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  • Writer's pictureKailoulou

Dev Diary: Art Direction and Goals

Hello everyone, it's Kailoulou, Lead Creative Director of Ethereal Metropolis, and welcome once again to our development diary! This entry focuses on the art direction and goals! Let’s hop right in!

Goal One: Honor and Evolve upon Franco-Italian Renaissance Aesthetics

Some of the first Cervinian cultural art, this outfit was heavily inspired by Catholic Cardinals

One of the things that you have seen in Ethereal Metropolis is that it features heavily “western fantasy” aesthetics. We specifically chose French and Italian renaissance aesthetics for our game. Given the context of the story and its themes of it, we believe that the Renaissance was the perfect period to begin heavily drawing inspiration from. It also allowed us to subvert the traditional, Gothic high medieval aesthetic that usually accompanies fantasy titles like ours.

For our inspiration, we focused on the major centers of the Renaissance: France and Italy. We pulled ideas and inspiration from François I’s Chateaubriand, Chenonceau, Santa Maria del Fiore, and many other Renaissance buildings and structures that were prominent around the time. Historically speaking, the Renaissance was a time of “faith, gunpowder, and steel” where (contrary to popular belief) the sciences and religion were intertwined, and the church propelled the technological progress of the era forwards. We believed this would be an excellent parallel to Cervinian society, where the church is so embedded within their society that it is the primary facilitator of progress on nearly all fronts of their civilization. We could honestly write an entire blog about the world of Cervinae and how it parallels thinking and development during the Renaissance era (let me know if you would be interested!).

We wanted to take the aesthetics of this era and evolve them into what you see today, Ethereal Metropolis, which is toning down on the opulence of the actual structures and designs, refining them, and then delivering what you see now with our art direction.

Goal One: “Animated” realism

When we set out to create the world of Cervinae first, we wanted it to be on the more realistic side to emphasize a vital story point of clashing realities. But as we looked toward this realism, we also wanted to bring forth the origins of our project from animated shows. So we came up with “animated realism.”

We play around with certain aspects of the real world imported into Cervinae, tweaking it to our liking and the project's demands. This allows us to craft the immersive experience of Ethereal Metropolis, considering carefully what aspects to place more emphasis upon. While it also gives us the ability to be guided by such a principle to make our characters and places more expressive and animated to our people. With this degree of “animation” of our world, we can better mold the characters and places to reach certain points, messages, and themes of our game.

One such example of this is the design of the creatures featured in the game. We took certain liberties with their faces to make them more emoting so that emotions and nuances are conveyed easier compared to their real-world counterparts. You can see it here:

Expression sheet of one of Schaherr, notice how we made her emoting yet still kept to horse anatomical principles.

Goal Three: The Art is a Story

The statue of Prophetam at The Gateway points towards Cervinae...

One of the overarching goals of our approach toward Ethereal Metropolis is to allow players to be like anthropologists and study the various weapons, armors, props, and more to get a better idea of the world of Cervinae. Combining together the world itself within gameplay purposes in line with marrying gameplay and narrative as one of our design principles. With that in mind, almost every prop, weapon, and armor piece has at least a single sentence story behind it that explains its purpose.

With chairs, couches, and sofas modified to fit the needs of quadrupedal animals and placed within locations that indicate how life was conducted to pieces of armor telling the stories of those who may have worn it in a series of lore cards like the Cursebreaker Armor.

Each and everything, much like our real world, has somewhat of a story behind it-- albeit minor, each detail makes up the greater whole.

In conclusion…

All of these goals form the art direction that is pointed towards crafting a world for you to immerse yourself in where you feel as if you are a part of it. You play as the characters who are foreign to this mysterious place, and we want you to feel what they feel in each passing moment spent within Cervinae.

But we are only getting started. Cervinae awaits you all in our planned early access. We invite you to come and join us next year. Read more about it here!

In other news, we will also be changing our posting schedule and sending these development diaries every month now instead of every week. I am about to be starting my university studies once again and won't have as much time to work on the project, and project work naturally takes priority over these dev diaries. We will still publish them, don't worry! Just not as often nowadays.

But with all of that out of the way, we hope that you enjoyed and next month's dev diary will be focused on creating the playable character in act I, Orishidat, the ranged soldier of the group!

Until then, take care, everyone!

-Kailoulou, founder and lead creative director

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