Frost Giant Studios, co-founded by former Blizzard real-time strategy masterminds Tim Morten and Tim Campbell, has finally unveiled the trailer for its first game, Stormgatewhich goes into beta on Steam next year. The trailer gives a look on the feel of this upcoming real-time strategy setback.
However, this first look was just a teaser, so I sat down with two key Frost Giant employees, author Micky Neilson and assistant art director Jonathan Ryderto dig into the game’s background story and learn how Frost Giant plans to follow in Blizzard’s footsteps without repeating his mistakes.
The first moments of Stormgate trailer evoke the feeling of Starcraft. It’s in the ghostly blue hue of a holographic projector, the subtle mumble of an AI assistant, and the thunderous arrival of a thick sci-fi mech suit. Instead of going for a pure retro aesthetic, however, the trailer mashes modern art in high resolution with the rough, embodied feeling that defines Starcraft franchise. This is transferred to the game itself, which is built on Unreal Engine 5.
“When it comes down to design and art, when we see something futuristic, whether it’s a vehicle or a doodad on the map, you should be able to tell what the function of that thing is by looking at it. , “says Neilson.
The human technology in Stormgate is defined by voluminous suits of armor, pockets, and useful-but imperfect holograms. Weapons fire bullets, not lasers, and armored suits achieve flight the old-fashioned way: with a rocket pack. This not only captures the feel of early Blizzard titles, but also by extension, the study’s inspirationssuch as the tabletop war game Warhammer 40Kthat Alien franchise and 1997’s cult sci-fi film Starship Troopers.
However, that does not mean that the Frost Giants approach is stuck in the 90s. Jonathan Ryder, Frost Giant’s assistant art director, says the team is updating its low-fi aesthetic by guessing the impact of recent scientific breakthroughs.
“MIT created this bacterium that can create electrical charge in a battery,” says Ryder. “So we thought, what would 50, 60, 70 years of innovation on it look like if we used it for pure technology?” This speculation helps the team bend the rules of physics without losing touch with reality.
The trailer also reveals Infernals, Stormgates completely different second faction. These creatures draw inspiration from another Blizzard franchise, Diablo, and bring an unexpected dose of high imagination. This seems to contradict the speculative realism of the human faction, however Stormgate hopes to keep the Infernals rooted in the same logic by walking a line between sci-fi and fantasy.
“They use magic, so there are always those questions,” Neilson says. “How much of it is artifacts, or how much of it is innate? Sometimes magic and science can come together a little bit. If you throw a cold spell, then it draws from the moisture in the air to create that spell?”
It’s a toy chest
Stormgate’s mix of Starcraft and Diablo reminds me of the box of random action figures I often dived into as a child. Yes I could just play with Ninja Turtles or Transformers on your own – but it was more fun to mask them together.