So Ridiculous That It’s Awesome

For Dungeons of Dredmor I’m currently revising the main title screen, credits, and high score background paintings, and I’ve effectively finished the introduction paintings in the last couple months. I even wrote the text for the intro; Truly, a renaissance man stands before you.

To speak of the story for a moment, we decided partly by-default and partly by-design to keep the story operating in terms of rather broad archetypes while implying at least a little bit of a world outside of the scope of the game (read: dungeon), along with a touch of self-reflective silliness, because we’re all aware of what type of game this is and the tropes that rule them all.

Stories can easily get tiresomely overblown. You don’t really need to hear how King Osmold begat Prince Mandrill who lay with The Five Banes of Highlow-by-the-sea in the Season of Hollowed Ales before he went on and slew the High Cheesemonger of Barnwick over a matter of sixteen zorkmids, earning himself the enmity of the Cult of Grung. In other words, the player doesn’t need the details that are clearly precious to the writer before the game has earned the attachment of the audience – and indeed it must be earned.

We start the story with broad strokes, then details can be absorbed organically through exploration of the game-world if a player cares to pay attention to that sort of thing. Because at its heart, the story of Dredmor is really a story of how an individual plays the game for themself.

As for the paintings, it feels like the style I’m drifting toward is something more like Frank Frazetta than Boris Vallejo, what with the dramatic colored lighting and moody shadows –and rather fewer leather bikinis. Of course it’s not too late to change the art direction based on beta testing feedback, right? And I remembering now that this over-the-top fantasy art came up in conversation about how to approach these paintings over a year ago. It makes sense: Frazetta’s work is so ridiculous that it’s awesome and “so ridiculous that it’s awesome” is exactly the design philosophy of Dungeons of Dredmor.

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