Introducing Fronterra

creative spotlight

Nick Carver

February 28, 2020

So, this week I started working on a new game concept. I split the week between developing the game’s one page design doc; doing some early prototyping in Unity; and creating a piece of artwork for (potential) overall visual direction.

So, all of this is very early WIP, but here’s the initial design doc and artwork:

Visual 01

Pich Doc: Fronterra

What is it?

In a fantasy realm full of epic quests and myriad dangers the TRUE heroes are the couriers and store keepers who arm knights, heal druids, clothe adventurers and stop the forces of evil from conquering the world.

What’s the hook?

Fronterra is an action MMO set in a procedural, deformable world where players band together in village hubs, which contain (player-run) shops that sell all manner of goods & items needed for adventuring. In order to sell these goods & items, shopkeepers need to deliver them (or have others carry out the delivery) to each other’s villages. Transporting goods through the world can be dangerous and may involve crossing treacherous biomes filled with hazards and enemies. So, best to go prepared. Perhaps you could:

  • Hire some guards to protect the delivery convoy
  • Save up and purchase/craft Mercury Boots to travel at lightning-fast speed
  • Discover/dig a tunnel that allows you to circumvent danger (keep its location a secret! Maybe even booby trap it!)
  • Construct a rail/vac-tube system to automate the delivery process
  • Bribe the local monster warlord with a shiny item so that his minions will ignore your deliveries (but no-one else’s!)
What’s the progression?

Players start out running simple deliveries between nearby villages. But as they grow in stature they can choose to specialize in whichever role suits their playing style. You could be:

  • A respected and wealthy shopkeeper who corners the market in valuable items.
  • A legendary deliverer, renowned for their speed, agility and bravery.
  • A walking tank who shepherds convoys through deadly journeys to hell and back.
  • A sneaky, opportunistic thief who lurks in the shadows; pilfers precious cargo and reaps the rewards on the black market.
  • A mining expert, using pickaxes and dynamite to create new pathways through the world.
  • A transport baron, building and maintaining an automated delivery system that stretches all over the game world.
  • A powerful mage who constructs portals between villages (careful that nothing bad comes through with the deliveries!)

Of course, groups of players can and should pool their skills and resources to create the ultimate delivery system; cooperating in order to overcome the challenges that any particular world can throw at them.

Art & Sound

Visuals – A block-based world that feels cohesive, natural and vibrant, using emotive atmospherics to convey a range of moods. Surface texture is subtle and suggestive, focusing on macro-level details and gradients. Characters are simple, but non-blocky with an emphasis on silhouette and limited colour/material palettes. VFX is snappy, simple (toon shaded) and stylized. (See moodboard).

Audio - Bright, adventurous music that dynamically underscores the action. Chunky, playful sound effects make interactions feel extra visceral.

Moodboard

Prototyping

In order to start developing the basic gameplay elements for this idea, I purchased an asset from the Unity Store called ‘Voxel Play’ which has pretty solid terrain generation tools and allows users to create different biomes and populate them with custom voxel & non-voxel models. Once I’d worked out the process for importing voxel assets and setting them up correctly, I was able to generate a simple, custom world. Very plain right now, but it will function fine as a base for working on gameplay elements.

Prototype

Next Steps

Now that I’m able to generate custom terrains and populate them with my own assets, I want to work on some basic gameplay elements (delivering items from place to place, a barebones store system, simple enemies etc.). I’d also like to explore different kinds of terrain generation. It’s most likely that I will stick with traditional Minecraft-style blocks for this prototype, but there are other options that are perhaps worth investigating.

Next post: Fronterra Devlog #2