Posted by Arne in Cortex Command - October 1st, 2009

For a long time now, Cortex Command has been stuck with the lonely Crab as the only Fauna on the planet. The Flora has been pretty sparse too.

Cortex Command Rough concept art for indigenous life

Cortex Command Rough concept art for indigenous life

The basic idea behind these concepts are that a mass extinction took place long ago, with the crab and a type of plant being the only survivors. The fossilized creatures were the ones which drew the short straw of course. With no competitors around, the crab and plant quickly evolved and diversified.

(Note: this is just a sketch-up of some ideas, and isn’t a guarantee of future gameplay elements. That goes for any art I post on this blog, too)

What about the gameplay though? Currently, the (or a) plan is to have different pacing with more action oriented segments, and some calmer segments with more of the indigenous life. It would be a nice feeling to arrive at a new site, finding a new life form (and poke it around a bit). The question is how quick the few lifeforms I’ve drawn above will get old, and if I need to vary the shapes and color a bit more too keep things exciting. Is it boring to just have different types of crabs, or should we go nuts with many different species? I’d like to think that it’s possible to vary the crab design enough to fill the niches we need to fill. Using wildlife derived from crabs also gives Cortex Command a clear identity.

While the regular plants are just terrain objects, the hostile ones would probably have to be special actors. We have thought about trees, but it might be best to put those in the background. It would probably feel wrong if they were staticย  terrain pixels. They could be some special kind of actor. A palm tree for example could have a trunk spine of little… chunks, and flimsy leaves which could be shot to pieces.


A dropship crashing down in a group of trees could bend the trunks (which could snap if a certain tolerance is exceeded). It would look spectacular, in theory. In reality it might be hard to get it to feel right, and it takes valuable time to implement. Another worry is that trees will crowd up the terrain too much and that too many actors would end up walking into trees and hang or ‘explode’ (wait, did we fix that yet?).

So, well, those were my thoughts on that. I wrote a bit too much about trees. I think I’m supposed to end this pose with a question mark, to stimulate discussion. Instead I used it to highlight a bug which has proven difficult to crush. That’s not the way to do it, so I’ll have another go at it.

Coalition Military Forces (playing with styles)

Coalition Military Forces (playing with styles)

What do you guys think about the proportions of the Cortex Command humanoids? More specifically, I’m thinking about the head size and foot size. When I was younger I thought big feet and big hands were really awesome. Lately I’ve been moving the focus away from the feet and legs, up to the torso where I feel the interesting parts are. For me, feet are not the most interesting part of a design. Long mecha toes are alright, but putting a lot of the (design) mass into the foot and lower leg seems like a waste unless you’re designing a toy which is supposed to be standing up. Humans get fat around the belly because it’s the center of mass. Imagine trying to move around if all of your fat was centered around the wrists and ankles! (On the plus side, you could wear blue spandex and cosplay as Megaman.)

Fight, Proto-clone, for everlasting gold!

Fight, Proto-clone, for everlasting gold!

Anyways, I had a fleeting thought about reducing the foot size a bit, and maybe (but probably not) play around with the head size some. The actual foot graphics are separate from the ground collision mechanic, so it can be just a graphical tweak. I mention this because I don’t like drawing pinups of the Cortex Command characters with huge ‘Goofy’ feet, even though they bother me less when seen ingame. It would be nice if the promo art matched the actual ingame graphics though.

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68 Responses to “Wildlife in Cortex Command”

  1. Kaworu Nagisa - # October 2nd, 2009 at 8:39 am

    I love the idea of life evolving on the planet according to the story (which means it is realistic and follows common sense).
    Love it. Do it! You won’t regret it ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Numgun - # October 2nd, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Destroyable barrier plants like those organic things in metroid fusion that you needed to shoot at to proceed would work too.

    Variety is fun : 3

  3. ZevN47 - # October 2nd, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Awesome… I like the idea for trees and the balloon crab would be interesting… I wonder if the balloon crab is a hydrogen filled crab (Hindenburg?) because that would be interesting.

    I had a interesting thought for trees… Could you make an actor detection/Drop ship detection with Rays and then have 30-40 frames of tree bending for lua to play as the actor pushes against the tree and when the last frame is played the tree gibs… I suppose you could also do this to how much force is applyed to the tree… might have to look into it…

    Anyway I think the priority should be on diversifying the wildlife instead of making more crabs… Now I’m not saying you need a million and 1 creatures but I was thinking some giant insect life or some more primitive life would be interesting. I think this should have the theme of the Pre-Reptilian Era of Earth(crabs, fish, various crustaceans, plant life, etc.) but with artistic liberties taken (aliens and stuff).

    another thing… I thought of one kinda crab… The Shield crab (thought it up when I saw a horseshoe crab on Google images).

    Lastly, I think the coalition look fine but need to look more gritty*(like they are vets) this is a war not a pansy fest. ๐Ÿ˜› Or they could (as the campaign progresses) have more gritty graphics* as they become more veteran soldiers.

    *could benefit from improved pallet

  4. ZevN47 - # October 2nd, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Crap I forgot something:

    I think we should have more options than just “Flash White” in lua. This could be very useful for modding maybe a “FlashColor = G(33)R(48)B(78)”

    … Srry for Double post

  5. Petethegoat - # October 2nd, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Hey Arne, are you an anarchist perchance? Your signature in the first image suggests that you are. This pleases me. :3

  6. S - # October 2nd, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I’m really liking these updates, even if there’s no new build, it’s fun to see what’s going on, and what is being thought about.

  7. Pyrokinesis - # October 2nd, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Not that I know anything about the coding or limits thereof in CC, but after reading all of these tree posts, it seems to me that trees can either be a)background and do nothing, b)regular terrain that gets shot up just like everything else, c)an actor that can bend and gib, but actors can’t move through, or d)something that actors can move through, but won’t bend or interact as well.
    Those crabs look awesome. All of them. So do the plants. I wouldn’t mind having mostly crabs and plants as long as there are more awesome variations on both. And I have never noticed the proportions for any of the limbs/features to be really off, although I’m always too busy blowing things up to really stop and look at some Coalition dude’s feet.

  8. wereguy2 - # October 2nd, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Damn, I absolutely LOVE your concept art ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. Karvey - # October 2nd, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    We require humanoid crabs with gunz >:)

  10. washaa - # October 3rd, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Would this open up to missions where you protect and cultivate the wildlife, able to research new stuff from observing them? Fun.

  11. Raintail99 - # October 3rd, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I vote that crabs be the dominant creature, but have evolved into many different types.

  12. Vash - # October 4th, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I like the proportions on the Female coalition and the Grunts in the two tree concept pictures. What I mean is like the big, cartoony heads and the tiny feet.

  13. feras - # October 5th, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    I like numgum’s idea of a tree. I also think it’d be cool if the coalition clones had different faces under the mask and that the mask would be easier to shoot off.

    I think the proto-clone and even the two stylistic-clones would make cool brain units or other new kind of special actors. I wouldn’t mind them being more expensive regular actors either.

    I just thought of a new idea, that you could customize your brain unit and use it kind of like an avatar. Like you could change it’s helmet and mask, boots, armor, and default loadout.

    As a side note, I think it’d be really useful if you could save presets between games and not just in the current game.

  14. Lizard - # October 9th, 2009 at 8:51 am

    That customizeable brainbot idea sounds awesome, and one could have different frames that one can buy, then customize those.

  15. sylverone - # October 19th, 2009 at 10:06 am

    A family member of mine has complained about the “cartoony” style of the characters. He would prefer smaller heads. I could handle it however it ends up, though.

  16. VladDracul - # October 20th, 2009 at 4:18 am

    God… I would give my left foot, a kidney, and my big toe’ toenail to have super bendy, super strong trees that I can ram a drop-ship into, and just WATCH it be sling-shot’d away.

    Dropship: Incoming tree, prepare to be broken!
    Tree: *Bend. Fling!!* NO U!

  17. Azukki - # October 30th, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Prop up dead headless robot.
    Glue Balloon Crab to neck.
    Explode it.
    Enemy assumes victory and leaves?

  18. Tezzet - # December 9th, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    i really like the idea of using crabs as the sole fauna.