How do you go about designing mechs? Do you try to build them for actual plausibility, so they could actually be made or do you go more mostly for aesthetics?
KL: As far as mech aesthetics go, there's a lot of different variety that people are used to, and they like a certain type. There's Transformers, Gundam, Evangelion, the humanoid-looking mechs that has a head and fingers. There's the American-style mechs with the lumbering gait, feels like a machine -- the mechs in MechWarrior or the robot in Robocop (ED-209). There's also very sleek-looking... like Bubblegum Crisis, that type of mech.
The one I really like, my personal favorite, is just an old, basically 1980s kit bash style, it's from this Japanese designer named Kow Yokoyama. He does a line of robots called Maschinen Krieger, so they kinda look like World War I, if World War I had tech robots and mechs. That's what they look like. Still very industrial machines, but they also had a bubbly-looking element to them. Almost insect-like. But at the same time we're trying to please the typical mech crowd. So we also have mechs that feel very much like tanks. Very square-looking. Basically an Abrams tank with legs. We have that style, also. So we got, basically, two styles to cover for now. And eventually as we keep expanding we'll go for more variety to make everyone have something that they enjoy looking at.
There seemed to be a bit of a Masamune Shirow-type chunky mechs in there, too.
KL: Yeah, definitely. Very much like the, slightly insect-like, but at the same time very mechanical.
But as far as the actual process of designing these mechs, do you where do you start and how do you build them? Do you just draw them whole cloth or do you start with the cockpit? Do you start with the weapons? What do you do there?
KL: We have three different styles of mech: light, medium, and heavy. And they have their own animation effects that we had designed beforehand, so all the mech designs, we build them off those skeletons. What we do is just start painting. I would design the whole mech all at once, and hired another really amazing concept artist named John Park, who basically took all that from me.
But, yeah, we just sorta just design them, we just draw them, and another way we actually do it is here is we just kit bash, like the old Star Wars ethic -- we just have a big library of tank parts and helicopter parts in 3D and we cut them up and assemble them like little toy LEGOs and see what we can come up with. It's very fun. A very organic process.
Sometimes you'll just build them straight -- the models straight from scratch?
KL: Yeah. In Sketchup or Maya or something. We have a big library of parts now that we can slap together. The thing about the old World War I tanks is they were pretty much built the same way, and they were built from cars. Ford actually had cars and they just slapped on armors and stuff like that to get them ready for war, so, we're trying to get the process the same in digital and 3D.