So I was asked a series of questions about the background and inspiration for the nations of Eclisse over at the TA Forums and I thought t’would be good to share those answers here. Big thanks to Uberskooper for giving me the opportunity. =)
To start with, how did you come up with the background, story, and visual elements? I mentioned a long time ago that I think that you did a good job at staying away from Tolkien fantasy tropes that every fantasy setting now uses to ad nauseum. Your elves are short, feral, savage, and greedy. In terms of visual style, they remind me of American aboriginals and Japanese. Likewise, there isn’t a single dwarf with a long beard. Instead most of them sport mustaches and have a definite British/French aesthetic. Some of the other nations/cultures are less unique. The Kaysani are basically early modern Spain, Estellion is Rome with medieval weapons, and Esotre is an early industrial mix of Britain/France/Switzerland. I do love the Kaysani aesthetic though, golden armor against white robes. The sun banners on the backs of the important guys are also very cool. Can you reveal more about your thought process behind creating the different cultures and story?
Wow, yeah, I think that’s enough for a proper write-up. Lol.
The background is heavily steeped in a D&D campaign I use to run for my friends. I think what took me away from the Tolkien influence is the fact that I really hate elves, so I started switching things around. In my campaign, elves became the “goblinoid” race, while the actual goblins became the noble, clannish “dwarven” race. Which led me to civilising the dwarves. Goddamn, elves. =P
I think the credit for the visuals belong to my art team. Heya Hadrian, Darius, Xinwen, Peter! They really ran with it after I gave them the initial brief. I love history, so most of my briefs pointed towards certain points in history that had some parallels in the nations of Eclisse.
Estellion: The Empire was stretched out to the boundaries of conquest, so they started building walls. The thing about empires.. they need to keep conquering to survive. Their stagnation would result in decline.. much like the late Roman Empire. Estellion’s armour is based on the utilitarian Roman armour.. while it does look simple compared to other nations, it’s hugely believable that the Empire was churning out such equipment at a relentless pace. (My team would tell you that believability plays a huge part in my design direction.)
Kaysan: I liken the exile of the Carsis nobles and the subjugation of the elves to the Spanish conquistadors landing on the Americas and subjugating (albeit, only somewhat successfully) the Mesoamerican peoples. The elves of Kaysan are far more willing subjects.
I can’t pinpoint the exact reason I went with the Japanese aesthetic for the elves, but I do remember the Anime craze was annoying the crappers out of me at the time. I think my grandmother’s stories of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore played a part too. Horrid stuff.
Esotre: It’s a young, isolated nation that depends on technology to outperform its neighbours.. which depend on its holdings far away (Lyri) for natural resources. Sound familiar? Hah. Napoleonic Period England. How could I not tap on those dashing uniforms?
I do wish we could have done voice acting, then people could tell the difference between humans (French) and dwarves (British). I actually picked out accents for each region/nation.
(Ok, I also have to give this one to Bernard Cromwell. I -love- the Sharpe series and I’ve even had Brian pepper a few references in the script. Makes me smile when people notice.)
Don’t know if you guys wanna know about the minor nations, but they kinda go through the same process. Their individual histories had to somehow mold them into what they were. That’s my process, anyways.
In terms of the mechanics, how did you decide to make a turn-based medieval warfare game? To my knowledge, this is the only game that attempts to implement the limitations of a general that has to dispatch messengers and guys with flags everywhere. In almost every other game, the soldiers have a direct line to their leader all the time. You just have to point and click them in the right direction. The thing I love most about Ravenmark is that if you position your formations right, even crappier troops can beat superior ones if you outflank and gang up on them.
Mechanics-wise, it’s simple – Ravenmark was always meant to be a tabletop/board game. Lots of inspiration comes from giants such as Warhammer, De Bellis Antiquitatis. Some of these games had similar messenger/command system, but what really inspired me was the movie Gettysburg. You could tell how important information was at the time and how uninformed Command could be of the battlefield situation.