The developers of the upcoming Dune real-time strategy game say they went for a cartoon-like art style, so it’s not boring to look at a desert planet for hours.
Dune: Spice Wars is under development at Northgard producer Shiro Games and takes place on Arrakis – Dune’s famous rugged desert planet. The teaser trailer is below:
Arrakis is a whole lot of sand and not much else, which, said Shiro Games, presents a whole host of problems when it comes to making a video game based on it.
The answer was to choose a “somewhat cartoonish and bold art style”.
“Creating a game on a desert planet has a number of challenges, one of which is to make sure that what you’re watching for a few hours is not boring, even if it’s just rocks and sand,” Shiro Games said in a recent published FAQ.
“We spent a lot of time working on the environment and even worked with a geologist specializing in deserts to create things that could exist on such a planet.
“The stylized art direction comes into play by adding things that bring a variety of colors and shapes so that the environment can remain harsh while not getting boring.”
Shiro Games has not yet shown the gameplay of Dune: Spice Wars, but it has confirmed a night and day cycle, meaning players will see the bright orange daylight as well as the bluish, dark night.
Shiro Games has also said it has created variations of the standard desert theme, including a Red Mesa theme, one based on salt, and a volcanic landscape.
Dune: Spice Wars is based on Frank Herbert’s Dune universe, unlike any movie or TV show.
The game is real-time, but the pace is slower than in a typical RTS, Shiro Games said. You can also pause and fast forward.
There are also standard 4X elements, such as exploration, territorial control, economic growth, combat, politics, and espionage.
As for base building, you can construct buildings in your operations base, such as the Arrakeen for Atreides. However, this is shown as structures added to the base itself and is interface-based, as Shiro Games put it. You do not manually place buildings on the ground, “since the game is on a much larger scale than your typical RTS,” the developer added.
As for the houses, expect to play as House Harkonnen and House Atreides. Shiro Games said it plans to have two other factions at launch, with a fifth faction added during the early access period. Shiro Games starts with what’s in the books and will look at what would work beyond that later (House Ordos, maybe?).
Meanwhile, maps are generated procedurally with different options for size, wind strength, sandworm activity and more. Deep deserts are used as a sort of blocking feature (like seas in other games) until you develop technologies to survive longer in the desert, or build a network of aerodromes. Maps will also feature unique locations that readers of the book will recognize, teased Shiro Games.
Multiplayer is planned as an update during early access, and although the campaign will not be in play during the initial launch, it is also planned for early access.
Dune Spice Wars is set to launch on PC via Steam at some point this year. Shiro Games will look at other platforms during early access.
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