October 13, 2020

How art solutions influenced the gameplay of Pathologic 2

Sometimes the decisions of the art department directly affect the gameplay in the game. Here’s one of those stories told by Elena Alt, level designer of Pathologic 2.

I was asked to make an indoor for the Kids house, a place where children gather and play. Some of you, if you went to your hometown for the summer, probably spent a lot of time in such places.  

Working on the location, I remembered my happy childhood at my grandmother’s in Belarus. We occupied with the guys small buildings. There we cleaned up, brought in furniture, which we were allowed to take from the house, made something with our own hands. Then then we hung up our drawings on the walls, and we added to the interior curious stuff we found on the street. Here it is, the real secret hideaway. We spent all our time there.  In decorating the Kids house, I was just reproducing these memories and thinking about the objects that kids could fill this place up with and the games they would play. So in the game came a corner with playthings, and also children’s drawings on the walls. 

But wait, the kids like to play and listen to fairy tales!

When we were kids, we’d meet at our hideout, and older guys would tell us scary and fantastic stories. They were especially good when it was raining outside and we sat in a circle and listened to stories.

So the Kids house had a fairy tale corner. I thought it would be nice if these stories were told in the light of a lantern. This place, for some reason, became the key to the House for me. I felt that I needed something to emphasize the importance of this place.

When I tried to visualize it in my head, I imagined a shadow theater that looked like cartoons without TV. I imagined a design with a lantern around which a slotted plate revolves. Through the slits, light enters the surroundings and draws on the walls a views of the Town. The lantern shows recognizable landmarks: Cathedral, Abattoir, Polyhedron.

The designers liked the lantern so much that they decided to do a quest with it: the lantern in the game was initially broken and the children asked the hero to fix it.

And that’s how one visual solution in the game became part of the gameplay. By the way, for repairing this lantern, the player gets an achievement in Steam.