I’ve been tired of looking at grey flat land with test objects, so I spent a bit of time doing some art tests. It’s hard for me to have any feelings about a game without visuals. Yes, the gameplay can be in place, and it might be fun, but for me it misses something undefinable without the visuals – partly charm, warmth, completeness, but something more as well.
At the same time, since I’ve still in a very much prototype phase of development, I don’t want to spend days on each art asset, or hours making shaders.
So I arrived at a prototype art style that is certainly subject to change, but for now gives me something more concrete to build on where I can add detail later.
A bunch of other things had to be done to make this happen. I had to start a proper terrain generation system specific to the game that incorporates gameplay features instead of just being specific to terrain. This was fairly quick implement do to previous work.
I also had to rewrite the shadowing system I had from Banished – previously the camera couldn’t look up to the horizon, but now I’m allowing a much more flexible camera, so I need to render to the horizon and handle shadows in any configuration. Not hard, but a bit of a change from a single shadow maps to cascaded shadow maps.
Also due to the camera changes I now have some new rendering systems to handle more objects and need to create LOD objects for things far away – another thing that I didn’t have in Banished. And another reason to have a quick prototype art style. Each asset now needs multiple models for close, mid, and far view distances.
I’m allowing a large zoom out distance, so you can look over a fairly large area. Here’s the same terrain as the previous image from far away.
Obviously it still needs, ocean, and sky – but usually I’m testing close up in the middle of the island looking down, so it’s not an immediate need.
I may end up with something in-between this style and Banished’s style, or something completely different. Or I may stick with it – I’ve got plans for far more assets than the previous game required, so faster art creation might be a really good thing.