Time: 2012-2015
Client: Guerrilla Games

The Carja culture and its capital Meridian were the first things we’ve helped Guerrilla Games to develop for Horizon: Zero Dawn in 2012. The material was to become part of the so-called “vertical slice” of the fledgeling game. After completion of the preproduction phase, Guerrilla Games brought us back in in 2014 and 2015 to create the final costume designs, unique character designs, and Sunfall.

Tobias Mannewitz – Creative Director
Christian Günther – Creative Writer
Nadja Ster – Studio Manager
Valentin Lessnerkraus – Production Coordinator
Floris Didden – Concept Artist
Dan Blomberg – Concept Artist
Viktor Jonsson – Concept Artist
Kirill Barybin – Concept Artist
Philipp Scherer – Concept Artist
Sebastian Gromann – Concept Artist
Karl Kopinski – Concept Artist
Andrejs Skuja – Character Designer
Adrian Wilkins – Character Designer
Viktor Fetsch – Character Designer
Tim Löchner – Character Designer
Craig Mullins – Concept Artist
Mike Hill – Concept Artist
Marko Schöbel – Previz Concept Artist
Steven Bagatzky – Prop Designer
Ville Ericsson – Prop Designer
Tom Hiebler – Matte Painter
Scott McInnes – Add. Matte Painter

Designing the Carja tribe and the capital city of Meridian was one of the greatest design challenges of the project. The scope of the vision and ambition that Guerrilla had for this Horizon tribe made it necessary to distribute the work involved across various different design studios. Karakter played a key role in working with Guerrilla to design the design process itself. By designing and developing the Carja tribe through strict methodologies, Guerrilla and Karakter were able to deliver broad-stroke style-guides that had the consistency that was needed to allow other studios to collaborate on designing finer grains elements of the Carja tribe. The design process that was developed, became a template for all other tribal design. It’s a testament to the collaboration between Karakter and Guerrilla.Roland Ijzermans, Lead Artist Guerrilla Games
Due to its location, Meridian has to address many logistical issues, starting with the question how to get in and out of a city that sits atop a butte. Bridges, harbors, hoisting winches and even lifts had to be designed by the Carja, and hence, by us. The following artworks show closeups.Tobias Mannewitz, Creative Director Karakter
This early key image visualized the ceremonial side of the high culture the Carja were meant to be. It informed everyone on the Carja color scheme and the overall look and feel. Design details like the cleric's costumes were the launchpad for further iterations down the line.Tobias Mannewitz, Creative Director Karakter
Meridian's Hunter Lodge
The following images stem from the earlier creative development periods. We knew what kind of ecosystem the Carja would inhabit, the dangers proposed by the Machines and the midset the Carja had developed as a consequence. We were then looking around the globe for vernacular architecture confronted with – at least in parts – similar challenges and utilized them as springboards for further exploration.Tobias Mannewitz, Creative Director Karakter
The market ring is built upon the remnants of much older structures – but those had not been built by the "Old Ones".Tobias Mannewitz, Creative Director Karakter
An early brainstorming scribble of a Carja Village. By that point, we knew what kind of crops the Carja would produce. Hece, the tomato plants and pumpkins, the terraced field and other features were deliberate, informative design statements, while other aspects were still vague. Below is pottery for lower class Carja and middle class Carja, which were iterated further by Guerrilla's design team.Tobias Mannewitz, Creative Director Karakter
The citadel of Sunfall has always been a cult place and military stronghold in Carja territory, but it gained even more significance in recent years when the defeated opposition party made it the new capital of the exile government.Tobias Mannewitz, Creative Director Karakter
The color scheme of the Carja military is significantly darker than that of Meridian.