Press Round-Up: 2019 Anticipation Lists Edition

Remember when we did that post of games we’re looking forward to in 2019, and we mentioned that we had been included in several lists ourselves? We linked to 5 pieces back then, but it didn’t stop there! While we posted about them all on our Twitter and Facebook as we found them we thought it’d be nice to organize them all in a single post, including those previously mentioned ones just to keep things tidy. Thank you to all the writers and publications who took the time to showcase us!

We were included in lists curated by Gamereactor, VideoGamer, Il Blog di Lollo, Sick Critic, A Most Agreeable Pastime, Stuff, Niche Gamer, Gamers Decide, incrdbl, Afro Panda, bit-gamer, and Nitchigamer. PC Gamer was kind enough to write about us four times! “15 new PC games we’re excited for in 2019,” “The 2019 RPGs we’re looking forward to” “How does 2019 look for PC blockbusters and exclusives?” and “The PC Gamer 2019 Fantasy Draft.” We were also mentioned by the The Telegraph.

We’re not gonna lie, all this support is really motivating for us. We hope you’ll keep cheering us on as we work on Disco Elysium. We’ll sign off this week by leaving you with some fresh art celebrating the lunar new year. Happy Year of the Pig!



From Render to Paintover

In this post I’ll show how we give more life to our world by mixing realtime objects with the hand-painted background.

Everything that is animated, is possible to pick up, or appears only in certain times will be added to the game in realtime instead of being painted into the background. That includes NPCs, vegetation, collectables, particles, etc.

Since our backgrounds use rendered heightmaps, we can use a flat plane that uses a special shader for sea. That gives us a nice coastline with some fading on the edges. But it still looks bland! It looks the same in both in shallow and deeper areas, so we’re going to add more detail on it.

Since there’s a tiny creek, we should separate the the sea from the creek. By adding and extra layer on top of the seaplane we get a warm gradient (nr 1), which color can be changed. Adding an orange tone there makes it look shallower, murky and more rusty from the surroundings. The new plane will also contain a flow map which fakes the effect of water flowing in desired direction.

By adding plants like weeds (nr 3), kelp (nr 4), or moss, we make the sea look more welcome and give it a feel of depth where taller plants like kelp fade into the abyss. Since the camera angle is always the same, the plants are hand-painted on a transparent background. I have made sets of plants with different density and colors. So every plant thats in the water is basically a transparent plane with some distortion effect to make it look like the surface is bending the photons of light. I also use the same shader to create colored ripples and flowy lines (nr 2).

For the final touch I will add swarms of fish circling (nr 5), creating ripples on the surface of water (nr 6), icebergs that wobbling in the waves, and seagulls flyings over the scene.

Same goes for the land. By adding different variations of reeds, bushes, trees and even garbage like empty bottles, tin cans or trashbags that rustle in the wind, we get a movement in the static background.

This method is applied to all over the Martinaise, but every area has been manually composed and thought through to distinguish it from one another.


The Games We’re Looking Forward to in 2019

Since the month as started, we’ve seen a number of people writing about the games they’ve been looking forward to in 2019. Disco Elysium has even been featured in a few! We’ve been included in round-ups by Gamereactor, PCWorld, Videogamer, and PC Gamer wrote about us twice (1, 2). All that positive energy got us pretty motivated, and so we’ve decided to make a list of our own. We hope you’ll check out these games that the members of team ZA/UM are looking forward to in 2019 and support them with the same enthusiasm we are.

Arks, Writer
Most anticipated game of 2019…. It must be the “Sinking City” by Frogwares. I’ve been a huge H. P. Lovecraft fan ever since I read “The music of Eric Zahn” when I was sixteen and ever since the 2005 survival horror game “Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth”, there has been a bit of a void of Lovecraft games… Although I did also like the 2018 “Call of Cthulhu”, which received mixed reviews, I believe “Sinking City” is gonna be even better and I’m genuinely exited to play it.

Liisi Laasik, Programmer
Civilization 6: Gathering Storm. For an expansion it brings a lot of new cool mechanics to the game and I’m a die hard fan of the Civ franchise. Their expansions are always crazy expensive on launch, but I rarely have enough patience to wait for the first sale, and Firaxis knows they’ve got me 🙁

Siim Raidma, Technical Artist and Graphics Programmer
I do hope William Chyr Studio releases Manifold Garden this year, I’ve been following the development for 2-3 years and am sold many times over. It’s a first person puzzle game with recursive space and gravity mindbendery so it’s right up my alley. 🍒

Robert Kurvitz, Lead Designer
I’m super into researching different desktop role playing systems right now and am waiting for fantasy Flight Games to release as many juicy expansions and sourcebooks to Legend of Five Rings RPG as they can. Which they always do. L5R is custom made to facilitate feudal japanese rpg stuff, so not flexible in any way, but the skill system that foregoes Attributes like Strength for elemental-philosophical approaches to things you wanna accomplish (like Void or Water) is super interesting.

Kaur Kender, Executive Producer

Eduardo Rubio, Animator
For me the game of 2019 I’m most looking forward to is Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Since I discovered Fromsoftware with Darksouls 2 I’ve become a fan of the studio and am really looking forward to see what they are capable of without the constraints of online multiplayer Dark Souls and Bloodborne had.

Markus Rondo, Developer
I’m really looking forward to Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes. I loved both of the No More Heroes games on the Wii. Even though the gameplay is different, it looks like fun and I’m excited for the No More Heroes universe expanding. I respect trying out different things with a franchise either out of necessity or to just discover new horizons.

Aleksander Rostov, Art Director
Pathologic 2. Looking forward to it because it’s the only game left that matters.

Danielle Woodford, UK Community Manager
If I’m being honest the game I’m probably most anticipating this year is Animal Crossing. Let’s just say am I glad I didn’t let anyone film my reaction to Nintendo’s sneaky but cheeky announcement as it was most certainly a rollercoaster of emotions! New Leaf 3DS came out waaaay back in 2012 and I can’t wait to see what the team has been working on and what new features might be in the game. I’m a little apprehensive following Pocket Camp but I’m hoping this new game is full of cute and charming fun just like the original. I play a wide range of games but Animal Crossing is one of my favourite games to retreat into and relax!

Ott Madis Ozolit, Technical Producer
I’m looking forward to Anthem mostly because I am a massive Bioware fanboy. It does seem like something that I could have a good time with, playing with friends. The new universe also seemed intriguing from what was shown from the early demos, but I remain skeptical. Since it’s already coming out on 22nd of February, I can see for myself soon enough.

EMiSpicer, US Producer
I’ve been keeping an eye on Consume Me by Jenny Jiao Hsia and AP Thomson for years, and its a game I’m really looking forward to. I adore both the duo’s previous work and what I’ve seen of this game so far at various events, plus all the little process images and gifs Jenny has shared on her Twitter. The game doesn’t presently have a release date, but maybe I’ll get lucky and 2019 will be the year I get to add it to my library!