IIn a genre that has become as competitive and crowded as horror, most games – especially smaller indie productions – have to stand out in some way, and boy Is it that Mundaun come out. And really, it’s obvious even at first glance. Every inch of the game has been hand drawn with pencil by solo designer Michel Ziegler, and the resulting look and feel is excellent. It helps, of course, that Mundaun is also a solid horror game on its own. After its launch, we reached out to Ziegler to find out more about the game and its development. You can read our conversation below.
“I chose this process because I wanted to hand draw all the textures – the workflow is just really nice to me.”
It is clear even at a glance that Mundaun goes for a very unique visual aesthetic. What was the process of creating the look of the hand-pencil game like? Why did you decide to go for this particular style for Mundaun?
After researching what I wanted to do, I drew it, then I created the 3D model of this sketch. After that, I would unpack the model under UV and print the UV map, which would then essentially be a 2D representation of the 3D model. After that, I traced the outlines of the card on a fresh paper, then I drew the different parts of the model I’m working on with a pencil. This is then scanned and put on the 3D model. There is always an element of surprise when first applying 2D drawings to the 3D model.
I chose this process because I wanted to hand draw all the textures – the workflow is just very nice to me.
What is interesting by Mundaun the art style is how well it makes the game’s environments beautiful but dark and desolate at the same time. My question for you as a developer is, did the tone of the game come from the art style or did you choose the art style because of the tone you wanted to adopt?
They go together, and I think I decided the tone of Mundaun as well as using a pencil at about the same time. As the game took shape, it was always an interplay of atmosphere, art style, story, and world. All of these things are just different aspects of what I wanted the game to look and feel like.
Mundaun uses a lot of myth folklore in its story and setting. What was the inspiration for making these elements such an important part of the experience?
I am very fond of folk tales and myths and was obsessed with some of them when I was a kid. What I really appreciate about them is the dark tone but also the humor and their anchoring in a place. Often they are very short and to the point, and strange and supernatural things happen in them without any explanation given. It’s just a part of this world and it’s all the more mysterious and intriguing.
Mundaun uses fear as a game mechanic in quite an interesting way, but was it difficult for you as the developer to make sure it hit the right balance? For example, have you ever worried that the mechanic will punish poorly performing players even more?
Yes, it has always been important to me not to punish players and to make sure Mundaun was fun for them, and interested them more in the story and atmosphere than the hardcore survival gameplay. It is therefore very possible to play the game very carefully, trying to completely avoid contact with enemy creatures. On the other hand, it is possible to engage in combat, but it is then necessary to act intelligently so as not to succumb to fear and be overwhelmed. It was important to me to have fights and enemies that can hurt you, which creates a real sense of threat. So the feeling of dread in the atmosphere is actually supported by the game mechanics.
“I think Mundaun is a game that isn’t built around a series of enemy encounters with story sequences in between. I have always watched Mundaun from the perspective of the whole experience, as the player goes through something of an odyssey, never knowing what would happen next.”
Did you ever consider making combat a more central part of the game during development? Is it toned down to suit the needs of the game and the story, or is it something that popped up for production and development reasons?
I think Mundaun is a game that isn’t built around a series of enemy encounters with story sequences in between. I have always watched Mundaun from the perspective of the whole experience, as the player goes through something of an odyssey, never knowing what would happen next. I tried to add the enemies to the world organically. The player’s journey comes first. I didn’t want the game to settle into a predictable rhythm of combat, story, combat, story, etc.
Do you plan to bring the game to Switch?
Yes, we are working with MWM Interactive to bring Mundaun to Nintendo Switch, so stay tuned.