World Building an Indie Open World Action RPG (Arcana Kira™ News)


Arcana Kira™ is in active development for Steam® & PlayStation® 4 (USA/Japan.) It’s a massive open world action RPG in production since early 2015… by one person.

Today I’d like to share progress I’ve made in world building, including creature design, vegetation, colors, music and more.


World Building

I love RPGs, and love to study what about them makes me love them so much. In the case of open world games, it’s right in the title: the world. You can randomly generate any generic world, but the art of immersing people into a fictional world through “world building” takes focused effort.
In the middle of modeling, before the wings were added.

The Process

From the outset of planning this game, I envisioned 5 regions based off of earth, air, water, fire and spirit. While each of these regions had an elemental theme in mind, only the southern desert really stood out as a unique area. With a game world bigger than GTA V, I needed ideas for making each area memorable, unique, and immersive. This is what I came up with.

Shapes, Colors, & Sounds

Boil down any video game and you’re left with just shapes, colors, and sounds (plus user input.) These are the basic building blocks of the player’s experience. To that end, I spent time developing audio & visual guidelines for each region.

The shape guidelines define the most common enemy and vegetation silhouettes in a region, the color guidelines define the color palette for each region, and the sound guidelines define the instruments used in the musical tracks, as well as the consistent sounds created by the region’s weather conditions. The screenshots & subject matter I’ve covered today are all from the water region, which I hope illustrates some of these guidelines in action.

Shape guidelines for regional enemy & vegetation designs.

In older builds of the game, the water (Tritonis) region looked visually the same as the earth and air regions, with shared ground textures, vegetation and enemies. There was also one 9 minute long overworld song that played in all regions.
The slug uses the color pallete & shape guidelines of the region.
I made the slug fatter in Blender so it would be more visible in the game.
After finalizing the design specs, the region was re-imagined according to these guidelines. The decision to give each region it’s own weather, meant that Tritonis was constantly raining. This justified making mud the default ground in the region, which also aligns with the new color palette for the region.
Of all the regions, the water region was (is) the hardest for me to write the music for. All the region world map songs needed to be 9 minutes long or more and seamlessly loop. I also wanted them to be evocative of the region, so I wanted to write a song that stayed true to a muddy rainy blue tentacle jungle… which was the problem.

The desert region was the easiest to write the music for… I just went with tablas, sitars, sarods, auds, flutes and other instruments in a traditional desert theme. I’m still working on finishing the Tritonis theme, so for now I’ll share the desert theme.

“Muspelheim Desert” World Map Song

Conclusion

There’s still a ton to do, and I have a lot to share. In fact, I’ve been video recording much of the work I’ve been doing on Arcana Kira, and will have a lot more to share later this year. I’m currently aiming for Q1 2018 for beta testing, but nothing is firm yet. If you’re interested in seeing more, please follow on Twitter, YouTube, and of course sign up for our newsletter. Thanks for looking; talk to you all again soon.
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