Biorobotics, art and video games: the development of Horizon Zero Dawn

Biorobotics, art and video games: the development of Horizon Zero Dawn

Biorobotics, art and video games

Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the titles that most passionate gamers who love open worlds and adventure, the wait for the second title is great, as are the expectations of the public.

In this article the artistic direction and development of the video game will be analyzed, starting from the machines up to the various tribes.

Here it is clearly impossible to analyze every machine or tribe in the game, since there are so many elements, but more general reflections will be made by citing various examples. The part dedicated to machines will begin below, happy reading!

Biomachines between reality and videogame The study of robotics, in recent times, has really made great strides. Now robots are entering the world of work and especially medicine. The Guerrilla team had truly commendable inventiveness in designing so many examples of machines, but here it is a little different.

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We analyze the adaptability of plants and the movements of animals, involving their central nervous system. Marine biologist Barbara Mazzolai, director of the micro-biorobotics center of the Italian Institute of Technology, explains this concept as follows:

"Bio-inspired robotics studies living organisms and their ability to move, explore and perceive the surrounding environment. By means of bio robots, it is thus possible to identify leaks of gas or potentially toxic substances, acting in unstructured environments. ”

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First of all the Plantoid, of which the biologist explains its characteristics and functions:

"It is an autonomous robot inspired by plants and their roots, which explores the soil by monitoring its depth, temperature, humidity and internal propagation of pathogens. The goal is to obtain data for agriculture, obtaining, for example, information on how to give the plant water and nutrients only when it needs it "

if (jQuery (" # crm_srl-th_gamedivision_d_mh4_1 " ) .is (": visible")) {console.log ("Edinet ADV adding zone: tag crm_srl-th_gamedivision_d_mh4_1 slot id: th_gamedivision_d_mh4"); } Game director Mathjis de Jonge said: "We had no idea how animalistic we could make the machines, we started with some models and sketches."

The machines of the game - the team declares - do not have a counterpart in the real world but are a "set" of different animals which, more or less, "remember" real specimens.

Miguel Angel Martinez, principal concept artist, cites an example: “We have given each machine a key role within the ecosystem. Cervavito transforms grass and leaves into bio-fuel which it inserts into the canisters on its back, it is not only a source of energy, but it is also a real component. "

Another example is the Pursuer, based on the design of one of the most feared and loved predators in history: the wolf. And again the masterful Storm Avenger, to whom they wanted to give "[...] the majesty and power of an eagle combined with an advanced defensive system. Able to condense static electricity in the air into electrical attacks to damage enemies "

What is striking about these machines is their ability to adapt to the ecosystem they live in, in fact the Guerrilla team said they confronted with several robotics professors.

Art director Jan-Bart van Beek reveals:

“The Thunder Devourer, the giant t-rex-like Machine, is my favorite. Also because it was the first one we made and it was a bit of our testing ground: if we could make it work, then we could make the whole game work "

Rites of passage, art and anthropology: the tribes of Horizon Zero Dawn For the uninitiated, anthropology was born as an internal discipline in biology, then developing its own personality concerning the study of man in relation to society, to culture , medicine and history. Anthropology has many "branches" of study, what inspired the tribes of Horizon is just one of them: cultural anthropology.

Cultural anthropology studies the uses, customs and traditions of many peoples, analyzes the "material culture": that is, objects such as tools, artistic products, clothes and much more. But not only that, an in-depth study also concerns magic and rituals, particularly present in simple or matriarchal societies such as some of the game. Let's take some examples.

Let's start with the Nora, Aloy's tribe: a very classic matriarchal society, based on the value of community and hunting. The three matriarchs lead the tribe, connecting to the divinity they venerate: the "Mother", that is the Mountain.

The relationship with nature is fundamental for the type of society considered by Guerrilla, a simple society is - in anthropology - a society without stratified social classes, commonly identified in hunter-gatherer groups, just like the Nora (and the Banuk).

It does not mean that the internal social rules are few or "simple", rather! It is enough to detach yourself a little from them and you become marginalized just like Rost, Aloy's father.

Starting from the beginning, we are witnessing the “Trial of the Bold”, another way to represent a rite of passage.

Rites of passage are a fundamental subject of study in anthropology, but what are they? These are tests that mark the transition from youth to adulthood or from one social status to another; were already present in ancient Greece, in Spartan society to be precise.

The tests of the rites of passage often focus on hunting, just like in the video game, in other cases these tests can be much more brutal: in some tribes young people are left alone in the forests at night, pushed to survive, in others a real "manhunt" takes place.

Let's move on to the conception of our beloved Aloy: in the initial concept art we find a more adolescent girl, extremely expressive, with outfits in vibrant and bright colors just like in the game. Concept Artist Lois van Baarle states:

"While drawing Aloy, I concentrated on using earthy tones that reflected her connection with nature. However, I believed it was important to balance these colors with details that had a double function: to make her feel like she was wearing both handmade items and car parts. I was lucky to work on her hair, it turned out to be a real challenge. The goal was to give a sense of richness and volume, so that she conveyed a strong personality. "

Let us now look at the Banuk tribe, intrepid ice hunters. The inspiration for this tribe is quite intuitive: they are inspired by the Inuit (or also called "Eskimos") who currently live in Alaska, Greenland and Canada.

These are simple societies based on solidarity between villages and on shamanism: a set of magical-ritual beliefs and techniques, especially linked to natural elements and phenomena which, according to these tribes, possess a soul or a spirit .

But not only the Inuit, there are also other similar tribes such as the Tungus: a group of ethnic groups living in Siberia, Mongolia and northern China. Note the similarity between the clothes of the young Tungusians in the photograph below and some of Aloy's clothes.

Unlike the Inuit, the Banuk tribe is nomadic and strongly individualistic, based on the importance of the hunter, with the " Werak ”identified as the main political unit. Just like the Inuit, however, the Banuk also have a shaman.

The team, regarding the design of the Banuk shaman, said:

“For the shaman's design I wanted to emphasize the spiritual attitude towards machines. Large headdresses made of machine parts, incisions made with robots' ropes along their hands, all to present them as beings straddling the human world and the world of machines, capable of communicating with them. " (Ilya Golitsyn)

It is essential for the Banuk to demonstrate their honor, their abilities, in a hostile and dangerous world. Their "trials" are much harder than those of Nora, in the game's "Frozen Wilds" expansion this aspect is very emphasized, especially when (on a mission) you meet a Banuk huntress who prefers to die in the ice rather than return as a “loser”.

Before concluding, let us briefly deal with the Carja. A highly stratified society with a rigid internal hierarchy, reminiscent of the structure of many great empires in history, with an aesthetic that refers to the East.

In the city of Meridiana, warm colors prevail: gold, red , orange and earthy colors. With the Carja we have the identification of the temporal power (that of the King) with the spiritual power, the Sun King is considered as the incarnation of the Sun itself (not very different from the ancient French monarchy).

How the other tribes, even in the Carja there is the culture of hunting, for them a millenary and fundamental art. The team states: “In designing the Carja hunters I wanted their hunting style to reflect the vanity and decadence of a sophisticated culture. These acrobats are real showmen, who hunt for luck and fame. " (Ilya Golitsyn)

With this we conclude the article, hoping to have shed light on the curiosities about the ideas and development behind Horizon Zero Dawn. We remind you that graphic novels related to the game have also been released, along with the artbook. Now we just have to wait for the next title!

At this link you can buy the complete edition of Horizon Zero Dawn at a good price!

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