We have been developing this game for several years now, and have managed to implement many interesting systems in it, such as social, environmental, political, religious, and so on. In these devlogs I will gradually tell you how these ideas work in our gameplay.
But since right now we have shown most of the visual style, I would like to focus on it first.
As you can see in the game's trailer, Norland may resemble Rimword or Prison Architect in terms of visuals. The resemblance is noticeable due to the similar camera and character style. We chose this particular style because it allows us to enhance recognizable character traits (head, clothes) by hiding their arms and legs. We had decided to hide these details mostly because the economic basis of the game is city-builder.
Traditionally, when it comes to city-builders, the realistic style allows you to control the city or interact with the buildings. Still, then the characters look like tiny ants. In other cases, you bring the camera closer to the characters, but then you will only see 1-2 structures and won't be able to control the whole city.
The style we chose for the game allows you to control objects the size of the building, as it is typical for city-builders, and at the same time well distinguish the characters and their faces without toggling with the camera.
Our reasons for deciding on the design of the buildings are similar. You can't modify them in any noticeable way because when there are a lot of buildings on the screen, they have to be recognizable. For the same reason, they always have an entrance on the same side. All the buildings need to have a clear purpose so that you do not spend time figuring out what they are. Therefore, their entrances are positioned at the front, making the faces with signs visible, leading to them being easily recognizable. Another feature of the buildings is that you can always look at what is going on inside; you only need to move the camera closer!
In Norland's case, the gameplay that we've decided on dictates the styling and design. We have considered our opportunities and the importance of both the characters and the buildings being easily recognizable, and we've come to create the vision of Norland that you are seeing right now.