The basic visual direction for Pode is something we decided on quite early, and it’s something we’re getting more excited about as the concept progresses. Our two main sources of inspiration for the visual design is Norwegian nature, and traditional rose painting. So first I want to go into what that means for us.
It’s very “trolsk”
In Norway we have a word (trolsk) which can be translated into troll-ish, although that doesn’t really give it justice. It does of course derrive from the word “troll” which is the same as the english word, but in Norwegian we also have the word trolldom, which means magic (I could go into a whole history lesson about Norwegian folklore and superstition here, but that would take more time than I have right now). So… where the word trolsk does kind of imply that something is troll-like, it is also an implication that there’s an aura of magic surrounding it. Trolsk is a word we mostly use to describe a mood in connection with natural environments. It’s a word that makes you feel small, and though it can mean that something is on the spooky side, it doesn’t have to be, and it’s usually a word that invites exploration. It’s also very closely connected to fairy tales and art from the Norwegian national romantic era (google it, it’s gorgeous).
Here’s a good example of some very trolsk nature, painted by renowned Norwegian painter Hans Gude:
So when it comes to the mood and feeling of the game we’re trying to capture that trolsk-ness of Norwegian nature, leaving out the spookyness, but keeping the mysterious feeling that will make you want to explore every nook and cranny of the game world.
Another art form common to the same era is rose painting, and this, as well as bunad embroidery, is where we’re finding inspiration for the flora of Fjellheim. Bunad is the national dress of Norway, and every area has its own style.
Common for both rose painting and bunad embroidery is that they have these gorgeous, colorful, elaborate, swooshy-swirly stylized plants and flowers in them. And this is what we’ll be working towards with all the growy bits in Pode.
The game world is divided into a series of areas which all have their own theme based on different types of Norwegian environments (fjords, glaciers, mountains, woods etc), all in all 11 different themes. We’re creating a set of basic plants that can, with different textures, fit into all these different themes. In addition we’re making 5-ish area specific plants for each area that will give each one a distinct look and feel.
What we’ve seen in some early tests is that a lot of swirly plants with small details can become quite noisy for the player. So we’re looking into ways of simplifying the designs, but still having the possibility to get that embroidered look where we want it.
One of the areas we’re working on at the moment is based on Norwegian pine woods, which tend to have less leafy plants and more fungus, lichen etc. So what we’re doing here is setting up relaitvely simple shapes, but adding a pattern to larger areas (like the top of mushrooms).
Combining these plants to make up patterns as they grow, will then enhance the rose painterly feel.