Is that a shiny I see in the desert?!

It’s time to s h i n e , Elyrians! And there’s a lot to talk about, so before I show you something shiny, let’s chat!

As many of you are probably aware, the team here is generally split up into groups by focus area. The three guilds of Design, Engineering, and Content work on the game, and the Outreach guild generally handles the website, announcements, community management; that sort of thing. You might think that means the poor outreach team is always all alone but there’s often at least some small amount of crossover between all the teams. Domain and Settlement Selection (DSS) is definitely one of those times. In fact, it might be the most ambitious crossover yet.

Developing the DSS experience has involved literally every team to one extent or another over the weeks we’ve been working on it. That has a lot to do with the fact that the centerpiece of DSS is the world maps, which are a core piece of the CoE experience as well. Literally every mechanic and system a player has access to is influenced by – and influences – the world and its state. Survival depends on consumables like crops, fish, and other game, while industry depends on the material resources both on the surface and below it. Even the placement of settlements is influenced by the lay of the land, those resources I mentioned, and the environmental factors of each biome. It’s safe to say that if the map isn’t right, CoE must work a hell of a lot harder to provide players with the experience we envision.

Which means that, whether we’re talking about carefully guiding the process that generates the peaks, valleys, bogs, and other features of Elyria or defining the rules that dictate where certain resources can be found, every team has a stake in the maps, and every team has a role to play in how they’re produced… but you know, that doesn’t mean that we have complete control over the maps, either.

We started this process by taking one hand off the wheel when we put which maps would be produced into your hands with map voting. But even our other hand is only lightly holding the wheel, ready to nudge it one direction or another as the mechanics and simulations we’ve created mold the world.

As a designer who’s built half a dozen worlds, I have to say that I find this process a little harrowing. I’m very much used to meticulously and carefully preplanning everything and then crawling through every square meter of land to make sure that everything is placed just right down to the angle of each flowering forb as it pokes out of the earth. But, here we build daemons and they crawl the world for us, doing the work.

As a case in point: in one step of the process of world creation every parcel of land is analyzed, compared to its neighbors, the biome, the overall pattern of weather, and the water table to determine what sort of surface resources and soil types are found there. I had an image in my mind of what our rules would do and, sure enough, as I looked through the results for each biome, things were falling into my expectations. That is, until I got to the semi-arid desert. The semi-arid desert, at least on the test world I was using at the time, came back as one of the most valuable pieces of land in Elyria. That, in turn, influences the migration model, which suddenly saw a desert full of people who wanted to live there.

Why did it come back so valuable? Care to guess? It’s a funny story, actually. You can grow fungi in caves, and we wanted a lot of caves in the desert. We didn’t really intend those caves to be particularly great for that purpose, but the surface weather conditions weren’t being factored into that. So, like a weird and not really all that accurate reference to Dune, our desert could teem with free Menn, if you knew how to live there. Fixing it was relatively simple, but if we hadn’t been watching our daemons work, we might not have seen it happening.

Like a tesla driver engaging autopilot, you can’t look away or take your hand completely off the wheel, because at any moment in the process you may need to make a correction. As a designer working on the DSS process, that’s something I’m keenly aware of, but I admit that it’s a totally different emotional experience than I’m used to with world building. It’s scary and I bet that if you’re not bringing your A game to the process, it would be easy to get lost in everything happening all around you, as you hover your hands over the wheel.

And, speaking of getting lost in the semi-arid desert, that brings me to today’s shiny! I realize it's been a bit since we've shown off something from inside the game itself, so let’s change that. Enjoy a quick stroll through the semi-arid desert:

  • Snipehunter
5/17/2019 12:39:05 AM #1


5/17/2019 12:39:07 AM #2

Looks cool! Thanks for the game peek!

5/17/2019 12:39:07 AM #3

Fitzgibbon likey

5/17/2019 12:39:30 AM #4

Wonderful, I hope I don't catch those hands.

5/17/2019 12:39:38 AM #5

You sir have made my day

5/17/2019 12:40:32 AM #6

A shiny worth being excited about, I like it!

5/17/2019 12:41:22 AM #7

Very nice to see this, thanks

5/17/2019 12:41:33 AM #8

Looks nice! :D


5/17/2019 12:42:45 AM #9

Could we expect to see those more prestigious (not prestigious?) Waerd living up by that mesa above?

I'm also now worried about Waerd muscling in on the Hrothi bulk-export fungi market.

5/17/2019 12:43:16 AM #10

Fantastic! Can't wait to see those Shrublands!

5/17/2019 12:44:29 AM #11


5/17/2019 12:44:30 AM #12

That looks awesome guys...I love how this game is working on being something entirely different rather than 'just another MMORPG'.

5/17/2019 12:44:42 AM #13

This sucks tbh

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5/17/2019 12:45:40 AM #14


5/17/2019 12:48:14 AM #15

haha... I loved that video...

I was like.. ohh.. a well.. oh a settlement... ah... a farm... cool... sandstorm... WHAT!!

it was a whole range of excitement.

Thanks for the video...