Frank Bakker

Hello and welcome to this new art dev journal. In this journal I shall
describe the progress of the creation of Shorath Mesa, the most
recently added area in the world of Spellborn, it's located on Ringfell.

When the design document for Shorath Mesa was created it was still
really vague how the area should turn out. There were some general
ideas which involved ancient ruins, a swamp and an Urvhail settlement.
The location was also known, it was to become the latest addition to
Ringfell, a basin located higher than any other location on Ringfell.

As work begun on Shorath Mesa some things were changed from the design
document and some additions were made, this all in cooperation with the
game design department. One of the first things to change was the
approach. Shorath Mesa is located south of Garminholm, since Shorath
Mesa was to be located on a high altitude basin we required some
changes to Garminholm itself. The reason for this is that players had
to cross this altitude distance. Since we don’t have
high-speed elevators or jump-pads in Spellborn we had to come up with
another solution.

Garminholm has always been a transition area between Slywood and
Ringfell Hearth, and the content had already been placed so we
couldn’t re-recreate the entire area. The solution was to add
some more detail to the area, we added some more ruins to the area,
more detail in the terrain, more height differences and a huge slope
leading up to Shorath Mesa to cover the altitude difference.

In the following screenshot you can see a part of Garminholm with
Shorath Mesa in the background.


If you look closely at the screenshot you can see some huge waterfalls
cascading from Shorath Mesa. This is the next thing we changed from the
original design document. The reason for this change is that a huge
cliff with nothing happening to it except it towering above you is
pretty impressive but if you add waterfalls to it, it becomes even more

Since Shorath Mesa is located quite a bit higher than the slope leading
up to the entrance we had to create a way to get even higher up all the
way to Shorath Mesa itself. This was done using a canyon through which
originally a river would flow.


Then the next question came up, but why is this canyon empty? Why
isn’t there a river flowing through now and why is the water
‘spilling’ from Shorath Mesa’s basin
itself in the form of huge waterfalls? The reason for this is a dam
which was build in ancient times, although broken it has been
‘fixed’ by the Urvhail which inhabit Shorath Mesa
to create a path to the rest of Ringfell.


When the key locations for the map were all known, it was time to start
thinking about the atmosphere and feeling of the map. Do we want a
happy sunny area or something very dark and scary like Slywood? We
decided to go with something in between, a dreary wet swamp which
isn’t ‘evil’ or

After we created so many different areas for Spellborn it’s
hard to come up with a original color scheme, you’re a bit
limited by what’s possible by the engine, the Spellborn
style, etc. I do think we still managed to get a really good and unique
atmosphere in the map. It’s unlike any other shard, it shares
some aspects with a few other shards but it’s still quite

Weather effects are a nice way to bring atmosphere to a map. The
‘problem’ is we aren’t really using a
normal sky so clouds aren’t an option in most occasions. Of
course, for rain to pour there need to be clouds, luckily Shorath Mesa
is a basin with high hills covering every side of the basin. This
creates a mini-climate in the area, the wet air can’t escape
the basin thus clouds form and a smooth rainfall pours down on the
entire area.

The key locations are quite important to make an area interesting, if
you only add nature it will become rather stale and boring, a
settlement is always interesting to liven up an area. On the following
screenshot you see a part of the main Urvhail settlement on Shorath


On this project the environment artists and level designers got a lot
of creative freedom to do their own thing, this can result to some cool
results as was shown earlier in Slywood (the floating rock with demon
ruins for example). Since this worked so well in Slywood we decided to
do something similar on Shorath Mesa, it being an area where a lot of
unspecified ruins were found. In the following screenshot you can see a
ruined temple with some strange lightning spheres.


There’s more to be found in Shorath Mesa than described in
this article, I hope you will all enjoy this area as much as I had fun
creating the area. And remember, what lies hidden must be found!

Here’s a few more screenshots to give some impressions of the


A path through the swamp


Dark forest leading to the Urvhail settlement


Small encampment in the swamp


Path leading to Urvhail settlement

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016