Warframe developer Digital Extremes has a rare intimacy with the community. In fact, it was so close that at the beginning of this year it asked players to design the 44th fighter-a nominal suit of alien armor that players live in and exchange between them. Players chose its theme, visual beauty, and even abilities, and Warframe’s fan artists signed to turn it all into concept art, and Digital Extremes then used it to create actual game models. This is a grand experiment aimed at understanding what players might come up with, and as community manager Danielle Sokolowski told me, there are some scary moments in terms of belief in players to create great things. And, boy, they did. The new fighter will be released later this year, named Xaku, this is the Frankenstein monster, pieced together with the broken parts of other fighters, and fixed by a twisted void energy skeleton.
“For a while, developers were like, what can we even do?”
If you want to learn more about Xaku’s creation, you can watch Warframe art panel just aired As part of TennoCon 2020, The practice of loyal fans of Warframe.
Although Xaku was the first Warframe almost entirely designed by the community, players have left their mark in the game for many years. For example, the TennoGen project is a unique partnership with Warframe fan artists who create 3D models of cosmetic upgrades, such as cloaks (called Sydanas) or alternate Warframe appearances. Using the Steam Workshop, players can vote on the designs they like, and the most popular designs are selected several times a year and put into the game and sold as official cosmetics. The artists who created them will be Earn part of this sale. More than a few artists turned TennoGen into full-time jobs, while others used it as a recruiting gate for Digital Extremes.
Therefore, earlier this year, design director Scott McGregor proposed the idea of letting the community design a chariot frame, which seemed unreasonable. Sokolowski said: “This is ultimately the starting point for a multi-month project between the community and the developers.” “The last time this happened to us was with Zephyr, but she was a fighter, inspired by the community that actually works with us now. Fan artist. It’s like 2014. But it’s never been like this. Let’s interact with the community here, really from top to bottom and design with them.”
At the core of each armor is a theme. Rhino is an empty swordsman. She protects herself with crystalized armor, throws darts between her arms, while Valkyr rages violently, tearing the enemy apart with her claws. Back in March, Digital Extremes proposed Call for topics This new Warframe will be based on. Anyone can come up with an idea, assuming it is primitive and suitable for the knowledge. A few weeks later, the developers selected ten of the best and most popular ideas and presented them to the design committee, which is composed of a special group of participants who discuss more specific issues on behalf of the community.
In the top ten, any one can make badass fighters, but the design committee chose the “broken fighter” proposal put forward by forum user eaterofstorms. Eaterofstorms wrote as a short description: “Obviously, it is not put together correctly, and this is almost a microcosm of the error as a function.”
Sokolovsky said that this concept surprised developers. Without more background information, Digital Extremes can’t determine whether the subject matter is a real idea or a joke. “I don’t want to say that, but at first it was like, oh, is this a memetic theme? Was it voted because it was a bit like a stupid concept?”
“[To] To be honest, I never thought that the broken Warframe was a meme,” On the forum. “I have got [an] The idea of a framework, it will never work as expected, but you have to do it your way anyway.
But Sokolovsky said the team is still worried. Most of the previous 44 fighters stemmed from a clear idea that their designers enriched the cohesive aesthetics and capabilities. “For example, Hora [3D character artist] I guess you would say, the child of Michael Skyers. He has been in this job for a long time-her appearance and ability. This is not the only way we design the armor, but one of the main methods. “
However, the concept of “broken” can even be explained by the description of a violent. At that time, senior game designer Pablo Alonso put forward a more substantial architectural concept, piecing the structure together with the wreckage of other structures, which was slightly different from the original idea. The conceived structure was not only assembled by mistake, but also removed. However, choosing a theme is only the first step. The real work is actually designing the appearance and capabilities of Xaku.
Given Warframe’s unique space ninja appearance, it is not surprising that it has attracted many fan artists. Sokolowski said that for her, the most exciting part of this project is being able to hire some of them to flesh out this broken warfare organization. Based on previous work, four artists were selected from the community: Eornheit will be responsible for the overall design of Xaku, Faven will create a spare makeup helmet, Karu will design a special Sydana (cloak), and kedemel will create Xaku’s iconic melee arms.
“When I was invited to participate in the project, I was very excited,” Eornheit said. “This is an opportunity to participate in games I have played and games I really like and contribute to game development.”
Sokolowski said that Digital Extremes has given Eornheit enough trust to use the short descriptions of Alonso and Eatofstorms as a benchmark and provide them with a blank check to apply the concept in any direction they want. Eornheit envisioned a fighter jet consisting of a core with tentacles of void energy, a common visual element on some levels, winding through the broken fragments of other fighters, tying them together.
Sokolovsky said that the first concept blew up the team. Not only does it look unique, but it almost fits perfectly with Warframe’s bizarre aesthetics. Sokolowski explained: “This is a sign of the moodiness of these community members, indicating their level of participation in Warframe, whether it is participating in development or just participating in the community and participating in the game.” “For the art team, this person is immediately obvious. know Warframe and this person know our design method. This person is familiar with aesthetics and the story of Warframe. They are telling this story through Warframe. “
Digital Extremes wants to emphasize those weak energy tentacles and a greater sense of brokenness. After several modifications, Eornheit created the final concept-a Frakenstein monster, entwined with creepy void tentacles. After completing the final appearance, other artists can start designing Xaku’s cosmetics and weapons, and Digital Extremes once again turned to the community to start soliciting ideas about Xaku’s capabilities.
Similar to the call for thematic creativity, Digital Extremes Go to the forum to ask players Come up with ideas about Xaku’s abilities and give them the concept art completed by Eornheit as inspiration. Each armor has four active abilities and one passive ability. Players can suggest a complete set of equipment or only one set. Sokolovsky said she did not expect the players to take it seriously. She smiled and said: “People are impressed with the details behind these things, and they always leave a deep impression on me.” “The community team consists of a three-person team that classifies all content, reads everything and shows it to the development team. The final content.”
It’s one thing to look cool, but ability brings greater challenges. From a balance or design perspective, ideas may not be feasible, or they may be too powerful. Others may need code solutions beyond what Digital Extremes can achieve. Sokolowski explained: “It’s not like we picked one. We stuck with it firmly.” “We found inspiration from many different submissions and different approaches people took.”
Sokolowski could not confirm the final capabilities of Xaku, because the final version of the fighter will not be fully disclosed until tonight. In the TennoCon Live demo, Digital Extremes will announce its major new features and updates later this year, but one of the key Xaku games The idea expressed in the animation is a kind of unstable feeling. In the idle animation shown on the TennoCon art group earlier today, Xaku’s armor sometimes shivered or detached from the void’s endoskeleton. It gives the impression that Xaku’s armor may disintegrate at any time, leaving only the twisted empty tendrils.
However, I am very happy to see Xaku in operation. With 43 fighters, you might think Digital Extremes may be exhausted, but this is one of the three new fighters to be launched next year. However, Xaku can easily stand out from the looks of it-just because all the other fighters look like a complete set of armor, rather than a shattered husk that barely remains one (which is very suitable for 2020).
At the same time, Digital Extremes continues to find ways to enhance the capabilities of its artist community while also paying them, which is cool. For people like Eornheit, such an opportunity is not only an opportunity to gain valuable professional experience, but also to leave a permanent mark on the games they love very much.
They said, “It’s hard to describe it in words.” “It’s very inspiring. When I started playing and then drew fan art and fan-made bio-designs, I didn’t even think I could bring my own things to the game. In. It’s like part of the game. Your creativity becomes a reality. When you see not only the feedback from the game community, but also the recognition of the developers themselves, it will greatly inspire you to create more A better idea.”