Development: Tochoortahv/Cass Part 1

Cass Wall Texture

It’s difficult to write about the development of the Age after completion, the timeline often gets a little messy.

Tochoortahv or Cass as it is known has now been released to the public, the first Age I’ve released yet not the first I’ve created.


Right from the start Cass was planned to be an office Age, a place where studies and Age Books could be stored for people to read.
Strangely the story behind it was secondary, which goes against Cyan’s concept of “Design the Age around the story not the story around the Age”. Most of the time this is something I keep in mind but I’m not above abandoning that if the need arises.

I wanted to design something small, something enclosed as an experiment in lighting and textures which could be expanded on at a later date, a small enclose room worked perfectly.
I started building up the room, getting the basic structure in place before working on the textures. I had already set it out in my mind that the colour scheme for the room would be blue hues, so I designed the textures to mirror the blue that would light the room.


I had always planned for it to be my office/living Age, I had ran through several designs for an office Age and couldn’t settle on any kind of name for it. The core of the Age however had been set out, and the office was always underwater, even in the previous incarnations.

As I was building, the storyline came together which fit in with a storyline I have been crafting for the last 6 years which will hopefully be played out over the course of 6 or 7 Ages in the future. The Age would start off as a resource for Writers, a place to gain knowledge into Age writing, this however presented a problem, how does one provide documentation about things we do not know? We do not know what Garohevtee look like and so forth.
This is where the fire came in to it, oddly all these concepts seem to come together at once and just clicked, which is not something I find happens very often.

The fire allowed for the removal of those troublesome books, allowed for a change to the Age to be made and allowed for planting of seeds for things to come.

However the fire also presented an interesting challenge. If the Age is released in burned form, people will think it is naturally like that, thus miss over key plot points and clues. Fortunately the use of beta builds came in handy here, a pre-burnt version of the Age was sent to a few people, so that it could be tested for issues and seen in it’s clean form.
This allowed for a burned version to be released in the hopes that those who saw it clean would pick up on the problem, report it and get the story moving.

It was an interesting challenge, the Live game would allow for SDL values and actors to play out a scene, in the offline game that isn’t really an option, so Age writers have to find creative ways around this to give an illusion of relatively dynamic content.

Lighting and Textures

Cass Wall Texture

The textures were all hand made in Photoshop 7, I’m a great believer of making your own textures, even if you’re using a pre-made texture as a base and building on it, it allows for more depth and personality to be added, and breaks past the common problem of locations having flat textures.

The textures turned out pretty bright when a test build was exported to Uru.


Whilst Cass was to be a “human” Age, I wanted the aesthetics of D’ni to play into things, so opening up the textures in Photoshop I started darkening them, adding shadows to the corners and adding blue lighting to approximately where I would expect the light from the lamp to hit the surface the texture was covering.


A blue lamp light source was added and a test build was exported once again to see how it looked, the result was just how I planned.

A reoccurring problem I have been having with my Ages (especially the first build of Winterbloom) was nasty lag when a light source was introduced, with the help of Paradox and Nad, they showed me that dynamic shadows could cause issues, as a result I could selectively disable shadows from certain items to reduce the lag.

Adding the soot covered wall was incredibly easy, the textures were imported into Photoshop, a new layer was created with white and black selected in the colour pallete, I then used the filter options to render clouds, which I then set to multiply which allowed for the walls to be covered in clouds of black.


The pile of ashes was a learning experience for me, whilst easy to model it was the first time I tried using Alpha Vertex Painting to blend the edges of the model to bleed it into the surrounding area, this was something I was very set on getting the hang of as it would mean I could use it for blending of other textures like grass and rock, in other Ages.

In Conclusion

Whilst a small Age (to begin with), Cass was a lot of fun to build, between the construction of the story to learning a few new tricks to help me in future projects, I was greatly pleased to see the story going down well with those community goers who are still interested in storylines.

Expanding the Age for future updates will, I’m sure, provide me with more challenges and things to learn.

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