The sun crests the horizon as the party approaches the heart of the broken town. The smoldering embers of the previous day’s battle with the Filthurburgs (semi-human denizens of the bog) fill your lungs, and the stench of turmeric and sulfur weave together with notes of dead flesh and wet dog. Ahead of you, Farani Brygoson’s parapet looms in the distance. (You’ve already been summoned so you won’t have to roll for initiative this time.) As you enter the gate to the forlorn castle within the township’s walls, a Fel-Gnome assaults you with its ugliness before attempting to assault you with its fists. Fortunately, you’ve brought with you Glamdror the Magnificent, and Sir Kelkeep the Brave! There are others but you’ve forgotten their names… As the Fel-Gnome lashes out from the archway, Glamdror incants a spell learned from ye olden dayes when magic filled the sky and wizards would stand naked on the hilltops early in the morning and cry out to the heavens. Faster than the blink of an eye, the mage thrusts his arms forward with rapacious delight. As his eyes are lit from the mystical blue glow emanating from his hands you hear a *sizzle pop* before a temporary blindness overcomes you. A moment later you can see that Glamdror has encased the sad and stinky creature before you in some kind of ice that seems less cold than freezing but is probably cooler than warm. Through their translucent arcane prison, the beast looks upon you with bewilderment and a slight hint of mournful curiosity as they begin to shimmy inside… they’re attempting to break free!
What do you do?
Venture into Wasteland 3’s next big update—Patch 1.3.0 “Robots & Rangers”—with two free new costumes, the Handmade Wizard and Knight! Patch 1.3.0 is undergoing some final fixes and testing, and we expect it to release by the end of the month. You’ll receive these new costumes after completing the Garden of the Gods—either claiming them from a package in front of Ranger HQ for new playthroughs, or automatically added if you’re past that point—and can equip them at the wardrobe in Ranger HQ or at the clothing shop in Downtown Colorado Springs.
The ‘Handmade Wizard and Knight’ costumes were a collaboration between inXile and Dimitri Zaitsev, an accomplished post-apocalyptic costume designer and artist. We were excited to work with Dimitri and asked him if he’d walk us through his thoughts and process for creating post-apocalyptic costumes and props.
Q: Have you done anything like this before? Blending fantasy and post-apoc?
I’ve never done a post-apoc wizard or knight before, but the general thought process behind them was not new to me at all. The genre lends itself extremely well to ALL kinds of inspirations, and that is one of many reasons I love it. While there are prominent examples and tropes, there is actually no unified definition of what "post-apo" even means for the most part. The only fixed thing is that it´s "something after an apocalypse". But what the world looked like before or what has evolved after - that´s always the interesting problem for artists and designers to solve.
"Wasteland Knight" concept by Dimitri.
But the more important question here is: how do the designs fit Wasteland specifically? Wasteland is based on a retro-futuristic version of America during the 80s and 90s, followed by a nuclear apocalypse. That per-se is not fantasy, but the universe has a TON of humor and fantastic elements in the mix as some of its integral defining parts. There are a lot of super-crazy factions, characters, designs and even gameplay mechanics already. Just think of the Payasos, or the Monster Army, or the goat mortar you can mount on your car, or the one NPC who wears pristine suits and never curses.... So I don´t think that these new outfits deviate from the game's baseline level at all.
“Historical fact and fiction would get mixed up, so maybe the Wizard thinks that wizards were real, and that the 12-sided die worn around the neck is a real magical amulet.”
Q: What were your first thoughts and inspirations when the initial idea was proposed?
My first thought was "Hell yeah!", and my inspiration were wizards and knights - what else could it be? :)
Aaron (Aaron Meyers, Wasteland 3 Art Director) and I agreed that it would make sense if those outfits were created by wastelanders who got wind of knights and wizards being a thing in the world before the Deluge of Fire, became fans of those ideas, and decided to (re)create them - or at least take some inspiration from them. Historical fact and fiction would get mixed up, so maybe the Wizard thinks that wizards were real, and that the 12-sided die worn around the neck is a real magical amulet. Or maybe they know it´s not real but have assumed the persona anyway. They might mean it dead-serious, or they might be wearing it ironically or just for fun, or even to scam others by selling them "magic potions" which are just frog pee. Or maybe before joining the Rangers the wizard used to travel around towns and use their "magic" powers to give real medical aid to sick children & tell them stories while doing so. Or maybe those costumes were simply used by a post-apocalyptic theatre group to create plays of knights and wizards for their audience. There can be so many interpretations for this, and I love it.
"Wasteland Wizard" concept by Dimitri.
Part of my task was to create something that looks aesthetically appealing and well-balanced while still maintaining the idea that the fictional in-game person who made it had to work with limited resources & skills available to them. You can see that the knight was able to scavenge some authentic armor parts from a museum, the wizard has repurposed an electric Christmas star, and both characters have used a lot of various scrap materials & whatever tools they could get their hands on in this world of scarcity.
Other than that, I just took the archetypes of a wizard and a knight and mixed them with the ideas described above. It was important that the designs look as cliché as possible in their main shapes, so that they are immediately recognizable as what they are supposed to be.
Q: Are there any core design ‘tenets’ or rules you have when thinking in the post-apoc mindset and how you approach a given design?
Post-apoc or not, I just think about how things would work in the given part of the given universe, and then I create the design going from large parts to small ones while applying the core fundamentals of art (color, composition, etc.) to make it visually pleasing. Doing so feels as immersive and mentally rewarding as playing a game or watching a movie.
Final models and textures for Handmade Wizard and Knight.
Specifically in a post-apocalyptic setting though, you have to think about what materials and tools people would have available. Most of the time it´s going be something dilapidated, rusty, broken down, and improvised. Or sometimes not - some things can be found in bunkers, be manufactured rather well by post-collapse societies, and thus look new, and even employ futuristic technologies. But then you have to balance them out with dirtier gear to achieve an overall look of what´s easily understood by the player as "post-apocalyptic" - in most cases anyway, there can be no 100% dogmatic approach to this. You also must think about what would be reasonably practical in general, and then balance practicality with "the rule of cool."
As for finding ideas for the details of a design, I just think of "what could any given item be used as, regardless of it's original intended pre-war purpose." And sometimes I go a step further and think "…but what original intended purpose would make its current use even more interesting?"
In-game Handmade Knight and Wizard costumes.
There is a LOT more to all of this once you really start breaking it down though. I could fill whole volumes with this stuff. Anyone who wants to hear more from me about art, post-apo costuming, and gear should check out my YouTube channel.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to give us more insight! Anything else you want to share with readers?
Check out my Facebook, Instagram, and ArtStation, and I hope you will have fun with these outfits when (re)playing Wasteland 3! And hey, there miiiiiight be more of my designs showing up in the game soon, who knows. ;)
Who knows, indeed! (Actually, we do.) Thanks again to Dimitri for helping us create these fantastical costumes. Keep an eye out for more news regarding Patch 1.3.0 releasing for Wasteland 3 soon, and more costumes to help you RP it up in future patches.