Anyone who's played Outlast knows Chris Walkers as the big angry man who says 'Little Pig' and pulls limbs off. So: not nice. But what does it take to create a perfect monster? Here's Red Barrels' character modeller Marc-Antoine Senecal to explain (and there's more Outlast on the way with the Whistleblower DLC out next week):
Coming a bit on the middle/ late side of the project there was already some sort of direction and some concepts of Chris Walker but nothing definitive. In fact the character featured in the first Outlast trailer released was an early version of the soldier done before my arrival on the project.
That character had been done before the majority of the game and as a consequence was a bit off scale and small. So It had to be redone.
CHRIS WALKER, “THE SOLDIER”: A soldier returned from the Middle East with deep psychological scars, suffering physiological stress responses to remembered and imaginary events, waking dreams of combat. After being subjected to Wernicke's experiments, the transformations to his mind and body pushed into total war. He speaks as if still stationed in combat, talking about Green Zones, fobbits, the Muj, Red on Red. He worked security in his military career, scanning hands and retinas. His current interests have amplified that to a psychotic level, collecting heads and other body parts that appeal.
This was the general idea behind our main enemy and the concept I was given…
The patients were subjected to the morphogenic engine treatments. Under these circumstances each patients develops a mutation. The soldier’s mutation was inspired off of the harlequin baby disease ( for those of you who don’t know about it, I will not provide an image for it is the type of thing that cannot be unseen) and a mix of fibro dysplasia a rare bone disease were parts of your bone structure fuses together. Chris Walker’s skin is ripped apart uncovering the muscles and becoming like plates of armor. And you have the leftovers of his inmate suit that was ripped apart during the carnage that was the Mount Massive incident.
Following this concept I came up with this first draft.
This first version fell a bit flat in my opinion, we made it a bit taller than the previous model but in the 1rst person view it still didn’t convey an intimidating presence plus the peg leg thing was just awkward…. the whole Harlequin bone disease thing didn’t really work either. And I wanted to make him feel more soldiers like. So instead of trying to rework the model to make it better I ended scraping the whole thing and starting from scratch and taking liberties from the original concept. So I ended up with this guy…
Here I changed the whole look of the character, made him way bigger so he could have that Michael Myers imposing presence thing going on. Then I made him feel more soldier ish by adding some military gear on the character, stuff he could’ve scavenged after his encounters with the different security guards and SWATS of the Murkoff Corporation. I wanted the player to know just by one look that he was chased by something military…. For the face I kept the skin turning hard idea and wanted to give more of an animalistic/ predatory tone, I was inspired a lot by the Moray eel… beady eyes and crazy teeth . The strap holding the mouth was an idea of a leftover of his stay in the morphogenic engine where they force feed you with tubes and all so you are required to wear this in order to make the tubes fit in. And I wanted the eyes as far in the back of the head as possible so you barely could see them in normal lighting, like gazing into darkness, but when you would look at him from the night vision lens those two empty gaps would light up. But something was still off…. That face became too monster like, the body was really muscular… too much super hero like and I wanted to add the scars that the morphogenic engine would’ve left on Chris Walkers s body to show. So on to a new iteration:
This is the version of Chris that was shown in our first playable demo at PAX. Here you can see on his chest the little implants and plugs the morphogenic engine would’ve left. I reduced the muscle definition and added a bit of a gut. The face is now more human, I thought about removing the nose as if he would’ve been hurt by something ( explosion) during one of his encounter with the Murkoff special forces and it added an interesting touch to his silhouette. I even tried another version of the face:
I thought this face was interesting but it was a general opinion in the studio that it was more interesting to have all those teeth showing, felt more predatory. But overall that version still had the super hero thing going on and there was something quite not right about him having military pouches. So on to the version that came to be the final one:
Here I thought about making him really fatter with a massive gut but still keep that powerful look about him. I decided to let go of the whole soldier and morphogenic stuff and keep it simple… a gigantic crazy fat psycho. Then I added the chains mostly because of the sound design guy that put a chain sound when the soldier walked around (classical ghost stuff). In the end it helped the silhouette of the character by keeping the wrists and ankles (typically a small/weak sections) massive, giving a stronger silhouette all around. And I kept the same head as before with the exceptions of the teeth taking out the broken down sharp teeth for more standard ones making him look more human. Then it was on to texturing, being sure to make him bloody and dirty and adding detail in his face, I even brought back a bit of the scaring/ harlequin cracks we thought about in the beginning.
So that was a glimpse on how Chris Walker The Soldier came about.