[PROCESS] THE LAB
Robot Ships and Invisible Thieves
Mike Huddleston: After the mining/ pirates script, we take a hard turn with our next story taking place in a top secret science lab. This place is described as "A bright, expansive, sterile and very remote research facility on one of Ordo’s poles. The place The Institute does it’s wildest experiments, the stuff that’s dangerous and controversial."
Above ground the lab looks like a mid-size facility equipped with various outbuildings, solar panels, communications arrays and a landing pad. The big signature for this design was the enormous dome. I have no idea what type of experiments are being done at this lab, but I thought a huge dome (actually a sphere) would indicate some fairly extreme research was taking place inside.
The majority of the lab is below ground. I thought this much real estate would give our artist, Jeremy Haun, maximum flexibility to create whatever interior spaces he needed to tell the story, also it just reminded me of the 3D maps used to explore old games like Resident Evil or Metroid Prime.
The facility is too big to design every interior space so I wanted to give Jeremy something that would describe the basic aesthetic and he could then design whatever spaces he needed. I wanted it to be clean, near-future, but kind of mundane. More of a workplace than a high fantasy location. The main visual idea here is that many surfaces are covered with insulation giving the facility interiors kind of a padded look. It's a lab in a very, very cold place.
The way this facility is described, I imagine the experiment we're focusing on wasn't one of their major projects. It was serious enough to be at this cutting edge facility, but it was a smaller experiment relegated to a smaller lab.
Taxe's lab is small but very equipped. There is a full chemistry lab and computer control station to support the experiment. I wanted to have portable servers and workstations wired up directly to the experiment base to give it more of a prototyping, "we're making this up as we go" feel.
There is a small office in a corner of the lab. A messy teachers lounge type room with every surface covered with computers and papers, chalkboards on the wall filled with equations and a couch for napping.
Storage and equipment are shoved into every spare corner. Space at this facility is at a premium and as shipments to the pole are rare, everything comes in bulk.
The Experiment. Described as a cylinder. Something one could pick up and walk out with...
The first characters described in this story are Professor Taxe and his assistant. Taxe is described as the kindly, old, head scientist of this facility, and his assistant simply as young and eager.
I wanted their costumes to reinforce the idea that this is a dangerous lab, so the base of their costume is a hazmat suit. The doctor wears a lab coat and the sash worn by higher ups in the Institute, and his assistant wears a work apron. They both wear a lanyard that carries items to detect hazardous conditions (radiation, gas, etc.), their ID, and an emergency communication device. Around their wrists each lab employee wears a set of RFID tags that automatically gives them entry to parts of the facility they are approved to enter.
Syndicate administrator and Highmaster.
The Syndicate Administrator is described as "Female, expensive taste, very civilized criminal”. A fashionable lady that means business.
Highmaster is a character we see only briefly, but it gave me a chance to expand the aesthetic of the higher Institute members. I wanted his clothes to feel martial with hints of religious clothing: the robe, the stole, etc.
Syndicate shuttle. This ship is carrying our Syndicate Admin so I wanted it to continue her theme of civilized, expensive taste. My first choice is that it's a drone ship. I figured she's not going to deal with something as mundane as piloting a ship, also if her activities are criminal it's probably better to not have a talkative crew to worry about. Second, I thought it would be interesting if the interior of the shuttle was a luxury living/waiting room- completely putting personal comfort and taste over other concerns.
Syndicate Thief. The thief is described as having lightweight stealth armor. The armor I designed was an active camouflage suit that uses a series of micro cameras to capture info about the environment.
That info is processed and displayed on thousands of LED panels covering the suit, effectively hiding the wearer.
The poncho is made of the same material. It helps camouflage the wearer by breaking up their silhouette, as well as making any carried stolen items effectively invisible.
And that's it- all the designs for our upcoming Lab story. Let me know below if you have any questions or comments!