The Iterative Process

We’ve been working hard on the new terrain system. We thought it would be fun to post up a bit of our internal discussion to show how we like to work. Since we’re an entirely remote company, so a full text log of our process is a handy side effect. Here, xavi’s working on the tiles that cover the ground for most of the world, and the rest of us are chipping in our two cents.

xavi working on our ground game:

brentk neat! i think it could be even simpler and broader

danc Replicate some of the shapes in the walls so they merge.

xavi good idea, Ill try that

danc I think we can simplify the tops of the walls. There are some small and medium shapes that we could try removing. Might simplify some of forms and make them feel a touch less noisy on the top. (sides are great)

xavi Thats easy enough to do, Ill do a pass on all the elements once I can see them all at the same time

this ground is a good start but seems like a bad fit, its almost sandy in nature, not rocky

brentk yeah. keeping it smooth is kinda growing on me 🙂

maybe something pretty subtle like the grass in here?

[ed: here’s the original source of this image]

xavi ya pretty much

funny enough thats what I was thinking for the highlands mountains!

brentk i can totally see the higher more developed areas being smoooooth

ally the ground screenshot reminds me of waves and has me picturing a completely impractical geometric ocean current

xavi it does make it look very dry

rdw Yeah that sand duney effect seems like it has thematic legs

At this point, xavi returns with another version of the ground tiles, incorporating our feedback. He’ll do this several more times before we’re done.

xavi better but needs to be a bit more playful:

rdw Ooh nice! Good direction to take it, matches the walls and cliffs

xavi yeah its better now, one sec

rdw Wow that feels really tangible

xavi yeah the way they get tiled makes it feel pretty good

rdw Can’t see the pattern, either, even though it’s totally repeating

xavi considering its only one mesh!

rdw Looks OK where it meets up with the guard post?

danc I wonder if there’s a way to get the level of tilt and depth similar to the side pieces.

xavi there is, but I think its best to keep it subtle so it can make the things atop look better

…the pieces already have alternating heights, also dont forget that we also have random rock formations that are supposed to sit on top of these

brentk i think it could still be pretty subtle but vary it up a bit so not all the stones are the exact same height and distance apart from each other?

like, maybe cut some out and have a couple that are taller shorter?

Brent then takes one of xavi’s original images and photoshops it to better explain:

…dumb PS job, but just to break up the pattern look a bit

xavi More empty areas? yeah we can swing that

brentk yeah i think its just a biiiit too uniform right now

though i could totally see this style as-is in some ruins areas where it looked like an artificial walkway in the past

rdw I am pumped imagining how just changing these flat terrain pieces will have such a substantial impact on the feel of an area

brentk low poly is really funny! its akin to like UI work or something. seeing what you can remove rather than add

xavi simplifying the pattern will take a bit, but heres different heights and some rotation too:

rdw Lookin’ interesting. Maybe the occasional space where there’s no rock at all?

brentk ah cool the random look is definitely helping

xavi yeah thats simplifying it

its one of those things thats easy to mock but harder to figure out because less pieces = more obvious pattern

btw its the right advice, just letting you know itll take a min :slightly_smiling_face:

> Maybe the occasional space where there’s no rock at all?

xavi Two simpler options:

btw this is using one pattern being repeated everywhere, we were always going to use at least 2

rdw It’s good to see that it holds up to this sort of degenerate tiling tho. I don’t think it’s even rotated or flipped

xavi it is, you can tell on the upper left

the area that looks like a playstation dpad, thats the same 4 corners facing each other

rdw Ha ha, oops. It is rotating them, but basically so that they always face the center

Adding some randomness

Up to now xavi had been working on his local machine inside the game editor. Next, he uploads the art so Ryan (rdw) can add some variety through code:

xavi let me submit this mesh so its easier for you to tell


rdw Pushed random rotation of floor tiles

xavi gonna send you 2 more tiles for variety soon

rdw Cool. The ground_rocks assets look like they might need another pass, to make them larger or whatever

If you fly around in the Empty scenario, and ignore the crazy popping that happens, you get a big facefull of the ground

xavi they do, need to be taller and just plain bigger

okay, pushed. They have different levels of density so theyll help break out how uniform the pattern looks

rdw Lookin random

brentk Oh yeah those sparse areas are looking nice

rdw I do still like the looks of the earlier examples with their extremely rocky ground, I wonder if we can have our :cake: and eat it too somehow

xavi well not every area needs to look the same

I think we have a bit of a disconnect in that people are looking out for whats the best practice for the overall game vs how does this lowlands area should look

brentk totally. a lot of these experiments are probably good to go in different regions and dungeons

rdw Acceptable!

So there you have it. Making the very first edition of anything is the Most Difficult. You’re not even sure what you’re aiming for, and no one is sure what is important to focus on. We’re fortunate to have such talented people working with us that can hit the mark so quickly. We’re all looking forward to seeing what the rest of the game looks like!