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BioWare shares early concept art/alien/Tali designs for Mass Effect 1/2/3 and DA2

Here are some snippets: http://mattrhodesart.blogspot.ca/2013/07/concept-art-behind-scenes.html

Note: There's a lot more at the link, including for things I embedded a few images here for.

Other examples include EDI, Cerberus, Illusive Man, Elves, Darkspawn, etc.

There's also descriptions to go with everything since it's supposed to explain the evolution.

Mass Effect:

Matt Rhodes said:
This was a very, very early idea for Shepard. In this image he has been forced to turn to Reaper technology to accomplish his goals (*cough* Saren *cough*) and he’s being confronted by the new human Specter, Ashley.

Matt Rhodes said:
Protheans were interesting. At first I was trying to design a creature that could conceivably be (if you squint your eyes) the genetic root of all the alien races in our galaxy (yes yes, just like that TNG episode). I was trying to stay as close to their original appearance in ME1 as I could (which had been kept intentionally vague for just this reason). That didn’t last long though.



Matt Rhodes said:
This image was purely speculative on my part. I imagined the galaxy changed by the synthesis choice. Because life and technology were joined (and I didn’t know the Mass Relays would be destroyed yet) I imagined that there would be no more need for space ships. Any creature could just link in with the nearest relay and jump to any world they chose, surface to surface. This would start changing the biology of every creature in the galaxy as they would no longer be limited to any one environment. Here are some Asari/Salarian/Human/? in the far, far future taking a carefree stroll in the grass.

Matt Rhodes said:
Bubblehead here was meant to be the ultimate stress test for this concept. He would show up looking like an idiot, but once he murdered a prisoner in cold blood and then ripped your health down to nothing you would learn to fear that stupid looking shape. I believe that the juxtaposition between the goofy appearance and deadly menace creates an iconic, lasting enemy. That said, it still wasn’t an idea that fit within the Mass Effect language.

Matt Rhodes said:
The Collector ship and the Human-Reaper both took a very long time to design. This biggest challenge was communicating the immense scale. These concepts were all part of the long discussion about scale, but also how abstracted the Human-Reaper would be. Early experiments leant more towards a fetus, others towards adult skeletal and muscular systems.



This one in particular was far too literal. I include it because the human-tube has been a long running and terrible joke between a few friends. Just imagine the deafening squeak of a thousand asses rubbing on glass.


And here are a few random ones:

Matt Rhodes said:
Tali (the first one is her Mass Effect 1 appearance, the second is one of three designs he shared for her in Mass Effect 3):





Shadow Broker:



Reaper Drones:


Dragon Age:

Matt Rhodes said:
Flemeth:



Hawke:



Qunari Barbarian:

 

Patryn

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They should have done the ME1 appearance for Tali. The Talimancers would have freaked out, but I prefer having alien races not looking quite so human.
 

kai3345

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Shepard being rebuilt with reaper parts and having the Virmire survivor being the primary antagonist would have made for a way cooler Mass Effect 2
 

Phandy

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I saw this and am really happy he posted it all. Its also got some really nice pieces.
It's a really good look at what a lot of concept art really is at studios and how much work goes into a lot things, which then doesn't make the cut. And how much quick and dirty work really goes on.

I find there is a kind of warped idea of what concept art really is and I personally think it hampers a lot of games visual design. Its great to see someone posting their true work even if they don't like it or its not very good.
Its also interesting to see where he mentions that he likes some things more than what was chosen for the final design.
 

Pop-O-Matic

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Burt

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Man, that Shadow Broker is cool. Probably a little too fantasy-ish for ME, but still much better than the Yahg that ended up in the game.

In fact, I like all of these better.
 

Winterfang

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Why couldn't they have used any of these instead of that last minute Photoshop bullshit? Hell, that second one would have worked perfectly as a photo of her.

Isn't Tali the one you can see at the end of the extended ending? She has a very human face and coloring. If Quarians had hair, then they would resemble humans even more than the Asari.
 

Dany

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I don't understand why they didn't model a face for Tali. Shepard has seen it but not the audience. It just seemed so last minute the photoshop.

I like the Mass Effect 1 design of the protheans and the bubblehead enemies.
 

Ushojax

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Nov 1, 2009
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The bald, clownface Tali would have been hilarious. All those infatuated manchildren trolled.

The sad thing is what actually they ended up doing in ME3. That was just lazy.
 

Pop-O-Matic

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Isn't Tali the one you can see at the end of the extended ending? She has a very human face and coloring. If Quarians had hair, then they would resemble humans even more than the Asari.

I was referring to the photo of her that she gives you in ME3 if she's your LI, which was just a piss-poor Photoshop of a stock photo.

They really should have never revealed the face, though. The mystery was part of the appeal, and Bioware could have never made a design that pleased the entire fanbase, as they all had different ideas of what the Quarians looked like in their heads.
 

Patryn

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Isn't Tali the one you can see at the end of the extended ending? She has a very human face and coloring. If Quarians had hair, then they would resemble humans even more than the Asari.

No. You only see her face if you romanced her and she survives the Rannoch segment. Her picture on your desk (the standard LI picture) shows her face.
 

dekline

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This one in particular was far too literal. I include it because the human-tube has been a long running and terrible joke between a few friends. Just imagine the deafening squeak of a thousand asses rubbing on glass.

 

Winterfang

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No. You only see her face if you romanced her and she survives the Rannoch segment. Her picture on your desk (the standard LI picture) shows her face.

So it's just a random unmasked Quarian? Still it had human color skin, smooth face, no weird markings, no protutions or anything alien on his face. So that will give you a good idea of how she would look.

I didn't knew about the picture, since I don't romance her and found her annoying.
 

walking fiend

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some of those designs are sooo good! Tali is my favorite.

edit: It's SOOOO fucking good, why didn't they go with more of this? :( And the landscapes remind me of Another World)
 

Moonlight

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"An unused alien idea. Thank god. I wanted to design an alien that was completely horrifying and was failing in every possible way to come across as relatable to humans. If we actually went this direction I would have loved it if you could see constantly shifting eyes and teeth behind his “Hue-Mon” mask. Just awful."
Mad disappointed that this alien never made it to the game proper.
 

Winterfang

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Mad disappointed that this alien never made it to the game proper.

Specially if that particular type of alien is amicable but looks so horrifying and creepy that he had to resort to stuffing himself in that outfit and putting a mask so that maybe his race could be accepted in the council. Since the humans where the last ones also, he tried to emulate them but people are still creeped the fuck out lol.
 

GuardianE

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I still can't believe they photoshopped a Google'd picture for Tali's face at the end of the day.
 

PBalfredo

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This is pretty close to how I've imagined Tali to look ever since ME2. Namely how Quarians would have the same face-framing crest that the Geth have around their lightbulb-eye. It makes sense that the Quarians would have designed the Geth to look similar to themselves. We already see some of that in the similar shape of the legs and the number of fingers. Geth only have the one eye, of course, but that's an abstraction similar to how the human-built Loki and Ymir robots only have the big mono-eye, but otherwise have a human frame.

But what really had me convinced that the Quarians had the same face-framing crest as the Geth is how when you speak with Legion, he would emote with it. The Geth were designed to talk to and take orders from their masters, so it makes sense that they would have the equivalent of expressive eyebrows.

 

red731

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Real shame they didn't put that in. I mean, it lookds disturbing and I am disgusted. They should put it in armor, gave it bow and put it in DA3. Just super sayan.
 

Phandy

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Look, I know the Darkspawn from Origins weren't the height of originality, but unoriginal still beats garbage. And the in game version was even worse!

The sad thing for me, is that they had the right idea for sure. They wanted to create a more degraded human feeling version with much more consistency with the armor across the darkspawn as a whole (in Origins they are really inconsistent). They just chose a really bad way of doing it,(the spikey/makeshift armor) :( The whole big spikey armor is comes across as kinda silly. Geometric spikes are nice, they should of just been a bit more subtle or functional with it.

Also I feel with Matt Rhodes artwork, they always go a step down from concept art to in-game, because Bioware's tech never seems to be that great and they diverge from his style to be a bit more realistic.
 

NightDriver

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In almost all cases, the character design concepts for DA2 are far superior to the final in-game versions, particularly those of Merrill and Fenris. Their in-game versions are awful. They come off like moe/bishounen rejects from some goofball JRPG. Seeing that Bioware actually had decent design ideas for those two characters but rejected them drives my opinion of the game even lower.
 

HK-47

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This is pretty close to how I've imagined Tali to look ever since ME2. Namely how Quarians would have the same face-framing crest that the Geth have around their lightbulb-eye. It makes sense that the Quarians would have designed the Geth to look similar to themselves. We already see some of that in the similar shape of the legs and the number of fingers. Geth only have the one eye, of course, but that's an abstraction similar to how the human-built Loki and Ymir robots only have the big mono-eye, but otherwise have a human frame.

But what really had me convinced that the Quarians had the same face-framing crest as the Geth is how when you speak with Legion, he would emote with it. The Geth were designed to talk to and take orders from their masters, so it makes sense that they would have the equivalent of expressive eyebrows.

That Tali is amazing.
 

HK-47

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Btw Spehard going all Saren and Ashley being force to put him down would be an amazing story turn regardless of which side you played that on.
 

Black Door

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God, I hate how "safe" the final designs of the ME series became. I would have loved to fight Space-Fury up there in OP