First textual stream of April, and that means it’s character reveal week! And of course, we all know who that means…
CINDER (aka Ben Ferris)
In order to set things up, here’s a snippet of his new backstory:
After a decorated and successful military career, Ben left the Army at age 31 to enter the lucrative world of paramilitary contracting. After all, a guy with his flawless mission completion record and skillset should be making a lot more money. Ben found himself in-demand, with each successful mission leading him to the next difficult but impressive payday. Instead of engaging in off-the-books operations for his country, Ben was doing it for crooked corporations and CEOs. This eventually landed him on Interpol’s most wanted list, but thanks to what he’d learned working closely with them in the past, avoiding them was almost too simple. Ben had his ideal job, incredible pay, and was sought after by the most powerful people on the planet.
Then he got the call that would change his life forever.
Ben received a contract offer for an almost ridiculous sum. The mission; infiltrate Ultratech to steal data related to “Project Cinder”. None of Ben’s contacts or colleagues had ever heard of anyone ever putting out a contract that targeted Ultratech. In fact, information on Ultratech was so scarce that it seemed like every other agency and corporation on the planet was pretending it didn’t exist. The danger, the difficulty, and the mystery only made the contract more appealing to Ben.
Ben signed and began researching “Project Cinder”. The more he learned, the less he felt like he knew. Ben had to go deeper. Many months passed as Ben worked Ultratech from the inside; making friends with higher level employees, bugging their gear or offices, and watching and listening for something… anything… that might point him in the right direction. The only piece of information he had after nearly a year on contract only increased his desire to complete the mission. All signs pointed toward Extraterrestrial origins for Project Cinder.
There’s a lot to talk about with our lone holdout from KI1 finally making his re-appearance. Typically we show you the finished concept sketch first, but I thought I’d couch cinder in more “behind the scenes” that went into making him and his new look. This is also because he’s changed a bunch since that “final” concept sketch you saw in silhouette in the season teaser. Throughout all of what we’re showing you, it’s important to remember one thing:
YOU ARE SEEING WORK IN PROGRESS
Here’s a few rough concepts we did in-house at Microsoft over a year ago on Cinder.
Notice that we were experimenting with a “back facing” stance, different alien-hybrid type treatments (organic to machine), and a pose that is reminiscent of a gunslinger. This was to convey some of the attitude we wanted to hit, plus his "fired up" mechanic, which we’ll talk about next week. The lanky nature of the new Cinder was a product of the splicing of a human (Ben Ferris) with Glacius’ DNA, which is part of Cinder’s new backstory.
Here’s the original concept based on the original human/alien hybrid concept. As you have already seen, this is not what Cinder looks like now.
OMG! Crazy! Four eyes? Yep… for a bit at least. We wanted to see how far we could push things before we reigned them back in. This is part of the design process we do – you have to go way out there in order to get some perspective on what’s necessary and important for a character. We went WAY out with him.
Notice the hex patterning on the armor – that’s Ultratech’s signature on tech – which we’re carrying through to everything that UT creates.
So from here, we went a lot of different directions with him. There were discussions around him being so alien looking already, why didn’t we really make him an alien so that the rivalry between him and Glacius was “real”? We explored it, but as we discussed it further and worked with the backstory and lore, we felt going completely alien with him was betraying the original concept in favor of convenient setup for the sake of a rivalry with Glacius. So, we tossed that out and embraced Ben Ferris as Cinder for the sake of continuity to the IP.
In the original game, Ben was in prison and UT gave him a chance at early parole if he volunteered for these experiments. The problem we had with this is that Ben being a petty crook wasn’t sitting well with us, yet we didn’t want him to be some mastermind criminal, nor someone on death row. We also didn’t want him to be a caught criminal, as that implied he wasn’t as good as he thought he was… and we wanted him to be really, really good.
This is where we pivoted Ben into a former spec-ops soldier turned master thief for hire. Best in the world at stealing things… could handle himself in a fight… never caught… until he went up against ARIA and Ultratech. ARIA gave him a choice, join her and help further her agenda, or die. Joining up, as I’m sure you can tell, wasn’t as simple as just saying “yes”.
Since the concept above and even since the trailer tease you saw last week, lots of changes have happened with Cinder. Obviously, we ditched the two sets of eyes early on, but here’s some other changes we considered…
Cinder’s mask is actually tech, but its purpose is to protect his face and shield people around him from being horribly burned and irradiated by the energies he contains. You can see above we had a version with the mouth omitted when he’s armored up, but we lost some of the personality and some sense of his human side which was important because…
What about when it’s not covered? Well, you can see the work in progress on that right now, also showing you how his facemask dissolves away in hexes when he turns it off.
So yeah… if you think that having your DNA modified spliced with that of an alien would be really cool… you may want to rethink that.
We’ve done modifications even over the trailer. First has been in his “bulk”. Cinder wasn’t a thin guy in KI1, and as we animated some of his early moves, his lean appearance wasn’t working to sell the power of his hits. So, we’ve also bulked him up some since you first saw him.
Here’s a still of Cinder with vfx turned off to show his combat stance. Note his waist has also changed completely; now much more human, new leg plates are added, and the codpiece from the concept is gone. And what stage could that be?!
So about now, you’re either onboard with his new look, or you completely hate us for ruining the purity of the original “dude on fire” that he was in KI arcade.
Now before those of you that are in the latter group start composing in your head, on your keys, or with your webcam the vitriolic posts, tweets, or videos in response to completely seeing his new look, let’s show you the (work in progress) on his retro:
So for those of you that wanted the true “dude on fire” from KI Arcade, there you go. We have built, within all possible reason to KI’s new style, retro Cinder AS retro Cinder.
Hopefully that makes everyone happy about Cinder’s look no matter where your tastes lie.
What about his moveset and features? We’ll talk more about those next week. Here is a hint – It’s over in a snap.
As I mentioned earlier, we’re very still much WIP on Cinder, but you should now have a much better sense of him overall.
RANKED LEAGUES UPDATE
Ranked Leagues: First of all, thank you to all the players that have made the first month beta of Ranked Leagues a huge success! As we kick off our 2nd month of beta, here are a couple of changes we have made based on your feedback:
We have adjusted the score system to make the climb from Bronze to Killer more challenging (requires better win/loss ratio).
In Killer vs Killer matches, we have added a ‘catch-up’ mechanic to the scoring system, which will give you more points when defeating a player higher up in the Killer ladder than you. After winning a match, just watch your points go up to see if you crushed someone higher than you. The base is still +50, but if it was someone really ahead of you, you could earn up to 1,000 points! Top guys, you are officially on notice, everyone is now gunning for you- hunting the top Killers just got very profitable!
We also want to acknowledge the many requests for an option to Rank Down. We hear you loud and clear, this is something that we are looking into for the future along with other changes to help make your experiences within the different Tiers better.
First Top 32 Killer Results: The March Top 32 Killers have been locked in and 32 amazing players have received the first Pro Medal icons! Congratulations to The Maciaga5 for becoming the first 1st place Top 32 Killer in KI history! We also want to celebrate all incredible players that battled so hard this month to make it into our Top 32 Killers and not only received Pro Medal icons, but also were awarded qualifying points for next year’s KI Cup thanks to Brandon over at Ultra Arcade!
More info on that can be found here: http://www.ultraarcade.com/killerinstinctworldcup/http://www.ultra-combo.com/forums/index.php?topic=8594.0
Im liking how cinder looks in this far more then the trailer. Problem is if they don't get the flames right it will screw up the whole look IMO.