Populating Plamen house by house—how to create a believable world?
Today we are going to delve into the creative process of world dressing, character placement, and population control. The world dressing of a game is a very important aspect of development as it determines what the world of a game will look like. Things like whether there is a large population in a city, an impoverished family, a warrior protecting others, or a crazy person with insight into the future, are decided during this process.
The game has Four Kingdoms, each with its own cultures and traditions, and thus their own kinds of population. In those Kingdoms there are major cities and towns that are distinct from one another, so what works for one city in a sunny plain, may not work for a city covered in snow. In our work to find a balance in setting up the NPCs in Plamen’s cities, we looked at the architecture and the surroundings of the area we were populating. If a city looked very ornate and wealthy, like a place where only the upper classes and royalty lived, then the nobility would take center stage in the dressing of that city, with commoners seeming out of place if found there. On the other hand, if a city was supposed to be known for being a den of villainy and scum, the area would be populated mostly by commoners and shady individuals while the nobility would be scarcely seen.
When working on character placement in the different cities of our game, understanding the relevant Kingdom’s culture was perhaps the most vital aspect that needed to be taken into account before placing a single NPC. We’d consider such things as: ‘Does the culture allow for more liberty in the day to day of the common folk?’, ‘Does society look down on certain classes or races?’, ‘How nationalistic or patriotic are the people in this particular corner of the world, and what is the relationship between the race that controls the city and the other races of Plamen?’. Another thing that would help in choosing where our NPCs would be placed is travel. While knowing the world of the game is certainly the key to understanding what kind of characters and archetypes go to which city, travel allows you to understand how cultures and geography can change the local population. Each city in the Kingdoms and the different Kingdoms themselves are similar to one another and yet very distinct, and that is what world dressing tries to capture so that the world doesn’t just feel populated, but alive.
Our goal is always to immerse you in the world we are creating, meaning that every character in the world, even if they are not someone you can interact with, has to have a purpose. When placing these characters, the world dresser has to have a story behind why they’re there; ‘What are they doing there?’, ‘Who are they?’, ‘What do they want?’. Some of these reasons won’t be apparent in the game, but thinking of these reasons when placing NPCs is part of making the world more believable and closer to our own.
Discover New Content Every Week
If you missed any previous Development Update post, check out the latest ones here:
- Development Update #5 – The importance of characterization and narrative
- Development Update #4 – Creating real time VFX in Alaloth
- Development Update #3 – The animation process of Alaloth
We hope you enjoyed this foray into the making of Alaloth. What do you think about creative design in gaming? Share your thoughts with us on Steam and Discord.
Lore updates will be posted on Steam every Wednesday* and will introduce key characters, companions, guilds, places, monsters, stories, gods, legends, and so on, to give you the full picture of the work we’ve done to bring this epic world to life. A brand new piece of art will be available every Monday* as well!
Be sure to check Steam every other Friday* to get an update on Alaloth’s development. The updates will give a general overview of in-game content, explain gameplay features, give insight into the gaming tech we use as well as reveal other game-related content.
*Based on external and internal factors, the frequency may change.
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