This adorable WIP project is like Townscaper with castles

Ruined castles on lonely hills are hardly a rare sight in games. But they’ve never been as enjoyable as procedural artist Anastasia Opara’s generative ruins, which promise to one day allow us to assemble our own delicious diorama forts.

Opara began work on the project around the end of 2021 as a procedural generation experiment, generating curved castle walls on a blank background. Even at this early, desaturated stage, you can already see the tactile joy of snaking around the castle walls start to take shape – and it would only grow from there.

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Subsequent updates would add paths (and arches where paths and walls intersect), uneven terrain that flourishes on hills and cliffs, rocky decorations, and proper-looking grass. Although initially just a weekend project, continued positive feedback convinced Opara to turn it into a proper little building game.

Every month, Opara posts an update with what’s new, whether it’s terrain editing, winding paths or a delightfully animated undo system. While ostensibly ‘just’ a game about drawing walls and hills, Opara’s tiny game already looks a lot like urbanist (opens in new tab)— another tiny toy for building architectural dioramas, but swapping grid-shaped seaside towns for more naturalistic scenes

These are adorable scenes, by the way. We are spoiled for choice by ruined castles here in Scotland, but the sight of seeing an old ruined tower or wall jutting out of a field or forest never gets old. As the wind blows the tall grass against the procedural rubble of Opara, you feel the same thrill as you discover something lost and mysterious – even if it was computer generated 15 seconds ago.

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It’s a fitting comparison too, considering that Townscaper developer Oskar Stålberg developed the game publicly on Twitter. It’s a trend I’m really enjoying lately – game development is often treated like an absolute black box, but seeing developers publicly trying out their games from start to finish really demystifies the process.

Opara’s little castles have come a long way, but I’m excited to see where it takes them next. I want to see how complex these ruins will get, how malleable the landscapes around them can become. I’m excited at the idea that one day I’ll be able to tinker with my own tiny castles, knowing how much they’ve grown since that humble weekend project.

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