Our forthcoming fantasy RPG game, Mercia: Fractured Realms (a PlayStation®Home exclusive), has got the team here at Lockwood very excited! Scheduled for release in Summer 2012, we’ll be releasing Developer Diaries each week leading up to its launch to give you inside information.
First off we’d like to tell (and show!) you about the game’s art style and how decisions made in the early stages of development eventually determined the game’s final look.
For the visual design we decided early on that we wanted to stay away from the traditional medieval European-based fantasy style.
After some research and early concept work that explored different cultural influences, we decided to take our main inspiration from the ancient civilisations of South America, particularly that of the Mayans and Aztecs – to make it stand out visually from other games of this genre.
You can see a lot of influence from the architecture and colour palette of those cultures in the first Realm, but we integrated aspects from other cultural aesthetics too, such as Ancient Greek and Arabian. This world is meant to be a collision of different civilisations that once lived separately and have now been fused together.
Having a team of talented and creative people, each bringing their own unique vision to the project, meant that it was constantly evolving and we had to focus to keep different elements looking consistent. This is also what makes the art style interesting and hints towards a larger world outside the confines of the game. To help prevent too much disparity in the design and maintain visual consistency we created a ‘primer’ doc early on, which was used to keep all members of the team informed of changes in the visual style. This was constantly being updated with the latest art and reference material, and was especially useful for new people who who were added to the project later on in development.
As part of this ‘primer’ doc, Jon – Concept Artist and GUI/Graphic Designer – created a selection of patterns and icons that could be used throughout the world in a variety of contexts. These would be featured on the armour and clothing worn by the player’s avatar, integrated into the design of the weapons, and placed directly into the environment to embellish the walls and artifacts.
This helped make everything feel as if it belonged to the same world, and also made the production of assets simpler, as we could have items created by different people feel like they were actually made by the same person, simply by overlaying the readymade patterns onto the asset’s texture pages.
We also aimed to echo the visual style of Mercia in the form of the logo, both in its shape and the metallic treatment of the design. This was so it would look like an artifact from the world, and wouldn’t seem out of place if you saw it mounted upon one of the walls.
There were so many different ideas in the early concept stages of the project that we found we had to focus on what would be practical to achieve, whilst staying true to the game’s central premise of a fractured world slowly being pulled back together. There was a lot of great stuff we had to put aside because of time and technical restrictions, but this means we have a huge resource of excellent concept material that we’ll be able to use at a later date.
For this first Realm we wanted to do something that could be produced in the time frame whilst maintaining a high level of quality, so we started with more enclosed environments; but this is just one Realm of many in the Mercia world, and we will be expanding upon this in the future.
Each subsequent addition will continue to be colourful and rich, with an increasingly grand scope, bigger open spaces and more variation in geographical terrain to explore. We’ll also broaden the variety and design of the creatures featured in the game to create a consistent ecology that all the fauna belongs to. This would encompass not only enemy creatures, but also incidental bugs, small lizards and other wildlife, to create a sense of biodiversity.
As Lockwood fans will already know, we like to push the boundaries of what PlayStation®Home can do, both technically and aesthetically, but we haven’t used all our ideas on this first Mercia release, or pushed the envelope as far as we think we could – we still have plenty of tricks up our sleeves to surprise you with for future expansions to this world.
This type of game is the first of its kind to be featured in PlayStation®Home and we’ve worked hard to exceed the standard of innovation set by our previous products, Sodium One and Sodium2: Project Velocity. With this release we also hope to exceed the expectations of you, the Home community, as we know you’ve been waiting for a fantasy RPG on this platform for quite a while now.
These Developer Diaries aim to make you as excited about the prospect of playing Mercia as we are about unveiling it, and as with everything we produce, we’re always happy to take on board community feedback about our products to help drive, improve and focus their future development – so get posting!
Thanks to Jon (Concept Artist and GUI/Graphic Designer) and Sophia (Publishing Director) for contributing to this Diary.