Mundaun Interview – Art Style, Inspirations, Development, and More

Michel Ziegler, the man behind Mundaun, speaks with GamingBolt about the beautiful horror title.

Posted By | On 31st, Mar. 2021

Mundaun Interview – Art Style, Inspirations, Development, and More

In a genre that has become as competitive and crowded as horror, most games – especially smaller, indie productions – need to stand out one way or another, and boy does Mundaun stand out. And really, that’s glaring obvious even at first glance. Every inch of the game has been lovingly hand-drawn with a pencil by solo creator Michel Ziegler, and the look and atmosphere that achieves is excellent. It helps, of course, that Mundaun is a solid horror game in and of itself as well. Following its launch, we reached out to Ziegler to learn more about the game and about its development. You can read our conversation below.

mundaun

"I chose this process because I wanted to hand-draw all the textures – the workflow is just very enjoyable for me."

It’s clear even at a glance that Mundaun is going for a very unique visual aesthetic. What was the process like of crafting the game’s hand-penciled look? Why did you decide to go with this particular style for Mundaun?

After researching what I wanted to make, I would sketch it out and then create the 3D model of that sketch. After that I would UV-unwrap the model and print out the UV map, which would then basically be a 2D representation of the 3D model. After that I traced the outlines of the map onto a fresh paper and then drew the different parts for the model I’m working on with pencil. That is then scanned back in and put on the 3D model. There’s always an element of surprise there when first applying the 2D drawings to the 3D model.

I chose this process because I wanted to hand-draw all the textures – the workflow is just very enjoyable for me.

What’s interesting about Mundaun’s art style is how successfully it makes the game’s environments look beautiful yet bleak and desolate at the same time. My question to you as the developer is, did the game’s tone from the art style, or did you choose the art style because of the tone you wanted to go for?

They go hand in hand, and I think I decided on the tone of Mundaun as well as using pencil pretty much at the same time. As the game started taking shape, it was always an interplay of the atmosphere, art style, story, world. All of those things are just different aspects of what I wanted the game to be like and feel like.

Mundaun makes use of a lot of folklore of myths in its story and setting. What was the inspiration behind making these elements such an important part of the experience?

I like folktales and myths a lot and was obsessed with some of them when I was a child. What I really enjoy about them is the dark tone but also the humour and how grounded they are in a place. Often, they are very brief and to the point, and strange and supernatural things just happen in them with no explanation given. It is just part of that world and it is all the more mysterious and intriguing.

Mundaun uses fear as a gameplay mechanic in quite an interesting fashion, but was it challenging for you as a developer to ensure that it struck the right balance? For instance, were you ever concerned that the mechanic could effectively be punishing poorly performing players even further?

Yes, it was always important to me to not punish players and make sure Mundaun was fun for them, as well as have them be interested more in the story and atmosphere than in hardcore survival gameplay. So it is very feasible to play the game in a very cautious manner, trying to avoid contact with the enemy creatures completely. On the other hand, it is possible to engage in combat, but then you need to act smart to not succumb to fear and be overwhelmed. It was important for me to have combat and enemies that can hurt you resulting in a genuine sense of threat. So the sense of dread of the atmosphere is actually backed up by the game mechanics.

mundaun

"I think Mundaun is a game that isn’t built around a series of enemy encounters with some story sequences in between them. I always looked at Mundaun from the viewpoint of the whole experience, as the player goes through a kind of odyssey, never knowing what would happen next."

Did you ever consider making combat a more central element of the game during development? Is it de-emphasized to suit the needs of the game and the story, or was it something that arose because of production and development-related reasons?

I think Mundaun is a game that isn’t built around a series of enemy encounters with some story sequences in between them. I always looked at Mundaun from the viewpoint of the whole experience, as the player goes through a kind of odyssey, never knowing what would happen next. I tried to add the enemies to the world in an organic way. The journey of the player comes first. I didn’t want the game to settle into a predictable rhythm of fight, story, fight, story etc.

Do you have any plans to bring the game to the Switch?

Yes, we are working with MWM Interactive to bring Mundaun to Nintendo Switch, so stay tuned.


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