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  • Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.

    Real Strategy Requires Cunning


Critical Studio Developer
May 11, 2011
Hi everybody!

My name is Gabriel and I am one of the six artists here at Critical Studio. My job is to bring all characters and assets of the game to life: modelling, rigging and animation.

I had to take a break from working on our Minocow (a minotaur cow, of course) to write this Development Diary, and I really need to get her walking around and kicking some heroic asses in Dungeonland! With that said, I’ll try to keep this fast and simple:

Art in Dungeonland is all about having fun! The easy math:

Theme park = FUN!
Dungeons = DOUBLE FUN!
Monsters = TRIPLE FUN!
Everything else we think is fun = EVEN MORE FUN!

Theme park + Dungeons + Monsters + Everything else we think is fun = Dungeonland!

Early concept art of the Cannibal Kingdom park area


When we started working on the visual design of Dungeonland, our only goal was really to just have fun. The personality of the game came from not trying to “copy” anything. It’s a big mix of influences from everybody in the team, done our way. We don’t really care if it’s been done before or if it looks like something else - if we think it’s cool, we are going to do it!

And we had a LOT of influences. Everything from Disney, of course: all the cartoons, the Silly Symphonies... But not only Disney - EVERYTHING even remotely related to cartoons, from Spongebob Squarepants to Coyote Ugly and any weird obscure stuff we watched as kids.

On top of that: everything medieval fantasy, including Lord of The Rings, a lot of Warhammer, about nine hundred different monster manuals from Dungeons & Dragons, and so forth.

We also try a lot of different stuff and throw a huge amount of ideas away until we are happy with what we got. Even though we are a small team, so far we’ve been able to produce hundreds of pages worth of concept art - and we’re very close to a thousand.

Backstage sketches for the randomly-generated Dungeon Master Tower


The most important thing about nailing the “theme park” vibe for the game was finding out what were the signature visual elements of theme parks. What identifies any park as such? The differently themed areas, their visual milestones (weenies), the services, the benches and trash cans, the use of colors on the floor to ease navigation, and so forth.

Today we have lots of guidelines in mind to recreate the theme park experience, but this came from a huge immersion in the idea. A lot of research, Google Earth, pictures and videos from regular people on the parks, and everything from blog posts, bad movies, cartoons... We bought lots of books about theme park design to help us understand how real parks are built, and we even got some valuable insight from the imagineer Don Carson.

Color was very important. Dungeonland is colorful and happy! This enhances the contrast with the game’s brutality, both in difficulty and in the graphic violence of combat. The idea is to beat the living sh*t out of the creatures that are there to entertain you. They don’t want to rule the world or free some kind of ancient evil: their sole purpose is to die for your enjoyment! Or kill you for Dungeon Master’s enjoyment. Well, in the end someone is enjoying it. So it’s a job that they do with passion and pride.

Early concept for our Wererat Ninja

It's a sh*tload of work and we almost kill ourselves in the process, but at the end of the day we look at the results and we are very proud and happy about what we’re creating. A lot of love and passion went into making every single asset, monster, effect, animation, texture... All we hope is that it shows through and you guys have a lot of fun playing Dungeonland when it comes out!

[Also, you guys wanna know how we do it? Check it out here: CRITICAL ART PROCESS]

Coming up next: Bringing Dungeonland to Life!


Gabriel Teixeira