Nature plays an important role in the world of Tsushima. It creates a rich, vibrant color palette that drives the art style and identity of our game. When we first started, nature was just part of the general background, and it wasn’t until we started working on the grasslands, and saw it as a singular element, that we realized how powerful it could be. I remember the moment we were looking at the screen, a sea of white fluffy pampas flowers dancing in the wind, rolling wave patterns flowing round after round, and white particles flying in the air. It was stunning.
That success inspired us to look at how we could make our natural spaces more memorable and unique. We tried lots of methods to reach our goals, limiting the variety of foliage, pushing color values, increasing translucency levels, and reducing noise on textures. In the end, this bold use of color in nature became a theme for our game. By limiting the types of foliage in biomes, we were better able to bring a sense of freshness to each area and create a much more memorable world.
You may have already heard that Ghost has a unique mechanic called the Guiding Wind. At any time, players can summon a gust of wind to help guide them to their destination. As the wind blows, players will notice everything react around them — foliage, cloth, particles helping point them in the right direction. That’s not the only role the wind plays, though.
Imagine a classic samurai movie scene, two samurai warriors standing in a grass field, raising their swords and staring at each other, both perfectly still, holding their breath waiting for the next move. Behind that stillness is a world of motion. Grass is waving, leaves are flying through the air, cloth is blowing in the wind, and rain is coming down from the sky tapping every surface. As tension increases, we want our world to reinforce that feeling, static versus movement, and lead you to have that true cinematic moment.
During the years it took to build our version of Tsushima, we faced a lot of challenges; the biggest one was scope. As the largest game we have ever made, can you imagine if we needed to place every single blade of grass by hand? What if we then needed to change the type or density of grass later? We would not be able to finish, so we made procedural tools that would allow us to build a massive world unbelievably fast and would still be really flexible if we changed our minds later on. These tools allowed us to be more creative and expressive in our artistic choices. Here are some examples of our tools in action:
Tsushima is rich in density and variety, and it’s also constantly changing. You might be standing on the top of a cliff and see a big storm on the horizon. You could be crossing a bridge as clouds cover the sun and rain starts to drop unexpectedly. You could be sneaking around a Mongol war camp on a misty night, but moments later end up watching a beautiful sun rise on the ocean shore with your horse… it’s dynamic.
Exploring the world of Tsushima is a core part of our gameplay, and we treat the environment like a living character. One that’s breathing, moving, has her own personality, and is charming and plentiful.
There are so many stories the world wants to tell and surprises to discover. We invite you to join us on that journey on July 17.
Credit: Crafting the world of Tsushima