Shade, the Corrupting Darkness, and Other Design Decisions

From the very beginning of this project Chris and I had a very specific ideas about how we wanted to approach the visual presentation of this game. We wanted it to have the feel of an old school top-down RPG from the 16bit era, but rendered with modern 3D graphics, and lighting. This meant grid-based dungeon construction, and super deformed characters (also known as Chibi). And lots of chunky, stylized 3D art.

We also decided we really liked the juxtaposition of telling a very dark, and horrific, almost Lovecratian style of story through a very cute presentation. Something that was in part inspired by a web comic from the early 2000s called Hello Cthulhu by Devon Tackett, which put Cthulhu himself into the Hello Kitty universe. I highly recommend giving it a read if you haven’t!

We briefly considered developing a character creation system, but very quickly decided we wanted the story and the game to focus around a strong and iconic character, with a deep backstory. So I set to designing our vampire hunter. I wanted our hero to be a very grim, and tragic character. An ancient elven vampire hunter who has been fighting against the all consuming darkness of vampirism for centuries, and has slowly seen everything they ever cared for stripped away from them as the scourge of vampirism engulfed their world, destroying nation after nation, until all that was left was a wastelend of destruction, and a few small walled cities that had managed to hold out. And Shade, wandering blasted battlefields fighting a neverending battle against an unstoppable foe. A shell of what they once were. Consumed with the hunger for vengeance and an all consuming desire to put an end to all Vampyr.

There are times when things just seem to fall together naturally and easily, and this was one of those times, which is good because there has been no shortage of design decisions that we’ve struggled with mightily! But Shade came together almost immediately, and both of us knew we had our character.

Another central idea that drove the design of our hero was the idea that we wanted players to feel like this character is an extension of themselves in the world. We wanted players look at their character and feel a sense of “That’s me!” This led to a great deal of discussion about Shade’s gender. No matter which way we decided to go with this we felt it would make some people feel less connected to the character.

In the end we decided to leave it an open question. We had already designed a character that was very stylized and had no gender specific characteristics, so no modification or compromise was needed in the visual design to support this. We really just wanted any player to be able to sit down with our game and see Shade an extension of themselves in the world of Uuld.

Finally, and probably most important of all, was that we wanted to tell a great story. We wanted a rich world with a robust and long history. Nations that have risen and fallen, wars, mysteries, and great people who have shaped the world of Uuld. For this we brought in veteran game writer Ted Peterson from the Elder Scrolls series. Over the last year Ted has worked with us to expand and develop the characters, nations, and the world history behind our story. A world history that goes back to the very beginnings of the Universe.

Ted is now hard at work on a series of short stories that will be published on our website over the coming weeks and months that will give players a view into the world of Uuld, and a few brave souls who stand against the tide of darkness that threatens to consume it.

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