• Defenders of Ardania Developer's Diary #3 - Races

    Hello, everyone. For this diary, I would like to present you with a short summary of the races, as well as an interview with the game’s lead graphic designer, Csige Tamás.

    As you already know, there are three playable races in Defenders of Ardania: Humans, Nature, and Underworld. Why three? Well – and seasoned RTS fans are surely smiling knowingly now – this is a classic setup. Setting three races against one another is one of the most popular balance systems as it allows for a rock-paper-scissors approach; plus, it is more likely that everyone will be able to find a faction to their liking, with so many different traits and attitudes. We didn’t want to change such a sound system, so we put the races of Ardania into a huge bag, shook them up, and spread them out among the factions; of course, our choices were based on more complicated considerations. Now, let’s take a look at each race and see what makes them unique.

    The Human race

    I guess it’s no big secret that every humanoid that is intelligent – alright, that’s up for debate – and more or less organized belongs here.
    The human race represents the balanced power, with average strength of arms and defense. They possess simple, easy-to-use spells and are the most effective at demolishing enemy towers. They also have the weakest air force but make up for it by having the most infantry units.

    The Nature race

    The most important difference in terms of game mechanics when comparing a Nature unit to a Human unit is that Nature units are less resistant – that is to say, more fragile. However, they are also faster than the other races’ units. Their strategy and offensive spells are designed to get units into the enemy base fast, or to prevent the enemy from doing the same. Because of their feral nature, these units are most effective against the other races.

    The Underworld race

    Their three basic characteristics are that they are slow, incredibly durable, and ugly. Magic plays a prominent part in the lives of the Underworld denizens, and this focus makes them quite different from the other races. Their spells and most of their towers are entirely unique, which makes playing as them a bit more complicated but quite possibly more enjoyable as well. They also have air superiority with their three flying units.

    Why these races? Well, the previous Majesty games mustered lots of different races that could be grouped up in many different ways. We had at least half a dozen factions at first, but it was clear that we couldn’t take on a story of this magnitude with so much complexity, so we had to decide which three races would have a part in the story.

    The Human and the Underworld races are bound to the world of Ardania to such an extent that leaving them out would have been straying too far from the atmosphere of the original Majesty. And as for why we also chose Nature…well, I’m sorry to say that I cannot give a straight answer to that. You see, as I was thinking of what to say, an Ogre lawyer appeared, wearing a T-shirt labeled “Spoiler Alert” and holding a bundle of papers as thick as my waist in one hand and Tom, the lead graphic designer, in the other.

    So believe me when I say that we have thought it through carefully, and forgive me, but it seems I have an unfinished conversation with an ogre. In the meantime, please read Tom’s answers to our questions:

    Tell us about yourself in a few words.

    My name is Csige Tamás. I have been working as a lead graphic artist for computer games since 1991. I have worked on both small and big projects, from PC to handheld.

    What is your role on the Defenders of Ardania team?

    Presently, I am the lead graphic artist on the Defenders of Ardania team. I try to maintain visual consistency throughout production; I supervise and advise the artists and also participate in concept creation. And, of course, I also deal with even the smallest art-related tasks.

    In the original demo video there was an entirely different setting and different units. Why the change?

    The original demo was built upon our own ideas; we wanted to create an interesting, unique world. The visuals and the environment have of course changed a lot compared to those first ideas, but we clung onto the main essence of the game: multiplayer tower defense.

    The biggest change came with the entry of Paradox, and with fitting the game into the developed world of Majesty. This has determined many things, as we had to get rid of many creatures and settings from our original designs, because we couldn’t fit them into the new environment.

    Did it cause you any trouble to fit the towers and units into the world of Majesty?

    The world of Majesty is a well-designed, clearly built one. We soon realized what could fit into it. The only difficulty we faced was how to make use of as many elements as possible that were made for the demo, how to “majesty-cate” them. Paradox has also given us a great deal of help, so we have borrowed many units directly from Majesty.

    How similar will the levels be in appearance to those of Majesty?

    I think we managed to create levels that are at least as visually appealing as those in the original game. We had an easier job since we use smaller levels, given the nature of the game. This allowed us to build more compact, denser areas, resulting in some particularly interesting and scenic levels. Despite following the fantasy world mold of Majesty, this is still our world, but one that was made to fit into Majesty, so no one will recognize the levels and areas. I hope you will like it.

    How do you distinguish the units and towers of the different races? Do they have any unique characteristics?

    There are three races battling each other under the almighty control of the player. We’ve tried to give each race distinct characteristics so that you can easily tell them apart at a glance. Then we added some race-specific colors, unique touches which were deliberately applied to each race’s units and towers. Another big challenge was to develop a system that made it possible to differentiate each player’s units and towers from each other when controlling the same race in multiplayer. The units, and even the towers, can all be upgraded, which also changes their appearance in order to show improvement as they visibly “grow” during the upgrades.

    Which is your favorite race and why?

    To tell the truth, I don’t have a favorite one. Each race is interesting, and I like working on all of them. But if I had to pick one, I think it would be the Humans. I’ve designed many of their towers, so it’s been especially satisfying to see them “come to life.”

    What is the best part of your job?

    The best part of my job is that it’s really diverse. Maybe because we develop the game in teams, I can/have to work on many aspects, be they graphical, technological, or interpersonal.

    Okay, I think you already know the next question: What is the worst part of your job?

    Of course, it’s not all beer and skittles; it can be very tiresome, and sometimes it feels like I’m being pulled in too many directions.

    Well, many thanks to Tamás for the answers. I hope you all enjoyed the diary, see you in two weeks!
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Defenders of Ardania Developer Diary #3 - Races started by babarMW View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. SAS's Avatar
      Those are some nice looking screens!