Tribe of the Accord DevLog - World
Hello, and thanks for joining me. My name is Shaun, and in this article, I'm going to be discussing how I constructed the World map and worked on the Level design of the game and the approach I took with the various locations.
We've discussed characters. Well, they need a place for the story to unfold. If we had a movie or theatre production without a set or background in place, we would feel lost. For both a novel and a game, we need to be able to picture where the story begins and have a defined context in place. If we were to set this prehistoric story in space, it wouldn't work so well, would it?
Think moorlands, forests, valleys, meadows, canyons, caves and mountains. These all seem like very suitable settings for a prehistoric world. These settings are documented in the novel and support the theme well. The game supports a handful of these locations as part of the MVP, and it's important to capture the details of these specific locations. Some are obvious, and for others, I wanted to get creative.
Known in the game as the Wisty Woodlands - is naturally dominated by many trees and foliage. Interesting fact; Forests account for 75% of the gross primary production of the Earth's biosphere and contain 80% of the Earth's plant biomass. They are essential for life on Earth, supplying the oxygen we need to survive and providing a habitat for many plants and animals. This is an excellent setting in the game to harvest items and gather firewood.
The Moorlands - known in the game as Bouldemoor - is where our protagonist and her father live. The campsite is tucked away up a hill and surrounded by boulders, obscuring their settlement. The thinking here was that this landscape is sparse of wildlife and reduces the likelihood of potential threats from other tribes. Torion wants peace, so this is a fitting spot to live for him and his daughter. Moorlands are open habitat highland areas with acidic, low-nutrient, and water-logged soils. Moorland habitats comprise heathlands, acid grasslands, and swampy landscapes.
Meadows - known in the game as Meadowhenge - has increasingly come to mean flower-rich grassland of all kinds. When working with the artist, I decided to ramp up the use of flowers, make the area a bit more bright and cheerful, and use standing stones - inspired by the prehistoric monument 'Stonehenge' in Wiltshire, England.
We have the Campsite; based in the Moorlands, this is the haven, the main home for the player. Here the player can store or craft items, speak with Torion to initiate quests, start a fire for cooking, and where the player can go to sleep for the night. The beginning and end of each day end here, with a sleep period each night to replenish health and energy.
Finally, it felt right to leverage procedurally generated levels – alongside the linear world – to keep things fresh and exciting. Caves felt like the natural environment to do this when I was learning about the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky and their 400 miles (640 km) of surveyed passageways. Caves served as some of the earliest dwellings for Stone Age humans. They provided natural shelter and protection against predators and harsh weather conditions. The Lascaux caves in southwestern France are another prime example of Stone Age artistry. The complex cave system is adorned with over 600 wall paintings depicting large animals, estimated to be around 17,000 years old. Caves have yielded many artefacts, including stone and bone tools, that have helped archaeologists understand early human technology and lifestyle; this is why in the game, unique items such as bones and more dangerous enemies like cave bears felt like the perfect location.
With each of these locations, I could start working on which sort of tiles and props I'd need to create a variety of levels that the player can navigate in as part of the world. For example, Torion asks to get some firewood from the Forest, or Adira wants to gather some flowers from the Meadows. This allows me to provide some variety and excitement whenever Adira ventures into the wild. I decided to start with a map, so I contacted a cartographer and briefed him on my desired locations.
Because this linear world map isn't procedurally generated, I can have more control over each room and what happens in them depending on the quest or the time of the day. With this in place, I could then construct a grid of rooms which would aggregate into a fully-fledged maze of levels that the player can navigate. Using vector 2s, I could pinpoint the positions of each room and join them up. Because the world would grow enormous with these rooms, I decided to chunk them up and load/unload them to save on computer memory. We designed each level with our assets, depending on the location. MVP is for four locations, with the possibility to extend.
Each level and room is constructed in the same way. A level has a Room as a child. Inside this room, we have a tilemap for the flooring, an overlay for pit holes, and a border that blockades the room and opens pathways as part of the overall world maze. These nodes are layered from bottom to top; of course, the flooring should be at the bottom so we can paint further tiles on top of it. We place our player, the props and associated enemies inside a YSort node. These are all Y sorted, as the name suggests, so if the player goes behind the tree, for example, then we will see the player go behind it. You'll also notice we have a 'Move Room Trigger'; this is used as a sensor to see if the player wants to move to the next room.
Crafting interesting rooms is a challenge, and this is where the level designer stepped in. It is a time-consuming process, as we have to create a variety of visuals and get creative with the location props to keep the world interesting. I can then build on these levels with different states based on whatever quest I have initiated. This world would be boring without any conflict or tension, though, so we need to go further, and this is where natural threats will help.
The book adaptation of the game is available in the following stores:
In the next post we will be talking about the Game's Enemies.