Creating The Extraordinary Machines Of Horizon Zero Dawn

Kimberley Wallace

If there's one thing that's impossible to ignore about Horizon Zero Dawn, it's the gigantic machines you go head-to-head with. All of them resemble different wildlife, from dinosaurs to crocodiles to hyenas.   Guerrilla Games spent a lot of time thinking about various features of these mechanical beasts, from their role in the game's ecosystem to their weaknesses and values. While in Amsterdam, the team gave insight into the intricate process of bringing these intriguing creatures to life by showing us how the Shellwalker came to be. Taking Real-World Inspiration Guerrilla tries to look for inspiration in nature for all its designs, using recognizable wildlife to form its robotic creatures.

 "We go for that…that there is a recognizable element in there," says lead designer Dennis Zopfi. "We try to twist it a little bit, so that there's something new to it. " This all ties into giving you familiarity before stepping into battle. "The reason for that is so that you expect certain behaviors and movements, so it's all about readability," explains managing director Herman Hulst. "The combat encounters need to be fluid and easy to read.

" For the Shellwalker in particular, the team looked at various pictures of the hermit crab, focusing on how it shields itself and uses its claws for protection. The Shellwalker is part of the transport class of machines within Horizon's unique ecosystem. Guerrilla studied hermit crab movements, especially how they looked and functioned in groups. They rarely travel alone, and the lowest amount you'd usually encounter at one time would be three. Because the Shellwalker is part of the transport class, it needed something to cart; this led to the addition of the Shellwalker's precious box on its back.

Moving boxes is all that matters to the Shellwalker; this is the role it's programmed to perform and the creature will do everything in its power to ensure it doesn't leave its box behind and completes the task at hand. Once Guerrilla gets some ideas down, it has designers build the machine as if it could actually be constructed. Yes, actual engineers are on staff who do this. This also means designing all its behaviors; the team especially spent a lot of time deciding on how the Shellwalker would handle the boxes. From there, it's deciding on how large certain elements, such as the claw or box, should be in the world.

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