greg, Gavlig and the rest of the Unvanquished development team.