Godzilla: Unleashed Designer Diary #3 - Krystalak

Pipeworks Software producer Shelby Stair Wills talks about one of the original monsters that Godzilla will be doing battle with on the Wii later this year.

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It's not often that Godzilla comes up against a previously unseen monster nowadays, but when Godzilla: Unleashed for the Wii arrives in stores later this year, the irradiated dinosaur will come up against two all-new foes in Krystalak and Obsidius. In this, our third designer diary for the game, producer Shelby Stair Wills talks about the creation of Krystalak.

Designing Krystalak


By Shelby Stair Wills
Producer, Pipeworks Software

Welcome back to our GameSpot designer diary. In this installment, we will take you through the process of designing and bringing to life one of the all-new, original, Pipeworks-designed monsters that will soon be joining the venerable Toho cast of monsters.

First off: a little history. This is actually the first time that anyone outside of Toho has ever been allowed to design monsters for the Toho universe. So it was quite an honor when, after working together on the previous two Atari/Pipeworks Godzilla games, Toho allowed us to add two new monsters for Godzilla: Unleashed. We were very excited and took very seriously the responsibility of adding something new and faithful to the Toho universe.

For our first new monster, we knew we wanted to create something that specifically tied into the storyline of Godzilla: Unleashed. As you may have gathered so far, our story is about crystals--lots of crystals--where they came from, and the havoc they're wreaking on the world and on the monsters. So, we started with the idea of creating a crystal monster, spawned by the same meteor shower that started the strange crystal growths all over the world.

An early concept drawing for Krystalak from September 2006.
An early concept drawing for Krystalak from September 2006.

We felt that this monster (above) was far too anthropomorphic. Although there is a lot of charm in the Toho monsters who look like guys in monster costumes, we didn't want to go for that with this one. So, the next concept piece kept many of the basic elements of this first piece while reducing the anthropomorphic aspects of the monster.

A less anthropomorphic version of Krystalak was also rejected.
A less anthropomorphic version of Krystalak was also rejected.

We really liked the purple spiky crystals in this drawing (above), as well as the white body that takes on the colors of the environment around him. This monster was also much less anthropomorphic, which was good, but we really wanted this monster to be something special; he was just too close to the other four-legged monsters in the game, such as Anguirus.

So, to really make our crystal monster special, we decided that we needed to create a totally new skeleton type. In the following sketch, you can see that the crystal monster is two-legged, with a catlike leg structure, which we had never used for any of the other monsters. While Krystalak is crouching, he's slightly shorter than Godzilla. But when he stretches up to his full height, he's actually taller than Godzilla.

The final version of Krystalak is quite unlike any other monster in the game.
The final version of Krystalak is quite unlike any other monster in the game.

Finally, we needed a name for our crystal monster. With only a little confusion about how his name should be spelled, we quickly settled upon the name Krystalak.

The next step was submitting our various monster concepts to Atari and Toho for approval. Krystalak was not the only monster we submitted during that first round, but Krystalak was approved immediately, and none of the other monsters from that round made it into the game. While the other monsters in that batch had potential, everyone felt very strongly about how unique, cool, and perfect Krystalak was for the story.

Here is Krystalak's final biography:
Krystalak is a semisentient crystal organism, spawned by the same meteor shower that threatens to rip the earth apart. Born from the crystals, Krystalak seeks to bring all of their energies together to make himself into the ultimate monster. Like the crystals that spawned him, Krystalak is quite resistant to most forms of energy weapons, forcing opponents to fight him tooth and claw. Krystalak can expel crystal shards in a solid stream, bludgeoning foes from a distance. Krystalak can also overload his crystal heart--sacrificing his own physical integrity to damage everything nearby. With no ties to any existing alien or terrestrial powers, Krystalak seeks power at any cost.

Although Krystalak arrived on Earth riding a meteor from outer space, he has aligned himself with the Mutant faction.

Once we had our monster approved and his fiction written, we set about creating his model, animations, sounds, and particle effects. The process of creating his assets was a lot of fun because he's completely new and he's so strongly crystal-themed that we could do some very cool things.

This '3-view' render shows the front, side, and back of Krystalak's 3D model.
This '3-view' render shows the front, side, and back of Krystalak's 3D model.

Each monster has a large set of sounds particular to them. Krystalak's full set of sounds includes six different grunts, a charge-up sound, nine different growls, two kinds of "oof" sounds, six shouts, and two roars. We loved being free to create our interpretation of what a very evil crystal monster would sound like. Krystalak's sounds were created at our sister studio in Seattle by mixing various big cat sounds (lion, tiger, bobcat, ocelot, etc.) with some wolf and bear samples using a vocoder, which basically takes certain characteristics of one sound and blends them with another sound. Then, we used a customizable sound-effects processor program called Reaktor to tweak the sounds to final.

I hope you've enjoyed hearing about the creation of our lovably evil crystal monster from outer space, Krystalak. In upcoming designer diaries, which we will try to do every few weeks from here on out, we'll be talking about the creation of our other original monster, Obsidius, the creation of our all-new Wii fighting system, and the story mode's graphic novel cutscenes.

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