Art style

The developer of the upcoming Dune RTS has opted for a “cartoon” art style, so staring at a desert planet for hours isn’t boring •

The developers of upcoming real-time strategy game Dune say they’ve gone with a “cartoonish” art style, so staring at a desert planet for hours on end isn’t boring.

Dune: Spice Wars is in development at Northgard maker Shiro Games and is set on Arrakis – Dune’s famous desert planet. The trailer is below:

Arrakis is a lot of sand and not much else, which Shiro Games says presents a whole host of problems when it comes to making a video game on it.

The answer was to choose a “somewhat cartoonish and bold art style”.

“Making a game on a desert planet comes with a lot of challenges, one of which is making sure what you watch for a few hours isn’t bland, even if it’s just rock and sand. “said Shiro Games in a recently posted FAQ on Smoking.

“We spent a lot of time working on the environment and even worked with a desert geologist to create things that could exist on such a planet.

“The stylized art direction comes into play by adding elements that bring in a variety of colors and shapes so the environment can stay harsh without becoming boring.”

Shiro Games has yet to show gameplay for Dune: Spice Wars, but it has confirmed a day/night cycle, which means players will see bright orange daylight as well as dark, bluish night.

Shiro Games also said they created variations on the default desert theme, including a Red Mesa theme, a salt-based theme, and a volcanic landscape.


Dune: Spice Wars is based on Frank Herbert’s Dune universe, as opposed to any movie or TV show.

The game is real-time, but the pacing is slower than in a typical RTS, Shiro Games said. You can also pause and fast forward.

There are also standard 4X items, such as exploration, territory control, economic growth, combat, politics, and espionage.


When it comes to base building, you can build buildings in your base of operations, like Arrakeen for Atreides. However, this comes in the form of structures added to the base itself and is based on the interface, as Shiro Games said.

You don’t manually place buildings on the ground “because the game is on a much larger scale than your typical RTS,” the developer added.

As for houses, expect to play as House Harkonnen and House Atreides. Shiro Games said it plans to have two more factions at launch, with a fifth faction added during the early access period. Shiro Games starts with what’s in the books and will look at what would work beyond that later (House Ordos, perhaps?).


Meanwhile, the maps are procedurally generated, with different options for size, wind strength, sandworm activity and more. Deep deserts are used as a kind of blocking device (like seas in other games), until you develop technologies to survive longer in the desert, or build a network of airfields. The maps also include unique locations that readers of the book will recognize, Shiro Games said.

Multiplayer is planned as an update during Early Access, and while the campaign was not in-game during the initial launch, it is also planned for Early Access.


Dune Spice Wars is set to launch on PC via Steam at some point this year. Shiro Games will be looking at other platforms during Early Access.