Cataclismo shows how developers can draw inspiration from their home regions

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digital sun games Cataclysm It looks like it’s going to be a great match. It’s a hybrid city-building and real-time strategy title that takes gameplay inspiration from Lego bricks. Warcraft IIIand Age of Empires II. In the game, the player is tasked with fighting off hordes of monsters in a fantasy world by building a multi-layered castle staffed with soldiers wielding a variety of otherworldly weapons.

This is a notable change in genre for the studio that broke out in 2018. moonlighter, an action role-playing game about shopkeepers. According to creative director Vicent Ramirez and CEO Javi Giménez, the switch in genre and gameplay came from the team’s developers wanting to expand beyond the top-down RPG format. .

But if you look closely, you may see other subtle effects. Cataclysm. Digital Sun is based in the city of Valencia. Castile region of Spain, whose name literally means “land of castles.” Ramirez and Jimenez discussed how the architecture around them has influenced them, and what recognizing that connection means for creativity in game development.

The focus is on building castles. Cataclysm

There are a lot of tower defense-adjacent games out there. Cataclysm relies on the aesthetics of medieval fortresses to enhance its design, and the Digital Sun team’s fascination with classic fortress structures extends to the game’s design. Jimenez said the goal is to allow players to naturally build “beautiful” castles without sacrificing form for functionality when enemies storm the gates.

Threading the needle becomes even more difficult when castle construction becomes modular, as it is here. Ramirez said the building system is inspired by the act of snapping Lego blocks, giving players the opportunity to fine-tune the shape of their buildings. This feature is deep enough to support a “creative” mode without monsters.

Image via Digital Sun.

Early versions of the system had problems that many designers can relate to. Players will drift into one of two groups: those who enjoy building beautiful castles, and those who ignore the aesthetics of their bases and build the most efficient monster extermination operations.

In other games this is a feature rather than a bug. There are legitimate illusions about rewarding players who make certain trade-offs to gain power. But that wasn’t what Digital Sun wanted. The next step in designing the castle building gameplay was to integrate these two play styles. This allows players to focus on either aspect of base building to create something useful for gameplay.

Keeping the two players’ goals so far apart also contradicts the very idea of ​​why castles are so appealing. “A real castle looks good because it’s useful in battle,” Jimenez said, deadpan.

As he said, it’s the towers, arrow slits, moats, gates, concentric bailies, tiered courtyards, and other practical features of real-world castles that draw the human eye to them. That’s it.

However, castles do not look the same in each country. And here, Castilian castles creep into the Castilian visual style. A disaster.

Art is shaped by the world around you

As Digital Sun developed its visual style, Ramirez explained: Cataclysm, the goal was not to recreate Spanish medieval architecture. Since this is a fantasy game in a fantasy world, it opens up even more doors for how art and gameplay can work together.

But one of the game’s artists (originally from Russia) came into the studio one day and said, “All the architecture in this game… Cataclysm It is Valencian architecture. ”

“It’s completely automatic for us,” Ramirez said. He and Jimenez say the similarities simply have to do with the fact that when you’re making a game where you build castles in a region full of castles, the similarities play out in your head. Agreed.

There are lessons to be learned from that. The first obvious lesson is because: Cataclysm It has a very unique inspiration and has a more eye-catching look. But secondly, the environment in game development can unconsciously influence and shape decisions in a game.

Being aware of those influences can be an opportunity to open your eyes to what makes the environment around us unique, and to uncover what needs to change in your game. We’ve heard the developer talk about this topic several times, and one notable example of this is his Insomniac Games. Rework of sunset overdrive The city will be closer to the fictional “San Fran Tokyo” than Burbank, California.

So if you’re reading this, go outside and look at the world around you. Does your game resemble that world? Does it need to be more similar? below?

That’s your calling.However, as Cataclysm As you can see, there is a lot to learn when you do your own analysis.

Digital Products About the author Senior Editor

Bryant Francis is an author, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, Massachusetts. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication in the video game industry. His credits include his upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon from Proxy Studios and his 2017 game Endless Space 2 from Amplitude Studio.

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