White Lake Update 2: source, gate, drain and body


White Lake has come a long way since the last post. Lately I have started working on something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time: ecosystems. In this update, I thought I’d share some of what goes into designing the living systems in the game.

The world of White Lake is one continuous organism: the wind breathes, blood flows through giant transport vessels, and the walls are full of living wires. The various beings within the world, while in some ways independent organisms, are all a part of that larger organism.

For instance, here are some flying creatures which feel a bit like birds or flies. As you would expect, these flit about in search of edible bits of organic matter. Instead of eating, however, they carry food to a central collector which converts matter into electricity. The energy is returned to the system.

Once it’s in electrical form, energy can do all kinds of things. It might be used to birth new birds. It might power a set of turrets. In the clip above, the energy is stored in a battery which the player can use to recharge. The relevant organism here is not the birds; it is the larger system which includes the birds, the environment, and the player as well. These sorts of interactions pull the player into an involved relationship with the world. Birds are neither good nor bad. Sometimes they help us and sometimes they hinder us- it makes no difference to the birds.

Here’s another example of this sort of system. This pool of fluid is inhabited by two sorts of organisms. The smaller swimming creatures here are the base of the food chain. They eat loose bits of organic matter, and then metamorphose into small airborne creatures. Now add a second ingredient, and our interaction with the system changes. The larger radiant creatures in the sketch below are born in the water, but spend most of their lives drifting around in the air, eating their smaller brethren and converting them into energy. If threatened, these larger creatures defend themselves by converting energy into projectiles.

When designing a new creature for a game, a more traditional process would be to plan each creature as a purpose-built element, defined by the single “role” it has in a player-centric world. But instead I’m finding it more natural to approach each creature as something with a life of its own. Each creature has its own motives and its own way of relating to the system; each has a role in the context of the larger organism.

three small sketches


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