Dev Blog #2 - Extreme Exteriors
Updated: Oct 2, 2019
Hi everyone! It’s time for our second Monstrum 2 developer blog. (We’re aiming to get these developer blogs out on a more regular basis going forward so expect to see one every 2 weeks).
This one will be focused on early concept art for the overall environment design, so get ready for a lot of images. :)
As many of you know, Monstrum 2 is a multiplayer survival horror game set on-board an old derelict sea fort. If you want an overview, you can read our previous post about it here: Dev Blog 1 - The Sea Fort
The facility has been something we’ve been really excited about and it’s been a lot of fun exploring all of the different layouts to choose from. In this blog post, we’re going to go through the different sea fort ideas we experimented with before we settled on one. We’ll also discuss what we liked and didn’t like about each idea, as well as why some of those ideas were scrapped, while others went forward to shape the final facility design...
The Rounded Fort Design
We’re starting off with the round sea fort design. These take a lot of influence from older style forts, ranging from castle-like structures to rugged concrete WW2 batteries. These offered an interesting and unusual shape when compared with more angular layouts, and felt a lot sturdier and powerful in nature. In the end though, this design felt too outdated (even for the ‘70s) as too many elements are heavily influenced by fort design of the 1800s.
The round design also proved problematic with the procedural generation system that relies on a more grid-like structure to make the best use of space.
Exterior Courtyard Ideas
While we explored the idea of having courtyards to balance the cramped, claustrophobic interior with the harsh exposed exterior. Having a courtyard would normally require the sea fort to be located much closer to the shore, which doesn’t really lend itself to a top-secret organization.
In this example, the courtyard contained trees and foliage to add more variation to the solid concrete walls that surrounded the fort. Other courtyard ideas contained chimneys, walkways, shacks and container storage.
Long Terrifying walkways & Time of Day
Whilst researching sea fort designs for inspiration, something that we particularly found intimidating was long, high up walkways above the open ocean. Anybody with even the slightest fear of heights would instantly feel uncomfortable in this environment. If the fall didn’t kill you, the harsh ocean certainly would.
One thing that we had to consider though was that long, open walkways may not offer the best kind of gameplay experience when being chased by a monster. Would a monster remain scary when you’re watching it slowly catch up to you from 100 meters away on an open walkway?
We also played about with different times of the day. Lighting plays a huge part in setting the tone of the environment, and a warm sunrise would feel completely different from a dark, starry night.
We also experimented with some sci-fi like shapes on the structures, such as the ones above. However, this erred too much to the futuristic end for us. It certainly wouldn’t look out of place in a Star Wars movie.
Surprise! We’ve got a helipad again. (Who knows what it’s going to be used for in-game?)
Here we’ve experimented with the layout of the control tower overlooking the helipad, and how players can access it from below.
We also played with the idea of having plenty of loose objects blowing in the wind to emphasize the harsh climate. Here we’ve got a lot of plastic tarps that have been hanging over the sides of walls and fencing.
As you can see, we’re pretty obsessed with lightning in our concept art. I mean, what’s more exciting than thunder and lightning? Here, we’ve also got ice forming on the water in a much colder environment. This also raised the question of if weather conditions add an even deeper sense of desolation by emphasizing the inhospitable environment even more.
Rectangular Fort Design
In the end, we can confirm that we’ve settled on is the rectangular fort shape. It’s much more familiar, and instantly recognizable as a sea fort. On top of that, we’re experimenting with different sizes and shapes of these on an overall level scale through our generations, which we are dubbing “superblocks”. (We’ll let the programmers talk through that in a future post).
That’s it for this post. We hope you found this interesting. George Johnstone provided a lot of our concept art for us, like the ones above. If you like his work, you can check him out here: www.georgejohnstone.com Let us know what you think about some of these designs, we’d love to hear your thoughts!