August 22nd, 2022: Moods & "Moderne"

Dev Update

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

 

This past sprint was focused on fine-tuning a few things:

  • Hashing out new designs for characters

  • Finalizing concept art for Heights vehicles (which we’ll be discussing in more detail further down)

  • Establishing the look and feel of the Heights. Here’s a sneak peek of what our aerial utopia is going to look like


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

 

The Lowers were the first parts of New York to be lifted into the sky, and it shows, as they’re comprised of literal city blocks with Aether technology on the bottoms. While it was once “The World of Tomorrow” to New York’s inhabitants, it has fallen into decay as the money flew upwards to the Uppers and the Heights. Industry lines the streets, leaving the Lowers' characteristic thick smog, illuminated only by lamp light since sunlight is blocked by the layers above. That being said, the people here still thrive. They’re fiercely independent and have carved out fairly good lives, given the circumstances. A few relatively powerful groups dominate the Lowers, often bringing money, jobs, and other amenities to the denizens, which makes life here possible.


Just like with the Uppers, this is a “mood piece,” which is designed to help us get the “feel” for an area. It’s not as much of a proper photograph of the Lowers as it is a finalizing of the setting’s “mood,” which helps us design more things for the location, such as cars and buildings. Since the Lowers were built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the location is full of brick buildings, factories, and retrofitted technology from the period. It is old, and it should feel old, but not something without life, and we feel this picture carries with it those sentiments.

 

We’ve been talking about Heights vehicles a lot recently and we’d like to show off all of these proper, finalized versions of what you can expect to see up there. From a design perspective, the Heights take inspiration from a 1930s art movement known as “Streamline Moderne,” which embodied a sense of “futuristic wonder,” sleek lines, and plenty of aerodynamic curves. You can read more about this style here, thanks to Wikipedia.


Since each vehicle class is meant to have a distinctive silhouette, numerous iterations were necessary to combine the visually distinct shapes with the intended “Streamline Moderne” aesthetic. Besides simply silhouettes, we’d like to make note that the Heights were built long after the dawn of Aether, and it shows in their vehicles. Nothing here is retrofitted but designed with Aether levitating devices in mind, and as such, all the Aether technology is nicely hidden under the chassis or otherwise integrated into the frame. Lastly, despite what the pictures might say, you will find these vehicles in more colors than simply red.

Now, let’s talk about the individual classes a little more.

 

This is a Heavy vehicle, which is distinguished by its large, imposing body. As we’ve mentioned in the past, Heavy vehicles are slow, durable, and able to carry some very impressive weaponry. Oftentimes, heavy vehicles for the other layers will resemble trucks or vans, but the exceptionally wealthy people of the Heights are “above” things like those, so we had to come up with something new that both matched the aesthetic but also be “bulky” enough to be visually distinct as a ”Heavy” vehicle. The solution was this more tall and bulbous design with a heavily-integrated smooth look to it.


After solidifying the overall shape and look of the vehicle, a very important question was asked - “How do you actually get into the vehicle?” If you look closely, you’ll notice a tiny round door on both sides with steps leading up to it, and these circular doors made their way onto the other vehicle classes as well!

 

This is a Light vehicle, which is smaller, faster, and sleeker than the other classes. They’re designed to be hard to hit and can run circles around virtually anything they’re up against. The visually defining traits of all Light vehicles are the thin, forward Aether nacelles and the pushed-back cabin, which both provide a very “fast” look. Thankfully, the Heights aesthetic was relatively easy to apply to this car since both Streamline Moderne and Light vehicles prioritize sleek designs, with the primary trouble simply being the actual look of the vehicle. We tested out plenty of versions - some with raised cabins, some with bulky wheel wells, and others where we flip-flopped over whether or not the forward nacelles should be connected. In the end, we settled on this exceptionally slick speed demon of a car.

 

This is the Medium vehicle, which sits in the middle of the two other classes. It’s faster than a Heavy, more durable than a Light, and is good for cruising around the Heights in style. As you can tell, a Medium vehicle most resembles a standard Sedan, like what you’d expect the average exceptionally wealthy family of 4 to drive on their Sunday outings.


After picking out a template with the best combination of smoothness and bulk, we quickly got onto refining it by adjusting the shapes. Added lights that run around the sides of the “wheel well” nacelles and spent plenty of time sculpting it to best feel like it fit with the other two classes. The last big point of contention was whether or not it should have side view mirrors, and after a few different iterations on them, we decided it was best to remove them. The people of the Heights are slaves to fashion, and that’s that!

 

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

-Brenton

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