Well, we just wrapped up a two-pitcher lunch at the Sewer Brew Pub with a fan (hi Kris!), so you know that means: time to write a blog post! So Daniel has been cranking through biome stuff and asked- no, let’s start this over.
The sky above Vancouver was the colour of a television tuned to a dead channel. Daniel entered the gently cultivated chaos of the art room and recoiled slightly. The chaos recoiled slightly back at him.
“After Steampunk Colorado, what’s next?” — Oh, well then: we could do a desert. Lots of bones, dust, salt, jagged rocks. No? Really? I thought it’d be pleasant. Then perhaps a swamp, something lovely; Lots of plants, molds, miasma, large insects, fevers. No? Not a swamp? If we must then, let us set our sights on:
Steampunk Central America
White sand beaches, tropical forest, volcanoes, cenotes, deforestation, strange statues buried in the sand at the low elevations and giant, scowling basalt heads at the higher; beetles grazing in tropical meadows before wallowing in warm streams. It’ll be lovely. And we still get those fevers in.
It starts with a palette of colours, the right colour for the right sub-biome from the top of the topology to the bottom. It’s all layered like some kind of terrible cake full of dirt and growing trees. Below is a quick sketch I did to give an overview of what could be going on in a roughly Central American biome set:
And while we’re at it, let’s fit some volcanoes in there because why not innit. Lots of drama there. Though I imagine Dwarf Fortress has instilled in players Terrible Ideas and Certain Expectations about the utility of building in the proximity of volcanoes which, I’ll have you know, has traditionally been Frowned Upon. Related: The Clockwork Empire has many traditional Frownings which fall outside the scope of this blog post. And that’s all I’m going to say about lava at this time.
Moving right along, this new set of biomes comes with a new set of assets required to properly flesh them out (to say nothing of the Flesh Biome, but I’ll say no more about that either). Certainly some nature objects can be recycled: a rock is a rock whether textured as basalt or rhyolite, though I do get concerned about accounting for proper cleavage & weathering, and any number of broadleaf bushes can be adjusted a touch to become appropriate for tropical climates. Nonetheless, there are some entirely new creations required! Among them: fumaroles spewing clouds of brimstone & other pleasantness, burnt logs, glowing vents, certain tropical broadleaf trees and possibly mangroves alongside some larger coral clusters (to keep the smaller coral clusters & sundry polyps company).
Each time we populate a biome with content, the next biome because slightly easier because 1. we can, as said, adapt material from other biomes and 2. our entire asset production pipeline becomes more practiced. By the end of this we’ll be extruding these things at a rapid pace!
Further, I get to be enthusiastic about karst geography. Is anyone not enthusiastic about karst geography? Good, then we’re all on the same page. This special sort of madness is how we ended up with bauxite in Dredmor which is a touch I was also enthusiastic about.
See, the thing is, it’s all too easy to say “oh, there’s some ‘copper ore’, if it’s good enough for Minecraft it’s good enough” as if no one had heard of malachite, tetrahedrite, chalcopyrite, and so on. Or “there’s A Tree”; That’s not good enough, not for me and not for you dear Gaslamp fans. Verisimilitude. Hand waving here. (I should note: Minecraft’s strength is not authorial world-building– it’s player world-building.)
(But seriously, doing just a little research on anything at all provides a tremendous flavour of internal consistency even if one is mashing together a lot of different concepts using the aforementioned broad strokes. Many games rely on world-building borrowed from movies & other videogames, ending with some sort of blandly incestuous world design. It’s so much more interesting when a game designer uses more primary source material as a basis for creating setting & mechanics. This is what, for example, Sid Meier or old-school Maxis was all about and why those developers made so many compelling and original games. Or take, from television, David Simon’s dedication to verisimilitude that gives his work an amazing life that the rote shambling trope-zombie productions lack.)
Right, so it’s fun to draw palm trees and cute islands. What I’m not showing in carefully cropped images is the huge spreadsheet of models & textures that I need to write JIRA tickets for. But I’ve discussed that process and it looks a heck of a lot like I’m going to be doing that all tomorrow.
Hope you’ve enjoyed our tropical adventure! Please queue to the left for your coconut drink with a little umbrella in it and a free tropical fever.