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The Weaver: From Concept to Creepy Execution

One of the Infernal Host’s most beloved (or feared) units since its inception has been the Weaver. The Weaver towers over the battlefield–incredibly long legs give it a bird’s eye view of its surroundings, while its Lash ability, which snares an enemy and reels it in for the kill, makes it a powerful unit in the hands of a skilled player. 

It’s also one of the more visually unique units to appear in an RTS, so we thought it might be fun to share some of the original ideation concept art created by concept artist Tom Bruck, as well as the iterations created by Asst. Art Director Jonathan Ryder, that led to the Weaver as we know it.

Jonathan Ryder, Asst. Art Director: "I’ve had the pleasure of working on a lot of the concept art for Stormgate, but the Weaver is one of my favorite units. When we were discussing the Weaver, we thought about quite a few possibilities regarding the direction we could go for what this unit could look like. We really wanted this to be a weird, gangly, and tall unit–one that could be disconcerting or even unnerving to players, to help deliver some of the more frightening aspects of the Infernals–a hostile alien invasion force.”

“Our art director Jesse Brophy and game director Tim Campbell came together around this thought: What if the Weaver was a stretched out and oddly proportioned and vaguely humanoid demon that walked on all fours? The more we discussed it, the more disturbing and unsettling I really wanted to push the concept art for the Weaver.”

“We then rallied around this lengthy, bony, and weirdly-limbed demon, mixing something that could easily fit in within some of the great works of surreal fantasy like Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s The Dark Crystal, or Pan's Labyrinth from Guillermo del Toro. We mixed this with a nod to the more malevolent Yōkai spirits from Japanese folklore. To finish the Weaver's design, we wanted to convey a sense of terrible, otherworldly intelligence through its Infernal design language, by adorning the demon in plates of golden armor.” 

Jesse Brophy, Art Director: “So they have the gold armor Jon mentioned. The purpose of this is we want to portray this dilapidated regalness where they have this beautiful foundation, but it’s slowly decaying.”

Jonathan: “The combination of all these design elements excited us as a team, and we felt we arrived at a truly unique unit within the real-time strategy space that would be memorable to play as, or against. Then, senior 3D artist Jim Xu and senior animator Kristin Witt worked their magic to really bring this unit to life in our game."

Kristin Witt, Senior Animator: “We wanted something really creepy and kind of alien, moving really slowly and deliberately to add a level of spookiness. We did a lot of iterations on the walk cycle trying to figure out what the stride length would be, how it would walk on its fingers/toes/knuckles, how much bend in the arms and legs, and its speed - most of the time it’s really slow, but then there’s accent movements that are really quick. She’s like a creepy demon giraffe.”

Kevin Dong, Lead Co-op Designer: “The Weaver is one of our fan favorite units that gets a lot of positive comments with regards to its art, its sound, just the whole package. 

From a gameplay perspective, now that's where I think it gets really interesting, because in the previous playtests, we've always gotten the feedback that it was a really difficult to use unit for the average player, because it was slow. So one of the things that we did to address that feedback was give it an ability where it moves faster while walking on Shroud. 

The second thing we're trying in our recent internal testing builds is called Shroud Weave—it can essentially teleport itself to either a shrine or a nearby Shroudstone. 

And third, we're also going to let its signature ability Lash to autocast. Now, it's not always going to pick the best targets, but at the very least, we hope this gives less skilled players a way to engage with this unit. Highly-skilled players will get better results by manually targeting the ability instead.

And then finally, by popular request, we've also added a new ability to the game called Tether in which the Weaver is now going to be able to Lash friendly units to reel them in to safety—as a bonus, this is also going to heal the target’s entire White Health pool as well!"

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