Dune: Spice Wars Has A Cartoonish Art Style To Prevent The Desert From Looking "Bland"

The Game Awards 2021 saw the announcement of Dune: Spice Wars, an RTS game set in the iconic universe created by Frank Herbert. The trailer shown at TGA revealed a few details about the game, like gameplay, faction choices, and the world of Arrakis. Since it's a desert planet, a top-down view of it will mostly feature sand, some giant worms, and more sand. It's this thought that led to the devs deciding on the art style of the game.

"Creating a game on a desert planet has quite a few challenges, one of which is making sure what you look at for a few hours is not bland even if it’s just rock and sand," said Shiro Games in an FAQ post on Steam. "We spent a lot of time working on the environment and even worked with a geologist specialized in deserts to create things that could exist on such a planet. The stylized art direction comes into play by adding things that bring a variety of colors and shapes so that the environment can stay harsh while not getting boring."

As for what players can expect in terms of gameplay, Shiro said that Spice Wars will be a mix of the RTS and X genres. "The game is real time, but the pace is slower than in a typical RTS (and you can pause and fast forward). The game also features exploration, territory control, economic growth, combat, politics and spying, features that make it a true 4X game but do not detract from the core RTS experience that players would expect."

Another interesting feature mentioned in the FAQ was that the game will feature procedurally generated maps. Customization options will include permutations for size, wind strength, and sand worm activity among others. Deep deserts will act as impasses on the map, much like water bodies in certain RTS games. You'll have to maneuver around them until you develop the technology enabling you to cross them. The map will also feature certain locations that fans of the book will recognize.

Dune: Spice Wars will launch in early access some time this year.

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