Orosynthe devlog: Designing the game world

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re having a nice weekend and a decent August. I didn’t publish an entry last week because I preferred to focus on finishing my research, gathering reference pictures and documentation and such. But I don’t want to take too long between updates, so today I’m back to document my advances!

According to the Orosynthe roadmap, this is the work I’ve done in the project so far:

  • Creating the roadmap itself.
  • Reviewing the documentation of my previous project, Monster Embassy, and recycling everything I could to create a new Game Development Document for Orosynthe.
  • Pixelling some basic mockups to get a feel for what I’m looking for in the game’s graphics and what I can reasonably accomplish (I will probably need to make some more, though).
  • Creating a new (alpha) logo for the project.
  • Starting this devlog.
  • Looking up visual references for scenarios, clothing, etc., based on different ancient Mediterranean cultures (mostly Greek and Roman).
  • Sketching out the main overworld game areas of the game and translating those sketches into simple low-res maps in Tiled map editor.

As you can see, when planning my roadmap, I’ve tried to alternate between different tasks in a logical progression. This is for two reasons: firstly, because I want all areas of the project (story, graphics, gameplay, music, etc.) to advance more or less at the same pace, so they can feed off each other and stay coherent; and secondly, because I get bored when I do the same kind of task for an extended period of time. So far this has worked very well, we’ll see how it goes in the future.

That said, today I wanted to talk to you about the last step in the previous list: making a “low-res” version of all overworld game maps. I haven’t even redesigned the characters or drafted the main story yet (I have a pretty good idea of what will happen, of course, I just haven’t written any of it down), but I thought it was important to do this first, because the game world is the most relevant part of this project barring the characters. After all, the project is called Orosynthe, which is the name of the mountain where almost all the story takes place.

I won’t work on the actual game maps until much, much further down the road, but by creating some basic concepts of them right away, I’ll have a solid reference to look at when writing the story, designing the characters, making the music, etc. These simple maps make the game world real, instead of something that just exists in my head.

First rough sketch of the game world. Since it all happens in a mountain, and you keep ascending to different areas, working out the layout was a bit more complicated than expected. Here the mountain has 5 levels, one for each Aristotelian element (Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether).
This is the simplified/”low-res” version of the game world, created after my preliminary research into ancient Mediterranean cultures, by taking the rough sketch above and building on it. I eventually decided to “combine” the Earth and Water levels, so there’s only four levels to the mountain. I’m calling it low-res because the tiles are much smaller and blockier than they will be in the final game. Credits to Merchant Shade for most of the tiles used. They saved me a lot of time! (source)

I have decided to base each area of the game on a different ancient culture or civilization. All of them will have heavy Greek and Roman inspirations, but with a different focus: one city will be based on the mythical continent of Atlantis described by Plato, for example, while another will be based on ancient Cappadocia, another on Athens, and so on. One of the areas (the desertic one) will also have some Egyptian elements, as a nod to the relationship between Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, particularly in Alexandria.

My focus isn’t to be historically accurate or realistic: as I’ve mentioned previously, this game is pure fantasy. But all these references will help me make the world feel more varied and real. I have also deliberately focused on Mediterranean culture because that’s where I live: close to the Mediterranean.

Thank you for reading this far! Next I’ll be redesigning some characters, which will take a while, so for my next entry (in one or two weeks hopefully) I’ll probably go a bit more in-depth into my documentation process… we’ll see.

Best of wishes!

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