Development Log: Fantasy Town Day 2
Well so after a few days of having to do other things, I've been able to return to working on my next level, Fantasy Town. To start this development blog post off, I'm going to give a bit more context as to why I'm working on this level and what it is supposed to represent. I already talked, rather quickly, about the inspirations that are being drawn from for this level. Games like Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, and JRPGs like Final Fantasy are having influences on me when designing this level, but there's more to that. An indie game that I'm currently in the early phases of is going to be taking all of these games I've just mentioned and blend them together into a sim game that there seems to be a desire for, but no developer wanting to work on it. So, when level designing this Fantasy Town, I'm keeping that in mind. Granted, there will be major differences (2D and 3D being one of them, the game idea is currently for a top down 2D Game), but there are sections I'm going to want to keep and sections I want to make changes to moving forward. Think of it as me killing two birds with one stone, and getting a very early idea of what the level will look like from a top down aspect. So that's the thought process going into this level, let's now talk about what I've been doing today. Hint: I've been working a lot with grids.
Much like when I build D&D Adventures for my friends and I, all of my levels start off with me drawing out a top down map of what the level is going to look like. I mark out where major things will be, so I have an idea of what the level will look like before ever touching an engine. This, for me, also makes engine blockouts easier as at this point, I'm just following a map. So a lot of today was spent building the open world environment map that I've going to be spending time creating in Unreal Engine 4. I first worked on drawing out the town space, thinking about all of the different buildings I would want to see in this town. Things like a tavern, a blacksmith, maybe even a farm right in town. Then I thought about layout, would it be open? Or would there be barriers to keep Players on the path. With this level, I'm opting for less barriers, more areas to explore. I also am going to be using the town as the central area of this level.
Once I had the town blocked out, I thought about what might be below the town. The overall environment for this is an island, so I'm thinking there will be a lot of forest vegetation, but the southern area should be a little bit more clear. There are going to be a few houses to show that some people choose to live outside of town, maybe people that like nature a little bit more. This area will also have a river which, in a full game, would be a great spot for some fishing. This area will also lead to the beachead, where I envision new people being able to arrive to the island, whether they are moving there or just visiting. This beachhead is on a third graph sheet and is a lot more open, with a couple of houses and a pier that boats can arrive on. This is where I'm bringing in a lot of the Animal Crossing influences, having a designated point where people arrive and leave from, and spreading houses around everywhere.
Finally, I went to the right of the town and blocked out a farm. This farm is where I envision the main player would live and tend to their crops. I know I'm not going to have all the assets for this so I'm going to have to fudge some things, but when I get to work on this as a full 2D game, I know exactly what assets I'll want to request to be made.
Something I love about graph paper designs is that I get excited just looking at the designs. It feels great to me, to see everything laid out and envisioning how the game world might end up looking. Tomorrow I'm going to be getting this into engine and seeing what I'll be missing, potentially then returning to graph paper and sketching out more areas.