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Darkness Revealed Update 19 - Shaping Act 1's Last Areas

Hello, everyone! How's it going?

In the last update, we showed the results of the cavern's development process, the final level in Act I. Today we share the creation process of the Exterior Caverns, an area that you will be able to explore before the final confrontation of the story's first act. 

The Exterior Caverns

The two main areas of Act I are the basic seabed biome and the underwater cave system. These two areas host important events that shape Dave's story as he tries to escape from his dire situation. However, there were demands coming from other aspects of the game design that required us to create another area between these two main spots - namely, we needed to provide some variety to the player as he advanced through a big sequence of challenging areas, and we also felt the need to reward him with some new content after he survived a certain story event that we won't spoil for you ;)

With this in mind we started concepting an environment which would gradually introduce the caverns biome. Our first thought was to combine elements from the two adjacent biomes - regular seabed and cave - to form a whole new biome. Our first try resulted in the dark, gloomy environment you can see below.

However, there were problems with this first approach. First, it just felt too deep, far more than Dave would be at this point in the story. Also, it's a little too dark and spooky, which would kinda ruin the shock of entering the cave system that lies right after this area. Call us crazy, but we are super careful with controlling the shades and contrasts of everything that affects story and mood progression!

Because we also felt our first attempt deviated a little too much from the transition role it was intended to fulfill, for our next iteration we gave a step back and tried something that would be almost like a customization over the previous seabed environment. This way, the transition would feel more realistic, and the mood progression would come more naturally.

This new test worked out a lot better. The light setting and mood felt more in tone with the two adjacent areas and the cave's props didn't feel out of place. For the background, we chose to create big rocky structures that follow the same visual identity that can be seen in the cave's interior walls. This would make the environment feel much more in place. Some light and color adjustments and new prop combinations help the environment feel fresh, therefore fulfilling its role of feeling like an advancement landmark, while the presence of elements from the adjacent biomes (the sand platforms, the stalagmites, corals, walls, etc) make it believable and consistent with the game world. Furthermore, the cave wall patterns allowed us to create some pretty interesting backgrounds, so why not? :)

That's it for today! In the next update we'll show the final results for the External Caverns in game and show the grand entrance for the Interior Caverns!

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