From Dust not intended as a god sim

By Brenna Hillier, Thursday, 14 July 2011 23:40 GMT

From Dust began life as a bog-standard RTS, but rapidly involved into a contender to revive interest in the flagging god sim genre, creator Eric Chahi has revealed.

“As strange as it might seem, originally From Dust wasn’t meant to be a god game, but an RTS game featuring a lot of micromanagement,” the lauded creator of Another World told Eurogamer.

“It was the same world, with volcanoes, tsunamis, and so on, and simulation was a key element of the game, but the player didn’t interact directly with the environment.

“However, we had a level editor that allowed this interaction in real time, which was really enjoyable to use – there was something tactile and fascinating about interacting with a world where everything is dynamic. So we combined the interactive enjoyment of the editor with the original world to create a new entity, the ‘Breath’. From Dust became a god game.”

Chahi’s anecdote eerily echoes Peter Molyneux’s account of the birth of most widely recognised original god sim – Populous. Chahi turned to classic Molyneux titles for inspiration.

“I remember replaying Black & White to see how the camera was handled. We asked ourselves a lot of questions – did we need a totally free-roaming camera like in B&W, or customised points of view like in Pikmin, for example.”

Chahi believes From Dust, a new contender in one of the least populated genres, can give god sims “new momentum:.

“For one thing because the gameplay is tense and exciting whereas normally this type of game has a slower rhythm,” he said.

“And we also took the simulation aspect as far as we could; the whole world is in a constant state of change, and everything the player does can have important short or medium term repercussions on the world.

“Diverting a river will completely reshape the landscape: for example, endanger a town or put out a fire. As a result, the gameplay comes to the fore, with the player creating challenging situations they have to respond to, caused by the domino effect of their own actions. That’s the beauty of the plasticity of simulation-based gameplay.”

From Dust arrives on PC and Xbox Live Arcade on July 27, with a PlayStation Network release to follow.

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