Tokyo-based developer Friend & Foe has written up a new devlog that focuses on how the world of Vane is being built. Or should that be dismantled?
Seeing as Friend & Foe consists of at least one person who worked on The Last Guardian it probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the studio’s approach to building a world seems similar to Team Ico’s.
By this I refer to how Team Ico director Fumito Ueda works with a concept that he calls “design by subtraction,” which involves removing all parts of a game that don’t inform its primary idea. You should see these similarities in Friend & Foe’s devlog as they talk about removing elephants, spear-throwing, and going through “umpteen versions of our central mechanic.”
The studio also talks specifically about its BitSummit demo, which had a scene with two towers surrounded by smaller structures in a desert that led to the entrance of an underground tunnel in one of those towers. There was too much going on in that scene, with distractions all around the desert, and a storm raging on. In the end, not a single player found the entrance to the underground tunnel so obviously something had to change.
“If you dazzle them with new visuals, effects, a new environment AND sudden explosions of sound all at once, only one or two of those things will get through to the player,” writes Friend & Foe.
“When we were testing a key reveal about our world and the character you play, we put so much emphasis on every one of those channels that some players missed the central element altogether. Since one of the tenets of Vane is to tell a story through events and the environment, reducing the noise overall and introducing elements in bite-sized chunks has proven crucial to commanding the player’s attention when we need it.”
Friend & Foe also talks about capturing the right mood among this environment design – which they deem as designing the “nothing” between the “something” – in the full devlog.