Development Update #2: A Change of Scene

If there's one thing Sid Meier taught me, it's that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said some pretty awesome stuff.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

It's one of those things you say just before dropping the mic - and it's sort of a mantra over here at General Interactive Co. What am I talking about? I'm talking about the bane of a game developer's existence: feature creep. It's easy to come up with ideas, but building them is the challenge - building them well is the dream. 

Over the past few weeks, Jenny and I, with the insightful inputs of our multi-talented UI designer, Celson, started to reflect on the "final product". What do we really want Terroir to include? What isn't necessary? And more importantly, what is the final look going to be like? The current models and overall design are nice, but we felt we could make it better. But we were mindful of the risk of adding too much. Feature creep has been the death of many a game. So, after a few days of mulling things over, we figured out what we wanted, and how it was going to look.

And that brings me right back to Mr. Meier - we have him to thank for inspiring us in the looks department.

We're going hexagonal, ladies and gents.

Celson got to work on the concept art.

 

Now, the hexagonal tile system is by no means a new thing. Civilization certainly wasn't the first video game to make use of it - the board game, Hex, has been around for a really long time. But Civ managed to use it so well, they ended up owning it. The aesthetic appeal of hexagonal tiles is far superior to its square counterpart. It appears seamless, and the fact that each tile can connect with up to 6 adjacent tiles (as opposed to 4 with a square) opens up possibilities to add in features like buffs and status effects. But for us, we chose to go with it simply because it just looked really really good.

We also had this idea of making the cellar visible in the main world screen, as opposed to being relegated to a simple menu. So we're planning on making the tiles clickable - when a player clicks on a tile, it brings up information about that tile. And when the player clicks on the Chateau tile, the tile is raised and the underground cellar is revealed.

 

C'mon, you gotta admit that's kinda neat. 

We also wanted to go back to pure low-poly 3D models (the less demanding the game, the better for players who don't own powerful computers). One of the models we were quite unhappy with was the grapes cluster, which were perfectly spherical. So we revisited the designs and came up with new ones.

 

All in all, we were quite happy with the new art direction. So happy, in fact, that we started working on modeling them.

Enter the great Pavel, our new 3D Designer (we'll talk about him some more in the future - we're super excited he's decided to join the team). Pavel sweated out a few long nights and put Terroir under the scalpel. He gave the game a brand new look that we felt is exactly how we envisioned Terroir in the first place.

But don't take our word for it. Have a look at the new Terroir:

 

So there you have it. With art direction one step closer to being nailed down (we still need to re-look at the UI), we can resume the development side of things. Jenny is currently digging a trench and getting ready to hunker down, for this winter will be a season of heavy building. We've got a bit more to go to get a beta up and ready by mid Q1 next year, and hopefully, start testing by February or March. But one thing's for sure: we're not rushing this. We owe it to you to make this the best it can be, and we're not in the business of compromise.

Talk to y'all soon!