They’ve had concepts for areas of Lorville for a long time, but before they got to sink their teeth into Lorville they did work on things like GrimHex and Levski. Visual direction wise though, it’s been around for a while.
When planning out Lorville, they had to do a fair amount of city planning research, figuring out what makes cities work, and part of that in Lorville is the large building, the Central Business District, so internally they call it the HDCBD.
The HDCBD used to be a lot smaller. It was originally called out by the Lore team as a very dominant presence in the location; the workers within Lorville would have it as a constant overlooking presence. They needed something dominant on the skyline, but in the landscape as well. They did play around with the scale a lot, went backwards and forwards with Chris to get to something impressive, something that would have the executive level above the skyline.
When designing the area, they have to think about scale all the way from the giant to the miniscule. From the HDCBD looking over you everywhere in the city, to a coffee stain on a desk. The ability to tell stories subtly. Information vs. Exformation, which is the stuff that can be inferred from the environment around.
Right now they’re trying to create a lived-in Universe. They want to give everything a little bit of life, personality, chaos.
Right now there are 3 variants of hab layouts. Messy, not messy, bed in the middle, on the side, etc… but they also have some variation in the lighting. So there’s at least some variation when you spawn.
They’re talking very seriously now about how to ‘dress’ locations, because going forward they want things to be pick-uppable. It breaks immersion if some things can be picked up but others can’t. Going forwards one of the most important things is to achieve the same level of storytelling, but also have interaction as well.
Their main focus for the first sprint was L19. There are some things that are very specific to that zone, but other things that they can use in other places down the road. They are, for example, developing the interior of the CBD. They might not have the whole interior explorable, but there’ll be a different look and feel inside it, there’ll be shops, etc… you can get an idea of the difference in power, the narrative, that exists in Lorville.
The ability for players to get around is very important, and they’re thinking of it sort of like theme park design, the ability to look over somewhere and say, oh, there’s that, I want to go over there. Lots of vista shots; if I go that way, there’s transit, if I go that way, there’s shops, or habs, etc…
Physical trains added a lot of complexity, and Chris was very specific about them, but they add a whole other feel to the city, and makes it *feel* huge.
One of the things they have to do while designing something 900 years in the future, they have to consider things as advanced as possible, but also relatable. THey could design a train that looks like a space whale with butterfly wings when it flies, it’d be too far advanced to relate to. There’s only so far ‘future’ they can go and still make it relatable. At the same time, right now they’re describing some ‘older’ parts of the ‘Verse. Right now what we’re seeing is Utilitarianism, they’re showing some of the older things in the ‘Verse. So they’re making it relatable right now, but we might see more advanced things down the road. They have some interesting things that they’re working on internally. They’re trying some stuff for ArcCorp for example.
As artists, they have to constantly expose themselves to new ideas, new design ideas and new architecture, to incorporate ideas from reality into the game. Sometimes this is harder, they can’t go to the moon for example, but wherever they can they try to base things on real-world locations, or real-world designs that already exist.
CIG are making a modular game, which you don’t get by making custom pieces for everything, or you’d be at it forever. You have to create standards, but also create variance, so areas feel different. Even if you’re looking at the same wall, they can be dressed differently, or lit differently, to make them feel different.
Ultimately, because the engine is really good and it’s all real-time, they can build locations really quickly, but then they start seeing repetition, and tehy start putting in unique things here and there to break up the modular-ness. Something like 70% modular, 30% unique, otherwise you get fatigue from repetition.
There are lots of new art styles they want to get into as well, but getting into new art styles takes a long of time, so they have to be very measured when they do that.
They do do internal timelapses for times of day to verify how the area will look like in morning, noon, evening, night, etc…
They won't necessarily validate it for each outpost, but for a major landing location, they will.
They’re looking into weather, and when it’s done, it’ll be done right, but there’s a lot to get that working in cities.
The primary focus for the new hangars was that they had to run. They were basically given a box by level design that would fit everything, and they basically just made it run.
Most of the lighting budget, for example, went to making the ships looking good. They needed scale, but it needed to be ‘cheap’ so they could render the inside and the outside.
For Lorville they had a specific goal to hit, but when you look at real cities, cities don’t… end. So they had to find a design balance between looks and gameplay. So one of the first steps into making cities, they have lots of ideas they want to try in the future.