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Early Spore development art

Posted by ballightning on April 17, 2009

Now that his time has come to a finish with Spore, Art Director Ocean Quigley has been busy posting early art of the game on his personal blog.  He has made a number of posts about his work, so I’ll list and link what he has posted so far relating to Spore. Thanks to SimPrograms for the tip!

Planets as Landscapes

Here’s a few screenshots from the first time we got the night sky working. I was pretty pleased with them at the time, but in retrospect they look a little like art you’d see painted on the side of a van in 1977. Must be another example of early childhood influences!

imposters1 imposters2 saturns

Spore early rig block experiments

I wanted to make the parts that you create with feel like magic lego blocks. They would have handles that transformed them in all sorts of ways. I wanted them to be fun to manipulate.

I started out calling them “morph blocks”, but eventually renamed them “rig blocks”. Morph block is a better name, I should have stuck with it.

These are a few of my first experiments, seeing if I could create such a thing, and then what a structure assembled out of them might be like:

Terraforming Planets in Spore

Once the planets were created they would transform in various ways. They would go from icy to lava, from hard vacuum to a thick atmosphere, from dry to drenched. We had to come up with some way of representing that. This image shows a planet going through all those different states. The same landforms persist throughout.


Spore’s creature skin painting

The particles would fly around the creature, whack into it and splatter it with paint. Once the particles had hit the creature they would crawl around on it’s surface, leaving paint behind them. It was kind of like painting with an army of “scrubbing bubbles” from that old TV ad. I got to write the scripts that told the scrubbing bubbles where to go and what colors (and shininess and bumpiness) to paint as they went.

Andrew figured out how to make the creature’s surface into a landscape that the particles could move across, so that I could give them controls like “turn left” or “zig-zag back and forth” and they would do it as they scooted across the skin.
All of those steering controls were relative to the surface, so to make leopard spots I could send the particles on a march around the creature and have them stop and drive in circles every now and then. I would imagine the particles point-of-view to write instructions that would create the kinds of patterns that I wanted. It was pretty amazing!

creature_charts stripey skin variations gator_variations creature_with_skin parts

Spore’s creature skinpaint

Normally a human texture artist paints a 3D creature’s skin, but with Spore we had to come up with ways of doing it procedurally.

In the course of figuring it out, I painted up this bunch of example patterns that we wanted to be able to hit. I wanted to get this level of structure out of our automatic skin painter, so that limbs, backs, fronts, etc. would be recognized and treated appropriately.


Spore Creatures rendered in MAYA

We have a nice exporter that exports out the skinned, rigged meshes along with all of the textures (normal maps, specular, diffuse, gloss, etc). Here I’m plugging all of those textures into mental ray’s subsurface scattering material and using depth of field to make the creatures look like little realistic toys.

guilly render fancy creature render fancy creature render dof


These are from the creature stage of the game, when you’re walking around on the surface of the planet. I cranked the depth of field effects for these stills (in-game we tuned depth of field way back, people found it distracting, but for stills they really add to the sense of space)

rain2 rain epic1 tetrapod


2 Responses to “Early Spore development art”

  1. boymac said

    WOW! COOL!!!

  2. Chosenoneknuckles said

    Wow… Just think of how many manhours over those first few years this must have all taken – it’s simply breataking! It’s coolio that he even posted them up online for us fans [and other industry folk] to see, it’s not like he had to to.

    Simply rad.

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