Dev Blog #1 - The Sea Fortress
Updated: Oct 2, 2019
Welcome to our first Monstrum 2 Dev Blog! It’s been far too long. First, let me introduce myself: I’m Ice and I’m the Community Manager here at Junkfish. Here’s a little about me: in the past, I've previously worked for various companies including Codemasters and Activision, and I’ve always been a big fan of horror games ever since that first time I played the original Resident Evil on the PlayStation.
This is the first developer blog, so I’m going to tease a bit about the environment of Monstrum 2 to get things rolling; starting with the sea fortress. For many of you who played the first game, you’ll know that Monstrum 1 took place onboard an abandoned cargo ship left to rust out at sea. We feel that Monstrum truly belongs on the open ocean, but we wanted to change up the setting to something that felt new and exciting, yet kept to our nautical roots. Hence, we decided to delve into the unexplored depths of the sea fortress...
Without revealing too much about the backstory, a lot of our inspiration for the setting comes from some of the real world military sea forts that were constructed to defend the UK from attack during World War II. One of the main inspirations when designing our Sea Fort was the Red Sands Maunsell Forts located at the mouth of the Thames Estuary. Other fascinating examples include Battleship island off the coast of Japan or even the huge oil platforms we see people work on today.
What interested us is how people have to spend a large portion of their lives on these very isolated structures. These facilities aren’t just places where people just work, but where they live out their daily lives. Food, entertainment, shopping, socializing; all of these things need to be catered for. This really opens us up to a diverse environment we can explore with Monstrum 2 where players can experience a lot of variety and depth, even within a randomized level. We want players to feel like they're exploring a location with a lot of contrast, where they can learn a lot about the history of the secret organisation that conducted these experiments, as well as the horrifying labyrinth that they've awoken to find themselves trapped in.
Why a Sea Fort?
The second reason for choosing sea fortresses was more technical. As you may know, the environment in Monstrum is procedurally generated. It allowed players to feel unfamiliar with the environment in each playthrough, keeping a sense of tension, no matter how many times you played. However, the ship environment also worked against this goal. Ships more or less have a similar layout to be able to function properly: the bridge is always on the top of the ship, the cargo is usually kept below or outside, and the engine is always to the rear. A big challenge was trying to achieve a sense of unpredictability, but being too procedural would break the realism, and in turn, the player’s immersion. It was incredibly difficult to find a balance between the two when limited to the preconceived layout of a cargo ship. A good example was the submarine: you’d really have to stretch your imagination to find a plausible reason for a submarine to be loaded and released from inside of a cargo ship.
However, with a sea-fortress, we’re able to do so much more with the procedural generation whilst still making a believable environment. There’s no set layout to what a Sea Fort needs to be, and therefore we really have the freedom to mix it up. Can we put cranes on the side instead of the top? Yes, we can! OK, then can we allow the sleeping quarters on spawn on the top floor? Also fine! With this new setting, we can really keep players guessing as to what they’ll come across next in their match.
Derelict & Retrofitted
Two other things we can reveal about the Sea Fort: it’s going to be old, and it’s also going to be rusty!
Though not set in the past, the fort itself was initially constructed in the 70s (just like the ship in Monstrum) and throws back to past events that had occurred that led to the fort becoming so decayed and run-down. We’d left some hints in the first game about some of the scientific origins of the Monsters. With the Sea Fort, you’ll be able to find more explicit clues to how the Monsters came into being.
With that in mind, though, you’ll also have more of an idea about the present time you’re in, with more contemporary/scientific elements being retro-fitted into the fort, which may work with or possibly against you. This means that there will be times when you’ll be exploring the fort where you’ll come across rooms filled with antiquated technology that’s somehow been fused with modern counterparts. This presents its own challenges as the artists have to accurately represent a sea fort from the 1970s, complete with all of the deterioration that you’d expect, while also making sure that there is a clear contrast with the more futuristic elements so that the time periods are not confused.
Anyway, time to close up this post…
As you can imagine, recreating the fort so that it feels authentic whilst also presenting challenging gameplay elements can sometimes be a difficult task to achieve. However, the artists are doing an incredible job and we hope to be able to bring you some in-game shots very soon.