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Aether & Iron Blog - Vehicles & Vices

Dev Update

Let’s take some time to delve a little more into what we’ve been doing recently.

  • Our primary goal in this sprint was to settle on establishing some of the bits concerning the game’s narrative. We’ve even storyboarded a potential opening cinematic! These pictures may not make it into the final game, but they are still instrumental in helping us work with and refine an idea, such as an opening cutscene.


Now, Let’s talk about the Twitter posts from the past 2 weeks.


This is the Uppers - a place of lights, spectacle, and vice. Home to New York’s middle-class and better-off denizens, it is full of everything a person could want. The hustle-and-bustle of city life is alive and well among the skyscrapers and streams of cars, and you might forget for a moment that it has its own seedy underbelly of gambling, alcohol, and every vice known to man. Under the flashing lights and endless streets are power struggles between mercenaries, gangsters, and pretenders all looking to own this shiny piece of New York.

From an artistic standpoint, the Uppers are sandwiched between the “turn-of-the-century” Lowers and the “Streamline Moderne” aesthetic of the Heights, which puts them firmly in what you’d think of as “Art Deco.” The Uppers are designed to be what people in the 1920s would have imagined “the world of tomorrow” to look like, but have fallen into disarray after being supplanted by the Heights as the “top of New York.” Images like these are “mood paintings” that we’ll make in order to get a feel of how an area should look. It’s less about specifics and more about setting an artistic stage in which to design the aspects of the city and its inhabitants. How should the cars of the Uppers look? What about buildings? What about decorations? Mood paintings like this one help solve those questions and others.


As we mentioned in the past, cars will come in “sizes”, and we wanted to show off a Light vehicle. Designed to be fast and maneuverable, you can expect cars in this weight class to be speedy glass cannons and nimble scouts that are built to cater to players (and enemies) who prefer speed over safety.

Visual clarity is an important aspect of game design, and here, we are trying to define the silhouette of what a Light vehicle should look like. We want you to be able to look at any vehicle, no matter the design or armament, and know everything you need to know, and silhouettes are a big part of that. In this case, we’ve been experimenting with giving Light vehicles these forward protrusions that give them a “sleek and speedy” feel, even if they’re rather angular.


Aether is a new state of matter and is the lifeblood of New York which allows the cars and buildings to fly. Discovered in the late 1800s, its use quickly spread to all aspects of life and prompted the development of technologies thought to be impossible! With near limitless amounts of energy at the fingertips of the common folk, the world was thrust into the future in the blink of an eye. Of course, what could have ushered mankind into a period of peace was quickly fought over by powerful players, and New York was forever fractured into the baronies that you see now.

Much like the picture of the Uppers, images like this one help set the stage for the narrative. We’re depicting a salesman and his assistant selling promises of a better life to a crowd of curious onlookers, showing only a hint of Aether’s power. Images like this help us build things like cutscenes and promotional art, and help construct a “mood” for the story for us to follow. While this picture might show hope and wonder, others may contrast with anger and violence, and they’re both parts of the Aether & Iron story that we’re telling.


This is a Heavy vehicle, which you’ve probably already figured out by now. As you would expect, heavy vehicles are meant to be “tanks,” in the gameplay sense, able to withstand attacks and impose a very dominant presence on the battlefield. If you’re looking for a vehicle that can both pack and take a punch, then you’ll want to look into something from the Heavy class! Just don’t ask it to be very fast or maneuverable, as it can do everything but that. 😉

Something we want to point out about this particular picture is the design of vehicles from the Heights. We’ve shown plenty from the Lowers, but very few from the Heights, and we’d like to talk about them a little. The Heights are home to the wealthiest people in New York, and their cars are the best that money can afford. Sleek, stylish, and reminiscent of some of the car concepts from the time period, the cars from the Heights show off the latest tech and styles that you’ll find nowhere else in New York.


Thank you for joining us for this update! We’ll show more in 2 weeks!



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