Development Diary: Creating The Holy City of Cervinae
The Holy City of Cervinae is the sole set piece throughout all of Ethereal Metropolis. Founded approximately 1000 years ago by Prophetam during The Great Exodus of the Believers, this city is now home to twenty one million Cervinians.
Greetings everyone, Kailoulou, lead creative director here! Let’s get right into the world you will be immersed in with Ethereal Metropolis!
Throughout Ethereal Metropolis, we are leaving narratives not in the traditional format, but rather, letting you become archaeologists to piece together the story of the average daily Cervinian life from all walks. Packed with plenty of vistas, set pieces, and more, we are leaving a ton of contextual clues where you, the players, can learn more about Cervinian culture as you uncover The Greatest Lie Ever Told.
Now, we have a great emphasis on creating “lived spaces” meaning that while players may be fighting through Converted infested buildings, streets, and more-- they remain and tell the daily lives of the Cervinians. They offer insight into how they developed their society, what happened before the Converted attacked an area and what it was like.
As you begin delving through a café fighting against Acolythus’ and Nec Divinos’ you can zoom in to the level and see the various props which are specifically designed for the physiology of the Cervinians (being unicorn deer after all) and their unique psionic capabilities. You will also be able to piece together, like an archaeologist, what exactly the purpose of the building was used for and what happened here. Piece together all of the small narratives we have weaved and you can create a more complete history of the Cervinians and their daily life in the Holy City.
In your various playthroughs, as you begin piecing together the world of Cervinae through our storytelling in game levels along with the lore cards, we leave it to you, the players (emphasis on the plural) to begin weaving narratives together. We know the stories already, but we want you to piece them together.
Now we have talked about the places where the Cervinians will be, but what about the Cervinians themselves? The unicorn deer creatures?!
Okay, okay. Cervinians are a species of ungulates who are known for their faith and their intelligence. They have an unparalleled affinity towards psionics and are one of only two species that are capable of the magical art (right now), the only other one being the unicorns from Daschland. They are naturally more skinny and taller compared to their cousin species, the Ditalinians who are also unicorn deer.
Cervinian males have great antlers that are more akin to tree branches from the top of their heads and can grow to be several feet long. A popular adornement to signify position and wealth is in fact to have jewels hanging from their antlers, giving them an aura of mysticism and wisdom.
Cervinian females don't have antlers but they are known to have more bushy fur that is almost like a pillow which covers their chest and their neck area. This "floofiness" is also present in their tail. Their horns have a distinct curved flaire to them whereas males have theirs be more straight.
Fun fact! The Cervinians were actually inspired from a game where you are obligated to recuperate all of them to fill a library and a little girls show featuring animated pastel colored horses. Now, I won’t state it for legal purposes, but I’m sure that you can infer what game series and show they are. It was really as simple as that, surprisingly enough. Nothing crazy like the actual city itself. Though it’s still a crazy mixture, but I mean-- it’s our kind of craziness that we aspire to have in the game! As you can see though, we took plenty from the properties mentioned and applied how they “humanize” their characters into our game, except for whole entire cute cartoony eyes. Instead we opted for a more realistic depiction to hammer home the themes and aesthetics of the game.
Now! We are going to be in the nitty gritty, so! If you don’t want to read about aesthetic inspirations, history of western Europe, and my personal experience in France, then scroll to the bottom of the blog!
When we began to create The Holy City of Cervinae, we definitely wanted to give it that “ethereal metropolis” vibe where it seemed to be a paradise of some kind. We had specifically chosen the following buildings to be the primary inspirations for the architecture all throughout the city: Chateau Chateaubriand in the Loire Valley of France, Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, typical Hausmannian 16e arrondissement building, and more. We took plenty from the rich cultures of France and Italy that existed specifically during the times of the Medicis and François I (think early 16th century) where western Europe was culturally beginning to flourish.
During my study abroad semester in France, there was a certain “air” about the architectural style that inherently lent itself towards a beauty of some kind. We wanted to capture that feeling in the context of the Cervinians with the capture of these cultures aforementioned and then mixed together to create the modern Cervinian culture.
Though, this was not exactly the first iteration of Cervinae. In fact, when we first created the City, it leaned itself more towards a neogothic style in what you would see in a typical elven city. While there definitely was that sort of magical style and ethereal feeling about it, it wasn’t quite what we were looking for. Along with that, while it is nice, it couldn’t quite establish a visual identity for Cervinae that we were looking for. It was too generic and we wanted something more interesting and that’s why we meshed together all of the various styles to create the Cervinian motif.
Along with that, I’ve always been a big sucker for the Renaissance and have wanted to depart from high medieval looks for fantasy and push more into the Renaissance world. While the high medieval era certainly has its place in fantasy, the Renaissance presents itself as this peculiar period smashed between the Enlightenment and the medieval era. This presents a unique opportunity for us aesthetically to really make something that is familiar, yet also different from before.
With this newfound aesthetic, we then began to go wild with the holy city and crafted it into what it is today! It took a long time with many iterative pieces which have been scattered deep into the confines of old art folders. Which we have dug up for your viewing pleasure.
As you can see here, we definitely leaned more into a Gothic style but kept towards a traditional elven style that you are bound to see in fantasy. With its sharp curved edges infused with motifs of Gothic architecture, it was arguably a safer design choice, but we didn't want that. We wanted to push the envelope, and so, we went with the Cervinae style that you have seen!
So! That is all for our development diary today! Our next blog will be covering about the creation of how you fight specifically with weapons and armor while delving into how you create your loadouts to fight against the Converted!
In the meantime, join our Discord server here and meet the lovely team behind the creation of The Holy City!
Otherwise, have a wonderful day! Thank you very much for reading!
-Kailoulou, Founder and Lead Creative Director