Hey everyone. Slow week for us last week, due to most of the team getting sidetracked by “real-life” projects: appointments, road-trips, etc. We’re about back to full speed ahead, and all the projects I’ve talked about over the last few weeks are still underway.
So for this week’s update, let’s take a quick look back at Stonehearth’s origins. Before launching the Kickstarter in 2013, Tony and I prototyped a lot of different techniques for building the game. We knew we wanted a city-builder that allowed for a huge level of customization and modding, but the best way to achieve that, especially with an indie-sized dev team, took some experimenting to figure out.
In early prototypes of the game, everything was rendered in non-voxel, traditional 3D models. Here’s a shot of the wagon that your settlers would use to embark on their journey.
You can see very early on that we sort of knew we wanted everything measure high on the adorable-scale. In a full 3D world, buildings would be built by combining different shaped blocks: square blocks, angled blocks, thin-tile blocks, etc. Here’s a mockup of a couple of structures using that system.
Surprisingly, this super-early screenshot shows a tiling picket-fence that’s pretty darn close to the picket fence in the game now, even though we ditched this style and technique for building the game.
After a few months down this path, we started to hit some real issues:
- The sloped blocks didn’t work out as well as we had hoped, especially when used in a landscape.
- It was too hard to mod. Adding a new art asset meant modelling, UV mapping, and painting textures.
Enter the voxels!
I started experimenting with voxels as a way to solve the content creation problem. The goal was to see if we could make voxel characters that have enough detail to be charming and endearing, but at a coarse enough resolution to be easily tweaked by aspiring modders. Here’s my very first take at what became the Stonehearth human model.
Look, no fingers! The fingers came about 3 months later. Here’s another early shot that refined the initial model with more detail and experimented with different character types. Notice the baked in reflections in the eyes, which we later ditched.
Up until this point I was purely doing art prototypes in Qubicle Constructor. But based on this last shot, it was pretty clear that voxels were the way to go for us.
So, there’s a peek into the veeerrry early days of Team Radiant and Stonehearth. I’ve got lots more of this stuff. I’ll share more the next time we have a slow week.