Introducing: Kumiho, Haechi and Bulgasari. Arriving to the game before the end of this summer.
Oftentimes coming up with a new robot design requires many hours of preparation, going through references and building a relatively solid scientific base. In case of Kumiho, Haechi and Bulgasari we went through this period much quicker, because our incredible artists wanted to do something like this for a long time already. And when folks from the game design department approached them with new concepts, they immediately knew what to do.
What inspired us
Kumiho, Haechi and Bulgasari are nothing like machines we made before — and, thematically, that’s kind of their point. Most of our previous robot designs were tied to real life military tech. This time we took most of the inspiration from myths and legends.
Kumiho, Haechi and Bulgasari are all named after legendary beasts from Korean culture. These characters are not exclusive to Korean tradition though: their analogs surfaced in the folklore of many cultures, both Eastern and Western. Let’s take an image of Kumiho for example: even if we look into Russian folk tales, there’s an ubiquitous red fox that tricked many, including a bread boy named Kolobok, into their demise. By the way, the story of latter is basically “The Gingerbread Man” from English and many other folklore traditions.
“So, the Gingerbread Man climbed onto the fox’s nose. Immediately, the fox tossed him up into the air, opened his mouth and gobbled up the Gingerbread Man”.
This illuminative tale shows exactly what Kumihos are going to do with Lancelots, if said Lancelots aren’t smart enough.
Making robots out of monsters?
Picking right references wasn’t even half of the deal of course. The tricky part is always to adapt these legendary influences into real robot designs. Many people here in War Robots team are fond of anime and videogames like Zone of the Enders — it helped immensely.
The balance, however, had to be preserved. Even though we removed some of the boundaries we set for ourselves before, sliding into full-on super mecha was something we had to avoid. Robots tossing Galaxies and robots riding robot horses are amazing and all, but they aren’t necessarily a good fit for War Robots universe. Even looking lavish and extravagant, new robots still have to make sense in this world.
In this regard Kumiho, Haechi and Bulgasari are a lot like Raijin and Fujin. They have origins that are completely new to War Robots world, maybe even alien to anything these battlegrounds saw before. But they still have to feel like same laws of physics apply to them. That’s the only strict point we’ve been following designing them. “Go crazy” — yeah. But not too crazy.
Original Kumiho is a nine-tailed fox. She can transform into a beautiful woman to seduce men and eat their hearts. Sometimes she eats liver — there are different versions of the story. In Chinese tradition you can find her as jiuweihu. In Japan there’s kitsune. (Ninjas and seals are not necessarily involved)
As a robot Kumiho has to rely on its wit and quickness: it can flank anyone in a matter of seconds with a few short quick dashes. Having this in mind, we drew it lanky, yet efficient so nothing can obstruct the movement. Evangelion definitely was an inspiration here — when EVAs move on the screen, they might look really unsettling. We wanted to capture some part of this feel.
Haechi looks like a lion with a horn on top of its head. He’s a symbol of law and justice, the all-knowing beast able to recognize who’s innocent and who’s guilty from a single sight. Wrongdoers are rammed to death — which is okay, because Haechi always knows better.
This one is obviously supposed to be tougher. Haechi’s core gameplay is very similar to Kumiho’s, but it has significantly better protection due to a built-in energy shield, while bearing one additional medium weapon. Haechi feels much more like our classic robots, but it’s still supposed to be it’s very own thing. And be assured, it is.
The body of a bear, trunk of an elephant, legs of a tiger. Add to this fur made of needles and you’ll get an unkillable beast that eats iron, turns into a flaming ball if you try to set it on fire and, well, doesn’t care about anything. Bulgasari.
Oh, and it can also destroy nightmares and cure smallpox, which is pretty handy if you ask us.
Bulgasari is the heaviest out of three, even though it is still considered a medium robot by our legacy classification. With a shield on the side its dash drive cannot be used as sparingly — it’s mostly a one-way engagement/disengagement tool in this case. And without extra mobility Bulgasari has to be able to stay on its own. We represented it by adding more bulkiness to the silhouette.
Next Thursday we’ll return to Kumiho, Haechi and Bulgasari to talk about their gameplay. Don’t forget to come back!