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Artifact: Desert Mantis

Course: Experimental Game Studio (CMU 60-417).

Instructor: Paolo Pedercini

Project Manual: here.

YouTube Demo Video:

Project Abstract

In this project, we are required to design artifacts for a non-human society. For example, imagine when one day dogs conquer humankind, and the dog society must have artifacts that display their habits, biological features and culture. In my project, I started the concept design for crab society - imagine when one day crabs have intelligence.

Expressive Statement

Crabs, as a food resource, are widely consumed by human. Imagine when one day, crabs no longer feel any threats from humankind. Their intelligence are highly developed, their ability of using tools are strengthened, and their willingness to conquer human becomes stronger. This project gives concepts on what may happen to the industry when they have their own aesthetics and demands on industrial items.

* Concept Document, please use desktop devices to read the document for better visual experience.

Concept Design

The design logic mainly falls on the concept of crab. To understand how crabs should use objects, what they need to use, I searched some basic information(fun facts) of crabs (as you can see in the above PDF). There are also some highlights of this design that I need to mention here.

First, the species name for the neo-crabs are Desert Mantis. Very much like how human call themselves "man" instead of "homosapiens", neo-crabs shouldn't like names like "crabs" - this will be an indicator of their indignified history as being a food resource. Therefore, they chose to be named as Mantis, as human don't really eat mantises, and crabs have a similar appearance in many aspects as mantises. The desert prefix indicates where they leave: scientifically, crabs live as long as their gills are moist, so no need for them to stay close to water if they find a way to keep water. Of course this should not be a hard thing, considering they are planning to conquer humankind.

Therefore, for the first step in the appearance of desert mantis(I will use DM to replace from now on), I used Midjourney to support my design. I started by entering some prompts such as "a mantis shaped crab" or "a crab shaped mantis". The following are what I got. 

The second thing is to think about what they will need. As human will need car to move faster, need airplane to fly, need boat to move faster in water, crabs will also need tools to compensate for their biological deficiencies.

The following might be some biological deficiencies they will have:

  • Biologically they can only move one dimensionally.

  • Biologically their claws don't allow accurate operations.

  • Biologically as their gills are moist they can breathe. In desert, they will meet need to keep water.

  • Probably need goggles for protecting eyes, as their eyes stretch out of their crusts.

That brings to the next phase as brainstorming some items they need to use. For example, gloves for their claws, goggles for protecting their eyes, and ambulators for them to move freely as human.


Finally I decided to create a model for a human-shaped ambulator. In this design plan, the crab sits on the ambulator, and it brings the concept "the crabs sit on-top of human", manifesting their ambition to conquer humankind.

The remaining jobs are creating 3D models and a good render that delivers the concept.

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