A little under a year ago, I was approached by Dreamscape Immersive to work on a new opening VR experience titled, Alien Zoo. The premise of the experience (without giving too much away) is that a few humans (us) are brought up to a zoo containing wildlife from other worlds. There, players interact with and tour the zoo, learning about the creatures inside. In the experience, players are able to touch and play with creatures, feel misty environments and smell their surroundings. It's a truly immersive experience.
And I had the amazing opportunity to design the creatures featured in the Alien Zoo.
Where to start! In beginning this project, the team had so many things they wanted to do. We knew that we wanted to touch an alien and Walter Parkes (the director and writer) along with Bruce Vaughn (the CEO) thought something horse-like would be appropriate and approachable for a general audience. These were the first concepts for what we eventually called "The Trunk Horse". The trunk was my idea, I thought it would be fun to touch and interact with something flexible and multi textured.
From our initial exploration we took the design and pushed it into more alien territory. This was quite the balancing act for this project. We wanted things to look familiar but also feel alien. However, because this was all for a virtual experience for a general audience spanning from 10 year olds and up, we needed to keep things approachable. For the final look of the trunk horse, we ended up with a friendlier face and softer proportions. Overall, something the average person would want to walk up to and touch.
The final trunk horse also ended up being hairless, even though Walter had initially liked the silhouette of concept E quite a bit. It was just too heavy for the system. This development actually ended up deciding a lot of textures for creatures down the pipeline and would ultimately cut a few from the roster.
The trunk horse also went through quite a few color iterations before we decided on a more saturated blue/tan of version A. We wanted the color to feel a bit wild but also have a grounded look to it. François Audouy was Production Designer and supervised the color choices here. The model was sculpted by Julia Kodl.
This render was produced by the wonderful team at Framestore in collaboration with the team at Dreamscape Immersive. I'm so happy with how friendly she came out and she's even better animated! Touching the trunk horse in VR is also an unreal experience. I've never been through anything quite like it. I hope we are able to share in game footage soon. It's an absolutely beautiful experience! I am so thrilled to have been a part of this project. It was an absolute dream job and I'm very proud of the team and people involved. Big thank you to the team at Dreamscape, my director, Walter Parkes and the team at Framestore. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to work with such excellent talent.
Alien Zoo is open and sold out! You can find out more at Dreamscape Immersive's website and by following their social media accounts. Stay tuned for more concepts from this project!