Happy first post of 2019! It truly is the future. Today, however, we’re going to wind the clock back to 1915…
Up until this point I’ve been rather quiet about the setting of ND1. And honestly, it’s because it’s been a bit up in the air. I’ve known the main narrative beats since I started the project, but details such as the setting were a little hazy. Consequently, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks researching and scouting the right location and correct point in history to best suit the story.
Setting the scene
The game is set during September of 1915. You play as a young soldier serving in the trenches during the Battle of Loos. You awaken deep within the confines of a dugout during an enemy bombardment. However you soon realise that you are alone, your comrades are nowhere to be found…
I chose to focus on a backdrop that hasn’t been overdone like some of the more “popular” battles, such as the Somme Offensive or Passchendaele. This is mostly because I wanted an excuse to educate myself and others.
Don’t get me wrong, I will take liberties; this is still a game after all. But I’ve been doing a great deal of research for the project, and anything I have learned, I hope to share with with players through the core narrative and environmental storytelling.
Learning about our history and the world around us is one of my favourite aspects of game development. In my career I’ve been fortunate to have worked on multiple open world games, and have therefore been expected to research the locations in which the games are set. ND1 is no different.
Knee deep in the trench
A lot of my research has been going into trench construction and the day-to-day of a soldier serving on the front line. I’m probably going deeper than is required for such a small game, but the more I delve into the history, the more fascinated I get. Hopefully this enthusiasm will lead to a more detailed environment, and a richer world for players to explore!
From the early shots of the game that I have shared so far, many have thought that my “floorboards” looked too regular, when they were in fact duckboards…
Duckboards were wooden walkways that were used to line the base of trenches. They also allowed safe passage across an often waterlogged no man’s land. These were essential for minimising the risk of trench foot, a condition that plagued the trenches of the Great War.
Due to their prefabricated design, it was possible to mass produce duckboards from the safety of engineering workshops. Duckboards were transported to a safe distance from battle, before being delivered to the front lines by carrying parties.
Within my game I’ve gone for the “A-frame” design. These were named as such due to the supporting beams forming a wide gap at one end, and pinching together at the other. This allowed for connections between multiple duckboards, and therefore a safer path through the trenches. You’ll be seeing a lot of these throughout the game…
So what’s next?
I’ve mostly been working on the intro section of the game. Continually reworking the start of a game is an easy trap to fall into. However, it’s worth noting that I’m working in unfamiliar territory; I’m still finding my feet with this 3D business. Remember, my last solo effort was a pixel art platformer…
So next time I’ll be talking about the various pickups in the game…
If you’re interested in following the game as it develops, please join our Discord!
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